NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Genuine engagement needed over consultation

feature tile text 'NACCHO Chairperson tells conference that Governments need to recognise they do not have the answers; image of Donnella Mills

The image in the feature tile has been extracted from a YouTube video of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills sharing her message on COIVD-19 and the vaccines in early 2021.

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.

Genuine engagement needed over consultation

The Australia and NZ School of Government’s (ANZSOG’s) 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference, held earlier this month, focused on the importance of genuine engagement rather than consultation. Delegates supported a strengths-based approach to policy and programs which recognised First Nations knowledge and culture. The conference was divided into four sessions based around the priority reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. These were: formal partnerships and shared decision-making; building the First Nations community-controlled sector; transforming Government organisations, and shared data and access to information.

Chair of the NACCHO, Donnella Mills told the conference that Governments needed to recognise they did not have the answers, and that Indigenous people would “work harder than anyone else to take care of our people”. She said structural reform was needed to change the way power was distributed. “If the National Agreement on Closing the Gap isn’t on your desk; if you can’t rattle off the priority reforms, if your Agency hasn’t resourced it — you need to lean in, and quickly. We are now in a new way of operating,” Ms Mills said.

The conference featured more than 20 First Nations speakers who discussed the transformation that was happening in First Nations policy. They outlined how approaches that included First Nations knowledge, perspectives and values could serve the wider public and First Nations interests — and how Governments needed to change to better serve First Nations communities.

To view the PS News article ANZSOC conference backs PS Indigenous in full click here.

portrait shots of John Paterson, AMSANT CEO & Robert Skeen, AH&MRC CEO

AMSANT CEO John Paterson and AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen, were both speakers on Day Two of the conference. Image sources: ANZSOG website and AH&MRC website.

$32m+ for First Nations health research projects

Through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), nearly 200 ground-breaking medical research projects will share in more than $382m in grants, including more than $32m to improve First Nations health. The projects will help Australia’s outstanding medical researchers, including clinician researchers, discover new ways to diagnose, treat and care for people with a variety of health conditions. They will also support early and mid-career researchers and give more Australians access to clinical trials.

Research projects on cardiovascular disease, primary and preventive health care, respiratory diseases, maternal health, mental health and First Nations health, will receive funding to progress important work.

Two innovative First Nations-led projects to receive funding are:

University of Newcastle – $2m  Gulibaa (Coolamon) Project
This will be a co-designed model of care supporting Aboriginal mothers across NSW to be smoke-free in pregnancy and beyond. The project will co-design, embed in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and evaluate a group-based smoking cessation program.

The Sax Institute – $1.5m  Healthy Ageing for Aboriginal people
This project will evaluate the implementation and uptake of prevention programs to support healthy ageing amongst Aboriginal people. The Institute will collaborate with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services which run holistic and culturally safe preventive healthy ageing programs for their communities.

Of the 193 projects funded, 19 grants worth more than $32.3m are related to First Nations health and a further 13 grants worth more than $16.9m are related to mental health.

To view the Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care’s media release Nearly $400 million for exceptional medical research projects including projects to improve First Nations health in full click here.

Aboriginal woman's hands on pregnant belly; male & 2 female ATSAI Elders, MRFF logo

Image sources: SBS; Aged Care Online website; Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

Program to help teens get a good night’s sleep

Karen Chong is the world’s first Indigenous sleep coach. “We are the people of the Dreamtime with the oldest continuing culture shaped by dreams, which is why I became a sleep coach and I want to train others,” she said. Mother of seven and grandmother of 10 Ms Chong, a Waanyi Garawa Gangalida woman, knows all too well how much harder parenting can be if your kids aren’t sleeping properly. “If they weren’t having a proper night’s sleep, they were waking up cranky and moody and it affects their eating too,” she said. “The biggest issue I’ve had with my two girls is that they want to stay up all night on their phones – if you’re a parent you’ll know what kids are like.”

The University of Queensland and Beyond Blue have partnered to deliver culturally responsive sleep health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland. Project lead Associate Professor Yaqoot Fatima from UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said Indigenous teens experience up to twice the rates of poor sleep as other adolescents. “Poor sleep can be caused by medical conditions like sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome, or behavioural issues such as an irregular bedtime, late nights, and not getting enough sleep,” she said.

“Indigenous adolescents sleep better when they feel connected to their culture, which is why this program is important.” The 10-week Sleep for Strong Souls program is holding workshops with more than a hundred 12-18-year-olds in north and western Queensland communities.

To view the Kyabram Free Press article Indigenous sleep coach wants a score of 40 winks all in full click here.

ATSI teenage school kids looking at table of Sleep for Strong Souls program resources with coach

The Sleep for Strong Souls program is aiming to help Indigenous teenagers get a good night’s sleep. Image source: Kyabram Free Press.

Conference to examine rural health challenges

The challenges facing the rural health system are well-documented and well-known: difficulty attracting and retaining staff, fewer resources, lack of access to services, and building capacity and resilience in times of disaster and emergency. The 2023 Shoalhaven Rural Health Research Conference aims to unpack many of these issues, and more, while focusing on how to improve rural health services through collaboration, research and innovation.

The inaugural, nation-wide conference will be held at the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Shoalhaven Campus on Saturday 18 March 2023 with a theme of Connection and Capacity Building. Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom ,a proud Yuin woman from Roseby Park (Jerrinja) Mission in the Shoalhaven, will deliver the keynote address, titled ‘Connection and Country’.

As Principal Research Fellow at the Ngarruwan Ngadju First Peoples Health and Wellbeing Research Centre at UOW, Associate Professor Longbottom has worked extensively in the health and human services sector with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from urban, regional and remote areas of New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The keynote address will be followed by a series of workshops on the rural health and research landscape, hosted by UOW academics and primary healthcare professional across the fields of dietetics and nutrition, nursing, medicine and Indigenous health.

To view the University of Wollongong Australia article Inaugural conference to examine acute challenges facing rural health system in full click here.

portrait of Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom, University of Wollongong

Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom. Image source: LinkedIn.

Scholarship opportunities for First Nations nurses

As part of the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) commitment to advancing the nursing profession, the ACN Foundation has just released scholarships, grants and awards exclusively available to First Nations nurses to advance their nursing careers. Applications for the below scholarships are now open:

Graduate Certificate Nursing Scholarship, Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies – 20 scholarships are available for registered nurses to undertake selected ACN Graduate Certificate courses including Cancer Nursing, Community and Primary Health Care Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, Digital Health, Leadership and Management, Orthopaedic Nursing or Perioperative Nursing. Of the twenty available, five scholarships will be allocated to First Nations nurses and five will be allocated to nurses working in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Graduate Certificate Scholarships for First Nations nurses, Sponsored by HESTA – two scholarships are available for First Nations registered nurses to complete an ACN Graduate Certificate course of their choice out of ACN’s Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management, Aged Care Nursing, Perioperative Nursing, Critical Care Nursing or Community and Primary Health Care Nursing, commencing in July 2023.

If you are not at a career stage to apply for a postgraduate nursing scholarship, discover ACN’s scholarships for undergraduates, nursing leadership courses, research and more on their website here.

Applications close 11:59 PM AEDT – Monday 3 April 2023. To apply click here.

Australian College of Nursing Foundation Grants and Awards, HESTA tile; text 'Graduate Certificate Scholarships for First Nations Nurses; photo of ATSI female student

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.

National Close the Gap Day

National Close the Gap Day is being held tomorrow, Thursday 16 March 2023, to raise community awareness about health inequalities facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In the SBS News – News in Depth broadcast Health differences for First Nations people targets on Close the Gap Day,available here, Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) said “we believe the Close the Gap campaign priority reform areas are the biggest areas that will get the better gains that are required to close the gap”. Mr Briscoe said First Nations people must have access to appropriate housing, he said that with “Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) a fix that can be done straight away is adequate housing, we know that overcrowding is a huge component of RHD being prevalent within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and it is really quite solvable by having adequate housing.”

In this broadcast, Dr Thalia Anthony, University of Sydney Law Professor commented on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap target of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and young people not being overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

banner SBS News, News in Depth, text: Health differences for First Nations people targeted on Close the Gap Day; image of Uni of Sydney Law Professor Thalia Anthony

University of Sydney Law Professor Thalia Anthony. Image source: SBS News.

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