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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

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

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

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

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

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

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

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

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

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

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

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

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

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

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

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the AMA Media release here.

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

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

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

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

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

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

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

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

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

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

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

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

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

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

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

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

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

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

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

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

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

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

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

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

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

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

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

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

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

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

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

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

Some of the key findings:

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

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

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covid Song – Ali Curung

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

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

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

Managing inappropriate comments online

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

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can view the media release here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

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

Danila Dilba_30 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raise The Age logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

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

First COVID death in the NT

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Connecting primary care, research and policy

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

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

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

Diabetes strategy endorsed

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

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

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release click here,

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

$1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

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

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

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

You can read the media statement by NACCHO here.

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

Image source: AbSec website.

Lessons learnt to inform future vaccination efforts

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

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

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

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

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

Boosting vaccination rates in WA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mental health app in Pitjantjatjara and Aboriginal English

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

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

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

Elimination of violence against women

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development

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

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

For more information and to download the report click here.

The Story of Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

BRAMS Newsletter October 2021

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

You can download the newsletter here.

BRAMS COVID VAX-A-THON

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

A Life Changing Life – Webinar

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Alarming vaccination gap

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: NITV

Alarming vaccination gap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dubbo’s vaccine response a role model

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Current NT COVID-19 outbreak linked to earlier clusters

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccines - ABC iview

$53.3M spent to improve health sector in NSW

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

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

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

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

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

Rapid Antigen Testing in the NT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIDA supports COVID-safe reopening of the NT

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

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

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

You can read the AIDA media release here.

Welcome to Robinson River Community sign

Robinson River Community. Image source ABC News.

Visitors made homeless in Katherine’s lockdown

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Get a jab and an autograph this weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doomdagee mob encouraged to get the jab

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Delta Spread communication resources

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

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

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

Delta Spread - image tile

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

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

$10 million to tackle health impacts of climate change

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

Vaccination milestone celebrated in West Sydney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lockdown and new mask rules in NT

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

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

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

You can read the article in SBS News here.

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

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

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

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

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

Ernie Dingo leads ‘Vax the Outback’ campaign

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

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

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

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

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

Gestational diabetes increases risk of developing type 2

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

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

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

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

Researchers say more funding is needed for diabetes prevention programs.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Nicotine Vaping Legislative Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

E-cigarettes and Vaping graphics - Clinicians_Twitter

CTG Report 2022: Request for Case Studies

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

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

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

Expressions of interest are due by Friday 19th November.

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

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

Course in vaccinology and immunisation science

Module 1: A primer in vaccines and immunisation

7pm – 10pm AEDT, 17 November 2021

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

The first ‘Primer’ module in 2021 is FREE.

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

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

A primer in vaccines and immunisation

Improving Outcomes – Interventions, Networks and Pharmacotherapies

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCCRED Symposium 2021 - banner

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

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

‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

Point of care testing for syphilis

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

Vaccination gap a big concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccination Gap

 

Orange region passes 95% double vaxxed

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

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

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

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

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

Rumbalara vaccine rollout boosted by van

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Shepparton News here.

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

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

Requirements for a safe COVID opening up of the NT

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

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

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

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

You can view the media release by AMSANT here.

AMSANT - Vaccinate to protect our community

Concerns as COVID care transitions back to community

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

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

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

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

You can visit and interact with the infographic here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap

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

Seeking submissions on cannabis use or diabetes research

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

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

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

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

The closing date for submission is Thursday 23 December 2021.

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

Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet _ Edith Cowan University

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Save the date – HIV Awareness Week Trivia

HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 - Save the date.

Join us for ATSIHAW virtual trivia

Save the date: Inviting all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 at 3pm (AEST), 1 December 2021.
 
Each year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week gets a conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV.
 
What team will take the title this year?
Will Condoman or Lubelicious make an appearance?
Special prizes for BEST and WORST dressed once again.
 
Stay tuned! More information coming soon.
ATSIHAW2021 VIRTUAL TRIVIA - Save the date.

#TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

Struggle to vaccinate communities in QLD

Health officials in Queensland are struggling to vaccinate Indigenous communities across the state due to misinformation and hesitancy.

Health officials are taking vaccines directly to communities. Teams of nurses from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital began the clinic last week in partnership with Indigenous health workers.

“It enables people to have a private conversation and ask the questions that they’ve got about vaccine. We know that there is misinformation, we know that there is hesitancy and I think having that personal conversation with people makes a difference,” said Michelle Forrest from Darling Downs Health.

135 vaccines have been delivered in the week since the program started, but with a 2-dose vaccination rate of 27% Cherbourg still has a long way to go.

You can view the story on the ABC News website.

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland.

COVID-19 vaccination highly effective

Fully vaccinated people have been significantly less likely to become seriously ill or die, and better protected from acquiring COVID-19, during the Delta outbreak.

Yesterday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant highlighted the findings in the latest NSW Health In Focus report which shows hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths were all far lower among the fully vaccinated population during the outbreak’s peak. Dr Chant said the report also makes it clear fully vaccinated people were significantly less likely to become infected with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 Delta outbreak has been the biggest challenge the state has faced during the pandemic because of its transmissibility. However, this report shows vaccination has been key in protecting ourselves, our families, and the community from the harmful effects of the virus,” Dr Chant said.

You can read more on the NSW Government Department of Health website.
You can view the In Focus report here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

98% of COVID-19 cases in Moree are First Nations people

Large gatherings have led to an explosion of COVID-19 positive cases in and around Moree in the past week. Since the first positive cases were identified last Monday, the number of positive tests has jumped close to 100, and COVID-19 has also been found in the neighbouring shire of Inverell.

The surging outbreak is almost exclusively impacting Aboriginal people: 98 per cent of the 94 active cases on Sunday were Indigenous, according to NSW Health. And the vast majority with the virus, at present, are young: 90 per cent are under 40, and 43 per cent are under 20.

Ros Rose, nursing manager at Moree’s Pius X Aboriginal Corporation, said the organisation, which provides health care to 3,500 Indigenous residents, has been offering vaccines since March but has struggled to convince young people to get the jab. The outbreak has been a “wake-up call”, she said, and more people – about 30 a day – are now coming for their vaccinations.

After having COVID-19 for a week, 34-year-old Gomeroi woman Lisa Duncan now regrets that she was hesitant. She said she was anxious about side effects, and thought: “I’ll be right, I won’t get coronavirus.”

Now, she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she’s clear of the virus. She doesn’t want to get it again.

“I can’t be a voice for everybody but just coming from my point of view, get the vax, or you do suffer. The symptoms are bad, it’s horrible.”

You can read the article in the Brisbane Times here.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Raising awareness around perinatal mental health

In Australia, one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety. Many support services have seen a sharp rise in calls for help during the pandemic. Health experts say Indigenous, multicultural and LGBTIQ+ families are especially at risk.

“We know that so many parents are having a really hard time, even more than normal,” said clinical psychologist Chris Barnes from Gidget Foundation Australia.

It’s why more than 40 organisations across Australia have united to help raise awareness for Perinatal Mental Health Week, which runs from 7 to 13 November.

Their aim is to break down the stigmas, particularly affecting parents from Indigenous and migrant backgrounds, that prevent many families from reaching out for help.

“New and expectant parents are not alone. There are many services available,” said Ms Barnes.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

Strong community support for #RaisetheAge

The ACT Council of Community Service (ACTCOSS) has commended the ACT Government on its progress towards raising the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT. In its Listening Report, the ACT Government found that 90 per cent of submissions supported raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 years. It also showed that:

  • this change is required to protect the safety and wellbeing of the Territory’s children and young people
  • medical evidence clearly shows that children under the age of 14 are developmentally and neurologically unable to form criminal intent and should not be held criminally responsible for their actions; and
  • there is limited support for the creation of exceptions or ‘carve outs’ to the minimum age for serious or repetitive behaviour.

“All the evidence tells us that prison is no place for children. Not only is the brain of a child under 13 years of age not yet sufficiently developed to understand criminal responsibility, we know that imprisoning kids only makes them far more likely to become repeat adult offenders,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell.

You can view the media release by ACTCOSS here.
The Listening Report and submissions can be found on the ACT Government YourSay website.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

Improving access to mental health services 

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has welcomed the Final Report from the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and the recommendations to improve access to services for people in rural and remote Australia. The Committee recommended the Australian Government leverage the existing Australian Rural Health Education Network by providing funding for clinical placements in regional, rural and remote university clinics and using these clinics to trial multi-disciplinary, hybrid mental health hubs that integrate digital services and face to face services.

“For more than twenty years the University Departments of Rural Health have been training health students from a range of allied health disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and pharmacy to work in rural and remote locations. With appropriate additional resourcing our rurally-based university campuses would be well-placed to deliver on the Committee’s recommendation to trial mental health clinics and hubs which may offer a mix of digital and face to face services for people in rural and remote regions,” said Chair of ARHEN Christine Howard.

You can read the media release by ARHEN here.
You can view the Final Report here.

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

Aerial view of APY Lands community Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Post-Lockdown support for Belconnen and Gungahlin mob

Lockdown has put a strain on households with the increase in electricty and heating usage and Yerrabi Yurwang are providing support of $100 towards utility bills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families residing in Belconnen or Gungahlin areas.

Funds are limited and to be eligible for this support you must be:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • be over 18 and
  • live in the Belconnen or Gungahlin area

For more information, please contact Selina Walker at: info@yerrabi.org.au

You can download a flyer for the initiative here.
Please visit the Yerrabi Yurwang website to apply.

Hands of different skin tones gently stacked.

Image source: Yerrabi Yurwang 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 Health News: ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated.

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

On Tuesday night, NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips spoke to John Paul Janke and Narelda Jacobs on SBS NITV The Point about COVID-19 vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy and complacency, and the lifting of borders and other restrictions.

“We have seen services go above and beyond to get our mob vaccinated. We’ve had door-to-door vaccinations, we’ve had vax-a-thons, we’ve had barbeques. Whatever it takes, our services on the ground are going to do,” said Phillips.

“It’s really important that people go out and get vaccinated.”

You can watch episode 27 of season 2021 here.
Phillips joins the program at 15 minutes and 36 seconds.

NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips on The Point, NITV.

 

WA rolls up sleeves during football festival

South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) attended the GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival in Bunbury on Saturday 30 October 2021 where they had a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic set up. They offered COVID-19 vaccines and provided general information about their services and programs to community. Thank you to everyone who Rolled Up for WA!

SWAMS at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021

SWAMS with COVID-19 vaccination clinic at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021.

Congratulations to ACT Senior Australian of the Year nominee

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today congratulated Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, on her the nomination for the Senior Australian of the Year award.

Julie Tongs is one of the ACT’s most prominent and respected community leaders. She has worked in the CEO position at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services for more than 20 years, advocating for health care services to be delivered in a culturally appropriate way to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Julie Tongs is an an incredible leader, service provider and campaigner for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT and beyond. She is a fearless advocate for people who face inequality and injustice not only in the health services sector but also on issues including child protection, justice, housing and the other social determinants of health and wellbeing.”

You can read more about Ms Tongs nomination in the ACTCOSS media release here.

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services,

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

Only half of mob fully vaccinated

According to SBS News, just 50.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 63 per cent have gotten their first jab as of Wednesday 27 October 2021. Across the country, about 76 per cent of all over-16s are double-dosed and nearly 88 per cent have received one dose.

Concerns were raised after more than 200 Indigenous workers at remote community stores, mostly in the Northern Territory, were left unvaccinated two weeks out from the jurisdiction’s jab mandate deadline.

More than 20 Aboriginal leaders and health professionals have sought a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his ministers for health and Indigenous Australians.

There is alarm about the lack of “realistic or actionable contingency plans” to deal with outbreaks agreed to by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and Indigenous experts.

“It is evident that quarantine is currently near-impossible for those in overcrowded housing, as well as those without ready access to food, grocery and pharmaceutical delivery services,” the letter said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

Half of Australia's Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

Half of Australia’s Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

The impact of climate change for mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on the frontlines of the climate emergency, with record temperatures, drought, and loss of biodiversity compounding social and health inequities caused by more than 200 years of colonisation.

It was reported this week that a group of five young Australians, including Wiradjuri teenager, Ethan Lyons, have lodged three human rights complaints with the United Nations over the Morrison Government’s inaction in climate change. And Torres Strait Islander communities, fearful that their islands will be wiped out by sea level incursion and storm damage, have also filed a class action arguing that the Australian Government must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 74 percent.

Affordable, secure energy supply is a critical issue in places like Tennant Creek, where residents are seeing an increasing number of days above 40 degrees Celsius, and the inside temperature of some homes can soar as high as 60 degrees Celsius.

Reliable energy supply takes on added importance for many in the community who require reliable power to undergo kidney dialysis, including Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank, a Waru­mungu Tra­di­tion­al Own­er who requires dialysis three times a week.

“The seasons don’t really match with our climate in our Country how it used to be,” he said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

An expert in the field of Indigenous suicide prevention is optimistic about progress being made to tackle the high rates of suicide in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA following a report by the WA Ombudsman Chris Field. The report was tabled in WA Parliament evaluating the progress towards recommendations made in his previous report on the topic from last year. The Ombudsman’s investigation, Preventing suicide by children and young people 2020, made mention of the disproportionately high rate of suicide within the Indigenous population and included seven recommendations. Two of the recommendations were specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bardi woman and Director of the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, Pat Dudgeon welcomed the follow-up report.

“What I liked about it was that they’ve followed through, that there is some kind of continuation rather than do a report and then let it gather dust and forget the issues,” she said.

You can read the article in National Indigenous Times here.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Costs of accreditation standards for ACCOs

Who benefits from the maze of accreditation standards affecting the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs)?

This critical question is raised in an article by Croakey Health Media. Written by Jenifer Darr, a Yuwi Vanuatu woman and researcher, it invites ACCOs to participate in research investigating the impacts of accreditation standards on their work.

Australia has a national network of more than 154 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCOs) providing holistic primary healthcare wrap around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Accreditation Standards are premised on supporting quality improvement in the work of ACCOs. However, the application of multiple, different standards represents a significant business expense for ACCOs.

You can ready the article in Croakey Health Media here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Yarrabah’s digital health journey

Episode 8 of Build ‘Em Up is a special podcast with guest host, Jen Beer, a Darlot woman who works with regional and remote communities for nbnTM. We chatted with the team at the Gurriny Yealamucka (Gurriny) Health Service Aboriginal Corporation at Yarrabah in Far North Queensland – Chief Executive Sue Andrews and Medical Director Dr Jason King.

Themes included expanding the medical perspective of primary care to encompass social, spiritual and cultural health, as well as the health service’s digital journey to prioritise high quality services, information and data.

Build ‘Em Up, which is supported by nbnTM, is available here.

'Build 'Em Up' podcast episode 8.

 

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.