NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News: Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

feature tile text 'celebrating NACCHO's inspiring & strong women's leadership this International Women's Day' & photo collage of 7 women: NACCHO CEO, Chair etc

Feature tile images clockwise from top left: Pat Turner AM, Donnella Mills, Dr Dawn Casey, Donna Ah Chee, Raylene Foster, Vicki O’Donnell and Polly Sumner-Dodd.

Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisation (NACCHO) is proud to be guided and led by an extraordinary group of women from the NACCHO Executive team to the Board of Directors.

From the top left in the image collage above:

  • Pat Turner AM – NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks. Pat is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman and was raised in Alice Springs. As CEO of NACCHO, she is at the forefront of community efforts in Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pat has over 40 years of experience in senior leadership positions in government, business and academia, including being the only Aboriginal person and longest-serving CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
  • Donnella Mills – NACCHO Chair and Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service, a member of James Cook University Council and was recently appointed to the Australian Government’s Advisory Council on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence. Donnella Mills is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir. From 2014 to 2021, she worked as a Cairns-based lawyer with LawRight, a community legal centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono services for vulnerable people. She was also the managing lawyer for the innovative Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, in which lawyers and health professionals partnered to achieve improved health, wellbeing and justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Dr Dawn Casey – NACCHO Deputy CEO and Co-chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19. Dr Dawn Casey is a descendant of the Tagalaka clan from North Queensland. She was recently awarded the Public Health Association Australia’s 2021 Sidney Sax Public Health Medal Award. She has also been awarded three Honorary Doctorates (QLD Charles Sturt, QLD and Macquarie Universities), a Commonwealth Government’s Public Service Medal (PSM), an Australian Government’s Centenary Medal, three Australia Day Public Service Medals, the Australian Institute of Architects’ Clem Cummings Award and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA).
  • Donna Ah Chee – NACCHO Board Member and CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAAC) in Alice Springs. She is a Bundgalung woman from the far north coast of NSW and has lived in Alice Springs for over 25 years. Donna has been actively involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for many years, especially in the area of adult education and health.
  • Raylene Foster – NACCHO Board Member and Chief Operating Officer Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC). Raylene represents Tasmania/Lutruwitadeep on the NACCHO Board. She has a historical understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, at national and local levels. For the past 25 years, Raylene has worked for the TAC in various leadership roles building the capacity of the organisation, staff, and community to provide health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Vicki O’Donnell OAM– NACCHO Board Member and CEO Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Ltd (KAMS). Vicki is a Nyikina Mangala woman from Derby who has worked as a strategic leader in Aboriginal community-controlled health for 15 years. Vicki was instrumental in the establishment of both the Derby Aboriginal Health Service dialysis unit and the Kimberley Renal Service. Vicki has been a board member of AHCWA for over 15 years (eight years as chair) and chairs the WA Aboriginal Health Ethics Committee. She is an advisor on numerous state and federal ministerial committees involved in Aboriginal health including the WA Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the national Closing the Gap Coalition of Peaks.
  • Polly Sumner-Dodd – NACCHO Board Member and Aboriginal Health Council of SA Ltd (AHCSA). Now retired, Polly was CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti of SA for over 30 years. Polly advocates strongly for Aboriginal community control, self-management and self-determination. She has participated on a wide and varied range of committees and boards, including NACCHO, Aboriginal Sobriety Group, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, Women’s Legal Service, Pharmacy Board SA and the Women’s Art Movement, to name a few. Polly’s involvement with NACCHO’s affiliate AHCSA has spanned more than 38 years, beginning with the Aboriginal Health Organisation that underwent major transformations, giving birth to ACHSA and, more importantly, moving to Aboriginal community control.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias.

Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. As women who are a guiding force and carers of our families and communities, we need to look after ourselves, our physical, spiritual, and mental health and wellbeing.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can break the bias in our communities and families. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.

You can read more about International Women’s Day and download resources here.BreakTheBias - International Women's Day - Selfie CardsExcerpt from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar’s newsletter:

This year’s theme, Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, reminds us of the powerful leadership and legacy of First Nations women and girls on the frontline of climate justice movements. It is within our women’s knowledge systems, ways of living and caring for all members of our families and Country, that the solutions exist to form more sustainable social, economic, ecological and political structures.

This International Women’s Day, read the new Wiyi Yani U Thangani Implementation Framework—which will drive dialogue and decision making in the lead up to the first-ever First Nations women and girls’ national summit in 2023.

Artwork: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice from the Australian Human Rights Commission website

Showcasing the women of Yarrabah

One of our ACCHOs, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) has done their own campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, recognising the #WomenOfYarrabah.

They value the contribution made to their community by women: mothers, sisters, aunties, daughters and grandmothers. ‘Who we are today is a reflection of the work and sacrifice of the women in our community’.

You can read more about the Women of Yarrabah campaign here.

Gurriny Yealamucka - Break The Bias campaign

Adelaide Sands, Renee Grosso and Lucresia Willett (pictured left to right above) are three of the employees at GYHSAC who feature in the campaign.

All governments “buck-passing” on housing

Australia’s road map for reducing Indigenous disadvantage is at risk because all governments are “buck-passing” over housing and reluctant to cede control to Aboriginal organisations, according to Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

Ms Turner, who has previously praised Scott Morrison for his commitment to recast the national agreement on Closing the Gap as a partnership with Indigenous organisations, says there is a concerning lack of political will from all governments who “think they know best”.

The new Closing the Gap obliges state, territory and even local governments to work with the commonwealth and Indigenous organisations to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians against key markers, including by reducing incarceration rates and increasing employment rates.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Pat Turner

Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: The Australian.

ABC Four Corners aired episode on Heart Failure and Rheumatic Heart Disease

Last night ABC Four Corners aired Heart Failure: An investigation into the hidden killer in remote Australian communities. According to the ABC Four Corners website page the episode is ‘an investigation into the hidden and shameful failure in public health taking place in remote Australian communities, where incompetent and inexcusable medical care has resulted in multiple preventable deaths.’

The program starts off with reporter Louise Milligan’s description of Doomadgee in remote NW Queensland Gulf country: “The children have come out to play. They’re joining in a medicine dance. Almost 40% of the people who live here are aged under 14 years old. Despite the joy in the children’s faces, there’s a sadness that runs through the heart of this place. In Doomadgee, young people are dying from a disease that all but disappeared in the rest of Australia decades ago, without getting the healthcare they need.”

In referring to one of the teenagers who died from Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) NACCHO CEO Pat Turner says “If that was a white kid, in middle class Sydney, you know, there’d be an uproar, okay? But it’s not a white kid. You know? It’s an Aboriginal kid living in the bush. Does that child deserve any less, than a white kid living in middle class Sydney?”

Paediatric cardiologist, Dr BoReményi said “We had the solutions for this over 50 years ago, yet today we’re standing back and watching young people developing rheumatic fever and RHD and dying from this.”

You can view the Heart Failure episode and access a transcript of the episode here.

image of ABC Four Corners episode text 'HEART FAILURE' across image of graveyard with heart shaped headstones

Qld releases new RHD strategy

Queensland has announced a new strategy dedicated to reducing the impact of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Queensland. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath released the Ending Rheumatic Heart Disease: Queensland First Nations Strategy 2021-2024 on Friday 4 March 2022.

Minister D’Ath said Queensland was leading the way with a targeted action plan, and now a strategy, to address the prevalence of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among First Nations peoples. “Both RHD and ARF are preventable conditions. Unfortunately, Australia has some of the highest documented rates of RHD in the world, with a significant number of patients living in the north of the Queensland,” Minister D’Ath said.

To view Minister D’Ath’s media release in full click here. You can also view a short film about Queensland teenager Shikyna’s RHD story below.

Combatting syphilis epidemic webinar 

While Australia has made some notable progress in the management of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), Syphilis remains a significant public health challenge. About 2 million Australians see a GP each week, and most STI’s are diagnosed in general practice – GPs have a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of Syphilis in the community through early diagnosis, testing and re-testing at risk patients, and timely and appropriate antibiotic treatment for cure.

The Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) is hosting a FREE webinar from 7:30 PM – 9:30 AEDT PM Wednesday 23 March 2022 to inform GPs of how they can help to strengthen Australia’s response to syphilis, and help people to access testing and treatment. You can register for the free webinar via this link.

blue rubber gloved hand holding Syphilis vial, positive box ticked

Image source: RACGP Events webpage.

Addressing AOD workers’ needs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre, in partnership with the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), invite you to attend a FREE webinar on Wednesday 16 March 2022 where key findings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drugs (AOD) workers who participated in a national AOD workforce survey will be presented, along with discussion on next steps for the sector.

There will be a Q&A session facilitated by Professor Neil Drew, Director of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. Key findings from the report will be presented by Dr Alice McEntee, report co-author and Research Fellow at NCETA and further insights will be provided by Dr Jocelyn Jones on what these findings mean to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in the AOD sector.

For further information about the webinar and to register click here. Registrations are due by Friday 11 March 2022.

Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee & Dr Jocelyn Jones

Clockwise: Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee and Dr Jocelyn Jones.

NRL club and ACCHO join forces

A Newcastle Knights initiative to ensure healthy, positive futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been labelled “momentous” by CEO Phil Gardner. The NRL club unveiled its formidable partnership with leading Hunter Valley medical provider Awabakal at its new $20 million Centre of Excellence yesterday, Monday 7 March 2022.

The program, Knight Strong, will promote better health outcomes for Indigenous residents throughout the region – and country NSW. “It’s an important day for us,” Gardner said. “It is the start of the Knights walking the walk. The likes of South Sydney and North Queensland Cowboys, for example, have done a great job with similar campaigns in their areas – I take my hat off to them. So, there’s nowhere better for us to begin our own Indigenous relationships than Knight Strong. Awabakal – who cares for people’s health and mental wellbeing, while providing many other fantastic services – is hugely vital to us.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article in full click here.

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong. Photo: Peter Stoop. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

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.

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