NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: PSA launches health care position statement

feature tile; image ATSI man & woman speaking to pharmacist; text 'PSA ATSI people's Healthcare Position Statement drafted in consultation with NACCHO'

The image in the feature tile is from an article Concerns Queensland pharmacy trials will ‘widen the gap’ published in the RACGP newsGP on 24 February 2022. Image source: APP photos.

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.

PSA launches health care position statement

On Friday last week The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) launched its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health care position statement, which is says recognises culturally safe care and equity of health care access as critical drivers to improving health outcomes. The statement was drafted in consultation with the NACCHO, reaffirming the importance of genuine partnerships and shared decision-making.

In collaboration, PSA and NACCHO have pioneered onsite pharmacists within their network, a program that has been successful. The PSA says it will continue to work to make this service available to as many patients as possible. The PSA said it values its ongoing collaborative relationship with NACCHO and is committed to the principles of community control and self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In co-design with NACCHO, the PSA said it has delivered key initiatives including the Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease Management (IPAC)  trial and development of the Deadly Pharmacists Foundation Training Course to equip pharmacists with the skills needed to work within ACCHOs.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS said that the statement demonstrates pharmacists’ commitment to enhancing the life expectancy, health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “The 2022 Closing the Gap Annual Report highlighted that the target to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation, while trending in a positive direction, is not on track.

To view the APP medianet. article Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health care statement advocates for improved equity of access in full click here.

PSA Twitter tile, PSA logo, Aboriginal dot painint navy, mauve, tan, blue & text 'ATSI people's health care position statement'

Twitter PSA post 14 April 2023.

Elder abuse program hailed a success

In independent review has hailed the success of two programs run in partnership by two local organisations to combat elder abuse. The programs, run by Eastern Health and the Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC), have been earmarked for expansion. A launch at Eastern Health’s Box Hill office was attended by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Wednesday 12 April to release the report into the first three years of the Engaging and Living Safely and Autonomously (ELSA) and Rights of Seniors in the East (ROSE) programs.

ECLC partnered with Eastern Health to launch ELSA and ROSE in 2019, and the programs “have achieved their goals to the highest possible levels” and support the adaption of the ELSA and ROSE models to other geographical locations and their continuation and expansion” according to the report. Eastern Health CEO David Plunkett said “One key aspect that is discussed at length in this report is collaboration with community partners. We know the needs of our community are changing, in fact the proportion of our population over 85 years is set to grow by 75% by the year 2036.”

The ROSE program features a community lawyer, elder abuse advocate, and financial counsellor to respond to older people experiencing or at risk of abuse, working in partnership with Oonah Health and Community Services Aboriginal Corporation and other community partners.

To read the Star Mail article Elder abuse program partnership hailed a success by independent review in full click here. The video below from the Queensland Government’s Stop Elder Abuse campaign, available here.

Spare by cyclone but evacuees unable to return

Severe Tropical Cyclone Ilsa has made its passage through WA but many evacuees from the Great Sandy Desert are yet to return home with remote communities cut off by floodwaters. Pilbara leaders are relieved remote communities went largely unscathed as Isla maintained her strength travelling inland. But authorities said it was difficult to predict when waters would recede, roads would dry out, and residents would be able to return home.

Inland communities such as Punmu and Parnngurr evacuated children and vulnerable residents ahead of Ilsa’s passage, while small numbers of remaining residents and staff sheltered in the limited cyclone-rated accommodation available. Martu leader Bruce Booth said people did the right thing by evacuating, but not being able to return to community was challenging.

To read the ABC News story Remote Indigenous communities spared by Cyclone Ilsa but evacuees unable to return home in full click here.

Road access to the remote community Punmu cut off after Cyclone Ilsa

Road access to the remote community Punmu has been cut off after Cyclone Ilsa. Photo: Edith Costello. Image source: ABC News.

Conference an attempt to solve NT housing crisis

Nine out of 10 people experiencing homelessness in the NT are Aboriginal. In an attempt to solve the housing crisis, Aboriginal Housing NT is hosting a three-day conference from Tuesday 18 April 2023. The group’s chief executive Skye Thompson said Indigenous people deserved sustainable long-term housing solutions. “We have got a lot of work to do, we want long term investment in our ACCOs to deliver the housing-related services to Aboriginal people,” she told AAP. “We know that they do it best for our people.”

Organisers are expecting about 200 delegates from around Australia to attend. Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney and Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy will address the conference. So too will heads of First Nations agencies, directors of corporations that serve Aboriginal homelands and community members. “It’s clear that if housing is neglected in remote communities, those issues can compound and come into major centres including Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs,” Senator McCarthy said.

To read the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader article ‘Work to do’: Aboriginal leaders want housing solutions in full click here.

Gwen Brown, 68, standing outside her tin shed house in Tennant Creek

Gwen Brown, 68, says her Tennant Creek home can become stiflingly hot during heatwaves. Photo: Gwen Brown. Image source ABC News.

2050: how’s our health system holding up?

So much of our day-to-day attention is focused on the problems facing healthcare systems now. Lifting our gaze to envision the likely future challenges – say in 2050 – can help set a course forward. In the first of a two-part series, Croakey editor Jennifer Doggett gazes into a health policy crystal ball, providing advice to the policymakers of today around five key themes: health financing; workforce; technology; climate and planetary health; and patient and community involvement in healthcare.

One example given in the article of changing primary healthcare teams is cohealth’s recent move towards making peer navigators a key role in healthcare teams. According to Dr Kim Webber, “Peer navigators understand the system and speak the language of both consumers and providers. They are the key people to join up the system, a role we currently expect GPs to perform but which does not usually occur. We can learn how this works from Aboriginal Health Workers here – they are ten years ahead of the rest of the health system.”

Australia clearly needs to establish a comprehensive health and aged care workforce planning process to set the foundation for a future health workforce that can meet our healthcare needs. Without robust planning and the political will to resist pressure from professional vested interest groups, the most likely scenario in 2030 will be a hyper-concentration of health professionals in areas of high income where they can generate supplier-induced demand. Meanwhile, many other areas, including disadvantaged communities and rural and regional areas, will have little or no access to healthcare.

To view the Croakey Health Media article It’s 2050. How is our health system holding up? in full click here.

Image source; AMA website.

Health workforce older and more female

Women made up 44% of medical practitioners in 2021, up from 41.6% five years before. In 2021 women made up 76.3% of the health practitioners across 15 health professions, a significant increase of 0.5% since 2016, and 44.4% of medical practitioners, with implications for workplace planning and sustainability. Research published in the Australian Health Review used AHPRA registration data to analyse 15 of the 16 regulated health professions between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2021. The total number of registered health professionals increased by 22% (141,161) to 784,421 in that time, and the number per 100,000 population increased by 14% from 2016.

“Demographic trends in the Australian health workforce parallel those in the broader population,” wrote the authors, led by Dr Sarah Anderson, AHPRA’s manager of research analytics and insights. “Some health professions have aged considerably since the mid-1980s … [and there have been] shifts towards feminisation in parts of the health workforce. “This presents unique workforce planning issues, such as the retention of practitioners approaching retirement age or experiencing age-related disabilities and the need to improve understanding of gender-sensitive, supportive working environments.”

There was a 32% growth in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, with 2.42 per 100,000 population in 2016 jumping to 3.19 in 2021. Almost 80% of them are female, a number that has remained steady of the study period.

To read the Medical Republic article Health workforce getting older and more female in full click here.

Derby's first Aboriginal GP Vinka Barunga at a hospital desk with stethoscope around her neck

Worrora woman Vinka Barunga is Derby’s first Aboriginal doctor. Image source: Pelican Magazine.

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