- Claims Budget will improve First Nations health
- Noonga-Yamatji woman works to close ear health gap
- Funding for early childhood partnership
- Budget fails to recognise GP crisis
- Addressing health risks of flooding
- Community-engaged research improving health
- National award for student with rural health passion
- Sector Jobs
The image in the feature tile is of two health workers from the Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS), Newman, WA. Image source: PAMS website.
Claims Budget will improve First Nations health
Yesterday the Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, issued a media release announcing health measures in the Australian Government’s 2022–23 Budget. Minister Butler said the Albanese Government would take immediate action to support their commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, by making real improvements in health outcomes ($314.5m).
The government will also deliver improved infrastructure, including new and expanded First Nations health clinics in locations with high and growing First Nations populations ($164.3m). The First Nations Health Workers Traineeship Program ($54.3m), led by NACCHO, will train up to 500 First Nations health workers.
The Budget also provides funding to target chronic diseases disproportionally affecting First Nations people, with a increase in funding to combat rheumatic heart disease in high-risk communities ($14.2m). Renal services will be improved with funding ($45 million) for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units in up to 30 sites.
In addition, the government will build a dedicated Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence in NSW to provide culturally safe care and wrap-around support services for First Nations families ($22.5m). We know this is essential to improve long term health and development outcomes for First Nations peoples.
To view Minister Butler’s media release Budget October 2022–23: Strengthening Medicare in full click here.
Noonga-Yamatji woman works to close ear health gap
Young Noongar-Yamatji woman who suffered poor ear health as a child is working hard to help Indigenous children in the same situation today. Kassy Hayden, 24, works with medical group Earbus Foundation, coordinating programs for Pilbara east and south central, as well as visits to the Goldfields and Esperance by the Earbus team. “It is important for the kids and for everybody out there,” Ms Hayden said. Earbus works with local Aboriginal Medical Services to deliver comprehensive ear healthcare.
“Yesterday two of my colleagues noticed that one of the children didn’t have a Medicare number, which means they would never have seen a GP and this child is eight years old. But we were able to see them and continue seeing them, which is one example. It is making a difference in remote communities, and there is relationship building as well. For a child who has never seen a GP it would be pretty scary having people looking in your ears for the first time.”
Indigenous children have some of the highest rates of middle ear disease in the world. On average, Aboriginal children suffer from middle ear disease for 32 months on their first five years of life compared to just three months for non-Indigenous children. Indigenous people suffer ear disease and hearing loss at up to ten times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. Ear conditions like Otitis Media (middle ear infection) affect development, social skills and education for children, making the crucial formative years of life far more difficult and putting children at a long term disadvantage.
To view the National Indigenous Times article The young Indigenous woman working to close the gap in children’s ear health in full click here.
Funding for early childhood partnership
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers has handed down the 2002–23 Federal Budget in which the Government delivered on its core Plan for Cheaper Child Care promise to improve early education and care (ECEC). “Early childhood education and care will be more affordable for more than 1.2 million eligible Australian families who will benefit from higher subsidies,” Mr Chalmers said. “Cheaper childcare is a game-changing investment in families, our workforce, and our economy. It will increase the paid hours worked by women with young children by up to 1.4 million hours a week in the first year alone. That’s the equivalent of 37,000 extra full-time workers.”
Accessibility focused measures include:
- $33.7 million over four years from 2022–23 to introduce a base entitlement to 36 hours per fortnight of subsidised Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) for families with First Nations children, regardless of activity hours or income level
- $10.2 million over three years from 2022–23 to establish the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy Partnership with Coalition of Peaks partners and First Nations representatives to develop policies on First Nations early childhood education and care
To view The Sector article Federal Budget 2022/23 delivers on Plan for Cheaper Child Care but reference to workforce shortages absent in full click here.
Budget fails to recognise GP crisis
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that although Budget October 2022-23 delivers on key election promises, significant funding for general practice care is urgently needed to address the GP crisis. The Budget includes a re-commitment to $250m per year in GP funding over three years following the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report which is due later this year, as well as $143.3m for rural and remote healthcare, and $229.7m in general practice support grants to build better infrastructure. However, it does not address the immediate challenges facing general practice care, including a lack of funding following years of Medicare freezes and inadequate indexation of patient rebates.
The RACGP holds grave concerns that without major investment into general practice care by the federal Government the current shortage of GPs being felt by communities throughout Australia will intensify, waiting times to see a doctor will increase, and the health and wellbeing of Australians will suffer.
In the college’s October 2022-23 Pre-Budget submission the RACGP called for a series of timely reforms including an increase Medicare rebates for longer consultations, the creation of a new Medicare item for GP consultations longer than 60 minutes, as well as support for longer telehealth phone consultations lasting more than 20 minutes, and increased investment in rural healthcare. RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said that although the Budget delivered on many key promises, major reform was sorely needed to secure the future of high-quality general practice patient care.
To read the RACGP media release RACGP: First Budget delivers on election promises but fails to recognise GP crisis in full click here.
Addressing health risks of flooding
As flood-affected towns across Victoria begin relief and recovery efforts, the Victorian Government is working to minimise the risks floodwaters can cause to human health and investing to support communities to rebuild and recover together. Communities across the state are still experiencing major flooding, with more rain set to risk higher water levels and flash flooding — both of which pose threats to people’s health.
An investment of $6.5 million will deliver important health protection initiatives, with a dedicated monitoring and control system to prevent and control mosquitoes that are drawn to flooded areas, as well as making the vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis Virus — a serious mosquito-borne disease — free in flood-affected areas. This funding will also deploy an Environmental Health and Field workforce to flooded regions to provide communities with advice on waste disposal, septic tank repair and the safest way to clean up homes and businesses, as well as boost resourcing in the worst-affected Local Public Health Units to keep communities safe and healthy.
The floods have affected healthcare staffing levels in the affected areas — with some staff unable to get to work. Pharmacies in flooded areas, many of which have just a single pharmacist, are processing extremely high levels of scripts with many people displaced. Flooded sewers or septic tanks often contaminate floodwater before it inundates properties and clean drinking water sources, while flooded areas are subject to mosquito invasions. As flood clean-up and recovery begins, mould growth can also pose a serious risk to the human respiratory system.
An investment of $2 million will support the health of Aboriginal Victorian communities affected by the floods, many of which have been inundated. The funding will make sure Aboriginal Health Services in Shepparton, Swan Hill, Kerang and Echuca have appropriate GP, nurse and health outreach worker coverage while they are isolated.
To view The Courier Cobram article State government addresses health risks of recent and future flooding in full click here.
Community-engaged research improving health
A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty member has explored ways that community-engaged research and service can improve Indigenous health while honoring the culture and norms of Indigenous communities in a new book.
Kathryn L. Braun, a public health professor in the Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health, along with Linda Burhansstipanov (Cherokee Nation) from Native American Cancer Research, are co-editors of Indigenous Public Health: Improvement through Community-Engaged Interventions, released in August 2022.
“Many reports on Indigenous health focus on the negative. In contrast, this book features 30 stories of success, including initiatives to address racism, reduce diabetes, and increase cancer screening and treatment. Chapters on community-based participatory research and the building of strong public health infrastructures also include examples of success,” said Braun.
To view the University of Hawaii News article Indigenous public health success stories focus of new book in full click here.
National award for student with rural health passion
University of Melbourne final year medical student Jasraaj Singh has received the Rural Doctors Association of Australia’s (RDAA) Medical Student of the Year Award for 2022. The award is given annually to a medical student displaying a passion and strong commitment to Rural Medicine. As a student on the Extended Rural Cohort at the University’s Medical School, Ms Singh has undertaken all her medical training in rural areas since the second year of her medical degree, including placements in Shepparton, Wangaratta, Ballarat and currently Bendigo. Along the way, she has also undertaken additional placements in East Arnhem Land and Cairns. Ms Singh said she loves the variety of work offered in rural medicine, as well as the sense of community.
“I have had the opportunity to meet incredible and inspiring people, undertake hands-on and practical clinical placements, become part of rural and remote communities across Australia, and develop my clinical and life experiences along the way. It has been such a rewarding, eye-opening and exciting adventure – I strongly believe all healthcare students should be undertaking rural placements in some way, shape or form.”
Ms Singh said a placement she undertook in Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Land, in 2020 gave her a deep appreciation for the “incredible skill set” of generalist doctors working in remote communities. “My placement in East Arnhem Land really changed the trajectory of my life,” she said. “I became hooked on rural and remote medicine and realised that in these settings I got a much deeper understanding of medicine. I aim to challenge the common misconception that all the excitement and ‘real medicine’ happens in the city – because the country is definitely where it’s at.”
To view The University of Melbourne Newsroom article Medical student who found her passion in rural health receives national award in full click here.
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.