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

Major parties have barely said anything useful

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

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

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

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

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

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

Poor public policy without consultation

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

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

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

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

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

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

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

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

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

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

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

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

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

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

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

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

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

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

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

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

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO CEO on ABC Four Corners

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating the Women of Yarrabah

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO pharmacy scholarship update

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

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

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

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

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

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

* proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi.

Aged care culture and connections

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

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

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

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

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

aged care worker Alynta McKellar, Wiradjuri & Wongkumara woman

Wiradjuri and Wongkumara woman, Alynta McKellar.

CATSINaM marks 25 years of activism

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

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

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

Campaign to tackle smoking rates

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

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

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

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

To view the Carat article in full click here.

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

Image source: Carat website.

To Hear for Life: Listen with Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eye and Ear survey launched

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Insight website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Women’s Day

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal 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: Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Feature tile - Thu 23.9.21 - Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Two-thirds of First Nations Australian adults at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if unvaccinated

Almost three-in-five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at an elevated risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 due to ongoing health inequities, found a major study undertaken by researchers and health practitioners at The Australian National University (ANU), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Lowitja Institute.

The study examined the prevalence of health factors like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, which all increase the risk of severe illness if an unvaccinated person gets COVID-19. It found 59 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have these and other existing conditions that could increase the risk of needing intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation or death if they contract COVID-19 and are not vaccinated.

Dr Jason Agostino from ANU, and a medical advisor to NACCHO, said: “… there are almost 300,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are at higher risk of getting very sick if they are not vaccinated and get COVID-19. This is why getting the vaccine is so important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, said: “Our communities are strong and resilient and have responded rapidly and effectively to the pandemic when they have been trusted, enabled and resourced by governments to lead the way. We need governments to work together with Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisations to support culturally safe delivery of vaccines and improve data collection to increase vaccination coverage as quickly as we can.”

You can read the media release by ANU here.
The study is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

Spread of COVID-19 in Eurobodalla’s sparks alarm

Aboriginal elders, health professionals and politicians say they are concerned about the growing COVID-19 cluster among the Eurobodalla’s Indigenous community.

The cluster linked to Batemans Bay on the NSW far south coast has grown to 19 cases since the first case was reported on September 6.

Bega MP Andrew Constance has expressed concern that the Indigenous population is vulnerable to further spread.

“There is no doubt when you have a vulnerable cohort within the community, that is something we are very concerned about,” he said.

Despite the fact 60 per cent are now fully vaccinated in the region, there is a push to increase the rates among the local Indigenous population. Walk-in clinics will be open at:

  • The Wallaga Lake Community Hall from 10:00am on Thursday September 23.
  • The Bodalla soccer oval from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Sunday September 26.
  • Eden at the community health centre between 10:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday September 25.
  • Twofold, Jigamy on Thursday September 30. 

You can read the article in ABC News here.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Historic moment creates opportunity for COVID-19 vaccine promo

The McGowan Labor Government has launched the next phase of its Roll up for WA COVID-
19 vaccination campaign to help get as many Western Australians vaccinated as possible.

The emotive campaign reinforces the benefits of vaccination by featuring Western Australian personal stories of life before the COVID-19 pandemic, by reminiscing of a time when we were safely connected with the world and lived life without fear of a local outbreak.

The commercial (that can be viewed below the story) stars Sheree, a young Aboriginal nursing student, whose roots stretch between the Nyiyaparli and Banjima people originating from Port Hedland, who is passionate about encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine because she wants to keep her community safe.

With all eyes on WA hosting the 2021 AFL Grand Final this Saturday, the McGowan Government is leveraging the historic moment in WA by maximising opportunities to promote the campaign and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The campaign also includes an informative video series with respected medical professional Dr Karl. Through the video series, Dr Karl answers the most common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

You  can view the media release by the McGowan Labor Government here.
For more information about the campaign, visit the Roll up for WA website here.

Growing urgency to vaccinate remote Elders before any border reopening

“It’s only a matter of time before Delta gets here, and it could be bad,” says Mr Chris Bin Kali, the director of the Broome Aboriginal Medical Service.

“It will only take one person and we could lose a whole community — lose the whole language, history, lore and culture in one go.”

It’s a grim message delivered with a sole aim — to get as many Kimberley people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Outback ingenuity is on display. Some remote communities are raffling off washing machines and fishing gear to those getting the jab. Open-invite vaxathons are using country and western music and AFL players to try to cut through. Slowly but surely, it is starting to work.

Vickie O’Donnell, who heads Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, says she expects some communities will opt to remain shut.

The outback vaccine rollout is complicated by poor telecommunications, limited road access and a highly mobile population.

But in this critical moment, the years of work by Aboriginal health organisations to build a skilled health workforce is delivering a huge payoff.

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Statement of support for TGA

Australia’s leading evidence-based health and medical organisations including NACCHO, stand beside Australia’s key medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

We express full support for the vital work the TGA does to assess and regulate new medicines and vaccines. The TGA has a strong reputation for being expert, independent and rigorous in its assessments of new products, and is similarly rigorous in its assessment of the safety of vaccines, so as to improve and protect the health of all Australians.

Another essential role of our medicines regulator is to challenge, and where necessary, prosecute those who seek to mislead the Australian public about important health information so as to pursue their own interests. This role is particularly important in the current global health crisis.

Now is a time when Australians must have confidence in the assessments and recommendations of the TGA, and we believe Australians’ trust in the TGA is well placed.

You can read the statement of support at the Burnet Institute website here.

TGA logo

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns

A new digital surveillance platform has launched enabling healthcare professionals to map circulating antibiotic-resistant pathogens in northern Australia.

The HOTspots platform, developed in the HOT NORTH program, covers tropical areas in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia and has information about up to 13 pathogens and their associated antibiotics.

Lead researcher, Dr Teresa Wozniak, Senior Research Fellow and APPRISE Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research, said the HOTspots program and digital platform support antibiotic stewardship activities in northern Australia, allowing clinicians to choose “the right drugs for the right bugs”.

“The HOTspots data, and now a digital platform, allow end users including doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners across regional and remote hospitals and clinics to have access to accurate local up-to-date data to make decisions at the point of care,” Dr Wozniak said.

View the HOTspots platform and read more about the HOT NORTH program.

You can read the joint media release by Menzies School of Health Research, Hot North and Apprise here.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

Clinical learning e-modules for lung cancer symptoms

Lung Foundation Australia, in collaboration with Cancer Australia, has developed accredited clinical learning e-modules, based on Cancer Australia’s Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals. The e-modules use clinical scenario-based learning to increase confidence among health professionals to recognise symptoms and signs of lung cancer, and support early and rapid referral of symptomatic patients into the multidisciplinary diagnostic pathway.

The modules have received accreditation from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), with health professionals able to gain accreditation of 40 RACGP CPD points.

Sign up for the modules here.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Improving Digital Connectivity for Indigenous Australians

Yesterday the Morrison Government launched public consultations for its landmark Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan to accelerate the digital connectivity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Ensuring Indigenous Australians have quality access to digital technology encourages entrepreneurialism, wealth creation and economic advancement – it’s about closing the gap and taking the next step after that,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how people have relied on technology, not just to stay in touch with family and friends, but also to launch new ventures and navigate through COVID-19.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those in remote communities, are
missing out on opportunities to start new businesses and grow because of access to technology. That is why we are developing a comprehensive plan to address the barriers to digital inclusion,” said Minister Wyatt.

More information and a copy of the discussion paper is available on the NIAA website, or you can contact the Agency at digitalinclusion@niaa.gov.au or on 1800 079 098.
Submissions on the discussion paper close 1 November 2021.

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

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

MDHS Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship

The University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences are pleased to announce that applications for the 2021 round of Indigenous Postdoc fellowships are now open.

The fellowship aims to support the next generation of Indigenous researchers who will actively contribute to health research and/or address critical health issues facing Indigenous communities. The Fellows will contribute to and enrich the Faculty’s diverse scholarly community and strengthen our existing Indigenous research community.

Applications are open to recent Indigenous MDHS PhD graduates and candidates who are near completion and expect to submit between 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 31 October (5pm) 2021.

We invite all eligible candidates who are interested in continuing an academic path with the Faculty to read more about the Fellowship and consider applying here.

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

As electronic prescriptions become more widely available across the country, the Australian Digital Health Agency invites you to join a “Electronic Prescribing Q+A Session for Consumers and Carers”. The purpose of the session is to provide you with a platform where your questions will be answered directly by an expert panel.

Ask any questions you might have related to your experience with using electronic prescriptions. Is there anything that wasn’t clear or left you wondering how it works? We welcome all your questions and there is no requirement to have used electronic prescribing prior to joining a session.

You will be able to participate by speaking directly with our subject matter experts, or by submitting questions anonymously through our questions platform. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the session to ensure they are addressed, please use the registration form below.

These sessions are open to consumer peak organisations, members and consumer advocates, carers and advisors.

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

Dates: 
Thursday, 7 October 2021, 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 14 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 21 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)

Register here. (Select preferred date from drop-down menu)

 

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

COVID-19 impact on young mob

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

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

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

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

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

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

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

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

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

You can download the letter here.

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

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

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

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

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

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

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

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

AMA calls for mandatory vaccination of health care workers

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

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

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

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

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

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

First COVID death among mob

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

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM

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

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

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

Orange AMS providing mobile COVID testing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We apologies if this caused any confusion to our readers.

Co-founder of Awabakal remembered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the story in the Newcastle Herald here.

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

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

COVID-19 support for communities

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

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

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

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website.

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website.

GPs urged to review accreditation arrangements

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

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

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

Find out more in NewsGP on the RACGP website.

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

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

Seeking members for TGA committees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TGA seeking members for advisory committees.

Image source: AMA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Let’s CHAT Dementia – Webinar Series

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

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

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

Presenters:

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

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

LCD webinar image.

Image source: Dementia Training Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: CoP welcomes new CTG Commonwealth funding

Feature tile - Thu.5.8.21 - Media Release Coalition of Peaks welcomes new funding to close the gap

CoP welcomes new CTG Commonwealth funding

The Coalition of Peaks (CoP) today welcomed the PM’s announcement of more than $1 billion over five years of new funding measures to close the gap in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

“Today is another step forward under the historic partnership between the CoP and Australian governments. It shows what can be achieved when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled leaders from across the country come together to partner with governments,” said Ms Pat Turner AM, Lead Convener of the CoP and NACCHO CEO.

“The investment includes some very significant initiatives important to our peoples and to our wellbeing like the breakthrough in providing reparations to survivors of the Stolen Generations in territories which the Commonwealth was historically responsible for – long called for but long denied until now.”

There is also a major injection of funds for long-overdue upgrades to health services infrastructure for Aboriginal Medical Services and for early childhood support and schooling.

You can read the media release by the CoP on the funding here.

Ms Pat Turner AM will speak more on this topic on ABC The Drum tonight at 6:00 pm (AEDT).

13 wrists & hands all reaching into centre & overlapping, various shades of skin from dark to light

Image source: PHN NT.

ACCHO rising to the challenge

Mirroring COVID-19 success stories in community control seen across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations, member organisations of South East Queensland’s Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) have been instrumental in keeping their communities safe.

They have been promoting the importance of COVID vaccination, with a host of Deadly Choices Ambassadors such as Rugby League legends Steve Renouf and Petero Civoniceva and community members such as Uncle Les Collins and Aunty Mary Graham sharing why they ‘Stepped Up’ for the COVID 19 vaccine.

They also established four respiratory clinics for COVID testing specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people last year, providing a safe place for people to be properly assessed if they are unwell, not just tested. “We have no doubt that making the vaccines available via community controlled health services will play a key role in achieving maximum vaccine take up among our population,” said IUIH CEO Adrian Carson.

“With 79% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in urban areas the availability and accessibility of community controlled health services at a time like this is even more critical: services that are run by mob for mob. With our mob making up 4% of the population we have no doubt community controlled organisations getting information and services out to our community has played a significant role in the current statistics,” said Carson.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

IUIH's community controlled health organisations have stepped up to support South East Queensland's Aboriginal communities through the pandemic. Image credit: Croakey Health Media.

IUIH’s community controlled health organisations have stepped up to support South East Queensland’s Aboriginal communities through the pandemic. Image credit: Croakey Health Media.

Improving wellbeing of First Nations children

The Healing Foundation and Emerging Minds have developed a series of new resources to improve social and emotional wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The resources will help families and children reconnect to cultures, while weaving back in the knowledge and protective factors that have kept First Nations peoples healthy and strong for more than 60,000 years. An e-learning module, factsheets, and an animation are part of the package.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the culturally appropriate training materials will give service providers resources for understanding the impacts of intergenerational trauma and reframing the narrative towards intergenerational healing. “Connections for our children and young people are important throughout their developmental stages and play a vital role in their social and emotional wellbeing,” Ms Cornforth said.

The e-learning training package can be viewed here.
The factsheets can be viewed on the Healing Foundation website here.
For more information on Emerging Minds, visit the website here.

First Nations driving future by partnering with governments

The Coalition of Peaks (CoP) has today also announced the public release of their first Implementation Plan under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

“This Implementation Plan sets out the actions the CoP are and will be taking to fulfil our partnership responsibilities under the National Agreement, driving deep change in how governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so that Closing the Gap outcomes are dramatically improved,” said Ms Pat Turner AM, Lead Convener of the CoP and NACCHO CEO.

“Our plan prioritises building understanding of the National Agreement and promoting the advantages and opportunities it offers to our people, communities, and organisations, provided we participate fully, and governments are held to account for its implementation.”

You can read the media release on the CoP first Implementation Plan here.

Journeys into Medicine

Have you ever wondered who the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctor was? The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has published two volumes of Journeys into Medicine – a collection of personal stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors. Get to know some of the mob who are making a difference in the medical space. These inspiring stories provide great insight into their struggles, dreams and aspirations. The publications also highlight our history and celebrates the success of the growing numbers of Indigenous doctors.

You can access Journeys into Medicine Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here.

Dr Danielle Dries standing on riverbank with fur headband & feather, stethoscope around neck, holding coolamon with leaves

Image source: AIDA Journeys into Medicine Volume 2.

Clinical trial for mob with type 2 diabetes

Seeking expressions of interest for the FlashGM Study – Australia’s first clinical trial for Indigenous Australians living with type 2 diabetes using flash glucose monitoring technology!

The FlashGM Study is Australia’s first randomised clinical trial for Indigenous Australians with type 2 diabetes using a new diabetes technology called Flash Glucose Monitors. Check out the Study video below!

The FlashGM team are a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous clinicians, researchers, community members and healthcare workers based across the University of Melbourne, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Maari Ma Aboriginal Cooperative, St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Austin Health Melbourne, Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative, Goulburn Valley Health, Wuchopperen Health Service and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative. The FlashGM Study is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Clinical Trials and Cohorts Grant 2020-2025.

If your team is interested, or you would like further information, please click here. You can also email the team or visit the study website.

You can also scan this QR code.

 

ACCHO to implement Aboriginal suicide prevention plan

Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service has been awarded a contract to hire a community liaison officer who will work with the community to implement a Mid West-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention plan.

WA had the highest age-standardised rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia between 2016 and 2019, with the $9.8 million community liaison officer program commitment aiming to bring suicide numbers down to zero. “It is initiatives such as the appointment of these community liaison officers that will have a real and sustained impact on closing the gap, especially in our regional and remote communities,” said Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

This comes as Lifeline recorded its highest number of daily calls on record earlier this week with 3,345 calls.

“We’re seeing a concerning increase in people experiencing distress in our communities,” said Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray. “The recent lockdowns have significantly shifted the social and economic landscape in Australia and will exacerbate the risk factors that are clearly linked to distress such as economic hardship, employment, relationship breakdown and loneliness, particularly for young people.”

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

Lifeline is available 24-hours on 13 11 14.

back of child leaning against outside of railing arms outstretched on the railing over-looking a riven, image in black & grey

Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Aboriginal Cancer Health Centre community consultation

Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc is running a community consultation session on the Aboriginal Cancer Healing Centre from: 10:00am –1 2:00pm, Tuesday 17 August 2021 at the: Central Whyalla Football Club, 25 McDouall Stuart Avenue, Central Whyalla.
Your voice is important and they want to hear from you.
For more information contact: Douglas Clinch here or call 0423 280 775 or Deslyn Dodd here or call 08 8649 9900.
Aboriginal Cancer Healing Centre - community consultation session

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Make Healing Happen

Feature tile - Wed 2.6.21 - Make Healing Happen

Make Healing Happen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can download the Make Healing Happen report here.

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

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

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

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

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

ACCH model to lead Hepatitis response

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telehealth and hepatitis C study seeks participants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review of FASD among First Nations people

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

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

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

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

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - video.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – video.

Grog in pregnancy videos

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

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

The videos promote health messages such as:

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

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

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

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

Outcomes of community-based FASD workshop

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

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

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

You can read the abstract here.

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

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

NDIS Ready grants now open!

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

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCOs to help address: 

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

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

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

NDIS Ready - Funding Round Open

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

Call for abstracts – now open!

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines – Pat Turner

107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.

“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.

“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.

“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.

“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.

“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.

“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.

“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.

“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.

“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.

National Close the Gap Day 2021

“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.

“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.

“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

To watch the full episode of ABC The Drum click here.

General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.

Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.

Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.

This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.

Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.

This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.

To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.

ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine

Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.

The benefits far outweigh any unfounded links.

Read the ATAGI statement here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?

The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?

The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.

Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.

To read the full article in the Conversation click here.

Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities

Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).

To view the journal articles click here.

Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation

This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.

To view the information click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

National Anti-Racism Framework plan launched

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.

The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.

To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework click here.

Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief

Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.

The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.

The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.

Read the Close the Gap policy brief here.

Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.

Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.

The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.

Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.

To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.

Aboriginal woman holding pregnant belly with hand on top and hand below

Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.

Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.

Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Read the full article here.

Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong

COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia

Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.

Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.

Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosby told ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.

“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.

Read the full story released in Croakey here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?

Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians.  The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.

Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners.  We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.

Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated.  The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.

Please click the link to the survey to get started here.

 

Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA 

The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.

‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.

‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.

‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.

‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.

AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.

Aboriginal painting by Adam Hill white hand reaching down to middle of page with words Close the Gap and black hand reaching up to the words

Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.

First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination

Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.

Read the full media release by Australian National University here.

vector image of microscope over female reproductive organs

Image source: MedPage Today website.

Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA

The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.

On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
by 2032.

The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.

“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.

“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.

Read the AMA media release here.

Images: mivision The Opthalmic Journal website and AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves to comment on government policy impacts

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on The Drum

NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves

Earlier this week NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke to ABC The Drum about COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines, the Industrial Relations Reform, employment and economy and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations.

Pat Turner also spoke to Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National Drive about the Closing the Gap report and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations Apology.

To view the ABC The Drum program featuring Pat Turner as a panellist click here and to listen to Pat Turner being interviewed on ABC Radio National Drive click here.

portrait of Pat Turner for RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas 13.2.21

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas. 15 February 2021

 

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, ABC The Drum, 15 Feb 2021

Danila Dilba to deliver 26,000 vaccines

In the traditional language of the Larrakia people, “Danila Dilba” refers to the dilly bag used to carry bush medicines. It’s also the name of one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal health services, which is about to undertake the biggest challenge it’s ever faced.

“It’s absolutely unprecedented in terms of scale, logistics and, I would say, importance as well,” said Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at Danila Dilba. Dr Webster is overseeing the mission to inoculate at least 13,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Darwin. They are among Australia’s most susceptible to the dangers of COVID-19.

To view The Aboriginal health service tasked with delivering at least 26,000 COVID-19 vaccines article click here.

Danila Dilba registered nurse Taylor Matthews opening medicines fridge

Registered nurse Taylor Matthews says it will be “very tough” to vaccinate all of Danila Dilba’s clients. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 vaccines common questions and answers

The Australian Government will shortly begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations. While details are still unfolding, you will be able to find the answers to many of your questions in the COVID-19 vaccines common questions factsheet here.

This Q&A document, together with vaccine-related information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, can be accessed via the Australian Government Department of Health’s website.

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) in collaboration with NACCHO have prepared a community engagement kit that has useful information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

To support communication with your stakeholders, networks and communities, a suite of resources have been developed, including:

  • newsletter article content
  • social media content
  • a script for videos
  • an editorial example
  • a poster
  • radio and social media advertising content.

Here is a guide that will provide you with the list of resources that are available in the COVID-19 vaccination community engagement kit.

To download the entire kit of resources click here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health

The EarTrain Program is here

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have much higher rates of middle ear infection compared to other children. The EarTrain program is a response to these statistics. It is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Federal Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

This program is delivered through an interactive online training platform with an option to register for practical skills workshops. During the practical skills workshops, you will learn to develop audiometry skills and use equipment appropriately. For further information about the EarTrain program click here.

Program eligibility – if you are a primary health care professional providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, you are eligible to participate in the EarTrain program. To register to participate click here.EarTrain banner, text deliver by NSW Government TAFE NSW & photo of Aboriginal man, woman & two young girls

Remote GPs urged to update AOD skills

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging more rural and remote GPs to update their skills using the latest research to support patients with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use problems in their communities. Under the $7.9 million initiative funded by the Federal Government the RACGP is delivering the Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program, which is tailored to meet the needs of GPs in all corners of Australia. The program encourages participation from rural and remote GPs and includes essential skills training to provide an update for GPs wanting to improve their approach to conversations about alcohol and other drug use.

To view the RACGP’s media release here.RACGP banner text Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program Training GPs to help people tackle alcohol & other drug use racgp.org.au/AOD, blue background, pills, beer

Trust in government soars during pandemic

It has become accepted wisdom that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen trust in government rise across countries. But by how much? And why should it matter?

To answer these questions, a representative online survey was conducted in Australia and NZ, with a separate sample for WA, in July 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey discovered a dramatic increase in trust in government. Indeed, 80% of Australians and 83% of New Zealanders agreed government was generally trustworthy, up from 49% and 53% respectively in 2009.

Moreover, this level of trust is far higher than found in studies carried out in several other countries.

To view The Conversation’s article Trust in government soars in Australia and NZ during pandemic in full click here.

NZ PM Jacinta Atdern & PM Scott Morrison standing 1.5m apart, both at lecterns, city in the background

Image source: The Conversation.

24/7 support for remote and rural health workers

Remote and rural health workers make a difference to people’s lives every day, supporting those who may be at their lowest ebb, and keeping the communities in which, they live healthy and safe. But who helps the health workers when the stresses of work, and life, become too much?

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line is a 24/7 telephone service offering free psychological support for this critical workforce, and their families. For decades, the service has been a lifeline for those facing personal or work-related challenges while delivering essential health services beyond Australia’s major cities.

With Australia’s remote and rural communities reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters including bushfires, drought and flooding, the provision of easily accessible, meaningful support for health workers has never been more important, says not-for-profit organisation CRANAplus, which provides the Bush Support Line as part of its suite of services for the remote, isolated and rural health workforce.

To view the article 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers in full click here.CRANAPlus banner, text Lend you an ear. Give you a hand. Bush Support LIne 1800 805 391 Available to remote and rural health workers and their families, CRANAPlus logo ' text CRANA plu Improving remote health www.crana.org.au

Grants to develop or grow NDIS services

Not-for-profit organisation, Community Business Bureau (CBB) are offering free consultancy services, for up to five organisations to help them develop a new or grow an existing NDIS service. The grant round is currently open, and applications close at 1:00 PM (ACDT) Friday 26 February 2021.

While applications are open to any organisation that provides or wishes to provide NDIS services – CBB are particularly welcoming applications from:

  • Organisations operating or wanting to operate in rural and remote communities in SA, WA, the NT and Queensland.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

For more information, or to apply click here.

rear view of older Aboriginal woman in wheelchair looking at white clouds against a blue sky

Image source: Power to Persuade website.

Mental health impacted by impaired vision

Dr Peter Sumich, Vice-President of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists and a cataract and refractive surgeon, spoke to newsGP following the release of new research published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Dr Sumich said ‘There is no doubt – and there’s plenty of research to back it up – that people who have cataracts or low vision have more depression, more social isolation, less independence, more falls and fractures and less ability to drive. Those things all work together to play on your mental health.’

Melbourne Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor, the past president of the International Council of Ophthalmology, the Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and previous Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne says GPs should assess visual capability as part of their health checks and that it is a mandatory part of the 715 health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Professor Taylor said it is also imperative that clinicians ensure any patient who has diabetes receives regular eye examinations. ‘For non-Indigenous Australians, that should be an eye exam once every two years, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that needs to be once a year,’ he said.

To view the newsGP article Impaired vision linked to lower mental and physical health in full click here.

Aboriginal woman with poncho in Aboriginal flag colours, walking cane on road with man assisting

Image source: mivision The Ophthalmic Journal website.

Collaboration sought to shape health policy 

The University of Sydney’s Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration (SCHC) is seeking collaborations with various partners to shape policies and practices that could promote people’s health and wellbeing under changing environment and climate. One of SCHC’s focused research areas is Indigenous health promotion. A current SCHC student member is Matilde Petersen – Research Assistant and MPhil candidate at School of Public Health. Matilde is involved in projects on climate change and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a glossary project on climate change and health to promote multisectoral collaborations.

You can access the University of Sydney’s website here for further information about how to get involved.

Aboriginal man conducting controlled grass burn

Image source: Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation – Russell Ord.

The big issues in outback health provision

In a series of webinars called Outback Conversations, members of The Outback Alliance and key stakeholders from diverse sectors have discussed a range of issues and challenges that have been identified following the first outbreak of COVID-19.

During The Outback Alliance Outback Conversations Webinar #2 – Health Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance in the NT (AMSANT) explored questions such as: What have been the big issues in health provision? How has the disruption in supply chains, personnel or internet access impacted remote communities? and How do we continue to protect people in the Outback?

To view the webinar click here.

Outback Conversations webinar tile, red dusty outback image, insert image of woman looking at arm of one of 2 boys sitting on the edge of a ute, text Webinar #2 - Health with Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive Royal Flying Doctor Service, John Paterson, CEO - Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT

Image source: The Outback Alliance website.

Vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’

“The rollout of COVID vaccines has been hastened because of the emergency nature of the pandemic, and that’s led to some vaccine hesitancy which is understandable,” Dr Aquino said. “So the Australian government, and pharmaceutical companies need to effectively communicate why these vaccines are safe, and comparable to any vaccine developed outside of the pandemic. “They need to cut through the misinformation from the anti-vaxxer movement to mitigate the growth of that movement. Because the reality is the way these vaccines have been developed for COVID is still scientifically, evidence-based, and they have to go through a stringent regulatory process. Australia is one of the strictest regulators in the world, which is why we haven’t already started rolling out the vaccine like in other countries.”

To view the Illawarra Mercury article It’s vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’, says UOW bioethicist in full click here.

male health professional holding syringe in front of his face

Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars

The Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research Fund (IHRF) was announced in February 2019 to provide $160 million for research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An Expert Advisory Panel was appointed in September 2019 to provide advice to the Minister for Health on the strategic priorities for research investment through the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel provides their advice on priorities for research investment through the IHRF by developing a Roadmap and Implementation Plan.

The Roadmap is a high level strategic document that includes the aim, vision, goal and priorities for investment for the IHRF. To support the Roadmap, the Implementation Plan outlines the priorities for investment (short, medium and long term), evaluation approaches and measures, supporting activities, and collaborative opportunities. The Roadmap and Implementation Plan are used by the Department of Health to design and implement IHRF investments via Grant Opportunities promoted through GrantConnect.

Consultation has now opened on the Roadmap and Implementation Plan for the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel will host two Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars on 23 and 30 March 2021 where you can provide your feedback.

Aboriginal woman in lab coat with microscope and beakers with yellow blue & red liquidr

Image source: Research Professional News Australia & NZ website.

Collingwood’s challenge is everyone’s challenge

As an Aboriginal doctor, cardiologist, and researcher, Burchill said he is often asked for solutions on how to Close the Gap for Aboriginal health outcomes. Since heart disease is one of the major drivers of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, you might think the solution lies in our interventions – heart pills, stents for blocked coronary arteries, pacemakers, and so on. The truth is that we can only close the gap by preventing heart disease in the first place. That begins with us understanding that health starts in the places we share our lives – our homes, schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods, clubs and communities.

If we apply this lens to Collingwood it becomes clear that systemic racism isn’t only a threat to the culture of an organisation but also for the health of those working within it.

To view Associate Professor Luke Burchill’s paper in full click here.

brick wall mural of Adam Goodes

Footballer Adam Goodes experienced one of the most malignant national displays of systemic racism. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Location negotiable across Australia – TAFE NSW

Teacher Audiometry – EarTrain Program (PT casual) – (Targeted) x multiple positions

The TAFE NSW Digital Team is looking for individuals with current industry experience and knowledge in Audiometry and Ear Health Prevention to join their team on a part time casual basis.

EarTrain is an online training program for primary health care professionals to identify and manage otitis media and other hearing conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The program is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 11:59 PM Monday 22 February 2021.EarTrain program banner, face & shoulders of Aboriginal girl sitting on lounge with headphones & huge smile, text EarTrain & logo - Aboriginal painting of ear, 'Enhance Health Service Delivery'

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – February 2021

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held each year in Australia to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is still the deadliest women’s cancer. Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and three will die from the disease. While there is no exact cause for most ovarian cancers, there are factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, such as increasing age, hereditary and other factors.

The symptoms of Ovarian cancer may include:

  • increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • abdominal or pelvic (lower stomach) pain
  • feeling full after eating a small amount
  • needing to urinate often or urgently

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech at the Ovarian Cancer Australia Teal Ribbon Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament house yesterday can be accessed here. and the joint Minister Greg Hunt and Senator Marise Payne’s media release announcing a further $1 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia can be read in full here.

Ovarian Cancer Australia banner: teal ribbon & text 'Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month & Aboriginal red line drawing of female uterus, fallopian tubes & ovaries, inside a white circle surrounded by purple dots against dark cream background

Image sources: Ovarian Cancer Australia; Graphic from Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre Yerin News, Edition 13, February 2019.