NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $10m to improve health infrastructure

feature tile photo of front of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services; text '$10m infrastructure funding will support critical role ACCHOs play in improving health outcomes'

The image in the feature tile of the new Winnunga Nimmityjhah Aboriginal Health and Community Services’ purpose-built facility opened in mid-2022. Image source: article Winnunga health service comes a long way from the Tent Embassy published in CBR City News on 10 July 2022.

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.

$10m to improve health infrastructure

The Australian Government is enhancing First Nations health infrastructure, making available $10 million for repairs, maintenance and upgrades to health clinics and infrastructure across Australia. The latest round of grants to eligible Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), through the Service Maintenance Program (SMP), will enhance the safety of, and access to primary health care—particularly in remote and very remote communities.

It means Indigenous Australians will have better access to high quality, fit for purpose, culturally appropriate health care. Improvements to accommodation will also help to attract and retain clinical staff in communities across Australia. The SMP is a partnership through the Australian Government’s Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme, co-designed with NACCHO working with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sector. More information about the SMP grant opportunity can be found on GrantConnect.

Applications opened this week on 16 March 2023 and close on Thursday 27 April 2023.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said “This funding supports the critical role that ACCHOs play and the contribution they make every day in improving health outcomes for our people. I am pleased to see that this funding is being delivered in line with the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, where programs and services are developed in genuine partnerships with our people and funding is invested to build the Aboriginal community-controlled sector. The infrastructure funding need in our sector remains a critical pressure-point and NACCHO will continue to advocate for increased funding for our sector.”

To view the joint media release $10 million to improve health infrastructure in Indigenous communities by Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australian and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health and Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO click here.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS). Image source: AWAHS website.

ACCHO partners with MooGoo to fight RHD

The Yarrabah Aboriginal community has been working with Australian skin care brand MooGoo to try and stamp out Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) with the MooGoo Prevent RHD Project. RHD is a devastating but preventable condition that often starts with skin sores that get infected. Of the 4,000 people living in the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah, at least 129 people have RHD. The community’s residents live in just over 400 homes in difficult living conditions which can be cramped, with limited access to safe water and sanitary conditions. RHD is a disease of poverty and disadvantage, caused primarily by overcrowding and unhealthy housing.

The partnership with MooGoo is assisting the Yarrabah community battle skin sores that can lead to RHD. MooGoo donated a year’s worth of its body wash for every household in Yarrabah. Initially the partnership with MooGoo was for 12 months and allowed access for all community members to MooGoo Body Milk Wash. Recently this offer was extended under the MooGoo customer donation/support campaign.

In collaboration with Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, refill stations of the Milk Wash are now easily accessible in community hubs, schools and sports clubs in the area. Maddy Dodd, child health team leader Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, said: “We know that skin sores are common in Yarrabah. If we can prevent the infection from occurring at the beginning, and prevent the skin sores, we can help reduce the devastating effects of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in our communities.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal health service’s partnership with MooGoo making strides in fight against Rheumatic Heart Disease in full click here.

3 ATSI men on horses accessing MooGoo refill station in street, Yarrabah

A refill station in Yarrabah. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

PSA backs embedding pharmacists in ACCHOs

Yesterday on National Close the Gap Day, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) issued a media release saying all pharmacists have a responsibility to provide health care that is culturally responsive and safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The their media release the PSA specifically refers to a key recommendation arising from PSA’s Medicine Safety: Rural and Remote Care report: that pharmacists should be embedded within ACCHOs to deliver targeted and culturally safe care, improve medicine adherence and to address polypharmacy and other quality use of medicine issues. The recommendation aligns with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap Priority Reform Two, which focuses on building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector.

The PSA said while ad-hoc funding provides some support for pharmacists to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there is a lack of discrete funding to support the integration of pharmacists within the primary care team of ACCHOs. Despite this, and in co-design with the NACCHO, PSA has released the Deadly Pharmacists Foundation Training Course. designed to equip all pharmacists with the skills to deliver culturally sensitive care to First Nations people. So far more than 770 pharmacists have enrolled to undertake the course, indicating a strong desire across the profession to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s media release Statement on National Close the Gap Day click here.

Pene Wood, Pharmacist, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Health Servicesand Alice Nugent, Pharmacist Advisor, NACCHO

Pene Wood, Pharmacist, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Health Services
and Alice Nugent, Pharmacist Advisor, NACCHO. Image source: NACCHO ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines V1.0 2022.

RACGP says participatory decision making is critical

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is backing calls for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led decision-making and self-determination to boost health outcomes across the nation. The RACGP said the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2023: Strong Culture Strong Youth: Our Legacy, Our Future, launched yesterday on National Close the Gap Day, raises awareness of Australia’s ongoing need for healthcare equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the importance of participatory decision making and culture in developing effective approaches to health.

Dr Karen Nicholls, Chair of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health faculty, said GPs and practice teams have a key role to play in improving health equity in Australia. “There is real benefit to approaching health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from a strengths-based approach,” she said. “Communities identifying what their health priorities are and how to address and manage these priorities can only improve health outcomes. That can be achieved through programs that support young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health and reinforce the value of culture.”

Dr Nicholls said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be involved in the design of any approaches to their health to create effective programs and avoid replicating issues that have acted as barriers to health equity. “Key actions for closing the gap include collaborative, co-designed programs and understanding the importance and value of self-determination,” she said. “Healthcare that is both clinically and culturally safe should be seen as a human rights approach. Achieving equitable health outcomes cannot be accomplished without addressing the impact of racism both for our patients and our clinicians.”

To view the RACGP media release RACGP: Closing the Gap requires collaboration with and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people media release in full click here.

RACGP logo & text 'RACGP' on awning of office building

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Calls for increased stroke awareness initiatives

Stroke Foundation is calling for increased stroke awareness initiatives to prevent unnecessary death and disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Stroke Foundation Interim Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy said it’s time to bridge the divide in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. “The statistics are shocking. We know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.5 times more likely to die from stroke than non-Indigenous Australians, and stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Indigenous Australia,” Dr Murphy said.

Dr Murphy said “Communities need to be empowered to protect themselves. Stroke is a serious medical emergency which requires urgent medical attention, and we need to work so that more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are able to recognise the signs of stroke and know what to do when stroke strikes. We believe everyone has the chance to lead a healthy life. More must be done to educate people about stroke prevention and awareness in the community.” Dr Murphy said more than 80% of strokes are preventable by managing health conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.

To view The National Tribune article Time to Close Gap on Indigenous health in full click here. You can also access the Stroke Foundation’s Our Stroke Journey booklet, a dedicated national resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here.

cover of the Stroke Foundation Our Stroke Journey Helping our mob after stroke booklet, drawing of blood blockage in brain; Justin, survivor of stroke & proud Noongar man

Clockwise: Our Stroke Journey – Helping our mob after stroke booklet, image of a stroke from the booklet; Justin, survivor of stroke and proud Noongar man. Image source: Stroke Foundation.

Landmark summit of First Nations women

Registrations for the most significant national gathering of First Nations women from Countries across Australia have opened. This historic vent is set to inform a range of new approaches for advancing the rights, health, safety, wellbeing and economic opportunities of First Nations women and girls. Delivered by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) National Summit will be held at the National Convention Centre in Canberra on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country from 9 – 11 May 2023, with a Youth Forum preceding the Summit on 8 May 2023.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani, means ‘women’s voices’ in the Bunuba language from Western Australia’s Kimberley region. The national summit is designed for First Nations women to speak on their own terms to government, policymakers and service providers about addressing issues affecting First Nations women and children. With over 650 delegates expected to attend from across the continent, the Summit will showcase innovative approaches and initiatives led by First Nations women, and will feature three days of engaging discussion, workshops and presentations across a variety of topics. Key thematic areas include self-determination, societal healing, intergenerational wellbeing, economic justice and empowerment. There will also be a range of networking events and activities.

Both supported and paid registrations are available. A number of sponsored delegates will be supported with registration and travel to attend the event. The purpose of sponsoring delegates is to ensure a broad range of First Nations women from across regional, rural, remote and urban Australia can participate in the Summit and have their voices heard.

Applications for delegate sponsorship, which can be made on the event site here, must be received by 5:00 PM AEDT on Wednesday 29 March 2023. Program information is available here.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission article Commission opens registrations for landmark summit of First Nations women in full click here.

tile text: Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices) National Summit We Are The Change. Tue3s 9 - Thurs 11 May 2023 National Convention Centre - Canberra

Sector Jobs

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