NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

feature tile text ' NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino speaks about the spread of COVID-19 & screenshot of Dr Agostino from interview

NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino was a guest on the ABC The Drum panel hosted by Stan Grant on Friday 4 February 2022. Asked what is particular to Indigenous communities that enhances the risk and spread of COVID-19 Dr Agostino said “the central problem, particularly in the NT, is poor quality housing, with people living in crowded homes with multiple generations in there, so in those circumstances COVID-19 spreads really rapidly and on top of that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease at earlier ages, so young people are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 because of those conditions.”

Dr Agostino said that NACCHO has been very vocal in their advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and has been pushing as hard as possible, over a long period of time to have the underlying social determinants of health addressed. Dr Agostino said that while there have been some things that have moved forward with regard to health services during the pandemic, there is still so much to do, “It is about the community-controlled sector being at the table, that is what the priority reforms of the National Agreement are about, they are about switching that relationship in bringing community-controlled organisations, whether they are health or in the social sector to the table to have a greater role in decision-making.”

To view Dr Agostino being interviewed on The Drum (from 17:42 to 30:36 minutes) click here.

Stan Grant host The Drum, panellist Dr Jason Agostino screen shot

ACCHO CEO slams vax misinformation 

Gurriny Yealamuck Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) CEO Sue Andrews has spoken out strongly against COVID-19 vaccination misinformation. Ms Andrew’s Facebook post (on 25 January 2022) below, which was also featured on the Queensland Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Craig Crawford’s Facebook page, struck back against those spreading the misinformation is GYHSAC’s Facebook post below.

We have all received the email from a member of the Nigerian royal family offering us untold wealth if we help them out with our bank details. We accept this is a scam, in the same way we accept that calls from NBN Technical Support are scams. The latest ‘scam’ circulating on social media relate to the supposed death of Lachlan Leary from a COVID related heart attack.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services chief executive Suzanne Andrews spoke out today regarding the impact fake social media posts are having on the health care of her community. “We all know the Nigerian prince emails and NBN Technical Support phone calls are a hoax. They are designed to steal our money. But what’s worse is the fake social media posts like the Lachlan Leary post, posts of this nature are appalling, they are designed to take our most precious, our children,” Ms Andrews stated.

“We commenced our children vaccination rollout earlier this month. In the first week we vaccinated more than 20% of our kids. Unfortunately, the Facebook fake post circulated through our community’s social media pages over the following weekend and we saw our number drop in the second week. The post is fake, totally discredited by Westmead Hospital in Sydney, but the damage has been done. In our community there are some members who have concerns regarding vaccination. These people are targeted by anti-vaxxers pushing their distorted truth with lies. “If you have concerns regarding vaccination, speak to your GP or come and talk to our GPs.”

screenshot of false FB post about child dying from covid-19 vax

Screenshot of Facebook post referred to by GYHSAC Facebook page 25 January 2022.

BDAC reaches vax milestone

Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) recently celebrated a new milestone after successfully vaccinating 89% of the active Indigenous population in the Greater Bendigo region, something Victoria’s COVID commander Jeroen Weimar dropped by to praise their efforts on last week. BDAC CEO Raylene Harradine said the visit from the COVID commander was also to encourage people to get their third booster shot. “Mr Weimar toured our Prouses Road site to see first-hand the work our Aboriginal Health Practitioners have been doing in protect Community against COVID,” she said.

“BDAC was quick to respond to the need to protect community against the virus and we established a vaccination clinic onsite.” Mr Weimar congratulated the team at BDAC on its great results as well as the expansion work that is underway.

To view the Bendigo Advertiser news article in full click here.

BDAC staff Dallas Widdicombe & Jaydene Burzacott in clinic room

Dallas Widdicombe and Jaydene Burzacott preparing for COVID-19 vaccinations at Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative. Photo: Darren Howe. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

VACCHO and cohealth partner to roll out vax

Not-for-profit community health service, cohealth, and the Victorian Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), have partnered to roll out a vaccination road show across regional Victoria. cohealth will this week be offering vaccinations in Orbost, Halls Gap, Stawell, and Ararat for the local community. In the last two weeks cohealth has taken the mobile vaccination clinic to Aboriginal health centres in Swan Hill, Mildura, Kerang and Morwell. Acting CEO, Chris Turner, said that the success of the activity relies on the partnership with VACCHO, and utilising spaces that are familiar and welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher is very pleased to be working with cohealth to get the vans back on the road and believes they will be an excellent addition to the great work achieved by ACCHOs across Victoria. “I’ve been so proud of the way the vans have been welcomed with open arms – it has been incredible. We have seen some great outcomes achieved by the ACCO vaccine van. This reflects what trust looks like in the community,” said Ms Gallagher.

To read the media release in full click here.

tile text 'Protect MOB - ACCO COVID VACCINE VAN coming to Orbost! - avail 1st & 2nd does bosters child vax 5-11 years' & logos VACCHO & cohealth

Image source: VACCHO Facebook page.

Healing centre breaking FV cycle

Devon Cuimara left an abusive home and started abusing his own partner until he found a way to break the cycle of family violence. It’s this lived experience that allows him to help others do the same. “I wasn’t born violent. I grew up with violence, and if you grow up with violence it becomes the norm and I believed it to be the norm because everywhere I looked, it was.”

As Devon says, the problem is widespread. A 2018 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found Indigenous women are one of the most at-risk groups for family violence, being 32 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Indigenous women. And two in five Indigenous homicide victims (41%) were killed by a current or former partner.

Devon now spends his time working as the founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC), a not-for-profit organisation working to break the cycle of domestic violence in WA’s Pilbara region. The centre is based in Newman, a small mining town almost 1200km northeast of Perth, with a large Indigenous population that has become vulnerable to poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence. The AMHC was born after Devon’s own attempts to use mainstream rehabilitation services fell flat because he says they failed to address decades of intergenerational trauma which dates back to colonisation.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

Devon Cuimara standing in front of gumtree

Devon Cuimara, founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC). Image source: 7 News.

Decision should lead to better public housing

The NT court of appeal has upheld a ruling that state-owned housing must be reasonably comfortable to be considered habitable, in a decision that advocates say should result in better housing outcomes for remote communities across the territory. The decision follows a six-year legal battle brought by residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community 85km south-east of Alice Springs. The community said inadequate and inhumane housing was due to repeated failures by public housing authorities to conduct necessary repairs.

Seventy residents took the territory government to the NT civil and appeals tribunal over the state of housing in the Eastern Arrernte community in 2016. One of the claimants lived with a blocked toilet and a leaking shower for 269 days and many homes had missing doors, faulty stoves and leaking air conditioners. One resident, Enid Young, went without an air conditioner for 540 days.

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

street scene of Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) NT

Residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community argued inadequate and inhumane housing was due to failures by public housing authorities to conduct repairs. Photo: Grenville Turner, AAP. Image source: The Guardina

First Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon

Australia’s first Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon is a trailblazer, forging a path for young First Nations athletes to overcome injury. A proud Dharug man, Dr Anthony Murray has extensive experience in trauma, joint replacement and general orthopaedic surgery and is passionate about providing the best possible medical attention to his patients.

Dr Murray is a driving force in the First Nations realm through his role in the Australian Orthopaedic Association, as the chair for the Cultural Inclusion Working Group, “Orthopaedics is one of those areas where you get to work with people with an immobility and be able to help them regain movement and their life. That’s what I love about it,” he said.

Growing up in Central Queensland, orthopaedics was not Dr Murray’s first career choice. He was hoping to pave a career as an AFL player, but a knee injury set his course on a different trajectory, “I was playing some regional football and working my way towards that goal and ended up having a pretty bad knee injury.”

To view the Sunshine Coast News article in full click here.

Dr Anthony Murray

An injury changed Dr Anthony Murray’s life and allowed him to help others. Image source: Sunshine Coast News.

New Lifeline service for hard-to-reach

Since 2019, Lifeline has provided Australia’s only Crisis Text helpline, providing support to people in psychological distress. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Australian Government, Lifeline Australia has now been able to fast-track the expansion of text and chat services to 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to meet demand and increase accessibility for hard-to-reach groups.

Lifeline CEO Colin Seery said that rather than diverting phone calls from the 13 11 14 service, the always-on digital platform has in fact increased the range and total number of people contacting the organisation. This is a landmark in suicide prevention in Australia and is all about bringing help to people who are in situations and environments where accessing support through digital communication is the only safe or viable option, said Mr Seery.

To view Lifeline’s media release in full click here.banner line drawing woman texting text 'what to talk about it? in speech bubble, Lifeline counsellor with headset, Lifeline logo

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.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held every February to educate Australians on ovarian cancer, and raise awareness by sharing the stories of real women affected by the disease. One Australian woman dies from ovarian cancer every eight hours.

Cancer Council WA (CCWA) is reminding women in the Pilbara to remain ever vigilant about the changes in their body. CCWA Pilbara regional education officer Anne Johnston said women should pay attention to any unusual, new, persistent or troublesome symptoms. “If you have any of the symptoms and they happen on most days for three weeks or more, particularly if you’re over 50 or have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, go to your doctor or Aboriginal Health Professional and get a check-up,” she said. “You won’t be wasting the doctor’s time and in most cases it won’t be anything to worry about but if it is cancer, your chances of successfully treating it are much greater.”

“More research is required to better understand the causes of ovarian cancer but as with many cancers, there are steps we can take to reduce our overall individual cancer risk, including quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, getting enough exercise, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and reducing alcohol intake.” Women are advised to look out for any pain in the lower and side abdomen, irregular periods or bleeding after menopause, back pain, loss of appetite, indigestion or nausea.

For more information about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month click here and to view the full article in the Albany Advertiser about CCWA’s ovarian cancer awareness raising activities click here.

tile text 'Feb is ovarian cancer awareness month' & image of gloved surgical hands holding paper cut-off female reproductive organs

Image source: Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation website.

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