NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Lowitja Institute’s key election priorities

Image in feature tile from Australian Science Communicators.

Lowitja Institute’s key election priorities

In the lead-up to the 2022 Federal Election, the Lowitja Institute is calling on the incoming Australian Government and Federal Parliament to prioritise the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Institute’s CEO Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed said that investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and health research leadership results in substantial improvement in health and wellbeing. This has been shown in innovate community-led health programs and services across the country.

Long-term benefits can be achieved when we invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led and holistic solutions that focus on the social and cultural determinants of health in addition to primary care. Lowitja Institute has identified key priorities and actions would accelerate progress towards our joint commitments under the National Agreement on Closign teh Gap and achieve far-reaching health benefits for our peoples. First and foremost, is the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, described as a “gift to all Australians” by one of its architects, Pat Anderson, the long-term chair of the Lowitja Institute.

To view the article Lowitja Institute outlines key election priorities published in Croakey Health Media yesterday, in full click here.

AMA welcomes rural health election focus

The AMA has said election promises to inject $146m in new funding into rural health, announced this week by both major political parties, marks a welcome shift in the election campaign, with the health needs of rural Australians having received little attention so far. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Coalition had released of a suite of practical policies to bolster the rural health workforce, which the Labor Party has said it will match. Dr Khorshid said the $146m spend offered by both parties, will build on earlier Budget commitments, and further supported strategies to get more doctors into locations where they were most needed.

To view the AMA media release in full click here.

Image source: Pursuit, University of Melbourne.

COVID-19 recovery plan needed for PwD

People with disabilities are being ignored and left behind as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say. Disability support groups are calling on the incoming government to establish a COVID-19 recovery plan for people with special needs as the virus continues to surge in the community. “People with an intellectual disability are at high risk from COVID-19 and many have missed out on essential support during the pandemic,” Inclusion Australia CEO Catherine McAlpine said. “We want all disability support providers to ensure that people with disability can access support during an emergency. People with an intellectual disability must also have equal access to health care if they get COVID-19, as well as vaccines.”

More than two years after the pandemic first hit, public health measures have been lifted without a specific plan to protect people with disabilities. Dominic Golding, policy officer at the National Ethnic Disability Alliance, said COVID-19 had been particularly devastating for marginalised groups. “The pandemic isn’t over for our community and we need a recovery plan to make sure people with disability are not left behind,” Mr Golding said.

 To view the COVID recovery plan needed for disabled article in full click here.

wheelchair sign on wall near path/hedge

Image source: MSN.

Supporting First Nations youth who self-harm

A new guide to supporting young First Nations people who self-harm is now available for families and communities. The guide outlines early warning signs of self-harm, factors that may influence First Nations young people to self-harm, and how families and communities can get help, including managing a crisis and injuries. Orygen’s Suicide Prevention Program Manager and guide co-author, Michelle Lamblin, said it was a much-needed resource. “We have heard from families and communities that there is a lack of culturally-appropriate information on how to support First Nations young people who engage in self-harm,” Lamblin said.

“Unfortunately, we know that the rate of self-harm among young First Nations people is at least three times higher than it is for other young Australians,(1) and the actual rate of self-harm may be even higher, because some young people don’t seek – or may not have access to – appropriate medical or mental health support after self-harming.” Young Aboriginal people in WA co-developed the guide with an Aboriginal expert advisory group, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health workers, local Elders, and Aboriginal families and communities from across the state. Orygen partnered with The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), which led the co-design process with community using a participatory action research approach.

While the guide was co-developed by, and for, Aboriginal families and communities in WA, it may be broadly applicable to First Nations young people and families across Australia. You can find more information about the guide, including instructions on how to order a hard copy or download a digital copy of the guide click here.

cover of booklet supporting young Aboriginal people who self-harm: a guide for families & communities 5.5.22

Image source: Orygen website.

People with mental illness priority concerns

An article Research reveals priority concerns for people with mental illness published in Croakey Health Media yesterday says research presented at the recent Equally Well 2022 Symposium shows that the keys to improving the life expectancy of people with mental illness include amplifying the voices of those with lived experience, tackling discrimination and stigma, and ensuring more informed use of medication. The importance of inclusion as a precursor to wellness was brought home during the first of two panel discussion at they symposium. Sharnie Roberts, a Widjabyl Wia-Bul woman who works on the WellMob project at University Centre for Rural Health, stressed the need for culturally sensitive mental health services.

Roberts, an Indigenous Youth Engagement Officer stressed the importance of strengthening and sharing resources, building relationships in a collaborative way, and advocating different ways of working with “our mob because we have our own cultural tools and healing methods” that should be used more in mainstream services and by non-Indigenous practitioners. “This is how we will get better health outcomes for out mob because it’s a part of our identity and our self – it’s more inclusive and holistic,” Roberts said.

To view the Research reveals priority concerns for people with mental illness full article published yesterday in Croakey Health Media in full click here.

Sharnie Roberts

Sharie Roberts. Image source: E-Mental Health in Practice.

At-risk population nutrition research

A study to determine the proportion of research projects funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Research Council research funding from 2014 to 2021 that aimed to understand or improve dietary behaviours for at-risk populations in Australia and estimate the proportion of total funding allocated during this period. Only 0.1% of all NHMRC grants were identified for nutritionally at-risk populations, with the majority focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. NHMRC grants aiming to improve nutritional behaviours in at-risk populations decreased by 0.04% over the 8 years.

Despite slight increases in the proportions of funding to improve dietary behaviours over the past decade, nutrition research specifically targeting at-risk groups is scarce and appears to have decreased over time. Insufficient investment in research for these groups presents a risk for widening health disparities now and into the future. As such, they must be further supported and considered in the design of future funding schemes.

To view the Urban Health Today article Underinvestment in nutrition research for at-risk populations: An analysis of research funding awarded in Australia from 2014 to 2021 in full click here.

Aboriginal children serving selves from outdoor buffet

Anyinginyi community nutrition program. Image source: Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, NT website.

COVID-19 Conference – last chance for abstracts

With just 3 days to go until the abstract submission deadline this Sunday 8 May 2022, this is a FINAL REMINDER to submit your abstracts!

There will be no further extensions to this deadline.

Do not miss your opportunity to have your work included in the multidisciplinary program. Submissions are open for Research and Practice Based Abstracts for the following themes:

•    Clinical Management and Therapeutics
•    Discovery and Translational Science
•    Social, Political and Cultural Aspects
•    Epidemiology, Prevention & Health Promotion

Abstract Submission DEADLINE11:59pm (AEST) Sunday 8 May 2022

You can access the 2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference website here.

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.

International Day of the Midwife

Today, Thursday 5 May 2022 is International Day of the Midwife. The Australian College of Midwives celebrates midwives for all they do each and everyday. There is indisputable evidence to prove that continuity of midwifery care is the gold standard of maternity care because it leads to the best possible outcomes for mothers and babies. This is well known by midwives and women who have been able to access this model of care, but it’s not well known by the general public. Worse still access to continuity of midwifery care remains very low across Australia. On this International Day of the Midwife we embrace the theme “Follow the data, Invest in Midwives”. We have the data, we know the benefits of midwifery continuity of care and we know that investing in midwives will lead to improved outcomes for women. It’s time for change.

Care from the one midwife throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period results in better satisfaction with the birth experience, greater likelihood of carrying to term, reduced birthing trauma for the woman and baby, an increased chance of breastfeeding successfully and better outcomes for babies. As a result it also costs the health system less!

For more information on International Day of the Midwife click here and to access the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) website click here.

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