NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aboriginal-run health services kicking goals

Launceston AHS staff chronic care feature tile image: coordinator Di Spotswood & Dr Josh Anand at clinic reception desk'; text 'Review finds ACCHOs achieving better health outcomes than private general practice'

The image in the feature tile is of Dr Josh Annand talking to Chronic Care Coordinator Di Spotswood at the Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) reception desk. Dr Anand says the AHS is more collaborative than private practice. The image appeared in the ABC News article Aboriginal-run doctors clinics are succeeding where many other GP services are failing published yesterday, 24 July 2023. Photo: Erin Cooper-Douglas, ABC News.

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.

Aboriginal-run health services kicking goals

“How’s the bowls going, Smokey?” As he’s offered a cuppa, Michael “Smokey” Beeton tells his greeter he “just got beat” on the green on the weekend. You might think he’s at a community house or a friendly barbecue, but you’d be wrong — he’s at the doctors clinic. He’s been walking through these doors for 20 years, and while the staff have changed over that time, they all know Smokey. The 73-year-old has been treated for a range of issues from diabetes, to chronic back pain and even breast cancer.

He thinks many of these things would have gone untreated if it weren’t for the service. “I lived about half an hour out of town and I very rarely went to the doctor — very rarely,” he says. “But they’d come out to do my sugar checks and see if I needed anything, so it became a bit of a habit.” Smokey says it’s because he got to know everyone so well that he keeps coming back. “I used to go to the doctor and you’d be in there for 10 or 15 minutes, they’d give you a prescription, and you’d never hear from them again,” he says. “Here, it’s very special. You’re treated like family.”

This is the Aboriginal Health Service in Launceston, and while the service is norm for patients like Smokey, it’s worlds away from what many Australians experience when going to see a doctor. According to a recent review Challenges for Medicare and universal health care in Australia since 2000, available here, First Nations-run services are achieving better health outcomes for their patients than private general practice. Amid ever-present headlines about the GP crisis, much can be learnt from Aboriginal health services.

To view the ABC News story Aboriginal-run doctors clinics are succeeding where many other GP services are failing in full click here.

Launceston ACCHO patient Michael "Smokey" Beeton

Michael “Smokey” Beeton says visiting the health service feels like visiting his family. Photo: Erin Cooper-Douglas, ABC News.

Culturally-relevant wellbeing resources

For time poor health practitioners, social and emotional wellbeing can often take a back seat to treating physical ailments. But a more holistic approach can produce much better outcomes for Indigenous patients. In the most recent SBS BLA.C.K. Medicine podcast episode Dr Mikayla Couch chats with Uncle Dave and Angela from Wellmob, about the social and emotional wellbeing model of health care, and their mission to make the resources available to all.

The social and emotional wellbeing model emphasises the importance of a holistic approach to healthcare, especially for Indigenous patients. Along with looking after physical and mental health, it promotes measures that address social and emotional needs as well. Uncle Dave said “The social emotional wellbeing model gives a more holistic perspective, as opposed to maybe a non-Indigenous model where those connections to cultures, spirituality, community and kin may not make up such a strong part of someone’s wellbeing.”

But locating culturally-relevant and accessible resources that use this model can be hard. Angela Sheridan said “We found that all these deadly resources were tucked away in the deep dark corners of the internet… So the idea was conceived to host them all in one place and have a one-stop shop of Indigenous-specific online resources.” The Wellmob website, available here, was created to direct time-poor health practitioners to resources that can improve the wellbeing of Indigenous people and help them stay connected to culture; whether it’s a mindfulness app, a video on healing from trauma, or a collection of healthy recipes.

You can listen to the Making mob well: A new way to find culturally-relevant wellbeing resources SBS NITV podcast episode in full here.

banner SBS BLA.C.K. Medicine, text ' Making mob well: A new way to find culturally-relevant wellbeing resources - 16:14 minutes

Image source: SBS NITV Radio website.

Australia’s first wellbeing budget revealed

Australians live longer, are happier in their jobs and trust each other more than they did two decades ago. But more people are also battling chronic diseases, struggling to make ends meet and having bad experiences online. These are some of the findings of the first national wellbeing framework, released by Treasurer Jim Chalmers last Friday 21 July 2023.

So why is the government measuring wellbeing, what does it have to do with the economy, and will this actually mean anything for you? Chalmers first floated the idea of a “wellbeing budget” in 2020 when the Coalition was in power. Wellbeing is a combination of physical, social, economic and emotional factors, and overall quality of life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), focusing on wellbeing supports the tracking of the equitable distribution of resources, overall thriving and sustainability. Measuring What Matters, Australia’s first national wellbeing framework, uses 50 indicators to track how healthy, secure, sustainable, cohesive and prosperous Australia is. The framework also includes an overall life satisfaction indicator.

To view the SBS News article Australia’s first wellbeing budget has been revealed. What does it mean for you? in full click here.
3 ATSI women in park with arms around each other, smiling

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer / Refinery29 Australia – Getty. Image source: SBS News.

SEWB Gathering’s theme ‘Culture First’

The fourth Social Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Gathering is around the corner. It is being held from Monday 31 July to Wednesday 2 August in Darwin. Over three days delegates from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies, community organisations, leaders, experts across Australia will come together to discuss social and emotional wellbeing topics.

The theme for this year’s SEWB Gathering is ‘Culture First’ with a focus on implementing this idea in the workforce, systems, and services.

Like previous SEWB Gatherings there is likely to be many enriching discussions and transformative insights.

tile text 'SEWB Gathering 31 Jul - 2 Aug Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Esplanade Darwin; Co hosted by TIMHWB, NACCHO, AIPA, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia

Calls for more midwives, shortfall of1,300

Gabby Petersen is a second-year midwifery student and First Nations woman with Aboriginal, Torres Strait and Samoan heritage. “I’m the eldest of three girls, I have two younger sisters and I think my mum has a little bit of birth trauma, and that inspires me to be that midwife to make sure people have safe experiences,” she said. Ms Petersen said there needed to be changes in the industry to accommodate the different needs of First Nations people. “They’re at this really important, really special moment in their lives and they’re shoved into a hospital room that doesn’t look like home, with white lights and unknown linen and it can be so disorientating,” she said.

Ms Petersen said having more First Nations midwives in the industry could see cultural safety improved. “Having that First Nations background, you have a perspective on cultural safety that some people just don’t and that’s not their fault, you just have that extra consideration for what would make them feel safe because that’s what would make you feel safe,” she said.

There are currently 305 registered First Nations midwives in Australia — making up only 1.3 per cent of the workforce. “So, to reach population parity, we’d need 650 midwives. But if you factor in our higher fertility rate, plus the disparity we see in health outcomes, we’ve estimated that we’d need around 1,300 more,” PhD student and First Nations registered midwife Karel Williams said.

To view the ABC News article Calls for more Indigenous midwives as experts estimate national shortfall to be 1,300 in full click here.

First Nations student Gabby Petersen is in her second year of midwifery studies in Canberra

First Nations student Gabby Petersen is in her second year of midwifery studies in Canberra. Photo: Donal Sheil, ABC News.

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 International Self-Care Day – 24 July 2023

24 June marks the start of Self-Care Month, which ends with Self-Care Day on 24 July. This symbolic day was chosen because self-care can be practiced “24 hours a day/7 days a week”. During the month, people around the world will be celebrating self-care practices and interventions and the difference they can make to everyone’s lives.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines self-care as individuals, families and communities’ promoting and maintaining their own health, preventing disease, and coping with illness and disability, with or without the support of a health worker. Self-care interventions are the evidence-based tools that support self-care. They include medicines, counselling, diagnostic kits, and digital technologies. Now is an exciting time with more and more tools being developed. Self-care is about empowering people to be active agents in their own healthcare. Doing so not only puts people at the centre of their own healthcare, but also relieves pressures on health systems.

Self-care interventions give people choice and the option to access healthcare wherever and whenever they want to. Self-care interventions do not replace health systems, they enhance them. They are part of a holistic approach to healthcare which improves Primary Health Care and contributes to Universal Health Coverage. You can find more information about Self-care month on the WHO website here.

You can access a Self-care Toolkit – A healthy happy mob, means a well done job produced by the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) here; an Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Professions – Taking care of yourself here; and a VACCHO produced video Self-care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers below.

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