NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Nurses Day 2022

Image in feature tile is of registered nurse and midwife, Matthew Shields, Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

International Nurses Day 2022

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) commemorates this important day each year with the production and distribution of the International Nurses’ Day (IND) resources and evidence. The theme for the 2022 resource is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health. For more information about International Nurses Day click here.

This year the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Australia’s peak advocacy body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is celebrating its 25th anniversary. As part of the celebrations CATSINaM is promoting a book In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses’ Stories edited by Sally Goold OAM and Kerrynne Liddle. The intimate, private, and heart wrenching stories told in this book, the first of its kind in Australia, will penetrate the hearts and souls of even the most hardened reader.

Told with incredible dignity and humility, each of the individual and deeply personal stories recounted is a powerful testimony to the gross inhumanity and brutal capacity of white people in Australia – colonists who selectively destroy and humiliate, without remorse, the lives and souls of their fellow black Australians. In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses’ Stories provides a powerful catalyst for questioning and calling into question the taken-for-granted humanity of us all. For more information about the book click here.

Major parties silent on First Nations housing

Overcrowding in remote Aboriginal communities is as bad as its ever been, but neither of the major parties has a nationwide strategy to solve it. At 66 years of age, Dulcie Nanala has lived virtually her entire life in the same house. There are mattresses sprawled through every room. Four generations of her family live here too, including her mother, who sleeps in the dining room. “My mother, my son and daughter and a partner, and two grandkids. Plus another son. Eight people.” she says.

Australia hasn’t had a national strategy to address overcrowding in remote Aboriginal communities since 2018, when the last one was discontinued by the Liberal government under Malcolm Turnbull. The overcrowding and maintenance issues in Dulcie’s house are a major concern for her. Most of the lights aren’t working and turning on the shower or flushing the toilet caused the house to flood. “When we have showers, it’s all filling up and then it comes out (through the hallway). I’ve got an old house from the seventies, nothing is done,” she says.

It’s a similar situation across Wirrimanu, also known as Balgo, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in WA’s East Kimberley Region. The Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation estimates the majority of houses are overcrowded and in urgent need of repairs. Making the situation worse, the community is going through an outbreak of COVID-19, with most of the 450 residents needing to isolate at home in recent weeks. “There was nowhere that they could isolate other than in those houses,” Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia chairperson Vicki O’Donnell says. “You end up with spikes of strep A, rheumatic heart fever. You end up with spikes of skin infections, ear infections, because you’ve got overcrowded housing and the limited space that people can move around in.”

To view the SBS News story Why is no-one talking about Aboriginal community housing in this election? in full click here.

Dulcie Nanala at her home in Wirrimanu. Photo: Kearyn Cox, SBS. Image source: SBS News.

Fixing primary care – GPs have solutions

GPs have proven they are capable of implementing major national health initiatives, and politicians and policymakers need to start trusting them with programs that can deliver accessible, high quality care to all Australians over the next 5 years. Professor Claire Jackson, Director of the Centre for Health System Reform and Integration at the University of Queensland, and a practising GP, says three major issues are plaguing primary care currently, but, in conjunction with the recently announced National Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, GPs were ready and able to solve those problems.

Professor Jackson, speaking in an exclusive podcast, said workforce problems, funding and access were “the three biggest issues we are confronting at the moment”. “It’s a lively time, particularly in general practice. COVID-19 made us reflect a lot on what is great and going well in general practice, and the obvious frailties in the system,” she said. “The general practice workforce is heading towards where we were in 2001, when we had eight-person practices down to three-person practices in rural areas, where the situation is absolutely dire. The issue that underpins that workforce problem is funding. It’s very difficult to deliver a high quality, comprehensive general practice service when you’re being funded [a Medicare rebate of] $38 for 19 minutes with a patient and there’s no other opportunity to bring in income very much.”

To read the InSight article How to fix primary care: trust, fund and reward GPs in full click here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Austalia.

CTG in health disparities – a place for Elders?

An Australian Health Review research article Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda? outlines the findings of a project examining how Elders consider the Closing the Gap (CTG) programs for improving community health outcomes, in light of concerns surrounding neoliberal government approaches to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage. Neoliberalism is a political approach that favours free-market capitalism, deregulation and a reduction in government spending.

The participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Tasmania. The Closing the Gap programs were seen by Elders as having instrumental value for addressing Aboriginal community disadvantage. However, the programs also represented a source of ongoing dependency that threatened to undermine the community’s autonomy, self-determination and cultural foundations. The findings emerged to represent Elders attempting to reconcile this tension by embedding the programs with cultural values or promoting culture separately from the programs. Ultimately, the Elders saw culture as the core business of community well-being and effective program delivery.

To view the research article in full click here.

Jason Thomas, Oyster Cove, Southern Tasmania. Image source: ABC News.

Calls for action on rural road toll

Researchers who analysed ten years of Australian road traffic deaths are calling for immediate reforms as the numbers reveal huge disparities among those killed on our roads. Hannah Mason is an Associate lecturer at James Cook University’s College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences. She was the lead author of a study that examined all road deaths in Australia between 2006 and 2017. “Other studies have shown road traffic fatalities are five times higher for those living in very remote areas, compared to their urban counterparts. Our study examined the trends and risk factors contributing to the inequities in rural motor vehicle collision (MVC) fatalities,” said Miss Mason.

She said the researchers found MVC fatalities rise with increasing remoteness. “Females, children under 14 years, pedestrians, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at a significantly higher risk of fatal collisions than their respective metropolitan counterparts. Road fatality rates in the NT, WA, and all rural and remote areas require immediate attention and targeted action,” said Miss Mason. “Risk was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than for non-Aboriginal peoples in outer regional, remote and very remote areas. The highest risk for males and females occurred in very remote areas,” said Miss Mason.

To view the James Cook University media release in full click here.

roadside memorial Great Northern Highway Kimberley

Roadside memorial on the Great Northern Highway; Photo: Lisa Herbert, ABC Kimberley.

Darwin Elder recognised with Honorary degree

A life of incredible contribution to community and overcoming the odds has seen respected Darwin Elder Richard Fejo presented with a coveted Honorary Doctorate by Flinders University. Uncle Richie, as he is known to many is a Larrakia man of direct male descent who has dedicated his life to cross-cultural education and improvement of outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“Uncle Richie plays a pivotal role in educating Northern Territory staff and students about culture and the importance of understanding and committing to holistic solutions for health in his role as an Elder on Campus” Chancellor Stephen Gerlach said. “Not only that, but he has been instrumental in advising and supporting the Poche SA+NT team in developing improved links and profile with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes. His substantial contributions to our knowledge and capacity as a University have enabled us to strengthen the linkages between the University and Aboriginal communities.”

You can rad the Flinders University media release in full here.

Darwin Elder Richard Fejo.

Gunditjmara Adult SEWB Program

The Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative Adult Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program aims to provide holistic support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Warrnambool region of south west Victoria that are experiencing social, emotional, cultural and mental health challenges.

The program works to:

  • support Aboriginal adults to be strong and stay strong
  • raise community awareness about the importance of being healthy in mind, body, spirit and connecting with Aboriginal culture
  • provide support in line with the culturally informed Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative (AIMHi) Stay Strong app
  • support individuals to identify and build on their strengths and reduce their worries
  • encourage clients to develop a strong sense of cultural identity and cultural connection as a way to facilitate healing and growth.

You can access a brochure on the Gunditjmara Family and Community Services Adult Social & Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) program here.

Tanya Geier, Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Gunditjmara Aboriginal Corporation.

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.

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