NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Reducing chronic kidney disease among mob

The image in the feature tile is from an article Newman dialysis clinic: BHP funds purpose-built clinic published in The West Australian on Thursday 28 April 2022.

Reducing CKD among mob

First Nations Peoples have one of the highest rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the world. Diabetes accounts for about 75% of this disease. This rate of diabetic CKD is markedly higher than for non-Indigenous Australians. Kim Morey, an Eastern Arrernte /Anmatyerre person, says First Nations Peoples are ‘deeply concerned’ about the burden of CKD in their communities. A lack of specialist medical services in rural and remote areas contributes to this burden. ‘Elders often have to leave their homes and families to receive medical care, such as kidney dialysis,’ Kim explains.

Kim is Co-Theme Leader of Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). Kim is collaborating with Professor Mark Cooper, Monash University, a world expert in diabetic kidney disease. They lead a research team using advanced multi-omics technology to detect, prevent and manage CKD in First Nations communities. The CKD Study is the result of consultations with First Nations communities across SA. Kim carried these out with Alex Brown, now Program Leader of the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity research unit at SAHMRI. The consultations highlighted the need to overcome the burden of diabetes and its complications to reduce health inequality.

To read The National Tribune article Reducing high rate of chronic kidney disease in First Nations communities in full click here.

Kim Morey. Image source: SAHMRI website.

New DNA database a ‘game-changer’

A new DNA database system designed to improve health outcomes for First Nations Australians has been hailed a game-changer by experts. A supercomputer will crunch the database to improve diagnostic rates for First Nations peoples living with rare genetic disorders and help them seek treatment earlier. The project is being led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in collaboration with the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics, Oxford Nanopore and the National Computational Infrastructure.

Azure Hermes, a Gimuy Walubara Yidinji woman and deputy director at the Australian National University, said the technology was long-overdue. “In Australia, infrastructure around genomic data has always been a little bit fraught,” Ms Hermes said. “It hasn’t been great and I think what NCI is basically developing here is a safe and secure way where it can store data and it can be safe and secure.” Researchers will collect DNA samples from at least 500 First Nations Australians from communities across northern and central Australia. Project lead Hardip Patel said in the past, researchers had not properly engaged First Nations communities. “The systems were never inclusive,” Dr Patel said.

To view the Canberra Times article Push to improve Indigenous health outcomes click here.

Genomic data expert Dr Hardip Patel said researchers had not properly engaged First Nations people. Image source: Herald Sun.

NHMRC Indigenous Virtual Internship Program

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is pleased to invite all eligible applicants to apply to the Indigenous Internship program. NHMRC’s Indigenous internship program provides a wide range of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to gain insight into the work of NHMRC, as well as to enhance their educational experience through practical work experience.

NHMRC is facilitating a limited number of virtual internships of 200 hours or more, in a flexible format developed with your supervisor. To be eligible you must be enrolled in an Undergraduate or Master’s degree in a health or medical research or science related field; able to work independently and as part of a team; and can provide evidence to confirm that you are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. The internship runs for 200 hours or more from mid-November to mid-January (during the summer university break), however there is flexibility around these timeframes.

Applications for the 2022-23 Indigenous Internship Program close 5:00 PM (AEST) Friday 24 October 2022.

You can find more information about the Indigenous Internship program here, including details of eligibility and selection, as well as the terms and conditions of the program. Alternatively you can call Samantha Faulkner, Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advice on 02 6217 9526 or Katie Matthews, Director People, Property and Security on 02 6217 9217.

Emily McDonald, NHMRC Indigenous Intern 2021-2022. Image source: NHMRC website.

ANMC scholarship deadline extended

The Australian Nurses Memorial Centre (ANMC) is proud to offer scholarships for nurses and midwives as part of its mission to act as “a living memorial” by advancing the nursing profession through education. The ANMC provides and administers scholarships for nurses and midwives undertaking postgraduate study by course work or research at an Australian university or other accredited higher education institution. Scholarships applied for in 2022 are for study in 2023.

Founded in 1950 by Vivian Bullwinkel and Betty Jeffrey, outstanding nurses and survivors of WWII Prisoner-of-War Camps, the Australian Nurses Memorial Centre (ANMC) was established to honour Australian nurses who lost their lives in the various theatres of wars or humanitarian operations. As part of its mission to act as “a living memorial” by advancing the nursing profession through education, the ANMC provides and administers scholarships for nurses and midwives undertaking postgraduate study at an Australian university or other accredited higher education institution.

To view a flyer listing the various ANMC scholarships available and how to apply click here. Applications close Friday 30 September 2022 (previously 31 August 2022).

Only 7 NT communities opt-in to alcohol bans

Remote communities have largely ignored new Territory liquor laws requiring them to opt-in to prohibition licenses. Two months after the NT government NT announced its controversial decision to lift alcohol bans in remote communities – a legacy of the NT Intervention – only seven communities have opted-in. A further 12 have indicated their interest, including Peppiminarti, but are yet to finalise paperwork.

A total of 12 remote communities, more than 30 town camps and more than 200 homelands had alcohol reintroduced into their homes in July. Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said “We are transitioning out of the race-based restrictions of the Intervention to a tailored harm minimisation approach which empowers communities.”

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) chief medical officer public health Dr John Boffa said Alice Springs hospital had experienced an increase in hospital presentations in the first six weeks of the ban lifting. “There has been an 18% increase in alcohol related emergency department presentations with an average of about 131 compared with the long term baseline of 111 per week. This is an additional 20 per week,” Dr Boffa said.

The above has been extracted from an Herald Sun article Only seven remote communities opt-in to new liquor laws published on 22 September 2022.

Image source: ABC News.

Trailblazers program applications open

Applications are now open for the ABC’s 2023 Trailblazers program, which showcases the stories of regional Australia’s brightest new leaders. Trailblazers is an opportunity for young innovators, aged 18 – 28, who have started social, educational and economic development projects in their regional communities, to have their work celebrated nationally.

Previous Trailblazers projects have tackled issues including strengthening Indigenous culture, youth mental health, sustainable agriculture, employment, education and supporting remote entrepreneurs.

The ABC’s Director of Regional & Local, Judith Whelan said  “This is a program that has consistently delivered for those who have taken part in past years. It has also delivered substantial benefits to regional communities. Trailblazers is an inspiring and uplifting initiative and the ideas that come from it never fail to impress.”

Daniel Farmer and Adrianna Irvine, young Indigenous Australians living in Karratha, in the Pilbara region of WA are previous previous Trailblazers program winners. Multiple suicides in their community of Roebourne led to the idea to form the Kuruma Marthudunera Aboriginal Corporation’s Youth Council ( KMAC Youth Council ). The project aims to get more young people involved with culture and to promote social and emotional wellbeing and education in their communities.

Individuals and groups of up to three, aged 18-28, who are initiating projects that create positive change in their communities. From young community leaders to social entrepreneurs, advocates to event organisers, ABC Trailblazers are looking for young people with a commitment to strengthening their regional communities.

For more information, including case studies of previous Trailblazers program winners click here. Applications close Thursday 20 October 2022.

To view The National Tribune article ABC Trailblazers program launches 2023 program to showcase young regional leaders in full click here. Below is a short video of a previous ABC Trailblazers winner.

RPHC Manuals Project September update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date as RPHCM moves through the review process. This month’s update advises that the team is working with its IT provider to improve the electronic versions of the manuals on their website to improve accessibility, readability and navigation.

The change report outlining major changes to the manuals is being finalised and will be disseminated in coming weeks. If you would like a copy of the change report or would like to discuss the major changes or the strategies needed to implement the new edition of the manuals in your health service you can email the RPHCM Project Update team here. Meetings for change summary updates are also being finalised with key organisations.

You can view the RPHCM Project Update May 2022 flyer here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

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