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

feature tile text 'NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino concerned for remote communities as WA drops hard border' & portrait photo of Jason against Aboriginal dot art

Image in feature tile: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino. Image source: ANU Medical School.

NACCHO Medical Advisor on WA COVID-19

As WA drops its hard border at midnight tonight, many are concerned about the toll the virus might take in remote communities. On ABC RN Breakfast this morning Gerard Coffey, CEO of Ngaanyatjarra Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, WA and Dr Jason Agostino, NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke to reporter Jade Clarke about their concerns, including overcrowded housing and insecure power supply in areas where temperatures are as high as 50 degrees.

You can listen to the RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvevlas segment in full here.

6 Aboriginal people sitting outside house in disrepair

Photo: Getty Images/AFP/G. Wood. Image source: DW Made for Minds. website.

Good News Story Winners

NACCHO is pleased to announce the winners of our inaugural Good News Story competition:

  • Peter McCullagh, Marketing & Communications Officer, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC), Yarrabah, Queensland who submitted two stories, the first about how the Yarrabah community reached the important 90% first vaccination level and the second about how GYHSAC CEO Suzanne Andrews spoke out to counter anti-vax misinformation.
  • Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service for her entry about her nine-week placement in Tennant Creek working as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner / Nurse Immuniser as part of the government’s “Vaccination Acceleration Campaign” targeting remote communities.

Both winners will receive $200 to put towards a meal to share with their colleagues.

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS

Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden and Heather Robertson from Gurriny Yealamucka HSAC and Kim Moffitt from Albury Wodonga AHS.

COVID-19 decimates women’s health

The CEOs of Victoria’s 12 women’s health services has issued an urgent plea for immediate government investment to curtail the unfolding crisis of women’s declining health in the state. It comes with the release of data that shows the impact of COVID-19 on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of women in Victoria, and how current funding levels are inadequate for improving outcomes.

The group is calling for women’s health services funding to be increased from $2.05 per women per year, to $5.75 per woman. At an online event branded with the hashtag #sickofsmallchange, Women’s Health Services Council Chair Tricia Currie pointed out that the funding being asked for to improve women’s health in the state equates to less than cost of two cups of coffee, per woman. The group is calling for investments to improve health outcomes for women with disabilities, Indigenous women, LGBTQI+ women, trans and gender diverse people, as well as migrant and refugee women, and those living in rural and regional areas in Victoria.

“Before the pandemic, women’s health was under significant strain,” Currie said at the event. “It is now much worse. Spare change funding is making women sicker.” Kit McMahon, CEO of Women’s Health in the South East, said the data clearly indicates that women are being let down by a lack of funding. “The data is clear and the evidence is there. From a local perspective, the pandemic has not only revealed inequity in health, it has exacerbated it and we’ve seen an increase in inequity,” McMahon said.

To view the Women’s Agenda article in full click here.

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow

VAHS site director Susan Hedges uses a cultural shawl at a screening with BreastScreen Victoria radiographer Monique Warrillow. Image source: BreastScreen Victoria.

First COVID-19 antiviral on PBS

Thousands of vulnerable Australians, who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19, are now eligible to access an oral antiviral treatment through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Listed as of  Tuesday 1 March, GPs can now prescribe molnupiravir (sold as Lagevrio).

Associate Professor Paul Griffin, an infectious disease physician and microbiologist at Mater Health in Brisbane, said the listing of the oral antiviral is ‘great news’, and likely to play an ‘important role’ in treating at-risk patients who contract the virus. ‘Access to an oral treatment through the PBS will allow many at-risk people to be treated at home, which is a win-win-win for these patients, the community and our hospital system,’ he said.

According to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), molnupiravir is recommended for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at risk of developing severe disease requiring hospitalisation, not requiring supplemental oxygen for their COVID-19 and where treatment is commenced within 5 days of the onset of symptoms and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease
  • People 65 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease,
  • People 75 years or older with one additional high-risk factor for developing severe disease,
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised people irrespective of vaccination status

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

hand holding box of oral use Lagevrio COVID-19 antiviral tablets

Clinical trial data found participants treated with molnupiravir had a reduced risk of hospitalisation, down from 14.1% to 7.3%. Photo: AAP. Image source: newsGP website.

VIC Aboriginal health experts meet

Representatives from VACCHO met last week on Wadawurrung Country to share learnings and experiences of the past two years and lay the foundations for the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community in Victoria for 2022. The Members’ Meeting meeting was also an opportunity to recognise the leadership, dedication, and hard work of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said “This important gathering provides us with an opportunity to connect and pay tribute to our members. This pandemic has had so many twists and turns. Every day it seems like something changes. But despite all the challenges – all the ups and downs – the ability of each of the members to quickly adjust and adapt to look after Community has been incredible.” She said the Members’ Meeting was an important chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements and challenges, and to think about where the organisation wanted to be in the next 25 years.

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service CEO Michael Graham said ACCHOs were unique “in that we are one big family. As a workforce, we should all be proud of our collective efforts in providing personalised, culturally-safe care for our communities across Victoria.”

To view the Geelong Times article in full click here.

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley speaks at the VACCHO meeting at RACV Torquay Resort. Photo: Dr Cath Chamberlain, Twitter. Image source: Geelong Times.

Kinchela Boys Home to be truth-telling site

Kinchela Boys Home (KBH) site in Kempsey has been announced at the 2022 World Monuments Watch as one of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. Among Australia’s most notorious Stolen Generations institutions, KBH saw an estimated 400 to 600 Aboriginal children exposed to routine acts of cultural genocide between 1924 to 1970.

Survivors from KBH are among thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly taken from their families and communities as part of official government and church programs to assimilate First Nations children into non-Indigenous society. The announcement by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) acknowledges the pain and suffering of KBH survivors and their families, while highlighting the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them.

The children who passed through the gates of KBH were stripped of their names, given numbers, and subjected to ‘reprogramming’ and strict regimes of manual labor. Physical hardship, punishment, alienation, and abuse were part of everyday life until the campus was shut down in 1970.

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home

In 2012, Aboriginal Elders with part of the gate from the Kinchela Boys Home that was sent to the National Museum. Image source: The Macleay Argus.

Schools alone can’t break disadvantage cycle

Poverty and disadvantage put young Australians on the road to a less fulfilling life and schools could play a critical role in breaking the cycle, a new study led by Flinders University says. “The risk factors for social exclusion at school are worse for young adolescents who live in low income households or who experience poverty,” says Flinders University sociologist Professor Gerry Redmond.  “Adolescents who live with a disability, care for a family member, speak a language other than English at home, or identify as Indigenous are all more likely than other adolescents to be living in poverty.  “Feedback from marginalised young people in the study shows how the experience of disadvantage and exclusion affects their life satisfaction, which is a predictive indicator of wellbeing and mental health in adulthood,” he says.

With prospects for Australian children living in low income households relatively unchanged this century, the study aims to ignite the post-pandemic debate calling for sweeping reform and stronger economic, social, cultural and political policymaking to focus on a better future for all young people.

Children living in rural and remote communities, have difficulty with learning or live in out-of-home care also face similar prospects for marginalisation at school. Diana Harris, acting CEO of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), says the study highlights the “systemic forces in play” which continue to lead to the marginalisation of low income, children managing disabilities or chronic disease, and those from an Aboriginal or culturally diverse background.

To view the Flinders University media release in full click here.

2 young girls being helped with puzzles by two female teachers

Image source: Indigenous Inequality blog.

Primary Care COVID-19 update time change

There is a change in the time for the latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout. It will now be held from 12:30–1:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 3 March 2022, an hour later than previously advised.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

tile: Primary Care COVID-19 update' blue background, vector of virus cell

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.

Kidney Health Professional Webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar on Wednesday 9 March 2022 to celebrate 2022 Kidney Health Week.

The webinar will include an engaging panel discussion with our Clinical Advisory Committee facilitated by Nephrologist, Professor Karen Dwyer

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 325983 (pending approval).

If you have a Zoom account you can register here. If you do not have a Zoom account you can sign up for one here and then register for the webinar via this link.

Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email.


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