NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Congress assumes Kaltukatjara health centre operations

teenagers playing AFL in red soil at base of hills in Kaltukatjara; text 'Central Australian Aboriginal Congress assumes operations of Kaltukatjara health care centre'

The image in the feature tile is from an article Central Australian Aboriginal Congress takes over Kaltukatjara Health Centre published in The Chronicle yesterday, Sunday 16 July 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.

Congress assumes Kaltukatjara health centre operations

Yesterday the NT Chief Minister and Minister for Health Natasha Fyles and Member of Gwoja, Chansey Paech announced Kaltukatjara Health Centre would transition to Aboriginal community control. In a media release they said “the Territory Labor Government knows that health care provided in community is the best type of health care. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) has this month assumed operations of the health care centre in Kaltukatjara (Docker River).

Congress already provides care at nearby Mutitjulu, an Aboriginal community adjacent to Uluru, as well as other communities in the region. Earlier this year, Congress assumed operations for the health centres in Imanpa and Yulara. One of the most experienced services in the country in Aboriginal health, Congress is the largest ACCHO in the NT, a national leader in primary health care and a strong advocate for the health of Aboriginal people. The transfer of service delivery of the Kaltukatjara Health Centre joins other remote services provided by Congress in Central Australia including Amoonguna, Ntaria (and Wallace Rockhole), Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), Utju (Areyonga), Mutitjulu, Imanpa and Yulara. Evidence shows that increasing community involvement in the planning and delivery of local health services brings additional health benefits to local residents.

Ms Fyles said “Local Decision Making is the Territory Labor Government’s commitment to provide opportunities to transfer government service delivery to Aboriginal people. The movement towards increased Aboriginal control of health services in the NT is motivated by two main factors — a commitment to Indigenous rights and international evidence showing better health outcomes when there is community participation in health care delivery. Congress and NT Health have worked in partnership to transition operations to Aboriginal community control in Kaltukatjara in line with community needs and local decision making. NT Health will continue to provide support in the community, including visiting specialist services such as paediatrics and BreastScreen NT.”

You can read the media release Kaltukatjara Health Centre transitions to Aboriginal community control in full click here.

exterior of CAAC building

Photo: Blake Sharp-Wiggins. Image source: ABC News.

Governments still failing public on COVID control

Health sector leaders are calling for governments to take more action to reduce the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for people who are at greater risk of severe outcomes from the virus. Many people are still dying and being hospitalised from COVID in Australia, and many more are being impacted by long COVID. Inequities in the burden of COVID are clearly evident, with some groups disproportionately at risk of dying from the illness.

A recurring theme is the disproportionate impact upon at-risk groups, including the aged, people with disabilities and medical vulnerabilities. This applies not only to their increased risks from infection but also to the wider impacts upon their lives. People with disability or who are immunocompromised “have been left behind and their needs have been rendered fairly invisible in recent times, including their right to access safe spaces where they can be part of society”, Professor Deborah Lupton, from the Centre for Social Research and Health at University of NSW said.

Similar concerns have also raised by Dr Rebecca Ryan and Dr Louisa Walsh, Research Fellows at the Centre for Health Communication and Participation at La Trobe University. “…one group that has been particularly affected [by COVID-19] but remains largely invisible in public health communications are people who are medically vulnerable (including the chronically ill, immunocompromised and elderly).”

To read the Croakey Health Media article How governments are (still) failing the public on COVID control in full click here.

COVID-19 virus cell with text 'COVID-19'

Photo: Marin Sanchez, via unsplash. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

AH&MRC appoints new CEO

Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC), NSW’s peak First Nations health body representing the state’s 49 ACCHOs that provide comprehensive, holistic, and culturally safe primary health care to First Nations communities across NSW has appointed a new CEO, Associate Professor Boe Rambaldini. Boe, a First Nations Elder of the Bundjalung Nation on the north coast of NSW, has significant experience in the Indigenous health sector, as the director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney from 2017 to 2022 as well as an Associate Professor at Macquarie University and the co-lead at the Djurali Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research and Education Centre.

His current work at Macquarie University has strengthened his relationships and desire to improve the health of Aboriginal people across NSW, as has his work as chief investigator on several health-related grants, including ARDAC (Antecedents of Renal Disease in Aboriginal Children and young adults study) at Flinders University and improving care pathways in First Nations children.

AH&MRC board chair Professor Phil Naden expressed gratitude at Boe’s appointment after a rigorous recruitment process, “We look forward to working closely with Boe to further improve Aboriginal Health outcomes for our people across NSW. Professor Rambaldini brings to the role a deep understanding of the complex issues surrounding Aboriginal health, with a strong focus on cultural governance, outcomes and research design.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article NSW AH&MRC appoints prolific Indigenous health leader Boe Rambaldini as new CEO in full click here.

new AH&MRC CEO Assoc Prof Boe Rambaldini

New Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW CEO Boe Rambaldini. Photo: Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Facebook. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

$42m to ease regional QLD’s maternity crisis

Queensland’s beleaguered regional maternity centres will receive a $42m injection, with plans to boost the obstetric workforce key to easing the maternity crisis. Up to 20 GPs and rural generalists will be supported in completing advanced diplomas in obstetrics after the state government partnered with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) off the back of the Ministerial Roundtable held last month. It is one of five new initiatives that has the backing of the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ).

As part of the cash injection Queensland Health will introduce “digital passports” to help clinicians easily move between hospitals for work which will assist in filling workforce gaps The government is also reviewing Queensland Health’s locum policies to maximise incentive options. And there will be more funding to train doctors, nurses and midwives on best practice, woman-centred care and collaboration. First Nations midwifery models of care services will be boosted across Hospital and Health Services and ACCHOs. Queensland’s Health Minister Shannon Fentiman said, “boosting our First Nations midwifery models of care will be invaluable.”

AMAQ president Dr Maria Boulton has praised the Minister for listening to what was needed, “We welcome the support announced today by the Minister and the news our recommendations have been adopted. The Ministerial Maternity Roundtable and five new initiatives are the direct outcomes of our advocacy over the past year to ensure families in these communities have access to fundamental healthcare services and the health workforce is best supported to deliver those services”.”

The above was taken from an article How $42m will help ease maternity crisis by Jackie Sinnerton published in the Cairns Post earlier today.

Maternity & Gynaecology visiting hours sign Gladstone Hospital

Gladstone Hospital. Photo: Tobi Loftus, ABC Capricornia. Image source: ABC News.

Health Worker builds on work of past generations

Murri and Gomeroi woman Amy Rose Creighton says she is “very lucky” to be named after her two grandmothers. “I carry their strength, as well as their names, so I regard myself as honoured to carry both their names and with that comes responsibility and strength,” Mrs Creighton said.  Throughout her childhood, Mrs Creighton grew up surrounded by her culture, as her parents were active members of the Aboriginal Progressive Association. “They were strong for our people, always fought for Indigenous rights, and I grew up hearing about our strengths, not the negative,” she said.

Mrs Creighton’s parents were founding members of the Tamworth Aboriginal Medical Service, Birralee MACS, the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, while her mum sat on the Tamworth hospital Aboriginal Advisory Board in the ’80s, working with their community to provide spaces and services as needed. Mrs Creighton’s journey would eventually take her to Newcastle, where she completed her Higher School Certificate at an Aboriginal girls’ college, and from there, she applied for her first job at the Awabakal Aboriginal Corporation.

Mrs Creighton has compiled a long list of accolades throughout her career, she has always made sure to emphasise that many Indigenous families and elders have made similar contributions to their communities. What makes her proudest is knowing the next generation is continuing the good fight.”

To view The Northern Daily Leader article Tamworth’s Amy Creighton evokes the strength of her community through her work in full click here.

Health worker and academic Amy Creighton

Health worker and academic Amy Creighton continues to build the work of generations who came before her. Photo: Gareth Gardner. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.

Mobile childcare helps prevent poor health

A not-for-profit, mobile childcare service is attempting to help solve poor health and dental outcomes in rural multicultural communities. Gnowangerup Family Support Association’s pop-up services, based in the town 350 kms SE of Perth, are sent to neighbouring towns including Borden, Ongerup, Newdegate and Nyabing. The area is a big farming community where many Aboriginal people and migrants call home. The association’s unique mobile, occasional childcare centres not only help parents and carers in isolated areas get back to work, but also try to improve the health of children in the area.

A 2022 impact report showed concerns around dental-related hospitalisations of babies and toddlers in the Great Southern region. That area included Katanning, Gnowangerup, Kojonup, Broomehill, and Tambellup. The report found that young children in the Great Southern were hospitalised at a rate almost double that of the WA state average. Dental problems were found to be “one of the highest causes” of hospitalisation in kids under eight years of age in the area. The report found that health promotion, early identification, and early treatment could help solve the problem.

Gnowangerup Family Support Association director Denise Franco said there were no other childcare centres across the shire and the not-for-profit was helping many families. Ms Franco also said the centre had helped bring free dental van check-ups to its students. This helped make sure any issues in gums and teeth were detected early.

To view the ABC News article Mobile childcare in Gnowangerup shire on the front foot to solve poor health outcomes in full click here.

Denise Franco, Gnowangerup Family Support Association director

Denise Franco says the service helps children and parents. Photo: Briana Fiore, ABC Great Southern. Image source: ABC News.

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