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

Major parties have barely said anything useful

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

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

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

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

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

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

Poor public policy without consultation

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

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

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

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

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

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

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

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

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

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

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

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

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

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

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

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

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

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

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

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

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

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

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

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

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

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

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

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

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

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

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

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

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

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

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

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

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

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

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

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

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

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

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

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

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

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

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

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

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

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

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

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

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

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

The training will include skills in how to:

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

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

Art competition closing date extended

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

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

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

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

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

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

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

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

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

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

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

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

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

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

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

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the AMA Media release here.

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

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

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

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

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

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

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

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

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

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

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

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

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

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

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

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

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

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

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

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

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

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

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

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

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

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

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

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

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

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

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

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

Some of the key findings:

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

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

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covid Song – Ali Curung

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

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

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

Managing inappropriate comments online

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

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full article in the ABC here.

Gilgandra Local AMS (GLAMS) Opening FEB 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

To view the full SNAICC media release click here.

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

Image source: Moriarty Foundation website.

AHCSA Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

AHCSA – project to identify ATSI NDIS barriers

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

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

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

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono News website.

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

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

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

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

Read the full media release here.

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

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

Sydney Peace Prize

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can view the media release here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

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

Danila Dilba_30 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raise The Age logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

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

First COVID death in the NT

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Connecting primary care, research and policy

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

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

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

Diabetes strategy endorsed

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: $1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

$1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

NACCHO has delivered over $1.25 million in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

“These grants will enable the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Pat Turner.

You can read the media statement by NACCHO here.

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

Image source: AbSec website.

Lessons learnt to inform future vaccination efforts

Australians deserve freedom from misleading communications, and to be informed about some of the COVID complexities expected in the months ahead, including the rollout of a third dose and vaccination of young children. It’s also important that lessons are learnt from the first phases of the COVID vaccine roll out, with a particular focus on priority populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Jason Agostino, GP at Gurriny Yealamucka, an Aboriginal community controlled health service in the community of Yarrabah in far north Queensland, and medical advisor at NACCHO said:

“What we’ve learnt from the rollout of COVID vaccination to date is that we should be investing more in the primary healthcare system for the vaccine delivery. We need long term investment in workforce solutions for vaccination efforts going forward. We have this perfect storm coming up of chasing up the latecomers, doing childhood vaccination early next year and doing boosters as well as flu vaccine. This is a long term problem and we are going to need long term workforce solutions to address it. We also need consistency across the jurisdictions so Aboriginal Health Workers can deliver vaccines, they are an essential part of our service.”

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News.

Boosting vaccination rates in WA

A new five-week program, “Keeping Culture Safe and Strong: Vaccination Focus was announced by The Department of Health in Western Australia on 19 November 2021 to provide more opportunities for Aboriginal people to get vaccinated. In a statement, the Department said a range of intensified in-reach programs based on bringing the vaccine directly to communities would be used as part of the vaccination focus.

“The Keeping Culture Safe and Strong vaccination focus will cover the entire State, from urban to regional to remote communities. The focus will be community-led as local leaders such as health staff, the local police, Councils and Shires, and Aboriginal-led organisations will be yarning to community members and helping them to access a vaccination.”

In related news concerns are being raised by First Nations people and advocates about West Australia’s reopening plan, with anxiety rising in communities about the possibility of COVID infections while vaccination rates remain low. As a whole, 49.89 per cent of WA’s Indigenous population has received one dose of any vaccine, and 33.82 per cent have received two. That’s compared to a general population rate of 70.3 per cent double jabbed.

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) CEO Robby Chimbawe said the prospect of the interstate border reopening is helping vaccination rates, but said there is still lots of hesitancy especially among the 30-40 year old age group.

Read about the new vaccination program on The Government of Western Australia Department of Health website.
Keeping Culture Safe and Strong: Vaccination Focus resources can be downloaded from the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) website here.
You can view the article about the reopening of WA borders in the National Indigenous Times here.

 Keeping Culture Safe and Strong; Vaccination Focus Resources, AHCWA.

Mental health app in Pitjantjatjara and Aboriginal English

A new mobile app makes it easier for First Nations people to access information about mental health and wellbeing. The Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong app is a colourful, user-friendly digital mental health tool developed by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) with Australian First Nations people. The app incorporates Pitjantjatjara language and Aboriginal English with plans to include other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

AIMhi Stay Strong supports service providers to have wellbeing conversations with First Nations people in primary care and specialist settings.

You can view the Menzies media release here.
For more information about the AIMhi Stay Strong projects click here.
Download the app for Android devices or for iOS devices.

Elimination of violence against women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On this day each year communities across the world also begin 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, seeking to inspire action to end violence against women and girls around.

ACT Government Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Yvette Berry is calling on the Canberra community to get on board, unite in orange and take action to make our community safe for all.

“Gendered violence is an epidemic, and it takes a whole of community approach from the ground up to create long lasting change. Concerningly, we know that during the pandemic many women experienced violence from their partners for the first time.”

“The next 16 days provide an opportunity for the Canberra community to take a stand and share the message that violence against women in any form is not OK. I encourage Canberrans to start conversations about gender-based violence with your family and friends. Learn more about the facts and what you can do to help. Let’s make gender-based violence a thing of the past.”

You can read the media release by the ACT Government here.

tile text 'Thursday 25 November 2021 - International Day for Elimination of Violence against Woemn' vector image of woman with hands across chest, head to side & back of male in front of her

Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development

Leading economic advisory firm, ACIL Allen has launched a report, which found that Community First Development generates a high return on investment: a return of $3.73 in health, social and economic benefits for every $1.00 of contributions invested. After removing operating costs, ACIL Allen estimates Community First Development delivered an estimated $12.8 million in employment, business, health, justice, welfare and housing benefits in the last financial year, and did this in the challenging operating environment of a pandemic. Improved health outcomes accounted for over half (55 percent) of the total benefits, which alone delivers a benefit estimated to be twice that of the organisation’s total cost.

A significant range of additional qualitative benefits that could not be measured in monetary terms were also identified as part of the ACIL Allen assessment.

For more information and to download the report click here.

The Story of Change

‘The Story of Change’ diagram from the Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development report.

No two days are the same in the care and support sector

If you are kind, patient and want a rewarding, person-centred job, the care and support sector has lots of opportunities for people just like you. According to disability support worker Lisa, these are the most important qualities needed to be a support worker for people with disability.

For the past six years she has been supporting Greg to achieve his personal goals and lead the life he wants.

Greg, who has cerebral palsy, is a talented artist; his work is featured in the Koorie National Trust and in a number of exhibitions. He has a studio space conveniently located a couple of doors down from his home. Greg is also part of a Melbourne theatre group, plays balloon football, enjoys getting out and about, COVID permitting, and loves to introduce his support workers to his Aboriginal culture.

The care and support sector is a dynamic, growing industry with a wide range of roles and opportunities for people with diverse skills, experiences and backgrounds.

Read the rest of Greg and Lisa’s story and view more stories from the care and support sector here.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

BRAMS Newsletter October 2021

Check out the latest BRAMS newsletter, which includes the CEO Report, New Staff, Employee of the Month, Vax-a-thon #2,  BBAI Carnival 2021, Wellbeing Month, BRAMS Well-Being Day, Family Well-Being Training, Narrative Therapy Training,  Ministerial Visit, NDIS Peer Support Groups.

You can download the newsletter here.

BRAMS COVID VAX-A-THON

 

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.

A Life Changing Life – Webinar

As part of the A Life Changing Life campaign, the Department of Social Services has partnered with SEEK to deliver a series of webinars providing insights and tools for care and support sector employers to better engage with and appeal to today’s candidates.

There are three upcoming webinars in this series. Depending on your role you may wish to register to attend or register interest, or refer one to a colleague. This session is designed for those in your organisation responsible for writing and posting job ads and short-listing candidates.

SESSION 1 – How to write a good job ad
Date: Tuesday 30 November
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm AEDT

RSVP for the webinar and view upcoming webinars in the series here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Alarming vaccination gap

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: NITV

Alarming vaccination gap

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO spoke with Dr Norman Swan and Teegan Taylor on RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly this morning.

She said she’s extremely nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 cases has grown from 153 to more than 7,500 since Delta got into communities in June with 15 COVID-related deaths amongst those cases. Ms Turner believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

“It’s got to be a really determined effort by South Australia in the remote areas, by Western Australia state-wide, by Queensland state-wide including the Torres Straits. And of course the Northern Territory has now got their wake-up call,” said Ms Turner.

“We shouldn’t have to wait until infections get in before the health authorities get in and start the vaccinations. They’ve got to do it now.”

You can listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. Image source: Government of WA website.

Dubbo’s vaccine response a role model

Dubbo’s “remarkable” response to COVID-19 vaccination efforts has won praise from the Federal Minister for Regional Health and the country’s COVID vaccination taskforce coordinator. The coordinator-general of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen, and the Federal Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie visited the town on separate agendas.

“It’s been remarkable what was achieved here, particularly treating outbreaks and the vaccination rates that were just brought along so quickly,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.

“With the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) and Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACHO) stepping up, they got access to the vaccine as quickly as was rolled out in Sydney or Brisbane or Melbourne,” said Dr Gillespie.

Lieutenant General Frewen has called vaccination rates in Dubbo’s Indigenous population “tremendous”, but is aware that it “isn’t the case across the whole state, and certainly isn’t the case across the whole country”.

“It starts with engagement with local leaders and getting the local leaders on side,” he said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo's success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo’s success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Current NT COVID-19 outbreak linked to earlier clusters

Patricia Karvelas on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing spoke to NACCHO Senior Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino yesterday about how the Genomic Sequencing has confirmed the Northern Territory’s current COVID-19 outbreak is linked to the cluster that triggered a lockout in Darwin and a lockdown in Kathrine earlier this month.

“It reinforces that even though a lot of testing is happening even more has to happen to find out where those chains of transmission has been occurring because there is likely that there are more cases out there,” said Dr Agostino.

“It’s been two weeks since those first cases were picked up in Darwin, so for it to get out to where it has, it means that there are some people that have been infected that haven’t been picked up at this stage.”

He says he takes some comfort in the fact that vaccination rates in the affected communities are higher than in many other places, which means that if we do see more cases, it’s a good chance that they will be less severe.

You can watch yesterday’s episode of Afternoon Briefing here.
Please note that Dr Agostino features after 52min of the episode.

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccines - ABC iview

$53.3M spent to improve health sector in NSW

The NSW government will for the first time track how much it spends on specific Indigenous programs and services, with data revealing it invested $1.1 billion last financial year. The funding is detailed in the state’s first Indigenous expenditure report, which shows the state government increased its spending on First Nations programs and services by almost 20 per cent. In health, $109 million was invested, with $53.3 million delivered by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

As part of the historic national agreement on Closing the Gap, there was a commitment from Australian governments and First Nations communities “to review and identify current spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services”. NSW is the first state to publish an interim Indigenous expenditure report.

“This report will become a powerful tool to provide policymakers with a greater evidence-base of expenditure to inform future resource allocation decisions,” said Treasurer Matt Kean.

“This first phase of the Indigenous expenditure report will assist us in building up the community-controlled sector which is improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin.

You can read the article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.
You can view the 2021-22 NSW Government Interim Indigenous Expenditure Report here.

Rapid Antigen Testing in the NT

In a media release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles, Rapid Antigen Testing and Distribution points has been unveiled as travel restrictions come into effect for remote communities with vaccination rates below 70%.

Top End testing and distribution points will be located at the Royal Darwin Hospital Pandemic Clinic (open 8.30am to 4pm). In Alice Springs, the Pandemic Coordination Centre will be located at 44 Bath Street (open 8am-4pm Monday to Friday).

Negative Rapid Antigen test results are required 72 hours or less for anyone who intends to travel to a remote community with a first dose vaccination rate below 70%. Following completion of a Rapid Antigen Test at a testing and distribution point, a copy of the result will be sent via SMS or a printed copy can be collected if required. This can be used as proof of a negative test.

Rapid Antigen Tests can also be completed at home or at work.

You can read the Media Release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health's Facebook page.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health’s Facebook page.

AIDA supports COVID-safe reopening of the NT

With the number of COVID cases in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (NT) continuing to grow, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is asking Territorians to get vaccinated as a matter of urgency and adhere to health restrictions to stop the spread.

AIDA is extremely concerned that the lack of culturally appropriate access to healthcare in remote communities, coupled with poor housing infrastructure in many communities, making it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to isolate within their own household, will further compound these COVD positive numbers and cause the virus to spread rapidly within communities. This will burden an already short-staffed health sector in the NT, causing even more issues.

AIDA supports the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) in calling on the NT government to commit to shared decision-making with Aboriginal communities and their key institutions when discussing a COVID-safe reopening of the Northern Territory. AIDA also joins AMSANT in supporting the Doherty modelling that indicates children aged 5-11 are to be included in reaching the 80% vaccine coverage before opening up.

You can read the AIDA media release here.

Welcome to Robinson River Community sign

Robinson River Community. Image source ABC News.

Visitors made homeless in Katherine’s lockdown

The homelessness rate in Katherine is twice the NT average and 31 times the national average

As Katherine and nearby communities grapple with the NT’s worst COVID-19 outbreak to date, Sam Ashley has been sleeping on a patch of grass near the town’s river. Mr Ashley lives in Beswick, roughly 118 kilometres south east of Katherine. Like many others, Mr Ashley travelled to Katherine for food and supplies and is now stuck as the number of COVID-19 cases grows around him.

“We can’t get home. It got me really worried,” said Mr Ashley.

Eli Sherman the coordinator at the Katherine Salvation Army Hub said:

“We’ve identified a huge influx over the last, probably, six weeks to the fact of about 130 to 150 people frequenting our service. A lot of these people coming in from out of town, for reasons unknown, but obviously given the pandemic and a lockdown now, they are stuck here.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Get a jab and an autograph this weekend

There is an extra incentive to get vaccinated at this Super Schools Weekend. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced sporting greats from rugby league, soccer, netball, Australian football, rugby union and many more will be on hand to congratulate those being vaccinated at select schools during the pop-up clinics this weekend.

“Sport has the ability to unite and inspire us,” the Premier said.

Athletes from the Broncos will be at various locations across southeast Queensland, Queensland Reds players will be running drills at Kelvin Grove State School on Sunday 21 November, and Queensland Firebirds will be at Calamvale Community College on Saturday 21 November.

In the north JCU Townsville Fire players will visit school clinics, and Swimming Queensland, the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Roar A-League Women’s team will have players on board to help supercharge the Super Schools Blitz on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. More clubs and athletes are expected to join the initiative.

“This is a great opportunity to get a jab and an autograph,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

You can read more about the announcement from the Queensland Government here.

Meet your sport heroes this vaccination weekend. Image source: Annastacia Palaszczuk's Twitter page.

Doomdagee mob encouraged to get the jab

Residents in Doomdagee and outlying North West communities are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19 following the identification of positive cases in the Northern Territory’s Robinson River and Greater Katherine local government areas. With residents frequently travelling between Doomadgee and Robinson River, North West Hospital and Health Service (North West HHS) Chief Executive Craig Carey said it was critically important for residents to come forward and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Increasing vaccination rates throughout the North West is a vitally important step in protecting our communities, especially our remote Indigenous communities, who are at greater risk of serious illness caused by this disease,” Mr Carey said.

“North West HHS has activated a COVID-19 testing clinic at the Doomadgee Hospital, and we will be using rapid testing for anyone in the community who is symptomatic or has been in the identified hotspots in the neighbouring Northern Territory.”

A Doomadgee vaccination clinic has run for the last three days and is planned to continue through the weekend.

You can read the North West Hospital and Health Service media release here.
For further COVID-19 information for Doomadgee, click here.

COVID-19 Delta Spread communication resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing information on how fast the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus spreads and who are likely to get infected.

In the suite you will find infographics and suggested copy for use on social media as well as posters/flyers that are created with or without the government crest.

You can download Delta Spread social media tiles and content here.
You can download Delta Spread posters/flyers here.

Delta Spread - image tile

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: $10m to tackle health impacts of climate change

Bushfires in Australia. Image source: Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty, Grist website.

$10 million to tackle health impacts of climate change

Australians will be better protected against the health impacts of climate change, thanks to a new national research network led by The Australian National University (ANU) with partners from across Australia and $10 million in Federal Government funding.

Announced today by Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, the Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) network brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, sustainable development, environmental epidemiology, and data science and communication to address climate change and its impacts on health.

HEAL will be funded for five years through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Special Initiative in Human Health and Environmental Change and operate across all Australian states and territories.

“We will join forces to address climate change and other environmental challenges, such as bushfires, air pollution, infectious diseases and heatwaves that have a massive burden on our health and ecosystems,” HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU said.

“This is a historic investment in our future. This coordinated group of experts and practitioners will substantially expand the boundaries of Australia’s environmental, climate change and health research community.”

You can view the media release from ANU here.
You can also view the National Health and Medical Research Council‘s media release here and the Department of Health‘s media release here.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

Vaccination milestone celebrated in West Sydney

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin has praised the south-west Sydney Indigenous community for coming forward for vaccination to help “protect themselves and their loved ones.” Ms Larkin said 85 per cent of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander people had now received their first dose of the vaccine and 80 per cent of residents were fully vaccinated.

“Vaccination is the best protection we can offer against COVID-19 and I would encourage everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Please come and get your second dose or booster injection so you receive the best possible protection.”

The District, which supports the vaccination efforts of Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service, Gandangara Health Service and KARI, has a specialised team delivering Pfizer vaccination to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the region. The team is made up of nurses, Aboriginal Health workers and support staff and operates several pop-up clinics at convenient locations for Aboriginal communities.

District Director of Aboriginal Health Nate Jones said outreach clinics provided a culturally safe space where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access the vaccine from trusted clinicians.

You can read the story in the Liverpool City Champion here.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone. Image source: Liverpool City Champion.

Lockdown and new mask rules in NT

Northern Territory health officials are trying to get on top of a possible COVID-19 outbreak as the communities of Greater Katherine and Robinson River entered a 72-hour lockdown on Monday after two people tested positive. Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the remote community lockdown was the most serious COVID-19 update he had to give since the beginning of the pandemic.

People living in affected areas will only be able to leave their homes for the five permitted reasons and have been urged to send one person to the supermarket at a time. Alongside the lockdown, health officials have already been deployed to affected areas for a testing and vaccine blitz. They are also working around the clock to prepare a list of exposure sites.

“We have always been concerned for our remote communities, because of their mobility and vulnerability, especially since Delta has emerged,” he said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

In related news, anyone who travels to a Northern Territory remote community that has a first-dose vaccination rate of less than 70 per cent for people aged 16 years and over will have to wear a mask at all times in public for seven days after they arrive. From Friday, the same people will also have to get a rapid antigen test 72 hours before travelling.

The restrictions are in addition to existing requirements imposed by land councils on people who are travelling to remote communities.

You can read more about the new mask rules in the ABC News here.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Ernie Dingo leads ‘Vax the Outback’ campaign

A new campaign to drive Indigenous vaccination rates in remote Western Australia takes off this week with Australian TV personality Ernie Dingo at the wheel. Vax the Outback begins its journey from Perth to the Pilbara on Wednesday, a project delivered by Aboriginal Story Agency BushTV and funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

“Since the start of the vaccination program, we’ve been working with WA’s Department of Health, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and other Indigenous organisations, including Indigenous media, to ensure Indigenous people in the state get vaccinated,” Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said.

“I know that we can beat hesitation around vaccines and needles with this approach – that’s why I’m packing up and heading up North to have a yarn with local influencers and elders in each community,” said Dingo.

“It’s about knowledge, about making our communities feel ready for the vaccine when it comes around.”

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.
You can view the campaign video below.

Gestational diabetes increases risk of developing type 2

New research, led by Darwin’s Menzies School of Health Research, shows that Aboriginal women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, will have a one-in-four chance of developing type 2 diabetes within two and a half years after giving birth.

It means they are at a much higher risk than non-Indigenous women of developing lifelong health complications that require special diets and medication.

Worse still, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased further if they are older than 40, had high sugar levels or used insulin in pregnancy, and had a higher body mass index, the researchers found.

The study’s co-author, Professor Louise Maple-Brown, said the findings — published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal — were a concerning sign of “intergenerational diabetes”.

Researchers say more funding is needed for diabetes prevention programs.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Nicotine Vaping Legislative Changes

Since 1 October 2021, all purchases of nicotine vaping products require a prescription from an Australian registered medical practitioner.

The TGA has not approved any nicotine vaping products for supply in Australia, however, there are currently three main pathways that can be used to access these products:

  1. Authorised Prescriber
  2. Special Access Scheme
  3. Personal Importation Scheme

It’s important that evidence-based nicotine and smoking cessation counselling is provided by medical practitioners based on their patients’ needs.

For more info see the RACGP smoking cessation guidelines and visit the TGA website.

You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for clinicians here.
You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for consumers here.

E-cigarettes and Vaping graphics - Clinicians_Twitter

CTG Report 2022: Request for Case Studies

The Lowitja Institute are seeking input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities and organisations for potential features to be included in the Close the Gap 2022 Report.

The report will take a strengths-based approach to explore themes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation; Gender Justice: Equality and Equity; and Allyship.

The Lowitja Institute are seeking case studies that demonstrate strengths-based approaches that are either led or in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and/or organisations in the design or delivery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation, Gender Justice: Equality and Equity and Allyship in line with current affairs.

Expressions of interest are due by Friday 19th November.

For more information and how to apply, please click here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

Course in vaccinology and immunisation science

Module 1: A primer in vaccines and immunisation

7pm – 10pm AEDT, 17 November 2021

Presented via Zoom by the The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

The first ‘Primer’ module in 2021 is FREE.

This practical online course is for people relatively new to the area and for those wanting to broaden and update their understanding of vaccines, vaccine development and the principles underpinning the introduction and running of immunisation programs. This includes, but is not limited to, practitioners, academics and researchers, such as primary healthcare and specialist doctors, community and immunisation nurses, those working in public health, government (all levels) and health policy, pharmaceutical industry, regulators, aged care workers, journalists and ethics committee members.

For more information and to register visit the NCIRS website here.
You can also view the full course schedule here.

A primer in vaccines and immunisation

Improving Outcomes – Interventions, Networks and Pharmacotherapies

2021 NCCRED Symposium
11am – 2pm, 19 November 2021

The 2021 National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) Symposium will bring into focus three key areas of concern and innovation related to emerging drugs – Interventions, Networks & Pharmacotherapies. The symposium hosts leading national clinical researchers in the AoD field including presentations from recipients of NCCRED’s Round 3 Seed Funding Grants and the current work of the Centre. Areas of exploration in the 2021 symposium include:

  • Interventions to assist early treatment and improved outcomes for methamphetamine dependence
  • Pharmacotherapy trials for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence
  • Developments in drug alerts and national communication networks

NCCRED’s 2021 symposium, in line with the Centre’s aims, is a vital opportunity for the AoD sector to advance its collective response to emerging drugs:

  • Collaborate to build and expand research networks and capacity
  • Generate the best evidence-based knowledge
  • Translate the latest research into best clinical practice

For more information and to register visit the NCCRED website here.

NCCRED Symposium 2021 - banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases

National Framework for 'Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases in remote communities.

‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases

Researchers, clinicians and community and government partners have been funded to develop a national framework to scale up point-of-care testing for infectious diseases in rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Announced on Sunday by the Minister for Health the Hon. Greg Hunt, the team, comprising over 20 organisations will receive $9,967,326 over six years from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

“This significant grant from the federal government represents a paradigm shift for managing infectious diseases in remote communities, by bringing the power of diagnostic laboratories into a local community system,” says Prof. Guy, who is the Public Health Theme Director at the Kirby Institute.

“It will allow us to improve clinical practice by better targeting treatment, and thereby reduce the burden of infectious diseases and their complications for Aboriginal communities in rural and remote Australia.”

The research will be governed by an Indigenous advisory committee chaired by NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey. The advisory committee will include members from across all states and territories and will ensure Indigenous ownership of the processes and outcomes of the research.

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

Point of care testing for syphilis

Point of care testing for syphilis at the Maningrida Community Health Centre with staff from the Mala’la Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

Vaccination gap a big concern

Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with ANU, and Senior Medical Advisor at NACCHO spoke with with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning about how the national double vaccination rate continues to climb, but the figures are much lower in Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander communities.

With the national double vaccination rate at close to 82% of people aged 16 and over, only 55% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Agostino says the vaccination gap is of big concern as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being hit hard by Delta already.

“Over the last three months in NSW, Victoria and the ACT we have seen over 7,500 cases of infection, 750 hospitalisations, close to 90 people in the ICU and 15 deaths.”

“We are really concerned about what will happen when boarders open and more people are exposed,” said Dr Agostino.

In the interview he also talks about why the vaccination rates are so low, what is working to increase those rates and what the focus needs to be moving forward.

You can listen to the full interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccination Gap

 

Orange region passes 95% double vaxxed

After facing the virus head-on throughout July and then again during a lengthy lockdown in August, September and October, the Local Government Areas of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne have rallied.

All three LGAs can boast a first dose of 95 per cent or greater, according to the Australian Government’s LGA vaccination roadmap data, while the double dose rates are equally impressive. Orange and Blayney have both passed the 95 per cent double jab mark too – with the combined 15 and over population of those areas around the 40,000 people mark.

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

Joey getting vaccinated at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS). Image Source: OAMS.

Joey getting vaccinated at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS). Image Source: OAMS.

Rumbalara vaccine rollout boosted by van

A vaccine van has rolled into town to help increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among First Nations people in Shepparton.

“I think the van will be a great asset in that it will complement the hard work our team have been doing at Rumbalara,” said Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Felicia Dean.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Rumbalara jointly launched the dedicated Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) COVID-19 Vaccine Van in Shepparton on Tuesday. The van is staffed by health professionals from Rumbalara,  Star Health and VACCHO.

“The van can go out to homes for those that are struggling and don’t have transport,” Ms Dean said.

The Rumbalara chief executive officer said home visits could be booked via Rumbalara Medical Service, which also offered walk-in vaccinations.

“All we can do is provide as many opportunities for people to come and get vaccinated as possible, be it in Mooroopna or Shepparton, or in the home,” she said.

You can read the article in the Shepparton News here.

Protect mob: Rumbalara staff Shelley Norris and Jannali Fermor, wearing tops designed by Yorta Yorta artists, are part of a collaborative effort to boost vaccination rates among Traditional Owners. Picture: Megan Fisher.

Protect mob: Rumbalara staff Shelley Norris and Jannali Fermor, wearing tops designed by Yorta Yorta artists, are part of a collaborative effort to boost vaccination rates among Traditional Owners. Picture: Megan Fisher.

Requirements for a safe COVID opening up of the NT

In a media release by the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) they outlined key principles and actions required for a safe COVID opening up of the Northern Territory. These were agreed to following the release of the new Doherty modelling for the NT and following a meeting of AMSANT’s Board in Darwin on Tuesday.

“Critical to reopening is the need to achieve a safe threshold of high vaccination rates across NT communities as well as reliable data to tell us when we have reached these thresholds and can safely take the next steps,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“Above all, our urgent priority is to accelerate the vaccination rollout across the NT and particularly in Aboriginal communities, as the best protection we can provide. But to do this we need a close partnership and collaboration between the NT Government and the ACCHSs sector, as well as the Land Councils and other key stakeholders”, Mr Paterson said.

“Finally, before we open up, we need to ensure we have enough staff to deal with COVID outbreaks across primary health care and the hospital sector, that we know will occur when we open up.”

You can view the media release by AMSANT here.

AMSANT - Vaccinate to protect our community

Concerns as COVID care transitions back to community

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt last Friday announced the next stage of care for COVID-19 patients in light of rising vaccination rates and the lower numbers of people expected to require hospitalisation.

“As we open up, we know that there will be more cases that will be treated at home because people will be fully vaccinated. They may not require hospitalisation, and so the balance will shift from hospitalisation to community care,” Hunt said at a press conference.

The move to devolve the care of COVID-19 patients from hospitals and specialised services to general practitioners has alarmed some patients and doctors concerned at the risk of infection in waiting rooms and an inadequate $25 “bonus” Medicare payment.

The Government’s $180 million funding package for primary care to support COVID-19 patients at home and in the community includes:

  • A new, temporary MBS item for $25 for general practices to cover the extra cost of treating COVID-positive patients face-to-face, including infection control measures.
  • GPs supervising COVID patients will receive pulse oximeters from the national medical stockpile to assist in remote monitoring of patients’ oxygen levels at home.
  • The existing GP-led respiratory clinics will be continued until June 2022.
  • Home visits for COVID patients by nurse practitioners and practice nurses organised by Primary Health Networks.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the third Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap.

The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer.

In focus for this update are the priority setting process, and the development of Roadmap resources.

You can visit and interact with the infographic here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap

Working together to improve outcomes for people affected by pancreatic cancer.

Seeking submissions on cannabis use or diabetes research

The 42-year-old HealthBulletin has been renamed to the ‘Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. The newly designed journal (with a new logo and website) will facilitate access to evidence-based research and other information to support those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector and is becoming increasingly visible and accessible to researchers and other readers.

To celebrate the launch of the journal’s new name, the journal is encouraging submissions to accompany two Special Editions in 2022. Each year the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet commissions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health topic reviews which are subject to blind peer review and published as Special Editions in the journal. In 2022, the following reviews will be published:

  • a Review of cannabis use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • a Review of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Submissions may cover any evidence-based aspect of either cannabis use or diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and can be full or brief research reports. All manuscripts will be subject to blind peer review.

The closing date for submission is Thursday 23 December 2021.

See the For Contributor’s page for further information and submission preparation guidelines.
View the new website here.

Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet _ Edith Cowan University

 

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.