- ARF and RHD resources available on NACCHO website
- Small amounts of drinking may change baby’s face
- PIP-IHI updated and improved
- VACCHO “deeply disturbed” by latest suicide report
- New Lowitja Journal invites submissions
- Mental health support for Northern Rivers mob
- Sector Jobs
The image in the feature tile is the NACCHO designed ARF and RHD logo.
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.
ARF and RHD resources available on NACCHO website
NACCHO now has an Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) webpage. The webpage includes general information about ARF and RHD including:
- Why are ARF and RHD an important priority for NACCHO?
- What is ARF?
- What is RHD?
- Would you like to learn more about ARF and RHD?
In addition, the webpage includes links to a range of resources tailored for community and professionals including: guidelines and report; visual resources; eLearning modules, apps and videos (such as the one below).
To access the NACCHO webpage Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease click here.
Small amounts of drinking may change baby’s face
It is well known that heavy drinking while pregnant has a range of negative effects on an unborn child, and can disrupt development of the brain and other organs. What is less well known is the effects, if any, of drinking a glass of wine here or there throughout pregnancy. As facial features are determined by brain development during the first trimester, the way a child looks can also be affected along with motor skills, behaviour and learning.
A new study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, sought to understand whether low doses of alcohol during pregnancy changed children’s faces as they can be a reflection of overall health and development. They found that drinking the equivalent of one glass of wine a week during pregnancy may make a difference to the way a child looks.
For the study, researchers from Erasmus University in Rotterdam asked women about their drinking habits in the three months before becoming pregnant, whether they drank alcohol during the pregnancy and, if so, the quantity and for how much of the pregnancy they drank.
To read The Age article Can drinking small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy change a baby’s face? in full click here.
PIP-IHI updated and improved
Medical clinics have been encouraged to provide better, ongoing care to Indigenous Australians following the revamp of an incentive program designed to achieve better, long-term health outcomes. The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Initiative (PIP-IHI) has been updated and improved and will boost quality of care and outcomes for Indigenous people living with chronic health and mental health conditions.
The PIP-IHI pays medical practices to sign up to the program when a patient is registered and when certain patient outcomes are reached. A 2019 review of the initiative found that while many practices signed on and registered patients, there were low numbers of payments based on outcomes. This showed the program wasn’t doing what it was designed for – achieving continuity of care for patients with high needs.
To remedy these shortcomings and ensure efficiency, changes to the PIP-IHI include:
- making some GP Mental Health Care Plan Medicare items eligible for outcome payments
- shifting payment amounts to incentivise follow up care for patients, rather than registration
- making patients under the age of 15 eligible for outcome payments
- giving GP practices a 12-month rolling window to provide the required number of services.
Initial changes began earlier this year, with the updated payment structure transitioning in 2023 and 2024 to give practices time to adjust to the changes.
To view Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release Strengthening GP care for Indigenous Australians in full click here.
VACCHO “deeply disturbed” by latest suicide report
The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Balit Durn Durn Centre have expressed deep sadness at the findings of new report, Suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by the Coroners Court of Victoria which reveals an “alarmingly high” suicide rate among Indigenous people, three times higher than that of the non-Indigenous population
In a statement VACCHO said “Of particular concern in the Coroners Court Of Victoria report are the stressors that were identified among the suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria. Breakdowns in interpersonal relationships, experiences of family violence, experiences of abuse, and substance abuse left untreated were all noted as stressors and factors that significantly contributed to losses of life. Alarmingly, over one third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who passed by suicide reported childhood exposure to family violence, and nearly 50% had experienced separation from parents.”
VACCHO noted the report revealed more than 80% of people who passed by suicide had been diagnosed with a mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety and/or mood disorders, “suggesting if services were responsive and able to meet the needs of Aboriginal people, these deaths could have been prevented. These stressors highlight the failings of fragmented mental health and child protection systems that do not provide people with culturally safe, holistic health and wellbeing services that they need.”
To view the National Indigenous Times article Victoria’s peak Aboriginal health body “deeply disturbed” by latest report on suicide in full click here.
New Lowitja Journal invites submissions
Lowitja Institute and Elsevier are pleased to announce the launch of a new international journal in 2023. This community-controlled journal aims to uphold Indigenous rights to sovereignty and self-determination within research practice. The first issue, entitled First Nations Health and Wellbeing – The Lowitja Journal, is scheduled to be published in line with Lowitja Institute’s 3rd International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2023 from 14–16 June 2023.
The First Nations Health and Wellbeing – The Lowitja Journal invites submissions in a range of formats, including original research, reviews, case studies perspectives and commentaries. You can submit your next research article to this important new journal via the First Nations Health and Wellbeing – The Lowitja Journal online portal here.
Papers should reflect the values and principles of Lowitja Institute and adhere to the policies outlined in the journal guide for authors, available here. There is also a requirement that the first, second or senior author are First Nations peoples. All articles in the first issue will be published open access with no article processing fee.
Submissions for this inaugural issue are due on or before Friday 10 March 2023 for peer review.
Mental health support for Northern Rivers mob
Northern Rivers residents are being reminded that free mental health support is only a phone call or web chat away, with in-person counseling also available. Healthy North Coast Chief Executive, Monika Wheeler, said that these next few weeks could be particularly challenging for Northern Rivers residents and urged locals to prioritise their mental health.
Ms Wheeler said “Looking out for each other is what has got our community through the past 12 months. There are many things about our current situation that we cannot change, but we can all take steps to look after our heads and hearts. If you or someone you know is struggling or could simply benefit from a friendly and supportive chat, I urge you to reach out. Healthy North Coast offers a range of free and after-hours services to support mental health and wellbeing for all ages, with a number of them made available through Australian Government and NSW Government flood recovery. There’s no shame in saying you’re feeling overwhelmed or just want to talk things through. I encourage all community members, including our hardworking primary care professionals, to prioritise their mental health care over the coming weeks.”
One of the services offered is the The Strong Community Program which provides free specialist mental health support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Northern Rivers, age 12 years and over. Mental health and wellbeing supports include in-person counselling, mental health promotion in schools and outreach to communities in Cabbage Tree Island, Wardell, Ballina, Box Ridge, Woodburn, Lismore and neighbouring areas.
To view the Echo article Free mental health support for Northern Rivers communities in full click here.
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.