NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021 Close the Gap Campaign Report launch tomorrow

2021 Close the Gap Campaign Report launch tomorrow

The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.

The Australia Institute is delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report “Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe”, written by the Lowitja Institute. Speakers include:

June Oscar AO
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Karl Briscoe
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
CEO of National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners

Dr Janine Mohamed
CEO, Lowitja Institute

and special guest

Sir Michael Marmot
Chair, WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health

The report will be launched via webinar, on National Close the Gap Day – Thursday 18 March – hosted by the Australia Institute in support of the Close the Gap Campaign.


11:30 AM ACDT (SA) / 11 AM AEST (QLD)

10:30 AM ACST (NT) / 9.00 AM AWST (WA)

The webinar is free, but registration is essential – to register click here.flyer text 'National Close the Gap Day 2021 18 March - Leadership and LEgacy through crises: Keeping our MOb safe, bullet points: Get involved, Register an activity, Take the pledge, Join the Report launch' photo of Aboriginal man, partner young girl & baby against red flowering bush

Pain treatment and opioid use – Have your say!

NACCHO is working on a project to create some support materials for pain management and the use of opioid medicines, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We are looking for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people consumers and health professionals to take part in group discussion to understand the important issues so that the materials we make can be useful.

If you are a health consumer and experience pain and use opioids or are interested in pain management as a practitioner in your Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) we invite you to contribute to this project.

We will provide financial compensation for your participation.

To apply or learn more please contact Fran Vaughan at NACCHO on or call on 02 6248 0644.

Image source: MJA

COVID-19 vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1b and 2a

The AMA has received advice from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Advisory Group that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination in 1b and 2a roll-out, self-identification is sufficient proof of Indigenous status – no other documentation in required.

The advisory group re-affirmed that no proof beyond self-identification is required and this is consistent with the RACGP standards. While there is the potential for non-indigenous people to take advantage of this system, it was thought the greater harm was in potential racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination and of having to prove one’s identity.

The specific recommendations from the Advisory Group are:

  • Recommendation 1 – In line with AIHW Guidelines, all clients in a health care setting should be asked ‘Do you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander’, the response should be recorded and accepted without question
  • Recommendation 2 – Self-identification should be sufficient as the proof of eligibility in the vaccination program
  • Recommendation 3 – This advice is shared with ATAGI and AHPPC to ensure it is developed in all relevant policies in ACCHOs, NACCHO and Commonwealth and State/Territory Jurisdictions
  • Recommendation 4 – Information that self-identification should be accepted, is distributed to all primary care peak bodies to facilitate information in all vaccination points.
Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.

Yarning about NDIS – Menzies School of Health Research (2020)

A resource package, aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that explains how the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can help people with a disability get the support they need.

The NDIS can support people to access services for help with everyday tasks and other needs such as:

  • help with walking, hearing, seeing
  • shopping
  • doctor’s appointments
  • wheelchairs
  • going to school
  • going back to Country.

Read the research report released in the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet here.

torso of a person in a wheelchair view from side

Image source: Disability Insider website.

Mental health priority: City of Whittlesea

Whittlesea has been named a priority site for mental health support in the final Royal Commission report into Victoria’s ‘broken’ mental health system – one of six regions identified for fast-tracked support.

“The City of Whittlesea has a relatively high proportion of vulnerable groups at risk of poor mental health outcomes including women in the perinatal period, women who experience family violence, Aboriginal people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, so we’re very pleased to see the government will deliver culturally safe services in our area.

“Indigenous people experiencing mental health and prioritise funding for Northern Hospital in the next roll-out of adolescent in-patient beds and perinatal mental health services for new mothers,” she said.

To read the full story click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting against wall with head down, arms folded, blue hoodie & jeans

Image source:

Help save the Doomadgee Youth

Doomadgee is a large Aboriginal community situated in the Aboriginal Shire of Doomadgee, Queensland, Australia, about 140 kilometers from the Northern Territory border, and 93 kilometers west of Burketown.

Out of a population of just over 1,405, 14 people killed themselves last year, and this year already four people have taken their lives.  Indigenous young men on the community are twice as likely to suicide as non-Indigenous men and the rate is higher in young women, there is also a high rate of Domestic and sexual violence in the community and mental health from current and past transgenerational trauma,

There has been no support from outside agencies including counselling services to support the trauma and grief after loss, that has taken place.  It has been said that while there are many government-funded programs aimed at tackling the problem’s, they have largely been unsuccessful in Doomadgee.

The youth in Doomadgee have no one to talk to and know where to go and absolutely nothing to do which leads to boredom, crime and self-medicating with inhalants, alcohol and drug abuse which then unfortunately leads to mental health and even suicide in these young people.

If you wish to donate the items that are required to get this youth centre started you can post it across to:

Attention Louise and Stephen McNamee 

C/O Doomadgee POST office, 4830 QLD

Mobile: 045 872 7765 

Or send financial aid to this GO FUND ME link.

Doomadgee Youth

New health strategy released aimed at strengthening Aboriginal health services

A strategic plan aimed at building a sustainable workforce, strengthening Aboriginal health services and expanding training opportunities has been released by the Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network (FUNLHN).

It comes as concerns grow around a number of issues in the state’s regional health industry, including a doctors shortage in the region and increasing violence against nurses in Whyalla.

FUNLHN chief executive Craig Packard said there was a separate medical workforce strategy focused on developing a plan to build a rural generalist numbers in the regions.

“That will help to make living in our region and staying in our region more attractive to medical officers,” he said.

Read the full story here.

PATH FORWARD: Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network CEO Craig Packard.

Aboriginal Organisations to lead child protection support (VIC)

Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) will lead the response to child protection reports from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, as part of an Australian-first pilot led by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Child Protection Luke Donnellan announced at today’s Aboriginal Children’s Forum in Ballarat that Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) and Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) have been selected to undertake the trial of Aboriginal led child protection investigations.

Under the $11.6 million pilot, the Aboriginal-led teams will provide tailored and culturally minded approaches to investigations in conjunction with child protection officers. It will aim to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal children in care, by prioritising self-determination and facilitating Aboriginal models of care delivered by ACCOs.

Read the Victoria State Government media release here.

Aboriginal man pushing young Aboriginal child on a tricycle in desert community

Image source: The Conversation.

Menstrual issues and poverty linked to education

The New South Wales Education Department said last week said it would trial a program to hand out free pads and tampons in schools. Department secretary Mark Scott said: We are developing work on a pilot program around this and details will be emerging on that shortly.

In a recent Australian study, more than one-third of young women said they missed at least one class, either at school or university, in the past three months due to menstrual symptoms, including pain and fatigue.

The Conversation carries an interesting article on this subject, to read click here.

Image source: ABC

AGSM Alumni Community Scholarship – Brooke O’Donnell managing Aboriginal projects 

Brooke O’Donnell lives in Perth and describes herself as a problem-solver who is undeterred by obstacles when pursuing her goals and dreams, and someone who likes to lead by example. She is also the 2020 recipient of the AGSM Alumni Community Scholarship, which is designed for talented and emerging leaders working in the not-for-profit sector who are dedicated to developing strong communities.

Brooke works as an Aboriginal Principal Project Officer managing Aboriginal projects within the Department of Communities. She enjoys working with Aboriginal elders and leaders to develop more effective relationships within regions near Perth and works to support their needs in a way that gives them the ability to make changes.

Currently, she manages a team of community youth officers who work with up to 10 young people, supporting them holistically on issues such as working through family relationships, domestic violence, alcohol and drug use and mental health.

Read the full story released by UNSW Sydney click here.

Brooke O’Donnell Aboriginal Principal Project Officer

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk flags ‘major concerns’ over PNG virus crisis

Australia’s assistance in a COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Papua New Guinea could help protect vulnerable communities in the Torres Strait, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says.

Of the 500 tests health authorities have recently assisted PNG with, half have returned a positive result.

“Maybe we need to look at a vaccine rollout program there as well, it’s right on our doorstop and it’s a real risk,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Monday.

“That’s why we’re getting our Torres Strait Islanders vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

She hoped to speak with the Prime Minister’s office on Monday regarding further protection measures, including the number of incoming flights.

Read the full story here.

Premier Palaszczuk said the unfolding COVID crisis in PNG posed a real risk to Queensland. Photo: AAP

MJA article: Indirect impacts of COVID‐19 on Aboriginal communities across NSW

Nearly everyone has been affected in some way by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic, and it is a public health risk for Aboriginal peoples and communities. The impacts of the pandemic are pervasive, wide‐ranging and continue to affect people and communities differently. Concerns about the indirect impacts of COVID‐19, caused by missed, delayed and avoided health care — not as a direct consequence of COVID‐19 infections — are shared internationally.

Before COVID‐19, Aboriginal people faced health disadvantages and inequitable access to health care. Any decrease in health care access for Aboriginal people through missed, delayed or avoided health care may lead to further adverse health outcomes and inequities.

In recent months, we came together as a group of 12 Aboriginal community members from across NSW to share our experiences and perspectives regarding the indirect impacts of COVID‐19. We live and work on Eora, Wilyakali, Bundjalung, Yuin and Gumbaynggirr lands.

Social determinants are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live and age, and how these factors influence our health and determine health inequalities.

COVID‐19 has made accessing health care even more difficult.

Read the full article in the Medical Journal of Australia here.

gloved hands holding pink piece of paper with text 'COVID-19'

Image source: AMA website.

Call for funding to attract and retain pharmacists

Pharmacist workforce issues and medicines problems are rife in rural and remote areas, with poor adherence in over one million Australians, new report finds.

Over 1.3 million Australians living in rural and remote areas do not take their medicines at all or as intended, according to the PSA’s new report Medicine Safety: Rural and remote care, which was launched by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard in Sydney on Saturday 13 March.

The annual cost of medicine non-adherence in rural and remote Australia is estimated to contribute $2.03 billion to health costs.

Meanwhile, an estimated 72,500 Australians living in rural and remote areas are admitted to hospital each year due to medicine-related problems, according to the report developed for the PSA by Charles Sturt University

Half of this harm is preventable, with a total cost to the healthcare system of $400 million per year.

PSA National President Chris Freeman said the report revealed challenges in accessing health care including limited access to much-needed medicines.

“This is in part due to the tyranny of distance, inflexible regulations and health workforce shortages,” he said.

“Lower levels of access to health services mean people in rural and remote areas, generally experience greater burden of disease and have poorer health outcomes.

Read the full story in the Australian Journal of Pharmacy here.

Image source: AJP

Healthy North Coast Supporting Communities Through Bushfire Recovery Grants – Round 2 Now Open

Applications are now open for round two of the Commonwealth Government’s ‘Supporting Communities in Bushfire Recovery’ scheme.

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to support local communities in funding grassroots, community-focused health and wellbeing initiatives. The grants are provided through Healthy North Coast’s PHN program, an Australian Government initiative.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Julie Sturgess said round one of the bushfire recovery program was proving a great success. A number of events funded under round one have either already been held, are under way, or are scheduled to take place later this year.

“The aim is to help build social connection, mental wellbeing and resilience in our communities,” Ms Sturgess said.

“This supports healing and recovery from the impact of the 2019-20 bushfires. We have been inspired by the diverse range of initiatives creating local solutions for local needs.”

Successful applicants for round one funding have included:

To apply, visit:

Read the media release here.

trunks of charred trees shooting new green leaves after the 2020 bushfires

Image source: National Bushfire Recovery Agency – Journey to recovery publication.

Centrecorp and Tangentyere partnership for healthy homes and families

A partnership between Tangentyere Council and Centrecorp has delivered real benefits to housing and health on Town Camps. Aboriginal investment group Centrecorp recently provided funding to support healthy housing in Alice Springs Town Camps with the provision of refrigerators and washing machines.

A total of 270 Town Camp households now have access to a washing machine and a fridge.

Nyewente (Trucking Yards) Town Camp resident Darelle McCormack says her new washing machine and fridge are making a difference to her family.

“The new fridge is good for keeping my son’s school lunches fresh, and the washing machine helps keep up with all the washing with the kids and when family visit.”
Natalie Pepperille, long term Nyewente resident, said the new fridge arrival was timely, as her old unit had just broken down.

“The bigger size washing machine is great as we are able to wash the blankets and bedding, keep it nice and clean.”

Read the full media release here.

NSW – Hearing Australia

Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer x Fixed Term Full Time role to July 2022

Hearing Australia is looking for experienced, high performing Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer to lead the on the ground establishment of a new program – The Hearing Assessment Program (the program). The program is a major initiative to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-6 years living in regional and remote communities.

The role will encompass local coordination of Audiology services to local communities on a state basis with experience in feeding back local needs and strategies to broaden a national blueprint and a greater affinity of maximising services and the amount of hearing assessments conducted in children 0-6 years of age.

This role is also responsible for providing high quality advice and support to senior management of Hearing Australia and assisting in obtaining and disseminating information.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here.

Hearing Australia logo - outline of Australia using soundwaves

Pat Turner on ABC The Drum tonight

Watch Pat Turner in tonight’s show of ABC The Drum at 6pm as she joins the panel to talk about:

  • First Nation’s success with COVID-19
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccine rollout and implementation plans
  • Update on Closing The Gap.

ABC The Drum: Weeknights 6pm on ABC TV + iview.