NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, 17 June 2022.

NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Last night NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was a guest on the ABC’s The Drum where she commented on range of topics including the need to accurately calculate the economic and health impacts of climate change and on how the detention system in Australia is completely broken. Ms Turner said Australian governments have been very bad at collecting nationally consistent data that can be used to compare data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between jurisdictions. This data, Ms Turner said, is very important to accurately measure progress in Closing the Gap targets.

You can watch last night’s episode of the ABC’s The Drum here.

GAMS NAIDOC celebration biggest ever

Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service’s (GAMS) annual NAIDOC celebration saw a record number of stalls, activities and services gather at the Community Gardens to share in the culture and celebration. Reptile demonstrations, rides and food mingled in with stalls promoting financial wellness, physical health programs and merchandise.

Rebecca King from the GAMS was offering ‘health check passports’ – a list of tasks to complete and stalls to visit at the celebration including a blood pressure check and advice on healthy living to be rewarded with a shirt giveaway. Ms King said that the turnout had been really great. “It’s hugely important to celebrate, and you can get the health check done at the same time.”

Vickie-Louise Simpson, GAM’s family wellbeing coordinator and regional alcohol and other drugs co-ordinator, said that coming back after COVID-19 had led to a few busy weeks. “We ran out of food three times and have had to send people out,” she said. “It’s good to see so many people, all the smiles.” While the NAIDOC celebration has been happening annually for 15 years, this was the first year it had been held at the Community Gardens. “It’s been hectic, we’re really pleased.”

To view the The Area News article Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service’s annual NAIDOC celebration was the biggest and best it’s ever been click here.

Aunty Gloria Goolagong said that it had been a great day out that she wasn’t expecting. Photo: Cai Holroyd. Image source: The Area News.

Successful pharmacist scholarship recipients

In April 2022, NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients of the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship aims to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce and includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.  The successful recipients are: Jason Coleman; Jai-ann Eastaughffe; Louise Emery; Bryony Forrest; and James Sowter.

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu) said, “I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a Pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practicing as a Pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Another scholarship recipient, James Sowter said, “I have worked full time as a pharmacy assistant for the past 5 years. I have enjoyed working in the field and look forward to the challenge of becoming a pharmacist. I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship as it has helped in allowing me to pay for essential university items without the strain of financial struggle, over what will be a lengthy educational journey. NAIDOC week is very special to me as it celebrates and acknowledges nationally the rich history and culture of the nation’s first people which I am very proud to be a part of.” 

Scholarship recipients Bryony Forrest and James Sowter.

Sepsis Clinical Care Standard launched

Each year more than 8,700 Australians die from sepsis, a condition that is triggered by an infection and can turn into a deadly disease if undetected. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection, causing damage to its own tissues and organs. It affects more than 55,000 Australians of all ages every year. Many of these people are normally healthy, but those who survive sepsis often experience prolonged after-effects or will have a lifelong disability. Sepsis also has a tangible impact on our healthcare system, with $700 million in direct hospital costs, and indirect costs of more than $4 billion each year.

The National Sepsis Program is being implemented to halt the devastating impact of sepsis on Australian patients and their families. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has released the

NACCHO was involved in the development of the new national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, (one of the 8 components of the National Sepsis Program) and associated resources, recently released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health.

A campaign webpage including a video webcast; content for newsletters and social media; infographics and images; Sepsis Clinical Care Standard fact sheets and other useful resources and links can be accessed here.

You can also read a a case study available here in which Dr Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) in WA, explains why managing patients with sepsis in a remote community is high stakes – and how the national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard will help.

Image source: Australian Sepsis Network.

Canteen here to support youth with cancer

For all cancers combined, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from, cancers than non-Indigenous Australians. Whilst there is a lot of work and research going on in this space, young people can fall out of focus.

Canteen, the only organisation in Australia that supports young people aged 12-25 through a cancer diagnosis, is working to address this gap. Their mission is to be in the corner of every young person when cancer impacts their world. Canteen offers a wide range of services including counselling support, an online community to connect with peers, parent support services and an education and career support program.

The key purpose and core outcomes of all Canteen programs are new and/or stronger supportive relationships with other young people developed, reduced sense of isolation, quality respite and recreation experienced, and development of practical skills and/or effective coping strategies.

Canteen wants to work in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth leaders, and their families and communities affected by cancer, to improve health outcomes, both physical, mental and emotional. Their Young Adult Reconciliation Network (YARN) is one of Canteen’s initiatives to ensure that the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are at the heart of service delivery and can influence Canteen’s work within First Nations communities.

For further information about Canteen you can access their website using this link.

Jasmine Sarin, a proud Kamilaroi and Jerrinja woman, artist and graphic designer leads YARN, Canteen Australia’s First Nations Youth Leadership Group.

Raise the Rate for Good campaign survey

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) are running a campaign to Raise the Rate for Good. The goal of the  campaign is to fix our social security safety net for good so that it keeps people out of poverty, with an income of at least $70 a day.

If you’ve opened a newspaper in the last few weeks, you’ve probably been inundated with stories about the increased cost of living. Around the country, we’re seeing increases in the cost of everything from groceries to gas and electricity. People on income support will be hit hardest by these price increases, but those stories aren’t getting nearly enough media coverage.  Everyone should have enough to cover the essentials, like medicines, food, bills, and to keep a roof over your head. Income support payments were not enough to cover the cost of the basics even before the cost of living skyrocketed. Many are forced to make heartbreaking decisions between eating or keeping their heating on. These stories need to be heard and should be at the centre of the conversation about measures to ease the cost-of-living crisis.

That’s why ACOSS have created a ‘cost of living’ survey to capture data on the experiences of people on income support  so they can make sure the media and politicians understand how tough it is for people living on income support.

If you’re currently on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment single, Disability Support Pension, Aged Pension, Carer Payment or other income support, can you take our survey? ACOSS has had a great response from the community with over 400 people already taking part, but the survey closes Sunday 10 July 2022 and they need your help to reach 600 responses. If you are currently struggling to get by on income support payments, please take 5 minutes to fill in the survey so ensure your experiences are heard and also share the survey with others.

You can click this link to take the survey.

QLD UTI decision will ‘endanger patients’

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that extending the UTI pharmacy prescribing pilot sets a terrible precedent for patient safety and wellbeing. It follows the Queensland Government permanently extending the controversial pilot, which allows pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections or UTIs. To help justify the decision the Government has recently pointed to a 118-page evaluation report, which was reported on by The Australian earlier this year. The RACGP has repeatedly raised strong concerns about this pilot. RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett said that the permanent extension of the pilot would endanger patients for years to come.

To view the RACGP media release Permanent extension of pharmacy prescribing pilot a recipe for disaster in full click here.

AMA QLD has also issued a media release saying the Queensland Government has made a bad decision for Queensland women’s health by allowing pharmacists to diagnose UTIs and sell antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. “Every medical group in Queensland opposes this plan. The Commonwealth opposes this plan. The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), which represents pharmacists not pharmacy owners, opposes this plan,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said. “Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says this decision was based on an evaluation report of a pilot program that began in 2020. In fact, the evaluation report shows that 65% of women who took part in the pilot were never followed up with. Of those who were contacted, more than 300 said they had sought further assessment and treatment. Four ended up in emergency departments.”

To view the AMA QLD media release UTI decision bad for women’s health in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Comprehensive adoption of UNDRIP needed

The Law Council of Australia is calling on governments to comprehensively adopt the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in order to protect the human rights of First Nations Peoples. In a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s Inquiry into the Application of UNDRIP in Australia, the Law Council said that to date the protections offered by the Declaration have only been implemented domestically in a piecemeal manner. “The UNDRIP is the authoritative international standard informing the way governments across the globe should engage with and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples,” Law Council of Australia President, Mr Tass Liveris said.

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media release Australia must formally adopt UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People in full click here.

Image source: Land Portal.

Antimicrobial program applications open

Antibiotics to treat infections are the most commonly prescribed medicine in remote Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This high level of prescription is needed to treat the common, serious infections that are well reported in the north. However, the downside to antibiotic prescribing, is that bacteria may develop mechanisms that stop the antibiotic from working. This is called antibiotic resistance and is a really big problem in remote Australia.

Be at the forefront to help national efforts address antimicrobial use and resistance for remote living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by applying now, or nominating your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to join the Antimicrobial Academy where they will develop skills in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance. A five-month program starts in August and runs till December 2022. Sessions will be held fortnightly on Zoom. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion.

You can access more information about the program on the NACCHO website here and download the program here.

Applications are due by midnight, Wednesday 13 July 2022.

Young Leaders Forum scholarships available

ACOSS is once again offering a number of scholarships to McKinsey & Companys pre-eminent leadership programs to ACOSS National Members. Applications are now open for scholarships to the Young Leaders Forum (YLF). The YLF is a foundational leadership program designed to accelerate the development of rising leaders with 7-12 years of work experience.

Participants are typically making the transition into people leader roles and ‘stepping up’ to take on greater degrees of responsibility for driving business unit strategy and execution. Given the aspiration of YLF to reach and include a diverse group of leaders from organisations across the region, and the highly impactful online experience developed over the last two years, YLF will remain a virtual program in 2022 . The program will run from 25-28 October 2022.

If you wish to take up this opportunity and nominate candidates for the Mckinsey Young Leaders Program, please use this link to send the documents listed below by COB Wednesday 13 July 2022.

  • A brief cover letter (or email) from a member of your organisations executive leadership team outlining the reasons for nominating the candidate; and
  • a CV or bio of the nominated person.

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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