NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NIAA adopts new ‘Closing the Gap’ targets

The image in the feature tile is from an an article Some Closing the Gap targets missed published in The Senior on 31 March 2022.

The NACCHO Daily Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

NIAA adopts new ‘Closing the Gap’ targets

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has launched a new plan to turn the tide on stalled and backsliding measures in the National Agreement on ‘Closing the Gap’ with the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Welcoming the NIAA’s 2023 Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney said the Plan was about practical action.

“The gap is not closing fast enough and on some measures it is going backwards,” Ms Burney said. “[The Plan] moves beyond the foundational Commonwealth attitude to Closing the Gap planning,” she said. “It outlines specific and actionable plans for accelerating efforts to embed the Priority Reforms and achieve the socio-economic targets.”

Ms Burney said the new Implementation Plan responded directly to the NIAA’s Commonwealth Closing the Gap Annual Report 2022 which found only four socio-economic targets were on track and 14 targets were worsening or not on tack. She said the whole-of-government approach outlined in the Plan brought together all the actions that each Department and Agency was taking to achieve the Closing the Gap outcomes, “so that we can be held to account and coordinate with the Coalition of Peaks and our State and Territory Government and local government partners.”

The above has been extracted from an article published yesterday on the website’s APS News webpage. The article, including a link to NIAA’s 137-page Plan are available in full here.

Cover of the Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan 2023. Image source: Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) webpage.

Mob need to co-design diabetes remission strategies

Effective targeting of diabetes and metabolic syndrome in Australian Indigenous people requires remission strategies that are co-designed by Indigenous communities, according to a team of Flinders University researchers. An article published in Nature Medicine identifies a project in SA’s Coorong region being led by Flinders University that takes a fresh approach through involving Ngarrindjeri leaders with clinicians trained in Eurocentric-based medicine to help tackle diabetes remission within its local community.

Diabetes contributes to 11% of all deaths in Australia, costing the healthcare system $2.7 million each year, and Australian Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected. Their prevalence rates are three times greater, hospitalisation rates four times higher, and death due to complications five times more likely than in non-Indigenous Australians. Of equal concern is metabolic syndrome, responsible for earlier and more severe complications in individuals diagnosed with diabetes, including such conditions as hypertension, dyslipidemia, abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.

“Rates of diabetes in Australian Indigenous communities are rising, which suggests that current approaches for detection, care and management are failing,” says Associate Professor Courtney Ryder, from Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. This leaves many Australian Indigenous communities feeling that a diagnosis of diabetes or metabolic syndrome is an unavoidable death sentence, creating a ripple effect beyond the individual, affecting the whole family and community.”

To view the Community co-design targets Indigenous diabetes article published earlier today in Open Forum (a policy discussion website produced by Global Access Partners – Australia’s Institute for Active Policy) in full click here.

Image source: Open Forum website.

New network for GPs in areas of poverty

Dr Tim Senior is a GP who practices, teaches, develops policy and writes about general practice and primary care. He works at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in South West Sydney and is on the The Medical Republic (TMR) editorial board. In an article published yesterday, Dr Senior says when covid took hold it exposed “exactly the cracks in our society and health services that we already knew about.”

“One of the main geographical areas affected was west and southwest Sydney. That covid took hold here was entirely predictable. People living here were on lower income jobs, the sort of jobs that are essential, and can’t be done from home. People lived in overcrowded housing or high-density apartments, because that’s what people can afford when housing is so expensive. This profoundly affected the ability of people to follow the advice about social distancing. People in these communities at the lower end of the social gradient already had more pre-existing diabetes, heart disease or renal disease, and often multi-morbidity at a younger age, making them more vulnerable to severe covid.”

“Working as a GP in an area of deprivation, then, is a specific interest, and being effective requires us to draw on the legacy of academic research, thought and specific teaching. It requires peer support and discussion, especially as the work itself, like all work that is worth doing, can be challenging. For this reason, Dr Liz Sturgiss and I have set up the Specific Interests Network on Poverty and Deprivation within the RACGP’s Specific Interests Faculty. We hope to provide support for those of us working in this area, and guide each other to better practice. We hope to make working in areas of poverty visible to our peers, and to be able to provide reminders of the joys of effective general practice to our registrars. The voice of the RACGP’s advocacy will also be enhanced in advocating alongside other specific interest groups on issues of health equity.”

You can view Dr Senior’s article Support for GPs Working at the Deep End, published in TMR in full here.

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation (TAC), Airds, NSW. Image source: TAC website.

New report celebrates CATSINaM’s achievements

A new report, which compiles a series of articles celebrating the achievements of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), and the organisations’ Elders and members. The articles contained in the report were produced by Croakey Professional Services to mark the 25-year anniversary of CATSINaM and published between March 2022 and February 2023.

Croakey Health Media says it encourages readers to share the publication widely, and to draw upon the knowledge it contains in health education and training, service delivery and policy-making.

You can download the report Celebrating #CATSINaM25Years Articles published March, 2022 – February, 2023 in full here.

Cover of the Croakey Professional Services Report containing CATSINaM articles from March 2022 to February 2023. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

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