NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hopes First Nations health journal will help CTG

The image in the feature tile is of the cover of the First Nations Health and Wellbeing: The Lowitja Journal. Image source: Elsevier.

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.

Hopes First Nations health journal will help CTG

Indigenous health advocates hope that the launch of a new, dedicated First Nations health journal will help Close the Gap. The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s first community-controlled Indigenous research institute, has created a new, international, inter- and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed, open-access journal dedicated to collecting and expanding access to First Nations research.

First Nations Health and Wellbeing: The Lowitja Journal will focus on primary research articles, systematic reviews and informed short reports on all aspects of science, culture, philosophy and practice surrounding health and wellbeing for First Nation people and communities. Professor Catherine Chamberlain the the editor-in-chief of the journal, which is based in Melbourne said the journal’s goal is to provide good quality evidence that can inform effective policies and programs to improve health outcomes for First Nations people.

“That is how we improve health outcomes,” Professor Chamberlain said. “The journal is going to provide authentic Indigenous evidence – about us, and for us.” All articles published in the journal must contain substantive contributions from First Nations authors. Chamberlain said that while the journal’s key focus was aligned with Closing the Gap, it would also collect crucial and overlooked cultural knowledge underpinning generations of Indigenous good health and wellbeing.

To view the InSight+ article ‘Indigenous health renaissance’: new journal and new graduates in full click here.

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, third from the right, with the Lowitja Journal team and Diana Jones, Elsevier Executive Publisher, third from left

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, third from the right, with the Lowitja Journal team and Diana Jones, Elsevier Executive Publisher, third from left. Image source: Twitter, InSight+.

Floods reveal 100s of mob not registered at birth

As communities look to bounce back from record flooding in WA’s north, the recovery effort has revealed that hundreds of Aboriginal people were not registered at birth. The fallout from ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie led to WA’s worst-ever flood event in January, with the towns and communities in the West and Central Kimberley suffering widespread damage.

Many residents lost personal property and important documentation when floodwater tore through their homes. In an effort to replace damaged documents, community services and agencies in the town of Derby have identified a number of people who were not documented at birth. Shire of Derby West Kimberley president Geoff Haerewa said he was shocked to learn of the number of unregistered people.

“It blew me away that there’s people out there … with no real identification other than the name their parents gave them,” he said. “In 2023, we potentially have hundreds of people in our town that don’t have identification at all, and the system is failing.” Mr Haerewa said there were many reasons why children were not registered. “There is a gap in the system somewhere,” he said. “People move from town to town, and they just fall through the cracks.”

To view the ABC News article WA’s record flood reveals ‘hundreds’ of Aboriginal residents were not registered at birth in full click here.

Aboriginal toddlers feet

Aboriginal Liaison officers assist new Indigenous parents with completing the required paperwork. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source: ABC News.

FASD grant Round One CLOSES this Wednesday

NACCHO is excited to announce the FASD Communications and Engagement Grant to support NACCHO members to develop and deliver highly-localised, place-based communications materials and engagement activities to enhance and extend the Strong Born communications campaign that was launched by Pat Turner on 22 February 2023. Strong Born has been designed to raise awareness of FASD and the harms of drinking alcohol while pregnant and breastfeeding, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural and remote communities.

There are two rounds of funding for the FASD Grant:

  • Round One: is open now to NACCHO Member services in MM4-MM7 – but CLOSES at 11:00 PM AEDT – Wednesday 22 March 
  • Round Two: will open in May to NACCHO member  in MM1-MM3. More details will be available soon on the NACCHO website here

Eligible ACCHOs can apply for between $5,000 – $60,000 (GST exclusive) of FASD Grant funding which can be used for activities such as:

  1. Creation of locally relevant communications materials and resources raising awareness of FASD and the harms of drinking alcohol while pregnant and breastfeeding
  2. Hosting community events and yarning circles
  3. Running information sessions for staff members
  4. Production of additional copies of the ‘Strong Born’ campaign materials
  5. Translation or adaptation of ‘Strong Born’ campaign materials and/or key messages into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages

For more information about the FASD Grant and how to apply, visit the NACCHO website here and/or contact the NACCHO FASD Grants team using this email link.

Applications for Round 1 will close 11:00 PM AEDT – Wednesday 22 March. Applications for Round 2 will open in May.

tile text 'FASD Communications and Engagement Grant - open to all NACCHO members Round 1 Applications closing 11pm AEDT 22 March 2023 Apply here

Young mob are driving positive change

The 14th annual Close the Gap Campaign report, titled Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy, Our Futurewas released last Thursday, at a special launch event in La Perouse in Sydney on Bidjigal Land. As with the previous few years, the report is not aimed as a direct response to the Federal Government’s latest reports on Closing the Gap targets as these reports once were.

Instead, it takes a strengths-based approach to show “how Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing are central to improving health outcomes”, write Close the Gap Campaign chairs June Oscar and Karl Briscoe in the report’s foreword. “These are the principles we showcase again in this report because, in the face of painfully slow progress, it has been Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, innovation and creativity that has pushed boundaries and created opportunities for the community-controlled sectors to flourish,” they said.

As well as making recommendations for structural reform, the report features eight case studies spanning the creative arts, mentoring, justice reinvestment, climate activism, LGBTQ+SB rights, language innovations, suicide prevention, and the structural reform of mental health services. The case studies showcase “the essential role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led decision-making and self-determination in shaping a vision of health and well-being, built upon a strong cultural foundation”, Oscar and Briscoe write. Many, like Queensland-based Youth Verdict – who took on Clive Palmer’s massive Galilee Coal Project – highlight the leadership of a “new generation of hands-on activists” while others demonstrate how a focus on young people’s concerns and aspirations “can be powerful drivers of positive change”.

To view Croakey Health Media article How young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are driving positive change in full click here.

tile text Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy, Our Future - Close the Gap Campaign Report 2023 - images of 3 Aboriginal youth

Syphilis rates in major Australian cities

A study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia examines changes in the positive infectious syphilis test rate among women and heterosexual men in major Australian cities, and rate differences by social, biomedical, and behavioural determinants of health. In summary:

The known: The prevalence of syphilis in Australia is higher among men who have sex with men and non‐urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The new: Among people tested at sexually transmitted infection clinics in major Australian cities, the positive syphilis test rate was higher for both women and heterosexual men in 2019 than in 2011. The rate was higher among people living in areas of greater socio‐economic disadvantage, and also for Indigenous women and women who inject drugs.

The implications: Screening people for syphilis in reproductive health and alcohol and drug services is important, as is attention to the social determinants of syphilis risk.

Conclusion: The positive test rate among both urban women and heterosexual men tested was higher in 2019 than in 2011. People who attend reproductive health or alcohol and drug services should be routinely screened for syphilis.

To view the Infectious syphilis in women and heterosexual men in major Australian cities: sentinel surveillance data, 2011–2019 article in the Medical Journal of Australia click here.

Care runs deep throughout The Sista Circle

A three-day program has provided an opportunity for Aboriginal women to connect with one another and their culture in the Hunter. The We Care NSW (We Care) project, the Sista Circle, was designed collaboratively with Wonnarua (Maitland), Awabakal (Newcastle) and Worimi (Port Stephens) community members to convey culturally-appropriate mental health and wellbeing initiatives.

And, with support from the nib foundation, the Aboriginal-owned not-for-profit also invited its Indigenous participants, as well as staff, to join the development camp. The Sista Circle, led by Kellie Forrest, followed the organisation’s Yarn Up Connecting Countries programs delivered to Aboriginal youth and men last year.

We Care director and clinical psychologist Todd Heard said both initiatives were a culturally and clinically-integrated response to the mental health issues he’d witnessed in his community. “In Australia, deaths by suicide represent a leading cause of preventable death for Aboriginal peoples,” he explained. “First Nations peoples are also twice as likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous Australians.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article Care runs deep throughout The Sista Circle in full click here.

6 Aboriginal women walking through the bush

Participants of The Sista Circle program. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

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.

Dietitians Week

This week, Monday 20 to Sunday 26 March 2023, is Dietitians Week, an annual awareness event hosted by Dietitians Australia and supported by dietitians around the country. Dietitians Week highlights:

  • the many roles dietitians play
  • how dietitians bring unique value to our lives through a range of work areas
  • how you can connect with the best local dietitian for your unique lifestyle and needs
  • ways you can help spread awareness and help to raise the voice of dietitians.

Dietitians support people everyday in a range of ways. They work in clinics and hospitals, schools and aged care centres, on sporting teams, in universities and policy roles, in the media and so much more. Dietitians Week raises awareness for how Accredited Practising Dietitians – the gold standard dietitian in Australia – help individuals and communities lead healthier and happier lives.

Tracy Hardy, a Gamilaroi woman. is one of only a handful of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander dietitians in Australia. You can listen to Tracy share her unique experiences working at the intersection of modern day nutrition science and Indigenous knowledge, cultures and food systems here. She delves into the growth of her business, Wattleseed Nutrition, and the exciting projects she’s working on, and offers advice for dietitians to support Indigenous people entering the profession.

For more information about Dietitians Week you can access the Dietitians Australia website here.

digital toolkit tile & portrait of dietitian Tracey Hardy

Tile from Dietitians Australia website. Dietitian Tracey Hardy. Image source: Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland webpage.

World Down Syndrome Day

Tomorrow, Tuesday 21 March 2023, is World Down Syndrome Day. This day has been officially recognised by the United Nations since 2012. On this day, people all around the world celebrate the lives and achievements of people with Down syndrome. The day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the rights and inclusion of people with Down syndrome around the world.

Over the 6 year period, 1998–2003 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found the birth rate of Down syndrome, was similar for Indigenous and non-Indigenous infants, see Part IX Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – 43 Health and wellbeing of Indigenous children available here.

For more information about Down Syndrome you can access the Down Syndrome Australia website here.

text: World Down Syndrome Day in orange circle & photo of Aboriginal doll with Down Syndrome & dress with Bush Melon artwork by Betty Mbitjana

Image sources: Down Syndrome Australia website; Aboriginal doll with Down Syndrome wearing Bush Melon dress with artwork by Betty Mbitjana. Image source: Awe & Wonder website.

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