NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Calls to integrate pharmacists within ACCHOs

Feature tile: Pharmacist Kylie van Rooijen (R) with RN Neil Dunning, discussing how to use a MediSachet roll, Port Lincoln AHS; text 'Calls to integrate PHARMACISTS WITHIN ACCHOs to fight chronic disease'

The image in the feature tile is of GP pharmacist Kylie van Rooijen (R) with RN Neil Dunning, at the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, discussing how to use a MediSachet roll. The image appeared in the article Why this Aboriginal health service values its GP pharmacist published in the Australian Pharmacist on 2 June 2021.

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.

Calls to integrate pharmacists within ACCHOs

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) submission to the recent House of Representatives Inquiry into Diabetes centers on the impact of social, environmental, and health system factors that create additional challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in preventing the illness and its associated complications. QAIHC’s Public Health Physician Associate  Professor Sophia Couzos said diabetes can be a complex condition for patients to manage and it can be difficult for patients to adhere to treatment, especially medications. “And medications can’t work if patients don’t take them,” she said.

A/Prof. Couzos played a pivotal role as the lead researcher in the Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease Management (IPAC Project). This nationwide trial aimed to integrate non-dispensing pharmacists into the clinical teams of 18 ACCHOs in QLD, NT, and Victoria.

This comprehensive approach led to improvements in diabetes management, a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors, a decrease in medication errors, and enhanced medication understanding, ultimately resulting in improved medication adherence among the patients. QAIHC CEO Cleveland Fagan said pharmacists working in ACCHOs made a significant difference, “There were improvements in diabetes, blood pressure, and kidney function, more medicine reviews by doctors, far fewer medication prescribing errors, more patients took their medicines as they needed to, and patients felt healthier as a result.”

The Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), an independent body established by the Australian government, supports the value of the IPAC Project. In June this year MSAC advised funding to expand the integration of non-dispensing pharmacists into ACCHOs more widely, reflecting the positive impact observed in the project’s outcomes.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Call to integrate pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to fight chronic disease in full click here. You can also watch a short video below on the benefits of an ACCHO Pharmacist.

VtP and Indigenous LGBTIQA+SB research

In the latest episode of the podcast Well, Well, Well educator and researcher Professor Braden Hill talked about his extensive work on Indigenous LGBTIQA+SB health, student equity and access, and his recent advocacy videos about the Voice to Parliament (VtP) Referendum.

Professor Braden Hill is a Nyungar Wardandi man from the SW of WA and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equity and Indigenous portfolio Edith Cowan University, and is the Head of Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. Braden has significant experience in Aboriginal education, and leading equity work in universities, and has lead significant research about LGBTIQA+SB Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, most recently being involved in the Walkern Katatdjin report about mental health for Indigenous LGBTIQA+ youth.

To listen to the Joy 94.9 Radio Well Well Well podcast episode Braden Hill on the Voice to Parliament and Indigenous LGBTIQA+SB research click here. You can view a video of Prof Hill talking about his work below.

Tjuntjuntjara calls for better TB screening

Authorities in one of Australia’s most remote communities are calling for help to screen its residents for tuberculosis, after a 19-year-old woman who spent time there died from the contagious disease in Kalgoorlie. Paupiyala Tjarutja Aboriginal Corporation CEO Jon Lark said the young woman died in November last year was a transient resident of Tjuntjuntjara.

Mr Lark said she spent a lot of time in the remote community, where she had many close contacts, but also travelled to Kalgoorlie and the APY Lands in SA. Mr Lark said the WA government had known about the woman’s death since the end of January. But more than six months later, screening of the woman’s contacts in Tjuntjuntjara is yet to be completed.

103 cases of tuberculosis have been recorded in WA this year, with at least two cases involving Indigenous people, according to Department of Health data last updated on 9 September. Mr Lark said he wanted WA Health staff to travel to Tjuntjuntjara to conduct community-wide screening, to help to determine whether tuberculosis was spreading locally. “It’s so disappointing to be so far removed, so far forgotten, so far from everything and having such limited resources for our health service to be able to deal with a situation like this,” he said.=

To read the ABC News article Tjuntjuntjara community calls for better tuberculosis screening after woman’s death in full click here.

map of Australia with pin for Tjuntjuntjara WA

Tjuntjuntjara is one of Australia’s most remote communities. Photo: Sharon Gordon, ABC News.

Black Comedy star on body image

Australian actress and comedian Nakkiah Lui can remember when she realised her relationship with food was wrong. “I had started getting comments about my weight and being bullied for being fat,” she said. “It’s been a huge defining part of my life, because food was always the enemy.”

The Black Comedy star knows the importance of understanding body image, saying, “When it comes to the discussion of food and body image, the more intersectional we can be in discourses around these the better. We need lots of different perspectives around things like food and especially body image, because for a long time they’ve both been used as ways to include and exclude people,” Lui says. “Our idea of what a beautiful person looks like, what an acceptable body looks like and what a ‘healthy’ body looks like has very much been defined by race, sex and gender.”

The radio host noted that adding an Indigenous lens to discussions of body image may allow people understand the true extent of its impact. “I think when you start adding in conversations around Indigeneity to that, then you’re going to be talking about things like colonisation, like white supremacy, and you’re going to start unpicking things that get to usually go invisible,” she says.

To view the 9Honey article ‘Food was the enemy’: Australia actress Nakkiah Lui’s body image admission in full click here.

portrait image of Nakkiah Lui, host and co-producer of podcast First Eat with Nakkiah Lui

Nakkiah Lui, host and co-producer of podcast First Eat with Nakkiah Lui, which explores First Nations’ food cultures in Australia and abroad. Image source: The Guardian.

Broome home to Australia’s worst prison

In the heart of picture-postcard Broome stands WA’s oldest operating prison, a crumbling vestige of the state’s earlier colonial days. Last month the WA Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services (OICS) released a damning report denouncing the prison as “dilapidated” and “poorly maintained” to the point of being a health and safety hazard with foul-smelling, open drains, persistent mould, water damage, and garden crates used as furniture. Disturbingly, the report found an underlying, unacceptably racist element to the conditions.

It said, “With 80% of the [prison] population Aboriginal, the sub-standard services and conditions would not have been acceptable in a metropolitan prison where Aboriginal people were in the minority.” Since 2001, the WA inspector of prisons has published no fewer than seven reports declaring the prison unfit for its purpose in terms varying from “decrepit” to “inhumane.” Yet hundreds of people spend time in Broome prison each year, with devastating consequences for their physical and mental health.

This situation compounds an already serious mental health crisis in WA prisons. A 2020 study of men who entered the prison system in WA found that over 50% of Aboriginal prisoners had experienced the death of a close family member in the previous 12 months, increasing the risk of depression, self-harm, and suicide.

To read The West Australian article Kriti Sharma and Daniela Gavshon: Picture-postcard Broome is home to Australia’s ‘worst prison’ in full click here.

collage 3 images Broome prison exterior, kitchen, storeroom

In the heart of picture-postcard Broome stands Western Australia’s oldest operating prison, a crumbling vestige of the state’s earlier colonial days. Image source: The West Australian.

Outlet to craft has mental health benefits

Aunty Cheryl Norris can be found most days sitting behind a table at a craft store in SA’s Riverland. Her hands weave tiny beads onto even thinner threads, crafting jewellery to be worn across wrists and ears. “I was like a prisoner at home,” the Indigenous Erawirung woman says. “But now I can come down here to the shop every day. “I’m out and about, I’m seeing people, I’m doing things here.

Joining her at the table, strewn with wool, is Marian Reeves and Darren Ellis. The couple runs the store, nestled in the streets of Berri, having moved from Victoria after their Shepparton rental was devasted by flooding. “We weren’t sure whether we wanted to reopen the shop,” Ms Reeves said.

“But with Cheryl nagging us saying that the community here needs something, we decided to reopen.” The couple had offered a similar space in Shepparton, and knew it could provide a spot for people from the community to craft or even just have a chat.

Ms Reeves said some of the people who came into the shop didn’t have a project, but they just wanted to sit. “It makes us feel good because we’ve made somebody else happy,” she said.

To view the ABC News article Riverland community space provides outlet to craft, along with mental health benefits in full click here.

Aunty Cheryl Norris beading at craft group

Aunty Cheryl Norris says having a place to craft offers her ways to socialise and get out of the house. Photo: Sophie Holder, ABC Riverland.

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