NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Bowel screening test kits for ACCHOs

The image in the feature tile is from the article Targeted screening could improve bowel cancer diagnosis, but not cost-effective published in The Senior on 21 November 2019.

Bowel Cancer screening test kits for ACCHOs

NACCHO is working with the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program to roll out bowel cancer screening kits to all ACCHOs. This new approach means that more community members can be supported to participate in bowel cancer screening. All participating ACCHOs will soon be able to issue kits directly to community members and bulk order additional kits from the Healthcare Provider Portal.

NACCHO is holding a free training webinar for all participating community-controlled organisations.

A live training webinar will be held from 12.30 PM – 2.00 PM (AEST) Monday 10 October 2022.

The training will guide staff through the simple steps to:

  • issue a kit to ensure that the completed kit can be easily linked to the participating community member. Linking completed kits to people means that the results of the screening can be successfully communicated to both you as the provider and the community member
  • bulk order additional kits
  • engage in conversations with community members about the importance of screening.

Attendees will also hear from community-controlled organisations who participated in the pilot program for this work and there will be lots of opportunities for questions.

NAATSIHWP and RACGP have provided CPD endorsement of the training webinar.

You can register for the training here.

If you have any questions, please contact the NACCHO Cancer team via this email link.

In the short video, Bowel Cancer Get Tested Early, Chris Lee, Assistant Director of Aged Care and Disability Programs from NACCHO, encourages mob to get tested and catch bowel cancer early so you can be around for your family and grannies.

Lack of telecommunications creates divide

A new AMA position statement looks at the many reasons telecommunication infrastructure and platforms must be rolled out and secured across the country. The AMA’s position statement on ‘Better Digital Connectivity to Improve Health Care of Rural Australians, available here, emphasises that technology telecommunication platforms must be able to accommodate developments in information and communications technologies, and provide digital connectivity through suitable combinations of fibre, mobile phone, wireless, and satellite technologies.

The position statement also highlights the need for enhancing the resilience of telecommunications infrastructure to natural disasters throughout the country to provide sustainable health care services for all Australians. The federal government’s decision on 1 July to remove Medicare rebate for longer telephone consultation but keep patient rebates for video calls of the same duration (20–40 minutes) and longer has excluded rural patients to access Medicare rebate through video telehealth.

Conducting video consultations is challenging with black spots and low internet speeds in rural setting. Government policies play a tremendous role in bringing internet access to remote regions and to ensure broadband services are reliable and affordable for all communities, business and services throughout the country.

To read the AMA article AMA says lack of telecommunication creates another health divide in the bush in full click here.

Image source: AMA website.

Improving newborn outcomes

Indigenous babies are generally born earlier and smaller than the rest of the population. The Government wants to close the gap, aiming for 91% of newborns to be at a healthy birthweight in the next decade. Michelle Kennedy from the University of Newcastle says “if we are going to close the gap we really need investment in ACCHOs who will drive the biggest change in our health and wellbeing.”

You can view the ABC News video VIDEO: Govt aims to improve Indigenous newborn outcomes featuring staff from Awabakal Aboriginal Health Service NSW by clicking on this link.

Mob encouraged to slow COVID-19 spread

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care has recently released the video below with Dr Aleeta Fejo, Aboriginal GP and senior Doctor, encouraging us all to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The collection also contains information on:

  • COVID-19 vaccination – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare workers talking about the COVID-19 vaccines
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Living with COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

You can access the Department of Health and Aged Care webpage Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Dr Aleeta encourages us all to help slow the spread of COVID-19 here.

Baabayn Mums and Bubs Group initiative

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) works closely to support Baabayn, an Aboriginal Corporation that connects with individuals and families and provides them support and links to services that help them heal from the past and nurture their sense of confidence and pride in the future. One Baabayn initiative, Baabayan Mums and Bubs Group, helps young people in western Sydney grow and contribute to an Aboriginal-led movement for better outcomes for First Nations women and children.

Mercy Works supports the “bubs” component of the group which engages Aboriginal children in cultural, educational, health-promoting and healing activities in weekly three-hour sessions. This includes storytelling, learning culture, native gardening projects, motor skills activities and pre-school literacy and learning sessions.

The mums also participate in programs such as WSLHD’s Public Health Unit ‘Bedazzled Bras’ breast cancer initiative and Real Futures Job Training ‘Bring Your Bills Day’ with Legal Aid designed to empower, promote healthy lifestyles, and enhance life skills.

To read The Pulse article Western Sydney Baabayn mums shine a light at Vivid in full click here.

Advocacy for Bathurst mental health facility

A mental health facility which has had strong results for patients in other regional areas could be operating in Bathurst in the near future. Member for Bathurst Paul Toole has confirmed he will be advocating for a Safe Haven in Bathurst, similar to the ones already operating in Parkes and Dubbo, following news there is “one on the cards” for Orange.

There have been increased calls for improved mental health services for teenagers in regional areas following the death of Bathurst teen Tilly Rosewarne earlier this year. Tilly took her own life following what has been described as years of relentless online and schoolyard bullying. This call to reduce the number of young lives being lost to suicide across the western region is being led by Australian Community Media, publisher of the Western Advocate. Parkes’ Safe Haven opened in December 2021, which was followed by the opening of a similar facility in Dubbo in March 2022.

To read the Western Advocate article Toole confirms he will be advocating for Bathurst to have its own Safe Haven in full click here. The video below is from the NSW Government NSW Health webpage Safe Haven, available here, explains what a Safe Haven is.

Mala’la Health Service turning its health crisis on heart disease around

The National Indigenous Times (NIT) featured a story on how a local-led effort with an NT community is turning around the shockingly high rate of two dangerous heart diseases in Arnhem Land’s remote Maningrida community. Mala’la Health and community service manager Lesley Woolf said Maningrida was desperate for action to tackle the high rate of heart disease.

“Prior to the commencement of our program, Maningrida had the highest incidence of rheumatic heart disease and acute rheumatic fever in Australia, if not the world,” she said.

“In 2019, we had the opportunity to get Commonwealth funds. That gave us the chance to work with the community, who were very passionate about getting action, to develop and implement a plan. We were able to get additional staff and to look at environmental issues and addressing them.”

In 2018 more than 600 school children in the community were screened for RHD and one in 20 were diagnosed with rheumatic disease. Mala’la worked closely with the local school to provide education, health screening, health promotion, secondary prophylaxis and treatment to school children and their families.  This also included working with One Disease in treating scabies and providing education about skincare from a community-based approach.

Community engagement and awareness, as well as active case finding through echocardiographic screening, contributed to an increase in the number of people accessing care for RHD.

Read the story published in NIT 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.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and women are being urged to listen to their bodies and react quickly to any unusual changes. Being aware of changes in your breasts can mean prompt screening and early diagnosis which, in turn, can improve treatment outcomes.

“If you’re unsure about a possible symptom, you should make an appointment to discuss the change with your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible. This is particularly important if it’s been more than four weeks since you first noticed the change.”

“Everyone’s breasts are different. It is important that you get to know what your breasts look and feel like, so you know what is normal for you. There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts.”

What to look out for

  • A lump or hard area in your breast or underarm, especially if it is only on one side.
  • Change in the look of your breast: your skin looks like the skin of an orange, your skin looks and feels different in one area, redness, or rash.
  • Changes to the nipple: pulled inwards, leaking, itchy or has a sore that won’t heal.
  • Breast pain or discomfort, especially if it is only on one side.
  • A change in the size, shape or feel of your breast.

To access the WA Cancer Council webpage Listen to your body this Breast Cancer Awareness Month in full click here.

The graphic below is from the Know Your Lemons Foundation website and lists the 12 symptoms of breast cancer. Dr. Corrine Ellsworth-Beaumont MFA, PhD, is the founder of the Know Your Lemons Foundation (formerly known as “Worldwide Breast Cancer”) and the designer behind  Know Your Lemons, an innovative campaign teaching about the symptoms of breast cancer and the process for detection. Her groundbreaking work is creating a new paradigm of healthcare communication and has been viewed by over 1.5 billion people worldwide in 32 languages. Because the familiar, friendly lemon crosses common healthcare communication barriers of literacy, taboo and fear, #knowyourlemons is the only truly global breast cancer education campaign that works for diverse audiences regardless of age, ethnicity or gender.

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