NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres and Cape COVID-19 response

feature tile text 'quick collaborative response to Torres and Cape COVID-19 outbreaks' & image of omicron virus cell

Torres and Cape COVID-19 response

COVD-19 has reached most Torres and Cape communities in far north Queensland. As of Thursday 20 January 2022 there were 279 active cases in the region. This has Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Phillemon Mosby highly concerned.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Marlow Coates said while there is understandable concern as cases emerge, the community is banding together well to combat the spread.

“A lot of our planning is centred on partnering with local organisations, councils, elected leaders, non-government organisations in the region, Aboriginal medical services and outreach providers to ensure we’re providing as much broad support as possible,” he said.

“When coronavirus is (first) detected in communities… there are the understandable concerns that it’s finally arrived in that region. But it triggers a quick escalation and collaboration and togetherness from all of those agencies to support.”

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

view of Torres Strait Island from a plane

COVID-19 has reached the northernmost tip of Queensland, including the Torres Strait. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Fitzroy Valley needs dedicated rehab centre

An Indigenous alcohol and drug specialist says the Fitzroy Valley needs a dedicated rehabilitation centre and locally-based counsellors to put an end to problem drinking in communities.

Rene Dingo, Indigenous AOD Specialist/Collaborative Coordinator at Gurama Yani U, says that the alcohol bans that have been in place for up to 14 years “have taken away the how and the where but they have not addressed the why” behind drinking.

“Putting blanket restrictions across the whole of the Kimberley on its own – you have to do something to address people’s issues and their trauma and why they want to drink alcohol. You have to put support in place,” he said.

“Many people are talking about the need for a rehabilitation facility here. There is one in Broome and one in Wyndham,” Dingo said. “We need local counsellors for local people during and following their time in rehabilitation and there needs to be transitional housing, supported by alcohol and drug workers, to integrate people back into the community.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Fitzroy Crossing wooden bridge, river

Fitzroy Crossing. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

IMeRSe public consultation underway

Consideration for the funding of the Integrating Improved Medication Management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Feasibility Study (IMeRSe Feasibility Study) goes before the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in March 2022.

The public summary document for Indigenous Medication Review Service (IMeRSe) is available here and NACCHO would like to invite you to make a submission on behalf of your ACCHO in support of funding for a culturally responsive Indigenous Medication Review service, delivered by community pharmacists integrated with local Aboriginal Health Services as proposed in the IMeRSe study.

Submissions can be made on the provided ‘survey’ form on the above link or by direct email.

If you need help to interpret public documents or have other questions, please contact the NACCHO IMeRSe team using this email link.

multiple tablet & capsule blister packs, multiple colours

Image source: Healthline.

TGA vaping ban and Aboriginal health

Academic and Indigenous commentator Dr Anthony Dillon has encouraged Australian politicians and their ‘experts’ to do “more thinking and less talking.”

One thing that he believes certainly deserves “more thinking” is the recently introduced ban on nicotine-infused ‘vape juice’ for use in electronic cigarettes. That ban affects all Australians keen to shed their addictions to traditional cigarettes via the vaping substitute, and it hits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers, among the nation’s heaviest cigarette smokers, hardest of all.

To view the Quadrant article in full click here.

row of vapes

Image source: GPNews.

Victorian Aboriginal suicide rate jumps

Victoria’s Indigenous suicide rate jumped by more than half in the past year, a report from the Coroners Court has found, with young people and those in regional areas most at risk.

Deaths by suicide of Indigenous people living in Victoria have been steadily increasing since 2018, with around two thirds of deaths among men and one third women. In 2021, there were 35 Indigenous deaths by suicide in the state, up on 20 the year before. The jump represents a 75% increase in just one year. The report notes that even though the sample size is small, the increase is still statistically significant as a portion of the population.

“Suicide is complex and has many layers,” the manager of the Coroner’s Court Koori Engagement Unit Troy Williamson wrote in the report. “It is vital that barriers to seeking support are dismantled and culturally competent practices are put in place to save lives.” He said the increase in suicide deaths of Aboriginal Victorians was a “heartbreaking reminder of the systemic inequalities our communities face and this report needs to be used to drive change for our people.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

back of mourners at funeral, one with Aboriginal flag draped over shoulders

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Remote PHC Manuals January 2022 update

Review and updating of the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) continues. The most recent RPHCM update advises: 30% of all protocols have finished the primary review and are now ready for secondary review; and 70% of protocols are in the updating stage with progress towards finalisation of protocols.

While secondary reviews are due to commence in March 2022 may need to be delayed dependent on the COVID situation, there is adequate time to allow for delay.

To view the RPHCM January 2022 update click here.

Safe, reliable water supply needed for NT

The Northern Land Council (NLC) is calling on the NT government to bring its water management system into the twenty-first century and in line with its commitments to Aboriginal Territorians.

NLC Chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the government’s directions paper for a Strategic Water Plan for the next 28 years – until 2050 – does not go far enough to protect precious water resources for future generations. “What we need is a new approach of integrated land and water management across the Territory with a series of local stakeholder committees.”

Mr Bush-Blanasi said “We repeat our call – that we’ve been making for years – for government to make sure safe and reliable drinking water is available to all Territorians, including those living in remote communities where the water supply often isn’t fit for purpose. Substandard water quality and water infrastructure is unacceptable in this day and age and we call on the government to make improved water infrastructure and quality for Aboriginal Territorians a priority, not an afterthought.”

To view the NLC media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hand held under running tap in NT outback

Photo: Isabella Higgins. Image source: ABC News.

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.