NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

feature tile text 'NSW state-wide COVID-19 vaccination blitz for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & image of Aboriginal teenage girl's arm being vaccinated

NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

NSW is having a COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz for Aboriginal people. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can access a priority Pfizer vaccination appointment at the following locations:

  • Hunter New England – Belmont
  • Illawarra Shoalhaven – Dapto and  Nowra
  • Mid North Coast – Galambila AMS
  • Murrumbidgee – Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Young
  • Nepean Blue Mountains – Penrith
  • Northern Sydney – Hornsby and St Leonards
  • South Eastern Sydney – Surry Hills and Sutherland
  • South Western Sydney – Macquarie Fields
  • Southern NSW – Eden
  • Sydney – Redfern
  • Western NSW – Dubbo

For more detailed information the vaccination sites, dates and times click here.

Note: image in feature tile is from the ABC News website.

outdoor pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo, man, woman, pram with toddler, desk, health professionals under white shade

Pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo. Image source: GPNews.

Wuchopperen getting the job of the jabs done

This Saturday (18 September) Wuchopperen Health Service is hosting a second drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Manoora facility. The first in the series of clinics was hosted three weeks ago (Saturday 28 August) when 287 Wuchopperen clients had their first or second Pfizer jab.

“Our first Pfizer vaccine day was a huge success – and great fun,” said Wuchopperen Deputy CEO Rachael Ham. “Before we opened the doors and saw people were lined up at the gates, we knew we were in for a great community day – with a local and global health outcome.

“As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisation, we have the responsibility to provide the information, the access and the protection to our community members to help fight this pandemic. And while our objective with the community vaccine days is to get our community vaccinated, at the same time we want to offer a good day out for families.” Mrs Ham said.

“By offering entertainment and refreshments we’re encouraging people to come together with community and share stories, knowledge and reconnect in general.”

Wuchopperen staff are expecting over 300 community members at this Saturday’s event,  for their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine; and encouraging all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (aged 12 years and over) who would like to receive their jab to join the party.

To view Wuchopperen’s media release in full click here.

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman receiving vaccination

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman has had her jab and said “The COVID jab, keeps me, my family and my community safe and strong.”

Reducing violence against women funding

The Federal Government has announced $13.5 million for nine service providers that deliver community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.

The $13.5 million is a portion of the $35.5 million invested in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific measures in the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2020-2022.

The nine recipients work in “high need communities”, with six being Indigenous organisations. Locations include Kununurra, WA; Port Augusta and Ceduna, SA; Nhulunbuy and surrounds, NT; Darwin and Katherine, NT; and Townsville and Mackay, QLD.

In the last year, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has partnered with these providers to co-design service responses and will continue to do so to support program delivery across the 43 remote and regional areas.

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Aboriginal mother & daughter

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

$15m for mental health first aid training

The Federal Government is providing $15 million over three years to the National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd to deliver mental health first aid training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. The National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

They will deliver culturally safe and appropriate mental health first aid courses to upskill participants in recognising when to seek assistance and how to assist family and other community members in need of support. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said protection of the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical priority.

To view the media release in full click here.

vector image of black head, blue brain, green bag with white medical cross inside white circle, light blue background

Image source: 3btraining website.

Infectious diseases surveillance expansion

Important research projects at The University of Queensland (UQ) have been awarded more than $50 million from the Australian Government. One of the recipients of funding is the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health which will expand an infectious diseases sentinel surveillance network operating in 32 Aboriginal primary care services.

Professor James Ward said the partnership project would increase the number of sites involved and expand the scope of the network to include surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases. “In doing this, we are now able to move to the next phase of progressing our surveillance network to one that will simultaneously be focused on driving quality improvement within health services as well as participation in ongoing research all bound up with strong community participation,” he said.

To view the full article on the UQ website click here.

Aboriginal dot painting art of hand over Country, blue brown, aqua, cream

Image source: SA Aboriginal STI & BBV Action Plan 2020-2024 cover.

Indigenous oral health research funding

The University of Adelaide has been awarded $10.5 million for seven research projects, one of them in the area of Indigenous oral health.

An amount of $2,598,056 has been awarded to Professor Lisa Jamieson, from Adelaide Dental School, to facilitate best practice oral care models for Indigenous Australians. The goal of the project is to improve Indigenous oral health outcomes, raise standards of oral clinical care through cultural competency workshops, and capacity building of the Indigenous oral health workforce.

The funding is through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2021 Investigator Grant program, which invests in world-leading health and medical research projects to improve lives.

To view the article in full click here.

dentist's model of teeth in gums, jaw

Image source: The University of Adelaide website.

Boost for brain health

The growing burden of dementia among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be addressed by a new research centre that will include researchers from The University of WA (UWA). The Federal Government has announced $3 million funding over five years for the Centre for Research Excellence, to be known as OnTRACK, which will look at developing culturally appropriate and effective ways of promoting brain health among Indigenous people.

Based at the University of Melbourne, OnTRACK hopes to play a crucial role in detecting memory and thinking changes in order to prevent dementia, as well as supporting those living with dementia. The national collaboration is made up of a team of researchers who have already completed landmark research addressing the gaps of dementia prevention and early detection in older Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders..

To view the article in full click here.

older Aboriginal woman looking in direction of smiling Aboriginal teenager (girl)

Image source: The University of WA website.

Digital health’s future – have your say

Today, Australians have access to telehealth, electronic prescriptions, My Health Record and more. What comes next is up to you.

Now’s your chance to influence the future of digital health in Australia by taking part in a short, 15 minute survey.  Your valuable input will help the Australian Government continue to evolve one of the best healthcare services in the world.

For more detail you can access the Australian Digital Health Agency’s website here and to take the survey 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Patient Safety Day

For World Patient Safety Day, 17 September 2021, WHO urges all stakeholders to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth! with the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”. Approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, around 6,700 newborns die every day, amounting to 47% of all under-5 deaths. Moreover, about 2 million babies are stillborn every year, with over 40% occurring during labour. Considering the significant burden of risks and harm women and newborns are exposed to due to unsafe care, compounded by the disruption of essential health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign is even more important this year.

Fortunately, the majority of stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled health professionals working in supportive environments. This can only be achieved through the engagement of all stakeholders and the adoption of comprehensive health systems and community-based approaches.

World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of health care and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.

For more information about World Patient Safety Day click here. You can also view a media release issued by Consumers Health Forum Australia to mark World Patient Safety Day here.banner - World Patient Sock Day, 17 September 2021

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

Feature tile - Thu 16.9.21 - AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID jabs for healthcare staff

AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on National Cabinet to act urgently on nationally-consistent public health orders for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including GPs.

AMA President Omar Khorshid said legal protection should also be given to healthcare employers who mandate vaccinations for all their staff.

“Most health care providers in Australia are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources needed to navigate complex work health and safety laws. We need to make it easier for them to be able to mandate vaccination, which is the best way to protect their staff and patients.”

Dr Khorshid said the Federal Government needed to co-ordinate States and Territories through the National Cabinet to ensure a nationally-consistent approach to mandatory vaccination that included everyone – GPs and practice staff, pharmacists, hospital staff, ambulance staff, cooks and cleaners – leaving no exemptions, except for legitimate medical reasons.

“Nationally-consistent public health orders would provide legal protection to any employer who could reasonably establish work safety would benefit from a workplace vaccine mandate. It’s important for GPs and other small businesses to have government backing and protection when it comes to mandating vaccines for all employees,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release the AMA here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. What’s followed has been a successful rollout to Navajo Nation residents. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Concerns regional hospitals won’t cope with major COVID outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia is considered inevitable by many health experts, but doctors have warned if it happens before enough people are vaccinated it will be “horrendous” for regional areas where resources are limited and staff are hard to attract. WA has so far managed to keep out the Delta strain, despite it spreading through New South Wales and Victoria. However, with fewer than 40 per cent of people fully vaccinated in Western Australia, president of the Rural Doctors Association, Brittney Wicksteed, was worried.

“If COVID were to come before we’ve got adequate vaccination rates, it’s going to be horrendous in the regions,” she said.

Dr Wicksteed said many regional hospitals did not have the room, equipment or staff to cope with more than a couple of COVID cases at a time.

“The hospital has been extremely busy already this year,” she said.

“I [also] think it will be really hard to maintain adequate staffing in any of the hospitals in any of the regions in WA once there’s COVID there.”

“I don’t think any of our hospitals are fully prepared should we have a large outbreak … there are not enough ventilators at any hospital,” said Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) chief executive Vicki O’Donnell.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Improvements across health and welfare for mob

The two-yearly Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians was launched today by the release of a video message (see below story) from Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services.

In recent years, there have been improvements across a range of measures of health and welfare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The median equivalised household income for Indigenous Australians grew 29% between 2002 and 2018–19, twice the growth rate of non-Indigenous Australians (14%) over the same period after accounting for inflation,” said AIHW Deputy Chief Executive Officer Matthew James.

“Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the proportion of working age Indigenous Australians relying on a government pension or allowance as their main income source fell from 47% to 45%.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and severe outcomes due to a range of health and socioeconomic inequalities. As of 15 August 2021, there had been 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Indigenous Australians since the start of the pandemic. This includes 145 confirmed cases since the beginning of 2021 (1.3% of all cases in the period), and 148 in 2020 (0.5%).

For more information, visit the AIHW website.

Western NSW sets example with COVID jab rates

“We’ve now seen the biggest increase in Western NSW compared to the whole of the state, in vaccination rates, particularly people receiving their first dose and particularly across our Aboriginal community,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who’s come forward in the last month, in particular who’s changed life outcomes for people, getting protected from COVID.”

“Importantly second dose rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal in our community are now the same at 38 per cent right across our region.”

You can read the story in the Daily Liberal here.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

Mental health and wellbeing support tailored to mob

As the serious Delta outbreak continues across the state, the Victorian Government is making sure more Victorians struggling during this difficult period have access to the mental health and wellbeing support they need.

On top of the $225 million the Government has already provided to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, a further investment of $22 million will deliver fast-tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are less likely to engage early with mainstream mental health services, will receive $4 million in support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to self-determine the best, most culturally appropriate response to the mental health and wellbeing needs of their local communities.

You can read more about this investment by the Victorian Government here.

Last week, the McGowan Labor Government also committed more than $374 million to ensure
positive outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in Western Australia. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and well-being, and delivering social and economic opportunities.

“This significant investment will help us Close the Gap in Western Australia and aligns with
our four Priority Reform Areas for changing how governments work with Aboriginal people,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson.

You can read the media release by the McGowan Government here.

Aboriginal student resting on desk with two rocks one with the word 'lonely' & one with the word 'sad'

Headspace ‘take a step’ campaign photo.

Cultural safety important to patients and healthcare workers

Cultural safety is vitally important for the effective delivery of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as in medical schools for our medical students and the health settings where our doctors work.

The Australian Indigenous Doctros’ Association (AIDA) supports the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) National Scheme 2020-2025 definition of cultural safety as:

“A sense of being as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities” and furthermore, “culturally safe practise is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism”.

You can read mora about AIDA‘s Cultural Safety Program here.

Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care Is Vital For Indigenous Youth Right Now.
Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones told Junkee that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Indigenous psychologists have the lived experiences of the real issues and disparities that have existed, and continue within our communities,” Jones said.

“We are the best equipped to deal with Indigenous issues with Indigenous perspectives”.

You can read the article in Junkee here.

AIDA - Cultural Safety Training

Innovative research explores responses to COVID-19

A study being conducted by the University of Queensland, led by Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, and Professor James Ward, seeks to unpack the complexities of Indigenous health and social systems to better understand the effectiveness of responses to COVID-19 in Brisbane.

Although the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have posed numerous health risks for Indigenous peoples, in the most part, it has merely exacerbated pre-existing issues relating to underlying health conditions, food insecurity, housing, and other social determinants of disparate health outcomes.

This study seeks to better understand the structural reforms needed to construct an effective health system, particularly during times of pandemics. It draws on the collective knowledge and experience of Indigenous and non-indigenous service-providers and healthcare professionals while recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the experts of their own needs and that sustainable change must be community orientated and driven.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Rural health students protecting themselves and rural communities

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has acknowledged the efforts of rural health students to protect themselves, their patients and rural communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated ahead of their clinical placements.

The Chair of ARHEN, Christine Howard, said health students play a vital role in the delivery of clinical services in many rural and remote communities and can help ease the burden on already stretched services.

“It is pleasing to see so many health students from a range of disciplines step up and get vaccinated and join the fight against COVID-19 in rural and remote communities. Around the country student nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have been recruited by state health services to support the vaccine roll-out.

You can read the ARHEN media release here.

health professional looking computer screen engaging in teleconference

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Now Open: the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to announce that applications for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) are now open!

Thanks to the Australian Government Department of Health, the PHMSS provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are studying or intending to study an entry-level health course in 2022, in one of the following disciplines:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care
  • Nursing (RN and EN)
  • Midwifery
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (all specialties except pharmacy)
  • Mental health studies NEW

Additional places for mental health related studies have been made available for this year’s intake! You can view the full list of eligible courses and course areas on our website.

This is an exciting opportunity for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students to receive support to pursue their passion in health care!

Applications close at 11:59pm AEDT on Monday 11 October 2021.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, feel free to get in touch with us at 1800 688 628 or scholarships@acn.edu.au.

Download the flyer here.
You can apply for a scholarship here.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference 2021 
Online event
Wednesday 13th October 2021
The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health

The aim for the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues. The title of the conference ‘Ngar-wu Wanyarra’ translates to ‘listen and act’ in the language of the Yorta Yorta.

You can now download the program and conference booklet.
For up to date information on the conference please visit the website.
If you have any enquiries contact aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au or call (03) 5823 4512.

2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting COVID-19 Vaccination Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

 

Boosting COVID-19 vaccination support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Australian Government is further boosting the vaccination program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across 30 priority areas to ensure all Australians can access a COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the start of the vaccination program the Government has been working closely with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), states and territories and other Indigenous organisations to ensure every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person has the opportunity to get vaccinated. Now with increased supplies and in response to current outbreak situations the Government is significantly boosting efforts to expedite vaccination uptake.

In partnership with NACCHO, states and territories, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and other Indigenous stakeholders, the Australian Government will immediately accelerate the vaccination program in 30 priority areas including:

  • Western Australia– Greater Geraldton, Swan, Gosnells, Derby – West Kimberley, Port Hedland – South Hedland, Kalgoorlie – Boulder, Goldfields Esperance Region.
  • Queensland – Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Fraser Coast, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Mackay, Mareeba, Mission River, Moreton Bay, Normanton, Palm Island, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville
  • New South Wales– Central Coast and Wollongong areas
  • Northern Territory – Greater Darwin, North-East Arnhem Land and Barkly
  • South Australia– Port Lincoln

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said this builds on work done to date in partnership with NACCHO, the ACCHS, and the Royal Flying Doctors Service to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a culturally safe and appropriate way.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been a priority for vaccination since the beginning stages of the national vaccination program, considerable effort has been taken to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are readily and widely available for communities,” Minister Hunt said.

“We are absolutely committed to seeing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccination rates meet, if not exceed, the national target.”

Minister Wyatt said there has been significant work done to date to work with communities to tackle their individual needs and concerns, including countering vaccine hesitancy, in order to boost vaccination uptake.

The Government will immediately provide an additional $7.7 million to NACCHO to amplify efforts to reduce the vaccination gap by working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ACCHS and other organisations supporting the vaccination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This will include:

  • Additional vaccine liaison officers employed to work directly with remote and very remote communities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in discrete communities in other areas.
  • Boosting work alongside vaccine providers to support community engagement activities and providing culturally safe messaging, address vaccine hesitancy, facilitate informed consent and conduct health promotion activities.

This is in addition to $19 million provided to NACCHO to date, to support the crucial role of ACCHS in the pandemic response.

Chief Executive of NACCHO, Pat Turner AM, said working with communities was critical to ensuring a successful vaccine rollout for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and welcomes the Australian Government’s ongoing partnership with NACCHO and our sector.

“The recent outbreaks have demonstrated the need to accelerate the vaccine rollout for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. NACCHO continues to play a critical role in addressing hesitancy and ensuring timely and culturally appropriate information is provided to communities to encourage vaccinations,” Ms Turner said.

“This additional funding will further bolster our work in supporting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access a vaccine by the end of this year.”

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has worked in partnership with First Nations communication companies to develop editorial, social and advertising to reach the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience.

To further boost these efforts, the Government will also fund First Nations Media Australia, the national peak body for the First Nations media and communications industry, to produce and distribute a package of culturally appropriate public relations content to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout.

The partnership includes a range of activities that are planned to support the vaccine rollout, aiming to broaden the conversation around vaccinations, address misinformation and build positive sentiment and intention toward vaccination by using local and trusted voices and sharing positive stories.

The work will be undertaken by a number of local Indigenous media organisations across the country, with a particular emphasis on the areas that are included in the acceleration plan.

Read the full joint media release by Minister Hunt, Minister Wyatt and NACCHO here.

Getting vaccinated is an act of love

Uncle Paster Ray Minniecon was a guest on the ABC’s The Drum on Monday (13 September 2021) talking about how misinformation has contributed to vaccine hesitancy among First Nations communities.

The segment on The Drum about vaccine hesitancy commences at 14:05 minutes, including Paster Minniecon speaking from 17:00 minutes.

Note: image source in feature tile – ABC Nightlife.

Surviving COVID-19 a tough road

When Joanne Bostock was admitted to Royal Prince Alfred hospital last month for a kidney infection, she was given antibiotics and discharged. But later that night she received a phone call from the hospital advising she had tested positive to COVID-19.

“I thought I just have a cold, I can deal with this. But the next morning when I woke up I couldn’t breathe,” she said. An ambulance was called and Ms Bostock was taken to the emergency department. Eventually, she had to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) where her condition would deteriorate over the next few days. Doctors told her family to expect the worst and the dire news was especially tough on her seven children and five grandchildren.

She described her time in the ICU’s pressurised room “like you’re in a sauna or a shower and you’ve got a plastic bag over your head and at the same time someone is sitting on your chest”. The 55-year-old avoided having to be placed in an induced coma and her vitals started to normalise.

Ms Bostock is still in a general ward almost a month later and she is still a long way from recovery. She said she hoped her experience would encourage others to take the virus more seriously. “I was one of those people who were like, ‘Oh, COVID, like this is a little cold’ … but that’s not what happens,” she said. “Be diligent, be safe because I don’t know where I got it.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

pop-up vaccination clinic at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern

The pop-up vaccination clinic at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: ABC News.

VIC vaccination rate for mob

The vaccination rate for Indigenous people in Victoria remains on track to have more than 80% of people receiving one dose by the end of next month, despite being revealed as less “outstanding” than previously thought.

Victoria was thought to be leading other states and territories in terms of Indigenous vaccination, but the adjusted data released by the Australian Immunisation Register reduced the figure for a single dose to 45%. The figure for fully vaccinated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria went from 30,951 to 12,209, a drop of more than 30%.

NACCHO medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino confirmed the error was due to a bug in a software program used by some GPs in regional Victoria. Dr Agostino said the problem was identified around late May when the numbers recorded in Victoria were higher than the Commonwealth and NACCHO expected, “It took a bit of detective work to figure out what was happening with this medical software and then to correct the records.”

“This is software that is not used much in Australia. It’s not one of the big ones that we use and particularly it is not used in our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. When it’s uploaded information to the immunisation register, if somebody hasn’t entered the recipient’s Indigenous status it just automatically changed it to ‘yes’.”

To read the full article in The Age click here.

Maria Galea being vaccinated by the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service

Maria Galea was vaccinated last month by the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Orange’s vax rates skyrocket

Western NSW Local Health District (WNLHD) is calling the region’s vaccination rates the most-improved in the state across the last four weeks. Chief Executive Scott McLachlan said vaccination rates across the District have skyrocketed in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, “I’m really proud of our communities. They’ve heard the message that vaccination is the best way to tackle COVID-19 and they’ve stepped up.”

“We’ve seen the first-dose rate of COVID-19 vaccinations go from 17% to 56% for Aboriginal people and from 41% to 82% for non-Aboriginal people. The second-dose rate for Aboriginal people has gone from around 7% to almost 22%, and from 20% to more than 41% for non-Aboriginal people. While we’ve still got a long way to go to reach that 80% goal, the number of people with first doses on board puts us in a really good position.”

“I can’t stress this enough though – we can’t afford to think we’ve done enough.”

Orange is among seven local government areas in the District to have first dose rates at over 80%. The other six include Weddin, Dubbo, Coonamble, Parkes, Narromine and Mid-Western Regional Council.

To view The Central Western Daily article in full click here.

tile text 'I got my COCID-19 vaccine!' Orange City Council, vector of band aid folded in half, heart shape

Culturally appropriate mental healthcare vital

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has recorded a 31% increase in psychological distress for Indigenous adults. At the same time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth aged between 15 and 24 are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous people of the same age.

Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones says that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Our First Nations people have historically experienced unacceptable levels of inequitable access to these services,” she said, describing the current options as an ‘invisible inequity’. “There is a lack, and significant lag time of young people having access to culturally appropriate health care services in Australia — in every state and territory”.

To view the full article in The Junkee click here.

Image source: Sharp Health News.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 16 September 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health, Department of Health.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

Vision impaired mob sought

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) would like to connect with people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who are blind or vision impaired and are happy to speak about issues important to them to assist BCA to find ways to connect with them and deliver information which is both relevant and important.

BCA holds regular forums to be more inclusive for our mob, and improve their connections. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be vision impaired are being invited to join an Aboriginal Blind Peoples Forum (ABPF) to have their story heard and understand how BCA can support them. The ABPF forum will be held from:

1:30 PM (AEST) Thursday 23 September 2020.

You can join the ABPF discussion meeting via this zoom link.

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Week of Deaf People

The National Week of Deaf People (NWDP) is a week-long national celebration of Deaf individuals and the Australian Deaf community, which includes celebrating the International Week of Deaf People (IWDP) and International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) which are initiatives of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD).

These two events are traditionally held during September and are based on the founding date of the WFD (23 September 1951). The week is an opportunity for Deaf people to celebrate their communities, language, culture and history; make the public aware of their local, state and national Deaf communities; and to recognise their achievements.

Deaf Australia has chosen the same theme as the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) International Week of Deaf People for 2021: ‘Celebrating thriving Deaf Communities’

For more information visit the Deaf Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

feature tile text 'NACCHO receives additional funding to help vaccinate mob' & image of young Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vaccination

Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who aren’t vaccinated are prioritised under new funding to cover all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). An extra $7 million will be provided to NACCHO, with some of the funding to be used to hire more staff, who will liaise directly with communities to assist with the rollout of vaccinations.

Lieutenant General John Frewen who leads the national COVID-19 vaccine taskforce said:

“In some of the bigger communities, we’ll be doing things like super clinics, you know, a sort of blitz effort to get large numbers of people through. In other areas we’ll be doing very close community consultation, with an information campaign to get the community ready to accept vaccination and then we’ll provide the vaccinations there.”

There is also funding for First Nations Media Australia, which has been asked to produce new advertising material that can be shared among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout, to address vaccine hesitancy.

Note: image in feature tile –  Aboriginal health service, Wellington, NSW. Photo: Louise Austin. Image source: ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

 

Bathurst gets walk-in vax clinic

A good number of people received their COVID-19 shot at the Kelso Community Hub, Bathurst on its first day as a pop-up vaccination clinic. The Kelso Community Hub is a walk-in clinic, meaning no appointments are needed, and around 200 people per day will be able to be vaccinated.

The clinic is being led by the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service and CEO Jamie Newman said it is about making the vaccine more accessible to people in the community.

“We’ve got to be mindful that a lot of our people who live in low socioeconomic areas do not have transport, so to get into town would be difficult for them. We encountered the same thing in Orange. We need to be able to sometimes bring the mountain to Mohamed, so having it here right in the heart of Kelso allows for walking distance for community members here,” he said.

You can read the story in the Western Advocate here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

 

Communities rallying to get mob vaccinated

Vaccination rates must increase before reopening country

Seventeen of the 20 least vaccinated regions of Aboriginal people are in WA and QLD. Traditional Owners in the WA outback are the least vaccinated of any area in Australia, with just nine per cent of those living in the Southern Outback region having received both doses of the vaccineMichael Small is a Maths and Statistics Professor at the University of Western Australia; his modelling shows that if WA was to experience a NSW-style outbreak, the State would only have 30 days before the virus made its way to remote communities.

“The modelling showed that until the vaccination rate is at around 80 or 90 percent, then these communities are at great risk of local transmission within about a month [of the virus arriving in the State],” he said.

You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.

In a related article in Croakey Health Media, grave concerns have been raised about the implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health of the “Roadmap to Freedom” released by the NSW Government.

Under the plan, stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW passes the 70 percent double vaccination target. NSW hits the 80 percent double dose target, the Government intends to ease further restrictions around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.

Aboriginal health leaders in NSW, the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions are calling for public health orders to remain in place until at least 90 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are vaccinated.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.
Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

 

Lock-down of remote communities with low jab rates

In an article in The Australian (that requires a subscription to read), Western Australia is working on plans to lock down remote Aboriginal communities with low vaccination rates when it lifts state and international borders, with health officials concerned American evangelists were scaring residents into refusing inoculations.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed he had spoken to his federal counterpart, Greg Hunt, to request support to lock down communities with low Covid-19 vaccination rates once border restrictions were relaxed.

Health authorities in the state are particularly concerned about hostility towards the vaccination program in the far northern communities of Noonkanbah, Looma and Ringer Soak, although Mr Cook said he was aware of at least one community further south where local leaders were also ­agitating against inoculations.

The most recent publicly available vaccination data for WA’s northern outback region, released last Monday, shows just 28 per cent of adults have had one dose compared with 53 per cent across the entire state on the same day. Only 17 per cent were fully ­vaccinated.

Mr Cook said a small number of communities were simply turning away healthcare workers ­because “religious opposition (was) just too overwhelming … Those communities are now saying, ‘Look, we’ve heard you. We’re not going to take the vaccine ­because it’s against god’s will, and so just don’t come back,’ ” he said.

“I think we have to concede that there are some communities that simply will not participate in the … program.” Mr Cook said it may be necessary to restrict movement in and out of remote communities that remain largely unvaccinated in 2022 when international and interstate travel ­resumed.

Mr Cook said some communities had been turned against the vaccine after streaming YouTube videos from US evangelists.

“But just because you’re of a strong religious belief doesn’t mean that you’re anti-vax, it’s simply an interpretation of some of the churches.”

Mr Cook said the debate about when to open-up must include a proviso about the vaccination rate of Aboriginal people. “If you’ve got 80 per cent of mainstream WA vaccinated but only 20 per cent of the Aboriginal community vaccinated, you still can’t open up,” he said.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

 

Healthcare workers at increased risk of mental ill-health during pandemic

There is increasing concern about rising rates of mental ill-health and suicide among doctors.

A recent review led by the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney that was published in The Lancet has revealed doctors are at increased risk of suicide and, in their early years of training, one-quarter to one-third reported significant mental ill-health. The researchers said while this was an increasing issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there is emerging evidence that the impact of the pandemic is creating even more mental health problems.

The review suggested female doctors appeared to be at particular risk, with a suicide rate that is significantly higher than women in the general population.

“The acute nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of Australia at the moment highlights the importance of this issue. The mental health of doctors, along with other healthcare staff, is something we are all depending on,” said the lead author of the study Professor Samuel Harvey, who runs the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW.

You can read the article in the UNSW Sydney Newsroom here.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

 

Suicide intervention training saving lives

A training program to build Indigenous Australians’ skills in preventing suicides has brought national acclaim for a University of Queensland researcher. Associate Professor Maree Toombs said the I-ASIST program was developed in partnership with LivingWorks Australia over four years of consultation and collaboration.

Dr Toombs, a Euralie and Kooma woman, is the UQ Faculty of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Indigenous Engagement. On World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2021), she received the Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Impact Award.

“I-ASIST trains friends, family and outreach services to identify people early who are at risk of suicide, and to use their skills to address the situation immediately,” she said.

“It provides employment for Indigenous trainers, either through organisations or as sole traders, to deliver suicide first-aid skills to their local communities. It develops capacity and sustainability for evidence-based training.

“Now we need people who are embedded and trusted in their communities to be trained deliver this program, especially in Indigenous communities,” she said.

Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, will officially launch I-ASIST in November.

You can read more about the program here.

SPA_LifeAwards_Associate Professor Maree Toombs

 

NACCHO Conference postponed

📢 IMPORTANT NOTICE: As the COVID-19 situation and impacts continue, a decision has been taken to postpone our Conference until next year. NACCHO will review the situation in December including when we can convene the conference.

For any queries please email: conference@naccho.org.au.

NACCHO Conference 2021 - Postponed.

 

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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Sepsis Day 2021

World Sepsis Day – united in the fight

Today is the 10th anniversary of World Sepsis Day, a Global Sepsis Alliance initiative. World Sepsis Day highlights the ongoing impact of sepsis globally – on patients, their families and carers. It is an opportunity for us to unite in the fight against sepsis.

Early recognition and management of sepsis is a priority area for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission). This year, the Commission aims to shine a spotlight on sepsis to raise awareness among clinicians and in the community.

Image source: National Sepsis Awareness campaign

Today the Commission commences its National Sepsis Awareness Campaign. which will run until 26 November 2021. The theme for the campaign is: ‘Could it be sepsis?’ By simply asking whether it could be sepsis, life-saving treatment can be provided to stop severe health complications and death.

You can read a Q&A on sepsis with Dr Carolyn Hullick, emergency physician and Clinical Director at the Commission here and access a campaign toolkit developed to help improve awareness of sepsis, here.

The first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard is also now open for public consultation. The standard has been developed to ensure that a patient with signs and symptoms of sepsis receives the best possible care, from symptom onset through to discharge from hospital. Have your say on the draft standard here.

Together, we can help reduce the burden of sepsis on patients, clinicians and the Australian healthcare system. So please, just ask “could it be sepsis?”

For further information on World Sepsis Day 2021 including the National Sepsis Awareness Campaign click here.

Awabakal delivers vaccines, food, support

Aboriginal medical service Awabakal has helped deliver hundreds of vaccines and support to COVID-impacted communities in the Hunter. In association with a number of other Aboriginal organisations, Awabakal helped administer COVID-19 vaccines and offer food and support to residents in Windale and Hamilton South over the past week.

The Awabakal team provided 280 vaccinations in Hamilton South on Thursday last week and another 187 vaccinations at Lake Macquarie PCYC in Windale last Saturday.

“We know that sometimes the people who need help the most, whether it be with food or their health, are the least likely to reach out,” Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon said. “Taking the clinic to the community is an opportunity for people to connect to services.”

To view the Newcastle Herald article in full click here.

Windale NSW pop-up clinic inside huge hall

Windale pop-up clinic. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

From Friday 1 October 2021 legislative changes will mean the only way to legally purchase unregistered nicotine vaping products will be with a GP prescription. This has implications for our communities and workforce.

NACCHO has partnered with RACGP and ANU to deliver an interactive webinar on these legislative changes and what they might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

The webinar will be held on: Wednesday 15 September 2021, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (AEST)

Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ANU together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present the legislative changes and dive into some of the more emergent issues surrounding safety and toxicity risks, prescription of an unregistered product, harm minimisation including a case study and discussion points to support ACCHOs and health services to develop community-based vaping policies. The webinar will conclude with a 10 minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Housing crisis within a crisis

Covid-19 has exposed and aggravated the chronic overcrowding and dilapidated state of Aboriginal housing, especially in remote communities battling the Delta outbreak.

In the far west NSW virus hotspot of Wilcannia, where one in six of the town’s 650 people has been infected, a long-term housing crisis has made safe home isolation nigh impossible. Local health and community workers fear woeful hygiene, endemic disease and growing mental turmoil will take a further toll on First Nations people.

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO, said “what we are seeing in western NSW is a crisis within a crisis”. Turner says she warned governments last March that once Covid-19 reached communities such as Wilcannia, “it will hit us like a wildfire”.

“Aboriginal people have been bearing the brunt of overcrowded housing for decades,” she says. “The commonwealth has essentially wiped its hands of responsibility and the federal-state partnerships that have been struck, well, there’s not enough accountability to the people.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Ronnie Murray & members of his family outside their Wilcannia home & the tent Ron was forced to isolate in

Ronnie Murray, right, and members of his family outside their home, and the tent Ron was forced to isolate in. Photo: Chris Pavlich. Image source: The Australian.

Vaccine hesitancy explained

Yuin woman Natalie Williams is a mother-of-two living in a Sydney COVID hotspot. Determined to keep her family safe, she is debunking vaccine myths and helping her family understand the facts.

Her mum Claudette Chenhall is 70, and a grandmother of seven. Claudette is currently fighting cancer, and when it was time to roll up her sleeve to get vaccinated, she became worried after hearing about the side effects.

Vaccine hesitancy isn’t exclusive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but factors like traumatic historical events, barriers to access and supply, and misinformation, have turned a tool of protection into a tool of fear.

Ms Vicki O’Donnell, the chairperson of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and also CEO of Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service in Broome, said there was a gap in the way information was being shared. “A lot of people are saying they feel sorry for NSW, but [when] you say, ‘Do you know there is over 800 of our mob sick with COVID?’, they can’t believe it,” she said. “The numbers don’t get told at the press conference, so some people think it’s only ‘white people’ with COVID.”

To view the ABC article in full click here.

photo of Natalie with mum Claudette, bay in the background

Natalie says her mum Claudette feels safe after getting the jab. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 in our prisons

A human rights lawyer is calling for the NSW government to step up measures to vaccinate prisoners. George Newhouse from the National Justice Project said the government needed to increase its vaccinations or release some inmates.

He said of the 13,000 prisoners in NSW, only 21% were double vaccinated.

30,5% of patients in a state-run correctional centre were fully vaccinated, according to a spokesperson for the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, which deals with the health of NSW prisoners. “59.6% have had one dose,” they said.

To view this ABC News article in full click here.

top down view of NSW prison open area

Lawyers and relatives say too many NSW prison inmates are missing out on getting vaccinated. Photo: Corrective Services NSW. Image source: ABC News.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs said she received a text message from Corrections Commissioner Ray Johnson early on Saturday advising her of a positive case at the prison. “This is a very troubling development and I’m really, really worried for the detainees out there [at the prison],” Ms Tongs said. “I know our [detainee] clients are fully vaccinated but they [ACT Corrections] are not letting anyone know about the vaccination status of the general prison population.

“My information is that vaccination rates are very low and that only 25 doses a fortnight were being offered [to prisoners]. “If that’s the case, this could very quickly turn into an outbreak like Parklea [prison]. There is a lot of very vulnerable people out there, in poor physical health, and if it’s in the general prison community, the virus could quite easily kill some of them [inmates].”

To view the Canberra Times article in full click here.

man wearing covid-19 mask with hands gripping jail bars

Image source: Grattan Institute.

Elders and youth leading vaccine push

Aboriginal elders and teenagers are leading the push to get more people in Queensland’s Indigenous communities vaccinated, but the biggest challenge is dispelling myths and misinformation about the vaccine.

Cherbourg elder Uncle Bevan Costello this week received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “I feel more confident now that I’m fully vaccinated that if I come into contact with COVID I should be OK because I’m a diabetic,” Uncle Bevan said.

Figures released earlier this week showed only 4.6% of the Cherbourg population aged over 15 were fully vaccinated. It’s among the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.

“A lot of my people have been hesitant because of a misunderstanding of the information, mostly on social media,” Uncle Bevan said. Mixed messaging about the AstraZeneca vaccine and other myths circulating online were partly to blame.

Katie Panaretto from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service said staff were working closely with the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council to address the vaccine hesitancy. She believes sentiment is changing now that Pfizer is the only vaccine being offered in the community, “The community is slowly changing attitude and demand is increasing a little bit.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Aboriginal female elder receiving covid-19 vax

Queensland Health hopes more remote community residents get a shot after seeing elders and youngsters vaccinated. Photo: Lucy Loram, ABC Wide Bay. Image source: ABC News.

Growing the Aboriginal health workforce

An article written by Dr Janine Mohamed CEO, Distinguished Fellow of the George Institute for Global Health, Growing and supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, has been published in the Australian Health Review.

In the article Dr Mohamed says “It was a privilege to speak on behalf of the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF) in Alice Springs in 2018 at a landmark Indigenous Roundtable held on the eve of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council meeting. I stressed the urgent need for a dedicated and resourced strategy for growing and supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce. Simply including us as a small focus within mainstream workforce policies was insufficient. I asked Ministers to privilege the voices and wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and practise cultural respect and reciprocity in order to build trust. They listened.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Implementation Plan is now under development, part of a refresh of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2021–2031 (NATSIHWSF).”

Dr Mohamed went on to say “ACCHOs are known for their outstanding work, and their outstanding performance during the COVID-19 pandemic has made international headlines. They are a model of primary care for everyone.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to create Hope through Action

feature tile text 'First Nations led work aligns with World Suicide Prevention Day theme fighting hope with action' & image of awareness ribbon two hands linked

World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to Create Hope through Action

NACCHO believes this year’s theme on World Suicide Prevention Day, ‘Creating hope through action’, aligns with the innovative work done by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led organisations and by NACCHO’s members to address disproportionate suicide rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly amongst our young people.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 2.7 times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress than other Australians. Our people comprise 11% of all emergency department mental health presentations across the Country. Our children and grandchildren continue to experience the impacts of past practices and policies. The rate of suicide for our young people is four times the rate of other Australian young people.

“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, social determinants affecting mental health can include factors such as cultural identity, family, intergenerational trauma, participation in cultural activities and access to traditional lands, lack of access to affordable housing, exposure to violence.

“The suffering of the Stolen Generations continues to have significant impacts on their health and well-being with intergenerational impacts of this trauma.

“In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.

“To address these factors, adequate and ongoing funding support for evidence-based, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, social and emotional well-being (SEWB), mental health, and suicide prevention programs is vital, and we will continue to advocate for funding to support the rollout of culturally competent services.”

To read the media release in full click here.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

From Friday 1 October 2021 legislative changes will mean the only way to legally purchase unregistered nicotine vaping products will be with a GP prescription. This has implications for our communities and workforce.

NACCHO has partnered with RACGP and ANU to deliver an interactive webinar on these legislative changes and what they might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

The webinar will be held on: Wednesday 15 September 2021, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (AEST)

Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ANU together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present the legislative changes and dive into some of the more emergent issues surrounding safety and toxicity risks, prescription of an unregistered product, harm minimisation including a case study and discussion points to support ACCHOs and health services to develop community-based vaping policies. The webinar will conclude with a 10 minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vapper, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

New approach to preventing suicide

Two leading organisations will work together on a new approach to preventing suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, combining proven strategies, to create a powerful blueprint for saving lives.

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) at The University of WA will collaborate with Black Dog Institute to develop an integrated systems approach to suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Taking the findings of the 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) as the starting point, the collaboration will work with Indigenous community organisations, clinicians, academics, and others to develop a combination of interventions with the potential to reduce Indigenous suicides. Tragically, suicide rates in this population are more than double that of other Australians.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the CBPATSISP said, “We demonstrated through ATSISPEP that the unacceptably high rate of suicide in our communities is a consequence of colonisation, intergenerational trauma and systemic racism, and we know that effective responses must be based on Indigenous leadership and empowerment.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Record demand for suicide prevention services

Record numbers of Australians are heeding the call to seek help from suicide prevention services in a “silver lining” that shows the sector is making a major contribution to keeping the community safe, according to a new report released this World Suicide Prevention Day.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said young people were seeking help at twice the rate of their parent’s generations, following decades of awareness-raising, stigma reduction initiatives and advocacy. “Creating hope through action is an important part of World Suicide Prevention Day and every other day of the year,” Ms Murray said.

Suicide Prevention Australia will today release its second annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention report, which shows 84% of suicide prevention services and workers experienced an increase in demand in the past 12 months (August 2020 to August 2021).

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release in full click here.

National Suicide Prevention Office

Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, the Morrison Government is recognising this year’s theme of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ by establishing the Australian National Suicide Prevention Office to lead a national mission to reduce the prevalence and impact of suicide in Australia.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts. ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ is a reminder that there are actions that we can take that may provide hope to those who are feeling overwhelmed.

The Government is leading this work through record investment in, and concerted structural reform of, the national approach to suicide prevention. In a first for Australia, the new National Suicide Prevention Office will have the capability to work across all governments and sectors to drive a nationally consistent and integrated approach to reducing suicide rates.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: Calaveras County website.

Call for 90-95% NT vaccination threshold

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has called on the NT Government to adopt a 90-95% Aboriginal vaccination rate threshold before opening the NT borders.

The call was made by AMSANT’s Board and endorsed by the AMSANT membership. “A target of a 90-95% vaccination rate for all Aboriginal Territorians 12 years and older is required if we are to prevent or minimise the deadly toll of COVID in our communities,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“The national target of 80% vaccinations of eligible adults 16 years and older would be a disaster in our communities, which have a much younger age profile and would equate to only about 55% of the total Aboriginal population vaccinated. At that level the virus would rip through our community like wildfire.”

“With one of the world’s highest rates of chronic disease and very overcrowded housing, we cannot risk the devastation this would cause. We only have to look at western NSW where our countrymen are suffering. Our hearts go out to them.”

To view AMSANT’s media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

Homeless Noongar women die on streets

At least eight Noongar women have died homeless in Perth this winter, including six on the streets, sparking renewed calls for action to address the homelessness crisis. In 2020, 56 homeless people died on the streets, 28% of them Indigenous.

There are more than 1,000 people sleeping rough on the streets of Perth each night, with 40% Indigenous. Across WA, out of 10,000 homeless people, 30% are Indigenous. In total, 14,000 households are on the public housing waitlist.

Protests have been held to urge action, including the establishment of “tent cities” near Parliament House. Since the early August vigil for Alana Garlett, who died after being found ill while trying to sleep in the city in June, another three young Aboriginal women have been found dead within 250m of where Ms Garlett was found.

Noongar Elder Vanessa Culbong said the crisis is “a product of a system that’s failed us and continues to fail us. We can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel when women and birth-givers are dying in front of us.”

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.

Aunty Barbara Moore

Aunty Barbara Moore at a rally to urge action to prevent more homeless deaths in Perth. Photo: Kearyn Cox, NITV. Image source: SBS News.

Reducing violence against First Nations women

The Federal Government will develop a “specific and targeted” National Plan to Reduce Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children after calls mounted at this week’s Women’s Safety Summit.

One of the leading voices advocating for an Indigenous-specific plan is the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS Forum). “It is essential that we are part of this important conversation,” said Antoinette Braybrook CEO of Djirra and National FVPLS Forum Co chair.

“Mainstream national plans create an invisibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. They often do not take in the diversity of our people and our communities. The principles of self-determination are not front and centre in mainstream plans,” said Braybrook. “We must see this national crisis of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women end. The only way we can do that is by having our own dedicated national plan.”

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.

photo taken from ground looking to sky Aboriginal woman's hand overlapping with child's hand, not touching

Image source: University of Melbourne – Pursuit.

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Diabetes-related foot complications

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complication Program aims to reduce diabetes related foot complications and amputations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Top End region of the NT, Central Australia, SA,
the Kimberley region and Far North Queensland.

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is partnering with experts in the 5 regions from the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector, government and non-government agencies, service providers, research institutions and national and regional peak bodies to implement a range of strategies to improve foot health. You are invited to hear about the implementation of this work from coordinators and staff in the regions from: 1:00 PM-4:00 PM ACST, Thursday 16 September 2021.

For further details, including a zoom link click here.

UNC Health Talk website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

This International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and NOFASD are calling on Australians to contribute to the prevention of FASD – a range of neurodevelopmental impairments caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that a new polling snapshot by FARE has identified that many Australians are not aware that alcohol is harmful to health during pregnancy.

“Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASD and almost one in four aren’t aware that alcohol should be avoided altogether in pregnancy,” Ms Giorgi said.

You can also join the Red Shoes Rock campaign, which was started by RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD. He decided to wear RED SHOES to stand out, be noticed and have some fun starting FASD conversations with strangers. With strong supports and increased awareness FASD can be prevented. Wear red shoes proudly to raise awareness about FASD.
#RedShoesRock #FASDawareness

You can view the media release by FARE and NOFASD here.
You can also download a Polling Snapshot for Alcohol use, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder here.
For more information about International FASD Awareness Day click here.

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.

 

‘Living with COVID’ – what front-line health workers are facing

With the Delta variant raging across New South Wales and Victoria, health services are stretched and strained. In the next few months, the health workforce will care for many more patients with COVID-19, with case numbers in NSW expected to peak over the next two weeks.

The nation is focused on plans to reopen borders and increase freedoms as soon as there are sufficiently high rates of vaccination. But what does ‘living with’ COVID-19 look like for health professionals?

In 2020, The Conversation surveyed front-line health-care workers across Australia and found the pandemic had taken a considerable toll on their mental health. Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have also been disproportionately infected – often through exposure to the virus at work.

If we are to live with COVID-19, we need a health-care system that can cope with the ‘normal’ pressures of providing health care for 25 million people, intermittent crises, plus respond to both the short and long-term needs of people with COVID-19. Preparing the health-care system to respond to crises such as pandemics, must include supporting health-care workers and protecting them from burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. We risk losing our most valuable asset in the health-care system if we fail to urgently respond to these issues.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: "How it started. How it's going." in November 2020.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: “How it started. How it’s going.” in November 2020.

 

Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

Last week, as case numbers in the COVID-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email. It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of COVID and prevent them from contracting it again”. The drug was ivermectin and the email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley.

In Wilcannia, where COVID cases reached 109 on Wednesday, or 14.5% of the population, the appearance of individuals pushing the use of ivermectin prompted an outburst of anger from Adams, who accused the sender of taking advantage of a community where people were already sick, confused and scared.

“This isn’t just happening in Wilcannia. We’re hearing this is happening in communities all over the far west. The information they’re pushing is not reliable, it’s not resourceful. We need them to stop and leave our communities alone. We’ve got enough to deal with at the moment,” he told the Guardian.

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

 

More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

Australia borrows Pfizer jabs, while it waits for purchases to arrive. But when might mRNA vaccines be made onshore? Also there’s anger among Aboriginal leaders about anti-vax propaganda targeted at vulnerable communities. And consumer shortages and delays as a cascade of problems hits global shipping.

Listen to:

  • Associate Professor Archa Fox, RNA biologist, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), GP and epidemiologist.
  • Rachel Premack, senior investigative reporter, Business Insider

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

Tune in to listen to This Week, 4 September 2021 on ABC Radio here.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

 

What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

The World Congress of Epidemiology opened on 4 September with a short silence to remember more than 4.5 million people who have died from COVID-19 to date, with particular mention of epidemiologists and public health workers. Hosted by the Australasian Epidemiological Association, the Congress this year is a virtual event, and began with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr.

Also at the opening ceremony, President of the International Epidemiology Association, Professor Henrique Barros, reflected on how COVID-19 had provided a “critical moment” for epidemiology. He contrasted the epidemiological tools used to combat the spread of COVID with approaches taken century ago when the 1918 influenza pandemic posed a similar threat to global health.

Clear messages from other keynotes and presentations included the need to celebrate the positive contribution epidemiology has played in worldwide efforts to combat COVID, while also applying a critical lens and learning from past mistakes to meet the challenges of COVID and other public health threats in the future.

Another strong theme was the need for epidemiology to be more effective in addressing health inequities, especially for First Nations people.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

 

Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

Consumers can now get their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. The digital certificate will become available once their vaccination provider has reported all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Consumers can already get an immunisation history statement from their record to show proof of all vaccinations recorded on the AIR, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

These documents are also available for non-Medicare eligible consumers who have a My Health Record.

Second dose alert date range
The COVID-19 vaccine second dose due date alert now displays a date range on the Record Home page. The dates are calculated based on the minimum and maximum recommended interval for the second dose of the vaccine brand. For example, if someone has one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose would be due between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

For more information, see Getting proof of vaccination from My Health Record.
You can also find answers to common consumer questions here.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

 

Are they really OK? Ask them today!

This year’s R U OK? Day theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’. R U OK?

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health this R U OK? Day. This year it is more important than ever before as we all continue to face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health.

Research has shown that around 22% of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help. However, a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

In another media release by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Dr Di Stow, President of the PACFA says you should be prepared for the answer to be ‘No’ when asking a friend, family member or colleague R U OK?

It’s being reported that in lockdown, pre-existing trauma is rising to the surface and cracks in families that were previously covered over with activity are being laid bare. People are seeking help for anxiety, depression and anger arising from the uncertainty and lack of control related to lockdown. Counsellors and psychotherapists are increasingly frustrated at the current situation where Australians struggling with their mental health will seek support on R U OK Day but be turned away by psychologists after referrals from GPs. GPs, particularly in locked-down states, report they cannot find help for their patients through the Better Access initiative because psychologists have waiting lists of 3-6 months, or have closed their books completely.

In the meantime, over 60% of PACFA members responding to a survey said they could take on a new client within a fortnight; 23% said they could take on a new client within 48 hours.

PACFA is advocating for the Federal Government to open up the Better Access initiative beyond psychologists, to counsellors and psychotherapists who are highly-trained, highly experienced mental health professionals.

You can read the media release here.

Click here for more information and resources around R U OK? Day.

 

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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Nominations open: the Dennis McDermott Memorial Award For Excellence In Cultural Safety

This award is named in honour of the late Professor Dennis McDermott. From Gomereoi country (north-western New South Wales), with connections to Gadigal country (inner Sydney), he was a psychologist, academic and poet, and was La Trobe University’s inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous). Dennis worked as an Indigenous health academic for many years. As a respected member of the LIME Network and Reference Group he contributed to the pedagogy of Indigenous cultural safety for future health professionals.

The award, a prize of $1000, will recognise outstanding work by a health practitioner, community organisation or educator in enhancing cultural safety in Australian health contexts, understood broadly. It is intended to recognise both existing good practice and innovations in the field.

Submission must be received by 5pm (AEST), 25 September 2021.

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham: lime-network@unimelb.edu.au.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

This is a webinar for health professionals run by Kidney Health Australia. It will be presented by Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason, Nephrologist.

7:30pm AEST, Wednesday 22 September 2021.
You can register your interest here.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community control vital in managing pandemic

feature tile text 'community control important in ATSI communities in managing pandemic' & photo of elder receiving vaccine at Tharwal (NSW)

Community control vital in managing pandemic

In Australia we have learned how important community control is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in managing the pandemic – and in places like Walgett in northerwestern NSW we are now seeing both how easily infection can come to these communities, and how imperative it is that they are provided with the resources to manage this.

A recent paper in Nature Medicine looks at Indigenous communities that, to date, have been missing from global perspectives on the pandemic – those who live in Artic regions. The lessons echo those learned here in Australia.

The Artic covers a vast area in the Northern Hemisphere encompassing parts of Canada, Denmark (Greenland and Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States (Alaska). These area are sparsely populated by a total of some seven million people.

These Artic populations generally have high rates of health conditions that make COVID-19 dangerous (particularly true for the Indigenous populations) and their remote settlements have limited access to healthcare and possess few healthcare resources with which to fight the disease.

Despite this, in most cases, Arctic regions have fared better in the COVID-19 pandemic than have temperate areas south of the Artic in the same countries.

The authors of the Nature Medicine paper collected Indigenous community testimonies that show strict preventive measures that combined public health and Indigenous knowledge approaches were able to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in these regions and provide physical, emotional, and mental support.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

Image in feature tile: Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receiving his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation (TAC) GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: TAC. Image source: The Guardian.

AMS health worker taking temperature of older woman

Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

CAAC makes progress with town, bush jabs

More than a quarter of Aboriginal clients over 16 living in the areas of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have received COVID-19 vaccination coverage, either one or both doses.

CAAC operates in or near Alice Springs as well as in five remote communities: Amoonguna, Ntaria and Wallace Rockhole (where Territory Health vaccinates), Santa Teresa, Utju (Areyonga) and Mutitjulu.

“In our remote communities 25% of resident clients are fully vaccinated and a further 11% have had their first doses,” says spokesperson as concern is growing over Aboriginal attitudes towards jabs. “In Alice Springs 17% of resident clients are fully vaccinated and a further 9% have had their first dose.”

Other “really good news” is that in Aboriginal people over the age of 60 across all [five] clinics, more than 60% have had a least one dose with nearly 50% fully vaccinated.

To read the full article in the Alice Springs News click here. and listen to a CAAC video about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine below.

New antenatal program launched

The Royal Women’s Hospital is launching a new group antenatal program designed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, thanks to funding from Liptember – a national campaign dedicated to women’s mental health.

The Women’s psychiatrists, specialist midwives and Aboriginal Hospital Liaison team have collaborated to design a trauma-informed mental health program, online and in-person, that promotes and enhances the maternal bond. Boon Wurrung Elder, Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir, gave her permission to name the program: Yana-bul Ngargee-Dha. This means ‘you are dancing’ in the Boon Wurrung language of the Kulin Nations.

To view the Royal Women’s Hospital’s media release click here.

health care worker with arm around Aboriginal mum holding baby

Image source: Royal Women’s Hospital.

Thirrili suicide postvention service

Empowering choice and control, Aboriginal community-controlled suicide postvention service, Thirrili, is supporting Indigenous families and communities through grief and loss. Meaning power and strength in Bunuba language, Thirrili was established in 2017 by Adele Cox — a proud Bunuba and Gija woman.

In July 2020, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones stepped into the role of CEO. With cultural links to the Central Desert in the NT, Ms McGowan-Jones has an extensive career in government and has spent the last 25 years working with and for Indigenous people.

At 84% Indigenous employment, Thirrili places Indigenous health in Indigenous hands. The service operates from a strength-based approach and is the national provider of Indigenous specific postvention support and assistance.

“There are many Indigenous services funded to provide support for prevention,” Ms McGowan-Jones said. “But we are an Indigenous service, who provide services and support to families that have had a loss to suicide, or other fatal traumatic incidents.”

With staff across the country, Thirrili provides postvention services through a “fly-in, fly-out styled model. The thing that is really important for our service is that we must be asked or invited. We don’t just rock up and say ‘we’re here to help’,” Ms McGowan-Jones said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Women urged to consider health

In a media release, the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP, has said that as we mark Women’s Health Week (6-10 September 2021), he continues to urge all Australian women to attend medical appointments and health checks, especially during lockdown.

While COVID-19 remains a massive public health concern, women of all ages continue to battle personal health and medical issues. While many Australian women are increasingly using services such as telehealth, some medical issues still require a visit to their GP or specialist.

Obtaining essential health care is one of the allowable reasons for leaving home during a lockdown. While some services have seen temporary interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, our health system remains in a strong position to support Australian women with health challenges.

Postponing screening, other diagnostic tests, or advice from a doctor, could allow a condition to worsen and make it more difficult to treat. The Australian healthcare system is there to support you through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To read the media release in full click here.

Ending gendered violence in Australia

The National Summit on Women’s Safety has asked all Australians to confront the unacceptable scourge of family, domestic and sexual violence and provided meaningful and constructive actions for change. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston thanked all the panellists, speakers and delegates as well as all Australians who joined the national conversation.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills, Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance chief executive Sandra Creamer handed down a comprehensive Statement on behalf of all delegates which outlines key priorities to underpin the next National Plan to end violence against women and children.

To view the press release in full click here.

tile with text 'gender-based violence' various vector images of women & violence

Image source: WETECH website.

ACC services key to reducing OOHC

For National Child Protection Week, SNAICC calls on governments and organisations to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services and communities as key to reduce the number of our children in out-of-home care (OOHC). In 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children made up 41% of children in OOHC in Australia despite being only 5.9% of Australia’s child population.

“The statistics are alarming – our children are 11 times more likely to be living away from their parents than non-Indigenous children,” Catherine Liddle said, CEO for the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. If this continues at the current trajectory, the number of our children in OOHC will double by 2030.”

To view SNAICC’s media release in full click here.

tile text 'keeping out children with family & culture' vector image of Aboriginal family

Image source: SNAICC website.

Adoption implications for First Nations kids

Currently, Aboriginal children are significantly over-represented in the out-of-home-care (OOHC) system. Drawing on Aboriginal trauma scholarship and decolonising methodologies, an recently published paper Trauma then and now: Implications of adoption reform for First Nations children situates the contemporary state removal of Aboriginal children against the backdrop of historical policies that actively sought to disrupt Aboriginal kinship and communities.

The paper draws on submissions to the 2018 Australian Senate Parliamentary Inquiry into Adoption Reform from Aboriginal community controlled organizations and highlights four common themes evident throughout these submissions: (i) the role of intergenerational trauma in high rates of Aboriginal child removal; (ii) the place of children within Aboriginal culture, kinship and identity; (iii) the centrality of the principles of self-determination and autonomy for Aboriginal communities and (iv) Aboriginal community controlled alternatives to child removal.

Acknowledging the failure of both federal and state reforms to address the issues raised in these submissions, the paper reflects on the marginalization of Aboriginal voices and solutions within contemporary efforts to address the multiple crises of the child protection system and the implications for the future of Aboriginal children.

To access the article click here.

Image source: Wandiyali 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

feature tile text 'AHW led COVID-19 vaccination blitz sees unbelievable community update'

AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

In Wellington, a small community in western NSW, Aboriginal health workers are leading a major vaccination blitz. While Indigenous vaccination rates in this region are still the lowest in the state, Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) is working hard to change that.

“Over the last two weeks we’ve been able to deliver about 1,500 individual doses,” Jay Forrester from the WACHS said. “I think the community uptake has been unbelievable.”

The health service in Wellington is in the midst of a six-week vaccine drive. Staff believe they have already vaccinated about 50 per cent of the targeted population, and they aim to reach 80 to 90% by the end.

To view the article in full click here.

Feature tile shows WACHS staff administering COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: ABC News.

WACHS vaccination clinic

WACHS vaccination clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Second COVID-19 death in Western NSW

The tiny community of Enngonia in Northwest NSW is in mourning following the death of an Elder yesterday (6 September 2021). The lady in her 70s, who was unfortunately unvaccinated, passed away in Dubbo Hospital after contracting COVID-19.

The news follows the death of an Aboriginal man  in his 50’s in Dubbo on August 30. “A really sad day for a little place like Enngonia to lose one of their much-loved Elders up there,” said Western NSW Police Commander Geoff McKechnie.

The small isolated community, which is an hour’s drive from the nearest hospital in Bourke, has less than 200 residents in the town with almost half the population Indigenous. There are 21 active cases of the virus in the town, while six new cases were announced in Bourke on Monday.

Western Health District CEO Scott McLachlan urged the community to continue to follow health advice to prevent further spread of the virus. “This is a very sombre reminder of the tragic outcomes that can happen when people get COVID,” he said.

To read the full SBS article click here.

entrance to Dubbo Hospital

Image source: The Guardian.

Free WellMob website webinar 

Our health and wellbeing workers are under extra pressure given the COVID-19 pandemic and additional physical and mental health risks to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

A free webinar will explore the WellMob website, a project delivered by some of our University Centre for Rural Health staff who work under the national electronic Mental Health in Practice project. Wellmob is a digital library of Indigenous specific SEWB resources that makes it easy for you to find culturally relevant online tools to keep our mob strong in these challenging times.

The seminar will tell you about how best to navigate the website and discuss ways for you to use digital wellbeing tools in your work and with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. The Q & A will allow you to share your insights and discuss your needs in using online resources to maintain the health and wellbeing of our diverse First Nations communities.

The webinar will take place on Thursday 16 September 2021 at 4:00pm AEST. The webinar is free to attend, however, registration is required.

WellMob Health Our Way banner/logo

Discrimination links to poor mental health

Globally, Indigenous populations have higher rates of suicidal behaviour and psychological distress compared to non-Indigenous populations. Indigenous populations also report high rates of exposure to discrimination, which could potentially contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

A research team have estimated the prevalence of discrimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in Australia and examined the role of discrimination in the association between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms.

The team’s analysis adds to evidence that discrimination is a contributor to mental health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations in Australia. The research concludes that reducing discrimination ought to be considered as part of strategies to improve the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the article published in the Australian and NZ Journal of Psychiatry click here

silhouette of Aboriginal man's head with light shining on to eye

Image source: Australian Men’s Health Forum.

A Life Changing Life campaign

The Australian Government wants to see a growing skilled and sustainable care and support workforce. As part of their A Life Changing Life campaign, they have partnered with SEEK to help employers attract the right people to fill care and support roles

They are hosting an exclusive webinar exploring current employment trends and showcasing the tools available to support your resourcing strategies. In the webinar, employers will learn:

  • Employment market trends and insights
  • Employment trends in care and support sector
  • Tools and products available to optimise hiring activity.

The free webinar will be held from: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM AEST Thursday 9 September 2021.

This is part of a new webinar series in partnership with SEEK, connecting employers with industry experts who will share insights and practical advice tailored to recruiting people into the care and support sector.

The webinar is designed for all employers in the care and support sector, and there is no cost. To register for the webinar click here.

A Life Changing Life tile - Aboriginal woman & man sitting on a bench outside

Support available if concerns about drinking

With the extension of COVID restrictions affecting many Australians, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is reminding people that there are supports available if they have concerns about their drinking or the drinking of someone they know.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that people might notice themselves drinking more frequently or drinking as a way to cope with anxiety or stress. “Many of us are experiencing disrupted routines and increased levels of stress as we deal with the affect that the ongoing pandemic has on our everyday lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

“These feelings are unsettling and can increase the likelihood of turning to alcohol to cope. But alcohol increases anxiety and leads to sleep disturbance and having less energy.” Ms Giorgi encouraged anyone concerned about their drinking to reach out to support services.

“There are a range of online, phone and face-to-face support that people can reach out to if they are concerned about their alcohol use or that of someone in their lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

Support is available by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug hotline (1800 250 015) and online support sites Daybreak, Drinksmeter and Bushtribe.

More support services are available on the FARE website here.

To view the FARE media release here.

FARE logo, photo nuclear family

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

R U OK? Day

R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives. Their work focuses on building the motivation, confidence and skills of the  help-giver – the person who can have a meaningful conversation with someone who is struggling with life.

R U OK? contributes to suicide prevention efforts by encouraging  people to invest more time in their  personal relationships and building the capacity of informal support networks – friends, family and colleagues – to be alert to those around them, have a conversation if they identify signs of distress or difficulty and connect someone to appropriate support, long before they’re in crisis.

This year’s R U OK? Day message is Are they really OK? Ask them today.

Do you know how the people in your world are really going?

Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are someone you know might be struggling. Your genuine support can make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small.  So, don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going. Are they really OK? Ask them today. Your conversation could change a life.

You can visit the R U OK? website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

feature tile text 'vaccine misinformation targeted at vulnerable communities' & image of Elder man receiving covid-19 vaccine

Vaccine conspiracies target vulnerable communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner called an emergency meeting with Mr Wyatt and 14 Aboriginal church leaders and remote doctors on Friday (3 September 2021) to discuss alarming numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are hesitant about whether they should be vaccinated as a direct result of misinformation that has targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The group of respected pastors and remote medical professionals confirmed conspiracies and misinformation were circulating in vulnerable communities, spreading fear of COVID-19 vaccines. “The meeting was about getting the advice of religious leaders on how to talk in a way that is respectful of people’s beliefs while keeping people safe from serious illness and death,” Minister Wyatt said.

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) has also written to local churches asking them to counter dangerous misinformation promoting vaccine hesitancy among Aboriginal communities. Vicki O’Donnell, the CEO of KAMS, said that while some communities in the area had high rates of vaccinations, there was “resistance in some communities due to religious groups and the misinformation that they’re providing”.

“We’ve always had issues around religious groups, ever since I can remember,” O’Donnell said. “This is the first time I’ve come across religious groups being very active around anti-vaccination. And I’ve been in Aboriginal health for 25 years now.”

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

side profile of face of Labor Senator Pat Dodson

Labor Senator Pat Dodson has called on religious leaders of all denominations to condemn groups spreading anti-vaccine propaganda. Photo: Mick Tsikas. Image source: The Guardian.

Mallee District Aboriginal Services chief executive Jacki Turfrey told Sunraysia Daily says vaccine conspiracy theories have spread like wildfire among Sunraysia’s Aboriginal community. “There’s a lot of myths being circulated about there being metal and metal traces in the vaccines, about there being implants being put into people who get the vaccine, about fertility … they’re actually making our job much, much harder,” she said.

“The myths are out there – they’re ramping up. As a result, you’ve got a lot of people are nervous and afraid to get the vaccine. There’s no counter media that actually goes through and dispels the myths. That would have an amazing impact.” Ms Turfrey rejected the suggestion vaccination providers weren’t doing enough to get Aboriginal community members to roll up their sleeves.

To view the full article in the Sunraysia Daily click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey says incentives offered to Indigenous people are having a positive impact on vaccination rates. Photo: Ben Grose. Image source: Sunraysia Daily.

Yawning divide in vaccination rates

Nationwide, 60.5% of the population over the age of 16 have had one dose, while 36.4%  are fully vaccinated. In comparison, just 37%t of First Nations people have had one jab, and 20.5% both.

New data released by the federal government also exposes a stark divide between Australia’s towns and cities and regional and remote areas. NACCHO’s chief medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said some of the figures are ‘alarming’. “You just need to look at what’s happened far western NSW to understand what can happen when just a single case of COVID-19 gets in,” he said.

“Without the protection of the vaccine, what’s happening in western NSW and Far West NSW Wales can happen anywhere, so we need to do whatever we can to address vaccine hesitancy and get doses out and into people’s arms.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal man receiving covid-19 vaccination

Despite the higher health risks, the national Indigenous vaccine rates are sitting well behind the general population. Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: NITV website.

Elder praises community lockdown response

Indigenous people across western NSW are working hard to do the right thing in a COVID crisis that restricts their highly social lives and puts pressure on their emotional wellbeing, says one of the region’s best-known elders. First Nations people continue to make up the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 infections in western NSW.

In Dubbo, which has most of the state’s regional cases, Wiradjuri elder Frank Doolan — better known as “Riverbank Frank” — heaped praise on locals abiding by lockdown laws. “I feel a certain amount of pride in my people, even though their circumstances in many instances may not be conducive to this new phenomenon of lockdown (and) it may not agree with Aboriginal people or the lives they lead,” he said. “I have been amazed at just how people are trying to comply with the health laws at the moment.”

To view the full ABC news article click here.

Wiradjuri Elder "Riverbank Frank" Doolan

“Riverbank Frank” Doolan says lockdown restrictions are especially taxing on the Aboriginal community. Photo: Gary-Jon Lysaght. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 exposes Australia’s health inequality

Australians, on the whole, are fortunate when it comes to their health. Generally, people enjoy a high standard of living and access to universal health care, and Australia consistently ranks well on measures such as life expectancy and mortality rates.

But beneath gross measures of health and high OECD rankings lies deeply-entrenched, longstanding inequalities. The gap in health outcomes between Australia’s rich and poor is substantial, and has been laid bare for all to see over the course of the pandemic.

Social scientist Julie Leask from the University of Sydney says the fact poorer, more diverse communities are being most impacted by COVID-19 is not by chance, and reflects “deep inequities in society”. “[The pandemic] is an opportunity for all of the public to see the mechanism by which poverty and social exclusion actually influence health,” she says.

In Australia, health inequalities are felt most acutely by Indigenous people and those living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, including in rural and remote Australia.

To view the article in full click here.

CAAC vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye

Central Australia Aboriginal Congress vaccination outreach at Irrkerlantye (White Gate) Damp. Photo: Kate Buckland, CAAC. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

WA releases Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy

The WA Government has released its first Closing the Gap Jurisdictional Implementation Plan together with its Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy – two important and strategic documents that will guide a future whole-of-government approach to Aboriginal affairs in WA.

This is the first Implementation Plan for WA under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and was developed through collaboration across government departments and agencies, with crucial input and endorsement from the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA, as well as the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), the only WA-based member of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peaks).

Vicki O’Donnell, member of the Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA and Chairperson of the AHCWA said: “The National Agreement on Closing the Gap is strongly supported by Aboriginal people in WA as it defines the reforms that are absolutely necessary for improving the life outcomes of our people, and our communities. The four Priority Reforms require governments to change the way they work with us at all levels, and ensure that Aboriginal self-determination, leadership, and culture are the foundations for shared decision-making, partnership and service delivery into the future.

To view the media statement in full click here.

Hearing health outreach services report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report Hearing health outreach services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT July 2012 to December 2020.

The report presents information on hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. It shows that in 2020 there were: 2,010 audiology services; 701 ear, nose and throat teleotology services; and 1,004 Clinical Nurse Specialist visits. Among children and young people who received at least two services between 2012 and 2020, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To view the report  click here.

Aboriginal toddler having a hearing test

Photo: Lauren Roberts, NT News. Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

NDIS Access Program in Kimberley

The Rural Clinical School of WA, The University of WA have released an article about their study of the NDIS ‘Access Program’ in the Kimberley region. Their mixed methods study explores the barriers and enablers of the Access Program in­­­­­­­ linking remote Aboriginal residents with the NDIS. The study also reports on what types of disability people engaging with the Access program had, their age, gender, and if they lived in a town or a community.

The study found the Access program has provided support and assistance for Aboriginal people in accessing the NDIS. Continuation of the Access Program until 2022 will allow more people to receive the support they need to navigate entry to the NDIS. Provision of services for those who have received an NDIS plan requires ongoing advocacy and evaluation.

The research team wants to continue the discussion around the NDIS Access Program to ensure the rights of remote Aboriginal Australians with a disability are met, in ways that are strength based and culturally secure.

To view the Equity in Access: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the NDIS Access Program for the Kimberley Region, WA article click here.

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny in her wheelchair

Seven-year-old Kelvina Benny lives with her family in the Yungngora community on Noonkanbah Station, Kimberley region, WA. Image source: NDIS 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Suicide Prevention Day 

One in four Australians report knowing someone who died by suicide during the past 12 months of the pandemic – the equivalent of 5 million people – with social isolation, the economy and jobs driving concerns, particularly amongst women. It comes as two-thirds of Australians (66%) back the Federal Government introducing a standalone national suicide prevention act requiring all government decisions to consider and mitigate suicide risks two years in a row.

The findings are from Suicide Prevention Australia’s second State of the Nation report, which will be officially released this week on World Suicide Prevention Day 2021 – Friday, 10 September 2021. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said history showed major increases in suicide were linked to major social and economic events and there was none more concerning facing Australia than right now.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

This year, Suicide Prevention Australia is hosting a free webinar form 10:30AM – 11:30AM AEST Friday 10 September 2021 to bring together key members of government, the suicide prevention sector and recipients of our LiFE Awards which recognise work with significant impacts on reducing suicide.

To register for the webinar click here.

banner text 'shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day' vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light

banner text ‘shining a light on suicide prevention Friday 10 Sep 2021, world suicide prevention day’ vector image of one female male & two males with huge yellow spot light