NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CTG PBS script co-payment – register NOW!

CTG PBS script co-payment – register NOW!

As of 30 June 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

Early this year the Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline was extended from 31 January 2022 to Thursday 30 June 2022. As of 30 June 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines. Potentially many thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts are still affected NACCHO is urging all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to talk with their health service, GP and/or pharmacy to check if they are correctly registered for the program on the new registration database. If this is not resolved by July 2022, then the cost of that person’s medicines will increase. 

A new national registration database run by Services Australia began on 1 July 2021. It aims to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines through the CTG PBS Co-payment program. Patients only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS), to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.   

NACCHO’s media statement advising of the extension can be accessed here. For more information, NACCHO maintains a webpage on the CTG reforms and can run workshops for ACCHOs wishing to know more about the measure, registration system and upcoming deadline.  Services Australia information here. 

We want your good news nursing stories 

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world each year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. On Thursday next week NACCHO wants to showcase the amazing nurses working in ACCHOs around Australia. Please inundate us with your good news nursing stories and go in the draw to win a voucher for your efforts.

You can access more information about International Nurses Day 2022 on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

DREAMT dementia telehealth project

For many people living in remote areas, the idea of leaving home and travelling to the city is an expensive and scary prospect. Increased financial pressures from unintended travel costs and loss of income, mixed with fears of the unknown can be very real barriers to treatment and prevent people from receiving the proper healthcare they need. Telehealth aims to bridge this gap by providing the same specialist health services via telephone or video conference, removing the need for locals to travel from remote communities to the city. The University of Queensland’s DREAMT project (Dementia, Regional and remote, Empowering, Aboriginal and Torres Strait, Medicine and Telemedicine and telehealth) aims to improve choice and access to dementia care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in rural and remote areas. The DREAMT project looks at issues and its clinical effectiveness from multiple perspectives to ensure it meets the true needs of the communities it serves.

For more information including an additional film Using telehealth to support Torres Strait Islander people with dementia click here.

Integrating ACC aged care with PHC

There is a growing number of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an unmet demand for accessible, culturally safe aged care services. The principles and features of aged care service delivery designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have not been extensively explored and must be understood to inform aged care policy and primary health care planning into the future.

A research paper Aboriginal community-controlled aged care: principles, practices and actions to integrate with primary health care published in the Cambridge University Press looks identifying 1) best practice aged care principles and practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older peoples, and 2) actions to integrate aged care services with Aboriginal community-controlled primary health care.

A range of principles guided Aboriginal community-controlled aged care service delivery, such as supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity, connection with elders and communities and respect for self-determination. Strong governance, effective leadership and partnerships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and culturally safe non-Indigenous workforce were among the identified enablers of aged care. Nine implementation actions guided the integration of aged care with primary health care service delivery. Funding limitations, workforce shortages, change management processes and difficulties with navigating the aged care system were among the reported challenges. These findings contribute to an evidence base regarding accessible, integrated, culturally safe aged care services tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the research article in full click here.

Aboriginal elder Mildred Numamurdirdi of Numbulwar

Aboriginal elder Mildred Numamurdirdi of Numbulwar. Image source: The Senior.

First Nations health data state of play

According to the an article Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Information: Progress, Pitfalls, and Prospects recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health despite significant developments in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health information over the last 25 years, many challenges remain. There are still uncertainties about the accuracy of estimates of the summary measure of life expectancy, and methods to estimate changes in life expectancy over time are unreliable because of changing patterns of identification. Far too little use is made of the wealth of information that is available, and formal systems for systematically using that information are often vestigial to non-existent.

Available information has focussed largely on traditional biomedical topics and too little on access to, expenditure on, and availability of services required to improve health outcomes, and on the underpinning issues of social and emotional wellbeing. It is of concern that statistical artefacts may have been misrepresented as indicating real progress in key health indices. Challenges and opportunities for the future include improving the accuracy of estimation of life expectancy, provision of community level data, information on the availability and effectiveness of health services, measurement of the underpinning issues of racism, culture and social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), enhancing the interoperability of data systems, and capacity building and mechanisms for Indigenous data governance. There is little point in having information unless it is used, and formal mechanisms for making full use of information in a proper policy/planning cycle are urgently required.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Healthcare IT News.

Public drunkenness decriminalisation delayed

Victoria will delay repealing public drunkenness as a crime. The offence was to be officially repealed in November last year, however may not take effect until 2023 – more than five years after the death of 55-year-old Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who was arrested in December 2017 after being found drunk on a train, and later died in hospital from head injuries sustained in a prison holding cell. Last year, the Andrews government passed landmark legislation to decriminalise public drunkenness in line with a recommendation made after a coronial inquiry into Day’s death. The state government has said however that delays in establishing trials of sobering-up centres – as part of a shift to a health-based response – meant that the decriminalisation would be pushed back.

Yesterday Victoria Legal Aid released a statement saying they support the removal of the offence of public drunkenness as soon as possible in favour of an appropriate and culturally safe health-based response. “31 years ago, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended that being drunk in public should not be a criminal offence,” said Dan Nicholson, Executive Director Criminal Law.

Mr Nicholson said “It is important for the government to take the time to get the details right, in consultation with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and other stakeholders and communities who are directly affected. From our practice experience we know these laws have a direct and harmful effect on First Nations peoples in Victoria. Repealing this offence remains a crucial step in recognising this harm and in working towards racial and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

You can view the Guardian article Decriminalisation of public drunkenness delayed by Victorian government in full here and the Victoria Legal Aid’s statement A culturally safe health-based approach to public drunkenness remains crucial in full click here.

Apryl & Kimberly Watson with photos of their mother Tanya Day outside Vic Coroners Court

Daughters Apryl Watson and Kimberly Watson outside the Victorian Coroners Court with photos of their mother Tanya Day. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Pharmacogenomics of Indigenous populations

While pharmacogenomic (the ‘science of personalised medicine’ is a branch of genetics research that focuses on predicting a given individual’s responses to specific therapeutic drugs) studies have facilitated the rapid expansion of personalized medicine, the benefits of these findings have not been evenly distributed. Genomic datasets pertaining to Indigenous populations are sorely lacking, leaving members of these communities at a higher risk of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), and associated negative outcomes.

Australia has one of the largest Indigenous populations in the world. Pharmacogenomic studies of these diverse Indigenous Australian populations have been hampered by a paucity of data. In this article, we discuss the history of pharmacogenomics and highlight the inequalities that must be addressed to ensure equal access to pharmacogenomic-based healthcare. We also review efforts to conduct the pharmacogenomic profiling of chronic diseases among Australian Indigenous populations and survey the impact of the lack of drug safety-related information on potential ADRs among individuals in these communities.

To view the article The Gene-Drug Duality: Exploring the Pharmacogenomics of Indigenous Populations published in the Frontiers in Genetics in full click here.

pills, capsules laid out in gene pattern

Photo: Katy Pack, Shutterstock.com. Image source: News Medical Life Sciences.

ACCHO praises health battalion for COVID support

An Aboriginal community-controlled health service in Port Augusta, SA, has praised the invaluable support of the 3rd Health Battalion (3 HB) during COVID-19 outbreaks over the past two years. Vaccination Coordinator for the Pika Wiya Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (PWHS), Rebecca Simpson, said: “The support from 3 HB came just in time as the number of COVID cases in the community increased and the demand for vaccinations and testing within the Aboriginal community was on the rise and resulted in a 50% decrease in the time to taken to conduct its outreach clinic, and get swabs out to their community members.

3 HB received an honorary mention in the 2022 Australia Day Awards for their community engagement work with Pika Wiya and the Stepping Stones day centre in SA, having received a joint nomination for Community Event of the Year. Members of 3 HB were in Port Augusta as recently as February, providing support in response to a surge in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. They focused on administrative support to PWHS, allowing them to accelerate the process for vaccinations and Rapid Antigen Testing as part of their outreach program.

To read the Department of Defence article Health battalion praised for vital COVID support article in full click here.

Private Tori Doherty, Lieutenant Joshua Mildrum and Captain Michele Muncaster, from the 3rd Health Battalion, provide administrative support during the pop-up clinic at Stepping Stones in Port Augusta, SA

From left: Private Tori Doherty, Lieutenant Joshua Mildrum and Captain Michele Muncaster, from the 3rd Health Battalion, provide administrative support during the pop-up clinic at Stepping Stones in Port Augusta, SA. Image source: Department of Defence Defence News webpage.

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–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 5 May 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Office, Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) this week will be DoH Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response. The panel will provide key updates and answer

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.

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