NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Funding to address FASD in Central Australia

The image in the feature tile is from NACCHO’s Strong Born Campaign.

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.

Funding to address FASD in Central Australia

The federal government has announced that $18.4 million of the $250 million plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia will go towards helping children with neurodevelopment issues. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress chief executive, Donna Ah-Chee said the funding would help identify children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), ADHA and autism.

“Congress has known for a long time that if we get the start of life right, we can change a child’s entire life story.

“We started this critical work in 2018 and now, with these much-needed additional resources, we can make sure that many more Aboriginal children and young people across central Australia can get the assessment and help they need to get on to a more healthy development pathway,” Ms Ah-Chee said.

The funding will see additional staff recruited for the Child and Youth Assessment and Treatment Services (CYATS) program, including two clinical neuropsychologists, an occupational therapist, speech pathologists, a clinical case co-ordinator and an Aboriginal family support worker.

NT Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said expanding the assessment services will mean hundreds of children will be able to receive a FASD diagnosis and early intervention, “FASD is often referred to as an invisible disability but as far as many families and communities are concerned, it’s a very visible part of life with a profound impact on children and their families.”

Read the full National Indigenous Times article here and see NACCHO’s Strong Born FASD Campaign here.

NACCHO Strong Born Campaign social media tile.

Goondir Health Services and UQ improving oral health

The University of Queensland’s Dental Clinic in Dalby has been operating for a decade. The student-led clinic is a partnership with Goondir Health Services and sees more than 800 rural patients attend each year. Wulli Wulli man, Gavin Saltner said having access to the clinic was important, with cost and travel time a barrier for some Western Downs residents accessing dental treatment.

“It’s made a lot of a difference to me.

“Knowing that I could come along to these clinics and get a check-up… they can fit you in wherever they can,” he said.

The clinic’s treatment room sits within Goondir Health Service’s building, allowing for easy referrals to other services. The ACCHOs executive, Shubham Weling said it provides cross influence between other areas of healthcare and the model of care is and should continue to be replicated across the country.

“We’re opening a clinic in Chinchilla as well and we want to advocate for this model out there,” Mr Weling said.

Read the full ABC News article here.

UQ Dental Clinic. Image source: ABC News.

New GP clinic to South Hedland

South Hedland in Western Australia will once again have a GP clinic with Indigenous-owned provider Marlu Health opening a practice to fill the void left by the closure of Sonic Healthcare. 

The practice will offer a variety of medical services including:

  • GP Services;
  • Occupational health, Pre-Employment Medicals, Fitness for Work and Injury Management Services;
  • Psychology and Mental Health Services through Hedland’s only psychologist Caroline Rodgers;
  • Employee Assistance Programs; and
  • Pathology collection services supported by Australian Clinical Labs, with saliva testing to replace urine testing for drug and alcohol screening.

Director of Medical and Health Services, Dr Lincoln Luk, said Marlu Health had a commitment to traditional owner values and giving back to the community.

“We are looking forward to providing a range of services to the Hedland community, and it was important for us to establish our clinic in South Hedland. We have not previously been a GP provider and were not looking to do so, but we saw the need in Hedland and felt that it was our civic responsibility to help,” Dr Luk said.

You can read the article on the Town of Port Headland website here

Sonic Health Plus.

“We cannot continue to have spaces that are void of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s leadership, voices, ideas, and solutions”

Co-chairs of the National Close the Gap Campaign, Karl Briscoe and June Oscar said if we as a nation are committed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity and equality, and to closing the gap, then we must also be committed to “listening to and hearing the leadership and advice that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples share with us.”

If successful, the Voice, through constitutional recognition, will allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elected representatives to make representations to the Executive and to Parliament. Mr Briscoe and Ms Oscar wrote, “key to this structural reform is that it provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with a constitutionally enshrined voice, a permanent seat at the table, and a genuine opportunity to provide advice on matters that directly affect our lives.”

“We cannot keep doing more of the same. Large-scale structural reform is necessary if we ever hope to close the gap.

“We cannot continue to have spaces that are void of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s leadership, voices, ideas, and solutions. To do so will only entrench inequality further,” they said.

Read the full article here.

Image source: Close the Gap Campaign Instagram.

Lessons in heat resilience

When you arrive in Tennant Creek, 1000km south of Darwin, what hits you first is the absence of smells. Usually, the air is permeated with the cooking of kangaroo but now it is barely there.

In the last heatwave, dead kangaroos were found at the bottom of watering holes previously thought to have never dried up. Some locals believed kangaroos could never fall victim to thirst, that they would always find a place to drink. It wasn’t true.

Warumungu Elder Norman Frank Jupurrurla doesn’t need to consult records. He says his experience with the area over his lifetime tells him one thing for certain: it’s getting hotter. The decline of kangaroo populations, and the resulting impact on human food sources, is just one sign.

Dr Simon Quilty, of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, is direct when describing the impact climate change is having on the area: “It is an ecological disaster.”

He is the lead author of a new article in The Lancet, analysing heat-mortality rates in the NT. The study, which involved Associate Professor Aparna Lal, of the ANU, and Jupurrurla, also found that despite high rates of chronic illness, socioeconomic and housing inequity, and far less access to air-conditioned spaces, Aboriginal people living in the NT were no more likely to die from the heat than the local non-Indigenous population.

Quilty says this discrepancy appears to be cultural. He says it is “a story of how Aboriginal culture and knowledge of environment has enabled extraordinary resilience to extreme weather”.

You can read the article online in The Saturday Paper here

Expression of interest AMC Member Council

The Australian Medical Council (AMC) is seeking expressions of interest for the position of a Member of Council who is an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person with experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues.

Members need to commit to at least three full days per year to prepare for and attend the General Meeting (May/June) and Annual General Meeting (November). Members have the opportunity to collaborate with Council Members drawn from the medical profession, medical and health standards bodies, medical education and training, health consumers and community members.

To nominate for the position, complete and return the Expression of Interest Form along with your CV by Monday 2 October 2023.

Image source: AMC website.

Sector Jobs

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