NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

feature tile 11.11.20 COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key, image of needle going into an arm

COVID-19 vaccine promising but safety is key

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.

For further information click here.

Aboriginal man with Right Tracks Program shirt holding football, standing on football field

Ian McAdam, RIght Tracks Program coordinator. Image source: 33 Creative.

Doing things ‘the Aboriginal way’ crucial

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.

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Dr Summer May Finlay, vice-president for Public Health Association of Australia's ATSI Health

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.

Aboriginal woman sitting on wooden bench in garden, head in hands

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.

To view AMSANT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal hands holding can of Bundaberg Rum & cigarette

Image source: ABC News website.

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.

For further information click here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

Medical research priorities 2020–2022

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 from a clip about the role of Lowitja Institute, words 'good decisions grow from great research' Aboriginal dot painting

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.

To view the full article click here.

vet operating on dog, two additional medical staff and 4 Aboriginal children looking on

Image source: Vet Practice website.

Web-app to combat ICE use

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.

shadow of person smoking drug ICE

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.

To view the full article click here.

smiling face of Aboriginal baby being held by mother

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.

To view the full article click here.

painting of 10 Aboriginal figures with outline of red heart on chests against landscape

Image source: ABC Education website.

2021 Indigenous Medical Scholarships

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.AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship banner, Aboriginal dot painting top right of image

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:

FT Senior Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Nursing

FT Lecturer in Midwifery

For job descriptions click on the title of the role above and for applications click here.  Applications for all three positions close Wednesday 25 November 2020.University of Newcastle logo white on black vector of horse head and external image of the uni

ACT – Canberra – Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation

Family Support Case Worker

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.Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation logo, vector image of pick lollipo surrounding by coloured dots yellow, red, blue, orange, purpleAustralia-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. CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health #WorldHepatitisDay News Alerts : #LetsTalkHep editorial contributions from @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills, Dr Jason Agostino , Dr Mark Wenitong , Troy Combo : Plus link todays @HepAus event

“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.

Read / Download full NACCHO World Hepatitis Day press releases HERE .

“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 t.combo@uq.edu.au or by phone on (07) 3346 4617.

For more information please visit the below link:

https://www.burnet.edu.au/projects/410_eliminate_hepatitis_c_australia_partnership_ec_australia

 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.

Date: Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Time: 12:30pm – 2:30pm

Book here.

Speakers

  • Jude Byrne, National Project Coordinator, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Sione Crawford, Chief Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria
  • Greg Dore, Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Carrie Fowlie, Chief Executive Officer, Hepatitis Australia
  • Jules Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
  • Andrew Lloyd, Head, Viral Immunology Systems Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Stuart Manoj-Margison, Director, BBV, STI and Torres Strait Health Policy Section, Australian Government Department of Health
  • Amy Peacock, Senior Research Fellow, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
  • Melanie Walker, CEO, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Michael Farrell, Director, The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Resources Alert : NACCHO and @RACGP are pleased to launch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #715health assessment templates.

With support from the Department of Health, NACCHO and RACGP established a working group in 2019 to review and update Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander annual health check templates.

Throughout 2020 we will be testing these templates for operability in a range of services.

We are keen to hear your feedback and will be conducting a survey later in the year.

A key recommendation was to update elements to better reflect age-appropriate health needs. This resulted in five new templates that span the life course:

  1. Infants and preschool (birth-5 years)  PDF  RTF
  2. Primary school age (5-12 years) PDF  RTF
  3. Adolescents and young people (12-24 years) PDF  RTF
  4. Adults (25-49 years) PDF  RTF
  5. Older people (50+ years) PDF  RTF

These are example health check templates that include recommended core elements.

The criteria for inclusion can be accessed in our template development information pack.

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.

Contact aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au to understand more or contribute your ideas and experiences.

Understand the purpose of the health check is to:

  • support initial and ongoing engagement in comprehensive primary healthcare in a culturally safe way
  • provide evidence-based health information, risk assessment and other services for primary and secondary disease prevention
  • identify health needs, including patient health goals and priorities
  • support participation in population health programs (eg immunisation, cancer screening), chronic disease management and other primary care services (eg oral health )

Know that a high-quality health check is:

  • a positive experience for the patient that is respectful and culturally safe
  • provided with a patient, not to a patient
  • useful to the patient and includes patient priorities and goals in health assessment and planning
  • supports patient agency
  • provided by the usual healthcare provider in the context of established relationship and trust
  • provided by a multidisciplinary team that includes Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clinicians
  • evidence-based as per current Australian preventive health guidelines that are generally accepted in primary care practice (eg National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation [NACCHO]–Royal Australian College of General Practitioners [RACGP] National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Central Australian Rural Practitioner’s Association [CARPA] Standard Treatment Manual, etc)
  • provided with enough time (usually 30–60 minutes, with a minimum of 15 minutes with the GP) and often completed over several consultations
  • followed up with care of identified health needs (ie continuity of care).

Make sure your practice is providing health checks that are acceptable and valuable to patients by:

  • identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in a welcoming, hospitable manner
  • explaining the purpose and process of the health check and obtaining consent
  • enquiring about patient priorities and goals
  • adapting the health check content to what is relevant and appropriate to the patient
  • asking questions in ways that acknowledge strengths, that are sensitive to individual circumstances and that avoid cultural stereotyping
  • completing the health check and identifying health needs
  • making a plan for follow-up of identified health needs in partnership with the patient
  • making follow-up appointments at the time of the health check, where possible
  • considering checking in with the patient about their experience of the health check, in order to support patient engagement and quality

Potential pitfalls of health checks:

  • A poor health check can lead to non- or dis-engagement in healthcare and has the potential to do harm – establish engagement and trust
  • Health checks can have highly variable content and quality
  • use endorsed high-quality templates
  • Increasing the number of health checks without a focus on quality may undermine benefit for patients – avoid quantity over quality
  • Health checks are not proxy for all preventive healthcare – they are one activity in the range of health promotion and disease-prevention activities in primary care
  • No follow-up will have no or minimal impact on improving health outcomes – follow up identified health needs
  • Cultural stereotyping – acknowledge the health impacts of racism and build a culturally safe practice

 

Aboriginal Health Checks News Alert No 66 : May 19 #KeepOurMobSafe : Even though you are protecting yourself from the Coronavirus, you still need to look after you and your family’s other health problems….just ask Mary G!

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;
  • is seeking emotional support; or
  • general information on how to stay healthy.

The guide can be found here: covid-19.digitalhealth.gov.au

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.

Please visit the website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @DeadlyChoices News : The health importance of the #Indigenous mens and womens Rugby League #NRLAllStars : Plus both #Maori sides

 “ 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.

Originally published in ROAR

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.

Read about the Indigenous All Stars Team of the decade HERE

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.

NACCHO #WeStandwithQuadenBayles #saynotobullying

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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SugarTax #5Myths @ausoftheyear Dr James Muecke pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks : Money $ raised could be used to fund health promotion

” This year’s Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, is an eye specialist with a clear vision.

He wants to change the way the world looks at sugar and the debilitating consequences of diabetes, which include blindness.

Muecke is pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks to help make that a reality.

Such a tax would increase the price of soft drinks, juices and other sugary drinks by around 20%. The money raised could be used to fund health promotion programs around the country.

The evidence backing his calls is strong. ” 

From the Conversation

” 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 the Select Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry. 

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

Also Read over 40 Aboriginal Health and Sugar Tax articles published by NACCHO 


Taxes on sugary drinks work

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.


Read more: Sugary drinks tax is working – now it’s time to target cakes, biscuits and snacks


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.

A 20% health tax on sugary drinks would also raise over A$600 million to invest back into the health of Australians.

After sugar taxes are introduced, people tend to switch from sugar drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks. l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

 

So what’s the problem?

The soft drink industry uses every trick in the book to try to convince politicians a tax on sugary drinks is bad policy.

Here are our responses to some common arguments against these taxes:

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.


Read more: Australian sugary drinks tax could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes and save 1,600 lives


Myth 2: Sugary drink taxes would result in job losses

Multiple studies have shown no job losses resulted from taxes on sugar drinks in Mexico and the United States.

This is in contrast to some industry-sponsored studies that try to make the case otherwise.

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.

A tax on sugary drinks is unlikely to cost jobs. Successo images/Shutterstock

 

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.


Read more: Sweet power: the politics of sugar, sugary drinks and poor nutrition in Australia


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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Resources Alert : @RACGP , NACCHO and @ahmrc to host a webinar series to complement their brand new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health resource hub.

” The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have worked together to develop resources for GPs and other health professionals to support culturally responsive primary healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, wherever they seek care.”

A new resource hub has been launched : See Part 1 below

 ” AH&MRC has also partnered with the RACGP to develop a webinar series. The webinars are on topics relevant to healthcare professionals employed within the ACCHS sector.” 

These webinars are published on the RACGP Website : See Part 2 below 

Part 1

 

A new resource hub has been launched on the RACGP website.

It is home to resources that support primary healthcare that is accessible, effective and valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Original published WAGPET 

The hub includes:

  • Good practice tables – building on the five steps towards excellent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare and five good practice tables provide activities for all members of the practice team with each activity linked to accreditation
  • Quality 715 health check resource – this one-page resource provides an opportunity for practice teams to reflect on what they are doing well and what could be improved to support quality Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item 715 health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • National Guide check (unit 561) – this edition of check provides case studies involving Aboriginal patients
  • Clinical audit – Identification – this audit aims to identify with the use of existing medical record software

To complement the resource hub, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health has developed a new webinar series titled, ‘I can see clearly now: Good experiences and great health outcomes through effective, culturally safe primary healthcare’.

The webinar series is presented by:

  • Ms Jacinta McKenzie, Integrated Team Care Supervisor, Indigenous Health Project Officer, Wellness Our Way at Country and Outback Health
  • Dr Mary Belfrage, GP and RACGP Fellow
  • Ms Ada Parry, RACGP Cultural and Education Advisor.

Webinar details

Webinar Title Date Time
NACCHO RACGP Resource Hub webinar Wednesday, 18 March 2020 7:00 – 8:00pm
Case study: Working together to achieve great health outcomes webinar Wednesday, 6 May 2020 7:00 – 8:00pm
Quality 715 health check and follow up webinar Wednesday, 10 June 2020 7:00 – 8:00pm

Part 2 ACCHS webinar series

Access RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW and NSW Health webinars on issues related to GPs and other health professionals working in the Aboriginal Community Controlled health Services (ACCHS) sector.

SEE WEBPAGE

Topic Webinar Slides
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Recording PDF
Hepatitis C epidemiology, screening and treatment Recording PDF
Syphilis: Clinical overview, screening and treatment Recording PDF
Influenza preparedness Recording PDF
715 Health check Recording PDF

National guide webinars

Topic Webinar Slides
The new guidelines: Family abuse and violence (Chapter 16) Recording PDF

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Research Health News : New @NHMRC project to implement and evaluate 715 annual health checks interventions designed to help Close the Gap

 “The prevalence of most chronic diseases increases with age and affects not only physical health, but also the broader contributors to the well-being of older Aboriginal people, including participation in family, community and cultural leadership roles and connection with community networks.

Aboriginal people often receive a diagnosis at a more advanced stage of chronic disease, which means there’s less opportunity to prevent their condition and health deteriorating “

Professor Sanson-Fisher said chronic diseases continue to be a major contributor to unhealthy ageing among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Timely diagnosis and appropriate management was vital to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. See Website

Consider these facts

  • In 2016-2017 just 27 per cent of Indigenous adults aged 15 to 24 had an annual health assessment.
  • Only 30 per cent of 25-to 54-year-olds, and 41 per cent of Indigenous adults over 55 had one.
  • Around 37 per cent of the burden of disease in Aboriginal people could be prevented by reducing risk factors

Read previous NACCHO 715 Health Check Articles

Download resources to boost the rates of the 715 health check. Information available for patients and health professionals!

An intervention designed to help Close the Gap, by increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who receive an annual health check by their GP, will be implemented and evaluated by a new National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project.

Renowned population health researcher, Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher of the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute, will lead a team of expert Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers in the five-year research project – which was awarded $745,056 following a Targeted Call for Research** for Healthy Ageing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Indigenous people die about eight years earlier than non-Indigenous Australians. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians born in 2015-17, the life expectancy is 71.6 years for men and 75.6 years for women – about 8.6 and 7.8 years less than non-Aboriginal men and women respectively.

Twenty-two mainstream general practice clinics within the central Coast and New England regions will participate in the research project.

The intervention package will comprise strategies such as continuing medical education, recall and reminder systems, and mailed invitations to patients.

The project will also test whether the intervention increases doctors’ adherence to best practice care and improves patient outcomes.

More than 60 per cent of Indigenous people regularly visit mainstream general practice services – a key opportunity to deliver an annual ‘715’ health assessment, which forms an integral part of the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap commitment.

The aim of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Assessment (Medicare Benefits Schedule item 715) is to help ensure Indigenous Australians receive primary health care matched to their needs, by encouraging early detection, diagnosis and intervention for common and treatable conditions that cause morbidity and early death.

The health assessment is an annual service and covers the full age spectrum..

Key contributing chronic conditions include cardiovascular diseases (19 per cent of the chronic disease prevalence gap), mental and substance use disorders (14 per cent), cancer (9 per cent), chronic kidney disease, diabetes, vision loss, hearing loss and respiratory, musculoskeletal, neurological and congenital disorders.

Around 37 per cent of the burden of disease in Aboriginal people could be prevented by reducing risk factors.

The risk factors causing the most burden are tobacco use (12 per cent of the total burden), alcohol use (8 per cent), high body mass (8 per cent), physical inactivity (6 per cent), high blood pressure (5 per cent) and high blood glucose levels (5 per cent).

“Mainstream general practice is a crucial setting to impact on prevention, timely diagnosis and appropriate management of chronic disease for Aboriginal people, which is imperative to help Close the Gap,” Professor Sanson-Fisher said.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ClosingTheGap #NAIDOC2019 : @AIHW Key results report 2017-18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations:

Findings from this report:

  • Just under half (45%) of organisations provide services in Remote or Very remote areas

  • In 2017–18, around 483,000 clients received 3.6 million episodes of care

  • Nearly 8,000 full-time equivalent staff are employed in these organisations and 4,695 (59%) are health staff

  • Organisations reported 445 vacant positions in June 2018 with health vacancies representing 366 (82%) of these
  • In 2017–18, nearly 200 organisations provided a range of primary health services to around 483,000 clients, 81% of whom were Indigenous.
  • Around 3.6 million episodes of care were provided, nearly 3.1 million of these (85%) by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

See AIHW detailed Interactive site locations map HERE

In 2017–18, Indigenous primary health services were delivered from 383 sites (Table 3). Most sites provided clinical services such as the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses (88%), mental health and counselling services (88%), maternal and child health care (86%), and antenatal care (78%). Around two-thirds provided tobacco programs (69%) and substance-use and drug and alcohol programs (66%).

Most organisations provided access to a doctor (86%) and just over half (54%) delivered a wide range of services, including all of the following during usual opening hours: the diagnosis and treatment of illness and disease; antenatal care; maternal and child health care; social and emotional wellbeing/counselling services; substance use programs; and on‑site or off-site access to specialist, allied health and dental care services.

Most organisations (95%) also provided group activities as part of their health promotion and prevention work. For example, in 2017–18, these organisations provided around:

  • 8,400 physical activity/healthy weight sessions
  • 3,700 living skills sessions
  • 4,600 chronic disease client support sessions
  • 4,100 tobacco-use treatment and prevention sessions.

In addition to the services they provide, organisations were asked to report on service gaps and challenges they faced and could list up to 5 of each from predefined lists. In 2017–18, around two-thirds of organisations (68%) reported mental health/social and emotional health and wellbeing services as a gap faced by the community they served.

This was followed by youth services (54%). Over two-thirds of organisations (71%) reported the recruitment, training and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff as a challenge in delivering quality health services.

Read full report and all data HERE

This is the tenth national report on organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Indigenous primary health services

Primary health services play a critical role in helping to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous Australians may access mainstream or Indigenous primary health services funded by the Australian and state and territory governments.

Information on organisations funded by the Australian Government under its Indigenous Australians’ health programme (IAHP) is available through two data collections: the Online Services Report (OSR) and the national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs). Most of the organisations funded under the IAHP contribute to both collections (Table 1).

The OSR collects information on the services organisations provide, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and staffing levels. Contextual information about each organisation is also collected. The nKPIs collect information on a set of process of care and health outcome indicators for Indigenous Australians.

There are 24 indicators that focus on maternal and child health, preventative health and chronic disease management. Information from the nKPI and OSR collections help monitor progress against the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Closing the Gap targets, and supports the national health goals set out in the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023.

Detailed information on the policy context and background to these collections are available in previous national reports, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report—key results 2016–17 and National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: results for 2017.

At a glance

This tenth national OSR report presents information on organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide primary health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes a profile of these organisations and information on the services they provide, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and staffing levels. Interactive data visualisations using OSR data for 5 reporting periods, from 2013–14 to 2017–18, are presented for the first time.

Key messages

  1. A wide range of primary health services are provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 2017–18:
  • 198 organisations provided primary health services to around 483,000 clients, most of whom were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (81%).
  • These organisations provided around 3.6 million episodes of care, with nearly 3.1 million (85%) delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs).
  • More than two-thirds of organisations (71%) were ACCHSs. The rest included government-run organisations and other non-government-run organisations.
  • Nearly half of organisations (45%) provided services in Remoteand Very remote
  • Services were delivered from 383 sites across Australia. Most sites provided the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses (88%), social and emotional wellbeing services (88%), maternal and child health care (86%), and antenatal care (78%). Around two-thirds provided tobacco programs (69%) and substance-use and drug and alcohol programs (66%).

See this AIHW detailed Interactive site locations map HERE

  1. Organisations made on average nearly 13 contacts per client

In 2017–18, organisations providing Indigenous primary health services made around 6.1 million client contacts, an average of nearly 13 contacts per client (Table 2). Over half of all client contacts (58%) were made by nurses and midwives (1.8 million contacts) and doctors (1.7 million contacts). Contacts by nurses and midwives represented half (49%) of all client contacts in Very remote areas compared with 29% overall.

  1. Organisations employed nearly 8,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff

At 30 June 2018, organisations providing Indigenous primary health services employed nearly 8,000 FTE staff and over half of these (54%) were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. These organisations were assisted by around 270 visiting staff not paid for by the organisations themselves, making a total workforce of around 8,200 FTE staff.

Nurses and midwives were the most common type of health worker (14% of employed staff), followed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners (13%) and doctors (7%). Nurses and midwives represented a higher proportion of employed staff in Very remote areas (22%).

  1. Social and emotional health and wellbeing services are the most commonly reported service gap

Organisations can report up to 5 service gaps faced by the community they serve from a predefined list of gaps. Since this question was introduced in 2012–13, the most commonly reported gap has been for mental health and social and emotional health and wellbeing services. In 2017–18, this was reported as a gap by 68% of organisations.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #715HealthCheck 3 of 3 : @healthgovau Your Health is in Your Hands – Download resources to boost the rates of the #715healthcheck. Information available for patients and health professionals!

” A 715 it’s a health check that Aboriginal and Torres Strait on the people’s can have done on an annual timetable.

But it should be comprehensive in nature, and offer you not just the usual, hi, how are you?

What’s your name? Where do you live?

But take full consideration of your social background and social histories, ask you about your family history.

Is there anything important not just in your own personal medical background, but that of your family, so we can take that into consideration?

We know that we have many families with long backgrounds of chronic disease, for example, diabetes, cardiovascular risk, and they’re super important we’re considering how we tailor our history, our examination, our investigations, and then a treatment plan for you.

 It goes through the steps of that history and they’ll ask you questions about, you got a job at the moment, where are you working?

What are you exposed to? What are your interest? Do you play sport?

Are you involved in any other sort of social activities, cultural activities, for example, which I think is really important.

They’ll then make determinations around the kinds of examination if they need to tailor that at all, depending upon your age, and where you live and your access to services and what your history brought up, for example, male, female, young or old.

And then the investigations and X-ray, for example, or some bloods taken, and referrals as appropriate.

For allied health professionals, pediatrists, nutritionists, diabetes educators, but also perhaps you might need to see a cardiologist or a diabetes and endocrinologist as a specialist.

And then we wrap that all up in a specific and individualised kind of plan for you, that we discuss and we negotiate and we try to educate so that you then are able to play a part in your own health and take responsibility for some of those aspects.

But also you then get to choose what you share with family and the other providers.

It’s supposed to be a relationship and partnership for your health, that you understand, that you agree to and then together, you can move forward on how to be healthy and stay healthy.

From interview with Dr Ngaire Brown 

Download resources below or from HERE

Podcasts

Annual health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access a health check annually, with a minimum claim period of 9 months. 715 health checks are free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk bulling clinics to help people stay healthy and strong.

We acknowledge that many individuals refer to themselves by their clan, mob, and/or country. For the purposes of the health check, we respectfully refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander throughout.

Your Health is in Your Hands

Having a health check provides important health information for you and your doctor.

Staying on top of your health is important. It helps to identify potential illnesses or chronic diseases before they occur. It is much easier to look at ways to prevent these things from occurring, rather than treatment.

The 715 Health Check is designed to support the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients of all ages. It is free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk billing clinics.

What happens at the health check?

Having the health check can take up to an hour. A Practice Nurse, Aboriginal Health Worker or Aboriginal and Torres Starlit Islander Health Practitioner may assist the doctor to perform this health check. They will record information about your health, such as your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, height and weight. You might also have a blood test or urine test. It is also an opportunity to talk about the health of your family.

Depending on the information you’ve provided, you might have some other tests too. You’ll then have a yarn with the doctor or health practitioner about the tests and any follow up you might need. It’s also good to tell them about your family medical history or any worries you have about your health.

Information for patients

Only about 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are accessing the 715 health check. Resources have been developed to help improve the uptake of 715 health checks in the community.

These are available for patients, community organisations, PHNs and GP clinics to download or order

Read all NACCHO 715 Health Check articles Here

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens at the health check?

Health checks might be different depending on your age.

Having the health check should take between 40-60 minutes. A health practitioner might check your:

  • blood pressure
  • blood sugar levels
  • height and weight

You might also a have blood test and urine test.

It’s also good to tell your health practitioner about your family medical history or any worries you have about your health.

Follow up care

Once you finish the check, the Practice Nurse, Aboriginal Health Worker or Doctor might tell you about other ways to help look after your health. They might suggest services to help you with your:

  • heart
  • vision
  • hearing
  • movement
  • mental health

You may also get help with free or discounted medicines you might need. Your Doctor can give you information about Closing the Gap scripts if you have or at risk of having a chronic disease.

Where can you access a 715 health check?

You can choose where you get your 715 health check. If you can, try to go to the same Doctor or clinic.

This helps make sure you are being cared for by people who know about your health needs.

Do I need to pay for the 715 health check?

The health check is free at your local Aboriginal Medical Service. It is also free at bulk billing health clinics. If you are unsure whether it will be free at your local Doctor, give them a call to ask about the 715 health check before you book.

Why Should I Identify?

It’s important to tell the Doctor if you are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander so that they can make sure you get access to health care you might need. Medicare can help record this for you, and their staff are culturally trained to help.

Call the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Access line on 1800 556 955.

Information for Health Professionals

For more information about for health professionals and medical practitioners delivering the 715 health checks please go to Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Video Case Studies

Social Media Tiles

2 boys stand with a woman in a school basketball court. They look happy and healthy/
An Aboriginal Health worker measures the weight of a child was part of the 715 health check.
A doctor takes a man’s pulse as part of the 715 health check.