NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner at the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference.

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.

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference

Day 1 of the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia conference kicked off today, Tuesday 29 August. Speakers included NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, Professor Tom Calma AO, Tania Rishniw, and Professor Pat Dudgeon AM. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Ways Forward.’ A reflection on the policy development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention. Drawing on the significance of the 1995 Ways Forward Report as a milestone in Australia’s mental health history, marking a pivotal moment of collective action and community engagement in shaping the future of mental health care.

“By choosing this theme, we aim to honour the courage and resilience of those who participated in the first national mental health consultation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’, and to recognise the lasting impact of their contributions.

“…This conference theme presents an opportunity to reflect on the progress made since the release of the report, to critically examine the gaps that still exist, and to explore innovative approaches and solutions for the future.”

Learn more here.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarships Scheme

Applications for the 2024 Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarships Scheme (PHMSS) open tomorrow, Wednesday 30 August. Offering up to 300 scholarships, PHMSS encourages and assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduates in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The Australian Government established PHMSS as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter and his outstanding contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and his role as Chair of NACCHO.

“[PHMSS] means more First Nations nurses, midwives, doctors, dentists, and allied health workers in the health system and directly helping patients in their own local communities in many cases,” said Australian College of Nursing CEO, Professor Kylie Ward.

“The scholarships are deservedly very popular and prestigious. Over the years, we have received more than 7,500 applications,” Professor Ward said.

Applications close Tuesday 10 August. More details are available here.

Ashleigh Ryan. Previous PHMSS recipient. Image source: Australian College of Nursing.

Healing Right Way

More than 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have experienced a stroke or traumatic brain injury in WA have engaged in the Healing Right Way initiative. A collaboration between ACCHOs, hospitals, and the Stroke Foundation, researchers successfully introduced and tested the program, aimed at improving rehabilitation. During the study, Aboriginal brain injury coordinators engaged with patients during their hospital stays, providing both in-person and telephone support for up to six months. The study also delivered cultural training to hospital staff.

“Aboriginal Australians experience stroke and traumatic brain injury at significant rates and a culturally appropriate response to rehabilitation and recovery has been really lacking,” said chief investigator, Professor Beth Armstrong.

Before the Healing Right Way initiative, Aboriginal people who had experienced strokes communicated to Professor Armstrong’s team that their care experience could have been improved through increased cultural sensitivity. This included communication with healthcare providers and higher involvement of Aboriginal healthcare experts in their treatment.

Healing Right Way was the direct result of these recommendations, and the Aboriginal Brain Injury Coordinator role was developed. It is the first such role and nine Coordinators were employed across WA,” said Professor Armstrong.

Read the full National Indigenous Times article here.

Aboriginal Brain Injury Coordinators Rebecca Clinch & Renee Speedy celebrating NAIDOC 2020 with colleagues at Neurological Council of WA. Image Source: National Indigenous Times.

kidney disease on the rise

Kidney disease is on the rise in Australia, with Kidney Health Australia reporting that two million people have kidney disease and 1.8 million are unaware they have the disease. The prevalence of kidney disease in Australia is one in ten, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it is one in five. Kidney Health Australia Clinical Director, Dr Karen Dwyer said underneath the statistics is a huge wave of people with less advanced kidney disease, who if left untreated may reach kidney failure.

Dr Dwyer said the high prevalence of kidney disease amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be attributed to the impact of “the social determinants of health, such as access to health care, fresh healthy foods and education, lower birth weights and recurrent childhood infections play into a lot of long-term conditions.”

Indigenous Elder, Ronald Morgan said as well as receiving dialysis and the logistics of travel, his diagnosis has also had a large emotional toll.

“[receiving the diagnosis] was very disheartening to have that put on you, especially when you’re in the middle of all these good stuff, you got planned for your life, you know with kids and your wife, stiff like that,” he said.

Dr Dwyer pointed to the implementation Kidney Australia’s guidelines for Culturally Safe and Clinical Kidney Care for First Nations Australians to increase prevention. The guidelines recommend:

  • Addressing institutional racism and cultural safety.
  • Ensuring community and family involvement.
  • Improving access to transportation and accommodation.
  • Supporting and developing an Indigenous health workforce.
  • Screening for kidney disease and referring early for specialist treatment.
  • Promoting self-management through education and public awareness.
  • And exploring alternative models of care that meets the need of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Read the full article here.

Dr Janet Kelly and Nari Sinclair at the launch of Kidney Health Australia’s Guidelines to tackle kidney disease. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NT GP shortage

According to the Menzies School of Health Research, just 14 people have enrolled in GP vocational training in the NT this year. It comes as the NT is suffering an 80% drop in new GPs in just seven years. A recent summit in Alice Springs saw Federal and local ministers, and stakeholders develop a plan where ‘no patients anywhere in the territory are left behind.’

The summit resulted in a seven-point plan aimed at increasing GP numbers through:

  • Tax relief incentives for GPs.
  • A ‘Portability of entitlement’ scheme allowing doctors to retain employment entitlements when changing locations.
  • A gradient for Aboriginal health salary support, recognizing remoteness through a higher rate.
  • A two-year structured training pathway in the territory for GPs in training.
  • An injection of funds for capital expenditure to upgrade existing housing and build new facilities.
  • Funding for international medical graduates who are not yet registerable as a GP in Australia to train in remote areas.
  • Recruiting up to 10 GPs in training from interstate to work in the NT.

Read more here.

Image source: The Medical Republic.

BRAMS Wear It Purple.

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) staff showed off their purple clothes to celebrate Wear It Purple Day on Friday 25 August, to raise awareness on LGBTIQA+ for young people in Australia. Staff participated in a questionnaire survey on questions around LGBTIQA+ and information sessions.

The aim of Wear It Purple is:

Awareness – We provide support and resources for Schools, Universities, Gender & Sexuality Alliances (GSA’s) and Youth Organisations to assist them in creating inclusive experiences for rainbow young people. We act as a source of resources to support the effective delivery of Wear It Purple Day in Schools, Universities, workplaces, and the broader community.

Opportunity – We provide meaningful opportunities for rainbow young people to develop their skills, expand their network and contribute to the inclusivity of their communities.

Environment – We provide supportive and safe spaces (digital and physical) and contribute to a world where young rainbow people feel proud of who they are.

Collaboration – We collaborate and unite with other organisations to further the inclusion of rainbow young people. Through partnerships, we support the effective delivery of Wear It Purple Day in Schools, Universities, workplaces, and the broader community.

For more information about Wear it Purple Day click here.

An Australian Human Rights Commission article Brotherboys, Sistergirls and LGBT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, available here, describes how Brotherboys, Sistergirls and other LGBT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience a number of significant and intersecting points of discrimination and marginalisation in Australia.

BRAMS Staff Wear it Purple Day. Image source: BRAMS Facebook.

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.

One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference

  1. Hi Team, I just wanted to let you know that the Puggy Hunter scholarship information it includes that it closes 10 August 2023, though when you click on it, it says a date in October 2023…so you might want to change it or people may not apply thinking its too late.

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