NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO’s Strong Born campaign launch

feature tile ATSIHN - baby ATSI boy against aqua background & words STRONG BORN; text: NACCHO launches Strong Born campaign to raise awareness of risks of drinking during pregnancy

The image in the feature tile has been extracted from one of the Strong Born social tiles developed by NACCHO.

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.

NACCHO’s Strong Born campaign launch

Today, NACCHO, supported by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), will launch the Strong Born campaign aimed at raising awareness of the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and safe breastfeeding practices.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) has long been an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health priority and NACCHO has been working with FASD clinical, cultural and community experts across Australia, to design Strong Born.

The campaign was designed in collaboration with representatives from various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which informed the development of resources to make yarning about this complex topic, easier.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said, “The Strong Born campaign is about raising awareness and understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and reducing stigma and shame.

“The campaign includes culturally appropriate health information for women and families, educational materials for our Aboriginal health care workers, and guidance for health care providers that work with Aboriginal communities.

“In collaboration with our regional and remote member organisations, we’ll also support opportunities to bring our communities together to create safe places for yarning about the impacts of alcohol on pregnancy.

“Growing strong healthy mums and bubs leads to healthy communities. Our communities need to understand the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and where to go for support, so they can ask for help if they need it.”

FARE CEO Caterina Giorgi commented, “Far too many Australians have FASD and there continues to be misinformation about alcohol, pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is great to have the opportunity to collaborate with NACCHO on this important campaign as part of the broader Every Moment Matters initiative, which provides evidence-based health information about alcohol, pregnancy and breastfeeding.”

Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler said, “The Australian Government is proud to support the Strong Born campaign. Preventing the harm caused by alcohol, particularly when it comes to developing babies is incredibly important – not only for women, but for the whole community.”

To further explain the importance of the Strong Born campaign, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy stated, “FASD is often referred to as the invisible disability but as far as many families and communities are concerned, it’s a very visible part of daily life. It’s important that people understand that FASD is not confined to a particular community or demographic; it is a disorder that crosses socioeconomic, racial and educational boundaries. That said, the AMA tells us that in some high-risk Indigenous communities the prevalence may be as high as 12 per cent. All kids deserve the best start to life and the Strong Born campaign is an important campaign to keep raising awareness and taking the shame out of talking about these complex issues”.

Campaign resources will be made available to all rural and remote Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).

The Strong Born campaign is endorsed and funded by the Australian Government.

To find out more about the Strong Born campaign, visit the NACCHO’s FASD webpage here.

You can also access NACCHO’s media release ‘Strong Born’ a new campaign supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to yarn about FASD released earlier this morning on the NACCHO website here.

Strong Born campaign tile.

Nurse practitioners to fly free in WA pilot

Nurse practitioners in WA are set to break free from the limits of the MBS in a new extended scope-of-practice pilot. Health Minister Mark Butler announced the program on Monday this week, confirming that the federal government had committed $11 million to the project. The funding comes from the $100 million set aside in the October budget to “co-develop and pilot innovative models with states and territories to improve care pathways” in primary care before the rollout of 50 urgent care clinics.

Another $8 million of that funding has already been put toward a single-employer model for GP registrars in Tasmania. The $11 million, to be delivered over two years, will pay for at least 20 nurse practitioners – that breaks down to $275,000 per nurse practitioner per year – to be employed in different primary care settings using their “full range of skills”.

General practice, ACCHOs, aged care facilities and other community health services will all be eligible locations for participating nurse practitioners. Australian College of Nursing CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward said the funding was welcome, and that Australians deserve high-quality healthcare in their local community. “Giving nurses access to adequate funding in the primary and community setting is long overdue and essential for health equity and universal health care,” she said. “If we are to ensure that all Australians can access quality health care regardless of their postcodes, particularly people who are marginalised and disadvantaged, we must do it together.”

To view the Medical Republic article Nurse Practitioners to Fly Free in WA Pilot in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Danila Dilba, NT checking patient's ear

Aboriginal Health Practitioner at Danila Dilba Health Service, NT. Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service website.

Optometrist to pilot vision screening program for mob

A Churchill Fellowship grant will enable optometrist Lisa Penrose to pilot an integrated eye health and vision screening program in Queensland to work across several ACCHOs. In 2016, Lisa was awarded an initial Churchill Fellowship grant to travel to Canada and the USA  to investigate models of integrated primary health care. During her travels, she hoped to gain insight into how to efficiently overcome the main challenges in eye health that exist within the Indigenous Australian population, particularly in regard to diabetic retinopathy.

Lisa has now been awarded a second grant from The Winston Churchill Trust Impact Fund to develop and pilot a vision screening program that aims to service over 4,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the Goondir (Dalby, Oakey, Chinchilla, St George) community in Queensland. “There is still a significant gap in eye health between First Nations Australians and non-Indigenous Australians,” Lisa said.”

Lisa says that while visiting eye health services are common in primary healthcare clinics that provide health services to Indigenous Australians, only a handful of them are available full-time, creating a need for supplementary models of eye health screening. “Eye health and vision screening in primary healthcare can play a significant role in addressing the gap,” she continues.  Lisa will work in partnership with the Goondir Aboriginal Medical Service to use already-existing programs and retinal cameras to carry out her project.

To view the Optometry Australia article Queensland optometrist to pilot vision screening program for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

optometrist Lisa Penrose

Optometrist Lisa Penrose. Image source: Optometry Australia News webpage.

How will fresh funding tackle FASD in the NT?

In recent weeks, the Australian and NT governments announcednew funding to address the longstanding, much-publicised challenges facing Central Australia. The promised $250m adds to an earlier commitment of $48m and aims to tackle problems faced by residents in Alice Springs and Central Australia from many angles, including strategies to reduce alcohol-related violence, harms and crime.

Included is a commitment to “improve the response to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) by the health and justice sectors”. This is an important goal, but it is a big ask – the problems are complex and they are not new. FASD often goes undiagnosed and can cause severe and lifelong problems. Alcohol is behind or has been linked to many of the current problems in Central Australia, including the recent wave of crime and violence. Some believe this followed the relaxation in July 2022 of the Stronger Futures laws that limited access to alcohol in many NT communities for more than a decade. In communities where alcohol use is high, a focus on FASD is warranted. In Alice Springs, communities are calling for action.

To view The Conversation article Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is tragic but not new. How should fresh funding tackle it in the NT? in full click here. You can also watch the NSW Health video below which aims to inform Aboriginal families planning or expecting a baby about the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy, and support health professionals to discuss alcohol with pregnant Aboriginal women.

Latest Remote PHC Manuals launched in NT

A suite of best-practice manuals for primary healthcare workers in central, northern and remote Australia reviewed by Flinders University experts in collaboration with a volunteer editorial committee and more than 300 volunteer reviewers has been launched. The newest edition of the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) comprises five books which are designed to support high quality clinical practice. They are widely used across the health care system, including in clinical care, education and orientation in the NT, remote SA, Ngaanyatjarra and Kimberley regions in WA and beyond.

The RPHCM are:

  • CARPA Standard Treatment Manual (STM)
  • Minymaku Kutju Tjukurpa — Women’s Business Manual (WBM)
  • Clinical Procedures Manual for remote and rural practice (CPM)
  • Medicines Book for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and Health Workers (MED)
  • Reference Book for the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (REF).

The suite of books has been edited by the Flinders University Project Team through funding from the Australian Government Department of Health. The review process is overseen, and final protocols endorsed, by a volunteer editorial committee comprising senior and experienced remote area clinicians including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. The 320 volunteer reviewers, including nurses, doctors, Aboriginal Health Practitioners and allied health workers, were engaged to ensure that the protocols reflect current, best-practice and are clinically appropriate for remote and Indigenous primary health care settings.

Project Director Dr Anthea Brand says the books are a vital resource for primary health care staff working in remote parts of Australia where support and internet services are often scarce. “The manuals have been developed by practitioners for practitioners and follow best clinical practice with consideration of the remote primary health care context,” says Dr Brand.

To view the Flinders University media release Latest Remote Primary Health Care Manuals launched in NT issued earlier today click here.

latest Remote PHC Manuals (4), background red dust

Latest RPHCMs. Image source: Flinders University.

‘No data about us without us’ response to disability dataset

The University of Sydney’s Sydney Policy Lab has released a report ‘No data about us without us’: community responses to the idea of a National Disability Data Asset. The report’s abstract states:

Data is increasingly used to direct services, secure funding and influence policy. However, for the disability community in Australia, access to high quality data is significantly lacking. This report captures the perspectives of 40 members of the disability community to the idea of a National Disability Data Asset (NDDA) in Australia.

The NDDA is an ambitious initiative involving federal, state and territory governments that aims to better understand the experiences of people with disability. It intends to do this by linking de-identified data across a range of domains including education, health, justice and employment. Further data collected by communities, researchers and service providers is intended to be linked in later phases.

The Sydney Policy Lab’s interviews and workshops identified participants’ hopes that the NDDA will improve the quality and availability of data about people with disability, and that this improved data will be used to create positive change for people with disability.

The link to the full report can be found on the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin website here.

cover of the No Data About Us Without Us Sydney Uni report October 2022 - two adults with Down Syndrome

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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