NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AUSMAT COVID team heads to Galiwin’ku

feature tile text 'AUSMAT heads to Galiwin'ku to help combat COVID-19 outbreak' & aerial photo of Galiwin'ku

Note: image in feature tile is of Galiwin’ku – the only community on Elcho Island. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

AUSMAT COVID team heads to Galiwin’ku

The NT has reported 286 new COVID-19 cases as an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) and the military step in to help combat a remote Aboriginal community outbreak. The cluster in Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island, 515km east of Darwin, has grown to 87 cases, with many residents unwilling to leave their overcrowded homes and travel to the Centre for National Resilience quarantine facility near Darwin.

“For the first time we are bringing in AUSMAT to help us at Galiwin’ku,” NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles told reporters on Monday this week. “This is really important. It provides additional resources.”

Ms Fyles said the health team was working to evacuate more infected people from the island in Arnhem Land, with the most severely ill transferred first. The Australian Defence Force will help transfer people from Alice Springs and Galiwin’ku to the Darwin quarantine facility, which has a capacity of about 2,000.

To read the SBS News article in full click here.

two staff in PPE at covid-19 quarantine facility Howard Springs, Darwin

Howard Springs quarantine facility, Darwin. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls for full lockdown of Central Australia

Central Australia’s peak Aboriginal health body has warned “a Tsunami of COVID cases is coming” to the region and has called for a “complete lockdown” of the area to prevent further spread.

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) acting CEO Josie Douglas said the region had reached “breaking point” and a lockdown was a much-needed “circuit breaker” for health authorities to get on top of the outbreak.

The NT government has already introduced lockouts, which limit the movement of unvaccinated people, in Alice Springs, Amoonguna, Yuendumu and Yuelamu. A separate lockdown is currently in place in the Utopia Homelands.

Ms Douglas insists existing measures do not go far enough.”The lockout is proving to be totally ineffective,” she said. “People are moving in and around Alice Springs, moving from community to community. The situation is Central Australia is dire.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Yuendumu kids sitting in red dust with camp dogs

Yuendumu is in lockout until at least 30 January 2022. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs.

AMSANT COVID-19 vax poster for kids

AMSANT have produced a graphic they say everybody is welcome to use. The graphic has been designed for easy use on social media (FB/Insta/Twitter etc.), as well as locally produced posters.

Organisations can include their own logo with the graphic or use this link to contact Chips at the AMSANT office to do this for them and/or add locally useful text, including in language or obtain the poster in large format versions.

The whole age range ‘5-16 years’ has been included to encourage families to “stay together by getting the jab together!”

AMSANT has given a special thanks to Danila Dilba for agreeing to re-make a graphic done for them 25 years ago! In the original, one of the kids is wearing a T-shirt urging grown-ups to get vaccinated! Our sector has been at the forefront of vaccination campaigns for a very long time!

AMSANT poster text 'keep our kids strong health & happy VACCINATE - all 5-16 year olds can now get the jab - protect them as school & play - see your clinic today' drawing of 3 Aboriginal kids

Staff shortage prevents MDAS vax ramp up

A major staff shortage is preventing the main Aboriginal healthcare service in the Mallee from ramping up COVID vaccinations for First Nations children before school resumes next week. The head of Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS), Jacki Turfrey, said her service would usually have employed about 20 agency nurses and three doctors at any given time last year.

But since a Code Brown (national emergency alert) was declared last week for many Victorian hospitals struggling with crippling Omicron caseloads, almost no agency nurses had been available, she said.

Ms Turfrey said her organisation would have liked to have been able to deliver as many COVID vaccinations for Aboriginal children in the region as possible this week. But instead it has had to cut its vaccination services back due to a lack of staff. “It’s not ideal timing, because with the kids all going back [to school] next week, this is the week you would love to be running through as many vaccinations … as possible,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar, Mildura, standing in front of MDAS van

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura.Photo: Richard Crabtree, ABC Mildura-Swan Hill.

Voice to Parliament will bring better policy

Dean Parkin, a Quandamooka man and director of From the Heart, the campaign to secure a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament has written an opinion piece for The Age saying:

It’s not a stretch on anyone’s empathy to acknowledge Indigenous people know their issues best – far better than politicians and bureaucrats in cities far from their communities. It is these Australians who are getting behind the push for a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. They understand the simple idea of a Voice to Parliament that brings the experience and expertise of Indigenous people to urgent policy challenges that evade the best intentions of politicians and bureaucrats.

We need the Indigenous health worker in Halls Creek and the youth worker based in Mount Druitt at the table telling the politicians and bureaucrats what really works in their communities.

To read The Age article in full click here.

Dean Parkin sitting on verandah

Dean Parkin. Photo: Brian Cassey. Image source: The Age.

Violence against First Nations women

Violence against women in Australia is an epidemic. Every single week in Australia, one woman is killed, murdered by her husband or intimate partner.

This domestic violence epidemic is a vivid reflection of our patriarchal society with deeply entrenched power structures that support inequality on the grounds of gender, race and social class. And so for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, family violence is not just gendered, it’s racialised.

A 2018 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that from 2016-2017, Indigenous females aged 15 and over were 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence than non-Indigenous females. The rate of intimate partner homicide was twice as high. And yet they remain the unheard victims of this epidemic.

To read the Mamamia article in full click here.

silhouette of Aboriginal woman against Aboriginal flag

Image source: Mamamia website.

CDU addresses critical pharmacist shortage

Charles Darwin University (CDU) will address the critical shortage of pharmacists in the NT by reinstating pharmacy training. CDU’s Bachelor of Pharmacy course was first established in the early 2000s and produced a steady stream of pharmacy graduates, many of whom stayed in the Territory to complete their internships and to work as registered pharmacists.

In 2019, the University ceased offering its four-year Bachelor of Pharmacy course due to low enrolments. Now CDU will offer a two-year Master of Pharmacy course on a graduate entry basis for students who hold a degree in health sciences. The course is slated to commence in 2023 with an initial, modest intake of 30 students.

To view the CDU media release in full 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.