NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Feature tile - Tue 21.9.21 - Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Although First Nations children comprise a relatively small proportion of the general child population, they represent more than 30 per cent of the Indigenous population.

And as state governments edge closer to easing restrictions at the 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination targets – targets that do not include under 16s – health and data experts are concerned it will be at the expense of First Nations people.

As children as young as 12 are faced with the choice to be vaccinated, mental health experts are urging support services and structures to be at the ready. Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association board director Tanja Hirvonen said the decision could weigh heavily on the shoulders of young Indigenous people.

“What can help to alleviate that pressure is support from family and friends and the health sector, and getting the information from the qualified professionals,” Dr Hirvonen said.

“Everyone has different circumstances, different health needs, are in different communities, so they can make the best decision for them and their families.”

Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Kane Ellis was concerned First Nations kids had been left behind in the vaccination rollout.

“Our young ones are getting missed in the conversation because they think they don’t have [health] issues, which is not the case for our young ones,” he said.

“We want to make sure we look after our young ones as much as our elders because they’re the future for us.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

90-95% First Nations vax rates needed to protect mob

While some Australians are awaiting the nation reopening after lockdowns with hope and optimism, others are approaching it with dread. This is because a blanket lifting of restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 70% will have devastating effects on Indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

At present, vaccination rates in Indigenous populations are very low. Once restrictions are lifted everyone unvaccinated will be exposed to the virus.

Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO, the Aboriginal Medical Services of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have called on state and federal governments to delay any substantial easing of restrictions until vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations aged 12 years and older reach 90-95%.

A 90-95% vaccination rate gives about the same level of population coverage for all ages as the 80% target for the entire population. That’s because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are younger than the wider population.

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

A Northern Territory Indigenous teenager with disability has been intermittently imprisoned in the Don Dale detention centre since the age of 10, an inquiry has been told. The 17-year-old told the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability that some of the charges related to breaching bail when he fled abusive foster homes.

The young man, who gave evidence under the pseudonym IL, said he’d been placed in 20 Darwin foster homes in his life but had never had an Aboriginal carer or caseworker.

“I’ve never really had anybody to teach me right and wrong, you know,” he told the inquiry in a pre-recorded interview.

You can read the story in 7 News here.

Aboriginal health services are among those expected to give evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability when the latest hearing resumes. The 16th hearing of the royal commission will on Monday examine the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care.

Representatives from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service are expected to give evidence, along with a disabled Indigenous child and her carer.

The six-day inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. It aims to provide an insight into the life course for Indigenous children with disability and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

The community of Cherbourg has lost more than 10 people, mostly young men, to suicide in the past year. Local leaders say treatment models need a major shakeup to make them more culturally appropriate. Young men account for most of the deaths. Alex Speedy, 35, has stepped forward as a champion for mental health in the community.

“It’s important coming out the other side and talking about it,” he said.

Mr Speedy’s aunt, Dolly Davidson, has lost two sons to suicide in the past few years. She said she reached out to multiple services for help for her younger son, but they were not approachable and did not understand what he was experiencing. He passed when he was 17.

“There were nine other young men [who have died] … who used to attend school with my sons. You’re talking about 11 kids from one school and that’s a lot — 11 kids out of 20,” said Davidson.

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

“What’s not being addressed is the underlying stuff that’s happening to our families, the amount of grief and loss we’ve been going through,” she said.

“It’s like a dark cloud over our community.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn't weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn’t weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) is a validated perinatal depression screening tool. It was developed in partnership between Aboriginal women and healthcare professionals in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in response to challenges with the mainstream screening tool the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

The KMMS is a two part screening tool. Part one of the KMMS is an adapted version of the EPDS using language and graphics as determined through the community co-design process. KMMS part two is a ‘yarning’ or narrative based assessment focusing on a woman’s risks and protective factors across seven psychosocial domains.

The training takes approximately one hour and will enable healthcare professionals to confidently and appropriately use the KMMS with patients.

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

Please contact the KMMS project team if you have any further queries:
Emma Carlin on emma.carlin@rcswa.edu.au or
Kat Ferrari kmmsprojectofficer@kamsc.org.au.

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

The Morrison government is investing $10 million in research projects that use the latest digital and mobile technology to improve primary healthcare delivery.

Australian researchers can now apply for grants to undertake critical research through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which is designed to help develop ideas, make projects viable and improve medical care.

Two areas of primary healthcare research will be funded – testing and implementing new applications of existing wearable electronic devices, and examining new ways of delivering point-of-care testing, particularly for people in rural areas.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said research was the key to better healthcare and treatments, and continued advances in technology could unlock more improvements in medical care, including helping people in rural and remote areas.

The $10 million in grants flagged on Wednesday will be managed through the National Health and Medical Research Council and is funded over two years though to 2023.

You can read the article in The Australian Financial Review here.

 Ambra Health DrHIT: Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age - Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age – Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

New online MBS tool

A new interactive tool is now available to help GPs calculate out-of-pocket expenses when delivering care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The resources have been developed as part of the RACGP’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online tool.

There are now two easy-to-access interactive guides, including one for GPs providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These list frequently used items such as face-to-face and telehealth MBS numbers. A complementary tool is available for other medical practitioners (OMPs). This includes items that are often employed by allied health providers and nurse practitioners, for example.

The tool allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Hard copies can also be printed.

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP 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

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the COSS Network, supported by Bendigo Bank, have opened the 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey.

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the longest running survey of the community sector – by the community sector – for the community sector and communities we serve. This 2021 Survey is a vital opportunity for us to compare changes in the community sector between 2019 and now. The Survey covers the impacts of changes to funding structures, demand on services, emerging needs and pressures and sector priorities.

ACOSS and the COSS Network thank you for your help with the Survey. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email Penny Dorsch at penny@acoss.org.au for details.

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

Video

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Feature tile - Tue.17.8.21 - Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

With COVID-19 reaching western NSW, health clinics and Aboriginal health experts are working overtime to protect Aboriginal communities.

After ordering a seven-day statewide lockdown effective as of Saturday evening, NSW Health recorded on Monday a total 478 cases and eight deaths overnight. This follows the week-long lockdown announced on Wednesday for the Walgett Shire area, along with the Brewarrina, Coonamble, Bogan, Narromine, Warren and Gilgandra Shires. Active cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Dubbo, Walgett, Bathurst and Orange.

Walgett’s Dharriwaa Elders Group released a statement calling for more resourcing and support for the community.

“Many of our Elders and others in Walgett experience health and social issues that make them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. The impact on our community could be devastating,” said the statement.

NACCHO is working to increase vaccination capacity to communities that are most in need. With the vast majority of cases in NSW being people under 40, NACCHO medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

“The vaccine is now available for all [Indigenous] people 12-years and over. The best strategy is to be vaccinating all ages right now … younger people are getting the virus and spreading it,” he said.

You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times. Feature tile image source: The Guardian.

Three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine

The Northern Territory government yesterday implemented a snap three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine after a man in his 30s returned a positive result for what authorities fear could be the highly contagious Delta variant. The man spent several days in Darwin before driving to Katherine on Sunday, visiting the town’s busy Woolworths and checking into the Knotts Crossing resort.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) said it was worried about the potential spread of the virus, given the high rates of chronic illness and overcrowding in the region.

“We are very concerned about the deadliness and the seriousness of this Delta strain. If it gets into our communities, it’ll have a serious impact and threaten a number of our population and communities,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson said.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi urged people to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 during the lockdown period.

“If you don’t need to travel, don’t. Stay at home in your community or on your homeland with your family. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated then get it done,” Mr Bush-Blanasi said.

You can read the article by the ABC News here.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News - Michael Franchi.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News – Michael Franchi.

Mental health campaign to empower young mob

Headspace has launched a suite of new resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, empowering them to take charge of their social and emotional wellbeing.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 24 and under are three times more likely than other young people to die by suicide. Responding to this urgent need for support, the ‘Take a Step’ campaign encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to recognise the signs that something’s not right – and provides small, practical steps towards feeling better.

The materials have been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members from across Australia, including a reference group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

‘Take a Step’ television and radio advertisements will broadcast nationally and in select cinemas. A suite of print and online resources for young people, and for family and friends with a young person in their lives, are also available.

‘Take a Step’ is an initiative of headspace and funded by the Department of Health and Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Read the headspace media release here.
To learn more and to view available resources visit the headspace website here.

'Take a Step' wheel, headspace.

‘Take a Step’ wheel, headspace.

Boost to deliver better health care

Researchers from The University of Western Australia have been awarded more than $3 million in State Government funding to advance health innovation, including the development of future bacterial therapeutics, improving the physical health of people with mental illness and implementing clinical communication in Aboriginal health care.

WA State Health Minister Roger Cook announced the WA Near-miss Awards to 27 researchers across science, health and medicine to pursue knowledge that could improve the way healthcare is delivered in WA. The WA Near-miss Awards are granted to emerging researchers who narrowly missed out on State Funding to transform their National Health and Medical Research Council near-miss application into a future grant success.

Dr Ivan Lin from UWA’s Western Australian Centre for Rural Health received a Near-Miss award for his project ‘Yarn with Me’ that aims to implement Clinical Yarning Communication in Aboriginal Health Care. Clinical yarning is a patient-centred approach that marries Aboriginal cultural communication preferences with biomedical understandings of health and disease to deliver better health care to Aboriginal people.

You can read the news article on the University of Western Australia website here.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Updates to medicines labelling

Consumers need a good understanding of how and when to take a medicine. This can help them to use their medicines safely and help achieve the best possible health outcomes. Misunderstanding of how to use medicines can lead to unintentional misuse, which may result in harm or adverse health outcomes.

The design and content of information on a medicine label influences how well the consumer understands the information, especially for consumers with low health literacy. Standardised and consistent presentation of medicine-related information on dispensed medicine labels has the potential to improve health outcomes.

This standard is for all health professionals who dispense medicines, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurse practitioners, general practitioners, optometrists and dentists. It is based on best practice and evidence-based principles, recommendations published by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission)1, and further informed by user testing and hospital evaluation of prototype labels, and stakeholder consultation.

Download the National standard for labelling dispensed medicines by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care here.

'National standard for labelling dispensed medicines' by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Queensland’s new plan for Closing the Gap

Queensland has launched its first Closing the Gap Implementation plan — a key milestone in nationwide efforts to Close the Gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples. Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the plan continues the Palaszczuk Government’s reframing of the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We are working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – doing things with people and not to them – to deliver real change. We have partnered with Queensland’s peak community-controlled organisations to develop the plan, which will be updated annually, to reflect the experiences and ambitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,” Mr Crawford said.

You can read the Queensland Government media release here.
View the Queensland Closing the Gap Implementation Plan here.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Knowledge translation between Elders and young men

In Western Australia and Queensland, Aboriginal Elders have been sharing cultural knowledges with young men in research exploring their strengths, experiences and aspirations.

The Valuing Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men project was funded by the Lowitja Institute to support intergenerational knowledge exchange. It produced videos that demonstrate the power of yarning and connecting to Country within research.

“When we put young fellas through the law, we don’t sit them down in a workshop, talk at them or run them through a classroom learning module. We take them out and get them to follow the Jina…to walk, use their feet to travel the footprints of the old people. We get them to learn by following the steps, singing the old songs, being with their family and being on Ngurra or Country,” says Ngarluma Elder Peter Jeffries.

You can read the full article by Croakey Health Media here and watch one of the videos below.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Accountability fundamental to CTG Partnership

Feature tile - Thu.29.7.21 - Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap

Accountability fundamental to CTG Partnership

NACCHO CEO and Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor, Pat Turner AM, welcomed today’s release by the Productivity Commission of its second tool for monitoring impacts of the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap, reached a year ago between the Coalition of Peaks and all Australian Governments.

“Today’s Annual Data Compilation Report joins the Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Dashboard (commencing last month) in providing building blocks for strong oversight and accountability under the National Agreement.

“The Coalition of Peaks, made up of community-controlled organisations, are accountable to their memberships and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities they serve. It is also essential that governments are accountable for their commitments under the National Agreement, which are geared to reaching targets on four Priority Reforms and an expanded set of socio-economic outcomes.

“Together, if we do this right, we will advance both self-determination and accelerate how gaps can be closed in the life circumstances of our People and other Australians. The Productivity Commission’s report and Dashboard are fundamental to tracking progress and holding all Parties to account for their responsibilities.

Read the media release by the Coalition of Peaks here.
The Annual Data Compilation Report by the Productivity Commission is available here.
You can view the Closing the Gap Dashboard here.

Illustration from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Illustration from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Feature image: Coalition of Peaks logo.

Privileged to lead Danila Dilba

The Board of Danila Dilba Health Service is pleased to announce the appointment of its new CEO, Rob McPhee. Mr McPhee will officially commence at the end of August, and was selected from a competitive field of applicants from all over Australia.

Mr McPhee has extensive experience in the Aboriginal health sector, having served as the Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services in Broome for the past six years. Prior to that Mr McPhee has worked in the energy and university sectors, consistently maintaining a focus on Aboriginal social justice, community development, and self-determination.

“I’m excited to be commencing in the role at the end of August, and getting to know the community that Danila Dilba has served for 30 years,” Mr McPhee said.

Read Danila Dilba Health Service‘s media release here.

Danila Dilba Health Service appoints new CEO, Rob McPhee.

Danila Dilba Health Service appoints new CEO, Rob McPhee.

 

76% vaccinated in two days

Proving small but mighty, the remote Aboriginal community of Warmun has vaccinated 76 per cent of its eligible population against the coronavirus in just two days.

The community, located 161km north of Halls Creek, vaccinated 182 community members in a huge effort alongside the WA Country Health Service.

Staff from the Kimberley Public Health Unit arrived in the community three days before the vaccination blitz to speak to the residents about the vaccine, and a well-attended primary school sports carnival provided the perfect opportunity to mingle and discuss people’s concerns.

Gija woman Catherine Engelke spearheaded the vaccination drive. Born in Derby and growing up in Halls Creek, the GP has family ties to Warmun and has worked with the community for a decade. She said being able to protect her people from the virus was a career highlight.

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

Dr Catherine Engelke. Image credit: The Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association.

Dr Catherine Engelke. Image credit: The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

Is your home COVID-ready?

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW has developed a useful tool to help you and your family plan and be prepared should someone have to self-isolate at home. This could be of particular interest for people living in Sydney at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic could last a long time.

The Getting Your Home COVID-19 Ready document helps you think about the whole family and what it means for them.

You can view the toolkit here.

Illustration from 'Getting Your Home COVID-ready'.

Illustration from ‘Getting Your Home COVID-ready’.

Home-based palliative care resources

Health professionals, health workers and other interested parties are invited to take part in a national consultation to assist in the development of tailored resources for the caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families project.

The Australian Government-funded project aims to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when this is preferred. This may help connect family, culture, community, country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

You can take part by attending an in-person event, via an online survey, Microsoft Teams meeting or having a one-on-one conversation with the project manager.

Read the Factsheet for more information.
To participate or register visit the caring@home website or call on 1300 600 007  

care@home image for health practitioners.

care@home image for health practitioners.

Campaign targeting syphilis outbreak

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in Australia increased by nearly 90% from recorded rates in 2015.

Three populations are most at risk:

  • men who have sex with men
  • women of child-bearing age
  • those who live in outbreak areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities).

The Department of Health has launched a new Infectious and Congenital Syphilis campaign. The campaign will run nationally on a range of online channels including social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), online video, search and programmatic ads.

Visit the campaign webpage for more information and to access a range of downloadable resources.
You can also read more about the campaign in the Department of Health news here.

View the campaign video below.

Hepatitis Day trivia fun

Thank you to the ACCHO staff who join in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session yesterday afternoon. The trivia was organised by NACCHO in partnership with EC Australia, Burnet Institute. We had an amazing turn up with 11 teams competing for some awesome prizes.
A huge congratulations to:
🥇 WINNER: AHCWAlube, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia
🥈 Second Place: Derbarl Dragons, Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
🥉 Third Place: Bunya Nuts, Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Service
👗 👔 There was also a price for the BEST DRESSED team: Watj Mi Djama, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
ACCHO staff participating in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session.

ACCHO staff participating in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

feature tile text'The Partnership for Justice in Health is working to address racism in health and justice sectors' P4JH logo - Aboriginal dot painting black, orange, aqua, yellow circles, Aboriginal hand & Aboriginal figure holding justice scales

P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) is working to address racism in the health and justice sectors at individual, institutional and systemic levels, according to its co-chairs, Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP).

Dr Janine Mohamed and Karl Briscoe, both health professionals who have built strong, dedicated careers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, healthcare and health research, say what still comes as a shock to many of their non-Indigenous colleagues is that rather than health services being viewed as places of healing and safety, they are too often neither safe nor welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for some they are dangerous and fatal.

“The complicity and failures of the health system and professions to care for us goes back to the early days of colonisation. We saw it in medical experimentation and the lock hospitals, the removal of children from their mothers’ arms by nurses and doctors, and in ongoing, systemic abuse and neglect. In recent years, two names speak loudly to how that experience of unsafe healthcare continues for our people.”

“Ms Dhu, a 22-year-old Yamatji woman who died in custody in WA in 2014 because of “deficient” medical care — with the Coroner finding that both police and hospital staff were influenced by their racial bias. And Naomi Williams, a 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, who was 22 weeks’ pregnant with a son when she died of septicaemia at Tumut Hospital in NSW in January 2016. The coronial inquiry into Ms Williams’ death found she went to hospital 15 times in the months before she passed away without receiving a referral to an expert, and she should have received further examination on the night she passed away. Both she and Ms Dhu died from preventable causes within racially biased systems.”

To view the full Croakey Health Media article click here.

portrait shots of Dr Janine Mohamed & Karl Briscoe

Dr Janine Mohamed. Image source: Concordia College website. Karl Briscoe. Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Bendigo men supported by mob

Dedicated to supporting First Nations men in their local community, the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) provides a variety of services to men in their community, including a healing program which supports men who have used family violence. Beginning with funding from Family Safety Victoria in 2018, the program is titled Merrijig Mooroopook, meaning ‘healthy spirits’, a name gifted by Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Uncle Rick Nelson.

With a therapeutic based approach, the 16-week program acknowledges the effect of colonisation and trauma on Aboriginal men who use family violence. It is facilitated by Yorta Yorta man and social worker Jamaal Cross, and Uruguayan man and Men’s Program Coordinator in BDAC’s Family Safety Team Camilo Demarco. “Our programs are always out on Country, we work with Elders and culture is embedded into everything — we always do things around the fire,” Demarco told NIT. “Jamaal and I share as well; we make sure we take away that hierarchy. We’re just another man in that space sharing our own stuff … we move as far away from that classroom setting as we can because there is trauma from spaces like that.”

Both Cross and Demarco acknowledge the 16-week program is just one part of the healing process. “It’s longer than a regular course, and we acknowledge that this can be a life-long journey. You don’t finish the behaviour change course in 16 weeks and expect a man to be totally different … so it is ongoing,” said Demarco. “The last part of our program is for the men during ceremony with the group, and with an Elder present, to state what changes they want to make in their lives and that gives that accountability.

To view the full article click here.

screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video, blurred image of men in bush sitting around a fire, text 'The Healthy Spirit's Program has a whole of community approach that aims to support families on a healing journey.'

Screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video.

Lower limb amputation in Central Australia

Large health inequalities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians exist with Aboriginal Australians currently four times as likely as non-Aboriginal Australians to have type 2 diabetes (T2D), increasing their risk of lower limb amputation (LLA). There is a geographical variance in the incidence of LLA in Australia; the NT is overrepresented, with rates 2–3 times higher than that of the national average. Regional incidence rates are not currently known.

A study has been conducted reviewing the demographic details of those who have undergone LLA surgery in Central Australia and determining the region-specific age-adjusted incidence rate of LLA. Central Australia appears to have the highest incidence rate of LLA for any region in Australia, with Aboriginal Australians, particularly females and those undergoing renal dialysis, being disproportionately represented. Further studies should aim to determine targeted, culturally safe and successful methods of diabetic foot ulcer prevention, early detection and management with a view to reducing the high amputation rates for these cohorts.

To access the Incidence of lower limb amputation in Central Australia research article click here.

hands holding bandaged stump of below knee amputation patient, patient is a man sitting in a wheelchair

Image source: Disability Support Guide website.

Supporting Victorian Aboriginal communities

The Victorian Government has allocated funding for Aboriginal communities to deliver a range of Aboriginal-led initiatives and programs supporting local communities. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that 30 Aboriginal organisations will share in $4.6 million through the COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund to deliver 35 local initiatives.

The programs will support locally designed initiatives that provide emergency relief, outreach and brokerage for at-risk groups, cultural strengthening, and social and emotional wellbeing. Recipients include the Dhauward-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service who have received $85,000 to provide emergency relief to community members experiencing hardship following the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the media release in full click here.

back of worker in hall making up food packages

Image source: Yarra City Council website.

AMA welcomes extra vaccine funding

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the Federal Government announcement of extra funding for longer GP consultations to inform patients of benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 and assist them in making informed decisions. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the announcement by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, would allow GPs to spend more time with patients to ensure that they were aware of all the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccination, and boost confidence in the vaccine.

Dr Khorshid said he had been raising the need for doctors to spend more time with patients with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health for several months, and was pleased with the Government’s announcement of a new level B equivalent Medicare item that could be used in addition to the standard COVID-19 assessment items for patients who require longer consultations.

To view the AMA’s media release in full click here.

GP in rooms sitting at desk & computer talking to Aboriginal man patient also sitting in a chair

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Corporate Australia must walk the talk

The corporate sector is on notice after a wide-ranging review of Woolworths’ proposal to build a Dan Murphy’s alcohol store in Darwin, commissioned by the company, found it had failed to “adequately consider the issues of social value and legitimacy in the eyes of First Nation’s people”. Among its findings and recommendations, the report called on Woolworths to make sure that future liquor outlet proposals “explicitly consider the social and health impacts on at-risk groups and vulnerable communities” before progressing them. It is noteworthy that the report repeatedly mentions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as “vulnerable” when this is really a story about the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders and communities in campaigning successfully against corporate power.

Olga Havnen, CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin which had fought the store proposal for five years, said in a statement that the review’s implications went beyond Dan Murphy’s and Darwin. “This is a landmark decision that will have important implications for the liquor industry and corporate Australia, and government,” Havnen said, describing the report as “an excellent case study into the failures of corporate Australia to walk the talk of corporate social responsibility”.

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

back of businessman in a suit with briefcase walking across black & white striped road

Image source: Croakey.

Deinstitutionalised design for new ACCHO Building

Newman’s Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service healthcare hub has been voted one of the best examples of public architecture in the State at the 2021 WA Architecture Awards this month. NSW-based company Kaunitz Yeung Architecture designed the Newman facility last year with a focus on community ownership and involving local Aboriginal people.

The PAMS healthcare hub was the first primary healthcare facility of any type to be constructed in Newman. Kaunitz Yeung Architecture director and co-founder David Kaunitz said he had called on experience from working with more than 30 Aboriginal communities in building culturally sensitive projects. “What’s most important is that projects like this are well used and well embraced by community,” Mr Kaunitz said.

“We’re dealing with quite traditional Aboriginal communities and it is quite foreboding to go to a health facility. We’re trying to deliver buildings that are deinstitutionalised and really make people feel comfortable going and receiving health care.” Mr Kaunitz said features such as the courtyard, landscaping, rammed earth and the art all play a role in achieving this. “The way the building is planned minimises the internal experience of clients. The waiting room is quite linear, full of glazing and the courtyard serves as a waiting area. The consultation rooms are not far from the waiting area.”

To view the article in full click here.

external view of Puntukurnu AMS Newman, gravel, native gums, red walls, rusted iron

Puntukurna Aboriginal Medical Service, Newman. Image source: Architecture & Design website.

Racism in health webinar

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Sydney is hosting a Key Thinkers Forum – Racism in Health. The current models of practice are not working to effectively “Close the Gap”. Despite a growing willingness and need to consider new proposed models of practice, there remains a deep-seated resistance to identifying and addressing institutional and systemic racism and racist attitudes, including unconscious biases held by individuals. How can we get the ‘r’ word on every agenda?

The webinar will be facilitated by Professor Tom Calma AO with panel members including: Carmen Parter, Karen Mundine, Leilani Darwin and Raymond Lovett.

The webinar will be held from 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM AEST on Wednesday 7 July 2021. Register for this FREE event here.

large cardboard sign text 'racism is a pandemic' in black font, white background, letter 'p' in red font' sign against wall

Image source: Crikey.

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse. This year’s theme is Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives.

Each year, individuals, entire communities, and various organisations all over the world join in on this global observance, to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent for society. Every year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issues the World Drug Report, full of key statistics and factual data obtained through official sources, a science-based approach and research. UNODC continues to provide facts and practical solutions to address the current world drug problem, and remains committed to attaining a vision of health for all based on science.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented public awareness on health, protective measures for staying healthy, and most importantly, and on  protecting each other. A growing sense of global community and solidarity continues to emerge, as does the need to ensure health care for all. World Drug Day is a day to share research findings, evidence-based data and life-saving facts, and to continue tapping into a shared spirit of solidarity. UNODC invites everyone to do their part, by taking a firm stance against misinformation and unreliable sources, while committing to sharing only the real science-backed data on drugs and save lives.

For further information click here.

banner background blocks of green, red, yellow overlapping watercolour paints, top 2 syringes pointing down 2 capsules, 2 tablets & pack of tablets, text '26 June International Day Against Drug Abuse & Trafficking' in white font

Image source: AFEW International.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO celebrates Men’s Health Week

feature tile text 'Men's Health Week 14–20 June 2021 Connecting for Men's Health' photo of Darren Braun AHW trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston sitting on chair in clinic facing another Aboriginal man

NACCHO celebrates Men’s Health Week

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing. It upholds traditional values of respect for the law, Elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, holders of lore, providers, warriors, and protectors of families. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people can be more susceptible to poor mental health and suicide due to discrimination, economic and social disadvantage, and the ongoing trauma or impact of past events and policies. Connecting to land, culture, spirituality, family, and community can help support strong mental health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The commitment of our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) is to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males to live longer, healthier lives by providing a wide range of preventative and early intervention men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face. “The overall aim is to reduce the rate of hospitalisations, which is almost three times higher than for other Australian men and to reduce the number of Aboriginal men in prison who are imprisoned at 11
times the rate of the general male population. I would urge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to focus on their overall health especially after the COVID-19 outbreak and stay up to date with a comprehensive annual 715 health check at their nearest ACCHO. Annual health checks are crucial in picking up little things before they become worse, give peace of mind, best of all, they are free.”

To view the NACCHO media release in full click here.

Feature tile image: Darren Braun. an Aboriginal Health Worker trainee at Danila Dilba in Palmerston, Darwin. Photo: Emilia Terzon. Image source: ABC News.

CAAC Ingkintja Male Health Service

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) that has provided cultural activities and social and emotional wellbeing services for male health for many years. The ACCHO delivers a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services with emphasis on preventative health with annual 715 health check, servicing over 1,000 men every year. The Ingkintja ‘Men’s Shed’ male-only facilities (showers and laundry facilities) and gym enable males, both young and old, to come together and access fitness, comradery and practical life skills. A psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care on counselling, violence interventions, cultural and social support to men.

Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and post release to reintegrate back into community through the coordination of health, wellbeing and social support services. Male prison transitional care coordinators work with clients and facilitate linkages with employment and training providers. The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture, to reintegrate them into the community. Through the program, Ingkintja deliver regular visits to Aboriginal prisoners in the Alice Springs Correctional facility, conducting sessions with Aboriginal prisoners on their holistic health and wellbeing including health promotions with a focus on staying off the smokes and alcohol. Corrections staff have provided encouraging feedback on the positive impact that these visits have on the Aboriginal prisoners, noting changed attitudes and behaviours as the men reflect on the impact of their actions and ask for the next Ingkintja session.

For further information about Ingkintja: Wurra apqa artwuka pmara click here.

Aboriginal man middle age royal blue collared shirt, sunglasses, akubra with arm around shorter older Aboriginal man in a hoody smiling

Image source: CAAC website.

Connecting for Men’s Health

Marginalised groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men have a health status far worse that the average non-Indigenous male.

Men’s Health Week is an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of men and boys. The week has a direct focus on the health impacts of men’s and boys’ environments.  It serves to ask two questions:

  • What factors in men’s and boy’s environments contribute to the status of male health as indicated in the table above?
  • How can we turn that around and create positive environments in men’s and boy’s lives?

For more information about Men’s Health Week 14–20 June 2021 click here.

You can access NACCHO’s media statement regarding Men’s Health Week here.tile text 'NACCHO Ochre Day Men's health, our way. Let's own it! National conference National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation - NACCHO www.naccho.org.au' white text, NACCHO black eagle over Australia logo

Camping on Country Program

Camping on Country is an award winning program developed by Ernie Dingo and Indigenous elders and staff. It is a remote men’s movement designed to create powerful advocacy around closing the gap on remote men’s health. Camping on Country’s network of men is growing as they camp on country and link men’s groups around remote Australia.

Each month Camping on Country visits a remote community and run men’s health and culture camps which include local Leadership and Lore men for that country. At the camps they provide a space for local leaders to discuss what health issues they face in their community, what programs are working or not working and work with the men to articulate their ideas for health programs targeted at their own men.

Camping on Country run a second bigger camp where the men from neighbouring language groups all come together to showcase their culture and wellbeing programs. The men learn from each other and show pride in their culture and programs. Local health stakeholders and community organisations are engaged and activated and the men are assisted in identifying and applying for a specific health program grant developed by them for local men in their community.

Camping on Country partners with health service providers to ensure its camps are safe, healthy and inspiring. Men get access to on-country culturally safe health checks, counselling and mental health first aid. They employ local men to assist with the camps and collect and collate camp data to track the program’s impact and progress.

You can access an information sheet on the Camping on Country project here and Camping on Country website here.

Aboriginal man wearing navy cap with Camping on Country logo & khaki shirt in bush setting with hand on Camping on Country sign

Image source: Camping on Country our health – our way website.

Medication harm reduction research

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of $11.7 million in funding for research into medicines safety and quality use of medicines. The announcement is the first round of grants to be delivered under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), agreed with the Federal Government and PSA last year as part of the Health Minister’s commitment to progress Medicine Safety as a National Health Priority Area. Grants will enable recipients to target medication-related harm and the safe use of medicines in the community. PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, applauded the announcement and said research undertaken through this grant funding is an important step to improving the health of Australians through medicine safety.

To view the PSA media release click here.

wooden surface with pills, syringe, heroin on a spoon

Image source: Southwestern Public Health website.

Walkern Katatdjin Committee seeks members

The Walkern Katatdjin project is looking for people who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ mob to join the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee. The Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge)  project aims to improve the support available to our young mob through research. The Governance Committee will oversee the Walkern Katatdjin project design, procedures, data management, and translation of findings to ensure meaningful impacts from the project.

You can find more information about the Walkern Katatdjin project here and to learn about the role of the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee and how to apply to be join here.banner drawing of two Sistergirls, text 'Walkern Katatdjin Rainbow Knowledge with rainbow made up of Aboriginal flag & Torres Strati Islander flag colours

Fresh direction offers hope for Indigenous health

New approaches and partnerships will place an Aboriginal-led research centre in a position to lead significant progress in improving Indigenous health in communities across the Northern Territory and South Australia.

In celebrating its 10th Anniversary, Flinders University’s Poche SA+NT centre has unveiled a new high-profile 10-member Advisory Board and plans to form alliances with community organisations across the nation’s central corridor to amplify the impact of health initiatives.

It’s a bold new direction for the Aboriginal-led centre, announced at an event to celebrate the Anniversary in Darwin. “Poche SA+NT is designed to drive local action and to promote national collaborations across a number of university partners, enabling us to work together on issues of priority that are identified by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders,” Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling told the Darwin event.

To view the media release in full click here.Flinders University & Poche SA+NT logos

Conference presenter applications DUE 18 June

Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around 3x the rate of the non-Indigenous population. We see similar numbers across the seas, with Māori and Pasifika populations carrying the highest burden of suicide with higher incidences.

It is time to speak up, be heard and celebrate projects, programs and research contributing to the mission of closing the gap for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori peoples.

The Australian & NZ Mental Health Association has announced a final call for applicants wishing to share their insight on Indigenous mental health and wellbeing for the inaugural Indigenous Wellbeing Conference. This event is taking place from 7–8 October 2021 at Cairns Pullman International.

The conference theme ‘Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap’ will be bringing attention to four core areas:

  • Promoting Wellbeing
  • Social, Political and Cultural Determinants
  • Community Care, Cultural Revitalisation & Healing
  • Culturally Responsive Care & Community Control

Together we will help to empower Indigenous communities to develop their own solutions to living long healthy lives; strengthen culture; and reconnect with spirit.

Submit your presentation brief hereDUE DATE: FRIDAY 18 JUNE 2021.banner text 'Indigenous Wellbieng Conference' Aboriginal artwork 4 hands overlaid, colours ochre, red, brown, black, white

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society, elder abuse. Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

WEAAD was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011, following a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), who first established the commemoration in June 2006. In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. It is a global social issue which affects the health, wellbeing, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.

According to WHO, prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries – ranging from 1 to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious.

For more information about WEAAD click here.banner orange & purple text 'WEAAD on purple ribbon & JUNE 15 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day We can stop elder abuse. & image of purple pinwheels in a green grass field

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Grants to support mental health of new parents

Feature tile - Mon 7.6.21 - Grants to support mental health of new parents

Grants to support mental health of new parents

The Morrison government is providing $16.6 million in grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents through nine new projects.

It is estimated that up to 10% of women experience depression while pregnant, and one in seven women in the year after birth. Men can also experience perinatal mental illness, with approximately one in 10 expectant and new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional distress in the perinatal period.

Some of the grants under the mental health initiative include:

  • $2.59 million for the University of Newcastle to deliver the SMS4dads digital prevention and early intervention service for fathers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, living in rural and remote regions.
  • $750,000 for Possums for Mothers and Babies to deliver training and professional peer support for health professionals and new parents in rural communities.
  • $250,000 for the Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity to produce health practitioner training materials and develop a mobile phone-based app version of the Baby Coming You Ready assessment and screening program for Aboriginal women.

You can read the full story and find out more about the other grants here.

Man pushing pram through park. Image source AAP.

Image source: AAP.

Yolngu Elders kick off COVID-19 vaccinations across Arnhem Land

Miwatj Health are gearing up for a COVID-19 vaccination blitz across the remote northern region of Arnhem Land.

Terry Yumbulul, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation’s Chief Culture Advisor and Head of Regionalisation, and CEO Eddie Mulholland, had their Pfizer vaccine in Gove last week.

They were joined by 10 Board Members of Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and other local leaders who received their vaccine in an effort to encourage others in the community.

ABC Radio Darwin’s Jo Laverty spoke with Terry Yumbulul about his experience and whether other Yolngu people would follow suit.

You can listen to the ABC Radio Darwin On Breakfast broadcast with Jolene Laverty here.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.

Healing the past project seeking participants

Becoming a parent is exciting but it can be hard. Particularly for parents who have experienced difficulties in their own childhood, which can have long lasting effects on physical, social and emotional wellbeing. This can make the transition to parenthood difficult, causing distress and challenges to creating a nurturing environment for a new baby. On the flip side, growing research shows that becoming a parent offers a unique life-time opportunity to heal from this childhood hurt.  

‘Healing the past by nurturing the future’ (video) is a community-based participatory research project which is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents to develop awareness and support strategies that could be offered during the perinatal period to support Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma.  

The team are looking for participants for this important research project who are:  

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people  
  • living in the NT, SA or Victoria, and  
  • are pregnant, have a partner who is pregnant or have a child (under 5 years in SA; or any age in NT or Vic).  

To learn more about the project, please contact Cindy from the research team on 0492 850 298, or email hpnf@latrobe.edu.au, or visit the website here.

Healing the Past - Image 1

Healing the Past – Illustration.

Cultural connectedness can reduce suicide rates

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia ‘Suicide rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the influence of community level cultural connectedness’ examines associations between community cultural connectedness indicators and suicide mortality rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This retrospective mortality study looks at suicide deaths of people aged 10‒19 years recorded by the Queensland Suicide Register between 2001‒2015.

The age‐specific suicide rate was 21.1 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for First Nations young people and 5.0 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for non‐Indigenous young people. The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was higher in areas with low levels of cultural social capital (greater participation of community members in cultural events, ceremonies, organisations, and community activities) than in areas classified as having high levels, and also in communities with high levels of reported discrimination. Associations with proportions of Indigenous language speakers and area level socio‐economic resource levels were not statistically significant.

The study found that suicide mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Queensland were influenced by community level culturally specific risk and protective factors. The findings suggest that strategies for increasing community cultural connectedness at the community level and reducing institutional and personal discrimination could reduce suicide rates.

You can read the full article here.

Aboriginal youth sitting, resting his head in his hand

Image source: ABC News.

NDIS personalised budgets

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) has released new papers on Personalised Budgets to give more information on the way they propose to build participant budgets in the future.

In 2020 they released a paper on proposed changes to the planning policy for Personalised Budgets and plan flexibility, and encouraged participants, families, carers and the wider sector to respond. The feedback was that people want fairer decisions. People also wanted the NDIS to be more transparent about how they worked out the funds in participants’ plans.

The Personalised Budgets papers give you more information on how the NDIS are developing the new budget model and how they propose budgets will be built.

There are three versions of the Personalised Budgets paper available for increased accessibility. They include:

  1. Personalised Budgets – technical information paper
  2. Personalised Budgets – information paper for participants, their families and carers
  3. Easy Read Guide – A new way to work out how much funding you receive in your NDIS plan

You can read more about the Personalised Budget paper on the NDIS website here.

NDIS - Personalised Budgets

Health Check 2020

‘Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap – Health Check 2020’

In 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to develop the Closing the Gap strategy for the next decade. Governments acknowledged the need for a respectful, collaborative approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to achieve productive and sustainable outcomes.

To give effect to that commitment, the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029 (Partnership Agreement) was negotiated and agreed to by the Coalition of Peaks and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March 2019. The Partnership Agreement provides an historic opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to be heard and incorporated into policy and program dimensions across all levels of government. The Partnership Parties committed to an annual Health Check of the Partnership Agreement and agreed to the development and subsequent annual review of a Partnership Risk Register. The objective of the Health Check is to review the state of the Partnership Agreement against success indicators agreed by the Parties. This report gives an account of the first Health Check and includes a draft Risk Register.

This Health Check has found that the Partnership Agreement has been successful in achieving the coming together of the Coalition of Peaks and Governments in partnership to support the Parties’ decision to negotiate a new National Agreement.

You can view the full report here.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Digital mental health resources

In honour of National Reconciliation Week, the eMHPrac E-Mental Health in Practice website has decided to explore the Digital Mental Health Resources developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in mind. These resources include culturally relevant and evidence-based information, advice, stories, support, and counselling.

There are a range of digital mental health resources available to support individuals, families, friends, and communities including:

  • WellMob
  • Beyond Blue
  • MindSpot Clinic
  • Stay Strong
  • iBobbly
  • Deadly Tots App
  • headspace Yarn Safe
  • eheadspace
  • HitNet Community Hub
  • iTalk Studios
  • Kurdiji
  • Positive Choices
  • Proppa Deadly
  • Yarning SafeNStrong

For more information on these resources, you can:

  • download a digital brochure here;
  • order a hardcopy brochure here; or
  • visit the website here.

emhprac Brochure - Digital Mental Health Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors

feature tile text 'pandemic health restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors' slide from The Healing Foundation video, black line drawing of Aboriginal person holding a pink cracked heart

Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma

New research released by The Healing Foundation shows that the strong and necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia since early 2020 retriggered trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors. The research data suggests an increased and heightened sense of vulnerability; significant disconnection from family, community, and country; and significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing among an already vulnerable cohort of people.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the research results will assist governments and authorities in future pandemic planning to build on Australia’s world-leading public health efforts to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected. “The excellent work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 – as part of national efforts guided by the National Cabinet – ensured that infection rates were very low in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations,” Ms Cornforth said.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here,

black & white collage of 40 portrait shots of Stolen Generations survivors

Image source: Creative Spirits.

ACCHO program reduces recidivism

Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path. He’s recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture. And now his eyes are set on joining the Army. During its demonstration phase, the program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system. All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.

Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.

Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health. Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol. But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone’s cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.

To view the full article click here.

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Image source: South Coast Register.

Facts about COVID-19

In a short video Dr Mark Wenitong, a GP in Indigenous health for 25 years, reminds us to get information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. You can access the video including a transcript here.

slide from YouTube clip, Dr Mark Wenitong, text 'Dr Mark Wenitong - Find out the facts about COVID-19 vaccines, Hi, it's Dr Mark here. Dr Mark Wenitong Aboriginal GP and Public Health MO

Suicide prevention roadmap

Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15–44 years – more common than deaths from motor vehicle accidents or skin cancer (Aleman & Denys 2014). Over 2,500 people die from suicide in Australia each year and more than 65,000 make an attempt.

The Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, announced today, paves the way for a clear roadmap for reform. In particular, the recommendation to establish a National Suicide Prevention Office has the potential to create a significant enhancement of suicide prevention and in turn, save lives. Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, is urging Governments across Australia to use the findings of the report to drive down suicide rates. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said, “the Final Report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser has the potential to be a game changer for suicide prevention in Australia. Immediate uptake of the key recommendations is critical to enable real reform that will save lives.”

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release in full click here.

painting of grey puzzle pieces, missing piece in the centre shows blue sky & white clouds

Image source: Australian Psychological Society website.

Child protection & adolescent self-harm

A history of child maltreatment is known to elevate the risk of self-harm in adolescence. However, until a recent study this link had not been investigated for Aboriginal children who experience a greater burden of both. This study Patterns of child protection service involvement by Aboriginal children associated with a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence: A retrospective population cohort study using linked administrative data confirms a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence is associated with child maltreatment, especially in middle childhood and concludes that addressing the intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal families is crucial to preventing child maltreatment and informing reforms to child protection responses that can better identify and address the culturally-specific unmet needs of Aboriginal families.

To read the research paper click here.

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.

Cultural training in health services survey ENDS SOON

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a short survey to gain an understanding of the type and level of cultural safety training currently being undertaken by health service organisations. The Commission is committed to ongoing and evolving culturally safe practices, which are developed in consultation with, and determined by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The NSQHS Standards define six actions that specifically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the six actions states: “The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural awareness and cultural competency of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.” The Commission is calling on feedback to assist in the development of resources to strengthen cultural safety training and support services in implementing this action.

Click here to complete the survey for your organisation. The survey is open until Friday, 23 April 2021, and takes up to 10 minutes to complete.

You can read more about the survey here.

torso of healthcare professional with blue scrubs & stethoscope with hands over patient's hand

Image source: NursingCE.com website.

Stop it at the Start campaign

The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people aged 10–17 by role modelling positive behaviour, calling out disrespect and starting conversations about respect. It aims to unite the community around positive actions everyone can take to break the cycle of disrespect, and ultimately, violence against women.

Community influencers and campaign supporters Kristy Masella, Andy Saunders, Renee Thomson, and Sean Choolburra share a common message—even the simplest, smallest actions can make a big difference for young people, and for our community.

To access a range of Stop it at the Start resources released earlier this week click here. Please note, in this document the link for the Sean Choolburra & his daughter Tyra – Tips on how to speak up when you see disrespect video does not work, this link does.

To view the Australian government’s Unmute yourself – speaking up to end violence against women media release in full click here. and to access an editorial from Darumbal woman Kristy Masella, campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign click here.

Kristy Masella campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign, leaning against a brick wall smiling at the camera, blurred background of city street, text 'when it comes to talking to my daughters about respecct, I often draw on personal examples of things I've experienced or reflected on myself. I talk abou the disrespectful behaviours that I accepted at times in my life or thought were normal. Violence against women Let's Stop It at the start. For tools and resources visit respect.gov.au

Sexual wellbeing – what we do well

A recent research project, Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources has looked at how urban Aboriginal young people foster sexual health and wellbeing for themselves and others. The project purposely sought to adopt a strengths-based approach by identifying the resources and capacities of Aboriginal young people to minimise harm and promote health.

More specifically, the project aimed to explore the community resources that Aboriginal young people access to help them make positive sexual choices, inform their understandings of sexual health and relationships, manage their sexual wellbeing, and engage with health promotion and health care services. The research will provide health services and policymakers with insightful new knowledge to better support young urban Aboriginal people and their communities.

For further information on the project click here.

rear view of two Aboriginal youth walking down a road in Redfern, derelict terrace houses & entire wall painted with Aboriginal flag & graffiti

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Healing Foundation CEO – National Press Club

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Fiona will be releasing The Healing Foundation’s “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and to promote intergenerational healing. The address will be televised live on ABC TV.

The details of the event are here.

banner for National Press Club of Australia event Fiona Cornforth CEO of the Healing Foundation "Make Healing Happen: It's Time to Act"' & portrait shot of Fiona Cornforth

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Prematurity Day 2020 – Life’s Little Treasures

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib

World Prematurity Day 2020

Every year, 15 million babies are born premature worldwide. More than one million of these babies die, and many more facing serious, lifelong health challenges. Worldwide, one in 10 babies are born too early – more than 27,000 each year in Australia alone. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%), however, for many Aboriginal babies, the news is far worse.

In an address to the National Rural Press Club, National Rural Health Commissioner Dr Ruth Stewart will explain that in 2018, 8.4 per cent of births in major cities were premature compared with 13.5 per cent in rural, remote and very remote Australia. “Those averaged figures hide pockets of greater complexity. In East Arnhem Land communities, 22 per cent of babies are born prematurely,” she will say. But she will argue it is an “urban myth” that the quality of rural maternity care and services is to blame. Rather, she will point to an ongoing decline in available services, clinics and skilled operators.

One solution she will present is the model of care developed through the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island. That program has halved premature birth rates across the Torres Strait and Australia’s northern peninsula since 2015. Crucially, all women have access to continuity of care, or the same midwife throughout the pregnancy, and those midwives are supported by Indigenous health practitioners and rural generalists (GPs with a broad range of skills such as obstetrics).

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

For further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal babies click here and to view the ABC Rural article mentioning the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island click here.

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib & logo of World Prematurity Day 2020 with vector image of white footprint and text November 17th & Get your purple on for prems

Image source: Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance Twitter.

Narrative therapy helps decolonise social work

Social worker, educator and proud Durrumbal/Kullilli and Yidinji woman, Tileah Drahm-Butler, has found a narrative therapy approach resonates with Aboriginal practitioners and clients alike. For many Aboriginal people, the words ‘social work’ trigger the legacy of child removal and everything that comes with that. Social work is a colonised discipline that has had a problematic relationship with Aboriginal communities. Tileah was introduced to the practice of narrative therapy while working on ‘Drop the rock’ – a jobs and training program in Aboriginal communities that supported mental health service delivery and went on to complete a Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work. 

Tileah explains that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, problems have come about from colonisation. So with clients, it is important to re-author – to move away from a medicalised, pathologised discourse to a story that tells of survival and resistance. Narrative therapy helps people to tell their strong stories and identify the skills and knowledge that they already have that can help them make the problem smaller. Tileah said ‘the problem is the problem’, is narrative therapy’s catchphrase. The person, the family, the community aren’t the problem.

To view the full article published by the University of Melbourne click here.

portrait photo of Tileah Drahm-Butler - senior social worker Cairns Hospital

Tileah Drahm-Butler. Image source: The Mandarin Talks.

Joint Council on CTG to meet

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet this afternoon (17 November 2020) to discuss the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It will be the first time the Joint Council has met since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss the collective responsibilities for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; funding priorities for the joint funding pool committed by governments to support strengthening community-controlled sectors (Priority Reform Two); a revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect; and the first annual Partnership Health Check of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time.

To view the Coalition of Peaks media alert click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt & Pat Turner sitting at a desk with draft CTG agreement

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner. Image source: SBS News.

Facebook can help improve health literacy

Health literacy, which generally refers to the abilities, relationships and external environments required to promote health, is an influential determinant of health that impacts individuals, families and communities, and a key to reducing health inequities. New research is showing how Facebook can be a useful source of information – particularly when used in conjunction with other methods – to develop broader understandings of health literacy among young Aboriginal males in the NT, and to spark different conversations, policies and health promotion programs. 

The project, Health literacy among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, led by the Menzies School of Health Research emerged from an understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males face multiple health and social inequities, spanning health, education and justice settings. Unfortunately, these health and social inequities start early in life and persist across different stages of their life-course. They are particularly pronounced for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and men.

The project found its participants were very open about sharing information about their health and wellbeing on social media — including the benefits of being on country and the importance of family and friends — and how this influenced their own health-related decision making.

To view the full article published in croakey click here.

three young Aboriginal men at Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008

Young Aboriginal men, Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008. Image source: Tofu Photography.

Clothing the Gap supports Spark Health

For view the full article and to access a link to an interview with Laura Thompson click here.

photo of Laura Thompson sitting in front of laptop at desk huge smile, arms outstretched

Laura Thompson delivering a Spark Health program. Image source: The Standard.

LGBTIQ mental health crisis

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has called on the Commonwealth Government to develop a mental health and suicide prevention blueprint to tackle the crisis of unmet need within the LGBTIQ community and public investment in LGBTIQ health organisations. La Trobe University research found 57.2% of more than 6,000 surveyed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people were experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, while 41.9% reported thoughts about suicide over the past 12 months.

“Mental health in the LGBTIQ community is in crisis, and the La Trobe research makes it clear action and investment in LGBTIQ mental health and suicide prevention is sorely needed,” Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of AFAO, said. “Existing approaches aren’t working and LGBTIQ communities are paying the price.”

To view AFAO’s media release click here and the La Trobe University media release click here. To access the La Trobe University’s Private Lives 3 The Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQ People in Australia report click here.

Aboriginal trans person with rainbow coloured plait

The Tiwi Islands Sistagirls at Mardi Gras. Image source: Balck Rainbow website.

Most kids in out-of-home care with kin

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care were living with relatives, kin or Indigenous caregivers in 2018–19. The report, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators (ATSICPP) 2018–19: measuring progress, brings together the latest state and territory data on five ATSICPP indicators that measure and track the application of the placement and connection elements of the framework. 

‘The ATSICPP is a framework designed to promote policy and practice that will reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York. As at June 2019, nearly two-thirds (63% or about 11,300 out of 18,000) of Indigenous children in out-of-home care were living with Indigenous or non-Indigenous relatives or kin or other Indigenous caregivers.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal mum kissing small child on the cheek at table of activities in outside setting

Image source: Family Matters website.

STI testing drops during COVID-19

Victorians are being urged to get tested for sexually transmissible infections (STIs), with new figures showing a concerning drop in STI notifications and testing during the coronavirus pandemic. New data from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre shows a 68% drop in people without symptoms seeking STI testing this year. There are many types of STIs and most are curable with the right treatment, however, if left untreated, STIs can cause long-term damage, including infertility.

This week is STI Testing Week (16–20 November) – and as Victoria moves towards COVID Normal it’s the perfect time for everyone to consider their sexual health, have a conversation about STIs and get the important health checks they might have put off during the pandemic. To view the full article click here.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Australia’s top experts in HIV and sexual health to drastically rethink our national response. Over 700 HIV and sexual health experts will gather (virtually due to the COVID-19) this week (16–20 November) for the joint Australasian HIV & AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences, run by the ASHM. To view ASHM’s media release click here

half peeled banana with red patch

Image source: Medicine Direct.

HMRI proud of health related initiatives 

Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been helping researchers to undertake research that translates to better treatments and better access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including:

MRFF grant for Indigenous kid’s ear health

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong received a 5-year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal community controlled health services, enabling improvement in Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and a reduction in the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health.

Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ project

Research Associate with the University of Newcastle and HMRI affiliated researcher, Dr Parivash Eftekhari, is running a first-of-its kind program to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers to quit smoking when their partner is pregnant, or if they have young children at home. The Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ (PAPAS) project is key in improving children’s health by supporting fathers to have smoke-free homes.

To access further information about these research projects and to download the Indigenous Healthy: Eliminating the Gap seminar held earlier this year click here.

Professor Kelvin Kong presenting at Indigenous Health - Eliminating the Gap virtual seminar

Professor Kelvin Kong. Image source: HMRI website.

Mt Isa Hospital opens new Indigenous family rooms

North West Hospital and Health Service has unveiled its newly built family rooms at the Mount Isa Hospital. The family rooms, situation near the hospital’s Emergency Department are a culturally appropriate space where Indigenous patients and their families can meet, rest or engage with specialist hospital staff. Christine Mann, Executive Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health said the facility was a spacious place close to the hospital for use by families, “We have a lot of sorry business around here and regrettably we are outgrowing the hospital, so this place is spacious enough to accommodate families. This is a place where they can come and have a cup of tea and have family meetings.”

To view full article in The North West Star click here.

9 Aboriginal women cutting red ribbon to Mt Isa Hospital family rooms

Image source: The North West Star.

General Practice: Health of the Nation report

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released its General Practice: Health of the Nation report, an annual health check-up on general practice in Australia. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara, said the report contains many positive signs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“It is important not to just dwell on the problems confronting healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “On the workforce, education and training front there is very good news. In 2018, there were 74 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs registered and employed – an increase from 50 in 2015. In 2020, there are 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students – this has increased from 265 in 2014. This year 121 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students started studying medicine, which is a 55% increase over the past three years. Nearly 11,000 members have joined the RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, which to me shows real interest and engagement.”

To view the full article click here.

Associate Professor Peter O'Mara

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara. Image source: RACGP Twitter.

Prison language program linked to better health

A new Aboriginal Languages in Custody program has been launched at Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women where up to 30 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners will be taught Noongar, the official language of the Indigenous people of the south-west of WA. The program will be created and delivered by the Perth-based Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation and rolled out to Hakea Prison, Bunbury Regional Prison and the rest of the state’s jails in four stages from late 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. 

WA Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan said “There is an intrinsic link between language and culture so this new program aims to help Aboriginal prisoners reconnect with their own people, practices and beliefs. Research shows that teaching Aboriginal languages leads to positive personal and community development outcomes, including good health and wellbeing, self-respect, empowerment, cultural identity, self-satisfaction and belonging.”

To view the related Government of WA media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of Aboriginal person with Aboriginal art and english words in the backgrouns

Image source: ABC News.

Dispelling outdated HIV myths webinar

In the lead up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2020 Positive Women Victoria will host a ground breaking webinar. A panel of women living with HIV, including Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin, will be  joined by a leading Australian infectious diseases physician, to share stories and knowledge about how this fact has transformed their lives and discuss issues around motherhood, sex, and relationships. The webinar will introduce audiences to more than 20 years of scientific evidence confirming that when antiretroviral treatment is used, and levels of HIV cannot be detected in blood, HIV is not transmitted during sexual contact or to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth. There is also growing evidence that supports mothers with HIV with an undetectable viral load and with healthcare support can also breastfeed their baby. 

For more information about the webinar on Thursday 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm (AEDT) 26 November 2020 and to register for the webinar click here.

portrait shot of Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin

Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin. Image source: AFAO website.

Fully subsidised online antibiotic resistance program

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enrol in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details are available here.

Submissions close Monday 30 November 2020.Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

Vision 2030 Roadmap open for consultation

The National Mental Health Commission is inviting you to participate in a guided online consultation to inform the content and recommendations of the Vision 2030 Roadmap.

This online consultation forms part of the Commission’s stakeholder engagement approach to ensure that the Vision 2030 Roadmap incorporates as wide a range of experience as possible when developing evidence-based responses to mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

Through special interest meetings and external expertise, the Commission has identified a number of priority areas for inclusion in the Roadmap. The online consultation asks you to consider the impact of Vision 2030 on you and identify your needs in its implementation.

More information on Vision 2030, including video recordings of the ‘Introducing Vision 2030 Blueprint and Roadmap’ webinars is available at the Commission’s website. The Vision 2030 Roadmap guided online consultation can be accessed here.

Now is your chance to get involved. This consultation opportunity is open to all until Friday 4 December 2020.purple tile text 'have your say - online consultation now open - VIsion 2020 AUstralian Government National Mental Health Commission' vector map of Australia with magnifying glass image surrounding the map

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health #WorldHepatitisDay News Alerts : #LetsTalkHep editorial contributions from @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills, Dr Jason Agostino , Dr Mark Wenitong , Troy Combo : Plus link todays @HepAus event

“We are so proud of the work done by our members and affiliates in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but we cannot lose sight of the need to reduce our viral hepatitis rates.

We are concerned about the harm caused to our communities from the spread of Hepatitis B and C and I encourage our people to get vaccinated and continue ongoing treatments.

Keep in touch with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is spreading the message to all Australians that while the rates of hepatitis in Australia are declining, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are being left behind.

Read / Download full NACCHO World Hepatitis Day press releases HERE .

“Great work has been done in improving immunisation rates against Hepatitis B and on treatment for Hepatitis C, yet the prevalence of viral hepatitis and subsequent liver damage remains high amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What is particularly concerning are rates of viral hepatitis in remote and very remote communities are five times higher compared to metropolitan areas.

In the COVID-19 environment, we want to urge everyone to continue their regular health care. This involves getting childhood immunisations and for those on treatment for Hepatitis, don’t change or stop treatments unless advised to do so by your treating doctor.”

NACCHO Medical Adviser, Dr Jason Agostino

“At Apunipima we provide screenings for Hepatitis in our clinics and work closely with prison screening programs to help control the disease being transmitted within communities when prisoners are released.

Hepatitis in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a preventable disease, but with both short-term and potentially chronic implications, Hepatitis has a significant impact on our mob’s health.

We need to work together to ensure we practice prevention in our communities, but also that we get tested, detect the disease early and have access to best practice treatment and management.”

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong

” In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia.

The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance.

This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Troy Combo EC Australia as the Program Manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan see Part 1 below

 ” Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020. “

See Part 2 Below for link todays event 

Part 1 EC Australia, Partnering to Eliminate Hepatitis C

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, Troy Combo, I have a joint appointment with the Burnet Institute and am employed and based at University of Queensland, School of Public Health and have recently been appointed as the Aboriginal Program Manager for EC Australia.

I have worked in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector since completing my Diploma in Aboriginal Health at Redfern AMS in 1994. I have held positions with local AMS’s, State Affiliates (AH&MRC & QAIHC) and I have also worked for NACCHO (2013-2014). More recently I was employed at Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (2015-2020).

Australia can be one of the first countries to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

In 2016 an estimated 188,951 Australians were living with the hepatitis C virus resulting in up to 630 deaths from liver cancer and liver failure each year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disproportionate burden of hepatitis C and account for 10% of all people living with the virus in Australia.

As a priority population in our own right, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also overrepresented amongst people in custodial settings, people who currently inject drugs or previously injected drugs and people accessing drug treatment programs; all of which increases a person’s risk of contracting hepatitis C.

In 2017 notification rates for hepatitis C were 4.4 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (168.1 per 100 000 vs 38.4 per 100 00) and the rates for newly acquired (evidence of acquisition in the prior 24 months) hepatitis C was 13.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians (24.6 v 1.8 per 100 00 respectively).

In 2016, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medication was made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to most people living with hepatitis C, regardless of disease stage. DAAs have revolutionised hepatitis C care making elimination of hepatitis C possible; they are highly effective with efficacy rates over 95%, have minimal side effects, and require only 8-12 weeks of once-daily tablets. While initial uptake of DAAs was positive, by 2018 the number of people commencing treatment started to fall. If Australia is to achieve its elimination targets, it is crucial that testing remains high and that DAA treatments are provided to people with hepatitis C to cure people of hepatitis C and prevent further transmission.

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia (EC Australia) is a nationwide, multidisciplinary project with the aim to achieve a coordinated response to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. The project brings together researchers and implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations, peak and other non-government organisations to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment in community clinics.

The specific goals of EC Australia are to:

  • Ensure that 15,000 Australians with chronic hepatitis C are treated and cured
  • Ensure that people identified with cirrhosis related to hepatitis C infection are treated and cured, and regularly reviewed to monitor for liver
  • Establish a national collaborative framework to facilitate a coordinated response to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat from

In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia. The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance. This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

My experience working within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector has shown how the model of care provided by these services is well suited to take up the challenge of the EC Australia goals. At EC Australia, we believe the “test and treat” model required to increase treatment uptake for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an achievable goal at a local service delivery level.

We will be convening an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Leadership Group in late 2020 that will provide expert advice and cultural governance for all EC activities as part of the Strategy. Our aim is to build strong networks and work closely with the viral hepatitis and the Aboriginal Community Control Health sectors. We seek to build on successful models of care and workforce development programs within these sectors, to expand and inform other areas.

Over the coming weeks we will be contacting organisations to participate in a mapping of current and/or past hepatitis C health promotion, workforce development and service delivery activities.

If your organisation would like to participate or learn more about the EC Australia Partnership and Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples Strategy you can contact Troy Combo at t.combo@uq.edu.au or by phone on (07) 3346 4617.

For more information please visit the below link:

https://www.burnet.edu.au/projects/410_eliminate_hepatitis_c_australia_partnership_ec_australia

 Part 2 Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020.

Australia is on track to become one of the first countries to eliminate hepatitis C, which is part of the global goal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and related social isolation has impacted drug use, drug and hepatitis C treatment services, and the health of people who use drugs. This puts an increased risk on new hepatitis transmission, access to treatment, and the elimination goals for 2030.

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), Hepatitis Australia, the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol & other Drugs (APSAD), the Kirby Institute and National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, have partnered to address what COVID-19 will mean for hepatitis C elimination in Australia.

CEO of Hepatitis Australia, Carrie Fowlie said, “Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus and people who inject drugs are a crucial priority population.”

“Not only is there a risk that the WHO 2030 elimination goal could be set back, but more immediate negative impacts could be experienced by people at risk of contracting hepatitis or seeking hepatitis treatment in Australia due to current and future social, health, and policy changes.”

CEO of AIVL, Melanie Walker said some of the new regulations and social requirements are impossible for people who use drugs to abide by.

“People who use drugs need to attend needle and syringe programs (NSPs) and be able to have ongoing access to the full range of harm reduction, pharmacotherapy and other drug and hepatitis treatments,” said Ms Walker.

“If people who use drugs cannot access these services, we could see an increase in sharing of injecting equipment, which could lead to increased cases of hepatitis C and compound the negative health outcomes already experienced by this group.”

In the newly released National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, illicit drug use was responsible for 75 percent of Australia’s acute hepatitis C burden of disease.

Professor Greg Dore, Head of Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, said there had been encouraging recent data from the Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey on prevalence of active hepatitis C infection in people who inject drugs which had declined from 51 percent to 18 percent between 2015 and 2019.

“However, despite these declines in number of people with hepatitis C, continued declines in numbers being treated through 2019 and into 2020 compromises the achievement of WHO elimination goals,” said Professor Dore.

“More strategies are needed to raise awareness of the need for testing and availability of new hepatitis C treatments to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.”

In a new NDARC study of 702 people who used drugs during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, it was found only 24 percent were able to avoid sharing drug injecting equipment.

Professor Michael Farrell, Director of NDARC, UNSW Sydney, said the research shows that people who use drugs want to limit their risk of contracting viral diseases like COVID-19 and hepatitis C, but this can be challenging due to a range of factors.

“We need to continue to find solutions that support people who use drugs to ensure hepatitis C elimination remains a priority.”

About the online event

Facilitated by health reporter Dr Norman Swan, this event brings together affected communities, doctors, scientists, health and community workers, researchers and the public to discuss the immense challenges COVID-19 brings to hepatitis C elimination and the health of people who use drugs, and to discuss strategies to ensure Australia stays on track to become one of the first countries in the world to eliminate hepatitis C.

Date: Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Time: 12:30pm – 2:30pm

Book here.

Speakers

  • Jude Byrne, National Project Coordinator, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Sione Crawford, Chief Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria
  • Greg Dore, Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Carrie Fowlie, Chief Executive Officer, Hepatitis Australia
  • Jules Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
  • Andrew Lloyd, Head, Viral Immunology Systems Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Stuart Manoj-Margison, Director, BBV, STI and Torres Strait Health Policy Section, Australian Government Department of Health
  • Amy Peacock, Senior Research Fellow, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
  • Melanie Walker, CEO, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Michael Farrell, Director, The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney

NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health News Alert : Ernie Dingo from @bushtvmob and Dr Mick Adams @ECU @HealthInfoNet win national awards for contributions our men’s health.

“It’s close to my heart working with countrymen. We like to think of our program as an Aboriginal men’s movement and as we gather momentum this vision is coming to light.

Less than two years ago we were cruising around remote communities in my blue truck running voluntary camps with men getting their feedback, and the response we got was phenomenal.

We heal and and we sing and we dance.

We do this to be better men, to be the best versions of ourselves.”

Mr Dingo said while he’d won a few awards, this one felt special : See full story Part 1 below

 ” A key part of my approach was adopting a conversational, informal tone, or just “having a yarn.

If you go out there and just ask straight out questions, they sort of go back into their shell and don’t want to talk about what’s on their mind.

If you just talk to them you can find out what areas they need support in.”

Dr Mick Adams said the approach was all about trying to encourage men to speak up by letting them know others were going through the same issues. See Part 2 below

Read over 400 Aboriginal Male Health articles published by NACCHO over 8 years

Picture above  : SMSF co-ordinator Graham Leadbeatter, Camping on Country ambassador and chairman of Bush TV Enterprises Ernie Dingo, and Strong Men Strong Families participants and support workers on their way to their camp in July 2019. Credit: Elise Van Aken/The Kimberley Echo

A television series featuring East Kimberley Indigenous men has won a national award for its contribution to men’s health.

From the Kimberley Echo 

Australian film and television personality Ernie Dingo’s television series Camping on Country was announced as the winner of the national Australian Men’s Health Forum Award for best men’s health program last week during men’s health week.

Last year a group of local Indigenous men from Kununurra Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation’s Strong Men, Strong Families program participated in the national Camping on Country program.

Elders, support workers, the Bush TV film crew and Mr Dingo accompanied the men on a camp to workshop strategies to improve outcomes for themselves and their people.

The men also created video messages which were sent to the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt, which Mr Dingo the Camping on Country ambassador and chairman of Bush TV Enterprises said he’d show the Federal Government where the funding was helping and identify the areas that need more support.

By the end of this year the crew will have travelled around Australia twice and completed some 15 camps with 300-plus men and 10 communities.

The camps involved hunting, cooking, yarning circles, health checks, cultural activities, counselling and walks to connect men with their country, culture and each other.

“We all know about the statistics in regards to Indigenous men’s health, we got some pretty numbers, better than some cricket scores.

We can close the gap about men’s health a lot better than a lot of the attempts that were made from Canberra.”

Ernie Dingo spoke at our NACCHO Ochre Day about their successful men’s health remote community program – Camping on Country, where culture is an integral part of health

Read HERE

Part 2

Mick Adams has been encouraging men to have a yarn in order to create more tightly knit communities for more than 30 years.

The 73-year-old, who is currently based in Perth, has won a National Men’s Health Award for his work to improve men’s health.

A Senior Research Fellow at Edith Cowan University, Dr Adams received the Local Men’s Health Hero Award.

Mick’s journey started in 1976 when he was told about an opportunity with the South Australian Institute of Technology’s Aboriginal Task Force.

“I didn’t have a lot of education and my spelling wasn’t so crash hot, but I went to the interview, got the opportunity and after two years, I came out with an associate diploma,” he said.

“After that I started looking at ways to improve myself. Studying became an option.”

He went on to complete a degree in social work, which eventually led to him earning his PhD at Curtin University.

Focusing on men’s health

Mick, who is known as Uncle Mick to most, began focusing on men’s health after talking to some Indigenous women in Mortadella while working in mental health.

“I found out a lot of men were committing suicide in a number of different ways,” he said.

“I wanted to give men a more positive attitude in life – not only about respecting themselves, but respecting their families as well.”

He soon extended his focus from men’s health to men’s health and wellbeing.

His work focused on issues including suicide, domestic violence, sexual and reproductive health and giving young Indigenous men a sense of self worth.

Companionship, not leadership

He said a key part of his approach was adopting a conversational, informal tone, or just “having a yarn”.

He pointed out the Northern Territory intervention as an example of the wrong approach, saying it left a lot of men feeling degraded.

“We talk about leadership, but men need more companionship,” he said.

Another obstacle was the self-esteem of young Indigenous men – considered men according to their own culture, but still considered boys by wider society.

Signs of success and funding shortfalls

Mick said the No More anti domestic violence campaign was a sign strategies of collaboration were encouraging Indigenous men to speak out about systemic problems.

“Men feel more comfortable about addressing those issues. Men want to work with women and women want to work with men.”

Mick said his focus was not solely on Indigenous men and he often spoke with men outside the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

He said men’s health issues were still largely under-funded and the success of grass roots campaigns were a testament to the strength of communities.