NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship Applications Open

Feature tile - NACCHO ATSI Pharmacist Scholarship applications open

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a 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.

Pharmacist Scholarship Applications Open

NACCHO is excited to announce that applications are open for the 2nd year of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship* which provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.  


Each recipient will receive up to $10,000 per annum to contribute to university expenses. The scholarship also offers support and mentorship from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and organisations to ensure ongoing integration and connection with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector.  


The scholarship program aims to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce and to raise the profile of the beneficial role that pharmacy and pharmacists can play in supporting appropriate and culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  


For more information about the scholarship and how to apply, click here.


You can also contact Mike Stephens on 0408 278 204 or via email using this link.NACCHO ATSI pharmacist scholarship applications open tile

Scholarship opens door for speech pathology career

The art of being committed to your work at Victoria’s largest public health service while being a prominent advocate for First Nations wellbeing is all in a day’s work for CQ University alumnus Hannah Thompson. A proud Kara Kara woman from the Central Highlands, Hannah is an active member of five different Speech Pathology Australia groups and advisory committees, where she provides input on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture relates to the organisation’s competency standards.

Ms Thompson received a BMA Indigenous Scholarship during her studies which she notes helped her embrace new career opportunities. “My goal is to combine my passion in speech pathology with my desire to help close the gap between First Nations and non-First Nations Australians in the healthcare and education sectors,” Ms Thompson said. “The experiences I had at CQ University, my BMA scholarship, and the connections I made throughout my studies opened doors for me post graduation.”

Upon graduating in 2018, Ms Thompson was employed at a Central Queensland therapy clinic before accepting an early career speech pathologist position in the public sector. “My current role has certainly changed my perspective of working in public healthcare,” she said. “Every day has its own challenges, especially being the primary speech pathologist on the COVID ward during the peak of the pandemic, however, the team around me are very supportive and uplifting. In the public space, you work alongside incredible people and learn so much on the job.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Scholarship put young Kara Kara woman on the path to speech pathology career in full click here.

CQ Uni alumnus Hannah Thompson standing in front of Aboriginal and TSI flags

CQ University alumnus Hannah Thompson. Image source: National Indigenous Times – 18 February 2023.

Celebrating WorldPride with WSLHD’s Darren Lee

Just six weeks into his new role at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), Darren Lee already has a deep connection with the local community at Mount Druitt Hospital. Despite living in Darwin for over a decade, Darren has returned home. “I am born and bred in this area – all my family are here, I was born in Blacktown Hospital and went to the school just down the road; Plumpton High School, so it’s all really familiar to me,” he said. “This community is my home. I went to school here, my friends are now teachers here, I’ve got four or five friends who are now nurses and staff at Mount Druitt Hospital. It’s home. I’ve worked in other districts and I called Darwin home for 13 years but this is my home.”

Darren is an Aboriginal Sexual Health Promotion Officer at the WSLHD Aboriginal Health Hub, located at Mount Druitt Hospital. In the days leading up to Sydney WorldPride, and as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, Darren is urging his mob to have a great time during WorldPride, but to prioritise their health by getting tested and partying safely. “Gay, straight, green or blue, we all like to have sex. Our job is to remind people to do it safely.

“Being an Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer, it’s about promoting to my mob who we are, where we are and what our services do, and to normalise it. If you’re going for your annual health check for your blood sugar levels, what’s wrong with peeing in a cup or doing a swab or taking a blood test to check your full health. It’s about not stereotyping or stigmatising people for what they do in their personal lives. As an Aboriginal man and a gay man myself, I’m proud of both of those things completely equally.”

To view The Pulse article in full click here.

Long COVID causing job losses and homelessness

The federal government is developing a national Long COVID strategy, with a parliamentary inquiry hearing the condition has resulted in job losses and homelessness among some sufferers. The chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said the federal health department had been tasked with developing a national Long COVID strategy that would cover prevention, immunisation, treatment and research into the condition.

“That is well under way,” Kelly said at a public hearing on Friday, although he went on to say the strategy would probably not be finalised until after the health department had received advice following the parliamentary inquiry into Long COVID and repeated COVID-19 infections. Speaking at the inquiry’s third public hearing on Friday, Labor MP Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah said, “I think we’re going to probably land on a recommendation that we obviously need national guidelines … and perhaps living guidelines that keep evolving as the data keeps coming in.”

A lack of data about Long COVID in Australia was repeatedly raised as a concern during the hearing. Dr Jason Agostino, a senior medical adviser at NACCHO, told the inquiry that there was “no clear evidence on Long COVID cases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – most jurisdictions have not shared data on presentations to their LONG COVID clinics by Indigenous status”.

To view The Guardian article Long COVID causing job losses and homelessness in Australia, inquiry hears in full click here.

4 COVID-19 Antigen test results - 2 negative 2 positive

Australian affected by long Covid told the parliamentary inquiry about months-long wait times to see specialists. Photo: Amer Ghazzal, Rex, Shutterstock. Image source: The Guardian – 17 February 2023.

Virtual reality part of mental health trial

Young people in the NT are stepping into the world of virtual reality (VR) as part of a new trial aimed at breaking down the barriers to mental health care. VR mental health sessions have started being trialled in parts of the NT’s Top End region, as part of a project from the NT’s Menzies School of Health Research and Aboriginal VR developer Brett Leavy.

By gamifying programs to address youth mental illness, cognitive disabilities and neurodiversity, the team hopes the project will help tackle major obstacles to care in the territory such as issues with remoteness and staffing. Mr Leavy, a Kooma man, said the project particularly took a new approach to the mental health of young First Nations people by connecting them to their culture and country through VR.

“It’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s a new technology,” he said. “It’s a new technology for an ancient culture.” The NT has the highest rate of suicide in the country, with young people and First Nations people particularly at risk.

To view the ABC News article Children explore virtual reality as part of trial for new NT youth mental health project in full click here.

Aboriginal teenager at Darwin school using virtual reality

Darwin school students test virtual reality software designed to improve mental health. Photo: Peter Garnish, ABC News.

Alice Springs alcohol rehabs desperate for support

Jocelyn Dhu has seen more desperation than most while working on the frontlines of alcohol addiction in Alice Springs. The Eastern Arrernte woman has watched people from all walks of life come through her door. Some for the first time, others for the tenth, but all battling shame, stigma and a sense they are “too far gone”. But Ms Dhu knows that’s never the case. “You have to see the person,” she said. “When you look at an individual, and you see their stories, and why alcohol or drugs became a problem for them — that’s what you need to fix.”

Alice Springs has attracted frenzied national attention in recent weeks amid a crime crisis. Liquor has been recognised as a major driver behind issues in the town. However, the NT’s peak drug and alcohol body said frontline addiction services had been chronically neglected by all levels of government.

Drug and Alcohol Services Australia, where Ms Dhu works as deputy chief executive, is just one Alice Springs service calling for help. It recently had to clear clients out of its ageing residential rehabilitation facility, Aranda House, because of a cockroach and bed bug infestation. Ms Dhu said it had sparked a waitlist of about 20 people. “I think the biggest issue is people’s level of motivation to change,” she said. “They might want to come in now, but having to wait, they change their mind and go, ‘Oh, no, I’m OK’.”

To view the ABC News article Alice Springs alcohol rehabs call desperately for support as liquor bans reinstated in full click here.

portrait shot of Jocelyn Dhu, Eastern Arrernte woman

Jocelyn Dhu says people can struggle with alcoholism for a wide range of reasons.Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC Alice Springs.

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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