NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cashless debit card program ends

The image in the feature tile is from an ABC News article Cashless debit card to be abolished, but a new income-management system will take its place for some, Wednesday 28 September 2022. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Cashless debit card program ends

The Albanese Labor Government has delivered on a key election commitment and secured the passage of legislation to abolish the failed cashless debit card program. The Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Repeal of Cashless Debit Card and Other Measures) Bill 2022 will see 17,300 participants start to transition off the cashless debit card program. This aims to deliver certainty and choice for Australians and reduce stigmatisation for the most disadvantaged in our community who have had to endure failed promises relating to the cashless debit card program. Labor is making good on its election commitment to restore dignity and pride to Australians – regardless of where they live or whether they receive a government payment.

To view the government’s joint media release Cashless debit card program to end following passage of legislation here.

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia welcomes the passing of legislation overnight to abolish the Cashless Debit Card and to make income management voluntary. The Society has been a leading voice calling for the abolition of the Cashless Debit Card, which has had significant unintended consequences across communities, including social exclusion and stigmatisation, increased financial hardship, and the erosion of autonomy and human dignity. We believe the best form of assistance is the type that helps people to feel, and recover, their own human dignity, as this empowers them and enables them to forge ahead and change their own destinies and those of their local communities.

To view the St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia media release Abolition of Cashless Debit Card Welcome click here.

In October 2020 NACCHO outlined concerns about the cashless debit card with its submission Continuation of Cashless Welfare Bill 2020 Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, available here.

Image source: Australian National Audit Office.

Finding solutions to inequity

In this country, our First Nations women are being incarcerated at the highest rates, often being victims of violence themselves and often misidentified as perpetrators (it is estimated 95% of Indigenous women in prison are victims of violence, including sexual violence). We can’t talk about justice without talking about equity in housing, the education system, access to health services, land, and the impacts of colonisation. Aboriginal leaders from the Atlantic Fellows from Social Equity and the University of Melbourne recently took up the opportunity to meet with a delegation from NZ Ministry of Justice led by the Hon. Kiritapu (Kiri) Allan.

Connected by many commonalities, the Aboriginal leaders shared with Minister Allan our lived experiences, challenges, and innovative examples of how change could be achieved across the justice sector. Including the importance of embedding culture into the ways of doing, empowering local decision making and self-determined solutions which must be front and centre, as well as amplifying the voices of those with disability to address the intersectional disadvantage and discrimination experienced by people with disability both within and exiting the justice system.

While there remains many challenges ahead, connecting with others who share the same lived experiences of colonisation and systemic disadvantage is one way in which First Nations peoples can share knowledge and self-determined solutions achieved.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article NZ justice minister consults with Aboriginal leaders on solutions to inequity in full click here.

Image source: RUSSH website.

Improving dental outcomes for mob

A new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety curriculum, led by University of Melbourne Professor Julie Satur from the Melbourne Dental School, has been launched. Unveiled at the International Association of Dental Research ANZ meeting held earlier this week, the new curriculum for dental students will contribute to the development of graduate dental practitioners who have the appropriate knowledge, skills and practice to provide culturally safe oral health care.

Commissioned by the Australasian Council of Dental Schools, the new curriculum is based on key areas of culturally safe practice underpinned by the expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The curriculum has the flexibility to meet the different structures and needs of dental programs across Australia, with the deliberate aim of being able to meet the specific needs of local communities.

Professor Satur believes the new curriculum is long overdue. “We know dental care is expensive and oral health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are significant. We also know that poor oral health has multiple effects on other aspects of health,” she said. “It is time we changed our approaches to managing oral health with Indigenous peoples and we believe the new curriculum is a step towards achieving better outcomes.”

To view the Australian Dental Association article Connecting the dots: improving dental outcomes for First Nations people in full click here.

Image source: Australian Dental Association website.

Making health and medical research impactful

One of Australia’s largest gatherings of Indigenous health and medical researchers will take place at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre this week  from Wednesday 28 to Friday 30 September. Organised by the Indigenous Researcher Capacity Building Network (IRNet) of the Australian Health Research Alliance, the IRNet National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Showcase will celebrate the growing number of First Nations people making an impact in health and medical research in Australia.

Professor Alex Brown, IRNet Chair and Professor of Indigenous Genomics at the Australian National University (ANU) and Telethon Kids Institute, said the showcase would focus on the benefits of health and medical research being conducted by First Nations Australians. “The IRNet Showcase will highlight and foster an area of health and medical research on the precipice of change. We’re moving from research being about First Nations Australians to being conducted for, with and by us,” he said.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Services, Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver said “The conference will celebrate the pioneering efforts of many of those who came before us. The advocacy of many of the presenters and attendees are the reason we have a growing voice in how research is done in Australia today. One clear example of the activism and advocacy that allows us to be here today is from the earliest days of the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector – specifically the Aboriginal Medical Services Redfern, which is currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Without the Redfern service, and the subsequent community-controlled movement across the country, there would have been fewer opportunities to grow Aboriginal health and medical researchers today.”

To view The University Sydney news article Indigenous health research conference celebrates innovation in full click here.

AMS Redfern, 1980. Image source: National Archives of Australia.

New national network to boost health outcomes

A new national network will be established to advance the benefits from genomic medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, after winning support under the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). WEHI’s Associate Professor Misty Jenkins, Dr Vanessa Bryant and Dr Charlotte Slade, in collaboration with Professor Clara Gaff from the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance, are co-leading the Victorian node of the project, funded under the 2021 Genomics Health Futures Mission.

The five-year project, worth almost $5 million, will see researchers, genetic health services, Indigenous community-controlled health organisations and industry partners unite to empower Indigenous leadership in genomic medicine for the future.

To view the The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) media release National network to boost Indigenous health outcomes in full click here.

L-R: Dr Vanessa Bryant, Associate Professor Misty Jenkins and Dr Charlotte Slade. Image source: WEHI website.

Puggy Hunter scholarship opportunities

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) will close Monday 10 October 2022.

The Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Scholarships and the Mental Health Nursing, Allied Health and Psychology Scholarships have designated places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Scholarships

The Aged Care Scholarships will allow for up to 400 additional scholarships per year for three years, for personal care workers and nurses to complete qualifications. There will be up to 100 allied health scholarships per year for up to three years, which will be for allied health professionals to focus on dementia related qualifications. Applications are open for:

Mental Health Nursing, Allied Health and Psychology Scholarships

The Mental Health Nursing, Allied Health and Psychology Scholarships Program will provide up to 126 postgraduate nursing scholarships for courses related to both mental health and suicide prevention. The program will also support up to 152 allied health practitioners including psychologists working in mental health and suicide prevention, to undertake related tertiary, vocational, continuing professional development courses and clinical placements. 5% of scholarships will be prioritised to Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander applicants. Applications are open for:

You can find more information on the PHMSS webpage here and/or if you have any questions contact by email Lorna Girvan here or Emma O’Keefe here.

Building community research capacity

An experienced researcher and social scientist from The University of WA with a commitment to Indigenous health has been awarded an Early Career Research Fellowship from Healthway to build research capacity in Aboriginal communities. Healthway has awarded the $376,711 Fellowship to Dr Emma Haynes, from UWA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and the School of Population and Global Health, to support her work with regional Aboriginal communities to develop health promotion activities over a three-year period.

Through the Fellowship Dr Haynes will collaborate with Aboriginal medical services in the South West and Goldfields regions of WA to co-design and implement locally relevant health promoting research projects. BothWay learning will support co-design of data collection, analysis and the dissemination of results to determine actions based on the findings. This will give health services a strong evidence base to leverage sustainable health promotion service funding appropriate to the needs of their communities.

At the end of the Fellowship, Dr Haynes will assist in determining the impact of building research capacity and delivering effective Aboriginal-led health promotion projects that support implementing Priority Reform Four (data sovereignty) of the Closing the Gap. The national strategy aims to reduce Indigenous disadvantage with respect to life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, educational achievement and employment outcomes.

To view the University of WA article New Fellowship to build health research capacity in Aboriginal Communities in full click here.

Minitja Marawili and Dr Emma Haynes. Image source: The Indigenous Knowledge Collaborative (TIKC) blog.

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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