NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Politicians urged to support 60-day dispensing

feature tile image pharmacist hands holding 2 boxes medication; text 'Consumer, health and doctor organisations unite to urge MPs and Senators to support 60-day dispensing'

The image in the feature tile is from an  article Why 60-day dispensing concerns are overblown published in the RACGP newsGP on 10 May 2023.

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.

Politicians urged to support 60-day dispensing

Consumer, health and doctor organisations have united to urge members of parliament (MPs) and Senators to put consumers first and support 60-day dispensing to save money and time for Australians. Eight key organisations representing health consumers, including from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and multicultural communities, as well as health professionals have put their name to an open letter to federal parliamentarians.

The reforms will double the amount of medicines pharmacists can dispense to patients to up to 60 days’ worth for more than 320 medicines for stable conditions on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, when deemed safe and appropriate by a patient’s GP. The open letter urges MPs and Senators to put health consumers first and support the reforms, and highlights how the initiative will benefit Australians, particularly those who are more vulnerable.

The open letter listed a number of benefits of 60-day dispensing, including

  • Benefit approximately 6 million people with chronic and ongoing conditions – including a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians who have a higher prevalence of chronic conditions.
  • Improve system equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who suffer more from chronic disease. There is strong evidence showing the value of medicine cost reduction for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO Acting CEO Dr Dawn Casey said: “We welcome this measure that will help ease the cost pressures for purchasing medicines for so many of our people. It can halve the annual cost of people’s medicines, which is a truly significant impact. In reducing the number of times people must attend a pharmacy for each of the chronic medicines, it will also greatly improve convenience for patients and further add to the value of the measure, especially when considering accessibility of some pharmacies and current cost of transport.”

The view the joint media release MPs and Senators urged to support 60-day dispensing to save Australians money and time in full click here and to view the open letter to all Federal Parliamentarians about the 60 Day Dispensing, click here.

pharmacist opening medicines draw

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Community leadership vital for health initiatives

Professor Andrew Maiorana from Curtin University’s School of Allied Health, and Fiona Stanley Hospital’s Exercise Physiology Department says self-determination is an important, but often neglected consideration when developing health and lifestyle programs for Aboriginal people. Historically, such programs have often been developed by central bureaucracies, without the input and guidance of the community the program is designed to benefit. As the nation prepares for a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, it is imperative to recognise the importance of an Aboriginal ‘voice’ in developing health initiatives designed for Aboriginal communities.     

Health inequalities for Aboriginal people are well recognised and underpin the 10-year life expectancy gap experienced by Aboriginal people, compared with the non-Aboriginal population. However, much of the chronic disease burden experienced by Aboriginal people is preventable.  Improving access to health services that are culturally appropriate and are guided by Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing are critical to helping address the gap. 

Sport and physical activity are important to reducing the risk of chronic disease, maintaining good mental health and strengthening social engagement.  Many Aboriginal communities are well supported by organisations that provide sporting initiatives for children and youth, however, culturally appropriate physical activity programs for adults are much less available. This likely contributes to reduced levels of physical activity in Aboriginal adults. Talking Together, Walking Together is a research project designed to address this inequity. Recently funded by the Medical Research Future Fund, the project will run in three diverse Aboriginal communities – the Watjuk Noongar community of the Perth region, the Yamatji community of the Geraldton/Mid West region and the Martu community in the Eastern Pilbara.

To view the Professor Maiorana’s guest column Keeping First Nations moving published in the Medical Forum on 11 June 2023 click here.

portrait shot of Professor Andrew Maiorana & Curtin School of Allied Health logo

Professor Andrew Maiorana from the Curtin School of Allied Health (CSAH). Image source: Medical Forum. Logo image source: CSAH Twitter page.

Aboriginal researchers “must be involved”

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Committee Indigenous Caucus chair, Professor Yvonne Cadet-James, says it is important to determine not just whether enough Indigenous health research is being funded, but who is conducting the research as well. “[Funding] needs to happen if we need new knowledge and discoveries,” Professor Cadet-Jones said. “When I started out in research in the early 2000s, there were very few indigenous researchers leading grants, or as chief investigators.

“That’s changed over time, with the NHMRC, MRFF [Medical Research Future Fund], and the ARC [Australian Research Council] having funding allocated for Indigenous research. And of course, the Lowitja Institute, which is the national Indigenous research institute.”

But Professor Cadet-Jones said that the way the research is done is the most important element in its success. “As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we understand the historical, cultural and political perspectives, and that understanding helps us frame our research,” she said. “[We have] insight into the difficulties in conducting that research due to the impact of colonisation. The real, on-the-ground needs, and what people are experiencing in terms of the social determinants of health, including poverty. Most importantly, [we have] insight into the strength and resilience that people have in their cultural values and beliefs, in their traditional knowledge, and the resilience they’ve built over all those years.”

To view the InSight article Aboriginal researchers “must be involved” in Aboriginal health research in full click here.

Professor Yvonne Cadet-James speaking at a Lowitja Institute June 2019

NHMRC Principal Committee Indigenous Caucus Chair Professor Yvonne Cadet-James. Photo: James Henry Photography, courtesy The Lowitja Institute. Image source: NITV.

Policy without voice: a history of failure

Catherine Liddle, the CEO of SNAICC the National Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, recently joined:

  • Sharon Bessell, Professor of Public Policy and Director of both the Children’s Policy Centre and the Poverty and Inequality Research Centre at ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, and
  • Arnagretta Hunter, the Human Futures Fellow at ANU College of Health and Medicine, a cardiologist, physician, and a Senior Clinical Lecturer at ANU Medical School

for a powerful conversation about the lasting trauma of policy failures as part of a Policy Forum podcast: Policy without voice: a history of failure and harm.

Ms Liddle told the incredible story about her family meeting Thomas Mayor and discussing the Uluru Statement from the Heart that he rolled out on the floor of her lounge room. “We could hear the beating of that heartbeat,” she said. Ms Liddle also shared her insight on how poverty in indigenous communities is often misunderstood as neglect, the damage of covert racism, and why Alice Springs often becomes a political football. “Everything relates to policy, and we know that the wins are only as good as the government that gets them across the line.”

You can listen to the Policy Forum podcast episode Policy without voice: a history of failure and harm in full by clicking here.

banner of Policy Forum Pod Policy without voice: a history of failure and harm, Australian National Uni Crawford School of Public Policy Policy Froum Acast

Proper workforce planning needed

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling for more effective planning to ensure the future medical workforce meets community need, as well as better support for international medical graduates adjusting to the Australian health system. In a submission on the interim report of the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings, the AMA has expressed its general support for efforts to streamline migration and registration processes for overseas health professionals seeking to work in Australia.

AMA President Steve Robson said streamlining the migration process would help address serious workforce shortages, but more effective planning was needed instead of piecemeal solutions like simply increasing the intake of overseas health professionals.

To view the AMA’s media release Proper workforce planning needed to address shortages 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.

Key Date – Men’s Health Week 12–18 June 2023

Men’s Health Week is celebrated every year around the world around the world in the middle of June, and in 2023 the dates are June 12-18. It is an important opportunity to highlight the importance of men’s health, and to promote and support the health and wellbeing of men and boys in our communities. Through a series of promotions, events and publicity around the country, Men’s Health Week is designed to provoke thought and discussion about what needs to be done to improve male health.

Men’s Health Week is coordinated by Western Sydney University. The team’s close connections with community and government organisations across Australia enable us them develop the kinds of networks and partnerships that bring together people who care about better health for men and boys.

The theme of Men’s Health Week 2023 is Healthy Habits – focusing on encouraging men and boys to build healthy habits by identifying small changes they can make that benefit their health and wellbeing.

More information on Men’s Health Week 2023 can be found on Western Sydney University Centre for Male Health webpage 2023 International Men’s Health Week here.

tile collage of 13 images of men; text 'healthy habits Men's Health Week 2023 | June 12–18

Image source: Western Sydney University website.

Leave a Reply

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