NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Free the Flag campaign successful

feature tile text 'free the flag campaign succeeds, Aboriginal flag now free for all to use' & image of Aboriginal man & woman in free the flag t-shirts holding Aboriginal flag aloft

Note: the image is the feature tile is from the Herald Sun.

Free the Flag campaign successful

The iconic flag that has become a symbol of Aboriginal Australia is now freely available for public use, after its designer agreed to transfer copyright to the Commonwealth following long negotiations. Luritja artist Harold Thomas created the flag in 1970 to represent Aboriginal people and their connection to the land, and it has been an official national flag since the end of the last century — but its copyright remained with Mr Thomas.

Anyone who wanted to use the flag legally had to ask permission or pay a fee. Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt said following negotiations with Mr Thomas, the flag now belonged to all Australians. “Over the last 50 years we made Harold Thomas’ artwork our own — we marched under the Aboriginal Flag, stood behind it, and flew it high as a point of pride,” Mr Wyatt said in a statement. “Now that the Commonwealth holds the copyright, it belongs to everyone, and no-one can take it away.”

Mr Thomas said he hoped Australians would use the flag with respect and pride. “I hope that this arrangement provides comfort to all Aboriginal people and Australians to use the Flag, unaltered, proudly and without restriction,” he said. “I am grateful that my art is appreciated by so many, and that it has come to represent something so powerful to so many.”

The government has also agreed to establish an annual scholarship in Mr Thomas’s honour worth $100,000 for Indigenous students to develop skills in leadership, and to create an online history and education portal for the flag.

To read the ABC News article in full click here and to listen to an ABC Radio interview with the Free the Flag Free the Flag campaign and Clothing the Gaps CEO Laura Thompson click here.

Aboriginal flag on mast, text 'Breakfast with Sammy J, ABC News'

January 26 – a reminder of health battles

The following is an excerpt from Shahnaz Rind’s Opinion Piece for SBS NITV.  “I decided to become a nurse to change health outcomes for our people and to try to create a sense of equity in Indigenous health. Growing up, I would question why my family and my mob suffer from poor health outcomes compared to non-Indigenous people who had access to some of the world’s best healthcare.

It wasn’t until I was a little older that I started to understand how things were. Addressing racism key to better health outcomes for mob. A new study focusing on kidney disease adds to the growing evidence that suggests addressing institutional racism will improve overall health outcomes for First Nations peoples.

I am surprised by the numbers of non-Indigenous people I speak to, who aren’t aware of the true history behind January 26 and how it has impacted our health. It was the day our country was taken possession of by Captain Arthur Philip. It was the first introduction of the British flag, which was raised on Indigenous land.

This day was the start of our ongoing mental, spiritual and physical health struggle. It’s not one single thing that has caused this; but since the day of the invasion, our levels of health and education have declined, practicing our culture and language was denied and our lands were taken.”

To view Shahnaz Rind’s SBS NITV Opinion Piece in full click here.

RN Shahnaz Rind Rumbalara (VIC) in PPE

Shahnaz Rind is a registered nurse who has been on the frontlines during the pandemic in Victoria. Image source: SBS NITV website.

CAAC calls for urgent public health action 

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) is calling for more serious and effective public health measures to be put in place urgently; before it’s too late. “We need to see sharp and serious action to respond to growing case numbers in Alice Springs and surrounding Central Australian communities.” said Congress Acting CEO Josie Douglas.

“The lockout isn’t working. People are still moving around, and the virus is still spreading among vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Hospitalisations are now increasing, along with ICU admissions. 78 people in hospital in the NT is the equivalent of 2,800 people in NSW. We are now on a par with NSW but we will pass this peak without decisive action and our health system has less capacity.”

To view the CAAC media release in full click here.

solar powered road sign text 'social distancing applies'

Image source: NT News.

COVID exacerbates regional staff shortages 

Regional health workers are warning the system is struggling under the weight of an increase in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages. Kristy Wilson knows Griffith Base Hospital well. She was born there and has worked there throughout her 25-year nursing career.

Ms Wilson said the hospital in central NSW, like many around the country, was now feeling the pressures of COVID-19 cases and furloughed workers, who were isolating either because they had the virus or were a close contact, “I can honestly say that this is absolutely the worst I have seen it. Staff are now beyond exhausted and tired.”

Federal Regional Health Minister, David Gillespie — a former regional doctor — agreed “the whole health system is under pressure”, but said the federal government had taken steps to address staffing shortages in hospitals around the country. “We’ve set up the private hospital arrangement where not only private hospitals make themselves available if needed — and they are being used by the state governments — but also their staff,” he said. In a statement, NSW Health said the state was actively addressing staffing issues.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr Simon Quilty demonstrates one of the ventilation pods Purple House constructed. Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC News.

NT COVID-19 surge isn’t unexpected

The number of people in NT hospitals with COVID-19 has doubled in the past week and tripled from the number reported 10 days ago. But experts say the surge isn’t unexpected considering the territory’s “vulnerable” population and caseloads reported over the past fortnight.

Although the territory’s hospitalisation rate has been steadily increasing over the past two weeks, the number of cases reported in the jurisdiction has been gradually dropping.

After looking at the NT’s daily COVID-19 case numbers over the past fortnight, Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett said she wasn’t surprised by the high number of people in hospital with coronavirus. Professor Bennett said if a patient needed hospital-level care because of COVID-19 this typically happened seven and 10 days after their initial positive test result.

“People are often fine for the first week, they might have normal symptoms, but it’s the second week when they might get particularly unwell and maybe have to go to hospital,” she said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr Briceno, NT facing press, woman in background wears mask

Dr Briceno says NT health experts expected to see a higher hospitalisation rate. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

Health staff relieved border opening delayed

While WA Premier Mark McGowan maintains the hospital system is “strong and ready” to deal with COVID-19, he has also pointed to hospitalisations in other states as one of the reasons for delaying the border re-opening. “[The east] has hospitals overflowing with patients, hospitals in meltdown,” he said.“It would be grossly irresponsible of me not to act on that.”

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said while there has been relief from staff, he didn’t think the delay was the fix that was needed. “The hospital system is not ready, but is it going to be ready in a month?” he said. “We’ve had a couple of years, so I don’t think that’s what we need.”

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

Dr Omar Khorshid fronting press

Dr Omar Khorshid says the decision would buy time “at best”. Photo: James Carmody, ABC News.

COVID-19 vaccine update for Primary Care

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout, will be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 27 January 2022.

The panel this week will be: Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

DoH tile test 'Primary Care COVID-19 Update' blue background with image of virus

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.