NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs stay the course on vaccine rollout

feature tile text ' ACCHOs are staying the course on vaccine rollout despite challenges' photo of Dr Dawn Casey receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga

ACCHOs stay the course on vaccine rollout

In 2020, ACCHOs played a key role in keeping Indigenous communities safe and informed about coronavirus. Now, more than 100 of these organisations are helping to vaccinate their communities. But the changed advice around the AstraZeneca vaccine is throwing up challenges and in the Torres Strait and Cape York in Queensland, the rollout has been paused.

NACCHO’s Deputy CEO and co-chair of the COVID-19 Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Dr Dawn Casey. Dr Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and Dr Tony Brown, Executive Director of Medical Services for the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service spoke on ABC Radio National Life Matters with Michael Mackenzie earlier this morning.

To lister to the discussion click here.

Saibai Island (Torres Strait Islands) councillor Conwell Tabuai being vaccinated by nurse Sue Bowler

Saibai Island Councillor Conwell Tabuai being vaccinated by nurse Sue Bowler. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wellington Aboriginal Health Service produces vaccine videos

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) has produced a number of videos featuring health professionals talking about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The first video (2:13 minutes) is of Dr Bijay, General Practitioner, WACHS.

screen shot from video of Dr Bijay Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service talking about the COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Bijay, GP Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Pharmacist Alice Nugent has recorded the following three videos:

What are AstraZeneca and Pfizer? (17:47 minutes)

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work? (2 minutes)

What are Oxford AstraZeneca and Pfizer Biotech? (2 minutes)

screen shot from video of pharmacist Alice Nugent Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service & NACCHO Medicine Policy & Program team

Alice Nugent. Pharmacist – Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service & NACCHO Medicine Policy & Program team.

New resources based on latest AstraZeneca advice

The Department of Health as put together a kit for ACCHOS based on the new recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine, to support their work with patients.

The resources include:

  • a video featuring Dr Lucas de Toca summarising the new information and recommendations that have arisen regarding AstraZeneca and the change in the vaccination rollout
  • social media content including two new social tiles that ACCHOs can use in promoting the new information to their followers/patients, as well as some suggested captions to use alongside them
  • a poster that can be printed and displayed in your clinics
  • information for ACCHOs – document answering new questions that may arise from patients about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    vaccine vial with words COVID-19 & text AstraZeneca

    Image source: BBC News.

EveryBODY is Deadly

Over 1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder. Less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support. Butterfly Foundation is a national charity organisation for all Australians impacted by eating disorders and body image issues, and for the families, friends and communities who support them.

Anybody, from any mob, can have eating or body concerns. Eating or body image concerns can weaken your mind, body and spirit. It’s not about your body size – and it’s different for different people. But reaching out to talk it out with friends, family or the free Butterfly Foundation Helpline can help. The helpline is a confidential safe space with qualified counsellors who have ongoing cultural competence training.

Butterfly Foundation talked to two mob about their experience with eating and body image concerns. From their highs and lows, to the way they are rising above, they learned that yarning can help.

Garigarra Mundine is from Dubbo, NSW. She is Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi on her mother’s side, and Bundjulung and Yuin on her father’s. Garra’s passion is to advocate and promote Indigenous culture through art and advocacy. She works for the Australian government in Canberra and uses her weaving skills passed down by elders to create art pieces. To view Garra’s story click here.

To access the Butterfly Foundation’s website click here.

Lives need to be valued & culture known 

Meena Singh, a Yorta Yorta and Indian woman, born and living on the land of the Kulin Nations, is the Legal Director of the Human Rights Law Centre and is currently undertaking her PhD at Melbourne Law School, looking at how the experiences of women of colour as lawyers can impact on legal practice and knowledge. Meena has written an article for IndigenousX examining what keeps us [Aboriginal people] safe, and what will stop more deaths in custody.

To view the IndigenousX article in full click here.

portrait shot of Meena Singh

Meena Singh. Image source: ABC Radio Melbourne.

Youth calls to bridge gap in health system

The challenges facing young people in the health system and potential remedies are aired by Youth Health Forum leaders in a new video released today. The video features two young health leaders, Jasmine Elliott and Roxxanne MacDonald, explaining the challenges for young people in transitioning from child-centred to adult services.

They say a key challenge for young people is that “the current system is not designed for us”.

The video is based on the Youth Health Forum-commissioned report on Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health Services which revealed the significant barriers to services facing many young people, particularly those with chronic health conditions.

The report identified six key challenges for young people in health care including trusting health services, transitioning to adult care, delivering digital services and building more equitable services.

To read the Consumers Health Forum of Australia Youth Health Forum media release in full click here.

6 hands reaching in air

Image source: HIMSS website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Stop mass incarceration to prevent deaths in custody

Stop mass incarceration to prevent deaths in custody

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO said Australia must stop the “mass incarceration” of its Indigenous people or else deaths in custody will continue to occur.

Commissioner Oscar said her thoughts are with all the families who have lost loved ones over recent months, and in the 30 years since the Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was handed down. She said systemic reform is long overdue, and Australian governments must enact every recommendation of the royal commission.

“The fact that imprisonment rates have increased markedly since the royal commission shows Australia has failed to build a just relationship with First Nations peoples. It is a deep national shame,” Commissioner Oscar said.

Read the media release from the Australian Human Rights Commission here.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s article on Closing the Gap

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia would like to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders for the way they have managed one of the most difficult and challenging years of our time.

The leaders have demonstrated the leadership, resilience and community that have guided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout significant adversity during 2020, that is sure to leave an enduring legacy for future generations, and one that is recorded in the 2021 Close the Gap Report.

The 2021 Close the Gap Report – Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe (released on Thursday, 18 March), showcases how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and peoples responded to critical health crises in 2020 – devastating bushfires and climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and the mental health emergency facing First Australians.

This year’s report was produced by the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s community controlled national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, on behalf of the Close the Gap Steering Committee.

Read the full story here.

Latest ANTaR Blog from Paul Wright: Nationhood, Recognition and the deadly incarceration pandemic

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Australia in 2021 is a Dickensian periodical morphing into a ‘choose your own adventure’ where the state of things is entirely open to your worldview.

While it is understandable to be consumed by the drama of slow vaccination rollouts, rapid COVID outbreaks, sexual abuse scandals, and the return of the perennial Australian favourite soap opera that is our football seasons (pick your code here(link is external) or here(link is external)), it is sadly all too easy to have missed that in the same period a spate of First Nations deaths in custody have been reported, in the macabre irony that we are nearing the 30th Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (link is external)(RCIADIC).

The Royal Commission report produced 339 Recommendations that have largely been ignored or only partially implemented, despite Government attempts to suggest otherwise(link is external).

As former RCIADIC Commissioner, Senator Pat Dodson said to mark the 25th Anniversary in 2016(link is external):

“For the vast bulk of our people the legal system is not a trusted instrument of justice. It is a feared and despised processing plant that propels the most vulnerable and disabled of our people towards a broken and bleak future.”

Paul is ANTaR’s National Director and has experience working in both Government and non-government sectors – covering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, health, immigration and social services. Paul studied politics and international relations at the University of Canberra and has a Masters of Strategic Studies from the Australian National University. Prior to his role with ANTaR, Paul was the Executive Officer for the Close the Gap Campaign Secretariat and the National Health Leadership Forum at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

To read the full blog click here.

Flinders University: Country nursing scholarships

Two local mature aged students have been awarded scholarships to complete their nursing degree with Flinders University in honour of Loxton-born nurse Kirsty Boden.

Third-year Flinders University students Tammy Stephenson and Hollie Bullock are the 2021 recipients of the Kirsty Boden Nursing Memorial Scholarship which grants them $10,000 towards their studies at the University’s Renmark campus.

The annual scholarship is supported by a grant from the Government of South Australia and is named in honour of Kirsty Boden, a young nurse who tragically died in the London Bridge Terror attacks in 2017.

Ms Stephenson, of Monash, and Ms Bullock from Loxton, say they are only able to pursue their nursing studies because the course is offered close to home.

“If nursing wasn’t offered through Flinders rural campus in Renmark, I would not have been able to undertake my nursing degree,” Hollie says.

“Being only 45 minutes from home means I can attend contact hours at uni easily. Studying at Renmark has so many benefits. You feel like a big family having smaller class sizes and the same lecturers for numerous topics, so you build very close relationships.”

To read the Flinders University media release click here.

Ms Hollie Bullock from Loxton – Nursing Degree Scholarship candidate.

2021 WA Youth Awards highlight the best, brightest and the most dedicated

Youth Minister Dave Kelly said Derek Nannup, 23, of Nollamara has been formally recognised as Western Australia’s Young Person of the Year at the 2021 WA Youth Awards.

Derek is a proud Whadjuk Noongar man who has dedicated his life to strengthening cultural connections for young Aboriginal people. He has worked at Wesley College as the Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator, with Wungening Aboriginal Corporation as a support worker for children in care and is currently employed at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA working in sexual health education.

Read the media release here.

Holistic and healthy childbirth for Indigenous women

Australia is generally a good place to have a baby, but Indigenous babies are more likely to be born prematurely, and their mums are less likely to attend medical appointments during pregnancy or be breastfeeding by the time they leave hospital. Aboriginal communities say part of the solution is ‘culturally safe maternity care’ that goes beyond just managing a woman’s physical needs.

Listen to the ABC Health Report podcast with guest Kristie Watego, Birthing In Our Community program and Adrian Carson, CEO of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Ltd, with hosts Tegan Taylor and Dr Norman Swan.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

Attention NACCHO members! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant applications are NOW OPEN!

IBSF offers funding to eligible Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 member ACCHOS.

ACCHOs have been contacted via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

Applications close on the 14 May 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions.

Australia made a plan to protect Indigenous elders from COVID-19. It worked

Washington Post story is all praise for us on how effectively we have managed to keep COVID-19 out of our communities!

From Alaska to the Amazon, Indigenous people are more likely to get sick with or die of covid-19, as the pandemic magnifies deep-rooted health and socioeconomic inequities.
Not only have Indigenous Australians recorded far fewer infections per capita than their global counterparts, they are six times less likely than the wider Australian population to contract the coronavirus, government data shows.
There have been no cases in remote communities, and not a single Aboriginal elder has died. Of the 149 cases involving Indigenous people since the start of the pandemic nationwide, few were serious enough to require hospitalization. By contrast, covid-19 is killing Native Americans at a faster rate than any other group in the United States.
Dawn Casey, who co-chairs a government task force established to develop a virus plan for Indigenous communities, said Aboriginal doctors expressed alarm during weekly meetings at the number of flights arriving from countries where the virus had taken hold. “We could see what was happening overseas,” she said. “If it got into remote communities, it would wipe them out.”
Pat Turner, chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization, wrote to state and federal leaders in March 2020, asking them to use their powers to order the closure of remote communities to stop visitors from entering. Accordingly, the communities were sealed off.
“I think increasingly the Australian government is looking at the Aboriginal-controlled model and seeing they can be really effective,” said Jason Agostino, an epidemiologist and medical adviser on Aboriginal health.
To read the full story in the Washington Post click here.

Join Dementia Australia in calling on Governments to commit to action

Dementia Australia is calling on the Australian Federal Government to act with urgency in response to the Final Report, Care, Dignity and Respect of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

An estimated 472,000 Australians live with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million in 2058. I want dementia to be core business for government #dementia #auspol

Dementia is one of the largest health and social challenges facing Australia and the world. As well as being the chronic condition of the 21st century it is a debilitating, progressive and ultimately terminal disease and the second leading cause of death of Australians annually and the leading cause of death of women. Many Australians living with dementia require care, whether this is in their own home, or in an aged care setting – 68 per cent of people living in care have dementia. This of course includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians.

Since September 2018 people living with dementia, their families and carers have entrusted the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety with their views, personal experiences and often traumatic stories. The Royal Commission’s Final Report captures the essence of those issues and demonstrates that the Commissioners have listened.

Dementia Australia’s Roadmap for Quality Dementia Care has been shared with all sides of government in the lead up to the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report and the 2021-22 Federal Budget.

The Roadmap is the product of extensive consultations with people living with dementia and reflects all of the recommendations in relation to dementia made in the Royal Commission’s final report.

We encourage you all to join this plea to the Federal Government to implement this much required Roadmap.

For any of your stakeholders that may need guidance on how to call on the Government to implement the Roadmap, please refer them to Dementia Australia’s webpage, Engaging your local Member of Parliament, Senator or political candidate.

The page features draft social media posts and tiles, letter and email templates, scripts and guides for calls and meetings and many more resources.

Thank you in advance for any support you can provide and should you have any questions please contact Alex Shaw – 03 9816 5731 or Alex.Shaw@dementia.org.au 

Joint Council on Closing the Gap will discuss progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet Friday 16 April to discuss the progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that came into effect in July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss:

  • the impact of COVID-19 on all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the success of the partnership approach between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and governments in responding to the pandemic.
  • the release of the Joint Council’s response to the first annual Partnership Health Check report of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap assessing the successes and challenges faced by the Partnership since it came into effect in 2019. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time, including revisions to the Joint Council Terms of Reference and development of a risk register.
  • the release of its Joint Communications Strategy to ensure engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to build their awareness and ownership of the National Agreement and to assist them to talk to governments about how to apply the commitments to communities and organisations across the country.
  • the next stages of the Strategic Plan for Funding the Development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Sector (Strategic Plan) to guide investment from the joint funding pool committed by governments to support Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement, investment priorities for the Health and Disability Sectors.
  • revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect.
  • allowing more time for the development of Sector Strengthening Plans and Place-Based Partnerships to facilitate community and organisation engagement.

Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Australasian Society for HIV Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (2020) Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Sydney: This national consensus testing guideline for sexually transmitted infections, is for use by primary care clinicians working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read more click here.

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service Newsletter for March 2021

To read the BRAMS March newsletter click here.

Delivering more Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the NT

The Australian Government is investing $8.75 million over four years to provide additional health services in the Northern Territory as part of its commitment to strengthen Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Delivered through the Northern Territory Pathways to Community Control program (NT P2CC), the funding will provide First Nations people with access to effective, high quality, comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services.

This investment builds on the $4 million already committed for transition activities occurring in West Arnhem, demonstrating the strong partnerships that exist between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government and other key members of the NT Aboriginal Health Forum, including the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT). Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said community driven approache  s to delivering health services were delivering major benefits for First Nations people.

Read the full media release here.

Have Your Say – Participate in Survey to Contribute to National Evaluation

Indigenous Eye Health at The University of Melbourne is asking people who work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector to participate in an anonymous survey as part of a national evaluation.

The survey asks questions about your experience working in the sector, what kinds of activities you’ve seen or been involved with at a regional level, what changes have happened over time, what has supported this work and what more is needed to improve eye care and eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It takes around 20 minutes to complete the survey.

Those who complete the survey can go into the draw for a ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ Diabetes Eye Care T-Shirt or a pair of Deadly Eyewear Sunglasses (there are 20 of each to be won!).

The survey is being run by independent evaluators from ARTD Consultants. If you would prefer to complete the survey over the telephone you can do this by contacting Rachel Aston from ARTD at rachel.aston@artd.com.au

To complete the survey click here.

Deaths in custody: Canberra Aboriginal health leader calls for justice system overhaul on royal commission anniversary

A new royal commission is needed into Canberra’s jail, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, to reset the entire system, says Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs.

“I’m always concerned there’s going to be another death in custody.”

Read the full story released in the Canberra Times here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah chief executive Julie Tongs is fearful another Indigenous life will be lost in custody. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

AMA Media statement: Time for Calm and Clear Information on Vaccine Rollout

Australians should trust the advice of the experts when deciding on their COVID-19 vaccination, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“The AMA has supported the decisions made by independent scientific experts – the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) – to keep Australians safe throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The Federal Government has also accepted this advice. While the changed advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine may seem confusing, and further delays to the rollout are frustrating, Australia is in the very fortunate position of being able to watch and learn from the experiences overseas.

“Communicating in this rapidly changing environment has been a challenge for the Government but it is critical for Australia’s future that public confidence in the vaccine program is maintained.

“The patient-GP relationship is one of the most trusted and important relationships in every person’s life.

“Your GP will give you the best advice about any medicine or vaccine. They will offer you what they believe to be of medical benefit to you and explain any risks and benefits of having or not having the treatment.

“They will ask you if you need any clarification and answer your questions. You can then decide whether you want the treatment.

“This is the same as for any treatment whether it is an antibiotic, surgery or a vaccine.

“GPs are guided by Government advice about AstraZeneca, and the risks for the under-50 cohort – most of whom would not be eligible for the vaccine until later this year anyway.
“The advice around the incredibly rare but serious thrombotic events associated with AZ vaccination has made decision making more difficult for those under 50 who are currently eligible for the vaccine. The AZ vaccine remains very safe and effective, and access to the alternative, preferred Pfizer vaccine is likely to be delayed.

“Our advice for Australians with questions is to make an appointment with their GP for a full discussion about the possible risks and benefits of having the vaccine, or of not having it, taking into account of their own specific circumstances.

“There has been some talk about doctors being concerned about potential litigation from side-effects of any vaccines. Please be assured that all registered doctors are fully covered – your GP is more concerned with your health.”

Do you think the state of epilepsy care in Australia could be improved?

Do you believe there is enough support, resources and information available?

Epilepsy Smart Australia invites you to participate in an online survey to better understand your needs and the gaps that exist in epilepsy services and supports in Australia.  The survey is open from April 1st to May 31st and should only take you 20 minutes.

This research is being conducted as part of the Epilepsy Smart Australia Program Pilot and will be managed in conjunction with independent consultant KPMG. Your responses will remain anonymous.

Tap this link to access the survey and have your say today!

If you would like more information about how to get involved on a deeper level, please contact Mohana Ryan on 0436 404 895 or mryan@epilepsyfoundation.org.au.

Alternatively, you can email au-fm-EpilepsySmart@kpmg.com.au.

Elephant in the Room! – Kununurra

A training program designed for professionals working in community services, health and education who provide services to children, youth, adults and families who have experienced trauma by Complex Trauma Training WA.

The ‘8 principles of trauma-informed practice’ will be discussed and practical strategies to implement these in various contexts will be explored.

Learning outcomes for this course:

  • Define complex trauma.
  • Discuss the immediate and long term impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s).
  • Identify the impact of trauma on: brain development, attachment and memory.
  • Define Trauma-Informed care.
  • Discuss 8 Principles of trauma-informed care.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to create safe environments and build strong relationships with children, youth, adults and families you work with.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to support workers, including self-care strategies to manage secondary traumatic stress (vicarious trauma).
  • Identify resources & further professional development to implement trauma-informed practices in your workplace.

To know more about the training and to register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine info in Yolŋu Matha and English languages

COVID-19 vaccine info in Yolŋu Matha and English languages

In these vaccine information videos produced by Menzies School of Health Research, you will see Elders and community members discuss about vaccines, answer some pertinent questions and direct you to seek advice from your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
Watch the video featuring COVID-19 expert Dr Jane Davies, Melanie and Rosemary click here.
English videos

Yolŋu Matha:

VIDEO 1: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: Why do we need a vaccine? 

VIDEO 2: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: What is the vaccine? Is the vaccine safe? 

VIDEO 3: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: What happens when I get the vaccine? How will I feel after I get the vaccine? 

VIDEO 4: Covid-19 vaccine info for Yolŋu: How does the vaccine affect people with chronic conditions? Do pregnant women and children get the vaccine?  

VIDEO 5: If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, ask your AHP, nurse or doctor. Or call the COVID hotline on 1800 020 080 

Protect yourself, Elders and your community and get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn. Learn more click here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Partnership Forums update – March 2021

This March 2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Partnership Forums update provides information on the department’s work on Indigenous health policies and programs on:

  • Refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Communication activities
  • COVID-19 vaccine rollout
  • National Guidance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban and regional settings
  • Indigenous interpreting service and translated resources available via My Aged Care
  • New grant opportunity for design of rural and remote primary health care services
  • Allied health measures in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs)
  • Mental health support during COVID-19
  • Renewal of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy
  • Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program
  • Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement (7CPA)
  • The National Preventive Health Strategy
  • Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol
  • United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs
  • The Roadmap for Hearing Health
  • Antimicrobial stewardship in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care)
  • Draft National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021-2031 (National Workforce Plan)
  • Kava commercial importation pilot

To view the update click here.

Measuring risky drinking according to the Australian alcohol guidelines

In December 2020, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released the revised Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol (NHMRC 2020).

These guidelines were created following a review of the health effects of consuming alcohol, and define drinking behaviours that Australians can follow to reduce their risk of alcohol-related disease or injury.

Australian alcohol consumption behaviours are routinely reported in the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) which is undertaken every three years, the most recent collection occurring in 2019. The aim of this technical paper is to provide a methodology for measuring risky alcohol consumption according to the revised Australian alcohol guidelines.

To read the full report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021 click here.

The Social and Emotional Wellbeing #SEWB21 Gathering

The Social and Emotional Wellbeing #SEWB21 Gathering in Perth last week was looking at ways in which effective SEWB services could and are being delivered, how this could be measured, the interaction between SEWB and tertiary mental health. More info 

Pat Dudgeon, Director of the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) and lead CI on a NHMRC Million Minds Mission Grant investigating Indigenous mental health posted on her social media page: This is the Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Model we have been working with. It explores welbeing from an Indigenous perspective. Different domains make up what is important and these are influenced by social determinants, historical, political and cultural determinants.
The ACCHO sector has been taking this forward. I will post the full report when it is completed.
More information: There is a national strategic MH&SEWB Framework and this diagram is part of it. The Framework was never implemented. The Gathering discussed this and Gayaa Dhuwi has been tasked with refreshing and ensuring it is implemented. Victoria and Western Australia has made funding commitments already but we want the commonwealth also to commit. We are about putting the power back into our communities. Indigenous self-determination is a essential part of SEWB.
This diagram comes from a long line of effort by our communities, it goes back to the Ways Forward Report 1995 and our first MH&SEWB Framework (again not implemented). A group fo Aboriginal psychologists: Graham Gee, Clinton Schultz, Amanda Hart, Kerrie Kelly and myself had promoted it at various community conferences and then we met in Brisbane, locked oursleves away for 2 days and developed the final diagram/model and wrote a chapter for the Working Together Book 2014.

Free online training for health professionals supporting new/expecting parents

Access to training and resources has always been challenging for health and other professionals working in rural, regional and remote Australia, and the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for more online learning opportunities.

Recognising this need, St John of God Social Outreach now provides free online training and materials to support positive outcomes for families through its Connected Parenting resources.

The Connected Parenting resources and training materials have been created to support anyone working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, to promote secure parent child attachment and social and emotional development.

For more info click here.

Photo of Aboriginal man and pregnant partner

Image Source: NITV News.

Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2020

The most recent indicators of the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are documented in the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s annual publication, the Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2020 Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status – Health Facts – Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (ecu.edu.au)

Improvements were noted in several areas. In 2018, 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers reported smoking during pregnancy which is a decrease from 52% in 2009. The proportion of expectant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers attending antenatal care in the first trimester has increased from 50% in 2012 to 66% in 2018. In September 2020, 97% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 5 year old children were fully immunised against the recommended vaccine-preventable diseases. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drink less alcohol than non-Indigenous people, those who do are more likely to at harmful levels. Evidence suggests better health outcomes are seen when there are adequately resourced and culturally safe alcohol and other drug services provided by community controlled organisations.

As part of the HealthInfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics has also been produced https://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/learn/health-facts/summary-aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-health/

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew, said ‘The 2020 Overview was written in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and I want express our admiration for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led response to OVID-19 that has lessened the impact and protected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. This exemplifies what can be achieved with strong and authoritative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership. With their ongoing support we continue to strive to develop our capacity to accurately and authentically represent the data and statistics to support the efforts of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce’.

banner text Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet goanna & Aboriginal dot painting black grey white yellow pink

Partnership a sign of shared commitment to Aboriginal health

Yoorana Gunya Family Healing Centre is celebrating a partnership with Western NSW Aboriginal Health, and a shared commitment to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people in Forbes.

“Twenty years ago, when I first began Yoorana Gunya, it was in a small house with very limited services,” CEO Donna Bliss says.

“This partnership will extend our services even further without losing our common goal, providing a range of health, education and family programs to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.”

To read the full story click here.

Brendan Cutmore from Western NSW LHD, CEO Yoorana Gunya Donna Bliss, Director of Yoorana Gunya Aunty Mavis Ohlsen, Forbes Shire Mayor Phyllis Miller and Scott McLachlan from Western NSW LHD. Photo courtesy of Council.

AMA states: Time to extend telehealth further

The AMA is again calling on the Government to extend temporary COVID-19 Medicare Telehealth items until the end of the year. The current outbreak in Queensland highlights that the June extension does not go far enough.

“The Queensland outbreak and the flow-on impact on other states is a timely reminder that the pandemic is far from over,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“With the emergence of new and more transmissible COVID-19 variants, it is unlikely that this will be the last lockdown before the end of the year.

“But we cannot become complacent. We must continue to plan for the worst.

“We know that every time there is an outbreak, thousands of people face requirements to self isolate and telehealth ensures these patients can continue to assess care.

“Telehealth remains fundamental to the national effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, by protecting the health workforce, while reducing the need for unwell patients to move around the community.

“We need to maintain continuity of care for patients during any future lockdown.

“We need a telehealth framework that can operate in the context of a pandemic response, which is exactly what these temporary telehealth items are designed to do,” AMA President Dr Khorshid said.

Read the full media release by AMA here.

Have Your Say on Suicide Prevention

South Australians are being asked to help shape a new three-year plan to reduce suicide across the state. The Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention and Wellbeing SA are inviting all South Australians to have their say on the development of a new SA Suicide Prevention Plan for 2022-2025.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said reducing the number of suicides in South Australia is a high priority of the Marshall Liberal Government. “Every life matters and, tragically, so many of us have been touched or impacted by suicide in some way,” Minister Wade said. “That’s why we need to hear from as many South Australians as possible about what could make a difference. We are working in partnership with the community and reaching out to people with lived experience of suicidal distress, and their loved ones, to help us make a meaningful change in suicide prevention.”

Read the full media release here.

young Aboriginal girl's hands with chipped nail polish holding another Aboriginal child's hands

Image source: Amnesty International website.

National Anti-Racism Framework plan launched

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it.

The Commission has released a concept paper detailing key components required for a national strategy to address racism and social cohesion, and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan. There has already been widespread support for the framework, including from the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke MP, and from FECCA, the national peak body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Read the National Anti-Racism Framework concept paper >>

No Room for Racism words inside yellow map of Australia in centre of Aboriginal flag

Image source: LibGuides at Ursula Frayne Catholic College.

 

JOB ALERT

Melbourne/Full-time – Aust Physio Association

Senior Policy Advisor | Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

The Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (ATSIH) is responsible for the development and implementation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health policy and advocacy initiatives, including the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan (2021-23), Physiotherapy Cultural Safety Action Plan and our involvement in the Close the Gap (CtG) Campaign.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

feature tile text 'St Vincent's Hospital transforms delivery of care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people'; image of a empty gurney being pulled through hospital emergency foyer

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.

‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.

You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.

St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley sitting at hospital bed of 49-year-old Aboriginal male patient

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files.  We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.

To view the media release click here.logo 'Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation' circle fish, goanna, blue ochre

Building a more robust medicine supply

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedback on proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.

Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:

  • prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
  • encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
  • support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.

The TGA’s Consultation paper – Building a more robust medicine supply gives further details about proposed mechanisms to prevent and mitigate medicine shortages. For further details about the public consultation and to access the online survey click here.

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

multiple coloured pills in a pile on grey glass surface & plastic pill bottle on side with yellow tablets spilling out

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).

“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.

“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”

To view FPDN’s media release click here and to download FPDN’s resources click here.text 'Get the COVID Jab and help keep our mob safe First Peoples Disability Network Australia' drawing of syringe, 9 virsus cells & one large circles with Aboriginal art in orange with meeting symbols

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.

The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.

To read the full article click here.

photo of Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas standing either side of Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation banner

Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas. Image source: Partyline website.

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.

A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.

It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.

To view the story in full click here.

vector of brain wrapped in yellow tape with text 'UNDER CONSTRUCTION'

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

 Indigenous Pride Heart Studs Flag: Aboriginal Torres Strait Island One of each Flag

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges.  There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified.  Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.

Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”

Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.

The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.

To view the full article click here.

person dressed as Milp the trachoma goanna at AFL game in Alice Springs surrounded by Aboriginal children

Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.Uni of WA & Rural Clinical School of WA logos

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.

For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.

banner text 'World Health Day April 7, pink wooden wall with stethoscope around plasticine world in blue & green

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit

NACCHO and the Department of Health (DoH) are excited to share with you, COVID-19 vaccine providers, new resources and materials to roll-out Phase 1b, due to start week commencing 22 March.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit includes a series of templates and materials that both vaccination clinics and non-vaccination clinics will be able to use and adapt for their sites. All resources feature the beautiful work of Aboriginal artist Jordana Angus, “Stand Together For A Healthy Future”.

This kit will help you work through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s regulatory guidelines for advertising COVID-19 vaccinations.

Here is a formal letter providing an approval for your organisation and its members and its members to adapt Government campaign materials as necessary.

The TGA or the Department of Health can look over draft materials or ideas if ACCHOs have concerns.

The templates and materials are available on the Department website for download, and are free to share with your contacts.   

Find below a list of the communication resources created. These can be easily adapted to suit the needs of your practice/clinic.

If you require any other resources, contact covid19vaccinecomms@health.gov.au

There are several resources that you may find helpful as you roll-out vaccinations through your clinic/practice – you can find more on the DoH website.

We can’t thank you enough for your support and partnership in helping us keep our communities safe and healthy! #OurJobToProtectOurMob 

There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there: newsGP reports

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts speak to newsGP about steps to address misinformation and hesitancy ahead of phase 1b.

As Australia prepares to move into phase 1b of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are buckling down on tackling vaccine hesitancy.

GP Dr Tanya Schramm is a Palawa woman and Chair of the Expert Committee behind the COVID-19 clinical recommendations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
‘There’s been a huge social media campaign in general with … the anti-vax movement putting a lot of stuff out … and that has obviously just overflowed into our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

GP Dr Jason Agostino is the Medical Advisor at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19:  ‘There’s a lot of vaccine hesitancy out there, [but] I don’t think we have an anti-vax movement.

‘What we have is hesitancy around this vaccine and a lot of misinformation going around to people [who have] reasonable questions that they want answered.

‘We’ve got a specific factsheet about vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talking about the experiences of other First Nations [people], and really clarifying that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aren’t guinea pigs here.

‘The reason that they’re priority populations is because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders have fought hard to make sure that they have access to vaccines early.’

Read the full story in the newsGP here.

COVID-19 Roadshow in Ramingining

2021 Close the Gap Campaign Report celebrates strengths-based examples 

As one of the members driving the Close the Gap Campaign, NACCHO invites you to read the 12th annual Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021 titled, Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe.

Connect with the strengths-based examples of our peoples, professionals and communities managing the most complex of challenges such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and suicide prevention.

This year’s report was produced by the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s community controlled national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. In the CTG annual reports they often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood.

Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap said, “New formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.”

“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 quoted in the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021

“ACCHOs know where our mob are and how to get the right message out.”

“I feel proud of the community controlled sector. It’s great that there’s been that recognition of how responsive and how flexible our sector could be. You could see firsthand how, if you work with ACCHOs on the ground they will deliver an effective response that’s appropriate for their setting.”

“You don’t get the same care for our people in mainstream health organisations, you don’t get that recognition of the social determinants of health or of the way colonisation impacts on our health as you do with ACCHOs.”

Indigenous birthing services vital to health of mothers and babies

Charles Darwin University midwifery researchers are calling for Indigenous-led birthing centres to expand across Australia after a seven-year study found a decrease in preterm births and an
improvement in breastfeeding and antenatal care for First Nations families.

The paper “Effect of a Birthing on Country Service redesign on maternal and neonatal health outcomes for First Nations Australians: a prospective, non-randomised interventional trial published today in The Lancet Global Health revealed preterm births were 50 per cent less likely in women accessing a designated Birthing on Country service in Brisbane’s south.

The study reported an almost 40 per cent increase in breastfeeding after discharge from hospital and an 80 per cent increase in women attending more than four antenatal sessions in pregnancy.

More information click here.

Aboriginal woman;s hands cradling pregnant belly painted with image of baby turtle in the sea

Image source: #LoveBroome.

Free CPD accredited training for GPs Practice Managers 

RACGP and Healthdirect Australia are running free CPD accredited training for GPs and Practice Managers to support GPs to use video call more confidently and effectively.

Training comes in two streams (both worth 2 CPD points):

  1. ESSENTIAL Video Call training covers basic call functions such as how to sign in and see patients and how to invite them to a Video Call appointment.

When: Wednesday 21 April 6:30-7:30pm AEST

Register here.

  1. ADVANCED Video Call training covers multiple party calls, how to bring an interpreter into a call, transferring callers between clinics, and other advanced functions.

When: Wednesday 24 March 6:30-7:30pm AEDT OR Wednesday, 14 April 6:30-7:30pm AEST

Register here.

 

Majority of Australians support raising the age

Most Australians support raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14, according to research commissioned by Amnesty International Australia.

The current minimum age of criminal responsibility in all Australian jurisdictions is just 10 (the age of a child in year three in primary school), a fact only one in 10 Australians could identify. In 2019 the Committee of the Rights of the child recommended Australia raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to at least 14 in line with international standards.

Australia also came in for criticism from the international community during the recent Universal Periodic Review where 31 countries recommended Australia address its treatment of Indigenous people and raise the age. “The tough-on-crime rhetoric is a false economy – all the evidence shows that locking kids up doesn’t work,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Nolan Hunter, said.

Read the media release here.

Aboriginal child's hands on jail barred overlaid with Aboriginal flag.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

Claiming Telehealth

Before claiming any of the COVID-19 Telehealth items, GPs are reminded that it is a legislative requirement that GPs and Other Medical Practitioners (OMPs) working in general practice can only perform a telehealth or telephone service where they have an established clinical relationship with the patient. There are limited exemptions to this requirement.

Patients are eligible for GP and OMP telehealth services if they have an established clinical relationship with a GP, OMP, or a medical practice. This requirement supports longitudinal and person-centred primary health care that is associated with better health outcomes.

Read more from the article here.

man on mobile phone pointing to Aboriginal hand on computer screen

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

How Australia’s vaccine rollout in Indigenous communities will work

An Indigenous-owned remote dialysis clinic in Alice Springs is working to make COVID-19 vaccine information more accessible to people living in remote communities.

At 71 years old, Barbara Nampitjinpa is the perfect candidate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during the next phase of the rollout.

Ms Nampitjinpa, who uses an oxygen tank to help herself breathe, is not only getting the jab for her own health, but to encourage other people in remote communities to do the same.

Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, which begins on 22 March, will focus on vaccinating Indigenous Australians aged 55 and over, people over 70, and those who are immunocompromised, as well as some emergency services personnel including the remainder of the health workforce not included in Phase 1a.

Read the story released by SBS News here.

Barbara Nampitjinpa wants people in remote communities to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: SBS News

Wunan to run headspace Kununurra

East Kimberley organisation Wunan has been appointed as the lead agency to establish and operate headspace Kununurra. headspace Kununurra will bring a much-needed resource to the area, offering young people support with their mental health, physical health, alcohol and other drugs issues, and work and study.

WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), the operator of the Country WA Primary Health Network, awarded the contract to Wunan following an open tender procurement process.

For nearly 20 years Wunan has been successfully delivering services and programs across the East Kimberley, including delivery of clinical services to Kununurra and surrounding communities.

Young people aged 12 to 25 can contact headspace Kununurra directly or be referred by their GP or mental health professional.

Read the media release here.

Illustration source: Chris Johnston, Eurekastreet.com.au

The outstanding health outcome Indigenous communities have produced

The fact Indigenous communities kept COVID-19 infection rates six times lower than the rest of Australia without a single death is proof that when they have control and autonomy over policies and programs, success follows.

That’s the message from June Oscar, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner and the co-chair of the annual Close the Gap campaign.

The pandemic and the bushfires of 2020 reinforced the need for large-scale reform and “a paradigm shift to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”, Ms Oscar said.

Chief executive of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Vicki O’Donnell said avoiding COVID-19 deaths was a triumph.

“Our mob live together, eat together, work together, they kiss and they hug – so the spread was a huge risk for us.

“No Aboriginal person died. Does that not tell you something about what we do?” she said.

In 2019, suicide was the biggest killer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged five to 17 years. Suicide rates among adults are at least two to three times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.

Yet the lack of resources and funding to train Aboriginal people in mental health and suicide prevention was “incredibly frustrating” for Thomas Brideson, the chief executive of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, a newly established Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention organisation.

Read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar. Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

Close the Gap report says 2020 reinforced need for large-scale systemic reform

Australian governments at all levels must adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and should take strengths-based approaches to improve health outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples, according to the Close the Gap Campaign.

The campaign is made up of 54 organisations, including the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and aims to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In its 2021 Close the Gap report (not to be confused with the federal government’s Closing the Gap initiative), the campaign noted that the events of 2020 have reinforced the need for large-scale systemic reform and a “paradigm shift” in Australia’s approach to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Read the full story in the Mandarin here.

Indigenous leadership in pandemic delivers a blueprint to Close the Gap

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people have been hailed for their world-leading response to the coronavirus pandemic which left First Nations communities largely unscathed.

As leading Indigenous researcher Professor James Ward, Director of the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, and former Australian of the Year and health researcher Professor Fiona Stanley wrote this week: “Little did anyone know that just a few years after the Uluru Statement from the Heart was presented to the Australian government (and rejected), the First Nations leadership would be able to show just how powerful having a voice could be for their health and wellbeing.”

The 2021 Close the Gap Report, released on Thursday to mark National Close the Gap Day, says it’s time for that lesson to be learnt and applied to so many issues that continue to drive health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including racism, climate change, over-incarceration, youth detention, housing, food and income insecurity, health workforce shortages and stresses, and cultural destruction.

Country and culture are central to the report and the Kimberley is one of the regions highlighted for the leadership shown by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people during the pandemic, with the number of COVID-19 cases among Indigenous people six times lower than for other Australians, no cases in remote communities, and not a single death recorded.

As Oscar wrote in the report: Some of our homelands, once threatened with closure by governments in the past, became some of the safest places in Australia.”

The relative safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities also ranked as a global success, said Indigenous researcher Professor James Ward, the only Aboriginal member of the Communicable Disease Network of Australia, who was a panellist at the Close the Gap event, which also heard from Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and  Sir Michael Marmot, former head of the WHO Social Determinants Committee.

Read the full story in Croakey here.

three Katungul NSW staff in PPE in shooting stance with gloved fingers in shape of pistol

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services staff taking a well-earned break at a mobile COVID-19 clinic at Eden. Image source: Croakey.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills on the successful partnership between NACCHO and the Department of Health fighting COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills shares her message on COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills speaks about the one year successful partnership between NACCHO and the Australian Government Department of Health fighting COVID-19 and encourages all to take the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

To watch the video clip click here.

 

Transcript:

On March 5, 2021, we celebrated our first anniversary of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 co-chaired by NACCHO and the Department of Health.
This group was brought together as a true partnership between the community-controlled health sector, and the Australian Government, to respond to COVID-19 and to keep it out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and moving into the vaccine rollout, there has been shared decision-making between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We have done a great job to keep COVID-19 out of our communities.
One of the reasons we have been so successful in preventing COVID-19 is the quick response and leadership of our community controlled health sector. Across the world, COVID-19 has caused many people to become very unwell, no matter what their background, gender or race.
The COVID-19 vaccine is essential and safe for our mob and is endorsed by NACCHO.
It is important we protect our Elders. COVID-19 vaccines are soon commencing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults according to the priority plan. You will be able to get your free COVID-19 vaccine through Aboriginal Health Services, GP’s and other locations. I encourage all of you to listen to your local community-controlled health organisation as a trusted source of truth.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines – Pat Turner

107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.

“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.

“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.

“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.

“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.

“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.

“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.

“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.

“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.

“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.

National Close the Gap Day 2021

“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.

“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.

“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

To watch the full episode of ABC The Drum click here.

General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.

Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.

Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.

This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.

Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.

This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.

To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.

ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine

Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.

The benefits far outweigh any unfounded links.

Read the ATAGI statement here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?

The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?

The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.

Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.

To read the full article in the Conversation click here.

Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities

Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).

To view the journal articles click here.

Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation

This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.

To view the information click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

National Anti-Racism Framework plan launched

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.

The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.

To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework click here.

Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief

Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.

The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.

The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.

Read the Close the Gap policy brief here.

Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.

Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.

The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.

Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.

To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.

Aboriginal woman holding pregnant belly with hand on top and hand below

Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.

Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.

Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Read the full article here.

Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong

COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia

Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.

Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.

Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosby told ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.

“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.

Read the full story released in Croakey here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?

Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians.  The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.

Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners.  We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.

Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated.  The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.

Please click the link to the survey to get started here.

 

Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA 

The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.

‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.

‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.

‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.

‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.

AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.

Aboriginal painting by Adam Hill white hand reaching down to middle of page with words Close the Gap and black hand reaching up to the words

Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.

First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination

Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.

Read the full media release by Australian National University here.

vector image of microscope over female reproductive organs

Image source: MedPage Today website.

Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA

The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.

On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
by 2032.

The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.

“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.

“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.

Read the AMA media release here.

Images: mivision The Opthalmic Journal website and AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

feature tile text 'Australian Government releasesCOVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People', photo of purple gloved hands injecting person's arm

First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

The Australian Government has released its COVID-19 Vaccination Program – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Implementation Plan. This Implementation Plan is for the COVID-19 vaccination program for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over 18 years of age. This plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, and with state and territory governments.

To view the plan click here.cover of Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Sydney hospital goes from worst to best

It’s one of the busiest and most esteemed emergency rooms in the country, but for decades some of the most vulnerable have slipped through the cracks. Located in the heart of Sydney’s nightlife district, St Vincent’s Hospital has saved thousands of lives — but it was considered the worst in the state when it came to caring for certain patients. “A high number of Aboriginal people were coming in through our emergency department and were leaving us, not completing their treatment,” said Pauline Deweerd, director of Aboriginal health at the hospital.

Some months, as many as one in three patients left the hospital before receiving the vital care they needed. “It was because of past bad experiences, they didn’t like waiting, and they didn’t like the way we treated them,” Ms Deweerd said. It was a persistent, hard to address problem, even for a hospital that has a reputation for providing top-notch emergency medicine.

But in the middle of a global pandemic the hospital found a solution, and doctors are certain the rest of the country can learn from it. “It’s our attempt at closing the gap for our small part of the health world; we not only brought it to the level of the general population, we made it a little better,” Dr Preisz said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley in scrubs sitting on patient bed at St Vincent's Hospital

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Photo: Brendan Esposito. Image source: ABC News website.

Former PM urges women to get COVID-19 vaccine

Julia Gillard has had her coronavirus jab, urging everyone – and particularly women – to get vaccinated. The former PM joined Health Minister Greg Hunt and Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy to be among the first to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at a Melbourne clinic on Sunday 7 March 2021. “Me being here today is a visible representation that no matter what side of politics you barrack for, no matter whom you intend to vote for, there is a united message,” Ms Gillard told reporters. “Please get the vaccine. And particularly to Australian women, can I say, please get the vaccine.

She understands that people might feel a little bit anxious, but recommended they get their information from reliable sources, such as the Australian government or from their local health practitioner. “Whether it’s smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, influenza, and now COVID-19, vaccinations can save lives and protect lives,” Mr Hunt said.

AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses from overseas are being given to frontline health and hotel quarantine workers, as well as aged and disability care residents and staff, as part of phase 1a. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here and to listen to a Julie Gillard urging Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

portrait photo of ex-PM Julia Gillard

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Image source: SBS News website.

Umoona Tjutagku frontline staff receive COVID-19 vaccine

“South Australia’s economic and health response to the COVID-19 threat has been world-leading, and we are focused on working with our health experts to deliver a safe and quick roll out of the vaccines,” SA Premier Marshall said. “This is the biggest peacetime operation in our state’s history, and a big plank in our plan to keep South Australia safe and strong. “The roll out is happening right across the State, with our three key hubs in the north, south and centre of Adelaide all operational, and our regional hubs also progressing .”

Minister Wade said the rollout continues to expand into regional areas with 240 doses of the vaccine arriving at Coober Pedy Hospital today.

“Frontline staff of the Coober Pedy Health Service, Umoona Tjutagku Aboriginal Health Service and Umoona Aged Care as well as aged care residents will receive their COVID-19 vaccine over the next four days.  It is an excellent example of cooperation across all sectors of Health and Aged Care in the Eyre and Far North Local Health Network, SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said.

To view the SA Premier’s media release in full click here.

two Aboriginal health workers at Umoona Tjutagku Health Service AC checking medicine box

Image source: Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

Over 55s in next phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More GPs and health clinics will be involved in the vaccine rollout every week from March 22, as the mass COVID-19 vaccination program enters its next phase. Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy says phase 1b of the vaccine rollout will include adults based on their vulnerability to getting COVID-19. “[It] will involve the over 80s who are most at risk as a general group, then the over 70s, and those who are immunocompromised. We will have our Indigenous Australians over 55 as well as frontline emergency service and defence workers.”

The staged commencement of general practices will be complemented by GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community controlled health services. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

Aboriginal woman and man both 50+ years

Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family and Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.

Professor Langton talks about the COVID-19 vaccine 

Professor Marcia Langton AO has warned of the ongoing dangers of COVID-19, the effectiveness of available vaccines and the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

You can view the short video and transcript here.

snapshot of Professor Marica Langton AO The Uni of Melbourne video for DoH on COVID-19 importance, standing in park with trees in background

Professor Marcia Langton AO, The University of Melbourne.

Pain treatment and opioid use – have your say!

NACCHO is working on a project to create some support materials for pain management and the use of opioid medicines, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumers and health professionals to take part in group discussion to understand the important issues so that the materials made can be useful.

If you are a health consumer and experience pain and use opioids or are interested in pain management as a practitioner in your ACCHO we invite you to contribute to this project. NACCHO will provide financial compensation for your participation.

To apply or learn more please contact Fran Vaughan at NACCHO medicines@naccho.org.au.

bottles of tablets & blister packs

Image source: NPS Medicinewise website.

System must be held accountable for deaths in custody

Responding to news that two Indigenous people died in custody in NSW in the past week, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead Nolan Hunter said: “We’re coming up to the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (RCIADIC) and it feels as though very little has changed. For example, recommendation 165 called for the screening and removal of hanging points that could be used for self-harm; now nearly 30 years later, we hear of an Indigenous woman who used such a hanging point to tragically take her own life. Here we have two tragic deaths in custody and the Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin claims the system can be accountable, while not making these tragedies public.”

To view Amnesty International’s media quote in full click here. and a related article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

crosses in row on grass with Aboriginal flag painted on them & words Black Deaths In Custody Cross For Loss

Image source: ABC News website.

World Kidney Day

Kidney disease is a non-communicable disease (NCD) and currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD). Being diagnosed with kidney disease can be a huge challenge, both for the patient and those people around them. Its diagnosis and management, particularly in advanced stages of kidney disease, impacts severely upon their lives by reducing their, and that of family and friends, ability to participate in everyday activities like work, travel and socialising whilst causing numerous problematic side effects  – e.g. fatigue, pain, depression, cognitive impairment, gastrointestinal problems and sleep problems.

This year World Kidney Day continues to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the World Kidney Day Steering Committee has declared 2021 the year of “Living Well with Kidney Disease”. This has been done in order to both increase education and awareness about effective symptom management and patient empowerment, with the ultimate goal of encouraging life participation.

When compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians

  • Are more than twice as likely to live with biomedical markers of chronic kidney disease – representing 1 in 5 Indigenous Australian adults
  • Experience an increased prevalence of significant medical co-morbidities
  • Have a median onset of ESKD around 30 years younger
  • Are almost 4 times as likely to die with CKD as a cause of death
  • Have incidence rates of renal replacement therapy (RRT) 8 – 9 times greater
  • Are less likely to receive dialysis in a home setting (either peritoneal or haemodialysis)
  • Are less likely to receive a kidney transplantation
  • Have worse outcomes from transplantation
  • Are more likely to live in very remote or remote areas which is associated with poorer health outcomes
  • Experience a greater psycho-social impact of their disease

For further information on World Kidney Day Thursday 11 March 2021 click here.

Aboriginal painting titled My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara Woman and kidney patient

My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara woman and kidney patient. Image source: World Kidney Day website.

2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMHA) has announced details of its new conference, the 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference to take place in Cairns from 7–8 October 2021.

Its theme will be “Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap” and will showcase a high calibre of keynote speakers and presenters, covering four vital topics: (1) Promoting Wellness, (2) Social, Emotional & Cultural Determinants, (3) Community Care & Social Recovery and (4) Service Care & Recovery.

With a vision to “shine light on the key challenges in Indigenous communities and address the past and present issues contributing to inequities in mental health treatment and care,” the conference is set to enlighten, educate, and share the hard truths amongst keynote speakers, presenters and attendees.

For more information about the conference and to register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: power of male role models confirmed

feature tile text 'power of male role models for Aboriginal children' silhouette of 3 Aboriginal men against sunset

Power of male role models

Almost 10 years ago, the Fathering Project was founded with the aim of delivering resources, programs and events to inspire and equip fathers and father-figures to engage with the children in their lives in a positive manner. Now through a collaboration between a number of researchers, the Fathering Project has asked Noongar men to explain what quop maaman (good men) looks like to them. The outcome was a workshop and video series that will introduce the program to boys and young men on Country with a focus on key Noongar concept and themes.

Professor Collard, a Whadjuk Nyungar Elder and the lead researcher behind the Aboriginal father’s program, said one of the key points in the discussion was that the fathering role model looked different to the Noongar men’s counterparts. He said while the western world may focus on the biological father being one of the primary caregivers, it wasn’t necessarily the same sentiment in the Noongar men’s discussions. The Fathering Project CEO Kati Gapaillard said “the research is profound, showing that increased father involvement in the lives of children creates many positive outcomes.”

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

Aboriginal man with arms around three young children, two boys & a girl

Image source: Mallee District Aboriginal Services website.

Vaccines welcome, still need COVID-safe practices

Expert health and medical science leaders welcome the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, but caution that the vaccines alone are not enough. The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out is a major development for Australia. It will enable people to take action that will help to protect themselves, their families and the wider community from a disease that has killed millions of people and impacted everyone, says the country’s expert body in the health and medical sciences. The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) is an independent body comprising more than 400 senior researchers and health leaders. It has been active in monitoring and guiding the nation’s pandemic response.

To view the AAHMS media release click here.

Also, you can access a community engagement kit (developed by the Australian Government Department of Health in collaboration with NACCHO) with information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines by clicking here and resources about keeping our mob safe here.

image of 3 DoH Aboriginal specific stay covid-19 safe brochures, the first with text 'keep the germs away, keep hands clean' & line drawing of hands being washed

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health website.

Standalone family court system abolished

The passing of legislation earlier this week to merge the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court will place survivors of domestic and family violence at greater risk according to more than 155 stakeholders in Australia’s family law system who have signed an open letter to the Attorney-General opposing the merge.

The Law Council of Australia, Women’s Legal Services Australia, Community Legal Centres Australia and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) are among the stakeholders who have consistently opposed the Government’s bill to abolish the specialist, stand-alone Family Court out of concern it will harm, not help, Australian families and children.

NATSILS Co-Chair Priscilla Atkins voiced her concerns for First Nations people, saying the merger means the loss of the standalone, specialist, superior Family Court and this will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To view the National Indigenous Times article click here.

lettering on marble outside Family Court of Australia

Image source: Crikey website.

ACTCOSS supports systemic racism investigation

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the appointment of Ms Christine Nixon as chair of the new Oversight Committee to develop a blueprint for change for the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) however said that without an inquiry into systemic racism in Canberra’s prison the injustice experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees engaged with the justice system would not be resolved.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “We are pleased to see that this new Oversight Committee will soon start work to help improve culture and oversee the implementation of recommendations from inquiries and reports, “This oversight group will need to move promptly and comprehensively to rebuild trust. That must include close engagement with the community services sector, particularly Aboriginal community controlled organisations.”

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.

Alexander Moconochie Centre external view building, 3 flag poles & prohibited entry sign

Photo by Karleen Minney. Image source: The Canberra Times.

First Nations’ GP numbers keep growing

The past three years have seen a 55% increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students pursuing a career in medicine. In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools. That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase, ‘There is a greater engagement of universities with high schools to recruit into health-related degrees and improvements in entry pathways to ensure university readiness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – one of the barriers for [this population] undertaking any university degree.’

To view the full RACGP newsGP article click here.

Aboriginal medical student with stethoscope against young Aboriginal woman's chest

James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

More pressure on Woolies over NT grog shop

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous community and health leaders have called on Reconciliation Australia to revoke its endorsement of Woolworths’ Reconciliation Action Plan, as it did with Rio Tinto’s in the wake of the mining giant’s destruction of Juukan Gorge.

The signatories include many leading Indigenous health experts, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) CEO Donna Murray, Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson, Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson, Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen, and former 60 Minutes journalist Jeff McMullen.

They say Woolworths should, like Rio Tinto, be held accountable for its relentless fight to build what will be one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores near three dry Aboriginal communities in Darwin, despite strong opposition from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health organisations, “and in the full knowledge that this store will increase alcohol harm”.

To view the full article in Croaky click here.

silhouette of a spirits bottle over a list of the signatories to Reconciliation Australia to ct ties with Woolworths over Darwin bottle shop proposal

Signatories to the letter to Reconciliation Australia. Image source: Croakey.

Loneliness epidemic goes on unnoticed

A report on loneliness, an issue which clouds the lives of many Australians and exposes them to increased risk of depression and other illness, has called for a national plan of action to address the often unrecognised condition. 15% of Australians were considered to be experiencing high levels of loneliness, according to a 2019 survey, yet there remain significant gaps in knowledge and community awareness of the extent and impact, the report finds. That survey finding is reported in the Loneliness Thought Leadership Roundtable Report produced by an expert roundtable established by the Consumers Health Forum in partnership with the Medibank Better Health Foundation. This report builds on the Ending Loneliness Together in Australia White Paper published in late 2020 by the Ending Loneliness Together coalition.

To view the Consumers Health Forum of Australia’s media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting against wall with head down, arms folded, blue hoodie & jeans

Image source: myDr.com.au.

Youth representatives sought for HealthInfoNet Board 

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet which undertakes knowledge exchange research activities to summarise, synthesise and analyse the available research and other information and make it available to the health sector workforce in ways that are timely, accessible and relevant, is seeking expressions of interest from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 18–25 years) to join its national Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides strategic advice and guidance to the HealthInfoNet‘s Director to ensure that it continues to provide support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce.

Youth representatives will provide important feedback from a young person’s perspective to guide the strategic and operational activities of the HealthInfoNet. The youth representatives will join the Advisory Board of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts and other health experts from throughout Australia.

For further information click here. BE QUICK as applications close Friday 26 February.Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet logo of goanna & Aboriginal dot painting

Settler colonials face family histories

There is a quiet movement among settler colonials in Australia to critically examine their family histories as a way of re-examining the impact of centuries of dispossession of Indigenous peoples and enabling a shift from celebratory tropes of benign settlement to deep considerations of legitimacy. The myth of great white men and women, bravely opening new worlds and taming the wilderness, including the “savage” Indigenes, is now being challenged by a search for the truth.

Working alongside Aboriginal people, documenting their stories of dispossession and survival, Australian writer and academic, David Denborough,  was challenged by Jane Lester, a Yangkunytjatjara/Antikirinya woman, to find his ancestors. Now, 20 years later, he has written a book about how the relationships between his ancestors and Aboriginal people were marked by colonisation, racism and often inhumane treatment.

Denborough is determined to tell the truth as part of his healing journey and his close relationship with Aboriginal people. He has realised  “there is no sense in moral superiority towards my ancestry because colonial violence in this country has not ended; no place for hopelessness because First Nations resistance has never wavered; and, no time for paralysing shame because invitations to partnerships are still being offered by Aboriginal people … and [there is] so much to be done.”

To view the full article click here.

Tom and Jane Teniswood holding 'Private Forest Reserve' sign on a tree trunk

Tom and Jane Teniswood have returned half of their 220-acre property in Tasmania to the local Aboriginal community. Image source: The Conversation.

Doctor shortage in rural & regional areas

In a recent interview The Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government was asked about RACGP figures suggesting a decline in doctors electing for GP training and choosing specialties instead and whether more incentives need to be in place to fill more GP training roles. Minister Coulton said “what we’ve seen here in the bush is a symptom of a larger problem. And that is as we speak this year, there’s 30% vacancy in funded training places for GPs across Australia. We need to lift the value of general practice as a discipline.

We’re also training generalists, which is proving to be very popular with students coming through. So, doctors that have that broader range of skills, a GP with an emergency skill, obstetric skill, that would be of use when you’re working more remotely by yourself. And so, we’re looking at a whole range of issues going right back to the training through the students, working with the colleges, right through workforce issues and incentives, putting more students from country areas into training.”

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

overlapped image of health professional torso with stethoscope holding hand of person against red dusty grasslands

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance Partyline website.

Teal Ribbon Day – raising ovarian cancer awareness

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a different pattern of gynaecological cancer incidence and mortality compared to non-Indigenous women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 3.8 times more likely to die from cervical cancer, and are also 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 2.2 times more likely to die from endometrial cancer. Cancer Australia have produced a handbook for Health Workers and Health Practitioners to help provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with gynaecological cancers which can be accessed here.

Annually on the last Wednesday in February, Ovarian Cancer Australia hold Teal Ribbon Day. This is a day to support Australians affected by ovarian cancer, honour those  lost and raise awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations. To access the Ovarian Cancer Australia website click here.

photo of teal ribbon for Teal Ribbon Day

Image source: Ovarian Cancer Australia website.

NSW – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma – Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health & Community Services

Practice Nurses x 1 PT – Batemans Bay

Casual Practice Nurses x 1 or more – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma

Katungul is a not for profit organisation providing culturally attuned, integrated health and community services on the Far South Coast of NSW. Katungul provides a broad range of services including: Primary Health Care; Child and Maternal Health; Oral Health; Mental Health; Emotional Health; Alcohol and Drug Services; NDIS and Integrated Team Care (ITC).

The Practice Nurse is responsible for ensuring that high quality health care services are provided to Katungul clients attending the clinic and associated outreach venues. This role includes oversight of all clinical operations based at the branch including risk management, planning, reporting, and management of a multidisciplinary team.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Tuesday 9 March 2021.Katungul ACCHO logo black duck flying across curved Aboriginal brown yellow black art, inside ochre circle with golden yellow fill, silhouette of man, woman, girl & boy at bottom of the circle, text 'Health Care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities