NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Anti-viral treatments an important tool

feature tile text 'NACCHO MA says new oral covid-19 treatments important for immunocompromised' & photo of white red capsule

Anti-viral treatments an important tool

North Queensland will be first in line to receive two new oral COVID-19 treatments made available in Australian this week. The drugs, Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) are an additional treatment for vulnerable Australians who contract COVID-19. NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino spoke on ABC North Queensland Local News this morning, saying the drugs will be an important tool for immunocompromised patients in addition to already approved intravenous medicine. “Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have risk factors that mean they are more likely to get severe COVID-19, things like kidney disease, heart disease and lung disease,” Dr Agostino said. You can listen to the ABC North Queensland Local News segment here.

First Nations children’s hearing health

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) is collaborating with First Nations communities across Australia to raise awareness of the importance of ear and hearing health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the launch of a new storybook and series of events centred around the ‘Spirit of Sound’.

The new children’s book the ‘Spirit of Sound’, is a collaboration with artist Davinder Hart, of the Noongar nation and will be made free to organisations who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children across the country in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of regular hearing checks early in life.

“I’m very proud to work with Hearing Australia to highlight the importance of sound to myself and to Indigenous people,” said Davinder. “When we hear sound it travels through our ears into our bodies and wakes up our feelings. In this book you can see the spirits of sound and how it moves around like a message being sent. When we start to listen, we can start to learn.”

To coincide with World Hearing Day today, the Spirit of Sound will be released as an eBook on the Hearing Australia website, along with a suite of new resources and a Q&A for parents and community with Worimi man and ear, nose and throat surgeon Professor Kelvin Kong.

Professor Kong is joined by First Nations HAPEE spokespeople from across the country, Wiradjuri man and father Luke Carroll, Gumbaynggirr, Dhungatti, Torres Strait Islander mother Elsie Seriat, and Noongar mother and grandmother Daniella Borg. Professor Kelvin Kong says the issue is close to his heart. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and our mob are more likely to get affected by hearing issues and their effects,” said Kelvin. “The problem with that is that it means our language, our development, our speech, and our progression through life can be hampered. I encourage all our community to take that first step, book in and get your kids, your nieces, nephews or grandkids a hearing check so they can be ready to listen and learn.”

For further information about the HAPEE Ears For Early Years Hearing Assessment Program click here.

Aboriginal artist & storybook illustrator Davinder Hart holding up two copies of The Spirit of Sound storybook

Aboriginal artist and storybook illustrator Davinder Hart. Image source: Hearing Australia.

Connecting culture to cancer care

Family, culture, strength and support are at the heart of a new artwork welcoming Aboriginal people to the Nepean Cancer and Wellness Centre. Titled ‘Battle Against Cancer’, the art is the creation of 19-year-old local artist, Aiesha Pettit-Young, a proud Wiradjuri and Wongaibon descendant. The artwork is a particularly personal creation for Ms Pettit-Young, who says, “Cancer has affected my family these past three years. This artwork is for my family and others who are experiencing this too.”

“I hope my art encourages Aboriginal patients to keep fighting and stay strong. To know they’ve got a thousand ancestors walking behind them and they can come in here and feel comfortable culturally,” Ms Pettit-Young says. Ms Pettit-Young created her artwork in response to an invitation from the Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre, who sought submissions from local Aboriginal artists to help create a more positive, welcoming and culturally appropriate environment for patients, carers and visitors.

As the winning artwork, elements of Ms Pettit-Young’s piece have also been incorporated into the facility’s wayfinding features that help guide patients to their appointments. Inclusive initiatives such as this can help make a difference to the experience of Aboriginal people accessing health services, the young artist says.

You can view the full story and watch a video featuring Aiesha Pettit-Young talking about her artwork click here.

Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre staff (3 women) with Aboriginal artist Aiesha Pettit-Young holding artwork

Victorian Stolen Generations redress scheme

The Andrews Labor Government has today unveiled its landmark Stolen Generations Reparations Package, recognising the lasting suffering caused by the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Members of the Stolen Generations will be able to access financial reparations, an apology from the state and healing support, with applications opening on Thursday 31 March 2022.

The package has been designed by and for Aboriginal people, backed by an investment of $155 million from the Labor Government. The Stolen Generations Reparations Steering Committee engaged with more than 400 members of Victoria’s Stolen Generations and their families during the consultation process in 2021. Those who are eligible can apply to receive financial reparations of $100,000, as well as a personal apology from the Government, access to healing and reconnection to Country programs, and an opportunity to share their story.

To view Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ media release in full click here.

Kutcha Edwards hugging tearful Eva Jo Edwards & Mick Edwards

A tearful Kutcha Edwards, Eva Jo Edwards and Mick Edwards said the redress scheme was about righting past wrongs. Photo: Simon Schulter. Image source: The Age.

Midland mental health centre opens

A new Midland Head to Health adult mental health centre has opened its doors for the first time this week to people seeking support for mild to moderate mental health concerns, including stress and anxiety, in Perth’s eastern suburbs. It provides a new approach in the mental health system and removes some of the traditional barriers for people seeking support for mental health concerns by offering a free, community-based walk-in service available from 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM every day of the year.

Midland Head to Health is part of an Australian Government initiative to trial a number of adult mental health centres nationally, to improve access to mental health services for people experiencing distress and who condition may be too complex for many existing primary care services, but don’t meet the criteria for acute services.

With input from members of the community with lived experience, it has been co-designed to feel welcoming and safe for everyone who visits, including LGBTIQ+ people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

To view the PHN Perth North Midland Head to Health media release in full click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt &* Senior Whadjuk man Vaughn McGuire in front of mental bin with smoking gum leaves

Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP and Senior Whadjuk man Vaughn McGuire at opening of Midland Head to Health.

$10.7m for NT FV services

Funding under the National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence responses will be tripled to boost frontline services in the NT in response to the chronic rates of violence and to work towards our Closing the Gap commitments. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston has announced an additional $10.7 million on top of the funding being provided under the $260 million National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses. “The rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children in the NT are devastating and must be urgently addressed,” Minister Ruston said.

To view Senator Ruston’s media release in full click here.

card with cartoon drawing of Aboriginal man punching woman, kids crying

Image source: ABC News.

Solutions to accessing rural health care

A specialised roundtable discussion with rural health consumers has resulted in recommendations to help address gaps in accessing health services in rural, regional and remote Australia. The recommendations contained in a report published this week were made by participants of the Rural, Regional and Remote Roundtable on Health Service Access. The roundtable was facilitated by Consumers Health Forum (CHF) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) in December 2021.

The roundtable brought together rural consumers and experts across a range of medical and allied health disciplines to discuss issues that impact the most significant health challenge facing rural and remote communities – the equity of access to affordable, quality treatment and services. CHF and NRHA are leading advocates for improving rural health services and consumer health outcomes and say it is unacceptable that between city and rural there is a great divide in health service availability, choice, access and affordability.

Ten recommendations came out of the roundtable discussions, including changing Medicare to allow rebates for more than one health consultation or medical procedure per day and increasing the rebate for mental health care; funding local community groups to improve digital health literacy; developing a vocational (VET) training course for a health care coordinator role focusing entirely on patient navigation of the healthcare system; and advocating for the Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations  (RACCHO) model of primary health care services.

To view the NRHA and CHF media release in full click here.

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Wyndham

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

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.

World Hearing Day

World Hearing Day in Australia is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss, and to promote better ear protection and health across the world. The global theme of this year’s World Hearing Day is ‘To hear for life, listen with care’.

Hearing loss costs the Australian economy more than $15 billion a year. Then there’s the personal cost that we can’t put a dollar figure on. Hearing is vital for people’s communication abilities, quality of life, social participation, and health.

For more information on World Hearing Day 2022 visit the WHO website here.

tile text 'world hearing day 3 March' & outline of ear, sound waves & globe with Australia visible at top of the ear

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