NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Sepsis Day 2021

World Sepsis Day – united in the fight

Today is the 10th anniversary of World Sepsis Day, a Global Sepsis Alliance initiative. World Sepsis Day highlights the ongoing impact of sepsis globally – on patients, their families and carers. It is an opportunity for us to unite in the fight against sepsis.

Early recognition and management of sepsis is a priority area for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission). This year, the Commission aims to shine a spotlight on sepsis to raise awareness among clinicians and in the community.

Image source: National Sepsis Awareness campaign

Today the Commission commences its National Sepsis Awareness Campaign. which will run until 26 November 2021. The theme for the campaign is: ‘Could it be sepsis?’ By simply asking whether it could be sepsis, life-saving treatment can be provided to stop severe health complications and death.

You can read a Q&A on sepsis with Dr Carolyn Hullick, emergency physician and Clinical Director at the Commission here and access a campaign toolkit developed to help improve awareness of sepsis, here.

The first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard is also now open for public consultation. The standard has been developed to ensure that a patient with signs and symptoms of sepsis receives the best possible care, from symptom onset through to discharge from hospital. Have your say on the draft standard here.

Together, we can help reduce the burden of sepsis on patients, clinicians and the Australian healthcare system. So please, just ask “could it be sepsis?”

For further information on World Sepsis Day 2021 including the National Sepsis Awareness Campaign click here.

Awabakal delivers vaccines, food, support

Aboriginal medical service Awabakal has helped deliver hundreds of vaccines and support to COVID-impacted communities in the Hunter. In association with a number of other Aboriginal organisations, Awabakal helped administer COVID-19 vaccines and offer food and support to residents in Windale and Hamilton South over the past week.

The Awabakal team provided 280 vaccinations in Hamilton South on Thursday last week and another 187 vaccinations at Lake Macquarie PCYC in Windale last Saturday.

“We know that sometimes the people who need help the most, whether it be with food or their health, are the least likely to reach out,” Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon said. “Taking the clinic to the community is an opportunity for people to connect to services.”

To view the Newcastle Herald article in full click here.

Windale NSW pop-up clinic inside huge hall

Windale pop-up clinic. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

From Friday 1 October 2021 legislative changes will mean the only way to legally purchase unregistered nicotine vaping products will be with a GP prescription. This has implications for our communities and workforce.

NACCHO has partnered with RACGP and ANU to deliver an interactive webinar on these legislative changes and what they might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

The webinar will be held on: Wednesday 15 September 2021, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (AEST)

Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ANU together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present the legislative changes and dive into some of the more emergent issues surrounding safety and toxicity risks, prescription of an unregistered product, harm minimisation including a case study and discussion points to support ACCHOs and health services to develop community-based vaping policies. The webinar will conclude with a 10 minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Housing crisis within a crisis

Covid-19 has exposed and aggravated the chronic overcrowding and dilapidated state of Aboriginal housing, especially in remote communities battling the Delta outbreak.

In the far west NSW virus hotspot of Wilcannia, where one in six of the town’s 650 people has been infected, a long-term housing crisis has made safe home isolation nigh impossible. Local health and community workers fear woeful hygiene, endemic disease and growing mental turmoil will take a further toll on First Nations people.

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO, said “what we are seeing in western NSW is a crisis within a crisis”. Turner says she warned governments last March that once Covid-19 reached communities such as Wilcannia, “it will hit us like a wildfire”.

“Aboriginal people have been bearing the brunt of overcrowded housing for decades,” she says. “The commonwealth has essentially wiped its hands of responsibility and the federal-state partnerships that have been struck, well, there’s not enough accountability to the people.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Ronnie Murray & members of his family outside their Wilcannia home & the tent Ron was forced to isolate in

Ronnie Murray, right, and members of his family outside their home, and the tent Ron was forced to isolate in. Photo: Chris Pavlich. Image source: The Australian.

Vaccine hesitancy explained

Yuin woman Natalie Williams is a mother-of-two living in a Sydney COVID hotspot. Determined to keep her family safe, she is debunking vaccine myths and helping her family understand the facts.

Her mum Claudette Chenhall is 70, and a grandmother of seven. Claudette is currently fighting cancer, and when it was time to roll up her sleeve to get vaccinated, she became worried after hearing about the side effects.

Vaccine hesitancy isn’t exclusive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but factors like traumatic historical events, barriers to access and supply, and misinformation, have turned a tool of protection into a tool of fear.

Ms Vicki O’Donnell, the chairperson of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and also CEO of Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service in Broome, said there was a gap in the way information was being shared. “A lot of people are saying they feel sorry for NSW, but [when] you say, ‘Do you know there is over 800 of our mob sick with COVID?’, they can’t believe it,” she said. “The numbers don’t get told at the press conference, so some people think it’s only ‘white people’ with COVID.”

To view the ABC article in full click here.

photo of Natalie with mum Claudette, bay in the background

Natalie says her mum Claudette feels safe after getting the jab. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 in our prisons

A human rights lawyer is calling for the NSW government to step up measures to vaccinate prisoners. George Newhouse from the National Justice Project said the government needed to increase its vaccinations or release some inmates.

He said of the 13,000 prisoners in NSW, only 21% were double vaccinated.

30,5% of patients in a state-run correctional centre were fully vaccinated, according to a spokesperson for the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, which deals with the health of NSW prisoners. “59.6% have had one dose,” they said.

To view this ABC News article in full click here.

top down view of NSW prison open area

Lawyers and relatives say too many NSW prison inmates are missing out on getting vaccinated. Photo: Corrective Services NSW. Image source: ABC News.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs said she received a text message from Corrections Commissioner Ray Johnson early on Saturday advising her of a positive case at the prison. “This is a very troubling development and I’m really, really worried for the detainees out there [at the prison],” Ms Tongs said. “I know our [detainee] clients are fully vaccinated but they [ACT Corrections] are not letting anyone know about the vaccination status of the general prison population.

“My information is that vaccination rates are very low and that only 25 doses a fortnight were being offered [to prisoners]. “If that’s the case, this could very quickly turn into an outbreak like Parklea [prison]. There is a lot of very vulnerable people out there, in poor physical health, and if it’s in the general prison community, the virus could quite easily kill some of them [inmates].”

To view the Canberra Times article in full click here.

man wearing covid-19 mask with hands gripping jail bars

Image source: Grattan Institute.

Elders and youth leading vaccine push

Aboriginal elders and teenagers are leading the push to get more people in Queensland’s Indigenous communities vaccinated, but the biggest challenge is dispelling myths and misinformation about the vaccine.

Cherbourg elder Uncle Bevan Costello this week received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “I feel more confident now that I’m fully vaccinated that if I come into contact with COVID I should be OK because I’m a diabetic,” Uncle Bevan said.

Figures released earlier this week showed only 4.6% of the Cherbourg population aged over 15 were fully vaccinated. It’s among the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.

“A lot of my people have been hesitant because of a misunderstanding of the information, mostly on social media,” Uncle Bevan said. Mixed messaging about the AstraZeneca vaccine and other myths circulating online were partly to blame.

Katie Panaretto from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service said staff were working closely with the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council to address the vaccine hesitancy. She believes sentiment is changing now that Pfizer is the only vaccine being offered in the community, “The community is slowly changing attitude and demand is increasing a little bit.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Aboriginal female elder receiving covid-19 vax

Queensland Health hopes more remote community residents get a shot after seeing elders and youngsters vaccinated. Photo: Lucy Loram, ABC Wide Bay. Image source: ABC News.

Growing the Aboriginal health workforce

An article written by Dr Janine Mohamed CEO, Distinguished Fellow of the George Institute for Global Health, Growing and supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, has been published in the Australian Health Review.

In the article Dr Mohamed says “It was a privilege to speak on behalf of the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF) in Alice Springs in 2018 at a landmark Indigenous Roundtable held on the eve of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council meeting. I stressed the urgent need for a dedicated and resourced strategy for growing and supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce. Simply including us as a small focus within mainstream workforce policies was insufficient. I asked Ministers to privilege the voices and wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and practise cultural respect and reciprocity in order to build trust. They listened.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Implementation Plan is now under development, part of a refresh of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2021–2031 (NATSIHWSF).”

Dr Mohamed went on to say “ACCHOs are known for their outstanding work, and their outstanding performance during the COVID-19 pandemic has made international headlines. They are a model of primary care for everyone.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

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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