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

NACCHO Chair addresses FECCA conference

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

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

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

ACCHO CEO awarded honorary doctorate

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

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

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

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

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

Remote houses are dangerous hot boxes

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

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

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

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

Shoddy NT remote homes lethal

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes epidemic hits Central Australia

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

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

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

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

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

Integrating kidney health into patient care

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

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

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

Dr TIm Senior. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Indigenous assistant minister sworn in

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

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

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

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

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

Indigenous Eye Health Conference

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Men’s Health, Our Way – Let’s Own It!

Image in feature tile is of Tristan who features in an Australian Government Department of Health Twitter post, saying “It’s best that we all get the 715 check.”

Men’s Health, Our Way – Let’s Own It!

Earlier this morning NACCHO released the following media release to mark Men’s Health Week 2022:

Men’s Health, Our Way – Let’s Own It!

Men’s Health Week 2022: Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys

In the 2022 Men’s Health Week, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), draws attention to the importance of improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, across Australia.

The Aboriginal community-controlled health sector has made vast changes to outreach, education, and engagement with men, providing a wide range of preventative and early intervention, and culturally sound men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that some men face.

Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair, states, ‘Our goal is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives and we urge them to visit their local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services more often to discuss their health.’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men access primary health care services at the lowest rate, compared to other Australians, and health statistics indicate they have the poorest health outcomes in Australia. Research shows there are various barriers for Aboriginal men accessing health services including, societal related issues such as, stigma and gender differences; cultural differences, including language, beliefs, and law; logistical challenges, such as distance and transportation; trust in health services, financial challenges, and individual reasons including, health understanding, previous experiences and illnesses, self-esteem, and confidence, etc.

Ms Mills said, ‘The theme of this year’s National Men’s Health Week, Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys is about the importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services creating a holistic, culturally safe and engaged space for men to discuss and treat their health issues.

‘NACCHO are committed to reducing the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men; and reducing suicide rates, which is one of the highest leading causes of death for Aboriginal males in this country.’

Chris Bin Kali, NACCHO Deputy Chair, said, ‘NACCHO works alongside the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to ensure quality health services reach all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in a culturally appropriate and safe environment. Ongoing support from governments to ensure these services continue, are essential.

‘A great way to check on your overall health is with a 715 Health Check that our health services offer, and I would stress the importance to get them done regularly for our men! The 715 Health Check assesses your overall health with the aim to provide health care matched to your specific needs via early detection, diagnosis, and intervention for common, treatable conditions. It is designed to support the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients of all ages.’

Case study Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services, NSW:

The Yerin Men’s Group sessions are a local group that partner with other Aboriginal health organisations and host a session every month touching upon various issues that support men’s business, sharing knowledge, assistance and guidance amongst each other.

The Glen Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation centre recently joined the Men’s Group session to share their personal stories and assist with information. In March, they invited Yadhaba Aboriginal Health Workers and community Elders to host a day of yarning about mental health and well-being and fishing on Country.

You can access this media release on NACCHO’s website here.

Image source: Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal.

Apunipima hosts Men’s Health Summit

Apunipima Cape York Health Council (ACYHC) is hosting its annual Cape York Men’s Health Summit in Hope Vale this week. The event will see 120 males from all over Cape York descend on Elim Beach for a week of camping with a focus on men’s health. The theme of the week is ‘growing together as fathers, providers and protectors’ and there will be a range of activities and discussions throughout the week, focusing on men’s business with a host of talented guest speakers presenting over the whole week.

“We’re very excited about the return of the Apunipima Men’s Health Summit in 2022. We haven’t been able to hold a Men’s Summit for the last two years due to Covid, so there’s been a lot of interest in this year’s event. Our male staff are excited to be hosting so many men from across the Cape and providing a space where they can come together to talk about issues that are important to them,” said Apunipima CEO, Debra Malthouse.

Headlining the week will be one of FNQ’s funniest comedians, Sean Choolburra. The very popular former cultural dancer will address the summit with his unique blend of history, cultural knowledge and spiritual wisdom, delivered with loads of energy and plenty of cheek. Also speaking throughout the summit will be BBM Cairns’ National TalkBlack radio host Trevor Tim, former Gold Coast Titans player Davin Crompton and more including academics, athletes, motivational speakers and health industry professionals.

The event runs all week from Monday 13 to Friday 17 June, 2022.

To view the ACYHC’s media release Apunipima Hosts Men’s Health Summit in Hope Vale in full click here.

Elim Beach, 25km east of Hope Vale. Image source: ACYHC.

Life expectancy improvement too slow

The main point of an editorial from the current online issue of the Medical Journal of Australia is that while it is possible to Close the Gap, current efforts are inadequate. Life expectancy for Indigenous people is improving, but closing the gap remains unacceptably slow

Although recent boosts to funding are welcome, much more needs to be done by the Commonwealth to fill service gaps with ACCHOs and by jurisdictional governments on social determinants especially housing, justice and education. In key matters like housing, national leadership would be welcome and it may be time to reintroduce National Partnership Agreements. Despite the editorial comments referencing an NT article, it has national relevance.

You can read the editorial Life expectancy for Indigenous people is improving, but closing the gap remains unacceptably slow in full click here.

Photo: Chloe Geraghty. Image source: Amnesty International Australia website.

Qld mob to have bigger healthcare say

Indigenous Queensland communities are set to have a much bigger say on their own healthcare and housing needs, as well as how their children are educated. The state’s 26 Indigenous councils will soon start deciding how Queensland government services such as health care, housing and education are delivered.

Advisory panels will be appointed in each Indigenous community within two years to advise the government. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford says the move is an important step towards self-determination. “Progressing local solutions and decision-making with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people is critical for communities to thrive,” he said yesterday. The new Local Decision Making Bodies (LDMBs) will be told how much money the government is investing in each community. Information will include details such as how much is spent on services, the amount of funding for each service contract, who is delivering the contracts, and whether they employ local people.

To view the Northern Beaches Review article Qld Indigenous to be handed more control in full click here.

Image source: Northern Beaches Review.

Funding for eating disorders research

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre is offering a nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders. IgnitED is offering grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. People with lived experience expertise and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are encouraged to apply for the grants. To view The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health News article National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions in full click here.

Additional $400m NSW CTG funding

The NSW Government has announced $401 million in additional funding over four years in the 2022-23 Budget, to prioritise Closing the Gap and other projects that improve outcomes for Aboriginal people across the state. Premier Dominic Perrottet said the significant investment reflected the need for a fresh approach to meaningfully shift the dial on Closing the Gap targets.

It’s clear traditional Government-led approaches haven’t worked. This needs to be done hand-in-hand with Aboriginal communities, who know best what changes need to be made to help communities thrive, Mr Perrottet said. That’s why we’ve worked in partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders to co-design a suite of initiatives across all areas of Government to make a greater difference.

To view the media release $400 million to empower Aboriginal communities & deliver outcomes in full click here.

Image source: Canberra Times website.

TB treatment safe during pregnancy

Seven out of 10 pregnant women were cured of their multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and delivered healthy babies after taking a medication that had previously been considered unsafe in pregnancy, a new Curtin and Telethon Kids Institute study has found. Published in JAMA Network Open, the study examined the experiences of 275 pregnant women with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis living in South Africa, Peru, Brazil, Iran and Uganda.

Lead researcher Dr Kefyalew Alene, from the Curtin School of Population Health and Telethon Kids Institute, said the study had found a medication used to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, Linezolid, was associated with favourable pregnancy outcomes and high treatment success. “This is the first comprehensive review of treatment outcomes for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in pregnant women, who remain one of the most vulnerable groups among the half a million people living with the disease globally,” Dr Alene said. Dr Alene said the study answered a challenging global issue of when to treat pregnant patients living with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

You can view the full paper Treatment Outcomes Among Pregnant Patients With Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis’ online here and the Curtin University article Study finds TB treatment during pregnancy is safe for mum and baby here.

Image source: SBS NITV website.

HESTA Excellence Awards nominations open

HESTA has opened nominations for the 2022 HESTA Excellence Awards to celebrate exceptional professionals working in disability, allied health, aged care and community services in Australia. With a $60,000 prize pool on offer, the national Awards celebrate professionals from the four sectors who are going above and beyond the everyday high-quality care they provide to achieve outstanding health outcomes for Australians.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said coming out of the pandemic and adapting to a ‘new normal’ has demonstrated the critical importance of these professionals to protecting and supporting our communities and our economic recovery. “Our world has changed so much these past few years and through it all, these amazing professionals adapted and innovated to continue supporting our communities, our families and our nation to keep us safe and healthy,” Ms Blakey said.

“Each year we’re privileged to find and recognise incredible people and organisations for their exceptional work. I’m very proud of the platform HESTA and these Awards provides to help share their stories and draw attention to the extensive impact these individuals have had on so many lives.” Anyone working in the four sectors – allied health, disability services, aged care or community services – and who are involved in the delivery of exceptional care or service can nominate or be nominated.

Nominations are open for both the Outstanding Organisation and Team Excellence categories. Independent judging panels comprising industry experts will select finalists and choose a winner from each sector and for each category. Nominations will close at midnight on Sunday 14 August 2022. 

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit the HESTA Awards webpage here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society, elder abuse. Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. It is a global social issue which affects the health, well-being, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.

In Australia the safety of older Aboriginal people and a better understanding of Elder abuse prevention is a clear priority as the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 years and over is increasing and is projected to more than double from 59,400 in 2011 to up to 130,800 in 2026. Identifying and measuring Elder abuse in Indigenous settings is challenging. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (2016) reported that mainstream conceptualisation of elder mistreatment requires reconsideration in Indigenous contexts; substantially more work and the collection of quality and consistent data is required to better understand Elder mistreatment amongst Indigenous peoples. There are no precise statistics on the prevalence of Elder abuse in the Aboriginal population in Australia and the strategies which would be effective in preventing this abuse have not been identified.

You can read more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elder abuse in the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute report What keeps you safe: approaches to promote the safety of older Aboriginal people here. You can also access a range of resources associated with the The Queensland Government’s Together we can stop elder abuse campaign, including the video below here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: iSISTAQUIT helps pregnant young mums quit

iSISTAQUIT helps pregnant young mums quit

This World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2022), Southern Cross University’s iSISTAQUIT project is launching a compilation of campaign video clips to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking. Tobacco smoking represents the most important preventable risk factor for chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. About 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women smoke during pregnancy compared to 12% of their general population counterparts.

The initial six videos to be launched on the YouTube Channel iSISTAQUIT TV will showcase the importance of culturally appropriate care and communication in supporting women to quit smoking. Research has found education and advice on their own are insufficient, and women are needing practical help and support with quitting. iSISTAQUIT has also developed a training package to help equip health professionals to have culturally appropriate conversations with their patients. Currently there are 26 sites nationally that have undertaken the training.

You can view Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chairperson and Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service and the first Aboriginal person to win a Olympic Gold Medal, Nova Peris OAM have both released videos talking about the launch of the iSISTERQUIT films. Both mention how pleased they are that ACCHOs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community women were consulted during the early stages of the development of the iSISTERQUIT films. You can view Ms Mills’ video here and Ms Peris’ video here. You can also access the iSISTERQUIT website here.

Yarrabah community engaged in new wellbeing centre

A new health and wellbeing centre in the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah demonstrates the value of projects that engage the local community not only in building design but in ongoing economic opportunities. When People Oriented Design (POD), with Coburn Architecture, won the bid to design the new Gurriny Yealamucka Health and Wellbeing Centre (GYHWC) at Yarrabah, on the lands of the Gunggandji and Yidinji peoples, the question for co-director Shaneen Fantin was not how to meet what the contract required, but, “How far can we build on what the contract was asking us to do?”

The practice identified opportunities to maximize Indigenous economic benefits at multiple levels, exceeding the requirements for Indigenous employment, training, suppliers and engagement – and all within a tight contractual timeframe. The health centre was delivered without excessive cost blowouts and ahead of its scheduled delivery by the Indigenous-owned company H. C. Building and Construction. This was no small feat, particularly with the impact of COVID affecting building supply chains, construction programs and labour continuity.

According to Suzanne Andrew, chief executive of Gurriny Yealamucka Community Control Health Services, “Local input is not just about designing the building, it’s also about ensuring financial return to the community.” At Yarrabah, “there was a good vibe in the community around this building” because the community was aware that it was being undertaken by an Indigenous company – “giving jobs to mob.” H. C. gave back to the community by buying from local shops and sponsoring the local football team. The project also included a significant budget for local artwork.

To view the ArchitectureAU article Indigenizing practice: Maximizing economic benefits in full click here.

Gurriny means “good healing water” in the language of the Gunggandji peoples, and the design references water in the building siting, layout, finishes, external art screen and garden. Photo: Scott Burrows. Image source: ArchitectureAU website.

Deadly Choices exemplar of tobacco control

Marking World No Tobacco Day 2022, Australia’s National Coordinator of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) Program, Professor Tom Calma AO has officially recognised Deadly Choices as a recipient of a World Health Organisation (WHO) award. Representatives of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices preventative health arm were on hand to accept the honour, which acknowledges efforts in promoting the dangers of smoking among Indigenous communities.

Professor Calma said “I would like to congratulate Deadly Choices for their WHO award which has recognised the program as the exemplar of how people should be going about tobacco control. Deadly Choices has won the global award for helping Mob from right across Australia give up smoking. The core work of Deadly Choices focuses on ensuring smoke-free homes and cars through health and education programs like the ‘Deadly Places – Smoke Free Spaces’ initiative in schools and community events, which align perfectly with this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme of ‘protecting the environment’. Ten years ago, smoking rates among Mob were 51%, now they’re down to 39%, but we can’t just focus on smoking cessation, we also need to focus on population health; to give people the right information to make good, healthy choices; to make Deadly Choices.”

World No Tobacco Day is an extremely important day to raise awareness in the community around smoking, to start a conversation and recognise the support that is needed among communities to give up tobacco use. “It’s an outstanding outcome to have our health education and promotional programs acknowledged globally, which reinforces the capacity of Deadly Choices to help close the gap in health and life expectancy outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities from right across the country,” confirmed IUIH CEO Adrian Carson

You can view the IUIH media alert released yesterday here and access further details of the World No Tobacco Day 2021 award winners on the WHO website here.

Image source: IUIH South East QLD Twitter.

Elcho Island Elders celebrate new dialysis nurse

After the plane lands on Elcho Island’s tiny airstrip, Malawa Dhamarrandji’s mood visibly shifts to a sense of calm. The Yolngu Elder insists on walking down the plane’s isle without assistance. It has been years between visits home for Mr Dhamarrandji, who relies on nurse-assisted dialysis in Darwin to stay alive. “Here in my home town, I reckon it’s paradise,” he said. “There’s all the family, it’s all family – all my grandsons, granddaughters, everyone.”

Mr Dhamarrandji and his late brother spent decades advocating for nurse-assisted renal chairs at their island home,the large Arnhem Land community of Galiwin’ku. Now, a renal unit that has been sitting unused in the community for years has been staffed by a nurse from Indigenous-owned health service Purple House. The organisation recently chartered a plane for its Darwin-based patients who wanted to host a ceremony celebrating the unit’s opening. “For the future, children and adults, be careful what you’re eating,” Mr Dhamarrandji said at the ceremony. “Prevent the sickness, prevent the kidney sickness.”

To view the ABC News article Elcho Island Elders celebrate new dialysis nurse and treatment, bringing them home to families in full click here.

Dianne Biritjalawuy Gondarra is among the group that has been pushing for nurse-assisted dialysis. Photo: Felicity James, ABC News.

New ACT suicide prevention service

A new program to help reduce suicide, and the impacts of suicide, within the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community will be delivered by a lead Aboriginal community-controlled organisation service provider, Thirrili Limited. The program, which was an ACT Greens 2020 election commitment, will be delivered in partnership with the local postvention Way Back Support Service at Woden Community Service. Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson said that Thirrili has been appointed as the service delivery provider through a community-led commissioning process to ensure culturally appropriate support is provided through this service.

To read the ACT Government media release New ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention, intervention, postvention and aftercare program click here.

The ACT Government has committed $1.28 million to the new Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Integrated Suicide Prevention, Intervention, Postvention and Aftercare Service over its first two years. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Avoiding pre-term baby heartache

Starting life on an even field remains a challenge for Australian First Nations babies. The rate of stillborn and neonatal deaths for Australian First Nations babies is vastly disproportionate to that of non-First Nations babies. Not surprisingly, one of the leading causes of perinatal mortality for Australian First Nations babies is spontaneous preterm birth. Nationally, approximately 14% of babies born to First Nations mothers are preterm, compared with 8% of babies of non-First Nations mothers. The odds of preterm birth are increased when First Nations mothers have limited antenatal care and pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension or diabetes.

The key to improving outcomes is by providing the best possible pregnancy care and this should not begin following a positive pregnancy test. Providing good health care to women in the preconception period is a vital step in making a difference to better pregnancy outcomes. It offers an important opportunity to address a multitude of factors that can affect the health of generations.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Healthcare key to avoiding pain of pre-term baby heartbreak for First Nations parents in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Charity improves period product access

The Wurrumiyanga Women’s Centre on Bathurst Island in the NT has received a delivery of about 1,000 free period products to help women and girls in the community manage their periods. In remote Indigenous communities like this one, the cost of period products can be a massive barrier for many girls and women in managing their period. It’s not uncommon for packs of pads to retail for $15 or more. This delivery of period products is the 100th pallet of products distributed to remote Indigenous communities across Australia as part of the charity Share the Dignity’s Indigenous Menstrual Health program, in partnership with Libra.

Bathurst Island is part of the Tiwi Islands, located off the coast of the NT mainland. The delivery to the Wurrumiyanga community (Nguiui) coincided with World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Evita Puruntatameri, the Activities Supervisor at Wurrumiyanga Women’s Centre, said the exorbitant cost of pads and tampons is a challenge for many women and girls in the community. “Period products are incredibly expensive here on Tiwi so having support from Share the Dignity allows the women in our community to access products for free and in private,” Evita Puruntatameri said. “It makes such a massive difference to our health by not having to worry about the cost.”

To view the Women’s Agenda article This charity is working to give women better access to period products in remote Indigenous communities in full click here.

Cara Munn, Evita Puruntatameri, Sophia Tipuanantunirri (on ute), and Louise Kelantumama. Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Significant inequities in paediatric health

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) say they want to ensure they provide services that are culturally responsive and inclusive for all of the patients we see. “It’s important to work in partnership with Aboriginal families and communities to foster strong reciprocal relationships that are responsive to the individual needs of Aboriginal people and their communities,” says SCHN Aboriginal Health Outcomes and Equity Manager Natasha Larter. “Significant health inequities still exist in paediatric health care. A recent analysis of SCHN data revealed that Aboriginal children and young people accessing our hospitals and services are twice as likely to die while in our care, present to our ED in higher triage categories. In addition, they are more likely to require admission to ICU than non-Indigenous children and young people.

“Aboriginality is a significant factor in poorer health outcomes, however it is important to understand the multiple factors behind the severity on presentation, and redirect the focus to work with Aboriginal patients, families, communities and organisations to change this. For example, we know that Aboriginal children and young people arrive sicker and often later, perhaps because of historical factors that make them fearful of going to health services.

By working closely with Aboriginal patients, families, communities and organisations, we better understand their social and cultural needs, and be sensitive to their concerns upon presentation to our services. We can provide appropriate support, a respectful service that instils trust in our clinicians and enable timely treatment that contributes to reducing Aboriginal mortality, unplanned representation and need for admission. Reconciliation plays an important part in a positive return in health and wellbeing outcomes across the life course for Aboriginal children and young people.”

To view the SCHN article National Reconciliation Week in full click here.

Image source: WA.gov.au website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

Image in the feature tile is of Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese as he walks off the stage during a reception after winning the 2022 general election in Sydney. Image source: SBS NITV.

NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) congratulates the Australian Labor Party for its win in the 2022 Federal election and looks forward to working with the incoming government in continuing to fight for improved outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In particular, NACCHO welcomes the emphasis that Senator Penny Wong and Prime Minister elect, Anthony Albanese, gave to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in their victory speeches on election night. The Uluru Statement from the Heart sets out the way forward for all Australians in a process of genuine reconciliation. There must be no further delay in implementing a Voice to Parliament for First Nations peoples enshrined in the constitution.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner, speaking in Canberra, said, ‘NACCHO congratulates Linda Burney for her strong win in Barton. We are looking forward to seeing the first Aboriginal woman serve as Minister for Indigenous Australians and, presumably, in the new Albanese Cabinet.’

NACCHO also congratulates all the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the new Parliament and thanks Ken Wyatt, the outgoing Minister for Indigenous Australians, for his contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs over the past three years.

NACCHO commits to working with the incoming government and the likely new Health Minister, Mark Butler, on the $111m package announced for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, said at Cairns on Sunday, ‘The ALP’s package was a welcome pre-election announcement. It includes the 500 trainees for our ACCHOs and badly needed dialysis clinics. It also includes action in combatting rheumatic heart disease, a preventable disease that is killing so many of our children, needlessly. Our youths are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease than other Australian youths. This must stop. The ALP’s funding commitment is a critical step.’

The ACCHO sector serves over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Our clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve.

You can view the NACCHO congratulates the ALP media statement on NACCHO’s website here.

Image source: The Guardian.

It comes down to working together, differently

When the landmark National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed in 2020, Pat Turner AM, lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO called for celebration – and hard work. “Today we celebrate this historic Agreement and those who fought hard to make it a reality,” said Turner, at the time. “But tomorrow, the true work begins when we start to implement its commitments within our communities.”

Tomorrow has well and truly arrived. And so, while we continue to applaud the intent of the agreement between federal, state/territory and local governments, and the Coalition of Peaks; it’s time to get down to work. There’s a shared understanding that working together should look different in 2022. Australian governments have committed to working in new ways with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can achieve self-determination. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, meanwhile, have expressed a desire to work alongside governments to design and implement outcomes that are identified by – and with – Indigenous communities.

This new approach is not about changing Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. In fact, it’s about embracing them. This change is about governments and Indigenous communities finding ways to work in the ‘middle space’ together. It’s about collective decision-making and shared accountability. And it’s about common outcomes and positive change. The key, however, will be working differently.

To view the PwC’s Indigenous Consulting article Meeting in the middle: How governments and Indigenous communities can work together, differently published in The Mandarin in full click here.

Image source: The Mandarin.

What now for mob under Labor?

The National Indigenous Times editor, Tom Zaunmayr, has looked at what is in store for Indigenous Australians following Labor’s win in the 2022 Federal election. Zaunmayr says it is good news for First Nations people, as there will be a referendum on a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution by 2025. By putting a nation-changing Indigenous policy front-and-centre of its campaign, Labor showed how serious it is about First Nations issues. The talk has been promising, now it is time for action. Suring up the Voice – how it will look, who will be involved and when the vote will happen is priority number one. Truth and treaty, the other two key elements of the Uluru Statement are as important to get to work on.

Bringing the Federal Government back to the table in funding remote housing is critical, and Labor now needs to follow through. Labor’s campaign policies on justice and deaths in custody were lacklustre and remain a point of concern. The money pledged for remote justice initiatives is chicken feed and is insufficient for one region, let alone the entire nation. The promise to bring a stronger Indigenous voice to deaths in custody cases lacks detail.

Climate action in the Torres Strait Islands remains a sticking point too. We heard plenty about long-term plans for a net-zero economy, but nothing about what will be done for communities being swallowed by the sea right now. Without short-term infrastructure fixes, the first climate refugees to mainland Australia may very well be our own Indigenous island nation inhabitants.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Labor has won the election and the Greens may have power. What now for Indigenous Australians? in full click here. You can view a related article ‘This will change Australia’: Linda Burney says Labor committed to Indigenous Voice published today in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Incoming Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney says Australia is ready for a referendum on a Voice to parliament. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

First Nations eating disorders research

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, focuses on risk and protective factors, very early intervention and individualised medicine as part of the top 10 research priorities identified in the National Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy 2021–31.

The Centre has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders. IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information and to apply for an IgnitED Fund grant ,visit The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

WA bowel cancer screening campaign relaunch

Due to its great success, the Cancer Council WA recently relaunched its 2021 bowel cancer campaign on social media platforms to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Aboriginal WA community. The campaign encourages eligible people to do the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) home test. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer affecting the Aboriginal Australian community but is one of the most treatable cancers if found early. Less than half of all eligible West Australians participate when they receive the home test kit which is designed to detect bowel cancer in its very early stages. When detected early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully.

The campaign shares social media tiles featuring local people who are keen to share the message about bowel screening with their communities and encourage more people to do the NBCSP test when they receive it in the mail. Cancer Council WA has teamed up with Mary G, an Aboriginal personality, educator, and radio presenter to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal communities.  The campaign was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, with Aboriginal Medical Services, Elders, and Aboriginal staff from local clinics and organisations in the regions, including WA Country Health Service being consulted in the process.

You can access further information to the Cancer Council WA website here.

Irrkerlantye forgotton for 40 years

Nestled in the hills east of Alice Springs lies Irrkerlantye, a community in limbo. Irrkerlantye has none of the basic services the rest of Australia takes for granted: water is trucked in and a meagre power supply is provided by a few solar panels. There is no sewerage. The residents live in tin sheds and a few decaying demountables that offer little protection from Central Australia’s extreme desert temperatures.

Felicity Hayes has lived at Irrkerlantye most of her life. The stoic Elder is at her wit’s end, saying “We’ve been asking the government for housing and essential services this whole time, however nothing has been done to provide the most basic services that all people are entitled to. We just want people to come here and have a look and not sit in their offices all day and make decisions about us. They need to come here and talk to us because we’re the ones that are suffering.”

The only water supply to the community was cut in 2014 under a Country Liberal government and was never restored. At the time it was seen as an attempt to force the closure of Irrkerlantye. Felicity Hayes and her family could be facing another forty years forgotten on the fringes of one of the world’s most developed countries. “We’ve been fighting for forty years and we’ve got children, the next generation, and they’re still going to be living here” Ms Hayes said.

To view the SBS NITV article How governments have forgotten this NT community for 40 years click here.

Locals say Irrkerlantye has been ignored by all levels of government for decades. Image source: SBS NITV.

‘Through the rood’ food prices in remote NT

John Paterson regularly has people from remote communities text him grocery receipts to show how prices have spiked over the past few months. Travelling across the NT in his role as CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) Paterson says he notices prices increase sharply the more remote the location. “It has almost become unaffordable now,” he says.

In the NT, food in supermarkets is 56% more expensive in remote communities than regional supermarkets due to long supply chains and poor quality roads, according to a 2021 report by AMSANT. Inflation – predicted to reach 6% by year’s end – has increased pressure. The Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), supports 27 remote community stores by securing grocery items and covering the store’s freight budgets to reduce the cost of food. Normally, its annual freight budget is $250,000. But in the past 18 months, the fuel levy to deliver food to just five of its remote communities – that require delivery by sea – has risen from $37,000 to $279,000. Rob Totten, store manager of a supermarket in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, says the price of some food products has “gone through the roof”.

Paterson is advocating to extend the footprint of an Aboriginal controlled organisation like ALPA to increase the buying power of remote community stores. “People want fresher food, they want cheaper food, and the way to do that is bulk purchasing by community stores that are run and led by Aboriginal people,” he says. “If we want to close the gap, plus the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, then food security is a major issue that needs serious attention.”

To view The Guardian article ‘Through the roof’ food prices in remote NT are forcing Aboriginal families to make impossible choices in full click here.

Docker River Community Store. Image source: B4BA. Docker River Community Store NT $9.20 receipt for 2L of milk. Image source: The Guardian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Palliative Care Week

National Palliative Care Week  (NPCW), held from Sunday 22 to Saturday 28 May 2022, is Australia’s largest annual awareness-raising initiative held to increase understanding of the many benefits of palliative care. The theme for National Palliative Care Week 2022 is It’s your right. The theme seeks to raise awareness about the rights of all Australians to access high-quality palliative care when and where they need it. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that.  Anyone with a life-limiting illness has the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible.  

Virtual and face-to-face events will be held across the country during National Palliative Care Week 2022 to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment and dedication of all those working and volunteering in the palliative care sector across Australia.   Now in its 27th year, and traditionally held in the last full week of May, NPCW is organised by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and supported by the Australian Government Department of Health.

To find out more about National Palliative Care Week 2022 you can access the PCA website here. You can also view a range of palliative care resources PCA have developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First national crisis support line for mob

First national crisis support line for mob

13YARN is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis support line funded by the Australian Government with the support of Lifeline and developed in collaboration with Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia. It is run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 13YARN has been co-designed using Lifeline expertise with several Aboriginal mental health professionals including NACCHO, Black Dog Institute Aboriginal Lived Experience team and the Centre of Best Practice along with input from Torres Strait Islander, remote, regional, and urban peoples with lived experience.

This initiative works to explore options for ongoing support and community members will always be reassured they will be connected to another Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person who will understand where they are coming from and value knowing HOW to listen, without judgement or shame.

If you, or someone you know, are feeling worried or no good, we encourage you to connect with 13YARN on 13 92 76 (24 hours/7 days) and talk with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter. This is your story; your journey and we will take the time to listen. No shame, no judgement, safe place to yarn. We’re here for you.

For more information visit the 13YARN website here. You can also listen to 13YARN National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson talking about 13YARN on the ABC Radio program Sunday Extra with Julian Morrow here and read Minister Greg Hunt and Minister David Coleman’s joint media release about 13YARN here.

First image: Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Twitter post 30 March 2022. Second image: 13YAR National Program Manager Aunty Marjorie Anderson, Nikita Ridgeway and Jia Natty. SBS NITV.

2022 Budget ‘an opportunity lost’

NACCHO is calling for a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. The call comes following the handing down of the Federal Budget last week which the NACCHO has described as business as usual. NACCHO says they are tiring of singular announcements and that while there have been some welcome announcements, the core funding for First Nations health services remains the same. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says single announcements interrupts the quality of care.

CEO Pat Turner says this budget is an opportunity lost. She says as long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close.

You can listen to NACCHO’ Chair Donnella Mills speaking on the National Indigenous Radio Service with journalist Adam Evans here.

 

Hope for community rocked by youth suicide

When Aunty Joyce Cooper leads a child through their first smoking ceremony, she knows something is changing. Her body painted in the red and brown ochre of Yorta Yorta country, she guides them through the smoke, letting it wash over them. In First Nations culture, it is believed smoke has healing properties, and can ward off bad spirits. It can also be a form of communication, a cry for help in crisis.

And while she may not hear it audibly, Aunty Joyce knows many of these young people are crying out. Hers is a community rocked by a deep grief, an overwhelming sense of loss – of culture, of community. And now, of its young people. “Sometimes I worry who’s going to be next,” she said. “It’s a ripple effect. Because no-one is listening to our young people. No-one is listening to their stories.”

When it comes to Indigenous youth suicide, Greater Shepparton is an area of high concern. In the past year alone, several young people have taken their own lives and there are concerns if nothing changes, a suicide cluster could form. In January this year, national Indigenous postvention group Thirrili was called in to provide urgent crisis support to the grieving community.

Talking to families, Thirrili CEO Annette Vickery said several devastating themes emerged – systemic racism and bullying, and a widespread loss of culture. “Bullying is a significant issue in Shepparton, including at school and on social media,” Ms Vickery said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Aunty Joyce leads young women in a smoking ceremony. Photo: Rod Briggs. Image source: ABC News website.

Half of Australia’s youth detainees First Nations

Almost half of all young people in detention in Australia are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, even though the overall number of children going to jail has fallen in the past five years, research shows. Young Indigenous people are only 5.8% of all young people aged 10–17 in Australia but make up 49% of all young people in detention, according to the latest data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Indigenous children were younger when they entered the criminal justice system than their non‑Indigenous counterparts, and more likely to be from remote and lower socio-economic areas. Young people from very remote areas were six times as likely to be in detention as those from major cities. Young people spent an average of six months in detention. The majority of all young people in detention were unsentenced or awaiting trial, the AIHW found. More than a third (37%) of Indigenous young people were first in contact with the criminal justice system when aged 10 to 13, compared with just 14% of non‑Indigenous youth.

Cheryl Axleby, the co-chair of Change the Record, an Indigenous-led coalition of welfare and legal groups, said she was appalled by the latest report. “This paints a really clear picture of exactly how our criminal legal system is working – it’s targeting poor kids and black kids,” Axleby said. “On top of that, First Nations kids are more likely to be targeted and dragged into the criminal legal system when they are extremely young. It is outrageous that Aboriginal children in primary school are being arrested by police.”

To view the Guardian’s article in full click here.

razor wire rolls at top of chain wire fence

Photo: Jonny Weeks, The Guardian.

Mornington Island deaths due to poor services

There are too many dead bodies on Mornington Island. At least 16 people have died within three months due to a “health pandemic” in the predominantly Indigenous Queensland Gulf community, leaders say. The spike in recent deaths has been attributed to poor healthcare; specifically, a lack of access to renal dialysis on the island, where many residents suffer from chronic kidney disease.

“Our morgue and emergency facilities are full. Sixteen deaths before April is ridiculous,” Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner said. In 2019, millions of dollars were allocated to install dialysis chairs in several vulnerable communities around NW Queensland, all of which were scheduled to be operating in mid-2021. 600kms south of Mornington Island, in Cloncurry, two chairs were installed, but are not yet working. Of the four chairs allocated to the remote Indigenous community of Doomadgee, two are working. Mornington Island was allocated six dialysis chairs. Only one chair is available.

Mornington Shire Councillor David Barnes said the situation was creating stress on patients and their families. “This means sick patients are having to travel to the mainland to receive treatment and, unfortunately, some are passing away off the island, leaving their grieving families to organise repatriation home for burial,” Mr Barnes said. He’s one of several community leaders calling on Queensland Health and the region’s North West Hospital Health Service (NWHHS) to make available the island’s five other renal chairs.

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

Kyle Yanner below has been calling for an audit of government health services. Photo: Leonie Mellor, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Bigiwun Kid Project – prenatal alcohol exposure

The Lililwan Project was the first Australian population-based prevalence study of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) using active case ascertainment. Conducted in 2010–2011, the study included 95% of all eligible children aged 7–9 years living in the very remote Aboriginal communities of the Fitzroy Valley, WA. Women from Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre, a local Aboriginal-led organisation, are concerned that some participants from the study are struggling in adolescence so partnered with researchers from the University of Sydney to follow up the Lililwan cohort in 2020–2022 at age 17–19 years.

The overarching aim of the Bigiswun Kid Project is to identify adolescents’ needs and build knowledge to inform services to improve the health and well-being of adolescents in remote Aboriginal communities.

You can access further information about Bigiswun Kid Project in the BMJ Open BMJ Journals here. You can also listen to Emily Carter, CEO Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre and Sue Thomas, Strategic Priority Lead Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre speak with Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive about the project here.

Members of the Marulu team. Image source: Australian Government Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

Mob have increased risk of concussion

The diagnosis and management of concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), has seen increased attention in recent years as an area requiring greater identification and action. Despite typical lay associations as an injury sustained during contact sport, this activity only makes up about 20% of concussion diagnoses, with the majority of concussion cases resulting from falls, motor vehicle and bicycle crashes, assaults (including domestic violence), and other physical activities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.7 times more likely to sustain a TBI than the general population.

There is a lack of comprehensive epidemiological data relating to TBI in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Available data relating to concussion have historically been collected from hospitalisations. These data fail to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who fail to present to hospital after a potential concussion episode; those who present to ACCHOs, general practice, and nurse‐led primary health care centres; those who present to hospital but their symptoms and signs are overlooked, and those who present to hospital but fail to undergo assessment due to prolonged waiting times or as a result of a lack of cultural competence at first point of contact.

To read the Concussion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: what is the true epidemiology? article in The Medical Journal of Australia in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Conference on Human Retrovirology

The 2022 International Virtual Conference on Human Retrovirology: HTLV and Related Viruses will take place from Sunday 8 ­May – Wednesday 11 May 2022. The aim is to focus on Oceania and especially Australia for the first time in the history of this conference. In 2022 the aim is to emphasise the need to increase HTLV-1 public health and social science research output in the global response to HTLV-1. The HTLV 2022 conference is hosted virtually by Melbourne, Australia on behalf of IRVA, The International Retrovirology Association and will be in Australian Eastern Standard Time.

You can access further information about the conference , including registration details on the HTLV22 website here. The registration deadline for the conference is Sunday 24 April 2022.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

U AND ME CAN STOP HIV

For the second year in a row NACCHO have joined forces with The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health to co-host Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) trivia which coincides with World AIDS Day.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses, including HIV. There is also an ongoing outbreak of infectious syphilis affecting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This higher prevalence of other STIs increases the risk of HIV transmission.

Professor James Ward from University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said “ATSIHAW in its eighth year brings together researchers, health workers, policymakers and the community and gets the conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV. ATSIHAW empowers our community to take a stand on HIV Prevention with the ‘U and me can stop HIV’ campaign with 44 community events hosted by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services during the week of ATSIHAW 2021.”

The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’ focuses on reaching people left behind and drawing attention to the growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services. This message also resonates with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The theme this year for World AIDS Day is very relevant to us considering the disproportionately high rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), blood borne viruses (BBVs) and other communicable diseases driven by a legacy of neglect, disjointed public policy, insufficient or poorly distributed resources that fail to reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground, and lack of genuine co-design or culturally appropriate holistic health services.”

“We have demonstrated that a commitment from the Australian Government Department of Health, in partnership with NACCHO, to provide direct funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

“Over the last five years, the Australian Government’s public health response has built on the strengths of the ACCHS sector. NACCHO, together with members and other partners, has delivered increased rates of testing and treatment for STIs and BBVs. Though this sector-led response has seen some success, more must be done.”

“We thank the Australian Government Department of Health who so far have committed over $30 million over the next 3 years (2021–2024) to support locally developed responses to STI/BBVs.”

“To achieve the goal of eliminating HIV transmission in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we need further investment for the scale up of preventative measures, innovative approaches to increase access to culturally safe testing and treatment pathways and improved stigma reduction programs. More must be done to improve the HIV cascade of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ensuring access to treatment and supporting people to achieve viral suppression. “U AND ME CAN STOP HIV’, the conversation needs to start now,” said Ms Mills.

Michael Brown, Sexual Health Project Officer, working with the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services (CRAICCHS), 170 km north-west of Brisbane, in Wakka Wakka tribal country first discovered he was HIV-positive, when he lived in Cairns in far north Queensland. He is a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Mr Brown said, “It has been 40 years since the first HIV diagnosis, and we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still in need of a culturally appropriate support system in the HIV area. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to be a priority if we are going to eradicate HIV in Australia.

“We need funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV peer support and case management programs post the diagnosis of HIV where there is a lived experience of HIV within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

NACCHO will continue to advocate for ongoing funding and work with our partner organisations including our Affiliates, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO),  National Association of People Living with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australasian Society of HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) to address the disproportionate rates of sexually transmitted diseases and blood borne viruses. This is an important step towards Closing the Gap.

To view the NACCHO Media Statement in full click here.

blood testing for HIV

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Ernie on Country with vax message

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Pilbara is proceeding slowly but a push to translate jab information into Martu and a visit from Ernie Dingo have medical services feeling positive. Among the general population, the Pilbara is the least vaccinated part of WA.

The Pilbara has three Aboriginal medical services, Puntukurnu, Wirrika Maya, and Mawarnkarra, which in March came together to establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). The alliance is working together with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the WA Country Health Service to get jabs into arms, but PAHA CEO Chris Pickett said it was not an easy task. “People need to remember the logistics of making this happen. We’re talking about people in communities hundreds of kilometres from the nearest hospital,” he said.

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

Min Ken Wyatt, 2 other Aboriginal men & Ernie Dingo holding cardboard Vaxx the Outback campaign, NIAA

Photo: Leslie Dingo, Bush TV. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

AMSANT responds to vax misinformation

Claims on social media that the Australian Army had forced Aboriginal people in the remote NT communities at Binjari and Rockhole to have COVID-19 injections have been strongly rejected by Aboriginal leaders and a peak NT health body. The unsubstantiated claims, which were reported globally caused further stress to the community members – according to AMSANT CEO John Patterson.

To listen to John Patterson speak on the topic click here.

black & white portrait of AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO, John Paterson. Image source: CAAMA Radio Network Australia website.

AOD support missing piece of puzzle

When it comes to addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal people in criminal justice, out-of-home care, family and domestic violence and homelessness, the missing piece of the puzzle is alcohol and other drug support. AOD treatment is chronically underfunded, but for every dollar spent on treatment services, we see a $7 return to the community.

Many of the leading causes of death and harm for Aboriginal people stem from AOD misuse. Similarly, there is a strong association between suicide and harmful AOD use.

AOD use ultimately stems from the violence and trauma enacted on Aboriginal communities since colonisation. A 2013 report from the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee found services for Aboriginal people should be culturally secure, have strong community engagement, and support Aboriginal control of solutions. There should also be continued support for the capacity building of ACCHOs to provide AOD services at a local level.

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

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation

Daniel Morrison, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Videos to keep mob strong and deadly

The WellMob website is an online library of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific mental health and social and emotional wellbeing resources. These resources include over 250 apps, videos, podcasts, websites and pdfs that provide low intensity mental health interventions and cultural wellbeing content for our diverse communities. The website fills the gap in the online space not serviced by mainstream mental health providers.

The WellMob website team have recently launched a series of short videos to improve awareness about how the WellMob website can keep our diverse mob feeling strong and deadly.

The WellMob: An introduction video describes the WellMob website, a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob including over 250 apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials.

The WellMob: Website tour video shows you how to use the WellMob website. Starting on the landing page, it shows the six main topics and steps through how to find digital wellbeing resources.

The WellMob: Tips for workers video has tips for health workers on how to use digital wellbeing resources found on WellMob.

For further details about the video rollout click here.

Lived experience role in mental health 

The role of lived experience is being embedded within the mental health system and suicide prevention system, with the launch of Australia’s first national guidelines for a lived experience workforce.

The National Mental Health Commission has released the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines, which contains the principles, values and roles of the lived experience workforce, together with detailed steps for employers to help them plan and embed lived experience into their core business. The guidelines are the result of an extensive consultation and co-design process with almost 800 stakeholders.

To view the media release in full click here.

grey silhouette of head, scrunched colourful paper coming out of head

Image source: Pro Bono News Australia website.

Missing, murdered women and kids inquiry

The Australian Senate has voted to hold an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. Yamatji Noongar woman and Green Senator for WA Dorinda Cox called for the inquiry in her first speech to the Senate in October this year.

In a statement, the office of Senator Cox said the inquiry will be the first of its kind in Australia and will investigate “the systemic causes of violence including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of First Nations women and children.”

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

Senator Cox clapping in park with crowd in background

Senator Cox. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities

Image in feature tile:  remote NT community of Ali Curung. Photo: James Dunlevie, ABC News.

Protecting remote NT communities

The Australian Government has implemented additional measures to protect remote communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak in the NT.

As Minister for Health and Aged Care, I have made a determination under section 477 of the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015 to prevent a person from entering and/or exiting the Robinson River and surrounding homelands, which is aimed at stopping any further spread of COVID-19 in the community.

These measures are based on the medical advice from the acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett. The implementation of these measures will help to contain the current outbreak by ensuring that a person will only enter and/or leave the area if necessary, and for essential purposes.

These measures will help to prevent and contain the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Robinson River, and will assist in preventing the emergence, establishment and spread of the disease to neighbouring remote communities in the Northern Territory.

The Determination was requested by the Northern Territory Government to supplement restrictions they have also implemented and is supported by the Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT).

The implementation of these measure follows extensive engagement with the Northern Territory Government and consultation with and support from Federal MPs and representatives of the affected communities.

To view Minister Hunts media release in full click here.

As at the end of October 2021 Areyonga residents were 80% double vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, Alice Springs ABC.

Better safe than sorry – for all of us!

AMSANT has called for Territory-wide caution in light of its first Aboriginal COVID-19 cases, including the first on a very remote community. AMSANT CEO John Paterson said “this is potentially our Wilcannia moment—this is our call for maximum vigilance at a clinical and political level—but more importantly a call for maximum care and love for our families and friends.”

“What we need now is for all of us in remote communities, as well as our larger towns and cities, to refocus on the simple issues we have emphasised from the first,” said Mr Paterson. “Stay at home, care for your families, protect your communities. Call the clinic if you are experiencing any health difficulties.

“This applies wherever you are in the Territory, not just Katherine and Robinson River. And do the right thing: get vaccinated as a matter of urgency to protect our Elders and Kids,” said Mr Paterson.

To view the media release in full click here.

Investment in men’s healing pays off

A new report shows clearly that targeted government investment in Aboriginal community-led men’s healing and behaviour change programs delivers better healing outcomes and significant economic savings.

The report Strengthening Spirit and Culture: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Dardi Munwurro’s Men’s Healing Programs explains the findings of an analytical study by Deloitte Access Economics of the impacts of three programs delivered by Dardi Munwurro, a Victorian specialist Aboriginal healing and family violence prevention service.

The groundbreaking study, funded by The Healing Foundation, proves the economic benefits associated with Aboriginal men’s healing. The analysis found that each dollar invested in Dardi Munwurro is estimated to provide a return on investment of 50-190%, noting that this should be viewed as a conservative estimate of benefits as it was not possible to quantify all benefits from the programs.

To view the media release in full click here.

Switching is not quitting

Tobacco use is falling by five million people per year. The reduced number of tobacco users have the industry worried. Don’t fall for their tricks, don’t switch to products promoted by tobacco and related industries.

Improved cervical cancer screening access

The Australian Government has announced that all women under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will be able to self-collect their own screening sample from Friday 1 July 2022.

  • From 1 July 2022, current eligibility criteria for access to self-collection under the NCSP Self-collection Policy will be removed.
  • This change means that self-collection will be available to all women and people with a cervix under the NCSP and will no longer be restricted to under-screened or never-screened women.
  • This change is supported by evidence showing that HPV tests performed on self‑collected vaginal samples are as safe and accurate as HPV tests performed by a clinician.

For more detailed information click here. and to access Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

Indigenous Governance Award finalists

The Indigenous Governance Awards share and promote success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia. There are three categories of Award for outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led organisations:

  • Projects or unincorporated initiatives or projects
  • Small to medium incorporated organisations
  • Large incorporated organisations

Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation have proudly partnered to deliver the Indigenous Governance Awards since their inception in 2005. In 2018  the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) became a co-host.

Nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and initiatives from around the country have been shortlisted as finalists in the Indigenous Governance Awards 2022. Each finalist organisation or initiative has been selected for its culturally-informed ways of working, driving positive and long-lasting change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Finalists in Category 1 (Outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led non-incorporated initiatives or projects) include:

  • South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) – Whyalla Norrie, SA; and
  • Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Human Research Ethics Committee – Sydney, NSW.

For more information about the awards and finalists click here.

DATE CHANGE – ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia

2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia, co-hosted by UQ and NACCHO is held in the first week of December each year, to coincide with World AIDS Day. This year it is being held at 4:00PM (AEDT) – Friday 3 December 2021. It provides an opportunity to engage our communities, as well as HIV researchers, doctors, health workers and policy-makers.

The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and  NACCHO will co-host the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia for staff of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector and those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health.

To register click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month (November) with World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day (COPD) held yesterday, Wednesday 17 November 2021. The Lung Foundation Australia’s goal of these campaigns is to raise awareness of and connection to Lung Foundation’s services and programs, supporting patients to live well with their condition.

The main call to action is to download a resource pack, which will bring consumers into our database and place them on a tailored email journey. The email series covers a range of topics including self-management, exercise, peer support and mental health. The Lung Foundation is encouraging patients to complete the short forms on the following pages which will activate this email journey:

PAH resource pack and COPD resource pack.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

Image source: Kalgoorlie Miner.

Voter ID rules will disenfranchise mob

NACCHO is deeply concerned by the proposed voter ID changes in the ‘Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021’. We urge all parliamentarians to oppose this unnecessary measure. We do not want to see vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disenfranchised.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, speaking from Cairns today said, “Australia has a sorry history in voting eligibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It took until 1962 to secure the right to vote in the first place. It took until 1967 for us to be counted. Today, in 2021, we are at a critical time in our efforts as a nation to act upon the Uluru Statement from the Heart and secure an Indigenous ‘voice’ to Parliament. Yet this proposed Bill sets us back on our journey. I have no doubt that this Bill will discourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from voting.”

There is no case for introducing these measures. NACCHO understands that the Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed that there was almost no voter fraud at the last federal election and that the introduction of voter ID requirements is unnecessary. There were no prosecutions for multiple voting at the last election, so there seems to be no problem to address here. Yet, if the Bill is introduced, significant damage will be done.

To view the NACCHO’s media release in full click here.

Senate & House of Reps voting boxes

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving disability support for mob

A group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations across Australia are receiving a total of $1.27 million in grants to improve the delivery of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support services.
The $22,000 Indigenous Business Support Funding grants have been awarded to 57 organisations.

Awarded for the first time this year, the scheme was administered by NACCHO which represents 143 community controlled health organisations. The grants are being provided as part of the Federal Government’s NDIS Ready project.

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the funding would strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s participation in the NDIS – as well as increase the number of culturally-appropriate service providers. “We can improve the lifetime wellbeing and quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here.

Image source: Synapse website.

First Nations Services Unit for hearing

Hearing Australia has established a First Nations Services Unit to better meet the hearing health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. “With our dedicated First Nations team, we’re making it easier and faster for children, families and communities to get the hearing help they need,” says Mr Kim Terrell, Managing Director, Hearing Australia.

The Unit will bring together the delivery of Hearing Australia’s three Australian Government funded programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) program, the Community Service Obligations (CSO) component of the Hearing Services program and the recently established Listen to Learn program.

“This will help us collaborate with our partners to provide more effective, coordinated, and culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia, regardless of their age, location or hearing need,” says Kim.

To view Hearing Australia’s media release in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

School not prison for kids under 14

ACOSS, the AMA along with NSW community, legal, and First Nations justice organisations have condemned the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys General to “support developing a proposal to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 including with regard to any carve outs, timing and discussion of implementation supports” as completely inadequate and failing to improve the lives of children and young people.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that this proposal would not change the situation for more than 90% of children under 14 in prison. ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said: “this is not even a decision, it’s plan to develop a plan that will do nothing to save hundreds of children under 14 from languishing behind bars.”

To view the ACOSS media release in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Cultural safety education for pharmacists

The Australian Pharmacy Council is exploring how to enhance cultural safety education of Australian pharmacy students. They have produced a podcast with pharmacists, Chastina Heck, a Nywaigi, Mamu, Bidjara woman, in conversation with Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM, a Wiradjuri woman, discussing Indigenous and western perspectives of health, global policies, and the benefits of embedding cultural safety in pharmacy education. A patient, Dr Jane Havelka, also talks about her experience with the health system as a First Nations woman.

For more information click here.

Image source: Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

A third miss school due to menstruation

Did you know, over one-third of young Australian women have missed at least one class in either school or university due to the pain of menstrual cramps and fatigue? And the stats begin to get much worse when Indigenous Australian communities come into play, hindering their chance to live life to the utmost fullest.

Research suggests this is due to the increasingly high cost of hygiene products and the embarrassment some young people feel when they’re on their period. Periods may seem like a physical phenomenon, and while it inherently is, the lack of sanitary items can seriously start to affect one’s mental health as they’re unable to cope with the profound shame and embarrassment they’re made to feel.

Last year, Victoria was the very first state in Australia to offer free sanitary items in all government schools. Commencing in term three in 2019, the $20.7 million initiative saw dispensing machines installed in every school. SA followed closely behind, announcing in February of this year that will also be providing free sanitary products to all female students in year five and above.

To view the full Pop Culture article click here.

Image source: Imperial College London.

Diabetic foot complications webinar

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). has hosted a Diabetic foot complications webinar. This webinar recording brings together experts from the five regions of the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector (SA, NT, northern WA and Far North Queensland) to discuss the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complications Program.

To access the webinar click here.

Image source: Diabetes Queensland.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

For information about preterm births in Aboriginal populations click here and for more information about World Prematurity Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community control vital in managing pandemic

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

Community control vital in managing pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMS health worker taking temperature of older woman

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

CAAC makes progress with town, bush jabs

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

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

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

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

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

New antenatal program launched

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

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

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

health care worker with arm around Aboriginal mum holding baby

Image source: Royal Women’s Hospital.

Thirrili suicide postvention service

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women urged to consider health

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

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

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

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

To read the media release in full click here.

Ending gendered violence in Australia

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

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

To view the press release in full click here.

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

Image source: WETECH website.

ACC services key to reducing OOHC

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

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

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

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

Image source: SNAICC website.

Adoption implications for First Nations kids

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

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

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

To access the article click here.

Image source: Wandiyali website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Proud in culture, strong in spirit

Feature tile - Wed.4.8.21 - Proud in culture, strong in spirit - Children's Day

Proud in culture, strong in spirit

Today we celebrate the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2021 with the theme ‘Proud in culture, strong in spirit’.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the right to experience and be proud of their history, cultural beliefs and practices.

The Children’s Day 2021 theme highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help our children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.

Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. It is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.

Visit the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2021 website to find out more and view available resources.

@SNAICC #ProudInCulture #StrongInSpirit #NATSIChildrensDay

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills fully vaccinated – urging mob to follow

Donnella Mills, a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir, Chair of NACCHO and Deputy Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service, gets her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Wuchopperen in Cairns. She urges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to follow up and get your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“I’m just thrilled that I have been able to get my second dose here at home,” said Ms Mills.

She gave a massive shout-out to all the staff across our 143 ACCHOs thanking them for being so dedicated and so committed in protecting our mob.

“Get Vaccinated,” said Ms Mills. “Have a yarn with your health worker, your doctor or your nurse. Get the answers that you need to feel safe. Get yourself vaccinated so that you can protect yourself, protect each other and protect our communities.

Visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can view the video featuring Ms Mills below.
#FullyVaccinated

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

11:30am–12:00pm this Thursday 5 August 2021.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Frances Rice, Senior Nurse Advisor, Department of Health.

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

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

tile light blue background text in navy 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for GPs' pink vector virus cells

WellMob launch new e-newsletter

HealthInfoNet‘s WellMob are excited to announce that the first edition of their e-newsletter has arrived!

The newsletter will highlight some useful online resources on the WellMob website, including the Dadirri the deep inner spring inside us video below, along with some tips for the health and wellbeing workforce on how to use these resources with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

Check out the new e-newsletter here.

vector open envelope with piece of paper coming out text 'WellMob Healing Our Way' & WellMob logo; background teal with Aboriginal dot painting circles

Improving rare cancer survival

Improving survival rates for cancers of unknown primary (CUP) and reducing the proportion of Indigenous Australians diagnosed with CUP will be the focus of a new Flinders University-led project, which recently received a $2.4 million grant from the federal government.

Cancers of unknown primary are those that, despite a myriad of tests, doctors cannot determine where in the body the cancer started. As the primary site is unknown, site-specific treatment cannot be initiated, reducing the chance of survival. While CUP only accounts for 1.6% of cases in Australia, among Indigenous Australians that incident is 2.1 times higher, with a 5-year survival rate of only 9% – almost half that of the non-Indigenous population.

Professor Chris Karapetis from the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute will lead the project and says despite the availability of guidelines, or an ‘optimal care pathway’, for treating CUP they are yet to be universally implemented, impacting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. “What we are currently seeing is people with suspected CUP may experience inappropriate or excessive tests, or the recommended tests aren’t being used enough. This can lead to delayed or inaccurate diagnosis, or a missed opportunity to identify a primary site, which then results in poorer outcomes. Our project aims to evaluate what impact adhering to the optimal care pathway has on patients diagnosed with CUP in SA and the NT.”

To view the article Improving survival of rare caner for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

dark blue image of cells

Photo: Getty. Image source: Flinders University website.

Lived experiences of Aboriginal/LGBTIQ+ people

A first of its kind study by Edith Cowan University has revealed the significant impact of racism, queerphobia and social exclusion on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ people.

As part of the study, two recently published reports provide important insights and recommendations for the health, education and community services sectors to support those living at this unique intersection. You can access the two Breaking the silence reports using the links below:

vector drawing of Aboriginal person with rainbow colour earings, orange t-shirt

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

Digital health tools a game changer

Digital health tools are changing how healthcare is delivered in Australia. Access to My Health Record and telehealth consultations is transforming health service delivery, not only in remote Aboriginal communities but across the country.

Please join the Australian Digital Health Agency, WA Primary Health Alliance, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, and special guest panel members from Aboriginal Medical Services across WA, to hear how digital health has been a game changer for them.

Healthcare professionals from across all sectors are encouraged to attend, hear these success stories and be inspired to start using digital health. There will also be the opportunity for participants to ask questions.

The webinar will be held from 5:30 – 6:30pm AWST (7:30 – 8:30pm AEST) on Tuesday 31 August 2021. To register click here.

wooden surface with iPad (showing text results), pen, safety glasses, mask, stethoscope, x-ray, notepad and EDG printout

Image source: Majorel website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Homelessness Week 1–7 August

In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have historically been over-represented among clients seeking homelessness and social housing services. More than 23,000 (1 in 28) Indigenous Australians were homeless on Census night 2016. Despite making up less than 3% of the Australian population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders account for 20% of the homeless population.

Homelessness Week 2021 which runs from Sunday 1 August to Saturday 7 August aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.

Access an ABC article Without a Home here to find out more about homelessness in Australia and for more information about Homelessness Week 2021 visit the Homelessness Australia website here.

tile text 'homelessness week 2021 1–7 "Everybody needs a home" - Homelessness Australia" Homelessness Australia logo, palms of hands with key; navy background, lime green font