NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'Aboriginal natural helpers help counter COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy' & vector image of syringe & vial

Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

An Edith Cowan University project funded by the WA government has been consulting with natural helpers in Aboriginal communities in the south west and Perth urban areas of WA. Led by Dr Uncle Mick Adams, Senior Aboriginal Research Fellow at the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Professor Neil Drew, Director of the HealthInfoNet, and Associate Professor Stuart Medley from the School of Arts and Humanities, supported by community Cultural Consultant Brett Hill, the project has been asking natural helpers about their experiences of COVID-19.

Natural helpers are those in the community who are naturally turned to in times of crisis for information and support. A particular focus was to explore where people are getting their information from and how trustworthy they feel those sources are.

Many participants in the study felt that, despite the overwhelming weight of information available, they still lacked information that they could trust. They felt that many of the people used to promote the messages, like sports people or politicians were too far-removed from the circle of trust in communities. Many want to see and hear from local identities or natural helpers; people they know and trust. This includes Elders and community leaders but also, and importantly, other trusted natural helpers. They want authorities to visit and sit with them to discuss the issues in their community.

To view the full article click here.

large group of people sitting & standing around table

Mandurah Focus Group.

Improving Hep C diagnosis

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said to help improve the treatment times of those with hepatitis C, the Morrison Government will fund a new national point-of-care testing (POCT) program that can confirm active hepatitis C infections within an hour and allow treatment to begin immediately.

The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW and the International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing at Flinders University will be provided with $6.5 million combined to establish the program. Being able to provide the testing and treatment all in one visit is a real game-changer for people who would normally have to wait several weeks for a test result.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal man in front of brick wall, overlaid with line drawing of hands & syringe, text 'protect' your blood

Image source: VIVA Communications website.

Kids with disability in OOHC

The 16th hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has shifted its focus to the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care (OOHC).

More than 20%of Indigenous children have a disability, compared to 8% in the general population. Out of the 45,996 children in OOHC in Australia in 2019 and 2020, 18,862 – more than 40% – were Indigenous despite only making up 6% of the total child population.

Earlier, the inquiry heard that some Indigenous families were having their disabled children taken from them amid a shortage of specialised support programs. The children often need constant care but a lack of services to help parents was leading to perceptions of neglect, health service the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) said. “They can’t meet the care needs of that child because the care needs are higher,” CAAC chief executive Donna Ah Chee said. “We need to have equitable access so that the ability to provide the appropriate level of care is not a consideration for children being removed.” Ms Ah Chee called for more early intervention and child care programs, and trained carers to help struggling families, many of whom live in poverty.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

young girl gazing out a window

EY Oceania website.

CAAC welcomes NT COVID-19 plan

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) has acknowledged the NT Government’s Plan for COVID-Management At Stage 3 of The National Plan which will enact some of the strongest protections in the nation for our vulnerable Aboriginal population.

“The modelling for Victoria shows that even opening up at 80% will lead to daily infections in the thousands along with potentially thousands of deaths and a hospital system close to breaking point,” said CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.” The NT cannot afford to get to anything like this and the NT Government should be commended for their approach,” she continued.

To view the media release click here.

CAAC logo & CAAC staff member receiving covid-19 vax

CAAC logo from CAAC website. Image source: NT News.

Speech Pathology Indigenous Health major

The number of domestic applications for the undergraduate speech pathology course at Southern Cross University (SCU) have increased 79% compared to the same time last year. It is the only Speech Pathology degree in Australia to offer an Indigenous Health major. The SCU Speech Pathology program has multiple community partnerships which support the students to engage in a range of external placements, across NSW, Queensland and beyond.

“One reason for our growth in demand for the course is a greater community awareness about the need for people trained in this discipline, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas,” SCU Professor Yoxall said.

“There is such a high demand for paediatric speech pathology services, that some families can wait years to have their young child assessed, thereby missing out of vital early intervention. We hear about children who have NDIS funding but are going through a full calendar year or longer without managing to secure an appointment with a speech pathologist.”

To view the Echo article in full click here.

Model improves Type 2 Diabetes outcomes

Research shows an innovative model-of-care that includes a weekly nurse review and an injection of a drug known as Exenatide-LAR significantly improves sugar management for Indigenous Australians with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) in remote communities.

Diabetes affects Indigenous Australians at alarmingly high rates – more than three to four times that of non-Indigenous Australians. In some of the worst-affected communities in Australia, Indigenous Australians are experiencing a 13-fold increase in kidney failure for people aged 35-44 years and an alarming eight-fold mortality attributed to CVD.

A cluster randomised study known as the ‘Lower Sugar Study’ allocated two communities in Central Australia to receive either a once-weekly Exenatide injection with weekly nurse review and adjustment of medication for 20 weeks, or a weekly nurse review in addition to standard care over 20 weeks in the community without Exenatide.

The aim of the study was to test the feasibility of the intensive diabetes management model-of-care with and without weekly supervised Exenatide. The research team also looked at the change in HbA1c, which is a marker of sugar levels.

Associate Professor Ekinci said there are many reasons why Indigenous Australians have been impacted by diabetes. “We know that the social determinants of health matter here. These include significant cultural losses and dispossession, racial discrimination and food insecurity. These historical, social and other issues contribute to Indigenous Australians developing early on-set and rapidly progressive forms of diabetes,” Associate Professor Ekinci said.

To view the University of Melbourne article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New RPHCM website launched

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) have launched a new website. The RPHCMs are a widely used and highly regarded resource in remote health across central, northern, and remote Australia – they support and promote good clinical practice in primary health care.

To view the RPHCM website launch flyer click here.

cover of each of 4 RPHCMs

You can also view the RPHCM September 2021 Update here. More than 85% of the Primary Reviews are now completed. Protocol groups endorsed include: birth and birth emergencies; bites and stings, injuries; mental health emergencies; skin; and wounds. Protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: cardiac, renal and diabetes; clinical assessment; contraception; eyes; and respiratory.

Secondary reviews of protocols to check that protocols are clear and can be applied to
remote practice will start later this year.

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

Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium

Virtual registrations are now open for the 8th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium which will be held on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 October 2021. The full digital program includes more than 60 research presentations, poster sessions and engagement with high-quality keynote speakers.

The theme of the virtual symposium is ‘Connecting research, practice and communities’ – bringing together rural health academics, clinical researchers and practitioners, students, as well as policymakers engaged with the Alliance and the rural health sector. The symposium offers comprehensive knowledge learning and professional development, as well as the opportunity for personal engagement with speakers, presenters and peers.

To register for the symposium click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO will be a keynote speaker at the symposium.

Ngar-wu Wanyaraa Health Conference

Health professionals and community members from across Australia will come together online for the 6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference on Wednesday 13 October 2021. The conference will be hosted by the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and showcase advances in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, highlighting key findings and current health issues facing the community.

Multi-award winning broadcaster and journalist, Stan Grant, who is currently International Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will deliver the keynote address. Further information and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website here.

To register for the virtual conference click here.

Norm Stewart, Kidneys of the Dungala, 2012. Community/Language Group: Yorta Yorta, acrylic on canvas.