- Concerns about rising NT COVID-19 cases
- Resources support culturally responsive early learning
- Dermatologists question NSW pharmacy trial
- Health of young Australians on the decline
- New resources for mob living with arthritis
- Indigenous cadetship program a first for ERH
- Sector Jobs
The image in the feature tile is from an ABC News video Australia records 23.6 per cent spike in COVID cases amid eighth wave published on 4 November 2023.
The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.
We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.
Concerns about rising NT COVID-19 cases
As an eighth wave of COVID-19 sweeps across Australia there has been a sharp rise in the number of people contracting the virus in the NT. This is of particular concern in the NT, where vaccine booster numbers remain low. Only an estimated 43% of NT residents 75 years and over have received a COVID-19 vaccination in 2023.
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), the NT’s largest ACCHO, says the rise of cases – especially amongst older and more vulnerable patients – is concerning, “COVID-19 is a virus that affects the vascular system. This brings with it an increased risk of subsequent cardiac events and strokes; a big concern in our population where there are already too many people at high cardiovascular risk. The threat of severe illness continues to be greater for older patients and for those with chronic disease or other frailties. Unfortunately, Aboriginal people are over-represented in this category.”
The CAAC said the messaging around COVID-19 hadn’t changed, “Stopping transmission is the way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Wash your hands and cough/sneeze safely. Wear a mask if you are in crowded indoor settings. Stay home if you feel sick and be sure to self-test using a RAT.”
To view the National Indigenous Times article COVID-19 cases in the NT a worry for Indigenous health group in full click here.
Resources support culturally responsive early learning
Be You, the national mental health and wellbeing in education initiative, has developed a suite of resources to help educators improve cultural responsiveness in early learning services and schools. The resources invite genuine connection with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, families and communities by supporting educators to create inclusive spaces where cultural diversity is celebrated.
Co-designed with a panel of First Nations Peoples, the resources aim to be an important step towards creating safe, welcoming and culturally responsive early learning services and schools. Nina Ross, Senior Officer Professional Learning Curriculum at Narragunnawali, Reconciliation in Education, was one of the panelists, and says the resources are very much needed. “This was a special thing to be a part of, as an Aboriginal person,” she said, also stating that the resources are a great tool to support non-Aboriginal or non- Indigenous people.
Ms Ross said that “With updates to the Early Years Learning Framework, new version of the National Curriculum and the current social and political change happening right now in Australia, educators need this resource to help with conversations and relationship building. There are a lot of children and young people who will benefit from this in their education setting.”
Dermatologists question NSW pharmacy trial
From next year, pharmacists will be able to prescribe medications for certain skin conditions as part of a statewide trial. The Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) has expressed “concerns” about the NSW Government’s plan to include some skin conditions in the state’s pharmacy prescribing trial, where participating pharmacists will be authorised to supply certain medicines without a prescription, saying the risk of misdiagnosis could lead to incorrect treatment and dangerous delays to treatment.
An ACD spokesperson said “The ACD fully supports pharmacists working within medically led, multidisciplinary team-based settings such as general practices and ACCHOs and as part of appropriate clinically governed teams. These allow the pharmacist to work collaboratively with GPs and other health professionals to support the quality and safe use of medicines through patient education and medication governance activities and can help reduce medication misadventures during transitions of care between settings.
“However, we do have concerns about pharmacist prescribing models, particularly outside of GP-led team-based primary care setting. Some serious and malignant conditions can masquerade as common diseases of the skin. Misdiagnosis can lead to incorrect treatment, dangerous delays to appropriate treatment, and result in patients experiencing significant financial burden due to ineffective treatments.”
To view The Medical Republic article ‘Concerned’: dermatologists respond to NSW pharmacy trial in full click here.
Health of young Australians on the decline
The health of a nation’s children and the ability for them to live longer and healthier lives than those who came before is often considered one of the key indicators of societal progress. Australia is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita, however the health of children in Australia not only stagnating, but in some cases moving backwards.
This week saw the launch of a new national framework, Future Healthy Countdown 2030, to track the health of young people The framework will deliver annual reports in hopes of encouraging real systemic change in healthcare offerings over the next seven years.
A recent report published in The Medical Journal of Australia, highlights the factors that have led to growing negative health outcomes for children in Australia, including increasing wealth inequality, low levels of children achieving physical activity recommendations, and higher rates of psychological distress compared with older adults.
You can listen to the SBS News podcast Headlines on Health – Why is the health of young Australians on the decline? and read a transcript of the podcast here.
New resources for mob living with arthritis
The prevalence of arthritis conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples is 17%, compared to 13% among non-Aboriginal Australians. They also experience poorer access to healthcare, with Australia’s First Nations people half as likely to access primary care or to receive hip or knee replacement surgery to address osteoarthritis than non-Aboriginal people. Culturally appropriate information, communication and healthcare delivery are essential to improving health and wellbeing outcomes.
Arthritis Australia has launched Australia’s first culturally appropriate resources developed to support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living with the chronic health conditions osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face higher rates of arthritis and autoimmune conditions. The Staying Moving Staying Strong project, funded by the Australian Government, is underpinned by the principle of cultural security. It has involved strong engagement with Aboriginal community members and a rigorous review of clinical practice guidelines, resulting in several academic publications.
Arthritis Australia CEO Jonathan Smithers said, “The Staying Moving Staying Strong resources are an important step towards providing better health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with these often debilitating conditions. We are incredibly proud of the work of the project team and grateful for the contribution of Aboriginal community members.”
To view The National Tribune article New resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout in full click here. You can also find more information about the Staying Moving, Staying Strong Project on the Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA website here.
Indigenous cadetship program a first for ERH
A second year ACU nursing student, Tazarni Clarke applied and was accepted to Echuca Regional Health’s first Indigenous cadetship program funded by the Department of Health. The program was created with the express purpose of increasing the number of Aboriginal nursing and allied health students, offering an opportunity to have paid work experience within a public health service and develop work readiness skills.
Ms Clarke said that part of her desire to work remotely is an understanding of how much work and care is required in these areas. “I want to work with those communities because the healthcare is so limited there and access to it and getting people to work there is very limited. I want to go out and explore and help out where I can,” she said.
Acting director of health at Njernda Kim Warde said it was a great experience for students. “You get a really good insight into the care of diabetic and chronic clients, what’s involved with the care of them and management plans. So, you’ll get a good experience,” she said. Having more local students working within the community will also be an important asset within the region, according to Ms Warde. “It really helps when you’re dealing with community. It really does break down a lot of barriers when you are from the community. So, I think it’s a good thing to have these students,” she said.
To read the Shepperton News article ERH welcomes new cadetship program in full click here.
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