NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

resident of remote community of Utju getting covid-19 vax

Image in feature tile: remote community of Utju resident getting COVID-19 vaccination. Image source: ABC News.

Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

There has been a huge spike in the number of Indigenous Territorians rolling up their sleeves to be vaccinated amid the NT’s most recent COVID scare, according to federal figures. Commonwealth public health expert Lucas de Toca said the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Territorians who had their first dose was now higher than the national average. As of yesterday, 69% of First Nations Territorians had had one jab, compared to 67% of Indigenous Australians.

“Overall, the NT has been really accelerating [its vaccine uptake] in the last few months, and of course in particular the last week, since the cases in Katherine were first detected,” Dr de Toca said. “In fact, the NT has been outpacing the national rate of first doses by an order of three to six times the last few days, which is really, really nice to see.”

Dr de Toca, who leads the Commonwealth’s vaccination program through GPs and Aboriginal health services, says the uptake in some remote communities was moving even faster. “We’ve seen pleasingly, for instance, East Arnhem has been increasing their First Nations vaccination rate by 4 to 5% … [in] the last couple of weeks, which is a really high rate, so we’re confident that will continue to grow,” he said. “That’s between 2-4 times higher than what we were seeing prior.”

To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat project

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said an innovative project to help more Indigenous expectant mothers to give birth on their home country is one of five projects funded through the Federal Government’s $5.5 million investment in the NHMRC Partnership Project scheme.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University. The project will receive nearly $1.5 million and will follow women’s law to incorporate Yolnu skills and knowledge to enhance the delivery of clinically and culturally safe healthcare in line with Yolnu priorities.

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

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

APY Lands lose mental health staff

Aboriginal elders and mental health experts are concerned about some of Australia’s most vulnerable children after the sudden departure of key support workers from SA’s remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

Two permanent mental health staff who lived and worked on the APY Lands for a decade are no longer there, and that a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) model has been implemented, despite objections from senior staff in the Department for Child Protection and traditional owners. Nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse have been made in the region in the past two years.

Pukatja community elder Makinti Minutjukar said the two Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) workers provided invaluable support to local families. “They have been a really strong support for everyone, they’ve been doing good work for many, many years,” she said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

blurred photo of torsos of Aboriginal kids in desert setting

Image source: ABC News website.

Understanding needs of mob with cancer

Aboriginal health professionals and educators from across WA gathered in Perth last week to increase their awareness and understanding of the specific needs of Aboriginal people with cancer.

The WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) of The University of WA in conjunction with Cancer Council WA hosted a three-day professional development course to train participants in the ‘Whisper No More’ learning package. WACRH Director Professor Sandra Thompson said part of the innovative program features Aboriginal cancer patients from WA’s Midwest sharing their personal stories on video.

“Understanding more about Aboriginal people’s views of cancer and experiences of health care is essential to developing better cancer care and health outcomes,” Professor Thompson said. “By sharing their stories on video, those involved in Whisper No More have contributed to a valuable resource for health professionals to help enhance their understanding of what matters to Aboriginal people when they have cancer.”

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

RACGP warns PHC plan will fail

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that general practice is in ‘a state of crisis’ that could further deteriorate. In a written submission responding to the Department of Health’s (DoH) draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, the RACGP states that high-quality care offered by GPs is at risk if substantial investment and reform do not take place.

Calling general practice ‘the most efficient and cost-effective’ aspect of the health system, the college says that the urgency of the situation has been exacerbated by COVID-19, “Rising rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed preventive care due to the pandemic and a looming mental health crisis are putting increasing pressure on the system. This is resulting in poorer outcomes and long hospital wait times. Unless there is significant investment and reform, the system will fail.’”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

stethoscope parts for ears, chest, pressure against blue background

Image source: AMA website.

Maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge

Researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU) are set to redesign maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge and non-Yolnu knowledge at Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island in Arnhem Land. New funding of about $1.5 million from the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Project scheme will ensure that on-country maternity services reach communities where the premature birth rate is three times the national average.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor of Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at CDU.

To view the CDU media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

Crucial for GPs to understand mob 

A rural doctor is a true general physician, a jack of all trades. And a junior doctor’s clinical judgment is necessarily influenced by the epidemiology of regional and rural medicine and the particular issues facing centres in these areas.

11% of the Western NSW LHD is Indigenous. Dr Antonia Clarke has written an article about how understanding the complexity of the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our health care system is a crucial part of being a doctor, regardless of your intended specialty. Closing the gap in part means working to forge a relationship between the patient, medical and nursing teams and Indigenous support officers to help to enable early screening, referral and management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at risk of chronic disease.

To view the MJA Insight article in full click here.

Dr Antonia Clarke

Dr Antonia Clarke. Image source: MJA Insight 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.

First Nations Women’s Voices

You are invited to attend an inspiring panel discussion about the transformative power of First Nations Women’s Voices. An incredible panel of speakers will explore the role women play in shaping and protecting culture and community – and what you can do to support First Nations gender justice and equality.

The discussion will be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, in conversation with Professor Marcia Langton AO, Fiona Cornforth, Teela Reid and Charlee-Sue Frail. The conversation will be facilitated by Patricia Karvelas (ABC), with a special welcome from Rosalind Croucher AM, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The panel discussion will be held at 1:00PM Wednesday 24 November 202. For more information about the event and to register for your FREE ticket click here .