NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: With right investment change possible

Image in feature tile is from ABC News 20 October 2021.

With right investment change possible

Experts say Australian census data linking income level and health outcomes is unsurprising and focus is now on how to change it. The median age in Queenscliffe, a small, wealthy seaside region in Victoria, is 62 – almost three times higher than in Cherbourg, the Aboriginal community in south-east Queensland, where the median age is just 23.

Cherbourg was Australia’s most disadvantaged local government area the last time the Australian Bureau of Statistics calculated it in 2016. Queenscliffe was one of the most advantaged, and holds the honour of being the first local government area in Australia to reach the national COVID-19 vaccination target.

Dr Jason Agostino, the NACCHO’s medical adviser, said while a young median age is an indicator of the lower life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it’s also a source of hope. With so many young people, and the right investment in them, “things can change quickly”, he said. “That’s what I’ve heard elders at Yarrabah say as well – there’s an opportunity for change,” he said. Agostino works in an ACCHO in Yarrabah, in far north Queensland.

The above is an extract from an article ‘Wealth determines health’: young median age in Indigenous areas reflects lower life expectancy appearing in The Guardian today. The below video looks at life in Utopia, Australia’s poorest and most remote community.

Wading through complex medical system

When Jodie Jackson saw people living with illness in her community nervous to travel off Country to seek the medical attention they needed, she quickly put her hand up to be a travel companion and break down confusion between her mob and doctors. Ms Jackson kickstarted the Perth outreach program at Mawarnkarra Aboriginal Health Service in WA’s Pilbara region six years ago, jumping on endless planes between the city and the remote community since.

“I put it forward (and asked) if you had someone down in Perth that could help you, and you knew that person, would you come to Perth for your appointments.” The answer was yes. Initially a social emotional wellbeing worker, and later obtaining her certificate IV in mental health, Ms Jackson travels with patients to sit in on consultations, break down complex medial jargon, help map out treatment plans and intervene when required, all while lending a loving hand.

To view the National Indigenous Times article To help Indigenous patients, Jodie Jackson sits by their side to wade through complex medical system in full click here.

Jodie Jackson. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Art centres role in elder health

As part of NAIDOC Week celebrations, SBS will feature the film ‘Art Centres Keep our Elders Connected – sharing the essential role of art centres in supporting older people — to keep culture, Country, language, and kin strong for their communities. The film explores the significant role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled art centres play in nurturing the health and wellbeing of older people and people living with dementia in remote communities across Australia.

“This film is an invitation to listen to Elders, artists, and staff from three Aboriginal community-controlled art centres as they share their stories. It celebrates the vital role of Elders who are the backbone of these art centres,” NARI Research Fellow, Paulene Mackell, said.

To read the Inside Ageing article NARI film to premiere on SBS during NAIDOC Week in full click here.

Program to give kids best start in life

Edith Cowan University (ECU) has been awarded a $3 million National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies 2021 grant which aims to give Aboriginal children the best possible start to life. Over five years, the research team involved in the project will implement the Care for Child Development (CCD) program, which the World Health Organization and UNICEF have used to positive effect internationally.

CCD trains health providers to offer appropriate advice to caregivers on play, responsive stimulation, mother-child interaction, and maternal depression, starting from the first month of their child’s life. These interactions add 30 minutes to a routine infant health check, but could provide lifelong benefits for Aboriginal children.

“Almost one in three Aboriginal children start school in WA with at least two developmental vulnerabilities,” explained ECU Director of Aboriginal Research Associate Professor Dan McAullay. “The long-term effects of having poor early child development means children don’t live up to their potential. That then influences their educational attainments, and their social and emotional wellbeing going into adulthood.”

To view the The Sector article ECU gets $3m grant to support Aboriginal children to reach their full potential in full click here.

Image source: RACGP

Self-collect cervical screening option

From today, women who need to get a cervical screening test will be able to choose to self-collect a sample themselves. The self-collect option is a game changer in cervical screening – and Australia is one of the first countries in the world to offer it as a choice for all screening participants.

For many women and people with a cervix, particularly those who have experienced sexual violence or abuse, having a regular ‘pap smear’ from a GP can be extremely traumatic, and many women instead opt not to get this test done, which exposes them to a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

Being able to do the test yourself is also expected to increase the rates of cervical cancer screening for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, who may have experienced cultural barriers and taboos around traditional ‘pap smears’.

To view the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care’s media release ‘Pap smears’ can be replaced by do-it-yourself cervical cancer tests in full click here.

Image source: MJA InSight.

National inpatient care research

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) is marking National NAIDOC Week 2022 by highlighting newly published national research into care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inpatients, as the organisation works to embed training on culturally safe care across all members’ annual education.

The article, which leads the June 2022 issue of the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research (JPPR) released last week found a significant gap between the provision of hospital pharmacy services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inpatients and processes to measure outcomes.

You can read the SHPA media release New research and NAIDOC Week sharpen focus on strength, resilience and respect in Hospital Pharmacy in full here.

Image source; scimex website.

Mixed bag for kids in CTG data

The latest data on Closing the Gap outcomes shows a mixed result in terms of reaching targets for children and young people. Data released today by the Productivity Commission shows two of three targets are on track, but the number of children starting formal schooling years assessed as being developmentally on track has declined alarmingly.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said it was heartening to see more children enrolled in early years education at a rate exceeding their non-Indigenous peers. The Productivity Commission data shows that in 2021, 96.7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were enrolled in preschool programs for the year before school.

To read the SNAICC media release Mixed bag for children in latest Closing the Gap data in full click here.

Image source: Good Start Early Learning website.

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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