NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO nervous as borders reopen but vax rates lag in some communities' & image of sign to community of Mutitjulu, NT

Image in feature tile from Angus Knight. Mutitjulu was listed on the NTG Coronavirus (COVID-19) website on 19 November 2021 as a low vaccinated community.

NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

The head of the umbrella organisation for Australia’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO) says she’s nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities.

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO, believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

To listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast in full click here.

Pat Turner with Minister Wyatt in the background

ACCHOs business innovation award winners

The winners of the SA Regional Showcase Awards were announced last Friday evening, 19 November 2021. Two SA ACCHOs, Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation (Yadu Health), Ceduna and Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Incorporated (Nunyara Health), Whyalla won an NBN Business Innovations award for their work with New Future IT and their trainees.

Yadu Health and Nunyara Health chose New Future IT from Darwin to train Indigenous workers to cover their internal IT needs. New Future IT is an Aboriginal-owned and operated company that actively trains and employs young Aboriginal people who are looking for opportunities to work within the field of IT and have tailored their new training pathway specifically for Aboriginal health services.

Chief Technical Officer of Yadu Health and Nunyara Health said the award is amazing recognition of  the great collaboration between the two ACCHOs as well as industry validation that the work that have done holds significant value.

You can view the full InDaily news article here.

photo of Nunyara & Yadu finalist & winner awards

Image supplied by: Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

AMSANT, ALCs urgent COVID-19 meeting

On Sunday 21 November the Chairmen and CEOs of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils and AMSANT held an urgent meeting in Darwin to send a strong message about the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the Katherine region, particularly at the Robinson River community in the Gulf and the Binjari and Rockhole communities near Katherine.

Yesterday’s meeting authorised the following statement for attribution to AMSANT and the three Top End Land Councils: “The Land Councils and AMSANT are confident that the NT government is taking all appropriate steps to protect the community members at the Binjari and Rockhole communities and they are satisfied with the earlier responses at Robinson River and Katherine township. The broader community in the Katherine region and beyond should take appropriate steps to make sure that COVID-19 does not spread to any other Aboriginal communities in the Katherine region and beyond. This virus is coming for us Aboriginal people so we need to do the right things to stop it spreading.”

To view the media release in full click here.

poster painting of Aboriginal hand thumbs up sign, top half of image black background, bottom half red, text 'STAY SAFE' at top & 'stay on country, care for family' text at bottom

Image source: NLC website.

Fears for chronic illness epidemic

Health groups have expressed fears the COVID-19 pandemic will move to an epidemic of chronic illness among NSW’s regional Indigenous population. Regular GP appointments were down more than half in some communities during lockdown.

The Rural and Remote Medical Services (RRMS) said 53% of its 5,000 Indigenous clients failed to see a GP face-to-face from September 2020 to September 2021. RRMS CEO Mark Burdack said the decline is entirely due to COVID-19, adding Aboriginal people in smaller remote towns avoided travelling to larger towns because of the risk of infection. “As a result, we project that a significantly larger percentage of Aboriginal people didn’t maintain their chronic disease appointments which is a serious concern,” Mr Burdack said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman at desk in clinic

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman says it will take about six months to see the real impact of COVID-19. Photo: Arianna Levy, ABC News Central West.

Eye health progress but gaps remain

Significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain, according to the 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

As a result of the work to Close the Gap64 regional stakeholder groups and seven groups at jurisdictional level have been established. ACCHOs, Aboriginal and Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

Eye examinations have increased with a steady increase in the number of cataract surgeries. But while cataract services and eye checks for diabetes have improved, there is still inequity with longer cataract surgery waiting lists for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people, with waits of up to 50% longer.

To view The University of Melbourne’s article in full click here.

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

NCSP guidelines public consultation

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

This update is exclusively focused on the changes associated with providing universal access to self-collection, and as such, changes are only proposed for some sections of the guidelines. These updates are detailed in this public consultation document.

We are now seeking feedback on the update and are open for public consultation from 22 November 2021 to 5 December 2021. Comments  are required no later than 11.59PM (AESDT) Sunday 5 December 2021.

To access the document and provide comment click here.

blue plastic circle with cervix shape & test swab

Image source: Moffitt Cancer Center website.

The power of Indigenous data

Indigenous Postdoctural Fellow, Karyn Ferguson has been researching the health of Yorta Yorta ganas (mothers) and their burrais (children). Ms Ferguson has found health data wasn’t stored in one place, instead, it was spread across numerous organisations at local, state and federal levels. Siloed by different bureaucracies, Ms Ferguson said “it was difficult – to say the least ­– to easily identify and understand population health trends specific to Yorta Yorta people.”

The task of linking together all this data on maternal health and birth outcomes became Ms Ferguson’s PhD research – Gana Burrai, which means ‘mother baby’. A major finding of this research has been the power of the linkage of mother-birth records across the sites. Data linkage has enabled a more accurate understanding of Aboriginal identification in administrative records and uncovered a significant undercount of Aboriginal births in this specific population between the years 2008-2017 inclusive.

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

Linking data across different data sets produces a more comprehensive picture of health across Aboriginal communities. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

RPHCM project November update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

Protocols endorsed by the Editorial Committee since the last RPHCM monthly update include:

  • Infant feeding guidelines
  • Anaemia in pregnancy
  • Ear examination
  • Water-related skin infections
  • Joint problems

Secondary reviews will start early in 2022 and RPHCM are seeking secondary reviewers, especially doctors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who are users of the manual to check protocols are easy to read and applicable to practice. If you are interested please view the RPHCM website here.

To view the RPHCM November 2021 update click here.

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.

Stillbirth prevention for mob webcast

Stillbirth can have a profound and long-lasting impact for parents, families, communities and care providers. Despite Australia being one of the safest places globally to have a baby, according to Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence, 2021 for every 1,000 babies born, there are sadly six babies who will be born still. For Aboriginal mob stillbirth occurrences continue to remain disproportionately high.

A webcast is being held from 1:00PM-2:00PM Wednesday 24 November 2021 to introduce the Safer Baby Bundle developed by the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence (CEC). The CEC panel will explore the importance of the Aboriginal health worker/practitioner role in preventing stillbirth and how to incorporate culturally safe and responsive care into midwifery, child and family health care and beyond.

To view a flyer for the event click here and to register for the webinar here.

grey rocks, with heart shaped rock with Aboriginal dot painting on top

Image source: The Hippocratic Post.