NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

feature tile text 'WA ACCHOs work to break through COVID-19 vaccine misinformation' & image of road sign with kms to Fitzroy Crossing etc

Vax rollout to WA mob continues to suffer

The vaccine rollout to WA mob continues to suffer as Aboriginal Medical Services work to break through misinformation about the vaccine. The Federal Health Department’s weekly breakdown of Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination data by geographical area shows that nine of the nation’s 16 least vaccinated regions are in WA.

The State’s highest vaccination rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is in the inner suburbs of Perth, where 49.25% of those eligible have received their first jab and 36% have received a second.

However, it’s WA’s south-west, the Bunbury region, that’s the next most vaccinated area in the State. In the region, 37.28% of eligible Indigenous people have received one vaccine dose, and 24% are double jabbed. Those numbers lift the south-west above any of Perth’s outer suburbs, Mandurah, the Wheatbelt and the far Outback areas – regions which have the lowest rate of vaccination anywhere in the nation.

Lesley Nelson is the CEO of the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), which provides medical services to mob throughout the region. Despite the south-west leading most of Perth’s metro areas for vaccination rates, Ms Nelson is still deeply concerned that there aren’t enough vaccines in arms. “We’ve had good uptake in Bunbury, but we are still well behind the goal of 80%,” she said.

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

5 female SWAMS staff standing in line in front of large tree

SWAMS staff. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

QLD borders open without community consultation

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) Chair, Matthew Cooke expressed ‘profound disappointment’ that the state government had not consulted with the Indigenous community before setting a date to open the state’s borders.

The state’s borders are set to open to domestic travellers at 70% vaccination, expected on 19 November 2021. As of October 20, Indigenous vaccination rates in Queensland sits at 40% with a single dose of a vaccine and 30% double dosed, with the general population at 58% and 73% respectively.

Cooke called for an urgent meeting with the Premier to address the impact that reopening would have on Indigenous people, who are vaccinated at a rate 30% lower than the general population. “She didn’t even consult her own Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer before releasing that new COVID vaccine plan for Queensland and setting the date on opening borders, and she has not reached out to the peak health body in Queensland for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” he said.

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

QAIHC Chair Matthew Cooke.

Top 3 vax questions answered

Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Department of Health (DoH) has answered the Top Three questions received across DoH channels:

  1. What is Ronapreve and how can it help treat COVID-19?
  2. My child is feeling anxious after lockdown, how can I best support them as they return to school?
  3. If I need one, how long do I need to wait before I can receive a third COVID-19 vaccine dose and where can I get one?

You can listen to Dr Lucas De Toca answering these questions in the below video and access a transcript of the video here.

ACT resists compulsory vax for prison staff

The ACT government is resisting compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for staff at Canberra’s prison despite calls for a jab mandate from an Indigenous health leader.

“We acknowledge in the ACT public service that the AMC is an example of a high risk setting, if we were going to consider such a measure,” ACT health minister Ms Stephen-Smith told the ABC. “But it is very different to disability support work or healthcare work or residential aged care in that correctional services officers are not providing close personal care to detainees.”

Julie Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, threw her support behind the ACT’s jab mandate for all healthcare workers, earlier this month. But says the mandate doesn’t go far enough and is calling for all prison officers and detention staff be vaccinated.

“I have been advocating since the very beginning of the COVID pandemic for special measures to be adopted to ensure that people detained in the AMC and other places of detention in the ACT, namely Bimberi and Dhuwal, to be accorded the highest possible levels of protection against the virus,” Ms Tongs says.

To view the CanberraCity News article in full click here.

image of inside of Alexander Maconochie Centre

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: ABC News.

Pharmacist reconciliation journey continues

A group of companies have had the first meeting of the Reconciliation Action Plan Health Industry Network. The new network has been formed out of the Pharma Australia Industry Group (PAIG) and currently includes over 20 companies from the pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors.

The goal is to create a regular forum for sharing lessons and learnings between organisations on their own reconciliation journey. Fiona Sheppard, the co-chair of PAIG and diversity, equity and inclusion Leader at J&J, helped establish the new RAP Health Industry Network after receiving positive feedback on the PAIG sessions focused
on reconciliation.

“Across the industry, we are all at different stages of our reconciliation journey. Through this collaborative network, we hope organisations across the pharmaceutical and medical device industries can have open discussions, share knowledge and reflect on learnings to help each other progress meaningful action around reconciliation with Indigenous communities,” she said.

To view the BioPharmaDispatch media release in full click here.

Image source: Retail Pharmacy.

A man for the mob

Dedicated to community and built for opportunity, Indigenous business Minbaringu Services is making a difference through what they do and who they are. Operating in the Pilbara, Minbaringu provides electrical services; heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC); PV solar power; and environmental and waste management services.

Minbaringu is led by director Richard Walker, who leads by example with his strong values on Indigenous employment and community connection. A man with a passion for mob and Country, he has maternal and paternal links to Ngarluma and Ngamal communities.  “I didn’t want to bring kids in, chew them up and spit them out. Now, Minbaringu is Indigenous-owned, and we have Indigenous tradies working for us,” he said.

“One of the biggest things for me with the business is how we support the community, particularly with mental health and youth suicide,” he said. “We want that big brother relationship; it doesn’t have to be getting involved in their personal business but it’s making sure support is there. We know that if we do this internally, that flows our into their communities, and their families.”

“I lost a couple of close friends and a family relative to youth suicide. That really shook me and affected me when I was a young fella,” he said. “I’ve lost too many friends. I’ve lost too many people to this. I want to make a change.”

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

Minbaringu Director Richard Walker sitting on stump in grass field, town in background

Minibaringu Director Richard Walker. Image source: National Indigenous times.

New camp kitchen for healing camp program

Shields for Living, Tools for Life cultural healing camps are a genuine alternative to youth in NT detention. Thanks to donors who have contributed to a funding campaign for CAASE’s bush kitchen trailer, the target $50,000 has been raised.

We are enlisting the support of the youth in detention to create artwork to personalise the bush kitchen and take on their cultural healing camps on Country!! The bush kitchen will provide a mobile home – kitchen and camper and shade shelter – catering for bush food and cold foods.

The CASSE team is very excited to hit the road with this bush kitchen next year. We have up to a dozen country camps to deliver on Country in five remote communities and some day camps at Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA). The bush kitchen will be stationed like a mobile cafeteria!

To view the story in full click here.

old camp kitchen, new trailer kitchen

New process for job advertising

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

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

Children’s Week 2021

Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. In 1996 it was decided to adopt a permanent theme: “A Caring World Shares” as a reflection of Children’s Week aims while at the same time acknowledging the designated year on national posters and other printed materials.

Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood. It is also a time for children to demonstrate their talents, skills and abilities. Thousands of children and their families around the country are involved in activities and events during “The Week” through the participation of schools, playgroups, childcare, kindergartens, cultural groups, libraries, departments and community groups.

The Children’s Week National Theme for 2021 is: Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others.

Children’s Week 2021 will be held between Saturday 23 October – Sunday 31 October 2021.

For more information about Children’s week click here.

group of Aboriginal children & Children's Week logo vector world with 4 children

Indigenous kids at Nhulunbuy, NT. Image source: Huffpost.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

feature tile text 'NDIS workforce critical given high rates of disability among First Nations peoples' & rear silhouette view of elderly lady in wheelchair looking up at blue sky & clouds

NDIS workforce critical given high disability rates

NACCHO CEO recently appeared before the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Joint Committee. In her opening comments, Pat Turner said “the NDIS workforce is an absolutely critical issue for our people and communities, given our high rates of disability. As you are aware, the National Agreement on Closing the Gap demonstrates a commitment from all levels of government to changing the way policies and programs affecting our people are developed and delivered.”

“Shared decision-making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and government, strengthening the community controlled sector, improving mainstream organisations, and improving collection of and access to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data are the priority reforms that underpin the national agreement. NACCHO’s submission [to the NDIS Joint Committee] outlines the need for and provides recommendations about how government can support and build a sustainable, community controlled NDIS workforce.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to experience a disability as other Australians. Currently, 9.6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are NDIS participants. However, there is a severe underutilisation of plans by Aboriginal and Torres Strait people nationally when compared to other Australians. A key barrier for many of our people who are currently on NDIS plans is that they are unable to access culturally safe services or, in many cases, any services. I need to make this very clear: this is not just a remote issue but one also faced by our regional and urban communities. To ensure the successful uptake and utilisation of NDIS and disability services, a multidisciplinary and competent workforce is needed to support and provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the community controlled care and health sector is facing major workforce challenges where demand will outstrip the supply of suitably skilled and job-ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. This shortage will impact access to culturally appropriate, effective and efficient support and assistance needed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the full transcript of what Pat Turner said at the NDIS Joint Committee click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Most vaccinated community in Central Australia

The low rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in Indigenous Australians continues to cause concern for politicians desperate to reopen borders, but one community near Alice Springs has turned that on its head with 94% of the eligible population having received at least one dose.

One major reason for the community’s success was the push by Sarah Gallagher, a long-term health worker in the community, who has almost single-handedly persuaded residents to get the jab.  “We’ve seen it everywhere. Our community heard about it, seen the news, it’s everywhere,” she said. “Our community people have been saying, ‘we’ve got to think about ourselves here. This is a good community, we need to go to the clinic and get vaccinated’.”

Health workers who service the community have also credited strong male leadership in the community in the uptake success. Jonathan Doolan, who has lived in Utju for 20 years, said the community had felt fear and uncertainty about COVID. “Some are getting scared of this thing and some really aren’t sure what they need to do,” said Mr Doolan. “We’re giving them the message and people will come to have the needle, have the thing.”

The combined efforts of Ms Gallagher’s commitment to her community and Mr Doolan’s leadership, has led to success, but the formula has proven difficult to replicate in other communities struggling to promote vaccination. “People trust me. I live here in my community and people trust me,” Ms Gallagher said. The health clinic in Utju is run by the Indigenous-controlled Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and not the NT Government, which is the case for some other remote health clinics.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Sarah Gallagher & Jonathan Dooley, Areyonga

Sarah Gallagher and Jonathan Dooley have been crucial in encouraging residents of Areyonga to get vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

New COVID-19 vax resources from NSW Health

NSW Health have put together a range of updated COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including:

  • updated sorry business poster and factsheet to reflect new restrictions
  • updated self-isolation rules
  • new community champion vaccination postcards
  • community champion videos: Blake Tatafu; BudjerahCorey Tutt; Lesley Armstrong
  • updated ‘release and recovery from COVID-19’ factsheet with new advice about vaccination for recovered cases.

All the above resources, as well as the social media resources listed below, can be found on the NSW Government website here.

NSW Health will also be hosting another Yarn Up Q&A at 3:00PM Tuesday 26 October 2021 on the NSW Health Facebook page. This series will focus on the facts about COVID-19 vaccination, responding to some of the misinformation circulating through the community. If you have any questions you think would be valuable to include, please let Helen Gardiner, Aboriginal Health COIVD-19 Communications Lead, Centre for Aboriginal Health, NSW Government know by midday this Thursday 21 October 2021 using this email link.

Youth call for action on “missing middle”

Young leaders have released a Call to Action to promote a much stronger role for young Australians in the design of health services to meet the “missing middle” needs of teenagers and young adults in health policy. The Call to Action seeks innovations including the creation of a youth healthcare card, a National Youth Commissioner and education in schools to promote understanding of the health system.

The call flows from the recent Youth Health Forum National Summit which brought together hundreds of advocates and young people from across Australia to discuss the health system challenges experienced by people aged 18 to 30. This age group has been identified in the report Life Transitions and Youth Pathways to Health services report as the “missing middle” in healthcare, experiencing limited engagement in the health sector and worsening outcomes.

“Changes need to be made within the health system to ensure that young people are able to live their healthiest lives. For these changes to be effective and sustainable, we are directly engaging and listening to young health consumers who are most impacted by the system,” the spokesperson for the Youth Health Forum, Roxxanne MacDonald, said.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

legs of 5 young people sitting with laptops

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

$93m to extend Indigenous programs

The Morrison Government is investing more than $93 million into 224 organisations to extend a range of Indigenous programs across early childhood, schooling, vocational education and training, and safety and wellbeing projects. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the funding continues many successful programs that address essential service gaps and meet community needs.

“Our commitment to initiatives that help realise better outcomes for Indigenous Australians is unwavering – this funding will help deliver a raft of critical services, particularly to improve early life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.” “224 organisations will receive funding from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, allowing them to plan and deliver 253 activities and services for Indigenous Australians.

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

7 young Aboriginal kids jumping in the air, grass underfoot & blue sky

Image source: The Australian.

EOIs sought for Project ECHO Steering Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the use of alcohol and other substances and delivery of treatment services across Australia, and has reinforced the key role primary care, and particularly general practice, plays in keeping people well in the community.

GPs often see the impact of alcohol and drug use on people’s wellbeing and are well placed to offer support. Just like other health problems, substance use issues can be treated, with treatment generally more effective if initiated early.

To build confidence and capability of primary care practitioners to support people experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) are establishing WA’s first Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Project ECHO is an evidence-based model which places healthcare providers from diverse settings in direct contact with subject matter experts, empowering them to provide best practice care for their local communities.

WAPHA is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from GPs and other health professionals to be part of a Steering Group to guide the development and implementation of Project ECHO. The Steering Committee will provide leadership, oversight and direction; monitor progress; progress relevant actions and contribute to project evaluation.

WAPHA is seeking applications from:

  • General Practitioners (with advanced experience and/or an AOD speciality as well as early career practitioners with a special interest in AOD)
  • Aboriginal Health Practitioners
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Other Allied Health professionals and
  • Consumers who use AOD services

If this sounds like you then please submit your EOI here by COB Friday 5 November 2021.

For more information about Project ECHO click here.

banner, vector sign text 'Project ECHO'

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls for national social prescribing scheme

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and Mental Health Australia are urging the government to implement a national social prescribing scheme to tackle Australia’s mental health and wellbeing crisis in the 2021 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).

Mental ill health is a growing problem in Australia and has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, GPs across Australia have rated mental health as the most common presentation they see as part of the RACGP’s annual Health of the Nation survey. Medicare data also shows the increase in patients accessing mental health services during the pandemic, with services highest in July 2020 when Victoria’s second wave peaked. We also know that approximately 20% of patients consult their GP for what are primarily social problems.

The RACGP, CHF and Mental Health Australia are calling on the Australian Government to support the development of a nationally coordinated scheme dedicated to tackling the problem with innovative local solutions.

Social prescribing is about health and wellbeing support. It involves a health professional supporting a patient to take up non-medical activities and services to supplement conventional healthcare. It aims to address the key risk factors for poor health, including mental health problems, social isolation, and chronic illness. It has been shown to deliver positive health benefits and improved self-care capability.

To view the joint media release click here.

vector images of 18 social activities

Image source: CTA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID’s serious, we need to make that clear

COVID’s serious, we need to make that clear

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agonisto was recently interviewed on SBS Viceland The Point where he discussed COVID-19 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

In NSW vaccination rates have passed 70% with at least one dose, that’s still a lot of people not fully vaccinated, and they’re the people at highest risk of catching COVID-19 and spreading it through the community as we open up.

It’s just past two months since the first case in Walgett – in that two months over 4,000 people have contracted COVID-19 and 500 have ended up in hospital, 50 have been in ICU and there have been nine deaths. It’s happened really quickly. It’s been spreading mainly amongst people who are unvaccinated. 

Only 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 12 are fully vaccinated across the nation., which is quite low compared to the non-indigenous community. The most attention needs to go to the population under 40 as our communities are young – the average age is something like 23 and that group still hasn’t got very high vaccination rates. So I think it’s really clear, really important to make clear to that group that COVID-19 is serious.

In adults under the age of 40, one in eight end up in hospital and a lot end up in ICU. If you’re vaccinated, you stop yourself getting it and you stop spreading it into the community. It’s that age group that will be important. It’s about getting messages that cut through to them and encourage them and their kids to get vaccinated. 

To view the interview with Dr Jason Agostino in full click by clicking on this link – the interview begins at 16:38:30 of S2021 E24: Episode 24.

Dr Jason Agostino being interviewed on SBS The Point

PHC decision-making transfers to ACCHO

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says local decision making for primary health care in the West Arnhem Land community of Minjilang has transferred from NT Health to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – Red Lily. Red Lily assumed operations of the Primary Health Care Clinic on 1 July 2021 and the community is now celebrating the milestone with a handover ceremony following a period of transition.

The Red Lily Health board consists of representatives from areas including Minjilang, Warruwi, Gunbalanya, Jabiru and surrounding homelands. NT Health has worked with the Commonwealth Government and Primary Health Network to support the transition and will continue to provide support.

To view Minister Fyles’ media release click here.

Red Lily Health Board logo & outside of Red Lily building

Help grow the care and support workforce

A Life Changing Life, the Australian Government’s national campaign to support growth in the care and support workforce, has been launched nationally on television, digital and social channels and radio.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the employment opportunities across aged care, disability and veterans’ support – and encourage consideration and take-up among potential workers.

You can help encourage mob to consider a role in the care and support sector by sharing these resources with your network.

To access more detailed information about the campaign and resources click here.

ImpaRA program wins mental health award

The ImpaRa program has won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander QLD Mental Health Award for 2021. The awards recognise and celebrate individuals, groups and organisations who work with people living with mental illness, and strive to reduce the stigma surrounding it.

ImpaRa is a suicide prevention program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Running for just over three years, ImpaRa has worked to support the mental health of almost a thousand young people.

ImpaRa program Coordinator Amy Keys, said that becoming a finalist was completely unexpected. “It’s a proud moment to be acknowledged for the work that we’ve done. And to know that what we have done has secured the mental health of the young people we work with,” she said. “To be recognised is a great milestone. I want to acknowledge all the participants who have bravely come to us and asked for help. Anyone else working in suicide prevention understands what I mean. ”

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

3 men in suits, one woman holding certificate

ImpaRa award winners. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

COVID-19 resources for Aboriginal communities

The NSW Government have a range of COVID-19 print and digital resources for developed specifically for Aboriginal communities. Resources include posters, brochures, flyers, videos (including the one below) and social media tiles with community information about COVID-19.

To access the relevant NSW Government webpage click here.

Calls for heart health funding

The Heart Foundation is calling on governments to commit to funding a campaign to improve the heart health of the SA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Heart disease is a well-known condition that affects men, but it is also a leading killer of Australian women. In 2019 over 1,700 SA women died from cardiovascular disease and there were 17,600 hospitalisations.

More than twice as many Australian women die of heart disease compared to breast cancer and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is even greater. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more than twice as likely to experience heart disease and stroke as non-Indigenous women.

Among SA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the experience of cardiovascular disease occurred at an earlier age compared to non-Indigenous women. This was particularly evident between the ages of 25 to 34, where almost 30% of SA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were found to have cardiovascular disease.

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

two hands of different skin colour making a heart shape

Image source: DPV Health website.

Updated hepatitis/liver disease resources

HepatitisSA have compiled a catalogue of updated COVID-19 and hepatitis/liver disease resources. These resources are for service providers and members of the affected community (especially those who may be marginalised) to better understand the importance of vaccination or treatment.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND RESEARCH

COVID-19 vaccine acceptability among priority populations – COVID-19 vaccine opinions among several populations: people who inject drugs, people living with HIV, and Aboriginal people – click here.

Statement from the ASHM COVID-19 Taskforce regarding the prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccines for people living with BBV related chronic liver disease – digital document – click here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders – webpage – click here.

Evaluation of hepatitis C test and treat interventions targeted at homeless populations (outside London) in England during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020 report)click here.

New study to test third COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systemsclick here.

RESOURCES FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS AND COMMUNITY

FAQs for clinicians about COVID-19 vaccines and people living with Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C-related chronic liver diseaseclick here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders: advice for providers – click here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders: patient information sheet – click here.

Information on coronavirus and COVID-19 for people affected by hepatitis B or hepatitis Cclick here.

GENERAL COVID-19 INFORMATION IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES

COVID-19 (coronavirus) translated resourcesclick here.

For a complete listing of COVID-19 resources relating to liver disease click here.

If you would like any assistance in searching the catalogue or accessing materials you can contact HepatitisSA by using this email link.HepatitisSA logo, aqua, grey text & light aqua wavy line

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal painting of clenched fist, black, orange, white

Image source: The Legal 500 website.

Baby Coming You Ready?

Baby Coming You Ready? is a culturally safe perinatal mental health assessment, which aims to measure the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents in WA.

The resource is a web-based, touch screen mobile application that has been designed by Aboriginal women, men, and researchers. It features images and Aboriginal voice overs that guide users through areas that may be affecting families’ health or wellbeing. It allows parents to record their answers to a series of screening questions focused on their strengths and what they need support with, in a culturally relevant and sensitive way. This process helps to enhance the relationship between non-Indigenous service providers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents.

In June 2020, a pilot of this tool was rolled out across six Perth and outer metropolitan sites and four rural and regional sites in WA.

To view the paper in full click here.

To access the Baby Coming You Ready? website click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Cardiovascular disease webinar

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia. Aboriginal peoples experience higher rates of cardiovascular disease at a younger age, leading to a gap in life expectancy, compared to the wider population.

Risk factors like smoking, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, family history and age can all increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases.

There are ways to prevent and reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease, re-hospitalisation and/or dying. Addressing the risk factors and attending cardiac rehab can make a huge difference. COVID poses additional risk to people with cardiovascular disease, in addition to being a barrier to treatment.

This webinar features:

  • Warrawatja Bell’s story about his heart attack and how he changed his life afterwards.
  • Associate Professor Raj Puranik from the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service’s Cardiac Outreach Clinic program discusses what an ideal model of care includes.
  • Andy Mark discusses Heart Foundation resources and programs to support Aboriginal Health workers and other health professionals who work with Aboriginal communities to address cardiovascular disease.
  • Question and answer session.

For more information about the webinar from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Wednesday 27 October 2021, and to register click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Historical factors impact healthcare access

feature tile text 'historical factors impact first nations accessing traditional western healthcare' & image of doctor's torso, white lab coat, stethoscope in pocket

Historical factors impact healthcare access

A NSW Upper House committee examining the challenges in accessing medical services outside metropolitan areas has been told Aboriginal people are reluctant to access public healthcare in NSW because they believe they may not survive.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council gave evidence at the hearing about why Indigenous residents in rural and regional areas will not attend hospitals even if they are very ill.

“Historical factors impact on Aboriginal people accessing western, traditional healthcare services,” Associate Professor Peter Malouf from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council told the inquiry.  “Aboriginal people have a fear factor of going into the health system because they’ve seen many Aboriginal loved ones and community members passing away.”

The Upper House committee was asked to recommend to the NSW government that the public health system works closely with Aboriginal medical services to improve the quality of care given to Indigenous residents.

Aboriginal youth receiving vax at Walgett AMS

The inquiry heard Indigenous people are fearful of the public health system. Photo supplied by: Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO to build $7m new medical facility

An Aboriginal cooperative in Bendigo is set to receive more than $7 million to build a new mixed-use medical facility. The Bendigo District Aboriginal Co-Operative (BDAC) will use the funding to help expand medical services to meet growing demand.

BDAC’s new building will include 10 consulting rooms and three allied health rooms. BDAC chief executive Raylene Harradine said the new building will be built at the current site and will help expand current medical services to meet growing demand.

Director of BDAC Programs Dallas Widdicombe said when the site opened four years ago, BDAC had around 1,100 active patients. Now, more than 2,000 residents access the Aboriginal corporation’s health services. “Our wait times can be up to a month for a doctor’s appointment, because we can only have three doctors with our limited space,” Mr Widdicombe said.

To view the article in full click here.

 BDAC staff looking at building plans

Raylene Harradine, centre, inspects the plans for the new building with Maree Edwards (left) and Jacinta Allan (right). Photo: BDAC. Image source: ABC News.

Top COVID-19 vax questions

Dr Lucas de Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, has answered the top three COVID-19 questions asked on our social accounts.

Dr de Toca spoke about people 60 years and over getting the vaccine; some of the misinformation about the vaccine and infertility or risks during pregnancy; and how to protect kids from COVID-19 and whether kids can get COVID-19. You can listen to Dr de Toca below.

Mob overrepresented in road trauma statistics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented in road trauma statistics is one more reason there needs to be culturally appropriate countermeasures which prioritise self-determination and account for the social determinants of health. There are higher rates of death and serious injury on regional, rural, and remote roads, with fatality rates associated with crashes on very remote roads more than 13 times higher than fatality rates in our major cities.

Local governments, which are responsible for managing most of our road networks, will be critical to addressing road trauma outside of our major cities, and indeed at the national level. The work of state governments will also be crucial to develop integrated, holistic, nationally consistent solutions.

To view the Parliament of Australia media release in full click here.

roadside memorial

Six people have died in the past decade on a small stretch of the highway near Barunga, 300 kms SE of Darwin. Photo: Jano Gibson. Image source: ABC News website.

More needed to tackle Kimberley suicide rate

It has been 18 months since the WA government vowed to improve mental health services and tackle high Indigenous suicide rates in the state’s north, but Aboriginal health advocates say nothing has changed.

The state’s far-north has some of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world and the suicide rate of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley is twice as high as among all Indigenous Australians.

After 13 young people took their own lives in the Kimberley in less than four years, the WA government promised to roll out more culturally appropriate mental health services, boost access to clinical services and engage with local Indigenous people on a pathway forward.

Months on, veteran Indigenous health worker Kathy Watson said she was still extremely concerned about the mental health of young people in the region.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Jacob Smith - social worker Headspace, Kimberleys

Jacob Smith has been working in the Kimberley to combat suicide prevention for four years and works as a social worker at Headspace. Image source: ABC News.

Food security in remote communities

Last year the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities.

Through this Inquiry the Committee highlighted there continues to be significant barriers to addressing food security in remote Indigenous communities. This has been underlined by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of remote Indigenous communities to supply chain interruptions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities in Australia experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and there is clear evidence of the significant detrimental health effects of poor nutrition linking to a range of chronic diseases which affect life expectancy and overall community well-being. Food insecurity has adverse health and social effects from early childhood through all stages of life. The key food security issue for remote Indigenous communities relates to access to affordable, high quality, nutritious food. There are many factors that influence food security which are explored in this submission, however, the high cost of fresh food relative to the low level of incomes in remote communities emerges as a significant factor.

It is clear that market forces alone cannot be relied upon to address food security issues in remote communities, and there is a role for government at the national, state/territory and local level to intervene in the market to ensure both demand and supply side issues are addressed. Finally, locally-based solutions must be the result of outcomes designed and supported by communities in response to specific community circumstances an

To read the submission in full click here.

Aboriginal staff at checkout in Barlmarrk Supermarket

Barlmarrk Supermarket. Image source: Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation website.

Type 2 diabetes glucose management study

The FlashGM study is a national Indigenous multicenter trial that asks: Can Flash Glucose Monitoring (FlashGM) improve glucose management in Indigenous Australians with type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a major contributor to the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and the risk and severity of diabetes complications (CVD, kidney failure, blindness) are far greater in this population than in non-Indigenous Australians.

There is an urgent need for effective and convenient ways of improving glycaemic management in Indigenous Australians. Diabetes Nurse Educator, Donna Rumbiolo, has driven recruitment for the pilot study and is an integral member of the Flash leadership team. She said “The FlashGM study is about giving communities the experience of using leading diabetes technology. Hopefully we can see this improve people’s health and makes life easier for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with diabetes.”

The 5th edition of the Flash Study newsletter includes recent study updates and a spotlight on Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative in Shepparton and Apunipima Cape York Health Service in Cairns.

As the study is expands and continues to recruit, expressions of interest are being sought for recruitment sites across Australia.  You can access the study website here for more information and if you would like to discuss the study further please feel free to contact Mariam Hachem by email here.

Aboriginal line drawing of hand with outstretched finger being pricked for sugar level diabetes check

Image source: University of Melbourne website, FlashGM Study page.

AHCSA Sexual Health and BBV Program

The AHCSA Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (BBV) Program works with Aboriginal health services and the broader health sector across SA, supporting the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and BBVs.

The Program supports ACCHOs and other services working with young Aboriginal people in the promotion of, and improved access to, opportunistic and voluntary STI screening for people aged between 16 and 35 years.

For more information about the program click here.

Aboriginal art text 'end the cycle stay connected' black, olive, burnt orange, white

Image source: AHCSA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Carers Week

Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged – anyone at any time can become a carer. National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise community awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles.

12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers living in regional, rural, and remote areas often experience:

  • language and cultural barriers 
  • geographic barriers in accessing health and welfare services
  • and may face barriers to health literacy.

For more information click here.

text 'national carers week 10-16 October 2021' & image of aged hands being held by younger hands

Vax for people living with kidney disease

On Wednesday, 13 October from 6:30PM – 7:30PM (AEDT) Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Q&A webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine for people living with kidney disease. The webinar is open to kidney disease patients, transplant recipients, parents and carers, and health professionals, and aims to answer your questions and concerns around getting the covid vaccine.

To ensure your questions are answered, make sure to submit your question/s when registering for the webinar. Registrations close on Wednesday 13 October at 5:00PM. Click here for more information about the webinar and to register.

banner Kidney Health Australia Q&A webinar Covid-19 vaccines, image of covid-19 cell

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Importance of second vax dose

feature tile text 'COVID-19 second does provides excellent protection against hospitalisation' & 2 vials of vax, 2 syringes & vax record sheet

Importance of second vax dose

According to NACCHO PHMO Dr Jason Agostino over 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overdue for their second dose of Pfizer. Dr Agostino said it is essential everyone gets both doses. The second dose is what provides the excellent protection against hospitalisation and decreases a person’s chances of spreading the virus to their family and community.

The below infographic, developed by ACHWA, explains the importance of the second dose. You can access the infographic here.

AHCWA infographic - importance of second vax dose, graphic of vax in relation to hospitalisations

Calls for whole of government health response

A leading Aboriginal health expert says systemic failings in NT health requires a whole of government response, as the NT tries desperately to come up with solutions to a health system in crisis.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said Aboriginal health outcomes were worse in the NT because governments had not had a holistic approach. “One of the biggest priority areas is housing, the overcrowding of housing here and in remote communities is just unacceptable,” Mr Paterson said. “It is unhealthy to have up to 25 people (or more) residing in three-bedroom homes.”

He said it was about bringing all of government to the table to discuss housing, health, education, literacy and employment. Until we start addressing some of these underlying ­issues, which we’ve been advocating and calling on governments to act upon for a number of years now, we will see very little change,” he said. “We need to begin making inroads and addressing the underlying issues (in health). Together these things will reduce the strain on the health system and the pressure points we are currently experiencing.”

Mr Paterson went on to explain government and Indigenous leadership had ­already agreed on the “perfect plan” which was to Close the Gap. “I’ve been there since day dot. I’ve been throughout the whole process, discussed all the priority target areas that we need to improve on … but what we now need is government leadership and a commitment to funding particularly to Aboriginal ­organisations so we can get on with doing the job for our mob,” he said.

You can read the full article extracted from the NT News here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson

AMSANT CEO John Paterson is very worried over the Delta strain getting into NT remote communities. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News. Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous health gap narrows

“Disease burden” measures an illness or injury’s impact in terms of the number of years of healthy life lost through living with the ailment. Overall, Indigenous Australians experience 2.3 times more disease burden than non-Indigenous Australians. The report found Indigenous Australians born after 2018 can expect to live around 80% of their lives in full health. The absolute gap in disease burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous dropped by 16% between 2003 and 2018.

To view the full article click here.

palm of hand painted black yellow red

Image source: newsGP.

Telehealth a turnoff for some mob

The Murrumbidgee Aboriginal Health Consortium has told the NSW parliamentary inquiry into rural health that some patients forego cancer treatment in order to afford food and household bills. Committee member Stacey O’Hara said treatment was often hundreds of kms away from home or off country.

Telehealth has been widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the inquiry has heard Aboriginal patients have been reluctant to use it. “Even those in paid employment often have exorbitant living costs and must prioritise whether or not accessing medical treatment is more important than feeding the family or registering the car,” the inquiry heard.

The Upper House committee was also told the way medical services were delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected Aboriginal people. “We found that clients just were not comfortable with the telehealth consults,” Ms O’Hara said. “We have seen a big drop in people even accessing any GP consults at a local level. “I just think Aboriginal are more comfortable sitting across the side of a desk and having that conversation with the GP.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.mobile phone connected to stethoscope

Prisoners struggling to access health care

Indigenous prisoners are experiencing “extreme distress” and fear longer times in custody as they struggle to access appropriate health care amid the pandemic, advocates say. The vaccination rollout program, high transportation rates and the fear of being infected while behind bars were major worries for inmates and their families, Professor Megan Williams has said.

Dr Williams is the head of Girra Maa, the Indigenous health discipline at the Graduate School of Health at the University of Technology Sydney, and an advisor to Corrective Services NSW. “We tend to know that these Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations are locked out of prisons, and so are not able to be part of any vaccine rollout or providing any information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in prisons,” she said. “That’s actually where we end up seeing a human rights issue and potential human rights breach.”

To read the full story click here.

prison corridor, yellow cell doors closed

Photo: Daniel Soekov, Human Rights Watch. Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous health leader Julie Tongs says her worst nightmares were confirmed after an Alexander Maconochie Centre prison officer, who was on duty for a number of days, tested positive to COVID-19. The case was recorded more than nine days after Ms Tongs, the CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, called for COVID-19 vaccinations to be mandatory for prison staff.

Ms Tongs is again calling on the ACT government “to do everything in its power to ensure all detainees in the AMC are accorded every conceivable protection from the virus”.

To view this story in the Canberra CityNews click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services CEO Julie Tongs. Image source: Canberra CityNews.

New project inspires rural GP careers

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has launched a new project to inspire more people to consider a career in rural general practice and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This Rural Life is a digital project, showcasing the unique experiences and rewards of a career in rural general practice, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The project puts a spotlight on GPs across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing the incredible stories of those in the field. It was inspired by RACGP members who told us that we need to share the important, complex, and often isolating work of GPs in rural and remote areas.

You can view the media release here.

stethoscope hanging on wire gate in bush

Image source: Australian Doctor.

Dedicated youth mentoring programs

The Victorian Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their aspirations and life goals through dedicated mentoring programs that support wellbeing, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence today announced that grant applications for the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program are NOW OPEN for Aboriginal organisations to deliver tailored mentoring programs in collaboration with local Aboriginal young people.

Marram Nganyin – meaning ‘we are strong’ in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people – supports Aboriginal young people to be healthy, confident and strong in their identity and culture, and engaged in their community. The program is underpinned by the Government’s support for Aboriginal self-determination, recognising that Aboriginal organisations are best-placed to understand the needs of Aboriginal communities.

To view the media release click here.

face of Aboriginal girl in a grass field, Marram Nganyin logo

Image sources: Koori Youth Council website and YourTown.

PIP – Indigenous Health Incentive

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) – Indigenous Health Incentive (IHI) supports general practices and Indigenous health practices to provide a range of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with chronic medical conditions.

You can apply for the IHI and register patients online using the PIP Online feature in Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To assist you manage incentives easily online, we have a range of new educational resources that demonstrate step-by-step how to perform distinct functions through HPOS. To learn more about these tailored resources, refer to the links contained in this information sheet.

$20 note, stethoscope, tablets

Image source: AMA.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Foot Health Week

Foot Health Week is a nationally recognised health awareness campaign run annually in October promoting good foot health and the important role podiatrists play in keeping Australians pain-free and moving.

The 2021 Foot Health Week campaign will run from 11-17 October with the theme, ‘Love your feet and… they’ll love you back!’ highlighting how taking care of your feet will positively impact the rest of your body and encouraging better overall health outcomes for all Australians.

To view the Australian Podiatry Association’s media release click here.

In terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander foot health a paper published in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin looked at the risk markers, risk factors, and chronic conditions in relation to foot health in the Aboriginal population. It showed high prevalence of serious foot complications in the Aboriginal community, and no research having thoroughly investigated the nature and mechanism of the foot problems affecting Aboriginal communities.

You can view the full paper here.

banner foot health week 11-17 October 2021 'love your feet and ... they'll love you back' comic pictures of feet walking

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Feature tile: Elder Don Rowlands, Photo: Bruce Atkinson, ABC Sunshine Coast. Image source: ABC News.

Time’s over for thinking about the vax

Dr Aleeta Fejo (GP and Larrakia traditional owner) said opening borders would be a concern for the NT. “Our people are already vulnerable because we are a long way away from the hospital, because we don’t have a lot of staff at our clinics or the resources needed to look after everybody, because many of us are sick, and because we live in overcrowded conditions,” she told ABC Radio Darwin’s Late Breakfast. “It’s very concerning. “The time for thinking about it is over. The time for action is now.”

To listen to Dr Fejo’s interview click here.

Dr Aleeta Fejo

Larrakia traditional owner, elder and general practitioner Aleeta Fejo.

Minister issues warning to unvaccinated

As the NT government struggles to increase vaccination rates in Indigenous communities, Health Minister Natasha Fyles has issued a stern warning to those who refuse to be jabbed. “A large outbreak in an unvaccinated community would be devastating,” she said. “Let’s be frank about that. People will tragically pass away.”

Ms Fyles said people who refused to be vaccinated could potentially add pressure to the NT’s health care system. According to the NT Department of Health website, the Alice Springs Health Service catchment area covers approximately 42,000 people and covers a distance of more than 1 million square kms — extending into the bordering areas of SA and WA.

Ms Fyles said the Alice Springs Hospital had only 10 intensive care beds. “The more people that are vaccinated, the less impact on our hospital system,” Ms Fyles said.

To view the story in full click here.

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles getting covid-19 vax

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles. Image source: NT News.

Need to see my own mob getting vax

Noongar woman Charmaine Councillor, from Bunbury in WA, is fully vaccinated but understands why almost 80% of her community is not. “We don’t actually see it on television. We always see other communities from other places (getting vaccinated); we don’t know these people,” she said.

“But [it would help] if we could see our own local people … maybe nurses that are Aboriginal, that we do know of, or health workers that are actually delivering the vaccine and people that are actually saying ‘yes, I’ve had my vaccine’.”

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vax

Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News.

ANAO immunisation coverage audit

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage. The DoH’s approach has been largely effectice, as reported immunisation rates have been improving.

You can view the report in full here and access the ANAO website here.

baby in mother's arms getting a vaccination in thigh

Image source: Australian Childcare Alliance NSW.

Bidgerdii runs SEWB Program

The Bidgerdii Community Health Service run a nationally funded Social and Emotional Well Being (SEWB) Program providing generalist counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing issues and concerns that affect their everyday emotional wellbeing.

The SEWB Program undertakes individual supported case management to empower clients to feel healthier through counselling therapies that relate to specific cultural healing practices, as well as facilitating the Bringing Them Home (BTH) component of the SEWB Program. The program also conducts specific counselling to members of the Stolen Generation and their families to ensure that individuals who access BTH counselling services have access to family tracing and supported referral options to other agencies working in the area of BTH, such as Queensland Link-Up services.

The SEWB Program covers the Rockhampton region of Queensland, including (Capricorn Coast, Blackwater, Central Highlands, Mount Morgan and Woorabinda.

For further information about the program click here.

$55m Amazon Web Services grants

Amazon Web Services (AWS) wants to make telehealth and telemedicine available to remote and marginalised communities around the world through a $55m grants program.

Director of Australia, NZ and Oceania, public sector for AWS Iain Rouse is encouraging Australian organisations to apply. That includes Indigenous health providers and providers of services to the disability community who may struggle with funding. “We would like to see grant applications from non-profits, start-ups, research institutions, universities and public companies.”

For further information visit the AWS website here.

vector images of computer screen, doctor & patient talking, background computer data, blue, white

Image source: AWS website.

OOHC service transferred to ACCO

One of Australia’s largest providers of out-of-home care (OOHC) will transfer services for Indigenous children to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled services. Life Without Barriers (LWB) currently delivers services to around 25,000 people per year across 400 communities and is partnering with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) to guide the transition.

LWB CEO Claire Robbs said though the organisation provided cultural support for Indigenous families, there was no substitute for the children being in the care of community. “We have been providing services to children and families in OOHC for decades now and we absolutely believe that if we are to be an organisation that really acts on our commitment to Reconciliation, this is a very critical step we must take,” she said.

Ms Robbs continued, “The ongoing intergenerational impact of children and families being separated is well documented and distressing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and community have clearly stated how important it is for children to grow up connected to culture and in community and we simply must heed this call.”

To read the article in full click here.

bright Aboriginal painting of man, girl & boy

Image source: AbSec website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Cairns COVID-19 pop-up clinic TOMORROW 

A COVID-19 vaccination walk-in clinic will be held tomorrow 2-6PM Saturday 2 October 2021 at Barlow Park, Cairns. You can access these promotional materials poster, banner and a square tile for the event.

banner text 'COVID-19 vax pop-up clinic walk-in Cairns Barlow Park Sat 2 Oct 2-6pm'

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

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

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

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

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

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

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

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

hand holding iPhone with electronic script on screen

Image source: Victoria Harbour Medical Centre.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

Feature tile - Tue 28.9.21 - Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

NT health authorities and Aboriginal organisations have embarked on remote blitzes to try and address vaccine hesitancy and boost rates in remote communities.

The Northern Land Council this week launched a series of campaign videos featuring local leaders and personalities to try and address misinformation posted online.

“We know our mob listen to their countrymen and women better than to any politician in a suit,” NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.

“That’s why we are working with strong Aboriginal leaders from right across the Top End on these films.”

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT is undertaking a six-week vaccination drive but has also called for restrictions to remain in place until 90-95 per cent of the Territory’s Aboriginal communities are vaccinated.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

RFDS delivers more than 15,000 jabs at Wilcannia

Running 30 vaccination clinics at Wilcannia has helped the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section (RFDSSE) reach a lifesaving milestone. This week it announced the delivery of more than 15,000 jabs to residents of regional and remote communities since June.

The Wilcannia clinics, operated by staff at the RFDSSE Broken Hill base in conjunction with the Far West Local Health District and Central Darling Shire Council, have protected almost 700 people against the deadly coronavirus. The town of about 800 people, 60 per cent of them Indigenous, has also benefitted from the presence of an RFDSSE doctor at its hospital.

RFDSSE Chief Medical Officer Randall Greenberg was among the medicos to work at the remote facility.

“With the number of COVID cases rising during late August we made the decision to make resources available to give the community peace of mind that help was on the ground. We continue to provide medical care through our emergency and primary health services,” he said.

You can read the article in the Daily Liberal here.

Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section nurse Caryn Love vaccinates James Hatch at Wanaaring. Image credit: Jason King Media.

Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section nurse Caryn Love vaccinates James Hatch at Wanaaring. Image credit: Jason King Media.

Cultural identification key to vaccinating mob

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at risk of severe disease from COVID, but vaccine coverage requires patient identification. As Australia moves towards easing restrictions as states aim to reach vaccination targets, Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Faculty fears some communities may remain unvaccinated – and vulnerable.

“[NSW Premier] Gladys Berejiklian is saying that she’s going to open up at 70% double dosed and we’re rapidly approaching that. But if Aboriginal communities are only at 55%, given the cultural connections and the overcrowded living, it’s just going to be absolutely devastating,” he told newsGP.

“The saving grace is going to be getting the community vaccinated because the overcrowding situation in homes and that kind of stuff, we can’t solve that overnight. But in three weeks, we can solve the vaccine problem,” he said.

“I study pretty much every day because I want to be the best doctor I can. I’ve not seen an easier way to save lives than to do this,” Professor O’Mara said.

You can read the article in newsGP by RACGP here.

Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, fears some communities may remain unvaccinated – and vulnerable. Image source: RACGP.

Professor Peter O’Mara, a Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, fears some communities may remain unvaccinated and vulnerable. Image source: RACGP.

Smaller residential aged care models beneficial

On the shores of a bay more than 500 kilometres from Darwin, a 10-bed age care facility is catering for a community of about 2,300 people. For Josephine Cooper it’s a secure home in an area grappling with overcrowding – and she is close to family.

“It’s good, we are happy here,” she said.

Lynelle Briggs, one of two people leading the Aged Care Royal Commission said:

“My vision is that, over time, large aged care ‘facilities’ will give way to smaller, more personal residential care accommodation, located within communities, towns and suburbs. Smaller, lower-density congregate living arrangements generally promote a better quality of life for everyone.”

Run by the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, the Maningrida centre also supports dozens of others in the community on home care packages. It’s a model staff and residents believe could benefit other remote communities.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Videos of mob who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

The Australian Government Department of Health has created a range of great videos of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all over Australia who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the below video, Eastern Arrernte family, Catherine, Lily, Eddie and Shanley, explain their reasons on why they chose to get vaccinated and encourage us all to do the same.

Free dental services for NT kids and teenagers

Children and teenagers in the Northern Territory have a golden opportunity to boast the best smiles in the country with free dental services available to students enrolled in school under the age of 18.

Free services are available to children who are below school age or attending school or preschool via NT Health’s purpose built Casuarina Paediatric Clinic, school-based clinics or remote community clinics. The Casuarina Paediatric Dental Clinic provides ease of access for children of all ages with families able to bring along their toddler, primary school student and high school student for a dental check in the one visit.

All Territory children enrolled in school are also entitled to free custom-made mouthguards to protect their teeth during sport until they are 18 years old.

You can read the media release by the Northern Territory Government here.

10-year-old Jamal Van Den Berg Hammer gets his mouthguard fitted by NT Health Oral Health Therapist Lauren Cross.

10-year-old Jamal Van Den Berg Hammer gets his mouthguard fitted by NT Health Oral Health Therapist Lauren Cross.

Culturally appropriate gambling harm support in NSW

The Office of Responsible Gambling has awarded a four-and-a-half-year contract worth $1.3 million to NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling Services, to provide support for First Nation communities across the state to access culturally appropriate gambling harm support services. Natalie Wright, Director of the Office of Responsible Gambling, said the new GambleAware Aboriginal is part of GambleAware’s recent reforms to strengthen connections between GambleAware Providers and Aboriginal communities.

“NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling led by Ashley Gordon brings over 20 years’ experience in the delivery of services to Aboriginal communities along with a decade delivering the Warruwi gambling awareness program,” Ms Wright said.

“GambleAware is delivering gambling support and treatment services across 10 regions that are aligned with the NSW Local Health Districts. Each region has a GambleAware Provider dedicated to delivering local services to their area who will coordinate with NSW Aboriginal Safe Gambling to provide support to those who need it.”

You can read the media release here.

Winnunga News – August edition

In the August 2021 issue of Winnunga News:

  • COVID-19 Vaccinations Must Be Mandated For All AMC Prison Officers
  • Neville Bonner to be Immortalised in Bronze Statue in Parliamentary Triangle
  • Do You Remember When?
  • Cruel Figures Show Need For Royal Commission
  • ACT Grabbing National Headlines For All The Wrong Reasons
  • Aaron, Elijah and Aaron Jnr.
  • Is Canberra Really OK With This?
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

Winnunga News - August 2021

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

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

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

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

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

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

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

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

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

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

You can read the story in 7 News here.

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

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

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

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

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

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

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

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

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

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

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

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

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

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

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

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

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

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New online MBS tool

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

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

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

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

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

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

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

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

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

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

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

tile text 'ACCHOs finds ways to bring COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable rural and remote communities' & image of front of 4-wheel drive on outback red dirt road

*Image source in feature tile, The Conversation.

Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills says Covid-19 vaccination is a key priority. There 143 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations with more than 500 clinics currently trying to get jabs in arms with the help of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Covid has cut a devastating swathe through the Navajo and Amazonian Indigenous people. “When I think of the devastation in other first nations, that footprint, that traditional passage of law, language, culture and custom, it just stops,” Ms Mills said. “So it is why we must, if we have questions, go to your doctor. We have to protect our longevity in the country, 60,000 years and we must keep going strong.”

And getting vaccination rates up in far flung communities is vital. Some of the lowest rates are in WA northern region with only 10.86 fully vaccinated and 21.29% fully vaccinated. Rates across all Indigenous communities are lower than all other groups across the board.

But some communities are doing exceptionally well. “Shout out to NT mob Maningreda they did over 65% of their population over four days and in the Kimberleys, they’ve had two pop up vaccination clinics and they have done in excess of 250 vaccinations each day. We have to get as close of possible to 100% because of the fact we have 2.3 times the burden of disease than non-Indigenous Australians,” she said. “Some of our services have been doing door to door if we identify there may be an elder that can’t get to a clinic. We are reaching out and finding ways of bringing the vaccine to them.” Ms Mills said.

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right)

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right). Image supplied.

Another hurdle has been vaccine hesitancy, and the anti-vaccine movement has targeted the Indigenous population with scare tactics. “It has been so challenging, there has been such a direct intentional move to put this anti-vax narrative out there and what we’ve had to do is face that front on and make sure we keep communicating with all of our mob and identifying leaders in the community encourage them to keep coming to speak to us,” Ms Mills said.

This news story has been released by News Corp Media and released in The Telegraph and The Advertiser.

CAAC vax efforts applauded

The Burnet Institute, whose mission is to achieve better health for vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally by accelerating the translation of research, discovery and evidence into sustainable health solutions, has affirmed their support for the efforts of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from the Delta variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

The Burnet Institute says the leadership of community-controlled services like Congress has helped keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the first and second waves of COVID-19 during 2020 and the success of that control effort was driven in no small part by the self-determining and community-led responses that should underpin the delivery of all health services to Indigenous communities.

A just published paper co-authored by Burnet colleague Troy Combo offers some interesting insights into the response to the pandemic by Indigenous communities in Brisbane.

Burnet’s consistent message to the public has been to ‘leave no one behind’. They note the low vaccination coverage among Indigenous Australians in most states and territories and the demonstrated vulnerability of communities in Western NSW to the severe impacts of Delta infections. The outbreaks in the West and Far West local health districts of NSW could be repeated in other areas of Australia unless Indigenous communities are protected by high vaccination rates and other public health measures.

To view the full article click here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs

Congress employees Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

Remote AMSs mobilise rapid testing drives

As COVID arrived in remote areas of the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD), health workers on the ground mobilised testing and outreach services in a matter of hours. While the LHD set up makeshift testing facilities that would service the droves that followed, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) acting chief executive Katrina Ward sent out staff to collect swabs from close contacts to be processed back at the clinic.

“It just gave that speed of results because otherwise you were waiting a good 12 hours before it got back to Dubbo [pathology],” she said. “At one stage my staff worked until midnight trying to get through the close contact tests just to alleviate a lot of the fear and anxiety off the community.”

Remote health clinics like the Walgett AMS were given access to a rapid PCR testing device called GeneXpert. Each machine can test four swabs at a time and produce results in about 45 minutes — much faster than the tests taken at hospitals and pop-up clinics, which are sent to pathology labs. The technology is part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing Program, a federally funded initiative managed by the Kirby Institute in partnership with Flinders University.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

close up photo of rapid covid-19 tests

Image source: ABC News.

School exclusion further harms vulnerable

Increasing numbers of students are being excluded from Australian schools. This is done both temporarily, through informal and formal suspensions, and permanently, through expelling them and cancelling their enrolments.

Publicly available data in NSW, SA and Queensland shows these exclusions begin in the first year of school when children can be as young as four years old. Informal exclusions are more common at this stage and usually occur in the form of a phone call requesting parents “take home” their child.

But because exclusionary discipline does not address the issues underlying childrens’ behaviour — and can reinforce it — short informal exclusions quickly progress to longer, formal suspensions. And because suspension still doesn’t solve the problem, one suspension can become many.

Four in five students suspended more than five times have a disability. Along with students with a disability, Indigenous students and those living in out-of-home care are also massively overrepresented in suspension and exclusion statistics. These are not distinct groups. It is possible to be Indigenous, have a disability and be living in care.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

rear view of youth with blue hoodie facing brick wall with graffiti

Image source: world.edu.

Concerns for long-term mental health

Psychologists are concerned about anxiety and depression becoming long-term problems due to the pandemic, with the worst effects felt by the young and the vulnerable.

Professor Richard Bryant, of UNSW Sydney’s school of psychology, an expert on post-traumatic stress and anxiety believes the effects of continuing lockdowns and uncertainty are cumulative. “We know from previous experience that people are able to manage certain stressors for a time, but after a while they start to erode our resources.”

Research shows adults are adaptive. But what happens in kids is different, because they’re not adapting. Instead, they’re maintaining higher and higher levels of distress as time goes on.”

The mental health of Indigenous Australians has also been negatively affected. Professor Pat Dudgeon, a Bardi woman and director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of WA, says the pandemic has amplified existing vulnerabilities and inequities, compounding the already extremely high rates of mental illness and psychological distress among Indigenous Australians. She also points to a series of pressures unique to Indigenous people, in particular the psychological effects of being prevented from carrying out cultural practices, concern about the potential loss of Elders due to infection, and of being unable to visit Country due to lockdowns and border closures.

To view The Saturday Paper in full click here.

hand palm holding white line drawing of brain, outback sunset in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

The most amazing opportunity

“People think general practice is so isolated, but it’s just such a nice cohesive community and the colleagues and friends I’ve made here are just sensational.”

New Fellow Dr Melanie Matthews has had a similar experience in the NT.

It was while spending three months as a junior doctor in Maningrida through the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) that she decided to apply for AGPT, and says she hasn’t looked back. ‘I just really, really loved it,’ Dr Matthews said. “I decided that it was Aboriginal Health that I wanted to work in, and that the NT was the right place for that.”

Her training program was delivered through NT GP Education (NTGPE), and she says it was ‘very supportive’, with opportunities throughout the year for registrars to come together. ‘I thought it was excellent,’ Dr Matthews said.

Positions for the 2022 AGPT Program’s General and Rural Pathways are still available in NSW, Queensland, SA and the NT.

Applications for the final intake of the 2022 AGPT Program close at 11.59 pm (AEST) –  Tuesday 21 September 2021. More information, including resources to assist with the application process, is available on the RACGP website here.

To view the full article in GPNews click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews sitting at desk at clinic

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Health Board, Maningrida. Image source: ABC News website.

Aboriginal author wins Stanner Award

A thesis tracking the development of the first truly empowering national study of health and wellbeing in Indigenous Australia (the Mayi Kuwayu National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing) has won the 2021 Stanner Award from AIATSIS.

‘Making Cultures Count: Transforming Indigenous Health Data in Australia’ by Sarah Bourke was assessed by a panel of independent judges as the best academic manuscript submitted for this year’s award. The AIATSIS Stanner Award is presented biennially to the best academic manuscript submitted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander author.

Ms Bourke is a descendant of the Gidja people from the Kimberley region in WA and the Gamilaroi people on the border of NSW and QLD. Her doctoral thesis used an Indigenist research framework to examine the historical, social, and political factors that influenced the development of Mayi Kuwayu and its emphasis on measuring cultural determinants of health.

The Stanner Award acknowledges the significant contribution of the late Emeritus Professor William Edward Hanley (Bill) Stanner to the establishment and development of AIATSIS.

To access the full media release and an interview with Sarah Bourke click here.

tile text '2021 Stanner Awards best academic manuscript by an ATSI author congratulations Sarah Bourke' & portrait photo of Sarah Bourke

Image source: Books+Publishing.

Pregnant prisoners need more care

Research into the health of women and mothers in prison has found a high number of incarcerated Aboriginal women were pregnant, with many giving birth while in prison, according to a study by The University of WA. The paper, published in  Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health, identified the need to provide more opportunities for primary care in the prison system, particularly for Aboriginal women and mothers.

Adjunct Associate Professor Marisa Gilles from UWA’s School of Population and Global Health has researched prisoner health since 2008. Her findings revealed that 30% of incarcerated Aboriginal women had been pregnant while in prison, and 20% had given birth while in prison.

Periods of custody also served as a vital time for providing healthcare to women who may not have been engaged with a GP when living in the community, or who hadn’t had a positive experience with health services prior to incarceration. Dr Gilles’ research showed that one in five Aboriginal mothers in custody had themselves been separated from their families as children by government services. They are typically also young, with 42% aged under 30. Furthermore, 92% of Aboriginal mothers in custody were current tobacco users.

Dr Gilles said the results suggested a strong correlation between inmates’ mental health, alcohol and drug issues, and violence. “It is an area of interest for me, particularly with respect to the high proportion of inmates with alcohol and drug issues, the high prevalence of mental health issues, and the history of violence in the lives of women in prison,” Dr Gilles said. “Not only do prisoners frequently arrive in prison with a number of health problems, they may face higher exposure to some conditions as a result of their incarceration, for example, communicable diseases, mental health issues, and violence.”

To view the article in full click here.

shadowy side image of pregnant woman against prison bars

Image source: University of WA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Let’s CHAT dementia research project

The University of Melbourne’s research project Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities aims to increase detection rates of dementia by developing and implementing a best-practice model of care for dementia care with a group of ACCHO partner organisations.

Let’s CHAT Dementia is running a free webinar series with Dementia Training Australia over the coming months. The main target audience is Aboriginal Health Workers / Practitioners, and nurses, allied health and other staff who work in ACCHOs and/or with First Nations patients in primary care. It’s a great opportunity for primary care staff to learn about culturally safe and appropriate best-practice care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia.

A session coming up on 6:00 PM (AEST) – Wednesday 22 September 2021 will focus on detection of cognitive impairment and dementia. It will be run by GP and Adjunct Professor Mark Wenitong from the Kabi Kabi tribal group of South Queensland and Adjunct Professor Edward Strivens, Clinical Director for Older Persons, James Cook University and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital.

You can view a flyer for the webinar here and register here.

female Elder being shown a booklet by a male health professional

Image source: Dementia Training Australia.

‘This Rural Life’ launch

You are invited to join RACGP Rural and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health from 7.30–8.15 PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 6 October 2021 as they launch the ‘This Rural Life’ photo competition in  webinar from .

This innovative project puts the spotlight on RACGP members across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing their incredible stories and experiences to inspire others to consider a career in rural general practice.

You can register for the FREE online webinar here.

6 photos taken by GP Jean-Baptiste Philibert of outback

Jean-Baptiste Philibert’s rural placement inspired him to pursue a career as a rural GP. Image source: GPNews.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

Feature tile - Thu 16.9.21 - AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID jabs for healthcare staff

AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on National Cabinet to act urgently on nationally-consistent public health orders for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including GPs.

AMA President Omar Khorshid said legal protection should also be given to healthcare employers who mandate vaccinations for all their staff.

“Most health care providers in Australia are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources needed to navigate complex work health and safety laws. We need to make it easier for them to be able to mandate vaccination, which is the best way to protect their staff and patients.”

Dr Khorshid said the Federal Government needed to co-ordinate States and Territories through the National Cabinet to ensure a nationally-consistent approach to mandatory vaccination that included everyone – GPs and practice staff, pharmacists, hospital staff, ambulance staff, cooks and cleaners – leaving no exemptions, except for legitimate medical reasons.

“Nationally-consistent public health orders would provide legal protection to any employer who could reasonably establish work safety would benefit from a workplace vaccine mandate. It’s important for GPs and other small businesses to have government backing and protection when it comes to mandating vaccines for all employees,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release the AMA here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. What’s followed has been a successful rollout to Navajo Nation residents. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Concerns regional hospitals won’t cope with major COVID outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia is considered inevitable by many health experts, but doctors have warned if it happens before enough people are vaccinated it will be “horrendous” for regional areas where resources are limited and staff are hard to attract. WA has so far managed to keep out the Delta strain, despite it spreading through New South Wales and Victoria. However, with fewer than 40 per cent of people fully vaccinated in Western Australia, president of the Rural Doctors Association, Brittney Wicksteed, was worried.

“If COVID were to come before we’ve got adequate vaccination rates, it’s going to be horrendous in the regions,” she said.

Dr Wicksteed said many regional hospitals did not have the room, equipment or staff to cope with more than a couple of COVID cases at a time.

“The hospital has been extremely busy already this year,” she said.

“I [also] think it will be really hard to maintain adequate staffing in any of the hospitals in any of the regions in WA once there’s COVID there.”

“I don’t think any of our hospitals are fully prepared should we have a large outbreak … there are not enough ventilators at any hospital,” said Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) chief executive Vicki O’Donnell.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Improvements across health and welfare for mob

The two-yearly Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians was launched today by the release of a video message (see below story) from Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services.

In recent years, there have been improvements across a range of measures of health and welfare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The median equivalised household income for Indigenous Australians grew 29% between 2002 and 2018–19, twice the growth rate of non-Indigenous Australians (14%) over the same period after accounting for inflation,” said AIHW Deputy Chief Executive Officer Matthew James.

“Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the proportion of working age Indigenous Australians relying on a government pension or allowance as their main income source fell from 47% to 45%.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and severe outcomes due to a range of health and socioeconomic inequalities. As of 15 August 2021, there had been 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Indigenous Australians since the start of the pandemic. This includes 145 confirmed cases since the beginning of 2021 (1.3% of all cases in the period), and 148 in 2020 (0.5%).

For more information, visit the AIHW website.

Western NSW sets example with COVID jab rates

“We’ve now seen the biggest increase in Western NSW compared to the whole of the state, in vaccination rates, particularly people receiving their first dose and particularly across our Aboriginal community,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who’s come forward in the last month, in particular who’s changed life outcomes for people, getting protected from COVID.”

“Importantly second dose rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal in our community are now the same at 38 per cent right across our region.”

You can read the story in the Daily Liberal here.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

Mental health and wellbeing support tailored to mob

As the serious Delta outbreak continues across the state, the Victorian Government is making sure more Victorians struggling during this difficult period have access to the mental health and wellbeing support they need.

On top of the $225 million the Government has already provided to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, a further investment of $22 million will deliver fast-tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are less likely to engage early with mainstream mental health services, will receive $4 million in support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to self-determine the best, most culturally appropriate response to the mental health and wellbeing needs of their local communities.

You can read more about this investment by the Victorian Government here.

Last week, the McGowan Labor Government also committed more than $374 million to ensure
positive outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in Western Australia. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and well-being, and delivering social and economic opportunities.

“This significant investment will help us Close the Gap in Western Australia and aligns with
our four Priority Reform Areas for changing how governments work with Aboriginal people,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson.

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

Aboriginal student resting on desk with two rocks one with the word 'lonely' & one with the word 'sad'

Headspace ‘take a step’ campaign photo.

Cultural safety important to patients and healthcare workers

Cultural safety is vitally important for the effective delivery of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as in medical schools for our medical students and the health settings where our doctors work.

The Australian Indigenous Doctros’ Association (AIDA) supports the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) National Scheme 2020-2025 definition of cultural safety as:

“A sense of being as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities” and furthermore, “culturally safe practise is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism”.

You can read mora about AIDA‘s Cultural Safety Program here.

Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care Is Vital For Indigenous Youth Right Now.
Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones told Junkee that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Indigenous psychologists have the lived experiences of the real issues and disparities that have existed, and continue within our communities,” Jones said.

“We are the best equipped to deal with Indigenous issues with Indigenous perspectives”.

You can read the article in Junkee here.

AIDA - Cultural Safety Training

Innovative research explores responses to COVID-19

A study being conducted by the University of Queensland, led by Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, and Professor James Ward, seeks to unpack the complexities of Indigenous health and social systems to better understand the effectiveness of responses to COVID-19 in Brisbane.

Although the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have posed numerous health risks for Indigenous peoples, in the most part, it has merely exacerbated pre-existing issues relating to underlying health conditions, food insecurity, housing, and other social determinants of disparate health outcomes.

This study seeks to better understand the structural reforms needed to construct an effective health system, particularly during times of pandemics. It draws on the collective knowledge and experience of Indigenous and non-indigenous service-providers and healthcare professionals while recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the experts of their own needs and that sustainable change must be community orientated and driven.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Rural health students protecting themselves and rural communities

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has acknowledged the efforts of rural health students to protect themselves, their patients and rural communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated ahead of their clinical placements.

The Chair of ARHEN, Christine Howard, said health students play a vital role in the delivery of clinical services in many rural and remote communities and can help ease the burden on already stretched services.

“It is pleasing to see so many health students from a range of disciplines step up and get vaccinated and join the fight against COVID-19 in rural and remote communities. Around the country student nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have been recruited by state health services to support the vaccine roll-out.

You can read the ARHEN media release here.

health professional looking computer screen engaging in teleconference

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Now Open: the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to announce that applications for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) are now open!

Thanks to the Australian Government Department of Health, the PHMSS provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are studying or intending to study an entry-level health course in 2022, in one of the following disciplines:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care
  • Nursing (RN and EN)
  • Midwifery
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (all specialties except pharmacy)
  • Mental health studies NEW

Additional places for mental health related studies have been made available for this year’s intake! You can view the full list of eligible courses and course areas on our website.

This is an exciting opportunity for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students to receive support to pursue their passion in health care!

Applications close at 11:59pm AEDT on Monday 11 October 2021.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, feel free to get in touch with us at 1800 688 628 or scholarships@acn.edu.au.

Download the flyer here.
You can apply for a scholarship here.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference 2021 
Online event
Wednesday 13th October 2021
The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health

The aim for the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues. The title of the conference ‘Ngar-wu Wanyarra’ translates to ‘listen and act’ in the language of the Yorta Yorta.

You can now download the program and conference booklet.
For up to date information on the conference please visit the website.
If you have any enquiries contact aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au or call (03) 5823 4512.

2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.