NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicines Committee launched


eature tile - Thurs 8.7.21 - ATSI Meds Committee launched

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicines Committee launched

A new joint committee between NACCHO and Medicines Australia (MA) launches this week with a key focus on improving medicines access and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year’s theme for NAIDOC Week is “Heal Country”, which highlights the need to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have been calling for action to address the grave social and economic disadvantages experienced for generations. This includes targeting health inequalities currently being experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and building better access to medicines and treatments.

The NACCHO and MA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicines Committee will have a strong representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices including health consumers, health practitioners as well as ACCHO sector and industry representatives .

The group acknowledges the ongoing disparities in access to medicines and associated services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to other Australians.

To read the full media release click here.

logo text 'Medicines Australia/ navy & aqua intersected hexagons & image of 100s of different coloured tablets

Image sources: Medicines Australian and AJP. Feature image source: MJA.

Warmun and Maningrida set vaccination records

The day that COVID-19 vaccines arrived at her remote Aboriginal community last week, Warmun resident Madeline Purdie could not wait to be the first local person to receive the jab.  But the community chairperson from WA’s northern Kimberley region hoped she wouldn’t be alone. She had spent months working with health staff to debunk rumours and misinformation in a bid to convince residents the vaccine was safe. A series of small meetings were organised by WA Country Health and Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) in the weeks leading up to the Warmun roll-out to address any concerns. Ms Purdie said it allowed residents the time and space to ask questions and process the information so they could then make an informed decision when it came time to administer the jab.

Ms Purdie’s fear quickly turned to joy when almost 200 fellow community members came forward to join her. Over two days, the majority of Warmun’s population — about 76% of eligible residents — were vaccinated. She feels that Warmun is a proud example of what can be achieved when health officials and community leaders work closely together. “Hopefully my community is feeling safer and feeling that they’re really proud of getting that needle,” she said.

To view the full article click here.

3 Aboriginal men in orange navy tradie polos with thumbs up showing cotton balls over vaccination site in upper arm

The Warmun community has celebrated after a successful vaccination campaign. Photo: WACHS. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Maningrida, an Indigenous community 500 kms east of Darwin has also achieved an impressive vaccination rate, inoculating 65% of their eligible population in just three and a half days. Maningrida is home to the Gunavidji people and is a large community with a population of over 2,000 at the last census.

Over three and a half days in early July, the Maningrida Mala’la Health Service, with assistance from the NT Government’s Top End Health Service, inoculated 1,333 of the community’s 1,800 residents eligible for the vaccine. Mala’la set the record for most vaccinations in a day, with 453 vaccines administered in one day. According to the Territory’s Remote Housing Minister Chansey Paech, it’s the most vaccinations completed in one day by any vaccination hub in the NT.

The Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation’s Health and Community Services Manager Lesley Woolf said the success of the program came down to good planning. “The was a lot of preparation in the lead-up, particularly with health promotion,” Woolf said.

To view the full article click here.

megaphone from bus Maningrida

Elders in the community rode a bus around town with a megaphone reminding residents that the vaccination clinic was running over the weekend.

New communication tool for those with dementia

Dementia is a serious emerging health issue for Indigenous populations who experience the disease at a rate between 3 to 5 times that of the general population with onset at an earlier age.

Picture cards illustrated by proud Dagoman woman Samantha Campbell will help the growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia maintain crucial links to carers and communities. Dementia Support Australia (DSA), led by HammondCare and funded by the Australian Government, has produced a set of culturally appropriate communication cards specifically to support Indigenous Australians as their verbal skills decline.

DSA Director Associate Professor Colm Cunningham said the cards are the first of their kind designed to support older people and people with dementia from our First Nations, “The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is strongly based on connection to Country, community, family and culture. These cards will provide the ability to communicate in a way that respects both the person and their culture with families, staff in aged care services and our DSA consultants.”

To view the full article published in Inside Ageing click here.

4 picture cards for those living with dementia - cartoon drawing of family/mob, doctor, yarning & bush tucker

Examples of picture cards illustrated by Dagoman woman Samantha Campbell. Image source: Inside Ageing website.

Self-determination key family violence healing

A new report from the Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) led by First Nations researchers has examined the importance of self-determination in family violence healing programs. The report is one part of a larger review into First Nations healing programs that respond to domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

The research was led by Macquarie University academics Professor Bronwyn Carlson, Madi Day and Dr Terri Farrelly. The report notes that whilst mainstream programs lean towards legal intervention, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs focus on healing. “One of the key things that you see in these community-led programs is that concept about relationality and reciprocity,” Professor Carlson told NIT. “How do we bring people in, keep them in, keep them safe and give them a future that they are able to thrive in? That is at the core of these programs, it isn’t punitive, it’s not about tarnishing someone’s life so they cannot move beyond it. It’s about how we allow this person time and space, and the proper resources, to fully heal and thrive in the world and in doing so, pass that same healing onto their families, children and relationships.”

However, whilst Indigenous community-led programs are effective, they are rarely funded properly. “All Indigenous people do is invest in the future, but what we are tackling is a system, among many systems, that see no future for us. That is the big problem,” Professor Carlson said.

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.

portrait photo of Professor Bronwyn Carlson

Professor Bronwyn Carlson. Image source: SBS NITV.

Pregnancy and birth outcomes

A Linked Perinatal, Birth Death Data set has been created by linking jurisdictional perinatal and birth registration records to the National Death Index to identify Indigenous under-5 deaths occurring in specified birth cohorts within jurisdictional Perinatal Data Collections. This report examines the feasibility of using this linked data collection for analysis and explores the associated methodology, data quality issues and analysis of risk factors associated with adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes.

During 2016–2018, there were 15 perinatal deaths (stillbirths and deaths of live-born babies within 28 days after birth) out of every 1,000 babies born to Indigenous women. Preterm birth and low birthweight were the main risk factors associated with these perinatal deaths. Risk factors associated with preterm birth and low birthweight included smoking during pregnancy, chronic hypertension, pre-existing diabetes, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and untimely access to antenatal care.

You can access the AIHW’s Pregnancy and Birth outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women 2016–2018 report click here.cover of AIHW pregnancy & birth outcomes for ATSI women 2016–2018 report

Healing more crucial than ever

University of WA Professor Pat Dudgeon and Dr Zena Burgess, CEO of the Australian Psychological Society have written an Opinion Piece for The Guardian. Below is an excerpt from their article Healing among Indigenous people is more crucial now than ever. Here’s a way forward.

This year NAIDOC week focuses on healing: healing Country and strengthening the social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For many peoples and communities who already experience marginalisation and disadvantage – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded and highlighted existing issues, such as a lack of housing and access to health care, food insecurity, financial distress, unemployment and poverty.

Due to the higher prevalence of issues associated with social determinants of health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience significant ongoing health and mental health challenges. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are nearly twice as likely to die by suicide and are almost three times more likely to be psychologically distressed than non-Indigenous Australians.

But Australia’s mental health system is built on a western viewpoint, where western knowledge and methodologies are the default approach to psychological frameworks. Little recognition is given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews, wisdom, knowledge and methods, which span more than 60,000 years and represent the resilience of the oldest living culture.

There’s never been a more critical time for healing. But what does that look like?

To view the Opinion Piece in full click here.

photo of Aboriginal woman's hands in her lap, green blue hibiscus dress

Photo: Jonny Weeks. Image source: The Guardian.

NAIDOC Week research collection

The Australian Journal of Rural Health (AJRH), which is a leading publisher of research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, is honoured to share research featured in a special NAIDOC Week content collection. Published by Wiley, the collection ‘NAIDOC 2021’ features more than 50 articles from across the publisher’s stable of journals to “acknowledge this important week and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”. The collection includes a video (see below) of an AJRH paper exploring community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnerships with university-based researchers and rural Aboriginal communities in NSW.

To view the AJRH’s media release Aboriginal communities and rural health researchers ‘walking side-by-side’ click here.

Bush medicine information preservation

To mark NAIDOC Week 2021 the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has released a new video showing the importance of bush medicine in Indigenous culture and health and how My Health Record can be used to manage that information for the holistic care of patients. Director of Clinical Services and Senior Medical Officer at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service in Yarrabah Queensland, Yued Noongar man from Dandaragan WA, Dr Jason King, said “I ask my patients what bush medicines they are using and include that information in the medical records in our clinic and this feeds into My Health Record.”

ADHA’s video (below) features Linc Walker, owner and tour guide at Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours in Cooya Beach, north of Port Douglas in Queensland and pharmacist Brad Reilly from Live Life Pharmacy in Port Douglas. The tours have been running for 22 years and were started by Linc and his brother Brandon to help preserve ancient cultural activities and knowledge. Linc said “We use traditional medicine because we’ve always used it. When we were young it was too far to town, the shops were too far away and so we had to do this. It’s part of our life still.”

You can read ADHA’s media their release here.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

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