NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Community-controlled housing is ‘life-changing’

feature tile image of Elisabeth Barber & Nathaniel Walsh - long-term housing residents of Dale Parker Place; text 'Having a safe, reliable place to call HOME affects health of people and communities across generations'

The image in the feature tile is of Elisabeth Barber and Nathaniel Walsh, who are long-term housing residents of Dale Parker Place (DPP). DPP is supported accommodation for single males, single females, and couples without children who are experiencing homelessness and are currently sleeping rough or chronically homeless to attain independent, sustainable housing and participate within the community. Image source: Yumba-Meta Limited website Case Studies webpage, available here.

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.

Community-controlled housing is ‘life-changing’

Yumba-Meta Ltd in Townsville, Queensland is a community-controlled organisation that has delivered comprehensive support programs for 50 years to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This includes short-term accommodation, such as for people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, or people at risk of incarceration due to intoxication. Medium to long-term housing options include community home ownership, seniors’ housing, and transitional housing to facilitate employment, education or to break the cycle of addiction.

A collaborative research project with Yumba-Meta, which will be released mid-year for Yumba-Meta’s 50th anniversary, explores the power of home and how services can support intergenerational wellbeing. The research found a sense of pride is instilled when families and individuals have a home – somewhere grandchildren can visit, a place where young people can learn from Elders, and a safe place to go. With safe and affordable housing, health was found to improve over time, especially for older generations who have struggled in the past with housing issues such as chronic overcrowding, and racism that prevents Indigenous people renting and purchasing homes in Townsville.

To view The Conversation article ‘Life changing’ – what 50 years of community-controlled housing at Yumba-Meta tells us about home and health in full click here.

AMA: sugar tax needed to curb obesity and chronic disease

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is continuing its call for a tax on sugary drinks to curb the nation’s growing obesity and chronic disease. Data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) this week reveals that obesity continues to be a major public health issue in Australia and is the second biggest modifiable risk factor contributing to disease burden in Australia after tobacco. The AIHW analysis reveals that almost two in three Australians will be overweight or obese by 2030, and obesity will result in 13,400 preventable deaths.

AMA President Professor Stephen Robson said this latest analysis is just more evidence that Australia needs to be proactive in dealing with the obesity crisis, and a tax on sugary drinks would be a step in the right direction. “We know that frequent consumption of sugary drinks is associated with obesity and chronic disease. Evidence from overseas shows that a sugar tax is an effective way to reduce sugar consumption and improve health outcomes,” Professor Robson said.

The public health chapter of AMA’s Pre-Budget Submission 2023–24 launched today outlines how a tax would have a positive impact on health outcomes and the upcoming budget. “Our analysis projects this tax would reduce consumption by 31% by 2025–26, and is estimated to result in 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4,400 fewer cases of heart disease, and 1,100 fewer cases of stroke. It is a simple but effective way to improve the lives of Australians.” Professor Robson said the tax would also result in government revenue of $2.8 billion across four years, which could be reinvested back into preventative health, at a time where government is looking for savings in the upcoming budget.

In comments made in 2018, on the priorities for inclusion in the 2018-2023 Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan AMSANT said a tax on sugar has been shown to be effective in reducing consumption and is projected to lead to the biggest health gains, particularly for people on the lowest incomes. Similarly NACCHO proposed in its 2021–22 Pre-Budget Submission, available here, that the Commonwealth introduce a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with the revenue accrued redirected back into a subsidy on fresh fruit and vegetables back into communities where the impact is greatest.

You can read the AMA’s media release Sugar tax: a sweet deal for public health and the upcoming federal budget in full here, the AMA Pre-Budget submission 2023–24 chapter about a tax on sugary drinks here, the AIHW report mentioned in the media release here. You can also visit the Sickly Sweet campaign website here for more information on the AMA’s sugar tax campaign.

banner from AMA's #Sickly Sweet campaign webpage - 2 softdrink bottles black content, red label with AMA logo & text 'Sickly Sweet'; also text 'sugary drinks are making us sick. It's time we do something about it'

Image source: AMA #Sickly Sweet campaign webpage.

Have you say on HTA – medicines and medical services

Supporting access to medicines and medical services

All ACCHO sector staff are invited to participate in a free webinar hosted by NACCHO and the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Office of Health Technology Assessment.

Topics include:

  • How do communities get access to medicines, medical products and services?
  • Medicines and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC): How does it work?
  • Medical products and services and the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC): How does it work?
  • NACCHO’s consultation and advocacy activities in Health Technology Assessment
  • How can ACCHOs get more involved in Health Technology Assessment?

Panel members include NACCHO representatives and experts from PBS and MBS committees.

The webinar ‘Have your say on HTA – Getting involved with the funding of medicines and medical services’ will be held this Thursday 4 May.

If you miss this week’s webinar, you can register here: for the second webinar which will be held from 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM (AEST) on Thursday 11 May 2023.

If you have any questions, please contact Mike Stephens via email here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

For further information you can visit the NACCHO webpage Have your say on HTA – getting involved with the funding of medicines and medical services here.

tile NACCHO logo; text 'Access to medicines and medical services - Have your say on HTA - 11 May 12.30pm-1.45pm (AEST)


Health updates to keep your mob safe

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC) has produced a newsletter providing key health updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and stakeholders. In the Key updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – March 2023 edition you can find out about :

  • Recommendations from ATAGI regarding COVID-19 boosters
  • Using EVA – Easy Vaccine Access
  • Healthy Deadly Lunchbox
  • Safe sex and sexual health
  • Strong Born
  • Updated resources

You can access the DHAC wepage Key updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – March 2023 here and the Health updates to keep your mob safe. newsletter here.

Key updates for ATSI communities - Mar 2023 newsletter header - Aboriginal art; text 'March 2023, Health Updates, Health updates to keep your mob safe'

Partnership to help boost Indigenous doctors

The University of Notre Dame Australia is proud to partner with St John of God Health Care to help increase the number of Indigenous doctors working in Australia’s healthcare system. Under the partnership, St John of God has provided $160,000 in scholarship funding that will support four of the University’s Indigenous medical students over the four years of their postgraduate degree program.

Head of Notre Dame’s School of Medicine, Professor Gervase Chaney, said the University was proud to partner with an organisation like St John of God Health Care, which had a determination to improve Aboriginal representation in the health system. “Currently only about 0.5% of Australia’s registered doctors are Indigenous, which equates to only about 500 across the country,” Professor Chaney said. “To reach population parity, the figure needs to grow to about 3,500, or seven times the current number. “The tragedy of such low representation is that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will never have had the pleasure of being treated by a doctor who shares and truly understands their social and cultural background.

Past recipient Rosie said the funding allowed her to pay for her Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency registration, get a new passport and reunite with her brothers who live in the Eastern States. “I was also able to pay for my brothers to attend my graduation ball when they returned at the end of the year,” Rosie said. “This was a monumental occasion for our entire family as the first doctor, and the first woman to attend university on both sides of my family.”

To view The University of Notre Dame Australia article Partnership to help boost Indigenous doctors in full click here.

Aboriginal medical graduates. Image source: The University of Notre Dame Australia website.

Clinical placements needed to grow nursing workforce

Universities would welcome the opportunity to have further discussions with government around ways to boost the nursing workforce to improve access to primary care, as recently agreed by National Cabinet. “We are very supportive of the government’s commitment to make healthcare more accessible for all Australians,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.

“In practice, this is easier said than done. Australia already has a shortfall of nurses and modelling shows that this will get worse with a further 85,000 nurses needed by 2025. “Our universities graduate around 16,000 nurses each year. This is well short of demand. “Part of the problem is not having enough clinical placements in the system so that students can complete the qualifications needed to proceed to professional registration.

“Universities are reliant on health service providers to deliver placements for students. We cannot educate more nurses without more – and the right type of – clinical placements. It’s also vital that our sector has a voice in health workforce planning and policy discussions. Education experiences in universities have substantial impacts on workforce outcomes and skill development.”

To view the Universities Australia article More clinical placements needed to grow nursing workforce 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.

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