NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Podcast tackles healthcare inequity

feature tile image of physiotherapist Cameron Edwards & text 'The Deadly Physios podcast returns aiming to promote allyship and amplify leading voices in the field'

The image in the feature tile of proud Kamilaroi man and physiotherapist Cameron Edwards is from the Australian Physiotherapy Association webpage Cameron Edwards and the bridge crossing to Reconciliation published on 15 March 2022.

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.

Podcast tackles healthcare inequity

In an effort to address healthcare inequity, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is launching the third season of The Deadly Physios podcast during the 2023 NAIDOC Week. With the theme ‘For Our Elders’, the podcast aims to promote allyship and amplify leading voices in the field. Hosted by proud Kamilaroi man Cameron Edwards, the podcast features a lineup of esteemed guests, including former Brisbane Broncos rugby league player Nick Kenny, who is now a practice director and physiotherapist with experience in remote Indigenous communities.

The new season of The Deadly Physios podcast offers valuable insights for allied health practitioners to become better allies and improve their interactions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Edwards expressed his pride in the quality of conversations featured this season, which provides practical examples of allyship through skill and leadership development exercises, cultural reflection and responsiveness training, and engagement with local Indigenous health services and communities.

According to Mr Edwards, the podcast is relevant for physiotherapists working in various areas, including private practice, community practice, and education and contributes to the ongoing dialogue surrounding allyship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in allied health.

You can view the Inside Ageing article Indigenous podcast tackles healthcare inequity through allyship: The Deadly Physios Season 3 launches during NAIDOC Week in full here and listen to the Season 3 trailer here.

tile text ' The Deadly Physios Podcast Services - Australian Physiotherapy Association'

Image source: Inside Ageing.

Ageing forum: putting Elders at heart of work

In May 2023, the inaugural Ageing at the Centre: Putting Elders and older people at the heart of our work forum brought together Aboriginal Elders, local service providers and other stakeholders to share their knowledge, skills and insights to improve the experience of ageing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Across the country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations are ageing at a faster rate than the rest of Australia’s population. For Aboriginal people, health includes physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing. Health is also related to each person’s environment and circumstances. As such, key determinants of health and wellbeing in Aboriginal individuals and communities include cultural identity and activities, language, family and kinship, knowledge and beliefs, Country and caring for Country, and access to traditional lands.

There is a clear need for inclusive and culturally appropriate aged care services for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Elders. These services depend on genuine respect of local, cultural, spiritual and community knowledges, and open collaboration with people willing to share their knowledge and expertise.

To view the Australian Ageing Agenda article Update from inaugural ATSI ageing forum in full click here.

Participants at the inaugural Ageing at the Centre forum in Mpartwe (Alice Springs)

Participants at the inaugural Ageing at the Centre forum in Mpartwe (Alice Springs). Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

Tackling STIs among mob

Professor James Ward, Director of the University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Brisbane and his team are attempting to accelerate improvements in health, especially sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other infectious diseases among these populations, the most disadvantaged of all Australians. While acknowledging Australia has made progress in Indigenous health, Ward says the country “hasn’t come anything like as far as it could or should have”

Professor Ward, a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man,  says “despite me being as passionate as hell about bringing down STI prevalence in this population, rates have remained stubbornly high over the past 25 years”. He says the Indigenous Australian population is unique in that HIV rates are low among a population where STI rates are extremely high. “This unique situation is partially attributable to limited sexual mixing between remote community residents and the rest of Australia. Despite the success of low HIV rates, there are major challenges still, syphilis notifications are around 5–8 times higher in Indigenous Australians compared with the general population”.

Today, Ward’s team is planning a precision public health study focused on STI control. “In this study we are combining social determinants data, health services data, qualitative data collected by peers, and genomics data typing both gonorrhoea and syphilis, and then we will map everything at a local level to generate a precision public health approach in shaping our interventions and where best to scale them up”, he explains. “Working with the communities we will then present them with multiple interventions that fit best with their data, so they can decide how to proceed—this could include education, increased access, testing and incentives to encourage young Indigenous Australians at the highest risk of STIs to engage with health services. This will link multiple areas together and remove the traditional silos of criminal justice, housing, and education and health”.

To view The Lancet Infectious Diseases article James Ward—tackling STIs in Indigenous Australians in full click here and a transcript of the article here.

portrait Professor James Ward, Director UQ Poche Centre

Professor James Ward, Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland (UQ). Image source: UQ website.

Roundtable discusses health of kids in care

Members of the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Public Health team attended the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ (RACP) Child Health roundtable on 21 June 2023. The roundtable event, held at Parliament House, discussed many important issues impacting the health of children in care and protection services. It brought together doctors, policy makers, stakeholders and politicians to discuss policy approaches to improve health care service delivery models for children in out-of-home care.

RACP President, Dr Jacqueline Small also launched the Health Care of Children in Care and Protection Services Australia 2023 Position Statement, available here, which contains 28 recommendations on how to centre child health and mental and emotional wellbeing in policy making and health care service design.

A panel of experts, which included Ms Elizabeth Harnett, Professor Frank Oberklaid, Professor Jonathon Carapetis, Professor Ngiare Brown and Professor Sharon Goldfield, shared expertise and insight to set the tone of discussion for the day. Presentations were also given by Dr Kim Isaacs and CEO Tracey Brand from Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service in WA, Dr Niroshini Kennedy, Dr Karen McLean, Professor Elizabeth Elliott and Dr Paul Hotton. 

To view the AMA article AMA attends RACP child health roundtable in full click here.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney addressing RACP child health roundtable

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney addressing RACP child health roundtable

Exhibition of homeless on Perth streets

An Indigenous-owned corporation is using film and photography to help combat homelessness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Birdiya Maya Homelessness Research Project is a series of photos and short films taken by the participants, giving an insight into the jarring reality of living on Perth’s streets. It is on display at Curtin University until July 9 2023 and led by the Wungening Corporation — and it’s the first time an ACCO has led a research project of this nature.

The exhibition is backed by research by the Wungening Corporation and the National Drug Research Institute, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leading the groundwork to make “housing policy and services work better for them.” The study incorporates ongoing engagement with Elders and those with lived experience on the streets of Perth. It aims to address the historical overrepresentation of Indigenous Australians accessing homelessness and social housing services.

Project consultant and Noongar Elder Aunty Millie Penny said she was driven by Indigenous women and children at risk of homelessness. “Children are voiceless,” she said. “They are so disempowered within the family structure that they don’t have a voice to say ‘we don’t want this’.” The corporation was recently recognised in an Indigenous health and wellbeing conference by the Lowitja Institute for its work “elevating the voices of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness”.

To view The West Australian article Exhibition paints picture of being homeless on streets of Perth in full click here.

Birdiya Maya Homelessness Exhibition is on display at John Curtin Gallery

Birdiya Maya Homelessness Exhibition is on display at John Curtin Gallery. Image source: PerthNow – Central.

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 – Coming of the Light – Saturday 1 July 2023

The Coming of the Light is a holiday celebrated by Torres Strait Islanders annually on 1 July. The Coming of the Light recognises the adoption of Christianity through island communities during the late nineteenth century. Torres Strait Islanders living on the islands or on the mainland come together to honour this anniversary every year. Islanders of all faiths celebrate the Coming of the Light in a festival like no other in Australia.

In the video below, you can watch Nancy Bamaga, a Curtin University graduate with links to the Thabu/Samu Clan from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait, discuss the importance of the Coming of the Light to Torres Strait Islander people, with Diane Moon, Curator, Indigenous Fibre Art, Queensland Art Galley | Gallery of Modern Art (QABOMA) Brisbane. Nancy Bamaga is regarded as one of Australia’s leading Community Management and Cultural Development Practitioners.

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