NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: QLD ACCHOs to see infrastructure improvements

The image in the feature tile is from Mamu Health Services 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.

QLD ACCHOs to see infrastructure improvements

Wuchopperen Health Service, which provides social and emotional wellbeing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will receive infrastructure upgrades as part of a nationwide $120m investment announced in December 2022, towards bettering infrastructure and facilities across the ACCHO sector. The ACCHO will use the $1.5m grant for “badly needed” upgrades to its air-conditioning and ventilation systems.

Wuchopperen Health Service chair and NACCHO chair, Donnella Mills acknowledged the mental health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and praised the funding allocation, “Being the year of the referendum, allocation will go across ACCHOs to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are feeling additional pressures [and] trauma, during what is a very big year for us and our community, can receive that additional support locally,” she said.

Mamu Health Service is another QLD ACCHO receiving the infrastructure grant, which will see a new primary care clinic in Innisfail, with an expansion of capacity to deliver GP clinics, consultation, waiting rooms, and staff spaces.

The above was taken from an article Townsville Bulletin article Infrastructure upgrades and a brand new clinic as part of funding towards First Nations healthcare published in the Townsville Bulletin yesterday, Monday 17 July 2023.

Wuchopperan Health Service Executive Director of Primary Health Care Ben Jesser, CEO Dania Ahwang, Chair Donnella Mills. Image by: Brendan Radke. Image source: Townsville Bulletin.

Benefits of genomics medicine

A new national network designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will bring the benefits of genomics medicine to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with an aim to improve life expectancy which is currently 10 years less than the general population. Lead of The Australian Alliance for Indigenous Genomics (ALIGN), Professor Alex Brown says “80% of this life expectancy gap is due to chronic diseases.”

“Australia is on the cusp of a new era in personalised medicine that will bring deeper insights into common diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” he says.

In a nation-wide effort, a team from Telethon Kids Institute Adelaide will oversee the scientific and operational coordination of the alliance teams. Canberra researchers will lead a team to identify and understand the genomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to better deliver precision health care to them, and NSW researchers will use genomic medicine to identify new and personalised treatments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Charles Perkins Centre Academic Director, NSW Professor Stephen Simpson said, “delivering precision medicine solutions tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities required working with communities to integrate new understanding from genomics with the many other health, social, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to health and wellbeing.”

Meanwhile, a Brisbane team will explore health service and system needs that support genomic medicine to determine which treatments are best suited to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, a Victorian team of scientists will use genomic medicine to better understand and treat immune-related disorders, and a Perth team will use advances in genomic medicine to continue and strengthen their work to unlock better health outcomes for those suffering from rare diseases.

Read more here.

Professor Alex Brown. Image Source: Australian National University.

“Easy Read” National Anti-Racism Framework

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released additional “easy read” community guides to better support understanding of the National Anti-Racism Framework Scoping Report 2022. The framework follows long-standing calls for action to address systemic racism in Australia. The community guide outlines the principles, themes identified in the initial scoping phase, and information on several support services and reporting tools available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other negatively racialised communities across the country.

The new Easy Read Guide includes a series of graphics and simplified text which summarises the key messages in the framework. This includes, why the framework was created, what would the framework do, what has been done so far, what was said by the community, key principles, themes, and what’s next. The latest version also includes translations of seven languages: Arabic, Burmese, Farsi, Samoan, Simplified Chinese, Swahili, and Vietnamese.

The easy read version of the community guide is available here. There is also an amplification kit, including a suite of digital and social media content for organisations that wish to raise awareness, available here.

Amplification kit social media tile.

Walgett homelessness tops state

New Homelessness NSW data has revealed Walgett has the worst rates of homelessness in the state. Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) CEO Christine Corby said the ACCHO was fighting a losing battle to care for the community’s health amid the high rates of homelessness, and all levels of government need to step up to tackle the housing shortage.

“Homelessness brings despair… If we don’t fix the cause of this despair then we are contributing to the greater mental health issues for our community requiring holistic care responses from WAMS and the community sector that we are barley resourced to provide,” said Ms Corby.

It comes as the town’s only men’s shelter was demolished more than a year ago to make way for domestic violence units. NSW Homelessness Minister Rose Jackson said the government planned to move the men’s shelter to the current women’s shelter on completion of the new build, however, construction has been halted due to market supply issues and “significant price increases in the construction industry.”

The Dharriwaa Elders Group is backing the push for more joint government investment in Walgett housing. Community trouble-shooter Kim Sullivan said there were 22 clients with complex needs who had been homeless for many years or housed temporarily in motels.

“I work with the homeless of Walgett every day and I find it hard to understand why Australian governments have ignored their need for safe places to stay,” she said.

Read the full ABC article Walgett Aboriginal Elders demand housing help 18 months after men’s homeless shelter demolished here.

Christine Corby. Photo: Kenji Sato. Image Source: ABC News.

The Voice pamphlets published and soon to land in letterboxes

The Yes and No camps in the Voice to Parliament referendum have signed off on their official pamphlets, and every household will get one as well as the referendum question itself: A proposed law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this alteration?

It will also include further information on the vote. However, the pamphlets sent out are not fact-checked and Australians are warned to look out for misinformation. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) says its role is purely as a “post-box” and it will distribute each pamphlet exactly as they’re submitted. Australians are encouraged to use the ‘Stop and Consider’ fact sheet as a guide.

The AEC published both pamphlets online on Tuesday morning before more than 12 million physical pamphlets are printed out and mailed. The AEC says that process will begin “in the coming weeks” and it must happen no later than two weeks before the referendum.

Read the full SBS News article here.

Parliament House. Image Source: Unsplash.

Sector Jobs

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