As Australia finds its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learned about our health systems must not be lost. The Australian Government must use next week’s Federal Budget to commit to measures that ensure our health systems are resilient and effective now and beyond COVID-19. “We know areas of our health system are failing Australians, and we cannot continue the business as usual approach to funding,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.
“There continues to be unmet need for health services in the community, and the ongoing need for further investment in our health care system to ensure services are accessible and affordable for patients is only going to increase.” The AMA has identified key areas that need immediate funding commitments in the upcoming Budget – permanent telehealth; public hospitals; aged care; general practice; private health insurance; and Indigenous health. Dr Khorshid continued, “The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how crucial our front line health workers and health services are, and how vital it is for them to be properly resourced and supported.”
Dr Simon Quilty has specialist skills in a range of fields so he can treat patients with complex conditions. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source ABC News.
Your Health 2030 project
What would need to happen for all Australians to enjoy good health by 2030?
A team of public health experts across the country have put together a project answering this question, in collaboration with VicHealth, and they have published the results in a supplement in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Ray Lovett, Aboriginal epidemiologist at ANU and director of the Mayi Kuwayu Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing spoke with Hilary Harper on ABC Radio National Life Matters about how culture is key in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Australian Government Department of Health has released a COVID-19 vaccination – Fact sheet – Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). This easy-to-read fact sheet outlines the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and what to do if you feel them.
Globally, an estimated 23 million miscarriages occur every year. Despite the personal toll involved, many miscarriages are managed in relative isolation. Private grief and misconceptions can lead to women and their partners feeling at fault or managing alone.
Similarly, in the health-care system and broader society, the continuing conviction that miscarriages are unavoidable and the requirement, enshrined in many national guidelines, that women must have recurrent miscarriages before they are eligible for investigation or intervention has created a pervasive attitude of acceptance of miscarriage, urging women to “just try again”.
For too long miscarriage has been minimised and often dismissed. The lack of medical progress should be shocking. Instead, there is a pervasive acceptance. Not all miscarriages could be avoided, but the insidious implication that miscarriage, like other women’s reproductive health issues, including menstrual pain and menopause, should be managed with minimal medical intervention is ideological, not evidence based. Miscarriage should be a major focus for the medical research community, for service providers, and for policy makers. The era of telling women to “just try again” is over.
The early closure of the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program and the Oral Health Therapy Graduate Year Program by the Australian Government adversely impacted NSW Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). This led to the co-design of a small-scale oral health therapy graduate year program for ACCHOs known as the Dalang Project. This project has enabled oral health therapists to engage with local Aboriginal communities and implement culturally competent, practical and evidence-based oral health promotion activities.
For an overview of the Dalang Project and its evaluation click here.
Image source: The Conversation.
New 715 Health Check resources
A range of community resources, including flyers, posters, animation, podcasts, social tiles, video stories, templates and more have been developed to support organisation promoting 715 Health Checks.
Amnesty International Australia and Balunu Healing Foundation have called on the NT government to give kids a chance at breaking the cycle of disadvantage and crime by diverting them into culturally appropriate programs that address the underlying intergenerational trauma which too often leads to crime, instead of condemning them to the quicksand of the youth justice system.
Amendments to the youth justice act due to be debated this week in Parliament will prevent kids from accessing Indigenous-led diversion programs which are highly effective in addressing recidivism. The NT’s own statistics show that more than 70% of children who complete a diversion program do not reoffend within 12 months of completion.
To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release in full click here.
Children in the Don Dale juvenile detention centre in Darwin. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.
World Hand Hygiene Day 2021
ThemSAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global campaign was launched in 2009 and is celebrated annually on 5 May (World Hand Hygiene Day). The campaign aims to maintain global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world.
For World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, WHO calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care. The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings.
This week marks the second phase of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout which is targeting over six million higher-risk Australians. NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner say last week on ABC The Drum that “While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.”
Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP and Professor Tom Calma AO made time this morning to attend Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister Wyatt said “We have done a remarkable job so far in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, we cannot now become complacent. Vaccines are an important tool in our strategy and I urge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to come forward and get vaccinated when they are able to. It will help protect themselves, their family and their community.”
To view the Minister Ken Wyatt’s media release click here and to read a transcript of Linda Burney’s doorstop interview click here.
Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney and Tom Calma were among Indigenous leaders to receive their first vaccine dose in Canberra this morning at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.
ACCHO’s first vaccine day incredibly successful
The first words from the first Aboriginal elder in Campbelltown to get his COVID-19 vaccine on Monday this week were those of love and gratitude for his people and those who kept them safe during the pandemic. “I love you, I love the work you do, and the people you serve,” elder Uncle Ivan Wellington told Darryl Wright, the chief executive of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and the staff of its Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) after he got the jab.
During the pandemic, the first priority at Tharawal was protecting elders. Tharawal health workers visited homes to deliver flu shots and do health checks, telephoned frequently and arranged for deliveries of food and vegetables. “If we lose our elders, we lose our entire library [of knowledge],” said Leonie Murdoch, 62, who was also vaccinated on Monday.
Dr Heather McKenzie, who is coordinating the vaccine roll-out at Tharawal, was excited about getting her injection because it would protect the community she serves. To prepare people before today’s injections Dr McKenzie had run a Q and A session about what to expect. Despite that, some were nervous, including Uncle Ivan who had heard about the rare blood clots experienced by some people. But Ms Murdoch reassured him, “They can treat that [blood clots], but they can’t treat COVID.”
When the medical service texted the community offering the first round of vaccinations on Monday, it was inundated. Every appointment was taken within 10 minutes, Mr Wright said. Dr Tim Senior, a doctor with Tharawal’s AMS, said nearly all the service’s 5,000 patients would qualify to be vaccinated during this phase because of problems with chronic disease and other health issues. “It would be a struggle to find people who aren’t eligible under 1B,” he said.
To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Heraldclick here.
Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Guardian.
The Guardian also reported on the second phase of Australia’s vaccine rollout. It said Aboriginal community health services across Australia have overcome major challenges including floods and wild weather to deliver their first Covid-19 vaccines to Aboriginal elders. “Our elders are our leaders and during the pandemic they continue to show us the way forward by proudly getting vaccinated first,” Dr Heather Mackenzie, from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, said.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the highest rate of immunisation among the Australian population, according to NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino, who said “The Aboriginal health sector is extremely equipped in delivering large-scale immunisation programs and has been working hard to support communities during the pandemic.”
To view The Guardian’s article Aboriginal health sector overcoming major challenges to deliver first Covid vaccine jabsclick here.
‘I didn’t even feel it,’ says Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.
Community-based COVID-19 responses among best
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the start of the 1b phase of the COVID vaccination rollout to older people and other vulnerable groups, urging the importance of the need for community patience and two-way communication between health authorities and consumers. The success of Australia’s response so far in keeping the spread of COVID to relatively low levels should not make us complacent about the priority of prompt vaccination of all Australians in the interests of our health and of the economy.
It is vital that people get the facts about the vaccine and the rollout from authoritative and readily accessible sources, including government websites and their GPs who, from this week, will be scaling up vaccination availability. The CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said “A convincing example of just how effective community-based responses can be, has been the success in countering pandemic infections achieved by the member groups of NACCHO. The 107 NACCHO groups achieved among the best results in preventing COVID compared to similar entities anywhere in the world and that was because of the strong community engagement and leadership.”
To view the CHF’s media release in full click here.
Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.
COVID-19 information for Victoria’s mob
The Victorian Government has developed a very useful COVID-19 information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitieswebpage.
The site says there are a couple of reasons why, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher and it can cause more severe symptoms. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19. Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get COVID-19 and infect family, friends and elders. As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.
The webpage says that in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.
Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe. Image source: BBC News.
Updated health check templates survey
The Commonwealth Department of Health has endorsed recently updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates developed in a partnership between NACCHO and the RACGP.
The NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project Team is keen to hear your feedback on the templates by:
expressing interest to be one of 10 primary healthcare teams testing the templates between 12 April and 11 June 2021 by contacting the Team at email@example.com
Your feedback will support the team to understand what it takes to get these health check templates into practice and what other innovations can support quality health checks and primary healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Image source: NT PHN & Rural Workforce Agency NT webpage.
Remote PHC Manuals update
The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals review process in underway. Monthly updates will be available to health services and other organisations to provide updates on the review process.
What’s new: new Acute Assessment Protocols are being developed to guide practitioners to assess emergencies and guide differential diagnoses.
Coming up next: Expert Advisory Groups have been working to update protocols.
This flyer provides further information about the RPHCM project, including what you need to do to become a reviewer or provide feedback on the new manuals.
Aboriginal-led ways to foster mental health
A report Balit Durn Durn – strong brain, mind, intellect and sense of self: report to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VAACHO) to support the final report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s (Vic) Mental Health System. The report outlines five Aboriginal-led ways to build strength, resilience, connectedness and identity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to create essential pathways for fostering positive mental health and wellbeing.
The report aims to provide an overview of Aboriginal communities’ experience with the current mental health system and offers innovative solutions that have the potential to dramatically transform the Victorian mental health system to better meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.
The Healing Foundation has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland to co-design and develop the state’s first healing strategy. The Dreaming big process identified community issues and themes by the number of times keywords were mentioned in surveys and yarning circles.
The report outlines what over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 80 different cultural groups in over 50 locations in Queensland, said when asked what healing means and what happy and strong feels like. The aim being to help transcend the divide between deficit-based solutions and strength-based outcomes.
To view the report Dreaming big – voices we heard: informing the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing strategyclick here.
Healthier smiles in Loddon Mallee
Minister for Health Martin Foley says the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal children in the Loddon Mallee region have strong and healthy teeth. “The $360,000 Loddon Mallee Fluoride Varnish program will help protect 600 Aboriginal children in schools, Aboriginal-specific early years services and Aboriginal childcare organisations at heightened risk of tooth decay. Fluoride varnish applications reduce tooth decay in young children by 37% by providing a protective covering. The varnish also prevents an existing tooth decay from progressing further. The preventive oral health program provides including twice-yearly fluoride varnish applications, oral health promotion and free tooth packs to Aboriginal children across the Loddon Mallee region. The expanded program builds on a successful pilot in 2018/20, which reached 200 Aboriginal children aged up to 18 across the region.”
To view the Victoria State Government media release click here and to view a related article Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperativeto deliver Fluoride Varnish programclick here.
Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.
Proposed NT youth justice changes flawed
Australia’s only national First Nations-led justice coalition has warned that the NT Gunner Government’s proposed youth justice reforms will see the number of Aboriginal children behind bars skyrocket. The reforms are highly punitive and will disproportionately drive Aboriginal kids into police and prison cells. Change the Record has highlighted that the proposed law changes fly in the face of the Royal Commission recommendations to invest in supporting children outside of the criminal justice system and move away from the ‘tough on crime’ policies that have been proven to fail. Change the Record, Co-Chair Cheryl Axleby said “If the NT Government goes ahead with these youth justice reforms it will take the Northern Territory back to the dark days before the Royal Commission when Don Dale was full of Aboriginal children being subjected to the most horrendous abuse.”
The NT Council of Social Service and Amnesty International Australia have also expressed concerns about the proposed changes to the NT’s youth justice system. “This is a callous, racist legislative crackdown in search of a problem,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate, Rodney Dillon, said. “Chief Minister Gunner has picked up the Royal Commission report and thrown it in the bin. Let’s be clear: no one wants youth crime. But cracking down on Indigenous kids – because all the kids in the NT justice system are Indigenous – who have complex needs, by throwing them in jail fixes nothing. What it does is condemn young kids to the quicksand of the youth justice system, and it entrenches recidivism, which is what all the politicians say they want to address,” Dillon said.
You can view the Change the Record media release here, the NTCOSS media release here and the Amnesty International Australia media release here.
Image source: Change the Record website.
NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney
Research Assistant (Identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney
The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.
You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.
To view position description and to apply click here.Applications close midnight Monday 5 April 2021.
Image source: Kettering Health Network.
Purple Day (Friday 26 March 2021) is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness. Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy started Purple Day to get people talking about the condition and to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. She named the day, Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.
Purple Day has grown into a well-known and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia gathering within their community, education and corporate sectors to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy. You can access epilepsy information for Indigenous communities here.
Earlier this week NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke to ABC The Drum about COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines, the Industrial Relations Reform, employment and economy and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations.
Pat Turner also spoke to Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National Drive about the Closing the Gap report and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations Apology.
To view the ABC The Drum program featuring Pat Turner as a panellist click here and to listen to Pat Turner being interviewed on ABC Radio National Drive click here.
NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas. 15 February 2021
NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, ABC The Drum, 15 Feb 2021
Danila Dilba to deliver 26,000 vaccines
In the traditional language of the Larrakia people, “Danila Dilba” refers to the dilly bag used to carry bush medicines. It’s also the name of one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal health services, which is about to undertake the biggest challenge it’s ever faced.
“It’s absolutely unprecedented in terms of scale, logistics and, I would say, importance as well,” said Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at Danila Dilba. Dr Webster is overseeing the mission to inoculate at least 13,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Darwin. They are among Australia’s most susceptible to the dangers of COVID-19.
To view The Aboriginal health service tasked with delivering at least 26,000 COVID-19 vaccines article click here.
Registered nurse Taylor Matthews says it will be “very tough” to vaccinate all of Danila Dilba’s clients. Image source: ABC News.
COVID-19 vaccines common questions and answers
The Australian Government will shortly begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations. While details are still unfolding, you will be able to find the answers to many of your questions in the COVID-19 vaccines common questions factsheet here.
This Q&A document, together with vaccine-related information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, can be accessed via the Australian Government Department of Health’s website.
The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) in collaboration with NACCHO have prepared a community engagement kit that has useful information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.
To support communication with your stakeholders, networks and communities, a suite of resources have been developed, including:
newsletter article content
social media content
a script for videos
an editorial example
radio and social media advertising content.
Here is a guide that will provide you with the list of resources that are available in the COVID-19 vaccination community engagement kit.
To download the entire kit of resourcesclick here.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health
The EarTrain Program is here
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have much higher rates of middle ear infection compared to other children. The EarTrain program is a response to these statistics. It is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Federal Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.
This program is delivered through an interactive online training platform with an option to register for practical skills workshops. During the practical skills workshops, you will learn to develop audiometry skills and use equipment appropriately. For further information about the EarTrain program click here.
Program eligibility – if you are a primary health care professional providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, you are eligible to participate in the EarTrain program. To register to participate click here.
Remote GPs urged to update AOD skills
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging more rural and remote GPs to update their skills using the latest research to support patients with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use problems in their communities. Under the $7.9 million initiative funded by the Federal Government the RACGP is delivering the Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program, which is tailored to meet the needs of GPs in all corners of Australia. The program encourages participation from rural and remote GPs and includes essential skills training to provide an update for GPs wanting to improve their approach to conversations about alcohol and other drug use.
It has become accepted wisdom that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen trust in government rise across countries. But by how much? And why should it matter?
To answer these questions, a representative online survey was conducted in Australia and NZ, with a separate sample for WA, in July 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey discovered a dramatic increase in trust in government. Indeed, 80% of Australians and 83% of New Zealanders agreed government was generally trustworthy, up from 49% and 53% respectively in 2009.
Moreover, this level of trust is far higher than found in studies carried out in several other countries.
To view The Conversation’s article Trust in government soars in Australia and NZ during pandemic in full click here.
Image source: The Conversation.
24/7 support for remote and rural health workers
Remote and rural health workers make a difference to people’s lives every day, supporting those who may be at their lowest ebb, and keeping the communities in which, they live healthy and safe. But who helps the health workers when the stresses of work, and life, become too much?
The CRANAplus Bush Support Line is a 24/7 telephone service offering free psychological support for this critical workforce, and their families. For decades, the service has been a lifeline for those facing personal or work-related challenges while delivering essential health services beyond Australia’s major cities.
With Australia’s remote and rural communities reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters including bushfires, drought and flooding, the provision of easily accessible, meaningful support for health workers has never been more important, says not-for-profit organisation CRANAplus, which provides the Bush Support Line as part of its suite of services for the remote, isolated and rural health workforce.
To view the article 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers in full click here.
Grants to develop or grow NDIS services
Not-for-profit organisation, Community Business Bureau (CBB) are offering free consultancy services, for up to five organisations to help them develop a new or grow an existing NDIS service. The grant round is currently open, and applications close at 1:00 PM (ACDT) Friday 26 February 2021.
While applications are open to any organisation that provides or wishes to provide NDIS services – CBB are particularly welcoming applications from:
Organisations operating or wanting to operate in rural and remote communities in SA, WA, the NT and Queensland.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
Dr Peter Sumich, Vice-President of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists and a cataract and refractive surgeon, spoke to newsGP following the release of new research published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Dr Sumich said ‘There is no doubt – and there’s plenty of research to back it up – that people who have cataracts or low vision have more depression, more social isolation, less independence, more falls and fractures and less ability to drive. Those things all work together to play on your mental health.’
Melbourne Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor, the past president of the International Council of Ophthalmology, the Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and previous Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne says GPs should assess visual capability as part of their health checks and that it is a mandatory part of the 715 health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Professor Taylor said it is also imperative that clinicians ensure any patient who has diabetes receives regular eye examinations. ‘For non-Indigenous Australians, that should be an eye exam once every two years, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that needs to be once a year,’ he said.
To view the newsGP article Impaired vision linked to lower mental and physical health in full click here.
Image source: mivision The Ophthalmic Journal website.
Collaboration sought to shape health policy
The University of Sydney’s Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration (SCHC) is seeking collaborations with various partners to shape policies and practices that could promote people’s health and wellbeing under changing environment and climate. One of SCHC’s focused research areas is Indigenous health promotion. A current SCHC student member is Matilde Petersen – Research Assistant and MPhil candidate at School of Public Health. Matilde is involved in projects on climate change and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a glossary project on climate change and health to promote multisectoral collaborations.
You can access the University of Sydney’s website here for further information about how to get involved.
Image source: Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation – Russell Ord.
The big issues in outback health provision
In a series of webinars called Outback Conversations, members of The Outback Alliance and key stakeholders from diverse sectors have discussed a range of issues and challenges that have been identified following the first outbreak of COVID-19.
During The Outback Alliance Outback Conversations Webinar #2 – Health Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance in the NT (AMSANT) explored questions such as: What have been the big issues in health provision? How has the disruption in supply chains, personnel or internet access impacted remote communities? and How do we continue to protect people in the Outback?
A University of Wollongong (UOW) bioethicist is urging people to look to credible sources, not conspiracy theories, with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr Yves Saint James Aquino, a research fellow at the Australian Centre for Health Engagement, Evidence and Values at UOW, said the pandemic had coincided with a rise in the anti-vaxxer movement. However, he said, most Australians were simply “vaccine hesitant” in the face of rapid production of vaccines for COVID-19.
“The rollout of COVID vaccines has been hastened because of the emergency nature of the pandemic, and that’s led to some vaccine hesitancy which is understandable,” Dr Aquino said. “So the Australian government, and pharmaceutical companies need to effectively communicate why these vaccines are safe, and comparable to any vaccine developed outside of the pandemic. “They need to cut through the misinformation from the anti-vaxxer movement to mitigate the growth of that movement. Because the reality is the way these vaccines have been developed for COVID is still scientifically, evidence-based, and they have to go through a stringent regulatory process. Australia is one of the strictest regulators in the world, which is why we haven’t already started rolling out the vaccine like in other countries.”
To view the Illawarra Mercury article It’s vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’, says UOW bioethicist in full click here.
Image source: Illawarra Mercury.
Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars
The Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research Fund (IHRF) was announced in February 2019 to provide $160 million for research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An Expert Advisory Panel was appointed in September 2019 to provide advice to the Minister for Health on the strategic priorities for research investment through the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel provides their advice on priorities for research investment through the IHRF by developing a Roadmap and Implementation Plan.
The Roadmap is a high level strategic document that includes the aim, vision, goal and priorities for investment for the IHRF. To support the Roadmap, the Implementation Plan outlines the priorities for investment (short, medium and long term), evaluation approaches and measures, supporting activities, and collaborative opportunities. The Roadmap and Implementation Plan are used by the Department of Health to design and implement IHRF investments via Grant Opportunities promoted through GrantConnect.
Consultation has now opened on the Roadmap and Implementation Plan for the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel will host two Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars on 23 and 30 March 2021 where you can provide your feedback.
Image source: Research Professional News Australia & NZ website.
Collingwood’s challenge is everyone’s challenge
Associate Professor Luke Burchill from the University of Melbourne has written an article where he argues Collingwood Football Club’s challenge to undo systemic racism is everyone’s challenge. Burchill says no-one in this day and age can honestly believe that systemic racism is isolated to Collingwood or for that matter just to the footy clubs across our great nation. He says the truth is systemic racism plays out every day across the places we live, work, play, and learn. Therefore, the journey that Collingwood must now take is the journey we must all take if we are to tackle racism and start building culturally safe spaces that work for all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.
As an Aboriginal doctor, cardiologist, and researcher, Burchill said he is often asked for solutions on how to Close the Gap for Aboriginal health outcomes. Since heart disease is one of the major drivers of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, you might think the solution lies in our interventions – heart pills, stents for blocked coronary arteries, pacemakers, and so on. The truth is that we can only close the gap by preventing heart disease in the first place. That begins with us understanding that health starts in the places we share our lives – our homes, schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods, clubs and communities.
If we apply this lens to Collingwood it becomes clear that systemic racism isn’t only a threat to the culture of an organisation but also for the health of those working within it.
To view Associate Professor Luke Burchill’s paper in full click here.
Footballer Adam Goodes experienced one of the most malignant national displays of systemic racism. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.
Location negotiable across Australia – TAFE NSW
Teacher Audiometry – EarTrain Program (PT casual) – (Targeted) x multiple positions
The TAFE NSWDigital Team is looking for individuals with current industry experience and knowledge in Audiometry and Ear Health Prevention to join their team on a part time casual basis.
EarTrain is an online training program for primary health care professionals to identify and manage otitis media and other hearing conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The program is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.
To view the position description and to apply click here.Applications close 11:59 PM Monday 22 February 2021.
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – February 2021
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held each year in Australia to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is still the deadliest women’s cancer. Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and three will die from the disease. While there is no exact cause for most ovarian cancers, there are factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, such as increasing age, hereditary and other factors.
The symptoms of Ovarian cancer may include:
increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
abdominal or pelvic (lower stomach) pain
feeling full after eating a small amount
needing to urinate often or urgently
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech at the Ovarian Cancer Australia Teal Ribbon Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament house yesterday can be accessed here. and the joint Minister Greg Hunt and Senator Marise Payne’s media release announcing a further $1 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia can be read in full here.
Image sources: Ovarian Cancer Australia; Graphic from Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre Yerin News, Edition 13, February 2019.
Thirteen years after then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations and set up the closing the gap targets, what needs to change?
Donnella Mills, Chair of the NACCHO, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander power is a key factor in improving health outcomes. Donnella says change is happening, and that when it comes to closing the gap, optimism is ‘in her DNA’. To listen to the radio interview with Donnella Mills on ABC Saturday Morning with Kate O’Tooleclick here.
rally on 11th anniversary of the National Apology to Stolen Generations in Sydney in 2019. Image source: SBS News website.
Calls for national memorial & healing centre
The Healing Foundation is calling on the Federal Government to establish a National First Nations Memorial and Centre for Healing in Canberra and a doubling of the core Commonwealth Grant that funds the Healing Foundation’s work to support Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants. In ‘Healing the Nation’ – The Healing Foundation Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22 – the Foundation is also calling for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress the healing of Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impact of intergenerational trauma.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said a National Memorial for First Nations people in the nation’s capital is long overdue, “A National First Nations Memorial, which incorporates a Healing Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, would send a strong message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and all Australians – that the Federal Government is serious about reconciliation and righting past wrongs.”
You can access the Healing Foundation’s Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22 here and view their media release in full here,
Image from the Healing Foundation’s Intergenerational Trauma Animation.
Still telling stories 13 years on from the Apology
February 13 each year marks the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, who suffered trauma because of past government policies of forced child removal. Many of these removals occurred as the result of laws and policies aimed at assimilating the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population into the predominately white community. Stolen Generations survivors are some of Australia’s most vulnerable people and many have kept their stories and experiences secret for many years, even decades.
One such story comes from Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Julie Black, a 64-year-old Barkindji woman, who was taken from her mother shortly after birth. Aunty Julie’s story is heart breaking and courageous and reminds us that behind the Stolen Generations policies there were people, and children, who are still alive and in need of support. To acknowledge the Apology Anniversary, you can watch Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Julie Black’s story here.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said it is important to commemorate this significant moment in national healing, acknowledging the wrongs of the past, while reflecting on the work that still needs to be done to address the impacts of unresolved trauma, “It’s important that we as a nation provide a safe environment for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories, and be in charge of their own healing. Assimilation policies that led to the Stolen Generations continued right up until the 1970s and many of those affected by the trauma are still alive today.
To view the Healing Foundation’s media release The Healing Foundation continues telling the stories of Stolen Generations survivors 13 years on from the Apologyclick here.
Barkindji woman Julie Black was taken from her mother shortly after she was born. Image source: Healing Foundation.
A long way from the Stolen Generations
The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians issued a media release on Saturday 13 February 2021, a day marking the 13th anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations. Minister Wyatt met with Wiradjuri Elder Isabel Reid, one of the oldest living survivors of the Stolen Generation in January 2021, “Isabel’s story is just one of tens of thousands of children who were forcibly removed between 1910 and 1970 by Australian governments. This is undoubtedly one of the darker chapters in our nation’s story. On this day I reflect upon the words of the Apology – because they serve as an important reminder of the journey we have all walked – a significant moment on the path to reconciliation – an acknowledgment of our shared history – the importance of our contribution to this national story. It is a story that in parts is raw and painful – and it is a story that in other parts shows that our resilience and determination, built up over 65,000 years, lives and grows in strength today.”
To view the Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.
SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle says the 13th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February is an historic day for Australia in acknowledging the wrongs of the past, but the impact of child removal on First Nations children and families continues decades on, “In 2008, the Australian government finally said sorry for unjustly removing generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families – breaking up families and communities and leaving a legacy of intergenerational trauma for our peoples. We feel for our families on this day. The stories of the Stolen Generations are something that we all carry with us. They are our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents and our brothers and sisters. The Apology was only the first step in truth telling for our nation. Failures to adequately incorporate First Nations perspectives into policy and to support healing for families continue to impact our communities.”
To view SNAICC’s media release SNAICC Calls on Governments to Commit to Supporting First Nations Children and Familiesclick here.
Image source: Meanjin Quarterly.
Improving social media health information survey
A research project is being conducted by researchers at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University. The aim of the project is to develop Principles for Health Information on Social Media (PRHISM) to assess and help improve the quality of health-related information provided on social media. The PRHISM team are looking for individuals with experience in media, communications and/or social media who currently work for a health-related organisation to take part. Participation involves completion of three 20 minute online surveys. There will be a two to three week gap between each survey and the total time commitment will be approximately 60 minutes over six to nine weeks.
If you are interested in taking part or would like more information you can register your interest and read more about the study via the following link.
Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs has teamed up with Illustrator Molly Hunt to create Covid-19 health messaging for First Nations communities. Image source: NITV website.
Closing the Gap reporting
Historically, the Australian Government has released a Closing the Gap report in February to coincide with the anniversary of the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, together with a statement to Parliament. This will change under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which came into effect in July 2020. Under the new Agreement, all parties including the Australian Government must deliver an Implementation Plan on Closing the Gap within 12 months, and report annually on the actions they are taking to achieve the targets. Consistent with the new National Agreement, the Australian Government will release its Closing the Gap Implementation Plan in July 2021 and report annually in the Spring sitting period thereafter.
To view the Minister for Indigenous Australians’ Closing the Gap media release click here.
Image source: Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris blog.
Close the Gap Campaign refuses to be left wanting
The Close the Gap Campaign looks forward to seeing a comprehensive report on the refreshed targets for Closing the Gap by July 2021. The campaign notes the announcement that the release of the Closing the Gap data has been pushed back to July in order to allow a full reporting year since the signing of the new National Agreement with the Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap. The Close the Gap Campaign expects to see the PM and Minister Wyatt release the data in July, including a full analysis of what governments plan to do to reform and address the ongoing inequality. “While we understand the need for a change in timeframe to allow a year since the signing of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, this cannot be used as an excuse to kick the can down the road,” said Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners CEO Karl Briscoe.
To view the Close the Gap Campaign media statement click here.
Kathy Freeman. Image source: ANTaR website.
Speaking from the Heart podcast
Why is a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament critical to Australia’s journey towards reconciliation? Will Australia accept the ‘gift’ that is the Uluru Statement from the Heart? And is acknowledging history (and learning from it) an opportunity to build a more inclusive, more truly Australian national identity? On the second episode in a Policy Forum Pod mini-series on Indigenous wellbeing, co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council Pat Anderson AO joins hosts Professor Sharon Bessell and Dr Arnagretta Hunter for a remarkable conversation about healing, history, and having the courage to call for change. Listen here.
Ground-breaking Aboriginal Strategic Framework
Minister for Correctional Services of SA, Vincent Tarzia said in an Australian first, the Department for Correctional Services (DCS) has released a ground-breaking Aboriginal Strategic Framework (ASF) 2020-2025. The ASF is the first of its kind in the nation to encompass the needs of prisoners, offenders, staff and community. It provides a culturally informed and tailored approach to address the needs of Aboriginal prisoners and offenders and ensures that DCS programs, policies and supports are culturally safe. The framework was informed through consultation with prisoners, staff and the community and outlines three components to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people: 1. Ensure access to programs and services that are responsive to the unique cultural and gendered need of Aboriginal prisoners. 2. Build a culturally competent and responsive workforce. 3. Increase Aboriginal economic participation and strengthen partnerships with organisations, businesses and Aboriginal communities.
NT Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Gerard Maley, says the Gunner Government’s own study shows that total alcohol consumption only dropped in regions where Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) were stationed at bottle shops, and saw no decline in areas PALIs don’t man takeaway liquor outlets, “This data does not support a minimum floor price – this data supports the use of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors. The government’s own report shows areas with Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors had lower total alcohol consumption, and where there were no PALIs there was no drop in consumption. Yet the report states that this success was due to the minimum floor price.”
Noi.heen.ner is an event focused on bridging the gap between the Tasmanian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community. The event’s name means ‘in good spirits’. Reconciliation Council Tasmania co-chair Bill Lawson AM said the event was about building curiosity and a warm dialogue about Aboriginal culture in the Tasmanian community, “I think a lot of Tasmanians have been curious for a long time but have been cautious to get involved as they don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. I think things, festivals like this, they’re a safe place for people to come and hear a Welcome to Country, be involved in a smoking ceremony, and realise it’s not all as we think, and that we have things to learn.
To view the Noi.heen.ner marks a ‘good spirited’ connection of cultures article published in The Advocate click here.
Cruze Smart-Pitchford, 12, painting mother Karen Smart-Pitchford with ochre before a welcome to country ceremony at the Noi.heen.ner event. Image source: The Advocate.
Broncos ‘Deadly’ Health Plan for 2021
Brisbane Broncos CEO Paul White and players Kotoni Staggs and Patrick Carrigan, plus club legends and Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Petero Civoniceva have announced the Broncos ‘Deadly’ Health Plan for 2021.
Equipped with the most comprehensive suite of Brisbane Broncos Deadly Choices Health Check shirts ever produced in the 10-year history of its partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service providers from throughout Queensland will be able to maintain strong and essential connections with the people that matter most.
The 2021 Broncos Deadly Choices preventative health campaign, instigated by IUIH, represents a calculated response to the global, COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the empowerment of individuals and families to take control of their own health through the maintenance of regular health checks remains a top priority. “Our Deadly Choices partnership with the Brisbane Broncos has netted some amazing health successes over the last decade and we see the club’s role in the anticipated delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination as an evolutionary shift forward,” said IUIH CEO Adrian Carson.
Indicative of the direct impact Deadly Choices is having in communities, Queensland has the highest number and the highest rate of use (40%) of 715 heath checks of any State or Territory in Australia. This statistic isn’t lost on the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane, Jody Currie who is already excited by the New Year acquisitions, “The Broncos-Deadly Choices partnership provides a very strong community engagement tool to enhance positive health messaging and continue to encourage health checks among Indigenous communities right from right across South East Queensland”.
Gunggari and Gubbi Gubbi man Steve Renouf holds the record for the most tries for the Broncos. Image source: Deadly Choices website.
Sexual Health Week
Sexual Health Week, 4–21 February 2021, is an opportunity to celebrate and discuss sexual health in all of its facets, and during this week the WA AIDS Council (WAAC) has shared some advice on how you can make sure you’re looking after your sexual health.
Size is an issue – did you know that 70% of men who do not like wearing condoms are wearing the wrong size? Contrary to popular belief, condoms are not one-size-fits-all. And this small misconception is one of many that get in the way of people being able to have the most fulfilling, healthy and enjoyable sexual life possible. For many people, young and old, they got more of a sex education watching Sex Education on Netflix than in any sex-ed class in school. There is a pervasive thought that you need to pick between pleasure and safety, protection versus orgasm, as if they are opposites when they are very much not.
WAAC has partnered with the Department of Health to provide small grants of up to $1,000 to organisations and services working in regional and remote parts of WA. The grant enables organisations the opportunity to run sexual health programs that they would not have been able to run without funding.
This year they have been able to provide the grant to four organisations, including NACCHO members Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS), who will run a project to increase sexual health testing with young people and increase their knowledge, and Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS) who will travel over 1,200kms around the Mid West to educate young people about sexual health and offer testing services.
To view the full article It’s Sexual Health Week – when did you last check your sexual health?click here.
Early results of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial are promising, and highlight the unprecedented levels of cooperation around the world to defeat the virus, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. Releasing a new AMA policy statement, Dr Khorshid that winning the trust of the public will be key to the successful rollout of any COVID-19 vaccine in Australia. “Regulators are working hard to streamline approval processes so that any successful vaccines can be distributed as quickly as possible,” Dr Khorshid said.
“Australia has a strong record on vaccine safety, due in great part to the rigour of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in assessing all medications before they are released to the Australian public. While we support the TGA’s efforts to speed up its approval processes in this case, given the scale of the pandemic, it must still apply its usual criteria to assess the safety, quality and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. This is critical to winning public confidence. Instead of making any COVID-19 vaccine compulsory, extensive efforts should be made to foster trust in the community and encourage its voluntary uptake.”
To view the AMA’s statement on vaccination for COVID-19 click here and to view the AMA’s media release relating to the new COVID-19 vaccine click here.
Right Tracks program promotes health
In Central Australia, the Right Tracks program is helping local young people in Alice Springs and surrounding areas to keep their health in check and create positive change. The Aboriginal-led program, originally founded by Ian McAdam and Rob Clarke, and now run in partnership between Central Australian Football League, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress), Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) Goodsports Program is designed to support young people through a targeted intensive support environment using sport as a key hook.
“There’s two parts to our program: one is sport and the other side is about health. During the day, we concentrate on getting our football teams that are lined up with our program to start thinking about doing a lot of health programs with our participants,” says Ian. As part of the program, participants complete a 715 health check with Congress, the local Aboriginal community controlled health service, or their local health clinic in some remote cases.
The annual health check is designed to support the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk billing clinics nationally.
Ian McAdam, RIght Tracks Program coordinator. Image source: 33 Creative.
Doing things ‘the Aboriginal way’ crucial
University of Wollongong lecturer Dr Summer Bay Finlay has had enough of Aboriginal-led initiatives not getting the credit they deserve. The Yorta Yorta woman has urged the federal government to allow Aboriginal people to do things, especially when it comes to health issues, “the Aboriginal way”.
Dr Finlay has taken heart from the “great successes” in the fight to restrict the spread of COVID-19. “The theme of NAIDOC Week is Always Was, Always Will Be … but this is not just about land, it is about doing things in an Aboriginal way,” she said. “We’ve seen particularly with the COVID virus, when things have been done in an Aboriginal way that have been led by Indigenous people, we’ve had massive success.
portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia’s ATSI Health. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.
Lifeline supports suicide monitoring system
John Brogden, Chairman, Lifeline Australia, has welcomed the launch of the NSW Government’s state-wide monitoring system as a significant step toward saving lives. “The introduction of a suicide and self-harm monitoring system will greatly improve the way suicide prevention services can respond to suicide risk. Quite simply, access to this information will help us save lives.” Mr Brogden said. “This is a hopeful step, especially for communities who are grappling with rising loss of life. It will give us greater insight into where the immediate and heightened risk is occurring, enabling us to put in place preventative measures that will reduce the risk of harm as soon as it is identified.”
Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray has also welcomed the monitoring system “this is a significant moment in suicide prevention for NSW. Organisations working directly with people in crisis will benefit from the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System as they will better understand why suicides occur and how to prevent them.”
To view Lifeline’s media release click here and to view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release click here.
Image source: SBS website.
NT liquor legislations ill-conceived
The NT Government has introduced legislation that gives Woolworths the power to circumvent the independent Liquor Commission and build one of the largest bottle shops in the country within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities, Bagot, Kulaluk and Minmarama. The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has expressed deep concerns that landmark NT alcohol reforms will be undermined by ill-conceived liquor legislation.
Health sector employee pandemic entitlements extended
On 8 April 2020 the Fair Work Commission issued a decision on pandemic leave for Health Sector Awards, inserting additional measures (known as “Schedule X”) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schedule X was incorporated into the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award 2020. Unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay has been extended under this Awardsuntil further order of the Fair Work Commission.
Legislation has been passed detailing the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities for the period 2020-2022. Included among the priorities is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, specifically Indigenous leadership and Indigenous-led priority setting to drive health-related research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and to close the gap on health mortality and morbidity. To view the legislation click here.
Image source: Lowitja Institute website.
Calls for environmental health research
Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities) recently used the occasion of International One Health Day (4 November) to call for further research and understanding into the complex and interconnected relationships between human, animal, and environmental health. One Health is both an international movement and approach to designing and implementing programs, policies, legislation and research in which multiple disciplines collaborate to achieve better health outcomes for humans, animals and the environment.
Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which is believed to have originated as a virus carried by bats, have highlighted the important role that changing interactions between people, animals and the environment can play in the occurrence of new diseases, and the vital need for improved understanding of these relationships.
The South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has developed a web-app designed to combat harmful methamphetamine (ice) use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is asking for help to promote the web-app. The web-app, called We Can Do This is part of a study entitled Novel Interventions to Address Methamphetamine Use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (NIMAC). To view the study click here and to view SAHMRI’s media release about the web-app click here.
Image source: SBS website.
Midwife program incorporates smoking ceremony
Thirty babies have taken part in an Indigenous smoking ceremony on the Gold Coast — the first time the traditional event has been held for infants in the city. The ceremony is part of a new program at Gold Coast University Hospital that aims to dismantle institutional racism and help First Nations families connect with their culture.
It is also leading to better health outcomes for newborns. Bundjalung woman Purdey Cox and her husband David, who are proud parents of six-month-old son Boston, said the smoking ceremony was a special moment for them. “It’s really important for us because you don’t always get to connect with community,” Mrs Cox said.
Six-month-old Boston Cox at the Gold Coast’s first smoking ceremony for Indigenous babies. Image source: ABC News website.
Healing Our Way podcast for youth
The Healing Foundation has launched a new podcast series on intergenerational trauma from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective to tell the story of the healing needed for all Australian communities. The podcast touches on sensitive and confronting themes around trauma and gives young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a chance to share their thoughts about intergenerational healing and the concept of truth telling.
In launching the first episode, The Healing Foundation Chairman Professor Steve Larkin said it would provide listeners a chance to hear the real stories and lived experience of Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants as they discuss their journeys and thoughts about how we can continue to heal our communities. “Historical injustice is still a source of intergenerational trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and we see it playing out in families and communities across the country,” Professor Larkin said. “Truth telling has an impact on every aspect of the lives of our Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities and this podcast will help people to understand the stories and experiences, the real stories of our people.
Applications are now open for the 2021 AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship, a program that has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study medicine since 1994. Previous recipients of the $10,000 a year scholarship have gone on to become prominent leaders in health and medicine, including Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon. “This Scholarship is a tangible step towards growing the Indigenous medical workforce,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. “At the end of 2019, there were just over 600 Indigenous doctors in the medical workforce, which is about 0.5 per cent of the workforce. This is a slight improvement on previous years, but to reach population parity of 3 per cent, the number should be closer to 3600.”
To view the AMA’s media release, including details of how to apply for the scholarships click here.
NSW – Newcastle – The University of Newcastle
The University of Newcastle is seeking to recruit for the following roles within the School of Nursing and Midwifery teaching team:
Tjillaria Justice Aboriginal is recruiting a Family Support Case Worker (FSCW) to deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through an intensive case management process. The FSCW will provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to develop strong family relationships through engagement with community service providers and arrange trauma counselling in the community.
For more information about the position click here. Applications close COB 25 November 2020.Australia-wide – CRANAplus
On-call (after hours) Psychologist – flexible, work from home opportunity
CRANAplus is currently seeking psychologists to join its ‘pool’ of contractors to support on-call rosters available with CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line. The Bush Support Line is a flagship service provided by CRANAplus and offers phone counselling (psychological services) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to Health Professionals and their families across Australia, working in remote or rural communities.
The CRANAplus Bush Support Line service structure allows its on-call psychologists to be located anywhere in Australia. Rosters are forecasted for three-month periods that offers advanced notice and flexibility regarding shifts engaged. There are no minimum or maximum requirements and employees can nominate shifts as they suit.
CRANAplus advocates for, and serves, a diverse Australia, and genuinely encourages applications from CALD backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. To discuss this opportunity or provide your resume contact Katherine Leary via the CRANAplus website.
“We are so proud of the work done by our members and affiliates in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but we cannot lose sight of the need to reduce our viral hepatitis rates.
We are concerned about the harm caused to our communities from the spread of Hepatitis B and C and I encourage our people to get vaccinated and continue ongoing treatments.
Keep in touch with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”
NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is spreading the message to all Australians that while the rates of hepatitis in Australia are declining, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are being left behind.
“Great work has been done in improving immunisation rates against Hepatitis B and on treatment for Hepatitis C, yet the prevalence of viral hepatitis and subsequent liver damage remains high amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
What is particularly concerning are rates of viral hepatitis in remote and very remote communities are five times higher compared to metropolitan areas.
In the COVID-19 environment, we want to urge everyone to continue their regular health care. This involves getting childhood immunisations and for those on treatment for Hepatitis, don’t change or stop treatments unless advised to do so by your treating doctor.”
NACCHO Medical Adviser, Dr Jason Agostino
“At Apunipima we provide screenings for Hepatitis in our clinics and work closely with prison screening programs to help control the disease being transmitted within communities when prisoners are released.
Hepatitis in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a preventable disease, but with both short-term and potentially chronic implications, Hepatitis has a significant impact on our mob’s health.
We need to work together to ensure we practice prevention in our communities, but also that we get tested, detect the disease early and have access to best practice treatment and management.”
The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong
” In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia.
The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance.
This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”
Troy Combo EC Australia as the Program Manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan see Part 1 below
” Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day
Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020. “
See Part 2 Below for link todays event
Part 1 EC Australia, Partnering to Eliminate Hepatitis C
Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, Troy Combo, I have a joint appointment with the Burnet Institute and am employed and based at University of Queensland, School of Public Health and have recently been appointed as the Aboriginal Program Manager for EC Australia.
I have worked in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector since completing my Diploma in Aboriginal Health at Redfern AMS in 1994. I have held positions with local AMS’s, State Affiliates (AH&MRC & QAIHC) and I have also worked for NACCHO (2013-2014). More recently I was employed at Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (2015-2020).
Australia can be one of the first countries to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.
In 2016 an estimated 188,951 Australians were living with the hepatitis C virus resulting in up to 630 deaths from liver cancer and liver failure each year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disproportionate burden of hepatitis C and account for 10% of all people living with the virus in Australia.
As a priority population in our own right, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also overrepresented amongst people in custodial settings, people who currently inject drugs or previously injected drugs and people accessing drug treatment programs; all of which increases a person’s risk of contracting hepatitis C.
In 2017 notification rates for hepatitis C were 4.4 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (168.1 per 100 000 vs 38.4 per 100 00) and the rates for newly acquired (evidence of acquisition in the prior 24 months) hepatitis C was 13.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians (24.6 v 1.8 per 100 00 respectively).
In 2016, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medication was made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to most people living with hepatitis C, regardless of disease stage. DAAs have revolutionised hepatitis C care making elimination of hepatitis C possible; they are highly effective with efficacy rates over 95%, have minimal side effects, and require only 8-12 weeks of once-daily tablets. While initial uptake of DAAs was positive, by 2018 the number of people commencing treatment started to fall. If Australia is to achieve its elimination targets, it is crucial that testing remains high and that DAA treatments are provided to people with hepatitis C to cure people of hepatitis C and prevent further transmission.
Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia
Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia (EC Australia) is a nationwide, multidisciplinary project with the aim to achieve a coordinated response to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. The project brings together researchers and implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations, peak and other non-government organisations to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment in community clinics.
The specific goals of EC Australia are to:
Ensure that 15,000 Australians with chronic hepatitis C are treated and cured
Ensure that people identified with cirrhosis related to hepatitis C infection are treated and cured, and regularly reviewed to monitor for liver
Establish a national collaborative framework to facilitate a coordinated response to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat from
In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia. The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance. This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
My experience working within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector has shown how the model of care provided by these services is well suited to take up the challenge of the EC Australia goals. At EC Australia, we believe the “test and treat” model required to increase treatment uptake for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an achievable goal at a local service delivery level.
We will be convening an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Leadership Group in late 2020 that will provide expert advice and cultural governance for all EC activities as part of the Strategy. Our aim is to build strong networks and work closely with the viral hepatitis and the Aboriginal Community Control Health sectors. We seek to build on successful models of care and workforce development programs within these sectors, to expand and inform other areas.
Over the coming weeks we will be contacting organisations to participate in a mapping of current and/or past hepatitis C health promotion, workforce development and service delivery activities.
If your organisation would like to participate or learn more about the EC Australia Partnership and Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples Strategy you can contact Troy Combo at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on (07) 3346 4617.
Part 2 Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day
Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020.
Australia is on track to become one of the first countries to eliminate hepatitis C, which is part of the global goal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic and related social isolation has impacted drug use, drug and hepatitis C treatment services, and the health of people who use drugs. This puts an increased risk on new hepatitis transmission, access to treatment, and the elimination goals for 2030.
The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), Hepatitis Australia, the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol & other Drugs (APSAD), the Kirby Institute and National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, have partnered to address what COVID-19 will mean for hepatitis C elimination in Australia.
CEO of Hepatitis Australia, Carrie Fowlie said, “Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus and people who inject drugs are a crucial priority population.”
“Not only is there a risk that the WHO 2030 elimination goal could be set back, but more immediate negative impacts could be experienced by people at risk of contracting hepatitis or seeking hepatitis treatment in Australia due to current and future social, health, and policy changes.”
CEO of AIVL, Melanie Walker said some of the new regulations and social requirements are impossible for people who use drugs to abide by.
“People who use drugs need to attend needle and syringe programs (NSPs) and be able to have ongoing access to the full range of harm reduction, pharmacotherapy and other drug and hepatitis treatments,” said Ms Walker.
“If people who use drugs cannot access these services, we could see an increase in sharing of injecting equipment, which could lead to increased cases of hepatitis C and compound the negative health outcomes already experienced by this group.”
In the newly released National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, illicit drug use was responsible for 75 percent of Australia’s acute hepatitis C burden of disease.
Professor Greg Dore, Head of Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, said there had been encouraging recent data from the Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey on prevalence of active hepatitis C infection in people who inject drugs which had declined from 51 percent to 18 percent between 2015 and 2019.
“However, despite these declines in number of people with hepatitis C, continued declines in numbers being treated through 2019 and into 2020 compromises the achievement of WHO elimination goals,” said Professor Dore.
“More strategies are needed to raise awareness of the need for testing and availability of new hepatitis C treatments to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.”
In a new NDARC study of 702 people who used drugs during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, it was found only 24 percent were able to avoid sharing drug injecting equipment.
Professor Michael Farrell, Director of NDARC, UNSW Sydney, said the research shows that people who use drugs want to limit their risk of contracting viral diseases like COVID-19 and hepatitis C, but this can be challenging due to a range of factors.
“We need to continue to find solutions that support people who use drugs to ensure hepatitis C elimination remains a priority.”
About the online event
Facilitated by health reporter Dr Norman Swan, this event brings together affected communities, doctors, scientists, health and community workers, researchers and the public to discuss the immense challenges COVID-19 brings to hepatitis C elimination and the health of people who use drugs, and to discuss strategies to ensure Australia stays on track to become one of the first countries in the world to eliminate hepatitis C.
Adaptation of these templates to local needs and priorities is encouraged, with reference to current Australian preventive health guidelines that are culturally and clinically suitable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander needs.
These templates are not intended to promote a tick box approach to healthcare, but rather to prompt clinicians to consider patient priorities, opportunities for preventive healthcare and common health needs.
As the Partnership Project continues, we are exploring opportunities for integration of health check activities into clinical software.
We are also interested to hear about your experiences of providing health checks via telehealth.
The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) has launched a digital health guide to help Australians find the latest health information and advice about navigating the healthcare system during a time when information overload is widespread.
Your practical guide to a healthier future through digital technology provides clear advice to help Australians and their families get healthcare safely as restrictions are eased, with online resources and an easy to use online symptom checker.
Key advice includes what to do if you or a family member:
has COVID-19 symptoms;
needs medication (unrelated to COVID-19);
is sick or injured with symptoms unrelated to COVID-19;
The following Mary G video post added by NACCHO and AHCWA
The Agency’s Chief Digital Officer, Steven Issa said, ‘A recently coined term, infodemic, has been used to describe the oversupply of information that confuses rather than clarifies.
Digital health solutions are key to the national response to COVID-19 and the Agency has developed this online guide to give Australians clear advice on how to navigate the health system during this global infodemic’.
‘This guide aims to support Australians throughout their health journey and encourages Australians not to put their health on hold’.
The practical guide explains what to do if an individual or a family member: has COVID-19 symptoms; needs medication (unrelated to COVID-19); is sick or injured with symptoms unrelated to COVID-19; is seeking emotional support; or general information on how to stay healthy as restrictions are eased and people start getting out and about.
Dr Bav Manoharan, Doctor and Hospital Director in South-East Queensland has been working tirelessly to provide support to his community throughout this challenging time.
Dr Manoharan said, ‘Fortunately, Australia is seeing the COVID-19 pandemic ease, as our collective efforts to flatten the curve have worked. However, we need to be careful to not get complacent and put off our normal health check-ups and regular visits to GPs and other health services.
There are a number of convenient ways to get health help and make a physical or telehealth appointment with your usual health practitioner, and a good place to start is to visit the practical guide to a healthier future through digital technology for advice on your situation.’
The guide also explains how patients can update their online health information including allergies, medicines and personal details. Patients can also learn how to access their pathology and diagnostic imaging results, book a telehealth consultation and get their medications without a paper prescription.
“ The game itself should be once again an exciting, fast-paced battle with an emphasis on attacking footy, which highlights the natural ability of the Indigenous and Maori talent.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t necessarily matter who wins.
Both sides will give it their all, but the immense respect that will be shown by the two cultures is what makes it worthwhile.
The coming together of Maori and First Nations Australia and the positivity that will be taken into the communities in the lead-up to game is a reason why it’s an important date on the calendar.
I’ll be tuning in on Saturday wearing my Deadly Choice Indigenous jersey, taking a moment to be thankful to the medical services that have helped me with my health.
I’ll take a moment to think about my great grandmother, an Indigenous elder that raised me as a child when nobody else would. I’ll think about my roots to Wiradjuri and my family and elders that have paved the way for me to be where I am now.
It’s more than a pre-season trial game for me. It’s a game that pays respect to a part of me that might seem little to some, but is a big part of my identity.”
Jaydem Martin: Whose great grandmother Aunty Joyce Williams has contributed a lot to Aboriginal Health, she’s a Wiradjuri elder and was the founder of the Wellington Aboriginal Health Service in NSW.
Wiray Ngiyang Wiray Mayiny.” That’s the Wiradjuri translation of “no language, no people”.
This Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, the NRL will feature another edition of the All Stars match when the Indigenous All Stars take on the Maori All Stars, returning to the ground where the modern concept began in 2010.
It’s the second year the two teams will be competing against each other, although they’ve met at various times in the past under different formats, with the Maori All Stars looking for revenge after losing to the Indigenous side last year in Melbourne 34-14.
Each year, unfortunately, a lot of people get caught up in the politics and debate of issues that the All Stars game bring up, but for those that think it’s nothing but a glorified trial game, it’s a lot more than that.
I was raised by my great grandmother, a Wiradjuri elder and Aboriginal activist, and grew up in Wellington, New South Wales, a town with a rich Indigenous history and a strong connection to the Wiradjuri nation.
What the All Stars game represents to me is a showcase of that tribe and the many different countries that make up Aboriginal Australia.
It’s an opportunity to celebrate the culture, the land, the language, the diversity of the traditional custodians, while also promoting positive initiatives such as Deadly Choices.
The Indigenous All Stars is a continuation of a legacy that dates back to 1973 when the first Australian Aboriginal team formed and won seven of nine matches in ten days, but it goes back even before that with the long history of the Redfern All Blacks.
Wearing the Indigenous jersey is more than wearing a strip for a modern concept, it’s wearing a symbol of pride and acknowledging the history that Aboriginal men and women have contributed to rugby league throughout the decades.
It’s also representing one of the oldest continuous cultures.
It’s celebrating the greats such as Arthur Beetson and Johnathan Thurston, players like Matty Bowen, John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson, David Peachey and Preston Campbell, the man responsible for the revival of the side, among many more. It’s also showing appreciation to the lesser known names.
Those that have dedicated their lives to country rugby league, like my great uncle, who was the chairman of the Wellington Cowboys up until his death.
It’s a thank you to all in administration that go out of their way to make the Koori Knockout and the Murri Carnival a success.
It’s a thank you to the nurses, the doctors and everyone involved in the Aboriginal medical centres that continue to work on improving the overall health of our people.
Most importantly it’s a game of hope.
For some of the players in the line-up this Saturday, their paths in life could’ve gone very differently.
Rugby league gave them a way to escape the negativity that can come from small town Australia and because of that, these players have become role models and examples to other Indigenous kids that aspire to play in the NRL.
I remember myself being a kid in Wellington with the dream of being like Preston Campbell, but the dream seemed too impossible, something I could never achieve.
Now there are kids growing up in the same town, and despite the issues that plague it, there’s a real sense of hope because they’ve seen people like Blake Ferguson, Brent Naden and Kotoni Staggs set their minds towards a goal and work hard to achieve it. They prove that the dream is possible.
Many people in Wellington will be tuning in and cheering on their hometown hero, Blake Ferguson, but also Tyrone Peachey, Josh Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton, three men that have strong ties to the town.
The game itself should be once again an exciting, fast-paced battle with an emphasis on attacking footy, which highlights the natural ability of the Indigenous and Maori talent.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t necessarily matter who wins. Both sides will give it their all, but the immense respect that will be shown by the two cultures is what makes it worthwhile. The coming together of Maori and First Nations Australia and the positivity that will be taken into the communities in the lead-up to game is a reason why it’s an important date on the calendar.
I’ll be tuning in on Saturday wearing my Deadly Choice Indigenous jersey, taking a moment to be thankful to the medical services that have helped me with my health.
I’ll take a moment to think about my great grandmother, an Indigenous elder that raised me as a child when nobody else would. I’ll think about my roots to Wiradjuri and my family and elders that have paved the way for me to be where I am now.
It’s more than a pre-season trial game for me. It’s a game that pays respect to a part of me that might seem little to some, but is a big part of my identity.
” A study of intake of six remote Aboriginal communities, based on store turnover, found that intake of energy, fat and sugar was excessive, with fatty meats making the largest contribution to fat intake.
Compared with national data, intake of sweet and carbonated beverages and sugar was much higher in these communities, with the proportion of energy derived from refined sugars approximately four times the recommended intake.
Recent evidence from Mexico indicates that implementing health-related taxes on sugary drinks and on ‘junk’ food can decrease purchase of these foods and drinks.
A recent Australian study predicted that increasing the price of sugary drinks by 20% could reduce consumption by 12.6%.
Revenue raised by such a measure could be directed to an evaluation of effectiveness and in the longer term be used to subsidise and market healthy food choices as well as promotion of physical activity.
It is imperative that all of these interventions to promote healthy eating should have community-ownership and not undermine the cultural importance of family social events, the role of Elders, or traditional preferences for some food.
Food supply in Indigenous communities needs to ensure healthy, good quality foods are available at affordable prices.”
Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to theSelect Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry.
Several governments around the world have adopted taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. The evidence is clear: they work.
Last year, a summary of 17 studies found health taxes on sugary drinks implemented in Berkeley and other places in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France and Spain reduced both purchases and consumption of sugary drinks.
Reliable evidence from around the world tells us a 10% tax reduces sugary drink intakes by around 10%.
The United Kingdom soft drink tax has also been making headlines recently. Since its introduction, the amount of sugar in drinks has decreased by almost 30%, and six out of ten leading drink companies have dropped the sugar content of more than 50% of their drinks.
In Australia, modelling studies have shown a 20% health tax on sugary drinks is likely to save almost A$2 billion in healthcare costs over the lifetime of the population by preventing diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.
This is over and above the cost benefits of preventing dental health issues linked to consumption of sugary drinks.
Most of the health benefits (nearly 50%) would occur among those living in the lowest socioeconomic circumstances.
Myth 1: Sugary drink taxes unfairly disadvantage the poor
It’s true people on lower incomes would feel the pinch from higher prices on sugary drinks. A 20% tax on sugary drinks in Australia would cost people from low socioeconomic households about A$35 extra per year. But this is just A$4 higher than the cost to the wealthiest households.
Importantly, poorer households are likely to get the biggest health benefits and long-term health care savings.
What’s more, the money raised from the tax could be targeted towards reducing health inequalities.
In Australia, job losses from such a tax are likely to be minimal. The total demand for drinks by Australian manufacturers is unlikely to change substantially because consumers would likely switch from sugary drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks.
Despite industry protestations, an Australian tax would have minimal impact on sugar farmers. This is because 80% of our locally grown sugar is exported. Only a small amount of Australian sugar goes to sugary drinks, and the expected 1% drop in demand would be traded elsewhere.
Myth 3: People don’t support health taxes on sugary drinks
There is widespread support for a tax on sugary drinks from major health and consumer groups in Australia.
In addition, a national survey conducted in 2017 showed 77% of Australians supported a tax on sugary drinks, if the proceeds were used to fund obesity prevention.
Myth 4: People will just swap to other unhealthy products, so a tax is useless
Taxes, or levies, can be designed to avoid substitution to unhealthy products by covering a broad range of sugary drink options, including soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.
There is also evidence that shows people switch to water in response to sugary drinks taxes.
Myth 5: There’s no evidence sugary drink taxes reduce obesity or diabetes
Because of the multiple drivers of obesity, it’s difficult to isolate the impact of a single measure. Indeed, we need a comprehensive policy approach to address the problem. That’s why Dr Muecke is calling for a tax on sugary drinks alongside improved food labelling and marketing regulations.
Towards better food policies
The Morrison government has previously and repeatedly rejected pushes for a tax on sugary drinks.
But Australian governments are currently developing a National Obesity Strategy, making it the ideal time to revisit this issue.
We need to stop letting myths get in the way of evidence-backed health policies.
Let’s listen to Dr Muecke – he who knows all too well the devastating effects of products packed full of sugar.