NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey PSM.

NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

Yesterday NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey spoke to Lola Forester on Blackchat, Koori Radio 93.7 FM about positive actions being taken to get the right information out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about HIV. Dr Casey said the community is tracking pretty well in terms of the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contracting HIV and cases being reported. She said there’s been a massive program, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, over the last couple of years where many of the ACCHOs are involved in running programs for overall blood borne viruses (BBV) and STIs. Communities have made significant headway in terms of creating awareness about BBVs and STIs and prevention. Stigma and shame around HIV however continues to be a problem.

Dr Casey said so much more awareness needs to happen so people understand HIV is not threatening like it was many years ago. An issue that needs to be improved considerably is partner notification and contract tracing. ACCHOs are doing an incredible job with prevention programs and awareness campaigns, in language where required, around BBVs, STIs and HIV. Dr Casey and Lola reflected on the very inventive and funny ways ACCHOs have been getting the message out about safe sex, including condom trees.

You can listen to the 10-minute Koori Radio Blackchat radio interview in full by clicking here.

Koori Radio 93.7 FM Blackchat presenter Lola Forester.

Calls to stop ‘pipeline’ of shattered children

The Yoorrook Justice Commission has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to at least 14, to help stop vulnerable Indigenous children getting “lost in the pipeline” of child protection and criminal justice systems. The Standing Council of Attorneys-General – a group of attorneys-general from federal, state and territory governments that focuses on best practices in law reform – will review the age of criminal responsibility when it meets later this week.

Counsel assisting the Yoorrook Justice Commission Fiona McLeod, SC, urged the council to consider First Nations people, “the many, many reports into this issue” and the testimonies that would be heard at the commission’s public hearings this week. McLeod said the number of First Nations children in out-of-home care in Victoria was “heading in the wrong direction” and contributing to a high incarceration rate among First Nations people. “It appears the current system is failing in its fundamental object of child protection,” she said. “It appears it is broken. It is fuelling a pipeline of shattered children straight to our health services and our criminal justice system.”

To view the WAtoday article Call to raise age of criminal responsibility and stop ‘pipeline of shattered Indigenous children’ in full click here.

Kutcha Edwards and niece Eva Jo Edwards are survivors of the stolen generations. Photo: Simon Schluter. Image source: WAtoday.

Kids face higher rates of skin infections

Bacterial skin infections and atopic dermatitis may be underdiagnosed among urban Indigenous children, says a WA dermatologist and researcher. A systematic review, published in Pediatric Dermatology, assessed the burden of atopic dermatitis and bacterial skin conditions in Indigenous children and young people living in urban environments in high-income countries.

Researchers included 16 papers from Australia, NZ, Canada and Greenland spanning 26 years. “Atopic dermatitis is common among urban-living Indigenous children in high-income countries with current symptoms and current severe symptoms higher than their non-Indigenous peers,” the researchers wrote. “This may suggest under-treatment of atopic dermatitis, reflecting the socioeconomic disadvantage that disproportionately affects Indigenous people, creating financial barriers to primary and dermatologic care, prescription treatments, and costly skin care regimens.”

The researchers said S.aureus colonised the skin in atopic dermatitis, exacerbating the disease and increasing the risk of bacterial skin infections. “Untreated bacterial skin infections can lead to serious complications including sepsis, post-infectious glomerulonephritis, and rheumatic heart disease,” they wrote. Urban-living Indigenous children in Australia and other high-income countries shared a history of colonisation, displacement and negative impacts on health, said lead author and dermatologist, Dr Bernadette Ricciardo from the University of WA and the Telethon Kids Institute.

To read the Medical Republic article Kids face higher rates of infections click here.

Image source: Medical Republic.

Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida

Mala’la Health Service recently coordinated Healthy Skin Week to promote early identification and treatment of skin infections in a bid to lower long term health conditions such as Acute Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Heart and Kidney Disease. Over five days, the dedicated crew of Aboriginal Community Health Workers, Nurses and Volunteer Doctors assessed and treated more than 1,200 people in Maningrida and outstations. Outreach clinics through late night shops, child and family centre and public spaces around the community provided extra points of access for the community.

Natasha Bond was involved in leading the community response with home-to-home visits and workshops to provide health information and support. “Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a huge concern for our mob, we have the highest rates of RHD in the world. We want to encourage everyone to work on this together, get treatment straight away and stop further health complications”.

In the lead up to Healthy Skin Week, West Arnhem Regional Council coordinated hard-rubbish collections with Stedman’s also coming on board to provide Skip Bins at various sites. Maningrida College hosted multiple workshops with the school students from kindy to seniors’ cohorts. These Workshops were delivered by the Mala’la team of Aboriginal Health Workers in-training, Natasha Bond and Eileen Gunabarra alongside Jennifer Damsey in Burarra and English languages.

To view the West Arnhem Regional Council article Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida in full click here.

Image source: West Arnhem Land Regional Council website.

Informing National Health and Climate Strategy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership will inform climate health policy and action at all levels under a discussion paper that is being circulated for feedback to inform development of a National Health and Climate Strategy. This is the first of six principles informing the paper, and “recognises the role of First Nations people in protecting and caring for Country, that Indigenous ecological knowledge should be considered in policy development, and that First Nations’ engagement will lead to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

Other principles informing the paper are that:

  • a more sustainable healthcare system will improve public health outcomes
  • all Australians have equal access to a strong and climate-resilient health system, both now and in the future
  • evidence underpins strategies and actions
  • all levels of government and stakeholders work in partnership to implement agreed focus areas and actions
  • a health lens is applied to climate change policy.

The paper asks readers to consider whether other principles should be considered. “For example, should transparency, reporting and accountability also be included as a key principle underpinning the Strategy?” While the paper “acknowledges that some populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rural and remote communities, elderly Australians and Australians from lower socio-economic backgrounds, are more vulnerable to poorer health outcomes from the impacts of climate change”, it does not mention the term ‘health equity’. Nor does ‘climate justice’ rate a mention.

To read the Croakey Health Media article On the National Health and Climate Strategy, how’s it shaping up? in full click here.

Raylene Lenmardi and Sumayah Surprise, Ngurrara Rangers. Image source: WWF Australia.

Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opens

The Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opened in a formal ceremony on Saturday 3 December 2022 is the first purpose-built facility of its type in the ACT. CEO Julie Tongs said “This building is a huge game-changer in many ways and is a true testament to Aboriginal self-determination.” She said it was needed because the life expectancy of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait islanders was still far behind that of the wider community.

The elegant purpose-built building in Narrabundah will serve about 5,000 people a year in about 60,000 visits. “We’ve got so many people who are vulnerable,” she said. “Here, in Canberra, people think it’s the land of milk and honey but it’s not for a lot of people.”

At a cost of $20 million, it will provide a wide range of medical facilities for Aboriginal people in the territory. There are six GPs, three nurse practitioners and 14 nurses. Physical and mental health will be dealt with at the centre. Julie Tongs is clearly very proud. “This is a huge deal because it’s what our community deserves,” she said.

To read The Canberra Times article Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre, the ACT’s first Aboriginal-run health centre, to open in full click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs at the new centre. Photo: Keegan Carroll. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest during an interview at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference in Canberra.

Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu), an aspiring deadly pharmacist and a recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship was interviewed at the recent NACCHO Members’ Conference following the Medicines and Pharmacy stream session.

In February 2022, NACCHO announced applications were open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

In April 2022 NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program:

  • Bryony Forrest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, James Cook University
  • James Sowter, RMIT
  • Jason Coleman, University of SA
  • Louis Emery, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Dawn Casey, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, ‘NACCHO was impressed with the calibre and volume of applicants we received, especially in this first year of the scholarship’s implementation. We are proud to provide opportunities that help build leadership and skills amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, who are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession.’

Karen Hood, Sanofi’s Country Lead said, ‘As members of Australia’s healthcare community we know how important it is to listen to, and work in partnership with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes and support meaningful steps toward a more fair, equal and just society. ‘Recognising the crucial role pharmacists play in our health system and the clear need for greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this field of study, we are delighted to be supporting the inaugural NACCHO scholarship as another step toward improving health and economic participation as determined by Australia’s First Peoples.’

Bryony Forrest said ‘I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long-term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practising as a pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

You can find further information about the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship on the NACCHO website here and listen to Bryony Forrest’s interview below.

Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service at AMC

Winnunga has been operating the standalone Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service in the AMC (Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT adult prison) since January 2019, within its own model of care. This is an Australian first and one Winnunga believes will prove to be one of the most significant advances in the care and rehabilitation of Aboriginal detainees. Development of this service required meeting the RACGP Standards for health services in Australian prisons with infrastructure, staffing, equipment and policies. The service provides high quality holistic care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and continuity upon a client’s release from prison.

A client satisfaction survey of the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service was published in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet in February 2022. Participant responses indicated a high quality of care across all five aspects of
care that were evaluated (participation in care; care design; care planning and self management; care coordination; follow up and respectful care). At least three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had received the specified aspects of care ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Always’. The provision of respectful care was rated particularly high, with all respondents indicating that they always had things explained in a way they could understand, had their concerns listened to, and felt that they and their beliefs were respected by Winnunga staff. Clients were also highly satisfied with the care provided to them and their families through Winnunga.

The most common suggestions for improvement in the client survey related to Winnunga not yet having an opioid replacement pharmacotherapy program so some clients could not be transferred to Winnunga care. This has now been addressed and more detainees have access to the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service

The above information about the AMC Health and Wellbeing Service Survey was published the Winnunga News November 2022 edition here. You can read the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article here.

Winnunga Health Clinic at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

HIV and sexual health webinar this WEDNESDAY

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and NACCHO are partnering to deliver a webinar during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2022, to discuss available HIV resources and support that we can offer to the sexual health sector. The purpose of the HIV Toolkit Webinar is to provide ACCHOs and the HIV and Sexual Health Sector with culturally appropriate, evidence informed, and effective training for workers to build the capacity and confidence to support and educate their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients around HIV and sexual health.

The webinar also aims to increase the uptake and utilisation of AFAO’s recently published ‘Healthcare Workforce Toolkit: HIV and Sexual Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tool kit as an ongoing resource with comprehensive information, including to help improve rates of HIV and sexual health testing, and to increase the awareness and uptake of HIV treatment, and prevention tools including condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The webinar is from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (AEST) Wednesday 7 November 2022. To REGISTER click here.

ACCO literacy campaign linked to crime reduction

Researchers from Literacy for Life Foundation, the Lowitja Institute and the University of NSW have authored a report about the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign. The most significant quantitative finding was a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of an adult literacy campaign in reducing the incidence of negative justice system outcomes in rural and remote NSW Indigenous communities with low levels of English literacy. By drawing on linked administrative data to corroborate self-reported and observer reported data, this study has shown that participation in a community-controlled Aboriginal adult literacy campaign correlates with reductions in the average number of total offences, especially those related to traffic and justice procedures.

Of particular note, serious offences were halved in our study group, especially in women and in relation to assault. The analysis of qualitative data indicates that improved literacy may lead to greater degrees of self-control, among other positive impacts. If efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in the criminal justice system are to be successful, further research into and resourcing of adult literacy interventions is urgently required. Such research can assist in moving beyond simplistic law-and-order agendas by acknowledging that ‘building of positive futures for communities relies on building a foundation of well addressed non-criminal needs’.

You can read the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy article Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities in full here.

Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation website.

What’s next for our kids? asks Chris Bin Kali

Deputy Chairperson, Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) Chris Bin Kali has written an opinion piece published in the National Indigenous Times last Friday about Premier Mark McGowan announcement of a $63m plan to address conditions for youth in detention. Bin Kali said while it is clear that additional funding is desperately needed, so is clarity around what is next for our young people in detention.

Bin Kali said a single funding announcement is not enough to make lasting change, ‘We know that in Australia, Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented in youth detention. A large majority of the youth detainees currently at Banksia Hill are Aboriginal.  Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the WA Government has committed to partnerships and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people about issues impacting our lives, and to improving the accountability and responsiveness of government to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“To honour these commitments, the WA Government must listen to Aboriginal people and partner with us to find solutions to these issues. We know that these problems are complex and will require long-term changes across a range of areas. We know how troubled some of our young people are and the healing they need. We don’t pretend these things can be fixed overnight. But we are certain that they won’t be fixed without prioritising Aboriginal voices.”

To view the NIT article What next for our kids, Premier? in full click here.

Chris Bin Kali. Photo supplies by AHCWA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NDIS Ready videos and social media tiles

At the end of 2021 NACCHO delivered over $1.25m in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

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

Some of the funding has been used by NACCHO affiliates to produce the following videos:

AHCWA

AH&MRC

AHCSA (no videos)

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

The image in the feature tile is of Dr David Scrimgeour who has published a book about his experiences working in the Western Desert. Photo: Giulia Bertoglio, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement published on Sunday 27 November 2022.

Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

When Australia’s last groups of nomads walked out of the desert, David Scrimgeour was the first doctor to examine them. Dr Scrimgeour recounts this experience as well as two defining moments in Aboriginal history: the homelands movement and the push for Aboriginal-controlled health care in his book Remote As Ever: The Aboriginal struggle for autonomy in the Western Desert.

Dr Scrimgeour is a big believer in the Aboriginal community-controlled model of health care and hopes his book will show how important autonomy is for Aboriginal communities — particularly, he said, as government policies have ebbed away at the pride people felt when the communities were first established. “I think it’s important that that the Australian public generally are aware of how people did get out here to these communities,” he said. “And how important taking control of your own life is for people’s health.”

Dr Scrimgeour said there was now another social movement taking place in remote Aboriginal communities that gave him hope for the future. He described it as the “caring for country movement”, which was underpinned by ranger programs. He believes funding local people to undertake ecological and cultural work on country not only helps the environment but also people’s physical and spiritual health. “Caring for country is good for the health of the people,” he said. “It’s good for the health of the country. It’s good for the health of the whole country of Australia.”

To read the ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement in full click here.

Aboriginal health practitioner Tyson Stevens, remote area nurse Simon Gabrynowicz, Dr Scrimgeour and Aboriginal health worker Winmati Roberts all worked at the Spinifex Health Service. Photo: Paul Bulley. Image source: ABC News.

Researchers need to invest time to build trust

Historically in Australia, research has been a dirty word among First Nations communities, some of the most ‘researched on’ people in the country. They got no ownership of the data obtained from their participation, no recognition of their sovereignty and no help in building their own research capacity. But there’s been a national push to try to ensure that research is driven, and co-designed, by Indigenous Australians themselves. Increasingly, national funders, including the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), require grant applicants to provide evidence of Indigenous partnerships, including Indigenous leadership.

As part of short series of articles about decolonizing the biosciences, paediatric lung researcher Pamela Laird has outlined the steps that clinical researchers must take to establish and maintain trusting relationships with Indigenous communities that they serve. Based at the University of WA and at Telethon Kids Institute, both in Perth, Laird’s team has spent years laying the foundation to study respiratory disease in Indigenous Australian children.

To view the nature article Invest the time to build trust among marginalized research participants in full click here.

Pamela Laird (right) and her team have spent years earning the trust of Indigenous Australian mothers whose children participate in respiratory research. Image source: nature.

NT set to raise age of criminal responsibility

The NT is this week set to become the first Australian jurisdiction to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years old. The move has been praised by health organisations and Indigenous groups, who say it will prevent children from becoming trapped in the criminal justice system. But the plan has also come under fire from the territory’s opposition, who say it risks encouraging youth offenders, and from paediatricians who say the age should be raised even higher.

In all Australian states and territories, the current minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 — much younger than most other developed nations. Governments on both sides of politics have been under growing pressure to radically overhaul how they deal with youth offending since a Four Corners investigation into youth detention made global headlines in 2016.

At the centre of the investigation was the treatment of detainees inside Don Dale Youth Detention Centre near Darwin. The shocking vision included in the episode led to a royal commission which, among other things, recommended raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12. This is below the United Nations’ recommended minimum age of criminal responsibility, which was set at 14 by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2019.  Last year, in an escalation of international pressure, 31 UN member states called on Australia to raise the age as part of the Universal Periodic Review. But so far, only the NT and the ACT have announced plans to legislate the change.

To view the ABC News article Northern Territory set to become first Australian jurisdiction to raise age of criminal responsibility. Here’s what that means in full click here.

The NT’s minimum age of criminal responsibility is set to to be raised from 10 to 12. Photo: Tristan Hooft, ABC News.

WA Premier needs to “take notice” of evidence

Mark McGowan says “activists” like former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley, who are campaigning for major reform of WA’s youth justice system, are not “dealing with the real world”. Professor Stanley, at the weekend described WA as the “worst” State for the development health of children. She called for the age of criminality to increase from 10 to 14, for the juvenile Unit 18 at Casuarina Prison to close by Christmas and for the McGowan Government to adopt Aboriginal service-led solutions.

The highly-respected child health advocate also publicly urged Mr McGowan to “take notice” of research and evidence that showed early intervention could prevent children from being locked-up. “We know from our studies, in our Telethon Kids Institute, that nearly 90 per cent of the children who have gone into Banksia and have been transferred into Casuarina have a major developmental disorder, either FASD (fetal alcohol syndrome) or ADHD or an intellectual disability. It’s not just FASD — it’s early life trauma, it’s actually intergenerational trauma.” Prof Stanley said. “Now, if you know that and understand it — and we have briefed every minister about that — how could you then do what’s happening to children in Banksia and Casuarina … it beggars belief.”

Former Labor premier Dr Carmen Lawrence joined forces with Prof Stanley to criticise the current Labor Government’s approach to youth detention, saying “it was a “disgrace” that so many young people were still being incarcerated in WA and that it was a “breach of any decent standards” to detain children at an adult prison. If you think of your own children or grandchildren, you’ll know that if they were kept in solitary confinement, even for an hour, they would start to climb up the walls. It’s inevitable that children will not behave well in those circumstances, so those practices have to stop,” she said.

To read the Kalgoolie Miner article Banksia Hill: Premier Mark McGowan slams activists’ ‘fanciful’ ideas regarding WA’s youth justice system in full click here.

On Sunday, Professor Stanley endorsed a suggestion that because 80% of the children in detention were Aboriginal, the aim should be for 80% of the facility’s staff to be Aboriginal. Photo: Andrew Ritchie, The West Australian.

AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive

The Australian Electoral Commission has launched a month-long advertising and communication campaign aimed at empowering First Nations Australians to have their say at electoral events. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers says the campaign is aimed at the estimated 101,000 Indigenous Australians who are not enrolled to vote.

“Australia’s estimated Indigenous enrolment rate of 81.7% is the highest it’s ever been, but we’re not going to be satisfied until we’ve closed the gap with the broader national enrolment rate,” Mr Rogers said. “There is clearly the likelihood of a referendum soon with a topic specific to First Nations Australians, making high levels of enrolment and engagement even more important.”

To read the AEC media release Vote Loud. Vote Proud. AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive in full here.

CSIRO postgraduate scholarships available

The CSIRO has Master and PhD scholarships available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are enrolled in an Australian university and wish to undertake a postgraduate research degree.

If you have studied in any of the following disciplines, the CSIRO is especially keen to hear from you:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths.

The CSIRO postgraduate scholarships provide additional funding to a research training program (RTP) Scholarship, Centrelink education scheme payment or equivalent scholarship. Applicants must be of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and enrolled in an Australian university.

Students can apply at any time of the year!!

You can find more information about the CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Scholarships by clicking here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Family Matters Report 2022

The Family Matters Report 2022 released by SNAICC

“The statistics in the Family Matters Report 2022 tell a grim story! Our children continue to be over-represented in out-of-home care, and the trend is increasing. But we know what it takes to turn this tide. The evidence is there. Our communities and organisations have the answers. We need the commitments from governments to make it happen,” taken from post on SNAICC’s social media.

Family Matters reports examine what governments are doing to turn the tide on over-representation and the outcomes for our children. They also highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions and call on governments to support and invest in the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead on child wellbeing, development and safety responses for our children.

This year’s Family Matters report is the third to be published following the development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement), which was entered into in July 2020. Under the
National Agreement, governments across the country committed to make decisions in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations; to invest in our community-controlled services; to transform government agencies and non-Indigenous services into culturally safe organisations; and to develop data and monitor outcomes in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The National Agreement also committed specifically to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in out-of-homecare by 45% by the year 2031, a target well aligned to the Family Matters campaign’s call to eliminate overrepresentation by 2040.

Read more details and download the report here.

Four Corners release on dismal failures of youth detention policy

Over 130 pages it spells out the dismal failures of youth detention policy in Australia — a country that continues to lock up primary school-age children in the face of evidence that incarceration only leads to more crime.

Prepared for the Council of Attorneys-General with input from state, territory and Commonwealth justice departments, as well as 93 public submissions, the report was finalised in 2020.

ABC Four Corners, as part of an investigation into ongoing abuses within youth detention, has obtained a report of the Council of Attorneys-General review examining the age of criminal responsibility.

At times the language is academic. At times it’s blunt. The recommendation is clear: no child below the age of 14 should be prosecuted for

“The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age, without exception,” the report says — a conclusion supported by the majority of justice departments around the country.

Australia is one of the only developed countries in the world to prosecute and detain children as young as 10. The global average is 14. What’s commonplace in this country, is prohibited by nations including Russia and China.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned Australia’s position.

To read the full story click here.

Photo: Matt Davidson. Image source: WAtoday.

Research finds many Australians ignore Covid-19 warnings despite spike in cases

As a string of new Covid-19 warnings ramp up across the country, a research survey conducted by Pfizer Australia found 60 per cent of Australians believed Covid-19 was a thing of the past.

The data compares community sentiment to how Australians were feeling a year ago when Covid-19 was rampant across the states and territories, borders were shut and many people were in and out of lockdown.

The research also found 61 per cent of people were less concerned about the impact of Covid-19 in their community, while about 46 per cent felt less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness.

Health experts have urged people to work from home where they can.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist and paediatrician Robert Booy said complacency during the current wave was concerning.

“Protection against Covid-19 infection requires several steps, including ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, practising Covid-safe behaviours and ensuring if you do test positive to Covid, you act fast by talking to your GP to learn if antiviral medicines are right for you,” Professor Booy said.

Reconciliation Australia’s barometer report shows greater levels of racism than 2020

Reconciliation Australia has released the biennial Barometer report, which takes the temperature of relationships between First Nations people and the broader community.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine says the report is an important tool to track progress.

“The report has been going since 2008 and we run it every two years, just so we get a picture a snapshot of what’s going on at that moment,” she said.

SUMMARY STATISTICS
  • 93% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (95% in 2020)and 89% of Australians in the general community (91% in 2020) feel our relationship is important.
  • Nearly all Australians (93%) want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in their own affairs,
  • 80% of the general community (86% in 2020) and
  • 86% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (91% in 2020) believe it is important to establish a representative Indigenous Body.
  • Support for a national First Nations representative body remains strong with 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • More Australians than ever before back a Treaty with 72% of non-Indigenous Australians now supporting a treaty – up from 53% in 2020.
  • A majority believe it is important to undertake formal truth-telling processes in relation to Australia’s shared history – 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • 63% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples said they trusted non-Indigenous people they have not interacted with, and non-Indigenous people felt the same way.
  • Trust levels rise steeply when people have social contact: 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
  • 80% of the general community support ANZAC Day ceremonies to honour First Nations and non-Indigenous soldiers.
  • 70% of the general community support the establishment of a national day of significance that celebrates First Nations histories and cultures.
  • 60% of First Nations peoples have experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the past 6 months (52% in 2020, 43% in 2018). This compares with 25% of non-Indigenous people.
“This latest survey provides evidence that support for reconciliation and the Uluru Statement from the Heart remains strong,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine. “As does mutual trust between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians.
“Of particular interest is the steep rise in trust when both groups surveyed by the ARB have a social connection with the other group.
“However, these percentages rise significantly when the respondents were asked the same question about people with whom they had interacted with. Trust levels rose to 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
“These rising levels of trust augur well for change, as we head towards the national referendum on The Voice to Parliament.
“This Barometer continues a long-standing trend of overwhelming support for a national representative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body and the comprehensive telling (and teaching) of Australia’s true colonial history.”
Voice, Treaty, Truth.”
Read the full story here.

Image source: ABC Kimberley

Hearing Australia’s action plan to halve the rate of hearing loss in First Nations children by 2029

The most recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey found 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school-aged children had a measured hearing loss in one or both ears.

Chronic otitis media, a middle ear infection and inflammation, is far more frequent in Indigenous children with one in three experiencing the disease.

The Hearing Australia Action Plan for Improving Ear Health and Hearing Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children is all about activities that prevent hearing loss and collaboration with local Aboriginal communities.

Hearing Australia acting national manager stakeholder relations, First Nations services unit and Wiradjuri woman Sherilee McManus, who is based in Maitland, said the action plan is incredibly important because when kids are starting school and have experienced hearing loss, they haven’t had as much of an opportunity to learn and grow.

Read the full story here.

In another ear health news: Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s new Early Years Strategy as an important step towards prioritising the wellbeing of Australia’s children.

Commissioner Hollonds said: “The Early Years Strategy will be an opportunity for cross-portfolio systems reform, recognising that children and their families do not exist in one policy silo. Rather, their needs stretch across numerous portfolios including health, education, social services, Indigenous affairs, and others.”

Read the full story here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Support for high-risk groups after stillbirth and miscarriage

The Hon Ged Kearney MP

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Australian Government is providing greater support to ease the heartbreak of stillbirth and miscarriage among higher-risk groups.

From today, $5.1 million is available in grants to organisations that can provide high quality, evidence-based bereavement care nationally for women and families who have experienced stillbirth or miscarriage.

Groups that are at higher risk of stillbirth or miscarriage include First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse, refugee and migrant communities, as well as women and families living in rural and remote Australia and women and girls younger than 20 years of age.

Every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn and two die within 28 days of birth, equating to around 3,000 perinatal deaths per year. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks.

Grants are open to organisations that can develop and deliver holistic and individualised bereavement care for women and families in the target population groups across Australia.

Read the full article here.

Youth yarn about how to get over the shame of STI testing 

This video released by YoungDeadlyFree is for youth with the voices of youth!

Shame is something that can stop us from doing the things we need to do to look after our health. However, shame is something that our mob overcome on a daily basis. This video explores how a range of different young people have overcome shame when it comes to taking charge of their sexual health. Get inspired, get motivated and #gettested 

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) has released its first Annual Report, outlining progress in implementing the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement).

Significant progress is being made against commitments in the Coalition of Peaks Implementation Plan, with the first Annual Report showing:

  • progress on establishment of five policy partnerships and five place-based partnerships
  • development of a number of sector-strengthening plans
  • establishment of three Community Data Project sites, and progress on another one
  • Agreement on the Data Development Plan
  • growth in Coalition of Peaks membership
  • case studies highlighting the successful implementation of the National Agreement across the country, leading to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the Annual Report also reveals that progress on Priority Reform Three – transforming mainstream organisations – remains slow, and that more needs to be done.

Scott Wilson, Acting Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, is concerned. “Priority Reform Three is an opportunity to identify, call out, and then address, the institutionalised racism in our mainstream agencies and services”, said Mr Wilson.

Read the full Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report – media release.

Great new campaign by VACCHO on early detection and cancer screening

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is calling on the Community to come forward for potentially life-saving cancer screening and health checkups as part of the ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign launch.

Cancer Council Victoria data also indicates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people.

The reduction in the number of people coming forward for cancer screening adds further cause for concern for VACCHO and has led to the development of the Community focused ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ initiative.

The ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign is narrated by proud Wongutha-Yamatji man, staunch advocate, and award-winning performer, writer, and director Meyne Wyatt.

It is recommended that Mob get a health checkup with their GP or Aboriginal health service each year. Health check-ups help you to manage your health, prevent chronic diseases, make sure you are up to date with cancer screening and help make sure you are there for the moments that matter.
Book your health checkup with your GP or Aboriginal health service today.

Marlamanu on-country diversionary program to tackle youth offending in Kimberley

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan says the McGowan Government’s on-country diversion facility in the Kimberley has reached a major milestone, with Marlamanu Pty Ltd selected to progress delivery of the pilot program for at-risk youth.

A detailed service agreement will now be negotiated with Marlamanu Pty Ltd which will see an Aboriginal-led diversionary program established at the Myroodah cattle station, approximately 112 kilometres south-east of Derby in the West Kimberley. It follows completion of the program design – aimed at providing up to 16 places each year for young men between 14 and 17. Work is underway with agencies – including the Western Australia Police Force and the Department of Communities and Justice – to refine the pathways for referrals to the program, including from the courts.

For more details click here.

Read the full article released by the National Indigenous Times here.

New promising project to tackle hearing loss issues in remote areas 

Newly-graduated Indigenous audiometrists are heading home to the bush, to help tackle a ‘shameful crisis’ of hearing loss. It’s estimated that in some remote communities, up to 90 per cent of children are affected.

Margaret Murray is an Aboriginal Health Worker living in the NSW-Victorian border town of Albury, who knows firsthand about the devastating impacts of hearing infections.

“As a child growing up near Mildura [in northern Victoria] I had a perforated ear,” the Maraura Barkindji woman says.

“Dad had to take me to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for surgery,” she says.
“I was lucky to be left with scarring but no permanent hearing loss. But a lot of other children with perforated ears grow up to need hearing aids.”

Read the full story released in SBS News here.

Creating safe spaces for conversations to prevent suicide

Introduction by Croakey: Dharawal and Dharug woman Shannay Holmes writes below about the importance of providing young people with culturally safe tools and language to navigate support and discussions around the topic of suicide.

“It’s time our young mob are supported and equipped with the appropriate tools to be able to support themselves and their peers,” Holmes writes. “I imagine if myself and my friends were taught how to talk about suicide and how to better support each other at school, we may not have had to struggle for as long as we did.”

Holmes works on the Heal Our Way campaign, which aims to provide practical resources to community members to equip them with the skills to have safe conversations around suicide.

Led by Cox Inall Ridgeway in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW, health leaders and people who have lived experience of suicide, Heal Our Way is a NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Campaign funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZS) initiatives.

Read the full story released in Croakey Health Media here

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated and will be launched in February 2023.

For more information click here.

Research Report MJA: Aboriginal people are less likely to survive the year after an ICU admission

Risk of death and 12-month mortality among critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit are higher for Indigenous than non-Indigenous people, according to research published today by the Medical Journal of Australia

“Rates of ill-health are higher and  lower for  than for other people in many countries,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Paul Secombe, an intensivist at Alice Springs Hospital and Adjunct Lecturer at Monash University.

“After taking the lower median age of Indigenous ICU patients into account, their mortality outcomes are significantly poorer than for non-Indigenous patients.”

The authors concluded that their findings suggested that  may contribute to earlier death among Indigenous Australians, and “consequently to lower life expectancy.”

Read the full story in the Medical Express here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Registrations OPEN – 2022 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual TRIVIA

Registrations OPEN: 2022 ATSIHAW Virtual TRIVIA 

Inviting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHOs) staff and other organisations supporting ACCHOs to join us in this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia on Thursday 8 December 2022.

Loads of prizes up for grabs for your team and sexual health resources for your ACCHOs……entertainment priceless!

REGISTER NOW! Early bird registrations get rewarded! First 10 teams to register will receive a free lunch (value $20pp up to 5 people per team)

Trivia Times:
• 1pm – WA
• 2.30pm – NT
• 3pm – QLD
• 3.30pm – SA
• 4pm – NSW, ACT, TAS, VIC

To REGISTER your Team CLICK HERE.

*Only one person from each team needs to register for their team.

Each year, ATSIHAW provides an opportunity for conversations about HIV in our communities to increase education and awareness, prevention and treatment, the importance of regular testing and to reduce stigma. In 2022, NACCHO are co-hosting the ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia alongside the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

Sexual health-themed costumes and props are highly encouraged – there will be prizes for the best dressed! Keep it classy!

Background: The ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ campaign was created in collaboration, led by Professor James Ward currently at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (previously with the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute).

Each year coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is held nationally to continue conversations about HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. ATSIHAW was launched in 2014 with support from the Australian Government Department of Health and has been run annually ever since. The ongoing theme for ATSIHAW is: ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ further promoting the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health being in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hands!

For more details on ATISHAW’s history click here.

If you have any questions please contact us at BBVSTI@Naccho.org.au

Danila Dilba diversion connects young people with their victims in effort to stop reoffending

A local diversion program is reducing reoffending by forcing young people to hear from their victims. Read how the program is reducing youth crime.

Bringing children face-to-face with their victims has proven to decrease their chances of reoffending, according to an Aboriginal health provider.

Danila Dilba Health Service runs a holistic diversion program that has a 76 per cent completion rate.

The Aboriginal health provider was contracted by the NT government to run diversion and primary care inside Don Dale Youth Detention after the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children recommended young people be exposed to culturally-appropriate services.

Chief executive Rob McPhee said the program started in 2020 and involved taking young people into the hospital to see the impacts of trauma, while also putting support services around both the child and family.

“We’ve had 50 young people participate in the program and 38 of them have completed it,” Mr McPhee said.

“We get really positive feedback from the young people and from families and where possible, we try to include the victims of their crime as well so that the young people hear from victims that are affected by their behaviour.”

Read the full story released in NT News here.

 

Image source: NT News

AMA calls on NT legislators and all jurisdictions to raise the age of criminal responsibility

The Australian Medical Association has called on the Northern Territory government and all Australian governments to stop putting children in jail.

The Northern Territory is set to pass legislation which will see the age of criminal responsibility in the Territory rise from 10-years-old to 12, however the AMA says the changes do not go far enough and the minimum age for incarceration should be 14 years old.

President of the AMA Professor Steve Robson said the Northern Territory law will still allow children in primary school and in their first year of high school to be placed in jails like the Don Dale Youth Detention Facility.

“The AMA urges Northern Territory legislators to listen to the experts and not turn their backs on this issue. The health advice is clear, kids aged 12 and 13 should not be held criminally responsible. The job will not be done until the minimum age is raised to 14 years,” Professor Robson said.

“Our position is informed by medical evidence — jail is no place for children. It offers limited rehabilitation opportunities and has serious adverse impacts on child development and mental and emotional wellbeing. There are alternatives.”

AMA Northern Territory President, Associate Professor Robert Parker, said the AMA was also calling on the Northern Territory Government to close the Don Dale Youth Detention Facility.

Read the AMA full media release here.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

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

Two great scholarships honouring two incredible women 

Aunty Angela Clarke (Grad Cert) https://mdhs.unimelb.edu.au/…/n/angela-clarkescholarship

Aunty Joan Vickery (Masters) https://mdhs.unimelb.edu.au/…/aunty-joan-vickery…

Aunty Angela Clarke worked as the Koori Hospital Liaison Officer at the Royal Children’s Hospital and later was the Deputy Director of the VicHealth Koori Health Research Unit (Onemda). Her contribution to Aboriginal health was transformative, pioneering new models of community participation in research and embedding culturally responsive clinical practice for Indigenous patients.

Aunty Joan Vickery’s impressive leadership and advocacy over many decades improved Indigenous health outcomes and delivery of services across Victoria. Helping to establish the Ngwala Willumbong Co-operative in 1975 – which continues to deliver outreach services to Aboriginal people affected by substance abuse – she later worked to improve understanding of diabetes among Indigenous families as the first Aboriginal Liaison Officer at St Vincent’s Hospital through rolling out a series of programs and support networks.

For more information visit the University of Melbourne website here.

High school students throughout Cairns can fast-track into a career in healthcare

High school students throughout Cairns can fast track into a career in healthcare with the launch of a $1.4m state-of-the-art medical precinct at Bentley Park College.

There are critical workforce shortages in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the nation as well as a broader shortage of health care workers and Bentley Park College Principal Bruce Houghton said 40 per cent of students were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

“The student response has been outstanding – by completing their certificate courses they can go on to do their diploma at TAFE or go on to nursing at university or become a medical practitioner, a paramedic or a doctor,” Mr Houghton said.

Students can complete certificate two and three courses as well as an assistant in nursing qualification at the precinct, while students from other schools can jump in on school holidays and gain the same qualifications.

Mr Houghton said data in 2020 showed that a lot of Bentley Park graduates were going into medical work.

To read the full story released in the Daily Telegraph click here.

Source: Daily Telegraph

AMSANT Annual Report 2021–2022

AMSANT is staying flexible and moving fast to meet the growing primary healthcare needs of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

AMSANT’s support of Member Services and community controlled health, and their leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is outlined in our new Annual Report that you can view here.

If you have any queries or feedback email: reception@amsant.org.au

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NAAJA responds to 4 Corners Locking Up Kids episode

The image in the feature tile is from an article Locking up kids damages their mental health and leads to more disadvantage. Is this what we want? published on the UNSW Sydney Newsroom webpage on 21 June 2019.

NAAJA responds to 4 Corners Locking Up Kids episode

As one of the leading legal services representing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) community in the NT, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has been witnessing the steady decline of the youth justice system failing our kids and families. NAAJA supports Acting Children’s Commissioner Nicole Hucks concerns raised on Monday night’s 4 Corner’s and calls on the NT Government to do more to protect the safety of our vulnerable young people.

NAAJA CEO, Priscilla Atkins “welcomes the steps Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Chansey Paech has taken towards tackling some of our concerns by introducing raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and other important legislative reform but there is still more we can be doing.” Five years since the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT we still have children as young as 10 detained in a condemned facility.

To view the NAAJA media release Youth Detention in Australia is an abuse of human rights in full click here.

The Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of WA are deeply concerned by the revelations in last night’s Four Corners report of the excessive use of force and restraints directed at children at Banksia Hill Detention Centre. “These events further demonstrate the urgent need for all governments to take meaningful and urgent actions to ensure youth detention facilities are managed in accordance with Australia’s international obligations,” Law Council of Australia President, Mr Tass Liveris said. “It also highlights once more the need to address the alarming overrepresentation of First Nations children in the youth justice system. Recent figures suggest that First Nations children make-up around half of young people in detention and just 6% of the population.”

You can read the Law Council of Australia and the Law Society of WA’s joint media release Excessive use of force on children unconscionable in full here.

You can watch the ABC Four Corners episode Locking Up Kids: Australia’s failure to protect children in detention in full by clicking this link.

Aspiring health workers’ Kimberley immersion

Liesl Dowling, an experienced nurse and midwife is a clinical facilitator at the Majarlin Kimberley Centre for Remote Health, one of 16 Commonwealth-funded university departments nationwide that gives aspiring health workers a taste of working in a rural or remote location.

Ms Dowling said on-the-ground experience was crucial for the students’ development. “When you come into a remote region and can actually see that there is poverty, it becomes a part of your lived experience and it becomes a concern to you,” she said. “It’s okay to read about the barriers to uptake in health care and the gap in outcomes between Aboriginal and mainstream Australians, but it’s all really words on paper until you really see it.”

Research published earlier this year found doctors who spent extended time in a rural placement were more likely to work there into the future. The Kimberley especially has long cried out for more permanent health workers and has suffered crippling staff shortages in recent years, especially for nurses. In its most recent annual report, the WA Country Health Service said an increasing reliance on expensive, transient locum and agency staff was partly to blame for higher health care costs.

Ms Dowling said the “immersion” of young health workers in a remote setting would help address the issue. “Transience is problematic. It poses barriers and some risks in delivering health care, because you don’t have that knowledge at the ground level,” she said.

To view the ABC News article Aspiring health workers get taste of outback in ‘eye-opening’ Kimberley immersion in full click here.

Sahar Abbasi said she enjoyed visiting Kalumburu to provide renal disease education. Photo: Liesl Dowling. Image source: ABC News.

PIP Indigenous Health Incentive guidelines updated

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) guidelines have been updated.

Important changes, including those below, will become effective on 1 January 2023.

  • People with mental health conditions are eligible for registration payments and completing GP Mental Health Treatment Plans and reviews will trigger Tier 1 outcome payments.
  • Children under 15 with chronic disease can be registered and are eligible for outcome payments.

Registering patients from November will mean they are eligible for these new payments in 2023.

You can access the PIP IHI guidelines here.

Water undrinkable in 500 remote communities

Tap water in more than 500 remote Indigenous communities isn’t regularly tested and often isn’t safe to drink, according to a water industry report released last week. In some communities, drinking water contained unacceptable levels of uranium, arsenic, fluoride and nitrate.

While these findings are dire, they aren’t news to us. There have been myriad reports over the years on the poor status of safe drinking water in Australia’s remote communities all pointing to inequity of essential services with implications for health. But little has been done to rectify this.

Safe drinking water is a basic human right, no matter where people live. First Nations communities have campaigned for decades for clean water on their Country. As Alyawarre Elders, Jackie Mahoney and Pam Corbett, from Alpurrurulam community in the NT explained during the report’s launch: “That’s why we’re fighting for this water. It’s not only for us, it’s for them too […] For our old people who fought before us and our kids’ future.”

Importantly, all remote essential service delivery and management actions, including water, need to be undertaken collaboratively. They should be led and authored by First Nations researchers, and draw from community strengths and knowledge wherever possible. This shifts water service efforts being for communities, to being with communities. Indeed, cultural sensitivity ad guidance is essential to ensure mutual respect and learning forms the basis of all supply delivery.

To view The Conversation article Countless reports show water is undrinkable in many Indigenous communities. Why has nothing changed? in full click here.

A related article Total restructure needed to tackle “immeasurable” water crisis in Indigenous communities published in the National Indigenous Times can be accessed here.

Beswick’s water is very high in calcium. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi, ABC News.

Mentoring workforce must be for right reasons

Candace Angelo’s thesis The lived experience of mentoring in the health and wellbeing workforce in NSW explores the experiences of mentoring in the working lives of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing professionals. Ms Angelo’a work seeks to understand the barriers and enablers of developing a sustainable skilled health workforce, and examines what impact mentoring has on both mentors and mentees.

Ms Angelo has identified three main themes, the being that mentoring works when done for the right reasons and in the right way, with an authentic workplace commitment. It is important to select the ‘right’ people as mentors, with the ‘right reasons’, ‘right way’, and ‘right people’ defined as being culturally safe, appropriate and accessible. Achieving this status must start with recruitment policies, strategies and practices. Her findings indicate that these practises need a fundamental shift.

Angelo’s second emerging theme centres on what mentoring can achieve.  With increased cultural safety and job satisfaction, a retained workforce can use mentoring to ultimately improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Her final theme considers the challenges in mentoring. These include being able to centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander core values in mainstream health services. To do so requires changing the so-called ‘ideal worker theory’ and importantly, addressing endemic institutional racism.

To view the University of Sydney article Mentoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce in full click here.

Candace Angelo. Image source: The University of Sydney News webpage.

Alarming NSW Central West health inequities

The Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute (the Institute) has presented alarming statistics on health inequalities across five NSW Central West communities during a workshop yesterday. The workshop aimed to shine the light on health disparities between First Nations and non-First Nations people, along with the rate of disease and chronic health conditions experienced by people within the communities of Orange, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Coonamble, and Wellington.

Executive Director of the Institute Professor Allen Ross and his team visited these regions to consult with local people on the areas of greatest need when it comes to tackling chronic health conditions within First Nations communities. Professor Ross said the Institute’s approach was to remain open to the health needs of the community including their social determinants of health. The Institute is applying a fresh approach to examine and address the health gap between First Nations peoples and the greater Australian population. Partnering with the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) at the onset will make this possible,” Professor Ross said. “Our researchers bring extensive experience from all over the world, yet we are working with the communities with no pre-determined agenda, and instead partnering with them via a grassroots approach to develop strategies that target their specific needs.”

To view the Charles Sturt University article Institute takes a grass roots approach to address the First Nations health gap in full click here.

Executive Director of the Charles Sturt University Rural Health and Medical Research Institute Professor Allen Ross, Mr Taylor Clark and Ms Anne-Marie Mepham from Orange Aboriginal Medical Services, and Ms Cherie Forgione from Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: Charles Sturt University Latest News webpage.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ancient practice helping Kimberley

The image in the feature tile is of a cultural healer treating a patient’s knee by rubbing in red ochre and singing healing songs. The image appeared in an article ‘The women’s song is so strong’: cultural healing in the Kimberley published in The Guardian yesterday, Monday 14 November 2022. Photo: Richard Wainwright, AAP.

Ancient practice helping the Kimberley

Deep in WA’s outback, in a region haunted by trauma and loss, a group of elderly women carry out an ancient healing practice. Red ochre is rubbed into a patient’s knee as they sing a powerful song, their arthritic hands working in a liquid motion. The healers have seen plenty of pain – both physical and spiritual – among those seeking their help.

“We see their eyes when they come to us. We see the eyes and the eyes tell us that person is sick,” a healer said. “They come to us ladies and we sing that healing song to them. We put the red ochre on them first to protect them, because the women’s song is so strong. And after that, they feel real good. They feel settled and calm and everything.”

Jalngangurru Healing is a trial program connecting patients in the Kimberley with male and female cultural healers. It targets clients in Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and surrounding communities, supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation with federal funding. But the demand for its services is flooding in from across the nation.

“It went active on social media and it just went mad,” said Emama Nguda chief executive Ben Burton. “There were people from all over Australia sending messages trying to access help … people who are just desperate, in pain and suffering from mental health, loss after loss after loss and depression. All the feedback so far from people is it’s just life-changing.”

To view the Australian Associated Press article Ancient practice helping to heal Kimberley in full click here.

Tammy Solonec is helping people access traditional cultural healing in WA’s north. Photo: Richard Wainwright. Image source: AAP.

Repeated breaches of child rights at detention centre

Save the Children is appalled by the footage from WA’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre aired by ABC’s Four Corners and condemns the conduct as a gross violation of children’s rights. The video shows a boy being handcuffed, forcibly held down and sat on by guards in a dangerous restraint technique known as ‘folding up’, with reports several other boys have been subjected to similar practices. The ABC footage is further evidence that children’s rights are continuing to be violated at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul of WA’s youth justice system before more irreparable harm is done.

To view the Save the Children media release Repeated breaches of child rights in WA youth detention must end now in full click here.

In a related article Union: ‘Chronic understaffing’ contributing to stress and aggression among Banksia Hill child detainees available here a union representing youth custodial officers say “chronic understaffing” at Banksia Hill Detention Centre is contributing to the heightened stress and aggression among child detainees.

The CPSU/CSA on Monday released a letter its leadership sent to the Department of Justice in May 2021 – 18 months ago – that sounded the alarm on safety concerns at the facility. The letter said dangerously low staffing levels was putting the workforce at risk, denying the children in custody proper rehabilitation and resulting in “rolling lockdowns”.

The 15-year-old boy spent more than 60% of his recent stint in custody, in unlawful solitary confinement. Image source: ABC News.

Flooding makes existing disadvantage worse

Australia is currently experiencing its third consecutive year of a La Niña weather cycle, with more rainfall than average expected over the spring and summer months and a heightened risk of floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged heatwaves and grass fires in southern Australia.  According to the Human Rights Council Report 75-80% of the world’s population will be negatively impacted by climate change. It also states climate change will exacerbate existing poverty and inequality and have the most severe impact on our poor.

Indigenous people in Australia make up just 3.8% of the population. Still, they account for nearly 30% of those living in poverty and up to 50% in remote communities. Many live in poor, overcrowded housing not prepared for natural disasters or the effects of climate change such as persistently hotter temperatures. In addition, there is limited nearby infrastructure or resources to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

All levels of government have been criticised for a lack of action in supporting Indigenous communities during times of crisis. This now needs to be addressed urgently, given the destructive weather is forecast to continue in the coming months. Earlier this year, when floods hit the town of Lismore in NSW, the local Indigenous community was left to fend for themselves, with many people losing their homes and possessions. First Nations communities were among those worst affected, with many people stranded without access to food or clean water.

To read the Mirage article Effects of climate change such as flooding makes existing disadvantages for Indigenous communities so much worse in full click here.

Chelsea Claydon (left) and Izzy Walton (right) have been running the Koori Kitchen in Lismore, which is still providing 100s of meals to flood-affected residents on the Northern Rivers. Photo: Matt Coble. Image source: ABC News.

Workplace racism leaves workers traumatised

Between 2018 and 2020, Ms Jacqueline Stewart worked within the NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) — a unit responsible for helping with the prevention and response to violence, abuse and neglect, including within Indigenous communities. She resigned in 2021 after, she said, her complaints to NSW Health management about racism and bullying were not properly addressed.

There were several incidents, but some of the main ones she made formal complaints about included that a contracted worker in her team painted her face black at a work function and then posted it on the ECAV’s Facebook page at the time. Ms Stewart describes her time at NSW Health as “emotional destruction” and says the impacts of racism and bullying are long lasting. “It’s impacted my family. It’s been a massive impact.”

Research conduct last year by consulting firm MindTribes and the University of Melbourne, found that 76% of respondents either witnessed discrimination, experienced discrimination, or had both witnessed and experienced it, and 69% of respondents felt “low or no confidence” in the reporting process.

The latest data follows a report from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) called Racism at Work, released earlier this year found 88%t of respondents agreed racism was an issue in Australian workplaces and 93% agreed organisations needed to take action to address it. While support for organisations to tackle workplace racism was high, only 27%t of survey respondents said their organisations were proactively preventing workplace racism.

To view the MSN article ‘Isolated and traumatised’ workers subject to racist slurs call for employers to do more to stamp out bullying and harassment in full click here.

Jacqueline Stewart, a former employee of NSW Health, was a victim of racism. Photo: Daniel Irvine, ABC News.

Calls for input on draft Australian Cancer Plan

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, said the Australian Government is calling for stakeholder input on the draft Australian Cancer Plan (ACP) which is designed to provide lasting change and improve outcomes for all people affected by cancer. Australia leads the world in cancer outcomes however, it is still the leading cause of death in this country. This year alone, 50,000 people will lose their lives to cancer.

The draft ACP presents the opportunity for all Australians to comment on a ground-breaking national strategy that sets out strategic objectives, ambitions, goals and priority actions for cancer control. To make a difference we need coordinated system-wide engagement.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Consultation opens on draft Australian Cancer Plan in full click here.

Indigenous Eye Health Unit to launch book

Indigenous Eye Health Unit invite you to the launch of “Minum Barreng: The story of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit” (IEHU). This book documents the work and achievements of the IEHU over the last 15 years.
The launch will be from 10:00 – 11:30AM on Friday 2 December 2022 in the Woodward Centre, Level 10, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton.

Registrations for the launch close on Thursday 24 November 2022.

For more information you can access a flyer about the book launch event here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Climate change and First Nations health

The image in the feature tile is from the Croakey Health Media article Governments urged to act on greenwashing, as COP27 puts spotlight on health and climate justice published on Thursday 10 November 2022.

Climate change and First Nations health

Many of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27) events are putting a focus on climate justice and health-related issues, including air pollution, extreme heat, effective climate and health communications, food insecurity, the role of psychology, disaster responses, and the experiences of countries in building climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems.

First Nations people, academics and representatives of Doctors for the Environment Australia and the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) are attending COP27, including proud Gumbaynggirr nyami woman Amba-Rose Atkinson, from the mid-north coast of NSW. Ms Atkinson said “I join the largest contingent of First Nations Peoples from all over the world, to advocate and fight for Country. Representation is an important first step; however, we must now strive for an empowered voice and the redistribution of asymmetric power structures. It is time global leaders and governments recognise that First Nations Peoples and Knowledges are powerful solution-oriented forces that need to be heard, respected and empowered, for the benefit of Country and all the biodiversity that exists within Country.”

Ms Atkinson referred to the work Professor Kerry Arabena, a proud Meriam woman from the Torres Strait Islands, “who has written about how destroying the relationship between First Nations peoples and Country destroys our holistic health and wellbeing; Country is our life source, we are inextricably linked to Country, and Country to us. My presence in Egypt is to uphold these teachings and advocate alongside many other First Nations peoples and reinforce the message, now is the time to act!”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Governments urged to act on greenwashing, as COP27 puts spotlight on health and climate justice in full click here.

Gumbaynggirr nyami Amba-Rose Atkinson joins First Nations Peoples from around the world in Eqypt for COP27. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Powerful 2022 Dr Charles Perkins Oration

As the world watches COP27 negotiations, it’s timely that Larissa Baldwin-Roberts, a Widjabul Wia-bul woman from the Bundjalung Nations, and longstanding campaigner for climate justice has delivered the 2022 Dr Charles Perkins Oration at the University of Sydney. In a wide-ranging address Ms Baldwin-Roberts paid tribute to generations of First Nations activists and community mobilisers, and urged support for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

She said: “If you want to understand how to deal with the climate crisis, we must first situate ourselves within an Indigenous worldview. To do that, we need to be thinking about three generations behind you, and three generations in front of you. Make decisions that will benefit the people in front of you, and take lessons from the people behind you. Governments can’t do that, but the leadership from our communities can.”

Ms Baldwin-Roberts wants the wider Australian community to recognise the crises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face, not just climate, but the issues with housing, guns in remote communities, over-policing, deaths in custody, health. She said people need to understand that breadth of context.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Powerful oration builds on legacy of Dr Charles Perkins with a vision for climate justice, accountable governments and community leadership in full click here.

RACGP Top End visit ‘important step’

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) leaders have joined NT General Practice Education (NTGPE) representatives on a four-day of the Top End in an effort to strengthen long-term training in the region and find solutions for rural and remote GP shortages. RACGP President-Elect Dr Nicole Higgins and Vice President Dr Bruce Willett are part of a group that will meet with doctors and other health professionals, as well as traditional owners, Aboriginal Elders and key local figures, in seven different NT remote communities from 7–10 November 2022.

Dr Higgins told newsGP it has been a ‘humbling privilege’ to visit the communities and meet with the lands’ traditional owners and gain first-hand experience of the region’s healthcare challenges. “They have welcomed the RACGP as the new mob who will be delivering GP training in their communities,’ she said. ‘We have also met with registrars, supervisors and the teams that support them – cultural mentors and educators, remote nurses and practice staff. We have listened and they have been heard.”

To view the newsGP article RACGP Top End visit an ‘important step’ in full click here.

RACGP President Elect Dr Nicole Higgins and Vice President Dr Bruce Willett during their visit to remote communities in the NT. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Koories need radiotherapy too

NSW’s New Chief Cancer Officer, Professor Tracey O’Brien, is visiting Southern NSW Local Health District (LHD). Professor O’Brien said of her visit “NSW is recognised as a global leader in cancer care, with survival rates among the best in the world, but there is still much more we can do to lessen the impact of cancer. However, cancer continues to impact too many people in our community with one in two people across NSW diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.”

“There are also communities that continue to experience poorer cancer outcomes, including Aboriginal communities and people living in regional rural and remote NSW. “While cancer survival for Aboriginal people continues to improve, there is still a disproportionate gap in cancer outcomes.  Aboriginal people are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, are likely to be younger when they are diagnosed and are more likely to die of cancer than non-Aboriginal people. Closing the gap in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal communities is a key priority of the NSW Cancer Plan.”

The NSW Cancer Plan says the reason for inequities in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal people are multiple and complex, including:

  • Fear and capacity issues around leaving community or country for treatment and lack of culturally safe and responsive care are also major barriers for Aboriginal people to access health services.
  • Fear and stigma about cancer, due to a lack of understanding about the disease, can prevent Aboriginal people from participating in cancer screening or having symptoms checked. This can lead to later diagnosis causing poorer outcomes.
  • Aboriginal people and communities are also often dealing with complex personal and familial issues and lower levels of health literacy, which impact their health seeking behaviours.
  • These barriers can also contribute to higher prevalence of certain lifestyle behaviours, such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption which can contribute towards higher cancer incidence.

To view The Beagle article Koories need radiotherapy too: where is our facility in the new hospital? in full click here. In the below video Aboriginal Cancer Health Practitioner Lynne Thorne describes the barriers Aboriginal cancer patients in SA and NT face in accessing radiotherapy. These barriers are similar across Australia.

Skin conditions among urban-living young mob

A systematic analysis in Pediatric Dermatology that included all relevant studies published since 1990 indicates that many urban-living Indigenous children and young people in high-income countries are burdened with atopic dermatitis (or eczema) and bacterial skin infections (including skin sores). Investigators note that these conditions are intertwined, in that poorly managed atopic dermatitis predisposes to recurrent bacterial skin infections, and secondary infection of atopic dermatitis contributes to more severe disease. Both conditions adversely impact general health, school performance, and overall quality of life. Untreated bacterial skin infections can also lead to serious complications such as sepsis, kidney disease, and rheumatic heart disease.

In this recent analysis, current and severe symptoms of atopic dermatitis were more common in urban-living Indigenous children and young people compared with their non-Indigenous peers, with children having a higher prevalence than adolescents. Urban-living Indigenous children and young people also had a higher incidence of bacterial skin infections compared with their non-Indigenous peers.

To view the Mirage Science article Scientists examine rates of skin conditions among urban-living Indigenous children and young people in full click here.

Young students at the Redfern Jarjum College (RJC). Image source: RJC website.

Using practice data to find kidney disease webinar

At 7:30PM (AEST) Tuesday 15 November 2022, join Kidney Health Australia with GP Consultant, Dr Chris Bollen and General Practice Pharmacist, Mr Tim Perry as they discuss and show how to utilise your practice data to find evidence of chronic kidney disease. Using electronic clinical software as an example, learn how to collect practice data and analyse gaps in diagnosis and correctly stage chronic kidney disease. Learn how to develop a practice plan to identify patients at risk without a coded diagnosis, and create an individualised clinical action plan for a patient with chronic kidney disease.

RACGP CPDA 2 points per hour Activity # 367776 (pending approval)

If you have a Zoom account you can register here.

Image of diabetes educator with a patient. Image source: Moreton Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service’s Diabetes education webpage.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Fairfax Media image in the feature tile is from a WAtoday article One-stop-shop youth prison model a ‘failure’ as MP calls for to Banksia Hill to close published on 2 November 2018.

Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Policy Impact Program is a partnership between The Winston Churchill Trust and The University of Queensland (UQ). It aims to help Churchill Fellows draw upon the international knowledge they gain on their Fellowships to best inform policy reform in Australia. Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda is the Program’s flagship publication which combines some of the best of the Churchill Fellows’ insights with the policy and governance expertise of UQ’s Centre for Policy Futures.

Professor Thomas Edwin Calma, AO, co-Patron of The Winston Churchill Trust, said: “Policy Futures second issue includes four Churchill Fellow-developed reform agendas that have the potential to not only transform many Indigenous peoples’ lives for the better, but also support Australian Governments to achieve the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets.”

One of the four Fellows, Clement Ng, found almost 95% of children in NT detention are Indigenous. Research suggests that effective strategies that improve the mental health of First Nations young people will reduce their criminalisation and in turn, their over-representation. The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT found 56% of children who gave evidence about their experience in youth detention had a history of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation. Further, justice-involved children are more likely to receive more than one mental health diagnosis or suffer from a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance misuse. Unfortunately, the current funding the NT receives for mental health services per capita is the lowest in the country and none of the community mental health services at present have capacity to meet demand.

Policy recommendations from Mr Ng’s research include:

  • Pilot a youth mental health diversion list in the NT.
  • Involve ACCHOs to co-design and deliver holistic community mental health services.

To read The Mandarin article Policy futures: A reform agenda in full click here.

Image source: Orygen Youth Mental Health Policy Briefing 2018.

Leading cause of death for mob – cancer

Jacinta Elston was in her 20s and had just had her first child when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Queensland mother needed surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to fight the disease, and almost 20 years later is cancer-free. She was working as an assistant professor of Indigenous health at James Cook University, which meant she had a good knowledge of the medical system.

She said other members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community may not be as used to dealing with, or even talking about cancer. “I’ve seen family, friends, mob and community who haven’t had the same sort of outcomes I have, ” Elston said. “Cancer hasn’t really been in our vocabulary in the same way that heart disease and diabetes and renal dialysis has been,” she said. “It’s now our leading cause of death.” First Nations Australians are almost one and a half times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The group are more likely to get the disease but less likely to use screening services, like those on offer for bowel or breast cancer, according to Cancer Australia figures from 2015–2019.

To view the 9 News article ‘Cancer hasn’t been in our vocabulary’: Plan to tackle ‘leading cause of death’ for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Professor Jacinta Elston is working to improve cancer survival in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: 9 NEWS.

Global challenge to find health fixes for Pilbara

The WA government has announced a global challenge in hopes to improve health incomes in remote parts of the Pilbara. Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson announced the newly titled The Challenge last week. The WA government joined partners with corporate investors for a $5 million reward for applicants who are able to provide the best solution to enhance health care in the Pilbara.

Lead by the WA Department of Health, The Challenge seeks submissions from industry, the private sector, public sector agencies, universities, research institutes or collaborations from international organisations. Mr Dawson said the challenge wanted to find a technology solution to improve health outcomes for Pilbara residents.

“This is about improving the health of Western Australians living in rural and remote areas to reduce disease and injury for the community and particularly for remote Aboriginal communities,” he said. “We’re not calling for improvements, or incremental change. We need real change, we need world-leading innovation. We are looking for an outcome which harnesses new technology, deploys digital health to its full potential, and ensures all Western Australians can access the health services they need, and deserve.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article WA Govt sets mutli-million dollar global challenge to find health fixes for remote Pilbara communities in full click here.

WA’s Pilbara. Photo: Oliver Strewe – Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Better care for people living with eating disorders

The Albanese Government is investing $13 million to help mental health professionals and researchers improve treatment outcomes for Australians living with eating disorders. The InsideOut Institute will receive $13 million to fund the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, which was officially launched by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride at the University of Sydney yesterday.

Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and many Australians often go undiagnosed. The new centre will focus on research to prevent and treat eating disorders, translating these developments into frontline services and co-designing treatments with people with lived experience, their family, and carers.

To view the Minister McBride’s media release Better care for people living with eating disorders in full click here. The below Butterfly Foundation Every BODY is Deadly video was developed to bring greater awareness to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the signs and supports available for people impacted by eating disorders.

Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs is hosting a webinar Social Work Perspectives on FASD at 1:00PM (AEDT) Wednesday 16 November 2022.

In this webinar, social work perspectives on FASD will be explored drawing on evidence from research, practitioner and caregiver studies and experiences. Three presenters will focus on the current situation in NZ. Dr Joanna Chu will identify the knowledge and attitude gaps among social work professionals recently surveyed by researchers from the University of Auckland; Karleen Dove will consider the roles and responsibilities and other key issues for social workers when helping families where FASD is identified as a likely disability for a child; and Professor Anita Gibbs will draw on research and lived experience to discuss best practice from social workers that is neuro-informed, culturally safe, system-wide, attuned to what families want and need, and ensures healthy outcomes for all.

To register for the Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar click here.

National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference

The National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference 2022 kicks off on Sunday 4 December 2022.

Major topics of the conference include: Treaty, Voice, and Truth-Telling; Native Title and Land Rights; Health justice and justice reinvestment; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the over-representation of children and young people in State systems; the failure of Aboriginal heritage and environmental protection laws; intellectual property rights; and the challenges facing legal aid and access to justice.

Confirmed speakers include: Senator Pat Dobson – Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; Michael Mansell – activist, lawyer, and author of Treaty and Statehood; Donnella Mills – Chair of NACCHO and spokesperson for Health Justice; Pat O’Shane – former Magistrate and activist; Pat Turner AM – CEO of NACCHO and spokesperson for Coalition of Closing the Gap Peak Bodies; Corey Tutt OAM – founder and CEO of @Deadly Science; Leah Cameron – principal of Marrawah Law and Aboriginal expert on Australian Heritage Council; Patricia Adjei – Australia Council of the Arts; Jamie Lowe, CEO of National Native Title Council along with Native Title Senior Counsel, Aboriginal lawyers, serving and retired Magistrates; experts and law students; and legal aid practitioners.

Tickets for the National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference are now on sale here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.