NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: AMA: pharmacy prescribing models flawed

feature tile image: medicine bottle, tablets on bench & blister packs; text 'AMA launches You Deserve More campaign highlighting flaws in pharmacy prescribing models'

The image in the feature tile is from an article Health minister responds to AMA President’s letter on pharmacy trials published on the AMA’s 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.

AMA: pharmacy prescribing models flawed

The AMA today launched its You deserve more campaign, highlighting the flaws in go-it-alone pharmacy prescribing models and outlining solutions to access and affordability issues that will make a real difference to Australians, without putting their health and safety at risk.  


AMA President Professor Steve Robson said patients deserve more than trials that threaten safety, fragment care, and undermine Australia’s world-class health system. “Governments should be investing in evidence-based solutions to improve access to general practice and affordability of medicines,” Professor Robson said.  “Patients deserve access to the full range of treatments and holistic doctor-led care, rather than being treated as customer at a counter. They deserve the care of someone who has the qualifications to properly diagnose them, who can take the time to ensure they get the best health outcomes.”  

Professor Robson said international evidence does not support autonomous pharmacy prescribing, which is being rolled out in several states and territories, often with no appropriate trial or governance. “We’ve looked at comparable countries and Australia is an outlier in progressing with autonomous pharmacy prescribing. “Allowing pharmacists to unilaterally prescribe medicines has the real potential to harm patients and turns on its head the time-honoured principles of separating prescribing and dispensing to prevent conflicts of interest.”

To view the AMA media release Go-it-alone pharmacists’ prescribing not the answer to GP shortages in full click here. The below video in from the AMA’s You deserve more campaign webpage, available here.

Calls to extend Aboriginal housing program

Shannon Kennedy was living out of his car and struggling with declining mental health when he received a lifeline. The 33-year-old Tatti Tatti and Mutti Mutti man admits he was “always on the run” — not knowing where here he would get his next meal or whether he would be dry that night. It was at this point Mr Kennedy was accepted into a program offering him stable, affordable housing. Mr Kennedy has moved into a one-bedroom unit and has a secure full-time job.

He has since become an accidental advocate for housing support programs and is concerned at the news that a program helping First Nations people with housing issues could be axed. The Victorian Public Tenants Association (VPTA) has urged the state government to renew funding for a pilot program that has helped Aboriginal Australians avoid homelessness. According to the VPTAFirst Nations people are 15 times more likely to be homeless, due to racism, dispossession of land, and economic disadvantage.

Katelyn Butters, chief executive of the VPTA, said there was a huge demand for her organisation’s program, which had helped dozens of people like Mr Kennedy. “In Victoria, 40% of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are living in some kind of social housing, compared with 3 to 4% of people in [the rest of the] population,” she said. “Before this program, there was nowhere for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members to turn to for free, confident, and culturally safe housing advice that was also independent,” Ms Butters said. “The demand was evident immediately … we need to see this program ongoing.”

To view the ABC News article Calls to extend Aboriginal housing program to stop people ‘falling through the cracks’ in full click here.

Shannon Kennedy wearing Deadly Choices shirt standing in bushland

Mr Kennedy says too many young Aboriginal men are homeless and need help. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria.

UNSW and ACCHO strengthen relationship

On National Close the Gap Day this year (16 March), the University of NSW’s (UNSW) Rural Clinical Campus in Albury conducted a Reconciliation and Relationship event with Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS), recognising the importance of their partnership. AWAHS is a non-profit organisation that was developed to cater for the primary health care needs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families. UNSW and AWAHS have been partnering to enable student cultural education and build clinical expertise when caring for and treating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. This type of training for doctors and health workers is critical to addressing systemic health inequity.

Looking forward, UNSW is looking to integrate more opportunities for students to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and health care. With the support of AWAHS, UNSW is expanding its teaching program at the Rural Clinical Campus to include a 2-day cultural education workshop and are also identifying opportunities to increase the frequency of medical student placements with AWAHS.

In the near future, a pilot longitudinal placement program for Year 3 medical students will commence at AWAHS, providing students the opportunity to engage in longer term care. It is anticipated the student experience and learning within this program will encourage more medical students to consider a career as a rural doctor whilst also graduating with a deeper knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care.

To view the UNSW Sydney article Reconciliation & Relationship: strengthening UNSW’s partnership with Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service in full click here.

Uncle Sam Wickman, Year 5 medical student Megan Torpey & Dr Mark Norden (Director of Medical Education, UNSW Rural Clinical Campus, Albury)

Uncle Sam Wickman, Year 5 medical student Megan Torpey & Dr Mark Norden (Director of Medical Education, UNSW Rural Clinical Campus, Albury). Photo: Julianne Weatherly. Image source: UNSW Sydney website.

Workforce strategy takes big step forward

The Townsville University Hospital’s (TUH) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workplace Strategy has taken a big step forward with the launch of a new leadership program. The program, dubbed Integrating Two Worlds, is targeted at First Nations staff members and aimed at helping them grow their leadership skills.

TUH’s principal of organisational development Nick Steele said the program’s first two-day workshop had been a resounding success. “The health service recently launched its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy and one goal was to develop an educational program which could shape the skills and expertise of our First Nations staff,” Mr Steele said.

“We partnered with the Department of Health and consulted with our First Nations colleagues to design this program which aims to help these emerging leaders succeed. We want our First Nations staff to thrive and have a voice in improving our service not just locally, but across the state. Our first two-day iteration of the workshop was a success and I’m looking forward to seeing more of our staff participate, grow and thrive as future leaders.” Indigenous liaison officer Niskarski Kina, who is one of the staff members who participated in the program said, “I always come back to my why, and I do this for my mob and my community.”

The above has been extracted from the Townsville Bulletin article Townsville University Hospital workplace strategy for ATSI workers takes step forward, available here.

Patient Services Officer Julie Raciti, and Indigenous liaison officers Marayah Taylor and Niskarski Kina

Patient Services Officer Julie Raciti, and Indigenous liaison officers Marayah Taylor and Niskarski Kina. Image source: Townsville Bulletin.

Addressing rural healthcare workforce shortages

The Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) facilitated a Service Access Round Table in response to the challenges faced in recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals in Nhill, Victoria and surrounding areas. Health professionals, health organisations, the local council, and the community gathered last month on 28 March to find innovative solutions to recruit and retain doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals in rural areas, with challenges including limited access to housing, childcare, and supervision.

The round table identified several needs in Nhill and the surrounding area, including a significant need for increased FTE for many healthcare disciplines, particularly GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, geriatricians, and allied health professionals.

All these actions are being actively worked on by the Round Table attendees, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Victoria, Hindmarsh Shire Council, West Wimmera Health, Rural Doctors Nhill Medical Centre, Alliance Pharmacy Nhill, Nhill Neighbourhood Learning Centre and the Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative and facilitated where possible by RWAV.

The above story was taken from The Wimmera Mail-Times article Nhill Service Access Round Table addresses rural healthcare workforce shortages, available here. In the below video Dr Gabby Hall talks about the locum services she provides, its impact on local communities and the support she receives from RWAV to be placed at Aboriginal Health Services in rural and remote Victoria.

Push for AOD service for Tamworth

The push for Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) services to be delivered in Tamworth is gaining momentum. Uniting Church’s Fair Treatment campaign visited the city earlier this week with the social justice lead at Uniting Alex Hogan and the campaign team unveiling a new pledge of support. The push to expand services in Tamworth kicked off in 2021 following a successful campaign in Dubbo which will see a rehabilitation centre built.

It’s “important” that people in rural and regional areas like Tamworth are able to heal and find support at home, in their communities, with their families, friends and support networks, Ms Hogan said. The lack of AOD services is felt across regional and rural NSW, she said.

Yesterday a special briefing was held with a representative from Hunter New England Health and hosted by Tamworth Aboriginal Medical Service (TAMS) to reveal what the current state and what that means for Tamworth residents. A pledge was a strong component of the Dubbo campaign that showed key decision makers how much support was in the community, Ms Hogan said. Results of a survey show local support for detox, a residential rehab, and wraparound support for families, as well as the individual experiencing drug dependency and, a clear desire for services that celebrate the culture of First Nations people.

The above was extracted from the The Northern Daily Leader article Uniting Church’s ‘Fair Treatment’ campaign visits Tamworth to push for expanded Alcohol and Other Drugs services article, available here.

Social justice lead and member of the Uniting Church's Fair Treatment campaign Alex Hogan speaking

Social justice lead and member of the Uniting Church’s Fair Treatment campaign Alex Hogan is pushing for Alcohol and Other Drugs services in Tamworth. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.

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