NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reform to butt out smoking rates

Feature tile - Tue.20.7.21 - Reform to butt out high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates

Reform to butt out smoking rates

A recent report from a health committee formed to advise the government on tobacco control shows Territorians are more likely to smoke than people anywhere else in Australia, and that half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Research shows the smoking rate for people in remote and regional areas has not changed, although nationally fewer Aboriginal people are smoking.

“There needs to be more investment if we are serious and fair dinkum about reducing the number of Indigenous Australians who are smoking”
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT Chief Executive John Paterson

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) NT Branch President Robert Parker urged the Chief Minister and his colleagues to introduce new laws which would help people in the NT quit smoking. While his letter did not flag any specific legislative reforms, Dr Parker told the ABC he wanted stronger surveillance on the sale and supply of tobacco, especially in remote areas.

You can read the full story by ABC News here.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory. are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP. Feature tile image credit: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr).

 

Delivering 50,000 remote COVID jabs

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has vaccinated more than 5,000 people against COVID-19 in remote communities across Australia.

“We’re expecting on the back of the plans we’ve worked up to be delivering some 50,000 vaccines to some 500 vaccine clinics between now and the end of the year,” said RFDS Federation Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

The RFDS has been brought in to help federal, state, and territory health services and ACCHOs rollout the vaccine.

“The remoteness of some communities has been both their protection but also their risk because we know that those communities are often protected by distance but at the same time they experience poorer health by distance, and we know if COVID was to get into communities the impact would be devastating,” Mr Quinlan said.

In some areas, the RFDS are just delivering vaccine doses to medical centres. In others, they’re also deploying support staff to help local health workers. Elsewhere, they’re supplying the vaccines and all the health care staff required to administer the jabs.

Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

 

More patients eligible for PBS

The Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program has expanded. From 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration database and more patients are eligible. To support providers register patients they have included three new exciting education resources on the Health Professional Education Resources Gateway:

eLearning module – the customised e-Learning module provides a clear overview of the CTG PBS Co-payment program, including patient access and prescriber eligibility. It also explains CTG PBS prescription requirements and the PBS Safety Net.

How to register a patient for CTG – the simulation demonstrates how to register a patient for CTG PBS Co-payment. It is easy to register patients using the new national registration database. You can access it through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To use HPOS, you need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account.

How to create a PRODA account – if you do not have a PRODA account, you can check out the new simulation on how to create a PRODA account.

You can read more about CTG PBS Co-payment program on the Australian Government Services Australia website.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines. Image credit:. healthstaffrecruitment.com.au.

 

National Anti-Racism Framework

The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework. The Commission is working with all levels of Government, peak bodies, human rights agencies and community organisations to progress the Framework. A Commission Concept Paper available on their website provides an initial overview of the Framework’s key principles, outcomes and strategies.

The Commission is in the early stages of scoping this proposal and is undertaking a series of targeted consultations and roundtables to identify stakeholders’ priorities and build a strong foundation for the Framework.

For more information and if your organisation is interested in participating in this process, please visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Anti-racism image

Anti-racism. Image Credit: http://www.australiansagainstracism.org.

 

Meningococcal B Vaccination Program continues

The Marshall Liberal Government’s world-leading Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will continue indefinitely after proving it’s been incredibly effective at preventing the illness in high-risk age groups.

“This landmark vaccination program is saving lives and protecting lives.”

The landmark immunisation program was initially a three-year commitment, but the recent State Budget committed $3 million in 2021–22 and $5.3 million ongoing from 2022–23 to embed the program indefinitely for SA babies and young people. That’s on top of the $30.7 million allocated in the first three years of the program.

It comes as a joint Women’s and Children’s Hospital and University of Adelaide study found the program has been key in a 60% reduction in cases among infants and a 73% drop in cases for adolescents.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said given the program’s success, it will now be ongoing.

Read the media release by Steven Marshall Premier of SA here.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

 

New dashboard on Closing the Gap

The Australian Government Productivity Commission have been populating a new dashboard on Closing the Gap. From this Dashboard, you can access available data on the targets agreed as part of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Baseline data are available for the targets under the 17 socioeconomic outcome areas and more recent data are available for seven of these targets. Data are not yet available for the targets under the four Priority Reforms.

You can read more about how to access and interpret the data on the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s website.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

 

Know Your Country campaign

We love our country but how well do we really know it? Closing the knowledge gap about First Nations people and cultures start at school.

The Know Your Country campaign asks principals, teachers, organisations and individuals to sign the petition to employ First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school.

  • Give every kid a better education about local First Nations people and culture.
  • Ally with local First Nations communities and their right to share the wisdom of their own culture in school.
  • Back all parliaments to commit proper funding before their next elections.

Know Your Country is an open source, coalition advocacy campaign calling for locally approved First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school across the continent.

The campaign policy was written and convened after 12 months of extensive consultation by Wiradjuri Man and World Vision Senior Policy Advisor Dr Scott Winch but it is being led by a First Nations Advisory Panel which includes Professor Tom Calma. The campaign is supported by a growing list of ally organisations.

Visit their website to sign the petition and download a range of great educational resources.

Know Your Country campaign 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

feature tile 2.7.21 text 'protect our people who give us the knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation.' image of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills in light pink top & gold chair with hand against shoulder where she has had the covid-19 vaccine

Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.

“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”

“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”

“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”

To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.

You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said.  “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”

Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.

Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.

The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman Tarna Andrews from Utju, sitting outside, red dust, couple of camp dogs, yellow black beanie, black t-shirt, pink t-shirt, red grey hoodie, orange glasses on top of head

Tarna Andres is encouraging family members in other remote communities to get vaccinated. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 and remote communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.

screenshot of frame from ABC The Drum Pat Turner CEO NACCHO talking

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO, The Drum 1 July 2021.

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.

The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.

Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

People wearing masks in Smith Street, Darwin. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.

NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.

Annual health check resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.

cover of brochure text 'patient information your health is in your hands - have you had your 715 health check?' photo of Aboriginal woman holding toddler & health worker in outdoor setting, purple, aqua, black colours, Aboriginal & Torres Strait flags

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).

Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.

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

metal wall with large painting of Aboriginal man's face in black, yellow & red colours in pop art style

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.

A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.

To view the full article click here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

At the last census in 2016, there were 742 children aged under 19 living on the APY Lands communities like Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.

banner text 'Heal Country! 4–11 JULY 2021' & NAIDOC logo black circle with red yellow green blue Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with white circle & 2 boomerang shapes, one for the arms & one for the legs, text around inner rim of circle 'Celebrating NAIDOC Week'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations take action to prevent COVID-19 outbreak

feature tile text 'First Nations take action to PREVENT COVID-19 outbreak' AMSANT developed poster black top half white font test 'STAY SAFE!', bottom half red text 'Stay on Country, Care for Family' - middle vector hand giving thumbs up sign

First Nations take action to prevent outbreak

Community leaders are monitoring their borders closely as half the country remains in lockdown due to the highly contagious Delta variant. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert after the latest outbreak of the coronavirus forced lockdowns in NSW, Queensland, WA and the NT.

In the top end, The Northern Land Council NLD (which oversees approximately 51,000 First Nations people that live in around 200 communities) has extended the suspension of permits to enter and remain on Aboriginal Land until 1pm on Friday, when the lockdown of the Greater Darwin region is expected to end. In a statement NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said “I congratulate all of our mob who have done a great job looking after families so far and this extension of the suspension of permits is another way we can do our best to make sure people stay safe.”

The organisation’s CEO, Marion Scrymgour, said that the move will not disrupt the delivery of essential services to remote communities. “We need to do whatever it takes to make sure our mob stays [safe]. Communities right across the NLC area have told us very clearly that we have to stop people traveling unless they are performing an essential service or function,” she said.

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

A Beagle Bay (WA) community member receives a coronavirus vaccine in April, 2021

A Beagle Bay community member receives a coronavirus vaccine in April 2021. Photo Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: SBS NITV website. Feature tile image source: AMSANT developed poster.

In a rapid response to the emerging COVID-19 concerns in the NT the NLC has also produced new material in the Kriol language, spoken throughout much of the southern parts of the NLC area.

NLC CEO praised the efforts of the workers at the Meigim Kriol Strongbala program who prepared the translation: “The Meigim Kriol Strongbala mob have provided a really quick turnaround to call by the NLC’s Executive Council to get information out to our mob in their own languages in this very urgent situation. We’ve learnt from our experience when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 that people out bush need straight forward information in their own language.”

To view the NLC’s media release click here.

poster in Kriol black half at top, red at bottom, Aboriginal vector hand with thumbs up in the middle, text 'COVID-19? Wi garra holot maindim mijal! Stap la kemp! Translation: Weigim Kriol Strongbala'

COVID-19 poster in Kriol, Meigim Kriol Strongbala. Image source: munanga linguist (@MunangaLinguist) Twitter.

Getting messages out from city to bush

John Paterson, CEO AMSANT has released a statement about getting the COVID-19 vaccine messages out to remote communities:

“I’m not telling anyone anything you don’t know when I say things are pretty chaotic across the country with the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment. Not least here in the Territory with lockdowns in Darwin, and now Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Nevertheless, AMSANT member services are responding magnificently across the Territory despite limitations on movements and interruptions and shortages of vaccine supplies. We are also working closely with many other Aboriginal community-controlled across both areas to work constructively to get the best results for people in town camps and those country men and women who are homeless or are stuck in town.

At the same time, we are producing material to encourage people to stay away from town, look after their families and care for their communities. A big part of this, in the near to long term, is to ramp up our work in promoting vaccination among our mob. With confusing messages, this is what has led to what I call “vaccine caution”. Not “hesitancy” or “resistance”.  Blackfellas aren’t stupid—we want to think about things carefully—with caution.

An initial part of our communications is by producing a series of designs promoting vaccination and the benefits to all of us: our Elders, our Kids and our Communities. These are being distributed—free of charge—for our mob to use on social media, as posters, banners and T-shirts—you name it!

And, as a member of NACCHO, AMSANT are more than happy for our members across the First Nations to use as they think will work in your own areas. This might involve your local languages; local branding with your logos; local messaging. As far as we are concerned, they are yours to use, and we will assist in any way we can.

If you want to get digital copies of the [images developed by AMSANT]—and any material in the future—contact vaccines@amsant.org.au. We would love to see material produced from other areas, as well.”

horizontal banner black yellow red with vector hand making 'V' sign in the yellow middle section, text 'VACCINATE! Protect our Elders!' - AMSANT logo in bottom left of the banner

One of the COVID-19 images developed by AMSANT.

Barriers to getting Indigenous people vaccinated

First Nations people are considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19, but health workers say they’re battling on many fronts to get them immunised. Listen to a ABC News video clip about vaccine update, featuring epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino who has been an advisor on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to remote communities across Australia here.

snapshot from ABC News video, image of Aboriginal flay & text 'vaccine uptake, ABC logo news'

According to Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO, the snap lockdowns have highlighted the vulnerability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as vaccination rates remain low. Dr Casey said about 6% of Indigenous people are fully protected with both doses and despite frontline organisations spending months encouraging remote communities to come forward for vaccinations, mixed messaging around the AstraZeneca jab had put many people off. “The hesitancy has occurred because of the initial concerns around AstraZeneca and then the changes of birthdates (eligibility age brackets) continually over the last several weeks,” she told ABC radio.

Ms Casey said coronavirus immunisation rates were noticeably lower than previous rollouts of flu vaccinations and there was a clear need to improve messaging. “But we’ve seen just in the last couple of days an increase to around 5,000 vaccinations happening.”

To view The West Australian article in full click here.

Min Ken Wyatt against DoH COVID-19 Vaccination health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines banner

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM PM. Image source: The West Australian.

AMA President on vaccine rollout changes

In an interview  earlier this week AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid commented on changes to the COVID-19 rollout:

“Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister regarding the vaccine program after National Cabinet, indicates a really significant change in the vaccine program. It means that Australians under the age of 40, anyone over the age of 18, will be potentially able to access the AstraZeneca vaccine. The advice, though, from the AMA, and from doctors, is the same. The experts have said that the preferred vaccine under the age of 60 is the Pfizer vaccine and that is still the health advice. However, the PM’s announcement does mean that for those who really want their vaccine now or who think that they are happy to take the risks associated with AZ, that’s actually an option now for all Australians.”

“We, like the PM, recognise that there has been a desire in the community for access to AZ. People have been saying ‘I want it, I’m happy to make that call’. So, whilst the AMA does support ATAGI’s advice and says you should get Pfizer, this change is something that will free the vaccine up. It is an approved vaccine for anybody over the age of 18 and Australians in conjunction with their GPs can make that decision.”

To view the AMA media release containing a transcript of the interview with Dr Omar Khorshid click here.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid standing against blue banner covered in AMA logo

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid. Image source: ABC News.

Behaviour modification crucial to stop COVID-19

Hygiene habits are set but social distancing behaviours slip over time  One of the longest-running studies examining COVID-prevention behaviours shows hygiene changes have been sustained but not complex changes, like social distancing, with important policy implications. A longitudinal survey from just after the first lockdown in Australia in 2020 shows people have maintained simple hygiene measures in response to the pandemic but reduced their physical distancing over time, indicating that lockdowns may be required to stop outbreaks.

The study by University of Sydney researchers in the School of Public Health and Sydney Health Literacy Lab, Faculty of Medicine and Health, found people who tended to keep up distancing behaviours were more concerned about the pandemic, had stronger feelings of responsibility towards their community, and felt more confident about their ability to keep up the behaviours.

To view The University of Sydney media release click here.

AMSANT poster text 'social distancing in the NT, 10 footies, 6 boomerangs, 5 sea turtle, 1 small saltie' with line figures of people either end of the different quantities, yellow & blue striped background

Image source: The Conversation.

Medicine shortage campaign

Do you know what to do if your regular medicine becomes unavailable?

Medicine shortages can be stressful, but knowing where to go for information can help.

The TGA publishes a range of information about medicine shortages on their website. You and your health professional can use this information to discuss options for continued treatment if you are affected by a shortage.

Visit the Medicine Shortages Hub page on the TGA website here for the latest updates and information to help you access medicines during a shortage.

5 empty foil tablet packets, each packet with 10 empty tablets

Image source: AJP.com.au.

Research to improve First Nations’ health

The federal government has allocated $180 million to ground-breaking medical research projects around Australia to improve health outcomes, including for Australians with cancer, dementia, brain injuries, heart problems and neurofibromatosis. $20.1 million in new funding will support 16 projects from real-time cardiac monitoring, to after stroke care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, from medicine management for stroke patients to arm strength and rehabilitation.

Seven projects will receive a share of $7.4 million to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the 2020 Indigenous Health Research Grant Opportunity:

  • The University of Adelaide – to work with Aboriginal families and health and social service providers to assess the feasibility of a novel care package to reduce cannabis and alcohol use and social stress in pregnancy
  • The Council of Queensland Institute of Medical Research – to develop cultural sensitivity and capability through communication training for mental health professionals
  • University of NSW – to understand how cultural resilience impacts Aboriginal health and quality of life
  • University of Sydney – two projects: (1) to understand the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and wellbeing to health: Implementation of the What Matters 2 Adults wellbeing measure; and (2) VOICE – Validating Outcomes by Including Consumer Experience. Developing a patient reported experience measure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing primary health care
  • La Trobe University – Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future: Trauma-integrated perinatal care to improve health outcomes for Indigenous parents and infants in a rural setting
  • The Sax University – Indigenous Led Evaluation of Aboriginal Programs (ILEAP)

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release in full  click here.

portrait of Dr Yvonne Clark from Uni of Adelaide

Dr Yvonne Clark’s research will assess the feasibility of a novel care package to reduce cannabis and alcohol use and social stress in pregnancy. Image source: Centre of Research Excellence Safer Families website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

Feature tile - Thu.10.6.21 - COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO and Co-Chair Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 spoke on NITV-The Point on Tuesday 8 June about the latest rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, its take up and hesitancy, and the Victorian lockdown.

“There are just over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been vaccinated with their first dose so far. There was hesitancy when the announcements around the issues that AstraZeneca was not suitable for under 50s, but the numbers have started to pick up.”

“There has been no blood clots for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recorded.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are now eligible to receive the vaccines, including those aged 16 and over. Speak to your healthcare worker to find out more.

You can view the interview below or by clicking here.

or information on the vaccines, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

#OurJobToProtectOurJob   #GetVaccinatedToBeProtected   #HaveYouHadYourShot

Sugar tax will cut disease and save lives

The AMA has today called for a tax on sugary drinks as a key plank of its plan to tackle chronic disease and make Australia the healthiest country in the world.

In his address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that Australia lags behind comparable nations in health outcomes and disease prevention, and it was ‘time for action’ to reduce consumption of sugar-filled drinks.

More than 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks are consumed every year in Australia. That’s enough to fill 960 Olympic sized swimming pools,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Diabetes, obesity and poor vascular health are huge contributors to the burden on our health system. The tax could save lives, and save millions of dollars in healthcare costs,” he said.

The tax proposed in the AMA’s report released yesterday would raise the retail price of the average supermarket sugary drink by 20%. This would be an important first step towards tackling obesity and raise revenue to take further steps.

The AMA’s call for a tax on sugary drinks is part of its new blueprint for a robust, sustainable health system – beyond the pandemic – with high quality, patient-centred care at its heart. The Vision for Australia’s Health, also launched yesterday, calls for reform around five policy pillars – general practice, public hospitals, private health, equity and innovation.

View The Vision for Australia’s Health plane here.

View the A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages: Modelled impacts on sugar consumption and government revenue report here.

AMA - Vision for Australia's Health report - 5 pillars.

AMA – Vision for Australia’s Health report – 5 pillars.

Restoration to guide health reforms

The Aotearoa New Zealand Government has announced sweeping reforms for the nation’s health system.

They have been welcomed by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) ‘as a health system structure seeking to live its commitments’ to the Treaty of Waitangi and refusing any longer to ‘tolerate the health inequities experienced by our Māori and Pasifika whanau’.

Dr Sandra Hotu, Chair of the RACP Māori Health Committee, and Dr George Laking, RACP Aotearoa New Zealand President, outline the changes and their implications for improving health and health systems, for both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Together with an ethic of restoration, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand must look to a practice of partnership informed by the stories and experiences of our First Nations. Partnership must be tangible. It must be expressly lived as a solution space lead by Indigenous voices, rather than a problem space. Partnership is informing the refresh of Closing the Gap 2019–2029, as described in the partnership agreement between the Community Controlled Peak Organisations and the National Federation Reform Council.

As Alex Brown and Eddie Mulholland wrote on Croakey in 2020, the agreement for power-sharing represents a “critical moment for genuine engagement between Australian governments and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs)”.

The vision of the ACCHOs – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy quality of life through whole-of-community self-determination and individual spiritual, cultural, physical, social and emotional well-being’ resonates with the intent of the Māori Health Authority. This is because the rationale for each is so closely aligned: racism in healthcare as well as the need for culturally safe services to address health inequity.

You can read the article at Croakey Health Media here.

Aboriginal kids washing their hands. Image credit The Conversation.

Aboriginal kids washing their hands. Image credit The Conversation.

Better health literacy for better equity

New survey findings show a significant number of consumers need to be supported to feel more in control of their health care. The report, commissioned from the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) by NPS MedicineWise, defines and measures health literacy in Australia. It also identifies gaps which are preventing people from accessing the best possible health care.

Health literacy is core to us delivering more equitable health outcomes,” said Leanne Wells, CEO of CHF.

The survey of more than 1,500 respondents found that approximately one in five consumers:

  • Rarely or never felt comfortable asking their doctor, pharmacist or nurse when they needed more information.
  • Rarely or never felt comfortable asking the health professional to explain anything they didn’t understand.
  • Found the information a health professional gave them always or often confusing.

“We need to increase consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care, including around medicines. It’s really important that we strive to improve medicines literacy because we know people at higher risk of medication-related harm are people with multiple conditions, people who are taking lots of medications and people with English as a second language,” said Ms Wells.

You can view the New survey results shine a light on health literacy in Australia media release here.

You can read the Consumer Health Literacy Segmentation and Activation Research Project report here.

Health_literacy_image

Copyright NACCHO.

Artwork competition: ear and hearing health

Calling all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists aged 13 years or older!

NACCHO invites you to design an artwork about how important ear and hearing health is within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The winning artwork will receive a $500 voucher prize and will be used across Australia for NACCHOs National Ear and Hearing health program.

The winning artwork will be used on merchandise, stationary and promotional materials to celebrate current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements, across Australia.

Click here to submit your artwork and for conditions of entry.

All entries must be submitted by: 21 July 2021. 

NAC National Ear Health Poster Competition

NDIS Ready grant round closing soon

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations!

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO round grant applications are CLOSING SOON! 

Grants are available to help up to 100 eligible ACCHOs and ACCOs address the basic establishment costs, and business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS and to equip themselves to operate more effectively long-term under the NDIS model. 

Information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website.

Please contact the NDIS Ready team if you have any questions.

Applications close on Friday 11 June 2021.  

NDIS Ready - Applications closing

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Free MedicineWise App

Feature tile - Wed 9.6.21 - MedicineWise App

Free MedicineWise app

Do you sometimes mix up your medicines, or forget to take your doses? Or maybe you want to store all your medicines and health information in one place?

NPS MedicineWise has a free tool — the MedicineWise app — which can help you and your loved ones manage your medicines and your health.

The MedicineWise app can:

  • keep track of your medicines and remind you when your medicine doses and appointments are due
  • store your information such as your health conditions and allergies
  • allow you to share your health information with your health professionals and people who may be caring for you
  • provide you with trusted, relevant and up-to-date information relating to your medicines and your health conditions

The MedicineWise app can also deliver information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. Download the MedicineWise app and opt in:

  1. Tap on your profile.
  2. Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
  3. Scroll down to switch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toggles on.

Talk to your health professional or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) for specific health needs or advice.

MedicineWise App

MedicineWise App by NPS MedicineWise.

You can download the app via one of the buttons below.

App_Store - Download buttonGoogle_Play - Download button

 

 

Enhancing viral hepatitis care

Last week, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

She spoke about Viral Hepatitis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and pointed out some key statistics:

  • They account for 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses.
  • Hepatitis C diagnosis continues to increase among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • The diagnosis rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged less than 25 years are around 8 times higher than non-Indigenous people of the same age.
  • Vaccination coverage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at 24 months of age is higher than the non-Indigenous population (97.5% compared to 96.4% respectively).
  • The prevalence of Hepatitis B among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers has decreased by 80% since the introduction of vaccination.

“In order to enhance viral hepatitis care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we need to improve health care access through innovation, expansion, and increased appropriateness of existing healthcare services, which can reduce the multiple barriers to accessing health care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.”

“We must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model of integrated primary health care,” said Dr Casey.

The principles incorporated in this model ensure the following factors are addressed:

  • Sustained funding
  • Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Improved data and surveillance
  • Innovative recall systems
  • Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
  • Community engagement and education
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Access and effective integration of the PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing

You can view Dr Casey’s full keynote address here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

Hepatitis QLD has created ‘Find the Liver Hero inside you‘ – a video about one of the hardest working organs in the body and how we can’t live without it. You can watch the video here or by clicking on the video image below.

Us Mob and HIV 4th edition

We’re very excited to share with you that the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations’ (AFAO) new and fourth edition of the ever popular and highly utilised HIV booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Us Mob and HIV is here!

The third edition was last published in 2014, so the booklet was missing several developments in the response to HIV. This new fourth edition now includes this updated information, including PrEP, treatment as prevention and new testing technologies.

The booklets are currently being printed and are on their way to AFAO’s state/territory member organisations for them to plan their local distribution to ACCHOs, AMSs, services and partner organisations. The booklets should start arriving to these organisations shortly. We can’t wait to see the booklet reaching communities.

You can download a PDF of the booklet here and tor more information, please visit the AFAO website.

Us Mob and HIV - Cover art 'Dialogue' by Arone Raymond Meeks.

Us Mob and HIV – Cover art ‘Dialogue’ by Arone Raymond Meeks.

CTG script changes in July

From 1 July 2021, there will be enhancements to the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment Program.

Please find below resources targeted at the following stakeholder groups:

Please feel free to share and disseminate as needed.

Please note that the Australian Government Department of Health’s CTG PBS Co-payment Program webpage will reflect current arrangements up to, and including, 30 June 2021. The new arrangements will be reflected on the Department’s webpage from 1 July 2021 onwards.

CTG PBS Changes - artwork

CTG PBS Changes – artwork.

Better support around Blue Card system

In a media statement earlier today Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman  released Safe children and strong communities: A strategy and action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations accessing the blue card system

“The Queensland Family and Children Commission’s 2017 review of the blue card system recommended a more strategic approach to our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples seeking to work or volunteer with children,” the Attorney-General said. “While the review found that Queensland’s system was one of the strongest working with children check systems in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples often experienced barriers.”

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has developed this five-year action plan which takes an innovative approach to provide greater support to our First Nations people through each part of the blue card system. Minister Fentiman said the plan was part of the Queensland Government’s broader work to address the social and health challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

A copy of the plan is available here and you can read the full media statement by the Queensland Government here.

Person with blue card.

$8 million for heart and stroke research

A total of $8 million to accelerate heart and stroke research has been awarded to eight Australian researchers in a joint initiative by the Heart Foundation and the Federal Government.

A central focus will be the under-researched area of women and heart disease. Other research areas will include:

  • Heart damage caused by cancer treatments
  • Predicting heart disease
  • Heart disease rehabilitation and recovery

The research areas for the grants are based on the outcomes of an extensive two-year Heart Foundation survey of thousands of Australians, from people living with heart disease through to heart health professionals. Key outcomes highlighted gaps in the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease, as well as the positive benefits of sustained rehabilitation.

The survey also found that patients are seeking more support and advice regarding recovery and prevention of further heart events, while clinicians are  focused on new ways of identifying and preventing cardiovascular disease before it can take hold and cause damage.

Professor Gail Garvey, Menzies School of Health Research, NT, will research heart disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer survivors and identify the prevalence of heart disease in these patients.

You can read more in the Heart Foundation’s media release here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

HealthInfoNet Cultural Consultation Project

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) is undertaking consultation discussions and focus groups with health professionals and researchers around Australia. A key element of the HealthInfoNet is to ensure its work is authentic and engaged knowledge development and exchange.

Consultation Focus Groups are being held seeking advice from health professionals and researchers on how they can ensure the HealthInfoNet sections of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, Closing the Gap and Cultural Ways are designed to meet the health workforce needs.

There are four questions to keep in mind when reviewing these sections.
1. What information is missing that you would like to see added?
2. What information is not needed in these sections?
3. Does the information provided assist you to carry out your work tasks?
4. How could we improve these sections?

In addition, the HealthInfoNet are seeking advice on the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Data Consultation Network/Committee to oversee Knowledge Exchange Products, for example, the Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status and specific health topic reviews. Advice will also be sought about what this Network/Committee would look like and how it would operate.

If you are interested in the HealthInfoNet consultation process, would like to provide your suggestions or host a Focus Group, please forward an email to: Michelle Elwell on m.elwell@ecu.edu.au or Uncle Mick Adams on m.adams@ecu.edu.au

HealthInfoNet image

NSW – Sydney – Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Senior Project Officer Affirmative Measure – Indigenous

The Commission is seeking an Ongoing Senior Project Officer to be responsible for leading the work on the assigned work plan deliverables and the development of resources. The Senior Project Officer will also be required to contribute to broader activities to support the National Standards Program. This will include undertaking research and analysis of information, project management, policy development, stakeholder management, facilitation of meetings, preparation of project documentation and collaborating with other relevant programs within the Commission.

The key duties of the position include:

Position duties and responsibilities include:

  1. With the Director, lead the planning and conceptualisation of strategies and national guidance to support the National Standards Program
  2. Undertake project management activities including project planning and documentation, implementation, monitoring and reporting on progress; providing recommendations about managing risk, and identifying and resolving problems
  3. Provide secretariat support to the work of relevant committees and expert groups managed by the program
  4. Consult with experts and stakeholders including development of consultation strategies and coordination of formal consultation processes to achieve the objectives of the Commission
  5. Maintain knowledge of relevant legislative and reporting requirements, Australian and International standards, quality assurance procedures and best practice models
  6. Undertake work activities with an awareness of their possible impact on strategic, political or operational outcomes for the agency/program
  7. Provide public health and/or health informatics expertise across a broad range of activities as required.

Eligibility

The successful candidate will have:

  • Excellent project management, time management and organisational skills
  • Effective and well-developed interpersonal and communication skills including the ability to present, negotiate, influence and consult
  • Knowledge of the Australian healthcare system and an understanding of issues regarding safety and quality in health care
  • Experience facilitating the work of committees, and engaging and communicating with stakeholders
  • Masters level qualifications is desirable.

To view position descriptions and to apply click hereApplications close midnight, Wednesday 23 June 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Feature tile - Fri 4.6.21 - ACCHO to reduce vision loss in mob

ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Diabetes Australia has launched a new partnership with Carbal Medical Services, a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness but only about 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes are having their eyes checked within recommended timeframes.

The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of KeepSight, an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

KeepSight is free and registration only takes a minute. People then receive regular reminders when their eye checks are due.

You can read more about the partnership in Mirage News here.

KeepSight - Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

KeepSight – Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

Cancer patients encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine

A new Cancer Australia initiative is encouraging Aboriginal people who have been impacted by cancer to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Facts on the Vax campaign is being rolled out to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal healthcare workers, across social media, and on the Cancer Australia website. The campaign includes a short, animated video and easy-to-understand factsheets about vaccination for Aboriginal people with cancer, their loved ones and health workers working with Aboriginal people.

Cancer Australia chief executive Professor Dorothy Keefe said the campaign hopes to cut through misinformation and answer frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

“The evidence is really strong that having the vaccine is a good thing,” Professor Keefe told NIT.

Every year approximately 1,400 Indigenous Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and as part of the COVID-19 roll out, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Jason Agostino from NACCHO says Aboriginal people impacted by cancer are very vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s really important that we give them all the protection we can and vaccines are a part of that,” said Dr Agostino.

You can read the full story in the National Indigenous Times here.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

Extra support for SA patients

Aboriginal patients travelling long distances for specialist medical treatment will be entitled to advanced subsidies and automatically have travel partners approved for reimbursements, as part of a range of improvements being introduced to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

Announcing the changes on National Reconciliation Week, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes are part of a new PATS Aboriginal Engagement Strategy which has been developed to engage more Aboriginal patients in the scheme.

“A review found that despite Aboriginal South Australians in regional areas having relatively low health status, only one percent of Aboriginal patients applied for subsidies through PATS, which clearly shows we are missing opportunities to reimburse patients,” said Minister Wade.

“The strategy has identified key areas to ensure the scheme is more accessible, more flexible, easier to understand and provides better support for Aboriginal patients travelling for medical treatment.

You can read the media release here.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

AMA calls for reform to public hospital funding

With ambulance ramping occurring in our public hospitals because of a lack of doctors, nurses and beds, the AMA is calling on National Cabinet to urgently address public hospital funding to pull hospitals ‘back from the brink’.

Record-breaking ambulance ramping in Perth, a delay in elective surgeries in WA due to overwhelming demand, disturbing incidences of hospitals unable to cope across the country, questions raised in this week’s Senate estimates, and stories coming from NSW Parliament’s inquiry into hospital services in rural and regional areas, has forced the issue on to the national agenda.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

The AMA says the National Cabinet must urgently move to shared 50 – 50 Commonwealth–State funding for public hospitals, and remove the artificial cap that stops our system meeting community demand.

Read AMA’s media release here.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

Aboriginal child is sedated while leaving surgery, at Katherine Hospital.

Share your vaccine story

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed this easy-to-use template for social media tiles showcasing a photo and story of why you want to get or have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a PowerPoint template that includes a square tile for use on Instagram and Facebook and a landscape tile to be used on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The aim is to share as many stories as possible on social media showcasing everyday people and their reasons for wanting to get the vaccine.

You can download the template here.

Alternatively, you can email: nacchonews@naccho.org.au with your photo and brief story together with your first name(s) and if you chose to, your identification(s) (example of identification: grandmother and granddaughter of the Yuin Walganga people, Mogo NSW) and we can share your story on NACCHO’s social media channels.

COVID-19 Vaccination - Image frame.

COVID-19 Vaccination – Image frame.

More doctors recruited to rural and remote communities

A unique national GP training program that enables doctors to gain their specialist qualification in General Practice – while living and working as a doctor in a First Nations, rural or remote community – has assisted the recruitment of an additional much-needed doctor for St George in Queensland.

Dr Gary Wood is among 32 doctors who will be training with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) this year. He was recruited under a collaborative approach by RVTS (through its Targeted Recruitment strategy), Health Workforce Queensland and Goondir Health Services.

He will be working at Goondir Health Services – a health service for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – while continuing his specialist GP training in the RVTS program.

The appointment is a major win for the St George community, as Dr Wood will work there for the duration of his specialist GP training, and hopefully for many years beyond.

“For their community, this means continuity of medical services and patient care. It really is a win-win situation for the doctors and their communities,” said RVTS CEO, Dr Pat Giddings.

Dr Wood said the benefits of working and training as a doctor under the RVTS training model were significant.

You can read the media release here.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

RVTS Round 1 applications now open

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is currently promoting their first round of applications for the 2022 intake. Round 1 Applications are now open – until Sunday 4 July 2021, for training to commence in February 2022, with positions available in both AMS and Remote training streams.

In addition to the AMS stream MMM2-7 location eligibility, RVTS is also offering Targeted Recruitment locations for 2022 (there are currently 5 Aboriginal Medical Services as approved Targeted Recruitment locations) as listed on the RVTS website.

For more application information click here.
For more information about targeted recruitment locations click here.

RVTS - Targeted Training Locations.

RVTS – Targeted Training Locations.

Webinar: Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

The AH&MRC is hosting a maternal health webinar. We will hear from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector as well as the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) on programs running in communities to support women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW.

Hear from:

  • Waminda – Melanie Briggs and Hayley Longbottom
  • NSW Ministry of Health – Elizabeth Best
  • Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation – Kristy Williams, Annika Honeysett, Rachel Fikkers and Megan Elliot-Rudder

We are inviting people working in the maternal and child health space as well as women in communities across New South Wales.

Date & time: 10:00am until 11:30am, 16 June 2021.
For more information about the event and how to register click here.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW - event image.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW – event image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mabo Day

Feature tile - Thu 3.6.21 - Mabo Day.

Mabo Day

Today, 3 June is Mabo Day.

Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who believed Australian laws on land ownership were wrong and fought to change them. He was born in 1936 on Mer, which is also known as Murray Island, in the Torres Strait.

In 1982 a legal land ownership case was lodged with the High Court of Australia by a group of Meriam from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, led by Eddie Mabo.

The Mabo decision was a legal case that ran for 10 years. On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia decided that ‘terra nullius’ should not have been applied to Australia.

Sadly, Eddie Mabo passed away in January 1992, just five months before the High Court made its decision.

The Mabo decision was a turning point for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights because it acknowledged their unique connection with the land.

It also led to the Australian Parliament passing the Native Title Act in 1993.

For more information about Mabo Day visit the National Museum of Australia website here.

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan.

 

Mandatory reporting of influenza vaccinations

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) wants to remind all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services about the importance of checking expiration dates of vaccines, disposing of out of date stock and reporting accurate data to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

It is mandatory under the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 for all vaccination providers to report all influenza vaccinations administered on or after 1 March 2021 to the AIR.

A recent incident reported by a General Practice, where some 2020 influenza stock was found among 2021
influenza stock, prompted the Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) to investigate a range of circumstances that may have led to this, including checking data reported to AIR.

This investigation concluded that there was no 2020 stock in state and territory vaccine warehouses, however there were a high number of vaccines, with 2020 influenza batch numbers, reported to the AIR as being administered this influenza season (2021).

We ask that you remind all staff to double check expiration dates of vaccines prior to administration, dispose of out of date stock appropriately and that you encourage all staff at your practice to double check the information being reported to the AIR is correct prior to submitting it to AIR.

A letter with a copy of the above information can be downloaded here.

Please download a fact sheet outlining the mandatory reporting obligations for vaccination providers, and helpful tips for reporting to the AIR here.

 

Women living remotely must travel for birth

Heavily pregnant women living in remote and regional areas across Australia are being forced to pack their bags and head to hospital to wait for the birth of their babies, far away from family, culture, community, and connection.

Women’s health experts say this experience is traumatic for expectant parents and expensive for governments, but that the answer is simple: open more culturally safe birthing centres outside of big cities.

Women who live outside of the four major birthing hubs in the NT (Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Nhulunbuy) need to travel to the nearest hospital at 38 weeks to wait for their baby to be born. For most of these women, English is not their first language, and some don’t speak English at all. Most women travel alone and although they are offered a translator in hospital, one is not always available.

Charles Darwin University professor of midwifery Sue Kildea labelled Northern Territory Health’s remote birthing policy as “outrageous”.

“Why do they send women by themselves? We don’t even let them take their kids with them,” she said.

“It’s the one thing that we should be so ashamed of.”

Experts are calling for more regional birthing hubs to fill the gap.

Read full story by ABC News here.

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin'ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin’ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

 

Expanding birth centres to remote NT 5+ years away

Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles says the government is looking at returning birthing facilities to remote and regional locations, and hopes to do so within the next decade.

“It’s a huge step to take forward, but I think it’s an important step,” she said.

Ms Fyles said investing in birthing on country services was a “priority” and NT Health was working toward developing a Territory-specific birthing on country model.

But not everyone’s convinced returning birthing to remote locations is the way forward.

Worimi woman Marilyn Clarke is the chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health Committee.

She said returning low-risk birth to remote communities could “be a bit tricky”, because if there was an unexpected complication, mother and baby were far away from emergency care.

Dr Clarke also said staffing remote hubs would be challenging and the NT had long-running issues recruiting and retaining health workers.

Instead, she said governments should invest in strong, Indigenous-led pre- and post-natal care in remote and regional locations.

You can read more about this story on ABC News here.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

 

Remote ENT service delivery model

The Rural and Remote Health journal has done a rapid literature review aimed to inform the development of a new sustainable, evidence-based service delivery model for ear, nose and throat (ENT) services across Cape York, Australia. This work seeks to investigate the research question ‘What are the characteristics of successful outreach services which can be applied to remote living Indigenous children?’

A comprehensive search of three major electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL and MEDLINE) and two websites (HealthInfo Net and Google Scholar) was conducted for peer-reviewed and grey literature, to elicit characteristics of ENT and hearing services in rural and remote Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. The search strategy was divided into four sections: outreach services for rural and remote communities; services for Indigenous children and families; telehealth service provision; and remote ear and hearing health service models. A narrative synthesis was used to summarise the key features of the identified service characteristics.

In total, 71 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review, which identified a number of success and sustainability traits, including employment of a dedicated ear and hearing educator; outreach nursing and audiology services; and telehealth access to ENT services. Ideally, outreach organisations should partner with local services that employ local Indigenous health workers to provide ongoing ear health services in community between outreach visits.

The evidence suggests that sound and sustainable ENT outreach models build on existing services; are tailored to local needs; promote cross-agency collaboration; use telehealth; and promote ongoing education of the local workforce.

View the full article here.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

 

Soft drink ads hit ‘vulnerable’

What keeps consumers hooked on high sugar soft drink? Advertising, of course. But why are some consumers more adept at ignoring these cues than others?

A new study from Flinders University, has found participants with an automatic bias towards soft drinks – or difficulty resisting sweet drinks compared to non-sweetened control beverages (e.g., water) – are more responsive to the advertisements than those without these tendencies.

The Australian study compared the ability of 127 university-age students (18-25 year olds) to withstand or succumb to the urge to reach for a soft drink when viewing television advertisements.

Not only can regular soft drink consumption lead to weight gain and tooth decay, with a typical 375ml can of soft drink contain about 10 teaspoons of sugar, but so can these ’empty’ calories reduce intake of calcium, fibre and other nutrients in a healthy diet.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) research estimated 50-60% of adolescent and young people consume soft drink every day.

“The cognitive vulnerabilities exposed in our study is an important lesson to future possible regulation of television advertising or public health campaigns,” says co-author Amber Tuscharski.

“After all, their exposure to soft drink cues will continue as manufacturers and marketers advertise their products in multiple locations – from TV commercials to in-store, service stations, public transport and billboards.”

Read full article in Science Direct here.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

 

Ways to support healthy foods in remote stores

Monash University invites you to join in their HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD inaugural event to share remote community stores and takeaway advances through film for improved health. This live online series features stories from remote communities and leaders on ways to support healthy foods in remote community stores.

HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD addresses the issue of food security and aims to foster critical discussion towards health-enabling stores. It is a celebration and sharing of initiatives, whilst acknowledging barriers and having a focus on a food secure future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities.

Please share with other remote store owners, community leaders and members, government policy-makers, health workers, academics, and practitioners who have a passion for thriving and healthy community stores. 

You can download the event poster here.

The event themes and scheduled times are:

3 June (11:30am – 12:30pm AEDT) Webinar 1: Remote Stores: Healthy Takeaways I Employment opportunities
15 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 2: Food supply, delivery, local food economies
16 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 3: Food affordability and pricing for healthy food
17 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 4: The 4P’s of marketing for healthy food in stores

Facilitator of the online series:
Ms Nicole Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia & NSW Rural Doctors Network

Please submit any questions to coordinator: stacey.holden@monash.edu

FREE registration here.

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist.

 

BRAMS – May Newsletter

After a busy start to the year, Easter provided Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service’s (BRAMS) staff with the opportunity to take a break and refresh. BRAMS continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to the local community, and more than 150 patients have received the jab so far, with no side effects being reported. We strongly encourage all our patients to come into the clinic to discuss their vaccine, particularly if you have concerns or questions.

We are excited to announce yet another expansion of our disability services, through a supported mobile playgroup program for children aged 0-14.

We have also commenced the recruitment process for our Chronic Disease Program, and we look forward to updating you in our next newsletter on the newest members of the team.

Finally, look out for us on your TV screens – we recently filmed our first television advertisement, and can’t wait to see the final product. A big thank you to all staff and patients who took part in the filming.

Please view the latest edition of the BRAMS newsletter here.

BRAMS_newsletter_May_2021

BRAMS Newsletter – May 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Make Healing Happen

Feature tile - Wed 2.6.21 - Make Healing Happen

Make Healing Happen

The Healing Foundation’s Make Healing Happen report, released today, signals the urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments to assist the healing process for a growing number of Stolen Generations survivors and descendants.

The Make Healing Happen report – released in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018-19, provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the extent and complexity of their contemporary needs today and as they grow older.

“The AIHW has estimated that the number of Stolen Generations survivors has more than doubled – from 17,150 in 2014-15 to 33,600 in 2018-19,” said The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth.

“This dramatic increase points to an urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments, especially in the areas of health, mental health, aged care, disability, welfare, and wellbeing.

“One of the more significant findings is that all Stolen Generations survivors will by next year be eligible for aged care.

Compared with the general non-Indigenous population aged 50 and over (on an age standardised basis), Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over are:

  • 3 times as likely to be living with a severe disability;
  • 7 times as likely to have poor mental health;
  • 6 times as likely to have kidney disease;
  • 1 times as likely to have diabetes; and
  • 7 times as likely to have heart, stroke, or vascular disease.

You can download the Make Healing Happen report here.

View The Healing Foundation’s media release Significant increase in Stolen Generations survivor numbers signals urgent need for government solutions in health, aged care, and other services here.

View the AIHW report Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018–19 here.

View the AIHW media release Stolen Generations survivors face poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than other Indigenous Australians here.

Make Healing Happen - It's Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report

Make Healing Happen – It’s Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report.

ACCH model to lead Hepatitis response

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO spoke at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney yesterday, 1 June 2021 on Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a higher burden of disease in comparison to the wider Australian population and viral Hepatitis is no exception.” “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represent approximately 3% of the total Australian population, yet we account for an estimated 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses,” she said.

These numbers highlight that more needs to be done to reach the national and international target of elimination of viral Hepatitis by 2030.

“In order to respond to viral Hepatitis, and other STI and BBV, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (ACCH) model of integrated primary health care,” said Casey pointing to the following factors that need to be addressed:

  • Sustained funding
  • Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Improved data and surveillance
  • Innovative recall systems
  • Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
  • Community engagement and education
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Access and effective integration of PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing

“We need to develop strong partnerships and open relationships with state and territory governments, peak organisations and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector, working together to respond to the high rates for viral hepatitis in our communities.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney 1 June 2021.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney on 1 June 2021.

Telehealth and hepatitis C study seeks participants

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University is conducting a Commonwealth-funded, interview-based study of people’s experiences using telehealth for hepatitis C treatment and care during COVID-19. The outcomes of this study will be to make recommendations to optimise the use of telehealth in hepatitis C care and treatment.

Dawn Casey’s keynote at the recent 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference, Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people highlighted that telehealth has provided ‘culturally safe healthcare’ across ACCHOs.

We are inviting GPs and other specialists providing hepatitis C treatment and care for an interview to identify experiences, advantages, and barriers of telehealth; as well as people who have received telehealth care (re-imbursed $50 for their time).

Participation involves an audio-recorded 40–60 minute interview with a trained university researcher. Interviews will be conducted over phone or Zoom.

Please contact Dr Frances Shaw to arrange an interview or receive recruitment flyers to advertise this study in your ACCHO.
Email: f.shaw@latrobe.edu.au – Mobile: 0431 483 918

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. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Review of FASD among First Nations people

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleThe review states that FASD is a preventable, lifelong disability. FASD disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however, there are limited prevalence statistics available in the mainstream Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Accompanying the review is a short video of key points from the review, a summary version of the review with infographics and a factsheet.

The review explores the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in preventing FASD and proposes that programs that work best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are those that are done with, for and by the communities and their leaders. Authors Sharynne Hamilton, Michael Doyle and Carol Bower, recommend that, where possible, federal and state governments should choose to invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to develop their own evidence-based, fit-for-community FASD prevention, intervention, and management strategies. Men are largely absent in FASD interventions. Co-author Michael Doyle says, “There is a need to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in research to understand the role they can play in the prevention, treatment and management of FASD”.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says, “We were delighted to commission this important review and partner with the authors to provide a comprehensive and sensitive review of the evidence around FASD with clear recommendations for future action”.

You can view the media release by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre here.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - video.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – video.

Grog in pregnancy videos

Katherine West Health Board (2021)
Grog in pregnancy videos – partners, women and men
Katherine, NT: Katherine West Health Board

In these videos, community members share information with one another about drinking alcohol and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

The videos promote health messages such as:

  • have a check up at the clinic if you are planning to get pregnant
  • if mum drinks while pregnant the baby can be born with FASD
  • men can support women who are pregnant by not drinking
  • if you are breastfeeding you should not drink alcohol.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Grog in Pregnancy - Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Grog in Pregnancy – Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Outcomes of community-based FASD workshop

There is a lack of neurodevelopmental assessment services in rural and remote locations in Australia that consider fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a possible outcome.

87 participants attended a workshop to support community-based professional development and co-design of a novel assessment approach. Qualitative data collection included video recording of the workshop, and small group discussions, for which a narrative analysis was utilised. Quantitative data collection included self-report questionnaires to understand current community practices and three key constructs: practitioner knowledge, attitudes, and intentions for future practice.

The study identified key learnings from workshop facilitators and participants. The findings call attention to the importance of a co-design approach, where collaboration is vital to support the appropriate adaption of evidence-based practice to suit the local context.

You can read the abstract here.

FASD graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

This is a graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

NDIS Ready grants now open!

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN!  

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCOs to help address: 

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

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 ACCHOs and ACCOs.  

For information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website. Applications close on Friday 11 June 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions. 

NDIS Ready - Funding Round Open

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN.

Call for abstracts – now open!

Abstract submissions open for the 6th Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference, The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health.
Abstract submissions should address the conference theme ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing’.
Abstract submissions close Wednesday 30 June 2021. If you are interested in presenting, please complete the registration here.
Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.

Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Uluru Statement from The Heart recognised

Uluru Statement from The Heart recognised

In a media release on 31 May 2021, the Lowitja Institute urged the Australian Government to embrace the Uluru Statement from The Heart, which marked its fourth anniversary as it was honoured with the 2021 Sydney Peace Prize on the eve of National Reconciliation Week.

Lowitja Institute Dr Janine Mohamed congratulated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders Professor Megan Davis, Professor Noel Pearson and Pat Anderson AO, who accepted the award on Sorry Day on behalf of the many individuals and communities involved in bringing to life the Uluru Statement from The Heart in May 2017.

The Sydney Peace Prize was awarded to the Uluru Statement ‘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.’

“It is important to recognise that reconciliation is a journey, not a destination, and it requires both courage and humility from leaders in all sectors,” Dr Mohamed said.

You can view the media release here.

Uluru Statement From The Heart.

Uluru Statement From The Heart. Photo: Clive Scollay.

Young people lining up for COVID-19 vaccines

Young people across the NT have seized on an opportunity to get vaccinated earlier than expected, with many making bookings and rolling up their sleeves.

Earlier this month, the NT government announced anyone aged 16 and over living outside the Greater Darwin region would be eligible to make a booking. Government figures show nearly one in six people aged over 16 have now received a first dose of the vaccine, while in remote communities, 12 per cent of those aged over 16 had received their first jab.

More than 10,000 Territorians have now been fully vaccinated.

The government said there are more than 30 locations where people can receive a jab, and NT Health staff were this week in more than a dozen remote and regional areas from Pirlangimpi in the Tiwi Islands to Harts Range in Central Australia.

Read the full story by ABC here to find out more.

Health worker Keinan Keighran received a Pfizer jab at Katherine’s Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service this week.(ABC News: Kate Ashton).

Funding gives hope to vulnerable cardiac patients

A Curtin University research team has been awarded almost $1.5million in Federal Government funding to coordinate Australian trials of a high-flow oxygen delivery strategy to reduce complications for vulnerable cardiac surgery patients, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The project, led by Associate Professor Edward Litton from the Curtin School of Population Health, was successful in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) 2020 International Clinical Trial Collaboration grants.

Partnering with a clinical trial team in the United Kingdom, the team will test whether high flow oxygen delivered through nose cannula, rather than traditional oxygen therapy via mask, can improve outcomes and reduce hospital stay times for at-risk cardiac patients, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Lung complications following cardiac surgery are common, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients suffering disproportionately worse outcomes,” said Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran. “This study will allow the team to establish trial sites in Australia, to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and to have them actively participate in the study.”

Read more about the project in the National Tribune here.

Human Heart Anatomy Illustration. 3D render. Image credit: Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

Time for governments to phase out cigarette sales

This World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, 148 health organisations signed an open letter calling on governments to work towards phasing out commercial cigarette sales.

Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The University of Queensland School of Public Health were both signatories to the letter. Menzies senior research fellow Dr Marita Hefler said it was time to begin planning for a world after tobacco. “Cigarettes are uniquely dangerous. No other product that causes early death when used exactly as intended is allowed to remain available for sale,” Dr Hefler said.

The University of Queensland School of Public Health Associate Professor Coral Gartner said that Australia has been a global leader in reducing smoking. “We were the first country to introduce cigarette plain packaging and our hard-hitting public awareness campaigns about the dangers of smoking, graphic warning labels, tobacco taxes and smoke-free areas have reduced smoking to historically low levels,” said Dr Gartner. “It is time for cigarettes to be treated the same way as other equally dangerous products like asbestos, and leaded paint and petrol.”

A substantial number of Australians still smoke daily, and smoking-related harms disproportionately impact some population groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can read the letter and view the signatories here and the media release is available here.

Young man lighting a cigarette. Image credit: The American Academy of Ophthalmology website.

PSA launches Reconciliation Action Plan

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is delighted to announce the launch of its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) framework.

Last Friday, 28 May, PSA’s RAP received formal endorsement from Reconciliation Australia. The RAP framework will provide the PSA with a structured approach to advancing reconciliation throughout the organisation. The first stage in this plan, Reflect, will help PSA gauge where it stands in relation to reconciliation action. By the conclusion of Reflect, the organisation will have influenced positive cultural change across the organisation.

PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, stressed the importance of this strategy. “PSA is delighted to launch our RAP, as it signifies an important milestone for the organisation. PSA’s RAP will build on current reconciliation initiatives within the organisation, driving reconciliation through awareness and action.” “As the peak body representing pharmacists, Australia’s most accessible workforce, PSA is ideally placed to improve medicine safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, particularly in rural and remote communities.”

You can read the full story in the National Tribune here.

Pink pills. Image credit: precitiondrivenhealth.com.

NACCHO Chair: Federal Budget lacks sustainability for Indigenous health

While the federal Budget 2021–22 invested money in some significant reforms in Indigenous health across a range of settings, NACCHO Chair Donella Mills says the Budget lacked what it always does – detail and longevity.

“We welcome that there’s been specific mentions but what we didn’t see is the detail, so we need to work through that implementation in detail with the community,” Mills told the National Indigenous Times. “But we really don’t know what that’s going to look like and what the involvement will look like on the ground.”

Mills says while the big announcements look great, they won’t do much without effective implementation. The Government’s big-ticket health item was the $17.7 billion allocated to reforming the aged care sector, and $630.2 million of that is going toward improving access to services in regional, rural and remote areas, including “those with Indigenous backgrounds”.

Mills says this accessibility for Indigenous people needs to be designed with Indigenous involvement. Following the success in preventing COVID-19 from entering Indigenous communities, Mills said “This speaks to our expertise … We know our mob, we know how to protect our communities, we’re best placed to protect our communities. We really want to see a commitment to make sure our ACCHOs are sustainable into the future, to make sure community-control is in the future.”

You can read the full article by the National Indigenous Times here.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills speaking.

New HIV health promotion project receives grant

The Gilead Getting to Zero Grant Program 2021, announced 25 May, is a global initiative supporting projects aimed at getting to zero new HIV infections.

Two Australian projects received a grant from Gilead Sciences Australia New Zealand – one focussing on overseas born gay and bisexual men and the second on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The second Australian Grant recipient is a new project by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) in partnership with the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) to develop, a new program of HIV health promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and workforce capacity building materials for health workers engaged with Indigenous people.

Rates of HIV and STIs among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain disproportionately high when compared with non‑Indigenous people, with the rate of HIV diagnoses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now over two times the diagnosis rate in Australian-born non-Indigenous people.

“Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit greatly from HIV programs crafted specifically for them and by them. This is an important initiative that we warmly welcome,” said Colin Ross, Chair of Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA).

You can read the full story in the Star Observer here.

Image credit: Star Observer website.

Key Thinkers Forum – Racism in Health

Free online webinar
1:00–3:30 PM (AEST),
7 July 2021
By Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Sydney

The current models of practice are not working to effectively “Close the Gap”. Despite a growing willingness and need to consider new proposed models of practice, there remains a deep-seated resistance to identifying and addressing institutional and systemic racism and racist attitudes, including unconscious biases held by individuals. How can we get the ‘r’ word on every agenda?

Panel Members (facilitated by Prof. Tom Calma AO):

  • Carmen Parter
  • Karen Mundine
  • Leilani Darwin
  • Raymond Lovett

Register for this FREE event here.

Key Thinkers Forum – Racism In Health

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021–22 Federal Budget – Plenty of good news for Aboriginal health, but plenty of questions remain

NACCHO responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget 

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the Budget initiatives targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. These include funding for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, point-of-care testing, rheumatic fever strategy, bowel cancer screening, workplace training packages for health professionals in rural and remote areas, changes to the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme and changes to the Practice Incentives Program (Indigenous Health Incentive). These all seem to be very positive announcements. Also pleasing is the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the substantial aged care and mental health packages.

While these announcements are most welcome, there needs to be more clarity concerning implementation. It is important that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are closely involved in the new initiatives to ensure success.

In Cairns this morning, Donnella Mills, the NACCHO Chair, said ‘These Budget measures are very welcome, but we will need to work through the detail before we can be sure that what is proposed will work.’

‘It is pleasing to see that the NACCHO members are referred to in the Budget Papers in relation to a new role in the aged care sector and other areas. Certainly, the measures announced in the Budget won’t work unless Aboriginal people and organisations are fully involved in the design and delivery.’

The pandemic has proved the success of the model. The network of Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations in combatting COVID-19 shows what happens when local people are empowered to take local action.

Ms Mills said ‘We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died.’

NACCHO welcomes the aged care package. The identification of $630m to improve aged care access largely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a significant investment (about 3.6 per cent of the overall package). However, more will need to follow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to receive their fair share of aged care (estimated at 7 per cent on population and eligibility).

Ms Mills said ‘All Australians welcome the overdue investment in aged care. We all want our elders to be loved and cared for with dignity and respect. But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would like to see the specific details about how the measures will be tailored to our people and our communities and what role our services can play in all of this. We are keen to work with governments to ensure that the new funding is effectively invested. Governments need to start talking to us now, so that these good intentions deliver solid results on the ground for our elders.’

To read the full media release click here.

Coalition of Peaks responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget

Positive start but First Nations must wait and see for promised Closing the Gap investment

Significant Budget measures announced by the Commonwealth Government provide a foundation for investing in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. As expected, detailed funding relating to Closing the Gap was not announced in the Budget last night, so the full scope of funding commitments remains to be seen.

“I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this Budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people,” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“We are encouraged to see significant funding in areas of aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety; but this is very much a ‘wait and see’ budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said.

The federal government will announce more specific funding on Closing the Gap after Cabinet considers the Commonwealth’s Jurisdictional Implementation Plan mid-year.

“Our main concern with every Commonwealth Budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground. Too often, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, which are responsible for delivering many of the services in our communities, have been left with inadequate funding to service our people. My hope is that our community-controlled organisations are not just left with the crumbs from the Budget table.”

“Given the massive new investments seen in this Budget, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a legitimate expectation that there will be a significant boost in funding in all areas of Closing the Gap — including implementation of the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement that we believe will accelerate the closing of gaps,” Ms Turner said.

“We look forward to an announcement of funding in the Closing the Gap measures to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the Justice Policy Partnership in particular and all policy and place-based partnerships to be established under the National Agreement”.

“It is also vital that meaningful proportions of the new funding initiatives in the Budget for the broader population that are critical for closing the gaps, such as in childcare and preschool, are allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, particularly community-controlled organisations”.

“This is a commitment made by the Commonwealth in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, but it is still uncertain and risky whether our community-controlled sector will receive the funding it needs to deliver much better services to our people,” Ms Turner said.

Finally, the Government’s new investment into our Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to address the severe problem of family violence is welcomed but more funding is needed to keep our women and children safe.

To read the full media release click here.

Family Matters National Week of Action Sun 9 – Sat 15 May 2021 #OurMobsMatter

Next week join the Family Matters National Week of Action, SNAICC’s campaign to create awareness of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Build your skills and knowledge and be part of our work to ensure all our children and young people grow up strong and safe in their families, cultures, and communities.

You can also register your own events, and access our resources page so you can download our Family Matters National Week of Action digital resources (including social media tiles, an email signature, and customisable posters for your own events) to help you promote the Family Matters campaign next week. Please share content including the Family Matters handle and using the hashtag #OurMobsMatter

The Family Matters leaders would like to remind non-Aboriginal organisations to support the campaign through your annual sponsorships – please check sponsorship information here and email familymatters@snaicc.org.au to arrange an invoice as soon as possible.

Wednesday 12 May (12-1.30pm AEST) – National commissioner call to action

Join SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle and Family Matters Co-Chair Dr Paul Gray as they lead a discussion by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners and deputy commissioners around the continent as we continue to call for the creation of dedicated, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners in each state and territory and at the national level.

Speakers include: April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (South Australia); Justin Mohamed, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria); Natalie Lewis, Commissioner for the Queensland Family and Child Commission; Richard Weston, Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People (New South Wales), and Nicole Hucks, Assistant Children’s Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner (Northern Territory).

Join this key call for accountability and in defence of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

Register here.

Thursday 13 May (12-2pm AEDT) – Ways to connect children back to their family, culture and community

This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Jo-Anne Kelly, Project Manager Community Initiatives with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation; Jacynta Krakouer, Family Matters National Leadership Group and University of Melbourne; and Jennifer Parsons, QATSCIPP Sector Development Officer.

Engage and learn from this fascinating discussion among four expert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in child and family services. Build your practice skills and learning through Aboriginal-led engagement, awareness, and ideas for skill development.

Register here.

Friday 14 May (12-2pm AEST) – Ensuring our babies get the safest start

Learn about how birth is a key point of removal from their families for too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies, and what we can do to stop this entry point from happening. Hear about how we can work to keep babies with their parents and families. This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Professor Megan Davis, Emma Buxton-Namisnyk and Dr Althea Gibson (all UNSW); Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain (La Trobe University, Healing the Past); Birri O’Dea (Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University); Alison Elliott, The Bouverie Centre; and Debra Bennet (Executive Lead Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Cultural Advisor, Relationships Australia Queensland).

Register here.

The Family Matters Report 2020 was launched in November 2020. It reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture. The report identified a concerning trend towards permanency and adoption that is driving separation of children from family, community, and culture.

Keep an eye out for the Family Matters National Leadership Group members on @IndigenousX on Twitter, from Thursday 6 May to Thursday 13 May.