NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Local care needed to lessen diabetes gap

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.

Local care needed to lessen diabetes gap

NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino says Australia needs to invest in local community-led health providers to reduce rates of type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It comes as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 18 are diagnosed with diabetes at a rate three times higher than the rest of the population. Dr Agostino said a lack of local health services is a key contributor to the higher rates.

“We don’t want people running from this clinic to that clinic.”

“We want people to be able to access care in a clinic that they feel safe, where they know the people there and understand the treatments,” he said.

The disease is increasingly being diagnosed in younger children. Dr Agostino said childhood diagnosis is often in cases where their mother had already been diagnosed, “We’ve always thought [of the disease] as adult onset, but the patients are getting younger and younger… A lot of them under the age of 10,” he said.

Calling for more localised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations that could work to prevent the disease, through education, health advice, and diagnosing and treating the disease earlier and quicker.

Read The Guardian article Investment in Indigenous community health key to reduce diabetes rates in full here.

NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino.

ACCHO plans $22 million hub in Murray Bridge

Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service CEO, Steve Sumner has been advocating and planning for a combined physical and mental health service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people since 2002. At the end of 2022, Sumner was one step closer to achieving that dream, when the federal government announced a $9 million grant for stage one of a primary health care clinic, where service providers will come together at a single site.

“It’s like this legacy I’ve had for 20 years, where I’ve had to really focus on and be true to what they wanted back then.”

“You get on with life, but you’ve got this little thing burning inside, saying ‘at some stage you’ve got to get on with this,” said Sumner.

The health centre will include two buildings with a health and community wing. However, Stage two of the $22 million reimagining of the former Lower Murray Nungas Club is not yet fully funded. Sumner said the two buildings would create a safe, welcoming space where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could seek care for their health and wellbeing issues. The centre will also feature telehealth facilities, four GP consulting rooms, and space for registered nurses and allied health professionals.

“You can’t fix your physical health if your mental, spiritual and cultural health aren’t well,” said Sumner.

Read the full Murray Bridge News article here.

Moorundi Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service CEO, Steve Sumner. Image Source: Murray Bridge News.

Digital Inclusion Plan

The federal government has released a First Nations Digital Inclusion Plan, which outlines priorities to close the digital gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The plan provides a framework for delivering Target 17 of Closing the Gapthe elimination of digital inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. That includes identifying priority actions for Government, Community, and industry to deliver reliable and affordable telecommunications services and appropriate consumer training. The plan will focus on three key dimensions of digital inclusion: access, affordability, and ability.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney said, “Digital inclusion means all Australian, including First nations people, have access and use digital technologies effectively to improve their everyday lives.”

“Strengthening digital inclusion for First Nations people, especially of they live in regional or remote Australia, provides significant opportunities for increased connections to community, country and cultural identity,” said Minister Burney.

Read the First Nations Digital Inclusion Plan here.

ACCHO key player in health justice partnership research

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS) has been at the centre of a UK study by Nottingham Law School which is exploring trust in the legal system, through health and justice partnerships. The project looked at Aboriginal community members in NSW and Victoria who experience poor mental health and wellbeing. Lawyers from the Hume Riverina Community Legal Service were placed at AWAHS to provide free legal advice and assistance and to work collaboratively with AWAHS staff to support client wellbeing.

Results from the project found that marginalised communities would benefit from having “trusted legal advisors” within health and social care settings. Systemic racism has meant many of the participants don’t trust the law and hold it responsible for their bad experiences. Building up trust was seen as key to engagement, in particular the need for lawyers to listen and “be real,” as well as the need for institutions to go beyond symbolism and make genuine efforts in their practice. Further, showing respect, being approachable, using culturally appropriate and understandable language, and involving the community in decision making were seen as significant factors in building trusted relationships.

Read the full article here.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service (AWAHS).

Aboriginal Languages Week

Aboriginal communities across NSW are encouraged to celebrate and showcase their language this October during the first ever Aboriginal Languages Week. Between 22 October and 29 October will be a permanent spot in NSW residents’ calendars, to coincide with the passing of Aboriginal Languages legislation into law on 24 October 2017. Events and activities will be supported by a new grants program of $250,000 administered by the Aboriginal Languages Trust.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty David Harris said, “Aboriginal Communities work tirelessly to keep their Languages alive, and the NSW Government is proud to support them in their endeavors.”

“Today I visited the La Perouse Aboriginal Community who shared with me the history of their language reclamation. I was humbled to hear the children in the Gujaga Pre-School and La Perouse Public School learning and speaking Dharawal and how happy and excited they were,” he said.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available for eligible groups to deliver Languages events and activities, in addition to a free to public NSW Aboriginal languages Week Festival on 21 October in Syndey.

Applications close Wednesday August 23. Find more information here.

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty David Harris. Image Source: NSW Government.

Sector Jobs

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