NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Data proves birthing program works

feature tile text 'data proves innovative community program Birthing in Our Community WORKS!' image of Aboriginal mother's finger being held in her baby's hand

Data proves birthing program works

A unique birthing program in Brisbane has long been advocating for culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies. Now it has the data to prove it’s working.

About 300 women go through the Brisbane-based Birthing in Our Community Program (BiOC) was founded in 2013. It’s now been the subject of a long-term study into whether such culturally appropriate care improves the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children – and the results are promising.  A study led by researchers at Charles Darwin University and published in The Lancet Global Health journal earlier this year found, over a seven-year period, an 80% increase in women attending antenatal appointments.

It also found women using the service were 50% less likely to have a premature baby than those accessing standard maternity care in hospital, as well as a 40% increase in breastfeeding.

Charles Darwin University professor Yvette Roe, who is co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and led the study, says the results are astonishing. “We’ve not seen this kind of evidence anywhere in Australia. This kind of research, this kind of model of care, this system of care, changes life trajectory.” Professor Roe, a Njikena Jawuru woman, says having a range of services available is part of its triumph.

To view the article in full click here.

torso shot of Sarah Booth with her baby daughter Eva

BiOC participant Sarah Booth with her daughter Eva. Image source: SBS News website. Image in feature tile from ISA Healthcare Solutions website.

CTG Partnership Health Check

The 2020 Partnership Health Check report, Joint Council response and Risk Register were released late last week. The Joint Council’s response acknowledges the important leadership role of the Coalition of Peaks in bringing forward policy proposals for consideration and commits the Parties to strengthened shared decision making processes to support the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The annual Partnership Health Check will make sure the Partnership is getting stronger, and we are all meeting our commitments of the National Agreement to Close the Gap. The Partnership Health Check Report, Joint Council Response and Risk Register are on the Coalition of Peaks website here.tile text 'PARTNERSHIP HEALTH CHECK' CoP logo, The Partnership HEalth Check looks at how the Coalition of Peaks and governments are working together and suggests ways to make the partnership stronger!

4 in 10 children in OOHC are Indigenous

Indigenous children have remained disproportionately represented in Australian out-of-home care (OOHC) statistics, despite overall rates remaining steady. A 118-page annual report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows one in four of the roughly 46,000 children in out-of-home care in mid-2020 were Indigenous.

At the time there were about 18,900 Indigenous children in OOHC which includes living with a relative or foster carer. That represents one in 18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia, and it was 11 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous kids.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of that group were living with family or other Indigenous caregivers, with the rest in other arrangements including foster care. “In positive news, over 80% of Indigenous children who exited OOHC into more stable and permanent arrangements, did not return to care within 12 months,” AIHW spokesman Dinesh Indraharan said.

To view the full article click here.

close up of face of young Aboriginal girl looking sad

Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family & Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.

Water quality leaves Doomadgee dialysis chairs unused

A remote Indigenous community’s water quality is being blamed for a delay in two dialysis chairs being installed in the town’s hospital. A total of six dialysis chairs were supposed to be installed in Doomadgee last year but were delayed due to COVID-19 border restrictions into Indigenous communities. North West Hospital and Health Service’s acting chief executive Karen Murphy said the Gulf region’s flooding and a shortage in tradespeople had further delayed the installation of the remaining two chairs.

“We actually have all of the chairs in Doomadgee ready to go,” she said. “The contractors who were planned to do the upgrades had gone out of business and we had to go back out to tender. “The complexity is that the water quality going into these chairs has to be very specific water quality and so we’re still finalising all of the plumbing and the filtration system that will be used.”

To view the article in full click here.

from torso down Aboriginal man receiving dialysis, background is monitor & dialysis machine, blue hospital curtain

Renal dialysis in Mount Isa and Townsville are the only options for many Doomadgee residents. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC News website.

Action needed for heart disease in women

Australian researchers are calling for urgent action to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women – the leading cause of death for women around the world. The first global report on the issue urges action to tackle inequities in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease. 17 experts from 11 countries, including Australia, authored the study, which found heart, stroke and blood vessel disease in women was understudied, under-recognised, underdiagnosed and undertreated.

Around 2.1 million Australian women have cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, and it accounts for about one-in-four female deaths. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 35% of women’s deaths worldwide each year. “This report reinforces that strategies to reduce heart disease in women should be targeted to the most vulnerable people globally, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous women to have heart, stroke and vascular disease.

To view the full article from The West Australian click here.

plastic model of heart sitting on medical text book

Image source: The Tennessee Tribune.

Patient immunisation details more easily available

Australian healthcare providers now have an improved and consolidated view of their patients’ immunisation details through My Health Record. This is important as the world continues to face the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and shows how the national digital health system can support the response to both this and future pandemics. Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Clinical Adviser, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the latest update to the system makes it much easier to see patient immunisation information. As a GP I can quickly and easily see my patients’ immunisation details, including their COVID-19 vaccination status or their children’s National Immunisation Program status, without having to go through time-consuming logins for separate systems. This is one of the great benefits of My Health Record, he said.

To view the ADHA media release click here.

My Health Record logo & image of arm being vaccinated

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health website.

Calls to reinstate rural medicine placement program

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) has called upon the Australian Government to reinstate funding for the John Flynn Placement Program, which was suspended following the 2021–22 Federal Budget announcements.

The Program, named after the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, has provided thousands of students a taste of rural medicine through four funded fortnight-long placements in rural Australia since 1997. “This Program has fostered an interest in rural medicine among students who wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to immerse themselves in rural life,” AMSA President, Sophie Keen, said. “While we commend the investment into prevocational training in rural and remote areas, this leaves a hole in medical student experiences that cannot be filled by university-led programs through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary.”

To view the AMSA’s media release click here.

young rural doctor sitting on top of group of road signs in outback, one sign says 10 km to Ampilatwatja Health Centre Aboriginal Corporation

Image source: NT GP Education website.

Massive shortage of rural psychiatrists

In a year defined by uncertainty, isolation and grief, our mental health has been tested in new and perhaps unprecedented ways, and we are only now beginning to see the first aftershocks in a system already stretched to capacity to respond. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health will be the focus of talks at this week’s annual congress of Australian and NZ psychiatrists.

Workforce issues also will be discussed at length at the Congress, with the College to launch its 2021–31 Rural Psychiatry Roadmap focused on addressing significant access challenges for Australians outside of metropolitan areas, a “cycle of rural psychiatry disadvantage”.

While almost one in three Australians lives outside a major city, only 14% of psychiatrists practice in these areas – and this number is just 10% for full-time clinicians. A paucity of culturally appropriate services greatly compounds this problem for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

outback road, red dust & dry grass clumps either side, blue skiy, no clouds, kangaroo road sign

Image source: Pro Bono website.

Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Conference

The Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Network at the Agency for Clinical Innovation, The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council and NSW Primary Health Networks would like to cordially invite you to join us for the virtual 2021 – Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Conference 10:00 AM 8 June to 3:00 PM 9 June 2021.

The aim of this free, open to all, virtual conference is to bring together stakeholders to showcase each other’s success and key learnings in designing and delivering virtual models of care for Aboriginal peoples. We also would like to showcase any key initiatives that have supported the emotional wellbeing of the workforce and community during these challenging times.

To register click here. Link will be provided to attendees 48hr prior to the conference.

Aboriginal art work orange, aqua, green, yellow, blue, purple, red - 4 horizontal layers

Image source: NSW Government, Agency for Clinical Innovation.