- Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system
- Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak
- Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination
- 10-year preventive health strategy plan
- Tracking progress in First Nations’ health
- Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students
- Covid Song – Ali Curung
- Managing inappropriate comments online
- New process for job advertising
PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.
Photograph in feature tile from MiVision – Delivering telehealth in Western Australia.
Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system
In a media release published yesterday 13 December 2021 by the Australian Government, telehealth will become a permanent feature of primary health care, which has been transformational to health care delivery and underpinned much of the Government’s successful COVID-19 response.
The Morrison Government is providing $106 million over four years to support permanent telehealth services, ensuring greater flexibility to patients and doctors for the delivery of health care; allowing GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue to consult with their regular patients by phone or online.
The AMA says the health of all Australians will benefit from the availability of telehealth.
AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.
Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak
In a media release published by The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) yesterday 13 December 2021, AMSANT expressed alarm and deep concern at the rapidly increasing numbers of cases stemming from the Katherine COVID-19 outbreak and its spread into communities in the surrounding regions.
“AMSANT is today calling on the NT Government to take immediate steps to strengthen their response to this continuing crisis”, AMSANT Chief Executive officer, John Paterson, said.
“We acknowledge the very good job that the NT Government has done in responding to the outbreaks in Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole, however, subsequent measures to contain the Katherine outbreak have been unsuccessful.”
“News of a likely positive case in Timber Creek and multiple positive wastewater results appearing in numerous remote communities underscores the growing and urgent need for a stronger response,” Paterson said.
You can read the AMSANT media release here.
Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) states that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are critical in protecting against COVID-19 due to all variants, including the newly emerged Omicron variant. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends COVID-19 booster vaccination for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 5 or more months ago.
Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk (e.g. occupational risk or outbreak areas) or who have risk factors for severe disease. ATAGI reiterates that a third (primary) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for anyone with immunocompromising conditions, a minimum of two months after their second dose.
Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been provisionally approved for use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in people aged 18 years and older by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as of 12 December 2021.
You can read the ATAGI statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination here, and you can read the ATAGI recommendations on the use of Moderna as a COVID-19 booster vaccine here.
10-year preventive health strategy plan
Yesterday 13 December 2021, the Australian Government launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.
Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths. The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:
- physical activity
- cancer screening
- alcohol and other drug use;
- and mental health.
Tracking progress in First Nations’ health
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a data visualisation tool for tracking progress against the 20 Implementation Plan goals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023. It presents data for each of the 20 goals, and assesses progress against the goals at the national level.
Of the 14 goals for which updates were available, 5 were on track, 6 were not on track and 3 were not assessed.
Some of the key findings:
- In 2019, 64% of Indigenous mothers had antenatal care in the first trimester and 89% attended 5+ antenatal visits.
- The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15–17 who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 85% in 2018–19.
- In 2020, 97% of Indigenous children aged 5 were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children.
You can read more about the AIHW tracking progress here and you can view the report here.
View the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2012-2023 here.
Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students
Aboriginal health students across the Northern Territory can now apply for the 2022 NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. The Program is a key ‘entry to practice’ initiative for NT Health to achieve greater representation of tertiary educated Aboriginal employees and increase Aboriginal health professionals in our workforce.
NT Health currently supports five cadets and will offer a sixth space in the 2022 intake.
The program assists eligible NT Aboriginal students undertaking their first undergraduate degree or postgraduate studies to gain professional health qualifications in skill shortage areas. Additionally, the program provides work placement and experience within NT Health.
The program is funded by NT Health and will provide successful cadets with:
- Study allowance of up to $1200 per fortnight whilst engaged in full time studies
- Book allowance of up to $1000 per year
- An incentive payment of up to $4000 per year
- 12 weeks paid on the job work placement during the university major academic breaks.
NT Health has a dedicated Aboriginal Workforce Development unit that administers the program. The unit’s staff will provide ongoing mentoring and support to the cadets for the term of their cadetship.
Covid Song – Ali Curung
Check out this great Red Dust video with a straight-up message from the Ali Curung mob made with the help of Barkly Shire Council and Anyingini Health Aboriginal Corporation.
“I don’t want to see you get sick when the COVID comes in quick. We gotta get the jab before it’s too late. No time to hesitate. I got one, two, what about you! What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when the COVID comes?”
“Yeah, we gotta do it for our families. To protect our communities. Go to the clinic and check the facts. We’re only safe when we all get vaxxed!”
Managing inappropriate comments online
The Department of Health has created a guide that can help your service with managing inappropriate comments and misinformation on your social media channels. There has recently been a significant spike in online activity and emotion. This high level guide provides information about steps your service can take to moderate inappropriate comments and content on your pages.
You can download the social media guide 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.