- Changes to chronic disease incentive program
- Yarrabah fighting to stay COVID-free
- Vaccination data essential to protect communities
- TGA approves fourth COVID-19 vaccine
- Complete your Census tonight
- Are zero-alcohol beverages harmless?
- Health impacts from climate change
- New process for job advertising
Changes to chronic disease incentive program
The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) encourages general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to appropriately and effectively meet the health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease.
Chronic disease is responsible for 70% of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. The PIP IHI seeks to address this gap.
The Australian Government announced changes to the PIP IHI as part of the 2021–2022 Budget following a national consultation process. From 1 January 2023, the following will change:
- Eligibility will be expanded to include children under the age of 15.
- GP Mental Health Care Plans will be added as eligible items for the purposes of outcomes payments.
- The requirement to deliver a certain number of services in a calendar year will be replaced with a 12-month rolling window, starting from the date the first eligible service is delivered. This will give practices more time to deliver the services required to achieve outcomes payments.
- The program will start moving towards a back-ended payment structure. This means the majority of the payment will be provided after a threshold level of care has been provided. A transition period – where registration is gradually reduced, and the Tier 2 payment is gradually increased – will give practices time to adjust to this change.
Yarrabah fighting to stay COVID-free
The Aboriginal community in Yarrabah, about an hour’s drive from Cairns has about 350 homes. With serious overcrowding, high rates of ill-health, low rates of vaccination and the fact five of the community’s seven GPs have been forced into isolation, it is clear why Jason King and the 110-strong team at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service are desperate to keep COVID-19 from their side of the hill.
“It does leave us a little short-staffed, but we’ve got a great team around us,” said Dr King, director of clinical services. The community are responding really well and following all the directions for the lockdown,” he said.
“We’ve had a fantastic response, both testing and vaccination.”
On Monday, which was the first day the centre could start giving Pfizer doses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12 and above, parents began bringing in their teenagers, Dr King said. “We’ve had to restock our vaccines early with assistance from Queensland Health stocks, just to be able to provide [shots] ongoing until we receive our next shipment on Friday,” he said.
Read the story in the Brisbane Times here.
Vaccination data essential to protect communities
NACCHO said detailed data was essential to the successful rollout to vulnerable remote and suburban communities. NACCHO’s senior medical adviser, GP and epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said it was “hard to understand” why detailed data about Indigenous vaccination rates was not publicly available, as it is Canada, the USA, or New Zealand which publishes weekly data on Maori vaccination rates.
“Priority reform number four of the closing the gap agreement is about data for health services planning, and at the moment I think I’m the only person in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector that has access to really detailed data,” Agostino said. “Unless we’re paying attention to those small levels of geography and those individual communities, we might find islands of poor vaccination coverage that leave those communities vulnerable.”
You can read the story in the Guardian here.
TGA approves fourth COVID-19 vaccine
On 9 August 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval to Moderna Australia Pty Ltd for its COVID-19 vaccine — Spikevax (elasomeran) — making it the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia.
This messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine is provisionally approved and included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older. It is recommended that the vaccine is given in two doses that are administered 28 days apart. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has shown strong efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 in clinical trials.
Provisional approval of this vaccine in Australia is subject to certain strict conditions, such as the requirement for Moderna Australia Pty Ltd to continue providing information to the TGA on longer-term efficacy and safety from ongoing clinical trials and post-market assessment.
Read the full media statement here.
Complete your Census tonight
The Census will count each person and household in Australia TONIGHT Tuesday, 10 August 2021.
Adrian Dodson-Shaw a proud Yawuru, Arrernte and Kaytetye man and Assistant Director at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics is encouraging everyone to participate.
“We need our mob to be counted in the Census to ensure that we’re heard. Census data is used to help create a better future for our younger generations,” Adrian said.
“Census data is used to help plan services for our families and communities. Make sure you include everyone in your home on Census night. This includes Elders, babies and visitors.
In remote areas, the Census is conducted between July and August. This allows time for remote teams to cover large areas and visit households to help people complete.
Are zero-alcohol beverages harmless?
Zero-alcohol beverages are becoming increasingly popular in Australia with major brands now stocked on supermarket shelves. Consumption of zero-alcohol products increased by 2.9% in 2020 and is expected to increase by 31% by 2024.
A new paper in the Drug and Alcohol Review by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The George Institute for Global Health (George Institute) raises questions about if these beverages are giving Australia’s young people a taste for alcohol.
Menzies and George Institute researcher and lead author Mia Miller said that zero-alcohol beverages are often packaged identically to alcoholic beverages and can be indistinguishable in taste. Miller says that further research is needed to assess whether the ease of availability of zero-alcohol beverages may lead to a gateway effect, where children who consume them would be more likely to consume alcoholic beverages underage.
Health impacts from climate change
Torres Strait Islander peoples intend to live on their traditional country long-term. Living on the northernmost islands of Queensland allows these “saltwater people” to maintain their cultural responsibilities, identity and kinship connections. Caring for country and keeping these connections can also bring health benefits. However, climate change increases the risks of negative health impacts.
“If our connection to these lands disappears, our Indigenous culture disappears”
An emergency call for increased attention to climate change and health impacts on Torres Strait Islander peoples was made in 2019 by 22 medical professionals working in the Queensland government’s Torres and Cape Health and Hospital Service region. They stated that climate change is a health emergency.
“We are concerned about the immediate effects of heat stress and extreme weather events as well as the long-term effects. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by climate change and unabated climate change will only steepen this social health gradient.”
You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Below is a video outlining the issue called Our Islands, Our Home | Torres Strait Climate Justice Case.
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.