NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $43m for NT suicide prevention services

Balgo WA graves

Image in feature tile of Balgo cemetery, WA. Photo: Matt Bamford, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

$43m for NT suicide prevention services

The Commonwealth and NT Governments have announced $43 million in funding for mental health and suicide prevention services in the NT that they say will cover the gaps on existing services, which the NT Lived Experience Network has welcomed, while calling for community engagement in the development of NT mental health service delivery plan. The fresh funding will cover the next five years of mental health services after the NT’s suicide prevention strategic framework launched in 2018 is set to end next year.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the agreement will ensure Territorians will have access to additional mental health support, including young Australians, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistant Minister to the PM for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman meanwhile said a key focus of the bilateral agreement would be reducing the heartbreaking suicide rate in Indigenous communities. “Indigenous Australians die of suicide at more than double the rate of the non-Indigenous population,” Mr Coleman said. “This is a national tragedy and through this agreement we will be working closing with ACCHOs and NGO service providers across the NT to ensure relevant services are culturally appropriate.”

To view the NT Independent article in full click here.

Photo: Joshua Spong. Image source: ABC News website.

Nhulundu CEO witness at Senate Committee

Late last week Bailai man Matthew Cooke, CEO of Gladstone Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service Ltd (trading as Nhulundu Health) and chairman of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) appeared as a witness at the Senate Community Affairs References Committee – General practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australians. In giving evidence Mr Cooke said:

“One other thing I’d like to mention in my opening statement is that the Indigenous Australians Health Program (IAHP) is the Australian government program run by the Department of Health. It is the Commonwealth budget which provides funding to the Aboriginal community controlled health services across Australia more broadly and here in the state of Queensland. There are challenges not only with regard to how the implementation of the Modified Monash Model works across rural and regional and remote communities but also with regard to the implementation of the IAHP and the funding methodology used by the Australian government. It too creates issues for our community controlled health services.”

“One thing I’ve quite well pointed out over many years—I’ve been the previous chair of NACCHO and the previous chief executive of the state peak body, QAIHC, on which I now serve as chairman—is the fact that 141-plus of our ACCHOs across the country are seen as a larger service provider to our people for primary health care, yet we’re funded with less than half the budget of the IAHP to deliver care to our people and communities. And if all levels of government, including the Australian government, have signed up to Closing the Gap by 2031 and we are recognised for playing a key part in terms of access to and delivery of care, then, even with workforce challenges, surely there has to be a greater sum of those funds coming to the Aboriginal community controlled health sector to deliver that much-needed care.”

To read a complete transcript of Mr Cooke’s testimony click here.

Matthew Cooke

Matthew Cooke. Photo: Emilie Gramenz, ABC News.

Grant to boost HIV awareness

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations will use a ViiV Healthcare Australia grant to fund their Discover HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities program. The program aims to increase HIV health literacy in Indigenous communities and ensure healthcare networks have the skills and knowledge to effectively address HIV in the community.

Discover HIV project officer Justin Salerno, whose mother’s family has roots in the Indigenous community in WA’s Mid West said there were disproportionately high rates of HIV and STIs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. “There is a need for more education and health promotion reaching these communities because unfortunately the message is not getting through as it has with other communities,” he said.

“We have formed a partnership with Anwernekenhe, a national HIV alliance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, doing the work we do, which involves building the capacity of health care workers.” Mr Salerno said a new edition of the Us Mob booklet, with information on treatment and services not included in the first three editions, had been launched.

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

Image source: HIV Justice Network.

Lower life expectancy post cancer 

New research from Cancer Council Queensland has revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have consistently lower remaining life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis than non-Indigenous Australians. In a new report titled Quantifying differences in remaining life expectancy after cancer diagnosis, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians, 2005-2016, contributing researchers found on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients had 12 years of life remaining and non Indigenous Australians had 20 years, revealing an 8 year disparity in life expectancy across the two groups. The researchers concluded a cancer diagnosis exacerbates the disparities in remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Interventions to address these must consider both cancer related factors and those contributing to non-cancer mortality.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the study highlights the need to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. “It’s disappointing to see such a prevalent gap in the remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when compared with other Australians faced with cancer,” Ms McMillan said. “This new research shines a light on the need to address both factors related to cancer management, such as access to treatment and support, and those contributing to a higher non-cancer mortality to help improve outcomes.”

To view the Mirage article in full click here.

Aboriginal Yarning Circle support group participants. Image source: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Victoria Australia website.

Progress in eliminating skin disease

One Disease is a non-profit organisation with a mission to eliminate crusted scabies as a public health concern in Australia by the end of 2022. Crusted scabies develops from cases of untreated ordinary scabies in people who have compromised immune systems. Scabies is also known to underlie many skin infections in the NT, which can lead to serious conditions such as sepsis, acute rheumatic fever, RHD and chronic kidney disease. Crusted scabies is categorised into three grades – 1, 2 and 3 – in accordance with the scabies mite load present, with Grade 3 being the most severe and infectious.

One Disease’s approach to improving the health of people living in Northern Australia has been multifaceted and is built on partnerships with the NT Government and communities across Darwin (covering Darwin Urban, Top End West, Top End Central), East Arnhem Land, West Arnhem Land, Katherine and Central (including greater Alice Springs Region and Barkly).

To view the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article in full click here. You can also access a range of One Disease resources here, including the Scratching the Surface Podcast and educational videos such Walking Together, Working Together one below.

New SA Government health pledges

The newest Premier of SA, Peter Malinauskas, has pledged to improve the lives of those living in the country, including $15.8m for a new home for Ceduna’s Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation.

To view the Naracoorte Herald article in full click here.

entrance to Yadu Health AC, Ceduna

Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation in Ceduna. Image source: In Daily Adelaide Independent News website.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) South Australian Branch said it looks forward to a positive and productive relationship with the new SA Premier and Health Minister,“As we transition back to normality, it is crucial that the incoming government continue to implement measures which would improve the health and wellbeing of South Australians, like the recommendations PSA has recently provided.

“These recommendations include embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities, enabling pharmacists to administer medicines by injection with an expanded range of vaccines, providing funding to employ pharmacists in Aboriginal Health Clinics across the state, and employing transition of care pharmacists in all South Australian hospitals.”

To view The National Tribune article in full click here.

Pharmacists working in an ACCHO. Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

WA pilot keeps mums and bubs together

The number of Indigenous newborns taken from their mothers has more than halved at Perth’s dedicated birthing hospital as a result of a pilot program that supports pregnant women and their families to plan a safe household. The contentious practice of removing babies from their mothers at King Edward Memorial Hospital – sometimes when the baby is just a few hours old – was increasingly common in WA for years.

The minister responsible for child protection in WA, Simone McGurk, told state parliament that women at risk had been taking part in pre-birth planning and as a result, the number of babies taken into care from the hospital had fallen 52% in the past two years overall. The number of Indigenous babies taken at birth at that hospital has fallen 54%.

entrance of King Edward Hospital, Subiaco, Perth, WA

King Edward Memorial Hospital has had enormous success with its pilot program to prevent Indigenous children being taken from their mothers. Photo: Marie Nirme. Image source: The Australian.


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.

National Tobacco Strategy input

The Australian Government Department of Health is seeking feedback on the draft National Tobacco Strategy (NTS) 2022-2030. The draft NTS 2022-2030 sets out a national policy framework for all governments to work together and in collaboration with non-government organisations to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and its associated health, social, environmental and economic costs, and the inequalities it causes.

The Department welcomes all feedback and interested parties are invited to share their views on some, or all of the consultation questions or upload a written submission or response by Thursday 24 March 2022. You can view the draft NTS and submit a response at the Department of Health’s consultation hub here.

tobacco leaves from cigarette spelling QUIT

Image source: Victoria State Government Education and Training website.-

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