NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Culturally appropriate sepsis resources

The image in the feature tile is from a research article Long term outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians after hospital intensive care published in The Medical Journal of Australia 15 June 2020.

Culturally appropriate sepsis resources

Yesterday Professor Anne Duggan who is the Chief Medical Officer at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) issued the following statement:

World Sepsis Day 2022 – striving for better sepsis care 

Today is World Sepsis Day – an opportunity to unite globally in the fight against sepsis. The Commission actively supports this important initiative to highlight the devastating impact of sepsis, which affects more than 55,000 Australians of all ages every year.

Sepsis Clinical Care Standard

As part of the National Sepsis Program, the Commission released the first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard in June, in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health. By outlining the best possible care for sepsis patients, the standard supports the work of healthcare services across Australia already striving to improve outcomes for sepsis. It’s clear the standard is a game changer that supports healthcare workers to recognise sepsis as a medical emergency and provide coordinated high-quality care. Refer to our implementation resources and case studies for guidance on integrating into practice.

National awareness resources 

Over the past year, the Commission has released a suite of resources under the theme ‘Could it be sepsis?’, focused on improving consumer awareness and clinician recognition of sepsis. I invite you to continue to spread the word about the signs and symptoms of sepsis using the resources in our communications toolkit. We have created culturally appropriate materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I also encourage you to watch and share our sepsis video series, offering a range of perspectives about why it’s so important to recognise and speak up about sepsis. By simply asking “could it be sepsis?”, we can encourage life-saving treatment that may help to reduce preventable death or disability caused by sepsis. Let’s continue to work together to reduce the burden of sepsis on our community.

Youth Steering Committee applications open

Applications for the Youth Steering Committee have now opened on the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition website here. A stakeholder kit including promotional and social media materials can be found on the Department of Education’s Youth Hub here.

The Youth Steering Committee will support the implementation of the new Youth Engagement Model by engaging in meaningful and ongoing conversation with Government to inform and develop successful youth policies. The committee will work closely with the Minister for Youth to provide advice and feedback on Government engagement with young people and youth programs and policies.

Any young person aged between 12 and 25 can apply. We are seeking a diverse group of people from across the country. No previous experience is required. 15 young people will be appointed to the committee. Committee members will be paid on honorarium to recognise contributions made over the committee term. The first meeting of the committee will occur in Canberra from Monday 21 November to Wednesday,23 November. Applicants must be available for this meeting. Travel and accommodation costs for this meeting will be covered for participants.

Applications are open until Wednesday 5 October 2022.

Please contact the Youth Team using either this email address or this email address if you require more information or support.

CVD and chronic kidney disease webinar

On Thursday 29 September 2022, the Heart Foundation is partnering with the World Heart Federation to bring to you a health professional webinar exploring the latest evidence on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD), including early detection of renal risk factors for CVD. This event will be chaired by Prof Garry Jennings, Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation, and we will be joined by Professor George Bakris, internationally renowned nephrologist, as well as Australian experts as they discuss the latest evidence and how it can be translated into practical preventative care.

Title: Filtering through the impact of Chronic Kidney Disease on CVD

When and Where: 8:00PM AEST Thursday 29 September 2022 – live and recorded, free Zoom webinar

This webinar has been accredited by RACGP for 2 CPD points. (Activity no. 367709). To REGISTER click here.

Chronic wounds costing lives and limbs

Band-aid solutions to chronic wounds are costing lives and limbs, and a simple solution could not only prevent those losses but cut billions in health system costs, AMA Vice President Dr Danielle McMullen told the Wounds Australia 2022 conference. Dr McMullen said people are dying prematurely and limbs are being amputated because the current system prevents some of the most vulnerable people in the country getting the right treatment at the right time.

“Chronic wound care is a poorly understood and under-funded public health issue, even though it affects around 450,000 Australians and costs $3 billion each year,” Dr McMullen said. “A lack of awareness about the significance of chronic wounds means vulnerable patients — mostly older Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, or patients with other chronic conditions — often suffer in silence and fall through the cracks in our health system.”

“The AMA is proposing a national scheme to fund medical dressings for chronic wounds and new MBS items to cover the unmet costs of providing care for patients suffering chronic wounds. Our analysis shows investing just $23.4 million over four years to deliver best practice wound care for diabetic foot ulcers, arterial leg ulcers, and venous leg ulcers would save the health system more than $203 million. This is a no brainer. I don’t know of many investments where for every $1.00 you spend, the return is $8.36, but this is the case with evidence-based wound care. The government often mentions its inherited trillion-dollar debt, so it should be looking for smart investments which will save the health system money and deliver better health outcomes for patients at the same time.”

To view the AMA’s media release Replacing band-aid wound solutions could save lives and millions in health system costs in full click here.

Wound care training in the Top End, NT. Image source: CRANAplus website.

Disparity in genomic medicine access

Globally there is a robust and growing evidence base that reveals access and outcomes across health systems are different for Indigenous populations. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, research reveals disparities in access to the Australian health system and the clinical services it provides, including diagnostic investigations, procedures, care planning, treatments, as well as service adherence to best practice treatment guidelines. However, to date, access to clinical genetic health services has not been quantified among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

Research investigating disparity in access to Australian clinical genetic health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been conducted as part of the Better Indigenous Genomics (BIG) Health Services Study funded by the Lowitja Institute. It was a university led project conducted in partnership with Australian clinical genetic health services. Formal support for this project was provided by Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), Machado-Joseph Disease Foundation, Bega Garnbirringu Health Service (Kalgoorlie), and the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) (via Ethics support). Extensive stakeholder consultation and engagement took place with 14 Aboriginal Health Organisations to identify research study priorities as part of the wider BIG study.

To view the Nature Communication article Investigating disparity in access to Australian clinical genetic health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in full click here.

Image source: Queensland University of Technology website.

Preventing suicide in vulnerable groups

The Territory Labor Government is investing in infrastructure and community programs to support mental health and suicide prevention initiatives. More than $50 million in funding includes a new 18 bed inpatient unit and Stabilisation and Referral Area in the Top End and the establishment of universal aftercare services, meaning Territorians discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt will receive immediate follow-up care. This week the NT Government has released the fourth Suicide Prevention Progress Report.

The report provides a snapshot of the key achievements of the NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework Implementation Plan 2018-2023. Some of the top achievements in the report include: Community Suicide Prevention Grants: 30 grants totalling $222,750 awarded for activities during 2022-2023. More than $1.22 million has been provided in community grants since 2018.Training for Staff and Community Members Working with Priority Groups: 1,463 Territorians trained in suicide prevention in the past 12 months. Priority groups include men, youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrant and refugee communities, current and former defence force personnel, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Grant recipient, Northern Territory Aids and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC), has run a successful program with Tiwi Islands Sistergirls using imagery that speaks to the lived expertise of the Sistergirls. In its current grants program, NTAHC is developing resources to decrease stigma around sexual health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and LGBTQ+ youth, groups which often have poor mental health outcomes.

To view the Mirage News article Report Card: Preventing suicide in vulnerable groups in full click here.

Image source: NT Independent.

Mum’s house clinic ‘disparity’ an inspiration

Worimi head and neck surgeon Kelvin Kong attributes his chosen career path to his life growing up witnessing firsthand the disparity between himself and his non-Indigenous friends. The University of Newcastle school of Medicine and Public Health doctor and Royal Australasian College of Surgeons fellow has always had interest in giving back and helping. Growing up with a nurse for a mum, Mr Kong often had mob around his house for basic procedures such as wound dressings and cyst removals.

“It wasn’t until we got to high school that we started asking why we weren’t going to hospital,” Mr Kong said. “None of my non-Indigenous friends had the same kinds of concerns – they weren’t going around to people’s houses to get medical care. You start realizing there is this disparity with access to care, particularly medical care.” Mr Kong’s career path appeared laid out before him from an early age, but a school visit from University of Newcastle doctors set his eyes on the prize. The key difference of that visit was the presence of Aboriginal doctors, a career Mr Kong had never previously thought was attainable for him.

“I still remember coming home and saying to my sister, wow you can actually go to university – that’s something we should pursue,” Mr Kong said. These days Mr Kong dedicates his time to rare diseases, in particular, otitis media, which disproportionately affects Aboriginal people. According to Mr Kong, otitis media affects the majority of children in Australia, but access to care is the one of the main reasons it affects Aboriginal kids differently.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Mum’s house clinic ‘disparity’ an inspiration for Worimi surgeon Kelvin Kong in full click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: This is not about money, profit or turf

The Pixabay image in the feature tile is from the ABC News article Pharmacist prescription trial proposed as possible solution to the GP shortage faces indefinite delays, 23 August 2022.

This is not about money, profit or turf

Dr Jillann Farmer, a Brisbane-based GP and former Medical Director of the United Nations has written an article for the Medical Journal of Australia’s InSight arguing that when something looks simple, it can deceptively create a sense that the work is simple. The ease with which health professionals exercise heuristic skills to rapidly synthesise patient demographic and social circumstances, comorbid conditions, pathology and epidemiology and arrive at a diagnosis and treatment choice make that expertise largely invisible and has likely contributed to an overall perception that most of what GPs do is simple and can be safely and appropriately done by alterative health professionals with significantly less training and experience. Some of the work GPs do absolutely can be done by others. But the health system needs those decisions to be informed by actual expert practitioners.

The North Queensland pharmacy trial, an election promise of the Palaszczuk government, followed on the urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment trial/pilot which allowed patients to present to a pharmacy and be dispensed antibiotics for a UTI. There have been significant concerns expressed about the diagnostic acumen of pharmacists in this space – prescribing based on symptoms alone. GPs do the same if we treat a UTI by telehealth, but for most, that is the exception, not the standard.

The UTI program seems to have emboldened the Queensland Government, and the North Queensland Pharmacy Trial was born. The proposal could cut doctors (not just GPs, but all doctors) out of decisions to diagnose and initiate prescription medicines of some pretty significant diseases. Hypertension and diabetes were on the original list where pharmacists would be able to diagnose and prescribe. The details of the proposals are not public domain, but within current funding frameworks, it seems almost impossible that pharmacists would be able to implement current guidelines for appropriate care to the same standard as doctors.

It is of particular concern that the trial was proposed for a region of Queensland where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a significant proportion of the population. So we target an already disadvantaged population and substitute care that cuts them off from recommended diagnostic and management capabilities. It is no wonder that NACCHO expressed opposition to the trial.

To view the InSight+ article Give GPs problems to solve, not election promises in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP webiste.

What a male midwife learnt in Arnhem Land

It was a dry Thursday afternoon in Arnhem Land, NT, when young mum Tanisha’s [name changed for privacy] waters broke at just 23 weeks of gestation. Approximately 417 kms from the nearest hospital, an aircraft and doctor chaperone were flown in to her remote Aboriginal community within a few hours of the call for medical evacuation. But Tanisha felt anything but relief when her medical retrieval arrived. The doctor disembarking the aircraft was a man, and in her Aboriginal culture it is taboo for men — including medical practitioners — to interact with women about ‘women’s business’.

In an interesting plot twist, however, Tanisha requested for her male midwife Christian Wright to come with her and be present for the birth. Aside from being one of just 448 men to be working in midwifery in Australia (1.6% of the total workforce) Christian is no ordinary practitioner. Recognising the sensitivities around men and women’s interactions in Aboriginal culture, Christian has always thought outside the box about how he can make his patients feel comfortable.

His trust building with Tanisha began early in the antenatal process, when he learnt the local language and used cultural linguistic cues to convey empathy and earn trust. “Speaking to people ‘in language’ is a great way to help them feel culturally safe. In some Aboriginal cultures though, there are other important linguistic considerations,” he said. “For example, when discussing taboo subjects, like women’s health, men should use alternative, almost euphemistic, variations to formal language, to minimise embarrassment.”

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article What I’ve learned as a male midwife in Arnhem Land in full click here.

Midwife Christian Wright. Image source: ABC Conversations Radio National Twitter.

Must be more than a day of checking in

In 2019 WA Coroner Ros Fogliani delivered the results of her inquest into the deaths of 13 children and young people in the Kimberley. The report is incredibly distressing to read and hollows you out with every page you turn. 13 Aboriginal children and young people who died as a result of hanging, with all bar one considered definite suicide (the other being an open finding). The Coroner explained in meticulous detail the cycle of violence, inter-generational trauma, complexities of distance and circumstances which saw the premature death of 13 people aged between 10 and 24 years of age.

What desolate desperation these children and young people must have faced, with hope so lost, that they thought the only solution was suicide. Case 12 was a young man, part of the Wungu community, born in 1994 and he died at age 20. Growing up his health was very poor, at 18 months of age he was presented to Katherine Hospital with anaemia, gastro and abscess so bad it required surgical intervention. At age six, he was referred to a child psychologist where he stated that he wanted to kill himself. Age six. In his mid-teens he witnessed multiple incidents of domestic violence between his parents.

Last Friday was R U OK? Day.If you asked an Indigenous person that question, the chances are that things are pretty tough. In truth we need to move beyond a single day of checking in (which is the real message of RUOK? Day) because if we’re ever going to start making positive change and turning the tide of suicide, it’ll only be a concerted and constant effort of talk the hard truths and face our struggles together.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Things can be tough for Indigenous people. RUOK Day needs to start a conversation for change in full click here.

Photo: Emily Jane Smith. Image source: ABC News.

Milestone contract to deliver GP training

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has signed a milestone contract with the federal Health Department to deliver GP training in Australia from 1 February 2023. It is the largest medical vocational training contract entered into in history by an Australian Government. The signing of the contract comes after the transition of GP training back to Australia’s specialist medical colleges, the RACGP and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), was announced in October 2017 by then federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price welcomed the signing of the contract, “Just as general practice is integral to our health system, GP training is fundamentally important to provide our next generation of GPs, who will care for our communities into the future. We are working to make this a seamless transition, with as little disruption to the delivery of GP training as possible. We are also working closely with numerous stakeholders to make this happen, including the Department of Health, peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or NACCHO, rural workforce agencies and clinical schools, primary health networks, state health organisations, local hospitals and community health services, the list goes on.”

To view the medianet article RACGP welcomes milestone contract to deliver GP training in Australia in full click here.

Dr Tarun Patel trained as a GP in the NT and worked at Wurli Wurlinjan, an Aboriginal Medical Service in Katherine. Image source: ACRRM website.

‘Empathy’ key in dementia care

Nearly 500, 000 Australians are living with dementia. Its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, is set to cost $26.6 billion over the next 20 years. Dementia, a degenerative brain disease, affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks, interfering with a person’s normal social or working life. First nations’ voices have rarely been heard on dementia care and health services have not always been developed with Indigenous people in mind.

Speaking at the two-day International Dementia Conference 2022 in Sydney last week former Olympian and federal senator Nova Peris – the first Aboriginal woman elected to federal parliament – said dementia care for Indigenous Australians needed to draw on best practice overseas and Indigenous consultation. “Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, look to world’s best practice … acknowledging and respecting the work that’s already been done in the first nations space,” Ms Peris said. She urged the aged care sector to have empath front and centre when caring for Indigenous people with dementia. “Empathy having that understanding of that person’s life and the care that you provide for them, makes them happy,” the former federal politician said.

To view the HealthTimes article ‘Empathy’ key in Indigenous dementia care in full click here. You can also read a related AgedCare News article IDC2022: our wrap-up of a conference promising a Brave New World ahead in full here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

Strengh-based approach to kids’ health needed

First Nations children represent the future of the world’s oldest continuing culture. Of the 66,000 Victorians who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the 2021 Census, one-third were aged under 15 years. First Nations children in Victoria are doing well in several health outcomes, a recent Aboriginal Data and Action on Prevention Together (ADAPT) report, available here, has found. This report provides valuable insight into nutrition, physical activity and wellbeing among First Nations children living in regional Victoria.

The survey found more than 300 First Nations primary school children were meeting guidelines for physical activity, healthy eating and screen time. Those who met these guidelines also had higher health-related quality of life. However, the study is rare. Before the report, there was no information available about nutrition and physical activity among primary school-aged First Nations children in Victoria.

To examine First Nations childrens’ health, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers from Deakin University partnered with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), the peak body representing Victoria’s Aboriginal community-controlled health sector. VACCHO’s nutrition team works to improve food security and nutrition outcomes among Aboriginal communities across Victoria.

To view The Conversation article Rather than focusing on the negative, we need a strength-based way to approach First Nations childrens’ health in full click here.

Aboriginal childrens’ health data needs to steer away from negative focuses by balancing the findings with respective community’s progresses. Photo: Dan Peled, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous-led research positions

The University of Melbourne Indigenous Studies Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences has two positions available:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Indigenous Studies

This is an exciting opportunity to become involved in leading Indigenous health research with a passionate and dedicated team. We are seeking a highly motivated Postdoctoral Research Fellow with a research background in qualitative and/or mixed methods research, particularly using action research approaches. As a member of the NHMRC funded ‘Improving understandings of and responses to alcohol-related family violence for Aboriginal people’ team, the successful applicant is expected to contribute to independent and team-based research aiming to develop the evidence base of alcohol misuse and family violence within Indigenous communities using innovative theoretical and methodological approaches, combining theories of medical anthropology, social network analysis (SNA) and Indigenous Studies.

The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the development of high-quality research projects and play a key role in the production of outstanding quality outputs. The successful applicant will also contribute to the supervision of honours, Masters and/or PhD students. Indigenous Australians are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

For more information about the position and details of how to apply click here.

Research Fellow – Indigenous Data Network

The Indigenous Data Network (IDN) is seeking a highly motivated Research Fellow with a background in quantitative and/or mixed methods research, with experience in data linkage. The IDN is a national consortium of organisations and individuals led by the University of Melbourne, within the Indigenous Studies Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health. The Research Fellow will be expected to make significant contributions to existing projects and to the development or extension of new, innovative research.

The Research Fellow will work with the IDN leadership team to drive Indigenous data ecosystems transformation, and to develop and undertake ongoing community-led research and national and international engagement. The role will include significant engagement and governance activities with key stakeholders including universities, Federal, State and Local Governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, and private and non-profit organisations.

For more information about the position and details of how to apply click here.

Students from the University of Melbourne Indigenous Knowledge Institute. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Learning from people with lived experience

The image in the feature tile is from the Aboriginal heart health webpage of the Heart Foundation website.

Learning from people with lived experience

Communities and individuals have a right and a duty to participate in the design and delivery of their health care. In tackling the complex global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health conditions, people with lived experience offer powerful expertise and narratives to shape policies, programs and services, and influence and inform those in power. Despite the right of participation, many global health interventions are top–down, one-size-fits-all or donor-driven models.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a short film documentary that sheds light on the experiences of people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions around the world. Nothing for Us, Without Us: listening and learning from people with lived experience highlights six individuals with diverse health conditions, including rheumatic heart disease, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, cancer, bipolar affective disorder and auto-immune disease and includes perspectives from Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

These individuals provide powerful expertise and evidence of why including the voices of people with lived experience is critical in the co-design of related policies, programs and health services. In addition to the full-length film, there is also the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the individuals, including the CEO of Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Limited, LaVerne Bellear, through a series of short films.

Click here to access the WHO’s Nothing for us, without us: new film series on people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions webpage. You can also access the WHO report Nothing for us, without us: opportunities for meaningful engagement of people living with NCDs here.

Addressing health holistically for 25 years

Addressing health holistically can go a long way to improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. On a day-to-day level, it’s services like Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement in Queensland that makes all the difference. The incorporated community not-for-profit organisation has been providing culturally safe and sensitive services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people in Queensland’s Toowoomba and Darling Downs regions, and SW Queensland for 25 years.

Goolburri knows that encompassing the importance of connection to land, culture, ancestry and how these impact on overall wellbeing of the individual and broader community cannot be underestimated. Goolburri supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a range of services to strengthen families and community relationships, while also protecting the vulnerable and those at risk. These services include GPs, dental services, home support, healing and wellbeing services and a family wellbeing service. It also extends to problematic substance abuse, domestic violence, social and emotional wellbeing, safety plans for children and in-home support.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Strengthening communities by advancing health care options in full click here.

Goolburri employs around 80 team members across 10 offices. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Condo SkyFest supports mental health initiatives

The recent Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) festival washosted by Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC) and Big Skies Collaboration. The festival showcased works from a number of local community organisations and individuals including the:

  • Condo SistaShed, where Sistas meet regularly to enjoy arts and crafts activities;
  • Marathon Health’s Wiradjuri Wellness Project’s Shine group, who meet regularly to paint, sew, yarn and relax. Their artworks celebrate good mental and physical health and positive attitudes;
  • Focus on the Sky: Suicide Prevention Program exhibition, by participants of workshops conducted by Condobolin artist Karen Tooth for the Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative of the Primary Health Network supported by Western Plains Regional Development, Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service and Lachlan Arts Council.

To view the Eastern Advocate article Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) held at the iconic Wiradjuri Study Centre in full click here.

Some of the Sistas at the Condo SistaShed with some of their lantern experiments. From left, Aleesha Goolagong, Zanette Coe, Bev Coe, Charmaine Coe. Photo: Merrill Findlay. Image source: Arts OutWest website.

Scholarships to support health workers

Applications for 400 scholarships for personal care workers and nurses undertaking vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to aged care, leadership and management have opened. There are also 100 scholarships available for allied health professionals to focus on dementia-related post-graduate qualifications under the three-year commonwealth program, which launched last year. Students are eligible to apply if their course commences or continues in 2023. There is a guaranteed number of scholarships per year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. All scholarship recipients are eligible for a completion bonus on successfully finishing their course.

Chief nursing and midwifery officer Professor Alison McMillan said the priority of the scholarships is to develop skills for aged care nurses in leadership and clinical management, and to improve expertise in areas such as palliative care, dementia care and infection prevention and control. “I’d encourage all nurses and aged care workers working in aged care to look at what courses are available and consider applying for study that will support their career in the long term,” Professor McMillan said in a statement.

“Personal care workers interested in becoming an enrolled nurse should consider applying for a scholarship to complete a Diploma of Nursing. Enrolled nurses can apply for a scholarship to complete a Bachelor of Nursing to become a registered nurse,” she said. For allied health, courses related to aged care including clinical gerontology, behavioural management, dementia, continence and palliative care are eligible in addition to leadership and management courses.

Aged care nurse practitioner Khera said the scholarships changed her life. “The best part about my studies is applying the theories and learnings in the workplace and seeing the positive outcomes.”

For more information you can access the Australian Ageing Agenda article More scholarships for aged care nursing, care, allied health staff in full here.

Image source: VACCHO website.

$2.1m for Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance

With access to health services a big issue for Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, BHP is providing $2.1 million in funding to help establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). BHP’s partnership with PAHA will help transform how Indigenous health services are provided in the Pilbara, by establishing new services and creating a strong voice for Indigenous health care.

The Alliance brings together three member organisations, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Newman), Wirraka Maya Health Service (Port Hedland) and Mawarnkarra Health Service (Roebourne and Karratha). Through their collective expertise and community connections, PAHA has a unique understanding of Indigenous health challenges in the Pilbara. Their goal is to work towards breaking down the barriers and improving the health and resilience of Aboriginal people now and in the future.

Wirraka Maya Health Service CEO, June Councillor, says the funding will make a huge difference in driving real improvements in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in the Pilbara. “It will help us identify, develop and roll out the Indigenous health services that will have the greatest impact on our communities in Newman, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Karratha.”

To view the BHP article Transforming Indigenous healthcare in the Pilbara in full click here.

PAHA logo, PAHA health workers. Image sources: PAHA Facebook, BHP website.

Indigenous Literacy Day

Today, Wednesday 7 September 2022 is Indigenous Literacy Day. This is a yearly initiative by Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Through literacy programs, the organisation seeks to improve the lives and possibilities of Indigenous Australians. Not just any literacy program, but one that puts the knowledge and wisdom of the Indigenous people first.

Australia’s First Peoples have a deep knowledge of community, culture, and land. These are concepts of “literacy” that the western world may not understand. We must redefine what literacy means for different communities and their needs. To create forward-thinking spaces without losing roots. Indigenous Literacy Day advocates people’s right to an education in the languages they speak at home. It celebrates Indigenous freedom of expression and participation in public life just as they are.

For more information about Indigenous Literacy Day click here.

Eating disorders research grants available

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders.

Open to anyone living in Australia, IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13m grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

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

For further information you can access The University of Sydney webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Workforce shortages across the sector

The image in the feature tile is from the Trainee Aboriginal Health Practitioner webpage of the Danila Dilba Health Service website.

Workforce shortages across the sector

Workforce shortages across the health sector is impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.

The Government’s commitment to the roll out of a NACCHO-led national traineeship program has been welcomed by the ACCHO sector as an ideal way to grow a suitably qualified and job ready Aboriginal Health Worker (AHW) and Health Practitioner (AHP) workforce. Our Aboriginal Health Workers and Health Practitioners are the heart of our ACCHO workforce. They are skilled, valued and trusted members of ACCHO teams and local communities.

NACCHO is working closely with our eleven community-controlled RTOs which will play a key role in delivering these traineeships. Their focus on the provision of culturally competent, holistic care, and accessibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is a critical difference in the training they offer.

You can read more about the NACCHO-led traineeship program in this media release from the Minster for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, here.

Image source: AHCSA About RTO / Education webpage.

Eliminating workplace racism a must

Eliminating racism in the workplace and securing ongoing employment for Indigenous Australians must be a priority for all organisations, the Jobs and Skills Summit has been told. A first step is recognising racism as a genuine work health and safety issue, University of Queensland Business School Indigenous engagement director Sharlene Leroy-Dyer said yesterday at the summit.

Dr Leroy-Dyer said Indigenous workers who experience racism and a lack of action to combat it will often leave the workplace. She told the summit this perpetuates a welfare mentality rather than empowering Indigenous people to take up employment opportunities. “We would like to see a racism-busting agenda spearheaded by the union movement that ensures responsibility for tackling racism is shared by all: employers, government, business and sector bodies, and the public,” Dr Leroy-Dyer said.

Indigenous women and girls in particular are calling for the right to have a say on workplace reform, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner June Oscar said. “Their right to be at the table to inform these processes going forward, that are so needed, that will impact and create opportunities,” she told the summit.

To view The Standard article Racism in workplaces spotlighted at summit click here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar shines light on racism. Photo: Aaron Bunch , AAP Photos. Image source: The Standard.

Mentoring program aims to increase retention

Charles Sturt University has led a pre-pilot program with a local health district to increase retention and satisfaction of First Nations midwives and nurses through a cultural mentoring program. Charles Sturt University in conjunction with five local health districts and four universities has received a grant of more than $360,000 to extend a pilot program that aims to increase the retention and satisfaction of First Nations nurses and midwives through culturally safe practices.

The project: ‘DANMM that’s good!”: Evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of the Deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Mentoring (DANMM) Program across rural, regional, and metropolitan NSW’ received the funding from NSW Health to be piloted across five local health districts in NSW.

One of the chief academic investigators of the pre-pilot program who was heavily involved in the grant submission process, Senior Lecturer in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Health Care Sciences, Dr Jessica Biles said the pre-pilot program achieved positive outcomes which led to the extra funding.

To view the Charles Sturt University article $360,000 grant for First Nations Nursing and Midwifery Mentoring program in full click here.

Dr Jessica Biles, Senior Lecturer in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Health Care Sciences. Image source: Charles Sturt University website.

How to fix Australia’s broken health system

An article published in The Guardian yesterday six experts from different fields commented on ways to fix our healthcare system so that more people can access timely and affordable care. Profressor Mary Chiarella from the University of Sydney’s Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery said we need to rethink the role of nurses. True equity of access in community and primary healthcare, she said, will only be achieved by the full deployment of nurses.

Adjunct Associate Prof Lesley Russell from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics said more emphasis needs to be put on preventive care. If the system is to be truly patient-centred, then the focus must be on patients’ needs – and specifically on affordable and timely access to preventive services, treatment and care.  Dr Sebastian Cordoba from the International Federation of Social Workers and course coordinator at RMIT University said we need to understand that poverty is a health issue. He said PHC in Australia is an impenetrable, unnecessarily complex and expensive system that fails to provide care and support for some of the most marginalised groups in society. The system entrenches inequality and provides interventions that fail to get to the cause.

Prof Jen Smith-Merry, director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Research and Policy said we need to address disability competency. The health of people with disability is on average much worse than people without and they are more likely to have complex needs that necessitate a range of health and disability supports.

Dr Lisa Hodge, a counsellor, lecturer and social scientist at Charles Darwin University said we need to take mental health seriously. Mental health problems, including eating disorders, often manifest in self-harm and suicide. Finally Prof Catherine Chamberlain, an Indigenous and child health expert said we need to improve access for Indigenous children as currently, there is virtually no access to a range of essential primary healthcare services other than medical care for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children.

To read The Guardian article How to fix Australia’s broken health system: six experts have their say in full click here.

Image source: AMA News.

Chronic kidney disease education program

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common, harmful and silent disease that affects almost one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. It is twice as common as diabetes, and a significant cause of cardiovascular deaths among Australian adults. CKD often remains undetected until the majority of kidney function is lost. Health workers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are well placed to carry out targeted screening for early detection of CKD. The disease can then be managed through individualised action plans that can slow the progression of CKD and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

NPS MedicineWise is inviting GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers and Health Practitioners who work for ACCHOs to take part in an educational visit on this topic. Sessions can be provided through an in-practice visit, or online through most video conferencing platforms (Teams, Zoom, FaceTime).

This program has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, with content developed in collaboration with the NACCHO and Kidney Health Australia.

Delivery starts on Monday 26 September 2022 and will be available until the end of December 2022. To register your interest click here.

NSW’s new 2-year CTG plan

Peak First Nations agencies are hopeful Aboriginal Communities across NSW will realise their ambitions for greater socio-economic outcomes as a new agreement boosting self determination efforts took its next steps this week. The state’s Closing the Gap initiation plan outlined five priorities over the next 24 months. Among them, commitments to strengthen group partnerships increasing community informed dialogue, redirection from state bodies into Aboriginal community controlled organisations and measures addressing experiences of racism in Government. The shift is said to see community-controlled organisations have equal say in the direction of funding.

The announced $30 million injection, under the Community and Place Grants, came from NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations co-chair Charles Lynch and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Franklin. Some 28 of the 144 initiatives set to benefit were co-developed with CAPO. “The initiatives included in this plan have been driven by principles of self-determination, based on what communities have told us in consultations, and developed through shared decision-making with our government partners,” Mr Lynch said.

Going forward, ACCO’s will gain equal access to data and analytics to support decision making and business going forward. “We know that our communities are hurting, that there needs to be more support, more accountability and more transparency,” Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council co-chair Robert Skeen said.

ACCO’s are required to submit applications for funding by Friday 20 September and report back on program delivery by the end of 2023.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Priorities revealed in NSW’s new two-year plan to Close the Gap click here.

Image source: South West Aboriginal Medical Service website.

NACCHO Youth Conference

Are you under 29 years and working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector?

If so, register NOW for our FREE NACCHO Youth Conference 2022:

Where: Beautiful Ngunnawal and Ngambri country (Canberra)

Date: Monday 17 October 2022

Time: 9:00AM to 5:00PM

Engage in discussions, share your experiences, and meet up with many deadly peers from across the country.

Places are filling quick! Register here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time when cancer organisations around the world put the spotlight on children’s cancer and the need to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.

70% of Australians are unaware that more kids die from cancer than any other disease in this country. Sadly around 750 to 800 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year and almost half of those diagnosed are aged 0-4 years. Leukaemias, tumours of the nervous system (mainly brain tumours) and lymphomas are collectively responsible for two out of every three cases of childhood cancer. Australia is estimated to have the sixth highest incidence rate of childhood cancers among the G20 countries.

The good news is that survival rates for children with cancer in Australia continue to approve. Most of the gains have occurred as a direct result of improvements in treatment through international collaborative clinical trials.

Fore more information about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2022 visit the World Health Organisation Internationl Agency for Research on Cancer webpage here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases

The image in the feature tile is of Paediatric Cardiologist Dr Bo Remenyi with RHD patient Trenton. Image source: The Katherine Times, 1 July 2019.

Hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases

Findings from a new study in the NT provide hope for reducing rheumatic fever cases and the bacterial infections that trigger the condition. The study – part of a 4-year collaboration with Menzies School of Health Research, Telethon Kids Institute, Sunrise Health Service and NT Health – focused on reducing household health risks through community-based activities led by Aboriginal Community Workers, in a bid to curb infection rates. Housing and environmental health support – such as fixing showerheads, broken pipes and other health hardware – as well as information-sharing about rheumatic fever and assisting families to navigate healthcare, made up the focus of the activities.

People gained the knowledge needed to seek medical treatment, which initially increased the number of reported infections. Because those infections were then able to be properly treated, rates of infection decreased to below baseline levels, especially in children. Study co-author and Chairperson of the Board for Sunrise Healthcare, Anne-Marie Lee, said the findings suggested the community-led activities translated into a reduction of the types of infection that drive rheumatic fever. The number of new cases of rheumatic fever also decreased during the study.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Community-led approach delivers promising results to reduce rheumatic fever in full click here.

Children from Maningrida, Arnhem Land, NT. Photo: Lucy Marks, ABC News.

National Medicines Policy Review – have your say

An online consultation survey in relation to Australia’s National Medicines Policy is now available here. It focuses on the revised draft that was started on 17 August 2022 and is open for six weeks until 11:59 PM Tuesday 27 September 2022 via the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Health Consultation Hub available here.

In addition to the online survey, there will be:

  • targeted consultation sessions hosted via WebEx with a range of key stakeholder groups, including: consumers; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives; the medicines industry; the pharmacy sector; prescribers; and state and territories
  • an open stakeholder forum in September 2022

Information including the precise timing of the consultation sessions and how people may register interest to attend is available on the Health Consultation Hub. If you or your associates have questions regarding the NMP Review or the consultation process, please contact the NMP Secretariat via email here.

Background

On 29 July 2022, the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler MP announced that the National Medicines Policy (NMP) Review was set to restart.  Professor Michael Kidd AM FAHMS, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Principal Medical Advisor, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, was reappointed as the sole reviewer to complete the NMP Review and provide a final report to Government later this year.

All interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to engage and provide feedback on the revised draft of the 2022 NMP which will be accompanied by a Summary Consultation Report and Recommendations with the outcomes of the previous round of consultations and the former NMP Review Committee’s recommendations (reflected in the latest draft NMP 2022). The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders is highly valued and will contribute to the report to Government and finalisation of the 2022 NMP.

Image source: AMA website.

First Nations-led employment policy needed

On the eve of the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit from 1–2 September 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers, union representatives, peak bodies and researchers gathered in Canberra for a First Nations Workplace Symposium earlier this week to ask some critical questions. Now we have a new government and a new policy environment, what do First Nations people want around work and work policy? And how do we ensure Indigenous-led policy is a feature of the mainstream employment landscape?

The symposium was hosted by the First Nations Employment Alliance (which includes the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, the ACTU, Reconciliation Australia, Kara Keys Consulting and PWC’s Indigenous Consulting) and aimed to listen to mob and establish a work plan and strategy to explore the future of First Nations employment that is First Nations-led and implemented.

Nareen Young, Industry Professor, Jumbunna Institute of Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney, who attended the symposium said, “First Nations workers are everywhere, but labour market experiences can be very different to those of non-First Nations workers. Existing policy doesn’t always address those needs or relate to the experiences of First Nations workers. Australia needs Indigenous-led policy design to meet the needs of First Nations workers.”

To view The Conversation article First Nations workers are everywhere. The jobs summit must tackle Indigenous-led employment policy too in full click here.

Image source: The Heart Foundation website.

Culturally safe ASD education resources

When Tanika Davis’s son was diagnosed with autism at just two years old, the Worimi mother was confronted with the stigma surrounding the developmental disorder, but also surprised at the lack of consideration for Slade’s Indigenous culture. “It came as a bit of a shock,” Ms Davis said. Her young family attended countless health appointments and consultations but found health professionals lacked the knowledge needed to appropriately treat and assist Indigenous families. “We thought that everything could be quite readily available to us as a family … but unfortunately it wasn’t,” she said.

Ms Davis said she had to inform professionals, including speech pathologists and occupational therapists, about culturally appropriate resources such as Indigenous books and activities. “Too often, as an Aboriginal family, we were required to kind of educate allied health services and professionals around cultural safety and our son’s world,” she said. Ms Davis decided to launch The I Am, Movement. The organisation provides culturally sensitive educational resources including flashcards featuring Indigenous artwork.

To view the ABC News story The I Am, Movement designs ‘culturally safe’ education resources for Indigenous children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in full click here.

Ms Davis’s background in Aboriginal health promotion helped her develop The I Am, Movement. Photo: Mark Graham, ABC Heywire.

Supporting PHC in remote NT communities

A new project supporting comprehensive primary health care (PHC) in remote communities in the NT has just been announced as part of the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre program of works. The project – a partnership between the University of Sydney, the Menzies School of Health Research (Alice Springs), NT Health, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Health Direct Australia, and NT Primary Health Network (PHN) – focuses on working closely with First Nations communities in the Northern Territory, as well as Indigenous providers and consumers to develop community-centred care models.

“While telehealth has been widely used in remote communities, there is a significant gap in our understanding of how Indigenous Australians want to use technology to support their health and wellness,” said Professor Time Shaw, project lead, and Charles Perkins Centre member. This is a great team and continues the Charles Perkins Centre’s collaborative approach to all its work, particularly when working with First Nations communities. Embedding Indigenous researchers in the team will help to ensure that this community-led model has impact.

To view The University of Sydney article Supporting primary health care in remote NT communities in full click here.

Wadeye, NT. Photo: James Dunlevie, ABC News.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra conference registrations open

The annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference will be delivered by The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and is in its 7th year running.

The aim of the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues.

Conference date: Wednesday 12 October 2022

Location: The Department of Rural Health, Shepparton campus on Yorta Yorta Country or online.

You can register and purchase tickets for the conference here.

AMS Redfern 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner

The Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Ltd Redfern is inviting you to join them at a Gala Dinner to celebrate more than 50 years of Aboriginal Leadership and outstanding contributions made by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

You will enjoy an evening to remember as AMS Redfern celebrates their unique history. The evening will feature a formal dinner and spectacular entertainment showcasing traditional and contemporary performers.

The Gala Dinner will be held at the International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbor on Saturday 26 November 2022 with doors open from 6:00PM.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Voice explained

The image in the feature tile is of Torres Strait Islander man Thomas Mayer, a tireless campaigner for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice. Image source: Twitter, 26 August 2022.

The Voice explained

The Albanese government has put forward a preferred form of words to insert into the constitution to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament, starting with a simple question for us all to vote on. “We should consider asking our fellow Australians something as simple as: ‘Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?’” Anthony Albanese said in July during a landmark speech at the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land.

The government is now in “the consultation phase of this important nation-building project”, according to the minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney. She has promised a public education campaign ahead of the referendum, to answer the most commonly asked questions. But the PM has said there is “already an extraordinary level of detail out there from the work that Marcia Langton and Tom Calma did”.

The Guardian article How would an Indigenous voice work and what are people saying about it? available in full here, goes on to answer the following questions:

  • What do we already know?
  • How would the national voice work?
  • How would it be structured?
  • How would local and regional voices feed in?
  • What would a voice not do?
  • How would disputes be resolved?
  • What action is being taken?
  • What are people saying about the plan?

NBA legend supports the Voice

The PM has enlisted the support of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal in calling for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and a Voice to Parliament. Anthony Albanese praised O’Neal after meeting with the basketball great in Sydney on Saturday morning, highlighting his work “in the United States about social justice and lifting people up who are marginalised”.

“He knows that we’re a warm and generous people,” Mr Albanese said. “And he wanted to inform himself about what this debate was about.” The PM argued the world was watching the debate in Australia about recognition of First Nations people. “I just believe that it will send a really positive message to the world about our maturity as a nation,” Mr Albanese said.

The PM, along with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, presented O’Neal with a boomerang handmade by First Nations artist Josh Evans, and two jerseys from Mr Albanese’s beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs. “I’m here in your country, whatever you need from me, just let me know,” O’Neal said.

To view the ABC News article Shaquille O’Neal joins PM as Anthony Albanese says ‘world is watching’ Voice to Parliament debate in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Healing Works suicide prevention workshops

Healing Works Australia is an Indigenous Company that provides an array of suicide prevention and cultural services is leading the rollout of I-ASIST training across Australia and in August / September the development of the safeYARN suicide alertness workshops to 12 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations in NSW involved in the “Building on Aboriginal Communities Resilience initiative “ with NSW Health.

They aim to empower organisations and communities through education and sustainable outcomes. Healing Works achieve this by working with organisations and communities, to determine their unique needs so that they can more effectively respond to suicide and broader emotional wellbeing. The two workshops on offer are I-ASIST Indigenous Applied Suicide Skills Training, and safeTALK/YARN, Suicide Alertness For Everyone. Their delivery model for suicide prevention training is stepped in care and built around a solid framework that directly relates to their community members.

To view the Healing Works Australia press release in full click here.

Australia’s HIV diagnoses lowest ever

There were 552 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2021, meaning the number of new diagnoses has halved over the past 10 years, according to a new national HIV report released today by UNSW’s Kirby Institute.

  • There were 552 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2021, the lowest number since the beginning of the HIV epidemic.
  • The majority of new diagnoses remain in gay and bisexual men (68%), but have reduced by more than 52% over the past 10 years. The decline is due to a range of successful HIV prevention strategies including the scale-up of biomedical prevention tool PrEP, particularly over the past five years.
  • HIV diagnoses among heterosexual people have reduced at a lower rate; 28% in the past 10 years.
  • In 2021, HIV diagnoses remained stable among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Almost half (48%) of new diagnoses were ‘late diagnoses’, meaning that the person may have been living with HIV for four or more years without knowing. It is estimated that nearly one in 10 people living with HIV are unaware they have it.
  • Timely initiation of treatment is crucial, and by the end of 2021, an encouraging 98% of people on treatment had achieved viral suppression, which makes HIV untransmittable.
  • Further work is needed to optimise and tailor HIV programs to meet our global and national targets, and to achieve virtual elimination of transmission in Australia.

To read the scimex article Australia records lowest ever HIV numbers, but late diagnoses are concerning in full click here.

In a related Queensland University of Technology (QUT) article Zeroing-in on HIV transmission in Australia, available here, QUT health expert Dr Jo Durham says Australia had done well to reduce HIV transmissions, but insufficient focus on cultural and language differences had created inequities in healthcare access. We can’t reduce the number of people already living with HIV, but we want to stop further infections by reducing the transmission. A more targeted approach is needed to ensure access to HIV information and health care for populations experiencing HIV, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples” Dr Durham said.

Image source: Health Times website.

Sleep disorders common for NT’s Top End kids

Sleep disorders are more common and more severe in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children than non-Indigenous children, with Indigenous children often having higher screen use before bed, later bedtimes and reduced sleep, an analysis of NT data has found. The authors say targeted interventions and further resources are needed to address sleep quality issues, in order to improve the health of NT children.

“While sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), are a common and significant health issue in children, there has been very little research investigating their prevalence in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the Top End region of the NT,” says study senior author Associate Professor Subash Heraganahally, affiliated with Flinders University in the NT and a respiratory and sleep physician based at the Darwin Private Hospital and Royal Darwin Hospital.

“If left untreated, OSA and issues with overall sleep quality can lead to the development of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, anxiety and depression, in addition to the potential lasting effects of reduced academic engagement in childhood. Given what we know from previous research in other populations into the impact of sleep disturbances, the presence of OSA and other sleep disorders is likely to have a dramatic impact upon the Indigenous and non-Indigenous paediatric population”

To read the scimex article Sleep disorders common for children in NT’s Top End region in full click here.

Image source: Australian Institute of Family Studies website.

Trek tackles Australia’s rising RHD rates

A group of highly experienced doctors, health workers, and First Nations’ leaders from across the nation have begun a ‘Deadly Heart Trek’ in Queensland. The trek aims to help tackle the rising rates of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. While virtually eradicated amongst non-indigenous Australians, rates of RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly those living across northern and central Australia, are the highest in the world.

“If not diagnosed or treated, RHD can cause heart failure, disability, and even death,” says Paediatric Cardiologist and Deadly Heart Trek member Dr Bo Remenyi. “Without action, it is estimated that more than 9,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, most under 25 years of age, will develop acute rheumatic fever or RHD by 2031. “We must prevent this, through education, the upskilling of local community members, and early detection and treatment – particularly in communities with restricted access to medical facilities.”

The trek started on Thursday Island and will see two teams travel from Cape York to Mount Isa, visiting communities by invitation, where there is a high burden of disease.

To read the Retail Pharmacy Assistants article Trek tackles rising RHD rates in Australia in full click here.

Image source: Take Heart Deadly Heart website.

RPHC Manuals August 2022 update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated with monthly updates being provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date during the review process.

The RPHCM team recently attended the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane to promote the upcoming publication of the new manuals. The team will also attend the Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia (CRANAplus), Rural Medicine Australia and NACCHO conferences. All manuals are now making their way to the publishers for final formatting and editing.

All sales of the Clinical Procedures Manual will cease tomorrow Wednesday 31 August 2022.

The RPHCM team will be meeting with health services and key organisations over the coming months to discuss the changes made to protocols and new content in the latest edition. You can access the RPHCM Project Update August 2022 flyer here, the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals website here and the RPHCM team by email here if you would like a change to the report or to meet the team.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 500 new First Nations health care workers

The image in the feature tile is of Tyla West-Chong who works with Gidgee Healing in the north-west Queensland region. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC North West Qld article Indigenous health workers deliver trusted medical care to outback communities, 13 April 2021.

500 new First Nations health care workers

The federal government has announced a plan to train 500 health workers across Australia. Speaking from the front steps of SA’s Parliament House ahead of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap meeting last Friday, Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said the government would spend $52.9 million over five years to employ the Aboriginal trainees. “We need to lift the standard of living for First Nations people in this country,” she said. The trainees will get Certificate III or IV qualifications to allow them to work in health settings and deliver culturally appropriate care.

Federal Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney said the Closing the Gap targets were “absolutely fundamental” to changing the lives of Aboriginal people in Australia. She said the gap cannot be closed without adequate data and shared decision-making between governments and Aboriginal organisations. “It is patently obvious that Aboriginal organisations know their communities and know what the resolutions are to what seems like intractable problems,” she said.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner said government institutions — hospitals, police stations, youth detention centres — need to be reformed to be more “culturally safe and culturally respectful in their dealings with Aboriginal people”.

To view the ABC News article Government announces investment in training 500 Aboriginal healthcare workers as Closing the Gap council meets click here.

Federal and state Indigenous affairs ministers and Aboriginal leaders meet in Adelaide for a Closing the Gap meeting. Photo: Richard Davies. Image source: ABC News.

New PHC centre opens in Mapoon

Dignitaries from all over Queensland headed for the tiny Cape York community of Mapoon last week for the opening of Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre. This is Apunipima’s fourth standalone Primary Health Care Centre built under the Federal Government’s Rural and Remote Health Infrastructure Project and the result is a win for the community of Mapoon and Cape York communities in general.

Mayor of Mapoon and Apunipima Chairperson, Aileen Addo thanked a long list of people before cutting the ribbon in front of the community and guests to officially open the new facility. “This is something very positive, it’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here. This community is growing and we have to build infrastructure to go with that growth,” Mrs Addo said.

According to Mrs Addo, the flow-on effects from the opening of the new centre will resonate for years to come. “This is about more than just health, this is another strategy we’ve put in place to close the gap. This is about getting everything in order and seeing better outcomes like more community-based jobs, better infrastructure and community development.”

To view the Apunipima Cape Yourth Health Council media release Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre opens in Mapoon in full click here.

Images from the opening of thThimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Images provided by Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

$1.6m for Healing Spirit Youth Hub

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal organisations have the facilities they need to support their communities and deliver the best services to First People’s Victorians. Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams has announced 21 Aboriginal organisations will share in $11 million to build or upgrade community infrastructure as part of the sixth round of the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program.

This includes Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong, which will receive $1.6 million to develop a Healing Spirit Youth Hub, creating a fit-for-purpose, culturally safe space for children and young people to access clinical and therapeutic, social and emotional wellbeing services and supports.

To view the media release Boosting Capacity of Aboriginal Community Services by the Hon Gabirelle Williams MP, Victorian Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Treaty and First Peoples click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

Managing tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Therapeutic Good Administration (DoH TGA) have have published a statement, available here with clinical recommendations to assist healthcare professionals during this shortage.

A printable summary, How to manage tenecteplase (Metalyse) shortage, of the recommendations is available here for clinicians to print and display in relevant health settings.

Links to both of these statements can be found here on the DoH TGA main shortage of tenecteplase (Metalyses) webpage.

Image source: AJP e-mag.

Strep A POCT set to safe lives

Instant diagnosis and treatment of potentially life-threatening Strep A infections is now very close to reality across Australia’s remote and regional areas thanks to molecular point-of-care testing (POCT) that slashes result times from five days to just minutes. Published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, researchers from Telethon Kids Institute and their collaborators have shown that utilising POCT machines to fast-track diagnosis of group A streptococcal (Strep A) pharyngitis in kids has the potential to revolutionise prevention strategies for acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

Strep A infections are often responsible for sore throats and painful skin infections, which can lead to irreversible and potentially deadly heart and kidney damage if left untreated. Affecting remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians at some of the highest rates in the world, the key challenge in the prevention of ARF and RHD has been timely diagnosis and treatment of Strep A to minimise the risk of serious complications and stop the spread of infection throughout communities.

To view the Telethon Kids Institute media release Point-of-care Strep A tests set to save lives in remote settings in full click here.

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

Call to restore child and family centre funding

The Albanese Federal Government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to Closing the Gap for our children by reinstating funding in the October Budget for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family centres. The Abbott Government cut funding in 2014 to 38 Aboriginal Child and Family Centres (ACFCs), undermining efforts to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had the best start in life through accessing community-controlled early childhood education and services.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the ACFCs represented a considerable investment from COAG and the sector was still feeling the impacts of the cuts. “While some State and Territory Governments took up parts of the funding challenge, many ACFCs struggled to keep operating as integrated community-controlled early years services.”

To view the SNAICC media release Restore funding to Close the Gap for our Children in full click here.

Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre
Thomastown, Melbourne. Image source: Hayball website.

ADHA seeking applications

The Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) is seeking applications, through a Request for Tender process, for suitably qualified, experienced, and interested individuals to join our group of expert advisors who will support the Agency’s program of work.

Digital Health Expert Advisors are critical to this role and support the Agency by applying everyday health industry experience to the design, development and implementation of Agency products and services. This includes focusing on the clinical safety, quality and usability of all products and services developed by the Agency, and the systems within which the Agency operates.

  • Subject matter expertise: contributing clinical and/or digital health subject matter expertise into the Agency’s work program to ensure that our products, services and activities align with contemporary clinical practice and are high quality, clinically safe and usable;
  • Strategic advice: providing strategic advice within their area(s) of expertise, on approaches, processes, services and products, via participation in expert committees, advisory groups and other forums;
  • Advocacy and engagement: advocating and engaging with the broader clinical and consumer communities on the establishment and adoption of a national digital health infrastructure and representing the Agency in this regard; this may include conferences and media appearances;
  • Information and education: participating in the development and presentation of clinical messaging, education and adoption activities, and materials; and
  • Other activities: undertaking other activities as directed that aim to raise awareness and promote adoption and use of digital health products, services, and systems nationally.

The Request for Tender has now been released, via Austender, with applications closing Monday 19 September 2022.

To access the Australian Digital Health Agency website click here and to access the Digital Health Expert Advisor position details click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Rut of policy failure linked to colonial ideas

The image in the feature tile is from The Mandarin article Reports point to failed Indigenous policies, 20 June 2020. Image source: Getty Images.

Rut of policy failure linked to colonial ideas

An article Colonial ideas have kept NZ and Australia in a rut of policy failure. We need policy by Indigenous people, for the people, available here, by Dominic O’Sullivan, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology and Professor of Political Science, Charles Sturt University was recently published in The Conversation. In the article Adjunct Professor O’Sullivan says “Crisis is a word often used in politics and the media – the COVID crisis, the housing crisis, the cost of living crisis, and so on. The term usually refers to single events at odds with common ideas of what’s acceptable, fair or good.

“But in NZ, Australia and elsewhere, Indigenous policy can be portrayed as a different kind of crisis altogether. Indeed, it can often just seem like one crisis after another, one policy failure after another: poor health, poor education, all kinds of poor statistics. A kind of permanent crisis. Policy success, on the other hand, often doesn’t fit the crisis narrative: record low Māori unemployment, for instance, or the Māori economy being worth NZ$70 billion and forecast to grow 5% annually. It may be that crisis makes better headlines. But we also need to ask why, and what the deeper implications might be for Indigenous peoples and policy in Aotearoa NZ and Australia.”

Image source: Shutterstock, The Conversation.

AMA President on health workforce woes

AMA President, Professor Steve Robson spoke yesterday on ABC AM about the health workforce, saying “I think if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that you can’t have a healthy economy without healthy Australians and that means a healthy workforce. So we need to future-proof the system and because it takes so long to train a doctor, it takes so long to get experience as a healthcare worker, there is no time to waste. All of the changes to the system need to be made now.”

Professor Robson wants incentive programs that’ll encourage more medical graduates to go into general practice, particularly in remote and regional areas, saying “It’s going to mean working conditions, it’s going to mean remuneration, it’s going to mean respect from the Government to make it a job that people want to do.” The same approach needs to be applied to public hospitals to make them more attractive workplace as well. It’s all part of the AMA’s National Health Workforce Strategy, which tries to match community needs with how many doctors need to be trained in particular specialist areas and geographic regions. It means funding more specialist training placements and regional training and research hospitals.

You can view the transcript of the AMA President’s interview in full here. You can also view a related AMA media release Implementing health workforce plan must be a priority for government here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreter. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 and vax updates for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have developed a range of COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. General COVID-19 vaccine information communication materials, including videos (such as the one below), radio advertisements and interviews, social media, fact sheets, posters and newsletters are available here. In addition subscribers can receive regular newsletters featuring COVID-19 and vaccines updates and other health updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. You can view the newsletter collection here and also subscribe to the newsletter email list here.

ACCOs should have greater control in CP cases

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children are nearly 10 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services compared to non-Aboriginal children. And data shows the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029. “The figures are appalling, and we should all hang our heads in shame,” Tanya Harper, from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), said. “Today in 2022, we are continuing to create yet a new generation of stolen children.”

The data, released by Family Matters, has led to renewed calls for Aboriginal-controlled organisations to be given greater control over Indigenous children needing out-of-home care across the country. Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Jamie-Lee Maynard-Burgess knows what it is like to be removed from her family and her culture. She spent much of her childhood in out-of-home care.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal organisations should be given more control over Indigenous kids in child protection system, advocacy group says in full click here.

Image: Paul Strk, ABC News.

Medicine shortages affecting sector

The NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team would like to notify you about a few recent medicines shortages affecting our sector, including:

tenecteplase (Metalyse) injection: shortage predicted to extend over the next 18 months, TGA has extended shelf-life of some batches by 12 months

semaglutide (Ozempic) and dulaglutide (Trulicity) injections: stock is predicted to return to normal supply by the end of August 2022

benzathine benzylpenicillin tetrahydrate (Bicillin L-A) injection: anticipated shortage has been resolved without issue

It is important that ACCHO and patient ordering remains consistent with previous orders, so that medicines are available for the entire sector. Please discourage stockpiling and hoarding behaviours which can prolong shortages or create inequities.  

The Medicines Supply Security Guarantee including the introduction of Minimum Stockholding Requirements (available here on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) webpage) should help reduce the impact of global medicine shortages that interrupt supply of medicines. Manufacturers will be required to hold a minimum of either 4 or 6 months’ of stock in Australia for certain PBS listed medicines.  

You can search for updates on all shortages at here on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website and subscribe to NACCHO’s monthly medicines newsletter here for tailored advice around shortages and general medicines issues for the sector. To nominate any specific medicines that would result in serious and immediate problems for your ACCHO (for example those with no possible substitute used for life-threatening conditions), contact the NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team here.

For further information you can access a NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team letter here.

Mike Stephens – Director, Medicines Policy and Program at NACCHO and a registered pharmacist. Image source: Making Connections.

Growing and supporting health workforce

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, says representatives from across Australia’s health workforce including unions, employers and other stakeholders met today to discuss how best to grow and support this vital sector – already Australia’s largest source of employment. Over the next two months the Minister for Health and Aged Care will continue to meet with frontline health care workers, including students and those who have recently left their positions, to understand their issues and what governments can do better.

The feedback from these meetings will inform and advise our new Health Workforce Taskforce as well as the Jobs and Skills Summit process. The Government’s health workforce priorities are: ensuring secure, well-paid jobs, supporting skilled workers throughout their career, and creating a safe work environment.

To view the Minister Butler’s media release Growing and Supporting our Health Workforce click here.

UniSA’s Horizon Hospital and Health Service. Image source: University of SA website.

Cervical screening options for mob

Most women have their cervical sample collected by their health professional. Some women who have never been screened or are overdue for screening may be more comfortable taking their own sample (called self-collection).

Self-collection is one way you can choose to do your Cervical Screening Test every 5 years. It involves collecting your own sample from your vagina, in a private space. These instructions help you to collect your own sample, so you can prevent cervical cancer and live long and strong for yourself and your family.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have developed a document specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, providing information on the Cervical Screening test and options available for screening. The document, Cervical Screening Test – how to collect your own sample, available here, including an illustrated 10-step instructions.

For further information and to order the cervical screening self-collection resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

The image in the feature tile is of the super talented artist 23 year old Dion ‘Cheeky Dog’ Beasley who is profoundly deaf and has Muscular Dystrophy. Image is from ICTVPLAY – Indigenous community videos on demand, 2014.

Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

Some NDIS participants worry if they don’t spend their annual funds, they won’t be offered the same support in their next plan – and it’s harder for some to use what they’ve been allocated. Around 4.5 million Australians live with disability but less than 13% of them are covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Getting into the scheme is one thing. But many NDIS participants find using their funding is yet another.

Research indicates a major issue in terms of the fairness of the scheme is less in the allocation of funding but more about whether people are able to spend their funding. Some groups – particularly people living in regional or remote areas or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – are less able to use their budgets. The research compared plan size and spending for participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and according to where people live, taking into consideration factors such as age to ensure comparisons were “like with like”.

The research found participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people received larger plans than other NDIS participants. But they spent a similar amount, despite having bigger budgets. This resulted in lower levels of utilisation. Modelling showed increasing the use of support coordinators could increase plan utilisation and reduce inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse participants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those with psychosocial disabilities.

The ConversationTo view the UNSW Sydney Newsroom opinion piece ‘Use it or lose it’ – getting NDIS funding is only half the battle for participants by Helen Dickinson, Professor, Public Service Research, UNSW Sydney and George Disney, Research Fellow, Social Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne click here.

Xtremecare Australia founders William and Marjorie Tatipata with their son, Will. Image source: Hireup website.

Ear disease mistaken for misbehaviour

New research from Western Sydney University has revealed living with childhood ear disease and hearing loss can substantially impact the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the symptoms of Otitis Media often difficult to identify and mistaken for misbehaviour. The study focused on the experiences of caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with Otitis Media, revealing the barriers and challenges they face in accessing effective treatment.

Lead author, Letitia Campbell, a community-based Aboriginal Research Officer with Western Sydney University’s School of Medicine, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a high burden of Otitis Media in childhood, and she is determined to improve how families can manage the condition and receive better healthcare. “Living with chronic ear disease and its consequences on hearing, language development, school performance and behaviour is a common reality for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, with the impact of hearing loss in children having long lasting effects on their wellbeing and development,” said Ms Campbell. “Caregivers have described how easy it is to mistake ear disease for misbehaviour in a child, and how distressing this is to the children who feel they are always getting into trouble for ‘not listening’ or talking too loudly when there is a genuine underlying medical reason.”

The view The National Tribune article Symptoms of childhood ear disease and hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour, new study finds in full click here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Kidney replacements more than double

The number of Australians receiving kidney replacement therapy has more than doubled over the past two decades, new data shows. Kidney replacement therapy numbers jumped from 11,700 to 27,700 from 2000 to 2020, showing chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a significant health issue, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. CKD is defined as the presence of impaired or reduced kidney function lasting at least three months, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report. An estimated 1.7 million Australians are living with early signs of kidney disease, however, many are unaware due to its asymptomatic nature.

AIHW data shows that more than half (14,600) of those receiving kidney replacement therapy were on dialysis and the remainder (13,100) had functioning kidney transplants that required ongoing follow up care. Approximately 2,500 Indigenous Australians with kidney failure received kidney replacement therapy in 2020, a rate of 284 per 100,000, with more than 1 in 4 receiving treatment close to home.

After living with diabetes for 20 years, Ina, an Aboriginal artist from Central Australia, was diagnosed with kidney failure and needed dialysis. She was forced to relocate from a remote are to Adelaide for treatment, which has been the most difficult thing about living with kidney disease. “It’s very important and pretty difficult to manage. Some of us, some of our families, lose us on this machine,” she said.

To view the Daily Mail Australia article Kidney replacement therapy on the rise in full click here. You can also view the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) media release Recipients of kidney replacement therapy more than doubles over 20 years here.

Darwin dialysis patient Jacqueline Amagula would like to be waitlisted for a kidney transplant. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Child vax rates falling behind

First Nations people are being urged to get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster by the country’s peak Indigenous health organisation, NACCHO. The rate of people over 16 who have had two vaccine does sits at nearly 82%. However, only 55% have had a third does and just 30% of eligible people have had their fourth shot.

Earlier this morning Medical Adviser for NACCHO, Dr Jason Agostino, spoke on Koori Radio 93.7FM about how children’s vaccination rates are falling behind “in children coverage has been quite poor and only about one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 5 to 11 have received any vaccine and only about one in five are fully vaccinated and that hasn’t changed much in the last four, six months.” NACCHO says mob may be eligible for new antiviral medications and should talk to their doctor.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

PHC lessons from overseas

New federal Health Minister Mark Butler says primary care is “in worse shape than it’s been in the entire Medicare era” and has made it his top health priority. Primary care is any first point of contact with the health system, such as a GP clinic, dentist, or community pharmacy, but the government is likely to focus on GP clinics. A new taskforce will advise the minister on how to spend $750 million to improve access, chronic disease management, and affordability. The taskforce has until Christmas to come up with a plan, which is a big ask given where the system is now. It has been recommended that Australia should take on lessons from what’s worked overseas to reform general practice funding.

Almost half of Australians have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma or depression. More than half of Australians over 65 have two or more. Those proportions have been rising fast in recent decades. To help patients manage these conditions, GPs need ongoing relationships with patients (known as continuity of care), and a team working with them by providing routine care, outreach, coaching, and advice. That lets GPs spend more of their time working with the most complex patients, resulting in better care and outcomes. The National Rural Health Alliance has proposed the sector move towards a model with similarities to Aboriginal-controlled clinics and community health providers.

To view the on-line Viw Magazine article General practices are struggling. Here are 5 lessons from overseas to reform the funding system in full click here.

Image sources: Indigenous Access Program for health professionals webpage Services Australia.

Awabakal regional vax clinic IT lessons

At a time when most IT professionals retreated to isolated workplaces, local experts Smikteck found a unique way to assist others during COVID-19. The Cardiff business hit the road to support Aboriginal health care provider Awabakal at vaccination clinics in regional areas. Now, 12 months on, they are ready to share their lessons learnt with other medical services. Smikteck director Michael Stafford admitted the pandemic changed the way health care was provided and IT was fundamental to that adjustment. “Lots of industries had to pivot how they provided their services,” he said. “Medical and health services were no exception.”

Instead of trying to troubleshoot issues from a help desk, the Smikteck team joined forces with the health professionals and became an integral part of the clinic set up and service delivery. “Awabakal Ltd came to us with a challenge,” Mr Stafford said. “They provide medical services to an Aboriginal community of more than 8,000 patients. So, the solution was to provide pop-up vaccination clinics in local communities throughout the Hunter. But, to do this, they needed to have the same, secure technology available as a normal medical clinic – and system downtime needed to be minimal.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article IT helps build community health in full click here.

Smikteck director Michael Stafford and Awabakal Ltd chief operations officer Scott Adams. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Cultural safety training for optometrists

Last year, Optometry Australia offered 100 members the opportunity to undertake cultural safety education through Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA). Following the incredible interest they received they have purchased access to IAHA’s Cultural Responsiveness Training (Levels 1 and 2), available for free to all members via the Optometry Australia Institute of Excellence. IAHA’s cultural safety training uses an evidence-based Cultural Responsiveness Framework. Levels 1 and 2 are action-oriented and highly interactive, focusing on strength-based outcomes through critical self-reflective practice.

In 2022, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards (except Medical, Nursing and Midwifery and Psychology) released a revised Code of Conduct which took effect on 29 June. The revised Code includes a new section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety, requiring that all optometrists provide culturally safe and sensitive practice for all communities.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training now available for all Optometry Australia members article in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT PHC workforce crisis – biggest ever

Image in the feature tile is from a video NT chief minister attacks ‘international trolls’ for spreading Covid misinformation published in The Guardian on 25 November 2021.

NT PHC workforce crisis – biggest ever

As critical primary healthcare clinics are forced to close for some weeks in Central Australia due to the pandemic’s impact upon staffing, health leaders are calling for ‘vaccines-plus’ strategies to check COVID transmission, as well as better support for and investment in the Aboriginal health workforce. A leading public health expert has urged governments to do more to tackle the COVID pandemic in the wake of a related workforce crisis forcing the closure of important primary healthcare (PHC) clinics in Central Australia, with worrying implications for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) made the decision to close each of their five town clinics for one day each week from the beginning of August until the end of the month to help manage a shortage of healthcare staff. Congress delivers services to more than 16,000 Aboriginal people living in Mparntwe/Alice Springs and remote communities across Central Australia, including Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Wallace Rockhole, Utju (Areyonga), Mutitjulu and Amoonguna as well as many visitors.

Dr John Boffa, Chief Medical Officer Public Health at Congress is concerned recent major gains made in life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the NT will be reversed without urgent efforts to fix the Territory’s current PHC crisis. “Basically, we’ve got the biggest workforce crisis we’ve ever had now,” Boffa said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As COVID reduces Aboriginal health services in Central Australia, health leaders call for action in full click here.

Drone photo of Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Phot: Mike Bowers. Image source: The Guardian.

Meaningful health reform suggestions

In a recent Croakey Health Media article health professionals have explored some of the key health reform challenges facing the Federal Government and offered some ways forward, based on appreciation of the importance of addressing health inequities, the needs of patients, and strengthening critical relationships. They say a number of factors combine to deliver an Australian health system that is “universal” in name only, where those with resources can buy access to the care they need but where too many of those who need it most miss out.

Many of these “design faults” have a compounding impact on population groups who already experience the most disadvantage such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with disabilities, living in rural and remote areas and with low incomes. The resulting situation is a clear example of the “inverse care law”: the principle that the availability of good medical or social care tends to vary inversely with the need of the population served. Reversing this situation will only be possible if at least some of these structural problems are addressed, in addition to increasing overall resourcing for primary healthcare and addressing workforce shortages.

Lessons, the article authors say, can be learnt from existing examples of community-based approaches to chronic disease in Australia and internationally. These include the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector, community health centres like co-health and rural health services, which often provide a more integrated and multidisciplinary approach than urban areas.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Amid competing agendas and priorities, some suggestions for ways forward for meaningful health reform in full click here.

Darren Braun is an Aboriginal Health Worker trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston, Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon. ABC News.

Caring for our mob, in health and wellbeing

Across Australia, the consumption of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) continues to cause a greater burden of disease within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities than in the non-Aboriginal population. In the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne, two EACH programs located in Ferntree Gully – the Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Team (AHWT) and Project HOPE/THRIVE – have been successfully working together to provide wrap-around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) concerns. Anecdotal evidence suggests that such collaborative care keeps clients with complex issues engaged, supported and hopeful along their recovery journey.

The Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup “Caring for our Mob, in health and wellbeing” report uses a case study approach to explore and develop a rich understanding of the key elements underpinning the collaborative model of care between EACH’s Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup AHWT and its HOPE/THRIVE program of federally-funded AOD support. This includes relationships and trust; good communication and frequent contacts; colocation of multiple services; supported transport; flexibility and responsiveness; a team-oriented, family-centric and holistic approach to AOD misuse, health and wellbeing; and operationalizing a philosophy emphasizing welcome attitude, empathy and hope. Three real-life client stories are presented in the report, in order to reveal what this collaborative model looks and feels like, from the perspective of those benefiting from it.

To access the Ngarrang Gulinj-al Boordup “Caring for our Mob, in health and wellbeing” report click here.

NE Arnhem Land health lab on wheels

Chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease – cause suffering for thousands of Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The Menzies School of Health Research is letting people experience the effects of long-term diseases before they get sick. HealthLAB – a clinic on wheels – lets people see heart and kidney ultrasounds, hear their heart beating, and try on ‘alcohol goggles’ that mimic raised blood alcohol levels. An award-winning interactive Time Machine app completes the picture – literally – by showing how those choices affect appearance.

HealthLAB travels to locations around Darwin and Northeast Arnhem Land, giving locals the opportunity to talk to a range of scientists and health professionals about the science behind the inner workings of the human body, the technology behind the equipment they use, and exciting future careers in science.

To view the medianet. News for Business article An AI ‘Time Machine’ and a health lab on wheels – Northeast Arnhem Land, NT in full click here.

Image source: Menzies HealthLAB Facebook page.

Increasing odds GPs will work rurally

New research which links the amount of training time spent in rural areas with the odds of GPs working in rural and remote areas has been published in the American Journal of Graduate Medical Education. The study addresses an urgent need to understand how to increase the likelihood of junior doctors choosing to practice as GPs in rural or remote areas. The paper titled: Family Medicine Residencies: How Rural Training Exposure in GME Is Associated With Subsequent Rural Practice, shows that when junior doctors do their GP training in rural and remote areas they are more likely to subsequently decide to work in rural areas.

While other research has previously identified associations between rural training – particularly as a medical student – and subsequent rural practice, this study showed that as the amount of rural GP training of junior doctors increased, so did their likelihood of rural practice. Lead author, Menzies Senior Research Fellow Dr Deborah Russell, said that in the US, where this study was undertaken, almost all (91%) junior doctors training to be GPs have no rural training, leaving enormous scope for government policy to increase rural training opportunities for junior doctors. The findings of this US study are relevant for ensuring that enough Australian GPs choose to work in rural and remote areas of Australia.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release Increasing the amount of training time in rural areas increased the odds that GPs work rurally in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

ACT Rising Woman of Spirit award winner

The Lifeline Canberra Women of Spirit Awards, announced yesterday, recognise women who have overcome adversity and gone on to make a positive contribution to our community, while inspiring others to do the same. A young Indigenous woman, Rachel Fishlock, who was a child carer for her mother who had mental health complexities, was honoured with the Rising Woman of Spirit award.

From the age of 12, Rachel became a full-time career for her single mum, who had severe mental health complications, and experienced systemic neglect during her mother’s frequent and prolonged hospitalisations. Through sheer determination, Rachel completed high school, and went on to found a successful international business, Lunar the Label. She closed this to pursue university education, graduating with a degree in social sciences in 2018 and has since earned a Master of Business Management.

A Yuin woman from Nowra NSW, Rachel now works in Canberra at Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit), the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention. Today, Rachel continues to push for policy reforms to ensure other child carers do not experience the neglect that she did.

To view the Riotact article ‘Leaving the world in better shape than they found it’ – meet the winners of Lifeline’s Women of Spirit Awards in full click here.

Indigenous HealthInfoNet calls for papers

The Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (formerly the HealthBulletin Journal) has been published online since 2020. In that time, it has received over 6,500 downloads, in 62 countries and 230 institutions around the world. You are being invited to submit an article to this rapidly growing publication.

Papers are being sought from researchers and practitioners that address key issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Our goal is to provide high quality information that is timely, accessible and relevant to support the everyday practice of those in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce.

As of 27 June this year one of the most popular papers published by the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet was Culturally Safe and Integrated Primary Health Care: A Case Study of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services’ Holistic Model, available here.

You find more information here and visit the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet journal here to submit your work. All submissions are subject to double blind peer review.

New process for job advertising

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

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