NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Family Matters Report 2022

The Family Matters Report 2022 released by SNAICC

“The statistics in the Family Matters Report 2022 tell a grim story! Our children continue to be over-represented in out-of-home care, and the trend is increasing. But we know what it takes to turn this tide. The evidence is there. Our communities and organisations have the answers. We need the commitments from governments to make it happen,” taken from post on SNAICC’s social media.

Family Matters reports examine what governments are doing to turn the tide on over-representation and the outcomes for our children. They also highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions and call on governments to support and invest in the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead on child wellbeing, development and safety responses for our children.

This year’s Family Matters report is the third to be published following the development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement), which was entered into in July 2020. Under the
National Agreement, governments across the country committed to make decisions in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations; to invest in our community-controlled services; to transform government agencies and non-Indigenous services into culturally safe organisations; and to develop data and monitor outcomes in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The National Agreement also committed specifically to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in out-of-homecare by 45% by the year 2031, a target well aligned to the Family Matters campaign’s call to eliminate overrepresentation by 2040.

Read more details and download the report here.

Four Corners release on dismal failures of youth detention policy

Over 130 pages it spells out the dismal failures of youth detention policy in Australia — a country that continues to lock up primary school-age children in the face of evidence that incarceration only leads to more crime.

Prepared for the Council of Attorneys-General with input from state, territory and Commonwealth justice departments, as well as 93 public submissions, the report was finalised in 2020.

ABC Four Corners, as part of an investigation into ongoing abuses within youth detention, has obtained a report of the Council of Attorneys-General review examining the age of criminal responsibility.

At times the language is academic. At times it’s blunt. The recommendation is clear: no child below the age of 14 should be prosecuted for

“The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age, without exception,” the report says — a conclusion supported by the majority of justice departments around the country.

Australia is one of the only developed countries in the world to prosecute and detain children as young as 10. The global average is 14. What’s commonplace in this country, is prohibited by nations including Russia and China.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned Australia’s position.

To read the full story click here.

Photo: Matt Davidson. Image source: WAtoday.

Research finds many Australians ignore Covid-19 warnings despite spike in cases

As a string of new Covid-19 warnings ramp up across the country, a research survey conducted by Pfizer Australia found 60 per cent of Australians believed Covid-19 was a thing of the past.

The data compares community sentiment to how Australians were feeling a year ago when Covid-19 was rampant across the states and territories, borders were shut and many people were in and out of lockdown.

The research also found 61 per cent of people were less concerned about the impact of Covid-19 in their community, while about 46 per cent felt less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness.

Health experts have urged people to work from home where they can.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist and paediatrician Robert Booy said complacency during the current wave was concerning.

“Protection against Covid-19 infection requires several steps, including ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, practising Covid-safe behaviours and ensuring if you do test positive to Covid, you act fast by talking to your GP to learn if antiviral medicines are right for you,” Professor Booy said.

Reconciliation Australia’s barometer report shows greater levels of racism than 2020

Reconciliation Australia has released the biennial Barometer report, which takes the temperature of relationships between First Nations people and the broader community.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine says the report is an important tool to track progress.

“The report has been going since 2008 and we run it every two years, just so we get a picture a snapshot of what’s going on at that moment,” she said.

SUMMARY STATISTICS
  • 93% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (95% in 2020)and 89% of Australians in the general community (91% in 2020) feel our relationship is important.
  • Nearly all Australians (93%) want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in their own affairs,
  • 80% of the general community (86% in 2020) and
  • 86% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (91% in 2020) believe it is important to establish a representative Indigenous Body.
  • Support for a national First Nations representative body remains strong with 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • More Australians than ever before back a Treaty with 72% of non-Indigenous Australians now supporting a treaty – up from 53% in 2020.
  • A majority believe it is important to undertake formal truth-telling processes in relation to Australia’s shared history – 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • 63% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples said they trusted non-Indigenous people they have not interacted with, and non-Indigenous people felt the same way.
  • Trust levels rise steeply when people have social contact: 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
  • 80% of the general community support ANZAC Day ceremonies to honour First Nations and non-Indigenous soldiers.
  • 70% of the general community support the establishment of a national day of significance that celebrates First Nations histories and cultures.
  • 60% of First Nations peoples have experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the past 6 months (52% in 2020, 43% in 2018). This compares with 25% of non-Indigenous people.
“This latest survey provides evidence that support for reconciliation and the Uluru Statement from the Heart remains strong,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine. “As does mutual trust between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians.
“Of particular interest is the steep rise in trust when both groups surveyed by the ARB have a social connection with the other group.
“However, these percentages rise significantly when the respondents were asked the same question about people with whom they had interacted with. Trust levels rose to 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
“These rising levels of trust augur well for change, as we head towards the national referendum on The Voice to Parliament.
“This Barometer continues a long-standing trend of overwhelming support for a national representative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body and the comprehensive telling (and teaching) of Australia’s true colonial history.”
Voice, Treaty, Truth.”
Read the full story here.

Image source: ABC Kimberley

Hearing Australia’s action plan to halve the rate of hearing loss in First Nations children by 2029

The most recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey found 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school-aged children had a measured hearing loss in one or both ears.

Chronic otitis media, a middle ear infection and inflammation, is far more frequent in Indigenous children with one in three experiencing the disease.

The Hearing Australia Action Plan for Improving Ear Health and Hearing Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children is all about activities that prevent hearing loss and collaboration with local Aboriginal communities.

Hearing Australia acting national manager stakeholder relations, First Nations services unit and Wiradjuri woman Sherilee McManus, who is based in Maitland, said the action plan is incredibly important because when kids are starting school and have experienced hearing loss, they haven’t had as much of an opportunity to learn and grow.

Read the full story here.

In another ear health news: Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s new Early Years Strategy as an important step towards prioritising the wellbeing of Australia’s children.

Commissioner Hollonds said: “The Early Years Strategy will be an opportunity for cross-portfolio systems reform, recognising that children and their families do not exist in one policy silo. Rather, their needs stretch across numerous portfolios including health, education, social services, Indigenous affairs, and others.”

Read the full story here.

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

Support for high-risk groups after stillbirth and miscarriage

The Hon Ged Kearney MP

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Australian Government is providing greater support to ease the heartbreak of stillbirth and miscarriage among higher-risk groups.

From today, $5.1 million is available in grants to organisations that can provide high quality, evidence-based bereavement care nationally for women and families who have experienced stillbirth or miscarriage.

Groups that are at higher risk of stillbirth or miscarriage include First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse, refugee and migrant communities, as well as women and families living in rural and remote Australia and women and girls younger than 20 years of age.

Every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn and two die within 28 days of birth, equating to around 3,000 perinatal deaths per year. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks.

Grants are open to organisations that can develop and deliver holistic and individualised bereavement care for women and families in the target population groups across Australia.

Read the full article here.

Youth yarn about how to get over the shame of STI testing 

This video released by YoungDeadlyFree is for youth with the voices of youth!

Shame is something that can stop us from doing the things we need to do to look after our health. However, shame is something that our mob overcome on a daily basis. This video explores how a range of different young people have overcome shame when it comes to taking charge of their sexual health. Get inspired, get motivated and #gettested 

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) has released its first Annual Report, outlining progress in implementing the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement).

Significant progress is being made against commitments in the Coalition of Peaks Implementation Plan, with the first Annual Report showing:

  • progress on establishment of five policy partnerships and five place-based partnerships
  • development of a number of sector-strengthening plans
  • establishment of three Community Data Project sites, and progress on another one
  • Agreement on the Data Development Plan
  • growth in Coalition of Peaks membership
  • case studies highlighting the successful implementation of the National Agreement across the country, leading to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the Annual Report also reveals that progress on Priority Reform Three – transforming mainstream organisations – remains slow, and that more needs to be done.

Scott Wilson, Acting Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, is concerned. “Priority Reform Three is an opportunity to identify, call out, and then address, the institutionalised racism in our mainstream agencies and services”, said Mr Wilson.

Read the full Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report – media release.

Great new campaign by VACCHO on early detection and cancer screening

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is calling on the Community to come forward for potentially life-saving cancer screening and health checkups as part of the ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign launch.

Cancer Council Victoria data also indicates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people.

The reduction in the number of people coming forward for cancer screening adds further cause for concern for VACCHO and has led to the development of the Community focused ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ initiative.

The ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign is narrated by proud Wongutha-Yamatji man, staunch advocate, and award-winning performer, writer, and director Meyne Wyatt.

It is recommended that Mob get a health checkup with their GP or Aboriginal health service each year. Health check-ups help you to manage your health, prevent chronic diseases, make sure you are up to date with cancer screening and help make sure you are there for the moments that matter.
Book your health checkup with your GP or Aboriginal health service today.

Marlamanu on-country diversionary program to tackle youth offending in Kimberley

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan says the McGowan Government’s on-country diversion facility in the Kimberley has reached a major milestone, with Marlamanu Pty Ltd selected to progress delivery of the pilot program for at-risk youth.

A detailed service agreement will now be negotiated with Marlamanu Pty Ltd which will see an Aboriginal-led diversionary program established at the Myroodah cattle station, approximately 112 kilometres south-east of Derby in the West Kimberley. It follows completion of the program design – aimed at providing up to 16 places each year for young men between 14 and 17. Work is underway with agencies – including the Western Australia Police Force and the Department of Communities and Justice – to refine the pathways for referrals to the program, including from the courts.

For more details click here.

Read the full article released by the National Indigenous Times here.

New promising project to tackle hearing loss issues in remote areas 

Newly-graduated Indigenous audiometrists are heading home to the bush, to help tackle a ‘shameful crisis’ of hearing loss. It’s estimated that in some remote communities, up to 90 per cent of children are affected.

Margaret Murray is an Aboriginal Health Worker living in the NSW-Victorian border town of Albury, who knows firsthand about the devastating impacts of hearing infections.

“As a child growing up near Mildura [in northern Victoria] I had a perforated ear,” the Maraura Barkindji woman says.

“Dad had to take me to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for surgery,” she says.
“I was lucky to be left with scarring but no permanent hearing loss. But a lot of other children with perforated ears grow up to need hearing aids.”

Read the full story released in SBS News here.

Creating safe spaces for conversations to prevent suicide

Introduction by Croakey: Dharawal and Dharug woman Shannay Holmes writes below about the importance of providing young people with culturally safe tools and language to navigate support and discussions around the topic of suicide.

“It’s time our young mob are supported and equipped with the appropriate tools to be able to support themselves and their peers,” Holmes writes. “I imagine if myself and my friends were taught how to talk about suicide and how to better support each other at school, we may not have had to struggle for as long as we did.”

Holmes works on the Heal Our Way campaign, which aims to provide practical resources to community members to equip them with the skills to have safe conversations around suicide.

Led by Cox Inall Ridgeway in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW, health leaders and people who have lived experience of suicide, Heal Our Way is a NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Campaign funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZS) initiatives.

Read the full story released in Croakey Health Media here

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated and will be launched in February 2023.

For more information click here.

Research Report MJA: Aboriginal people are less likely to survive the year after an ICU admission

Risk of death and 12-month mortality among critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit are higher for Indigenous than non-Indigenous people, according to research published today by the Medical Journal of Australia

“Rates of ill-health are higher and  lower for  than for other people in many countries,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Paul Secombe, an intensivist at Alice Springs Hospital and Adjunct Lecturer at Monash University.

“After taking the lower median age of Indigenous ICU patients into account, their mortality outcomes are significantly poorer than for non-Indigenous patients.”

The authors concluded that their findings suggested that  may contribute to earlier death among Indigenous Australians, and “consequently to lower life expectancy.”

Read the full story in the Medical Express here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Registrations OPEN – 2022 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual TRIVIA

Registrations OPEN: 2022 ATSIHAW Virtual TRIVIA 

Inviting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHOs) staff and other organisations supporting ACCHOs to join us in this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia on Thursday 8 December 2022.

Loads of prizes up for grabs for your team and sexual health resources for your ACCHOs……entertainment priceless!

REGISTER NOW! Early bird registrations get rewarded! First 10 teams to register will receive a free lunch (value $20pp up to 5 people per team)

Trivia Times:
• 1pm – WA
• 2.30pm – NT
• 3pm – QLD
• 3.30pm – SA
• 4pm – NSW, ACT, TAS, VIC

To REGISTER your Team CLICK HERE.

*Only one person from each team needs to register for their team.

Each year, ATSIHAW provides an opportunity for conversations about HIV in our communities to increase education and awareness, prevention and treatment, the importance of regular testing and to reduce stigma. In 2022, NACCHO are co-hosting the ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia alongside the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

Sexual health-themed costumes and props are highly encouraged – there will be prizes for the best dressed! Keep it classy!

Background: The ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ campaign was created in collaboration, led by Professor James Ward currently at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (previously with the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute).

Each year coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is held nationally to continue conversations about HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. ATSIHAW was launched in 2014 with support from the Australian Government Department of Health and has been run annually ever since. The ongoing theme for ATSIHAW is: ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ further promoting the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health being in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hands!

For more details on ATISHAW’s history click here.

If you have any questions please contact us at BBVSTI@Naccho.org.au

Danila Dilba diversion connects young people with their victims in effort to stop reoffending

A local diversion program is reducing reoffending by forcing young people to hear from their victims. Read how the program is reducing youth crime.

Bringing children face-to-face with their victims has proven to decrease their chances of reoffending, according to an Aboriginal health provider.

Danila Dilba Health Service runs a holistic diversion program that has a 76 per cent completion rate.

The Aboriginal health provider was contracted by the NT government to run diversion and primary care inside Don Dale Youth Detention after the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children recommended young people be exposed to culturally-appropriate services.

Chief executive Rob McPhee said the program started in 2020 and involved taking young people into the hospital to see the impacts of trauma, while also putting support services around both the child and family.

“We’ve had 50 young people participate in the program and 38 of them have completed it,” Mr McPhee said.

“We get really positive feedback from the young people and from families and where possible, we try to include the victims of their crime as well so that the young people hear from victims that are affected by their behaviour.”

Read the full story released in NT News here.

 

Image source: NT News

AMA calls on NT legislators and all jurisdictions to raise the age of criminal responsibility

The Australian Medical Association has called on the Northern Territory government and all Australian governments to stop putting children in jail.

The Northern Territory is set to pass legislation which will see the age of criminal responsibility in the Territory rise from 10-years-old to 12, however the AMA says the changes do not go far enough and the minimum age for incarceration should be 14 years old.

President of the AMA Professor Steve Robson said the Northern Territory law will still allow children in primary school and in their first year of high school to be placed in jails like the Don Dale Youth Detention Facility.

“The AMA urges Northern Territory legislators to listen to the experts and not turn their backs on this issue. The health advice is clear, kids aged 12 and 13 should not be held criminally responsible. The job will not be done until the minimum age is raised to 14 years,” Professor Robson said.

“Our position is informed by medical evidence — jail is no place for children. It offers limited rehabilitation opportunities and has serious adverse impacts on child development and mental and emotional wellbeing. There are alternatives.”

AMA Northern Territory President, Associate Professor Robert Parker, said the AMA was also calling on the Northern Territory Government to close the Don Dale Youth Detention Facility.

Read the AMA full media release here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

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

Two great scholarships honouring two incredible women 

Aunty Angela Clarke (Grad Cert) https://mdhs.unimelb.edu.au/…/n/angela-clarkescholarship

Aunty Joan Vickery (Masters) https://mdhs.unimelb.edu.au/…/aunty-joan-vickery…

Aunty Angela Clarke worked as the Koori Hospital Liaison Officer at the Royal Children’s Hospital and later was the Deputy Director of the VicHealth Koori Health Research Unit (Onemda). Her contribution to Aboriginal health was transformative, pioneering new models of community participation in research and embedding culturally responsive clinical practice for Indigenous patients.

Aunty Joan Vickery’s impressive leadership and advocacy over many decades improved Indigenous health outcomes and delivery of services across Victoria. Helping to establish the Ngwala Willumbong Co-operative in 1975 – which continues to deliver outreach services to Aboriginal people affected by substance abuse – she later worked to improve understanding of diabetes among Indigenous families as the first Aboriginal Liaison Officer at St Vincent’s Hospital through rolling out a series of programs and support networks.

For more information visit the University of Melbourne website here.

High school students throughout Cairns can fast-track into a career in healthcare

High school students throughout Cairns can fast track into a career in healthcare with the launch of a $1.4m state-of-the-art medical precinct at Bentley Park College.

There are critical workforce shortages in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the nation as well as a broader shortage of health care workers and Bentley Park College Principal Bruce Houghton said 40 per cent of students were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

“The student response has been outstanding – by completing their certificate courses they can go on to do their diploma at TAFE or go on to nursing at university or become a medical practitioner, a paramedic or a doctor,” Mr Houghton said.

Students can complete certificate two and three courses as well as an assistant in nursing qualification at the precinct, while students from other schools can jump in on school holidays and gain the same qualifications.

Mr Houghton said data in 2020 showed that a lot of Bentley Park graduates were going into medical work.

To read the full story released in the Daily Telegraph click here.

Source: Daily Telegraph

AMSANT Annual Report 2021–2022

AMSANT is staying flexible and moving fast to meet the growing primary healthcare needs of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

AMSANT’s support of Member Services and community controlled health, and their leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is outlined in our new Annual Report that you can view here.

If you have any queries or feedback email: reception@amsant.org.au

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The image in the feature tile was taken at the NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022:    

Left to right: Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner, Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group, Rebekah Cassidy, Sanofi Head of Communications Australia and New Zealand, Bryony Forrest, recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

“We look at medicine programs that improve how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can use medications. We also deal with policies around improving access to medications and making sure that medications and pharmacy services are really accessible. We have been consulting with our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the country on how they manage medicines in the clinics. They’ve asked us to provide some guidelines and support materials to improve how medicines are managed in the clinics,” said Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director of Medicines Policy and Programs at the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy team hosted a session on ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022 that highlighted the process involved in having access to good quality, safe, effective and affordable essential medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To view, the ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines click here.

About the systems that support safe, effective and cost-effective use of medicines

On Day 2 of the conference, saw another session by the Medicines and Pharmacy team on ‘The IPAC project, Deadly Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Collaborations’. In that session, the presentation covered the importance of the IPAC project, the newly launched Deadly Pharmacists foundation training course co-designed with PSA, and a couple of examples of other PSA collaborations involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.  To view the presentation click here.

Deadly Pharmacists and PSA Collaboration

In this video in the link below, hear from the Medicines and Pharmacy team who highlight the work carried out for the ACCHO sector and talk about what the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme- ‘Honour the Past Prepare for the Future’, means to them. The key takeaway is how traditional medicines that trace back 60,000 years ago and past knowledge are still relevant for us now and will be in the future. Featured in the video:

  • Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Alice Nugent, Pharmacist Advisor, NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group
  • Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner
  • Bryony Forrest, the recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by Sanofi.

For more information or any queries on Medicines and Pharmacy, email medicines@naccho.org.au

Developing wellbeing (trauma) informed care approaches across ACCHSs in the Kimberley region of WA

A new health research project in Kimberley aims to improve clinical responses to the experiences of adversity and trauma that many Aboriginal patients experience and the impact this has on their healthcare access and engagement.

Research Fellow Emma Carlin, from The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia and The University of Western Australia’s Medical School, is leading a partnership with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service and the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing research project, to develop and implement Wellbeing Informed Care approaches for Aboriginal Community Controlled primary health care in the Kimberley region.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) is providing $955,000 to fund the project over three years. This funding is matched with significant in-kind contributions from the partner agencies.

The project will work with clinics and community to co-design and implement Wellbeing Informed Care in a place based and culturally secure way while reflecting on international and national trauma-informed care research.

At the end of the project, the partnership aims to have developed an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service specific approach to Wellbeing Informed Care alongside an accessible implementation guide that will be available for other interested services.

To read the full story click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS culturally safe and accessible maternity care

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service’s midwifery program aims to remove barriers that prevent women from accessing maternity care by providing culturally safe, non-judgemental and flexible care, says CEO Julie Tongs.

“We focus on the clinical, cultural and spiritual needs of Aboriginal clients, families and the community and the midwifery program welcomed 68 babies into the community in 2020 and 2021,” says Ms Tongs.

“The midwifery team offers antenatal and postnatal care, community at home support, baby health checks, breastfeeding support, immunisations, and a range of women’s health services.

“Our midwives work closely with ACT hospitals, and assist in ensuring continuity of care between Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS and hospital services”.

Ms Tongs says Winnunga also has a comprehensive child immunisation program they encourage patients to access.

“This also allows us to follow up on our patients’ progress with postpartum recovery, and to assist them with any needs in relation to caring for their infants,” says Ms Tongs.

“It is vitally important for high-risk clients to have access to Aboriginal specific, culturally appropriate midwifery services, as many choose not to access mainstream services without support.”

To read the full story on ‘Supporting Mums through pregnancy and beyond’ in CBR City News click here.

To read the latest Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS 2021-2022 Annual Report click here.

Congratulations to Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD 

Nurses and midwives across NSW have been celebrated for their significant contribution to the public health system, with the winners of the 10th annual 2022 Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards announced today. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor congratulated the nurses and midwives for their outstanding commitment to providing world-class care to patients across NSW.

“These nurses and midwives deserve to be recognised for going above and beyond in their dedication to caring for patients, their families and communities every day,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the highly skilled health staff for the excellent work they do across NSW, particularly during the past few years of the pandemic.”

The winners in each of the eight categories are:

  • Nurse of the Year: Cecilia Desousa – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Midwife of the Year: Kim Wood – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD D
  • New to Practice Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Rachael Roach – Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Mid North Coast LHD; and Stacey-Lee Cossar-Denny – Gilgandra Multi-Purpose Service, Western NSW LHD
  • Nursing/Midwifery Team of the Year: Campbelltown – Marrickville and Redfern Acute Care Service, Sydney LHD
  • Judith Meppem Leadership Award: Sonia Marshall – Director Nursing, Midwifery and Performance, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (colleague) Award for exceptional care: Denise Burns – Campbelltown Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (consumer) Award for exceptional care: Judy Boynton – Sustaining NSW Families, Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Jacqui Cross said the winners represent a wide range of roles performed by nurses and midwives in diverse settings across the NSW health system.

“Nurses and midwives are an integral part of our health system, providing the essential care and support people require through different stage of their life,” Ms Cross said.

“All of the finalists and winners should be proud of their achievements – they make a difference in the lives of patients every day.”

Read the full story here.

Sarah-Kathleen Colliss have been selected from nominations across eight categories that recognise nurses and midwives who have made a difference in clinical practice, management and leadership.

More First Nations Australians receiving NDIS support

First Nations Australians living with disability are accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in greater numbers, according to new data.

The latest NDIS Quarterly Report shows that of the 23,137 new participants to enter the Scheme in the quarter, 9.4 per cent (2,169) identified as First Nations peoples.

As of 30 September 2022, the NDIS was providing disability support to 40,842 First Nations participants, up from 34,378 at the same time last year – an increase of more than 18 per cent.

Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy are pleased to see the number of First Nations participants increase, as the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) continues to focus on ensuring First Nations peoples with disability can more easily access support.

Increasing the number of First Nations staff working at the NDIA is also a priority for the Australian Government. In the 2022 APS Census, three per cent of NDIA staff identified as First Nations people.

The NDIA’s First Nations Employee Network (FNEN) Conference was held for the first time since COVID, with Senator McCarthy as a guest speaker.

Since June 2022, the NDIA has:

  • Discussed the potential of a partnership agreement with First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) to support the NDIA in the co-design of the strategy.
  • Engaged with key internal and external stakeholders to discuss their involvement and input in the strategy co-design process.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said, “Having attended the NDIA’s latest First Nations Employee Network Conference, the Agency has increasing the number of First Nations NDIA staff on their agenda. The network’s conference will help the NDIA’s efforts to deliver culturally appropriate NDIS support to First Nations communities.

“I spoke directly to First Nations NDIA staff and gave the Australian Government’s overview of the NDIS and First Nations matters.

“The conference also explored the actions in their NDIA First Nations Employment and Inclusion Plan 2022-25 and what the Agency could do to bring those actions to life, including career development, recruitment and retention of First Nations peoples.”

To read the full story click here.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Noel Pearson proposes “A job guarantee for the Bottom Million”

In the third instalment of his thought-provoking ABC Boyer Lecture series, Noel Pearson examines the individual, community and societal structures required to empower Aboriginal communities and how a Voice will support them.

In this lecture, Pearson cites a 2017 Productivity Commission report which found three per cent of Australians were in income poverty continuously for at least the previous four years. They come from single parent families, the unemployed, people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians who were particularly likely to experience income poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

“The Commission’s numbers are open to debate.  They are likely an underestimate. I propose this Bottom Million is caught in four traps: the trap of the natural rate of unemployment, the trap of the middle-class welfare service industries, the trap of the vice industries and the trap of voicelessness.” Pearson said.

“If a Voice is to be effective and meaningful, it must be about giving the Wik people a Voice, so that they can take better responsibility for their people. It must be about giving the Yolngu a Voice, so that they can be empowered to solve their own problems. It must be about giving the Yorta Yorta a voice. This must not be a top-down, socialist structure.”

Read the full story here.

Noel Pearson in his third ABC Boyer Lecture

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

The image in the feature tile is of Brooklyn Goodwin, kutalayna Collective and Pacey Riley, kanamaluka Collective. Both photos were taken by Kata Glover, Digital Communications Officer, Connected Beginnings, lutruwita.

On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is celebrated across Australia each year on 4 August. Historically this was the date used to celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families at a young age, without knowing their birthday –  they became known as being part of the Stolen Generations.

Now, Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to celebrate the strength and culture of our children. The theme for this year’s Children’s Day is ‘My Dreaming, My Future’ – which askes our kids to reflect on what the Dreaming means to them, their lives, their identity, and the aspirations for the future.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, actively supports and promotes Children’s Day.

TAC program supports strong beginnings

On National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, NACCHO would like to highlight the innovative work done towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them by our affiliate, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

The Connected Beginnings program aims to improve health, educational, developmental, and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-5 years to ensure every child is ready for the transition to school.

The program is delivered under an innovative Collective Impact framework that aims to elevate the Aboriginal community’s voice, support integrated service provision, advocate for culturally safe and appropriate services and facilitate positive actions to improve community outcomes.

TAC Chief Operations Officer and Program Director, Raylene Foster says, “A program like Connected Beginnings is vital to improving the whole ecosystem of service delivery for Aboriginal children.  This place-based program is essential for the successful delivery and utilisation of mainstream programs and child health, social, educational and development needs for Aboriginal children, to be delivered through an Aboriginal lens”.

The success of the Connected Beginnings program at kutalayna (Brighton), has led to the program’s expansion to two new sites in pataway (Burnie) and kanamaluka (George Town and Northern Suburbs Launceston). The expansion is a testament to the great work being carried out at TAC and to their ongoing commitment towards improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Connected Beginnings in pataway will be officially launched in tandem with the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

The program is jointly funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Department of Education. TAC is the recipient of both streams of Connected Beginnings funding from the Departments and delivers the program across lutruwita, Tasmania.

  • read the kutalyana Collective media release here
  • read a related National Indigenous Times article here
  • listen to an ABC News radio (Northern Tasmania) interview with Chloe Woolnough from TAC and Project Manager of Connected Beginnings, lutruwita, here.

Background Information

The Connected Beginnings program forms part of the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. It aims are to contribute to achieving Outcome 4, that children thrive in their early years, under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Connected Beginnings currently fund 14 ACCHOs and Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia. In 2021, the Australian Government provided additional funding to expand the Connected Beginnings Program to a minimum of 50 sites by 2025 and are working in partnership with NACCHO on the delivery of the health component of the Connected Beginnings program.

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment. The success of Connected Beginnings in lutruwita is being celebrated across the country, highlighting how, through Aboriginal community control, meaningful and lasting systems changes are best achieved.

You can find more information about Connected Beginnings on the Australian Government Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations joint website page here.

katalayna Collective logo, Francis Ketley, katalayna Collective, Leveigh Bernes, kanamaluka Collective, Isabella Romanelli, pataway Collective. Photos: Kate Glover.

COVID vax for kids with comorbidities

The Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommendations for COVID vaccination use in children 6 months to <5 years of age with significant comorbidities and these children will be eligible for a vaccine from Monday 5 September 2022.

The ATAGI have released a statement ATAGI recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine use in children aged 6 months to <5 years which is available on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here.

Of particular note:

  • there are eligibility conditions for the vaccine and most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children WILL NOT be eligible for the vaccine. Only children with immunosuppression, significant comorbidities or a disability that requires significant assistance with daily activities will be eligible
  • the Department of Health and Aged Care is engaging ACCHOs around vaccination for this age group, with webinars with ACCHOs organised for next week to discuss how to support access for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait children, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Occupational therapist at Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS). Image source: WACHS website.

Call for First Nations first responders

When Lismore was hit with its biggest flood in recorded history, national Indigenous newspaper the Koori Mail responded quickly to the needs of the community. The newspaper’s general manager Naomi Moran said she was able to salvage laptops and hard drives, but the building and most of its contents were destroyed. In the wake of the mud and wreckage, Ms Moran said they were forced to face the reality that for the first time in the organisation’s 30-year history, they would not be able to print the next edition, and possibly several after that. “We lost our building, we lost our first floor, we lost everything that the Koori Mail was for the past 30 years,” she said.

Far from calling it a day, the organisation pivoted and became a flood hub responding to the community’s needs for food, supplies, clothing and support. “We came up with a strategy and some ideas around how we, as an Aboriginal organisation – an independent organisation and business in this region – could utilise all of our resources, our contacts in our networks, to support the local community,” she said. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the Koori Mail team helped coordinate food, clothes, counselling and essential items for thousands of flood-affected residents relying on financial support from donations.

To view the ABC News article Success of Koori Mail flood response in Lismore prompts calls for First Nations first responders in full click here.

The Koori Mail’s Naomi Moran says the organisation used all its resources to support the community. Photo: Matt Coble, ABC News.

Pathway to improve services for mob

A new strategy that aims to increase opportunities for ACCOs to deliver culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children, families and communities has been launched in Fremantle. The 10-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

ACCOs hold an important role in delivering culturally secure services to Aboriginal people across WA. They provide a vast range of critical services and support including health, healing, safe homes, housing, education and training, child protection, disability support, justice, and maintaining strong connections to land and culture. As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk: “Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions. We are committed to partner with and support ACCOs so that Aboriginal services can serve the unique needs of Aboriginal families alongside Communities ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services.”

To read The Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) Strategy 2022 to 2032: Empowering Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from secure and sustained foundations provided by ACCOs visit here.

Research shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled art centres play a significant role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older people and people living with dementia. Image source: Dementia Australia.

New health service for Mapoon

The community of Mapoon is preparing to celebrate the opening of a new purpose-built Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre on 23 August 2022. The Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre will be opened by Apunipima Chairperson and Mapoon Mayor, Aileen Addo, who will cut the ribbon on the new facility in front of elders, community members, the local Health Action Team and local and regional dignitaries who are all invited to come and enjoy the festivities.

“This is fantastic news. We’ve growing in size as a community and there was an increasing need for a PHC Centre to work alongside Queensland Health to match that population growth,” Mrs Addo said. The new facility was made possible thanks to local Traditional Owner group, the Rugapayn Corporation. “We’re extremely grateful to the Rugapayn Corporation for granting us the land to build a much-needed Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon,” she said.

“What we are seeing with the new PHC Centre in Mapoon is exactly what ‘community control’ is all about. The Centre has been designed by community, it will be staffed and run by community and it will ultimately belong to the community,” said Apunipima CEO Debra Malthouse. Currently Apunipima delivers its health services from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service premises in Mapoon. This arrangement has limited Apunipima’s capacity to increase primary health care services in the community. Community control was always the goal for the community and having a stand-alone centre will give Apunipima the opportunity to respond to community health needs in a way that community want.

To view the Apunipma Cape York Health Council media release Date announced for opening of new Health Care Clinic in Mapoon click here.

Health Worker Daphne De Jersey and Mapoon PHC Manager Debra Jia are excited about the PHC opening and what that means for their growing community. Photos supplied by: Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

Awabakal welcomes babies to Country

“It is important that our babies grow up knowing their identity and connection to country.” That’s the sentiment of Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon after the organisation welcomed the next generation of First Nations children into the community at Newcastle City Hall earlier this week. Following a COVID-enforced hiatus, more than 200 families across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Raymond Terrace and Maitland are expected to take part in Baby Welcoming Ceremonies this week, which coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

“We have hosted this event since 2015,” Mrs Gordon said. “So, we’re glad to be back after a couple of years due to COVID-19. Our Baby Welcoming Ceremonies relate to the tradition of introducing newborns to the community where the Elders welcome them to the land. This sense of identity and belonging was denied for many of our people for so long. So, our ceremonies are a reminder to our community that you and your babies belong here – and they are loved. We all want to help them grow to be proud, safe and beautiful First Nations people.”

To read the Newcastle Weekly article Awabakal community welcomes babies to Country in full click here.

Awabakal Ltd hosted one its Baby Welcoming Ceremonies at Newcastle City Hall this week. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

Note: the mage in the feature tile is of Winston, a traditional owner, land manager, artist and Aboriginal Health Worker from Blackstone (Papulankutja) community in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands of WA, who was first diagnosed at Kings Canyon during an outreach screening service for Aboriginal rangers. His dense cataract caused him to go blind in his left eye, which he kept shut to keep out the painful glare. Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

Dr Tim Woodruff, a specialist working in private practice, has written an article for Croakey Health Media arguing that when it comes to delivering better healthcare and better health for Australians, the new Federal Government has a lot of work to do. Dr Woodruff  says the government’s intention to review the NDIS is desperately needed, and if improvements introduced are the right ones, this will also help public hospitals by limiting unnecessary admissions and time in hospitals. It will also make primary healthcare for those with disability much easier to access and co-ordinate.”

Dr Woodruff goes on to note that “Primary healthcare is in increasing disarray. The GP workforce is aging and unable to provide adequate timely access. Co-ordination of care is chaotic even when access to the spectrum of care is available. Primary Health Networks are improving but have quite limited capacity, and fee for service funding is inappropriate for chronic disease.”

Dr Woodruff points out that ACCHOs and 80 Community Health Centres in Victoria who have demonstrated the success of different models of primary healthcare provision need to be supported and expanded. Co-ordination and integration are key elements for these services, rather than optional add-ons as they often are in standard GP-led practices, and primary prevention is an integral part of such practices.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Memo to Minister Mark Butler and colleagues: your to-do list is packed in full click here.

Image source: Croaky Health Media.

Labor’s Indigenous affairs agenda

Alongside reforms in Indigenous health, housing, welfare and the justice system, Labor is committing to a referendum on the voice to parliament in their first term of government, all spearheaded by the first Aboriginal woman in cabinet – the new Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney.

Guardian Australia’s Indigenous affairs editor, Lorena Allam, spoke to Linda Burney about how Labor intends to keep these promises in a podcast available here.

Linda Burney. Phto: Blake Sharp-Wiggins, The Guardian.

Pat Dodson on the Uluru Statement

Yawuru man Patrick Dodson has been at the forefront of change for much of his life. Well-known for his role at the helm of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in the 1990s, the Broome-based Labor Senator has also played significant roles in the fields of Aboriginal deaths in custody, native title and research. In 2019 he was widely tipped to become Australia’s first Aboriginal Federal Indigenous affairs minister before a shock result delivered the election to the Liberals and Ken Wyatt was elevated to the job.

Now, finally part of a government in office, Mr Dodson has been appointed a new role as Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement. From the Heart campaign director Dean Parkin said Mr Dodson’s appointment was well-deserved, “having his wisdom, experience and expertise involved in this in a very direct way is a great development and hugely encouraging for our prospects of success.” Mr Parkin, who is of the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland, said Indigenous-led decision making was vital to making progress. “A voice to parliament making sure people from those communities are sitting at the table advising the politics and the bureaucrats is the best way to make progress in Closing The Gap,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Father of reconciliation Pat Dodson turns eye to Uluru Statement in new role in full click here.

Senator Pat Dodson. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Mob in city for medical care risk homelessness

Aboriginal people from regional WA visiting Perth for medical care are at risk of homelessness and relying on aged care facilities for accommodation in the city, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. During a recent inquiry into the financial administration of homelessness services in WA, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation told the panel chaired by Liberal MLC Peter Collier there was a “terrible increase” in individuals and families facing homelessness.

Moorditj Koort deputy chief executive Annie Young said at least one in every 10 clients was at risk of or already of homeless. “We have people with other issues including justice issues, they are involved with the Department of Child Protection, there are compounding issues as well,” she said. Ms Young said rental stress was acute for those accessing Centrelink and on low incomes. She encouraged the inquiry to also examine overcrowding and its impact on health of residents.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal people visiting Perth for healthcare forced to rely on aged care system, inquiry told in full click here.

Raymond Ward (right) talks with Freddie in his shelter which he shares with up to six other people at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. Image source: Daily Mail Australia.

Top 3 questions – flu vax and pregnancy

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan has given a presentation on why it’s important for women to get the flu vaccine when they are pregnant. In the presentation Professor McMillan answers the following questions:

  • Is it safe for women to receive a flu vaccination at any stage of their pregnancy?
  • What potential adverse reactions should pregnant women be aware of following the flu vaccination?
  • Does getting the flu vaccination while pregnant protect unborn babies from flu?

For further information you can access the Australian Government Department of Health’s webpage Top 3 questions – Flu vaccination & pregnancy with Professor Alison McMillan here.

Clinical Yarning program about trust

Clinical Yarning — a Mid West-led approach to build more trusting relationships between patients and clinicians — is set to keep spreading the word after receiving a funding injection. The research program, a patient-centred healthcare framework that marries Aboriginal cultural communication preferences with biomedical understandings of health and disease, will receive a share of $2.3 million in funding after being awarded an Implementation Science Fellowship.

Dr Ivan Lin, senior lecturer at the Geraldton-based WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH), which is part of the University of WA, was one of four recipients of the fellowship, which are conducted in partnership with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS). “(Clinical Yarning is) designed to address long identified issues reported by Aboriginal people when accessing health services, by improving health providers communication with these communities,” Dr Lin said.

To view the Sound Telegraph article Mid West-led Clinical Yarning program receives State Government funding boost thanks to fellowship in full click here. You can also view Professor Dawn Bessarab in the video below introducing the Clinical Yarning eLearning Program.

Jimmy Little’s early death to kidney disease

Dr James “Jimmy” Oswald Little AO was born on 1 March 1937. The eldest of seven children, he was raised on Cummeragunja Mission Station on the Murray River. The Yorta Yorta/Yuin man first picked up a guitar at 13, taking to it quickly he was playing local concerts in just a year. In 1955 he took the leap and moved to Sydney, pursuing a country music career. By 1956, he had signed to Regal Zonophone Records and recorded his first single Mysteries of Life/Hearbreak Waltz.

In 1963, Little hit the big time with his cover of gospel song Royal Telephone which hit #1 Sydney and #3 in Melbourne. Its success made history, being the first song by an Indigenous artist to hit the mainstream. Little was hitting his stride at a time when his people weren’t counted as citizens. In 1989, Little received the National Aboriginal Day of Observance Committee’s Aboriginal of the Year award, in 2002 he was named NSW Senior Australian of the Year, and in 2004 he was the recipient of the Australia Council Red Ochre Award. The same year he received an Order of Australia for his health and education advocacy and was recognised as a “living Australian treasure” via public vote.

In 1990, Little was diagnosed with kidney disease which led to kidney failure and Type II diabetes. In 2006 he established The Jimmy Little Foundation. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get check-ups often enough or soon enough to realise the possibility that my kidneys could fail,” he said. “I have seen too much fear and sadness caused by the early death and suffering from potentially preventable chronic illnesses by my Indigenous brothers and sisters. “I started The Jimmy Little Foundation to do something positive to curb the rate of chronic disease.” On April 2, 2012 Little died at Dubbo home, aged 75.

To view the NITV article Google pays homage to Indigenous music icon, Jimmy Little in full click here.

Dixon Patten’s Jimmy Little dedicated graphic for Google. Image source: SBS NITV website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Major parties have barely said anything useful

Major parties have barely said anything useful

Scott Morrison’s dismissal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is “disheartening,” according to the CEO of the peak Aboriginal Health Body. Speaking to NITV’s The Point, Pat Turner said a voice to Parliament would give Aboriginal people the right to practice self-determination. “I think it’s a national shame that the two major parties have barely said anything useful,” she said. “What Labor has said is it’s committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is fine, and to hold a referendum. “Apparently the polls are saying that a majority of Australians support a voice to Parliament, but getting that through a successful referendum is another story.”

Ms Turner also highlighted the issue of Indigenous health, saying billions more needs to be spent to address the ‘gap’ in life expectancy between First Nations people and non-Indigenous populations. A report, commissioned by NACCHO and released on Tuesday identified a $4.4 billion underspend in Indigenous health from state, territory and commonwealth governments. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities have always been underfunded,” she said. “It’s like a patronising, paternalistic regime that thinks ‘oh well, that’s enough from them and they can get on with it’. “Well, we do get on with it but we can’t continue on unless we want to see the health gap widen even more… so what we will be telling all of the jurisdictions is stand up and be counted in terms of fulfilling your responsibilities.”

You read the SBS NITV article Election 2022: Major parties’ approach to Indigenous issues slammed here, view the Pat Turner being interviewed on NITV’s The Point below and read a transcript of the interview here.

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was interviewed by Fran Kelly on ABC News Afternoon Briefing. Ms Turner addressed the upcoming federal election and the health funding shortfall. In response to the question “Is there enough attention being paid in this election campaign to Indigenous issues?” Ms Turner said “absolutely not, I think it’s a  disgrace the major parties have not given sufficient attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. There are many needs that remain unmet and we launched a report today to show that the gap in health funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is $4.4 billion and that adds to our trove of evidence that we will use to continue to argue with governments how they can make up that $4.4 billion shortfall.”

You can watch a video of interview from 34:20 minutes onwards to 50 minutes here.

Poor public policy without consultation

This month will likely see the NT government pass laws that will see alcohol allowed into a host town camps, living areas and some communities for the first time since 2007. Those areas that were self-declared dry beforehand will not be affected. Under the changes, the management of alcohol will pass from the federal government back to the NT government who are legislating for an opt-in approach to alcohol bans, with many communities and town camps needing to specifically ask to remain dry. A range of bodies including police and peak Aboriginal organisations have questioned the move and called for a pause to changes to allow for proper consultation and avoid what many believe will be a spike in grog-fuelled mayhem in both town and out bush. NT has the highest level of grog harm, alcohol related deaths and alcohol consumption in Australia. The NT government has rejected extending the federal measures with the Chief Minister saying they are racist and they need to go. This is supported by Chansey Paech who is the Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps.

In a recent interview on ABC Alice Springs NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM she would never speak on behalf of local communities but speaking from the experience of ACCHOs who deal with the fall out of alcohol abuse. Ms Turner said “the NT government needs to ensure full consultation with every Aboriginal community that’s going to be affected by the changes in the alcohol laws that it is proposing. To say that the legislation is racist and was done on that basis is Chansey Paech’s view but doesn’t reflect the reality of opening the gates in the communities where people don’t want the change.” Ms Turner continued on to say that where services exist, and many communities don’t have services, the impact on ACCHOs will be enormous. Ms Turner described the proposed changes to the alcohol laws as “poor public policy without proper consultation and full informed choice.”

You can listen to the ABC Alice Springs radio interview in full by clicking on the image below:

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

New mums requiring specialist care for a severe mental illness can now have their babies stay with them at NSW’s first public, purpose-built Mother and Baby Unit. The new facility at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Camperdown is the first state-wide facility designed to keep families together when a mother requires hospitalisation for a severe perinatal mental illness. Named ‘Naamuru’, a local Aboriginal dialect word meaning ‘leading the way’, the unit will care for up to 120 NSW residents a year who have infants up to 12 months of age.

The eight-bed unit is staffed by specialist perinatal health professionals who can attend to the mental health needs of the mother, as well as facilitate appropriate care of the baby and promote positive mother-baby interactions. Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate the mother, up to two infants under 12-months of age and a partner or family member. There are also therapeutic spaces, including a 24-hour respite nursery; a mothercraft room; dining and kitchen areas; outdoor courtyards; play areas; and a retreat room.

To view the NSW Health media release in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

When someone is placed in prison, they are entirely dependent on prison officers and prison health-care providers. Incarcerated people do not get to choose when they see a doctor or mental health practitioner, when they take medicine, or what type of care they receive. They cannot call 000 and be taken to a hospital if they are dangerously ill. In Victoria, if a prisoner is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, they do not get access to culturally competent care through ACCHOs. In Victoria, prison health care is provided by for-profit private companies contracted by the state government.

Imprisoned peoples’ physical health and/or social and emotional well-being is at the mercy of prison officers and prison health-care providers. Through their practice the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, have seen the differences between how people are treated in the community and how they are treated in prisons and youth prisons. The right to health care continues when people are incarcerated. International law requires “prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community”. This health care should be “free of charge” and “without discrimination”. It also makes clear everyone has the right to the “highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

To view the article Victoria’s prison health care system should match community health care in The Conversation full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

From humble beginnings over a kitchen table, to the largest national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, Butterfly Foundation has been changing lives for 20 years.  More than a million Australians live with an eating disorder, with many more suffering body image issues. For two decades, Butterfly’s efforts in advocacy, community education, early intervention, prevention and clinical services has helped to significantly change the conversation and understanding around eating disorders, establishing them as serious and complex mental illnesses, rather than a lifestyle choice. However, Butterfly’s work remains critical, as many misconceptions and stigma prevail.

Today Wednesday 11 May 2022 Butterfly has launched a new campaign celebrating its 20th anniversary and setting the agenda for the next 20 years of treatment and prevention of eating disorders and body image issues in Australia. Butterfly’s big ambitions include:

  • A national parliamentary inquiry into body image
  • Preventing eating disorders from occurring
  • Reducing stigma and increasing help-seeking
  • Improving eating disorder treatment and support services

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said, “Anecdotally speaking, the way we talk about eating disorders is about 10 years behind how we now speak about anxiety and depression. Eating disorders are still misunderstood and grossly under-estimated, with stigma and stereotypes acting as a major barrier to help-seeking. “There is so much more work that needs to be done in the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of eating disorders as well as education for the broader community.”

The Butterfly website includes the video below and a number of articles relating to eating disorders and body image concerns among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

At the The Preventive Health Conference 2022 which runs from today until Friday 13 May 2022 in Brisbane, some of the world’s leading experts will explore a range of topics including decolonising and disrupting whiteness in preventive health, the priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and investments in prevention. Conference Advisory Committee Chair Associate Professor Louisa Gordon of QIMR Berghofer said Australia needs to spend 5% of total health expenditure on prevention because it will save lives and is far cheaper than spending on treatments.

To view the Public Health Association of Australia media release Risky behaviours, exercise, and gambling among topics to be explored at Preventive Health Conference 2022 in full click here.

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 12 May 2022.

This week Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response will be chairing the webinar and will be joined by DoH Dr Nick Simpson, Medical Medical Adviser, Technology Assessment and Access Division.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

feature tile text 'Cherbourg's well-managed COVID-19 outbreak a model for other ATSI communities' & clinic reception desk Cherbourg

Note: image in feature tile by Jon Daley, ABC Southern Queensland.

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

The Aboriginal town of Cherbourg, 250 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, is seemingly defying the odds against the highly contagious Omicron variant. When the first case of the virus was detected on 29 December 2021, authorities feared a rapid spread and high numbers of hospitalisations due to the vulnerable population and comparatively low vaccination rates.

Almost a month later, just two people have been hospitalised and both have since recovered. The daily case numbers in the town are also already slowing. Cherbourg Aboriginal Community Council chief executive Chatur Zala said the town seems to have dodged a bullet. “We have managed the situation very well, which could have gone very badly,” he said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

Cherbourg mayor Elvie Sandow says the community has responded well to health advice. Photo: Jon Daly, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News website.

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

Mayors representing Far North Queensland’s Indigenous communities have raised concerns that overcrowded housing has fuelled COVID outbreaks.

Australia’s biggest Indigenous community, Yarrabah, has amassed about 270 cases in less than a fortnight and 160 households are in quarantine. Some Yarrabah houses are home to as many as 20 people from up to three family groups.

Further north across Cape York and the Torres Strait there are 280 active cases and reports of families testing positive in homes shared with as many as a dozen adults.

North Peninsula Area Regional Council Mayor Patricia Yusia is pleading with visitors to test negative before arriving because of a shortage of quarantine space if they test positive while in the region.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews says overcrowding is a “recipe” for the spread of COVID. Photo: Mark Rigby, ABC Far North. Image source: ABC News.

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

NACCHO is again partnering with the TGA and RACGP to deliver a follow-up webinar on the legislative changes affecting access to nicotine vaping products and what the changes might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

Professor Renee Bittoun from the University of Notre Dame and Avondale University, together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present:

  • An approach to vaping cessation and supporting clients who are dual users
  • Key issues related to vaping in young people including NRT options to consider
  • Validated tools and resources available for assessment and cessation support

The webinar will conclude with a 20-minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

The webinar will be held from 12:30–1:30PM (AEDT) on Thursday 27 January 2022. You can register your interest via this link.

If you have any specific questions about vaping you’d like addressed at this webinar please forward them to this email address.

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

NPS MedicineWise is an independent and not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to achieve better health outcomes for all Australians by promoting safe and wise use of medicines and medical tests.

NPS MedicineWise is looking for a consumer representative to join their Clinical Intervention Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG helps select, design, deliver and review NPS MedicineWise programs, resources and services for health professionals and consumers.

The  Group currently consists of 15 members, including consumer representatives, health professional representatives, researchers and representatives from stakeholder organisations.

For more information please see the Terms of Reference (which can be found in the application form).  You can also email Raelene Simpson here or Rawa Osman here. To apply, please complete the application form here. Applications close Tuesday 1 February 2022.

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

As part of an overall commitment to improving the oral health of all Australians, the Australian Dental Association is expanding the range of oral health resources available to assist health professionals, which includes culturally appropriate oral health resources for First Nations peoples for which original Indigenous artwork has been commissioned.

The artwork (below), which is being used on the the new Indigenous Oral health web page, will assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources, which it is planned will expand in range over 2022 as the ADA works with dental and non-dental organisations to create material that can be used in dental and medical practices.

The artwork was created by professional illustrator and animator Ty Waigana, a proud Noongar and Saibaigal (Torres Strait) man, who was the NAIDOC poster artist for 2020 and is currently exhibiting at the Art Gallery of WA. The artist has also worked on projects for Australian National University, Australian Electoral Commission and the Queensland Child and Family Commission.

You can read the ADA article on a new Indigenous artwork designed to assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources here.

artwork by Ty Waigani, light blue, green, golden yellow, aqua teeth shapes in row

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

The HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy is a 9-month program for 12 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners embedded in clinical care in the north) interested in upskilling in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance.

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation.

The training will include skills in how to:

  1. Perform antimicrobial stewardship audits;
  2. Use surveillance skills to collect, understand and utilise antimicrobial resistance data;
  3. Advocated for antibiotic resistance issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to policy makers and the National AMR Strategy.

You can obtain further details and the Application Form at the HOT NORTH website here. Submissions close Monday 31 January 2022. Please email here or call (07) 3646 1886 for further informationbanner text 'HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy 2022]; vector image of Aust top half layers of green, light orange shades

Art competition closing date extended

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competition closing date has been extended to Friday 25 February 2022. All other details of the competition remain the same as previously advertised.

The online entry form, terms and conditions and more information is available at the caring@home project website here. To view the flyer for the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition click here.

Aboriginal woman holding cuppa, green foliage in background; caring@home ATSI logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

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

Photograph in feature tile from MiVision – Delivering telehealth in Western Australia.

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

In a media release published yesterday 13 December 2021 by the Australian Government, telehealth will become a permanent feature of primary health care, which has been transformational to health care delivery and underpinned much of the Government’s successful COVID-19 response.

The Morrison Government is providing $106 million over four years to support permanent telehealth services, ensuring greater flexibility to patients and doctors for the delivery of health care; allowing GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue to consult with their regular patients by phone or online.

The AMA says the health of all Australians will benefit from the availability of telehealth.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.

You can  read the AMA media release here and the Department of Health’s media release here.

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists via telehealth. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

In a media release published by The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) yesterday 13 December 2021, AMSANT expressed alarm and deep concern at the rapidly increasing numbers of cases stemming from the Katherine COVID-19 outbreak and its spread into communities in the surrounding regions.

“AMSANT is today calling on the NT Government to take immediate steps to strengthen their response to this continuing crisis”, AMSANT Chief Executive officer, John Paterson, said.

“We acknowledge the very good job that the NT Government has done in responding to the outbreaks in Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole, however, subsequent measures to contain the Katherine outbreak have been unsuccessful.”

“News of a likely positive case in Timber Creek and multiple positive wastewater results appearing in numerous remote communities underscores the growing and urgent need for a stronger response,” Paterson said.

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

A possible positive COVID-19 case was recorded in Timber Creek yesterday and is being re-tested to confirm the result. Image source: CareFlight, ABC News.

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) states that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are critical in protecting against COVID-19 due to all variants, including the newly emerged Omicron variant. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends COVID-19 booster vaccination for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 5 or more months ago.

Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk (e.g. occupational risk or outbreak areas) or who have risk factors for severe disease. ATAGI reiterates that a third (primary) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for anyone with immunocompromising conditions, a minimum of two months after their second dose.

Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been provisionally approved for use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in people aged 18 years and older by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as of 12 December 2021.

You can read the ATAGI statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination here, and you can read the ATAGI recommendations on the use of Moderna as a COVID-19 booster vaccine here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

Yesterday 13 December 2021, the Australian Government launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths. The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • tobacco
  • immunisation
  • cancer screening
  • alcohol and other drug use;
  • and mental health.

You can read the Government Department of Health‘s media release here.
The National Preventive Health Strategy can be downloaded here.

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a data visualisation tool for tracking progress against the 20 Implementation Plan goals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023. It presents data for each of the 20 goals, and assesses progress against the goals at the national level.

Of the 14 goals for which updates were available, 5 were on track, 6 were not on track and 3 were not assessed.

Some of the key findings:

  • In 2019, 64% of Indigenous mothers had antenatal care in the first trimester and 89% attended 5+ antenatal visits.
  • The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15–17 who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 85% in 2018–19.
  • In 2020, 97% of Indigenous children aged 5 were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children.

You can read more about the AIHW tracking progress here and you can view the report here.
View the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2012-2023 here.

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

Aboriginal health students across the Northern Territory can now apply for the 2022 NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. The Program is a key ‘entry to practice’ initiative for NT Health to achieve greater representation of tertiary educated Aboriginal employees and increase Aboriginal health professionals in our workforce.

NT Health currently supports five cadets and will offer a sixth space in the 2022 intake.

The program assists eligible NT Aboriginal students undertaking their first undergraduate degree or postgraduate studies to gain professional health qualifications in skill shortage areas. Additionally, the program provides work placement and experience within NT Health.

The program is funded by NT Health and will provide successful cadets with:

  • Study allowance of up to $1200 per fortnight whilst engaged in full time studies
  • Book allowance of up to $1000 per year
  • An incentive payment of up to $4000 per year
  • 12 weeks paid on the job work placement during the university major academic breaks.

NT Health has a dedicated Aboriginal Workforce Development unit that administers the program. The unit’s staff will provide ongoing mentoring and support to the cadets for the term of their cadetship.

You can read the media release by NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.
Further cadetship information can be found on the NT Health website.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

Covid Song – Ali Curung

Check out this great Red Dust video with a straight-up message from the Ali Curung mob made with the help of Barkly Shire Council and Anyingini Health Aboriginal Corporation.

“I don’t want to see you get sick when the COVID comes in quick. We gotta get the jab before it’s too late. No time to hesitate. I got one, two, what about you! What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when the COVID comes?”

“Yeah, we gotta do it for our families. To protect our communities. Go to the clinic and check the facts. We’re only safe when we all get vaxxed!”

Managing inappropriate comments online

The Department of Health has created a guide that can help your service with managing inappropriate comments and misinformation on your social media channels. There has recently been a significant spike in online activity and emotion. This high level guide provides information about steps your service can take to moderate inappropriate comments and content on your pages.

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

New process for job advertising

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

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