NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: progressing the Australia Day debate

feature tile, Aboriginal & national flag hanging horizontally, words: Stolen Generations history needed to progress the Australia Day debate

Progressing the Australia Day debate

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen, spoke with Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne ‘Mornings’ today about the importance of Stolen Generations history being taught as part of the Australian school curriculum. Fiona said the Healing Foundation encourages school communities to engage with survivors in their local area to learn about not just what happened when they were removed and the follow-on effects of that, but also how they and their families have been overcoming what happened. Fiona agreed that if Stolen Generations history is taught more broadly in schools it is likely to better inform the ongoing conversation about Australia Day.

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

Aboriginal people with large banner National Day of Mourning 26 January

Image source: Teach Indigenous Knowledge.

COVID-19 patient identification and racism

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is the peak body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors in Australia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDA members witnessed incidents of racism related to patient identification. Patient identification is imperative to providing culturally safe health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. In one instance, a patient who identified as Aboriginal was denied testing for COVID-19. The justification for this denial was that priority testing would only be offered to “real Aborigines”. Incidents like these highlight the need to improve the cultural safety of all healthcare workers and that increasing community education about why asking all patients whether they identify as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin is vital.

AIDA advocates for best practice in patient identification to support the development of policies and services related to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe practice begins with sensitively, correctly, and regularly asking the identification question at the admission of care. Addressing under-identification includes asking all patients the identity question and recording responses accurately as one of several best practice principles.

To view AIDA’s position paper on patient identification click here.

desktop resource used as a prompt to 'asking the question' "are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"

Desktop resource to prompt ‘asking the question’. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Measuring self-reported racism in healthcare

Racism is a fundamental cause of ill health and health inequities globally. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders have identified as a high priority, research on the experiences of discrimination, overall and specifically within healthcare. Regardless of the measure used, there is consistent evidence of high exposure to discrimination in this population. High quality measurement of experiences of discrimination is therefore essential to underpin action to improve health and reduce inequities.

A recent article in the International Journal for Equity in Health, Developing and validating measures of self-reported everyday and healthcare discrimination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults looks at instruments to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of interpersonal discrimination. The instruments can be used to enable valid measurement of discrimination’s prevalence, in order to identify priority targets for action, quantify discrimination’s contribution to health and health inequities, monitor trends, and evaluate interventions.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Royal Melbourne Hospital website.

Confronting Australia’s collective racism

In health, ‘bravery’ is something that is typically used about patients. Children (and sometimes adults) are asked to be ‘brave’ when they receive a vaccination. People are often called brave for sharing stories of mental illness to destigmatise it. Sometimes, just seeing a health professional is brave, if the issue is very personal or potentially embarrassing.

However, bravery has now been used about health professionals and policymakers in the 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report: Moving from Safe to Brave. This is the second report (the first being in 2016) outlining where Australia is at with reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The report is based on interviews with leaders of national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders of relevant non-Indigenous organisations, corporate leaders and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) partners.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

street march, lady with flag Aboriginal colours, words no room for racism inside yellow map of Aust, against black top and red lower half of flag, young Aboriginal girl with drum

Image source: The Conversation.

Australia slammed for age of criminal responsibility 

Australia was slammed over its treatment and acknowledgment of First Nations people at the United Nations last week. More than 30 nations – including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Mexico – called on Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, in line with the recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Nolan Hunter, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, told NITV News that policies around Australia’s age of criminal responsibility were “outdated” and a “legacy of Colonialism”. “What’s more worrying is to allow it to continue and the acceptance of this where kids as young as 10 years old are being thrown in jail,” he said. “The culture of the community in Australia and more so the government is the attitude that there isn’t a problem or to recognise this as a serious issue.”

To view the article in full click here.

black & white spray paint image of Aboriginal child on brick wall with white bars across image representing imprisonment

Photo by Chris Devers. Image source: New Matilda website.

Mobilising a COVID-19 vaccine workforce

The Australian Government is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by securing an additional vaccine workforce and working to deliver essential training to everyone who will administer the vaccinations. “Australia’s vaccine roll out will be carried out through hospitals, general practices, state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and pharmacies. This additional vaccination workforce will help support and supplement existing services and assist in outreach in areas such as aged care and remote and Indigenous communities working with existing providers. Through the Australian Government’s plan, a panel of four providers have been appointed, who will be called upon to provide a vaccine workforce to supplement the existing immunisation workforce for specific populations. The providers are Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia, International SOS, and Sonic Clinical Services.”

To view the media release in full click here, and to read a related article in the Western Advocate click here.

gloved hand placing cotton wool bud on person's upper arm

Image source: startsat60. website.

Biggest mass vaccination program begins

vaccine Coronavirus production line

Image source: European Pharmaceutical Review website.

GPs united on vaccine rollout

Australian GPs stand united to work with the Government on rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the community and the nation. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have worked collaboratively with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the past weeks to ensure the vaccine rollout is delivered with patient safety as the first priority.

In a joint media release AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “This is an important moment for the Australian community. We have gone from no coronavirus vaccine a year ago to several vaccines, with the first expected to be rolled out next month. GPs are ready to help vaccinate and protect the community from COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are fully approved for use in Australia, and available for delivery. Vaccinations are also an important opportunity to discuss other health concerns with GPs. This is particularly important at a time when many people have deferred health care due to the pandemic.”

To view the joint AMA and RACGP media release click here.

vaccine lying on top of a mask on at bench

Image source: AMA website.

General practices sought for rollout

The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest from all accredited general practices to take part in the planned delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. “General practices will play a key role in the Australian Government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, in what will be one of the greatest logistical exercises, public health or otherwise, in Australian history. Providing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia is a key priority for our Government. General practices will help deliver the vaccine initially to priority groups, starting with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1. Three more phases will follow until the whole country has been offered the vaccine.”

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

doctor's arm taking blood pressure of Aboriginal woman

Image source: Australian GP Alliance website.

Pandemic compounds hardship for PWD

Despite the refrain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that ‘we are all in this together’, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (PWD) last week revealed the many hardships encountered by PWD over the past six months. In his closing remarks, Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said the hearings had shed a “piercing light” on the impact of the pandemic and associated stringent measures to contain it on PWD.

He said the pandemic had exacted a “terrible”, and largely hidden, toll on people with a disability. We have heard people with disability experiencing the sudden loss of essential support services, an absence of clear and consistent information in accessible form essential to their health and wellbeing; an inability to access health care, personal protective equipment and even the basic necessities of life such as food and medication; we’ve heard of isolation from the community, from friends and family and from social networks; exposure to a heightened risk of domestic violence; stress and anxiety associated with exposure to the virus; inadequate measures for the protection of people with disability, and uncertainty about how to survive in the face of disruptions to care and essential services, sometimes leading to worsening mental health.”

To read the Croakey article in full click here.

wheelchair image overlaid on Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: AbSec website.

Kelvin Kong’s pandemic reflections

In a Q&A, ear, nose and throat specialist Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, a Worimi man, based in Newcastle on the country of the Awabakal people, has reflected upon the upheaval and life-changing lessons of the past several months. “I am so thankful that we have not seen the devastation that we have seen in other First Nation populations across the world. COVID-19 is such a travesty to all of us. But it really highlights the inequities we have as health service providers. We are lucky geographically that we were able to shut down communities so quickly. The Aboriginal leadership across the nation needs far more praise in its ability to get the message across. Messages that communities could relate to and believe was, and continues to be, paramount in the response.”

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

image of Associate Professor Kelvin Kong smiling at the camera in scrubs in operating theatre with two health professionals in the background

Dr Kelvin Kong. Image source: University of Newcastle.

First Aboriginal dermatologist

Dana Slape is Australia’s first Aboriginal dermatologist. Her mission is mentoring students who may have never considered a career in medicine, as well as advocating for more Indigenous leadership throughout our healthcare system. “I think there has been a really longstanding narrative in Australia particularly in the healthcare space that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are just sick people, and people that are chronically unwell, that are chronically suffering, but the truth of it is that what we have is a system of unconscious and conscious bias that impacts how people are provided care and how they are able to access all of the things that keep us, as a community, well as individuals but also collectively. So when you have people like me and all of the other people that end up working in senior leadership, in hospitals, in clinics, in places where we access healthcare, it starts to tell a different story. You’re deconstructing those unconscious biases around people being always the patient, and never the care provider.”

“My hope is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist numbers increase, because the greater leadership we have that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all layers of the health system and tertiary education system, means that we are opening up doors for people so that those people can go on and be the leaders of the future and provide care to the next generation and that’s extremely important, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

To listen to the ABC interview with Dana Slape click here.

photo of Dana Slape against outback grassland setting

Dr Dana Slape. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smoking kills half of those 45+

A study has found smoking kills one in two older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and experts are calling for more funding to boost culturally appropriate smoking cessation services. The report from the Australian National University found smoking caused 37% of deaths at any age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, but that increased to about half of deaths in those aged over 45.

Dr Michelle Bovill, a Wiradjuri woman and an Aboriginal smoking health researcher at the University of Newcastle, found the results were “quite alarming”. “Aboriginal people do want to quit,” she said. “But then people still don’t really know what to do to quit, and we really don’t have enough funding being put into our Aboriginal community controlled health services to provide that support.”

To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

elderly Aboriginal man smoking

Image source: The Conversation.

Pharmacy students inform WRAP toolkit

Delivering effective healthcare requires healthcare professionals to reflect on their own cultural background and their patient’s cultural needs. Culture is a determinant of health and if not considered, negative health outcomes can result. This is of particular importance when working with Aboriginal communities and caring for Aboriginal people whose views have been excluded from healthcare models, funding, and policy. Non-indigenous healthcare professionals, such as pharmacy students, benefit from understanding Aboriginal peoples’ healthcare needs and models of holistic healthcare, as well as reflecting on their own cultures, assumptions, and experiences on placement.

A research article, Pharmacy students’ learnings and reflections to inform the development of the ‘Working Respectfully with Aboriginal Peoples’ (WRAP) Toolkit  explores students’ views to inform the development of a Toolkit to support students’ learning prior to engaging in placements in Aboriginal communities. The study involved collaboration with students, Aboriginal community members, educators experienced in Indigenous health and allied health education.

For further details about the research article click here.

Dr Rallah-Baker checking elderly Aboriginal woman's eyes with torch

Dr Rallah-Baker has called for cultural competency to become standard good practice before health workers are registered. Image source: Michael Amendolia (Fred Hollows Foundation).

SNAICC appoints new CEO

SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has announced that Catherine Liddle has been appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Catherine will commence the role on 8 February 2021. An Arrernte/Luritja woman from Central Australia, she comes to SNAICC with a strong background in senior leadership positions with First Nations organisations. “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Catherine to SNAICC,” says Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chair. “With her previous leadership roles, combined with her experience on the Coalition of Peaks, Catherine will ensure that SNAICC can continue to strengthen our partnerships with state and federal governments to make sure our children are at the forefront of policies.”

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

Katherine Liddle standing in front of a tree in bushland holding a twig with leaves, smiling

Catherine Liddle. Image source: radioinfo website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Cancer screening saves lives! It helps to keep our communities strong, safe and healthy

Cancer screening saves lives! It helps to keep our communities strong, safe and healthy

It’s really important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to keep taking care of our health, even during a pandemic.

COVID-19 has been on everyone’s mind and the safety of our communities has been a major priority. Cancer screening may have been put off or forgotten during this time.

However, cancer screening really does make a big difference to the health of our community members and families. When cancer is found early, treatment can be a lot more effective.

National screening programs are available in Australia for breast cancerbowel cancer and cervical cancer.

For further information about the campaign click here.

 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report: Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia 

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in Australia. This report consolidates the most recently available information on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Australia, and includes key trends in the availability, consumption, harms and treatment for vulnerable populations. Further, information on a range of health, social and economic impacts of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use are highlighted.

This release includes data relating to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic up to November 2020.

For other data and information from this period, please see our AIHW COVID-19 resources.

Aboriginal hands holding can of Bundaberg Rum & cigarette

Image source: ABC News website.

The 2021 Antimicrobial Academy -Improve antibiotic use and management of infections in your community

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enroll in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. 

The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details available via the HOT NORTH Website, Opportunities Page, Antimicrobial Academy click here

The deadline for the submission have been extended till Sunday 20 December 2020. Please email statewide.ams@health.qld.gov.au or medicines@naccho.org.au or call (07) 3646 1886 for further information.

Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

IHF Young Executive Leaders: Call for 2021 applications now open

Young executive leaders who have proven outstanding merit in healthcare management can have the chance to exchange with peers on capital healthcare issues, as well as to interact with talented thought leaders from all around the world. Through IHF Young Executive Leaders program, participants will build sustainable relationships and expand their network internationally. As a group, they will discuss current trends, challenges and opportunities for the young healthcare leaders of today, creating an environment for vibrant and exciting dialogue.

Through the IHF Young Executive Leaders program, participants will build sustainable relationships and expand their professional network. As a group, they will discuss current trends, challenges and opportunities for the young healthcare leaders of today, creating an environment for vibrant and exciting dialogue.

Through this program, the 2021 cohort will share experiences and work together on a topic related to the 2021 IHF World Hospital Congress which will take place in Barcelona with the overarching theme “PEOPLE ON BOARD: TRANSFORMING HEALTHCARE. Blending Agility, Responsiveness, Resilience.” 

Young executive leaders wishing to join the IHF YEL initiative can submit their applications until 25 January 2021.

For further info click here.

Award for Don Dale youth detention centre in the NT shows Indigenous-led, youth-justice solutions work

Amnesty International Australia welcomed the news that Danila Dilba – which took over the health services at Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory – has won the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) Justice Without Borders International Award.

“This shows us that our people know what’s best for them, and Indigenous-led solutions like Olga Havnen and her team’s program at Danila Dilba are available to governments around the country,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advisor, Rodney Dillon said.

“The solutions to youth offending – and actually addressing the over representation of Indigenous people in Australia’s jails – are already there. We just need our State and Territory Governments to listen to the experts, like the IJJO.

“All the evidence shows that diversion, and getting kids out of watchhouses and bail houses is what’s effective on youth crime.

“With the right wrap around services in place, like those Danila Dilba provide, there is simply no reason not to raise the age of criminal responsibility.”

Danila Dilba Health Service logo

 
NSW – Armajun Aboriginal Health Service, Full Time – Glen Innes
 
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Caseworker (Aboriginal designated position)

Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent?

Do you already live in the Glen Innes district or looking for a tree change away from the hustle of the city and the pandemic? Are you looking for a cooler climate? Do you want to hike through the Washpool National Park, which offers wilderness walks, camping, and horse riding in stunning World Heritage surrounds? Do you want to learn to fossick for sapphires and topaz?

Do you possess formal qualifications in health, welfare, social work, alcohol and other drugs or related area at a TAFE level (Certificate IV minimum) or above and/or have substantial experience in any of these areas?

Would you like to become part of a great team providing culturally appropriate primary health care services to Aboriginal people and communities living in Glen Innes and surrounding districts?

Glen Innes offers an attractive lifestyle including a well serviced and friendly rural community, laid back living, short commuting times, affordable housing, easy access to NSW north coast beaches and larger regional centres, and terrific recreational and sporting facilities. The Glen Innes district has a deep cultural and spiritual significance for traditional owners, the Ngoorabul people.

Applicants must obtain a job package and address the selection criteria in the position description as well as attach a current resume to their application. 

On-going applications for this position will be accepted.

Job Package: Belinda Butler bbutler@armajun.org.au  0267 219 777 Enquiries: Jenny Ryan jryan@armajun.org.au   0267 219 777  www.armajun.org.au

NSW – OzChild in Blacktown/Campbelltown

Aboriginal Practice Lead

The position will be a part of our Dhiiyaan Mirri (family of stars), OzChild’s Bridging Cultures Unit (BCU) and will support their Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare (FFT-CW), Multi systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) Teams at Blacktown and Campbelltown. The position will be based a min of 2 days per week at each location, however this can be flexible based on need.

The Aboriginal Practice Lead Position within OzChild will work to ensure that participating First Nation families can benefit from these Evidence Based Models (EBMs), and from time to time other programs that OzChild may deliver in the future. The Aboriginal Practice Lead will also facilitate access and receive support in a timely and culturally responsive manner.

Working with OzChild’s Teams, for the effective delivery of OzChild Services to First Nations Children, Young People and their Families /Kin /Carers, the Aboriginal Practice Lead will contribute from intake through to completion (when required) to the provision of culturally responsive services and a culturally safe working environment through consultation and engagement with OzChild staff, First Nations Peoples, stakeholders and relevant Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

To apply for the position click here.

Cairns, Adelaide or Alice Springs – CRANAplus

Professional Officer, Workforce Development Nursing

A senior position in our Workforce Development programs, driving initiatives to support Nursing across remote and regional Australia.

This position is responsible for professional knowledge contribution, project management, and industry networking to strengthen resources and pipelines encouraging and supporting nurses in rural and / or remote practice.

Be sector aware and reactive to the needs of the remote health workforce.

  • Contribute professional knowledge and experience to a range of projects and priorities engaged by the Office of the Chief Operating Officer, including contribution to the development of consultation papers and position statements.
  • Strategic and operational management of CRANAplus programs, including remote areas nurse (RAN) certification program and RAN standards, fellowship, awards, and scholarships, conference abstract committee, and other programs identified in the annual busines plan.
  • Develop and drive Continuous Professional Development initiatives, including:
    – Author or curate clinical articles or updates for the quarterly CRANAplus Magazine
    – Professional Services guest presenter webinar series
    – Contribute to the development of on-line or e-resources for CRANAplus members and wider community stakeholders
    – Participate in the delivery of professional development workshops, as required, to remote workforces.

To submit your application, please email your resume to kati@crana.org.au, outlining your alignment to the above four criteria. This position will close as of Monday 11 January 2021.

For the position description click here.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2019–2020 NACCHO Annual Report is now available

2019–2020 NACCHO Annual Report

The 2019–2020 NACCHO Annual Report showcases the work and achievements of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and the financials of the organisation for the financial year 2019–2020.

To view or download the report click here.

Landmark report presents wide-ranging calls to action on climate and health

Billed as the world’s first statutory inquiry into climate and health, a new report from Western Australia makes wide-ranging recommendations for action.

The inquiry was led by Professor Tarun Weeramanthri, WA’s former chief health officer and now President of the Public Health Association of Australia and an independent consultant in public health.

The inquiry was led by Professor Tarun Weeramanthri, WA’s former chief health officer and now President of the Public Health Association of Australia and an independent consultant in public health.

The report acknowledges that many Aboriginal organisations and people contributed to the inquiry’s work. 

It notes that Aboriginal people have a strong history of stewardship, resilience and adaptation. Indigenous knowledge is critical to ecological science and the IPCC Global Warming of 1.5°C special report stresses the role of Indigenous peoples and local communities for climate action.

To read more of the  six key takeaways of the report click here.

IAHA Celebrate 2020 National Indigenous Allied Health Awardees

Each year, the IAHA National Conference brings together the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce audience to network, create personal and cultural connections, and to hear from leaders across fields. While the 2020 National Conference was hosted online, delegates were able to experience these same benefits.

IAHA also hosted the annual National Indigenous Allied Health Awards, celebrating the work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce during what has been a challenging year. Once again, the Awards recognise current and future leaders who have each had significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families, and communities. IAHA recognise the following award recipients:

Allied Health Professional of the Year: Gari Watson, Dentistry
Allied Health Workforce Leadership: Centre for Rural and Remote Health, James Cook University
Commitment to Indigenous Health Award: Ken Allen, Aboriginal Health Practitioner
Contribution to Indigenous Research: Professor Sue Green, Social Work                                                                                                                                              Future Leader in Indigenous Allied Health: Shaun Solomon, Social Work
Indigenous Allied Health Inspiration Award: Kirrilaa Johnstone, Public Health
Indigenous Allied Health Student Academic Achievement Award: Renee Briggs, Public Health
Innovative Practice: Tahnee Elliot, Occupational Therapy
Local Allied Health Champion: Sam Paxton, Occupational Therapy

For further info click here.

ACCHO Medicines Alert: Incorrect strength of Bicillin L-A® in Best Practice Software

Best Practice clinical software have reported that an incorrect lower strength of benzathine benzylpenicillin G (Bicillin L-A®) may be automatically selected by prescribers within the software, due to a software error.

NACCHO recommends that ACCHOs who use Best Practice review their script, supply and administration history for all people prescribed Bicillin L-A® since March 2019, to ensure the right dosage has been provided. For more information click here.

Image source: MJA

NT Health, AMSANT and NT PHN partner to increase the use of digital health technologies

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says Northern Territory Health, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) and Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NT PHN) have partnered to increase the use of digital health technologies. Digital health enables better coordinated care and better informed treatment decisions. The NT’s population has some of the most vulnerable people in Australia with high levels of social disadvantage and a high burden of chronic disease. One of the most significant outcomes for day-to-day provision of health services to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic was the uptake of tele-health services in both urban and remote settings.

To read the full media release click here.

man on mobile phone pointing to Aboriginal hand on computer screen

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health workforce survey

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) needs your help to provide the mental health workforce the recognition and support to formalise their profession. IAHA hope this will benefit and support the whole mental health workforce, the allied health workforce, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through culturally safe and responsive service.

Take the survey here.

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

Image source: SBS website.

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation – Director Health Services, Narroma NSW 

The objectives of this role are:

  • To improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal Australians within the Katungul region of influence
  • As part of the Executive Management Team, (one of four Directors reporting to the CEO), develop and implement new services and programs, which address the health needs and improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal people
  • To oversee the ongoing development and management of the Health Services provided by Katungul
  • Ensure that services and programs are delivered to quality standards, comply with relevant legislation and achieve contract requirements
  • To develop, implement, monitor, review and evaluate Health Services.

The closing date for applications is 5:00pm Monday 11 January 2021.

Contact Person regarding conditions of employment and for a copy of the Position Description:

Chris Heazlewood – chrish@katungul.org.au

Contact Person regarding enquiries relevant to details of the role:

Joanne Grant – ceo@katungul.org.au

University of Sydney – Research Assistant, NSW 

The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use is seeking a Research Assistant to work on the Strong & Deadly Futures project.

The Strong & Deadly Futures project is a randomised controlled trial of a computerised school-based alcohol and drug prevention program, which has been developed to be culturally inclusive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The program was developed in collaboration with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous students and teachers, with trial funding provided by NHMRC.

You will join the project at an important and interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project, including supporting a consultation phase with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities across NSW, WA and QLD throughout 2021, and supporting program implementation in schools from mid-2021. This will include logistical support, developing and organising training workshops, conducting interviews with teachers and supporting trial governance. You will also collate and record research data, and contribute to analyses, reporting and publication of research data and all other related administration.

This role will be suited to a research assistant with an interest in mental health and substance use prevention amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders young people.

  • Passionate research assistant required to support a project for the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use,
  • Located on the Camperdown Campus at The Matilda Centre
  • Full-time, 12 months fixed term contract with a base salary of $76K p.a., plus leave loading and a generous employer’s contribution to superannuation

For the full job description click here.

The closing date for applications has been extended (from 10 January 2021) to 11:30pm Sunday 17 January 2021.

Pat Turner AM will receive the 2020 Sidney Sax Medal tomorrow

Don’t miss the 2020 Sidney Sax Medal Presentation tomorrow, Tuesday 8 Dec 2020, 2–4pm.

The Sidney Sax Medal is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the development and improvement of the Australian healthcare system in the field of health services policy, organisation, delivery and research.

In 2020, AHHA is pleased to jointly award the medal to The Australian National University (ANU) College of Health and Medicine’s Bushfire Impact Working Group, and to Patricia Turner, CEO of NACCHO. 

The 2020 Sidney Sax awards will be presented by AHHA Board Chair, the Hon Jillian Skinner. The ANU Bushfire Impact Working Group and Patricia Turner will present their work at this public event. Join us to hear about their work on the 2019-20 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Registration options are available for in person or virtual attendance click here.

To view the live stream of the event, available from 2.15pm onwards click here.

feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Perinatal mental health protective factors

feature tile text 'strong family relationships prove to be perinatal mental health protective factor' & photo of Aboriginal woman's hands above & below pregnant belly

Perinatal mental health protective factors

A recent Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) paper that retrospectively analysed 91 perinatal mental health assessments from the Kimberley region found that almost all of the women had protective factors and these appeared to contribute to them not having anxiety or depression even if they had significant risk factors. The most prominent protective factor was positive relationships with family members.

The study found that for Aboriginal women, it is important that the health professional explores a woman’s whole context; that is, the way she experiences stress and risk and how her protective factors support her. This will help the woman and her health professional best understand and support her mental health and wellbeing. Assessing Aboriginal women’s perinatal mental health by only looking at risk is not enough.

Plain language reports and a link to the paper are available on the KAMS research website which can be accessed by clicking here.

black and white image of adult Aboriginal hand holding sleeping Aboriginal baby's hand

Image source: Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

AHCWA launches Mappa platform

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), in conjunction with its 23 member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) and associated communities have initiated the development and launch of the Mappa platform live to all Western Australians.

Mappa is a free-to-use online mapping platform developed to address the lack of clarity at all levels in regards to healthcare services being delivered across rural, remote and metropolitan regions throughout WA. Mappa provided comprehensive, culturally appropriate and reliable information for health services, health professionals, patients, clients and their communities.

Mappa brings three worlds together: the patient/client journey world; the healthcare world; and the technology world. In doing this, the mapping platform seeks to help those who are not technology savvy and/or have English as a second or third language, busy healthcare providers, clinicians, GPs, allied healthcare providers and those who want an easy way to find a place, a community or a healthcare service and to know how long it will take to get there.

Mappa is about ‘getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time‘, while being with family, at home and on country.

To view the article about the Mappa platform in The West Australian – New Directions in Telehealth liftout (page 3) click here.

To access the Live Mappa Link click here.Mappa Mapping Health Services Closer to Home banner with vector of tree and tree roots in a teardrop pointing to a place on a map

NACCHO supports HIV Awareness Week

NACCHO supports the World Aids Day 2020 theme ‘now, more than ever’ saying it is time to close the gap on rates of HIV notifications amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in Australia. NACCHO believes as per the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that there is a real opportunity to take Aboriginal-led approaches and partnerships to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face unique issues and social determinants that affect health outcomes, including overcrowded housing. We have demonstrated that a partnership and commitment from the Australian Government’s Departments of Health with NACCHO and direct funding for ACCHOs to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”

To read NACCHO’s media release click here.banner text U and Me Can STOP HIV with red, aboriginal flag & Torres Strait Islander flag coloured HIV awareness ribbons

8,000 Katherine patients without GP

Katherine’s only general practice closed its doors last month, leaving the 8,000 patients on its books with no other option but to travel three hours to Darwin for a GP consultation. The decision to close was not an easy one for GP and practice owner Dr Peter Spafford – who has been a resident of the NT town for 19 years and owner of Gorge Health for 10 – but he felt he had no other option.
 
A 2018 workforce assessment conducted by the NT Primary Health Network (PHN) recommended the town, with a population of almost 10,000, needed nine GPs to provide a service equal to elsewhere in Australia. The reality on the ground, however, has been just two GPs, four at best. Constant waitlists have meant there’s always been a difficulty in providing full GP services to the community.

The solution, according to RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements, is multifaceted and requires a whole-of-system approach that considers everything from housing security and spousal employment to children’s education and the training environment.

To view the full article click here.

road sign Kathering 90 Alice Springs 1263

Image source: newsGP website.

Making the invisible visible

After more than 12 months of hard work, consultation and collaboration, the RACGP has launched a reconciliation action plan (RAP) as part of its vision of a healthcare system free of racism.
 
Designed to help establish a culturally safe organisation that supports continuous education and learning for staff and members, the RAP has been praised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within and outside of the college. The plan involves a commitment to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which relies on a culturally inclusive and safe environment with strong relationships based on mutual respect.

To view The RACGP Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan October 2020 – September 2022 click here.

To view the related article published in newsGP click here.

Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal face paint looking sideways against a background of blue and white Aboriginal dot and line painting

Image source: newsGP.

World Scabies Program launched

The recently launched World Scabies Program (WSP), headed by Professor Andrew Steer, based on key research by Murdoch Childrens’ Research Institute (MCRI), conducted in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the Kirby Institute of UNSW Sydney, has shown that scabies prevalence can be reduced by more than 90% with a single community wide treatment.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin with the parasitic ‘itch mite’ Sarcoptes scabiei. The tiny mite burrows into the upper layers of the skin causing intensely itchy lesions which commonly become infected with bacteria and can lead to more serious conditions such and kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease. In humans, scabies is a particularly significant disease in children, but occurs in both sexes, at all ages, in all ethnic groups, and at all socioeconomic levels. Transmission of the mites from one person to the next is by direct skin to skin contact. Scabies is a significant disease worldwide in humans, wildlife, livestock and domestic animals and is a particularly serious problem in many remote Australia Indigenous communities, where overcrowded living conditions are a major factor contributing to high rates of transmission.

Fiji will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out a nationwide scabies elimination program and will be a model for other countries. Approximately one in every five Fijians is at risk of having scabies at any given time, with children at a higher risk. WSP will scale up this approach to the whole population of Fiji, with an aim to essentially eliminate scabies as a public health problem.

To learn more about the World Scabies Program click here.

scabies mite under a microscope

The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. Image source: SBS NITV website.

2021 Eye Health Conference abstracts open

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC): The Gap and Beyond. The conference will bring elements from the postponed Close the Gap for Vision National Conference 2020 and, in 2021, will be delivered fully online.

The conference will be held virtually from 20–22 April 2021 with abstracts welcome from all working in, or interested in, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health. Topics should be relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and efforts to close the gap for vision and ultimately eliminate avoidable vision loss and blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This could include eye care in primary care; eye care stakeholder collaborations; community-led and cultural engagement approaches and initiatives; workforce development; challenges in coordination and case management; improving outcomes and access to services; health system changes and reform.

For more information about abstract submissions click here. The closing date for abstract submissions is Monday 18 January 2021.banner 2021 National ATSI Eye Health Conference The Gap & Beyond 20-22 April 2021

First signs of ear disease at 8 weeks

Telethon Kids Institute researchers have found close to 40% of Aboriginal babies begin to develop middle ear infections between 2–4 months of age in a first of its kind study in metropolitan Perth. By 6–8 months this increased to over 50% of kids according to results published in Deafness and Educational International, clearly demonstrating the urgent need to prioritise early testing and treatment for Aboriginal children suffering debilitating ear infections, also known as otitis media (OM).

Clinical Associate Professor Deborah Lehmann AO, Honorary Emeritus Fellow at the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, based at Telethon Kids Institute, said 650,000 Australian children are affected by OM each year and Aboriginal children have some of the highest rates in the world. “While our previous research has already shown Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by chronic ear disease, most studies have focused on kids in regional and remote areas and information about the true burden of OM in urban areas was very limited,” Professor Lehmann said.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman with Telethon Kids Institute logo on shift with Aboriginal man holding Aboriginal baby standing outside of a building

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

NACCHO CEO makes Australians who mattered list

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner has made the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend’s second annual 40 Australians Who Mattered list for her contribution to social justice. Pat’s citation says ‘For decades Pat Turner has being a passionate voice for Aboriginal equality and self-determination, inside and outside governments, particularly in the field of Indigenous health. Her strong leadership was highlighted this year in her role as the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, which brings together more than 50 Indigenous community peak organisations. In July, Turner stood beside Prime Minister Scott Morrison to launch a new national agreement on Closing the Gap, which is supposed to make Indigenous-run organisations central to programs to reduce disadvantage in communities.

“She’s one of the most experienced public servants in Australia,” says federal Labor frontbencher and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney. “She’s had an incredibly distinguished career spanning both community and government. She shows a willingness to speak truth to power, she understands how governments work and is absolutely committed to driving a proper partnership with Aboriginal people in relation to Closing the Gap.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Pat Turner sitting in a chair looking directly at the camera, hand to her cheek

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Activism against gender-based violence video  

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-op has contributed to a video telling the story of what a gender equitable future looks like and the need to call out disrespect, sexism and discrimination. The video, produced with funding from Respect Victoria and the City of Ballarat, is part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence global campaign to end gender-based violence. The campaign is book-ended by the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November and International Human Rights Day on 10 December. These days were chosen in order to emphasise that violence against women is a human rights violation. 

To view the article about the video’s launch click here, and to view the video click here.banner with text '16 Days of Activism Respect Women: Call It Out' with vector images of people holding up letters that make up words 'Respect is....'

Dialysis trial focusing on culture

Bluey Roberts had been undergoing dialysis treatment in Adelaide’s major hospitals for the past three years. This year, however, he said things have changed for the better. “It’s more like home here,” Mr Roberts said while overlooking a smoking fireplace at Kanggawodli, a short-term accommodation facility in Adelaide’s north-west for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia.

Until recently, the site didn’t provide dialysis treatment options — but a trial of on-site facilities has seen immediate results, boosting attendance for vital services. For Bluey, a Ngarrindjeri elder and revered artist whose work features at institutions including the Art Gallery of SA, home is several hours’ drive away. But health difficulties linked to his dialysis needs left him in a challenging spot. “I wasn’t too good when I first came but I’m not too bad now, sort of settled down and got a lot better with my dialysis,” he says.

The six-month SA Health pilot of stationing dialysis machines at Kanggawodli makes it the only treatment location outside of a hospital in a metropolitan setting. Kanggawodli Manager Wade Allan said traditional owners often find hospitals overwhelming and alienating, which results in patients not committing to ongoing treatment.

To view the full article click here.

#swab4mob campaign launch

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) has partnered with The National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and other Aboriginal organisations to launch #swab4mob; a campaign aimed at urging Aboriginal communities to protect their families by getting COVID-19 testing if they feel unwell. While there is currently no available COVID-19 vaccine or cure, it is essential that continued testing rates are maintained to help with community control of the virus and assist with contact tracing.

AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen stated: “The collective voice of Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health organisations play an important role to help people maintain COVID-19-safe behaviours and high testing rates while there is no cure or vaccine available for COVID-19. Wash your hands, wear a mask in crowded areas, and if you are feeling unwell, even just a slightly, play your part to protect your Community and get a COVID-19 test.”

To view AH&MRC’s press release about the #swab4mob launch click here and to view the #swab4mob video click here.image from swab4mob video David Follent Chairman NAATSHIHWP

AHW and patient Wuchopperen Health Service

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community best placed to deliver human services

AHW and patient Wuchopperen Health Service

Community best placed to deliver human services

Earlier this week (Wednesday 25 November) NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared as a panelist the ABC’s The Drum. Pat Turner described why the  NACCHO COVID-19 communication strategy was so successful “it was done at the local level through NACCHO’s 143 members because they know the community and know what sort of messaging will resonate in the community and they know the behaviours of people, there were things that we said like ‘don’t share your smokes and don’t share your drinks’ because we know people do that. It was a way of making sure the messaging that was going out was really going to resonate with the people in those regions and that’s why we did it ourselves, our members did a great job and we were able to do it because we have a long established relationship with the communities and therefore they trust the messaging that comes from us.

The interviewer asked Pat Turner “how do you say to government ‘you’ve had a crack at closing the gap, let us have a try – how do you shake the cage of government and say ‘look you’ve got to let the community do its own delivery of human services because frankly with the best will in the world, Commonwealth government you’re rubbish at it.'”

screen shot of Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: ABC The Drum.

Praise for hospital models of care

The St John of God Midland public hospital, which has just celebrated its firth birthday, has been praised for developing models of care in providing Aboriginal health services and building a strong relationship with local community groups. Aboriginal engagement and cultural advisors work across the hospital’s wards to assist patients and their families and assist with post discharge planning. St John of God Midland Public Hospital has created significant links with the local community, and works closely with local health agencies, community service providers and patient support groups and provides important outreach and in-reach services to patients.

To view the Government of WA’ s media release click here.

AHW talking to middle aged Aboriginal patient

Image source: St John of God Midland Public Hospital website.

Child removal Catch-22

Life with Archie

Laugh and cry as you listen to Aboriginal mum Carly and her husband Luke talk about raising their beautiful little four year old boy Archie who has a number of disabilities. Carly talks about her pregnancy, the birth of Archie, learning of his various disabilities, therapy, navigating the NDIS and more. Listen here to the interview on an episode of the Too Peas In A Podcast podcast.

toddler Archie eating sandwich blue plastic bib and Aboriginal colours headband

Archie as a baby. Image source: carlypuck Instagram.

Social media racism affects mental health

In her 2015 book, The Internet of Garbage, Sarah Jeong writes: “The internet is experienced completely differently by people who are visibly identifiable as a marginalised race or gender. It’s a nastier, more exhausting internet, one that gets even nastier and even more exhausting as intersections stack up.” When it comes to racism (and all of its intersections), the exhaustion of experiencing it in our own lives is being increasingly compounded by its visablity online.  To be clear: as a person who is victimised by systemic racism, it’s never your responsibility to adapt. But there are ways to take back control when things feel overwhelming.

To view the article on ABC Life click here.

graphic of Aboriginal person with sweat on forrid looking at iPhone

Image source: ABC Life website.

Ngarrindjeri woman awarded grant

Murray Bridge woman Brooke Vanzati has been awarded a grant to support her study by Flinders University Rural Health SA. Funded and awarded by the rural health departments of the three SA universities – Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of SA, the bursary is open to any Aboriginal Health Professional, Practitioner or Worker who is currently working in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in rural or remote SA.

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Brooke Vanzati standing next to Flinders University signage

Brook Vanzati. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Cultural support for hospital patients

Around 3% (more than 10,000) of the NSW Central Coast’s population is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, with numbers steadily rising as more people move to the region to be close to family and to access better employment opportunities and healthcare. The region has one of the fastest growing Aboriginal populations according to data from the last two Censuses.

Nunyara Aboriginal Health Unit provides an important service to local hospitals and the community. Aboriginal liaison officers Jody Milson and Wayne Merritt have explained, “We work out of all hospitals in the Health District and at Woy Woy we concentrate on patients in rehabilitation, sub-acute and transitional care,” Milson said. “We provide cultural support to Aboriginal patients and help them in engaging with staff. “Some of them have been newly diagnosed and need that one on one support.”

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

external image of Nunyara Aboriginal Health Unit NSW

Image source: Unique Building Partners website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led, wraparound solutions a better way to navigate child protection systems

feature tile - better ways to navigate child protection systems, black and white image of young Aboriginal girl from the back walking down a corridor

Better way to navigate child protection systems

This week the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is holding a hearing focused on the experiences of First Nations people with disability and their families in contact with child protection systems. Over recent months Health Justice Australia has engaged with the Royal Commission legal team about health justice partnerships and the role this collaborative model can play to support better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

This engagement and Health Justice Australia’s written submission were drafted based on the experiences of practitioners within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led health justice partnerships, and the perspectives of NACCHO.

To view the Health Justice Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

Mental health first aid includes traditional knowledge

A couple on a mission, Joe and Natasha Collard are breaking the stigma around mental health through the Birrdiya Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid workshops. The proud Noongar duo run Birrdiya, an Aboriginal consultancy and advisory services company which provides a range of culturally appropriate services and solutions. The Perth-based organisation delivers Cultural Events Management, Cultural Awareness Training, Traditional Language Workshops and the Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid (AMHFA) Training.

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

Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal child portrait shot

Image source: AbSec website.

portrait shot of Joe and Natasha Collard

Joe and Natasha Collard. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

SWAMS petition for new medical hub

South West Medical Aboriginal Services (SWAMS) is calling on the WA state government to provide funding which would allow them to build a multi-faceted and holistic Health Hub for Aboriginal and Indigenous clients living in the South West. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson recently travelled to Perth to present a petition, signed by over 1,400 local residents, for funding to Bunbury MLA, Don Punch who has agreed to present it to Parliament.

Lesley Nelson said “SWAMS has outgrown our current facility in Bunbury and even after over 20 years of providing important culturally appropriate health care to the Aboriginal community in the South West and providing huge cost savings to the local public health system, we still do not have a place to call home, instead we spend copious amounts on rental premises.However, despite many applications for funding, completed business cases, visioning documents, environmental analysis and DA Approval being granted, SWAMS is yet to be given a commitment for funding from State or Federal Governments.”

To view the full article in the Bunbury Mail click here.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for WA State Parliament

Bunbury MLA Don Punch with SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson with the petition for the WA State Parliament. Image source: Bunbury Mail.

Children still being separated from family

The rising tide of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families continues at an alarming rate, with the majority of those children permanently separated from their parents. The Family Matters Report 2020 reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture.

Family Matters Chair Sue-Anne Hunter said,  “Our children are 9.7 times more likely to be living away from their families than nonIndigenous children, an over-representation that has increased consistently over the last 10 years. It is time to completely change this broken system that is not working for our kids.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represent 37% of the total population of all children that have been removed from their parents – a staggering 20,077 children – but represent only 6% of the total population of children in Australia.  Without urgent action, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029.

To view the Family Matters media release click here.

Aboriginal man pushing young Aboriginal child on a tricycle in desert community

Image source: The Conversation.

Growing Stronger Together Award

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2020 Growing Stronger Together Award has gone to Dr Justin Hunter, a Wiradjuri man who grew up on Gumbaynggirr country and started his training here. The Growing Strong Together Award recognises an exceptional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander GP in training.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards are for going above and beyond to care for their patients and communities. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara said “This year’s recipients are truly exceptional and an inspiration for our profession. Australia needs more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors like Dr Hunter – his hard work and passion have resulted in significant achievements at a very early stage in what I am sure will be a long and successful career.”

To view the full article in Coffs Coast Of the Area News click here.

portrait image Dr Justin Hunter

Dr Justin Hunter. Image source: Coffs Coast Of The Area News.

RACGP’s highest accolade winner

The annual Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) awards are designed to ‘recognise outstanding achievements and exceptional individuals for their contribution to general practice’. Associate Professor Brad Murphy, a GP at Ashfield Country Practice in Bundaberg, Queensland, and founding Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, has been awarded the RACGP’s highest accolade ­– the Rose–Hunt Award.

‘It is the greatest honour to receive the Rose–Hunt Award. It is extremely humbling … to be among so many of the college’s legends and mentors I have had along the way. It is the 10th anniversary of us starting the national faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and I think it’s acknowledgement of the great work the team within the faculty have done,’ Professor Murphy said.

To read the full newsGP article click here.

portrait Associate Professor Brad Murphy

Associate Professor Brad Murphy. Image source: newsGP.

Dan Murphy’s megastore not wanted at any location

Helen Fejo-Frith says the Bagot Aboriginal community does not want a Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin — at any location — and that her feelings about it could not be any stronger. “We don’t want another [alcohol] outlet here, we’ve got enough as it is,” Ms Fejo-Frith said. “The message is as strong as I can put it.”

Ms Fejo-Frith, the Bagot community advisory group president, was one of the most vocal opponents to this initial proposal and feared the potential for harm if the large liquor outlet was within walking distance of her dry community. “For Bagot Road, we didn’t want it on there because we’ve seen so many people getting hit and deaths on that road and because of the alcohol,” Ms Fejo-Frith said.

To view the full article click here.

portrait Helen Fejo-Frith Bagot Aboriginal community

Helen Fejo-Frith. Image source: ABC News website.

Stay In Bed single drops

Naarm-based Wergaia / Wemba Wemba woman, Alice Skye has released her latest single and video “Stay in Bed”. The song was penned after a phone conversation with a friend and the realisation they were both experiencing difficult times of depression. The song’s relatable truths become an anthem of uplifting support to herself and those loved ones around her, reassuring them of the light that exists within and nearby. Alice Skye has a raw musicality, sensitivity and maturity well byong her years.

The single is available on Bad Apples Music, the prolific Indigenous record label founded by Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs. The label aims to use music as a platform for social change and fostering the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

To read more about “Stay in Bed” and Alice Skye’s previous work click here.

moody filtered image of singer Alice Skye

Alice Skye. Image source: The Music Preview Guide to SXSW 2020.

New clinical training facility in Charleville

Bringing modern, best practice training for nursing, midwifery, and allied health students will be one of the important outcomes of the new Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) clinical training facility recently opened in Charleville, Queensland. The new facility boasts a fully equipped clinical simulation lab, telehealth studios, clinical consultation rooms as well as videoconferencing equipped training rooms, meeting rooms, staff offices and an outdoor education area and will provide significant long-term health care support to the Charleville community and wider region

SQRH engages with the South West Hospital and Health Service; the Royal Flying Doctor Service Charleville; Charleville and Western Areas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health; Cunnamulla Aboriginal Corporation for Health; and other community stakeholders to increase the number of students able to access rural and remote health experiences.

To view the full article click here.

photo of the new Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville

Southern Rural Health Clinical Training Facility, Charleville. Image source: University of Southern Queensland website.

Bush fruit 50 times better than oranges

A Sydney doctor has praised the virtues of an Aussie bush fruit that’s got 50 times more vitamin C than an orange and is better at fighting the flu.

Dr Zac Turner said that during parts of his life, he’d dedicated time to learn about bush medicine from Indigenous Australians. Growing up, he said, he was lucky to live on farms in small rural communities like Bourke, Dubbo and Emerald where both his parents worked on the land as well as in youth support programs. During this time he had his first exposure to local bush medicine from some truly inspiring Aboriginal elders. Learning about these traditional medicines that have been shared and passed along for millennia was one of the key factors in Dr Turner wanting to study biomedical science and eventually medicine.

“We’ve known from tracing back in history that plant medicine has been used for quite some time – that’s more than 20,000 plus years if you factor in Aboriginal Australians. One of the fascinating things about this is that for a lot of us (including many doctors and avid bush enthusiasts) is that Australian bush medicine remains somewhat of a mystery. Indigenous knowledge is passed on through speaking, song and dance and as this practice is becoming more limited, we are at a significant cultural loss.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal hands holding Kakadu Plums

Kakadu plum harvested by Kimberley Wild Gubinge. Image source: SBS website.

NSW government needs to address mental health needs

In 2019–2020, Aboriginal people in NSW have endured displacement and destruction of their communities due to bushfires, floods, drought, and COVID-19. Aboriginal people experience these traumatic events in addition to the transgenerational trauma that exists from colonisation, loss of land and language and Cultural practices.

The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) and its Member Services work to address the Social Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) and Mental Health needs of Aboriginal people across NSW. Unfortunately, not all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in NSW have sufficient funding to ensure communities are kept safe and maintain resilience to manage the past, current, and emerging environmental challenges, and disparities. The AH&MRC, on behalf of the NSW ACCHO Sector, is calling for an increase in funding to provide and develop culturally appropriate SEWB and Mental Health services and programs.

To read the AH&MRC’s press release click here.AH&MRC logo

Remote health services COVID-19 response

The Australian Journal of Rural Health has a produced an issues paper called Remote health service vulnerabilities and responses to the COVID‐19 pandemic which looks at how the rapid response to the COVID‐19 pandemic in Australia has highlighted the vulnerabilities of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in terms of the high prevalence of complex chronic disease and socio‐economic factors such as limited housing availability and overcrowding.

The response has also illustrated the capability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Sector, working with the government, to rapidly and effectively mitigate the threat of transmission into these vulnerable remote communities. The pandemic has exposed persistent workforce challenges faced by primary health care services in remote Australia.

Specifically, remote health services have a heavy reliance on short‐term or fly‐in, fly‐out/drive‐in, drive‐out staff, particularly remote area nurses. The easing of travel restrictions across the country brings the increased risk of transmission into remote areas and underscores the need to adequately plan and fund remote primary health care services and ensure the availability of an adequate, appropriately trained local workforce in all remote communities.

To read the issues paper in full click here.

Utju Areyonga Clinic

Utju Health Service, NT. Image source: CAAC website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Prematurity Day 2020 – Life’s Little Treasures

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib

World Prematurity Day 2020

Every year, 15 million babies are born premature worldwide. More than one million of these babies die, and many more facing serious, lifelong health challenges. Worldwide, one in 10 babies are born too early – more than 27,000 each year in Australia alone. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%), however, for many Aboriginal babies, the news is far worse.

In an address to the National Rural Press Club, National Rural Health Commissioner Dr Ruth Stewart will explain that in 2018, 8.4 per cent of births in major cities were premature compared with 13.5 per cent in rural, remote and very remote Australia. “Those averaged figures hide pockets of greater complexity. In East Arnhem Land communities, 22 per cent of babies are born prematurely,” she will say. But she will argue it is an “urban myth” that the quality of rural maternity care and services is to blame. Rather, she will point to an ongoing decline in available services, clinics and skilled operators.

One solution she will present is the model of care developed through the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island. That program has halved premature birth rates across the Torres Strait and Australia’s northern peninsula since 2015. Crucially, all women have access to continuity of care, or the same midwife throughout the pregnancy, and those midwives are supported by Indigenous health practitioners and rural generalists (GPs with a broad range of skills such as obstetrics).

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

For further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal babies click here and to view the ABC Rural article mentioning the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island click here.

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib & logo of World Prematurity Day 2020 with vector image of white footprint and text November 17th & Get your purple on for prems

Image source: Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance Twitter.

Narrative therapy helps decolonise social work

Social worker, educator and proud Durrumbal/Kullilli and Yidinji woman, Tileah Drahm-Butler, has found a narrative therapy approach resonates with Aboriginal practitioners and clients alike. For many Aboriginal people, the words ‘social work’ trigger the legacy of child removal and everything that comes with that. Social work is a colonised discipline that has had a problematic relationship with Aboriginal communities. Tileah was introduced to the practice of narrative therapy while working on ‘Drop the rock’ – a jobs and training program in Aboriginal communities that supported mental health service delivery and went on to complete a Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work. 

Tileah explains that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, problems have come about from colonisation. So with clients, it is important to re-author – to move away from a medicalised, pathologised discourse to a story that tells of survival and resistance. Narrative therapy helps people to tell their strong stories and identify the skills and knowledge that they already have that can help them make the problem smaller. Tileah said ‘the problem is the problem’, is narrative therapy’s catchphrase. The person, the family, the community aren’t the problem.

To view the full article published by the University of Melbourne click here.

portrait photo of Tileah Drahm-Butler - senior social worker Cairns Hospital

Tileah Drahm-Butler. Image source: The Mandarin Talks.

Joint Council on CTG to meet

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet this afternoon (17 November 2020) to discuss the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It will be the first time the Joint Council has met since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss the collective responsibilities for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; funding priorities for the joint funding pool committed by governments to support strengthening community-controlled sectors (Priority Reform Two); a revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect; and the first annual Partnership Health Check of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time.

To view the Coalition of Peaks media alert click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt & Pat Turner sitting at a desk with draft CTG agreement

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner. Image source: SBS News.

Facebook can help improve health literacy

Health literacy, which generally refers to the abilities, relationships and external environments required to promote health, is an influential determinant of health that impacts individuals, families and communities, and a key to reducing health inequities. New research is showing how Facebook can be a useful source of information – particularly when used in conjunction with other methods – to develop broader understandings of health literacy among young Aboriginal males in the NT, and to spark different conversations, policies and health promotion programs. 

The project, Health literacy among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, led by the Menzies School of Health Research emerged from an understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males face multiple health and social inequities, spanning health, education and justice settings. Unfortunately, these health and social inequities start early in life and persist across different stages of their life-course. They are particularly pronounced for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and men.

The project found its participants were very open about sharing information about their health and wellbeing on social media — including the benefits of being on country and the importance of family and friends — and how this influenced their own health-related decision making.

To view the full article published in croakey click here.

three young Aboriginal men at Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008

Young Aboriginal men, Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008. Image source: Tofu Photography.

Clothing the Gap supports Spark Health

For view the full article and to access a link to an interview with Laura Thompson click here.

photo of Laura Thompson sitting in front of laptop at desk huge smile, arms outstretched

Laura Thompson delivering a Spark Health program. Image source: The Standard.

LGBTIQ mental health crisis

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has called on the Commonwealth Government to develop a mental health and suicide prevention blueprint to tackle the crisis of unmet need within the LGBTIQ community and public investment in LGBTIQ health organisations. La Trobe University research found 57.2% of more than 6,000 surveyed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people were experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, while 41.9% reported thoughts about suicide over the past 12 months.

“Mental health in the LGBTIQ community is in crisis, and the La Trobe research makes it clear action and investment in LGBTIQ mental health and suicide prevention is sorely needed,” Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of AFAO, said. “Existing approaches aren’t working and LGBTIQ communities are paying the price.”

To view AFAO’s media release click here and the La Trobe University media release click here. To access the La Trobe University’s Private Lives 3 The Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQ People in Australia report click here.

Aboriginal trans person with rainbow coloured plait

The Tiwi Islands Sistagirls at Mardi Gras. Image source: Balck Rainbow website.

Most kids in out-of-home care with kin

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care were living with relatives, kin or Indigenous caregivers in 2018–19. The report, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators (ATSICPP) 2018–19: measuring progress, brings together the latest state and territory data on five ATSICPP indicators that measure and track the application of the placement and connection elements of the framework. 

‘The ATSICPP is a framework designed to promote policy and practice that will reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York. As at June 2019, nearly two-thirds (63% or about 11,300 out of 18,000) of Indigenous children in out-of-home care were living with Indigenous or non-Indigenous relatives or kin or other Indigenous caregivers.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal mum kissing small child on the cheek at table of activities in outside setting

Image source: Family Matters website.

STI testing drops during COVID-19

Victorians are being urged to get tested for sexually transmissible infections (STIs), with new figures showing a concerning drop in STI notifications and testing during the coronavirus pandemic. New data from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre shows a 68% drop in people without symptoms seeking STI testing this year. There are many types of STIs and most are curable with the right treatment, however, if left untreated, STIs can cause long-term damage, including infertility.

This week is STI Testing Week (16–20 November) – and as Victoria moves towards COVID Normal it’s the perfect time for everyone to consider their sexual health, have a conversation about STIs and get the important health checks they might have put off during the pandemic. To view the full article click here.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Australia’s top experts in HIV and sexual health to drastically rethink our national response. Over 700 HIV and sexual health experts will gather (virtually due to the COVID-19) this week (16–20 November) for the joint Australasian HIV & AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences, run by the ASHM. To view ASHM’s media release click here

half peeled banana with red patch

Image source: Medicine Direct.

HMRI proud of health related initiatives 

Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been helping researchers to undertake research that translates to better treatments and better access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including:

MRFF grant for Indigenous kid’s ear health

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong received a 5-year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal community controlled health services, enabling improvement in Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and a reduction in the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health.

Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ project

Research Associate with the University of Newcastle and HMRI affiliated researcher, Dr Parivash Eftekhari, is running a first-of-its kind program to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers to quit smoking when their partner is pregnant, or if they have young children at home. The Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ (PAPAS) project is key in improving children’s health by supporting fathers to have smoke-free homes.

To access further information about these research projects and to download the Indigenous Healthy: Eliminating the Gap seminar held earlier this year click here.

Professor Kelvin Kong presenting at Indigenous Health - Eliminating the Gap virtual seminar

Professor Kelvin Kong. Image source: HMRI website.

Mt Isa Hospital opens new Indigenous family rooms

North West Hospital and Health Service has unveiled its newly built family rooms at the Mount Isa Hospital. The family rooms, situation near the hospital’s Emergency Department are a culturally appropriate space where Indigenous patients and their families can meet, rest or engage with specialist hospital staff. Christine Mann, Executive Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health said the facility was a spacious place close to the hospital for use by families, “We have a lot of sorry business around here and regrettably we are outgrowing the hospital, so this place is spacious enough to accommodate families. This is a place where they can come and have a cup of tea and have family meetings.”

To view full article in The North West Star click here.

9 Aboriginal women cutting red ribbon to Mt Isa Hospital family rooms

Image source: The North West Star.

General Practice: Health of the Nation report

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released its General Practice: Health of the Nation report, an annual health check-up on general practice in Australia. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara, said the report contains many positive signs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“It is important not to just dwell on the problems confronting healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “On the workforce, education and training front there is very good news. In 2018, there were 74 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs registered and employed – an increase from 50 in 2015. In 2020, there are 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students – this has increased from 265 in 2014. This year 121 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students started studying medicine, which is a 55% increase over the past three years. Nearly 11,000 members have joined the RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, which to me shows real interest and engagement.”

To view the full article click here.

Associate Professor Peter O'Mara

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara. Image source: RACGP Twitter.

Prison language program linked to better health

A new Aboriginal Languages in Custody program has been launched at Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women where up to 30 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners will be taught Noongar, the official language of the Indigenous people of the south-west of WA. The program will be created and delivered by the Perth-based Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation and rolled out to Hakea Prison, Bunbury Regional Prison and the rest of the state’s jails in four stages from late 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. 

WA Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan said “There is an intrinsic link between language and culture so this new program aims to help Aboriginal prisoners reconnect with their own people, practices and beliefs. Research shows that teaching Aboriginal languages leads to positive personal and community development outcomes, including good health and wellbeing, self-respect, empowerment, cultural identity, self-satisfaction and belonging.”

To view the related Government of WA media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of Aboriginal person with Aboriginal art and english words in the backgrouns

Image source: ABC News.

Dispelling outdated HIV myths webinar

In the lead up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2020 Positive Women Victoria will host a ground breaking webinar. A panel of women living with HIV, including Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin, will be  joined by a leading Australian infectious diseases physician, to share stories and knowledge about how this fact has transformed their lives and discuss issues around motherhood, sex, and relationships. The webinar will introduce audiences to more than 20 years of scientific evidence confirming that when antiretroviral treatment is used, and levels of HIV cannot be detected in blood, HIV is not transmitted during sexual contact or to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth. There is also growing evidence that supports mothers with HIV with an undetectable viral load and with healthcare support can also breastfeed their baby. 

For more information about the webinar on Thursday 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm (AEDT) 26 November 2020 and to register for the webinar click here.

portrait shot of Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin

Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin. Image source: AFAO website.

Fully subsidised online antibiotic resistance program

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enrol in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details are available here.

Submissions close Monday 30 November 2020.Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

Vision 2030 Roadmap open for consultation

The National Mental Health Commission is inviting you to participate in a guided online consultation to inform the content and recommendations of the Vision 2030 Roadmap.

This online consultation forms part of the Commission’s stakeholder engagement approach to ensure that the Vision 2030 Roadmap incorporates as wide a range of experience as possible when developing evidence-based responses to mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

Through special interest meetings and external expertise, the Commission has identified a number of priority areas for inclusion in the Roadmap. The online consultation asks you to consider the impact of Vision 2030 on you and identify your needs in its implementation.

More information on Vision 2030, including video recordings of the ‘Introducing Vision 2030 Blueprint and Roadmap’ webinars is available at the Commission’s website. The Vision 2030 Roadmap guided online consultation can be accessed here.

Now is your chance to get involved. This consultation opportunity is open to all until Friday 4 December 2020.purple tile text 'have your say - online consultation now open - VIsion 2020 AUstralian Government National Mental Health Commission' vector map of Australia with magnifying glass image surrounding the map

 

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pharmacy Guild promotes importance of NAIDOC Week

Feature tile 9.11.20 The Pharmacy Guild of Australia promote importance of NAIDOC Week, NAIDOC Week logo

Pharmacy Guild promotes NAIDOC Week

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Executive Director Suzanne Greenwood has released an editorial about the importance of NAIDOC Week as the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples saying that NAIDOC Week is celebrated not only in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but by Australians from all walks of life in what is a national coming-together in cultural recognition and respect.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Always Was, Always Will Be, aims to recognise that First Nations peoples have occupied and cared for this land for more than 65,000 years. Our First Nations peoples are spiritually and culturally connected to this country. At the Pharmacy Guild, NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to highlight the way community pharmacies work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in regional, rural and remote communities.

These pharmacies are going the extra mile in providing services to help address the documented poorer health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Whether it be through visits to communities, special consultations or even ensuring labelling meets the needs of individual communities, pharmacists are at the forefront. And as the most accessible healthcare professionals, they have a unique role to play in addressing gaps and providing targeted services to improve the health outcomes of these Australians.

To view Suzanne Greenwood’s editorial in full click here and to read the two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist case studies click here.

portrait photo of Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery

Aboriginal intern pharmacist Lillian Emery and Aboriginal pharmacist student Louis Emery. Image source: The Pharmacy Guild of Australia website.

Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration

In 2001, the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the Koori Centre, launched an annual oration by a leading spokesperson within the field of Indigenous and non-Indigenous race relations. The Dr Charles Perkins AO Memorial Oration was established with the full support of the Perkins family and in acknowledgement of his tireless dedication to human rights and social justice for Indigenous Australians.

This year the 2020 Charles Perkins Memorial Oration, will be presented by Pat Turner AM in honour of her uncle. This event, hosted by Stan Grant and Isabella Higgins at The Great Hall at the University of Sydney, will be a timely look at the state of race relations in Australian over the last two decades.

You can watch the Dr Charles Perkins Oration via livestreamed from 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm (AEST) Thursday 12 November from the following platforms:

University of Sydney Facebook    

University of Sydney YouTube

ABC Indigenous Facebook

ABC Sydney Facebook

black and white photo of Charles Perins on bus home after visit to Tranby, Glebe 1963

Charlies Perkins travelling home on a Sydney bus in 1963. Image source: ABC News website.

Professor Milroy wins mental health prize

Pioneering Aboriginal psychiatrist, researcher and mental health champion Professor Helen Milroy has been named as a joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize. Professor Milroy, recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, shares the prestigious prize with leading psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Gordon Parker.

The national prize, presented by the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or prevention/treatment of mental health issues. “I am hoping that through this award, we can shine a light on children’s mental health and provide whatever it takes to bring about their wellbeing and that of their families and communities.”

To view the full article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy, background is an office

Image source: The University of Western Australian.

Jimmy Little Foundation supports remote health care

Based in Lightning Ridge, NSW the Jimmy Little Foundation is working to improve the quality of life and access to health care for remote and regional communities. The Foundation’s focus is promoting healthy outcomes for Indigenous Australians facing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and the demands of dialysis. It currently depends solely on donations to run its programs and advocacy ventures.

The late Jimmy Little, a proud Yorta Yorta man, musician and actor founded the Jimmy Little Foundation in 2006. After undergoing a kidney transplant, he used his performances as an opportunity to tell the communities he visited there is good quality of life after dialysis. Little’s daughter, Frances Peters-Little, is now Managing Director of the Foundation. She said she’s proud of the Foundation’s current board of directors, who are all Indigenous women.

To read the full article click here.

portrait photo of Francis Peters-Little Managing Director of the Jimmy Little Foundation

Francis Peters-Little. Image source: ALTD Spirits website.

Football has power to improve health

The 2020 Indigenous Football Week (IFW20) – Monday 9 November until Sunday 15 November – will feature a program of events that will engage Indigenous communities and players across Australia. Organisers say IFW20 will highlight how football has the power to create pathways to improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education, and community engagement for Indigenous players. The football community has come together to support the John Moriarty Football (JMF) initiative. JMF has partnered with Football Federation Australia (FFA), Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), SBS, NITV, and FOX Sports, to celebrate events held in JMF communities in NT, NSW and Queensland.

To read the full article click here.

Aboriginal boy in football uniform kneeling on soccer ball

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

48 hour follow up initiative supports recovery

In a resent presentation at the Deniliquin Local Health Advisory Committee, Aboriginal health education officer Jill Owens, shared some information about her role and partnerships, ensuring the health and well-being of Aboriginal members in the community are addressed.  Jill shared information about the ‘48 hour Follow Up’ initiative, a service for patients who have been in hospital for things such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease, ensuring there is a check in on their well-being within 48 hours of discharge. Jill said ‘‘The value of this is that ongoing health needs can be identified and services put in place to support the patient’s recovery and prevent unnecessary admissions.’’

To view the full article in the Deniliquin Pastoral Times click here.

health worker with middle-aged Aboriginal man in home setting

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Tresillian Mobile2U helps get babies to sleep

If you or someone you know has ever had trouble getting a baby to sleep you have probably heard of the amazing work of Tresiliian and the Mid North Coast Local Health District. Tresilian works with parents to get babies into a sleep routine and have been recognised for their innovative approach to delivering child and family health services to regional NSW. Hesta has announced Tresillian and Mid North Coast Local Health District as a finalist in the HESTA Excellence Awards in the Team Excellence – Community Services category. The Mobile 2U van goes to locations in communities such as the Kempsey Community Centre and the Council Chambers at Wauchope. Ms Carlon said the Tresillian 2U mobile service is innovative, and unique. Nurses are focussed on individual parenting plans and give focussed and individualised support.

Aunty Delya Smith, a Dunghutti woman, is the Aboriginal health worker in the team and close to twenty percent of families who access the service identify as Aboriginal. The van also has two child and family health nurses who work with families providing the specialised services in the locations that are easy for families to access in their own communities.

To read the full News of The Area article click here.

Aboriginal baby sleeping

Image source: News Of The Area website.

Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Framework survey

Since 2002, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been able to have their status recorded confidentially on a database called the Voluntary Indigenous Identifier (VII). The VII is primarily used to estimate use of the Medicare Benefits Scheme by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This information, grouped together to produce statistical reports, appears in a range of publications and is used to:

  • improve policies focused on access to health programs and services,
  • target funding to specific areas of need,
  • improve access to benefits and payments, and
  • improve the Department of Health’s plans and policies for First Nations People.

The Framework for the Collection, Release, Use and Publication of Voluntary Indigenous Identifier Data (VII Data Framework) is a set of guidelines that direct how VII data is collected and used.

You can download the draft Framework here. and are invited to provide your feedback via the VII Framework Online Survey.

young Aboriginal woman portrait photo, green foliage in the background

Image source: VincentCare website.

ADHA aims to make health care more equitable

This NAIDOC Week the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has proudly joined a network of more than 1,100 corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations that have made a formal commitment to reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program. Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole PSM said the Agency’s reconciliation commitments include an emphasis on understanding and progressing digital health priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living across Australia, in rural, remote and metropolitan communities. “Technology can contribute to closing the gap by improving health care accessibility, quality and safety no matter where people live,” she said. “We can make health care more equitable and efficient using digital tools and technology like My Health Record, telehealth and electronic prescriptions.”

To view the full article click here. and to download the ADHA RAP click here.

cover of ADHA RAP 2020–21 report - Aboriginal dot painting circules orange blue dark red

Image source: Australian Government ADHA website.

Funding for improved use of data collections

The Australia Government is investing $8.9 million to support improved management and use of Indigenous data collections. The funding will be used to create a data network that will transform how Australian social and cultural data is accessed, curated and analysed. The project will support the development of eResearch platforms and tools for visualisation, transcription and entity recognition. Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the investment would boost Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) and Indigenous research capability and “will improve the reliability and consistency of data for Indigenous Australians to better support evidence-based Indigenous policy-making.”

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal dot painting of map of Australia

Image source: Open Forum website.

Unaddressed trauma plays role in present pain

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that NAIDOC Week this year celebrates the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of First Nations Australians and the importance of being connected to it. “While we marvel at the resilience and survival of our cultures, we have to continue to acknowledge unaddressed trauma and the role it plays in our present and immediate future,” Ms Petersen said. “In our journey, we continue to listen and learn from those who have gone before us, often too soon, and survivors of trauma. This drives our efforts to support intergenerational healing for all generations to come.

“NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to share the truth about the ongoing trauma experienced by Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants – and shine a light on the importance of healing.” For Stolen Generations survivors, being removed from family, community and Country had a profound impact on their connection to identity, language and culture. This has resulted in a huge amount of grief and trauma. Ms Petersen said healing is a proven way to overcome trauma and intergenerational trauma and restore wellbeing, which can bring about long-term change for families and communities. “By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people,” Ms Petersen said.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

portrait shot Fiona Petersen CEO The Healing Foundation

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen. Image source: The Healing Foundation website.

NSW Aboriginal Deputy Children’s Guardian appointed

The head of Australia’s national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, Richard Weston will become the first Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People in NSW. Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said Mr Weston, who is currently the CEO of Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), brings more than 25 years of experience to the role. “Mr Weston’s wealth of experience working in peak and Indigenous-controlled organisations has delivered significant social, health and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities,” Mr Ward said.

To view the NSW Government Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services media release click here.

Portrait shot of Richard Weston against greenery of a garden

Richard Weston. Image source: @INDIGENOUSX website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: world-first virtual healthcare technology will improve remote area training access

feature tiel - two nurses using virtual healthcare training goggles

World-first virtual healthcare training trial

Training for healthcare workers is about to go virtual for the first time as part of a new partnership between industry, TAFE and NSW Health. Learning how to take a blood test will no longer need to be done in a real health setting. Instead, trainees including doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and Indigenous health workers will be able to learn the procedure while fully immersed in a virtual hospital, including sound effects such as blipping machines.

The NSW government said the virtual reality training technology was a world first that would be piloted in a yet-to-be named regional hospital. The virtual reality blood testing pilot was developed by TAFE NSW with NSW Health Pathology, CognitiveVR and diagnostic solutions company Werfen. Healthcare workers will use a virtual reality headset to learn “hands-on” blood testing. The simulation aims to provide healthcare professionals across the state, including in regional and remote areas, with greater access to hands-on training scenarios, ultimately increasing the quality of care while also reducing time away from clinical care.

To read the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

Werfen Australian NZ GM Sally Hickman demonstrates virtual reality blood testing - wears virtual reality goggles, hand is outstretched

Werfen Australian NZ General Manager Sally Hickman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Purple House HESTA Excellence Award finalist

Purple House is one of six finalists in the Outstanding Organisation category of the HESTA 2020 community services awards. Purple House has been recognised for getting Indigenous dialysis patients home to country and providing a home away from home in Alice Springs. Purple House is an innovative Indigenous-owned and run health service operating from a base in Alice Springs. It runs dialysis units in 18 remote communities across the NT, WA and SA, and a mobile dialysis unit called the Purple Truck and has a focus on getting patients back home so families and culture remain strong.

Before Purple House, patients were forced to leave country and move far away for dialysis, leaving communities without elders to share knowledge and families disrupted. Many patients are now home but there are still communities without dialysis and patients who need to live short or long term in Alice Springs. Purple House’s base in Alice also offers primary health care, allied health, wellbeing, aged care, NDIS and a bush medicine social enterprise.

To view the full article click here.
Purple House CEO Sarah Brown with patient Rosie Patterson from Yuelamu

Purple House CEO Sarah Brown and patient Rosie Patterson. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare.

Homelessness affects children’s health

Seven new Flinders University research projects have been funded by the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, including support for special studies to help homeless, at-risk, migrant and autistic children and Indigenous health. Nurse practitioners working with social service agencies is one way to help the estimated 22% of Australian children living in temporary or precarious living conditions, with families hit hard by unemployment and other problems created by the pandemic. These children – some skipping health checks, vaccinations and even nutritional meals – may not have regular doctor appointments, and poorer access to health services, leading to more physical and mental health issues and emergency department presentations.

To view the full article click here.

small Aboriginal child with tangled hair, scrapped knees sitting on concrete floor with head in knees, hands wrapped around legs

Image source: Flinders University website.

NT 2021 Australian of the Year Award nominees

Across Australia (except Vic & Tas) – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

2021 Census Engagement Manager x 35 (25 in remote areas, 10 in urban/regional locations)

The ABS is recruiting Census Engagement Managers for the 2021 Census. Due to the close working relationship with the community, 35 Census Engagement Manager positions will be only open to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants. Census Engagement Managers are specialised roles requiring a high degree of community interaction. They will be working within communities telling people about the Census and ensuring everyone can take part and get the help they need. Where possible, Census Engagement Managers will be recruited locally. To view a recruitment poster click here.

For further information on the roles and to apply click here.

Applications for Census Engagement Manager roles are open now and close Thursday 5 November 2020.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Game changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.

The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.

image of arms of Aboriginal person in running gear bending to tie shoelaces along bush trail

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.

To view the Government of Western Australia’s media release click here.

portrait photo of Vicki O'Donnell, KAMS CEO in office

Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.

The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.

To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.

This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.

To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020

For more information about the event and to register click here.image of Dameyon bonson and Indigenous LGBTIQSB Suicide Prevention - An Introduction course banner

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.

Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010.  Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:

  • evidence-based — so they are effective, and
  • measurable — so we can tell that they work.