NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic’s huge impact on eye health care

feature tile text 'pandemic's huge impact on eye health care - 500,000+ less eye tests

Image in feature tile from EACH website.

Pandemic’s big impact on eye health care

Analysis of the latest Medicare data shows the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on eye health care. Between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2021, there were 516,906 less eye tests conducted nationally than in the previous 18-month period. This means that there are more than half a million Australians at greater risk of developing an eye condition or losing sight than before the pandemic.

Today, Thursday 14 October 2021 is World Sight Day, and Vision 2020 Australia is calling on all Australians to take the pledge to love their eyes in 2021. With around 90% of blindness and vision impairment preventable or treatable if detected early enough, now is the perfect time for you to show your eyes some love, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vision 2020 is asking all Australians to take the pledge to love their eyes, and:
1. Have an eye test as soon as you can.
2. Don’t ignore changes in your vision.
3. Maintain your ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.

Optometrists nationally are permitted to provide urgent care even during the lockdown so don’t delay seeking treatment if you notice a change in your vision.

To view Vision2020’s media release in full click here.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Additional funds for Kimberley vaxathons

The Morrison Government is providing an additional $150,000 to help local health services deliver additional vaxathons in the Kimberley region. Funds are being administered through the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s Local Investment Fund and will ensure a number of remote communities are targeted by the vaccination drives.

“There is unprecedented collaboration across all levels of Government, health and community support sectors to boost Indigenous vaccination rates – our approaches need to be tailored, varied and culturally appropriate,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, said. “Vaxathons, where communities can host a number of activities in addition to pop-up clinics, are proving to be one of the best opportunities for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to learn more about the vaccines and get vaccinated.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vax

Image source: WA Country Health Service.

New cancer website needs reviewers

Cancer Australia needs help to review its new website aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are looking for 6-8 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have:

  • had some experience with cancer, whether themselves or through a friend or family member; and
  • a computer, tablet or smartphone with a camera and microphone, and a decent internet connection.

Sessions will be:

  • be done by video call which may take up to an hour
  • conducted in late October and over early November

Participants will receive a $50 gift card for their time.

Contact Cancer Australia here before Monday 1 November 2021 with your name and phone number if you are interested in participating, or for more information.

banner text 'helpl to review a new website for Cancer Australia' $50 payment

NLC recommends cautious travel restrictions 

The Northern Land Council – and other NT land councils and Aboriginal health peak bodies like AMSANT and NACCHO – has worked closely with the NT and Federal governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable populations, particularly Aboriginal Territorians living in remote communities and homelands.

The NLC has always been guided by one over-riding principle – to do everything possible to keep our communities safe. So far, so good. Through close and careful cooperation between land councils, the Aboriginal health sector and governments at all levels we have dodged more than a few of the bullets that this terrible virus has thrown at us. Recent events in western NSW illustrate the devastating consequences that poorly-informed and rash decisions can have on Aboriginal communities.

NLC Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said “The NLC recommends the NT government adopt the very cautious and sensible approach taken by some state governments to restrict travel to those with at least one vaccination dose and preferably two. Only people with double doses of COVID-19 vaccine should be allowed to enter the NT,” said Mr Bush Blanasi.

To view the media release in full click here.

NTG road sign re border restrictions due to COVID-19

Image source: ABC News.

Overrepresentation in jails a ‘source of shame’

Reducing the number of Aboriginal people in prison and improving the health and safety of people in custody are the focus of a renewed commitment by the NSW Government.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin said the Government’s response to the high level of First Nations people in custody and oversight and review of deaths in custody report demonstrates its holistic, statewide approach to improving outcomes for Aboriginal people. “The overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice system remains a true source of shame for this country. Every death that occurs when a person is in custody is a tragedy for loved ones left behind,” Mr Harwin said.

To view Minister Harwin’s media release in full click here.

hands gripping jail cell bars, overlaid with transparent Aboriginal flag

Image source: Amnesty International Australia website.

Connection to culture linked to HSC success

A new report has identified the successful ways schools are using cultural activities to drive improvements in Aboriginal high school completions. The in-depth study, published by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, analysed the data of almost 40,000 secondary students across the state, including 3,686 who were Aboriginal.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the findings showed that connection to culture, language and heritage was a key driver behind Aboriginal students’ successful HSC attainment.

To view the media release in full click here.

hand of HSC student writing on exam paper

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

$100m+ for Victoria hospital upgrades

In a bid to ensure people living in rural and regional areas have access to the world-class care they deserve close to home, the Victorian Government is spending more than $100 million in vital hospital upgrades across the state. Nearly 80 rural and regional hospitals, community health services and ACCHOs will share in $120 million from the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF).

The program will deliver a variety of 105 projects across 40 rural regional Victoria council areas including operating theatre refurbishments, new waiting rooms and hospital beds, accessible paths and ramps, additional consulting rooms, expansions projects and equipment upgrades.

To view Minister Foley’s media release in full click here.

arm of hospital patient lying in bed with canula in hand

Image source: The Conversation.

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.

50 years of Census inclusion

The 1967 Referendum saw Australians overwhelmingly vote “Yes” to support the amendment of the Constitution to mandate this inclusion. To acknowledge the occasion, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is inviting you to join this opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share their stories about the Referendum and 50 years acknowledgment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Census.

The event is being held from 6-7 PM Tuesday 19 October 2021 at the National Museum of Australia and will include an interactive panel discussion with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander panel members including:

  • Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, Tagalaka traditional owner and Deputy CEO, NACCHO
  • Professor Peter Yu AM, Yawuru man and Vice-President First Nations at the ANU
  • Romlie Mokak, Djugun man, member of the Yawuru people and Commissioner, Productivity Commission
  • Fiona Cornforth, Wuthathi descendant of the far northeast cape of Queensland with family roots also in the Torres Strait Islands, CEO Healing Foundation

This event will be livestreamed. To register click here.

banner text 'you are invited to 50 year acknowledgement of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census' & old black & white photo of census officer & Aboriginal mum & baby