NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Wake up call for mob who didn’t think COVID would affect them

Feature tile - Thu 2.9.21 - Wake up call - COVID-19 can affect mob

Wake up call – COVID-19 can affect mob!

As efforts intensify to deal with the NSW COVID-19 outbreak Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO joins The Conversation podcast to discuss politics with Michelle Grattan.

On western NSW, where there are hundreds of cases, Turner says crowded and bad housing make it “almost impossible to isolate and quarantine”. People in Wilcannia are “having to isolate in tents – in Australia in 2021”.

In WA First Nations communities, the low vaccine coverage “is a very significant concern to all of us. It has by far the lowest uptake, with less than 10% of its population 12 years and over fully vaccinated.”

“I would think that the first death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people […] has been a wake up call for some, especially those who didn’t think that COVID would affect them. The reality is sinking in for many of those,” Said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the podcast by The Conversation below.

 

Elder calling on community to get vaccinated

Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye is imploring local Indigenous communities to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The Aboriginal people need to get the COVID vaccine, not just for their own safety but for the community. There are no guarantees that COVID will not spread to our community, and put our people at risk,” she said.

Ms Coulthard-Waye is all too familiar with what diseases has meant for Aboriginal peoples in Australia, and does not want to unnecessarily lose community members.

“Back in the old times when our ancestors all died of measles, chicken pox and Spanish flu they could not be immunised,” she said.

“But they can now, and I want people to stop and think about our ancestors. It is the choice we can make for the sake of our people.”

You can read the article in The Transcontinental Port Augusta here.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

 

COVID vaccine blitz in southern NT

Australia’s largest Indigenous health organisation has launched a six-week COVID vaccination blitz, as figures show 79 per cent of its central Australian town-based clients are unvaccinated.

Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) which is based in Alice Springs, said she was extremely worried that thousands of the organisation’s clients were unvaccinated.

“It’s not a case of if the Delta strain will come here, it is a case of when,” Ms Ah Chee said.

Ms Ah Chee said that one of the obstacles the CAAC was trying to overcome was vaccine hesitancy.

“We want to see 50 per cent of our town clinic people over the age of 16 to have at least had one dose. So that’s about 2,400 additional people.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: CAAC.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: CAAC.

 

In a related article in the Croakey Health Media, Ms Ah Chee talks about how Aboriginal communities across Australia must be safe before we open up. She maps out the risks and responses needed for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Central Australia, estimating that “every 30 people vaccinated has the potential to save a life should COVID-19 spread in the Aboriginal community in Alice Springs”.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

 

Increased access to rural and remote GP services

A new exceptional circumstance review for the Department of Health’s Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification will help regional and rural areas respond to unforeseen workforce and population changes which may be impacting access to local GP services. Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the DPA classification allows government to identify regions where locals face an increased challenge to access a GP. The DPA system assesses regions annually, using the most up to date available data to support approvals for priority access to internationally-trained doctors and bonded doctors.

“I have heard loud and clear the concerns that the current approach is not capturing current or emerging local pressures, sudden and unexpected changes and unmet demand,” Dr Gillespie said.

You can read the media release here.

Rural Health Crisis, GP Shortages. Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

 

Blueprint to end RHD

Implementation of a blueprint for ending rheumatic heart disease is likely to bring wider health benefits, given that the social, cultural and environmental factors involved are also responsible for many other health conditions common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

That’s according to an analysis by Vicki Wade and Catherine Halkon, who also examine intersections between the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the RHD Endgame Strategy: The blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031.

The authors are from RHDAustralia based at the Menzies School of Health Research, and the Telethon Kids Institute. Their analysis is timely as the COVID outbreak in western NSW provides a powerful reminder of the wide-ranging benefits of addressing determinants of health such as overcrowded and poor quality housing.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

 

SA unveils new Closing the Gap plan

The State Government has revealed its new plan to stamp out what the Premier describes as “institutional racism, discrimination and unconscious bias” across the public sector as part of a nationwide revamp of the Closing the Gap strategy.

The plan, estimated to cost several million dollars to implement, contains over 200 commitments from South Australian Government departments – some of which are already in train – to address Aboriginal inequality.

You can read the article in the In Daily here.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

 

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team

In 2019 the Quitline Enhancement Project was moved across to Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) employing two project officers to be a part of the Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team (QALT). The QALT Project Officers focus on promoting the Quitline and providing information about the Quitline service to primary health care services who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Western Australia (WA) to support and promote Quitline referrals and overall reducing the prevalence and incidence of smoking rates within WA.

​Their primary focus is to support the non-Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) recipients in the South West & Great Southern regions although they do provide support across state – wide of Western Australia.

They have a range of great resources including brochures and booklets that can be ordered online here.

If you want to begin your quit journey call the Quitline 13 78 48.

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team. ACHWA.

 

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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs

NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) and the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW invite you to attend the free webinar: Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

Founder, Carolyn Mee will introduce the Sound Scouts hearing screening app explaining the rationale behind its development, the rigour involved in ensuring it is fit for purpose (evidence based), how to use it and the supporting software developed to assist in wide scale hearing screening. The webinar will also include a live question and answer session.

This webinar will be hosted on Rural Health Pro’s Digital Venue, you will receive the link to the Digital Venue within your confirmation email.

12 – 1pm AEST, Wednesday 29 September 2021
Free webinar
Register here

Webinar: Sound Scouts - Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

Ronnie Murray says his brother has been sleeping in a tent to help the family isolate, a difficult task in a household of 10. (Supplied: Wilcannia River Radio)

Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told The Point that overcrowded housing in remote communities has been brought to the attention of governments over many years and they’ve failed to act.

“We have repeatedly asked governments throughout Australia to address and to ensure that our people have safe and the right size housing, so we won’t have these problems. There will be future pandemics and we must get this housing issue addressed,” she said.

You can read the article in SBS NITV News here.

Ms Turner also spoke to The Point about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Delta strain, and what resources are in place to help with staff shortages at Aboriginal community controlled health services.

You can watch Pat Turner on Episode 17, Season 2021, The Point SBS NITV below.

 

The power of respectful partnerships

Last week, nursing academic Professor Rhonda Wilson was hard at work in Walgett assisting local health workers with COVID vaccinations. Writing from isolation upon her return home, she reflects on the importance of relationships, respect and trust in providing culturally safe services.

We have been working in partnership with Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) on another project for some time. We saw our partners needed a hand, and we knew we had skills, knowledge, respectfulness, and community connection to help in a culturally safe manner. If we could help, in partnership, we would volunteer to do so.

The response from WAMS was a swift, ‘Yes, your help is needed. When could you come?’

WAMS invited me and my nursing colleagues from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle, Professor Amanda Johnson and Associate Professor Donna Hartz, to help urgently with the escalating crisis of COVID-19 cases in their area.

You can read the story in Croakey Health Media here.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

On track for vaccine target in Deniliquin

The district population is on track to be 70 to 80 per cent fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November, according to Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Practice manager at the Deniliquin Aboriginal Medical Service Sarah Campbell said the clinic is set up to deliver up to 100 vaccines if the clinic opens for half a day, and 160 on a full day. The AMS has fully vaccinated 31 First Nations people while another 87 have had their first vaccine.

Deniliquin’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population at the time of the 2016 Census was about 330 people, or 4.5% of the local population, higher than the 2.9% Australia-wide population.

Ms Campbell said the medical service has been vaccinating elders since April. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can get vaccinated in Deniliquin.

You can read the story in Deniliquin Pastoral Times here.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Stolen Generations Redress Scheme a step closer

The Morrison Government is deeply committed to supporting the healing of Stolen Generations survivors and has taken another step on the journey to provide redress for those forcibly removed as children in territories that were administered by the Commonwealth. The passage of the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Facilitation) Act 2021 and the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Act 2021 will ensure the Scheme can be established over the next six months and start receiving applications by 1 March 2022.

“Today we introduced two pieces of legislation to give effect to key elements of the Scheme
and to make sure that all supports going to Stolen Generations survivors are not hampered
by other Acts,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said.

“With many Stolen Generations survivors being of an advanced age, the imperative to act now has been brought into sharp focus.”

“This redress scheme reflects the Morrison Government’s commitment to support our
nation’s journey to reconciliation and to support inter-generational healing for the health and
wellbeing of Stolen Generations survivors.”

You can read the media release by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

Resources to improve children’s wellbeing

With the COVID-19 pandemic amplifying pressures on families, a timely new initiative is seeking to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

The resource series, developed by The Healing Foundation and Emerging Minds, highlights the undercurrent of intergenerational trauma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and outlines a strengths-based approach to healing. This new package, released recently to coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, contains free e-learning modules, factsheets, and an animation (view below) to help elevate the importance of a child’s development.

You can read more about the initiative in Croakey Health Media here.
Visit the Emerging Minds website to access the e-learning modules.
Visit the Healing Foundations website to view the factsheets.

MBS billing guides now online

The MBS billing guides by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health are now online.

  • MBS guide for GPs working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • MBS guide for other medical practitioners (OMPs) working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

As well as an extensive list of MBS items used by GPs and OMPs, both guides also include items used by other healthcare professionals such as allied health providers and nurse practitioners. Unlike the other guides they have developed as part of our MBS online tool, these pages are unlocked and can be accessed by anyone.

You can view the MBS billing guides here.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Disease expenditure in Australia

A new release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW): Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19 describes the activity and characteristics of Australia’s health care system in terms of estimated expenditure for different demographic groups in the population, and expenditure relating to different groups of diseases.

This web report provides the most recent data available on the health care expenditure on all Australian Burden of Disease Study conditions, including expenditure by health care sector, type of condition, age group, and sex. Information is presented on the web pages using interactive visualisations, and downloadable Microsoft Excel workbooks.

Visit the AIHW website to view the Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19.

One of the key findings in the 'Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018'.

One of the key findings in the ‘Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018’.

Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online survey

Cancer Australia is pleased to provide you with the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online Delphi Survey. The survey is being conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Cancer Australia.

Consultation closes on 30 August 2021, however please feel free to reach out to NACCHO’s Cancer team anytime if you would like to discuss by emailing Kate.Armstrong@naccho.org.au.

You can access the survey here.
You can also read the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap – Discussion Paper 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Shepparton mob records zero cases

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative CEO Felicia Dean receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at the Rumbalara Medical Clinic.

Shepparton mob records zero cases

No First Nations people have yet tested positive in Shepparton’s growing cluster, while towns in the region are seeing encouraging vaccination rates.

While the city is home to Victoria’s largest Indigenous population outside Melbourne, no cases have been detected in Greater Shepparton’s Aboriginal community so far.

In the nearby rural town of Mooroopna where Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Health and Wellbeing is located, Executive Manager Shannon Drake said she was pleased to see more than 506 people show up to get tested over the weekend.

“Those who’ve come through over the weekend are encouraging the rest of the mob to come in and are explaining how simple the process is,” Ms Drake said.

“It’s wonderful engagement from our community.”

You can read the article on the SBS NITV website.

Nurses who helped Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative test 506 people over the weekend. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Nurses who helped Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative test 506 people over the weekend. Image source: SBS NITV website. Feature tile image: Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative CEO Felicia Dean receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at the clinic. Image source: Rumbalara Facebook.

 

Concern as COVID-19 reaches Gulargambone

The coronavirus has reached another remote community with a large Aboriginal population, with Gulargambone, recording a new case on Monday. The tiny western NSW town, when last measured, had a population of 400 people with almost half Indigenous.

Practice manager Steven McMahon at the local Bawrunga Aboriginal Medical Service said the virus could have a huge impact.

“In a community like Gulargambone where there is a lot of chronic disease, it was always going to be a concern. Now that we have a case, we’re watching to see what impact that has,” he told NITV News.

“There has been increased demand for vaccinations, which is good . . . I think that is going to be the key to getting back to some sort of normality.”

You can read the article on the SBS NITV website.

Gulgargambone town sign. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Gulgargambone town sign. Image source: SBS NITV website.

 

Mob urged to ‘Step Up’ for the jab

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) along with its four founding Community Controlled Health Services hopes to a spark a reason for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 12 and over to get the COVID-19 vaccine with the launch of the I Stepped Up campaign and website.

The campaign features informative videos, answers to frequently asked questions and a slew of other resources.

“It is crucial to provide our community with the information and resources they need to feel comfortable about coming out to get vaccinated. Everyone has a different motivation for getting the COVID-19 vaccine, whether to protect their community, to keep family members safe or to make plans for the future, so we want to highlight the different reasons to resonate with more of our mob,” said IUIH CEO, Adrian Carson.

You can read the press release by IUIH here.
For more information and resources, visit the I Stepped Up website.
Follow the campaign on Facebook here.

Keeping mob strong during pandemic

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention. They have created a range of free posters on how people can stay healthy and strong during the coronavirus outbreak.

Visit the Gayaa Dhuwi website to download the posters along with a range of other helpful resources.

Illustrations form 'Looking after ourselves - our way' poster by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia.

Illustrations form ‘Looking after ourselves – our way’ poster by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia.

NT’s first Implementation Plan on Closing the Gap

The Territory Labor Government has released the first Closing the Gap NT Implementation Plan in partnership with APO NT and LGANT. This move follows the establishment of the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which reflects a shared genuine and meaningful commitment to achieve equity for First Nations people. The NT Implementation Plan outlines key actions and the transformation of Government to work in partnership with Aboriginal people and organisations to achieve the outcomes and objectives of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Territory will take a phased approach to the implementation of Closing the Gap, in line with the timeframes set out in the National Agreement, and reflecting the unique circumstances of the Territory.

You can read the media release by Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Selena Uibo here.
To read the Closing the Gap NT Implementation Plan please visit the Northern Territory Government Office for Aboriginal Affairs website.

Image source: Closing the Gap - Northern Territory Implementation Plan.

Image source: Closing the Gap – Northern Territory Implementation Plan.

 

Literacy key to COVID response

Australians going into remote Indigenous communities to fight the pandemic need to understand that many can’t read, an inquiry has been warned.

“How do Aboriginal people make an informed decision about whether to get the vaccination or not when they can’t read the literature?” said Jack Beetson, executive director of Literacy for Life.

“One thing that we’ve learnt is that Indigenous people aren’t going to take something on just because a bunch of white fellas tell them it’s a good thing to do,” said Liberal MP Terry Young who is part of an inquiry into adult literacy and also serves on federal parliament’s Indigenous affairs committee.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations chair Jane Halton said the vaccine flying squads need to work with Aboriginal medical services and Aboriginal people to make sure people turn up and get vaccinated.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Aboriginal woman learning to read. Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation.

Aboriginal woman learning to read. Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation.

 

TGA updates on COVID-19 vaccine and treatment

The AstraZeneca vaccine will now be called Vaxzevria after an application to rename it was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The vaccine is known as Vaxzevria in Europe and Canada, so there were concerns if the name was different in Australia it could lead to other countries not recognising the vaccine on vaccine passports when international travel resumes.

In a statement, the TGA said it hoped the change in name would make sure there would be no confusion in the future.

You can read more about the name change on the ABC News website.

The TGA has also granted provisional approval for a new COVID-19 treatment for use in Australia. Australians with COVID-19 who are at risk of hospitalisation will now have access to an additional antibody treatment. The sotrovimab treatment requires a single dose to be administered through an intravenous infusion in a health care facility and has been shown to reduce hospitalisation or death by 79 per cent in adults with mild to moderate COVID-19, who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19.

You can read more about the treatment on the Department of Health website.

Vaxzevria is the name used for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and Canada. Image source: ABC News website.

Vaxzevria is the name used for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and Canada. Image source: ABC News 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Save the Date

Round 2 Applications for the 2022 training intake of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme

RVTS would like to encourage candidates to inquire now and be ready to apply for Round 2 Applications for the 2022 training intake of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS).

Applications open on Monday 30 August to Sunday 12 September 2021.

Positions are available in both their AMS and Remote training streams.

In addition to the AMS stream MMM2-7 location eligibility, RVTS is also offering Targeted Recruitment Locations for 2022.

There are currently 5 Aboriginal Medical Services as approved Targeted Recruitment locations across NT, WA and VIC – you’ll find details of the Tennant Creek, Mutitjulu, Halls Creek & Kununurra, South Hedland, and Portland health services here.

For application information visit the RVTS website.

Dr Gary Wood - GP Training AMS Rural and Remote Communities.

Dr Gary Wood – GP Training AMS Rural and Remote Communities.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 impact on young mob

COVID-19 impact on young mob

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke with Dan Bourchier on ABC News about the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW and the vaccination roll-out and uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Turner said that it was very concerning to see the average age of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who contracted COVID-19 in NSW in the last day was 24 years old.

“I am really concerned about the impact it’s having on our young people and I implore you all to please stay at home,” said Ms Turner.

She also said she was very pleased to see that daily increases of the Pfizer vaccine is being rolled out in Western NSW.

“We really need all of the state health authorities to be working in partnership and collaborating with our community controlled health sector and making sure they have a constant supply,” she said.

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

Lieutenant General John Frewen, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and CEO of NACCHO Pat Turner have co-signed a letter addressing COVID-19 vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The letter that will be sent to Australian COVID-19 vaccine delivery partners states that we all have an important role to play in providing culturally safe vaccination services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“For all Indigenous Australians to be vaccinated and bridge the current gap, we are asking the whole primary care sector to work together and ensure there is equitable COVID-19 vaccine uptake across Australia.”

You can download the letter here.

An article by Croakey Health Media addresses the same issue: Rushed efforts to halt the alarming spread of COVID-19 in Aboriginal communities in western NSW will fail if they do not have cultural safety at their core. That’s the warning from national, state and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders. Responses that are not culturally safe will risk adding to vaccine hesitancy and disengagement with public health orders and add to the trauma experienced by Aboriginal people amid a public health emergency.

Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), said there are “huge risks” in “shipping out” mainstream health teams that have not worked before in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or done cultural safety training. Failure to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of “knowing, being and doing” often ends up in non-Indigenous people and services making uninformed judgements or blaming communities “and then that turns people off being vaccinated”, she said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service's Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service’s Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

The Army has been called into western NSW, and drive-through clinics are being set up in Dubbo, in a race to vaccinate the community as the COVID outbreak worsens. The outback town of Bourke had its first case confirmed earlier this week, along with further cases in Dubbo, Walgett and Mudgee.

“Nearly 40 per cent are kids between the ages of 10 and 19,” Western NSW Health’s Mr McLachlan said.

“This is a really serious warning for parents of kids running around everywhere at the moment. Please stay home.”

Mr McLachlan said there were low rates of vaccination among Aboriginal children and called on people to get vaccinated, and stressed that Pfizer is available. He urged residents to reach out to local Aboriginal Medical Centres, GP’s, vaccination hubs, respiratory clinics and prompted use of the Health Direct website.

You can read the article online at the NITV website.
To check where you can get your vaccine, visit the Health Direct website here.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

Video

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Feature tile - Tue.17.8.21 - Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

With COVID-19 reaching western NSW, health clinics and Aboriginal health experts are working overtime to protect Aboriginal communities.

After ordering a seven-day statewide lockdown effective as of Saturday evening, NSW Health recorded on Monday a total 478 cases and eight deaths overnight. This follows the week-long lockdown announced on Wednesday for the Walgett Shire area, along with the Brewarrina, Coonamble, Bogan, Narromine, Warren and Gilgandra Shires. Active cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Dubbo, Walgett, Bathurst and Orange.

Walgett’s Dharriwaa Elders Group released a statement calling for more resourcing and support for the community.

“Many of our Elders and others in Walgett experience health and social issues that make them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. The impact on our community could be devastating,” said the statement.

NACCHO is working to increase vaccination capacity to communities that are most in need. With the vast majority of cases in NSW being people under 40, NACCHO medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

“The vaccine is now available for all [Indigenous] people 12-years and over. The best strategy is to be vaccinating all ages right now … younger people are getting the virus and spreading it,” he said.

You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times. Feature tile image source: The Guardian.

Three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine

The Northern Territory government yesterday implemented a snap three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine after a man in his 30s returned a positive result for what authorities fear could be the highly contagious Delta variant. The man spent several days in Darwin before driving to Katherine on Sunday, visiting the town’s busy Woolworths and checking into the Knotts Crossing resort.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) said it was worried about the potential spread of the virus, given the high rates of chronic illness and overcrowding in the region.

“We are very concerned about the deadliness and the seriousness of this Delta strain. If it gets into our communities, it’ll have a serious impact and threaten a number of our population and communities,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson said.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi urged people to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 during the lockdown period.

“If you don’t need to travel, don’t. Stay at home in your community or on your homeland with your family. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated then get it done,” Mr Bush-Blanasi said.

You can read the article by the ABC News here.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News - Michael Franchi.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News – Michael Franchi.

Mental health campaign to empower young mob

Headspace has launched a suite of new resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, empowering them to take charge of their social and emotional wellbeing.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 24 and under are three times more likely than other young people to die by suicide. Responding to this urgent need for support, the ‘Take a Step’ campaign encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to recognise the signs that something’s not right – and provides small, practical steps towards feeling better.

The materials have been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members from across Australia, including a reference group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

‘Take a Step’ television and radio advertisements will broadcast nationally and in select cinemas. A suite of print and online resources for young people, and for family and friends with a young person in their lives, are also available.

‘Take a Step’ is an initiative of headspace and funded by the Department of Health and Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Read the headspace media release here.
To learn more and to view available resources visit the headspace website here.

'Take a Step' wheel, headspace.

‘Take a Step’ wheel, headspace.

Boost to deliver better health care

Researchers from The University of Western Australia have been awarded more than $3 million in State Government funding to advance health innovation, including the development of future bacterial therapeutics, improving the physical health of people with mental illness and implementing clinical communication in Aboriginal health care.

WA State Health Minister Roger Cook announced the WA Near-miss Awards to 27 researchers across science, health and medicine to pursue knowledge that could improve the way healthcare is delivered in WA. The WA Near-miss Awards are granted to emerging researchers who narrowly missed out on State Funding to transform their National Health and Medical Research Council near-miss application into a future grant success.

Dr Ivan Lin from UWA’s Western Australian Centre for Rural Health received a Near-Miss award for his project ‘Yarn with Me’ that aims to implement Clinical Yarning Communication in Aboriginal Health Care. Clinical yarning is a patient-centred approach that marries Aboriginal cultural communication preferences with biomedical understandings of health and disease to deliver better health care to Aboriginal people.

You can read the news article on the University of Western Australia website here.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Updates to medicines labelling

Consumers need a good understanding of how and when to take a medicine. This can help them to use their medicines safely and help achieve the best possible health outcomes. Misunderstanding of how to use medicines can lead to unintentional misuse, which may result in harm or adverse health outcomes.

The design and content of information on a medicine label influences how well the consumer understands the information, especially for consumers with low health literacy. Standardised and consistent presentation of medicine-related information on dispensed medicine labels has the potential to improve health outcomes.

This standard is for all health professionals who dispense medicines, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurse practitioners, general practitioners, optometrists and dentists. It is based on best practice and evidence-based principles, recommendations published by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission)1, and further informed by user testing and hospital evaluation of prototype labels, and stakeholder consultation.

Download the National standard for labelling dispensed medicines by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care here.

'National standard for labelling dispensed medicines' by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Queensland’s new plan for Closing the Gap

Queensland has launched its first Closing the Gap Implementation plan — a key milestone in nationwide efforts to Close the Gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples. Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the plan continues the Palaszczuk Government’s reframing of the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We are working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – doing things with people and not to them – to deliver real change. We have partnered with Queensland’s peak community-controlled organisations to develop the plan, which will be updated annually, to reflect the experiences and ambitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,” Mr Crawford said.

You can read the Queensland Government media release here.
View the Queensland Closing the Gap Implementation Plan here.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Knowledge translation between Elders and young men

In Western Australia and Queensland, Aboriginal Elders have been sharing cultural knowledges with young men in research exploring their strengths, experiences and aspirations.

The Valuing Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men project was funded by the Lowitja Institute to support intergenerational knowledge exchange. It produced videos that demonstrate the power of yarning and connecting to Country within research.

“When we put young fellas through the law, we don’t sit them down in a workshop, talk at them or run them through a classroom learning module. We take them out and get them to follow the Jina…to walk, use their feet to travel the footprints of the old people. We get them to learn by following the steps, singing the old songs, being with their family and being on Ngurra or Country,” says Ngarluma Elder Peter Jeffries.

You can read the full article by Croakey Health Media here and watch one of the videos below.

 

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.


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Feature tile - Tue.10.8.21 - Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Changes to chronic disease incentive program

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) encourages general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to appropriately and effectively meet the health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease.

Chronic disease is responsible for 70% of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. The PIP IHI seeks to address this gap.

The Australian Government announced changes to the PIP IHI as part of the 2021–2022 Budget following a national consultation process. From 1 January 2023, the following will change:

  • Eligibility will be expanded to include children under the age of 15.
  • GP Mental Health Care Plans will be added as eligible items for the purposes of outcomes payments.
  • The requirement to deliver a certain number of services in a calendar year will be replaced with a 12-month rolling window, starting from the date the first eligible service is delivered. This will give practices more time to deliver the services required to achieve outcomes payments.
  • The program will start moving towards a back-ended payment structure. This means the majority of the payment will be provided after a threshold level of care has been provided. A transition period – where registration is gradually reduced, and the Tier 2 payment is gradually increased – will give practices time to adjust to this change.

You can read more about the PIP IHI on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
You can also download a fact sheet with information about the changes to the PIP IHI here.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive. Feature image credit: Unsplash.

 

Yarrabah fighting to stay COVID-free

The Aboriginal community in Yarrabah, about an hour’s drive from Cairns has about 350 homes. With serious overcrowding, high rates of ill-health, low rates of vaccination and the fact five of the community’s seven GPs have been forced into isolation, it is clear why Jason King and the 110-strong team at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service are desperate to keep COVID-19 from their side of the hill.

“It does leave us a little short-staffed, but we’ve got a great team around us,” said Dr King, director of clinical services. The community are responding really well and following all the directions for the lockdown,” he said.

“We’ve had a fantastic response, both testing and vaccination.”

On Monday, which was the first day the centre could start giving Pfizer doses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12 and above, parents began bringing in their teenagers, Dr King said. “We’ve had to restock our vaccines early with assistance from Queensland Health stocks, just to be able to provide [shots] ongoing until we receive our next shipment on Friday,” he said.

Read the story in the Brisbane Times here.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

 

Vaccination data essential to protect communities

Aboriginal health organisations are calling on the federal government to release more detailed data on vaccination rates in Aboriginal communities, with concerns “big gaps” in coverage have emerged that need to be urgently addressed.

NACCHO said detailed data was essential to the successful rollout to vulnerable remote and suburban communities. NACCHO’s senior medical adviser, GP and epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said it was “hard to understand” why detailed data about Indigenous vaccination rates was not publicly available, as it is Canada, the USA, or New Zealand which publishes weekly data on Maori vaccination rates.

“Priority reform number four of the closing the gap agreement is about data for health services planning, and at the moment I think I’m the only person in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector that has access to really detailed data,” Agostino said. “Unless we’re paying attention to those small levels of geography and those individual communities, we might find islands of poor vaccination coverage that leave those communities vulnerable.”

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala'la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

 

TGA approves fourth COVID-19 vaccine

On 9 August 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval to Moderna Australia Pty Ltd for its COVID-19 vaccine — Spikevax (elasomeran) — making it the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia.

This messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine is provisionally approved and included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older. It is recommended that the vaccine is given in two doses that are administered 28 days apart. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has shown strong efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 in clinical trials.

Provisional approval of this vaccine in Australia is subject to certain strict conditions, such as the requirement for Moderna Australia Pty Ltd to continue providing information to the TGA on longer-term efficacy and safety from ongoing clinical trials and post-market assessment.

Read the full media statement here.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

 

Complete your Census tonight

The Census will count each person and household in Australia TONIGHT Tuesday, 10 August 2021.

Adrian Dodson-Shaw a proud Yawuru, Arrernte and Kaytetye man and Assistant Director at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics is encouraging everyone to participate.

“We need our mob to be counted in the Census to ensure that we’re heard. Census data is used to help create a better future for our younger generations,” Adrian said.

“Census data is used to help plan services for our families and communities. Make sure you include everyone in your home on Census night. This includes Elders, babies and visitors.

In remote areas, the Census is conducted between July and August. This allows time for remote teams to cover large areas and visit households to help people complete.

View the Australian Bureau of Statistics‘ media release here.
Visit the Census website here.

Census

 

Are zero-alcohol beverages harmless?

Zero-alcohol beverages are becoming increasingly popular in Australia with major brands now stocked on supermarket shelves. Consumption of zero-alcohol products increased by 2.9% in 2020 and is expected to increase by 31% by 2024.

A new paper in the Drug and Alcohol Review by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The George Institute for Global Health (George Institute) raises questions about if these beverages are giving Australia’s young people a taste for alcohol.

Menzies and George Institute researcher and lead author Mia Miller said that zero-alcohol beverages are often packaged identically to alcoholic beverages and can be indistinguishable in taste. Miller says that further research is needed to assess whether the ease of availability of zero-alcohol beverages may lead to a gateway effect, where children who consume them would be more likely to consume alcoholic beverages underage.

You can read the media release by Menzies here.
View the Zero-alcohol beverages: Harm-minimisation tool or gateway drink? commentary here.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

 

Health impacts from climate change

Torres Strait Islander peoples intend to live on their traditional country long-term. Living on the northernmost islands of Queensland allows these “saltwater people” to maintain their cultural responsibilities, identity and kinship connections. Caring for country and keeping these connections can also bring health benefits. However, climate change increases the risks of negative health impacts.

“If our connection to these lands disappears, our Indigenous culture disappears”

An emergency call for increased attention to climate change and health impacts on Torres Strait Islander peoples was made in 2019 by 22 medical professionals working in the Queensland government’s Torres and Cape Health and Hospital Service region. They stated that climate change is a health emergency.

“We are concerned about the immediate effects of heat stress and extreme weather events as well as the long-term effects. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by climate change and unabated climate change will only steepen this social health gradient.”

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Below is a video outlining the issue called Our Islands, Our Home | Torres Strait Climate Justice Case.

 

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.


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA calls for mandatory vaccination of health care workers

Feature tile - Tue 31.8.21 - AMA calls for mandatory vaccination of health care workers

AMA calls for mandatory vaccination of health care workers

The AMA is calling for mandatory vaccinations for the workforce of the entire health care system including support staff like cleaners, receptionists and contractors as soon as practical. The AMA says public health orders to mandate vaccinations should begin in hospitals, then the wider health system.

With worrying numbers of COVID-19-infected frontline workers furloughed and unable to work, as well as several clusters being linked to hospitals, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers are needed to sustain the health system into the future as we learn to live with COVID-19.

“We need to bring these workers and the environment they work in, out of crisis mode and the first step towards that is to protect them through vaccination. This is about health care worker safety and the safety of patients, and not about vaccines by force,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: AMA website. Feature image: AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: AMA website. Feature image: AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

First COVID death among mob

“We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and to the community of the Dubbo man who passed away yesterday. We are very saddened by this news and it was something that we tried to avoid and did our best to date. But this just goes to show how deadly and invasive the Delta variant of the virus is and why it is absolutely essential for all of our people from age 12 up to have the vaccinations which are now readily available. I encourage everybody to go and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM

You can watch the interview with Ms Turner from last night’s episode of The Drum on ABC here.
Find out where you can get your vaccine via the Department of Health’s Eligibility Checker here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM on The Drum Monday 30 August 2021.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM on The Drum Monday 30 August 2021.

 

Orange AMS providing mobile COVID testing

OAMS practice manager Christie Cain said that between Tuesday, August 24, – when the rapid-testing clinic was first mobilised – and Monday morning, 225 people had been swabbed for COVID in Orange so far. According to Mrs Cain, the clinic which had been rolled out in partnership with the Western NSW Local Health District, was to assist those in Orange having difficulties getting to testing clinics.

“We’re prioritising, at the moment, patients of close contacts [and] vulnerable communities that aren’t able to get to a clinic,” Mrs Cain said.

“That’s anyone, even if they’re not asymptomatic, they’ll call through to a switch, and then they are booked in, and then allocated to a team who will then go out.”

You can read the article in The Central Western Daily here.

 SWAB MOBILE: Cathy Gutterson, Tania Biddle and Peter Fuller from OAMS are making sure no-one misses out on testing. PHOTO: CARLA FREEDMAN

SWAB MOBILE: Cathy Gutterson, Tania Biddle and Peter Fuller from OAMS are making sure no-one misses out on testing. PHOTO: CARLA FREEDMAN

 

Clarification on COVID-19 vaccine information for 12-15 year-olds

In yesterday’s issue of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 12-15 year olds now eligible for vaccine, we shared the following three media releases:

NACCHO would like to clarify that this information, while accurate, refers to the overall Australian population and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over have been eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since 2 August 2021. You can read the statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation here.

Up-to-date information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about COVID-19 vaccines can be found here.

We apologies if this caused any confusion to our readers.

 

Co-founder of Awabakal remembered

We warn our readers that this story mentions people and contain images of people who have passed on.

Co-founder of the Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-operative, William Edward Smith died from pancreatic cancer in Newcastle on Sunday. He was aged 83.

Living on Awabakal land and as an elder, Bill Smith helped others puts down roots. In the mid-1970s, he was involved in establishing the Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-operative, assisting with everything from housing to health.

“It’s made a lot of difference, especially on the medical, on the health side of our people,” said Bill’s older son Edward Smith.

“He was such a beautiful man. He was such a trailblazer for his generation, and he embraced everyone around him with such warmth,” said Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

Saretta Fielding, Bill Smith’s niece and an acclaimed artist, said her uncle “led the way”.

“He built bridges over many years,” Mrs Fielding said, “to create better opportunities for Aboriginal people, but also in being inclusive and welcoming to the broader community, to work together towards reconciliation and to really understand each other.”

You can read the story in the Newcastle Herald here.

Indigenous leader and businessman Bill Smith. Picture: Courtesy, Paul Szumilas and Smith Family.

Indigenous leader and businessman Bill Smith. Picture: Courtesy, Paul Szumilas and Smith Family.

 

COVID-19 support for communities

The COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response Program has opened today. Quick response grants of up to $10,000 are available for Aboriginal community organisations and groups to meet the immediate health and wellbeing needs of Aboriginal people across the state as part of Aboriginal Affairs NSW’s COVID-19 response strategy.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin said the grants would help to provide Aboriginal communities with targeted COVID-19 information and assistance from trusted services.

Read the media release by the NSW Government Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Don Harwin here.

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website.

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website.

 

GPs urged to review accreditation arrangements

GPs are being urged to have their say on a new review of general practice accreditation arrangements.

The independent review, commissioned by the Department of Health, has been designed to reveal the barriers and incentives for general practices participating in accreditation, and highlight areas for improvement. It will also explore existing accreditation models, issues for accrediting agencies providing services to general practices, alternate accreditation models, and potential overlaps between general practice and educational accreditation.

RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices Chair Dr Louise Acland is encouraging anyone who has an interest or experience with accreditation to provide feedback, including GPs, practice owners, practice managers and nursing staff.

Find out more in NewsGP on the RACGP website.

Female doctor working on laptop at desk in office. Image credit: RACGP website.

Female doctor working on laptop at desk in office. Image credit: RACGP website.

 

Seeking members for TGA committees

Would you like to contribute to the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia? Have you considered becoming a member of one of the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s committees?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking applications from medical and scientific experts to fill a number of upcoming vacancies across TGA’s Statutory Advisory Committees and the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee. You must have expertise in relevant medical or scientific fields or experience with consumer health issues.

As a committee member you will contribute significantly towards the TGA’s regulatory functions by providing independent expert advice on matters across a broad spectrum of issues relating to medicines, devices, vaccines and other products and substances.

Further information about the roles of the TGA Statutory Advisory Committees can be found here, and for the Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee can be found here.

If you have the appropriate expertise and are interested in contributing to the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia, we would like to hear from you.

Applications close this week, contact NACCHO on medicines@naccho.org.au if you won’t be able to apply in this time or if you have any questions.

To apply, and find out more about the appointment process, go to the Department of Health website.
Enquiries can be made by email to committee.vacancies@health.gov.au

TGA seeking members for advisory committees.

Image source: AMA 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Let’s CHAT Dementia – Webinar Series

Dementia is a rapidly growing health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia is a NHMRC-funded co-design project based in 12 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across Australia which aims to optimise detection and management of cognitive impairment in primary care.

In collaboration with Dementia Training Australia, the Let’s CHAT Dementia team and partners bring you a six-part series of webinars aimed at primary health care teams including General Practitioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and health workers, nurses, allied health professionals and others who work in primary care with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Webinar One: Best Practice Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Care
2 September 2021 – Online
7:00pm (AEST), 6:30pm (ACDT), 5:00pm (AWST)
This event is funded by the Australian Government and free to attend.
A Certificate of Attendance will be provided to attendees at the end of the event.

Presenters:

  • Dr Mary Belfrage, Clinical Lead NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Professor Constance Dimity Pond, Professor of General Practice, University of Newcastle

Find out more about the webinars and how to register here.

LCD webinar image.

Image source: Dementia Training Australia website.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Feature tile - Tue.3.8.21 - Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

In a statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), it is now recommended that the following groups of children among those aged 12–15 years be prioritised for vaccination using the Pfizer vaccine:

  • children with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12–15 years
  • all children aged 12–15 years in remote communities, as part of broader community outreach vaccination programs that provide vaccines for all ages (≥12 years).

ATAGI will make recommendations to Government for use in all other children in the 12–15 years age group within the coming months, following review of emerging information.

You can read more about this statement on the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional. Feature tile image credit: SNAICC.

 

Nursing shortage due to border restrictions

At least 18 remote communities across the NT are experiencing a shortage of nursing services due to COVID-19 international and interstate border restrictions.

The “movement” of nurses into remote areas has “been limited over time”, according to John Wakerman from the Menzies School of Health Research.

Chief executive of Purple House Sarah Brown said prior to the pandemic, and throughout the changing lockdowns, she planned to have nurses travel to remote communities in the NT from interstate, but that plan had been delayed.

She said the priority to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, as well as aged care services across Australia, had put the “whole system under enormous pressure”, but she remained optimistic about attracting more nurses to Central Australia.

“If we could actually have a bit of a plan to move some of these visa applications along and find a safe way to get some nurses in the country that would take a lot of pressure off the whole system,” she said.

“If we can do it for pop stars and tennis champions maybe there’s a way we could do it for some nurses too.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

 

Census data supporting mums and bubs program

The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health uses Census data to inform expansion of its successful Birthing in our Communities program, which is delivering outstanding results for mums and bubs in South East Queensland.

The program also hosts a community day every Friday. It’s a chance for mums, their family, and their community support network to come together to celebrate the family unit and learn from visiting specialists like dieticians and psychologists.

Queensland mum Mackapilly said it’s been a great opportunity to learn and be part of a community of mums and bubs.

“I am so grateful for playgroup and community days. It was been useful to connect with other mums and share advice. We feel like we are at home, like we are a family,” Mackapilly said.

Mackapilly would love to see this program expand to other areas and communities to help more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs.

“Now that I know Census data has helped to create and expand the Birthing in our Communities program, I’ll be telling other mums to make sure they fill out the Census because I can see how it can help show what community services are needed,” said Mackapilly.

Other important dates on the calendar provide opportunities for mums and families to come together. The Birthing in our Communities program is getting ready to host a COVID-safe celebration and playgroup for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

You can read the media release here.

For more information call 1800 512 441 or visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census website with information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities here.

Census data supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs program to expand across South East Queensland.

 

Chronic disease mapped across Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released new geographical data, showing where Australia’s most common chronic diseases are more prevalent.

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are together responsible for the country’s highest ‘burden of disease’ – the years of healthy life lost to a disease. They account for 14%, 2.2% and 1.4% of the burden of disease, respectively.

While common, these diseases are not evenly distributed. For instance, 6.2% of Australian adults report having heart, stroke and vascular disease, but for Northern Territorians the rate is only 1.8%. Conversely, 7.4% of adults in the NT have type 2 diabetes, compared to 5.9% of the national adult population.

Areas with greater socioeconomic disadvantage have higher rates of disease when age is taken into account.

Regional and remote areas, and places with high proportions of Indigenous Australians, also had worse health profiles when adjusted for age.

The AIHW has released this data in a series of dashboards on their website, where you can examine your own state or suburb’s health profile.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

 

Program to increase number of surgeons

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is proud to launch its Indigenous Surgical Pathway Program Australia to try and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surgeons in the medical workforce.

The program aims to reduce the professional health workforce inequity faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

While there are over 83,000 doctors registered to practice in Australia, fewer than 400 are Indigenous. This is despite over 760,000 people in Australia identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“In Australia and NZ we have a severe shortage of Indigenous surgeons and we need to do everything we can to change this disproportionate under-representation,” said Dr Sally Langley, RACS President.

“The College is committed to addressing this health discrepancy and the program will support this by encouraging and actively recruiting medical students and recent graduates into surgery.”

You can read the media release by RACS here.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

 

Community Liaison Officers to improve SEWB

In February 2021, the WA Government announced a further $17.6 million commitment to establish a three year Social and Emotional Wellbeing Model of Service pilot at five Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sites.

The Model is part of their commitment to address and reduce Aboriginal suicide rates through the establishment of the newly created Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer (CLO) positions across the State.

Based at Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, the CLOs will work with their respective communities and support the implementation of the region-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention plans.

The region-specific plans form part of the implementation of the Western Australian Suicide Prevention Framework 2021-2025 and include culturally informed social and emotional wellbeing initiatives designed by and for Aboriginal people.

You can read the media statement by the Government of Western Australia here.

Aboriginal women embracing each other.

Aboriginal women embracing each other. Image credit: Independent Australia.

 

New process for job advertising

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

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.
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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on vaccine rollout

feature tile text 'NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Agosinto speaks about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout' & photo of hands drawing vaccine from vial

NACCHO Medical Advisor on vaccine rollout

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino spoke on National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS) on Thursday (15 July 2021) last week about the COVID-19 rollout. Dr Agostino said it is important to reinforce that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 16 years and over are eligible to get a vaccine now and that a lot is being done to make sure that both types of vaccines are available within Aboriginal medical services across the country and also via other GPs.

Up until now there has only been AstraZeneca within clinics, that’s the vaccine predominately for people over the age of 60, unfortunately more than 90% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under the age of 60 and they’ve had to go to Pfizer which hasn’t been around. Dr Agostino said that in the last few weeks there has been more Pfizer getting into communities and health services in the city and the hope is to get more and more Pfizer out there into people’s arms as soon as possible. To listen to the interview in full click on the YouTube link below.

On Sunday 11 July 2021, Dr Agostino also spoke on 3RRRFM’s weekly medical show Radiotherapy with presenter Kent Goldsworthy about the vaccine rollout. You can listen to that interview here.

black & white photo of 3RRR radio presenter Kent Goldsworthy in studio & 3RRR logo 102.7 FM THREE R TRIPLE R R in red, black, white

3RRR presenter Kent Goldsworthy. Feature photo: The West Australian in NIT.

COVID-19 vaccine provider resources

The Australian Government Department of Health has prepared a suite of assets for vaccine providers. The main purpose of the resources is to support healthcare workers in their work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The pack of resources includes:

  • updated guidance on TGA advertising restrictions, explaining how you can inform your patients about different vaccine brands availability in your clinic. This includes social, posters and web content
  • a video animation in plain English that could be sent to patients’ emails or used in clinic waiting rooms explaining what to expect on  vaccination day, side effects and the need for two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
  •  a suite of talking points talking points designed for healthcare workers to assist them with having conversations with patients about COVID-19 vaccines
  • updated social resources with suggested captions to use across social media networks
  • a summary of general COVID-19 vaccine communications available on the website that have been developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including social content, posters, fact sheets and videos
  • general Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources (social, posters and community announcement script), reminding people of the importance of following restrictions, staying home if feeling unwell, and getting tested

All resources are available for download here via WeTransfer.

You can browse other communication assets, such as videos with Indigenous community leaders and testimonials by real people, and many other resources here.

Health staff shortages in remote communities

COVID-19 border closures and lockdowns have caused a shortage of healthcare workers in remote Indigenous communities, fuelling fears the vaccine rollout to some of the country’s most vulnerable people is being slowed down. In northern WA the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) has been dealing with increasingly severe staff shortages as its retention rates plummet.

“In our remote communities we do tend to rely on nursing and medical staff being on a fly-in fly-out roster,” medical director, Palawa woman Lorraine Anderson said. “Generally those staff have not always come from WA, there have been people from all the states and territories across Australia and in a few cases even outside Australia.” Since the pandemic began KAMS’s staff attrition rate has more than doubled from 37–85%. In some of its clinics the figure is as high as 100%, meaning the entire original workforce has been replaced.

The number of job vacancies has also increased from an average of 10–50 – more than 10%of the total KAMS workforce. Dr Anderson said rolling lockdowns and constant changes to travel restrictions were taking a toll. “18 months down the track our staff are actually getting very tired of that, it’s wearing people down, it’s very difficult on family situations and relationships,” she said. Dr Anderson is hopeful staffing issues won’t affect the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley as KAMS prioritises the jab, but she says workers won’t be able to offer the standard of primary and preventative healthcare she would like as a result.

To view the full Brisbane Times article click here.

white vehicle on side of bitumen road through red dust landscape

Image source: Create website.

NDIS fighting trust deficit

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Minister Linda Reynolds confirmed last week that the controversial NDIS independent assessments proposed by the Federal Government are “dead”. Reynolds said she was sorry that some of Australia’s most vulnerable people had been stressed by the possible impact of the independent assessments, which disability advocates have fought hard against for months.

Associate Professor Jen Smith-Merry and Associate Professor Mary-Ann O’Donovan, from the Centre for Disability Research and Policy and Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Sydney commented on the issue. “The proposed implementation of the NDIS Independent assessments  has been abandoned in its current form and this is a great victory for all the people with disability and supporters who have campaigned against it.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which runs the NDIS, contracted our team from the University of Sydney to externally validate the findings of their pilot inf independent assessments. Our team included people with qualitative and quantitative methods expertise, lived experience of disability and understanding of the broader policy and service context around the NDIS. By requesting this validation work, the NDIA acknowledged that the process and findings of the evaluation they conducted may be questioned in terms of credibility and trustworthiness. This request for external validation reflects the need for the NDIA agency to counter the general mistrust towards it in the sector.

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

photo of word 'trust' written in the sand

Photo: Lisa Caroselli, Pixabay. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Indigenous bowel screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health has a range of resources for families and communities regarding Indigenous bowel screening. Its collection contains resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) including information about bowel screening, video stories, community songs, fact sheets, posters and more.

You can access the collection of resources, including the SA Health Making tracks: Health Screening for Bowel Cancer video (below) here.

Closing the walkability gap

Indigenous inequality in Australia has long been known to the public and policy makers. Yet, successive local, state, and federal governments have failed to effectively make a noticeable change in Indigenous health and wellbeing. These inequalities include shorter life expectancy, poorer general health and lower levels of education and employment. Less known is transport inequality and its health implications for Indigenous people.

Walking is a healthy form of physical activity and is proven to reduce rates of chronic disease. Neighbourhood walkability is associated with the number of trips people can make on foot. People living in areas with lower walkability tend to walk less. University of New South Wales’ research shows that 70% of the Indigenous population in the City of Sydney live in neighbourhoods with lower-than-average walkability. This has the potential to aggravate Indigenous people’s health issues, potentially widening the health gap with non-Indigenous Australians, instead of closing it.

To view the full article click here.

woman in dark shadow walking past a wall with Aboriginal dot paintings of emu, kangaroo, dolphin, echidna, snake

Photo: John Pryke/AAP. Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.

Abstracts for rural health conference

If you are concerned about the health and wellbeing of people who live an work in rural or remote areas of Australia the 16th National Rural Health Conference will be of interest to you. The conference will be held in Perth next year from Monday 30 May to Wednesday 1 June 2022 with the theme is Bridging social distance; Rural health innovating & collaborating.

Abstracts close Sunday 8 August 2021. For more information about the abstract process click here.

For further information, including details about early bird registration which open on 4 October 2021, you can access the conference website here.

banner text '16th National Rural Health COnference 30 May - 1 June 2022, Perth, WA - Bridging social distance Rural health innovating & collaborating,' purple background, green & white font & logo white number '16' with green & purple heads represented by oval lines & purple and wavy lines representing arms, sitting over the number '16

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.


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Stress Down Day

Stress Down Day, a fun and easy initiative designed to raise awareness around stress in the workplace, and an opportunity to raise vital funds for Lifeline locally. Lifeline relies on fundraising and donations to help cover the cost of providing local crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Research shows that 90% of Australians feel stressed – with 74% of people reporting being stressed from work.

For information about Stress Down Day click here.tile text 'Lifeline's Stress Down Day on 24/7' Lifeline logo, text in light blue, smiling face 2 blue dots for eyes, blue semi-circle for mouth, orange line overlapping corner of right side of mouth making intersection purple & longer yellow line overlapping corner of blue left mouth making green

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Link between sexual health and chronic conditions

feature tile text 'poor awareness of links between sexual health and chronic conditions in ATSI males' Aboriginal dot painting from cover of summary report blue, brown, aqua, navy, white, black, taupe

Male sexual health chronic disease link

The latest publication from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, a Review of sexual health issues linked with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, which can be accessed here confirms that although the links between male sexual health and chronic conditions are well established, there is poor knowledge and awareness about these links among both health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

This review outlines the mounting evidence that erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of future cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. This has the potential to motivate males of all ages to seek help if they experience ED, and for health professionals to become skilled in discussing sexual health with patients. This  requires further consideration of cultural factors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and the social and historical context in which their health and wellbeing exists.

You can access the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release about the review here, an infographic Summary of the key information contained in the review here, a factsheet here and a short video below.

Feature tile artwork When the freshwater meets the saltwater by Bec Morgan taken from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Summary of sexual health links with chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

 

The HIV/AIDS story – Forty years on

Forty years ago this month (on July 3, 1981) a story in The New York Times made the paper’s first mention of a disease baffling doctors.

Rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals,” said the headline, atop a story buried on page 20. “The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion.”

The story followed the publication on June 5, 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of an MMRW report of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, California, of whom two had already died. This report later was acknowledged as the first published scientific account of what would become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

In Australia, research from the Kirby Institute shows that the broad availability of the HIV-prevention drug tenofovir with emtricitabine (known as PrEP) reduced HIV transmissions in New South Wales by 40 percent, to an all-time low, in the period 2016 to 2019. However, the researchers warned that the elimination of HIV in Australia will require better adherence to PrEP among young people.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has produced a report that says Australia can end HIV transmission in the country by 2025. You can read the “Agenda 2025” report here.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

 

Bardi Jawi woman’s diabetes story

This short video aims to raise awareness of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The video features Cecelia Tigan, a Bardi Jawi woman from Djarindjin in the Kimberley region of WA. Cecelia explains how she was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy and how she now lives with type 2 diabetes. Cecelia says her diabetes remained after giving birth to her fourth child. Cecelia explains that she is worried about the young children in her community with the availability of junk foods and how the consumption of sweets and junk food is putting them at risk of diabetes.

 

Ways to strengthen mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people.

The report, written by Prof Dominic Upton, Assoc Prof Linda Ford, Prof Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, finds that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services.

Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

Read the article by Charles Darwin University here.

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

 

Spurring next generation of Indigenous dentists

A new partnership between the Australian Dental Association New South Wales (ADA NSW) and the Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) will explore how to improve oral health outcomes for—and inspire—the next generation of Indigenous dental practitioners.

Only 0.4 per cent of employed dental professionals in Australia are Indigenous, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia report,” ADA NSW president Dr Kathleen Matthews said.

“More than 60 per cent of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair.

“We believe this partnership with ADA NSW is, given our shared values and purpose, another important step towards improving overall health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Read the full story in Bite Magazine here.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

 

Climate change and food shortages

Surging consumer food prices are a growing global problem, making food staples in many countries unaffordable. An Oxfam report just out says that world hunger rose steeply in 2020, with six times more people living in “famine-like conditions” than in 2019. Oxfam calculates that 11 ­people a minute are likely to be dying from acute hunger, compared to seven people a minute from COVID-19.

A new FAO report on global food security has just been released, estimating that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019. “The high cost of healthy diets and persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people in every region of the world,” it says.

A 2019 UN report outlined how extreme weather as a result of climate change, combined with loss of agricultural land and the mismanagement of water resources, will shrink the global food supply. The potential risk of “multi-breadbasket failure” was seen as a particular threat.

There’s a raft of reports that highlight what climate change means for food production, availability and prices in Australia. In addition, as noted in a 2015 report from the Climate Council, Australia’s food supply chains are vulnerable to extreme weather events.

This week, public health researchers have underscored the urgency of addressing food security issues for children, warning food insecurity should be understood as a form of trauma.

One issue highlighted is that food security is not measured regularly or consistently at a population level. Estimates suggest that between 4 percent and 13 percent of the general population and 22 percent to 32 percent of the Indigenous population are food insecure.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

 

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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard