NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Working Together (with youth), We are Stronger

The image in the feature tile is from the 2023 NACCHO Youth 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.

Working Together (with youth), We are Stronger

From team building exercises including working together to stop balloons hitting the ground, to hearing from the AHCWA Youth Committee on how their youth leadership model can be replicated across the country – the 2023 NACCHO Youth Conference proved that Working Together (with youth), We are Stronger. Fun and games aside, the Youth Conference discussed topics including the unique barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in becoming doctors, the significant value in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of learning, and how we can better support young mob with cancer.

Vincent Carter, from Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) said his main takeaway from the conference was feeling supported to make connections with other youth.

“[At] my table, I didn’t know any of them at the start of the day and now we’re quite close and everyone’s having this yarn, and being able to hear the different ideas and different topics that are being floated around, especially outside in our own different communities.

“Yeah, for me I feel like it’s that networking and collaboration, and being able to work together,” he said.

Representing all Youth Conference attendees, a message of consolidation was delivered by Destiny Harrison from Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative, and Dale Thomas from Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, to the NACCHO Members’ Conference. The selected representatives spoke on the need for more opportunities to build the capacity of future leaders.

“We call on all of the member services here today, make space for us young mob. Teach us. We want to listen, and we want you to listen to our voices, our experiences.

“…We know that in our community-controlled sector healing is needed, and with the healing comes the trust of leaders to provide the space and the safety for us to step up and take on leadership roles.

“In our lives we have been witnesses to the constant trials and tribulations our people and communities have faced. We have witnessed Australia embrace us and turn their backs on us. We have watched our leaders stand at the forefront facing countless attacks. We have seen it. But now it is our turn to stand and face it.

“It will be our duty in the coming years to stand up and advocate and fight for our people. It is our duty to be the ones to face these attacks with resilience. But we won’t be standing alone, we will be standing with you all… We are empowered youths, and we are ready.”

NACCHO Youth Conference 2023.

Four Corners: Guarded

Four Corners latest episode titled Guarded investigates private security policing the public in Darwin, revealing violent interactions involving guards and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) CEO, John Paterson was interviewed for the program, explaining why many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are sleeping rough on the streets of Darwin. Mr Paterson explains, “They’re probably here from remote communities for health visits to hospitals for the acute end. They’re probably here for… Centrelink benefit-type arrangements or meetings, education.”

“They perhaps don’t have funding to rent accommodation in a hostel for a week or so. So, the alternative is to sleep in the streets. You know given the rough treatment, that’s not on,” said Mr Paterson.

Watch the Four Corners episode on ABC iview here.

AMSANT CEO, John Paterson on Four Corners Guarded.

Applications open for the 2024 Australian Government Youth Advisory Groups

Applications for the Australian Government’s Youth Advisory Groups have now opened. The Australian Government Youth Advisory Groups will bring 40 people together to work across five different groups on a specific policy or program to influence its development or implementation. There are five advisory groups that young people can apply for in 2024:

  • First Nations Education
  • Creative Industries
  • Employment
  • Prevention of Gender-Based Violence
  • Civic Engagement

The Youth Advisory Group for First Nations Education will partner with the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Department of Education. Members will provide input into four priority areas related to school engagement: the role of teachers, education policy settings like the National School Reform Agreement, cultural capability and curriculum content, and targeted program support for school engagement.

Any young person between 16 and 25 can apply. The Australian Government is seeking a diverse group of people from across the country with no previous experience required. Up to 8 young people will be appointed to each group and will be paid an honorarium to recognise contributions made over the advisory group term. The first meeting of the advisory groups will occur in Canberra from Monday 18 March to Friday 22 March 2024, with the costs of travel, accommodation and food covered by the Office for Youth. Applicants must be available for this meeting.

The team at OFY are hosting a free webinar where we will share more about the application process and answer questions on the application process and advisory groups. The webinar will be held on Thursday 9 November 2023, 6PM AEDT. Young people can register to attend here. Young people can also contact OFY at if they need support to apply.

Applications are open until Sunday 19 November 2023.

Find more information here.

Treating drug and alcohol addiction as a health issue targets the heart of the problem

Amendment to drug laws in the ACT will now see people caught in possession of small amounts of illicit drugs receiving a $100 fine, as opposed to a prison sentence. The ACT Government’s new approach intends to reduce stigma and treat drug addiction primarily as a health issue, whilst reducing crime and improving community safety. As of this week, people in Canberra caught in possession of illicit substances will also be referred to a diversionary program and receive drug counselling.

ACT Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury said, “We know that it is better to treat drug and alcohol addiction as a health issue because it targets the heart of the problem, rather than simply the outcome. That leads to a reduction in re-offending and ultimately improves community safety.”

In line with the new drug reform changes, last month the ACT Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith announced plans for a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residential rehabilitation service facility which will also be developed in partnership with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

Read the full National Indigenous Times article here.

ACT Attorney General Shane Rattenbury alongside Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Improving access to primary care during the pandemic

Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) telehealth items were welcome additions that supported general practice care during the pandemic. They were particularly valuable for the safety of primary care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, at increased risk of COVID‐19 infection, hospitalisation, and death because of the effects of socio‐economic disadvantage, colonisation, and racism. During the pandemic, the Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care (the Inala Indigenous Health Service) offered telehealth alongside face‐to‐face consultations.

Results from a study surrounding data from the Inala Indigenous Health Service clinical database (Best Practice) for all people who attended the service during 1 March 2019 – 28 February 2021, found Telehealth consultations were a good approach to improving access to primary care during COVID-19. However, the number of consultations with practice nurses and Aboriginal health workers at the Inala Indigenous Health Service was lower during than before the pandemic, as were the numbers of primary care visits for men, young children, and people seeking preventive health care.

Read the full article here.

Image source: Unsplash.

Indigenous Wellbeing Centre announced as Bundaberg Medicare Urgent Care Clinic

A bulk-billed clinic offering urgent health care will begin operations from late November, helping to relieve pressure on the Bundaberg Hospital. The Indigenous Wellbeing Centre has been chosen as Bundaberg’s federally-funded clinic providing bulk-billed health care to the region. Bundaberg Medicare Urgent Care Clinic aims to relieve demand on hospital emergency departments, with Bundaberg Hospital regularly seeing the longest emergency department wait time in QLD.

Federal Health Minister, Mark Butler said the clinic would provide a significant boost to the availability of healthcare in the region.

“(It) will make a big difference to patients in the region who will be able to walk in seven days a week and get free urgent care from a nurse or a doctor,” Minister Butler said.

“The clinic will ease pressure on Bundaberg Hospital, so that its hardworking doctors and nurses can focus on higher priority emergencies.”

Read the full Cairns Post article here.

Image source: Cairns Post.

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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