NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Must know shape The Voice will take

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

Must know shape The Voice will take

Last night NACCHO CEO, Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner AM spoke to Narelda Jacobs and John Paul Janke on NITV The Point. The presenters  introduced the interview saying that while the while Uluru Statement from the Heart with its enshrined Voice to Parliament was one a big agenda item for the new federal government and the PM had this week renewed his vow to push ahead with the Voice to Parliament without or without the Coalition’s support, questions remain on how to move forward.

Ms Turner, who has a long history of being involved in constitutional conventions, including being a Board member of the Constitutional Centenary Foundation, said she always imagined that when it cam time to amend the constitution there would be a clear understanding of what shape the amendment would take.

You can view Episode 20 The Point, Season 2022 including Pat Turner’s interview from 1:50-6:51 minutes  here.

APO NT welcome NT Treaty Commission report

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) is proud to recognise the significant achievement of the NT’s Treaty Commission on the public release of its Final Report. “First Nations across the NT can boast a long and proud history of calling for recognition, truth, justice and self-determination for our people,” said AMSANT CEO, John Paterson.

“From Gwalwa Daraniki, to the Yirrkala Bark Petitions, to the Barunga Statement, to the Wave Hill walk off- all our calls for control of our own affairs are at the heart of our work here at APO NT. Treaty is the obvious next step. We call on Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, Minster for Treaty, Selena Uibo, and the whole NT Government to support the recommendations in the report.”

To view the APO NT media release APO NT celebrates the public release of the NT Treaty Commission’s Final Report, and support its calls for Truth and Treaty in full click here.

Hon Selena Uibo, NT Minister for Treaty and Local Decision-Making with the Treaty Commission Final Report. Image source: Katherine Times.

National report on ear and hearing health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released an inaugural national report on the ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults. Indigenous Australians experience excessive rates of ear and hearing problems which can have profound impacts on overall health and quality of life. The AIHW report brings together information on the prevalence of ear and hearing problems among Indigenous Australians along with insights on key protective and risk factors.

To view the AIHW citation for the Ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report released on 29 June 2022 in full click here.

Image source: NHMRC website.

Stan Grant on building Aboriginal workforce

Esteemed Journalist Stan Grant has supported discussions around how to bolster the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD). Amid a panel chat facilitated by Stan at Blacktown Hospital, the WSLHD launched its Aboriginal Workforce Plan on 27 June 2022.

Stan said discussions like these are critical because “if you don’t hear the voices, if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you can’t possibly devise a strategy to meet their needs. It’s about building an overall relationship with the communities and creating opportunities for people to enter into the workforce, stay in the organisations and to have those pathways to feel integrated.”

To view The Pulse article Stan Grant on strengthening Aboriginal workforces in western Sydney in full click here.

Stan Grant. Image source: Griffith News, Griffith University.

Near-miss Award for hepatitis C research

Implementation Science Group Co-Head, and Coordinator of EC Australia, Dr Alisa Pedrana is one of 11 recipients of an exciting new award, The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot. The award aims to support the retention and development of outstanding emerging researchers and future leaders from groups facing systematic barriers to success, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot addresses disadvantage by supporting the best eligible but unfunded Victorian applicants from these groups at the 2021 NHMRC Emerging Leader level 2 scheme.

Each award is valued at $74,000 and is matched with a cash contribution of the same value from the recipient’s primary employer. Dr Pedrana said the award would support her work on two projects focused on the elimination of hepatitis C in Australia – a partnership with Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Coroporation (BNMAC) in northern NSW to develop campaigns for hepatitis C testing; and the evaluation of a same-day hepatitis C test-and-treat model in Cairns.

You can access the Burnet Institute article Near-miss boost for hepatitis research in full click here and a related article ACCHO Leads Hepatitis C Elimination Effort on the BNMAC website here.

BNMAC hep c testing. Image source BNMAC website. Dr Alisa Pedrana. Image source; Burnet Institute website.

Funding needed for bush health access

Dr Ross Maxwell, Chair of Health Workforce Queensland says the government needs to commit real funding to help remote and rural communities with access to doctors and health workforce when and where they need them, both now and into the future.

“There is currently too much stress on existing GP, allied health and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Many services are considered to be unsustainable from financial and workforce perspectives. Solutions will involve additional workforce and innovative service delivery models fully supported by enhanced funding. It is a time for genuine partnership in remote and rural communities and it has never been more important to work collaboratively at the local, state and federal levels to address these health workforce and health service challenges”.

To view the Mirage article Funding Reform Required for GP & Allied Health Practices in full click here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Noongar elders’ fight for recognition

In 2015, an Indigenous-led protest against state government plans to shut down a number of remote Aboriginal communities in WA spawned a tent embassy and “refugee camp” on an island in Perth’s Swan River. After weeks of tension, police and council rangers moved in to forcibly shut down the Heirisson Island (Matagarup) camp and remove the protesters  from the island.

But in the wake of the closure, the City of Perth Council realised it needed to apologise and embark on a process of reconciliation to make Noongar people feel safe and welcome in the city. So it hosted a series of meetings. The meetings have led to an unexpected legacy project documenting the stories of the Noongar people’s fight for recognition. A short film, podcast and book have been published that tells the journey of the Noongar through first-hand stories.

To view the ABC News article Noongar Aboriginal elders’ fight for recognition documented in podcast, short film and book in full click here.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations population continues to grow

Image in feature tile is of Census remote team member using tablet. Image source: ABS image library.

First Nations population continues to grow

The 2021 Census provides an updated snapshot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said today. The Census found that 812,728 people (3.2% of the population) identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, an increase of over 25% (25.2%) since 2016. Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted, 91.4% identified as Aboriginal, 4.2% identified as Torres Strait Islander, and 4.4% identified as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The Census also revealed growing numbers of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with over 47,000 (47,677) aged 65 years and over in 2021, up from 31,000 in 2016 and 21,000 in 2011. The median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increased slightly to 24 years in 2021, up from 23 years in 2016 and 21 years in 2011.

To view the ABS media release 2021 Census finds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older population continues to grow in full click here.

Apunipima Men’s Health Summit success

From Monday 13 to Friday 17 June, males from all over the Cape descended on Elim Beach Camp Ground near Hope Vale for a Men’s Health Summit hosted by Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Social & Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) team. The event focused squarely on men’s health, with four nights of camping giving the men an opportunity to relax and connect with other men from across the Cape in a remote location free of many of the distractions of regular daily life.

The Summit was attended by men from Mapoon, Napranum, Aurukun, Mossman Gorge and Wujal Wujal. The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘Growing Together as Fathers, Providers and Protectors,’ with guest speakers, discussions and activities centred around men’s business and how to be the best men they can be for their families and for their communities.

The program was structured to present different topics to the men daily to promote conversation throughout the day and into the night. Some of the key themes to come out of the week were, looking after yourself, providing a safe place for men in community, talking about and sharing your problems and being good male role models for both your own kids and others in community.

MC for the week was one of FNQ’s funniest comedians, Sean Choolburra who kept everyone laughing throughout the week. Also speaking throughout the summit was BBM Cairns’ National TalkBlack radio host Trevor Tim, former NRL players Davin Crompton and Brenton Bowen and others including academics, motivational speakers and health industry professionals.

“Men’s health is a topic that often doesn’t get discussed, or gets pushed down the priorities list. We want to change that and hopefully some of the discussions that we’ve had this week will be the foundation for further progress in the men’s health space back in community,” said Summit Project Officer and local Traditional Owner Kurtis Gibson.

To view the Apunipima media release “Growing Together as Fathers, Providers & Protectors” – Apunipima Men’s Health Summit in full click here.

Apunipima Men’s Health Summit team and speakers.

Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

Download this poster that you can put up at your services here and images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to share this information across all your networks.

Get2it bowel cancer campaign launched

The Cancer Council, leaders in cancer prevention and social marketing, has launched the Get2it campaign calling Aussies to screen their number 2s. The Get2it campaign is an integrated mass media drive in partnership with the Australian Government, encouraging all Australians aged 50-74 to Get2it and participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) when they receive their free test in the mail.

The Get2it campaign, which is funded by the Australian Government, has been informed by extensive research undertaken by Cancer Council’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) which was designed to uncover why only four in ten (43.5%) Australians undertake the bowel screening test every two years. The mass media campaign includes a national media buy across TV, radio, digital and OOH, as well as PR.

In addition, the campaign will also target communities with increased risk of developing bowel cancer and increased barriers to participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. These include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitie, and health care professionals including GPs.

To view the Mumbrella article Cancer Council launches Get2it bowel cancer campaign calling Aussies to screen their number 2s in full click here.

Cherbourg rents frozen for 12 months

Renters in Queensland’s largest Indigenous shire have had their rates frozen for a year as the council helps locals cope with the rising cost of living. The Aboriginal Shire of Cherbourg, a three-hour drive from Brisbane, is also facing a mass influx of former residents returning home in search of affordable and culturally-appropriate housing.

It is contributing to the housing crisis, with 200 people on a waiting list for a home in the town of about 1,200, according to the Cherbourg Aboriginal Council. Elder and past mayor Arnold Murray said there was a growing trend of young people wishing to return to the Cherbourg community from other south-east Queensland regions, including Ipswich, Brisbane and Logan. “They want to come home. This is their home and it’s too expensive out there,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Cherbourg Aboriginal Council freezes rents for 12 months to combat cost of living pressures in full click here.

Former Cherbourg mayor Arnold Murray says many people want to return to the town. Photo: Jenae Jenkins, ABC Wide Bay.

Digital health helps youth with ear disease

Thanks to funding from the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, Ear Science Institute Australia, in collaboration with Curtin University, will address child and youth mental health in WA.bThe partnership will leverage existing digital health technologies to target Aboriginal young people with ear disease and hearing loss to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Lead investigator, Professor Christopher Lawrence, Dean of Indigenous Engagement, Faculty of Science and Engineering at Curtin University, and proud Nyungar (Whadjuk and Ballardong) person, developed the mobile app #thismymob in 2016 when he was based at the University of Technology Sydney. This social and emotional digital health platform allows local communities to discuss and share information relevant to their mob. It is a local resource for important health information and advice.

To view the Curtin University article Digital health technologies to help Aboriginal young people with ear disease in full click here. The below NITV video dates from the first release of the This My Mob app in July 2018,

Indigenous EMCR Award date extended

The Women’s Health Research and Translation Network Indigenous (WHRTN) offers one-off financial support to facilitate career advancement and development for women working in women’s health research and translation.

The 2022 Indigenous Early and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Award is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the early and mid-career stages of their careers in women’s health research. This Award aims to bolster the career development of women working across the breadth of women’s health research.

You can access further information and an application form here or on the WHRTN website here. You can also email Monash University directly using this email link.

EMCR Awards have been extended to Monday 18 July 2022.

AACAP – 25 years of supporting mob

This year the Australian Army is marking its 25th year of providing support to remote First Nations communities through the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme (AACAP). AACAP is a joint initiative between Army and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) which sees Army personnel deployed to a different remote community each year to work on projects that improve health, living and economic conditions specific to that community.

This year, AACAP will be hosted in Gapuwiyak and Baniyala in East Arnhem Land. Army personnel will live and work alongside the community for a five month period to deliver upgrades to infrastructure and services and provide health programs, vocational training and community-based engagement activities.

Among the community-requested projects, the Gapuwiyak community will benefit from a new culture and arts centre co-funded by the NT Government. Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, said Gapuwiyak and Baniyala will be the 48th and 49th communities to benefit from the program since it commenced in Bulla, NT, in 1997. AACAP capitalises on Army’s ability to deliver a range of services that would not normally be available in a single project.

To view the Australian Defence Magazine article AACAP begins 25th year in full click here.

Australian Army and community of Jigalong, WA welcome CO PNGDF Engineer Battalion and team to AACAP 2019. Image source: AACAP Twitter 26 July 2019.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Labor faces fresh challenges as it works towards a referendum on the Indigenous voice to parliament, with Aboriginal leader Pat Turner revealing she is “struggling” to see a way forward on constitutional recognition and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe saying the nation is not ready for the vote. Ms Turner, who worked with former PM Scott Morrison to redesign the national agreement on Closing the Gap, says Australians will not vote for the Indigenous voice unless they have details.

The Coalition of Peaks chairwoman also told the Australian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce on Friday that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had unanswered questions. “This is a deeply personal view. I am struggling to see the best way forward on constitutional recognition and responding to the Uluru Statement,” Ms Turner said. “I accept the totality of the Uluru Statement and I am very supportive of a national voice to the parliament, but I need to start to see some detail here. I want some meat on the bones.
“And the proponents of the voice have got to start putting that out because I am not the only – Aboriginal person that is wondering what this is going to look like.”

Ms Turner was a member of the senior advisory group tasked with working on the design of an Indigenous voice for the Morrison government. The group’s work, overseen by prominent Indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, produced a detailed report recommending options for local and regional voices as well as a national voice representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.

To view The Australian article I’m struggling to see way forward on recognition, Pat Turner says click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: THe Sydney Morning Herald.

Rhythm appointed for new NDIS campaign

Following a competitive national pitch process, Rhythm has been appointed by the NACCHO to design, develop and produce a National NDIS communications campaign. The campaign will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia with culturally secure messaging to improve awareness and uptake of NDIS services. This follows Rhythm’s recent relaunch of its production offering as Rhythm Films, alongside its expansion as a fully fledged creative agency.

Briannan Dean, General Manager of Rhythm, said it’s an exciting and much-needed project. “The NDIS has so much potential to impact and improve people’s quality of life, and to date there hasn’t been a targeted communications campaign that is appropriate for and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences. Rhythm is very excited to partner with NACCHO on a national level to drive awareness and better outcomes in this space.”

To view the Campaign Brief article NACCHO appoints Rhythm WA as agency and production partner for new NDIS campaign in full click here.

Rhythm WA team. Image source: Campaign Brief.

Pastors address COVID-19 vax misinformation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pastors have linked up to strike down COVID-19 misinformation. The religious leaders have united with health practitioners in our communities in the hope of countering conspiracies about COVID-19 vaccines. Research has told us there are multiple complex reasons for vaccine hesitancy in communities, ranging from misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy, concerns about side effects and some people’s belief that vaccinating goes against their faith.

To help raise awareness around how COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to protect your family and communities from COVID-19, NACCHO reached out to Pastors in select communities, who have lent their voices to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. Below are links to each of the Pastor videos that will be released through a nationwide campaign by NITV (YouTube link to each video):

  • Pastor Geoff Stokes – Kalgoorlie, WA: here
  • Pastor Willie Dumas – Tweed Heads, NSW: here
  • Pastor George Mann – Bourke, NSW: here
  • Pastor Ray Minniecon – Glebe, NSW: here
  • Uncle Col Watego – Glebe, NSW: here

Catchy iSISTERQUIT video clips launched

Southern Cross University’s iSISTAQUIT project has launched a compilation of catchy video clips in a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking. iSISTAQUIT is a blended model of community support and traditional treatment by GPs and other health professionals to help these women stop smoking.

“Through our research we found there are three main things we need to address to really make a difference to the numbers of Aboriginal women who smoke during pregnancy. These are clinician training, better access to oral forms of nicotine replacement therapy and specific health promotion messages to address the challenges Indigenous women face when quitting,” said Coffs Harbour campus-based SCU Professor Gillian Gould, lead investigator and GP.

“Our iSISTAQUIT social media campaign, designed in consultation with community women and with Aboriginal Health Professionals, has a bright, upbeat energy to focus on the positive outlooks and celebrate the successes of the women. It’s important that Aboriginal women feel comfortable with their health professionals to talk about quitting, and it’s vital that a health professional has the appropriate approach to start the chat with minimising barriers. It’s the chat that could save a life.”

To view the News Of The Area article SCU Launches Campaign For ISISTAQUIT Project in full click here.

SAWCAN governance award finalist

The South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) has been highly commended for outstanding examples of Aboriginal-led governance on a national level. On 8 June 2022 at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre Sydney, the Indigenous Governance Awards ceremony, hosted by Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation, acknowledged and celebrated outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives, projects, or within small to large businesses.

SAWCAN were one of nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations / initiatives from around the nation who were shortlisted as finalists in the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards. Whilst SAWCAN didn’t win, they were one of two initiatives who were given high commendations from the judging panel. Romlie Mokak, Indigenous Governance Awards judging panel member and Productivity Commissioner said “the fact that you have been able to, in such a short amount of time, change the way that governments themselves saw their program objectives and you were able to step into that space and not only speak to it but re-negotiate what that looked like for your mob, I think speaks volumes about the strength of your collaboration and the value that others see in it as well, including government.”

To view the SAWCAN media release SAWCAN Highly Commended in Category 1 of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards in full click here.

L to R: Karen Mundine, CEO Reconciliation Australia; Janine Mohamed, CEO Lowitja Institute; Donna Murray, CEO Indigenous Allied
Health Australia; Cindy Zbierski, CEO Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service; Zell Dodd, CEO Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation; Warren
Clements, Public Health Manager Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, Polly Paerata SAWCAN Secretariat, Leeroy Bilney COO Tullawon
Health Service and Romlie Mokak Commissioner with the Productivity Commission.

Flu adds pressure to stretched NT health system

A steep rise in influenza cases across the NTis exacerbating ongoing staff and bed shortages at hospitals, with hundreds hospitalised and patients being flown in from remote communities for treatment. Data from NT Health shows the territory has nearly doubled its recent flu records, with 3,210 cases recorded so far this year — up from 1,878 in 2019. More than 1,000 of those cases have been reported in the past month.

It’s a concerning trend that is dumping more pressure on the NT’s already strained health system, with some units so busy that patients have at times been left waiting in beds in corridors. That’s according to Dr Stephen Gourley, the NT chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). “Unfortunately, you may end up in a bed in a corridor,” Dr Gourley said.  “When the hospital gets very full, we try our best to find people places to be and they’re not always in the most ideal places.”

To view the ABC News article Rising flu cases increasing pressure on chronically stretched NT health system in full click here.

Health workers at Royal Darwin Hospital work hard to keep up with demand. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Matilda’s goalkeeper supports health workers

Throughout June, Bridging the Gap Foundation (BtGF) has teamed up with Matilda’s goalkeeper, proud Noongar woman, and Canberra local Lydia Williams, aiming to assist the mounting Indigenous healthcare crisis in the NT. Ms Williams is raising funds for The Ramaciotti Regional and Remote Health Sciences Training Centre (Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre) following a severe and systemic shortage of healthcare workers, particularly Indigenous staff, placing the healthcare system under enormous pressure.

This is one of the driving factors for ongoing poor health outcomes and unacceptable health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, says Bridging the Gap. The overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed hospitals rely on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers due to a lack of investment in career pathways for local people to enter the health workforce. The Foundation revealed the workforce turnover rate is estimated to be around 148%.

“I am proud to work alongside Bridging the Gap Foundation to raise funds for the Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre’s trainees,” says Ms Williams. “I understand the importance of culturally appropriate health programs and I am keen to promote education campaigns that highlight the importance of healthy lifestyles. This campaign kicks these goals for me.”

To view The Canberra Times article Canberra’s Lydia Williams kicks goals with Bridging the Gap Foundation in full click here.

Lydia Williams Arsenal WFC & Matilda’s goalkeeper. Image source: NiniTTi.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

Image in feature tile from 2019 NACCHO Members’ Conference.

NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

In just over 100 days NACCHO delegates from 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, guests and presenters from across our sectors will come together to at the NACCHO Members’ Conference in beautiful Canberra to celebrate our successes over the years and discuss all the good work to come.

Please join us:

NACCHO Youth Conference 17 October 2022

NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting and Annual General Meeting 18 October 2022

NACCHO Member’s Conference 19–20 October 2022

Early bird rates available (2-day conference package only).

For more information and to register click here.

NACCHO looks forward to celebrating with you all in October.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the NACCHO Members’ Conference was not held in 2020 or 2021. You can watch a video below with highlights from the 2019 conference below.

AHCWA to deliver $17.6m mental health pilot

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has been awarded $17.6 million to deliver a mental health pilot to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people. The regional Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Model of Service pilot program aims to increase access to social and emotional wellbeing and healthcare services for Aboriginal people of all ages in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West, Goldfields and South-West regions of WA.

Local ACCHOs will run the program in their communities:

  • Bega Garnbirringu Health Service in Kalgoorlie;
  • Derby Aboriginal Health Service in Derby;
  • Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland;
  • Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service in Geraldton; and
  • South West Aboriginal Medical Service in Bunbury.

Through culturally secure prevention and community development, psychosocial support, targeted interventions and coordinated care by multidisciplinary teams, the pilot is expected to improve quality of life for Aboriginal people. The Mental Health Commission will work with AHCWA to support the governance and evaluation of the pilot.

To view the Government of WA Media Statement Mental health pilot to boost Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing in full click here.

Image sources: Wikivoyage, Queensland Government IMHIP webpage.

$1.25m NDIS grants to ACCHOs

NACCHO has delivered over $1.25 million in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM welcomed the funding, “These grants will enable the ACCHO sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability.” CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Rob McPhee, said: “Danila Dilba is committed to helping our Mob with disabilities live the life they want. The IBSF grant will help us further the work we do in supporting our communities in accessing NDIS services. Demand for support and services is much higher than what we can provide alone – but the IBSF grant can assist in strengthening our internal business planning and development and organisational readiness for addressing the unmet need of many in our community with a disability.”

To view The National Tribune article $1.25 million to support community-controlled sector to deliver NDIS services for their communities in full click here.

Kelvina Benny, WA. Image source: NDIS website.

Staying physically and mentally healthy

The Australian Government Department of Health as produced two resources designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with tips on staying physically and mentally healthy. You can download the resources below:

Stay Physically Healthy – Let’s put looking after our physical health on our to do lists in 2022

Stay Mentally Healthy – Let’s put looking after our social and emotional wellbeing on our to do lists in 2022

You can also access the relevant Australian Government Department of Health webpages here and here.

Images from the Department of Health Stay Mentally Healthy and Stay Physically Healthy resources.

Lack of housing bites harder in winter

Djiringanj man Uncle Lewis Campbell has been homeless for seven years, and has been on the list for social housing just as long. In the last two years, his health has deteriorated rapidly and he has suffered multiple bouts of pneumonia due to repeated exposure to the cold. Uncle Lewis has been supported by services in the area to access temporary accommodation through motels, but said he can only access those services for four nights per week. Other nights he stays with friends in the community.

But beds with friends are becoming few and far between.

In early June Uncle Lewis was staying in a spare room with Aunty Kath Jones in her flat in Bega. Ms Jones said she had never seen the housing situation as bad as it had been in her community over the last two years due to multiple natural disasters and the pandemic. “He’s not the only one, I’ve got another homeless girl at the moment, so since she’s been there Uncle Lewis has been staying at the motel to let her have the room because she’s a woman,” Ms Jones said.

The above story is from a Bega District News article Lack of housing and refuges bites even harder in winter with health issues exacerbated for South Coast homeless.

Uncle Lewis Campbell from Bega has been homeless for seven years. His health has suffered immensely as a result, with several bouts of pneumonia in the last few years. He is pleading for more refuges for women and men on the Far South Coast. Photo: Ellouise Bailey. Image source: Bega District News.

LGBTQ+ mob shouting to be heard

For individuals who identify within multiple marginalised groups, their opinions and concerns in a climate of change can often go without consideration. In Pride Month (June) members of the First Nations LGBTQ+ community and leading organisations are shouting for their voice to be heard while creating an environment of support for those left out of the discussions effecting them. Indigenous LGBTQ+ advocacy group BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation founding director and chairman John Leha said recent policies ostracising trans people took an increased toll on First Nations people within the community.

Mr Leha described the recent religious discrimination bill and ban of trans women competing in elite swimming, international rugby league and policy reviews in other sports as a targeted onslaught. “I think the onslaught of this type of anti trans movement or people not having a true understanding of what it looks like and means for the community is the is what is of concern,” Mr Leha said. “Aboriginal trans people are one of the most highest populations that are faced with mental health, suicide rates across the country, and particularly young people.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous LGBTQ+ support body stands up for community caught up in public debate in full click here.

Black Rainbow LGBTIQA+SB 2021 poster. Image source: Black Rainbow website.

Neoliberalism’s impact on oral health

A study examining the detrimental effect of neoliberalism on the oral health of Australian indigenous peoples was presented by Brianna Poirer of the University of Adelaide, Australia during the “Keynote Address; Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network” session yesterday the 100th General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research.

In Australia, Indigenous peoples experience poorer oral health than their non-Indigenous counterparts across nearly every oral health metric. Recently, neoliberalism has been suggested as an overwhelming contributor to Indigenous oral health disparities. The objective of this qualitative research was to generate an understanding of how neoliberal subjectivity exists for Indigenous peoples in the context of oral health in Australia. The authors argue that personal responsibility for health, as a tenet of neoliberal ideologies, furthers Indigenous oral health inequities and that neoliberalism as a societal discourse perpetuates colonial values by benefitting the privileged and further oppressing the disadvantaged.

To view the News Medical Life Sciences article Study examines the impact of neoliberalism on oral health of Australian indigenous peoples in full click here.

Kyleesha Boah receives a dental check-up at Mackay Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services. Image source: NIAA website.

Take Home Naloxone Program update

This year’s Federal Budget included $19.6 million (over 4 years) for a Take Home Naloxone Program (THN) in all Australian states and territories which will commence on 1 July 2022. The THN program aims to provide people who may be at risk of an opioid overdose, or are likely to witness an overdose, access to free naloxone without a prescription from participating settings. Naloxone will be available at no cost and without a prescription to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.

From 1 July 2022, Section 90 (s90) community pharmacies and Section 94 (s94) hospital pharmacies in all States and Territories will be able to register via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) Portal at here to participate in the THN Program. In addition, naloxone will continue to be available at a range of other sites in NSW, SA and WA, including alcohol and other drug treatment centres, custodial release programs and needle and syringe programs. The Department will be working with jurisdictions that did not participate in the Pilot program in the coming months to support access through these non-pharmacy settings.

We do know that awareness around naloxone and its use can be improved. The roll-out of the THN Program at a national level provides an opportunity to start conversations to improve awareness of naloxone and support individuals to identify their personal risk, and where appropriate, access naloxone. The Department’s website will be updated on 1 July 2022 to include further information and resources around naloxone and the THN program. The THN Administrator’s website will also be updated from 1 July 2022 to reflect the new Program Rules and other resources to support the national program.

Your support in promoting the program through your networks is greatly appreciated as we work together to improve the lives of Australians who may overdose on opioids. Providing access to naloxone for free and without prescription will continue to remove barriers to access this important medicine and save lives.

Photo: Bridget Judd, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Vital role of First Nations midwives

Image in feature tile is of a participant of a new, dedicated, midwifery service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be, established by Townsville Hospital and Health Service in partnership with Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services (TAIHS). Image source: Townsville Bulletin.

Vital role of First Nations midwives

First Nations midwives play a vital role in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children, according to Pamela McCalman (midwife and PhD Candidate at La Trobe University), Professor Catherine Chamberlain (Professor of Indigenous Health Equity at The University of Melbourne) and Machellee Kosiak, who is affiliated with Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund.

Reporting on results from the Birthing in our Community study, they write that “in addition to western midwifery training, First Nations midwives draw on cultural and community knowledge systems” and “foster a sense of cultural safety and trust in maternity services for First Nations women”. While Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, First Nations women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than other Australian women and First Nations infants are almost twice as likely to die in the first month of life, with preterm birth the biggest cause of mortality.

Ensuring First Nations children are born healthy and strong is the second Closing the Gap target – a critical foundation for “everyone enjoying long and healthy lives”. A much needed step to guarantee this is to increase First Nations health workers, particularly midwives and nurses. The article goes on to discuss the health impacts of colonisation, the vital role of First Nations nurses and midwives and the need to increasing their number.

To read the Croakey Health Media article First Nations midwives’ leadership and care are central for improving outcomes click here.

Midwife Mel Briggs, wearing “Sister Scrubs” to identify herself as Indigenous, Yuin woman Hayley Williams and baby Jaari. Photo: Janie Barrett. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

AMA emergency pharmacy trial meeting

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has called an emergency virtual meeting tonight to discuss the North Queensland Scope of Practice Pilot. The North Queensland pharmacy trial, as it has been called, will allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense autonomously. It will allow chemists in 37 local government areas to diagnose and treat 23 conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart failure and asthma without consulting a GP.

The Queensland Government says a recent two-year Queensland urinary tract infection (UTI) pharmacy prescribing trial was a success, but the AMA strongly disagree, saying the trial lacked transparency. With no meaningful data available about the UTI trial, which was open to non-pregnant women aged 18 to 65, AMA Queensland surveyed 1,300 doctors and found approximately one in five treated patients for serious complications which were either missed or misdiagnosed by pharmacists in the trial. The complications ranged from antibiotic allergies to ectopic pregnancies to cervical cancer.

The AMA and AMA Queensland believe the trial places an unacceptable risk on patient health and safety and will exacerbate workforce shortages and hospital pressures; widen the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; fragment healthcare and exacerbate emergency department ramping and hospital logjam; and is a major conflict of interest for pharmacists.

To view the AMA Queensland article AMA calls emergency Town Hall meeting click here. You can also view NACCHO’s Media Statement NACCHO and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector oppose the proposed Queensland Community Pharmacy Trial on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: AMA News website.

The new addiction of vaping

Vaping is a multi-billion-dollar global industry that is rapidly growing in popularity amongst teenagers and young adults. Vaping was hailed as the new way to quit smoking but there are serious concerns the product is now causing nicotine addiction in teenagers. On Monday next week Four Corners investigates the explosion in vaping amongst teenagers and the booming black market which is thriving in Australia due to a failure to police the rules. Reporter Grace Tobin tracks down some of the suppliers who are illegally selling nicotine vapes either online or under the counter in stores.

To view the ABC Four Corners media release Vape Haze: The new addiction of vaping in full click here.

According to a Talking About the Smokes survey 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke have tried vapes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had tried vaping were younger; living in non-remote areas or more advantaged areas; people who smoke daily and wanting to quit, having made a quit attempt/used NRT in the past year.

You can find more information on Tackling Indigenous Smoking webpage Facts about vaping (e-cigarettes) webpage here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mental health surf program for youth

Biripi and Bundjalung siblings Amber Hamer and James Mercy are working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health through surfing. Surfing has been part of their lives from their earliest days in Coffs Harbour, NSW. “We went straight from the hospital when I was born ,Mum and Dad took me straight to the beach, because Dad was dying for a surf. I guess that started my lifelong affinity with the water,” Ms Hamer said.

Their late father Eric Mercy was a well-known surfer and beloved member of the local community who took his own life. Now, the brother and sister duo are continuing their father’s legacy by teaching youth about mental health and well-being on Gumbaynggirr Country. Five years ago they started hosting regular surfing camps to help young people learn about the healing beauty of the ocean. Their project is called Naru, the Gumbaynggirr word for water.

To view the SBS NITV article The surfing program teaching youth about culture and mental health click here.

Equity and emergency care

Equity and emergency care was the theme for day two of the 21st International Conference on Emergency Medicine on 17 June 2022. One of the speakers, Professor Greg Phillips, spoke about improving outcomes for First Nations people, how to address systemic racism and decolonise healthcare by blending Aboriginal and Western health paradigms with better representation and rewritten health curricula. He highlighted the importance of separating intent from affect, saying white fragility and recognition of privilege in healthcare is a pressing issue that involves a lot of listening and a lot of unlearning, especially for clinicians.

Ways to keep mums-to-be healthy

Dr Karen Best leads SAHMRI research in Adelaide, SA that targets optimal nutrition for women and kids. Dr Best, a Senior Fellow in the Women & Kids theme at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), designs and manages clinical trial research to understand the best nutrition for pregnant women.

Food eaten during pregnancy keeps the mother healthy and supports the growth and development of the baby. However, certain components of food – nutrients- are important for more subtle aspects of health. Karen’s recent research has focused on a type of fat called omega-3, which is found in oily fish, walnuts and other foods. “We found a dietary supplement of omega-3 in women who had low levels could reduce their risk of preterm birth,” Karen explains.

Preterm birth can result in developmental problems for babies and is often distressing for families. Required support and healthcare are costly. Even just a small improvement in that rate could translate into better outcomes for the children and families involved, and lowered expense for the healthcare system. SAHMRI’s Women & Kids theme is also researching optimal levels of iodine in pregnancy. Iodine is a naturally occurring mineral important for developing the brain and nervous system. “In this study, we’re looking at levels of iodine in pregnant women and how that is linked with developmental measures we assess once the baby reaches age two,” Karen explains.

To read The Lead article Discovering the best ways to keep mums-to-be healthy in full click here.

Photo: Emma by Jess Naera Creative. Image source: Australian Birth Stories.

Community First Development Fellow’s Oration

At Community First Development, ‘research success’ is research that is requested, led and delivered by First Nations’ people and communities. It is undertaken through deep listening and strives to achieve the outcomes that communities have set out to achieve. The First Nations Research and Evaluation Fellow is a pathway for First Nations’ academics to explore, design and deliver evaluation and research projects driven and led by First Nations’ people and communities.

Community First Development launched the inaugural Fellowship in 2020. As part of the Fellowship Murran/Iwaidja woman, Donna Stephens, our first Fellow, took a lead role in a participatory action research project with 11 communities across Australia. The final report has been published, and findings have been presented at numerous events. At this year’s oration Donna will speak on Participation and Community Development: Reflections on Change Organisations.

You can download an the invitation to the event here and register for the live webcast this Friday, 25 June 2022 by clicking here.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mob left out of record low unemployment

Mob left out of record low unemployment

The National Employment Services Association (NESA) says First Nations people and other disadvantaged Australians are being left out of record low unemployment figures. Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reported unemployment remained at a record low 3.9% in May.

But NESA principal policy advisor Annette Gill said the real numbers were much higher. “They focus so narrowly on the official unemployment rate to talk about how well our labour market is doing,” she said. “And that’s a choice the politicians have, basically. It’s not something many Australians actually understand. (The employment) rate among Indigenous Australians is considerably lower than it is for the rest of the population.”

NESA senior policy advisor Alicia Weiderman said many First Nations people had historically been excluded from statistical analysis such as employment figures. “What we still know, though, at the high level on the data, as it is reported, is that historically Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples unemployment rates have sat fairly consistently at three times that of their non Indigenous counterparts,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Industry peak body calls out Indigenous exclusion in latest unemployment rates in full click here.

Mawarnkarra CEO’s 30+ years of service

Mawarnkarra Health Service CEO and local Roebourne woman Joan Hicks is a familiar face and much respected community leader in our community. She started as a trainee health worker in 1990 when concern for the health of a family member took Joan to the old clinic on Crawford Way to talk to the registered nurse who encouraged her to apply for the role. Joan has been part of Mawarnkarra Health Service for 32 years. Joan worked as a health worker in the old Aboriginal Corporation from 1990–2000, before joining the MHS Board in 2000 and eventually becoming the chair of the board and, later, the CEO.

Joan has watched MHS grow from a small clinic with one registered nurse, a part time doctor from Wickham Hospital and admin staff to what it is today. Over time Joan says she developed a passion for Aboriginal health and could see the importance of Mawarnkarra and the great service and work that is done through the organisation.

Joan is a Ngarluma woman with family connections to Yindjibarndi and is very proud of the Mawarnkarra Health Service and what it stands for. “I enjoy being part of a fantastic team of 60-plus staff,” Joan said. “I also have a great board of directors, most of whom have been on this awesome journey with me,” Joan added.

You can access the story on the Mawarnkarra Health Service Facebook page here.

Mawarnkarra Health Service (MHS) CEO Joan Hicks, Image source: MHS Facebook page.

Lung health for children training

Lung Foundation Australia recently released two new accredited eLearning modules about chronic wet cough called Lung Health in First Nations Children. Chronic respiratory disease is highly prevalent amongst First Nations children. Disease progression can be halted and even reversed when diagnosed and treated early.

The free training provides a supportive tool for health professionals to improving lung health outcomes. Topics include:

  • Fundamentals of providing culturally secure care to First Nations families
  • Respiratory diseases prevalent in First Nations children and
  • Appropriate ways of diagnosing and managing lung conditions.

These modules, developed in collaboration with Telethon Kids Institute and the Western Australian Health Translation Network, have been designed to be culturally appropriate and provide the opportunity to learn ways of providing culturally secure care.

The online training is free and accredited with RACGP and ACRRM. Each module is worth 2 CPD points and will take approximately one hour to complete. You can find out more about the eLearning modules and enrol here.

Eliminating Hep C as public health concern

NSW Health has today released a comprehensive plan to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern by 2028 with the NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022 – 2025. Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the new strategy is centred on prevention, testing, treatment and addressing stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. “The strategy aims to reduce hepatitis C infections by 60% decrease the number of deaths linked to hepatitis C, remove the stigma linked to the virus and increase testing and treatment,” Dr Chant said.

The NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022-2025 highlights priority groups who are disproportionately affected by hepatitis C for improved health outcomes. Hepatitis C disproportionately affects Aboriginal people in NSW. In 2019, the notification rate for hepatitis C was 11 times higher in Aboriginal people compared with the rest of the population. Building on partnerships already in place with Aboriginal communities, the strategy aims to bolster education, improve access to harm reduction services and support increased access to testing and treatment in Aboriginal Health Services.

To view the NSW Health webpage Towards the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health concern in full click here and the NSW Hepatitis C Strategy 2022–2025 here.

Image source: NAM aidsmap.

‘Impending and significant’ health crisis

Australians think the healthcare system is getting worse, as they grapple with long emergency department wait times, and being able to afford and access essential services. The country’s healthcare rating dropped from 7.8 out of 10 in March last year, to 7.2 in June this year, the Australian Healthcare Index survey shows. The findings indicate an “impending and significant” health crisis, Healthengine chief executive Marcus Tan said.

“The overall trend is heading in the wrong direction suggesting that the Australian healthcare system is under stress, likely leading to worse experiences and outcomes,” Dr Tan said. Nearly one in four survey respondents said their mental health declined in the past six months and almost 60% of people still seeking treatment had been waiting more than three months. Separate research showed one in three psychologists were unable to see new clients post-pandemic, whereas the figure was one in 100 beforehand.

Nearly 40% of respondents to the healthcare index survey who had visited a public hospital emergency department in the past six months were dissatisfied with their experience and one in four survey respondents said prescription medication was unaffordable.

To read the SBS News article Australia experiencing an ‘impending and significant’ health crisis, survey finds in full click here.

Photo: David Mariuz, AAP. Image source: SBS News website.

ACCHO CEO calls out cherry-picked data

Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs has called out the ACT government for “rely[ing] on ABS data for internal purposes but point[ing] to a much narrower set of data for public purposes. Ms Tongs said that because of the yawning difference between the ACT Aboriginal recidivism rate published by the ACT government at the end of 2020 (over 90 %), which was recently confirmed by the ABS, and the 40% rate recently claimed by acting commissioner for corrections Ray Johnson on ABC radio, she wrote to ACT Corrective Services seeking clarification on the issue.

In response the Directorate advised that “The ACT had 38.5% of detainees (released in 2018-19) returning to prison (within two years from their release) against 45.2% nationally. The return rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees was 44% compared to 56.8 per cent nationwide.”

Ms Tongs said that in this case the ACT government relies on data that relates only to detainees who were re-imprisoned within two years of release and completely ignores the rest. If the information is based on the latest ABS data on recidivism rates of all detainees and not just those re-imprisoned within two years of release it tells a very different story.

To read the CBR CityNews article Lies, damned lies and ACT government statistics in full click here.

Image source: The Canberra Tims.

Connection to Country on campus

A visionary long-term project will embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design values on University of Queensland campuses, reshaping them over time to better recognise and celebrate Indigenous connections. UQ Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, , said the framework was a tremendous achievement, and an important step in UQ’s reconciliation journey. “The University of Queensland is proud to be part of what is a new and emerging space for the higher education sector, that is re-shaping its learning, teaching, research and engagement environments,” Professor Fredericks said.

“UQ is among only a handful of Australian universities engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Principles for its physical and built environments. Our Design Principles Framework aims to ensure safe and welcoming spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, along with offering all people a greater connection to what it means to visit, study or work within a great Australian university. This is important legacy work which adds to UQ’s master plan and contributes to shaping the way our campuses and premises will look and feel for generations to come.”

To read the University of Queensland UQ News article Creating connection to Country and Indigenous cultures on campus in full click here and to access the Campuses on Countries Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Design Framework at The University of Queensland click here.

Winnunga News – June 2022 edition

The Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services’ Winnunga News June 2022 edition has just been released. In her update CEO Julie Tongs OAM refers to the enormous and continuous strain the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing cases of influenza, have placed on staff and the operations at Winnunga as well as the Aboriginal community and Winnunga clients.

Articles in the newsletter cover:

  • a visit to Winnunga by the Narrabundah Early Childhood School
  • a review of the ACT Government’s plan to reform out of home care and child protection in the ACT
  • the Uluru Statement From the Heart
  • the eviction of 340 long term ACT public housing tenants
  • the importance of not just moving on after Reconciliation Day
  • the need for government leadership in relation to traditional custodianship
  • what has gone wrong at the Alexander Maconochie Centre
  • a Canberra artist’s portrait of Aunty Matilda House
  • a COVID-19 and influenza update

You can access the Winnunga News June 2022 edition click here.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Reflecting on moments mob stood up

The image is the feature tile is of an Invasion Day rally in Sydney on 26 January 2018. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Reflecting on moments mob stood up

Alexis Moran has written an article for NITV reflecting on this year’s NAIDOC theme — Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up — reflection on some significant moments where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shifted history by fighting for their community. Ms Moran says “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people always stand up. It’s nothing new to our communities. Since colonisation, Indigenous people have fought against oppression. And that continues every day — whether it be on January 26, to march against deaths in custody and other wrongdoing, or just to speak up for what we believe in and what’s right. It’s because of this activism — getting up, standing up and showing up — that history can and has been changed.”

Ms Moran goes on to discuss specifically the frontier wars; land rights: Mabo and Wik vs. Queensland; deaths in custody; sports; establishing essential First Nations services; the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the Koori Mail during the NSW floods.

To read the SBS NITV article 7 historical moments where mob Got up, Stood up and Showed up click here. You can also watch LaVerne Bellear, CEO AMSC Redfern in the video below as she explains the story behind the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) established in 1971, Australia’s first ACCHO.

Register for CTG scripts BEFORE 1 July

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

You can download a poster here to put up at your service as well as images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to please do share this across all your networks.

NACCHO Medicines Team

Intergenerational toll of nuclear tests

Three generations of First Nations survivors of historic nuclear tests have told the United Nations (UN) that Australia must do more to address the devastating impact the tests have had on their families. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors to address a conference in Vienna, more than 60 years after nuclear bombs were detonated in the SA outback.

Yankunytjatjara woman Karina Lester, Kokatha elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine and her granddaughter, Mia Haseldine, shared their experiences via video link from Port Augusta. The women told the conference how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s had affected the health of successive generations of Aboriginal families from the region. They called on the Australian government to sign the UNTreaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January last year.

To read the ABC News article Nuclear test survivors’ plea for Australia to sign treaty, as they speak at UN meeting in full click here.

Submissions to the UN from Port Augusta were part of the first meeting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo: Bethanie Alderson, ABC North & West SA.

AMA calls for telehealth extension

The AMA today called on the federal government to extend patient access to Medicare funded COVID-19 telehealth services beyond June 30 2022 Under a decision taken by the former Government, from 1 July access to both GP and non-GP specialist telehealth services will be cut back, particularly telephone consultations.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said patients cannot afford to lose access to COVID-19 telehealth as it will make access to medical care more difficult, particularly for vulnerable populations and those who might not have the access or skills to use other IT platforms. “Broad access to Medicare funded telehealth services has been a key part of our pandemic response by reducing patients’ exposure to the virus and helping people in self-isolation to access critical medical care,” Dr Khorshid said. Dr Khorshid said governments needed to be responsive to the ongoing situation and adapt as circumstances change.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA calls for telehealth funding extension as COVID-19 pandemic continues in full click here. You can watch an Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) video of a telehealth consultation below.

Minds need decluttering too

Accredited mental health social worker Kym Marsden’s article Decluttering isn’t just a house job, our minds need it too was recently published in the National Indigenous Times. Ms Marsden asks readers to “Picture a cluttered area in your home, now think about how all that clutter makes you feel as it grows, you start tripping over things and are unable to locate things you need. She admits to initially trying to ignore it, which is a short term solution, but as the clutter remains, or continues to grow so does the ability to ignore it.

Ms Marsden says the same applies when our minds are overloaded resulting in persistent overwhelming thoughts, regrets, worries or concerns. While we will all respond differently when our cluttered minds have reached capacity, for Ms Marsden it is disturbed sleep, feeling anxious and being unable to concentrate as she is fixated on certain thoughts and worries that are like a whirlwind in head head that won’t shut off, particularly at night.

To read the article in full, including strategies to help declutter your mind, click here.

Image source: iStock by Getty Images.

Preventing falls at any age

Falls are common. Each year 2 in 3 people aged over 65 will fall. Around 1 in 10 falls lead to serious injury. The most common serious injuries are fractures and brain injuries. Falls can also result in a loss of confidence, which can lead to restriction of activity and a lower quality of life. Many older people never regain their pre-fall level of function and might even struggle to keep living by themselves.

The consequences of falls cost Australia a staggering $4.3 billion every year. The good news is 20–30% of fall among older Australians can be prevented.

To view The Conversation article I’m getting older, how can I prevent falls? in full click here.

According to recently published Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data falls are one of the leading causes of hospitalisations for older Aboriginal people In 2019–20, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people there were 7,000 hospitalisations and 45 deaths due to unintentional fall with rates of fall hospitalisations being highest among people aged 65 and over. During that period Indigenous Australians were 1.4 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be hospitalised due to a fall injury. For the majority of causes, the most remote areas had the highest rates and the least remote areas had the lowest rates.

It has been proven that once someone has suffered a fall, they are at a higher risk of another injury. A free, culturally safe, falls prevention program, IRONBARK, run by South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and Curtin University has seen great success. Y ou can read more about the IRONBARK program here.

Image source: Health Times.

Noongar version of Baby Ways book

An award winning early years literacy program has been expanded to include the Noongar language, with the launch of the first dual language Baby Ways book. Maawit Mart/Baby Ways will be given to Aboriginal families living on Noongar land and aims to help narrow the gap between literacy rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.

The Baby Ways book is an engaging and fun-to-read book that features WA babies sitting, bathing, reading and playing. It is included in the Better Beginnings pack that is presented to all new families in WA at birth as part of a wider program that encourages parents to read to their children.

To view The National Tribune article Noongar version of Better Beginnings Baby Ways book launched in full click here.

Image source: Better Beginnings Indigenous Program State Library of WA webpage.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

World Continence Week

World Continence Week (WCW) is a health campaign run by the World Federation For Incontinence and Pelvic Problems (WFIPP) to raise awareness of incontinence related issues. This year it takes place from the Monday 20 to Sunday 26 June and during the week the WFIPP highlights the impact urinary incontinence can have on our life and encourages those living with it to seek help so they no longer have to suffer in silence.

For more information about WCW click here.

You can also access a range of resources developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by the Continence Foundation of Australia, here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid”

Image in feature tile is of shack outside of Tennant Creek. Image source: ABC News.

Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid”

Experts from The Australian National University (ANU) have raised alarm bells about the “economic apartheid” facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and are calling for an urgent, nation-wide strategic approach to ensure their economic self-determination. This is the key theme of a landmark series of events to be held this week and led by the ANU First Nations Portfolio.

A first for Australia, the forum and symposium will chart the path to First Nations Australians’ economic development, wealth creation and a self-determined economy. Professor Peter Yu AM, Vice-President First Nations at ANU, said Australia remains the only Commonwealth country to have never signed a treaty with its Indigenous people.

To view the ANU’s media release Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid” in full click here.

A town camp outside Alice Springs, NT. Photo: Children’s Ground. Image source: The Guardian.

Children protection system under fire

Every year, Australia’s child safety departments remove thousands of children from their parents on the grounds they are not safe at home and need urgent protection. In doing so, the government becomes their guardian, taking responsibility for their lives. Far from being safe, some of these children are then preyed upon by the very people the government has vetted to look after them.

Indigenous children are 10 times more likely to be removed from their families. Departmental policy dictates that they are then placed with Indigenous carers to maintain contact with their culture, but that doesn’t always happen. Instead, Aboriginal children can languish in care hours from their land while some workers dismiss signs of sexual abuse in First Nations children as “cultural” behaviour.

Lisa Wellington from Aboriginal women’s health and welfare organisation Waminda said the child protection system had been failing Indigenous families since it had been set up. “In order for change to happen, the department needs to engage with the Indigenous community and listen to the families and walk alongside them,” she said.

To view the ABC article Bad Parent in full click here.

Image source: Aboriginal Family Legal Services website.

Health reform issues for new government 

Is Australia on the verge of a long-awaited and sorely needed move towards cooperative federalism to drive health reform? Encouraging noises to this effect have emerged from the first National Cabinet meeting (Friday 16 June) since the Federal election.

The NSW Premier said there had been “a real focus of working with the States and Territories in relation to substantive health reform going forward” something that had “been in the too-hard basket for too long.” The Queensland Premier said it had been “a refreshing change to be able to discuss health. Previously, we have tried to get this on the agenda. We’ve got a PM who listens and understands that health is a big issue and it is a national issue that’s affecting everybody across our nation”.

The Victorian Premier said: “…on behalf of every nurse, every ambo, every doctor, every patient in Victorian public hospitals I want to thank the Prime Minister. Politics was put aside at this meeting and we’ve put patients first and that is the most important thing. Now, the test for all of us will be to work hard in the weeks and months to come, to come up with practical ways in which we can make the system work as a true system.”

Associate Professor Lesley Russell will monitor the efforts of the Albanese Government to deliver on their election commitments in health, healthcare, Indigenous health and climate change (and in fact any issue that improves the health status and reduces the health disparities of Australians).

To view the Croakey Health Media article The Health Wrap: as National Cabinet sets a course for health reform, here are some key issues to address in full click here.

Image source: Choose Your Own Health Career website.

Call for action against racism, racial violence 

A Brisbane author brought her defiant call to action against racism and racial violence to Cherbourg last week, welcoming South Burnett community members to the Ration Shed Museum for a workshop on her 2021 book ‘Another Day in the Colony’. ‘Another Day in the Colony’ has attracted praise from fellow academics as well as members of the public, who commend the author on her uncompromising truth-telling and exposure of Australia’s intolerance.

“While I work as an academic, the book was written just for anyone to read – I wanted to write for mob and wanted my kids to be able to read it, regardless of whether they got a degree or not,” Dr Watego explained. “The thing that’s really hit me is mob getting back to me and saying ‘you wrote what I feel! You gave a language to what I already knew but didn’t know how to express.’

“Mob have been really moved by it, and that’s what I wanted to do – I wanted to speak to the souls of blackfellas. That’s the beautiful part: not the reprints, but the imprint it’s had on the community.”

To view the Burnett Today South, Central & North article Cherbourg Celebrates book tour in full click here.

Dr Chelsea Watego and her book Another Day in the Colony.

Top 3 men’s health questions

In celebration of Men’s Health Week (13-19 June 2022), Dr Lucas de Toca from the Australian Government Department of health has spoken on how family history and lifestyle impact our health and provides tips to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. The three top questions answered by Dr de Toca are:

  • What is Men’s Health Week?
  • How can men build healthier outcomes and reduce the risk of chronic disease?
  • How can men better engage with Australia’s health services?

To view the Department of Health’s Top 3 Qs article click here.

Health conference abstracts FINAL CALL

A final call for abstracts for the upcoming Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference is being put out. The closing date is just one week away – COB Monday 27 June 2022.

For further event information click here and to register to present click here.

Adam Goodes (virtually attending) and Sue-Anne Hunter will be keynote speakers at The 7th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

Mob left out of low unemployment figures

The National Employment Services Association says First Nations people and other disadvantaged Australians are being left out of record low unemployment figures. Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reported unemployment remained at a record low 3.9% in May.

The real numbers were much higher. The employment rate among Indigenous Australians is considerably lower than it is for the rest of the population. Many First Nations people have historically been excluded from statistical analysis such as employment figures. Historically Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples unemployment rates have sat fairly consistently at three times that of their non Indigenous counterparts.

Discrimination is a factor in the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That is ever so slowly changing so that disparity you know is trending in the right way, but not rapidly. To view the National Indigenous Times article Industry peak body calls out Indigenous exclusion in latest unemployment rates in full click here.

Image source: Monash University Lens website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Chair addresses FECCA conference

NACCHO Chair addresses FECCA conference

Earlier this morning NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills addressed The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) 2022: Advancing Multicultural Australia conference. The event is Australia’s premier conference on multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion, and migration and hosts multicultural communities, policy makers, service providers, academics and many more over two days of presentations, speakers and topics.

Ms Mills said, “It is important that when we are talking about today’s systemic racism in the health system, we understand two fundamental points. The first is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are foremost and always Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We have our own distinct identities, languages and beliefs about what contributes to health and wellness and what causes sickness. Australia’s health system, however, is built around the identities and beliefs of the white settler and their western model of health and wellness and causes of sickness. This immediately puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the back foot in accessing health care in Australia. For us to access mainstream health services, we are required to suspend our own beliefs and cultures and adopt or accept the western model of health.”

You can access Ms Mills’ speech in full here. For more information about the FECCA2022 conference click here.

ACCHO CEO awarded honorary doctorate

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has issued a media release saying it is proud to acknowledge the awarding of an Honorary Doctor of Arts to its Chair and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Congress (CAAC) CEO, Donna Ah Chee, by Charles Darwin University yesterday. The award took place at a ceremony in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) where she has lived and worked for the past 30 years.

AMSANT CEO, Dr John Paterson congratulated Ms Ah Chee on her well-deserved honour in recognition of her significant contribution to the health of First Nations peoples. “Donna has distinguished herself through the outstanding leadership she has provided to the Aboriginal community-controlled health services (ACCHS) sector, including many years as CEO of CAAC and as Chair and Director of AMSANT”, Dr Paterson said.

“Her leadership has also been recognised through many high-level appointments to boards and advisory bodies in Aboriginal health and related areas, including the NACCHO, the NT Aboriginal Health Forum and the NT Children and Families Tripartite Forum. “Donna has been a driving force in the development and expansion of the model of Aboriginal comprehensive primary health care delivered by our ACCHSs and broader reforms of the health system that together are required to achieve better health outcomes for our people. Her passion and significant contribution in the areas of early childhood development, education, health research and reducing alcohol harm have been widely recognised.”

To view AMSANT’s media release AMSANT Chair, Donna Ah Chee, awarded Honorary Doctorate in full click here.

Donna Ah Chee. Image source: Health Voices Journal of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia.

Remote houses are dangerous hot boxes

In remote Indigenous communities that are already very hot and socioeconomically disadvantaged, climate change is driving inequities even further. New research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia shows how higher temperatures in remote Indigenous communities in the NT will drive inequities in housing, energy and health.

Existing housing in remote areas is old and poorly constructed. In many remote Indigenous communities in the NT, you don’t need a building permit or even a qualified builder to build a house. Houses have missing doors, boarded-up windows, no air conditioners, are often un-insulated, have failed plumbing and have been poorly maintained over decades. These houses become dangerously hot as climate change bears down.

The researchers conclude the solution is Indigenous communities need a say; buildings need to be climate resilient; energy needs to be safeguarded and houses need to be maintained.

To view The Conversation article How climate change is turning remote Indigenous houses into dangerous hot boxes in full click here.

Shoddy NT remote homes lethal

Indigenous Australians living in remote, shabby housing with unstable electricity connections in the NT’s extreme heat are enduring life-threatening conditions. A research paper published this month in the Medical Journal of Australia found that Indigenous Australians with chronic diseases who depend on cool storage and electrical equipment are vulnerable to dying earlier.

The study was conducted by the ANU in partnership with the Julalikari Council Aboriginal Corporation in the NT, where extreme heat stress has become a reality in the past few years. ANU researcher Simon Quilty says excessive heat, poor housing, energy insecurity and chronic disease have reached critical levels and a multi-sector response is needed to avert catastrophe. He says a constant electricity supply is often a luxury, rather than a right.

“Most houses in remote communities are old, poorly constructed and poorly maintained,” Dr Quilty said. He said tenants pay rent for houses with no doors, no windows and no insulation in the ceiling, falling well below national building codes. “All of the houses in these communities rely on pre-paid power cards and as a result there are extreme rates of electricity disconnection, making those with chronic disease particularly vulnerable,” Dr Quilty said.

To view the Kyabram Free Press article Shoddy homes lethal to Indigenous patients in full click here.

Unserviced shacks in Tennant Creek shelter some people on the public housing waiting list. Photo: Samantha Jonscher. ABC News.

Diabetes epidemic hits Central Australia

The latest health research has shown type two diabetes in remote Aboriginal communities has reached epidemic proportions, with children as young as four diagnosed. The rates of type 2 diabetes in remote communities are some of the highest in the world and getting worse, according to new research released by the Menzies School of Health Research.

Menzies researchers examined seven years of health data from 21,000 Aboriginal people across 51 remote communities in the NT. It found a staggering 40% of adults in Central Australia now have the condition, which can cause kidney disease, heart disease, strokes, impaired vision and amputations due to infections. 29% of the Aboriginal adult population in the rest of the Territory are also living with the condition. In 2020 it became the leading cause of death in communities, and those diagnosed with it are getting younger.

Shiree Mack and her family have lived with type two diabetes for years and many of her extended family are also battling the condition. With younger generations increasingly affected, she says the time for change is now. “The effects are huge and our little people are getting diagnosed at five and six,” she said. Ms Mack said any proposed solutions need to come from the community. “Let’s listen to the community let them tell us what will work. They know.”

To view the SBS NITV article Diabetes epidemic hits Central Australia in full click here.

The Mack and Ross families from Alice Springs are all living with type two diabetes as the number of cases in the Centre skyrocket. Image source: NITV.

Integrating kidney health into patient care

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects one in 10 Australian adults. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the prevalence is even higher, affecting nearly one in five adults. CKD contributes to 11% of all deaths and is associated with 37% of all cardiovascular deaths in Australia. However, the asymptomatic nature of CKD means it can be difficult to diagnose unless there is targeted screening for it. Timely management can slow or even prevent the deterioration in kidney function, and improve cardiovascular outcomes. GPs are in a prime position to detect and diagnose CKD early. This involves targeted screening and performing investigations that are mostly already part of regular clinical practice.

Dr Tim Senior, GP at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, clinical senior lecturer at the University of Western Sydney Medical School and CKD expert in general practice says that “Rather than seeing the kidneys as a single, separate, complex and difficult organ, it is straightforward to integrate them into the overall care of your patients along with other organ systems. You’ll find, for instance, that what’s needed to diagnose CKD is largely already what you’re doing for other conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So when you assess your patients for risk factors and test for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, you should also think of their kidneys.”

To view the NPS MedicineWise article CKD – Integrating kidney health into patient care in full click here.

Dr TIm Senior. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Indigenous assistant minister sworn in

Indigenous Australians assistant minister Malarndirri McCarthy has vowed health outcomes for First Nations people will be placed at the forefront of the Albanese government’s bid to close the gap. The NT senator was sworn into the ministry by Governor-General David Hurley at Government House on yesterday.

Senator McCarthy said commitments taken to the election campaign focused on health policies, but also included improving access to education and job opportunities for people in regional and remote communities. A key focus would be closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, with better health outcomes being essential to improving the lives of First Nations people.

Senator McCarthy said she will be working closely with Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney – who was appointed to cabinet – on progressing a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament in the government’s first term.

To read Yass Tribune article Indigenous assistant minister sworn in in full click here.

Malarndirri McCarthy with her partner Richard and their children following her swearing-in at Parliament House. Photo: AAP, Image source: SBS News.

Indigenous Eye Health Conference

Health leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who recently attended a national eye health conference, called on non-Indigenous Australians to support efforts to establish an Indigenous led approach to closing the gap in eye health. The 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC22), co-hosted by Indigenous Eye Health (IEH) at the University of Melbourne and Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), took place on Larrakia country in Darwin from 24–26 May 2022.

The conference theme, Our Vision in Our Hands, was reflected in a consistent call for “greater leadership and ownership of eye health by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, along with the shift in power that is necessary to produce the outcomes that we are all working towards”.

One of the conference co-chairs, Anne-Marie Banfield, who is the National Manager of Engagement and Awareness at Hearing Australia said that while First Nations peoples must play a key role in leading eye health initiatives that improve outcomes in their communities they cannot do this on their own – non-Indigenous people are needed as allies to “amplify the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

To view the mivision The Ophthalmic Journal article Making Change: Indigenous Eye Health Conference in full click here.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: racism in perinatal health services

Image in feature tile is of Stacey Foster-Rampant with her baby boy, Tyler, at a Malabar Community Midwifery Link Service clinic. Photo: Louise Kennerley. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Racism in perinatal health services

After nine months, imagine giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby. As tired as you are, you adapt to your new sleep-deprived routine, feeding your newborn at any time of the day and night as needed. But then child protection services arrive with the police, and a court order, to take your baby from your arms and place them in the care of a stranger. Sadly, this is the case for too many First Nations women in Australia.

Issues relating to the removal of First Nations infants from their families by contemporary child protection systems can be traced to perinatal health services. Tracey Stephens, a Kurnai woman and registered midwife, sees racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women across mainstream healthcare settings on a regular basis. “Stereotypically in mainstream midwifery there’s this strong sense that all Aboriginal women are going to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol and are drug addicts. However, this isn’t the case.” she says. “Far too much of my time is spent trying to educate others and address unconscious bias and racism amongst the healthcare workforce.

To read the article Separated at birth: Racism and unconscious bias in perinatal health services by Research Fellow, Health and Social Care Unit, Monash University in full click here.

Image source: Monash University Lens webpage.

SA to start Voice to Parliament journey

South Australian Attorney-General Kyam Maher wants to begin talks on a state version of the First Nations Voice to Parliament ahead of a launch of the body next year. It would provide advice to Parliament about decisions affecting the lives of First Nations people. Mr Maher — SA’s first Aboriginal Attorney General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister — said South Australian Labor made a commitment to adopt the Statement from Uluru after the 2019 federal election.

He said he believed the state should not have to wait for the federal government to act. “At its core, it’s about Aboriginal people having more a say in decisions that affect their own lives,” Mr Maher said. “I find that pretty hard to argue against.”

To view the ABC News story Consultation to start on SA Indigenous Voice to Parliament ahead of 2023 launch in full click here.

Kyam Maher is the only Indigenous person elected to parliament in South Australia at a state or federal level. Photo: Ethan Rix, ABC News.

First Nations more likely to die in childbirth

While Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, First Nations women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than other Australian women and First Nations infants are almost twice as likely to die in the first month of life with preterm birth the biggest cause of mortality.

The causes of these gaps in life expectancy are complex and stem from colonisation, including:

  • racism and lack of cultural safety in hospitals and from healthcare providers
  • pregnant First Nations women avoiding antenatal care for fear of child protection services taking their children. This is a legacy of the “stolen generations” with continuing high rates of child removals
  • closures of regional and remote birthing services requiring more First Nations women to leave home and travel long distances to give birth, often alone. Some women opt to give birth without a midwife, which can have significant issues for mother and baby.

Ensuring First Nations children are born healthy and strong is the second Closing the Gap target – a critical foundation for “everyone enjoying long and healthy lives”. A much needed step to guarantee this is to increase First Nations health workers, particularly midwives and nurses.

To view The Conversation article First Nations mothers are more likely to die during childbirth. More First Nations midwives could close this gap in full click here.

Geraldine at the Gudang Dalba Hostel, Darwin NT. Image source: ABC News.

Mental health restraint concerns

Patients in Victoria’s mental health hospitals are being restrained at higher rates and for longer than the national average, a new report has found. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being secluded and restrained at higher rates, which the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) said is concerning.

“Many Aboriginal people have complex trauma,” a spokesman for VACCHO said. “We are concerned with this data and would like to know more on the reasons that drive this over-representation. A model of care that is focused on healing, social and emotional wellbeing and cultural safety is what works for Aboriginal people.”

To view the 7 News article Restraint concerns in Vic Mental health in full click here.

Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Approaches for non-Aboriginal health professionals

SA’s outstanding young leaders were recently celebrated through the 40 Under 40 Awards. Annabelle Wilson, Associate Professor of Implementation Science at Flinders University, SA was included in the list. 38-year-old Professor Wilson is a dietician and PhD with a clear focus on Indigenous health. “Through my research and leadership, I have disrupted and challenged current thinking about how non-Aboriginal health professionals work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, specifically in nutrition and dietetics,” Annabelle says.

“My research has impacted health professional practice by identifying and translating approaches that non-Aboriginal health professionals can use when working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including reflexivity and awareness of one’s own attitudes and biases.” Annabelle’s work led her to develop models of practice, which were adopted in mentoring and training courses for health professionals. “In the next few years I plan to continue and extend the work I have been doing. In particular, I have applied for funding to lead transformation in nutrition and dietetics related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.”

To view the InDaily and CityMag article SA’s top young business leaders click here.

Associate Professor Annabelle Wilson. Image source: citymag.indaily.com.au.

Indigenous Health Division is recruiting

Do you want to make a real contribution to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes? Do you have a unique set of skills and experiences to contribute to this challenging undertaking? The Indigenous Health Division of the Department of Health has multiple roles for you across both the APS5 and APS6 levels.

The Department of Health is seeking experienced and committed people to develop relationships, policies and programs that improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You will help to shape the development and implementation of the Australian Government’s healthcare commitments to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Applications close on Monday 27 June 2022. Further detail on the roles is available on the APSJobs and the Department of Health’s website or by using this link.

Remote PHC Manuals project June update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date as RPHCM moves through the review process. It is now almost two years into the manuals updating project and activities are continuing to meet planned timelines (despite some COVID impacts that have tightened deadlines for reviews).

All protocols will be finalised for publication on Thursday 20 June 2022. After this date, there will be no further changes to the manuals as they move into the final editing and publication stage. The new editions are planned for release (online and hardcopy) in November 2022. The project team will meet with key stakeholders shortly to discuss major changes and prepare health services to use the new editions.

You can view the RPHCM Project Update June 2022 flyer here.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Take Heart: Deadly Heart screening

A virtual screening of the Take Heart: Deadly Heart – A Journey to an RHD Free Future followed by a Q&A panel session will take place from 11:00 AM–12:00 PM AEST on Wednesday 29 June 2022.

A guest speaker for the Q&A panel session is a senior Noongar woman, Vicki Wade, who has over 40 years of experience in healthcare. Vicki is a co-producer of Take Heart: Deadly Heart. She has guided the production process in a culturally appropriate way and employed a series of yarning circles throughout the pre-production phase. Vicki is well respected for the work she has done to close the gap. She sits on the National Close the Gap steering committee and is a previous board member of the Congress of Aboriginal Nurses and Midwives.

The screening is an opportunity to see the work that is being done across Australia, in regional and remote communities, to eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease. Attendance is free but registration is essential. To register click here.