A new report published by Lowitja Institute provides a blueprint for placing culture at the core of policies affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, showing how the cultural determinants of health can be implemented into policy and practice.
Lowitja institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the report Culture is key: towards cultural determinants-driven health policy outlines how culture is a protective factor for health and wellbeing and needs to be integrated and valued within health policy frameworks and programs, and also in broader government policies. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the cultural determinants are an essential part of our identity and are protective factors of health and wellbeing, anchored in ways of knowing, doing and being that have continued for tens of thousands of years,” she said. “However, this holistic concept of health is often neglected in government approaches to our health and wellbeing because it does not align with dominant culture or western perspectives and is not understood or fully appreciated by policymakers,” she said.
Dr Mohamed said the new Closing the Gap National Agreement and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan refresh offer a unique window of opportunity for the government to invest in cultural determinant-driven whole-of-government policy.
To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release in full click here.
Lowitja Institute is hosting a webinar on Thursday 29 April 2021 to support the release of the report. For more details or to register for the webinar, click here. For more information about the report or to arrange an interview with Dr Janine Mohamed, please contact Amy Hofman on 0405 114 930.
Allorah Saunders, whose health care is provided by the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service in western Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert. Image source: Oxfam Australia.
Mental health & suicide prevention interim report
The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the Select Committee) has released its interim report. The Committee’s interim report includes an update on the Committee’s activities to date, and emerging themes identified through recent reports into Australia’s mental health system and engagement with the Productivity Commission, National Mental Health Commission and Department of Health.
Chair of the Committee, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The interim report provides a snapshot of the breadth of work underway on mental health and suicide prevention. It also identifies some areas that the Committee feels need further examination as the inquiry progresses. These areas include the divide between public and private mental healthcare, coordination and funding of mental health services, affordability, the growth of telehealth and digital services in response to COVID-19, and the role of professional bodies in advocating for, regulating and supporting the workforce.’
“We can all be superheroes, we can save the world, we’ve just got to care enough to do it,” says JK-47, the 23-year-old rising star of Australian rap on what he is trying to communicate through his music. He is one of the passionate change makers who answered the call the ABC put out for young people to tell them how they are coping with a world that is increasingly scary.
It is hard not to feel disempowered in the face of stories about climate change, racism, new wars, and now global pandemics — particularly when you are young. However, the teenagers and 20-somethings featured in the article have discovered a way to create the future they want to grow into.
JK-47’s debut album Made For This features lyrics about the daily injustices First Nation people face. Photo: Kiarney Mulyono. Image source: ABC News website.
Healthy sexual relationships campaign
WA’s new HealthySexual campaign is all about preventing, testing, treating and talking to minimise the personal and social impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). With outbreaks of infectious syphilis occurring in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of the state and notifications rising over the past five years, it’s a timely reminder to be aware of and talk about sexual health.
In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in WA were 26% higher than the previous year. The Department of Health’s Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program Manager, Lisa Bastian said outbreaks of STIs over much of the state had placed populations at risk and prompted a more mainstream prevention campaign for the general community. She said an outbreak that started in the Kimberley region in June 2014 had spread to the Pilbara in February 2018 and the Goldfields in January 2019.
To view the Government of WA Department of Health’s media release click here.
Image source: Government of WA Department of Health.
Deaths in custody, every family has a story
A detective visited the parents of a young Aboriginal man; a warrant had been issued for their son’s arrect. ‘We’re going to get your son; he’s going to be locked up,’ the detective told them. ‘But if you get him to come around now, I can guarantee you that the arrest will be a non-eventful process. He won’t be harmed; we’ll put him into custody, he’ll serve his time and then he can get on with his life.’
The request went against their instincts, but the parents agreed. When their son arrived, however, the promise fell through. ‘They grabbed him, ruffed him up and smashed him into the fence, causing a head injury,’ Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, told newsGP. ‘That young man then went into the system. Approximately one week later, he died.’
On average, one Aboriginal life is lost in custody every three weeks. Image source: newsGP.
Stan Grant has written an in-depth analysis of the reasons for Aboriginal deaths in custody in his article Aboriginal deaths in custody reflect the poor health of Australia’s democracy. His article begins with some frightening statistics ‘3% of the population comprise nearly 30% of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In WA, 40% of prisoners are Indigenous. In the NT, it is more than 80%. Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90% of all juveniles detained are black.’
‘Despite the recommendations of the royal commission, we are going backwards. The number of Indigenous people imprisoned has increased 100% in the past three decades. Since 1991, more than 400 Indigenous people have died in custody. Thirty years after the royal commission, things are worse.’
Banners at the black deaths in custody Photo: Mitch Abram. Image source: ABC News website.
Young people staying away from jail
Corrie Bell didn’t think he’d make it to his 28th birthday. He’d been taken away from his parents at the age of 15 and didn’t have a lot of hope. “All my life I’ve been living in prison… mentally and emotionally, you know feeling caged in and trapped,” he said. Corie’s a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man from Campbelltown in south-west Sydney. He told Triple J Hack he had a really rough childhood. “Drugs, alcohol, crime, domestic violence… was very frequent within my family home,” Corie said.
Corie says what he really needed as a kid to keep him out of trouble was stability and guidance from positive role models. Instead he had cops following him, dealers for mates and a bunch of trauma he was trying to drown out. By 18, Corie was sent to jail for robbery and reckless wounding. He says he was so drunk he didn’t even realise where he was.
To view the Triple J HACK article What do young people need to stay away from jail? in full click here.
Uncle Glenn (front) says ‘The Glen Centre’ adopts a holistic approach to rehabilitation, with a focus on integrating Indigenous culture and spirituality. Image source: ABC News website.
In a related story, Amnesty International Australia have expressed disappointment that the Committee charged with investigating the proposed youth justice amendments in Queensland has recommended the amendments pass, despite its own report being full of evidence that they will do nothing to address youth crime. The youth justice amendments seek to take a punitive approach to young children who often have complex needs the justice system is ill equipped to address, and which ultimately condemn these kids to life in the quagmire of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Campaigner Maggie Munn gave evidence at the committee hearings.
To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release click here.
Youth detained in a Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the of the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody(RCIADIC) and numerous stakeholder organisations have released statements condemning the continued failure of governments to implement all of the report’s recommendations.
The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) said it stands in solidarity with the grieving families and communities of loved ones who have died in custody due to a failure of governments to effectively implement the clear and comprehensive recommendations outlined in the RCIADIC report. The P4JH said all levels of government must reflect on the loss and grief that could have been prevented had they acted on the recommendations as a matter of priority in 1991 and in the years since. “We are sending our strength to those families and friends whose grief and trauma is compounded by that continued failure of Australian governments to act with resolve and commitment,” said the P4JH co-chairs Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP). To view P4JH’s media release click here.
Indigenous Allied Health Australia(IAHA) released a statement acknowledging the deep loss and grief of families and friends whose loved ones have passed away while in custody, both before and since the RCIADIC report. IAHA said ‘we are at our best when we go beyond empathy and act to reduce the causes of that grief and loss. We must do that now.’ IAHA called for the full implementation of the RCIADIC report’s recommendations. To view the IAHA’s media release click here.The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) said that ‘Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur to this day – and the over-representation of our people in custody – is a national travesty. This is an abject failure of Australian governments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer unacceptably high levels of physical illness, mental illness and suicide. There is ample evidence that grief, stress and trauma make us sick and incidents such as ongoing deaths and over-representation – further add to the burden of health and disadvantage. Racism and unconscious bias – institutional, systemic and individual – is an unacceptable fact of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe services can support service providers to confront and understand cultural difference and deliver effective and safe services to our people.’ AIDA called on all governments to accept, and to address racism and unconscious biases that are embedded in police, prison, legal and health systems. To view AIDA’s media release click here.The National Native Title Council(NNTC) similarly said that three decades on from the RCIADIC report the rate of Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody continues to be one of our country’s greatest shames. The NNTC referred to research from The Guardian that found Indigenous peoples who died in custody were “more likely to not have been charged with any crime” and were “three times more likely to not receive all required medical care, when compared to non-Indigenous people”. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations, of which more than one hundred have not been implemented. To view the NNTC’s media release click here.
Change the Record says it is a national shame that in the three decades since the RCIADIC report, state, territory and Commonwealth governments have failed to implement the majority of the report’s recommendations – and as a result ‘our people are still dying at horrendous rates.’ To view the Change the Record’s media release click here.
Human Rights Watch agreed that the Australian government’s continued failure to address Indigenous deaths in custody tarnishes the country’s rights record and global standing. To view the Human Rights Watch article click here.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said: “Today is a historic and shameful day for our nation. Thirty years ago, the landmark report of the RCIADIC revealed the full extent of the danger that our justice system presents to First Peoples, and laid out the path we needed to take to make things right. Thirty years on, and things are much worse – with incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more than doubling in relative terms. Our leaders have been missing in action on this issue. They have failed to implement many of the report’s 334 recommendations, and they have failed to show care and compassion for First Peoples by changing an unfair and unjust system.” To view Oxfam Australia’s media release click here.
Thirty years ago Robert Tickner AO, the Aboriginal Affairs Minister in the Hawke government, presented the RCIADIC report to the national Parliament. Now as the Chair of the Justice Reform Initiative he said “It is to our great shame that 30 years later, we have progressed so little. We cannot wait another 30 years for real change.” The report made 339 recommendations, including that imprisonment should only occur as a last resort. This recommendation was adopted by all Australian Governments including by every State and Territory Government from all political persuasions. This support was given on the back of incontestable evidence that jailing was failing Aboriginal people. To view the media release click here.
Cairns ACCHO gives students a strong start
Commencing on 22 April, six students in Year 11 from Bentley Park College and Trinity Bay State High School, will start a school-based traineeship at Wuchopperen Health Service (Wuchopperen) to kickstart their health career with 100% Indigenous owned and operated Group Training Organisation, Australian Training Works Group (ATW), leading the recruitment drive.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traineeship Program, ‘Strong Start’, will give Indigenous youth a head start, achieving a nationally recognised qualification and on the job training while completing year 11 and 12. “By allowing students to gain work skills while completing school, they’re able to work towards a goal, whether that be higher education or transition to work,” says Rachael Ham, Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen. To view the media release in full click here.
L–R: Tony Marten (owner & Managing Director at Australian Training Works), Wendy Burke (Director of Health Services at Wuchopperen), Rachael Ham (Deputy CEO at Wuchopperen).
Health sector’s role in deaths in custody
As Australia marks the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) the health sector has been urged to reflect on whether it is part of the problem or offering solutions. Associate Professor Megan Williams, Wiradjuri justice health researcher and educator, has identified multiple areas where the sector has failed to address the health needs of prisoners.
Professor Williams says ‘justice is essential for health, for all people in Australia. How we disregard the Royal Commission recommendations is as sick as how we treat First Peoples. $40 million, three years of testimony and evidence about 99 Aboriginal deaths in custody in the 1991 final report and 339 recommendations. But what about deaths since? More than 474. Barely a family have not been affected by Aboriginal deaths in custody, police brutality, poverty or racism. It’s time to make a list of all the government frameworks that overlook, minimise, forget, ignore, exclude, tokenistically mention or silence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prison, and all people in prison.’
End Black Deaths In Custody rally in Naarm Melbourne to mark 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Photo by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey.
Raising criminal responsibility age urged
National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO have urged all Australian governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility as a matter of priority. A report commissioned by a meeting of Attorneys-General in July last year recommended that all jurisdictions raise the age and ensure younger teenagers are not held in detention. Recent reports have suggested that Australian Attorneys-General are considering raising the age from 10 to 12. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14-years-old as a minimum. As we mark 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report, it’s important to acknowledge that Indigenous children account for 58% of young people being held on remand and 48% of young people in sentenced detention.
To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.
Image: Chris Devers, Flickr. Image source: newmatilda.com.
Mega prison raises fears for prisoner health
Governments often hail the economic benefits that new or expanded prisons bring to regional communities. But what are their health and social impacts? These issues are investigated as part of Croakey’s new Rural Health Justice series. In the feature article launching the series, journalist Linda Doherty explores how Australia’s newest mega jail, the Clarence Correctional Centre (CCC), near Grafton, NSW is affecting the health and wellbeing of prisoners, their families and the local community.
Around 60% of the 155 women prisoners in CCC have dependent children and one-third are Aboriginal women, according to SHINE for Kids which advocates for the human rights of children with a parent in prison, transports children to jail visits, runs evidence-based parenting, cultural and education courses in 27 jails in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, ACT and WA, and funds tutors for primary school children.
Like many of the 339 recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody that have been ignored by governments, recommendation 168 resonates for the parents in the new CCC facility. It says: “…where possible, an Aboriginal prisoner should be placed in an institution as close as possible to the place of residence of his or her family.”
One of the Storytime books created by parents in prison for their children. Image source: SHINE for Kids.
Increasing vaccine take-up in remote NT
In East Arnhem Land, the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation said only 129 of about 5,600 eligible people had received the AstraZeneca vaccine since the rollout began in the region at the start of April. Chief executive Eddie Mulholland told the ABC he expected that number to be higher, but people were now becoming even more reluctant because people are hearing reports of rare blood clotting among recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The NT’s peak Aboriginal health service is working on a plan to improve the take-up of COVID-19 vaccines after reports of growing reluctance in remote areas. A spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT said details will be released early next week.
All adults in remote communities are eligible for vaccination under phase 1b of the rollout. Photo supplied by: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.
COVID-19 radio ads in language
The Australian Government Department of Health has produced a collection of translations of the radio ad, ‘Living the new normal’, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. To access the collection click here.
Health system needs to learn from patient experience
The health system in Australia would benefit significantly by paying more attention to the lessons learned from patient experience, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says. This is a key message from the latest edition of the Health Voices ejournal which covers the recent Shifting Gears Australasian summit conference of the CHF.
“The value of learning from experience was given fresh power at the inaugural Australasian summit last month,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “As the conference heard more than once, health consumers, particularly those with chronic conditions are more likely to have deeper knowledge of their overall care than any one health professional dealing with a single aspect of their care. There is much to learn, including from such community-centred programs as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation success in countering COVID-19.”
To view the Consumes Health Forum of Australia media release click here.
In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.
‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.
You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.
Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.
Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management
An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files. We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedbackon proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.
Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:
prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.
The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.
Image source: Newsbook website.
Resources for First Peoples with Disability
A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).
“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.
“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”
Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.
The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.
Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains
Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.
A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.
It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.
The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.
The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges. There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified. Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.
Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.
Image source: SBS News website.
Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS
Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.
Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”
Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.
Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.
Keeping the momentum on eye health equity
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.
The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.
Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.
WA – Broome – University of WA
Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome
The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.
To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here.Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.
World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world
April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.
Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.
To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.
For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit
NACCHO and the Department of Health (DoH) are excited to share with you, COVID-19 vaccine providers, new resources and materials to roll-out Phase 1b, due to start week commencing 22 March.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit includes a series of templates and materials that both vaccination clinics and non-vaccination clinics will be able to use and adapt for their sites. All resources feature the beautiful work of Aboriginal artist Jordana Angus,“Stand Together For A Healthy Future”.
This kit will help you work through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s regulatory guidelines for advertising COVID-19 vaccinations.
Here is a formal letter providing an approval for your organisation and its members and its members to adapt Government campaign materials as necessary.
The TGA or the Department of Health can look over draft materials or ideas if ACCHOs have concerns.
There are several resources that you may find helpful as you roll-out vaccinations through your clinic/practice – you can find more on the DoH website.
We can’t thank you enough for your support and partnership in helping us keep our communities safe and healthy! #OurJobToProtectOurMob
There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there: newsGP reports
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts speak to newsGP about steps to address misinformation and hesitancy ahead of phase 1b.
As Australia prepares to move into phase 1b of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are buckling down on tackling vaccine hesitancy.
GP Dr Tanya Schramm is a Palawa woman and Chair of the Expert Committee behind the COVID-19 clinical recommendations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
‘There’s been a huge social media campaign in general with … the anti-vax movement putting a lot of stuff out … and that has obviously just overflowed into our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
GP Dr Jason Agostino is the Medical Advisor at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19: ‘There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there, [but] I don’t think we have an anti-vax movement.
‘What we have is hesitancy around this vaccine and a lot of misinformation going around to people [who have] reasonable questions that they want answered.
‘We’ve got a specific factsheet about vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talking about the experiences of other First Nations [people], and really clarifying that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aren’t guinea pigs here.
‘The reason that they’re priority populations is because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders have fought hard to make sure that they have access to vaccines early.’
2021 Close the Gap Campaign Report celebrates strengths-based examples
As one of the members driving the Close the Gap Campaign, NACCHO invites you to read the 12th annual Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021 titled, Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe.
Connect with the strengths-based examples of our peoples, professionals and communities managing the most complex of challenges such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and suicide prevention.
This year’s report was produced by the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s community controlled national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. In the CTG annual reports they often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood.
Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap said, “New formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.”
“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 quoted in the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021
“ACCHOs know where our mob are and how to get the right message out.”
“I feel proud of the community controlled sector. It’s great that there’s been that recognition of how responsive and how flexible our sector could be. You could see firsthand how, if you work with ACCHOs on the ground they will deliver an effective response that’s appropriate for their setting.”
“You don’t get the same care for our people in mainstream health organisations, you don’t get that recognition of the social determinants of health or of the way colonisation impacts on our health as you do with ACCHOs.”
Indigenous birthing services vital to health of mothers and babies
Charles Darwin University midwifery researchers are calling for Indigenous-led birthing centres to expand across Australia after a seven-year study found a decrease in preterm births and an
improvement in breastfeeding and antenatal care for First Nations families.
The paper “Effect of a Birthing on Country Service redesign on maternal and neonatal health outcomes for First Nations Australians: a prospective, non-randomised interventional trial published today in The Lancet Global Health revealed preterm births were 50 per cent less likely in women accessing a designated Birthing on Country service in Brisbane’s south.
The study reported an almost 40 per cent increase in breastfeeding after discharge from hospital and an 80 per cent increase in women attending more than four antenatal sessions in pregnancy.
Most Australians support raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14, according to research commissioned by Amnesty International Australia.
The current minimum age of criminal responsibility in all Australian jurisdictions is just 10 (the age of a child in year three in primary school), a fact only one in 10 Australians could identify. In 2019 the Committee of the Rights of the child recommended Australia raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to at least 14 in line with international standards.
Australia also came in for criticism from the international community during the recent Universal Periodic Review where 31 countries recommended Australia address its treatment of Indigenous people and raise the age. “The tough-on-crime rhetoric is a false economy – all the evidence shows that locking kids up doesn’t work,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Nolan Hunter, said.
Before claiming any of the COVID-19 Telehealth items, GPs are reminded that it is a legislative requirement that GPs and Other Medical Practitioners (OMPs) working in general practice can only perform a telehealth or telephone service where they have an established clinical relationship with the patient. There are limited exemptions to this requirement.
Patients are eligible for GP and OMP telehealth services if they have an established clinical relationship with a GP, OMP, or a medical practice. This requirement supports longitudinal and person-centred primary health care that is associated with better health outcomes.
How Australia’s vaccine rollout in Indigenous communities will work
An Indigenous-owned remote dialysis clinic in Alice Springs is working to make COVID-19 vaccine information more accessible to people living in remote communities.
At 71 years old, Barbara Nampitjinpa is the perfect candidate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during the next phase of the rollout.
Ms Nampitjinpa, who uses an oxygen tank to help herself breathe, is not only getting the jab for her own health, but to encourage other people in remote communities to do the same.
Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, which begins on 22 March, will focus on vaccinating Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over, people over 70, and those who are immunocompromised, as well as some emergency services personnel including the remainder of the health workforce not included in Phase 1a.
Barbara Nampitjinpa wants people in remote communities to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: SBS News
Wunan to run headspace Kununurra
East Kimberley organisation Wunan has been appointed as the lead agency to establish and operate headspace Kununurra. headspace Kununurra will bring a much-needed resource to the area, offering young people support with their mental health, physical health, alcohol and other drugs issues, and work and study.
WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), the operator of the Country WA Primary Health Network, awarded the contract to Wunan following an open tender procurement process.
For nearly 20 years Wunan has been successfully delivering services and programs across the East Kimberley, including delivery of clinical services to Kununurra and surrounding communities.
Young people aged 12 to 25 can contact headspace Kununurra directly or be referred by their GP or mental health professional.
Illustration source: Chris Johnston, Eurekastreet.com.au
The outstanding health outcome Indigenous communities have produced
The fact Indigenous communities kept COVID-19 infection rates six times lower than the rest of Australia without a single death is proof that when they have control and autonomy over policies and programs, success follows.
That’s the message from June Oscar, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner and the co-chair of the annual Close the Gap campaign.
The pandemic and the bushfires of 2020 reinforced the need for large-scale reform and “a paradigm shift to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”, Ms Oscar said.
Chief executive of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Vicki O’Donnell said avoiding COVID-19 deaths was a triumph.
“Our mob live together, eat together, work together, they kiss and they hug – so the spread was a huge risk for us.
“No Aboriginal person died. Does that not tell you something about what we do?” she said.
In 2019, suicide was the biggest killer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged five to 17 years. Suicide rates among adults are at least two to three times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.
Yet the lack of resources and funding to train Aboriginal people in mental health and suicide prevention was “incredibly frustrating” for Thomas Brideson, the chief executive of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, a newly established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention organisation.
Read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald here.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar. Source: Australian Human Rights Commission
Close the Gap report says 2020 reinforced need for large-scale systemic reform
Australian governments at all levels must adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and should take strengths-based approaches to improve health outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples, according to the Close the Gap Campaign.
The campaignis made up of 54 organisations, including the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and aims to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In its 2021 Close the Gap report (not to be confused with the federal government’s Closing the Gap initiative), the campaign noted that the events of 2020 have reinforced the need for large-scale systemic reform and a “paradigm shift” in Australia’s approach to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Indigenous leadership in pandemic delivers a blueprint to Close the Gap
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people have been hailedfor their world-leading response to the coronavirus pandemic which left First Nations communities largely unscathed.
As leading Indigenous researcher Professor James Ward, Director of the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, and former Australian of the Year and health researcher Professor Fiona Stanley wrote this week: “Little did anyone know that just a few years after the Uluru Statement from the Heart was presented to the Australian government (and rejected), the First Nations leadership would be able to show just how powerful having a voice could be for their health and wellbeing.”
The 2021 Close the Gap Report, released on Thursday to mark National Close the Gap Day, says it’s time for that lesson to be learnt and applied to so many issues that continue to drive health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including racism, climate change, over-incarceration, youth detention, housing, food and income insecurity, health workforce shortages and stresses, and cultural destruction.
Country and culture are central to the report and the Kimberley is one of the regions highlighted for the leadership shown by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people during the pandemic, with the number of COVID-19 cases among Indigenous people six times lower than for other Australians, no cases in remote communities, and not a single death recorded.
As Oscar wrote in the report: Some of our homelands, once threatened with closure by governments in the past, became some of the safest places in Australia.”
The relative safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities also ranked as a global success, said Indigenous researcher Professor James Ward, the only Aboriginal member of the Communicable Disease Network of Australia, who was a panellist at the Close the Gap event, which also heard from Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Sir Michael Marmot, former head of the WHO Social Determinants Committee.
107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum
Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.
The Deputy PM is promoting a migration to regional Australia – but are the towns prepared to handle more people? What happens if not?
Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.
“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.
“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.
“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.
“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.
“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.
“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.
“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.
“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.
“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”
Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.
National Close the Gap Day 2021
“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.
“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.
“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout
More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.
Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.
Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.
This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.
Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.
This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.
To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.
ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine
Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.
Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?
The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?
The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.
Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.
To read the full article in the Conversation click here.
Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities
Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).
Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation
This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.
Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.
The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.
To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework clickhere.
Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief
Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.
The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.
The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.
Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.
Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.
The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.
Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.
To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.
Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.
Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.
Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong
COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia
Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.
Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.
Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosbytold ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.
“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?
Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians. The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.
Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners. We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.
Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated. The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.
Please click the link to the survey to get started here.
Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA
The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.
‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.
‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.
‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.
‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.
AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.
Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.
First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination
Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.
Read the full media release by Australian National University here.
Image source: MedPage Today website.
Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA
The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.
On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.
“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.
“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.
“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.
This morning NACCHO CEO Pat Turner joined a panel on ABC Radio National Breakfast to discuss how preparations are ramping up in earnest for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Many will get the jab as part of Phase 1B which begins on Monday 22 March 2021. At the coalface, health organisations are also busy tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
Yesterday afternoon NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey also spoke on ABC radio about COVID-19. Along with human rights advocate and lawyer Teela Reid and public health expert Professor Fiona Stanley, Dr Casey spoke with Richard Glover on ABC Radio Sydney program Drive about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reference was made to how programs run by Indigenous people work, but programs imposed on communities don’t. Professor Fiona Stanley said there is lots of evidence to show better outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal people control programs, saying “when you give First Nations’ people this power it works every time”.
In terms of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were kept safe from COVID-19, Professor Stanley said local services understand the context in which their people are living, they know who and where their Elders are and are immediately able to implement the best preventative strategies for them. Only 0.1 per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia have contracted COVID-19 compared to 1.1 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous Australians.
L-R: Dr Dawn Casey (NITV website), Teela Reid (National Indigenous Times), Professor Fiona Stanley (ABC News website).
Truth and justice commission announced
Victoria’s ‘truth-telling’ commission (launched earlier this week) has been owed for 233 years according to Victoria’s Deputy Premier, James Merlino who said “233 years of violence, dispossession and deprivation. 233 years of deliberate silence. We commit to telling the truth. We do so for the kids who never came home – and those who are still finding their way back. For those who were told they were not allowed to speak their own language, practice their own culture, know their own identity. For the families who lost loved ones in the massacres. For those who were made to feel like they didn’t belong to their own country. And for those who still feel this way. Today we commit to telling their truth.”
The Truth and Justice Commission is a shared commitment between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the state’s first and only democratically-elected body for Aboriginal people. Named after the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba word for ‘truth’, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will formally begin its work in the coming months. Held independently from Government, and afforded the full power of a Royal Commission, it will mark the beginning of a conversation long overdue, and a commitment to change. It will compel us to confront what’s come before. To acknowledge that the pain in our past lives on in our present.
To view the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Victoria State Government joint statement click hereand to view a related article in The Ageclick here.
Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk for the announcement of the commission. Image source: The Age.
Final Call: COVID-19 in aged care facilities survey
Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly have been commissioned by the Department of Health to undertake a national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs). RACF managers (or equivalent) are invited to complete a short online survey about the facility’s preparation for and, if an outbreak occurred, management of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The data will be collected and analysed by the University of Sydney. Survey responses will remain anonymous and no individual RACF will be identifiable. The feedback and analysis will be an invaluable contribution to the report and recommendations to the Department of Health.
The survey will be closing on 5:00 PMWednesday 17 March 2021.
If you haven’t completed the survey, please do take the time to share your thoughts and experiences with the review. It only takes 10-15 minutes. and can be accessed by clicking on this link.
Your input is critical to continuous improvement in the management of potential COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care.
Croakey journalist Melissa Sweet has written an overview of some of the key issues, including concerns that without proper funding and implementation commitments, the strategy will be “another worthy document which does not advance the health of Australians one iota”. Below is an excerpt from Melissa’s overview:
“OMG. The Federal Health Department has released a publication that finally utters the words so many have been waiting SO long to hear. The draft National Preventive Health Strategy cites a contributor saying that “climate change is likely to be the biggest challenge to health, wellbeing and economic prosperity”. The document goes on to note that human health is dependent on planetary health, and that environmental issues, such as extreme weather events and significant changes in climate systems, have had, and will continue to have, an impact on the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
“This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have close cultural, spiritual and social connections to the land. In order to prepare for future challenges and address the health of the planet, the impacts of climate change on physical and mental health need to be understood, especially through a health equity lens,” it says. But don’t get too excited. These words don’t come until page 40 and although climate change is mentioned a number of times throughout the document, the draft strategy does not convey a strong sense of urgency about the climate crisis and how it will undermine all other efforts in health prevention without urgent action.
To view overview in full click here and for further information about the National Preventive Health Strategy and how to make a submission click here.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
Indigenous kids are losing sleep
New analysis has found that Indigenous Australian children suffer from sleep problems at higher rates than non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal children reported insomnia, severe daytime sleepiness and breathing difficulties while sleeping, researchers say. “Poor sleep can lead to health problems and lower levels of academic achievement,” according to Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University Yaqoot Fatima. “Indigenous children suffer from at higher rates of obesity, diabetes and respiratory problems than non-Indigenous children.” School attendance rates among Indigenous children are 10 per cent lower than non-Indigenous children, she said. “Understanding sleep health is very important,” Dr Fatima said.
To view the article 7 News article in full click here and to view a related article in The Conversation click here.
Image source: CRAICCHS website.
Media invalidates Indigenous experience of racism
Gunditjamara Elder Charmaine Clark has commented on the response by national mainstream media to a report tabled last week by the Victorian anti-vilification protections inquiry. She said “the media completely missed the point and instead we saw sensational headlines of Nazi Swastika banned or Nazi flags banned.” In the course of the Inquiry, Charmaine gave her personal testimony, representing the Victorian Indigenous community. Supported by organisations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Victorian Legal Aid Charmaine’s case mirrored other experiences of racial abuse and indifference that many Indigenous people experience throughout their lifetime.
Charmain said “One of the most persistent aspects of today’s discourse regarding racism in Australia, Charmaine said, is the very denial of its existence. Out of all the most sustained political campaigns operating in Australia, the political project of controlling and diminishing Indigenous human rights and dignity is by far the longest. It has cost us much, in lives and loss of access to country, high incarceration rates and alarming mental health and health statistics.”
“Our media choose to personify racists as those Nazi’s or Proud Boys, with the effect that all other forms of racial vilification are at best of lower importance and at worst – invalidated in the eyes of the public consuming this media. It highlights the systemic nature of how perceptions of racism are controlled, perceived and presented to the general public. This narrow definition of ‘racist’ paints a picture to the public and reduces the impact of our calls for action to address racism we uniquely experience.”
A new report from the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health has found institutional racism leads to a silencing of Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and cultural practices which are crucial to closing the gap in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Published in Public Health Research and Practice, a peer-reviewed journal of the Sax Institute, the report was authored by several Indigenous leaders and noted the reluctance in health care structures to address systemic and institutional racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Lead author Dr Carmen Parter is a proud descendent of the Darumbal and Juru clans of the Birra Gubba Nation of Queensland. She also has South Sea Islander heritage and is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. “Our paper gives voice to Indigenous communities who have consistently said that racism is a critical issue in the provision of health care, as is the incorporation of culture into the design of health care services,” said Dr Parter. “When an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person accesses a health care service, there is always a level of mistrust and fear. A lot of people forget that our health system was one of the many institutions involved in the Stolen Generations that took children from their families and communities — which still happens today. Those stories resonate through our communities.” Dr Parter highlights the importance for health care providers in discussing and addressing racism.
To view the Indigenous National Times article in full click here and to view the related SaxInstitute media release Indigenous leaders call for an end to racism in the health systemclick here.
Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing website.
Race conversations program developer recognised
Bundjalung and Kullilli woman Melissa Browning has been recognised at the national HESTA Impact Awards for her contribution to improving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The awards are a national celebration of health and community services professionals working to protect the future of the planet and its people.
Browning was a joint winner of the Individual Distinction Award for her work developing and implementing the Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) program at the Fold Coast Hospital and Health Service (GCHHS). Having a career in health spanning just short of two decades, Browning is one of the only Aboriginal women at GCHHS who sits in a senior role. She is the current Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and has held that position for over a decade. Working in the health sector as long as she has, Browning has faced her fair share of adversity.
“I have often been called challenging. I like to reframe that and step away from the angry Blak woman trope,” she said. “I’m not angry, I’m passionate. I do get framed as the challenging Blak woman because I do want to make that change, make that difference for my people. Aboriginal women are constantly taking the brunt for our community, there are so many inspiring women that have gone before me that have inspired me to keep going in doing what I do. The reason I am doing this is for my people, for the future generations — that is what holds me.”
Browning’s CCAR program originates from the Us but she has worked to contextualise it to an Australian audience. The program aims to talk about racism in a safe space. “Talking about race and racism is always very hard, but I think … to move forward we can’t not have those conversations,” she said.
To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.
Melissa Browning. Image source: National Indigenous Times.
Tooth decay rates fall
A trial of a children’s dental health program in a remote Queensland Indigenous community showed the value of simple health interventions in promoting overall health in Indigenous communities, researchers said. Dental health is a serious problem for some Indigenous communities, with Indigenous children in rural Australia recording up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared with other Australian children. Associate Professor Ratilal Lalloo from the University of Queensland School of Dentistry led the study to find out what effect a simple intervention could have.
“We wanted to test an intervention to reduce that burden – the idea was to take what we considered the main preventative strategies against tooth decay and see what effect that had on ongoing dental health,” he said. “Primary health care workers such as community nurses and Aboriginal health workers can be trained to do these treatments, making them even more cost-effective.” Dr Lalloo said researchers hoped the findings would lead to evidence-based policies and practices in preventing tooth decay in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
To view the article in the Brisbane Timesclick here and to view a more detailed article about the research in UQ Newsclick here.
Image source: The Conversation.
Shifting Gears Summit
What would our health systems look like if consumers were in the driving seat – if consumer experiences and leadership were enabled to seamlessly transform health and social care to better serve their needs? In Australia we do have successful models that have arisen from genuine consumer co-design, such as the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
A summit hosted by the Consumer’s Health Forum of Australia next week (17–19 March) starts off by asking speakers and participants why such reform is needed, and goes on to showcase success, and provide inspiration for future efforts. This is a virtual event with an international cast of speakers and participants.
It’s not too late to register for the Summit (and/or one of the two pre-summit masterclasses).
Health Consumers Qld is hosting a panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, including Ms Haylene Grogan, Dr Mark Wenitong, Associate Professor James Ward and Associate Professor Margie Danchin to answer questions from the community about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers from across Queensland are invited to attend another Q&A session.
The Q&A session will take place from 9:30–11:00 AM on Monday 29 March 2021 by Zoom videoconference and “watch parties”. We hope that groups of people may come together to join the on-line session so those without internet access and those who would prefer to be in a group, can come together for a “watch party” .
The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 (Monday 8 March) ‘Choose to Challenge’, highlights the power of challenge in any environment, with an emphasis on calling out gender bias and equality. Celebrating all that is ‘girl power’, fierce females, and women who advocate for their people is what this day is all about. First Nations women are pioneers when it comes to advocating for equality — not just standing up against sexism and misogyny, but racism too.
To celebrate IWD 2021, journalist Jennetta Quinn-Bates made a list of First Nations women who are making waves in their chosen industries and professions, and definitely “Choose to Challenge” in their everyday lives and careers. Jennetta said they’re the ones we look to for inspiration to keep us going. The ones who’s pages we head to when there are important matters involving our communities, knowing they’ll be doing their best to use their voices. They’re the ones who aren’t afraid to speak up for the mob, to be proud, and to continue the journey our ancestors started.
NT Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says Manayingkarirra Primary Health Centre in Maningrida has been handed over to Aboriginal control, as part of the Territory Labor Government’s commitment to local decision making. Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation are now overseeing the delivery of health care services for the community, and surrounding homelands in Central Arnhem Land. Maningrida is one of the Territory’s busiest remote health centres. It carries out 4,000 consultations per month for more than 2,700 residents.
To view the NT Minister for Health’s media release in full click here.
Manayingkarirra Primary Health Care Centre, Maningrida. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.
To view a statement from Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson of Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation regarding the importance of this transition to the Maningrida community click here.
Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.
Vaccine rollout to support Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have said that as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have an increased risk of acquiring and developing serious outcomes from communicable diseases due to multiple factors it is critical that the COVID-19 vaccine program is designed and delivered in a manner which is accessible, inclusive and culturally safe. This includes ensuring communications are developed and targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and that information and services are delivered in appropriate languages and formats and within appropriate facilities and locations.
A comprehensive vaccine implementation plan (the Plan) has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, and with state and territory governments. This Plan has been built on principles aligned with the Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations, including shared decision-making between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; community control and cultural safety across the whole-of-population system.
To view the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt’s media release click here.
Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.
Indigenous groups want bigger role in aged care
The final report from the Aged Care Royal Commission found one major area of concern is the plight of elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous-run service providers say they’re hopeful the government will act on a key recommendation from the report, to give them a more prominent role in running aged care for First Nations people.
You can listen to the segment on the ABC The World Today featuring Features Jody Currie from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane and Jayne Lawrence from Charles Sturt University here.
Image source: Industry Skills Advisory Council NT website.
Doctors combat vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities
Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and doctors fear vaccine hesitancy could increase the risks. There are more than 14,000 kms between Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the Navajo Nation in the United States desert, but the regions have much more in common than red sand. Indigenous peoples in North America share many cultural and family values with the First Peoples of Australia and suffer similarly poor health outcomes from colonisation, a connection that has brought the two groups together for generations.
Now, one of the places in the US hit hardest by COVID-19 is playing an important role in helping combat vaccine hesitancy amongst First Nations folks in remote Australia. “The [Northern Territory has] had no direct experience of the devastation this virus causes. We’ve only had images from elsewhere,” said Dr John Boffa, chief medical officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the prevalence of underlying health issues such as diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease ― a burden they’ve been forced to bear since colonisation. Crowded living conditions can also increase risks.
This time last year Indigenous people over 50 were advised to stay home “to the maximum extent practical” and rural communities were locked down completely. At the start of the pandemic, many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) didn’t have enough PPE and there were fears a COVID-19 outbreak would rob Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not only of their lives, but of their elders, language and cultural practices too. The biggest challenge ahead, according to Boffa, is convincing First Nations people it’s safe and still important to get inoculated. His team is planning a Zoom call with Navajo leaders so that local elders and community members can hear about the Americans’ experience with the jab.
The House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Preventionrecently launched an inquiry. The committee will examine the findings of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health, the Report of the National Suicide Prevention Officer, the Victorian Royal Commission, the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy and other recent strategic reviews of the current mental health system, taking into account the 2019 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic and the capacity of the mental health workforce to respond to such events. The Committee will also consider other matters not addressed by these recent reviews.
The Committee would welcome your organisation’s views and invites you to make a submission addressing any or all of the Terms of Reference.
Further information about the inquiry is available here. For detailed information on preparing a submission, including information about parliamentary privilege and requests for confidentiality, click here.
Submissions should be submitted to the Committee by 24 March.
Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.
NT Generational Change Impact Report released
Minister for Youth and Children, Lauren Moss, said the Generational Change Impact Report released today marks the halfway point of the NT Government’s multi-targeted reform program. Keeping Territory children and families safe, thriving and connected are the cornerstones of the Report, with data indicating that we are heading in the right direction. Highlights include decreases in the rate of children in care and child protection notifications, including: A 39% decrease in the rate of Aboriginal children substantiated for child abuse and neglect – going from 63.5 per 1,000 children substantiated in the NT in 2016–17 to 38.6 per 1,000 children in 2018–19. The proportion of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in the NT continues to be well below the Australian rate. In 2018–19, 36.6 per 1,000 Aboriginal children in the NT were in out of home care compared to 54.2 per 1,000 Aboriginal children Australia wide.
To view the Minister Moss’ media release click here.
Image source: Katherine Times.
Health literacy and equity research findings
Croakey have published a special edition with the title ‘Equity and health literacy: Using emerging evidence to inform the development of the National Preventive Health Strategy’. The authors note that ‘health literacy’ has multiple definitions that encompass individual, population and environmental health literacy – with the underlying tenet being that it is critical for health and health equity, and is a social determinant of health.
The literature on equity and health literacy is relatively diffuse, often lost across multiple sectors and with limited systematic research that provides clear, actionable processes by which health literacy can drive health equity forward, they say. Hence, emerging evidence is often inaccessible to policymakers and poorly utilised by health practitioners in clinical settings. This special edition aims to address “the knowledge deficit around equity and health literacy”.
This special edition resulted from a partnership between the journal and the NT Primary Health Network, and five guest editors. It led to an “overwhelming” response and 21 papers accepted for publication. “To our knowledge, this special issue is the largest collection of articles dedicated to the topic of equity and health literacy, ever published in an Australasian peer‐reviewed academic journal,” the authors say. “We encourage Minister for Health, Expert Steering Committee, senior bureaucrats and policy staff to actively engage with the content of this special issue and purposively embed key findings into the National Preventive Health Strategy.”
Fear for pets – barrier to leaving family violence
A woman’s decision to leave a violent and abusive relationship is a complex process. She first needs to consider the risks to her and her children. Paradoxically, taking that step towards safety is also the time of greatest danger of homicide, sexual assault and increased violence. Pets and service animals are also a part of the lives of many families. This means they are an important part of the decision-making process when women consider leaving a violent situation.
The pets may be a critical source of therapeutic support, but they may also be at risk of harm and used to exert control over people (“you leave and you won’t see those animals again”). Animals’ central role in family life means many victim-survivors of family violence are reluctant to leave because they fear their pets will be harmed. To combat this, a family violence motion has been presented in the Victorian parliament that seeks to recognise animal abuse as a form of family violence. If all elements were adopted, it would increase the safety of women and children.
To view the full article in The Conversationclick here.
Image source: Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu website.
International Women’s Day 2021
Yesterday (8 March 2021) was International Women’s Day 2021. June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner released a statement saying “Today, my team and I, at the Australian Human Rights Commission, are celebrating the power and potential of all our deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls across Australia. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’.”
“This theme makes me think about all our women and girls who carry the determination, knowledge and wisdom from an ancient lineage of matriarchs. Our ancestral mothers—who walked this land for millennia—have always shown remarkable leadership in nurturing and growing our societies into the oldest living civilizations on earth. Throughout this span of time our women and peoples have led through and beyond crisis. We know how to survive and thrive.”
“That legacy and all our women and girls’ diverse strengths, expertise and lived experiences are held within the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report and Community Guide, which can be accessed here. It is the first report to hear from our women and girls as a collective since 1986. Wiyi Yani U Thangani was brought into being because of your voices. It belongs to you, to all our First Nations women and girls.”
To view June Oscar’s statement in full click here.
In another article, University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego looked at the absence of Indigenous voices on International Woman’s Day 2021. She said the cancellation of a number of invitations for her sit on panels showed how Indigenous woman is only ever a subset of the category of woman when convenient. To read this article in full click here.
University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
AHW first in Kimberley to receive COVID-19 vaccine
An Indigenous health worker has become the first resident of northern WA to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as the rollout extends across the state. Nyikina Nyul Nyul woman Emily Hunter has been working on the frontline during the pandemic as a senior nurse at Broome Hospital. After receiving the Pfizer jab, she said she hoped to the be first of many residents in the region to be vaccinated. “I’m quite proud to be the first person in the Kimberley,” she said. “Twelve months ago everyone was terrified about what was going to happen and no one knew anything about COVID-19. I hope others follow suit as well.” To view the ABC News article in full click here.
Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.
SA – Adelaide – CRANAplus – improving remote health
Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist x 1 PT or FT – Adelaide
CRANAplus is the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. They exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. CRANplus is an affordable, grassroots, not-for profit, membership based organisation that has provided nearly 40 years of education, support and professional services for the multi-disciplinary remote health workforce. CRANAplus is a values-based organisation, that genuinely embraces diversity, flexibility, and innovation in everything they do.
CRANAplus has a vacancy for a Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist (Mental Health & Wellbeing Service) who will be responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological and wellbeing support services to health professionals and their families, across rural and remote communities in Australia.
To view the position description and to apply click here.Applications close Sunday 28 March 2021.
National Day of Women Living with HIV
Today (Tuesday 9 March), the National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales), celebrate the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV. This year’s theme ‘Taking Control of Our Health’, reminds all women, regardless of our HIV status, to focus on our own health and wellbeing. The day is being hosted by the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV across Australia. To view the NAPWHA Femfatales media release click here.
During the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have neglected or postponed our sexual and reproductive health checks. Now is the time to resume our crucially important health tests, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical screening tests, breast checks and sexual health screens including a HIV test, said Ms Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales. Information about some of the key issues for women living with HIV can be accessed on the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) website here.
You can view a special HIV is: Just a Part of Me video release featuring Jane Costello (CEO of Positive Life NSW), Natasha Io (Board Member of Positive Life NSW), and Michelle Tobin (Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation) here.
Michelle Tobin, Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation and descendant of the Stolen Generation.
Kidney Health Week – 15–21 March
With 1 in 3 Australians adults at risk of kidney disease, this Kidney Health Week, Kidney Health Australia is calling out to all Australians, particularly those living with diabetes and/or hypertension, to get a Kidney Health Check. Last September Kidney Health Australia launched its early detection campaign, #nofilter, featuring Shane and his family. Shane was diagnosed with kidney disease following detection of high blood pressure. The campaign showed the impact dialysis had on his and his family’s life. Tragically, Shane passed away from a heart attack in December 2020, at just 48 years old.
As a tribute to him, his wife Jodie and five daughters will be featuring in the campaign during Kidney Health Week to carry on the fight in Shane’s name and get the message out about early detection. While the campaign does carry a heartbreaking message about Shane’s battle with kidney disease, it also carries a message of hope – that if caught early enough, Progression of kidney disease can be slowed down or even stopped.
For more information about Kidney Health Week 2021, Monday 15 March to Sunday 21 March click here.
Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance launch
The Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA) is a partnership between the three Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACCHOs) based in the Pilbara region of WA, namely, Mawarnkarra Health Service; Wirraka Maya Health Service; and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Member ACCHOs). The priority for PAHA and its Member ACCHOs is to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities, in the Pilbara region.
The Member ACCHOs met in June 2019 to discuss the re-establishment of a Pilbara Aboriginal Health representative body. It was agreed that PAHA would be established to advocate for and represent the Members ACCHOs. An interim Coordinator was appointed in February 2020 to undertake the actions required to set up PAHA; coordinate PAHA meetings; and carry out the directions of the PAHA Directors. The greatest concerns to PAHA are the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Pilbara; the chronic diseases impacting families; providing access to holistic health services; the impact of grief and loss on families; and increasing the level of health services and programs available to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The launch of PAHA will take place on Friday 19 March.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety made several recommendations aimed at improving access to culturally safe aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Radical change is needed to provide appropriate aged care which draws on Aboriginal culture, says the National Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care (NAGATSIAC). NAGATSIAC chair and CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Jill Gallagher AO has urged the Federal Government to swiftly adopt all recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report.
“The Royal Commission’s recommendations call for radical change and acknowledge that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and organisations are best placed to serve Aboriginal Elders. Ms Gallagher said the aged care system had “profoundly failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and these long overdue changes would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to access aged care that meets their needs. Elders are the keepers of Culture and the heart of our Communities.”
A new health awareness video has been produced by registered Australian health charity Dragon Claw, with funding from the Federal Government, in response to research showing that our First Australians suffer disproportionately from musculoskeletal conditions. The video was developed in conjunction with the Dubbo and Coonamble Aboriginal Health Services and is focused on raising the awareness in the community of the support and treatment that is available for the debilitating impacts of musculoskeletal conditions in Aboriginal communities across Western NSW.
Unaware that seeking help for what, in many cases are treatable ailments, a significant number of our fellow Australians continue to accept their symptoms as the unavoidable ‘aches and pains’ of life – leading to needless suffering and physical impairment. The video features local Aboriginal people, in their own words, encouraging everyone, irrespective of age, to seek the help of their local healthcare providers and then to follow their treatment plan with the prescribed medications.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Report was tabled in Parliament this week. The final report, titled Care, Dignity and Respect, made 148 recommendations following a two-year investigation into the structural issues in governance and funding in the aged care sector. Commissioners Lynelle Briggs and Tony Pagone said the sector needs a significant boost in funding, a levy similar but separate to the Medicare levy and to bolster the role of an independent pricing authority for the sector. The commissioners recommended a new Aged Care Act be put in place by July 2023, recommending a system based on a “universal right to high quality, safe and timely support and care”.
Adrian Carson CEO of Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) said it was clear that the commissioners listened to Indigenous Elders and Indigenous community-controlled providers of aged care services and their experiences. “Our Elders experience challenges attempting to navigate and access their entitlement to aged care,” he said. “The series of significant recommendations reflect what the sector has been saying for some time, the report called the system out on a few big things, including the complete silence around the new national Closing the Gap agreement, it didn’t pay attention to the needs of our Elders, it didn’t set targets or have health commitments for our Elders. It was a huge oversight and I commend the Royal Commission for calling that system out, we’re keen to ensure that not only the recommendations happen, but that the needs of our Elders are reflected in the broader conversation when talking about how we close the gap.”
Matthew Moore General Manager of Aged and Disability Services at the IUIH said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are “underrepresented in a system where they should be overrepresented. Only 17% of Aboriginal eligible Elders that are over 50 access a part of the aged care system compared to the mainstream engagement that sits [at] over 27%.”
To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.
Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener. Image source: Aged Care Guide website.
Vision 2020 Australia welcome Royal Commission recommendations
Vision 2020 Australia has welcomed the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and is strongly supportive of recommendations that would address some of the major issues the sector has raised around current arrangements for older Australians living with blindness and vision loss.
A key recommendation contained in the final report was establishing tailored pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need aged care support, an important part of the broader work done to ensure that all Australians can access culturally safe care and support.
In its recent submission to the 2020–21 Federal Budget Vision 2020 Australia is calling for $37.38 million over 4 years for enhancements to the current aged care system to make it simpler, quicker and more affordable for older Australians who develop or live with permanent vision loss to get the technology and supports they need.
To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release click here and to access their recent submission to the 2020–21 Federal Budget click here.
Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.
Aboriginal healthy ageing – the Ironbark Project
Would your service like to be part of research that shows how important community programs are for older Aboriginal people?
The Ironbark Project compares the health impacts of two programs: Standing Strong and Tall program (a weekly exercise and yarning circle) and Healthy Community program (a weekly social program) among groups of Aboriginal people aged 45 years and older.
Services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people (45 years and older) are invited to participate in the study. Services will be funded and trained to run one of these programs weekly for 12 months
For more details about the Ironbark Project click here and to view a flyer for the project click here.
Interested NSW services can register for the 30 minute webinar being held from 2:00– 2.30 PM on Thursday 18 March 2021 by clickinghere.
Mental health report a template for the nation
The report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System aligns in many ways with the recent report of the Productivity Commission, strengthening the impetus for more effective and equitable care and support Australia-wide, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia says. “The Victorian report shares with the Productivity Commission’s mental health report a blueprint for a fresh standard of support and access to care for mental health. The direction of both reports conquers the habitual barriers that have previously consigned mental health care to second class status compared to what’s routinely available for people with physical illness,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said.
Image source: Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Limited website.
Only 10% of remote NT kids have healthy ears
In remote communities across the NT, only one in 10 Aboriginal children younger than three years have healthy ears, a new report in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) has found. Five have otitis media (OM) with effusion (OME) or ‘glue ear’, and four have suppurative OM – acute OM (AOM) with or without perforation, or chronic suppurative OM (CSOM) ‘The level of ear disease in Aboriginal [and Torres Strait Islander] children is defined by the World Health Organization [WHO] as meeting a public health emergency,’ the study’s lead author Professor Amanda Leach told newsGP.
According to Professor Leach, leader of the Ear Health Research Program at the Child Health Division of Menzies School of Health Research, any rate of OM above 4% is considered a public health emergency. The rate of chronic suppurative OM in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT currently sits between 12–15%. ‘We started off here with around 24%, so it’s definitely come down,’ she said. ‘But we’re a long way away from that target.’
NT Minister for Education, Lauren Moss, says the Territory Labor Government is investing $1.65 million in acoustic upgrades in Territory schools to support high-quality and inclusive education for students. “Improving the acoustic quality of the classrooms makes it easier for our children to learn and hear. 75 classrooms across the Territory are set to receive these works. This funding comes in addition to the $5.2 million Building for Inclusion funding announced in January 2020, where 21 urban classrooms were fitted with specialist amplification systems, designed to support students with hearing difficulties and those who need additional support to focus in class.
To view the full article in newsGPclick here and to view Minister Moss’ media release about the acoustic infrastructure upgrades for NT schools click here.
Image source: newsGP.
Yarning towards life after stroke
Two new studies, focused on speaking and listening from the heart, will seek to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with stroke to self-manage their stroke recovery. Dr Heidi Janssen and Dr Di Marsden from the Hunter New England Local Health District each received $50,000 grants to kick-start their projects as part of the 2021 Stroke Foundation Research Grants round..
Stroke Foundation Research Advisory Committee Chair Professor Amanda Thrift said Dr Janssen and Dr Marsden will partner with the community to gain knowledge and develop new supports to help survivors of stroke live well. “Sadly, too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being affected by stroke,” Professor Thrift said. “Due to recognised disadvantage, the average age of onset of first-ever stroke is 54, 17 years younger than the non-indigenous population and the burden of stroke is 2.3 times as high.
To view the Stroke Foundation article in full click here.
Coral Toomey cares for her husband Bill Toomey who suffered a stroke. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.
CARE for Rural Australia comes to Queensland
OzHelp Foundation (OzHelp) with the support of Perpetual Trustees, has partnered with Dr Meg Perceval, Be Health, and the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) through Griffith University to deliver CARE for Rural Australia. With the initial goal of reaching 300 people across Queensland’s rural and farming communities, a total of 18 CARE for Rural Australia workshops are available free of charge, through both face-to-face and online workshops during March.
Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation employees harvest spinifex grass on the outskirts of Camooweal, Qld. Image source: The University of Queensland website.
COVID-19 vaccine for people affected by cancer
Following from the COVID-19 Vaccines and Cancer virtual roundtable in Mid-February, Cancer Australia has released a new webpage with dedicated information on the COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer. This information will supplement the broader information provided to clinicians and the community as part of the Australian Government’s national COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy.
The information is available to view here and the FAQs can be viewed here.
Over the coming weeks, Cancer Australia will release, in collaboration with our Indigenous colleagues, tailored information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer. Cancer Australia will also be translating the FAQs into different languages to support culturally and linguistically diverse populations affected by cancer. In order to address the ongoing information needs of people affected by cancer, Cancer Australia will be regularly updating the FAQs as new information emerges about COVID-19 vaccines and cancer. Cancer Australia would also appreciate any further information or feedback you may have on the FAQs.
Image source: The Guardian.
Legal challenge launched over proposed Dan Murphy’s store
Danila Dilba Health Service has launched legal proceedings over the decision to approve a large Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin. In the legal action filed in the NT Supreme Court, the Darwin-based Aboriginal community organisation is asking for the liquor licence approval to be set aside. The court document names the Director of Liquor Licensing and Woolworths Group – which owns Dan Murphy’s – as the defendants to the action. Maurice Blackburn’s Social Justice Practice is running the case. Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen said the decision to approve the liquor licence failed to properly weigh up the risks and benefits of the new store.
Someone else who is opposed to the Dan Murphy’s store is psychologist Dr Damien Howard. Dr Howard has provided counselling services at Bagot Community in Darwin for over 10 years. He has seen the attempts of the dry community to keep thee damaging effects of alcohol out of the community. He has seen the havoc alcohol causes in family life and is dismayed that Woolworths wants to place a Dan Murphy’s alcohol megastore nearby the community, against the strong wishes of the Bagot community. The Dan Murphy grog megastore in Darwin is being pursued by Woolworths and is opposed by local dry Aboriginal communities as it will cause more:
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
alcohol related violence, including family violence
Dr Howard says while espousing reconciliation Woolworth’s actions are carving a place for themselves in corporate infamy.
Hearing loss and dementia research
In December 2020, the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA) commissioned Mark Laureyns of the Thomas More University College in Antwerp, to write a paper examining the rapidly evolving research linking the treatment of midlife hearing loss and the prevention of dementia in later life. In doing this, Mark had the brief to only utilise research that had appeared in peer reviewed journals over the past 4 years.
Dementia, Hearing Loss and Hearing Care: Saving Australia’s Minds provides compelling, peer-reviewed evidence for early hearing care intervention to prevent dementia. A key finding of the latest research finds that hearing loss in mid-life is the largest modifiable risk factor for age-related dementia.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death amongst Australians and the leading cause of death amongst Australian women. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, whose report was recently released, made 148 recommendations. Of those, 14 related to dementia. With an ageing population and increasing costs of providing aged care, now is the time to seize the opportunity for a preventative hearing health strategy that will address the link between age-related hearing loss and dementia.
Katungul Aboriginal Corporation is seeking a dynamic, forward-thinking CEO to lead the delivery of health and wellbeing services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in southern NSW.
Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services works in partnership with local health services to ensure that their clients receive culturally appropriate medical, dental, social and emotional wellbeing services. Their vision is “for Aboriginal people to live healthy lives enriched by a strong living culture, dignity and justice and for Katungul’s work to be recognised as a driving force in achieving this.
The CEO is accountable to the Board and is responsible for the delivery of the objectives outlined in the strategic plan.
You will be responsible for strengthening partnerships with local health providers, expansion of the current operating areas and development of a community engagement strategy to ensure that services on offer remain relevant and in line with their client’s needs.
The CEO has the support of an Executive Officer and leads the four main organisational areas of Community Services, Health Services, Business Services and Governance, and Finance.
The role is based in Narooma, with additional offices and clinics in Bega and Batemans Bay. Katungul covers a wide operational base, and travel throughout the region is essential.
We are looking for a person who is decisive, proactive and results-oriented who likes to achieve excellence, is innovative and can communicate to customers and team members with flair and style. A natural leader who is enthusiastic and good at seeing the big picture whilst focusing on results.
This is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identified position. Applicants must be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent (pursuant to Section 14 (d) of the Anti-discrimination Act and Confirmation of Aboriginality will be required.
For full details of the requirements of the role and the selection criteria, please refer to the position description attached below or contact Natalie on 0439 626 393 or email@example.com for a confidential discussion.
Post Doctoral Research Fellow x 1 FT (fixed term for 2 years) – Newcastle
The School of Medicine and Public Health College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, The University of Newcastle has a vacancy for a Post Doctoral Research Fellow. In the position you will collaborate with influential Professors and research leaders within Aboriginal health research to lead Aboriginal health ethics projects nationally.
Research Assistant x 1 FT (fixed term) – Sydney – The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
The University of Sydney’s Centre for Kidney Research is seeking a Research Assistant to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to undertake research and develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.
During Hearing Awareness Week, it is important to remember that Aboriginal Australian children have one of the highest rates of chronic otitis media (middle ear infection) in the world. They are three times more likely than non-Aboriginal children to experience permanent hearing loss associated with ear disease.
Children living in regional and remote communities are particularly at risk of long-term hearing problems due to environmental determinants such as poor housing and infrastructure, overcrowding, and exposure to pollutants such as tobacco smoke.
In Australia, some Aboriginal communities report that up to 40% of their children suffer from chronic otitis media. Early diagnosis and management of otitis media, as well as measures aimed at improving environmental health conditions, are key elements in avoiding hearing loss, and the consequent effect on a child’s language, education and psychosocial development.
The Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) model of holistic, comprehensive primary care is best suited to provide this early intervention and to address environmental determinants of poor ear health. ACCHOs are embedded within communities and can provide regular education, screening and treatment for children in a culturally secure, family-oriented environment.
To view the Aboriginal Health Council of WA’s We’re all Ears for Hearing Awareness Week media release click here.
2021 Close the Gap Campaign report launch
The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.
The Australia Institute is delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report “Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe”, written by the Lowitja Institute. Speakers include:
June Oscar AO
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
CEO of National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners
Dr Janine Mohamed
CEO, Lowitja Institute
and special guest
Sir Michael Marmot
Chair, WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
The report will be launched via webinar, on National Close the Gap Day – Thursday 18 March – hosted by the Australia Institute in support of the Close the Gap Campaign.
Noon AEDT (ACT, VIC, NSW, TAS)
11:30 AM ACDT (SA) / 11 AM AEST (QLD)
10:30 AM ACST (NT) / 9.00 AM AWST (WA)
The webinar is free, but registration is essential – to register click here.
World Hearing Day events and resources support Indigenous ear health
March 3, is World Hearing Day and Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program — Early Ears (HAPEE) program is holding a series of events throughout the week with its spokespeople, singer-songwriter Emma Donovan and Play School presenter and actor Luke Carroll.
The events aim to reach out to communities across the country to raise awareness of the importance of good hearing health for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children starting school for the first time. To coincide with this HAPEE is also releasing a range of resources to support parents and carers and provide primary health and early childhood education workers with the tools for local engagement.
A highlight event will be a live webinar from 11am to 12pm on World Hearing Day for Koori maternity service workers, presented in conjunction with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), and featuring Emma Donovan. Topics to be presented include hearing and speech development in utero and beyond, why it’s important to look after ear/hearing health, the long-term impacts on learning, the main ear issues that impact ear and hearing health, and an overview of some tools that are available to help assess kid’s hearing.
“It’s never too early to get your bub’s hearing checked,” said Emma. “My daughter has had so much help and support for her hearing issues through the HAPEE program. I am proud to be a spokesperson and to help make a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.”
HAPEE has developed a new community toolkit for organisations, primary health services and early child education workers to provide support, training, and resources to help share key messages and the benefits of the program to parents and carers in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Resources can be downloaded here.
New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available
To mark World Hearing Day (3 March 2021)the Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children have launched the new 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (“2020 OM Guidelines”). You can view the OM Guidelines via thewebsiteand mobile app, which is free to download via the Apple App Storeor Google Play. These guidelines provide interactive, engaging and culturally appropriate best practice up-to-date information on the prevention, diagnosis and management of otitis media.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of otitis media (OM) in the world. If left without appropriate care, OM can cause conductive and/or permanent hearing loss and is associated with language delay, speech problems, high vulnerability on entering school, social isolation, poor school attendance, and low education and employment opportunities. Hearing loss and otitis media rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are well above the level considered a ‘public health crisis’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The 2020 OM Guidelines mobile app and website have been designed to build on the Guidelines themselves and act as a multimedia tool for primary health care providers, with:
a step-by-step guide to assist with diagnosis
user-friendly algorithms to assist with clinical decision making based on diagnosis
audio recordings in top end Aboriginal languages to assist with communication
educational videos for health workers, families and children
otitis media otoscopy image gallery and quizz
condensed Otitis Media Guidelines with graded evidence and links to publications.
Support for Anti-Racism Framework
In a report published in February, the Senate inquiry on ‘issues facing diaspora communities’ recommended funding the development of a comprehensive national anti-racism framework and to consider resourcing the Race Discrimination Commissioner to reinvigorate the existing National Anti-Racism Strategy.
Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan spoke to Nine newspapers about why funding both pieces of work is important.
To read the article in the Sydney Morning Heraldclick here.
Image source: The Guardian.
Improving COVID-19 vaccine rollout engagement with diverse communities
A UNSW Sydney-led research team has made recommendations about how to better engage with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The researchers, led by Associate Professor Holly Seale of UNSW Medicine & Health, examined the challenges faced in communicating and engaging with people from CaLD communities, as well as strategies that are needed to enhance the rollout of the vaccine program for these communities.
The team conducted stakeholder interviews with key representatives from government and non-government organisations and released a summary of their findings. The research findings are being presented to state and federal committees to help inform the COVID-19 vaccination program going forward.
Key takeaways from the aged care royal commission’s report
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report into aged care has laid out an extensive plan to overhaul Australia’s aged-care system. Among the 148 recommendations, the report calls for a new system underpinned by a rights-based Act, funding based on need, and much stronger regulation and transparency.
Over two years, through more than 10,500 submissions and 600 witnesses, the two commissioners heard extensive evidence of a system in crisis. The top four takeaways from the landmark report include:
1. Australia needs a rights-based aged-care system: In its recommendations, the final report highlights Australia needs a new Aged Care Act to underpin reform. The new Act should set out the rights of older people, including their entitlement to care and support based on their needs and preferences.
2. The system needs stronger governance: Ineffective governance and weak regulation of aged care must end. The final report calls for much stronger governance, regulation of the quality of care, prudential regulation, and an independent mechanism to set prices.
3. We need to improve workforce conditions and capability: The final report makes numerous important recommendations to enhance the capability and work conditions of formal carers. It calls for better wages and a new national registration scheme for all personal care workers, who would be required to have a minimum Certificate III training.
4. A better system will cost more: The final report makes a series of complex recommendations about fees and funding, with the commissioners diverging in view as to the specific arrangements. But essentially, the proposed new funding model would provide universal funding for care services, such as nursing.
Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin releases new publications
The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin has released a number of new publications:
Walking the talk: Evaluating the alignment between Australian governments’ stated principles for working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health contexts and health evaluation practice: Luke JN, Ferdinand AS, Paradies Y, Chamravi D, Kelaher M (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.
‘Strong Men’: Aboriginal community development of a cardiovascular exercise and health education program: Biles B (2020). Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Charles Sturt University: Bathurst, NSW View abstract: ‘Strong Men’: Aboriginal community development of a cardiovascular exercise and health education program. To view the thesis click here.
Aboriginal community controlled health organisations address health equity through action on the social determinants of health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia: Pearson O, Schwartzkopff K, Dawson A, Hagger C, Karagi A, Davy C, Brown A, Braunack-Mayer A (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (2020) Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [webinar] Canberra: This webinar focused on better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC week. During this webinar, participants heard about the latest research from Australia and North America. To read the article click here.
Baseline liver function tests and full blood count indices and their association with progression of chronic kidney disease and renal outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the eGFR follow-up study. To view the study click here.
Costing the scale-up of a national primary school-based fluoride varnish program for Aboriginal children using dental assistants in Australia: Skinner J, Dimitropoulos Y, Rambaldini B, Calma T, Raymond K, Ummer-Christian R, Orr N, Gwynne K (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.
Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – Final Report
A range of organisations, including Beyond Blue, Mental Health Australia, Suicide Prevention Australia and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) have welcomed the release of The Royal Commission recognises the strength of people living with mental illness or psychological distress, families, carers and supporters, and members of the workforce who have contributed their personal stories and perspectives to this inquiry.
Inappropriate medical advertising exploits vulnerable people
Advertising that promotes unrealistic body images or depicts normal human conditions and experiences as pathological conditions requiring medical treatment can exploit vulnerable people and lead to mental ill-health, the AMA said today. Releasing the AMA Position Statement on Advertising and Public Endorsement, AMA President Dr Khorshid said doctors should ensure than any advertising they take part in, including via social media, assists informed patient choice and does not undermine it.
“Inappropriate advertising can lead people to use products or services indiscriminately or unnecessarily, potentially resulting in physical, psychological or financial harm,” Dr Khorshid said. “The AMA is troubled by medical advertising practices that promote unrealistic body images, particularly where these concerns relate to common features of the human lifecycle.”
Healthy North Coast is working with residential aged care facilities (RACFs) and general practice clinics to help them plan for and deliver COVID-19 vaccines across the North and Mid North Coast region, as part of the Commonwealth’s national rollout. Almost 30,000 Australians have been vaccinated to date, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt, including 8,110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.
In a media release on Monday, Minister Hunt said that both the state and territory teams alongside the aged care in-reach teams are ramping up their operations, with more vaccines being distributed across the country in the next week. Last week, Healthcare Australia’s clinical workforce, who are contracted to deliver the RACF COVID-19 vaccine rollout, started delivering vaccinations in Northern NSW aged care.
To read the media release by Health North Coast and the Australian Government’s PHN Program click here.
As a senior audiologist with the Top End Health Service’s Hearing Services Outreach Program Salimon Joseph spends a lot of time visiting remote communities helping Aboriginal Territorians – and he loves it. “I get to see my patients in their comfort zone,” Mr Joseph said of his trips to communities, where he undertakes hearing assessments for all the children who has been referred to the program.
For Hearing Awareness Week (1-7 March 2021) and World Hearing Day(3 March 2021), Mr Joseph wants to pass on to Territorians everywhere to look after their ears and their hearing. Almost half (49%) of childhood hearing loss is preventable, as is over a third (37%) of adult hearing loss. During his remote trips, Mr Joseph and the outreach team share ear disease prevention tips with parents, including ensuring children get their ears checked regularly; wash their face and hands and blow their nose frequently; have a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables; keep vaccinations up to date; avoid smoking around kids and ask parents and carers to teach kids not to stick anything in their ears.
You can have a hearing loss if you often ask people to repeat themselves; turn up the volume of the radio or television; have difficulty following conversations in noisy places; have difficulty in understanding what is said over the phone; have a problem in hearing sounds like an alarm or a telephone ringing and are told by people that you speak loudly or experience tinnitus.
To read the media release by the Northern Territory Government click here.
Illustration: Eric Lobbecke. Image source: The Australian.
Specialised aged care needed for Stolen Generations survivors
The Healing Foundation has welcomed the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report that recognise the specialised aged care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including urgent trauma-aware and healing-informed services and care.
The final report notes that ‘… trauma-informed approaches are particularly important to the care of [survivors] of the Stolen Generations. By 2023, all Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and potentially eligible for aged care services. Their childhood experiences further compromise their ability to seek services and should dictate and inform how such services should be provided’. The recommendation for a new Aged Care Act acknowledges that ‘…Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are entitled to receive support and care that is culturally safe and recognises the importance of their personal connection to community and country’.
To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.
Miranda Campbell-Roberts holding a photo of herself when she was six years old. Picture: Michael Marschall. Image source: The Stolen Generation blog.
QLD/ACT/NT – Brisbane, Canberra or Darwin – Aboriginal Hostels Limited
General Manager x 2 FT – Brisbane, Canberra or Darwin
Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL) provides a cost effective national network of safe, comfortable, culturally appropriate and affordable accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need to live away from home to access services and economic opportunity. AHL is seeking to fill the following two Senior Executive Service Band 1 positions:
General Manager, Business Development & Employment – to lead innovative business transformation and cultural change
General Manager, Operations – to lead the AHL hostel service delivery
Both General Managers will be key members of the AHL Executive team, working closely with and supporting the CEO and the Board of Directors.
To view the GM Business Development & Employment position description click here, and to view the GM Operations position description click here.
Applications for both positions close Tuesday 6 April 2021.
Close the Gap Campaign Report Launch Via Webinar
Webinar/report launch on National Close the Gap Day (18 March 2021).
The invite and registration link will follow soon. Please join in the launch and share across your socials.
Almost 10 years ago, the Fathering Project was founded with the aim of delivering resources, programs and events to inspire and equip fathers and father-figures to engage with the children in their lives in a positive manner. Now through a collaboration between a number of researchers, the Fathering Project has asked Noongar men to explain what quop maaman (good men) looks like to them. The outcome was a workshop and video series that will introduce the program to boys and young men on Country with a focus on key Noongar concept and themes.
Professor Collard, a Whadjuk Nyungar Elder and the lead researcher behind the Aboriginal father’s program, said one of the key points in the discussion was that the fathering role model looked different to the Noongar men’s counterparts. He said while the western world may focus on the biological father being one of the primary caregivers, it wasn’t necessarily the same sentiment in the Noongar men’s discussions. The Fathering Project CEO Kati Gapaillard said “the research is profound, showing that increased father involvement in the lives of children creates many positive outcomes.”
To view the full article in the National Indigenous Timesclick here.
Image source: Mallee District Aboriginal Services website.
Vaccines welcome, still need COVID-safe practices
Expert health and medical science leaders welcome the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, but caution that the vaccines alone are not enough. The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out is a major development for Australia. It will enable people to take action that will help to protect themselves, their families and the wider community from a disease that has killed millions of people and impacted everyone, says the country’s expert body in the health and medical sciences. The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) is an independent body comprising more than 400 senior researchers and health leaders. It has been active in monitoring and guiding the nation’s pandemic response.
Also, you can access a community engagement kit (developed by the Australian Government Department of Health in collaboration with NACCHO) with information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines by clicking here and resources about keeping our mob safe here.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health website.
Standalone family court system abolished
The passing of legislation earlier this week to merge the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court will place survivors of domestic and family violence at greater risk according to more than 155 stakeholders in Australia’s family law system who have signed an open letter to the Attorney-General opposing the merge.
The Law Council of Australia, Women’s Legal Services Australia, Community Legal Centres Australia and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) are among the stakeholders who have consistently opposed the Government’s bill to abolish the specialist, stand-alone Family Court out of concern it will harm, not help, Australian families and children.
NATSILS Co-Chair Priscilla Atkins voiced her concerns for First Nations people, saying the merger means the loss of the standalone, specialist, superior Family Court and this will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
To view the National Indigenous Times article click here.
Image source: Crikey website.
ACTCOSS supports systemic racism investigation
The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the appointment of Ms Christine Nixon as chair of the new Oversight Committee to develop a blueprint for change for the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) however said that without an inquiry into systemic racism in Canberra’s prison the injustice experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees engaged with the justice system would not be resolved.
ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “We are pleased to see that this new Oversight Committee will soon start work to help improve culture and oversee the implementation of recommendations from inquiries and reports, “This oversight group will need to move promptly and comprehensively to rebuild trust. That must include close engagement with the community services sector, particularly Aboriginal community controlled organisations.”
To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.
Photo by Karleen Minney. Image source: The Canberra Times.
First Nations’ GP numbers keep growing
The past three years have seen a 55% increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students pursuing a career in medicine. In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools. That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.
Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase, ‘There is a greater engagement of universities with high schools to recruit into health-related degrees and improvements in entry pathways to ensure university readiness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – one of the barriers for [this population] undertaking any university degree.’
James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: RACGP newsGP.
More pressure on Woolies over NT grog shop
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous community and health leaders have called on Reconciliation Australia to revoke its endorsement of Woolworths’ Reconciliation Action Plan, as it did with Rio Tinto’s in the wake of the mining giant’s destruction of Juukan Gorge.
The signatories include many leading Indigenous health experts, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) CEO Donna Murray, Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson, Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson, Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen, and former 60 Minutes journalist Jeff McMullen.
They say Woolworths should, like Rio Tinto, be held accountable for its relentless fight to build what will be one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores near three dry Aboriginal communities in Darwin, despite strong opposition from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health organisations, “and in the full knowledge that this store will increase alcohol harm”.
Signatories to the letter to Reconciliation Australia. Image source: Croakey.
Loneliness epidemic goes on unnoticed
A report on loneliness, an issue which clouds the lives of many Australians and exposes them to increased risk of depression and other illness, has called for a national plan of action to address the often unrecognised condition. 15% of Australians were considered to be experiencing high levels of loneliness, according to a 2019 survey, yet there remain significant gaps in knowledge and community awareness of the extent and impact, the report finds. That survey finding is reported in the Loneliness Thought Leadership Roundtable Report produced by an expert roundtable established by the Consumers Health Forum in partnership with the Medibank Better Health Foundation. This report builds on the Ending Loneliness Together in Australia White Paper published in late 2020 by the Ending Loneliness Together coalition.
To view the Consumers Health Forum of Australia’s media release in full click here.
Image source: myDr.com.au.
Youth representatives sought for HealthInfoNet Board
The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet which undertakes knowledge exchange research activities to summarise, synthesise and analyse the available research and other information and make it available to the health sector workforce in ways that are timely, accessible and relevant, is seeking expressions of interest from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 18–25 years) to join its national Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides strategic advice and guidance to the HealthInfoNet‘s Director to ensure that it continues to provide support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce.
Youth representatives will provide important feedback from a young person’s perspective to guide the strategic and operational activities of the HealthInfoNet. The youth representatives will join the Advisory Board of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts and other health experts from throughout Australia.
For further information click here. BE QUICK as applications close Friday 26 February.
Settler colonials face family histories
There is a quiet movement among settler colonials in Australia to critically examine their family histories as a way of re-examining the impact of centuries of dispossession of Indigenous peoples and enabling a shift from celebratory tropes of benign settlement to deep considerations of legitimacy. The myth of great white men and women, bravely opening new worlds and taming the wilderness, including the “savage” Indigenes, is now being challenged by a search for the truth.
Working alongside Aboriginal people, documenting their stories of dispossession and survival, Australian writer and academic, David Denborough, was challenged by Jane Lester, a Yangkunytjatjara/Antikirinya woman, to find his ancestors. Now, 20 years later, he has written a book about how the relationships between his ancestors and Aboriginal people were marked by colonisation, racism and often inhumane treatment.
Denborough is determined to tell the truth as part of his healing journey and his close relationship with Aboriginal people. He has realised “there is no sense in moral superiority towards my ancestry because colonial violence in this country has not ended; no place for hopelessness because First Nations resistance has never wavered; and, no time for paralysing shame because invitations to partnerships are still being offered by Aboriginal people … and [there is] so much to be done.”
Tom and Jane Teniswood have returned half of their 220-acre property in Tasmania to the local Aboriginal community. Image source: The Conversation.
Doctor shortage in rural & regional areas
In a recent interview The Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government was asked about RACGP figures suggesting a decline in doctors electing for GP training and choosing specialties instead and whether more incentives need to be in place to fill more GP training roles. Minister Coulton said “what we’ve seen here in the bush is a symptom of a larger problem. And that is as we speak this year, there’s 30% vacancy in funded training places for GPs across Australia. We need to lift the value of general practice as a discipline.
We’re also training generalists, which is proving to be very popular with students coming through. So, doctors that have that broader range of skills, a GP with an emergency skill, obstetric skill, that would be of use when you’re working more remotely by yourself. And so, we’re looking at a whole range of issues going right back to the training through the students, working with the colleges, right through workforce issues and incentives, putting more students from country areas into training.”
To view the full transcript of the interview click here.
Image source: National Rural Health Alliance Partyline website.
Teal Ribbon Day – raising ovarian cancer awareness
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a different pattern of gynaecological cancer incidence and mortality compared to non-Indigenous women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 3.8 times more likely to die from cervical cancer, and are also 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 2.2 times more likely to die from endometrial cancer. Cancer Australia have produced a handbook for Health Workers and Health Practitioners to help provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with gynaecological cancers which can be accessed here.
Annually on the last Wednesday in February, Ovarian Cancer Australia hold Teal Ribbon Day. This is a day to support Australians affected by ovarian cancer, honour those lost and raise awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations. To access the Ovarian Cancer Australia website click here.
Image source: Ovarian Cancer Australia website.
NSW – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma – Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health & Community Services
Practice Nurses x 1 PT – Batemans Bay
Casual Practice Nurses x 1 or more – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma
Katungul is a not for profit organisation providing culturally attuned, integrated health and community services on the Far South Coast of NSW. Katungul provides a broad range of services including: Primary Health Care; Child and Maternal Health; Oral Health; Mental Health; Emotional Health; Alcohol and Drug Services; NDIS and Integrated Team Care (ITC).
The Practice Nurse is responsible for ensuring that high quality health care services are provided to Katungul clients attending the clinic and associated outreach venues. This role includes oversight of all clinical operations based at the branch including risk management, planning, reporting, and management of a multidisciplinary team.
To view position description and to apply click here.Applications close 5:00 PM Tuesday 9 March 2021.