NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Remote health centres move to ACCHO control

aerial view of Imanpa Community NT

The image in the feature tile is an aerial view of Imanpa Community. Image source: ResearchGate website.

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.

Remote health centres move to ACCHO control

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) has this month assumed operations of the primary health care clinics in Imanpa and Yulara. Congress already provides care at nearby Mutitjulu, an Aboriginal community adjacent to Uluru, as well as other communities. One of the most experienced services in the country in Aboriginal health, Congress is the largest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) in the NT, a national leader in primary health care, and a strong advocate for the health of Aboriginal people.

Yulara will become a service hub for the region and, in Imanpa, NT Health will continue providing BreastScreen appointments along with other specialist outreach services. The Kaltukatjara (Docker River) Health Centre will also transition to Congress on 1 July, 2023. Evidence shows that increasing community involvement in the planning and delivery of local health services brings additional health benefits to local residents. This supports local communities with greater opportunities to influence the health care services offered, in particular, their cultural responsiveness.

Congress CEO, Donna Ah Chee said “Congress is proud to welcome Imanpa and Yulara communities to the Aboriginal community controlled health service model. ACCHS delivery is recognised as best practice for Aboriginal health, and the further development of the ACCHS sector is a key part of the Closing the Gap commitments that all governments have signed. This is because, for every dollar spent there is a greater return in health improvement for our people with this model of health care.”

To view the Chief Minister of the NT, Natasha Fyles and Chansey Paech, Member for Bwoja’s joint media release More Central Australian remote health centres set to transition to Aboriginal community control in full click here.

external view of Imanpa Health Centre

Imanpa Health Centre. Photo: Nick Hose. Image source: ABC News.

Maningrida PHC graduates make history

Last week the first-ever cohort to obtain formal health qualifications on-country in Maningrida made history, graduating with a Certificate II in Aboriginal Primary Health Care. The ceremony started with a beautiful welcome to Kunibidji Country from Traditional Owner, David Jones, followed by a welcome speech from Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation chairperson and Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Charlie Gunabarra. David and Charlie are dedicated to bettering community health outcomes and have been proactive in guiding the Aboriginal community-control model of health service delivery.

Guest speaker, NT Chief Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Iris Raye welcomed the new graduates, Eileen Gunabarra, Fabian Smith, Jermaine Namanurki, Kurt Brown, Natasha Bond and Shannon Brown, to the health profession and imparted her passion for Aboriginal health care with the students.  On-country adult learning provided an accessible format that also ensured students could continue their family, cultural, work and community responsibilities whilst undertaking studies.

Support and funding for the place-based model of adult-learning course was received from NT PHN, the NT Department of Employment and Workplace Relations’ Foundation Skills for Your Future program and Industry NT and Ninti Training delivered engaging, fun and relatable learning.

To view the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook post The End of a Journey. The Beginning of a Legacy. click here.
6 Maningrida (NT) graduates of Aboriginal PHC Certificate II

Certificate II in Aboriginal PHC graduates. Image source: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page.

Medicare changes could reduce deaths in custody

The federal government has been urged to make an immediate improvement to the lives of prisoners by providing Medicare in custodial settings, in a change that coroners have argued could reduce Indigenous deaths in custody. Advocates have argued for decades that Medicare should be available in custody. However, the change has not yet been made. Medicare is not available for prisoners because of a section of the Health Insurance Act that prohibits Medicare benefits from being paid when state funding has been provided.

Nadine Miles, principal legal officer of the NSW and ACT Aboriginal Legal Service, said her organisation had appeared at inquests where Indigenous men in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s died in custody from ailments including an asthma attack, organ failure, an ear infection, a clot in the lung, and coronary artery disease.

“Inadequate healthcare was an issue brought up for each of them,” Miles said. “We have seen far too many preventable deaths and far too many failures to provide a basic standard of healthcare for people behind bars. The result is that lives are lost too soon and whole families and communities are changed forever.”

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article The change to Medicare that could reduce deaths in custody in full click here.

Smoking Ceremony held at the NSW Coroners Court in July 2022 during the inquest for Mootijah Shillingsworth, who died from an ear infection

A smoking ceremonyat the NSW Coroners Court in July 2022 during the inquest for Mootijah Shillingsworth, who died from an ear infection. Photo: Dean Sewell. Image source: SMH.

Resources for health workers supporting mob with cancer

Ngununggula is a new package of resources, including a manual and quality improvement resources developed for ACCHOs in NSW to support best practice cancer care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The training materials are based on the work of the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service Cancer Care Team and feature work of other cancer care workers around the state.

The training resources are a result of a collaboration with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Centre of NSW (AH&MRC), the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong, the Menzies School of Health Research and Coordinare and have been funded through Cancer Australia’s Supporting People with Cancer Grant Initiative.

The Ngununggula package of resources includes a series of webinars providing guidance on:

  • cancer prevention
  • investigations and treatment
  • cancer survivorship
  • end of life.
You can access the links to the webinars, including the one below, on the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin website here.

How to save PHC in remote Australia

What happens when an area loses its GPs? Dr Sam Heard is witnessing the fallout, and has set out a treatment plan to combat the issue before it is too late. Dr Heard says there is a health workforce crisis in Central Australia and much of remote NT. The current social disruption and negative experiences of residents in Alice Springs mirrors the turmoil sometimes faced by remote health staff. But this is our country and remote Australians require healthcare to a level that many in the city do not.

Patients are having dialysis locally, there are emergencies that frequently require patients to be evacuated, along with housing, educational and environmental issues that desperately need advocacy. It was not always like this.

During more than 30 years as a GP and educator in the NT, Dr Heard says he has attempted to strengthen primary care and has been ably supported by motivated colleagues along the way: young doctors, nurses and Aboriginal Health Practitioners in training, and by older doctors who have moved to the area to contribute to the health of remote Australians. Over the past decade, however, Dr Heard says he has witnessed a worrying decline in primary care services and an unwillingness to tackle the issue until it is too late.

To read the RACGP newsGP article How to save primary care in remote Australia: RACGP NT Chair in full click here.

RACGP NT Chair Dr Sam Heard

RACGP NT Chair Dr Sam Heard. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Language to be no barrier to HIV support

Hundreds of people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities living with HIV will be better able to understand vital education material as part of a national push to improve their quality of life. The non-profit organisation Living Positive Victoria is one of four HIV-focused community organisations nationally to have been awarded $200,000 in grants to help the nearly 30,000 Australians living with the disease access better healthcare.

Living Positive Victoria along with Positive Life NSW, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and the National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have established five projects that will receive funding. NAPWHA will unite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV from across Australia for a three-day residential workshop to promote healing.

To view the PerthNow article Language to be no barrier for accessing HIV support in full click here. Below is a Young Deadly Free animation explaining the basics of HIV.

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