NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CoP urges further reforms in response to CTG data

feature tile - Pat Turner AM, Lead Convenor of CoPs; text: CoPs urges further reforms to CtG

The image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner AM, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks. Image source: National Indigenous Times article National peak body for Aboriginal-controlled community organisations urges further reforms to close the gap published on 8 March 2023.

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.

CoP urges further reforms in response to CTG data

The Coalition of Peaks, the national representative body of more than 80 Aboriginal community-controlled peak organisations, has urged further reforms in response to the latest Closing the Gap data from the Productivity Commission revealing a lack of progress on the objectives of the Agreement, showing there are now four targets “on track” compared to the 11 which are “not on track”.

Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Patricia Turner AM, called for further change to close the gap, “When structural and systemic change is made, there will naturally be a positive effect on the trajectory of the Closing the Gaps targets. This is what the Priority Reforms are all about in the National Agreement, but we are not seeing them implemented properly by governments,” she said. “The Priority Reforms are about changing the way governments work with our people. It is the comprehensive adoption of them that government parties need to understand and embrace if we are going to be able to work together to finally close the gap.

“More than two years on from the signing of the National Agreement and some governments are still talking about how they might start to tackle and implement the Priority Reforms.” Ms Turner said that “a sense of urgency” should come from this data for “governments to get on with the structural change needed to the way governments work as set out in the Priority Reforms. It is clear that the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people depend on it.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article National peak body for Aboriginal-controlled community organisations urges further reforms to close the gap in full click here. You can also read the Coalition of Peaks media release Urgent need for governments to implement the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in full as new data paints grim picture here and access the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Information Repository webpage Supporting reporting on Closing the Gap here.

tile text 'Closing the Gap Information Repository' & Aboriginal art

Image source: Australian Government Productivity Commission website.

Dr Karen Nicholls on the journey towards equality

Yesterday on International Women’s Day, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Dr Karen Nicholls, celebrated women who show leadership in challenging the systems in which they work. For Dr Nicholls, a Torres Strait Islander woman descending from Boigu Island in the Torres Strait, choosing a career in medicine was not always apparent, “I couldn’t see what I could be, because there were no Torres Strait Islander female doctors [at the time]..”

Today, with a growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs expected to continue, Dr Nicholls’ vision has shifted. “My hope is that, while we make up a small percentage of the Indigenous population overall, that we would continue to exceed society’s expectations,” she said. “Torres Strait Islander women definitely go on to do some really fantastic stuff in health. And I do want to acknowledge that there are some absolutely brilliant Torres Strait Islander doctors working at the moment, clinically and in research, and also advocating for better health outcomes and educational outcomes for everyone.”

Since receiving her Fellowship with the RACGP in 2010, Dr Nicholls has worked predominantly in the ACCHO sector and academia. Late last year she joined the college’s 65th Board when she was elected Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health – a role in which she feels privileged and proud to be a female GP representing this space.

To view the RACGP newsGP article IWD: Dr Karen Nicholls on the journey towards equality in full click here.

Dr Karen Nicholls, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Dr Karen Nicholls, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, endeavours to empower women through equality and allyship. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation Nursing Scholarships open

Lowitja Institute and the Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation are proud to announce the inaugural Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation Nursing Scholarships now open for 2023. Upon its establishment in 2010, the Lowitja Institute was named in honour of its patron, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, arguably Australia’s most recognised Aboriginal woman – a powerful and unrelenting advocate for her people and an inspiration to many.

The Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation was announced on 1 August 2022 to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG. Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of Lowitja Institute, said the opening round of the inaugural scholarships in nursing is a tribute to the dedication and passion Dr O’Donoghue displayed throughout her extensive career in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To view the Lowitja Institute media release Inaugural Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation nursing scholarships now open in full click here.

World-first AI heart tech trial to run from Walgett AMS

A world-first randomised controlled trial using artificial intelligence-guided technology to perform a heart ultrasound has been launched in the Walgett. The trial will be run from the town’s Aboriginal Medical Service and rolled out by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

“We are very excited about this. One of the cornerstones of cardiovascular health is the ability to do an ultrasound test on the heart called an echocardiogram (ECHO) test, it shows us the heart valves and the cardio function,” Cardiologist and chief investigator, Professor Tom Marwick said.

Marwick explained that taking an ECHO test required a highly skilled stenographer who aren’t readily available in regional towns. The artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be able to guide a non-expert in how to take the image which will then be uploaded for Professor Marwick to examine.

To view the Western Plains App article World-first AI heart technology trial comes to Walgett in full click here.

Professor Tom Marwick & vector image of heart

Professor Tom Marwick. Image from: Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. Image source: Western Plains App.

Program aims to help women regain long-term stability

Today Wayside Chapel has launched a new comprehensive program to help disadvantaged women regain long-term stability. The program offers women a safe space and the opportunity to receive gender-specific support tailored to their individual experiences. There’s a kitchen, laundry facilities, shower and consultation room, co-located with the new Wayside Chapel Healthcare clinic. Specialised female care coordinators will be available to work on complex cases with referrals to other agencies including housing, welfare, addiction and legal support.

Ensuring clients could access culturally safe and trauma-informed care without repeating themselves is a key motivator for Wayside’s GP-led service. Free, equitable and accessible to all genders, it builds on a successful nurse-led pilot in 2021. Medical director Lilon Bandler said the service wouldn’t require a Medicare card and would aim to overcome barriers to healthcare such as trust and finances by bringing it under the Wayside banner.

About 30% of Wayside visitors were Indigenous people and their “consistent experience of health care is very poor”, Dr Bandler said. “There’s still a lot of racism experienced by them in their interactions with the health care providers,” she said. “So they’re quite reluctant to engage again.”

To view the Kyabram Free Press article Wayside brings help for women-in-need under one roof in full click here.

Wayside healthcare director Lilon Bandler

Wayside healthcare director Lilon Bandler says the service aims to overcome barriers to healthcare. Photo: AAP. Image source: Kyabram Free Press.

Wide-ranging inequities affect women’s health

Australia has rising inequity and according to the World Health Organization, wherever there is societal inequity, women are always disproportionately affected. In almost every aspect of their lives, women living with pervasive socio-economic disadvantage are more likely to be vulnerable and face discrimination. This directly affects those seeking healthcare where disadvantaged women face more barriers to quality care, for example, people living in rural and remote areas, women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and/or women who have or who continue to experience disadvantage.

The inequities are compounded by multiple stresses and responsibilities including paid and unpaid work. They may be looking after children or other family members, working and pursuing their careers, contributing to their communities, trying to cope with the rapidly rising costs of living, or dealing with the many layers of disadvantage caused by family violence and trauma. There are also gross inequities in terms of access to healthy foods at a cost that people can afford, particularly in rural and regional areas. The options for being physically active or taking other measures to prevent disease are limited for many women of culturally diverse backgrounds and for First Nations women.

These issues affect entire communities, but women often bear the brunt. For example, research has shown that young women in rural and remote areas experience higher rates of unplanned pregnancy. Tesearch has highlighted gaps in service provision including availability of contraception and medical abortion, higher rates of chronic disease, and a much greater burden of mental distress.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Systemic approaches needed to address wide-ranging inequities affecting women’s health in full click here.

Baggarrook Yurrongi program participant - ATSI mum & bub

Image source: The Royal Women’s Hospital Victoria’s webpage Maternity program awarded for improving Aboriginal health.

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