- Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases
- COVID-19 response failure
- Breaching the Indigenous vax gap
- RACGP welcomes telehealth restoration
- Funding to improve cancer screening
- AIDA launches 25th anniversary celebrations
- RVTS late application round
- New process for job advertising
Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases
Distance and isolation are no longer providing a barrier to the spread of the virus in remote Indigenous communities, including in Yarrabah and on Palm Island in Queensland, which has now set up a temporary morgue.
Meanwhile, two towns in East Arnhem Land in the NT have been sent into lockdown in a bid to try and slow the spread amongst vulnerable populations there.
Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with the ANU and NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke with spoke with Cathy Van Extel on ABC RN Breakfast earlier today about the growing number of COVID-19 case numbers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
You can listen to the radio interview by clicking on this link.
In a related news item on the ABC 7.30 Report (at 00:49:11) Dr Jason Agostino talks about how as state and territory borders reopen remote Indigenous communities face a situation they’ve long been dreading. Omicron is putting vaccination rates and health systems to the test as the virus infiltrates the far reaches of Queensland and the NT.
You can watch the news item in full here.
Indigenous COVID-19 response failure
Poor planning by state and federal governments is to blame for the significant lag in Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination rates nationwide, say researchers.
The University of NSW team said the substandard preparation, combined with mixed messaging on vaccines, have led to a shortage of trained workers to put jabs in arms and vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable communities.
“This substantial policy oversight reflects a failure of moral human rights responsibility for Australian First Nations people,” say the authors of the paper published in Jama Health Forum.
Planning, strategy and prevention work undertaken by NACCHO and ACCHOs around the country had also been undermined by the failed response.
To view the NITV article in full click here.
Image source: NITV.
Breaching the Indigenous vax gap
Wiradjuri man and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Faculty Chair Professor O’Mara says tailored messaging and outreach programs are vital for closing the gap in vaccination rates between mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 vaccination rates.
‘One of the things that we’ve seen in central Australia is that when we get community elders to have a good understanding of the importance of the vaccination, then the vaccination rates in those communities go up significantly,’ he said.
‘Where I work at Tobwabba Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service, our rates are really high … it’s about connection to the community and spreading that message. Once we got the vaccines in, it was just about going and having a one-on-one with community members about how important it is, and then they would then share that message with other community members to get the rates right up.’
Such an approach can be just as effective in metropolitan settings, Professor O’Mara says, provided the programs and the messaging are tailored to the leaders and people who live there.
‘I think the networks are thicker in those communities,’ he said. ‘The information flows and we talk about the “Koori Grapevine” as a way of getting messages around. In those cities it’s probably every bit as easy as it is in rural places, because even though the numbers are higher, the message spreads wider.’
To view the GPNews article in full here.
RACGP welcomes telehealth restoration
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has cautiously welcomed the federal Government’s move to temporarily restore telehealth to peak COVID-19 pandemic settings.
Health Minister Greg Hunt and Regional Health Minister David Gillespie have announced an additional $24 million for a range of measures to give GPs and other specialists more flexibility to support patients.
It comes after RACGP President Dr Karen Price met with Minister Hunt and Minister David Gillespie this week, along with other peak general practice and medical organisations, to discuss the challenges facing general practice and support needed to ensure GPs can stay open and deliver the essential care to Australians at this time.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that the announcement was a step in the right direction. “The stark reality is that many of the patients who benefit the most from telehealth are also the most disadvantaged when it comes to internet connectivity and reliability. Discouraging longer phone consultations is particularly disadvantageous for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking to undertake a health assessment, patients in rural and remote areas, older people, and those with multiple chronic conditions. So, we called on the Government to reinstate Medicare rebates for longer phone consultations as part of the permanent telehealth model.
“A six-month restoration of these rebates is welcome; however, we must not stop there – this must be a permanent fixture of telehealth for years to come and the RACGP will continue fighting to make that happen.”
Funding to improve cancer screening
More than $10 million is being invested in medical research to identify new and innovative approaches to help increase participation in Australia’s breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening programs.
Australia is a world leader in cancer screening through BreastScreen Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the National Cervical Screening Program but there is always more that can be done to increase the number of Australians participating.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said regular screenings and early detection can lead to better outcomes for cancer treatments. “Australia’s cancer screening programs are world-leading and it’s simple: we know cancer screening saves lives,” Minister Hunt said.
The Australian National University will receive $1.7 million to understand why participation in the Bowel Cancer Screening Program are lower amongst Aboriginal than non-Indigenous Australians and how participation rates can be increased.
To help improve breast screening participation, the University of WA will receive funding to examine ways to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from diverse cultural and language backgrounds and women with different levels of educational attainment and income.
To view the media release in full click here.
AIDA launches 25th anniversary celebrations
The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has launched its 25th anniversary celebrations.
Interviews can be arranged upon request by contacting the AIDA communications team via email here. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.
To view the AIDA media release click here.
RVTS late application round
The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is conducting a late application round for training to commence early in 2022.
Enquire now and be ready to apply when applications open on Friday 21 January to 3 February 2022.
In addition to vacancies in the AMS stream for doctors already working in AMS MMM2-7 locations, RVTS is also promoting opportunities to work in the following AMS Targeted Recruitment Locations – Tennant Creek (NT), Mutitjulu (NT), Halls Creek/Broome (WA), Kununurra (WA), and South Hedland (WA).
Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with Aboriginal Health Services and Rural and Remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities.
Click here to find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions. Additional Salary Support funding from the Federal Department of Health may also be available to support the recruitment and retention of doctors to some Targeted Recruitment locations.
Check details on the RVTS website here.
Call the RVTS Recruitment Team on 1800 497 196 or 02 6057 3400 for further information.
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.
Unique pharmacy graduate program
Kimberley Pharmacy Services are offering a unique experience for recently graduated Pharmacists to join their our supportive and experienced team as part of our structured 2 Year Residency Program on a full-time basis. You can choose to start between January – March or later in 2022. You will be working with passionate individuals dedicated to making a tangible impact on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.
You will be based in Broom for the first six months of the program. You will then be part of a rotational graduate experience at several pharmacies (community, clinical and outreach Aboriginal Health Services) throughout the region.
To view the position description and to apply click here.