NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cervical screening self-collection now an option

Image in feature tile from Cancer SA.

Cervical screening self-collection now an option

As of last Friday 1 July 2022, anyone eligible for a Cervical Screening Test under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) (i.e. women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 years who have ever had any sexual contact) will have the choice to screen either through self-collection of a vaginal sample using a simple swab or clinician-collection of a sample from the cervix using a speculum.

The Hon Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care says the launch of self-collection for cervical screening is a game changer in the fight to eliminate cervical cancer.

You can access an information sheet with the title National Cervical Screening Program launch of self-collection eligibility expansion, including the following headings listed below, here.

  • Where to get more information
  • What you can do
  • Key messages for healthcare providers and laboratories
    • availability and procession of self-collected vaginal samples
    • important considerations
    • broad awareness of pathway changes
  • Want to know more or have any questions?
In addition, you can watch a video (screenshot below) of Minister Kearney, who is also a nurse, on the launch of self-collection including who can access self-collection, where you can access it and how to do it, using this link.

Screenshot of Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care video on Facebook about the launch of the self-collection cervical screening.

ACCHOs celebrating NAIDOC Week 2022

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are being held across Australia this week to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2022’s theme Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up with pride and respect for your culture is something Aboriginal leader Lizzie Adams, CEO of  Goolburri Aboriginal Health in Toowoomba, wants to scream from the roof tops.

“When I was born, I wasn’t even registered as a human being. I was born as flora and fauna,” she said. “In the march, other people see us doing this, and it’s us doing it in a way that our ancestors would like us to do it. “Be proud, be energetic and get our message across that we’re here and we’re here to stay.”

To view the Chronicle article NAIDOC WEEK: untied effort in working for change click here.

Lizzie Adams in the NAIDOC Week march in Toowoomba. Monday, 4 July 2022. Photo: Nev Madsen. Image source: The Chronicle.

Ungooroo Aboriginal CEO Taasha Layer said NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.

“The theme for NAIDOC Week this year  Get Up, Stand Up, and Show Up can take many forms. It might be pushing for systemic change to help Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, it might be calling out racism or working to improve access to health and social services, individuals and organisations all have a part to play,” explained Ms Layer.

Ms Layer said “The recent Ungooroo Health & Wellbeing Community Expo at Singleton Centre attracted hundreds of visitors and showcased a range of Ungooroo services and local organisations who work with Indigenous communities to improve health, social, education and employment outcomes. Our Community Expo is the perfect example of how we can work together to improve the lives of Indigenous communities and help people learn more about Aboriginal culture and tradition.”

To view the Hunter Valley News article NAIDOC WEEK: untied effort in working for change in full click here.

The Ungooroo Health & Wellbeing Community Expo at Singleton Centre attracted hundreds of visitors and showcased a range of Ungooroo services. Image source: Hunter Valley News.

Elders play critical community health role

In many parts of Australia – where a recent royal commission revealed a broken aged care system – we could do better with the way we treat our elders. So is there something to be learned from the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — cultures where where eldership is highly respected?

Worimi man Paul Callaghan says there is. He knows first-hand the essential role Elders play in their communities. His Elders gave him “solace and support” when he endured racism growing up in Karuah on the NSW coast, and urged Callaghan to continue his education when he felt like quitting. “They have always encouraged me to bridge two worlds,” he says.

Research shows eldership is critical to creating healthy Indigenous communities. A 2017 study identified the pivotal role Elders play in critical Indigenous issues such as health, education, unemployment and racism. “By empowering Elders with the support necessary to address issues in their communities, we can make a positive step in helping close the gap and transferring sacred spiritual knowledge,” said Dr Lucy Busija, one of the study authors.

You can read the ABC article What Indigenous culture can teach us about respecting our elders in full here.

Elders teaching culture to children. Image source: Katherine Times.

Racism barrier to healthcare participation

Challenging how health services might better meet the needs of Aboriginal people was the focus of NAIDOC Week activities at The Alfred this week Addressing a roomful of staff, the Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities and descendant of the Kalarie peoples of the Wiradjuri nation, Todd Fernando, said within a decade we will weed out homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Victoria.

“We will not achieve the same for racism. And that’s because of how the system is set up,” Mr Fernando said. Asking the audience to consider what changes they could make within their own work areas, Mr Fernando said that systemic and historical factors impact how Aboriginal people participate in health and that dismantling these barriers must become a priority. “We need to look at how services support Aboriginal people, particularly those from the LGBTIQ+ community, rather than contribute to feelings of marginalisation and isolation.”

To view the Alfred Health article Special guests call for change click here.

Antivirals key to fight next COVID-19 wave

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Dr Fei Sim is calling on governments to do more to protect the community and prepare for an increasing number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations by improving access to antiviral medicines.

Dr Sim says that governments – at both state/territory and federal levels – must take a pragmatic approach to ensure high-risk patients have timely access to antivirals, to avoid the shortages and last-minute policy-making that Australia saw with the rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines and Rapid Antigen Tests. “We cannot sit and wait for infections and hospitalisations to rise further – governments must act now. Timely access to antivirals is critical to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection and limiting complications.”

To view the PSA media release Access to antivirals key to tackling next COVID-19 wave click here.

Image source: NPS MedicineWise.

Brisbane leaders keeping culture alive

From learning the traditional name of your suburb, to joining in the fight for Indigenous rights and constitutional recognition, there are steps you can take to be an Indigenous ally this NAIDOC Week and beyond. Seven of Brisbane’s Indigenous leaders have explained how they are keeping their culture alive and how the whole country can help them.

One of the leaders, Dharumbal and South Sea Islander Jacob McQuire, a National Indigenous Radio Service and ABC journalist, said “These days I’ve been doing all that I can to be a healthier and better blackfulla for my family, my mob and my community. I’ve had struggles for a long time now with my mental health and making better choices around my health more generally. This year I’ve made it a goal of mine to improve myself so I can be stronger and better for the mob around me. There’s no keeping my culture alive if I’m not alive.”

When asked about whether he sees a shift toward non-Indigenous Australians wanting to respect and learn about Indigenous culture, Mr McQuire said, ” I think whatever change we see now is a part of a much longer, gradual shift, and that shift is the result of years of fighting and advocacy on the part of mob to make this place more hospitable for blackfullas. With that being said, wanting to learn and respect our culture is much different than wanting to fight with us and help dismantle racism and the institutions which uphold it in this country.”

To view the ABC article NAIDOC Week 2022: How Brisbane Indigenous leaders keep culture alive and how you can help click here.

Jacob McQuire, National Indigenous Radio Service and ABC journalist. Image source: ABC News.

Importance of cancer support for mob

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! promotes a systemic change to close the health inequities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still face today. Cancer Council Queensland and BuAkoko Mabo (Bua/ Benny Mabo Jr), third-generation Mabo, are working together to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are impacted by a cancer diagnosis to access Cancer Council Queensland’s various support services.

Benny, a professional translator and advocate for the preservation of the Torres Strait Island Meriba culture, was diagnosed with oesophageal and tonsil cancer in November last year, and subsequently underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Recently, Benny stayed at Cancer Council Queensland’s Gluyas Rotary Lodge in Townsville and took advantage of their Transport to Treatment service. He has been known to ‘light up the room’ and never turns down the opportunity for a chat with friends and strangers.

Cancer Council Queensland General Manager, Cancer Support and Information, Gemma Lock, said  “In 2021, our accommodation lodges provided 17,823 nights of accommodation and our Transport to Treatment services travelled over 195,676 kms to connect cancer patients and their carers to the support they needed. Patients like Benny often need to travel from regional and remote areas to access vital cancer treatment that they wouldn’t otherwise receive. The lodges provide support to those who need to travel for cancer treatment, offering practical services like transport to treatment.”

To view the Senior AU article Benny shares the importance of cancer support this NAIDOC week in full click here.

Benny Mabo Jr. Image source: Torres Strait Islanders Media, Association, Radio 4MW.

Better childhood disability management

Dr Gaj Panagoda is a paediatric rehabilitation physician and general paediatrician, Gaj who has worked at Queensland Health and Queensland Children’s Hospital for 10 years. Over that time, Gaj began to believe that childhood disability, injury and chronic disease could be better managed through the community rather than a hospital.

“I wanted childhood disability to be better managed in the community and I knew I had to jump out of the public health sector and set up this model of care myself,” he said. “It’s an innovative approach that meets the needs of young patients and their families while utilising their local community for management. Local organisations like schools, sports clubs and allied health therapists in their area are engaged to support the management of the disability to decrease reliance on hospital-based services.”

To deliver the new model of care, Gaj launched ‘Superkid Rehab’, a rehabilitation service aiming to maximise the potential of children and young adults with disabilities, injuries and chronic diseases. In addition to Superkid Rehab, he is now also the Lead Paediatrician at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, where the team provides paediatric and disability medical services across 20 Aboriginal health clinics.

To read the MBA News article MBA Student Sets Out to Change Healthcare System and Improve Outcomes for Kids with Disability click here.

Paediatric Disability Specialist and QUT MBA student Dr Gaj Panagoda. Image source: MBA News.

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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