NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Help on ground needed, not just targets

feature tile text 'help on the ground needed to tackle disadvantage not just targets' silhouette of Aboriginal man sitting in humpy

Help on ground needed, not just targets

Indigenous advocates want help on the ground, not just targets, to stop Aboriginal Australians ending up in child protection and jail and dying sooner. Data on how Australia is faring in attempts to tackle Indigenous disadvantage has revealed stark failures. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and girls born between 2015 and 2017 are expected to live 8.6 and 7.8 fewer years, respectively, than non-Indigenous children. While the gap has lessened compared to a decade prior, Australia is not on track to close it by 2031, a Productivity Commission analysis released last week shows.

Another target, to achieve a significant and sustained reduction in the Indigenous suicide rate, was also set to be missed. It rose from 24.9 to 27.1 per 100,000 people across all states and territories except Tasmania and the ACT between 2018 and 2019. Also off track were attempts to reduce the rate of Indigenous children in out-of-home-care by 45% and adults in jail by 15%. Children represented 56.3 per 1,000 of those in out-of-home care last year, up from 54.2 in 2019. Over the same period, the rate of adults in the prison population rose from 2077.4 to 2081.1 per 100,000 to June 2020.

The peak body advocating for Indigenous children and their families said setting targets alone would not lead to change. “Our people have said it for a long time; change can only happen through shared decision-making and genuine partnership with our communities,” Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care chief executive Catherine Liddle said. “This includes continuing to work with our sectors to ensure they are prioritised as the experts in delivering culturally and locally appropriate services to our families.”

To view the article in full click here.

back of elderly Aboriginal man sitting & Aboriginal boy lying down face to camera & second older Aboriginal man sitting facing camera look at boy, all on old blankets outside building dusty outback

Feature tile image of Elder Kingi Ross, pictured in his humpy in the remote Utopian outstation of Irrultja. Source of both above and feature image

No time to lose to curb Delta’s spread

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said today time is running out to get control of the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, calling for stricter, wider lockdown measures alongside a massive vaccination push. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said people in Sydney were now facing a very significant risk of catching COVID-19, with people of all ages in hospital and many of these in ICU.

Dr Khorshid said the NSW Government should have consistent rules about travel limits within a five km radius from home throughout Greater Sydney and mask wearing, and not just in the eight Local Government Areas (LGAs), to get on top of the outbreak of the Delta strain. “Lockdown should mean lockdown across the whole Sydney region. COVID-19 does not respect geography or local government boundaries on a map, and clear and simple rules applied everywhere will make a difference — including mandatory mask wearing indoors and outdoors, when outside the home.

“Unless daily infection numbers come down over the next few days, NSW is in real danger of having to live with the COVID-19 Delta strain for the foreseeable future – that means ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, not to mention a huge cost to the health and wellbeing of the community and the economy of the whole nation. Now is not the time for mixed messaging, appealing to common sense or finding a balance between economic and health advice – now is the time for ALL of Sydney to work together under simple, understandable restrictions that apply evenly to all with the aim of achieving what Melbourne was able to achieve last year- to eliminate COVID-19.”

To view a transcript of the interview in full click here.

virus cell & drive through testing

Image source: AP/UNSPLASH.

Vaccine rollout gathering steam

Despite delays in the vaccine rollout, WA Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are now getting vaccines administered in regional communities. Across the nation, 124,096 First Nations people have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine (21.4% of those eligible) and over 50,365 (8.7%) have received a second dose.

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 are eligible for the vaccine. Though the vaccine rollout has been slower than the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) would have liked, AHCWA Public Health Medical Officer Dr Marianne Wood said delays allowed more time to overcome vaccine hesitancy. “The slowness isn’t a terribly bad thing. There was some concern from some quarters in the community about the vaccine, and that’s going away now,” she said. “In WA we don’t have COVID right now knocking on our door, although that could change in a flash. I think it’s okay at this stage because we are taking it slowly and gently.”

Remote WA Aboriginal Health Services (AHS) are rolling out the vaccine in association with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). An AHS can book in for vaccine delivery and any extra assistance required with administration is provided by the RFDS. “The frustrating thing is that supplies of Pfizer have been very slow to come through, and that definitely is an issue, especially at the beginning,” Dr Wood said. “But now all but one of our services have signed up [to the rollout] and have dates for starting — if they haven’t already.”

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

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. Image source: Government of WA website.

Stillbirth, cancer and uranium mine

The Ranger uranium mine, surrounded by Kakadu National Park in the NT, operated for 40 years until it closed this year. During this time, , Aboriginal people in the region experienced stillbirth rates double those of Aboriginal people elsewhere in the Top End, and cancer rates almost 50% higher. But a NT government investigation couldn’t explain why and we’re still no wiser.

We owe it to Aboriginal people living near mines to understand and overcome what’s making them sick. We need to do this in partnership with ACCHOs. This may require research that goes beyond a biomedical focus to consider the web of socio-cultural and political factors contributing to Aboriginal well-being and sickness.

To view the article in full click here.

aerial shot of Ranger uranium mine, NT

Ranger uranium mine, NT. Image source: Energy Resources Australia.

New stroke recovery resource

The Stroke Foundation have launched Our Stroke Journey, a booklet designed to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live well after stroke, to mark National Stroke Week 2–8 August 2021. Stroke Foundation National Manager StrokeConnect Jude Czerenkowski said this resource represents a big step forward in ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get the information and support they need after stroke.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to be hospitalised with stroke than non-Indigenous Australians,” Ms Czerenkowski said. “Most people don’t know much about stroke. Everyone needs access to evidence-based, easy-to-understand information after a stroke. We have worked with an incredible group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of stroke, carers and health workers to create Our Stroke Journey. They have shared their stories and expertise with us and we are incredibly grateful.”

You can view the Stroke Foundation’s media release in full click here and the Our Stroke Journey on the Stroke Foundation’s website here.

survivor of stroke Joe Miller in check shirt, Akubra, standing against green grassed river bank

Survivor of stroke Joe Miller believes Our Stroke Journey is much needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait survivors of stroke, their families, and carers

PHC Manuals medicines review process

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are widely used in primary health care settings across Australia to guide and support the provision of high quality, evidence-based care to people living in rural and remote communities. The suite of manuals is currently being reviewed and updated in preparation for new editions planned for 2022.

Ensuring that medications featured in the protocols align with current evidence and research, is a crucial element in our review process. A team of multi-disciplinary health professionals applies a multi-stage process to confirm that all medications recommended in the protocols are up to date, supported by evidence and appropriate for the remote, Indigenous health context.

For further information, including the Pharmacy Review Process Flowchart below, click here.Pharmacy Medicines review process flowhart for Rural PHC Manuals, 6 stepsThe RPHCM project team is seeking expressions of interest from pharmacists to assist in the medicines review process.  Volunteer reviewers with experience in remote or Indigenous health can contribute to either or both, the protocols, or Medicines Book review. We appreciate and value all our reviewers and acknowledge their contribution on our website, as well as providing a certificate of involvement for inclusion in their CV. To register your interest click here.

Pharmacy Review Coordinators: Philippe Freidel, Danny Tsai, Tobias Speare sitting at a desk, Philippe & Tobias holding manuals & Danny with open laptop

Pharmacy Review Coordinators: Philippe Freidel, Danny Tsai, Tobias Speare
and Fran Vaughan, Editorial Committee (absent from photo).

Human Rights award nomination date extended

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) annual Human Rights Awards are proceeding again in 2021 – with a difference!

This year, they are accepting nominations for three award categories:

  • Human Rights Medal
  • Young People’s Human Rights Medal
  • Community Human Rights Champion

You are invited to nominate a person, group, organisation or community that has contributed to human rights in Australia. The nominations closing date has been extended to Saturday 7 August 2021.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic the AHRC will be celebrating the finalists and winners virtually through a social media amplification campaign in the lead up to Human Rights day on 10 December 2021. AHRC looks forward to receiving nominations and celebrating this year’s finalists – and winners – with you! You can nominate here.

5 previous winnders of AHRC annual HRs awards

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Stroke Week

Monday 2 to Sunday 8 August 2021 is National Stroke Week. This year, you are being asked to be ‘United by Stroke’ by learning the F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech. Time) signs of stroke. Register for National Stroke Week here, receive your free Kit and help raise awareness of the signs of stroke.

You can find more about National Stroke Week and access a range of resources here.

tile text 'United by Stroke - National Stroke Week 2-8 August 2021' 6 people standing facing front, middle woman ambo