NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Taskforce on Indigenous Health meeting

feature tile Welcome to Country; text ' AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health backs importance of ACCHO model of holistic, culturally safe service delivery

The image in the feature tile is of a Welcome to Country from Ngunnawal Traditional Owner Mr Wally Bell on the land outside the AMA offices prior to the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health meeting. Image from article Taskforce on Indigenous Health meeting published on the AMA website on 30 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.

Taskforce on Indigenous Health meeting

The AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health met in Canberra on 24 March 2023. The taskforce co-chairs Professor Steve Robson and Dr Simone Raye from the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) were delighted to welcome special guest Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy to speak with the taskforce about her priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Key themes emerging from the meeting included partnership, collaboration, eliminating racism in the health sector, supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students, cultural safety training and the importance of ACCHOs as a model of self-determination and holistic, culturally safe health service delivery.

The taskforce membership is comprised of medical students, doctors in training and doctors from AIDA, AMA and the NACCHO.

To view the AMA article Taskforce on Indigenous Health meeting in full click here.

Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy

Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy. Image source: AMA website.

Major gathering to rethink remote NT housing

Key workers and stakeholders from across the nation’s Aboriginal housing sector will gather in Darwin in a fortnight for the inaugural NT Remote Housing and Homelands conference. The 3-day gathering is a chance to untangle complex issues of homelessness; crowded houses; impoverished homelands; and beleaguered town camps and community living areas.

The forum will reignite discussions and reinvigorate work toward a system of Aboriginal housing that meets the common goal: a sufficient supply of appropriate and affordable housing for Aboriginal people – delivered and managed by Aboriginal community organisations. Delegates will hear from commonwealth and territory ministers as well as senior managers and directors of government agencies, academics, community-controlled housing providers and residents.

The host for the forum is Aboriginal Housing NT (AHNT) Aboriginal Corporation, the NT peak body funded to help bring about systemic change. Its CEO, Skye Thompson, says: ‘Our role is to support all the players in this space. We support housing and related service providers to strengthen their capacity. We support the NT government to make good, transparent decisions as they invest in infrastructure for homelands and town camps. And we support everyone – including or especially residents – by hosting forums like this to exchange ideas and join forces. Together, we will level up Aboriginal housing.’

To view the AHNT media release Major gathering to rethink Aboriginal housing in full here.

exterior of Aboriginal housing in remote NT

Housing in remote Australia. Image source: The Conversation.

NT youth engagement in allied health initiative

A new initiative to inspire regional and remote First Nations youth to consider an allied health higher education pathway will be rolled out in the NT. Assistant Minister for Education and Regional Development Anthony Chisholm said the Flinders University-led project was one of two higher education outreach projects targeting regional and remote communities selected to share in $6.5m funding from the Australian Government.

“The Albanese Government wants to ensure all Australian’s have access to a high-quality education regardless of where they might live,” Senator Chisholm said. “This project will support outreach into remote and regional communities, so students can access new opportunities for further study and careers. Students will benefit from mentoring support, family engagement activities and opportunities to experience what it is like to work in an allied health setting.”

Senator Chisholm said Flinders University would collaborate with a range of community partners, including Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), to deliver the project across 2023 and 2024. “The project will ensure that local First Nations communities and organisations have a leading role through the establishment of a unique First Nations governance model,” Senator Chisholm said. “We know that we need more people studying allied health to fill skill shortages now and into the future.”

To view Senator the Hon Anthony Chisholm – Assistant Minister for Education and Assistant Minister for Regional Development’s media release Northern Territory Youth Engagement in Allied Health in full click here.

young woman wearing polo with NT Community Allied Health Team logo next to Aboriginal woman with walker

Nt Community Allied Health Team worker. Image source: NT Health Annual Report 2021–22.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

While innovation has the power to transform lives, we know that there are still many barriers to achieving equality and equity for women, particularly in higher education. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent approximately 1.8% of the total higher education student population. This underrepresentation becomes more apparent at the post graduate level. In 2020, there were just 586 Indigenous PhD students out of a total 58,110 PhD students across all Australian universities. This is just 1% of the overall domestic PhD cohort.

In Australia, June Oscar AO, Commissioner of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, has put a spotlight on Aboriginal women’s education. In the Commissioner’s Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report in 2020, learning and education are identified as central to leadership in social change for Indigenous women’s life outcomes.

Continued learning in adulthood is a powerful tool in achieving better health and socioeconomic advancement, while investing in the education of women strengthens economies and reduces inequalities. In fact, a mother’s education status is the single most important factor in their children’s life outcomes.

To view The University of Melbourne Pursuit article Sisters are doing it for themselves in full click here.

ATSI woman smiling in university graduate robes

Education is well recognised as a social determinant of health. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Young Deadly Free – Safe sex and sexual health

Sexual health is about looking after our bodies. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have higher rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs). It’s important to be informed so you can stop people in your community from getting sick.

The Young Deadly Free project aims to reduce rates of STIs and BBVs transmission in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by educating and encouraging regular testing. The website provides resources for young people, parents, Elders, and health professionals, with information grouped under the following headings:

  • What is an STI?
  • What is a BBV?
  • Using condoms
  • Sexual health checks – when was the last time you got tested?

To view the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpage Young Deadly Free – Safe sex and sexual health click here. On this webpage you will find a range of animations, including the one below, that can help explain the facts about STIs and BBVs in an engaging way that’s easy to understand, and not too confronting. These animations have been produced for young people to access directly via social media but they’re also great tools for community education.

Maternal unit funding follows damning review

Townsville Hospital will spend $2.8m a year to fix its under-funded and under-resourced high-risk maternity unit. The overloaded Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit is the only public high-risk maternity service outside of the SE corner of Queensland. The findings of a review into the service identified that mothers and babies were at risk “of adverse pregnancy outcomes” due to delays in care at the Townsville unit.

There are just two maternal fetal medicine specialists at the Townsville unit who care for the highest-risk and most complicated pregnancies in regional Queensland. Townsville Hospital and Health Service chair Tony Mooney said the board accepted all 11 recommendations including hiring additional staff to allow the unit to operate five days a week and a purpose-designed clinic.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes, who will oversee the implementation plan, said two additional maternal fetal medicine specialists would be recruited but he could not say how long that could take. “If they could be on board tomorrow that would be terrific, but we know specialist recruitment is particularly challenging especially for sub specialists like maternal fetal medicine services,” Mr Keyes said. He said a social worker, psychologist, and Indigenous health worker would also be employed.

To view the ABC News article More staff, funding allocated to Townsville maternal unit after damning review in full click here.

Townsville Maternal Fetal Medicine unit

Townsville Maternal Fetal Medicine unit. Photo: Tom Edwards. Image source: ABC News.

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.

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