NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Raising COVID-19 vaccine awareness in Far West NSW

Raising vaccine awareness in Far West NSW

Far West NSW healthcare providers and residents in Wilcannia are looking to raise awareness about COVID vaccinations amid uptake concerns. Aboriginal healthcare provider Maari Ma said there were several areas where it would like to see vaccination numbers improve.

Primary Healthcare Services executive manager Linda Lynott said Wilcannia was of particular concern. “We’ve already had a number of meetings with the RFDS [Royal Flying Doctor Service], putting in place a whole range of strategies to get the information out to the community,” she said. “We’re working with them to provide the access to the Aboriginal community so people feel comfortable having the vaccine.”

To view the article in full click here.

Brendon Adams in Wilcannia River Radio studio

Brendon Adams says Wilcannia River Radio will try and raise awareness about getting vaccinated. Photo supplied by Wilcannia Central School. Image source: ABC News website. Feature tile image source: ABC News.

Additional vaccines for regional NSW

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, says in response to the current outbreak in Far North NSW, the Australian Government is providing an additional 7,680 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses immediately for use in the eight affected local government areas, including Walgett. “Expected to arrive in regional communities [today], the delivery includes 4,800 vaccines for use across general practices and Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics (CVCs) and 2,880 for use in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). This includes activating three additional general practices and an additional ACCHO in Bourke. In line with the ‘NSW COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Plan’, the Government is working directly with the NSW Government, ACCHOs, NACCHO, local stakeholders and the local community.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in:

  • Bogan Shire
  • Bourke Shire
  • Brewarrina Shire
  • Coonamble Shire
  • Dubbo
  • Gilgandra Shire
  • Narromine Shire
  • Tamworth
  • Walgett Shire or
  • Warren Shire

DoH COVID-19 banner, vector images of Aboriginal dot art & 4 vials of vaccine with text 'COVID-19 vaccine' & orange tick

To protect our communities, the COVID-19 vaccines are now available in larger quantities in the area. Check with your local vaccine provider and book your appointment as soon as you can. And remember, getting the vaccine is one of the valid reasons to leave home but if you feel sick, please stay at home and get tested.

A related news article in The Sydney Morning Herald says protecting Indigenous Australians from COVID-19 has been one of our nation’s greatest successes during this pandemic but the outbreak in NSW is now putting that achievement at risk.

Since the start of the epidemic, it has been understood that Indigenous communities, especially in the outback, pose a unique health challenge because they lack basic health services and live in overcrowded housing. Indigenous Australians also suffer more from chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and cancer, which raise the risk of hospitalisation or death from COVID-19. In the US, Native Americans who face similar challenges are seven times more likely to die of COVID-19 than average. No Indigenous deaths have been recorded in Australia so far.

Australian authorities have until now done a great job working with Indigenous communities to keep COVID-19 out of remote communities, using local knowledge and talking to local communities to spread culturally appropriate health messages. An outbreak at a gold mine in the NT in June was contained by contact tracing and testing.

To view the Sydney Morning Herald article in full click here.

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.

My Health Record missing immunisation details?

A person’s immunisation information, including proof of vaccination and immunisation history, is available from the Immunisations page of a person’s My Health Record.

The immunisation information, including COVID-19 vaccination information, comes from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) and other documents in a person’s My Health Record. For instructions on how to view the immunisation page click here.

If a person’s immunisation information is missing or seems incomplete, they may need to update their settings. For instructions on how to check the settings click here. This page includes a printable document with steps to check and change AIR settings in My Health Record.

Census 2021 – it’s not too late

Communities are being encouraged to make sure their Census form has been completed. Haidee Allan is a proud Kamilaroi woman from Tamworth NSW and a Census Communication Officer is reminding everyone to get their Census done as soon as possible. “We all need to be counted in the Census, so we can see how much our community has grown and what our strengths are.”

You still have time to complete your Census. You won’t be fined for completing now. You can do it online, by paper or with help from us. If you’re in a remote community, there are field staff available to help you complete your Census. If you can’t find your letter, that’s OK. You can request a Census number and complete online, or get a paper form sent to you.”

“We want all mob to be supported in filling out the Census. There’s so much help available from our staff – face to face, over the phone or online. Young mob out there – please help your Elders, Aunties and Uncles fill in the form, so they can get the services our communities need. If we don’t hear from you soon, you’ll get a reminder letter or a visit from our field staff.”

If a person hasn’t received their Census letter or form in the mail, they can go to the ABS census website  here and request a number to start their Census, or order a paper form by calling 1800 512 441.

To read the ABS media release click here.

ABS Census 2021 text 'It's not too late to participate' vector image of Aboriginal man & woman

Device set to reform stroke care

A healthcare technology company EMVision is aiming to change the stroke care paradigm. EMVision has developed a portable brain scanner for rapid, point-of-care stroke diagnosis and monitoring, which is set to transform stroke care, particularly for Australians living in regional areas, who are 17% more likely to suffer a stroke than those in metropolitan areas, and often unable to access specialised care.

There is a critical need to narrow the gap in stroke care between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians living in regional areas, with First Nations Peoples having close to three times the rate of acute ischemic stroke incidence and mortality.

EMVision’s mission is to provide equal access to healthcare and EMVision’s technology is set to transform stroke care and diagnosis for rural and Australians.

To view the article in full click here.

EMVision’s portable, lightweight brain scanne

EMVision’s portable, lightweight brain scanner will bring vital stroke care services to Australians in regional areas.

Otitis media early intervention research

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones, from the Wesfarmers Centre for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the Telethon Kids Institute, has received an Emerging Leaders Fellowship for his vision to enable Aboriginal children to access the earliest and most effective interventions for otitis media – a common middle ear infection that is the leading cause of preventable hearing loss in this group.

The Closing the Gap Roadmap for Hearing Health recognises that hearing loss in Aboriginal children can lead to delayed speech and educational development, with substantial long-term consequences.

Dr Brennan-Jones’ research aims to create lasting change in the way the health system provides services, leading to better health and educational outcomes for these children.

The research will build on the Aboriginal ear health cohorts and telehealth programs Dr Brennan-Jones established during his NHMRC Early Career Fellowship and will enable clinical trials of international significance, examining both existing and novel interventions to treat otitis media and prevent hearing loss.

The research will be guided by a 12-member Aboriginal Community Advisory Group to ensure cultural governance and enable significant capacity building for Aboriginal researchers.

To view WA Minister Roger Cook’s media release click here.

health professional checking small Aboriginal boy's ears

Image source: Macquarie University website.

“This is my boy’s health! Talk straight to me!”

The International Journal for Equity in Health has published an article about the first study to explore barriers to accessing clinical genetics services among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The study found barriers to access and engagement were present at each stage of the patient journey. These included challenges in obtaining a referral, long waiting periods, limited genetic literacy, absence of Aboriginal support services, communication challenges and lack of adequate psychosocial support and follow-up after attendance. The experience of (and expectation for) recognition of cultural identity and provision of culturally safe care was low among participants. Unaddressed concerns continued to cause significant distress in some people years after their appointment took place.

The study concluded there is significant scope for improving the care provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at clinical genetics services. Immediate attention to minimising logistical barriers, developing relationships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and providing practical and specific cultural safety training for practitioners is required at the service-level. The study’s findings strongly support the development of guidelines or policies recognising the collective cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in relation to genomic health care.

To view the journal article in full click here.

mother holding baby, IUHI healthcare worker

Image source: IUHI website.

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