NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Diabetes burden still impacting mob

Image in feature tile by Tom Joyner, ABC Goldfields showing patient hooked up to dialysis machine.

Diabetes burden still impacting mob

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease condition globally. Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, with the greatest burden falling on socially disadvantaged groups and Indigenous peoples. The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s latest Review of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people focuses primarily on type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The high levels of type 2 diabetes in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities reflect a broad range of historical, social and cultural determinants, and the contribution of lifestyle and other health risk factors. It provides general information on the social and cultural context of diabetes, and the behavioural and biomedical factors that contribute to diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There is growing concern regarding the emergence of type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents.

The review includes information about incidence and prevalence data; hospitalisations; mortality and burden of disease; the prevention and management of diabetes; relevant programs, services, policies and strategies that address the health issue of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view a summary of the review in plain language, a one-page factsheet and a short animated video below of the key points from the review you click here.

AH&MRC wins governance award

Last night Reconciliation Australia, the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute, and the BHP Foundation proudly announced the winners of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards. The Awards share and promote success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia.

CEO of Reconciliation Australia, Karen Mundine said that following a rigorous judging process, the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) Human Research Ethics Committee based in Sydney was named the winner of Category 1 – Outstanding examples of Governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives. The AH&MRC is the peak body for Aboriginal controlled health services in NSW and the Ethics Committee helps ensure that Aboriginal people are at the centre of Aboriginal health research. “The Ethics Committee helps ensure that Aboriginal people are at the centre of Aboriginal health research, and provides an Aboriginal lens to make sure that research is conducted ethically and in a culturally safe way,” Committee Co-chair, Dr Summer May Finlay said.

To view the Reconciliation Australia article in full click here and watch a video about the AH&MRC Human Research Ethics Committee below.

Missing piece of chronic pain puzzle

The patient experience isn’t what we thought it was, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research is showing us better ways to treat it. An important factor has been missing in the assessment of pain, according to Dr Manasi Murthy Mittinty who practices at the Pain Management Research Institute at the Royal North Shore Hospital.

“More and more research shows us that we need to take a biopsychosocial approach to managing pain,” she says. “It is very much a person-centered approach. ‘One size fits all’ doesn’t work for pain.” Dr Mittinty’s pain research has taken her around the world including studies with patients from India, First Nations people from Appalachia in the United States and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from SA. She says culture and spirituality are missing aspects in the conventional assessment and treatment of pain.

Dr Mittinty has some helpful tips for GPs, including a new understanding of conventional pain assessment scales. “Most of the pain measurement we use clinically and research has never been adapted for Indigenous communities. The questions we pose to the patient do not always relate to, or reflect, their lived experiences,” she says.

You can listen to the Medical Republic podcast A missing piece of the chronic pain puzzle here.

Image source: Medical Republic website.

Greg Inglis on mental health

He’s one of the greatest rugby league players of all time, but when football injuries put him on the bench Greg Inglis’ mental health started to slip. Former NRL player and Dhungutti man, Greg Inglis has been running the Goanna Academy the first accredited and Indigenous-owned mental health organisation in Australia. The Goanna Academy was designed to help end the stigma surrounding mental health and improve social capacity to identify, talk about, and manage mental health for all Australians – in particular at risk groups such as Regional Males, Youth, and First Nations communities.

The Goanna Academy (est. 2020) is representative of Greg’s life after football – showing his commitment to giving back to the community and improving the mental health outcomes of Australians. The Academy gives Greg the opportunity to share his personal journey and own battles with mental illness with the ambition to inspire and influence others – especially within his own culture, the Indigenous community.

You can listen to the Greg Inglis’ interview with Fi Poole on ABC Coffs Coast radio here. You can also access the Goanna Academy website here.

Poor food choices – a colonisation legacy

The ongoing impacts of colonisation complicates healthy diets and relationships to food for First Nations people in semi-regional areas, a new study has found. The Sax Institute study tapped into local Aboriginal medical services in Western Sydney and Wagga Wagga, where it found food security concerns were not just an issue in remote Aboriginal communities. “Often people when they think of food insecurity, maybe they think of the more extreme food insecurity where people are starving,” said Wotjobaluk woman and lead author of the  study Simone Sherriff.

Ms Sherriff said fast food was often favoured over healthy options, which caused a direct link between financial disadvantage and weight gain, obesity and chronic disease. “A family spoke about how they’ve got so much going on in their lives and stress and things sometimes you just need to make sure the kids are fed,” she said. “That’s going down to the corner shop and getting $5 of hot chips.”

Ms Sherriff heard stories of taxis avoiding certain areas and difficulties with public transport limiting options when there was no family car. She said those accessing food relief services at times felt targeted for taking too much when trying to provide for extended family. Some were also deterred by the lasting impact of the Stolen Generations. “People are really afraid to go and tell a white organisation I’ve run out of food, I can’t afford to feed my family, can you help me,” Ms Sherriff said. “(They are) just so fearful to tell people because they’re worried their kids will be taken.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article How colonisation has left a legacy of poor food choices for First Nations people in full click here.

Nominate those making a difference 

The Purple House story began with paintings by Papunya Tula artists from Walungurru and Kiwirrikurra. Auctioned in 2000, these paintings raised more than $1 million to kick start a new model of care based on family, country and compassion. Since then, the Purple House has been making families well. An entirely Indigenous owned and operated service, Purple House offers remote dialysis, social support, aged care services and the NDIA and it runs a bush medicine social enterprise called Bush Balm.

Purple House has transformed Central Australia from having the worst to the best dialysis survival rates. For service to community health, remote area nursing and to the Indigenous community, CEO Sarah Brown has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.

People from all parts of Australia and all backgrounds are honoured and celebrated through the Order of Australia, but they all have one important thing in common – someone nominated them. All nominations are made by members of the Australian community. If you know someone who is making a positive difference in your community, your nomination could help celebrate them. Visit the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia Australian Honours and Wards webpage here and complete a nomination form today.

To view the Australian Government Department of Health’s Award-winning healthcare for Western Desert communities webpage click here.

Sarah Brown AM, CEO Purple House. Image source: ABC News.

Stayin’ On Track resource for young dads

Stayin’ On Track is a collaborative community-based project, working with funding from Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre, the University of Newcastle NSW, and Microsoft. The website was created by a group of Aboriginal dads who got together and shared their experiences about fatherhood. They wanted to pass on useful information and tips to other young dads for support. The stories shared centre on themes about pride in being a father, tough times, culture, the emotions on finding out they would be a dad, feeling down, and who their role models are. Stayin’ On Track showcases some of these stories and aims to acknowledge dads who are doing great work and sharing their insights with other young dads.

You can visit the Stayin’ On Track website here and hear what other young dads have to say about the real stuff of fathering at a young age.

COVID-19 conference early bird registration due

The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) is hosting the 2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference. This two-day face-to-face conference will be held at the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park from Thursday 21 to Friday 22 July 2022. The conference theme is “Taking stock of our COVID toolkit”: researchers from an array of disciplines, specialist clinicians, epidemiologists and community members have developed new and harnessed existing tools to comprehensively address prevention, treatment and management of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2 and evolving challenges presented.

Professor Sharon Lewin, AO, Director of the Peter Doherty Institute; Professor Allen Cheng, ID physician, epidemiologist/statistician, President ASIDANZ and Program Chair Associate Professor Edwina Wright, AM, of the Alfred Hospital and Monash University will convene the conference. The recently released program for the conference can be found here.

The early bird DEADLINE for registration is Sunday 12 June 2022. The early bird registration is a savings of $100 so it is worth getting in early. The registration fee also includes dinner on the first night of the conference as well as morning/afternoon tea and lunch each day.

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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