NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NHLF’s vision: health system free of racism

feature tile text 'national health leadership forum wants range of issues elevated in national debate' Sunrise health worker with stethoscope checking patient's heart

Image is feature tile is of Sunrise Health Service healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Photo: Alexia Attwood, ABC News.

NHLF’s vision: health system free of racism

The National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), a collective partnership of 13 national organisations, including NACCHO, who represent a united voice on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing with expertise across service delivery, workforce, research, healing and mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, is calling for a range of issues to be elevated in the national debate.

NHLF Chairperson Donna Murray wants the Australian health system to be free of racism and inequality, and for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable. The NHLF is advocating for system-wide investment in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, including on monitoring and reporting on the Plan’s implementation, as well as system-wide investment approach for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan.

The NHLF wants genuine needs-based funding investment in social determinants of health that have greatest impact on health outcomes – primary health care, housing, education, justice and law reform, climate change, aged care and disability service, Indigenous rights, and social justice. The NHLF also asserts the importance of the cultural determinants of health, and calls for investment and support that recognises their importance to improved health and wellbeing as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their knowledges and perspectives.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

Workplace discrimination ‘utterly unacceptable’

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is calling for urgent systemic and cultural reform within the health sector, following the 2021 Medical Training Survey results that found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainee doctors had experienced higher levels of bullying, discrimination and harassment – including racism – compared to their non-Indigenous colleagues. While the latest Survey results from 2021 found that trainees in general continued to experience bullying, harassment and discrimination, it also found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees had been disproportionately impacted.

The Survey results showed that “52% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees reported experiencing and/or witnessing bullying, harassment and/or discrimination (compared with 35% of trainees nationally), and 49% reported a moderate or major impact on their training (compared with 38% nationally). “While these numbers are deeply disturbing, to us, they are also not surprising,” said Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO of AIDA. “We have known that harassment and discrimination, especially racism, has been adversely impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students throughout their medical journey. This is utterly unacceptable,” she said.

To view AIDA’s media release in full click here.

Victoria to build 400 Aboriginal homes

The Victorian government have announced it will set aside $150 million to build the homes through various Aboriginal grants programs, helping to combat homelessness among First Nations people. One in six Aboriginal Victorians require homelessness assistance and are ten times more likely to contact these services than other residents, according to the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service’s 2021 annual report. “Having a home means security, stability and staying safe,” Housing Minister Richard Wynne said in a statement. Aboriginal households on the Victorian Housing Register will be eligible for the new grants, which open for applications in early May.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams said the extra money would go a long way to fostering self-determination and culturally safe housing options for Aboriginal Victorians. “When First Nations Victorians manage their own affairs, such as housing, we know outcomes are better for everyone,” she said. The new grants are on top of $35 million to upgrade existing Aboriginal housing as part of the state’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build scheme. Under the plan, 12,000 new social and affordable homes were expected to be built over a four-year span in a bid to boost the state’s housing supply by 10%.

The projects, located across 38 local government areas, ranged from a 152-home development in Melbourne to several two-home developments in regional areas including Ballarat, Bendigo Shepparton, Wodonga and Warrnambool. The state government is chipping in $740 million to the scheme, with the rest of the bill footed by 22 community housing agencies.

To view Minister Wynne’s media release click here.

homeless man lying on bench

Victoria has launched a plan to help overcome the high rate of homelessness among aboriginal people. Photo: AAP. Image source: 7 News.

My Health Record booster reminders

My Health Record was upgraded in January 2022 with the following COVID-19 information.

COVID-19 booster reminders for consumers
This release includes booster alerts and notifications for eligible consumers and nominated representatives (currently those 18 and over who have completed their primary course of vaccines). A new booster tile on the COVID-19 dashboard shows the recommended booster date.

One month before the recommended booster date, consumers will:

  • see an on-screen alert on their Record Home page and Immunisation page
  • get an SMS or email notification about their recommended booster date (for those who have set up notifications).

The recommended booster date is calculated by My Health Record based on Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) recommended time until a booster (currently 3 months after completion of primary course, based on this ATAGI statement).

This release also removes on-screen due/overdue COVID-19 vaccination alerts that were showing for consumers with a recorded medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.tile text 'check your booster due date in My Health Record - My Health Record' & form with title 'COVID-19 vax dashboard'

Impacts of short-term ACCHO staffing

Access to high-quality primary healthcare is limited for remote residents in Australia. Increasingly, remote health services are reliant on short-term or ‘fly-in, fly-out/drive-in, drive-out’ health workforce to deliver primary healthcare. A key strategy to achieving health service access equity, particularly evident in remote Australia, has been the development of ACCHOs

A recently published journal article, Understanding and responding to the cost and health impact of short-term health staffing in remote and rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health services: a mixed methods study protocol describes how, a new study aims to generate new knowledge about (1) the impact of short-term staffing in remote and rural ACCHOs on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; (2) the potential mitigating effect of community control; and (3) effective, context-specific evidence-based retention strategies.

The study will compare the effects of two distinct PHC governance models and thereby contribute to the development of evidence-based workforce strategies to stabilise the remote and rural health workforce and improve access to essential PHC services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural and remote areas.

To view the article in full click here.

Utju (Areyonga), one of the remote clinics in Central Australia

Utju (Areyonga), one of the remote clinics in Central Australia. Image source: Flinders University.

Dementia in cities as high as in rural areas

Studies have shown that Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas of the country are disproportionately affected by dementia, with rates approximately double those of non-Indigenous people. A new study shows that Aboriginal Australians living in urban areas also have similar high rates of dementia.

“Given that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now live in urban areas, these results are critically important,” said study author Louise M. Lavrencic, Ph.D., of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney. “Aboriginal Australians have among the highest rates of dementia in the world, so we looked at some of the potential risk factors that may be facing this population.”

To view the Medical Xpress article in full click here.

elderly Aboriginal lady's hands folded in lap

Image source: myDr Tonic Media Network.

Aboriginal Employment Strategy turns 25

Starting the year off strong, the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) are celebrating their 25 years in operation, kicking off as major sponsors of the NRL Indigenous All Stars game in Sydney 12 February. Proud Murri and South Sea Islander woman and CEO of Aboriginal Employment Strategy, Kristy Masella said it was about celebrating the success of working together.

“We are so proud. It is not only an achievement for us as an organisation, but a reflection of the partnership approach that has gotten us to this point. Working in collaboration with community and employers to create career opportunities. That’s at the heart of what we do at AES, and as a result we are deadly, together,” Kristy said.

The AES works with more than 550 employers across Australia each year to create career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 16 regionally based offices across four states and territories, work locally to support more than 1,150 career opportunities each year. Part of the approach is working with the employer to support cultural competency and understanding, and helping individuals develop skills and capabilities they need for career success.

To view the A media release in full click here.

test 'aes 25 years we deadly together' within white circle, background radiating black lines with red, yellow, blue, orange, green fill between

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.

International CHD Awareness Month

February is International Child Heart Disease Awareness Month….. childhood heart disease (CHD) is a global issue!

CHD covers a wide range of conditions, including acquired heart conditions such as Rheumatic Fever and Kawasaki’s Disease, not just congenital heart disease.

For further information you can access the HeartKids website here.

baby with nasal tube, long scar down chest, bead string with name Leon

Leon aged 6 months. Image source: Heart Kids website.

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