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.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Resources Alert : NACCHO and @RACGP are pleased to launch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #715health assessment templates.

With support from the Department of Health, NACCHO and RACGP established a working group in 2019 to review and update Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander annual health check templates.

Throughout 2020 we will be testing these templates for operability in a range of services.

We are keen to hear your feedback and will be conducting a survey later in the year.

A key recommendation was to update elements to better reflect age-appropriate health needs. This resulted in five new templates that span the life course:

  1. Infants and preschool (birth-5 years)  PDF  RTF
  2. Primary school age (5-12 years) PDF  RTF
  3. Adolescents and young people (12-24 years) PDF  RTF
  4. Adults (25-49 years) PDF  RTF
  5. Older people (50+ years) PDF  RTF

These are example health check templates that include recommended core elements.

The criteria for inclusion can be accessed in our template development information pack.

Adaptation of these templates to local needs and priorities is encouraged, with reference to current Australian preventive health guidelines that are culturally and clinically suitable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander needs.

These templates are not intended to promote a tick box approach to healthcare, but rather to prompt clinicians to consider patient priorities, opportunities for preventive healthcare and common health needs.

As the Partnership Project continues, we are exploring opportunities for integration of health check activities into clinical software.

We are also interested to hear about your experiences of providing health checks via telehealth.

Contact aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au to understand more or contribute your ideas and experiences.

Understand the purpose of the health check is to:

  • support initial and ongoing engagement in comprehensive primary healthcare in a culturally safe way
  • provide evidence-based health information, risk assessment and other services for primary and secondary disease prevention
  • identify health needs, including patient health goals and priorities
  • support participation in population health programs (eg immunisation, cancer screening), chronic disease management and other primary care services (eg oral health )

Know that a high-quality health check is:

  • a positive experience for the patient that is respectful and culturally safe
  • provided with a patient, not to a patient
  • useful to the patient and includes patient priorities and goals in health assessment and planning
  • supports patient agency
  • provided by the usual healthcare provider in the context of established relationship and trust
  • provided by a multidisciplinary team that includes Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clinicians
  • evidence-based as per current Australian preventive health guidelines that are generally accepted in primary care practice (eg National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation [NACCHO]–Royal Australian College of General Practitioners [RACGP] National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Central Australian Rural Practitioner’s Association [CARPA] Standard Treatment Manual, etc)
  • provided with enough time (usually 30–60 minutes, with a minimum of 15 minutes with the GP) and often completed over several consultations
  • followed up with care of identified health needs (ie continuity of care).

Make sure your practice is providing health checks that are acceptable and valuable to patients by:

  • identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in a welcoming, hospitable manner
  • explaining the purpose and process of the health check and obtaining consent
  • enquiring about patient priorities and goals
  • adapting the health check content to what is relevant and appropriate to the patient
  • asking questions in ways that acknowledge strengths, that are sensitive to individual circumstances and that avoid cultural stereotyping
  • completing the health check and identifying health needs
  • making a plan for follow-up of identified health needs in partnership with the patient
  • making follow-up appointments at the time of the health check, where possible
  • considering checking in with the patient about their experience of the health check, in order to support patient engagement and quality

Potential pitfalls of health checks:

  • A poor health check can lead to non- or dis-engagement in healthcare and has the potential to do harm – establish engagement and trust
  • Health checks can have highly variable content and quality
  • use endorsed high-quality templates
  • Increasing the number of health checks without a focus on quality may undermine benefit for patients – avoid quantity over quality
  • Health checks are not proxy for all preventive healthcare – they are one activity in the range of health promotion and disease-prevention activities in primary care
  • No follow-up will have no or minimal impact on improving health outcomes – follow up identified health needs
  • Cultural stereotyping – acknowledge the health impacts of racism and build a culturally safe practice

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alerts : Download @AIHW Report Indigenous primary health care results : Our ACCHO’s play a critical role in helping to improve the health of our mob

 ” Comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians through prevention, early intervention, health education, and the timely identification and management of physical and psychological issues. “

Download the 77 Page AIHW Report HERE

Indigenous-primary-health-care-results-from-the-OSR-and-nKPI-collections

Primary health care organisations play a critical role in helping to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.

In 2018–19:

To this end, the Australian Government provides funding through the IAHP to organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services (referred to hereafter as organisations).

These organisations, designed to be accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, are administered and run by:

  • Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations (ACCHOs)
  • state/territory/local health services
  • non-government organisations (NGOs), such as women’s health services (a small proportion of services).

They vary in size, location, governance structure, length of time in operation, workforce composition, sources of funding, the services they offer, the ways in which they operate (for example, stand-alone or part of a consortium), and the needs of their clients.

What they all share in common is a holistic approach to meeting the needs of their Indigenous clients, which often involves addressing a complex mix of health conditions.

Each organisation provides contextual information about their organisation to the OSR once each financial year (covering the period July–June). The OSR includes all activities of the funded organisations, regardless of the percentage of those activities funded by IAHP.

This chapter presents a profile of organisations delivering Indigenous-specific primary health care services, including staffing levels, client numbers, client contacts, episodes of care and services provided. It excludes data from organisations that received funding only for maternal and child health services.

Trends over time are presented where possible, noting that the organisations providing data can vary over time which may limit comparability for some purposes (see Technical notes and Glossary for more information). Also, in 2018–19, the OSR collection underwent significant change and was scaled back to include only ‘core’ items. Plans are underway to reintroduce key items in a staged approach over the next few years.

The following boxes show key results for organisations providing Indigenous-specific primary health care in 2018–19.

Clicking HERE will go to more information on the selected topic.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #MensHealthWeek : Read and Download 30 years 1988 – 2018 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Strategies and Summit recommendations

1989 National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS)

1994 National Aboriginal Health Strategy: An Evaluation 1989

1999 The 1st National Indigenous Male Health Convention, held at Ross River Homestead

2000 NSW Aboriginal Male Health Plan

2002 Dr Mark Wenitong Indigenous Male Health Report for OATSIH

2002 National Framework for the Improvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health (2002) Dr Mick Adams

2003 National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

2008 National Aboriginal Male Health Summit -Ross River NT 22 Key Recommendations

2009 Federal Governments response (12 Months later ) to 2008 Summit recommendations

2010 Review of Indigenous Male Health by HealthInfoNet

2010 National Male Health Policy Supporting Document -Social determinants

2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 

2013 – 2030 NACCHO BluePrint for Aboriginal Male Healthy Futures for generational change

 2013 -2019 National NACCHO Ochre Day Summits  

 

 

Please note these entries below are only a snap shot of the thousands of Aboriginal Health reports and strategies published over the past 30 years

1989 National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS)

“Health to Aboriginal peoples is a matter of determining all aspects of their life, including control over their physical environment, of dignity, of community self-esteem, and of justice. It is not merely a matter of the provision of doctors, hospitals, medicines or the absence of disease and incapacity.”

The National Aboriginal Health Strategy (NAHS) was developed by the National Aboriginal Health Strategy Working Group in 1989 following extensive national consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, organizations and communities and with governments.It was a landmark document providing agreed direction for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy in Australia.

In July 2003, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council stated that the NAHS was ‘never fully implemented [but] remains the key document in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

It is extensively used by health services and service providers and continues to guide policy makers and planners.’

Detailed Information:
Key priorities identified in the 1989 National Health Strategy included building community control of Aboriginal health services, increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the health workforce, reforming health system and increasing funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.The strategy also supported increased community education, health promotion and prevention, improvement of the effectiveness and adequacy of essential services such as sewerage, water supply and communication, and building effective intersectoral collaboration.

It noted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities must participate in research to ensure it is ethical and research findings must be monitored and reviewed to ensure implementation.

1994 National Aboriginal Health Strategy: An Evaluation 1989

Download 1994 health_eval_execsum

1999 The 1st National Indigenous Male Health Convention, held at Ross River Homestead

Provided an opportunity for Indigenous males from around Australia to express their views and share their experiences of health. Delegates to the Convention explored strategies to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous males, their families and their communities.

Download the Report 1999 growing_up_as_an_indigenous_male

2000 NSW Aboriginal Male Health Plan :

WHAT WE KNOW WORKS IN ABORIGINAL MEN’S HEALTH

Download 2000 NSW ATSI Male Health

1.Addressing men’s health through separate gender strategies to women’s health

Developing separate strategies for men’s health and women’s health can be highly effective in the short term. If a men’s health clinic is not at a main health centre but is housed a few blocks away, Aboriginal men are more at ease, are more likely to consult a male doctor for a specific problem, and are more likely to return for follow up. The concept of separate gender strategies also applies to health promotion.

2.Employing more men within the NSW health sector

There are fewer Aboriginal male health workers compared to Aboriginal female health workers. Aboriginal male health workers may draw Aboriginal men to primary health care facilities, because men feel more comfortable accessing services where they know they can talk to another man about men’s business. Increasing the number of Aboriginal male health workers within primary health care settings is therefore desirable

3. Making health services relevant for Aboriginal men, their lives and interests

The achievement of Aboriginal men in sport has been a source of great pride and many Aboriginal men are able to demonstrate community leadership through this success. Sports and fitness programs are an important part of Aboriginal community development in general. This is especially true for the health of young people, as sports and fitness programs are likely to contribute to their physical and emotional wellbeing. Physical fitness programs can form a focus for active life skills, as opposed to negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol and substance abuse and other destructive behaviours.

4. Providing incentives for Aboriginal men to be involved

Successful programs often provide some kind of incentive to Aboriginal men to encourage them to become involved. This might be access to the local golf course, or to the local gym; or it could be providing a meal to encourage a more informal atmosphere and sense of fellowship.

5. Developing services within the terms set down by local men

A program or service will have greater success if it aims to be relevant to the needs of local Aboriginal men. For example: in one area, Aboriginal men were embarrassed about seeing a female health worker in a sexual health clinic; so they worked together to establish a separate clinic in a location where they felt more comfortable. As a result attendance increased by 600 per cent.

6.Recognising men’s role in Aboriginal society and how that role influences their health

The role of men in Aboriginal society has changed tremendously in only a few generations. Aboriginal men have experienced a loss of their traditional role in both society and family. This results in despair, shame, and a sense of inadequacy. Some men feel that they cannot contribute to their communities any more. This can be influenced by programs and services that highlight a positive role for Aboriginal men in their communities and families.

7.Addressing the high costs of medication

Compared to non-Aboriginal men, Aboriginal men suffer a higher burden of ill health, and have a significantly lower income, so the cost of medication is an important issue. Aboriginal men need to be informed about any benefits they are eligible for, which can reduce the cost of medication.

8. Increasing the numbers of medical practitioners with an understanding of, and time to deal with, Aboriginal men’s needs

Local medical practitioners should be encouraged to work closely with local Aboriginal health workers, and to develop partnerships with them. In local areas is it essential to increasing the number of health practitioners who understand the needs of local men, and whom local men feel comfortable consulting.

9. Working in partnership

Partnerships are about working collaboratively in an environment based on respect, trust, and equality.

Aboriginal health workers across NSW need to be encouraged to provide the kinds of programs and services that most benefit Aboriginal men in their communities, through partnership between health service delivery and projects of community interest.

10. Developing an evidence base to improve services

Research is needed to develop an evidence base on which to improve service delivery for Aboriginal men.

Issues in need of further research include: how to integrate men’s health programs into existing Aboriginal primary health care services; how to increase the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the research process; how to better target research that aims to improve Aboriginal men’s health; how to improve access to health services for Aboriginal males in urban, rural and remote areas; and what strategies and programs provide the best health outcomes for Aboriginal men. There also needs to be greater encouragement to publish existing research.

2002 Dr Mark Wenitong Indigenous Male Health Report report for OATSIH

This report by Dr Mark Wenitong was commissioned by the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in response to the continuing need for accessible information around the needs and issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males

Download 2002 Wenitong malehealthprelim

Approximately half of Australia’s Indigenous population is male. Knowledge of the status of their health, although not complete due to limitations on Indigenous identification, is an area of acute need.

A ‘gendered approach’ to health is not a new idea and it is becoming more apparent that gender is a key determinant of health in Australia.

The interaction between gender and health has been well recognised and has proved very useful with respect to women’s health. It may be possible to achieve better health access and outcomes for Indigenous males by considering this approach.

This report is an overview of Indigenous male health. It takes account of the:

  • historical, social and cultural background of Indigenous males and its relationship to health and behaviour;
  • fact that Indigenous males do not necessarily want a complete isolationist approach, and regard Indigenous women and family as a significant support and integral part of their health;
  • documented lack of Indigenous males in the health workforce at all levels.

2002 National Framework for the Improvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health (2002) Dr Mick Adams

Download 2002 Indigenous Male Health – Adams Mick

2003 National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

This National Strategic Framework is not a replacement of the 1989 NAHS.

It is a complementary document, which addresses contemporary approaches to primary health care and population health within the current policy environment and planning structures. It aims to guide government action over the next ten years through a coordinated, collaborative and multi-sectorial approach supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health stakeholder organisations.

Download 2003 nsfatsihcont

Development

This National Strategic Framework was developed following consultation on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy: Draft for Discussion, February 2001, produced by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council (NATSIHC).

The Draft for Discussion was based on the 1989 NAHS and the report of its 1994 evaluation.

It took into account the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Bringing Them Home Report, submissions made to the House of Representatives Inquiry into Indigenous Health and its final report entitled Health is Life. It also considered existing state and territory, regional and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policies, strategies and plans. All these have been fundamental to shaping this National Strategic Framework.

NATSIHC comprises members from the Commonwealth Government, the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council representing State and Territory governments, NACCHO, ATSIC, the TSRA, the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and individuals with specific expertise appointed by the Commonwealth Minister responsible for health. The chairperson of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) also sits on NATSIHC as an ex officio member.

2008 National Aboriginal Male Health Summit –Ross River NT 22 Key Recommendations

Inteyerrkwe Statement

“ We the Aboriginal males from Central Australia and our visitor brothers from around Australia gathered at Inteyerrkwe in July 2008 to develop strategies to ensure our future roles as grandfathers, fathers, uncles, nephews, brothers, grandsons, and sons in caring for our children in a safe family environment that will lead to a happier, longer life that reflects opportunities experienced by the wider community.

We acknowledge and say sorry for the hurt, pain and suffering caused by Aboriginal males to our wives, to our children, to our mothers, to our grandmothers, to our granddaughters, to our aunties, to our nieces and to our sisters.

We also acknowledge that we need the love and support of our Aboriginal women to help us move forward.”

In 2008 with the national focus on the NT intervention over 400 Aboriginal males from around to participate in a men’s Health Summit at the Ross River Camp

There was a need for Aboriginal men to get back control and understanding of their roles as fathers, uncles, brothers and sons in caring for children in a safe family environment that leads families and the community having a happier, healthier, longer life that reflects opportunities experienced by the wider community

Download 90 Page Report

2008 National Male Health Summit of Reports 1 and 2

Download the media report from summit

Final report Media Coverage 2

There has been over a decade of work by Aboriginal men to establish male health in the policy debates, but as I will outline later I feel we now need to move beyond the policy struggle to implementing the vision.

Patrick Dodson has been quoted that: “There has been a process of undermining the role and status of Aboriginal men within our society since the early days of Australia’s colonisation and continuing in recent commentary around the Northern Territory Intervention”.

When you add to this the rapid changes in the role of males within that colonising society and the consequent dislocation of non-Aboriginal males and their struggle to define new self-images, it is no wonder that Aboriginal males may struggle to make sense of the contemporary world.

And if those critical views of us as Aboriginal males are expressed with no effort to understand our cultural values, or the pressures caused by the colonial relationships and contemporary social transformations, then we become alienated from this society.

This alienation is at the core of the struggle for male health and wellbeing, as it acts to debase men, stripping away their dignity and the meaning in their lives.

We therefore need to confront these social relationships that shape our health.

Out of the hundreds of ideas that have been discussed and developed over the last three days at Ross River, some of the key recommendations that have come out of this forum are as follows:

  1. Establishment of community-based violence prevention programs, including programs specific to Aboriginal men.
  2. Establishment of places of healing for Aboriginal men, including men’s shelters/’sheds’, short term ‘drying out’ places for men, and more resources for long-term rehabilitation of Aboriginal men with alcohol and other drug problems, preferably within their own community. Also ‘half-way’ houses to either give ‘time out’ or time to move slowly back into work/family/training, preferably to be run by Aboriginal men.
  3. Tax-free status for three years for identified communities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal professionals to attract much-needed doctors, health workers, teachers and police. Also incentives to employ Aboriginal people in similar positions.
  4. Building the capacity of Aboriginal men in literacy and numeracy to access locally-based jobs, and better support for establishing local Aboriginal-controlled businesses to tap into the minerals boom, agriculture, aquaculture or whatever business activity is relevant to their traditional country. Also the linking of education and training to locally-based employment.
  5. ‘Unfinished business’ – This Summit calls on the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government to respond to its final report within three months (by the end of September, 2008).

See all 22 recommendations in this next section

 

2009 Federal Governments response (12 Months later ) to 2008 Summit recommendations

Download Government Response

2009 Federal Government Response malehealthsummitjun09

2010 Review of Indigenous Male Health by HealthInfoNet

Download

2010 Indigenous Male Health Healthindonet

2010 National Male Health Policy Supporting Document -Social determinants

SOCIAL DETERMINANTS AND KEY ACTIONS SUPPORTING MALE HEALTH

2010 Social determinants revised 170510

2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 was developed to provide an overarching framework which builds links with other major Commonwealth health activities and identifies areas of focus to guide future investment and effort in relation to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

On 30 May 2014 Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, Assistant Minister for Health, announced that an Implementation plan would be developed outlining the Commonwealth’s coordinated efforts to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 (online)
PDF version: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 – PDF 6280 KB

2013 – 2030 NACCHO BluePrint for Aboriginal Male Healthy Futures for generational change

NACCHO has long recognised the importance of an Aboriginal male health policy and program to close the gap by 2030 on the alarming Aboriginal male mortality rates across Australia.

Aboriginal males have arguably the worst health outcomes of any population group in Australia.

To address the real social and emotional needs of males in our communities, NACCHO proposes a positive approach to Aboriginal male health and wellbeing

NACCHO, its affiliates and members are committed to building upon past innovations and we require targeted actions and investments to implement a wide range of Aboriginal male health and wellbeing programs and strategies.

We call on State, Territory and Federal governments to commit to a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030

 

This blueprint sets out how the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services sector will continue to improve our rates of access to health and wellbeing services by Aboriginal males through working closely within our communities, strengthening cultural safety and further building upon our current Aboriginal male health workforce and leadership.

We celebrate Aboriginal masculinities, and uphold our traditional values of respect for our laws, respect for elders, culture and traditions, responsibility as leaders and men, teachers of young males, holders of lore, providers, warriors and protectors of our families, women, old people, and children

The NACCHO 10-Point Blue print Plan is based on a robust body of work that includes the Close the Gap Statement of Intent and the Close the Gap targets, the National Framework for the Improvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health (2002), NACCHO’s position paper on Aboriginal male health (2010) the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP), and the NACCHO Healthy futures 10 point plan 2013-2030

These solutions have been developed in response to the deep-rooted social, political and economic conditions that effect Aboriginal males and the need to be addressed alongside the delivery of essential health care.

Our plan is based on evidence, targeted to need and capable of addressing the existing inequalities in Aboriginal male health services, with the aim of achieving equality of health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal males by 2030.

This blueprint celebrates our success so far and proposes the strategies that governments, NACCHO affiliates and member services must in partnership commit to and invest in to ensure major health gains are maintained into the future

NACCHO, our affiliates and members remain focused on creating a healthy future for generational change and the NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint 2013-2030 will enable comprehensive and long-term action to achieve real outcomes.

To close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal males and non-Aboriginal within a generation we need achieve these 10 key goals

1. To call on government at all levels to invest a specific, substantial and sustainable funding allocation for the, NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health 10 point Blueprint plan 2013-2030 a comprehensive, long-term Aboriginal male Health plan of action that is based on evidence, targeted to need, and capable of addressing the existing inequities in Aboriginal male health

2. To assist delivering community-controlled ,comprehensive primary male health care, services that are culturally appropriate accessible, affordable, good quality, innovative to bridge the gap in health standards and to respect and promote the rights of Aboriginal males, in urban, rural and remote areas in order to achieve lasting improvements in Aboriginal male health and well-being

3. To ensure Aboriginal males have equal access to health services that are equal in standard to those enjoyed by other Australians, and ensure primary health care services and health infrastructure for Aboriginal males are capable of bridging the gap in health standards by 2030.

4. To prioritise specific funding to address mental health, social and emotional well-being and suicide prevention for Aboriginal males.

5. To ensure that we address Social determinants relating to identity culture, language and land, as well as violence, alcohol, employment and education.

6.To improve access to and the responsiveness of mainstream health services and programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health  services are provided commensurate Accessibility within the Primary Health Care Centre may mean restructuring clinics to accommodate male specific areas, or off-site areas, and may include specific access (back door entrance) to improve attendance and cultural gender issues

 7.To provide an adequate workforce to meet Aboriginal male health needs by increasing the recruitment, retention, effectiveness and training of male health practitioners working within Aboriginal settings and by building the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

8 To identified and prioritised (as appropriate) in all health strategies developed for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) including that all relevant programs being progressed in these services will be expected to ensure Aboriginal male health is considered in the planning phase or as the program progresses. Specialised Aboriginal male health programs and targeted interventions should be developed to address male health intervention points across the life cycle continuum.

9. To build on the evidence base of what works in Aboriginal health, supporting it with research and data on relevant local and international experience and to ensure that the quality of data quality in all jurisdictions meets AIHW standards.

10. To measure, monitor, and report on our joint efforts in accordance with benchmarks and targets – to ensure that we are progressively reaching our shared aims.

NOTE : Throughout this document the word Male is used instead of Men. At the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Gathering-Alice Springs 1999, all delegates present agreed that the word Male would be used instead of the word Men. With the intention being to encompass the Male existence from it’s beginnings in the womb until death.

Throughout this document the word Aboriginal is used instead of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is in line with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) being representative of Aboriginal People. This does not intend to exclude nor be disrespectful to our Brothers from the Torres Strait Islands.

 2013 -2019 NACCHO Ochre Days :  

 First Ochre Day Canberra 2013 with present and past 2 NACCHO chairs

The week-long #MensHealthWeek focus offers a “timely reminder” to all men to consider their health and wellbeing and the impact that their ill health or even the early loss of their lives could have on the people who love them. The statistics speak for themselves – we need to look after ourselves better .

That is why I am encouraging all men to take their health seriously, this week and every week of the year, and I have made men’s health a particular priority for Indigenous health.”

Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt who was a keynote speaker at NACCHO Ochre Day in August

Canberra 2013

Brisbane 2014

Adelaide 2015

Perth 2016

Darwin 2017

Hobart 2018

Melbourne 2019

View all HERE

 

NACCHO #MensHealthWeek Media Release : @NACCHOChair and Dr Mark Wenitong  “ Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health : Plus case study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs

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 men’s programs that address critical social and emotional issues that our men face.

The overall aim is 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 after these two-three months of isolation and get 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, and they are free.”

On the occasion of National Men’s Health Week, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

Download the NACCHO press release HERE

NACCHO Media Statement – Men’s Health Week v2.1 15 June

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has long recognised the importance of addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health as part of the Close the Gap initiatives.

Read over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s Health articles published by NACCHO over 8 Years

Read this article above 

The history of NACCHO OCHRE Day events 2013- 2019

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO has for many years been a national leader in Aboriginal health, not only through its male-only comprehensive primary health care service providing a full suite of medical care complemented by social support services, but through the emphasis that the service places on preventative health with annual 715 health check and weekly engagements, servicing over 1,000 men every year.

See case study part 1 below : Photo above : Left right Terry Braun , John Liddle Manager , David Galvin , Wayne Campbell , Ken Lichleitner

 

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong, has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to improve their overall health and mental health.

His expertise and experience have led to his involvement in health reform with the Cape York Aboriginal communities with a dedicated team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male workers, who are getting great traction with their community men.

“The strength-based men’s programs delivered by Apunipima continue to see rise in participation rates and better outcomes for Cape York men. Though we still have a long way to go, more of the men are taking control and utilising our programs to support improving their mental health and overall wellbeing,” said Dr Wenitong.

Dr Mark Wenitong on what works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health

Part 1 Case Study Ingkintja Male Health Service at Congress ACCHO in Alice Springs 

Ingkintja: Wurra apa artwuka pmara is an Aboriginal Male Health Service at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress that takes the lead in providing 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.

Ingkintja takes the lead in supporting men in cultural activities across central Australia by providing equipment and medical support when requested by community leaders.

Incorporated into the male-only service are washing facilities (showers and laundry facilities), a gym and ‘Men’s Shed’.

Congress’ decentralisation of social and emotional well-being services meant that a psychologist and Aboriginal care management worker are available through Ingkintja, allowing therapeutic care (counselling, violence interventions), brief interventions, cultural and social support to men.

Ingkintja has a history of hosting national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Heath events

male_health_summit_jun09

Ingkintja also delivers the Jaila Wanti prison to work program, which provides support to Aboriginal prisoners 90 days prior to release and also 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 on health and wellbeing, and facilitate linkages with employment and training provider. 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 grog.

Sessions also focus on cultural roots and family connections to rebuild cultural identify and self-worth, and to reinforce positive behaviours while also reflecting on the consequences of impulsivity and violent behaviours.

The team establish trust and respect and assist in reconnecting the men with family and culture and to reintegrate into community.  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.

The Inkintja men’s wash facilities were recently upgraded and continue to be a vital and highly accessed service, especially for men living rough. The facility gives men the obvious benefit of being able to wash and gain self-worth, and provides a critical engagement opportunity for the team to perform health checks, medical follow-up and other necessary referrals to services to improve their health and wellbeing.

The Ingkintja men’s shed and gym has regular sessions that enable males, both young and old, to come together and access valuable skills, such fitness, comradery and practical life skills.

Ingkintja have also been equipped with a men’s health truck, currently being fitted out with three consult rooms, which will increase the reach of the service’s holistic approach further to remote communities in a culturally responsive – and mobile – way.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #BlackLivesMatter : Pat Turner Lead Convener @coalition_peaks calls for more ambitious targets to reduce Indigenous incarceration

Aboriginal leaders are pushing for more ambition across all categories in the Closing the Gap refresh, including health, education, economic development and housing.

The 2018 draft agreement was “totally inadequate”and governments should be prepared to spend more money to meet ambitious targets rather than propose modest goals.

The Rudd government’s Closing the Gap initiative failed because of a lack of funding.

We have now got a national agreement very close to finalisation except the ambition of governments is very slack at the moment

We want to achieve parity across the board but unless governments invest correctly in the achievement of the targets, then it is going to be extremely difficult to (meet) them. There will be some movement (on the draft 2018 targets) but I don’t think it will be enough.

It would be the wrong lesson to adopt less-ambitious targets because of the failure to hit the ambitions set by Kevin Rudd in 2008.

There needed to be more control given to peak Aboriginal bodies to roll out the programs and control the funding.

We should be running our own affairs in this day and age.We don’t need bureaucrats to tell us what to do.

We want realistic targets. We don’t want what suits the bureaucracy. The money that has been spent to date has largely been eaten up by overly bureaucratic processes and very little of it hits the ground where it is most needed.”

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO and the Lead Convener  Coalition of Peaks  for the Closing the Gap “refresh

Full story front page of the Australian 9 June

Read previous NACCHO posts for Coalition of Peaks

More ambitious targets to reduce the number of Aboriginal Australians in jail will be put to state and territory governments as part of an overhaul of the Closing the Gap program to reduce Indigenous disadvantage.

Morrison government sources confirmed the commonwealth would scrap a draft agreement to reduce the rate of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in prisons by up to 19 per cent by 2028.

It will instead take a higher target to the states next month after thousands of protesters took to the streets to express their anger over indigenous incarceration rates and deaths in custody.

Officials from state and federal departments will meet Aboriginal representatives including Pat Turner, the chief indigenous negotiator for the Closing the Gap “refresh”, on Tuesday before a meeting of state and territory leaders to decide on the stricter targets on July 2.

Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, the rate at which indigenous people have died in jail as a percentage of the Aboriginal prison population has fallen and is now lower than for the non-indigenous prison population, according to data from both the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

But the number of indigenous people in the prison system has increased from 19 per cent in 2000 to nearly 30 per cent in March this year, according to ABS figures. There are now 12,900 indigenous people in prisons, out of a total prison population of 44,159.

Indigenous people made up almost 3 per cent of the population at the 2016 census

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt is pushing for each state and territory to adopt specific incarceration targets, according to sources close to negotiations. The new targets will be more ambitious than the draft Closing the Gap target, released in December 2018, for a 5 per cent decline in the incarceration rate among adults and an 11 to 19 per cent reduction among youths.

The high rate of indigenous incarceration and associated frequency of deaths in custody were seized on by Australian Black Lives Matter protesters at the weekend marches, which fuelled a backlash over the breaching of coronavirus social-distancing restrictions.

Mr Wyatt declined to comment on the new targets but told The Australian he was “working to address the factors that contribute to high incarceration rates (including) health, education and employment”.

“If we want to reduce the number of deaths in custody, we need to look very closely at what’s happening here in Australia — the factors contributing to incarceration rates and the way in which our systems are handling these incidents,” Mr Wyatt said.

“This requires a co-operative approach between government and with communities, particularly when states and territories hold the policies and levers relating to policing and justice matters.

“It takes more than money; it takes an iron-stead commitment; it takes listening and understanding; and it takes us working together. The Morrison government is progressing with the Closing the Gap refresh in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks, and while we’re still in final negotiations, there will be a justice target contained within that agreement.”

The 2018 draft targets included: 65 per cent of indigenous youth (15-24 years) to be in employment, training or eduction by 2028; 60 per cent of Aboriginal Australians aged 25-64 to be in work; and 82 per cent to live in appropriate-sized housing by 2028.

Just two of the seven Closing the Gap targets set in 2008 — early childhood education and Year 12 attainment — were achieved. Ambitions failed in targets for school attendance, child mortality, employment, life expectancy and literacy and numeracy targets.

A report by the Productivity Commission estimated state and federal governments spent $33.4bn on services for indigenous Australians in the 2016 financial year, up from $27bn (in 2016 dollars) in 2009.

The direct government expenditure per Aboriginal Australian was $44,886 in 2016, compared with $22,356 on non-indigenous Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #BlackLivesMatter : Former President  shares advice on how to make George Floyd protests ‘a turning point : Plus Australia must look in the mirror to see our own deaths in custody

” I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting – that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life.

But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful.

If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.

Let’s get to work.

Barack Obama former US President Facebook post : In full part 1 below

 ” I can’t breathe, please! Let me up, please! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!

These words are not the words of George Floyd or Eric Garner. They weren’t uttered on the streets of Minneapolis or New York.

These are the final words of a 26-year-old Dunghutti man who died in a prison in south-eastern Sydney.

The deaths in custody of First Nations Australians are not hidden. As a nation, we are choosing not to look at them. In 1991, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody documented 99 deaths in custody.

Since then, 432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody, according to Guardian Australia’s Deaths Inside project.

Read full article in The Conversation

Part 1

 

As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change.

Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But I believe there are some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering.

First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States.

The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation – something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause.

I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more.

The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities.

But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices – and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government.

And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct.

Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people – which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.

So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities. A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another.

Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.

But as a starting point, I’ve included two links below. One leads to a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House.

And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.

Let’s get to work.

obama.org/policing-civil-rights-org-toolkit

obama.org/anguish-and-action

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Stroke #Heart #ClosetheGap Research : @ANUmedia New recommendations for cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged under 35 years

This is a great step in reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Our people have greater rates of heart disease and screening from a younger age will contribute to longer healthier lives. NACCHO encourages all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to implement these new guidelines in their practices.

The Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Donnell Mills

The updated recommendations are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals to receive:

  • Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and other cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors from the age of 18 years at latest;
  • Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years at the latest.

New recommendations for CVD risk assessment and management were published today in the Medical Journal of Australia.

See all Close the gap articles in the MJA Journal HERE

The recommendations were endorsed by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association and the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, led by the Heart Foundation.

The approach to early screening was developed in partnership with the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in CVD prevention.

Take home messages

  1. Most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented, and in the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from CVD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples has almost halved.
  2. High risk of cardiovascular disease begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is mainly due to diabetes and renal diseaseIt is recommended that there should be:
    1. Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease risk factors from the age of 18 years. This should include assessment of blood glucose level or glycated haemoglobin, estimated glomerular filtration rate, serum lipids, urine albumin to creatinine ratio, and other risk factors such as blood pressure, history of familial hypercholesterolaemia, and smoking status.
    2. Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years. Outside of Communicare, the best CVD risk calculator to use is auscvdrisk.com.au/risk-calculator/
  3. What you can do: Assessment of CVD risk as part of a health check. The most important part of this check-up is working with your doctor to manage your risk factors to improve your heart health and help you live a healthier, longer life.

” Around 80% of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with optimal care. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading contributor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality despite a 40% decrease in deaths in the past two decades and significant decreases in smoking prevalence.

High risk of CVD begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, mainly in people with diabetes and/or renal disease.

Our program of work, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, is focused on improving prevention of cardiovascular disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through:

  • Revision and alignment of clinical practice guidelines ( see part 2 below )
  • Revision and enhanced Medicare Benefits Schedule items for prevention of chronic disease
  • Workforce education and engagement

See ANU program website

Read over 80 Aboriginal Heart health articles published by NACCHO over past 8 Years 

Read over 100 Aboriginal and Stroke articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years 

To combat high risk of heart attack and strokes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have had their heart checked by a GP by age 18 at the latest, according to new national recommendations.

As part of a regular health check with a GP, the recommendations launched today have moved the age Indigenous people should get screened for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) down from 35 to 18.

Based on research from The Australian National University (ANU), a host of health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD experts have agreed on the latest efforts to continue closing the gap on early heart attacks among Indigenous Australians.

“We have seen great improvements in CVD prevention and this was highlighted in this year’s Closing the Gap speech,” said ANU lead researcher, Dr Jason Agostino.

“However, it remains a leading cause of preventable death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We need to be doing all we can to prevent it.

“Just about every Aboriginal person I know has a family member or a community member who’s died young from a heart attack or stroke. We need to change that.

“We can improve things by picking up conditions like diabetes and kidney disease early and starting conversations about treatment.”

In the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from heart attacks and strokes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples have almost halved.

However, three out of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults under 35 have at least one CVD risk factor.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia’s Senior Cultural Advisor, Vicki Wade, is a 62-year-old cardiac nurse who has heart disease. She said it is important to remind community and health workers about the risks of CVD.

“Although rates have improved, the statistics are frightening. We have generations of Aboriginal people who are not seeing their grandchildren growing up because of heart attack and stroke,” Mrs Wade said.

“This is a chance for local solutions, community engagement and health workers to be educated.”

Fellow author, Heart Foundation Chief Medical Adviser, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said: “Evidence shows that Indigenous Australians have CVD risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol at a young age. We need to prevent, identify and treat these.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should now undergo CVD risk factor screening from 18 years, at the latest, and use Australian CVD risk calculators from age 30.

“It’s easy to do. The assessment involves the normal parts of a health check with a blood and urine test. It is quick and can be done by your local GP,” said Dr Agostino.

“For the vast majority it will be bulk-billed and free.”

The move is backed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, and the Editorial Committee for Remote Primary Health Care Manuals.

“This is about getting consistency everywhere. This is what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the evidence is telling us we should do,” Dr Agostino said.

“Many GPs are already screening as early as 15 but some GPs and nurses don’t know about the need to test early.

“This is about doing what we can to pick up risk factors early and close the gap on early heart attacks and strokes.”

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara welcomed the new recommendations, saying they could make a real difference in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We cannot hope to close the gap without making evidence-based changes – these new recommendations are a positive step to improving early detection and treatment of CVD.

“The RACGP has over 40,000 members, including 10,000 members in the faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. While many GPs know about early screening not all do. These new recommendations will help spread awareness among GPs, improving access to early screening and quality care.”

Under the new recommendations, young adults with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria, kidney disease, and very high blood pressure or high cholesterol will be identified as high- risk of CVD.

Want more information and resources?

A team at ANU is developing a toolkit on risk communication in CVD: Healing Heart Communities. Designed as a resource for all clinical staff in primary care, it aims to support conversations about CVD risk.

During development, the team has consulted the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and partnered with We are Saltwater People, an Indigenous-owned graphic design company based in QLD to create original artwork, design and layout.

You can find these initial resources here: [