NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Our Mob and Cancer website launched

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Riki Salam, an artist and graphic designer and the digital designer of the Our Mob and Cancer website. Born and raised in Cairns on Yidindji land, Riki has connections to Muralag, Kala Lagaw Ya, Meriam Mer, Kuku Yalanji peoples on his father’s side and the Ngai Tahu people in the South Island of NZ on his mother’s side. Image source: Our Mob and Cancer Artworks webpage of the Our Mob and Cancer website.

Our Mob and Cancer website launched

Australia’s first comprehensive cancer website developed by and for Indigenous Australians was officially launched yesterday in a bid to boost health outcomes and care across the country. Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, launched the Our Mob and Cancer website which provides culturally-safe support and information for patients, their families, communities and health professionals. The website includes critical information about how cancer affects Our Mob, ways to protect against cancer, types of cancer, diagnosis, treatment and living with cancer, how cancer spreads and where to get help and support.

In 2015–2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians and they experience higher incidence rates, and lower participation rates in bowel, breast, and cervical cancer population screening programs.

To view Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release Ground-breaking platform launched for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer in full click here.

Health students get a taste of rural life

First year health students have had a taste of what it would be like to work in a rural or remote area during a recent trip to the Atherton Tablelands as part of three Health Workforce Queensland’s GROW Rural Programs, aimed at encouraging them to return and work in the region. The program is focused on ensuring remote, rural, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities have access to highly skilled health professionals when and where they need them, now and into the future.

It is being supported by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) over the next three years. GROW Rural NQ presents first-year medical, nursing, midwifery, dentistry, and allied health students with a unique experience to develop familiarity and a deeper understanding of the potential of a professional and personal life they could have working in rural Queensland.

By cultivating strong connections with the health workforce community and the broader community, the GROW Rural program encourages health students to return to rural communities for their clinical placements and to consider rural practice as a future career opportunity. HWQ Future Workforce team leader Meredith Connor said the 25 students visited Atherton, Ravenshoe, and Mareeba. “Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre welcomed the students with fantastic cultural activities including traditional dance and an art workshop in which the students painted boomerangs and clapsticks,” Ms Connor said.

To view The Express article Health students get a taste of rural life in full click here.

Seven of the GROW Rural students (from left) Savindie Abeynayak, Louis Huynh, Maddy Harris, Elliot Hunt, Caitlin Brims, Karif Hung, and Jessica Lanza on the Tablelands. Image source: The Express.

Indigenous Doctor of the Year 2022

Tennant Creek’s Dr Sarah Goddard has been crowned Australia’s Indigenous Doctor of the Year award for 2022. She won the award at the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association conference after being nominated by her community and practice for going above and beyond and making a difference within healthcare. Dr Goddard said she was shocked, overwhelmed and very honoured to receive the award. Dr Goddard grew up in Tennant Creek. Her mother was very unwell for a time and Dr Goddard said she was inspired by the doctors and medical crew around her mother to go off and study and come back to the Barkley.

You can listen to ABC Radio National Drive presenter Rohan Barwick speaking to Dr Sarah Goddard here.

Dr Sarah Goddard has been named Indigenous Doctor of the Year 2022 by the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association. Image source: ABC News Alice Springs.

Close the Gap September 2022 newsletter

The September edition of the 2022 Close the Gap Quarterly Newsletter has been released. It includes information about the Deadly Physios Podcast show; words from the Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair Commissioner June Oscar AO; and upcoming events:

  • ANTAR Celebrating 25 Years – ANTAR National Forum, Canberra or online – Wednesday 12 October 2022
  • launch of the Recommendations for Culturally Safe Kidney Care for First Nations Australians – Sunday 16 October 2022
  • CEO forum on how your organisation can support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Sydney – Wednesday 16 November 2022

You can access the Close the Gap Quarterly Newsletter September 2022 edition here.

Benefits of early mental health interventions

Sueanne Gola is a Kamilaroi (Aboriginal) woman and Clinical Psychologist who has worked in mainstream mental health for 15 years says World Mental Health Day (yesterday) was an opportunity to share and showcase First Nations perspectives of Mental Wellness such as the Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Framework. The framework takes into account the complexity and holistic nature of our experiences of mental wellbeing and includes connection to land, culture, and community. SEWB also takes into account the historical, political and societal experiences continuing to impact on our experiences of individual and community mental wellness and mental illness.  

Yesterday, she said, was also an opportunity to talk about infant mental health. Infant mental health is well established worldwide, however across much of Australia is still a relatively unknown and fledgling area of mental health. Ms Gola supports families in the first weeks of an infant’s life as they get to know the unique addition to their family. She gets to work with families to support the social and emotional development of their young children and most importantly support parents to improve the mental wellness of the family unit which aides in the recovery from intergenerational trauma and provides the next generation with a strong foundation of mental wellness.

Ms Gola said that lastly, but no less importantly, yesterday was an opportunity to reflect on Mental Wellness. All too often we talk about mental illnesses and what can be done to reduce a) symptom severity or b) the impact of mental illness symptoms on the individual and/or society. Yesterday was an opportunity to have conversations about Mental Wellness. 

To view the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) article Celebrating 2022 World Mental Health Day with IAHA Member Sueanne Gola, Clinical Psychologist/Infant Mental Health Clinician in full click here.

Image source:

ACCHO recipients of oral health grants

While Australia has seen substantial improvements in oral health over recent years, we are beginning to see this positive trend decline in disadvantaged and remote communities. In fact, Australians from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are now almost half as likely to consult a dental professional, and nine times more likely to suffer complete tooth loss. While there are a number of factors at play, barriers such as lower access to dental facilities, financial pressures, and lower health literacy all contribute to Australia’s dental health inequity.

Now in its 11th year, the Mars Wrigley Foundation and Australian Dental Health Foundation (ADHF). Healthier Smiles Community Service Grants program is a well-established initiative supporting dentists and dental students from across Australia who seek to improve oral health outcomes by providing screening, treatment, and education to those most in need. This year, the Mars Wrigley Foundation has awarded approx. AU$111,000 in grant funding to 10 worthy projects. Among the 2022 recipients are:

Cherbourg Volunteer Dental Clinic

Indigenous people of Cherbourg – Australia’s most disadvantaged community – experience many health inequalities, including a lack of access to regular dental services. With the grant funding, the project team will work in conjunction with the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services to provide volunteer dental screening, treatment, and education. The clinic’s aim is to allow the community of Cherbourg to transition from emergency intervention to preventative dental health through ongoing education and support.

Biripi Aboriginal Medical Corporation

Many Indigenous elders are unable to afford dental care and treatment, resulting in the loss of teeth or poorly fitted dentures that affect their lifestyle and ability to derive proper nutrition. The grant funding will assist the Biripi Aboriginal Medical Corporation in supporting Elders of the Biripi community through the provision of comprehensive dental care, including fillings, extractions and specialised denture services. The project team also aims to create awareness of the importance of maintaining oral health and the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and smoking on the deterioration of oral health.

To view The National Tribune article Recipients announced for 2022 Healthier Smiles Community Service Grants in full click here.

Image source: Australian Dental Health Foundation website.

SWAMS develops syphilis awareness video

The short video (below), developed by South West Aboriginal Medial Service (SWAMS), aims to increase awareness around syphilis in the south-west region of WA, due to an ongoing outbreak. The video briefly discusses:

  • transmission
  • symptoms
  • treatment
    • risk if untreated during pregnancy
  • testing
  • prevention

You can access the SWAMS website 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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