NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Breaking down barriers to medicines: NACCHO Industry Roundtable

The image in the feature tile is from the NACCHO Industry Roundtable.

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.

Breaking down barriers to medicines: NACCHO Industry Roundtable

Yesterday, Wednesday 31 August NACCHO held an Industry Roundtable, bringing together nearly 30 representatives from NACCHO, Medicines Australia, the Medical Technology Association of Australia, and other sector representatives. The roundtable was used as a platform to discuss improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to medicines and medical technologies. A specific focus was on ways drug development and clinical trial processes can be strengthened to support improved health outcomes, including options to support access where barriers exist.

Telethon Kids Institute Senior Manager of Strategy and Policy, Louise Lyons told NACCHO, “We know for instance that there are some emerging, new technologies, tests and treatments that can really improve the survivability and outcomes for all people… Our aim is to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to those new treatments.

“But what we’ve got to do first of all is to ensure that the health pathways are culturally safe for them, that Aboriginal people feel supported,” Ms Lyons said.

Bare AU and NZ Group Head for Public Affairs, Ailish Hanley said the most significant issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing treatments is equity, “and the discussion around that is really understanding what some of the key barriers are that are specific to the community, so we as companies can understand the role that we can play and how best to engage.”

Medicines Australia Policy Manager, Con Tablan said while policy is needed to improve access to treatments, it cannot be done without engagement with Community.

“Talking to communities about what their needs are and reaching out to them to see what they need, rather than us going ‘take this vaccine, or take this medication”

“This sort of one brush approach doesn’t work” Mr Tablan said.

NACCHO Industry Roundtable participants.


NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner is set to speak at SNAICC ’23 in Garamilla (Darwin) next week, joining more than 1,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and advocates. Between Tuesday 5 September and Thursday 7 September, the conference will highlight the work SNAIC – National Voice for our Children and its members are leading to close the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. SNAIC Chair, Muriel Bamblett AO said the biennial conference would highlight the importance of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions to issues.

“The evidence is clear that when we are partners in the decision-making, running the services and developing the policy, it works,” she said.

The conference will platform more than 110 sessions that will demonstrate how the work that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are doing in the early years, services, care, and child protection are delivering results. The program will feature three key themes: children and families, children protection, and early learning and development, and will include keynotes, concurrent sessions, and yarning circles, as well as special performances.

Read the full National Indigenous Times article here and more details about SNAICC ’23 here.

SNAICC ’23 logo. Image source: SNAICC ’23 website.

60-day prescriptions of PBS medicines

From Friday 1 September 2023, patients living with an ongoing health condition who are stable on their current treatment will be able to receive twice the medication for the cost of a single prescription. This will apply to more than 300 common medicines listed on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) and will be implemented in three stages over 12 months. It will be fully implemented by 1 September 2024, with the changes expected to see millions of Australians with ongoing health conditions save money and time with 60-day prescriptions.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “We welcome this measure that will help ease the cost pressures for purchasing medicines for so many people. It can halve the annual cost of people’s medicines, which is a truly significant impact. In reducing the number of times people must attend a pharmacy for each of the chronic medicines, it will also greatly improve convenience for patients and further add to the value of the measure, especially when considering accessibility of some pharmacies and current cost of transport.”

When a PBS medicine can be prescribed for 60-days patients can save:

  • Up to $180 a year, per medicine for general patients
  • Up to $43.80 a year, per medicine for concession card holders.

The first stage of medicines eligible for 60-day prescriptions will support patients who are stable on their current treatment and living with ongoing health conditions including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Crohn disease
  • Gout
  • Heart failure
  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Osteoporosis
  • Ulcerative colitis

Read NACCHO’s media release here and find more information here.

TAMS Bowel Cancer Awareness

Tamworth Aboriginal Medical Service (TAMS) created a deadly video to raise awareness for the importance of bowel cancer screening. Bowel cancer screening is a simple health check that can save lives.

“It’s so easy, we provide free testing kits, and you can get it from your doctor, nurses, Aboriginal health workers or practitioner.

“These kits are easy to use and can be done in the privacy of your own home.”

B.O.W.E.L stands for:

  • Blood in your poo
  • Obvious change in your bowel habit
  • Weight loss you can’t explain
  • Extreme tiredness for no reason
  • Lumps or swelling in your abdomen

“If you notice any of these signs don’t wait. Reach out to us.”

Watch the full video below:

Children’s rights and the environment

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change. A recent study found Indigenous communities in NSW were disproportionately exposed to a range of climate extremes such as heat, drought, and flooding. They also experienced higher rates of climate-sensitive health conditions and socioeconomic disadvantages. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has produced a new statement on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change. The UN statement explains how the rights of children are compromised by climate change, including the very basic right to life and governments have obligations to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights.

The comment says states are obliged to ensure the right to life, survival, and development of Indigenous children. They are also expected to “engage with Indigenous children and their families in responding to climate change by integrating, as appropriate, Indigenous cultures and knowledge in mitigation and adaption measures.”

In Australia, it means state, territory, and federal governments have the duty to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially to their younger members, and to take their perspective into account when crafting any policy or law that might have an impact on their livelihood and culture.

Read the full Croakey Health Media article here and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child statement here.

BUSHFIRES – Yuin Nation S Coast NSW. Photo by: Tim Georgeson.

Movement by Improvement

In early August, VACCHO hosted the ‘Movement by Improvement’ Continuous Quality Improvement Forum, where VACCHO member organisations and stakeholders came together to foster connections, exchange innovative ideas, and embark on a journey of learning from each other, with the main question being asked, “how can we do things better to support communities’ health and wellbeing?”

Attendees connected through workshops and tabletop yarns which were captured in artworks by Lucinda Gifford, telling a visual story of the event.

VACCHO wrote on Facebook, “we thank all those involved and attended in making this event fun and interactive for all and hope everyone walked away with new connections and ideas.”

VACCHO Movement by Improvement workshop artwork. Artwork by: Lucinda Gifford.

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.

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