NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Education as important as the Voice

Image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and the co-chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2022.

Education as important at the Voice

A worsening rate of Aboriginal children who are developmentally ready for school shows the federal government should devote the same “vigour and commitment” to challenges such as education as it does to legislating a Voice to parliament, according to Pat Turner. Turner, who is one of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous leaders, said education was failing Indigenous children “across the board” and needed a complete review in partnership with Aboriginal leaders.

“The government needs to pursue the National Agreement [on closing the Gap] with the same vigour and commitment that they gave to the Voice. The Voice is easier to talk about than Closing the Gap. We need to do both.”

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Education as important as Voice to parliament, says Aboriginal leader in full click here.

Dujan Hoosan in Maya Newell’s documentary In My Blood It Runs. Image source: BBC News.

Lowitja O’Donoghue, powerful, unrelenting

The country’s only national First Nations health research centre, the Lowitja Institute, has honoured the enduring the legacy of their patron and namesake by launching the Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation. Announced on the occasion of Dr O’Donoghue’s 90th birthday, the foundation will “acknowledge, recognise and preserve” the extraordinary legacy of the Pitjantjatjara woman’s work.

“Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue has dedicated a lifetime to upholding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to improve outcomes in health, education, political representation, land rights and reconciliation,” said Chair of Lowitja Institute, Selwyn Button. The Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation Scholarships will be awarded to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people interested in study, internship, and a career in nursing and the public service sector.

To view the SBS NITV article ‘Powerful and unrelenting’ Lowitja O’Donoghue’s legacy honoured on 90th birthday in full click here.

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue visiting Off the Walls aboriginal exhibition at the National Museum in Canberra, 27 October 2011. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV.

Closure of health hub devastating

A social enterprise hub providing health and wellbeing services for Indigenous people in Sydney has suddenly closed, one month after the site was divested from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. The decision to shut the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) came after the ILSC failed to reach an agreement with the land council on the Redfern hub’s future, the recently appointed CEO of the NCIE, Jasmine Ryan, said.

“Everyone is being made redundant,” Ryan said. “We have a very large number of First Nations staff here and many of the people grew up in this community, it’s devastating.” The NCIE opened in 2006 and offers sport, fitness, conferences and community classes including tutoring and educational support. It employs approximately 50, mostly Indigenous, people.

“We have so much community coming through the doors that use the centre, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – everyone is welcome,” Ryan said. “It’s a place that people could come and feel safe in what has been just a rapidly changing community of Redfern.”

To read The Guardian article ‘It’s devastating’: Redfern’s National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to close after negotiations fail in full click here.

Image source: National Centre of Indigenous Excellence website.

Crisis in rural healthcare

A crisis in rural healthcare – driven by funding and training models that are no longer fit for purpose and driven to breaking point by a looming exodus of medical professionals amid the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic – will take centre stage this week at the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane. Some seven million Australians, roughly one-third of the populace, live in rural and remote areas, and they experience higher rates of hospitalisation, injury and early mortality compared to their urban counterparts, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Workforce issues, including what new Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler recently described as a “crisis” in Australian primary care, will feature prominently, as will models of care, with the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) lobbying the new Albanese Labor government to fund a trial of its RACCHO initiative. Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations, or RACCHOs, are inspired by and based on the world-leading and renowned ACCHO model in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and comprise “place-based health and wellbeing networks” owned and controlled by local communities.

“We know that the NACCHO model with wraparound services is a good one, and we know that it is supported by this block funding that allows them to be sustainable over time, and to remain flexible to local need, because no two towns are the same,” explained O’Kane.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Innovation, collaboration and bridge-making: national conference to put a timely focus on rural health in full click here.

Tharawal Dental Clinic, Airds, NSW. Image source: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation website.

Faye McMillan – Pharmacist of the Year

Dr Faye McMillan, Australia’s first registered Indigenous pharmacist, has been named 2022 Australian Pharmacist of the Year. Accepting the accolade, Dr McMillan said it was an “honour to be recognised by my peers as the pharmacist of the year for the work I do. I don’t do it for recognition, but it can offer moments to give you that extra push to keep going.” She also acknowledged those who have been by her side along the way.

Dr McMillan said she was proud to elevate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the strength of the community’s culture and hopes the accolade will help “challenge perceptions of what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community have the potential to be.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) national president Dr Fei Sim praised Dr McMillan’s “remarkable career as a pharmacist,” and her work within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “Faye has had a great impact on the health of Indigenous Australians as well as the pharmacy profession more broadly,” she said. “I cannot think of a pharmacist more deserving of this award.”

To view The Daily Advertiser article Coolamon chemist Faye McMillan named “Pharmacist of the Year” for her “remarkable career” in full click here.

Coolamon pharmacist Dr Faye McMillan has been named Australian Pharmacist of the Year. Photo: Les Smith. Image source: The Daily Advertiser.

Health Minister addresses AMA Conference

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP recently spoke at the Australian Medical Association (AMA) National Conference. Minister Butler said “This week the Closing the Gap Report continued to remind us of the large gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I’m very proud to be a Minister of a Government that is committed to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.”

Minister Butler said the advocacy and advice of the AMA had helped shape Labor policy “which brought about $5.5 billion of new commitments in the health and the aged care portfolio.” Minister Butler went on to speak about the Omicron wave this year and how he wants to bring new energy to some of the elements of the pandemic response, including a really strong public information campaign to lift vaccination rates, expanding the eligibility criteria for antivirals and ensuring the availability of phone consultations for the elderly to obtain antiviral scripts.

To read Minister Butler’s Address to the Australian Medical Association National Conference – 30 July 2022 in full click here.

Image sources: AMA website and Department of Health.

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.

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week (DHW) is the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) major annual oral health campaign. It takes place each year in the first full week of August. In 2022, DHW runs from 1 to 7 August.

The campaign focuses on the importance of taking steps to care for your teeth and gums to help you to keep your teeth and smile for life, using four key messages which aim to reinforce the importance of good oral health:

A range of specific First Nations oral health resources (including the video below) and articles which feature Indigenous artwork commissioned by the ADA are available here. The resources were developed by Dental Health Services Victoria together with artist Madison Connors, a proud and strong Yorta Yorta (Wolithica),Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman and mother to two boorais.

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