NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2023 National COVID-19 Health Management Plan

The image in the feature tile is from the cover of the Australian Government’s 16 page National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023.

2023 National COVID-19 Health Management Plan

A National COVID-19 Health Management Plan (the National Plan) has been developed to outline the Australian Government health supports to manage COVID-19 over the next 12 months. These health supports have been informed by the likely 2023 Australian epidemiological outlook and advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

Over 2023, Australia will transition to managing COVID-19 in a similar way to other respiratory viruses, moving away from COVID exceptionalism and bespoke arrangements. While we are learning more about the virus and its impacts on the community and health systems all the time, we are not yet at a “steady state” where we can predict and manage it within normal systems. This means health response measures are still required.

The National Plan summarises the interconnecting whole-of-system measures to transition our management of COVID-19, while maintaining a state of readiness and capacity to respond as the pandemic continues to evolve.

You can access the Australian Government’s 16 page National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023 in full here.

NACCHO affiliates doing us proud

The Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) Sexual Health Team has won the People’s Choice Awards Sexual Health Poster! The AHCSA Sexual Health team beat 150 other entrants to claim top prize for this incredible piece of work that we are so proud of.

Have a read below of the significance of the work and how the group achieved the unbelievable outcome in the link here.

AHCSA Sexual Health Team’s winning People’s Choice Award Sexual Health Poster.

Meanwhile last week VACCHO co-hosted a workshop with the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA), bringing together representatives of 12 Specialist Medical Colleges.

The workshop centred on improving the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in Specialist training. Whether it’s radiology, dermatology, surgery, or any other specialty, colleges need to develop culturally safe and supportive training pathways to help grow the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Specialists in our health services.

VACCHO acknowledged the deadly work AIDA is doing to build strong partnerships across the health workforce, to develop future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.

Participants of the VACCHO and AIDA workshop.

Governments must act to raise the age

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, health, legal and human rights organisations have welcomed the release of a government report and called on Attorneys-General to immediately act on its recommendation to raise the age of criminal responsibility with no exceptions. The report was prepared by a Working Group chaired by the WA Department of Justice, and included representation from justice departments from each state, territory and the Commonwealth government.

The Council of Attorneys-General Age of Criminal Responsibility Working Group report lists recommendations based on the findings of the review stating: “A primary recommendation to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years without exceptions.” The report, prepared in 2020, was informed by over 90 public submissions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, health, legal and human rights organisations and experts. The Human Rights Law Centre previously made repeated Freedom of Information requests to obtain a copy of the report, with all requests refused.

The current low age of criminal responsibility disproportionately impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and is a key driver of contact with police and the criminal legal system. Raising the age would reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prisons and help governments meet their Closing The Gap targets. The report noted that to turn “the tide on First Nations incarceration rates requires Commonwealth, state and territory governments to work in partnership with First Nations people and organisations.”

To view the Human Rights Law Centre article Governments must act on justice department advice to #RaiseTheAge to at least 14 in full click here.

Improving lives and mental health of youth

Each year the achievements and contributions of eminent Australians are celebrated through the Australian of the Year Awards by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all. They inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better Australia. The Awards honour an exceptional group of highly respected Australians who ignite discussion and change on issues of national importance. The Australian of the Year Awards provides everyone with the opportunity to recognise any Australian who makes them proud. The four Australian of the Year categories are:

  • Australian of the Year
  • Senior Australian of the Year (those aged 65 years or over)
  • Young Australian of the Year (ages 16 to 30)
  • Australia’s Local Hero

Jahdai Vigona has received the 2023 NT Young Australian of the Year award. Jahdai Vigona is at the forefront of mental health programs educating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. A proud Tiwi Islands man, he is passionate about improving the lives of Indigenous people.

WellMob: An Introduction

WellMob have produced a short, animated video WellMob: An Introduction describing the WellMob website. WellMob is a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob. These resources include apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials. There are also training resources to support workers.

The WellMob: An Introduction video is for anyone interested in digital wellbeing resources, including health and wellbeing workers – it is from e-Mental Health in Practice and hosted by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

You can access more information and training resources from the WellMob website here.

Trailblazing Indigenous doctor

Trailblazing Indigenous doctor Dr Mark Wenitong has received an honorary Doctorate from Central Queensland University Australia, celebrating almost three decades of work to improve the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples. Dr Wenitong, who is also board deputy chair of Community Enterprise Queensland, is one of Australia’s first Indigenous doctors and a leader and mentor in driving better First Nations healthcare.

Since graduating from Newcastle University Medical School in 1995, Dr Wenitong has practiced across central Australia and now in Far North Queensland, and was a founding member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA). Dr Wenitong has been the Public Health Medical Advisor at Apunipima Cape York Health Council since 2008, where he continues to practice clinical medicine and remote health service systems and program delivery.

In addition to being an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology, Dr Wenitong is the strategic advisor for the Lowitja Institute, Research Knowledge Translation and the inaugural Co-Chair of the Queensland Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statewide Clinical Network. Dr Wenitong was previously appointed as the Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer, and the acting chief executive at the NACCHO in 2012. It has been a long and remarkable journey.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Trailblazing Indigenous doctor honoured for outstanding career and contribution to First Nations health in full click here.

Dr Mark Wenitong. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

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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