- Joint Council on CTG works to get justice targets on track
- Pandemic lessons shape Cherbourg health improvements
- CTG audit report finds QLD not on track
- AIDA supports Voice to Parliament
- No time for complacency as COVID and flu cases soar
- $50m to drive innovative models of primary care
- Sector Jobs
The image in the feature tile is from a Linda Burney MP Tweet on 7 June 2023.
The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.
We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.
Joint Council on CTG works to get justice targets on track
Yesterday the tenth meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap (CTG) was held on Larrakia Country. Members discussed opportunities to build CTG into the Federation Funding Agreements Framework and government budget processes: a revised Joint Communications Strategy to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to better understand and have greater ownership over the National Agreement: and the Justice Policy Partnership (JPP) Strategic Framework.
It comes as Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney announced $81m federal funding to target justice reinvestment programs across Australia, including Darwin, Katherine, Groote Eylandt, and Lajamanu, designed to keep Indigenous people out of prison. “It’s not a cookie cutter model … it will be absolutely up to the local community to determine what they think is needed” said Minister Burney.
The latest Bureau of Statistics data show one in every 100 Territorians was in prison, whereas three in every 100 Indigenous Territorians were in prison.. Deputy Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, Catherine Liddle, said the announcement was welcomed amid justice targets heading “alarmingly off-track.” She expanded, “…For these announcements to work it’s going to take a lot of work.”
Pandemic lessons shape Cherbourg health improvements
During the pandemic the Darling Downs Health delivered 455 surge vaccinations to Cherbourg residents in under 10 days through super clinics and door-to-door vaccinations. Additionally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers focused on providing COVID-19 testing and social support for residents, informed by a community-driven holistic model of care.
The Cherbourg Health Council was formed last year following a successful collaboration between the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council, Darling Downs Health, and Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services (CRAICCHS). Not slowing down any time soon, “The Health Council is all about empowering local mob to take the lead in identifying both the problems that we need to tackle and the solutions that we can apply to ensure all Cherbourg people enjoy long and healthy lives,” said Mayor Sandow.
At the core of the Cherbourg Health Council, is the understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the solutions to the health problems they are impacted by.
Darling Downs Health Director Indigenous Health, Rica Lacey said that a combination of clinical support and local knowledge is key to the collaborative work of the Health Council, “The power of clinical knowledge combined with comprehensive local knowledge in the health worker workforce cannot be underestimated,” she said
Read the full First Nations Telegraph article Lessons from the pandemic shaping future health improvements in Cherbourg here.
CTG audit report finds QLD not on track
Queensland is not expected to meet a 2031 deadline to Close the Gap (CTG) on First Nations life expectancy. The Queensland Audit Office’s report based on data from Queensland Health also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients were two times more likely to avoid or delay specialist appointments, due to the cost of travel, than other residents in the state.
The Queensland Audit Office said, “First Nations people are still over-represented in measures that indicate a lack of appropriate care and providing health care to people in remote communities is an ongoing challenge.” The Audit Office recommended six strategies to improve the delivery of culturally appropriate care, including recruiting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officers and making travel schemes more accessible.
The report said while each of the 16 regional hospitals and health services have developed strategies to improve the level of care, the targets are “too broad and ambitious” and lack detail on delivery. Renowned nurse and midwife Dr Gracelyn Smallwood said the findings didn’t come as a surprise, “We’ve still got First Nations peoples, not just in Queensland, but around Australia, that are dying from purely preventable diseases … it’s totally unacceptable.”
A Queensland Health spokesperson said it has accepted all of the Audit Office’s recommendations and will work with key stakeholders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to implement them.
Read the full ABC News article Audit office report finds ‘broad and ambitious’ goals to improve First Nations health not being met here.
AIDA supports Voice to Parliament
The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has pledged its support of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. AIDA CEO, Donna Burns says “Voting ‘Yes’ for The Voice to Parliament aligns with AIDA’s vision in ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination and equitable health outcomes.”
“A Voice to Parliament will help achieve this by providing decision makers with direct advice from those directly impacted by policies and laws.
The data overwhelmingly demonstrates an unacceptable health gap persists due to the health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Ms Burns said., AIDA said the Voice to Parliament is a once in a lifetime opportunity to influence policy and create better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
AIDA said it will continue to support and advocate for all its members, regardless of opinion, and will continue to support everyone to exercise their right to self-determination.
You can read full article here.
No time for complacency as COVID and flu cases soar
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is urging people to get COVID-19 boosters and flu shots as infection rates take off and complacency sets in. More than 16.5m Australians have not received a COVID-19 booster shot in over six months and – it is a very high figure that is sparking the AMA’s warning for the winter season. AMA President Steve Robson said Australia was facing a worrying fifth wave of COVID-19, with cases soaring to an average of 5,517 per day as of May 30 — more than double the average daily rate in March. Hospitalisations are up and weekly COVID-19 related deaths are in triple figures.
“The age of lockdowns and restrictions is over, so it’s understandable why many people are falling into a false sense of security, but the latest data shows the virus is infecting thousands of Australians every day,” Professor Robson said. “Now is not the time for complacency, and the AMA urges people to get up to date on their boosters, which is an extremely effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones. The effects of the latest COVID-19 wave are being worsened by a rising number of influenza cases. The Department of Health and Aged Care recorded 17,277 flu cases between 15–28 May, which was more than double the previous fortnight’s total.
Professor Robson said COVID-19 boosters and flu shots were separate vaccines that could be safely administered at the same time. “We are seeing a significant spike in the number of flu and COVID cases, making this a potentially dangerous winter, particularly for elderly and immunocompromised people,” he said. Professor Robson also urged parents to ensure their kids were protected. “As we know, children under five years of age aren’t badly affected by COVID-19, but influenza can be extremely serious for them, so it is crucial they get their flu shots as soon as possible,” he said.
You can read the AMA’s media release No time for vaccine complacency as COVID cases soar in full here.
$50m to drive innovative models of primary care
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, says the Albanese Government is strengthening Medicare with a new $50m research initiative to drive innovation in primary care. Primary care is the first place a patient turns when they have a health concern, whether that be their local general practice, a nurse practitioner or allied health professional.
The $50m research initiative will supercharge innovation that will benefit all Australians but will be particularly directed to groups who have poorer access to healthcare. Priority groups include older Australians, lower income households and families, people with complex chronic disease, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTIQA+ Australians, First Nations people, as well as people in regional, rural, and remote areas.
To view Minister Butler’s media release $50m to drive innovative models of primary care in full click here.
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