NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 10-year plan to increase workforce

feature tile text 'first ever ATSI workforce plan launched' & pink, blue Aboriginal dot painting from cover of the plan

The artwork in the feature tile is by Freelance Graphic Designer Tarni O’Shea was created for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021-2031.

10-year plan to increase workforce

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) welcomes the joint announcement from Minister Greg Hunt and Minister Ken Wyatt, launching the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031 (National Workforce Plan), the first of its kind. It seeks to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equally represented alongside non-Indigenous workers across the health sector by 2031 and improve health and wellbeing outcomes.

Endorsed by all governments, the National Workforce Plan will see a more coordinated approach to the growth and empowerment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce across a diverse range of roles, settings, and sectors, to provide more culturally safe and responsive care to benefit all Australians. It will mean an unprecedented increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, health workers and health practitioners working across the health system through the next decade, providing culturally safe and responsive health and medical care.

The plan aims to lift the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the sector from the current 1.8 per cent to 3.43 per cent by 2031, better reflecting overall population numbers.

According to Minster Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release, the plan has been designed in close partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including health leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and the community-controlled health sector. It commits all governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to grow and strengthen the workforce through a consistent, yet flexible, approach to increasing employment, training and leadership opportunities.

IAHA Chief Executive Officer and outgoing National Health Leadership Forum Chair, Donna Murray, said of the announcement:

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce brings a unique, dual cultural and clinical lens to their work. Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce should be a priority for all governments, with investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and culturally responsive approaches across health, education, skills, training, and employment portfolios.”

You can view Minister Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release here; the IAHA media release here and the National Workforce Plan here.

NACCHO COVID-19 staff & NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

NACCHO COVID-19 staff with NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills at the Inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers day. Image source: Facebook

Plans for dedicated Fitzroy Valley ACCHS

The New Fitzroy Valley Health and Wellbeing Project Working Group (Working Group) is overseeing a project to establish a dedicated Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) to deliver primary health care services in Fitzroy Crossing. At a community meeting held 18 August 2021, community members endorsed the project aim: That a new ACCHS be established to deliver primary health care services in Fitzroy
Crossing with an interim ACCHS to be operationalised by 2023 and a full ACCHS to be operationalised by 2026.

The Working Group is committed to establishing a strong, independent and effective ACCHS that will provide quality primary health care services. The new service will enable enhanced leadership and advocacy on Fitzroy Valley health issues, and expansion of a skilled and sustainable local Aboriginal health workforce. Ultimately this will lead to overcoming the health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal people of the Fitzroy Valley and achieve health outcomes equal to all Australians.

It is essential that Fitzroy Valley communities are involved and engaged in decision making and the Working Group are therefore responsible for guiding, directing, advising and making key decisions until a Board of Directors is elected at the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM).

To view the Fitzroy Valley Health and Wellbeing Project Working Group communicate in full click here.

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ARF and patient knowledge exchange

Two Aboriginal and two non-Aboriginal authors have examined the continuing colonisation of current practice, research and funding with respect to the provision of secondary antibiotic prophylaxis that is recommended for anyone diagnosed with Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF). As explained in the recent ABC 4 Corners episode, ARF is the precursor to Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) which kills Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples so early and unjustly.

Their article published in the first issue for 2022 of Rural and Remote Health journal asks if vital knowledge about treatments, prognosis and effective interventions is truly exchanged between clinicians and the people affected by ARF, including their families and communities.  Comprehensive community-controlled primary health care resourced to provide culturally safe, lifelong healthcare for anyone diagnosed with this life-changing disease must be a priority for governments genuinely committed to better health outcomes. This includes co-design of evidence-based decision aids to share knowledge.

To view the article in full click here or here.

Aboriginal interpreter with Aboriginal female Elder in hospital bed with health professional

Image source: scimex.

New clinical guideline for autism

Work is underway to develop a national practice guideline for supporting the development and participation of children on the autism spectrum and their families. You can read more about the guideline development here.

This project is funded by the Autism CRC and is co-led by Professor Andrew Whitehouse (CliniKids, Telethon Kids Institute) and Associate Professor David Trembath (Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University).

Community consultation is now taking place, and all Australians can contribute their voice to this process. Submissions from Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples is particularly encouraged.

Please follow this link to understand more, and take part in this process.

Aboriginal mum kissing check of young son with school bag

Image source: Autism Association of WA.

Stolen Generation redress scheme holdouts

WA and Queensland are the final holdouts in Australia yet to set up a redress scheme for Stolen Generations survivors. The Victorian Government last week joined NSW, SA, Tasmania, the NT and ACT in implementing a redress scheme 25 years after it was recommended in the landmark Bringing Them Home report. Victorian survivors will be eligible for $100,000 compensation payments, while Jervis Bay, NT and ACT schemes last week opened up a $75,000 redress plus an extra sum for healing assistance.

Bringing Them Home WA co-chairman Tony Hansen said such a scheme was well overdue in WA. “It is 25 years since the tabling of the landmark Bringing Them Home Report and sadly many Survivors have passed away,” he said. “We need an acknowledgement from the WA Government of what the Victorian Premier described as ‘…those terrible, evil wrongs of our past’.”

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

Boys at the Churches of Christ Mission in Norseman WA.

Boys at the Churches of Christ Mission in Norseman WA. Image source: ABC News website.

New SA Aboriginal mental health centre

According to SA Premier Steven Marshall, people across state will have access to more mental health and suicide prevention support as a result of a landmark 5-year agreement signed with the Commonwealth. The deal will increase the mental health workforce, establish new mental health centres for adults and First Nations people and reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Mr Marshall said the bilateral agreement, part of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement, would establish a network of Adult Mental Health Centres (Head to Health) in Northern Adelaide and Mount Barker, to be co-located with new State-funded services, including a Crisis Stabilisation Centre and two additional Head to Health satellite centres. In addition, a new Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Centre is to be established to address gaps in the mental health system to provide culturally appropriate and more integrated mental health and suicide prevention services to Aboriginal people. One new headspace centre will also be established, while existing headspace centres will be enhanced to increase access to multidisciplinary youth mental health services.

To view the article in full click here.

ACT prison mental health care ineffective

Prisoners in the ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Centre don’t receive adequate mental health treatment due to a shortage of psychologists, a damning ACT Auditor-General’s report has concluded. The report has found the prison has funding for 16 full-time equivalent staff including registered nurses and forensic psychologists but only 11.2 of these positions are currently filled.

“The most significant shortfall in staff occurs in the number of psychologists; only two of the four budgeted positions have been filled as of April 2021,” the report read. The report said that “While occurring informally, there is no established process to ensure that advice and support is sought from called for greater oversight of the services delivered by Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, or any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health professional, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at risk of suicide and self-harm,” the report said. The report said Winnunga or another service should be consulted to develop release plans for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees and to provide advice regarding treatment plans for any Indigenous detainees deemed high risk.

To view the Riotact article in full click here.

light shaft on closed internal AMC prison doors

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra 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.

16th National Rural Health Conference

If you are interested in healthy, sustainable and resilient rural communities, this conference will be of interest to you.  Whether you are a consumer, a health professional, student, researcher, or manager you will be able to engage with people and topics of interest to you.

It is a rural health conference, but one that recognises the critical role played by education, rural industries, communications, transport and a wide range of other sectors and professions. The conference will have plenty for rural delegates and those working in rural education, regional development, housing, local government, community services, transport and infrastructure – as well as for health professionals from all disciplines. The National Rural Health Conference has a well-earned reputation as one of the best health conferences in the Country.

For more information about the conference, including a registration link click here.

tile text '16th National Rural Health Conference 2-4 August 2022, Brisbane, QLD - Bridging social distance Rural health innovating & collaboration New date and loccation! 2-4 August 2022, Brisbane, QLD, Registration Now Open!' purple green white text overlaying image of office building

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