NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World AIDS Day 2022: Boldly Positive

The image in the feature tile is of awareness red ribbons, the universal symbol of support and solidarity for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. The image is taken from the UK World AIDS Day Facebook page.

World AIDS Day 2022: Boldly Positive

In 2021 there were an estimated 580 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV in Australia. While new diagnoses have declined over the past year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be diagnosed late (more than 4 years after becoming infected with HIV) compared to non-Indigenous people, reflecting complex social factors including poverty, lack of access to health services, low health literacy, high incarceration rates and intergenerational trauma.

The national theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is Boldly Positive, promoting openness around HIV and AIDS discussion without shame and stigma, while developing bold and effective prevention strategies free from discrimination.

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills says, ‘in the spirit of this year’s theme, Boldly Positive, it cannot be understated that to achieve the goal of eliminating HIV transmission in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we need further investment for the scale up of preventative measures, innovative approaches to increase access to culturally safe testing and treatment pathways and improved stigma reduction programs. More must be done to improve the HIV cascade of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring access to treatment and supporting people to achieve viral suppression’.

To coincide with World AIDS Day, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) brings together Aboriginal Community Controlled health sector professionals to raise awareness of HIV and promote community action. Whist ATSIHAW is a great event to shed light on HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, sexual health teams within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector, work tirelessly throughout the year to test, treat and educate Community about HIV and other BBVs and STIs.

One of the most popular ATSIHAW events is Virtual Trivia which will be held on Thursday 8 December 2022, co-hosted by the University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and NACCHO. Mills states, ‘this event brings together people from across Australia, working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, to raise awareness of HIV and mobilise community action to bring down HIV rates. This event raises serious issues with serious amounts of fun. It really is a wonderful event that gains momentum each year.’

NACCHO will continue to advocate for ongoing funding and work with partner organisations to address the disproportionate rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood-borne viruses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can register here for the ATSIHAW virtual trivia, which will be held on Thursday 8 December at 4pm and is open to all ACCHO staff and organisations supporting ACCHOs.

You can view the NACCHO media release World AIDS Day 2022: Boldly Positive on the NACCHO website here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey attended the World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast held earlier this morning. Following the breakfast the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) issued a media release Australia charts a path to zero on World AIDS Day, available here. You can find the annual World AIDS Day Booklet on the AFAO website here and AFAO’s annual snapshot of the profile of HIV in Australia, HIV in Australia 2023 here.

Beyond the C to eliminate hepatitis C

Be a part of Beyond the C and help eliminate hepatitis C.

Beyond the C is part of a National hepatitis C 50,000 Project to find 50,000 people living with hepatitis C who have not accessed treatment, support and care.

The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM) is calling on people working in general practice across Australia to join the Beyond the C program to help identify, support and enhance people’s wellbeing, and eliminate hepatitis C.

Beyond the C is a national partnership program with general practices to find people living with hepatitis C to treat, cure and connect them with care.

You can REGISTER for the National Program Launch of Beyond the C click here.

Special guests will include Dr Jacqui Richmond (EC Australia), Carrie Fowlie (Hepatitis Australia), and Elena Donaghy, Joe Staniszewski and Daniel Hunt (DYHS).

Date: Wednesday 7 December 2022 

7:00pm – 9:00pm AEDT (NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS)

5:30pm – 7:30pm ACST (NT)

6:00pm – 8:00pm AEST (QLD)

6:30pm – 8:30pm ACDT (SA)

4:00pm – 6:00pm AWST (WA)

 You can view a flyer about the national launch of Beyond the C here.

Pointed questions about research, ethics and the law

Research ethics and research misconduct, Indigenous Data Sovereignty, socioecological justice, and harmful treatments were among wide-ranging topics up for discussion at the recent Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law 2022 Conference in nipaluna/Hobart last month.

Topics covered at the conference included:

  • whether research ethics committees are still fit for purpose
  • how health issues can increase the risk of youth reoffending
  • an analysis of the relationship between consumer law and negligence
  • ethical and legal complexities with consent when undertaking research
  • the key role of data monitoring committees in clinical trials
  • what Australian health law is and what it’s for
  • how data can be better used for advocating positive change, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered and Experimental Intervention (MEURI)
  • who is responsible for published studies with falsified data
  • ethical issues associated with adaptive machine learning systems
  • organ donation following voluntary assisted dying
  • theory and practice of precedent in research ethics committee review
  • the lack of any mechanism in Australia to hold Human Research Ethic Committees to account

To view the Croakey Health Media article Raising some pointed questions about research, ethics and the law in full click here.

Strong community response to monkeypox

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week that following consultations with global experts, a new name for monkeypox virus is recommended. The new preferred term is mpox – WHO advise that both names will be used for the next year while “monkeypox” is phased out. According to the WHO, “when the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatising language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO.”

A spokesperson from NACCHO said they have been involved in the mpox response from the earliest stages, including participation in the National MPX Taskforce and through the Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Standing Committee.

“As part of our work supporting the ACCHO sector we have shared updates and information with member services, delivered a monkeypox webinar for member services and produced monkeypox resources for ACCHOs to use in their clinics and with communities,” they said. “Monkeypox remains rare in Australia and there has been only a very small number (less than five) of cases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Strong community mobilisation: how Australia is responding to monkeypox (mpox) in full click here.

Photo: Dado Ruvic. Image source: Reuters.

Criminal age of 12 still too young

Aboriginal groups have given conditional support to the NT government’s decision to increase the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years old, but argue children are often still too young to be in detention. The NT is the first jurisdiction in the country to raise the age of criminal responsibility. The move follows longstanding calls by Indigenous advocates, human rights experts and lawyers to raise the age to at least 14.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT)welcomed the reforms and said breaking the cycle of offending and ending the over-representation of Indigenous children in custody required complex solutions. “The revolving door of repeated incarceration is not working and does not improve community safety,” its statement said. “We want to see responsive action, centred on addressing the risk factors for crime, because this leads to better outcomes for everyone.” But the group, which brings together a coalition of Aboriginal peak bodies including justice and health groups, are continuing to push for the age of criminal responsibility to be increased to 14 years old. “Now that this has been achieved, APO NT commits to working with the government to eventually raise age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age,” said Dr John Paterson, a spokesperson with the group.

The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency said the reform was a welcome “momentous first step” and is calling for further investments into community programs for young people and families. “The cost of imprisoning one child costs the taxpayers roughly $4,600 a day,” its acting CEO, Mark Munnich, said. “The government needs to redirect these funds to better resource community-led organisations and initiatives to provide holistic services to improve outcomes.”

To view The Guardian article Indigenous groups welcome Northern Territory raising criminal age but say 12 still too young in full click here.

The NT government has lifted the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 – a move Aboriginal organisations welcomed while wanting it raised further. Photo: Luoman/Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Winnunga News – November 2022 edition

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services (Winnunga) have released the November 2022 edition of their Winnunga News newsletter. In this edition Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs OAM gives an update on the lack of progress that has been made in response to the concerns she raised with government over two years ago about “the crisis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact with the justice system and the level of Indigenous incarceration in the ACT.”

Other topics covered in the Winnunga News November 2022 edition include:

  • What do Nurse Practitioners do at Winnunga?
  • Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) Health and Wellbeing Service Survey
  • New advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Youth takes the reigns in ACT
  • Winnunga AMC Health and Wellbeing Clinic – an Australian first
  • ACT least affordable jurisdiction for renters on low incomes
  • Official opening of new Winnunga building along with Community Day – Saturday 3 December 2022
  • Children’s Christmas Party – Saturday 10 December 2022
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Staff Profile – Sharon Ingram – Assistant Practice Manager

You can access the Winnunga News newsletter – November 2022 edition 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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