NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Trusted COVID-19 portal supports sector

Trusted COVID-19 portal supports sector

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet was quick to develop a COVID-19 updates and information section. This went live in March 2020. Since then, users from across the country have been able to find the latest information and resources available on COVID-19 from the Australian Department of Health and NACCHO. Relevant information about infectious diseases and respiratory health was also available here.

Two years on there is a wealth of authoritative information available and the COVID-19 section has now expanded to become a HealthInfoNet Portal, making it easier for health practitioners to find what they need. HealthInfoNet Portals are designed to provide information that is timely, accessible, and relevant to the everyday practice of the health sector workforce. Using the portal will save time and enable users to search within their state and territory for relevant resources. With booster vaccines now available, the subtopic of vaccinations for COVID-19 allows for quick access to information on this crucial element of the fight against COVID-19.

There is also a section dedicated to workforce information including jobs and events. An information section provides links to state and territory government and NACCHO websites along with links to support for people who may need assistance with accessing help if needing to isolate via the healthdirect website. Users can now search an  interactive map to find resources relevant to their state and territory. Many of these are translated into Aboriginal languages providing health staff with the tools to get the most up to date information to their communities.

HealthInfoNet Director, Neil Drew says ”With most of Australia now open to the world, the need to ensure our most vulnerable populations are vaccinated is even more urgent. This portal will be an invaluable support to those working around the clock with community members to combat COVID-19”.

To view this article in full click here.

Calls for new regional health service model

The National Rural Health Alliance – an umbrella body which represents 42 national health organisations, including NACCHO, is calling for a stop funding of “small, fragmented initiatives that merely plug gaps” in the rural health system. “After years of well-intended, ad hoc support, it is evident that a holistic and strategic approach is necessary to address the fundamental systemic issues of workforce shortages, lack of access to services and the affordability of rural health care,” CEO Dr Gabrielle O’Kane said.

The group is pushing for a new regional health service model, Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations (RACCHOs), which would have a completely different funding structure. The Alliance says at the moment there are not enough healthcare services to support the seven million people living in rural, regional and remote communities.

The structure and governance of RACCHOs – which would complement the existing network of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) – would be flexible to accommodate local community circumstances. RACCHOs would differ in each community, with strong community input and service planning and delivery based entirely on local needs.

To view the South Burnett news item in full click here. You can view a video about the RACCHO service model by clicking on this link.

In a related news article in the Sydney Morning Herald says RACCJPs would be modelled on Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, which have operated since the1970s and were recently lauded by PMScott Morrison for their role in protecting Indigenous Australians from COVID-19. To view the SMH article click here.

image of Carbal AMS, Toowoomba Qld

Carbal AMS, Toowoomba, Qld. Image source: NRHA.

Australia-first healthy skin project

A PhD student from Telethon Kids Institute and The University of WA has been awarded WA’s only 2022 postgraduate scholarship by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). In an Australian first, dermatologist and skin health researcher Bernadette Ricciardo will use her NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship – one of just 65 awarded across Australia in the latest funding round – to better understand and describe the skin health needs of urban-living Aboriginal children and adolescents in major and regional cities.

Dr Ricciardo said skin infections and associated complications were common in remote-living Australian Aboriginal children, with untreated skin infections often resulting in hospitalisation, life-threatening bloodstream infections, and chronic heart and kidney disease. “But despite more than 60%of WA’s approximately 40,000 Aboriginal children living in urban settings, a knowledge gap exists for the burden of skin infection in these children,” Dr Ricciardo said.

Dr Ricciardo, who also works at Fiona Stanley Hospital, is undertaking the Koolungar Moorditj Healthy Skin project as her PhD. The project has been co-designed with Nyoongar Elders embedded within the Telethon Kids Institute, in collaboration with the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service and the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) – enabling development of an evidence-based research-service program.

To view The University of WA article in full click here.

Dr Bernadette Ricciardo

Dr Bernadette Ricciardo, Telethon Kids Institute. Image source: ACE NTD website.

HAPEE Ears for Early Years program

One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience chronic ear disease in Australia. Poor hearing can make it difficult for kids to engage and learn at school and Hearing Australia is encouraging parents and carers to get their kids checked for the 2022 school year. To reach communities across Australia, Hearing Australia’s HAPEE Ears for Early Years program is partnering with local spokespeople and community services to improve the hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

New HAPEE Spokesperson Elsie Seriat, is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman and mother and says early hearing checks are critical. “It’s really important that kids get their ears checked early at the start of the school year which we know is a critical time for them to learn and grow,” she said.

Regular hearing checks can ensure kids and bubs have good hearing and are able to listen, learn, play and fully participate in life.
Hearing Australia’s HAPEE. You can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face consultation, depending on which best suits you and your bub’s needs. Call Hearing Australia on 134 432 for a free* hearing check today or visit us at here for more information.

Elsie Seriat OAM with her two sons

Elsie Seriat OAM, (with yer two sons) has joined the HAPEE program to promote hearing health in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait.

National study of mob’s wellbeing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been saying for a long time that strong culture is related to good health and wellbeing. Mayi Kuwayu, the National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing is a comprehensive longitudinal study into how culture impacts health and wellbeing. The research team will follow a large number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over time. Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person from 16 years of age can participate. The study aims to survey a large number of people, ensuring there is national representation to gain a highly detailed understanding of the relationship between culture and wellbeing.

The Mayi Kuwayu Study will examine how wellbeing is linked to connection to country, cultural practices, spirituality, language use and other factors. This is the first time a national study of this type has been conducted. It will create an evidence base for the creation of better policies and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Mayi Kuwayu study has partnered with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, including NACCHO. W

To learn more about the study, click here.

tile text 'culture isn't a risk factor. It's a protective factor. Mark Wenitong Kabi Kabi' & portrait shot of Mark Wenitong


AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship

As the Friday 18 February 2022 closing date approaches for eligible medical students to apply for the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship, the 2021 recipient, Destiny Kynuna, has been featured in an ABC radio program interview with AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid.

Listeners to ABC Life Matters program last Friday heard a compelling and moving discussion between Dr Khorshid, Destiny Kynuna and ABC presenter, Hilary Harper. Destiny told listeners she was motivated to study medicine and specialise in psychiatry so she could “help heal her mob” – as she saw too often the effects of intergenerational trauma in her community and in her own family.

During the interview, Dr Khorshid mentioned the importance of cultural awareness for non-Indigenous doctors to engender good doctor-patient relationships. He also said studying full time and keeping a roof over one’s head was tough for anyone and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often had to move away from family and culture to undertake study. He said the $10,000 given every year to a medical student during their study could help a great deal.

To view the article in full click here.

Destiny Kynuna receiving AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship

Destiny Kynuna receiving 2021 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship. Image source: AMA website.

Help AIDA celebrate 25 years

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year and have several exciting events and projects planned for 2022. The first event to be hosted by AIDA will be an International Women’s Day Breakfast on Tuesday 8 March 2022 at the National Arboretum, Canberra.

Join AIDA to reflect and celebrate 25 years of supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women through a robust panel discussion, featuring Associate Professor Jaquelyne Hughes, Ms Rachelle Towart OAM, Associate Professor Lisa Whop, Aunty Pat Anderson AO and Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA. Facilitated by ABC’s Dan Bourchier.

You can register for this exciting event today here.

AIDA logo 25 years text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association Celebrating the past challenging the future' stethoscope with Aboriginal dot art for silver circle

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.

Digital Health Week

Digital Health Week (15–17 February 2022) is an opportunity for anyone interested in digital health to participate in a program of virtual events and share research and ideas. It is designed to be both informative, provocative, and a showcase of the innovative work being undertaken in digital health across the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and beyond. Digital Health Week 2022 will bring together researchers, health services, industry, and the community to build person-centred eHealth collaborations.

This year’s theme Reality check: how do we make technology work in real life? will have a focus on discussing how we can make technology truly work as a support tool for people in life and across health care systems. The mismatch between real life and the potential of technology to support health and wellbeing will be explored. A diverse range of speakers will challenge us and spark discussions that might help us all to harness technology in different ways for more inclusive healthcare and support.

For more information about Digital Health Week 2022 click here

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