NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is  Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from The North West Hospital and Health Service urging parents to vaccinate kids.

COVID-19 vaccine access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children ‘key’ to controlling spread

Vaccinating five- to 11-year-olds is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 into First Nations communities because of their younger population profile, a Australia’s peak Indigenous health body says.

The latest federal government data shows that 62.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 had been fully vaccinated by the end of November. That’s well behind the general population, which is sitting at 88.9 per cent.

While those figures are concerning, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said there needed to be a focus on the vaccination rates of younger First Nations people.

Epidemiological adviser to NACCHO Jason Agostino welcomed news that five- to 11-year-olds would be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine from January.

“From the Doherty modelling they’ve shown that, if we’re going to lower the number of infections among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, getting vaccination into this age group and as high as possible is really key to controlling spread,” he said.
To view the full article in The Age click here.
For further information on vaccinating children from early next year visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Community of Binjari is grieving after the NT’s harshest COVID-19 lockdown

The remote community of Binjari on the outskirts of Katherine entered lockdown on the evening of November 20.

The lockdown was the strictest in the Northern Territory and lasted until December 2 in Binjari, before transitioning to a standard lockdown with restrictions easing again this week

In December an Aboriginal woman became the first person to die of COVID in the NT.

For months, Billy Maroney had heard warnings of COVID-19 one day reaching a remote Indigenous community in the NT. But when it happened to his home of Binjari near Katherine, he was in shock.

“It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever actually been through,” said Mr Maroney, one of about 300 residents.

“I think everybody else was in for a bit of a shock [that] it could happen like this to a remote community.”

Read the full article in the ABC here.

Gilgandra Local AMS (GLAMS) Opening FEB 2022

Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) secured funding under the Indigenous Australians Health Programme Primary Health Care,  Service Expansion Funding 2021 – 2023 to establish an Aboriginal Medical Service in Gilgandra (Gilgandra is located in Western NSW  – 60 Mins west of Dubbo).

CAHS are looking at the week of February 21st to Friday 25th 2022, to officially open. This will be a very memorable day for the Aboriginal community of Gilgandra, so when you receive your invite, please consider attending.

Safe and Supported: 10-year National Framework for Protecting our Children 2021-2031

Community Services Ministers have today launched Safe and Supported: National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021 – 2031, Australia’s next 10-year framework to respond to the needs of children and families experiencing vulnerability.

As shown in The Family Matters Report 2021, launched yesterday, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care continues to escalate each year. “This National Framework comes at a critical time. Our children are being removed at an alarming rate, with little hope for reunification and keeping connected to their family, their community, their culture, and their story.

“What we need is transformational reform to turn the tide on child removals. And we are optimistic that this framework has the mechanisms to take action in the right areas by investing in Aboriginal-led solutions,” SNAICC CEO and Family Matters Co-Chair, Catherine Liddle said.

To view the full SNAICC media release click here.

4 young Aboriginal children, 1 girl, 3 boys sitting outside on outdoor rug all looking in one direction making hand signals presumably to a song

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

AHCSA Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) regional tobacco control grants aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through population health promotion activities to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.

Cigarette smoking has long been recognised as the largest modifiable risk factor affecting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However, the latest research shows that the health effects of smoking amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were previously underestimated, and that smoking causes half (50%) of deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 45 years or older, and over one-third (37%) of all deaths1.

To view the article in full click here.

AHCSA – project to identify ATSI NDIS barriers

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) is working in collaboration with NACCHO to provide support for all member services to build capability and capacity to deliver the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of phase two of the Capacity Building Project funded by the Jobs and Market Fund.

To read the full article on the AHCSA website click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono News website.

Winner of the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award for 2021 is Doyen Radcliffe!

On Human Rights Day, champion of Human Rights, Doyen Radcliffe acknowledged for decades of service to First Nations communities. Doyen, a Yamatji Naaguja Wajarri man from the Midwest Region of Western Australia, has been recognised for his work supporting First Nations’ communities to improve quality of life, health, social and economic wellbeing, and inclusion within Australian society.

Mr Radcliffe has been instrumental in pushing through adversity and challenges to create positive outcomes in human rights for his mob and communities across the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA). He is multiplying his efforts and expertise by coaching and training others and generously sharing his knowledge and experience widely to better all First Nations’ communities.

Doyen’s reach and influence expands across the nation as he sits as Director on several community-focused Boards and holds the prestigious position of Director of the Australian Evaluation Society following a period as Vice-President.

Read the full media release here.

Terry Grose, Doyen Radcliffe and Mervyn Eades at the Bill Armstrong AO Human Rights Award 2021 presentation.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

Sydney Peace Prize

Next year, the Sydney Peace Prize is being awarded to the Uluru Statement From the Heart, for bringing together Australia’s First Nations peoples around a clear and comprehensive agenda; for healing and peace within our Nation and delivering self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, that enables Australia to move into the future united and confident.

As part of Sydney Peace Prize week, you are invited to a workshop to publicly commit (or recommit) your organisation to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The workshop will give you resources and ideas on how to engage your staff, board, supporters, members and partners to call for a referendum on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament. It will include a panel discussion with the prize winners and a chance to discuss and share with other organisations. We will end the workshop with a public commitment.

You can find out more about the Sydney Peace Prize and this year’s recipients here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

4 Marr Mooditj Training AC students working on a dummy on hospital bed

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Image in feature tile: Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation students.

Health workforce investment is urgent

Around the world, news of the Omicron variant of concern has created questions about the implications for an already stretched and burdened health workforce. It is not only the clinical workforce that is feeling the pressure, there is an urgent need to invest in expanding and developing the public health workforce.

A virtual symposium, held this week, hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, heard of public health worker burnout, the traumas of dealing with the pandemic, of the value and shortage of epidemiologists, and of a lack of adequate data on the workforce.

NACCHO Medical Director, Dr Megan Campbell, stressed the need for training and leadership opportunities for First Nations peoples and recognition of the role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe. Campbell said the public health workforce had been “absolutely essential’ in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stay safe during the pandemic and improving the cultural safety and quality of government and mainstream organisation responses as well.”

Campbell went on to say, “We absolutely need to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health workforce and that’s going to require substantial commitments.” NACCHO wants to ensure the curriculum is appropriate, includes competencies around Indigenous public health practice – not just knowledge – and its development must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

KAMS students in class learning child health checks. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: National Indigenous News.

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

The CEO of Aboriginal Medical Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) is calling on the NT government to keep the borders closed into the new year. The current plan is to drop the need for any quarantine requirements for double vaccinated travellers from interstate red zones on 20 December 2021.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said he would prefer a mid-January date, “That would allow us time to increase the vaccination rates, particularly in those low vaccinated local government areas throughout the NT. Monday 17 [January 2022] looks like a good day to open up the borders as that would give the low vaccination regions time to boost their rates. We’d probably be getting very close to that 90 to 95% vaccination rate, if we continue the trend that we’re on.”

To view the full ABC News story click here.

outback highway with orange cones funnelling traffic & road sign 'state border visitor information bay'

The current plan is to let interstate visitors heading into the NT from 20 December 2021. Photo: Mitchell Abram, ABC News.

Homeless women with disability research

Homelessness is having a disastrous impact on women with disabilities, according to new research by the UNSEEN Project. UNSEEN is led by social documentarian Belinda Mason (BLUR Projects), in collaboration with the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW, and has been designed with women to tell real stories of some of the State’s 15,000 homeless women. It provides a unique platform for women of all ages to share their true experiences.

Artist and Paralympian, Caitlin [pseudonym used for safety reasons], 44, became homeless in February 2020 when floodwater engulfed her home, badly damaging the property and taking with it much of her prized possessions. She said finding suitable temporary accommodation was near impossible. “My home was no longer habitable.”

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Kate Washington said the Family Matters Report 2021 has revealed sobering data on the the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in out-of-home care. NSW was ranked as poor or very poor across all four building blocks within the report, with the rate of over representation increasing steadily since 2012-13.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW are 9.9 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services than non-Indigenous children. The Report has slammed the lack of transparency and accountability within the NSW child protection system and has called for major investment from the NSW Government in community-led solutions.

To view the joint media release by NSW Shadow Ministers Kate Washington and David Harris in full click here.

rear view of small Aboriginal child looking towards run-down house

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

A new scheme aims to attract more health professionals to rural, regional and remote areas. From January 2022, the federal government will wipe the university debt of doctors or nurse practitioners, under a few conditions.

Regional Health Minister David Gillespie said the incentives were on top of current benefits, such as scholarship programs and additional Medicare benefits. “The more remote you go, the more significant the practice incentive payment or the workforce incentive payment is,” Dr Gillespie said. “It is targeted because there is an acute shortage of general practitioners in the outer, regional and remote areas — more so than anywhere else.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is critical to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, yet efforts over more than 20 years are still to make significant inroads.

However, a small, award-winning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training provider in Perth, Marr Mooditj, is showing the way amid other hopes for change in nursing and midwifery courses and curriculum showcased at the recent Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back To The Fire conference event in WA.

Marr Mooditj’ is one of just three organisations across Australia to provide dedicated healthcare training solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  students. Their unique staff motto “Eat the frog” is about how staff make sure they are providing wrap-around support to students from across WA, in a way that goes beyond the time and focus given by most other training organisations. It means that any staff member who runs into a student who needs help is expected to step up.

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

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

Dr Wong has received a RACGP Rural GP award, recognising he has directly contributed to healthcare improvement and positively impacted the local community. “Parasitic worms may not be a popular topic, but it is a serious health issue in the Kimberley region, and anyone can get it,” he said.

“I recognised part of the problem where I work was a lack of community awareness. There are simple steps people can take in terms of prevention and treatment, so I put together posters to help raise awareness across the region, as well as clear guidelines for managing parasites, which have been really useful for patients.”

To view the Kimberley Clinical Protocol Parasitic Worms that Dr Wong helped update click here and to view the RACGP media release about the Rural GP awards click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

feature tile text ' SNAICC welcomes launch of ATSI early childhood strategy' & image of Aboriginal child's hand in dirt from cover of the strategy

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, is pleased to announce the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy in partnership with the Australian Government.

Launched today at the 9th SNAICC National Conference, the development of the Strategy was guided by conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families; and Aboriginal-led organisations and services in the early childhood, care and development sectors. “Our people know best, and this framework recognises and builds on Aboriginal-led solutions for us to continue to improve the early years experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC Chairperson Muriel Bamblett said.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the Strategy responds to calls for a more joined up approach between jurisdictions and service providers. “The new way of working under Closing the Gap offers a framework to have a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to a child’s development.”

To read SNAICC’s media release in full here and Minister Wyatt’s media release here.

cover of the National ATSI early childhood strategy

Cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy.

Miwatj Health’s vax rollout successes

In recent months, COVID vaccination rates have significantly increased in the Miwatj Health region in NE Arnhem Land, where the vaccination rollout began well before the recent NT outbreak. While uptake of the COVID vaccine was initially slow, with many community members feeling hesitant at first, further complicated by the spread of misinformation, more than 6,500 doses have been administered across the Miwatj Health service region.  

For Brando Yambalpal a Yolngu Community Worker, the key to helping people understand the importance of the vaccine was to deliver the COVID-19 story in-language, which, in his community of Galiwin’ku, is Yolngu Matha. “Yolngu people understand their language,” he said.  

Across the region, Miwatj vaccine teams have found the most successful way to boost vaccination uptake was via a house-to-house outreach strategy, visiting people at their homes to spend time telling the COVID story in their own language.  

Galiwin’ku Aboriginal Health Practitioner Wanamula Gondarra said the turnaround in attitude towards the vaccine, driven by the work of she and her colleagues, has been a total relief. “It’s amazing what’s been happening. Our people are really wanting to get the vaccine now, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for, working for months,” she said. “But she said there is still more work to be done, to make sure everyone comes back for their second dose and to convince those people who still haven’t decided.” 

The utilisation of role models including local Elders and members of the Miwatj Board, has also been instrumental in changing attitudes about the vaccine. Sharing consistent messages about COVID and the COVID vaccine in Yolngu Matha on community loudspeakers and on local radio to spread the education and importance of vaccination to their communities. 

Vaccination rates are now encouragingly high region — 83% of the population across the Miwatj region aged 12+ has now received at least one dose, outpacing the Indigenous vaccination rate nationally, which is at 74% first dose for those over 16.

collage of 3 photos top L-R Miwatj vax team Milingimbi, Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin'ku & outreach planning session Milingimbi

Clockwise: Miwatj vaccination team Milingimbi; Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin’ku; outreach planning session Milingimbi.

Climate change biggest threat to health

RANZCO has formed a united front with other Australasian medical colleges calling for the Federal Government to devise an urgent plan to protect Australians and the healthcare system from the impacts of climate change.

The call comes as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a report it commissioned, prepared by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Endorsed by RANZCO and nine other medical colleges, it paints a dire picture of the future of the Australian healthcare system under the unmitigated impacts of climate change.

Among the report’s recommendations is the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership in all climate change policy and action.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman walking ahead of controlled grass burn

Image source: Country Needs People website.

Aboriginal-led youth mentoring programs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their goals through personalised mentoring programs promoting wellbeing, connection to culture, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence has announced that five Aboriginal organisations will receive $180,000 each, sharing in $900,000 through the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program.

Programs will be delivered across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation will provide mentoring and on-country cultural retreats for young Aboriginal men in the Wyndham area, while in the Glenelg and Southern Grampians regions Winda-Mara will support specialised cultural camps and programs with Aboriginal Elders.

To view the media release in full click here.

rear view of man and youth in bush setting

Image source: Strong Brother, Strong Sister website.

SA rural Aboriginal health workforce plan

A plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas has been released, as part of the SA Government’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy. SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to help ensure we attract, recruit and strengthen the regional Aboriginal health workforce, while continuing to deliver world-class care in the regions.

“Growing the Aboriginal health workforce in rural SA is vital for delivering culturally responsive health services and improving the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal communities,” said Minister Wade. “The development of the plan has involved extensive consultation with the Aboriginal workforce, consumers and communities and the non-Aboriginal workforce from all disciplines, with a focus on providing services that are culturally safe and respectful.”

Rural Health Workforce Strategy Aboriginal Health Working Group Chair, Sharon Perkins, said the plan aims to utilise the important skills and cultural expertise of Aboriginal people in providing health services to regional SA communities.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: RACGP GPNews.

Vision oration by Aboriginal ophthalmologist

The second annual Barry Jones Vision Oration will be delivered by Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker, Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist. Due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the oration will be released as a pre-recorded video on Wednesday 8 December 2021 on the Vision 2020 Australia website.

A proud Yuggera and Biri-Gubba man, Associate Professor Rallah-Baker is a highly respected ophthalmologist and is one of the founding members of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, a Board Director of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, technical advisor to the Fred Hollows Foundation and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.

To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker. Image source: ABC News.

Job Trainer free, low-cost courses

Gaining qualifications can help people find rewarding work in a wide range of jobs and industries. The Australian Government has extended the JobTrainer Fund to offer low and fee-free courses for eligible people from 16 years of age.

JobTrainer is a great way for eligible people to learn new skills, upgrade their skills and expand their job options. JobTrainer supports free and low-fee courses for jobs in demand in a range of industries like health, aged care and disability support, IT and trades. A range of course types are available, including accredited diplomas, certificates or short courses.

For additional information about JobTrainer click here.

Aust Govt tile text 'job trainer - what you need to know' Aboriginal male youth & woman

Indigenous aged care facility considerations

Indigenous people are highly under-represented in the Australian aged care system – a result of a lack of cultural understanding, appropriate spaces and safety. Yim Eng Ng’s study of four facilities in Queensland suggests several practical responses that would enhance aged care environments for this sector.

In Australia, the average life expectancy of Indigenous people is estimated to be eight years lower than that of non-Indigenous people. As a result of years of health disparity, Indigenous people access aged care at a much younger age than non-Indigenous people. This is acknowledged by federal government policy that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 years and over to access aged care services, 10 years earlier than their non- Indigenous counterparts. A submission to the 2018 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by NACCHO highlighted the under-representation of Indigenous people in residential aged care services and the lack of culturally appropriate facilities.

To view the ArchitectureAU article in full click here.

2 Aboriginal men painting in aged care facility

Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters) Aged Care facility, WA. Photo: Nathan Morris, ABC Goldfields Esperance.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Invest in public health before next pandemic

Feature tile - Tue 7.12.21 - Invest in Public Health Workforce now

Invest in Public Health Workforce now, before the next pandemic hits

Chief Health Officers and public health leaders from across Australia will today, 7 December outline their ideas for the future of Australia’s Public Health Workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kerry Chant PSM (NSW), Prof Brett Sutton (VIC) and Dr James Smith (QLD) among others will focus their attention on ensuring the development of the future public health experts, in a forum organised by the Public Health Association of Australia in partnership with NACCHO and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM).

With the pandemic far from over and the next one around the corner, now is the time to plan for and commit resources to developing the next generation of public health leaders, PHAA CEO, Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said.

“In our efforts in ‘Closing the gap’, it is essential that we strengthen the cultural safety and Aboriginal health expertise of our public health workforce,” Dr Megan Campbell from NACCHO said.

“There must be training and leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition of the important role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe and healthy.”

You can view the media release here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

Closing the Gap National Agreement – a framework for our children’s futures

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered the keynote address this morning at the SNAICC National Conference.

“We have been protecting and caring for our families and our children for more than 60,000 years.”

“Before I am the CEO of any organisation, I am foremost an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman. I am part of a kinship structure where I have many reciprocal obligations and caring responsibilities to my family.”

“I say this as it is important that when we are talking now about supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive and addressing the rates of out of home care of our children, that we always remember the strength that is in our peoples, our culture and our own ways. And that we remember that it is not our culture that is the problem, as our culture is our strength and the way forward.”

“Today, I want to talk to you about the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are saying about the reasons why there are so many of our children in the child protection system and what is needed by governments and non-Indigenous organisations and those working to improve the situation.”

“As part of this, I will talk about how the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a framework to design and implement national and local responses to support our children.”

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

On Saturday 4 December 2021, Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Danila Dilba_30 years

Danila Dilba has a wide range of services in and around Darwin, including a special men’s clinic, tackling tobacco and healthy lifestyles, youth support, social and emotional wellbeing, care co-ordination, parenting support, alcohol and other drugs, and advocacy.

The service is an integral part of their local communities regularly organising BBQs, sports carnivals and beach events.

During the pandemic Danila Dilba has been organising meals for isolated elders. They also have a great record in getting services to transient people with about 800 people sleeping rough in the area.

Upon request by Danila Dilba, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM created the below video with a congratulatory message to be played during the anniversary ceremony.

“It is a truly wonderful thing to see the ‘community control’ model that was developed by Aboriginal people at the very first ACCHO in Redfern, fifty years ago, now taken up all over the country. And it’s organisations like Danila Dilba that have been leading the way,” said Ms Turner.

Health and medical experts call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14

Leading health and medical organisations in Australia say they will not stop pushing for the law to reflect medical science, and for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

In an open letter sent today, a coalition of 30 health and medical organisations has called on all state and territory Premiers, Health Ministers and Attorneys-General to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years of age.

The letter outlines evidence which shows children under 14 do not possess the capacity to have criminal intent:

  • Medical evidence is clear that children under 14 years of age are undergoing rapid brain development which makes them vulnerable to increased impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour and peer influence.
  • Child development and neuroscience demonstrates that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning are still evolving in children aged 10 to 13 years, due to the fact that their frontal cortex is still developing.

The experts say alternative models to incarceration exist, and there is already an evidence-based pathway to raising the age as set out through the independent review headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur.

You can read the media release here.
Read the open letter here.
You can read Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur’s independent review here.

Raise The Age logo

$540 million to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government has invested a further $540 million in response to the COVID 19 pandemic including significant funding to keep Australians safe, and for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on Australians’ way of life and the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern highlights that while we have come a long way, we require robust health measures to continue to underpin our COVID-19 Health Response.

Of this funding, $492 million will be invested into measures to continue support for all Australians, including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fee for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme

In addition, $48 million will be invested into COVID-19 medical research to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19-testing. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

First COVID death in the NT

This story contains names and details of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have passed on.

A 78-year-old woman from the remote community of Binjari has become the first person in the Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Her infection was linked to the current viral cluster in the Katherine region. The elderly woman who was not vaccinated died in Royal Darwin Hospital last Thursday night from complications related to COVID-19.

Before now, the Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction in Australia without any deaths from coronavirus.

“It is an awful reminder of the severity of COVID. It is a critical reminder of why we take COVID so seriously,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Connecting primary care, research and policy

Dr Isabel Hanson, a recent recipient of a research scholarship and a RACGP 2021 Academic Post Registrar, wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.

On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.

“I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said.

“I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.”

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community. Image source: RACGP

Diabetes strategy endorsed

The report found up to 80 per cent of people reported feeling a sense of blame or shame for having the condition, while more than 25 per cent said other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes negatively impacted their mental health.

52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes said people assume they were overweight or had been in the past, while 37 per cent said people made a judgment on their food choices. 26 per cent of respondents with type 2 diabetes said they had been told they brought it on themselves.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, the federal government’s strategy to identify and manage diabetes also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. The strategy found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had recorded increasing rates of diabetes in children, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women, leading to intergenerational patterns of premature disease.

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo by Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New COVID-19 variant arrives in Australia

feature tile text 'new COVID-19 variant Omicron arrives in Australia' & image of virus cell

New COVID-19 variant arrives in Australia

The new COVID-19 variant Omicron has arrived in Australia, with two returned travellers in Sydney testing positive to the strain. There’s still a lot that’s unknown about Omicron. It has health authorities worried because of its large number of mutations. And it appears more likely to reinfect people than other strains.

But while countries including Australia were quick to ban travellers from nine southern African nations, Professor Anthony Zwi from UNSW argues this isn’t the answer. It may slow the spread and buy limited time, but it’s unlikely to stop Omicron.

Instead, he says, countries should focus on interventions that work, including physical distancing, well-fitted masks and good ventilation, as well as testing, contact tracing and isolating. And wealthy countries should support African nations that take prompt action against variants of concern, and help them boost low vaccination rates.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

Danila Dilba Health Service turns 30

This year marks Danila Dilba Health Service’s 30th anniversary and to celebrate this significant milestone an official dinner is being held at the Darwin Convention Centre from 6:30 PM Saturday 4 December, hosted by Rob Collins and Shari Sebbens.

The night will be a look back on an incredible 30 years and provide an opportunity to hear from prominent figures locally and nationally, to mark three decades of providing primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Darwin.

Danila Dilba has been an important part of the Darwin community and a crucial part of Darwin’s history. The dinner will bring together the Darwin community, their founding members, current and former staff as well as significant organisations locally to celebrate this milestone together.flyer text 'celebrating 30 years of Danila Dilba Health Service Saturday 4 December, 2021, Darwin Convention Centre'

False COVID-19 rumours still spreading

The Australian Defence Force is supporting the vaccination in the NT areas that are impacted by the latest outbreaks by offering COVID-19 vaccine to communities. Claims that there are forcible vaccinations are false. It’s important people get information from trusted and reliable sources.

There is a lot of misinformation on social media so it is best to talk to the Aboriginal Medical Service health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

In the videos below, Thomas Mayor, Kaurareg Aboriginal and Kalkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander, from Larrakia Country, NT and Dr Mark Wenitong NT address the COVID-19 rumours including ones involving Aboriginal communities and the Army.

CAAC CMO calls for NT vax passport

The top doctor at one of Central Australia’s key Aboriginal health bodies has renewed calls for a “vaccine economy” in the NT, where access to all venues would require patrons to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) Dr John Boffa said first-dose vaccination rates among Indigenous clients had improved by 10% across the region in the last fortnight. According to recent data from the Australian Immunisation Register, 72.5% of CAAC clients had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Alice Springs. In the MacDonnell LGA, that figure was almost 78%, while it was still below 70% in the Central Desert LGA.

Dr Boffa said demand for the vaccine increased alongside the latest outbreak affecting Katherine and nearby remote communities, Binjari and Rockhole, but it had started to wane in recent days. “At the rate we’re going, in two weeks’ time we’ll be above 80% first dose but it looks like it might drop off,” Dr Boffa said.

To view the ABC news article in full click here.

Influential Central Australians, Sabella Turner, Paul Ah Chee (front), Michael Liddle and Donna Ah Chee, after receiving their vaccinations. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC News.

Child protection processes harming kids

Child protection processes in Australia have a history of injustice that disproportionately targets and harms First Nations children, families and communities. As a result, contemporary child protection systems and associated professions have sought to distance themselves from explicitly racist past policies and practices by apologising for their past involvement in the Stolen Generations and committing to change.

Yet child protection systems continue to operate on assumptions about race and class that increase inequalities and injustices against First Nations families. In a Queensland study published in 2018 that used data from 2010-2011, Indigeneity was found to be a greater predictor of “subsequent child protection reports and investigations than a rating of ‘high risk’ on child protection’s risk assessment tool”. Another study in Western Australia found, when controlled for all other factors, Aboriginality was associated with almost double the risk of infant removal.

Understandings of risk, child abuse and neglect are often biased in favour of white middle-class parenting practices. This can lead to over-surveillance of First Nations families, and a flawed notification system.

To view the article in full click here.

Photo: Joel Carrett, AAP. Image source: InDaily.

My Health Record upgraded

An upgrade to My Health Record last Thursday 25 November 2021  includes a COVID-19 vaccination dashboard as well as other enhancements.

The new COVID-19 vaccination dashboard for consumers brings together, in one place, information from the Australian Immunisation Register and My Health Record related to a consumer’s COVID-19 vaccination journey. The dashboard includes vaccination details, COVID-19 test results, relevant medicines and allergy information from My Health Record and links to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder and side effect checker.

The dashboard is easily available from a new COVID-19 Dashboard tab and can be used as a quick reference when answering questions before a vaccination or booster dose or to get proof of vaccination. You can view an example of the dashboard screen here and find more information here.

Other enhancements include:

  • Consumers can now download their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to a digital wallet.
  • COVID-19 test results are available to consumers as soon as they are uploaded (removing the previous 24-hour delay).
  • The profile page includes new fields for consumers to add their preferred language and country of birth. This is an important step to capturing cultural diversity in My Health Record. In future, healthcare providers will be able to see these fields, which may help in providing care to their patients.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

Prevent, test, treat to eliminate HIV

This HIV Awareness Week, and in the lead up to World AIDS Day, NSW Health, is encouraging people across the state at risk of HIV to get tested. As NSW opens up, it is a good time for the community to speak to a healthcare professional about HIV testing and prevention options available to them.

NSW Health, Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said the state has made great progress in the virtual elimination of the virus however testing rates are down from last year, driven by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve come a long way over the last 40 years and have many new tools to help prevent HIV transmission including effective HIV treatment, condoms, sterile injecting equipment, and prevention medication – PrEP,” Dr Chant said. “Early testing and diagnosis linked to treatment prevents transmission and enables people living with HIV to enjoy a long and healthy life.”

From January to September 2021, 141 NSW residents were diagnosed with HIV, a decrease of 31% compared to the average for the last five years. This decline was likely driven by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted movement, as people remained at home.

To view The Pulse article in full click here

gloved hand holding test tube with HIV positive box ticked

Image source: The Conversation.

VACCHO CEO to advise on aged care

VACCHO CEO, Jill Gallagher AO, is one of 17 prominent Australians appointed to the new National Aged Care Advisory Council, which will guide the implementation of the Federal Government’s $17.7 billion aged care reforms – led by a former Victorian Shadow Minister for Ageing and Carers.

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, noted that the new Council is a departure from the previous principal aged care advisory group – the Aged Care Sector Committee, which ended in June – as it includes operators with direct experience within the sector. “Our intention is to ensure we have strong representation across five consumer groups, including Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, carers and advocacy groups,” he said.

To read the full article in The Weekly Source click here.

portrait shot of Jill Gallagher, VACCHO CEO

VACCHO CEO, Jill Gallagher AO.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Decembeard/hair to beat bowel

Help Bowel Cancer Australia spread the important bowel cancer awareness message to your colleagues and local community, while raising much needed funds to help beat bowel cancer. All you need to raise awareness and funds for Australia’s second deadliest cancer killer is let your hair grow – face, head, legs, body – if it’s hair – let it grow or let it go!

For more information about bowel cancer, the Decembeard/Decembhair funding-raising campaign and to read empowering stories of people living with or beyond bowel cancer go to the Bowel Cancer Australia website here.

banner text 'this December get hairy raise funds, help us beat bowel cancer - Decembeard - Decembhair' - background to text is hair

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release click here,

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

resident of remote community of Utju getting covid-19 vax

Image in feature tile: remote community of Utju resident getting COVID-19 vaccination. Image source: ABC News.

Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

There has been a huge spike in the number of Indigenous Territorians rolling up their sleeves to be vaccinated amid the NT’s most recent COVID scare, according to federal figures. Commonwealth public health expert Lucas de Toca said the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Territorians who had their first dose was now higher than the national average. As of yesterday, 69% of First Nations Territorians had had one jab, compared to 67% of Indigenous Australians.

“Overall, the NT has been really accelerating [its vaccine uptake] in the last few months, and of course in particular the last week, since the cases in Katherine were first detected,” Dr de Toca said. “In fact, the NT has been outpacing the national rate of first doses by an order of three to six times the last few days, which is really, really nice to see.”

Dr de Toca, who leads the Commonwealth’s vaccination program through GPs and Aboriginal health services, says the uptake in some remote communities was moving even faster. “We’ve seen pleasingly, for instance, East Arnhem has been increasing their First Nations vaccination rate by 4 to 5% … [in] the last couple of weeks, which is a really high rate, so we’re confident that will continue to grow,” he said. “That’s between 2-4 times higher than what we were seeing prior.”

To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat project

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said an innovative project to help more Indigenous expectant mothers to give birth on their home country is one of five projects funded through the Federal Government’s $5.5 million investment in the NHMRC Partnership Project scheme.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University. The project will receive nearly $1.5 million and will follow women’s law to incorporate Yolnu skills and knowledge to enhance the delivery of clinically and culturally safe healthcare in line with Yolnu priorities.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

APY Lands lose mental health staff

Aboriginal elders and mental health experts are concerned about some of Australia’s most vulnerable children after the sudden departure of key support workers from SA’s remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

Two permanent mental health staff who lived and worked on the APY Lands for a decade are no longer there, and that a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) model has been implemented, despite objections from senior staff in the Department for Child Protection and traditional owners. Nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse have been made in the region in the past two years.

Pukatja community elder Makinti Minutjukar said the two Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) workers provided invaluable support to local families. “They have been a really strong support for everyone, they’ve been doing good work for many, many years,” she said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

blurred photo of torsos of Aboriginal kids in desert setting

Image source: ABC News website.

Understanding needs of mob with cancer

Aboriginal health professionals and educators from across WA gathered in Perth last week to increase their awareness and understanding of the specific needs of Aboriginal people with cancer.

The WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) of The University of WA in conjunction with Cancer Council WA hosted a three-day professional development course to train participants in the ‘Whisper No More’ learning package. WACRH Director Professor Sandra Thompson said part of the innovative program features Aboriginal cancer patients from WA’s Midwest sharing their personal stories on video.

“Understanding more about Aboriginal people’s views of cancer and experiences of health care is essential to developing better cancer care and health outcomes,” Professor Thompson said. “By sharing their stories on video, those involved in Whisper No More have contributed to a valuable resource for health professionals to help enhance their understanding of what matters to Aboriginal people when they have cancer.”

To view the University of WA article in full click here.

RACGP warns PHC plan will fail

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that general practice is in ‘a state of crisis’ that could further deteriorate. In a written submission responding to the Department of Health’s (DoH) draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, the RACGP states that high-quality care offered by GPs is at risk if substantial investment and reform do not take place.

Calling general practice ‘the most efficient and cost-effective’ aspect of the health system, the college says that the urgency of the situation has been exacerbated by COVID-19, “Rising rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed preventive care due to the pandemic and a looming mental health crisis are putting increasing pressure on the system. This is resulting in poorer outcomes and long hospital wait times. Unless there is significant investment and reform, the system will fail.’”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

stethoscope parts for ears, chest, pressure against blue background

Image source: AMA website.

Maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge

Researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU) are set to redesign maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge and non-Yolnu knowledge at Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island in Arnhem Land. New funding of about $1.5 million from the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Project scheme will ensure that on-country maternity services reach communities where the premature birth rate is three times the national average.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor of Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at CDU.

To view the CDU media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

Crucial for GPs to understand mob 

A rural doctor is a true general physician, a jack of all trades. And a junior doctor’s clinical judgment is necessarily influenced by the epidemiology of regional and rural medicine and the particular issues facing centres in these areas.

11% of the Western NSW LHD is Indigenous. Dr Antonia Clarke has written an article about how understanding the complexity of the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our health care system is a crucial part of being a doctor, regardless of your intended specialty. Closing the gap in part means working to forge a relationship between the patient, medical and nursing teams and Indigenous support officers to help to enable early screening, referral and management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at risk of chronic disease.

To view the MJA Insight article in full click here.

Dr Antonia Clarke

Dr Antonia Clarke. Image source: MJA Insight website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

First Nations Women’s Voices

You are invited to attend an inspiring panel discussion about the transformative power of First Nations Women’s Voices. An incredible panel of speakers will explore the role women play in shaping and protecting culture and community – and what you can do to support First Nations gender justice and equality.

The discussion will be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, in conversation with Professor Marcia Langton AO, Fiona Cornforth, Teela Reid and Charlee-Sue Frail. The conversation will be facilitated by Patricia Karvelas (ABC), with a special welcome from Rosalind Croucher AM, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The panel discussion will be held at 1:00PM Wednesday 24 November 202. For more information about the event and to register for your FREE ticket click here .

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob at increased risk as borders open

Image in feature tile from The Guardian.

Mob at increased risk as borders open

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities are at increased risk as Australia opens up, due to dangerously lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates.

As the holiday season approaches and people start moving around the country and mingling more, vaccine coverage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continues to lag behind non-Indigenous populations. While currently 80.6% of all Australians aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 89.4% have had one dose, that figure sits at 54.5% fully vaccinated and 66.2% one dose for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Image source: ACCAN website.

AMSANT vax count concerns

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT is calling on federal health authorities to pressure the territory government into changing how it measures the local coronavirus vaccination rollout. The government counts the number of  “jabs in arms” whereas the federal government data uses the Australian Immunisation Register data, which is based on addresses registered with Medicare.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the NT is just days away from reaching the 80% double dosed milestone and that the region will reach 90% by the end of the year. Federal data suggests the double dose rate currently sits at 66.9%.

Medical advisor for Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) John Boffa says the figures the NT government are relying on are inaccurate. “Miscounting vaccine coverage could have dangerous consequences,” Dr Boffa said. “Every other jurisdiction in the nation is using the legitimate way to measure vaccination coverage.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr John Boffa

John Boffa says the NT needs to rely on “legitimate data”. Image source: ABC News.

NT vax target ‘not ideal’

Health experts say the NT’s new target to vaccinate 80% of remote residents aged five and older “isn’t ideal” and the goalpost must be shifted closer to 100%. “To have an 80% vaccine callout for [people] over five years, it isn’t ideal,” UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman Kalinda Griffiths said.

“Even with 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of five years vaccinated, the risk of death is still a little over 30 people per 100,000 people in the population,” Dr Griffiths said. “But if the uptake is 95% in those under five years old then the risk of death is near zero.”

The NT’s widespread and remote Aboriginal communities are home to some of Australia’s most vulnerable people. Many battle chronic health conditions and it’s common for a dozen people to live under the same roof. In remote Aboriginal communities managed by NT Health, 55% of residents are fully vaccinated.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Vaccination rates in remote Aboriginal communities lag behind the NT capital. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Cervical screening self collection option

The Australian Government has announced that self-collection will be an option for all participants under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) from 1 July 2022.

Offering self-collection to all screeners is a game changer for the NCSP. It provides greater choice in screening options and is expected to increase participation in cervical screening and support better outcomes in under-screened women.

Expanded self-collection has the potential to remove some cultural and personal barriers that may discourage some women from screening, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse women, and gender and sexually diverse people.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Self-collection can offer an alternative pathway to overcome barriers some women experience to having a clinician-collected cervical screening test. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Discovery could help save kid’s hearing

Bacteria found in children’s upper respiratory systems could help fight chronic middle ear infections, the leading cause of preventable hearing loss and deafness in Indigenous communities. The University of Queensland’s Dr Seweryn Bialasiewicz said this discovery helped explain a long-held mystery, while providing hope for potential treatments.

“We’ve been puzzled for years now, trying to work out why some children never develop chronic ear disease, despite being in a high-risk category for contracting it,” Dr Bialasiewicz said. “By focusing on the microbiomes in the upper respiratory tracts of disease-resistant kids, we could investigate the ecological networks of bacterial interactions that seemed to be working together to protect against the condition.

Dr Bialasiewicz said they were hoping to use this information to figure out what the exact mechanism of protection is, and then mimic it in the very young children, as a therapy or a preventative measure.

“Chronic middle ear infections can affect between one third to one half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is far above the 4% threshold that the World Health Organisation considers as a disease needing urgent public health action,” Dr Coleman said.

To view the UQ News article in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Thirrili October Newsletter

The latest Thirrili newsletter has been published. The October issue includes some amazing news from Thirrili advocates, job opportunities and much more.

To view the newsletter click here.

Katherine dialysis services to continue

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles, says Fresenius Medical Care has been awarded a tender to continue to provide dialysis services in the Katherine region for five more years. “This extension of services delivers certainty for staff and current patients that the service will continue to operate as normal.

Fresenius Medical Care is operated through a public-private partnership with the NT Government. The 16-chair clinic provides haemodialysis treatment for a total of 30 patients per day. Over the next five years more than 42,300 treatments are expected to be provided at the Fresenius Medical Care clinic.”

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

Image source: Katherine Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from: 11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 11 November 2021.

This webinar is part of a series on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout. At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout and the panel will provide key updates and answer participants’ questions. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Antonio Di Dio, GP in Canberra.

When you’re ready to join, use this link, and to catch up on previous webinars click here.

Conquering Cancer virtual screening

A special virtual event screening of Conquering Cancer will be held at 7:00PM AEDT Wednesday 17 November 2021.

By supporting Conquering Cancer, you’ll be joining the global movement to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide. This is a huge moonshot but it is possible – and by doing so, it’s estimated that the lives of 62 million women will be saved. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

For now, all you have to do is grab some popcorn, put your feet up and enjoy the film on November 17 (tissue box optional). So spare yourself from the last minute scramble and secure your spot today.

The screening will be followed by a special Q&A panel with Professor Karen Canfell, Professor Marion Saville, Professor Yin Ling Woo and filmmaker Sue Collins. The panel is being moderated by Cate McGavin.

You can check out the official trailer of Conquering Cancer below, and book your $5USD ticket click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Save the date – HIV Awareness Week Trivia

HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 - Save the date.

Join us for ATSIHAW virtual trivia

Save the date: Inviting all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 at 3pm (AEST), 1 December 2021.
 
Each year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week gets a conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV.
 
What team will take the title this year?
Will Condoman or Lubelicious make an appearance?
Special prizes for BEST and WORST dressed once again.
 
Stay tuned! More information coming soon.
ATSIHAW2021 VIRTUAL TRIVIA - Save the date.

#TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

Struggle to vaccinate communities in QLD

Health officials in Queensland are struggling to vaccinate Indigenous communities across the state due to misinformation and hesitancy.

Health officials are taking vaccines directly to communities. Teams of nurses from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital began the clinic last week in partnership with Indigenous health workers.

“It enables people to have a private conversation and ask the questions that they’ve got about vaccine. We know that there is misinformation, we know that there is hesitancy and I think having that personal conversation with people makes a difference,” said Michelle Forrest from Darling Downs Health.

135 vaccines have been delivered in the week since the program started, but with a 2-dose vaccination rate of 27% Cherbourg still has a long way to go.

You can view the story on the ABC News website.

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland.

COVID-19 vaccination highly effective

Fully vaccinated people have been significantly less likely to become seriously ill or die, and better protected from acquiring COVID-19, during the Delta outbreak.

Yesterday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant highlighted the findings in the latest NSW Health In Focus report which shows hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths were all far lower among the fully vaccinated population during the outbreak’s peak. Dr Chant said the report also makes it clear fully vaccinated people were significantly less likely to become infected with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 Delta outbreak has been the biggest challenge the state has faced during the pandemic because of its transmissibility. However, this report shows vaccination has been key in protecting ourselves, our families, and the community from the harmful effects of the virus,” Dr Chant said.

You can read more on the NSW Government Department of Health website.
You can view the In Focus report here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

98% of COVID-19 cases in Moree are First Nations people

Large gatherings have led to an explosion of COVID-19 positive cases in and around Moree in the past week. Since the first positive cases were identified last Monday, the number of positive tests has jumped close to 100, and COVID-19 has also been found in the neighbouring shire of Inverell.

The surging outbreak is almost exclusively impacting Aboriginal people: 98 per cent of the 94 active cases on Sunday were Indigenous, according to NSW Health. And the vast majority with the virus, at present, are young: 90 per cent are under 40, and 43 per cent are under 20.

Ros Rose, nursing manager at Moree’s Pius X Aboriginal Corporation, said the organisation, which provides health care to 3,500 Indigenous residents, has been offering vaccines since March but has struggled to convince young people to get the jab. The outbreak has been a “wake-up call”, she said, and more people – about 30 a day – are now coming for their vaccinations.

After having COVID-19 for a week, 34-year-old Gomeroi woman Lisa Duncan now regrets that she was hesitant. She said she was anxious about side effects, and thought: “I’ll be right, I won’t get coronavirus.”

Now, she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she’s clear of the virus. She doesn’t want to get it again.

“I can’t be a voice for everybody but just coming from my point of view, get the vax, or you do suffer. The symptoms are bad, it’s horrible.”

You can read the article in the Brisbane Times here.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Raising awareness around perinatal mental health

In Australia, one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety. Many support services have seen a sharp rise in calls for help during the pandemic. Health experts say Indigenous, multicultural and LGBTIQ+ families are especially at risk.

“We know that so many parents are having a really hard time, even more than normal,” said clinical psychologist Chris Barnes from Gidget Foundation Australia.

It’s why more than 40 organisations across Australia have united to help raise awareness for Perinatal Mental Health Week, which runs from 7 to 13 November.

Their aim is to break down the stigmas, particularly affecting parents from Indigenous and migrant backgrounds, that prevent many families from reaching out for help.

“New and expectant parents are not alone. There are many services available,” said Ms Barnes.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

Strong community support for #RaisetheAge

The ACT Council of Community Service (ACTCOSS) has commended the ACT Government on its progress towards raising the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT. In its Listening Report, the ACT Government found that 90 per cent of submissions supported raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 years. It also showed that:

  • this change is required to protect the safety and wellbeing of the Territory’s children and young people
  • medical evidence clearly shows that children under the age of 14 are developmentally and neurologically unable to form criminal intent and should not be held criminally responsible for their actions; and
  • there is limited support for the creation of exceptions or ‘carve outs’ to the minimum age for serious or repetitive behaviour.

“All the evidence tells us that prison is no place for children. Not only is the brain of a child under 13 years of age not yet sufficiently developed to understand criminal responsibility, we know that imprisoning kids only makes them far more likely to become repeat adult offenders,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell.

You can view the media release by ACTCOSS here.
The Listening Report and submissions can be found on the ACT Government YourSay website.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

Improving access to mental health services 

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has welcomed the Final Report from the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and the recommendations to improve access to services for people in rural and remote Australia. The Committee recommended the Australian Government leverage the existing Australian Rural Health Education Network by providing funding for clinical placements in regional, rural and remote university clinics and using these clinics to trial multi-disciplinary, hybrid mental health hubs that integrate digital services and face to face services.

“For more than twenty years the University Departments of Rural Health have been training health students from a range of allied health disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and pharmacy to work in rural and remote locations. With appropriate additional resourcing our rurally-based university campuses would be well-placed to deliver on the Committee’s recommendation to trial mental health clinics and hubs which may offer a mix of digital and face to face services for people in rural and remote regions,” said Chair of ARHEN Christine Howard.

You can read the media release by ARHEN here.
You can view the Final Report here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

Aerial view of APY Lands community Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Post-Lockdown support for Belconnen and Gungahlin mob

Lockdown has put a strain on households with the increase in electricty and heating usage and Yerrabi Yurwang are providing support of $100 towards utility bills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families residing in Belconnen or Gungahlin areas.

Funds are limited and to be eligible for this support you must be:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • be over 18 and
  • live in the Belconnen or Gungahlin area

For more information, please contact Selina Walker at: info@yerrabi.org.au

You can download a flyer for the initiative here.
Please visit the Yerrabi Yurwang website to apply.

Hands of different skin tones gently stacked.

Image source: Yerrabi Yurwang website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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