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

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

Health Minister’s to-do list is packed

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

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

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

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

Image source: Croaky Health Media.

Labor’s Indigenous affairs agenda

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

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

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

Pat Dodson on the Uluru Statement

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

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

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

Senator Pat Dodson. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Mob in city for medical care risk homelessness

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

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

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

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

Top 3 questions – flu vax and pregnancy

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

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

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

Clinical Yarning program about trust

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

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

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

Jimmy Little’s early death to kidney disease

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

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

Major parties have barely said anything useful

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

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

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

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

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

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

Poor public policy without consultation

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

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

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

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

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

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

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

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

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

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

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

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

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

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

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

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

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

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

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

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

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

feature tile text 'First Nations effort making recovery for "ice" a reality & image of ice pipe being smoked

Image in feature tile from SBS News article The fight against ice in Indigenous Australia, 13 December 2017.

Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

Indigenous care worker Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie has spoken to Rolling Stone magazine about her life’s work, providing recovery strategies for First Nations communities in Queensland.

“Ice has had the biggest impact that I’ve seen in 30 years working in the community,” says Aunty Sonetta. Sonetta is referring to the devastating impact crystal methamphetamine—commonly referred to as ice—has made both within her community and beyond.

Certainly, this drug has had a major impact on Australians and First Nations communities. But through her own incredible work in this field, Aunty Sonetta has seen firsthand that help — even in the direst of circumstances — is available and that successful recovery is always possible. This truth is what drives her to best serve her community.

Sonetta manages the Mackay and Region Aboriginal and Islander Development Association, better known as Marabisda—a community-led organisation that works with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander communities based in and around Mackay.

Marabisda launched in 2008 to meet the particular needs of vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families. Aunty Sonetta has been with the organisation for six years, but she’s been serving the community as a nurse and care worker for decades.

“The kids that I weighed as babies when I was working for the Aboriginal Medical Centre are now parents that I work with,” she says. Through her work and engagement, Sonetta is intimately acquainted with the drug’s damaging impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Rolling Stone article in full click here.

Sonetta Fewquandie - Aboriginal AOD worker

Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie. Image source: Marabisda website.

Entirely preventable disease killing mob

An Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) editorial last year highlighted the abject failure in closing the gap for rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Since then, the divide has widened further still. This week’s ABC Four Corners program was particularly hard to watch for Janelle Speed.

It is an illness Ms Speed, an Aboriginal cultural consultant, had address in an editorial written in the AJGP less than a year ago. Since she wrote the editorial for the May 2021 edition of AJGP, the situation has deteriorated.

Despite a Federal Government goal of eliminating RHD by 2030, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show the problem is now even more stark. The editorial highlighted 1776 diagnoses of ARF between 2013–17. For 2015–2019, that total had increased to 2244. Meanwhile, the rate of notifications had increased from 77 per 100,000 in 2015 to 102 per 100,000 four years later.

You can view the newsGP article in full here.

young Aboriginal girl in children's ward with mother

Indigenous Australians in the NT are more than 100 times as likely to have rheumatic heart disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Screenshot/Take Heart – Strep: Group A Streptococcal Infection. Image source: The Conversation.

New First Nations disability advocacy service

A new disability advocacy service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been established in Queensland. Side by Side First Peoples Advocacy works with people with a disability and their families to resolve issues they encounter with support services, community access or disability discrimination.

The service is a new addition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland and has been established and sponsored by Aged and Disability Advocacy. ADA Australia chief executive Geoff Rowe said a dedicated advocacy service would address the additional inequality First Nations people with disability faced when accessing services. “(Advocacy) supports the most vulnerable in our community to have a voice and is the foundation for inclusion and equality,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article in full click here.

Connecting foster kids to country

Of all the children in out-of-home (foster) care in Australia, 40% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Many of these children reside in NSW, on Wiradjuri (‘Wir-add-jury’) Country in the centre and west of the state. In a bid to improve these children’s outcomes by helping them maintain cultural and Kinship connections, a University of Sydney researcher and her sister have developed workbooks on Wiradjuri language that can be used by children and their carers, families, and teachers.

They were launched at an event at the University of Sydney earlier this week with an opening address from the NSW Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones.

To view the University of Sydney media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks

L-R: Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

New PHC centre for Mapoon

Before Christmas Apunipima Cape York Health Council shared with reader of their newsletter Cape Capers the build progress of their brand-new, state of the art Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Apunipima is now very excited to reveal that the build has progressed much further in recent weeks due to favourable weather and great work from builders, James Construction.

The blockwork has now been completed, the roof is on, and much of the internal framework has been completed. The carport is also nearly complete. With all going well, the clinic is expected to open in late July 2022. Very exciting news for the residents of Mapoon!

This article from Apunipima Cape York Health Council newsletter Cape Capers can be accessed here.

slab for Apunipima's new Mapoon PHC centre

Image from Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s 28 January 2022 Twitter feed showing the concrete slab laid for its new PHC centre in Mapoon.

Optometry Advisory Group EOIs sought

Optometry Australia is inviting members with experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health to express their interest in joining their Advisory Group for a new two-year term, from July 2022 to June 2024.

While the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has reduced over the past decade, there are still too many that experience avoidable vision loss and blindness due to barriers to accessing necessary primary eye health care.

Optometry Australia is strongly committed to supporting improved eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Since 2008, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health Advisory Group has provided invaluable guidance and support in our work within this area.

For more information about the Advisory Group click here. Please submit your expression of interest by COB Sunday 26 June 2022 using this email link.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Michael Amendolia. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Heat compounds chronic disease impact

Groups across the NT have released a scorecard assessing the NT Government’s climate performance against the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the NT ALP Government of Michael Gunner ranked 5/100.

NT Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Dr Brooke Ah Shay, who works in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida, said that we already see higher rates of conditions like chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in the NT, and that these diseases will be compounded by the effects of increased heat from climate change.

To view the Doctors for the Environment Australia media release in full click here.

town camp housing, dirt yard, no awnings

Town camp housing typically lacks simple features to keep cool, such as insulation and wide awnings. Photo: Mike Bowers, The Guardian.

New PhD scholarship opportunities

Onemda, along with the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, are pleased to announce an opportunity for two PhD scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates.

They offer flexible options for study within a supportive, Aboriginal-led team. The positions are based at the University of Melbourne and can commence as soon as possible or when suitable to the applicants. The successful candidates will receive a Research Training Program Scholarship and top-up, totalling approx. $50,000 tax free per year for 3.5 years (full-time).

You are invited to contact Professor Cath Chamberlain to discuss your application first using this email link.

university of melbourne logo & uni Melb PhD graduation bonnet

University of Melbourne PhD graduation bonnet. Image source: George H. Lilley website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: AIDA decry racism in health care system

feature tile text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association decry racism in health care' & vector art of Aboriginal man & woman tending gravesite

Image in feature tile by Nick Wiggins, Four Corners. Image source: ABC website.

AIDA decry racism in health care system

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has responded to the ‘Betty’s Story’ report which outlines how the treatment of Ms Yvette “Betty” Booth by health officials at Doomadgee Hospital’s emergency department led to her untimely death at the age of 18 from rheumatic heart disease (RHD). “This report reveals that Ms Booth’s treatment was woefully inadequate,” Dr Tanya Schramm, President of AIDA said.

“Moreover, it is proof of the lethal consequences of racism in the health care system. We are seeing yet another community in mourning because of a death that was entirely avoidable. We must eliminate racism to stop the needless deaths of our people,” Dr Schramm said.

AIDA is advocating for better training in recognition of RHD and better systems to track patients with the condition as well as comprehensive cultural safety training across all agencies within the health system. Cultural safety training encourages practitioners, nurses and administrative staff to examine their unconscious biases, including racism, and build in strategies ensuring the highest level of health care is provided to every patient.

According to RHD Australia, more than 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are currently living with RHD or acute rheumatic fever (ARF), and while some non-Indigenous Australians are susceptible to the disease, it is one that predominantly plagues Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “RHD in 2022 is a national shame, it is a disease of poverty and overcrowding,” Dr Schramm said.

To view AIDA media release in full click here.

red 3D heart on trace of heartbeat

Image source: AJP

How alcohol companies target youth

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is partnering with The University of Queensland (UQ) for a three-year study to better understand how young people are targeted by alcohol companies via social media.

This research comes as investigations by Reset Australia found that Facebook tags children as interested in alcohol, approves alcohol advertisements targeted to children, and continues to harvest children’s data to target them with advertising. On average, advertising technology companies collect more than 72 million data points on a child before they reach the age of 13.

UQ, Lead Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Nicholas Carah said “Digital marketing by alcohol companies is rapidly growing, particularly across social media platforms. A lot of this marketing is targeted at people based on their personal data, and we know young people are being exposed to alcohol advertising.”

“Much of this is occurring out of sight, only being seen by those directly targeted and through content that is short-lived, making it extremely difficult to monitor harmful ads and predatory targeting. By revealing what’s behind the curtain and showing the hidden tactics used by alcohol marketers, we hope these insights provide the urgently needed evidence-base for understanding and effectively governing alcohol marketing in the digital age.”

To view FARE’s media release in full click here

hands using iPhone

Photo: PA Archive/PA Images. Image source: Wales Online.

Address racism to improve kidney care 

Today on World Kidney Day – Thursday 10 March 2022, governments and health services are being urged to act on the ways that racism and cultural bias create disparities in kidney care and transplantation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.

Lowitja Institute and the University of Adelaide today released the Cultural Bias and Indigenous Kidney Care and Kidney Transplantation Report, prepared for the National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT). The report details ways to improve kidney transplantation rates and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through addressing key barriers that lead to culturally biased care.

This report centres the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with lived experience of kidney disease, using their knowledge and understandings to guide the recommendations put forward.

“We know that institutional racism and systemic bias are barriers to kidney transplantation and affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the health system,” said Kelli Owen, a proud Kaurna, Narungga, and Ngarrindjeri woman, kidney transplant recipient, and kidney health researcher. “We have the answers to help keep our mob healthy and provide culturally safe kidney care. We just need them to be applied,” Ms Owen said.

To view the media release, which includes a link to the report, click here.

arm of Aboriginal person contacted to dialysis machine

Dialysis involves spending up to five hours hooked up to a machine that artificially cleans a patient’s blood. Photo: Tom Joyner, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News.

Gender equity in pharmacy

In an article ‘Achieving gender equity in the pharmacy profession‘ published in the Australian Pharmacist this week two pharmacists discuss their careers and the biases that must be broken to ensure women can succeed. One of the pharmacists Kate Gill MPS is a consultant pharmacist in Cairns who has been in the profession for 20 years.

“About 12 years ago, I became an accredited pharmacist and branched out into Indigenous healthcare, which included working on the Integrating pharmacists into Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (IPAC) project at Wuchopperen.

Being part of the wider team to ensure patients received the best health outcomes was a career highlight. We had one patient who used a walker and had issues with housing. Instead of referring him to a wellbeing worker, psychologist or social worker in a report, I visited them individually. We set up a case study for the patient, which helped him acquire accommodation and a new walker.

Although Wuchopperen didn’t have the funding to keep me on post-IPAC, we remained in contact and now I provide home medicine reviews (HMRs) for them.”

To view the article in full click here.

Kate Gill MPS

Kate Gill MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmarcist.

Opthalmic organisations list 2022 priorities

Key ophthalmic organisations have revealed their federal election wish lists, drawing attention to issues such as workforce maldistribution and access for rural and remote communities.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) say that funding is required for an adequate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers/liaison officers, to coordinate and facilitate services. Institutionalisation of Indigenous community control into funding schemes and service delivery models is also needed to ensure ACCHOs are part of the decision-making process. It also reiterated the need for funding of scholarships and enrolment in specialist training programs to grow the Indigenous workforce and leadership development.

To view the Ophthalmic sector lays out priorities ahead of 2022 federal election Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal child having eye text

Image source: University of Melbourne.

Project supports LGBTQIA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) is a peer-led national research project, seeking to hear from the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ people with mental health, wellbeing and support. The groundbreaking project will focus on the lives of young people, using interviews and yarning groups and a national survey to lead into co-design with LGBTQIA+ young people and services.

The research will also help provide essential information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives not readily available to lawmakers and service providers seeking to develop meaningful inclusion in mental health service provision.

Research team member Shakara Liddelow-Hunt said “What we’re really looking to do is understand the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing for young Aboriginal LGBTQ+ mob. We started by yarning with young mob here in Perth and we’re now looking to launch a national survey.”

To view the Out in Perth article in full click here.

cartoon drawing of two ATSI adults holding both hands between them

Image source: Out In Perth.

First Nations burden of disease data

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018: Interactive data on disease burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, AIHW, Australian Government report has just been released.

Burden of disease is a measure of the years of healthy life lost from living with, or dying from disease and injury. The report describes the impact of 219 diseases and injuries among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in terms of living with illness (non-fatal burden) and premature death (fatal burden). It finds that: the burden rate fell by 15% between 2003 and 2018, driven by a substantial drop in fatal burden injuries and chronic diseases (such as mental & substance use disorders, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and musculoskeletal conditions) caused most of the burden in 2018.

For further information about the report click here.

adult ATSI hand touching yellow red black bead bracelet of Aboriginal child

Image source: SCIMEX.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCOs best placed to support kids

feature tile text 'ATSI CCOs best placed to support children & families' & image of Aboriginal mother & baby daughter

Image in feature tile is from the SNAICC – National Voice for Children profile: Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane Ltd., and Mater Mothers’ Hospital Birthing in Our Community.

ACCOs best placed to support kids

Today SNAICC launched National Voice for our Children – 11 profiles showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations (ACCOs) who are successfully working with children and families to prevent them from coming into contact with the child protection system. Eight of the 11 profiles are of programs run by NACCHO Members.

From 2020 to 2021, SNAICC – National Voice of our Children identified good practices of early intervention and family support programs that are being delivered by ACCOs across the nation. These profiles demonstrate how community-controlled organisations are achieving positive results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families, including supporting these children to be kept safe from harm, uphold their right to grow up within their own family and community, and access critical health and early education services.

“These profiles highlight how our people are providing culturally safe and supportive environments. They are connecting children and families to culture and Country, and breaking down the barriers that prevent access to the supports and services that families need,” SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said. “The programs build on the existing strengths of our families and cultures to provide nurturing care for children. They help to ensure children receive education, develop a strong sense of identity, and enjoy healthy living that is that is so crucial in a child’s early years.”

You can view the 11 profiles here and SNAICC’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal women sitting around meeting mat

Image from: the Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation Nabu Aboriginal family preservation and restoration program publication – one of the SNAICC – National Voice for our Children profiles.

National Close the Gap Day launch

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Reconciliation Australia are delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2022 Close the Gap Campaign report “Transforming Power; Voices for generational change”, produced by the Lowitja Institute.

The report showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led community initiatives, that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, provide genuine opportunities for decision making and that strengthen and embed cultures.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see and hear keynote speakers and panel members talk about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their allies, are working to address health equity and equality.

The report will be launched on National Close the Gap Day during the  webinar from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM AEDT Thursday 17 March 2022. To register for the webinar click here. The webinar is FREE, but registration is essential.

ACCHO leads way on RHD awareness

ACCHO Apunipima Cape York Health Council (ACYHC) is tackling the endemic issue of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) in Cape York communities. RHD is a leading cause of serious illness and death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly young people, and Apunipima’s RHD Prevention Project is aimed at decreasing the rates of ARF and RHD in Cape York communities.

Commenting on RHD in community, Apunipima CEO Debra Malthouse says, “RHD is a completely preventable disease, and to see so many families and communities here in the Cape affected deeply by this is just heartbreaking. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the highest reported rates of ARF and RHD in the world. This is Australia, this should not be happening here.”

ACYHC’s comments on the issue of RHD in Cape York communities, come as this important issue has been thrust back into the spotlight this week with the ABC Four Corners Heart Failure episode. To read ACYHC’s media statement in full click here and you can watch one of ACYHC’s ARF and RHD awareness videos below.

Long COVID: sustained disadvantage

An article Long COVID: sustained and multiple disadvantage published in The Medical Journal of Australia earlier this week points out that from an equity perspective, the over‐representation of chronic conditions among disadvantaged (and often racialised) populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increases the risk of both COVID‐19 acute severity and long COVID. People with long COVID have reported significant stigma, difficulties in accessing services and returning to full time work, trouble maintaining important relationships and life roles, and barriers to engaging in activities of daily living.

Australian data confirm this. The infection risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) is associated with age, immune status, and certain pre‐existing non‐communicable diseases such as obesity, asthma etc. One of the few predictive models available for long COVID has found associations with age, body mass index, female sex and the number of symptoms experienced within the first 7 days of infection. Each of these factors is already profoundly driven by the social determinants of health and health inequity.

The enduring effects of long COVID in groups that already experience disadvantage and inequality will make livelihoods more perilous. Those who were worse off across many determinants of health inequity will be even worse off after only partially recovering. This will be particularly true for populations with intersectionally determined comorbid conditions, such as socio‐economically disadvantaged groups, Indigenous communities, people with varying abilities (or disabilities) in residential care, vulnerable older people etc.

Mental health hospital visits slashed

Hospital attendances by people in police custody have been slashed by two-thirds since the start of a new pilot program aimed at helping people experiencing a mental health crisis. Geraldton was last year selected to take part in a pilot program offering specialist care after the Police Mental Health Co-Response (MHCR) initiative was successfully introduced in Perth in 2016.

The program has now reached the six-month mark and sees two police officers, one authorised mental health practitioner and one Aboriginal mental health worker on call from 1pm to 11pm, Monday to Saturday.

Sgt Johansen said the initiative has been hailed a success by Geraldton police and the community. “The community is happy there is a service to assist whilst in a crisis, and police are pleased to have a mental health professional on duty with the ability to provide assistance,” he said.

To read The West Australian article in full click here.

Sergeant Nathan Johansen in front of Geraldton Police Station

Sergeant Nathan Johansen in front of Geraldton Police Station. Photo: Tamra Carr, Geraldton Guardian. Image source: The West Australian.

AMSANT launches CQI eLearning module

AMSANT is pleased to announce the launch of the new CQI eLearning module, which has been created in collaboration with the Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC). John Paterson, CEO of AMSANT said “We are proud to lead the NT CQI Strategy and to support both Aboriginal Community Controlled and NT Government Primary Health Services to provide high quality health care to Aboriginal people in the NT.

The RAHC modules provide free, high quality and easy-to-access education on health issues prevalent in the remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health context. The CQI eLearning module is available to all Health Professionals (HPs) and anyone interested in remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The CQI eLearning module introduces Health Professionals (HPs) to continuous quality improvement. It provides important information and practical strategies for improving the quality of care provided to individuals, their families and the wider community.

To view AMSANT’s media release in full click here.

COVID-19 vax update for Primary Care

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout, will be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 10 March 2022.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

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

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.

Safe Sleep Week

Safe Sleep Week is back for 2022, acknowledging the importance of safe sleeping environments in protecting infants and young children. Held from Monday 7 – Sunday 13 March 2022, Safe Sleep Week is a timely reminder to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to ensure they are complying with regulations around safe sleep and engaging in best practice.

Safe Sleep Week is an annual national awareness campaign held by Red Nose with the intention of saving lives. During Safe Sleep Week Red Nose will provide practical advice to parents and caregivers to help reduce the risk of sudden and unexpected death in infancy (including SIDS and fatal sleep accidents).

In 2022, Red Nose is focusing on the six safe sleep recommendations, a series of easy to understand pieces of advice which reduce the risk of harm to babies, with a particular focus on the accessibility of language around the six safe sleep recommendations.

For more information about Safe Sleep Week click here and to access information on safe sleep in early childhood services click here.

sleeping Aboriginal baby

A baby sleeps at Gurdorrka Palmerston Indigenous Village, a community in Darwin. Image source: UNICEF Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC Four Corners

feature tile text 'four corners investigates RHD - the hidden killer in remote Australian communities' & image of young Aboriginal boy have heart scan

Feature tile image of RHD patient, Trey, receiving a handheld echo scan in Manigrida. Image source: Katherine Times.

NACCHO CEO on ABC Four Corners

Right now, in Australia there are young people dying from an easily preventable medical condition and an appalling lack of healthcare. This should be a national scandal. ABC Four Corners has investigated the shameful and, until now, hidden failure in public health taking place in remote Australian communities in it’s episode Heart Failure: An investigation into the hidden killer in remote Australian communities.

During the episode NACCHO CEO Pat Turner talks about the serious health crisis of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and exposing the many unique issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Heart Failure, reported by Louise Milligan, goes to air on Monday 7 March at 8.30 PM. It is replayed on Tuesday 8 March at 11.00 PM and Wednesday 9 March at 10:00 AM. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10 PM AEST, ABC iview and here.

You can view the trailer to the Heart Failure episode here.

tile of 4 Corners episode text 'heart failure', image of graves with heart headstones; 4 corners logo

Celebrating the Women of Yarrabah

There’s no mistaking the contribution that women make in our lives and their importance in community. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (GYHS) are publishing and saluting 31 outstanding women from the Yarrabah Community.

The ‘Women of Yarrabah’ project is an important recognition of the incredible contributions to family and community these inspiring women have made over the past 70 years. From CEO’s through to health workers and community elders the ‘Women of Yarrabah’ will shine the spotlight strongly upon a very humble and unassuming section of the Yarrabah Community.

Each day during March GYHS will publish a new ‘Women of Yarrabah’ profile. GYHS CEO, Suzanne Andrews praised the contribution that community members, “We have so many incredible and truly inspiring women in Yarrabah. They are mothers, daughters, grand-mothers first and foremost, but for many they also many of the key workers that keep our community moving forward. Like women everywhere, they are mothers first and workers second. They contribute to the financial security of the family as well as running the family and in many cases, they are the glue the binds the family. We are so proud to bring these stories forward, to give a voice to these silent community champions. As a community we acknowledge the tremendous contribution that our women make.”

To read the GYHS media statement regarding the Women of Yarrabah project click here. The ‘Women of Yarrabah’ profiles can be found of the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service website here.

From top L–R GYHS staff: Renee Grosso, RN Public Health; Suzanne Andrews, CEO, Tamar Patterson; SEWB Manager; Paula Burns, EN, member of the Community Recall team; Lucresia Willett, Cultural Mentor & Youth Wellbeing Program Manager; and Belita Kynuna, Health Worker.

NACCHO pharmacy scholarship update

Last month NACCHO has announced the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. The Scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO would like to thank everyone who has submitted applications for the scholarship and we’re excited to be able to announce the successful applicants in the coming weeks.

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacists and pharmacy students are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession. Building leadership and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals is a critical enabler in supporting cultural safety in the health sector. This financial support combined with mentorship will provide a tangible way to help students to thrive in their professional training and stands to build confident and self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy sector leaders.”

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist said, “Another example of the outstanding leadership of NACCHO and the commitment to the future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy workforce through the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. So delighted to see scholarships supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.”

For more information on the scholarship, visit the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship webpage here.

* If you had hoped to apply, but didn’t get the application in on time, please contact NACCHO as soon as possible on 02 6246 9304 or via email here.

* proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi.

Aged care culture and connections

Wiradjuri and Wongkumara woman, Alynta, considers herself fortunate to have landed her dream job as an aged care worker, caring for older Australians in their homes. Working with clients, Alynta treasures the relationships she gets to build, learning from them, hearing their stories and experiences. “I’ve always wanted to look after Elders, that’s just what you do in an Aboriginal community. Being able to give back to those who’ve cared for others, provide for them, it’s just something I’ve always felt obligated to do,” Alynta said.

With an ingrained drive to care for others it is little wonder Alynta found herself working in aged care. With family from Bourke, far west NSW, Alynta grew up in Condobolin and was raised in a large family of twelve by her Aunty, who she calls Mum. At aged sixteen, Alynta became a young mum herself to a beautiful baby girl. Finishing high school with a newborn was no easy feat, but Alynta was determined to do so. Support from family played a large part in her successfully completing high school and commencing university studies in nursing.

However, Alynta decided that, with a young family, it wasn’t the right time to juggle university and family life. She moved back home to Condobolin where family support and some inspirational Aunties encouraged her to study a Certificate III in Individual Support, starting her career in aged care. “Working in aged care has taught me patience, to be kind and open minded. I feel it has made me a better person in general, but definitely makes me a better mum. Our older people, they impart a lot of knowledge, and because I live so far away from my family, they teach me the things I need to know to approach certain things in life,” Alynta said, reflecting on her role.

“Having more Indigenous people working in the care and support sector motivates the younger generations too. It would be great to have a higher percentage of Indigenous people working in the sector, caring for mob” Alynta said. One thing is certain, working in aged care has provided Alynta with many opportunities for growth and insight into others and herself. In every way it reflects – A Life Changing Life.

You can access the Alynta’s case study in full here.

aged care worker Alynta McKellar, Wiradjuri & Wongkumara woman

Wiradjuri and Wongkumara woman, Alynta McKellar.

CATSINaM marks 25 years of activism

The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) has launched a campaign to celebrate its 25-year anniversary and its powerful history of collective and individual activism. The #CATSINAM25Years campaign was launched this week in a national online webinar with messages of support from founding and current members, former and current board members, the nursing and midwifery union and the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Professor Alison McMillan.

CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djaku-nde peoples, said Indigenous nurses and midwives drew on the strength of the organisation’s founders to face current challenges. “Our model of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control that our Elders and ancestors envisaged 25 years ago provides a strong foundation and the words ‘Unity and Strength through Caring’ gifted then have guided us through these turbulent times,” Professor West said in a statement.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.CATSINaM logo - text 'CATSINaM ltd Congress of ATSI nurses & midwives - unity and strength through caring'

Campaign to tackle smoking rates

Carat Adelaide has launched a new campaign for SA Health – Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) titled “Give Up Smokes”. The challenge faced is that although there has been a decrease in Aboriginal smoking prevalence, tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal people. Smoking-related illnesses cause half of all deaths in Aboriginal people over the age of 45.

This campaign focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal South Australians by reducing the impact of tobacco smoking. The message is ‘live for the moments’, i.e. moments enjoying more quality time with children and family as a key motivator to quit.

Working with creative agency WDM and DASSA, Carat has rolled out a strong multi-channelled campaign using custom DSP targeting in the digital space to convert to site with high impact assets, while balancing the need for broadcast media for awareness in the outdoor space. WDM have overlaid QR codes on street and retail panels in suburbs that have the highest smoking rates in Adelaide, providing quick access to sites for ways to quit, and how to get support while doing so.

Manager of the Tobacco Control Unit in DASSA, Clinton Cenko, said this was a campaign formed from the leadership and vision of Aboriginal community leaders, with guidance from communities. “The campaign’s purpose is to reduce the gap between Aboriginal smoking prevalence and that of the rest of the SAcommunity,” he said. “Smoking is four times more prevalent in Aboriginal communities than in the overall SA population, so this messaging is really important.”

To view the Carat article in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl with arms around father text'quit smoking and live for the moments'

Image source: Carat website.

To Hear for Life: Listen with Care

World Hearing Day held yesterday, had the theme “To Hear for Life: Listen with Care”. The specific focus was on what it feels like to be hearing impaired. In 2021 the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the World Report on Hearing that highlighted the increasing number of people living with and at risk of hearing loss. It found that hearing loss in on the rise, with over 1.5 people worldwide affected by hearing loss. Early detection and intervention programs offer the best outcomes.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is proud to be able to offer a range of audiometry screening services to identify children who may be hearing impaired to allow for early intervention, including the Statewide Infant Screening for Hearing (SWISH) program, whereby all newborn babies born in the MLHD are offered a non-invasive hearing screen. The screening is done very soon after birth so that families and babies can receive early treatment if required.

Audiometry screening is also available at selected Community Health sites including Deniliquin, Wagga Wagga, Young, Cootamundra, West Wyalong & Tumut. GP Referral for Audiometry services is required and received through the Community Care Intake Service (CCIS). MLHD Aboriginal Health Services run the Otitis Media (OM) Screening Program where Aboriginal Health Staff attend schools and preschools to perform Otitis Media screening and education. The screening includes otoscopy, tympanometry and audiogram.

MLHD Director of Clinical Governance, Jill Reyment is using World Hearing Day as a platform to further educate staff about their interactions with co-workers and consumers who may present with deafness. “We are fortunate to have community nurse Anna–Maree Bloomfield working with us. Anna-Maree is deaf and she will be delivering a webinar to staff about communication and sharing her lived experience,” said Ms Reyment.

“Anna-Maree has worked within a variety of roles for NSW Health for over the past 20 years and has to overcome many communication barriers and obstacles around communicating effectively within the workforce. The past two years have posed a significant challenge for Anna-Maree, as she relies on lip-reading to communicate, and mask wearing mandates associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic meant we had to rethink ways to facilitate her ability to communicate with staff and patients.

You can view a video of Anna-Marree below and view the NSW Government Health MLHD article in full click here.

Eye and Ear survey launched

About 5,000 people are expected to participate in Australia’s first national survey combining ear and eye health, launched yesterday to coincide with World Hearing Day. ‘The Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey’ is a national study that will assess the prevalence of eye and ear conditions, as well as risk factors and impacts of vision and hearing loss in the community. It will be the country’s first hearing national survey, and its second vision study building on the National Eye Health Survey in 2016.

Director of Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WMIR) Vision Research Professor Paul Mitchell is leading the study, and inaugural cochlear chair in hearing and health at Macquarie University Hearing, Professor Bamini Gopinath, is leading the ear health component. Gopinath said vision and hearing loss were key health issues in Australia, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and older, more than 11% have a vision impairment or are blind, and up to 82% have some form of hearing loss,” she said.

“Our researchers will be door knocking in eligible communities in city, regional and remote areas to invite people to take part, with the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and older and non-Indigenous Australians aged 50 and older. Participants will have their vision and hearing tested, and will be surveyed to help us build up a picture of what sort of factors are influencing hearing and vision loss, and how these impairments affect people.”

For further information about the survey you can access the full Insight article here.

Aboriginal dark grey, white, orange art with hands ear, eyes & text 'Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey'

Image source: Insight website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March June Oscar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner is inviting you to listen to and celebrate First Nation’s women by watching and sharing a beautiful animation featuring the real-life voices of First Nations women and celebrating their ongoing contributions to their communities.

  • Watch our animation – Yajilarra Nhingi, Mindija Warrma (From Dreams, Let’s Make it Reality).
  • Share the animation – on social media or by screening it at your workplace or school.
  • Take action to support First Nations gender justice and equality.

“Women are the social fabric of our communities and the glue that holds everything together. We are sovereign women. It is time to listen to our voices now.”  Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) is a ground-breaking report and project, driven by First Nations Women and Girls across the nation. Now in its implementation stage, Wiyi Yani U Thangani is building towards a national summit and framework to advance First Nations gender justice and equality. This International Women’s Day, celebrate the strength of First Nations women. Watch, listen and support women’s voices and Wiyi Yani U Thangani.

tile: vector image of Aboriginal women & text 'International women's day Tuesday 8 March 2022'

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

feature tile text ' NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino speaks about the spread of COVID-19 & screenshot of Dr Agostino from interview

NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino was a guest on the ABC The Drum panel hosted by Stan Grant on Friday 4 February 2022. Asked what is particular to Indigenous communities that enhances the risk and spread of COVID-19 Dr Agostino said “the central problem, particularly in the NT, is poor quality housing, with people living in crowded homes with multiple generations in there, so in those circumstances COVID-19 spreads really rapidly and on top of that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease at earlier ages, so young people are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 because of those conditions.”

Dr Agostino said that NACCHO has been very vocal in their advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and has been pushing as hard as possible, over a long period of time to have the underlying social determinants of health addressed. Dr Agostino said that while there have been some things that have moved forward with regard to health services during the pandemic, there is still so much to do, “It is about the community-controlled sector being at the table, that is what the priority reforms of the National Agreement are about, they are about switching that relationship in bringing community-controlled organisations, whether they are health or in the social sector to the table to have a greater role in decision-making.”

To view Dr Agostino being interviewed on The Drum (from 17:42 to 30:36 minutes) click here.

Stan Grant host The Drum, panellist Dr Jason Agostino screen shot

ACCHO CEO slams vax misinformation 

Gurriny Yealamuck Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) CEO Sue Andrews has spoken out strongly against COVID-19 vaccination misinformation. Ms Andrew’s Facebook post (on 25 January 2022) below, which was also featured on the Queensland Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Craig Crawford’s Facebook page, struck back against those spreading the misinformation is GYHSAC’s Facebook post below.

We have all received the email from a member of the Nigerian royal family offering us untold wealth if we help them out with our bank details. We accept this is a scam, in the same way we accept that calls from NBN Technical Support are scams. The latest ‘scam’ circulating on social media relate to the supposed death of Lachlan Leary from a COVID related heart attack.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services chief executive Suzanne Andrews spoke out today regarding the impact fake social media posts are having on the health care of her community. “We all know the Nigerian prince emails and NBN Technical Support phone calls are a hoax. They are designed to steal our money. But what’s worse is the fake social media posts like the Lachlan Leary post, posts of this nature are appalling, they are designed to take our most precious, our children,” Ms Andrews stated.

“We commenced our children vaccination rollout earlier this month. In the first week we vaccinated more than 20% of our kids. Unfortunately, the Facebook fake post circulated through our community’s social media pages over the following weekend and we saw our number drop in the second week. The post is fake, totally discredited by Westmead Hospital in Sydney, but the damage has been done. In our community there are some members who have concerns regarding vaccination. These people are targeted by anti-vaxxers pushing their distorted truth with lies. “If you have concerns regarding vaccination, speak to your GP or come and talk to our GPs.”

screenshot of false FB post about child dying from covid-19 vax

Screenshot of Facebook post referred to by GYHSAC Facebook page 25 January 2022.

BDAC reaches vax milestone

Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) recently celebrated a new milestone after successfully vaccinating 89% of the active Indigenous population in the Greater Bendigo region, something Victoria’s COVID commander Jeroen Weimar dropped by to praise their efforts on last week. BDAC CEO Raylene Harradine said the visit from the COVID commander was also to encourage people to get their third booster shot. “Mr Weimar toured our Prouses Road site to see first-hand the work our Aboriginal Health Practitioners have been doing in protect Community against COVID,” she said.

“BDAC was quick to respond to the need to protect community against the virus and we established a vaccination clinic onsite.” Mr Weimar congratulated the team at BDAC on its great results as well as the expansion work that is underway.

To view the Bendigo Advertiser news article in full click here.

BDAC staff Dallas Widdicombe & Jaydene Burzacott in clinic room

Dallas Widdicombe and Jaydene Burzacott preparing for COVID-19 vaccinations at Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative. Photo: Darren Howe. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

VACCHO and cohealth partner to roll out vax

Not-for-profit community health service, cohealth, and the Victorian Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), have partnered to roll out a vaccination road show across regional Victoria. cohealth will this week be offering vaccinations in Orbost, Halls Gap, Stawell, and Ararat for the local community. In the last two weeks cohealth has taken the mobile vaccination clinic to Aboriginal health centres in Swan Hill, Mildura, Kerang and Morwell. Acting CEO, Chris Turner, said that the success of the activity relies on the partnership with VACCHO, and utilising spaces that are familiar and welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher is very pleased to be working with cohealth to get the vans back on the road and believes they will be an excellent addition to the great work achieved by ACCHOs across Victoria. “I’ve been so proud of the way the vans have been welcomed with open arms – it has been incredible. We have seen some great outcomes achieved by the ACCO vaccine van. This reflects what trust looks like in the community,” said Ms Gallagher.

To read the media release in full click here.

tile text 'Protect MOB - ACCO COVID VACCINE VAN coming to Orbost! - avail 1st & 2nd does bosters child vax 5-11 years' & logos VACCHO & cohealth

Image source: VACCHO Facebook page.

Healing centre breaking FV cycle

Devon Cuimara left an abusive home and started abusing his own partner until he found a way to break the cycle of family violence. It’s this lived experience that allows him to help others do the same. “I wasn’t born violent. I grew up with violence, and if you grow up with violence it becomes the norm and I believed it to be the norm because everywhere I looked, it was.”

As Devon says, the problem is widespread. A 2018 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found Indigenous women are one of the most at-risk groups for family violence, being 32 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Indigenous women. And two in five Indigenous homicide victims (41%) were killed by a current or former partner.

Devon now spends his time working as the founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC), a not-for-profit organisation working to break the cycle of domestic violence in WA’s Pilbara region. The centre is based in Newman, a small mining town almost 1200km northeast of Perth, with a large Indigenous population that has become vulnerable to poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence. The AMHC was born after Devon’s own attempts to use mainstream rehabilitation services fell flat because he says they failed to address decades of intergenerational trauma which dates back to colonisation.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

Devon Cuimara standing in front of gumtree

Devon Cuimara, founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC). Image source: 7 News.

Decision should lead to better public housing

The NT court of appeal has upheld a ruling that state-owned housing must be reasonably comfortable to be considered habitable, in a decision that advocates say should result in better housing outcomes for remote communities across the territory. The decision follows a six-year legal battle brought by residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community 85km south-east of Alice Springs. The community said inadequate and inhumane housing was due to repeated failures by public housing authorities to conduct necessary repairs.

Seventy residents took the territory government to the NT civil and appeals tribunal over the state of housing in the Eastern Arrernte community in 2016. One of the claimants lived with a blocked toilet and a leaking shower for 269 days and many homes had missing doors, faulty stoves and leaking air conditioners. One resident, Enid Young, went without an air conditioner for 540 days.

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

street scene of Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) NT

Residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community argued inadequate and inhumane housing was due to failures by public housing authorities to conduct repairs. Photo: Grenville Turner, AAP. Image source: The Guardina

First Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon

Australia’s first Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon is a trailblazer, forging a path for young First Nations athletes to overcome injury. A proud Dharug man, Dr Anthony Murray has extensive experience in trauma, joint replacement and general orthopaedic surgery and is passionate about providing the best possible medical attention to his patients.

Dr Murray is a driving force in the First Nations realm through his role in the Australian Orthopaedic Association, as the chair for the Cultural Inclusion Working Group, “Orthopaedics is one of those areas where you get to work with people with an immobility and be able to help them regain movement and their life. That’s what I love about it,” he said.

Growing up in Central Queensland, orthopaedics was not Dr Murray’s first career choice. He was hoping to pave a career as an AFL player, but a knee injury set his course on a different trajectory, “I was playing some regional football and working my way towards that goal and ended up having a pretty bad knee injury.”

To view the Sunshine Coast News article in full click here.

Dr Anthony Murray

An injury changed Dr Anthony Murray’s life and allowed him to help others. Image source: Sunshine Coast News.

New Lifeline service for hard-to-reach

Since 2019, Lifeline has provided Australia’s only Crisis Text helpline, providing support to people in psychological distress. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Australian Government, Lifeline Australia has now been able to fast-track the expansion of text and chat services to 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to meet demand and increase accessibility for hard-to-reach groups.

Lifeline CEO Colin Seery said that rather than diverting phone calls from the 13 11 14 service, the always-on digital platform has in fact increased the range and total number of people contacting the organisation. This is a landmark in suicide prevention in Australia and is all about bringing help to people who are in situations and environments where accessing support through digital communication is the only safe or viable option, said Mr Seery.

To view Lifeline’s media release in full click here.banner line drawing woman texting text 'what to talk about it? in speech bubble, Lifeline counsellor with headset, Lifeline 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.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held every February to educate Australians on ovarian cancer, and raise awareness by sharing the stories of real women affected by the disease. One Australian woman dies from ovarian cancer every eight hours.

Cancer Council WA (CCWA) is reminding women in the Pilbara to remain ever vigilant about the changes in their body. CCWA Pilbara regional education officer Anne Johnston said women should pay attention to any unusual, new, persistent or troublesome symptoms. “If you have any of the symptoms and they happen on most days for three weeks or more, particularly if you’re over 50 or have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, go to your doctor or Aboriginal Health Professional and get a check-up,” she said. “You won’t be wasting the doctor’s time and in most cases it won’t be anything to worry about but if it is cancer, your chances of successfully treating it are much greater.”

“More research is required to better understand the causes of ovarian cancer but as with many cancers, there are steps we can take to reduce our overall individual cancer risk, including quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, getting enough exercise, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and reducing alcohol intake.” Women are advised to look out for any pain in the lower and side abdomen, irregular periods or bleeding after menopause, back pain, loss of appetite, indigestion or nausea.

For more information about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month click here and to view the full article in the Albany Advertiser about CCWA’s ovarian cancer awareness raising activities click here.

tile text 'Feb is ovarian cancer awareness month' & image of gloved surgical hands holding paper cut-off female reproductive organs

Image source: Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

feature tile text 'Aboriginal orgs write open letter to NT Chief Min re escalating covid-19 outbreak' & image of health professional in PPE administering vax to Aboriginal man

Note: image in feature tile from The Guardian – photo: Katherine Morrow.

Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), AMSANT, the Central Land Council and the CEO of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation have written an open letter to the NT Chief Minister saying “as Aboriginal organisations representing our communities across the NT, we are writing to you about the rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Central Australia. We have been advocating continuously for firm action to slow the outbreak since it began in the early days of 2022.”

“However, our requests have been ignored, or action taken too late or on too small a scale to make a real difference. There has been a significant failure by government agencies in Central Australia to put into practice the plans agreed with your government before the outbreak. This has directly led to COVID spreading out of control in the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia and beyond.”

To read the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal people with masks sitting along long bench

Image source: 7 News website.

9 out of 10 NT COVID patients Aboriginal

Nine out of 10 of the patients with COVID-19 in NT hospitals are Aboriginal people, a rate which health experts say is “concerning” but, unfortunately, not surprising. The NT reopened its borders last month and, since then, coronavirus has spread into every region in the territory.

“We predicted this, predicted that the virus would spread like wildfire through our remote communities and this is exactly what we’re seeing now,” Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said. “This is a jurisdiction where we’ve got high numbers of the most vulnerable population in Australia.

“Aboriginal Territorians are the sickest in this country with all the chronic illnesses and it was just going to be doubly hard for them if they contracted COVID for them to recover. “It’s very alarming, very concerning, we’re disappointed.”

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

portrait of Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman

Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman, said experts had long warned that Aboriginal people were more at risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Image source: ABC News.

CoronaCheck fights misinformation

CoronaCheck is RMIT ABC Fact Check’s weekly email newsletter dedicated to fighting the misinformation infodemic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

You can read an extract from latest edition below, and subscribe to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

Welcome to the first edition of CoronaCheck for 2022. As the world enters the third year of the pandemic, we remain committed to helping our readers separate fact from fiction.

This week, we take a look at some of the most pervasive incorrect claims being spread over the summer — from the fake death of a child supposedly following a COVID-19 vaccination to the continued misrepresentation of coronavirus hospitalisation and death statistics.

To view the ABC News item in full click here.

vector image covid-19 cell with text 'Corona Check' red, black, beige colours

Whole-of-organisation approach gets results

New research from the University of WA (UWA) has highlighted the importance of a whole-of-organisation approach in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients.

Putting Policy into Practice: How Three Cancer Services Perform against Indigenous Health and Cancer Frameworks is the first study to compare the performance of tertiary cancer services against two national Australian best practice guidelines.

Lead author, researcher Emma Taylor from UWA’s WA Centre for Rural Health, said with cancer one of the leading causes of death for Indigenous Australians, it’s time to focus attention on how cancer services are best delivered to this section of the population.

“The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework and the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health are key national policy documents that aim to reduce health disparities,” Ms Taylor said.

To view the University of WA article in full click here.

WA Centre for Rural Health researcher Emma Taylor

Researcher Emma Taylor from the WA Centre for Rural Health. Image source: University of WA website.

Tracking BBV and STI strategy progress

The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society’s reportTracking the progress 2019: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander BBV and STI strategy provides an annual account of progress of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-borne Virus (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI) Strategy.

Australia’s National BBV and STI Strategies aim to improve testing, treatment and uptake of preventative measures for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, STIs and HIV, and to reduce the incidence, morbidity, mortality,  personal and social impacts they cause.

The report describes the targets, objectives and indicators of the strategy, and the level of progress being made in response.

To view the report click here.

Aboriginal dot art of communicable disease spread, over map of Australia

Image source: ATSIHAW HIV and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities in 2017 booklet.

Planning for end of life

The GroundSwell Project has released a video Yarning our wishes: a film about planning for end of life which aims to provide health professionals and community organisations with key points and learnings, as well as other cultural considerations when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in end-of-life care. 

The GroundSwell Project collaborated with partners, CuriousWorks, South Western Sydney Local Health District Palliative Care, and Aboriginal communities in South Western Sydney, NSW for conversations about what matters and what is missing when it comes to planning and caring for someone when they are dying.

The video below is accompanied by a guide, which also offers additional resources about end-of-life care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can access the guide and resources here.

Kidney health information for mob

Kidney Health Australia has a webpage which provides information about kidney health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It covers the following:

  • the role of the kidneys
  • ways to keep your kidneys healthy and reduce your risk of getting kidney disease
  • information on kidney health checks.

The page has links to further resources on these topics, including:

To view the Kidney Health Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people website page click here.

Aboriginal painting re kidney health

Image source: Kidney Health Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

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

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

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

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

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

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

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

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

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

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

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

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

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

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

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the AMA Media release here.

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

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

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

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

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

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

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

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

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

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

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

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

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

You can view the newsletter here.


New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

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

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

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

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

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

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

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

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

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

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

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

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

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

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

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

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

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

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

Some of the key findings:

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

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

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covid Song – Ali Curung

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

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

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

Managing inappropriate comments online

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

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation


New process for job advertising

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

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