NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CAAC to deliver Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs

feature tile image of young ATSI boy having an ear examination; text 'Central Australian Aboriginal Congress to deliver a new Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs'

The image in the feature tile is of a medical examination being undertaken at a Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) health service. Image source: CAAC website.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is 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.

CAAC to deliver Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs

The Commonwealth and NT Governments will establish two new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) in Palmerston and Alice Springs. The NT Government is in advanced stages of negotiations with the Palmerston GP Super Clinic to deliver the Urgent Care Clinic in Darwin and with Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to deliver the Urgent Care Clinic in Alice Springs.

These UCCs will provide bulk billed treatment for urgent but non-life-threatening emergencies. They will be open extended hours, seven days a week. The UCCs will reduce demand pressures on the Territory’s public hospitals and planning is underway in partnership with local primary health providers.

The UCCs will:

  • Improve access to urgent care in non-hospital settings, particularly for vulnerable groups including people with a disability, First Nations people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
  • Reduce the pressure on emergency department presentations in partner hospitals by providing patients with short term, episodic care for urgent conditions that are not immediately life-threatening.
  • Support integration with existing local health services and complement general practice.

These clinics will be up and running providing urgent care to the local communities by the middle of the year. Category 4 and 5 presentations, non-life-threatening emergencies, make up just over 40% of the total presentations to hospitals in the NT. Medicare UCCs will help make care closer to home possible.

To read the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of the NT and the Minister for Health and Aged Care’s joint media release Medicare urgent care clinics and new cancer treatment for the NT in full click here.

PM Albanese announcing Medicare UCCs in Darwin & Alice Springs

Mr Albanese in Darwin yesterday making the announcement about the new Medicare UCCs. Photo: Matt Garrick, ABC News.

Reform leads to increased PHC utilisation

Globally, Indigenous populations experience poorer health but use less primary healthcare than their non-Indigenous counterparts. In 2010, the Australian government introduced a targeted reform aimed at reducing these disparities. The reform reduced, or abolished prescription medicine co-payments and provided financial incentives for GPs to better manage chronic disease care for Indigenous peoples.

A study has been undertaken to investigate how the reform affected these health disparities in primary and specialist healthcare utilisation using longitudinal administrative data from 75,826 Australians, including 1,896 Indigenous peoples, with cardiovascular disease. The differences-in-differences estimates indicate that the reform increased primary healthcare use among Indigenous peoples, including 12.9% more prescription medicines, 6.6% more GP services, and 34% more chronic disease services, but also reduced specialist attendances by 11.8%.  Increases in primary care were larger for those who received the largest co-payment relief and lived in metropolitan regions, whereas the reduction in specialist attendances was concentrated among lower income Indigenous patients.

The study concluded that affirmative action can reduce disparities in healthcare utilisation however careful policy design, and ongoing evidence generation, is required to ensure that reform benefits are equitable, target populations of need, and do not lead to substitution away from valuable, or necessary, care.

To view the research article Does affirmative action reduce disparities in healthcare use by Indigenous peoples? Evidence from Australia’s Indigenous Practice Incentives Program in full click here.

ATSI man having a finger prick test in a health clinic

Image source: Choose Your Own Health Career website.

Human Experience Week about love, belonging and healing

Love, belonging and healing are the cornerstones of this year’s NSW Health Human Experience Week (1–7 May); a week co-designed by NSW Health staff and consumers that promises to immerse attendees in new ideas, innovation, with best practice reinforced and new information introduced. At Westmead Hospital yesterday Darug Nation Local Aboriginal woman, Erin Wilkins, opened the event with a Welcome to Country that reflected on the sensitivities and protocols required to cater to the needs of patients and staff from different cultural backgrounds to improve human experience and inclusion for all.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) chief executive, Graeme Loy, conveyed his appreciation for the district to be hosting such a critical NSW Health event and the scope of partnerships that makes up human experience which includes consumers, clinicians, carers, their family members, and staff. Mr Loy said “This morning’s session is underpinned by the impact of healthcare on the Stolen Generation and multiculturalism, which is very important to us in western Sydney, as we have the largest First Nations population in the state.”

WSLHD Aboriginal Health Strategy acting district director, Belinda Cashman, said “At WSLHD, we’re currently hearing what Aboriginal people have to say in our communities; we’re looking at a new maternity model of care; creating advisory communities, holding staff network meetings and engaging in a variety of other programs that we offer to work together to close the gap.”

To view The Pulse article All of Us: The Power of Community – Human Experience Week 2023 kicks off at Westmead Hospital – PART 1 in full click here.

Effects of Mental Health First Aid training for mob

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a complex issue affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. Researchers have evaluated the effects of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) training course on assisting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person engaging in NSSI, including the effects on stigmatising attitudes, confidence in ability to assist, and intended and actual assisting actions.

Improvements were observed in stigmatising attitudes, with significant changes observed. Participants’ confidence in ability to assist also increased significantly both postcourse and at follow-up. 82.7% of participants who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rated the course content as very culturally appropriate.

The results of the trial were encouraging, suggesting that over 5 hours of the Talking About Non-Suicidal Self-Injury course was able to improve participants’ attitudes, confidence and intended assisting behaviours, including among those with prior experience and training. Assisting actions recommended during the training were implemented by several participants in the 6 months since participating in the training course, demonstrating immediate benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the research article Effects of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid training programme for non-suicidal self-injury on stigmatising attitudes, confidence in ability to assist, and intended and actual assisting actions: an uncontrolled trial with precourse and postcourse measurement and 6-month follow-up published in BMJ Open in full click here.

5 women from Yoorana Gunya Family Healing Centre undertaking ATSI Mental Health First Aid Training

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid Training at Yoorana Gunya Family Healing Centre (YGFHC). Image source: YGFHC website.

Health service delays driving families apart

Indigenous parents struggling with substance abuse are being permanently separated from their children due to delays in Victoria’s public health system, a truth-telling inquiry has heard. Under state law, parents battling problems such as addiction are given up to two years to get the help they need before their children can be permanently placed in out-of-home care.

But it often takes longer to access public mental health, drug and alcohol services, putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents at risk of losing their children, the Yoorrook Justice Commission heard. “The current alcohol and other drug service system is under very significant strain at the moment,” Katherine Whetton, deputy secretary, mental health and wellbeing at the Department of Health told the commission yesterday. “I believe there are waiting lists for those services … I would say that there would be people that have trouble getting the care and treatment they need.”

To view the Health Times article Health service delays hit Indigenous parents in full click here.

Brett Moran, a counsellor at Marrin Weejali, sitting on set of his house with wife, Kristy, and 3 children, Shania-Rose, Maddison-Lee and Ivy-Grace

Brett Moran, a counsellor at Marrin Weejali (Sydney’s only Aboriginal-run drug and alcohol counselling centre), with his wife and three daughters. Moran now runs the same groups at the centre he once joined as a client. Photo: Carly Earl, The Guardian.

Health Minister to ban disposable vapes

Disposable vapes used by more than a million Australians will be banned under a major crackdown on vaping that aims to rid convenience store shelves of thousands of products, but the federal government will make it easier for people to vape with a doctor’s prescription. Health Minister Mark Butler laid out the government’s ambitious plans to eliminate a rampant vaping black market in a National Press Club speech today amid concerns that a new generation of young people have become addicted to nicotine.

Nicotine vapes are already illegal without a doctor’s prescription but legal loopholes and weak enforcement at the border and in shops have allowed sales to flourish under the counter as well as online. One in six teenagers between 14 and 17 have vaped and a quarter of 18 to 24–year-olds have vaped, according to a recent study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, while Butler has previously said there were as many as 2 million vapers in Australia.

Australia will achieve a world first if it successfully winds back the black market – which sources most of its products from China – and limits vaping to people with a doctor’s prescription.

To view the WAtoday article ‘This must end’: Butler to ban disposable vapes as part of black market crackdown in full click here and Minister Butler’s media release Taking Action on Smoking and vaping in full here.

young woman, arms crossed, holding a vape, face obscured by smoke

Image: Getty Creative. Image source: Forbes Health.

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