NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

feature tile text 'First Nations effort making recovery for "ice" a reality & image of ice pipe being smoked

Image in feature tile from SBS News article The fight against ice in Indigenous Australia, 13 December 2017.

Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

Indigenous care worker Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie has spoken to Rolling Stone magazine about her life’s work, providing recovery strategies for First Nations communities in Queensland.

“Ice has had the biggest impact that I’ve seen in 30 years working in the community,” says Aunty Sonetta. Sonetta is referring to the devastating impact crystal methamphetamine—commonly referred to as ice—has made both within her community and beyond.

Certainly, this drug has had a major impact on Australians and First Nations communities. But through her own incredible work in this field, Aunty Sonetta has seen firsthand that help — even in the direst of circumstances — is available and that successful recovery is always possible. This truth is what drives her to best serve her community.

Sonetta manages the Mackay and Region Aboriginal and Islander Development Association, better known as Marabisda—a community-led organisation that works with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander communities based in and around Mackay.

Marabisda launched in 2008 to meet the particular needs of vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families. Aunty Sonetta has been with the organisation for six years, but she’s been serving the community as a nurse and care worker for decades.

“The kids that I weighed as babies when I was working for the Aboriginal Medical Centre are now parents that I work with,” she says. Through her work and engagement, Sonetta is intimately acquainted with the drug’s damaging impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Rolling Stone article in full click here.

Sonetta Fewquandie - Aboriginal AOD worker

Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie. Image source: Marabisda website.

Entirely preventable disease killing mob

An Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) editorial last year highlighted the abject failure in closing the gap for rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Since then, the divide has widened further still. This week’s ABC Four Corners program was particularly hard to watch for Janelle Speed.

It is an illness Ms Speed, an Aboriginal cultural consultant, had address in an editorial written in the AJGP less than a year ago. Since she wrote the editorial for the May 2021 edition of AJGP, the situation has deteriorated.

Despite a Federal Government goal of eliminating RHD by 2030, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show the problem is now even more stark. The editorial highlighted 1776 diagnoses of ARF between 2013–17. For 2015–2019, that total had increased to 2244. Meanwhile, the rate of notifications had increased from 77 per 100,000 in 2015 to 102 per 100,000 four years later.

You can view the newsGP article in full here.

young Aboriginal girl in children's ward with mother

Indigenous Australians in the NT are more than 100 times as likely to have rheumatic heart disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Screenshot/Take Heart – Strep: Group A Streptococcal Infection. Image source: The Conversation.

New First Nations disability advocacy service

A new disability advocacy service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been established in Queensland. Side by Side First Peoples Advocacy works with people with a disability and their families to resolve issues they encounter with support services, community access or disability discrimination.

The service is a new addition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland and has been established and sponsored by Aged and Disability Advocacy. ADA Australia chief executive Geoff Rowe said a dedicated advocacy service would address the additional inequality First Nations people with disability faced when accessing services. “(Advocacy) supports the most vulnerable in our community to have a voice and is the foundation for inclusion and equality,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Connecting foster kids to country

Of all the children in out-of-home (foster) care in Australia, 40% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Many of these children reside in NSW, on Wiradjuri (‘Wir-add-jury’) Country in the centre and west of the state. In a bid to improve these children’s outcomes by helping them maintain cultural and Kinship connections, a University of Sydney researcher and her sister have developed workbooks on Wiradjuri language that can be used by children and their carers, families, and teachers.

They were launched at an event at the University of Sydney earlier this week with an opening address from the NSW Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones.

To view the University of Sydney media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks

L-R: Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

New PHC centre for Mapoon

Before Christmas Apunipima Cape York Health Council shared with reader of their newsletter Cape Capers the build progress of their brand-new, state of the art Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Apunipima is now very excited to reveal that the build has progressed much further in recent weeks due to favourable weather and great work from builders, James Construction.

The blockwork has now been completed, the roof is on, and much of the internal framework has been completed. The carport is also nearly complete. With all going well, the clinic is expected to open in late July 2022. Very exciting news for the residents of Mapoon!

This article from Apunipima Cape York Health Council newsletter Cape Capers can be accessed here.

slab for Apunipima's new Mapoon PHC centre

Image from Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s 28 January 2022 Twitter feed showing the concrete slab laid for its new PHC centre in Mapoon.

Optometry Advisory Group EOIs sought

Optometry Australia is inviting members with experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health to express their interest in joining their Advisory Group for a new two-year term, from July 2022 to June 2024.

While the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has reduced over the past decade, there are still too many that experience avoidable vision loss and blindness due to barriers to accessing necessary primary eye health care.

Optometry Australia is strongly committed to supporting improved eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Since 2008, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health Advisory Group has provided invaluable guidance and support in our work within this area.

For more information about the Advisory Group click here. Please submit your expression of interest by COB Sunday 26 June 2022 using this email link.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Michael Amendolia. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Heat compounds chronic disease impact

Groups across the NT have released a scorecard assessing the NT Government’s climate performance against the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the NT ALP Government of Michael Gunner ranked 5/100.

NT Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Dr Brooke Ah Shay, who works in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida, said that we already see higher rates of conditions like chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in the NT, and that these diseases will be compounded by the effects of increased heat from climate change.

To view the Doctors for the Environment Australia media release in full click here.

town camp housing, dirt yard, no awnings

Town camp housing typically lacks simple features to keep cool, such as insulation and wide awnings. Photo: Mike Bowers, The Guardian.

New PhD scholarship opportunities

Onemda, along with the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, are pleased to announce an opportunity for two PhD scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates.

They offer flexible options for study within a supportive, Aboriginal-led team. The positions are based at the University of Melbourne and can commence as soon as possible or when suitable to the applicants. The successful candidates will receive a Research Training Program Scholarship and top-up, totalling approx. $50,000 tax free per year for 3.5 years (full-time).

You are invited to contact Professor Cath Chamberlain to discuss your application first using this email link.

university of melbourne logo & uni Melb PhD graduation bonnet

University of Melbourne PhD graduation bonnet. Image source: George H. Lilley website.

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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