NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Walgett water insecurity rivals Bangladesh

boy holding bottled drinking water; text 'Survey finds Walgett mob have higher rate of water insecurity than in Bangladesh'

The image in the feature tile is of Dale Dennis, 7, who cannot drink the high sodium tap water in his own home as he lives with a kidney condition that causes his body to swell if he relapses. Photo: Shaun Kingma. Image source: ABC News.

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.

Walgett water insecurity rivals Bangladesh

Imagine living in a first-world country and being too frightened to drink tap water. This is the reality for Indigenous residents in the north-west NSW town of Walgett, a community that has been living off emergency bore water for roughly five years. A water security survey of 250 First Nations people living in Walgett found 44% reported being worried about getting safe drinking water — a higher rate of water insecurity than in Bangladesh and similar to First Nations communities in Canada.

“The salt levels [in the water] are about 15 times higher than what’s recommended for people with kidney failure and renal problems,” UNSW Water Research Lab’s Dr Martin Andersen said. Dr Andersen also added that people with diabetes and heart issues should avoid drinking salty water for extended periods. “If you do have pre-existing medical conditions in terms of high blood pressure or kidney failure, you shouldn’t be drinking those levels of salt in your drinking water.” Australian Bureau of Statistics data from the 2021 Census shows  a third of residents living with renal, heart and/diabetes in Walgett are Indigenous, despite First Nations people making up only 21% of the Local Government Area’s population.

For more than five years, the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service, the Dharriwaa Elders Group and some residents have expressed concerns about the potential effect on community health.

To read the ABC News article The Australian town where water insecurity is felt more than some communities in Bangladesh in full click here.

Bow, from Dharriwaa Elders Group, collects bottled water from various suppliers throughout the day

Bow, from Dharriwaa Elders Group, collects bottled water from various suppliers throughout the day. Photo: Shaun Kingma, ABC News.

Season 2 of BLA.C.K Medicine podcast

BLA.C.K. Medicine is an SBS NITV podcast about health issues that are important to First Nations people. In this new season of the podcast, host and creator of the BLA.C.K Medicine podcast, Bundjalung woman and gynaecology and obstetrics registrar Dr Mikayla Couch chats with First Nations doctors and health care professionals about a broad range of health topics relevant to Indigenous Australians.

In this series, the second season of the podcast, Mikayla talks to First Nations health professionals about health issues that are important to our people including medicines, closing the gap, awesome new initiatives, and how you can improve your own health.

To access the SBS NITV Radio webpage Introducing season 2 of BLA.C.K Medicine click here.
purple tile, Aboriginal dot painting, text 'SBS BLA.C.K. Medicine with Dr Mikayla Couch

Clothing the Gaps making BIG changes

Clothing the Gaps, an Aboiginal-led and controlled, and a majority Aboriginal-owned social enterprise, is one of the hottest Indigenous clothing brands in the Australia. Having only been in operation for a few years, the organisation has built a massive, engaged online following, been instrumental in liberating the Aboriginal Flag, and continues to spark conversations wherever their items are worn.

But the company never intended to become what it is today. Fashion was the last thing on the co-founders’ minds when they started up a secondary outlet to financially support their main objective: improving the health and improving the health of Indigenous people across the country.

Having expanded rapidly during the pandemic, the brand is now at the forefront of national conversations about equality, representation, and ethical capitalism. Plus, their clothing is just very, very cool.

“We had always created merchandise as a bit of a carrot for people wanting to participate in our programs. When COVID-19 hit, we couldn’t run the grassroots community activations anymore,” Clothing the Gaps CEO Gunditjmara woman Laura Thompson said.

To view The Latch article Clothing the Gaps: The Indigenous Fashion Label Making Big Changes click here.

Research boost for chronic disease prevention

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney, says $5.7m in research grants has been awarded to four projects aiming to foster research partnerships between institutions in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region and improve health outcomes for chronic conditions.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, chronic respiratory disease, heart disease and diabetes, are the leading cause of death worldwide and present a huge threat to health and development, particularly in low and middle-income countries. The collaborative projects, funded through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) through the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, will enable knowledge-sharing and capacity building for better health and wellbeing outcomes.

To view the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney MP’s media release Research boost for chronic disease prevention in the Asia-Pacific click here.

NCDs are non-infectious in nature and thus do not spread like communicable diseases. Most NCDs are chronic and last for a longer period of time. NCDs account for approximately 71% of global deaths. NCDs may occur due to lifestyle as well as genetic factors. Thus, some of them are also termed lifestyle diseases. The risk factors for NCDs are mostly poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, smoking, alcohol consumption and stress.

The above information is from the BYJU’s webpage Non-communicable Diseases – Types and Prevention available here.

vector images of heart, cancer ribbon, lungs, diabetes; text: Non-Communicable Diseases; image of researcher in lab

Four most common non-communicable diseases. Image source: BYJUS’s website. Laboratory image source: The Conversation.

Grants to strengthen SA ACCO sector

A new State Government grants program will build the capacity of SA Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) delivering important services to Aboriginal people and communities in SA. The South Australian ACCO Fund 23-24 is a Closing the Gap initiative established in partnership with the SA Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation Network (SAACCON).

ACCOs will be able to apply for grants of up to $150,000 across five funding rounds in 2023-24, totalling $2.7m. Building the Aboriginal community-controlled sector is one of four key priority reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Applications for the first round will be open for six weeks, from Tuesday 11 April to Thursday 18 May 2023.

To view the SA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Kyam Maher MLC’s media release Grants to strengthen South Australia’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector in full click here.

SA Community Controlled Organisation Network (SAACCON) logo

Image source: SAACON website.

Significant gap in hepatitis B care in Victoria

The most prevalent blood-borne virus in Australia, chronic hepatitis B (CHB), poses a significant challenge for the public health system, with almost a third of Australians living with the contagious disease estimated to be undiagnosed. A new study by researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) has found that disparities in care for CHB across the country will contribute to more deaths linked to CHB in most states and territories if improvements are not made.

Using a mathematical model of CHB in Australia, combined with data from Medicare and the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS), the researchers estimated the number of people with CHB who were diagnosed, engaged in care, and receiving treatment in each state and territory. They found that, while there was a considerable increase in engagement in care and antiviral treatment in NSW and the NT, significant gaps in the cascade of care were observed in Victoria and Tasmania due to a lack of diagnosis.

Epidemiologist and Program Manager at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis at the Doherty Institute, Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Nicole Romero, said that improving care for CHB in each state and territory will require a tailored approach. “There are real inequities across Australia in the response to hepatitis B, with the proportion of people living with it and diagnosed ranging from less than 60 per cent to almost 80 per cent, and treatment uptake ranging from 7% to 13%across jurisdictions,” Ms Romero said.

To view the Doherty Institute article Significant gap in hepatitis B care in Victoria due to lack of diagnosis in full click here.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *