- Additional funding to help vaccinate mob
- Bathurst gets walk-in vax clinic
- Communities rallying to get mob vaccinated
- Vaccination rates must increase before reopening country
- Lock-down of remote communities with low jab rates
- Healthcare workers at increased risk of mental ill-health during pandemic
- Suicide intervention training saving lives
- NACCHO Conference postponed
- New process for job advertising
Additional funding to help vaccinate mob
All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who aren’t vaccinated are prioritised under new funding to cover all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). An extra $7 million will be provided to NACCHO, with some of the funding to be used to hire more staff, who will liaise directly with communities to assist with the rollout of vaccinations.
Lieutenant General John Frewen who leads the national COVID-19 vaccine taskforce said:
“In some of the bigger communities, we’ll be doing things like super clinics, you know, a sort of blitz effort to get large numbers of people through. In other areas we’ll be doing very close community consultation, with an information campaign to get the community ready to accept vaccination and then we’ll provide the vaccinations there.”
There is also funding for First Nations Media Australia, which has been asked to produce new advertising material that can be shared among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout, to address vaccine hesitancy.
Note: image in feature tile – Aboriginal health service, Wellington, NSW. Photo: Louise Austin. Image source: ABC News.
Bathurst gets walk-in vax clinic
A good number of people received their COVID-19 shot at the Kelso Community Hub, Bathurst on its first day as a pop-up vaccination clinic. The Kelso Community Hub is a walk-in clinic, meaning no appointments are needed, and around 200 people per day will be able to be vaccinated.
The clinic is being led by the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service and CEO Jamie Newman said it is about making the vaccine more accessible to people in the community.
“We’ve got to be mindful that a lot of our people who live in low socioeconomic areas do not have transport, so to get into town would be difficult for them. We encountered the same thing in Orange. We need to be able to sometimes bring the mountain to Mohamed, so having it here right in the heart of Kelso allows for walking distance for community members here,” he said.
You can read the story in the Western Advocate here.
Communities rallying to get mob vaccinated
Vaccination rates must increase before reopening country
Seventeen of the 20 least vaccinated regions of Aboriginal people are in WA and QLD. Traditional Owners in the WA outback are the least vaccinated of any area in Australia, with just nine per cent of those living in the Southern Outback region having received both doses of the vaccineMichael Small is a Maths and Statistics Professor at the University of Western Australia; his modelling shows that if WA was to experience a NSW-style outbreak, the State would only have 30 days before the virus made its way to remote communities.
“The modelling showed that until the vaccination rate is at around 80 or 90 percent, then these communities are at great risk of local transmission within about a month [of the virus arriving in the State],” he said.
You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.
In a related article in Croakey Health Media, grave concerns have been raised about the implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health of the “Roadmap to Freedom” released by the NSW Government.
Under the plan, stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW passes the 70 percent double vaccination target. NSW hits the 80 percent double dose target, the Government intends to ease further restrictions around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.
Aboriginal health leaders in NSW, the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions are calling for public health orders to remain in place until at least 90 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are vaccinated.
Lock-down of remote communities with low jab rates
In an article in The Australian (that requires a subscription to read), Western Australia is working on plans to lock down remote Aboriginal communities with low vaccination rates when it lifts state and international borders, with health officials concerned American evangelists were scaring residents into refusing inoculations.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed he had spoken to his federal counterpart, Greg Hunt, to request support to lock down communities with low Covid-19 vaccination rates once border restrictions were relaxed.
Health authorities in the state are particularly concerned about hostility towards the vaccination program in the far northern communities of Noonkanbah, Looma and Ringer Soak, although Mr Cook said he was aware of at least one community further south where local leaders were also agitating against inoculations.
The most recent publicly available vaccination data for WA’s northern outback region, released last Monday, shows just 28 per cent of adults have had one dose compared with 53 per cent across the entire state on the same day. Only 17 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Mr Cook said a small number of communities were simply turning away healthcare workers because “religious opposition (was) just too overwhelming … Those communities are now saying, ‘Look, we’ve heard you. We’re not going to take the vaccine because it’s against god’s will, and so just don’t come back,’ ” he said.
“I think we have to concede that there are some communities that simply will not participate in the … program.” Mr Cook said it may be necessary to restrict movement in and out of remote communities that remain largely unvaccinated in 2022 when international and interstate travel resumed.
Mr Cook said some communities had been turned against the vaccine after streaming YouTube videos from US evangelists.
“But just because you’re of a strong religious belief doesn’t mean that you’re anti-vax, it’s simply an interpretation of some of the churches.”
Mr Cook said the debate about when to open-up must include a proviso about the vaccination rate of Aboriginal people. “If you’ve got 80 per cent of mainstream WA vaccinated but only 20 per cent of the Aboriginal community vaccinated, you still can’t open up,” he said.
Healthcare workers at increased risk of mental ill-health during pandemic
There is increasing concern about rising rates of mental ill-health and suicide among doctors.
A recent review led by the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney that was published in The Lancet has revealed doctors are at increased risk of suicide and, in their early years of training, one-quarter to one-third reported significant mental ill-health. The researchers said while this was an increasing issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there is emerging evidence that the impact of the pandemic is creating even more mental health problems.
The review suggested female doctors appeared to be at particular risk, with a suicide rate that is significantly higher than women in the general population.
“The acute nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of Australia at the moment highlights the importance of this issue. The mental health of doctors, along with other healthcare staff, is something we are all depending on,” said the lead author of the study Professor Samuel Harvey, who runs the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW.
You can read the article in the UNSW Sydney Newsroom here.
Suicide intervention training saving lives
A training program to build Indigenous Australians’ skills in preventing suicides has brought national acclaim for a University of Queensland researcher. Associate Professor Maree Toombs said the I-ASIST program was developed in partnership with LivingWorks Australia over four years of consultation and collaboration.
Dr Toombs, a Euralie and Kooma woman, is the UQ Faculty of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Indigenous Engagement. On World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2021), she received the Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Impact Award.
“I-ASIST trains friends, family and outreach services to identify people early who are at risk of suicide, and to use their skills to address the situation immediately,” she said.
“It provides employment for Indigenous trainers, either through organisations or as sole traders, to deliver suicide first-aid skills to their local communities. It develops capacity and sustainability for evidence-based training.
“Now we need people who are embedded and trusted in their communities to be trained deliver this program, especially in Indigenous communities,” she said.
Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, will officially launch I-ASIST in November.
You can read more about the program here.
NACCHO Conference postponed
📢 IMPORTANT NOTICE: As the COVID-19 situation and impacts continue, a decision has been taken to postpone our Conference until next year. NACCHO will review the situation in December including when we can convene the conference.
For any queries please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.