NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Indigenous Legal and Health Justice Conference

The image in the feature tile is of NACCO CEO Pat Turner speaking at the National Indigenous Legal and Health Justice Conference 2022 held in Hobart from 4–6 December 2022.

National Indigenous Legal and Health Justice Conference

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) hosted the National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference from 4-6 December 2022 with Pat Turner and Donnella Mills among other expert speakers from across the nation inspiring, encouraging and motivating delegates on some of the big challenges facing us today.

Discussions ranged from conversations around Voice, Treaty and Truth, to how we keep our children out of care and connected to community, culture and country, cultural competency pathways, native title versus land rights, and the future of Aboriginal Legal Aid.

You can find out more about the conference on the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre website here and photos here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner with other participants of the National Indigenous Legal and Health Justice Conference.

Encouraging deadly choices for community

Proud Gooreng Gooreng woman Kimberley Appo is using her passion for her culture and heritage to help close the gap by promoting kindy as a deadly choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Coming from a large, close-knit family, Kimberley’s passion for educating and caring for children started from a young age. “My father is one of five children, my mother is one of eight, I’m the youngest of nine and I have 21 nieces and nephews — not to mention countless cousins,” Kimberley said.

But, like many students Kimberley didn’t always excel in the traditional schooling system, and despite her obvious passion for the industry she was initially reluctant about returning to study. “I guess schools have such an unrealistic curriculum that’s just one-size-fits-all, rather than having a curriculum that’s for individual children. And when you finish school, if you didn’t do as well as you should have, there seems like there’s nothing else for you,” she said.

But after dipping her toe in by enrolling in the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care , Kimberley quickly discovered that studying at TAFE Queensland was very different to being at school. “You’re not going in just to get a piece of paper, you’re going in and you’re learning and you’re finding your passions through TAFE,” she said.

To view the TAFE Queensland article Encouraging deadly choices for her community in full click here.

Kimberley Appo. Image source: TAFE Queensland website.

Why we must keep fighting for Medicare

Dr Tim Senior has written an article for The Medical Republic called Why we mustn’t stop fighting for Medicare. Dr Senior says many practices can walk away from bulk billing, but there are communities where people simply can’t afford to pay, “When patient rebates alone are inadequate to fund the staff resources and infrastructure to provide high-quality care, and there’s the added regulatory and compliance burden and the threat of the PSR, who can blame us for opting out?”

Dr Senior continued “Most services in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, in which I work, are ACCHOs, meaning that they are owned and run by the local Aboriginal community along co-operative lines. Just about all services are bulk billed. The reason for this is that they are there to provide medical services for a community where the vast majority of people can’t afford to pay. Median household income for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults is $553, while for non-Indigenous Australians it’s $915.”

“Closing the Gap” has been a government policy imperative for over a decade, aiming to improve a range of health and social indicators. Health, of course, depends on good primary care, including general practice, to provide cradle-to-grave care. Even though Medicare is available to all Australians, on the latest figures available, Medicare spending on general practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was $180 per person, compared to $243 per person for non-Indigenous people. This is 0.74 times as much, despite there being twice the need.”

“Where people have more complex needs – for example, due to the mix of multi-morbidity, mental health needs and social circumstances common in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector – then longer consultations are needed. The longer the consultation, the more suppressed is the funding we get through Medicare. Clearly, as we all know, Medicare rebates alone are not enough to fund the primary care required. While there is top-up funding to ACCHOs, to try to compensate for the longer consultations and more health professionals seen at each visit, this is capped and comes with significant reporting requirements. There is a lot of encouragement made to Aboriginal Medical Services to increase Medicare billing to fund services.”

To view The Medical Republic article Why we mustn’t stop fighting for Medicare in full click here.

Graduate’s chance pathway to medicine

A University of Queensland graduate can partly thank school holiday boredom for setting her on a career path in medicine. The newly conferred Dr Ella Ceolin was encouraged by a high school teacher to attend UQ’s Indigenous outreach program, InspireU when she was in Year 11. “It was in the school holidays which I wasn’t too keen on, but I had nothing much else to do and went on a bit of a whim,” Dr Ceolin said. “It was a huge eye-opener and I actually came away from that deciding that I wanted to be a doctor.” The proud Djabuguy/Wulgurukaba woman, who also has Italian and Malaysian heritage, this week graduated from UQ as a Doctor of Medicine.

“I’d always thought I’d follow my mum, auntie and sister into teaching because that’s what I saw, and what I knew,” Dr Ceolin said. “Before I started medicine I didn’t know any Indigenous doctors, that visibility just wasn’t there for me. But it can make a huge difference. When my nephew was younger, he said ‘If you’re going to be a doctor, does that mean that I could be too?’”

Dr Ceolin has since served on the board of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, which supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students. “It’s about advocating for more of a presence in the health workforce and contributing to equitable health outcomes,” she said.

To view the First Nations Telegraph article Indigenous graduate’s chance pathway to medicine in full click here.

Dr Ella Ceolin. Image source: First Nations Telegraph.

Is it ever ok to ask that?

Is it ever OK to ask how someone how Aboriginal they are? University of Sydney students and staff have participated in a video to answer anonymously submitted questions and confront myths and stereotypes about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can find out more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on the Sydney University campus here and enrol in the Cultural Competence MOOC: Aboriginal Sydney here.

Tanika supported by Yapug pathway program

Never underestimate what’s possible. That’s what the past three years have taught Tanika Ridgeway, a Proud Worimi woman from Port Stephens, who is graduating as part of the University of Newcastle’s Yapug program. Yapug is a pathway program designed to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gain skills for entry into undergraduate degrees at the University of Newcastle. When students embark on a Yapug pathway program, they also benefit from a range of support services offered by the Wollotuka Institute.

After nine years working in pathology at the John Hunter Hospital, Tanika was interested in becoming a primary school teacher. She was encouraged by her mentors to try medicine, something she didn’t think was a possibility for her. “Hannah Pipe, the Indigenous Advancement Officer at Wollotuka told me that I should consider medicine. I grew up in a housing commission in Raymond Terrace. I didn’t do science in my senior years of high school, and my ATAR was 32. So, I am not your typical medical student – but here I am.”

“I didn’t go to university straight from school and didn’t realise how much my life experiences would help me in my current studies. I’m currently working as a Research Assistant with Dr Michelle Kennedy in Indigenous Health Research, and I’m just so happy that I took the step to find out what was possible for me. Having people like Michelle and Hannah believe in me and support me throughout my university journey has meant that I have had the confidence to pursue new opportunities I would never have considered if not for them.”

To view the University of Newcastle article Ready to make a difference: University of Newcastle 2022 graduates in full click here.

Tanika Ridgeway. Image source: University of Newcastle website.

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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