NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2022–2023 budget short-changes health

2022-2023 budget short-changes health

NACCHO released a media statement earlier today in response to the 2022–2023 Federal Budget announced last night:

Another big-spending budget short-changes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has already welcomed the previously announced four-year rolling funding agreement for the sector, but this is just a necessary adjustment to support the current arrangements. ‘Business as usual’ is not going to close the health gap.

NACCHO is tiring of singular announcements in Aboriginal health while the health gap fails to close. Structural reform is required and substantial funding investment. The last three big-spending budgets were the Government’s opportunity to address this. They have failed to act.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner said, “Although I am grateful to see the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme and support for screening services, mental health policy partnerships and $2.4m for ACCHOs to help in responding to the East Coast floods, I am disappointed that the core funding for our services has remained much the same. I am also worried that the Budget has assumed that ACCHOs’ expenditure will contract significantly after COVID. This may be a significant flaw in their modelling.”

In Cairns, the Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills said, “What we need is a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. In work we commissioned from Equity Economics it has been calculated – as conservatively as possible and using validated Government data – that the funding gap in Aboriginal health is $4.4 billion (= $5,042 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person). The Commonwealth’s share of this shortfall is $2.6 billion. Yet dangerous myths prevail that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is over-funded. How can we seriously expect as a nation to ever close the health gap if the funding gap is so large? We will continue to live lives 8-9 years shorter than other Australians.”

NACCHO serves well over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Its clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve. They are more cost-effective than mainstream health services and represent an effective investment means for the Commonwealth. The model was developed in 1971 – which predates Medicare itself – and can no longer be considered an unproved model of care.

The government has had the opportunity to fix the funding gap in three big-spending budgets focused on stimulus measures. If it had done so, at the same time, it could have delivered financial stimulus to the 550 local economies in which our services are located.

CEO Pat Turner said, “As long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close. This Budget is an opportunity lost. NACCHO calls upon the Government to close the funding gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

You can view NACCHO’s media statement in full here.

Budget misses key suicide prevention priorities

Suicide Prevention Australia has welcomed additional funding in the 2022 Federal Budget but urged further investment for those most at-risk and across key whole-of-government priorities. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said “Investment in local responses, suicide prevention research and young people at risk will help save lives. Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity for other priority populations including men, LGBTIQ+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We need to see extra support for those in distress, those who have attempted suicide and the loved ones of those touched by suicide. Greater investment is needed to ensure people with lived experience are integrated in all parts of suicide prevention and a comprehensive suicide prevention workforce strategy.”

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release in full click here.

First Nations voices needed in climate conversation

The urgency of tackling climate change is even greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other First Nation peoples across the globe. First Nations people will be disproportionately affected and are already experiening existential threats from climate change. The unfolding disaster in the Northern Rivers regions of NSW is no exception, with Aboriginal communities completely inundated or cut off from essential supplies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have protected Country for millennia and have survived dramatic climatic shifts. They are intimately connected to Country, and their knowledge and cultural practices hold solutions to the climate crisis. Despite this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be excluded from leadership roles in climate solution discussions, such as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

Student climate protest in Melbourne. Image source: The Conversation.

Help improve how pharmacists provide services

Have your say – Help improve how pharmacists provide services

NACCHO is working to make the guidelines for pharmacists working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples better.

We want to understand from you how pharmacists and pharmacies can be culturally safe and give the best care to you and your community.

Click here to complete the online survey.

Please pass this information on to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who would be interested in completing the survey.

WA COVID-19 resources for mob

The WA Department of Health has developed a factsheets to provide information about the COVID-19 vaccines and ensure WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are informed about the vaccines and are aware of any misinformation.

Topics include:

  • vaccine mythbusters – click here
  • what the COVID-19 virus is – click here
  • available vaccines
  • why having the COVID-19 vaccine is important – click here
  • side effects of vaccines – click here
  • COVID-19 and pregnancy – click here.

For further information click here.

Connections improve hep C care for homeless

Aaron was shocked when his hepatitis C rapid test came back positive. When he was approached by a nurse and peer worker at the Hutt Street Centre to get tested, he had been pretty sure his results would be ok. If you’re homeless and have no symptoms, testing for hep C is probably low on the list of priorities. Aaron considered himself pretty clued in about blood-borne virus risk; he’d been injecting drugs for many years and was an expert in technique, always using clean equipment. He was keen to go on treatment straight away and was indeed referred immediately to get started. Viral Hepatitis Nurse, Lucy Ralton said Aaron later told her that he had seen his GP due to persistent fatigue but hadn’t been screened for an HCV infection at the time. “He was very glad he got talked into having a test that day and said he only did so because he was asked,” she said.

The testing clinic at the Hutt Street Centre was part of the PROMPt study where a nurse and a Hepatitis SA peer worker directly approach individuals to invite them to have a test. Anyone with a positive result is referred to the community Viral Hepatitis Nurses for treatment. What programs like this have shown is the importance of connections and support for community and health workers who provide services to clients who are homeless and at risk of hepatitis C.

One way to improve access to hepatitis C care for this vulnerable group, is to bring together different services to explore ways of working together to make the process as simple as possible for both service providers and clients.

New models of care that integrate peers and healthcare workers have demonstrated that community-based screening, point of care testing and on the spot prescribing by either a nurse practitioner or GP in a non-judgmental and friendly environment can improve screening and treatment uptake. PROMPt – the project which helped Aaron get cured of his hepatitis C – was one example of such a model.

C the Whole Story is an online forum hosted by ASHM to discuss this challenge. This forum will provide participants with the tools, contacts and confidence to be able to discuss HCV screening and treatment with their clients. As well, it will create an opportunity for people to connect and explore ways for services to work together. The forum is on Friday 1 April 2022 via Zoom. For more information and to register click here.

To read the HepSAY article Improve Hepatitis C Care for People who are Homeless article in full click here.

Image source: Hepatitis SA website.

We’ve Got Your Back toolkit for mob

The new online safety laws give greater protection from serious online abuse, and are available to all Australians. It’s important that everyone in the community knows about the new protections, including how to report serious online abuse.

A New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit and printed resources are available here to support the new online safety laws.

ATSI woman looking at laptop with sticker 'online safety laws we've got your back'

Image from cover of ‘New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit – Australian Government eSafety Commissioner.

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.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 31 March 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Groups, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

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.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

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