NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Technology brings better health care to Tjuntjuntjara

Feature tile - Tues 25.5.21 - telehealth & remote communities

Technology brings better health care to Tjuntjuntjara

In one of the most remote communities in the world, the Aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, telehealth and the use of My Health Record have transformed health care delivery.

Tjuntjuntjara is 650km north east of Kalgoorlie in the Great Victoria Desert in WA. There are about 160 people living at Tjuntjuntjara – they speak a southern variety of the Pitjantjatjara language and identify as belonging to a group of people known as Pilanguṟu, meaning ‘from the spinifex plains’.

For the last 10 years, the Aboriginal community-controlled Spinifex Health Service in Tjuntjuntjara has had a fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) GP and other health professionals through the Adelaide-based Kakarrara Wilurrara Health Alliance (KWHA).

With the advent of COVID-19 and the closure of the WA border to the KWHA planes and health professionals from SA, there were no doctors or allied health outreach professionals able to go to Tjuntjuntjara for more than ten months from March 2020 to January 2021.

This is when digital health provided the answer. With telehealth the clinic was able to continue to have a high level of health care for chronic conditions, preventive activities and mental health issues.

“Our organisation is committed to working in deep partnership with the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector to foster and earn their trust and respect in our joint pursuit to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole.

Over the last six months, the Agency has established eight delivery partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations to support the co-design and uptake of digital health, implemented a cultural competency training program for agency staff, implemented procurement protocols to support local Indigenous businesses, and commenced implementation of a My Health Record and digital health eLearning module with CPD accreditation for Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

Read the full media release here.

Tjuntjuntjara from the air

Tjuntjuntjara from the air. Image source: Australian Digital Health Agency website.

New partnership enhances health and wellbeing support

Three national Indigenous-led and controlled services have signed a foundational partnership agreement to collaborate in delivering high quality, culturally informed and responsive programs to Indigenous communities affected by suicide and other social and emotional wellbeing trauma across Australia.

Indigenous Consulting Group and Corporate Culcha, as partners in the National Wellbeing Alliance, have partnered with Thirrili Ltd, who deliver the National Indigenous Postvention Service, to expand and enhance the work of all three organisations in supporting Indigenous families and communities.

“This partnership will ensure our organisations collaborate on the critical work we each do with families and communities, to assist in restoring capacity for Indigenous Australians to improve their social, emotional and cultural wellbeing and to stem the high rates of suicide,” said Thirrili Chief Executive Officer, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones.

This partnership will see enhanced capability of the partners to collaborate in their work to support communities to co-design and deliver supports at the local and regional level.

Read full story by Medianet here.

National Indigenous Postvention Services

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Improved record access for Stolen Generations survivors

The Healing Foundation, in collaboration with the Australian Society of Archivists, has developed an online education package to highlight the vital importance of records access for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants who have been affected by forced removal policies.

The Better Access to Stolen Generations Records learning module has been designed to assist archivists, information and support workers, new and existing professionals, and students seeking to build specialised skills to support survivors and their families.

The resources will help the sector describe the historical background of the Stolen Generations, including information relating to government policies around child removal and highlight the ongoing impacts of these policies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today, including the recognition of intergenerational trauma.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the training module provides a range of resources on key historical and social matters relating to the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their communities.

To view the training package visit the Australian Society of Archivists website.

Read the full media release here.

Intergenerational Trauma video

Intergenerational Trauma video by Healing Foundation.

International grant for zero new HIV infections in Australia

The first Australian Grant recipient is a new project by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) in partnership with the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) to develop, a new program of HIV health promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and workforce capacity building materials for health workers engaged with Indigenous people.

Rates of HIV and STIs among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain disproportionately high when compared with non‑Indigenous people, with the rate of HIV diagnoses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now over two times the diagnosis rate in Australian born non-Indigenous people.

The AFAO and ANA program will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health workers with resources, knowledge, strategies and skills to help respond to these disproportionate rates of HIV and STIs experienced among this population.

“While Australia’s HIV treatment and prevention effort is world-leading, we have not made enough progress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The most powerful HIV responses are grounded in the values and practices of the communities they serve. These resources
will strengthen the HIV response for Australia’s First Peoples,” said Darryl O’Donnell, CEO at AFAO.

“Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit greatly from HIV programs crafted specifically for them and by them. This is an important initiative that we warmly welcome,” said Colin Ross, Chair of Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA).

“We are committed to working in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health sector and AFAO to fulfil this innovative work. This funding from Gilead will assist in strengthening our work and resolve in ‘Getting to Zero’ across our community for HIV and STIs,” concluded Mr Ross.

Read the full story here.HIV image

Opportunities available with this year’s Census

The Census counts every person and home in Australia. It helps plan for community needs and is used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, housing, aged care, jobs, roads, language centres and community programs. That’s why it’s important that we count all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Census is happening this August and the Australian Bureau of Statistics has a growing network of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and wishes to share some key information on job opportunities and resources available.

Key information about the Census

  • The Census is on Tuesday 10 August 2021.
  • The Census is a national count of every person and home in Australia. It asks questions about our communities, who we are, where we live and about people living and staying with us.
  • The Census helps to tell the story of communities over time. It can show community strengths and what’s needed to help them continue to grow.
  • The Census is used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, housing, aged care, jobs, roads, language centres and community programs.
  • Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided for communities. For example, knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or mums and bubs’ health programs.
  • People living in cities and regional areas will either get a letter with instructions on how to complete online, or a paper form. You can start as soon as you get instructions if you know who’ll be home on Census night, Tuesday 10 August.
  • Census staff will be in remote communities and will do face to face interviews with people living and staying there in July and August 2021.
  • We are hiring. Visit here for more information about paid jobs. For many roles, we’re looking for people who have local knowledge and connections in their community.
  • Your personal information is protected by law and isn’t shared with anyone. This includes other government agencies.

Visit here for more information.

Going home to Dreamtime

A Queensland Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach has created a culturally appropriate flyer that aims to provide Aboriginal people in the South West region of WA with information about palliative care and the services available.

The plain language resource explains what palliative care is and provides examples of the support and services available for Aboriginal people and their families throughout the palliative journey, such as:

  • symptom management
  • access to home equipment
  • yarning groups
  • respite support
  • Aboriginal Health Workers.

The flyer also contains a map of palliative care service hub locations in WA’s South West.

  • View the Going Home to Dreamtime resource here.
  • View the Program of Experience in Palliative Approach here.