- Australia’s first endometriosis clinics rolled out
- Strategy to improve rural and remote health workforce
- Aboriginal scientist appointed to CSIRO board
- Newly developed flu vaccination resources for mob
- Counting the toll of COVID
- Sector Jobs
- Key Date – Dietitians Week 2023 – 20–26 March
The image in the feature tile is from the Health Central website’s Endometriosis 101 webpage published on 17 August 2022. Photo: Getty Images / Shidiovski.
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.
Australia’s first-ever endometriosis clinics rolled out
Australia’s first-ever specialised endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics are being rolled out in metro and regional areas across the country. The 20 clinics, will offer expert and multidisciplinary services for women suffering from endometriosis and pelvic pain and operate out of existing general practitioner clinics and health centres.
Persistent pelvic pain affects one in five women or people assigned female at birth, with one in nine affected by endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disease of the uterus, which causes the shedding and production of uterine tissue outside of the uterus and can cause devastating effects on the female reproductive system, as well as chronic pain and scar tissue. On average, an endometriosis diagnosis can take up to seven years. Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney said the new centres will hopefully help shorten diagnosis times by gathering expertise under one roof, fostering that knowledge to improve diagnosis and services, and having referral pathways in place.
One of the four Queensland clinics will operate from Moreton Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (Moreton ATSICHS), Morayfield. Moreton ATSICHS a member of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Ltd, one of NACCHO’s 145 members.
To view the ABC News article New pelvic pain and endometriosis clinics are opening across Australia. Where will they be? in full click here. The below video EndoZone: Understanding Pain In Endometriosis is from The University of Adelaide’s Endometriosis Adelaide Endometriosis Research Group webpage, available here.
Strategy to improve rural and remote workforce
The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) says it is pleased to be a founding member of the National Alliance for Regionalisation initiative to ‘Rebalance the Nation’ and has congratulated the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) for their historic strategy. The National Alliance for Regionalisation aims to better position the nation’s regions to reach their potential in economic, educational and social spheres, for a stronger Australia.
“Improving the health and medical workforce in rural, regional and remote Australia underpins all aspects of the aim to achieve a better balance and equity in healthcare access and deliver economic and social benefits to all Australians,” said NRHA Chief Executive Susanne Tegen.
In the Regional Australia Institute’s Regionalisation Ambition 2032 – A Framework to Rebalance the Nation document, available here, the authors stated “In developing the Framework and its targets, we also acknowledge the important work of the Joint Council in leading the nation’s actions to achieving the targets set out in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This Agreement seeks to accomplish equality in life outcomes for all Australians, centered on ‘Closing the Gap’ of inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. At the forefront of the design of the Framework is the importance of not contradicting the targets set out in the National Agreement, but ensuring the Framework can support Closing the Gap.”
To view the NRHA media release National Rural Health Alliance pledges support for rebalancing the nation in full click here.
Aboriginal scientist appointed to CSIRO board
Professor Alex Brown has been appointed to the CSIRO board of directors, becoming the first Indigenous scientist to serve on the national science agency’s board. A leader in Aboriginal health and public health services, Professor Brown commenced in the role on 16 March and will serve on a part-time basis for five years.
A member of the Yuin Nation, he is also Professor of Indigenous Genomics at the Telethon Kids Institute and was recently appointed as the director of the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics at the Australian National University. His research has centred on health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, particularly with chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Industry and Science minister Ed Husic announced the appointment during his address to the National Press Club saying Professor Brown’s had mentioned the influence his sister’s career had on his decision to embark on research in health. “Your sister, Professor Ngiare Brown was one of the first Indigenous medical graduates in Australia and is now the first female and first Indigenous Chancellor of James Cook University. Quite a family.” Mr Husic also thanked Professor Brown for “the path you are setting, for all the Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and scientists who will follow you”.
To view the InnovationAus.com article Indigenous scientist Alex Brown appointed to CSIRO board in full click here.
Newly developed flu vaccination resources for mob
In Australia, seasonal influenza is the most common vaccine-preventable disease contributing to hospitalisation, aside from COVID-19. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to experience severe influenza disease that could be prevented with vaccination. Since 2019 influenza vaccine has been provided under NIP to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 6 months of age, however the uptake has been sub-optimal.
Health providers have an important role in strongly recommending and opportunistically offering influenza vaccination to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 6 months of age, however earlier research indicated that some providers may miss opportunities to offer influenza vaccination at any appointment, and to strongly recommend influenza vaccination to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 6 months of age. To help address this gap the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) have a range of newly developed resources available on the NCIRS website, including:
Resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to support decision making around influenza vaccination.
The webpage Influenza vaccination information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, available here, is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This page is suitable to share as a resource with the community (and a conversation starter between providers and families) and includes the printable Flu Vaccine Information Sheet, available here.
Resources for immunisation providers to support vaccination conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (with focus on influenza vaccination).
The webpage Supporting conversations about vaccinations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, available here is for immunisation providers (GPs, nurses, pharmacists) providing influenza vaccination to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The purpose of the provider webpage is to explain the importance of influenza vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages; highlight providers’ role in supporting and strongly recommending influenza vaccination to families; and support providers in having culturally appropriate vaccination conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. While the focus is on influenza vaccination, the conversation principles can be applied to other vaccinations.
The provider webpage includes:
- a downloadable summary table of resources, available here, of publicly available communication resources designed in recent years to support influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- a conversation guide for providers Talking about flu vaccination with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, available here here to help providers to have culturally appropriate and supportive vaccination conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The resource gives an example of an actual influenza vaccination conversation, informed by Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation conversation principles.
Counting the toll of COVID
Experts recently called on Australian governments to re-set COVID policy, warning that unmitigated transmission of the virus in the community has a substantial impact on priority populations including the elderly and immunocompromised. In addition, concerns were raised about the impact on health services, particularly for Aboriginal health services in the NT, Long COVID prevalence and an increase in overall mortality.
The World Health Organization also recently urged governments to remain vigilant and strengthen systems for surveillance, clinical care, testing, sequencing, infection prevention and control, treatments and vaccinations. Meanwhile, the latest analysis of excess deaths by Australia’s Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 Mortality Working Group suggests the high toll of COVID-19 is set to continue.
In 2022, mortality was 12% higher than our pre-pandemic expectations; that is, there were around 20,000 more deaths than expected across Australia. Around half of these were caused by COVID-19, and another 15% had COVID-19 as a contributing factor. COVID-19 was the third most prevalent cause of death in 2022, after heart disease and dementia and above stroke and lung cancer. Research has shown that there is an increased risk of death from certain conditions after a COVID-19 infection. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia, most of which saw significantly higher than expected mortality in 2022, even after excluding deaths where COVID-19 was listed as a contributory factor.
COVID-19 shows no sign of going away or becoming less serious. It is a new major cause of illness and death in the Australian population, which reduced life expectancy in Australia by around one year of life in 2022.
To view the Croakey Health Media article Counting the toll of COVID in full click here.
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 2023
Today is the fourth day of Dietitians Week 2023 and as part of raising awareness of the role and value of dietitians, today we are sharing a another case study published on the Indigenous Allied Health Australia website.
Amelia Mckenzie, is a proud Adnyamathanha and Arabana woman, from Port Augusta, SA, currently based in Adelaide, studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Flinders University. Amelia said she decided to pursue Dietetics, firstly, because she is a foodie, enjoys cooking and eating a wide variety of foods, and is incredibly passionate about health. Amelia has witnessed the impact that diet can have on health, especially in Aboriginal communities, which made her determined to enter this field so she can provide best, culturally safe care to mob. Amelia wants to work in community settings to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent diet-related chronic diseases like Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease.
Amelia believes dietitians have a crucial role in health, providing individuals and communities with specialised diet support that can; reduce or manage chronic disease; encourage the enjoyment of food, and its connection to culture, family and personal preference or values; be suited to socioeconomic status and day-to-day importance’s; support other areas of health, like promoting exercise and physical and mental wellbeing. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Amelia said, should have adequate access to dietetics services, education, and related resources, to support good health.
To view the IAHA’s article Celebrating 2023 Dietitians Week with IAHA Member Amelia Mckenzie in full click here.