NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Stillbirth, miscarriage bereavement support

heart shaped rock with Aboriginal dot painting in pink, yellow, orange sitting on other grey rocks; test ' $5m to support high-risk communities for stillbirth and miscarriage with bereavement care'

The image in the feature tile is from an article Reducing stillbirth among Aboriginal families published in The Hippocratic Post on 10 November 2021.

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.

Stillbirth, miscarriage bereavement care support

Content warning: This article contains reference to stillbirth and miscarriage. Please refer to the services at the bottom of this article for support.

The Albanese Labor Government has awarded more than $5m in grants to organisations to support high quality bereavement care to women and families following stillbirth or miscarriage. Each day in Australia, six babies are born stillborn and two die before they are 28 days old, equating to around 3,000 perinatal deaths per year. Up to one in five confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks.

Bereavement care will be targeted to women and families from higher-risk population groups who have experienced stillbirth or miscarriage, and the health professionals assisting them.

While any pregnancy can result in stillbirth or miscarriage, rates remain higher among specific groups, including First Nations people, culturally and linguistically diverse families, refugee and migrant communities, women and families living in rural and remote areas, and women under 20 years old.

You can also view the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Malarndirri McCarthy’s joint media release Support for high-risk communities for stillbirth and miscarriage bereavement care in full here.

hands holding another's hands, hospital setting

Image source: Queensland Health’s Helping families through the grief and loss of stillbirth webpage.

If this article brought up anything for you or someone you love, please reach out to, call or visit the online resources listed below for support:

13YARN – 13 92 76,

Lifeline – 13 11 14,

Funding for Arnhem Land health programs

University of Melbourne Dr Hasthi Dissanayake, a Research Fellow in Indigenous Health at the Doherty Institute, has secured a NE Arnhem Land Atlantic Philanthropies Incentive Grant to collaboratively develop programs aiming to improve the long-term health and nutrition of people living in remote communities in northeast Arnhem Land. Over the past couple of years, Dr Dissanayake and her colleagues in the Biggs Group worked with Yolŋu Elders in NE Arnhem Land.

“We evaluated the impact of a community-developed and led nutrition and lifestyle program on cardiometabolic health. And we were excited to see that preliminary data show promising results” Dr Dissanayake said. Building on the success of this project and thanks to this grant, Dr Dissanayake is now turning her attention to spark a community movement that empowers Yolŋu leaders to coordinate efforts to effect real change in blood sugar levels in the community.

“The rates of type 2 diabetes are very high in remote Indigenous communities. With this grant, we will determine community acceptance and barriers people may have in sustaining lifestyle changes and help develop a community Nutrition Action group. The Yolŋu-led action group will support decision-making to reduce sugar consumption in community, as well as advocate for nutrition and lifestyle focused infrastructure and community activities,” Dr Dissanayake said.

To view the Doherty Institute article New funding supports community-led health program in Arnhem Land in full click here.

2 Aboriginal children & adult woman sitting with variety of vegetable dishes

Image source: Hope for Health, Arnhem Land Facebook page 29 March 2023.

Young mob swim program success

A group of 23 First Nation youths from Liverpool have learnt how to swim in a free program thanks to an aquatic centre’s Return and Earn program. For the first time, Laura has been given the life changing opportunity of learning how to swim thanks to a free community program. The 13-year-old is one of 23 First Nation youths in Liverpool who have learnt the crucial skill at the Marumali Swim Program, delivered by the Michael Wenden Aquatic Centre in partnership with Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Belgravia Leisure NSW area manager Alex Simmons said the program was created after they identified a need to increase the accessibility and swimming skills of First Nation kids. “The children learnt increased swimming ability and confidence, basic swimming skills such as floating and increased knowledge of water safety and rescue techniques,” he said.

Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council health promotion worker Brandon Brown said  “It’s been a huge success so far. It’s important for our young people to learn to swim [in a culturally safe environment] well so they are safe in the water and it’s also a great way to keep active and healthy,” he said.

The above story was taken from the article Why First Nation youth swimming lessons at Michael Wenden Aquatic Centre have been a success published today in The Daily Telegraph, available here.

he First Nation children at the Michael Wenden Aquatic Centre

he First Nation children at the Michael Wenden Aquatic Centre. Image source: The Daily Telegraph.

Financial incentives to quit smoking

South Australians will be offered financial incentives to quit smoking and vaping as part of a ground-breaking trial in Adelaide’s northern suburbs aimed at supporting people to give up smoking and e-cigarettes to improve their health. The Incentive to Quit trial is the first government-funded program of its kind in Australia to offer incentives in the form of supermarket vouchers to smokers and e-cigarette users for reaching key milestones in their journey to become smoke or vape-free.

Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) has partnered with Northern Adelaide Aboriginal Health, known as Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health, for the trial, which prioritises reducing smoking in high prevalence groups. Participants can earn up to $150 in supermarket vouchers during the program based on how long they go without smoking or vaping and by accessing support services such as Quitline.

The program is initially focussed on supporting Aboriginal people to quit and will also soon be offered to other groups including those with heart and lung conditions and mental health conditions. The trial, which will run until the end of June 2024, has been prompted by evidence which shows the effectiveness of incentive programs to support people to quit smoking.

To view The National Tribune article Financial incentives on offer in SA to quit smoking in full click here. You can also read the SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Chris Picton MP’s media release Financial incentives on offer in SA to quit smoking in full here.

hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: Cancer Council NSW.

Remote dialysis to end long treks for treatment

Kidney failure may not be fatal, but for people in remote communities it can feel that way when they are forced to travel thousands of kilometres for treatment. Yanyuwa woman Carol Charlie has spent the last six years in Darwin, nearly 1,000 km from her home in the Gulf of Carpentaria, so she can access this necessary treatment. Yet plans for new renal dialysis units in six remote communities across Australia could change things for Ms Charlie and others living with chronic kidney disease.

“So many First Nations people in particular suffer from this dreadful disease,” senator Malarndirri McCarthy told journalists yesterday. “When kidney disease progresses to end stage, dialysis is essential – but it comes with a huge mental, economic and emotional toll when patients have to leave family and country. We want to make sure that they can get home to country and be able to live on country and know that they don’t have to be in the larger capital cities.”

Indigenous Australians are treated for kidney failure at seven times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. They are also four times as likely to die from chronic kidney disease and are less likely to be able to access kidney transplants, in part due to systemic geographical barriers in accessing care and services. The new dialysis chairs and infrastructure will be rolled out in three communities in the NT, including Ms Charlie’s home of Borroloola. The units will be administered by the Alice Springs-based Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation, also known as Purple House.

To view the AAP article Remote dialysis to end long treks for outback patients in full click here.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney talking to media about new remote renal dialysis units

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said the units could change things for remote patients. Photo: Annette Lin, AAP.

Meeting health needs in the East Pilbara

WA registered nurse Mel Robinson visited Newman in the East Pilbara from 13-18 March to learn about the challenges and solutions in meeting local healthcare needs. Ms Robinson, who currently works in Perth, is the Director Aboriginal Health at Child and Adolescent Health Service and has connections to Gidja and Ngarinyin Country in the Kimberley (WA).

The Putukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) General Practitioner (GP) invited Ms Robinson to visit the remote communities as a part of the GP clinics that happen once a month. The communities are very isolated and in the wet season (November to March) as they can sometimes be isolated by floods if there are rivers nearby.

The first community Ms Robinson visited was the largest called Jigalong, this community is two hour’s drive from Newman. Jigalong and other communities in the area are managed by remote area nurses employed by PAMS. February to March is traditional lore time meaning which means many Aboriginal children and young people may not be able to attend appointments due to cultural obligations.

To view the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal article Meeting the health needs for Aboriginal people in the East Pilbara in full click here.

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