NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: progressing the Australia Day debate

feature tile, Aboriginal & national flag hanging horizontally, words: Stolen Generations history needed to progress the Australia Day debate

Progressing the Australia Day debate

The Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Petersen, spoke with Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne ‘Mornings’ today about the importance of Stolen Generations history being taught as part of the Australian school curriculum. Fiona said the Healing Foundation encourages school communities to engage with survivors in their local area to learn about not just what happened when they were removed and the follow-on effects of that, but also how they and their families have been overcoming what happened. Fiona agreed that if Stolen Generations history is taught more broadly in schools it is likely to better inform the ongoing conversation about Australia Day.

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

Aboriginal people with large banner National Day of Mourning 26 January

Image source: Teach Indigenous Knowledge.

COVID-19 patient identification and racism

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is the peak body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors in Australia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDA members witnessed incidents of racism related to patient identification. Patient identification is imperative to providing culturally safe health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. In one instance, a patient who identified as Aboriginal was denied testing for COVID-19. The justification for this denial was that priority testing would only be offered to “real Aborigines”. Incidents like these highlight the need to improve the cultural safety of all healthcare workers and that increasing community education about why asking all patients whether they identify as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin is vital.

AIDA advocates for best practice in patient identification to support the development of policies and services related to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Culturally safe practice begins with sensitively, correctly, and regularly asking the identification question at the admission of care. Addressing under-identification includes asking all patients the identity question and recording responses accurately as one of several best practice principles.

To view AIDA’s position paper on patient identification click here.

desktop resource used as a prompt to 'asking the question' "are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"

Desktop resource to prompt ‘asking the question’. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Measuring self-reported racism in healthcare

Racism is a fundamental cause of ill health and health inequities globally. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders have identified as a high priority, research on the experiences of discrimination, overall and specifically within healthcare. Regardless of the measure used, there is consistent evidence of high exposure to discrimination in this population. High quality measurement of experiences of discrimination is therefore essential to underpin action to improve health and reduce inequities.

A recent article in the International Journal for Equity in Health, Developing and validating measures of self-reported everyday and healthcare discrimination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults looks at instruments to capture Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of interpersonal discrimination. The instruments can be used to enable valid measurement of discrimination’s prevalence, in order to identify priority targets for action, quantify discrimination’s contribution to health and health inequities, monitor trends, and evaluate interventions.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Royal Melbourne Hospital website.

Confronting Australia’s collective racism

In health, ‘bravery’ is something that is typically used about patients. Children (and sometimes adults) are asked to be ‘brave’ when they receive a vaccination. People are often called brave for sharing stories of mental illness to destigmatise it. Sometimes, just seeing a health professional is brave, if the issue is very personal or potentially embarrassing.

However, bravery has now been used about health professionals and policymakers in the 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report: Moving from Safe to Brave. This is the second report (the first being in 2016) outlining where Australia is at with reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The report is based on interviews with leaders of national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders of relevant non-Indigenous organisations, corporate leaders and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) partners.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

street march, lady with flag Aboriginal colours, words no room for racism inside yellow map of Aust, against black top and red lower half of flag, young Aboriginal girl with drum

Image source: The Conversation.

Australia slammed for age of criminal responsibility 

Australia was slammed over its treatment and acknowledgment of First Nations people at the United Nations last week. More than 30 nations – including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Mexico – called on Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, in line with the recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Nolan Hunter, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, told NITV News that policies around Australia’s age of criminal responsibility were “outdated” and a “legacy of Colonialism”. “What’s more worrying is to allow it to continue and the acceptance of this where kids as young as 10 years old are being thrown in jail,” he said. “The culture of the community in Australia and more so the government is the attitude that there isn’t a problem or to recognise this as a serious issue.”

To view the article in full click here.

black & white spray paint image of Aboriginal child on brick wall with white bars across image representing imprisonment

Photo by Chris Devers. Image source: New Matilda website.

Mobilising a COVID-19 vaccine workforce

The Australian Government is preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout by securing an additional vaccine workforce and working to deliver essential training to everyone who will administer the vaccinations. “Australia’s vaccine roll out will be carried out through hospitals, general practices, state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and pharmacies. This additional vaccination workforce will help support and supplement existing services and assist in outreach in areas such as aged care and remote and Indigenous communities working with existing providers. Through the Australian Government’s plan, a panel of four providers have been appointed, who will be called upon to provide a vaccine workforce to supplement the existing immunisation workforce for specific populations. The providers are Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia, International SOS, and Sonic Clinical Services.”

To view the media release in full click here, and to read a related article in the Western Advocate click here.

gloved hand placing cotton wool bud on person's upper arm

Image source: startsat60. website.

Biggest mass vaccination program begins

vaccine Coronavirus production line

Image source: European Pharmaceutical Review website.

GPs united on vaccine rollout

Australian GPs stand united to work with the Government on rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the community and the nation. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) have worked collaboratively with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the past weeks to ensure the vaccine rollout is delivered with patient safety as the first priority.

In a joint media release AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “This is an important moment for the Australian community. We have gone from no coronavirus vaccine a year ago to several vaccines, with the first expected to be rolled out next month. GPs are ready to help vaccinate and protect the community from COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are fully approved for use in Australia, and available for delivery. Vaccinations are also an important opportunity to discuss other health concerns with GPs. This is particularly important at a time when many people have deferred health care due to the pandemic.”

To view the joint AMA and RACGP media release click here.

vaccine lying on top of a mask on at bench

Image source: AMA website.

General practices sought for rollout

The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest from all accredited general practices to take part in the planned delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. “General practices will play a key role in the Australian Government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, in what will be one of the greatest logistical exercises, public health or otherwise, in Australian history. Providing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia is a key priority for our Government. General practices will help deliver the vaccine initially to priority groups, starting with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1. Three more phases will follow until the whole country has been offered the vaccine.”

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

doctor's arm taking blood pressure of Aboriginal woman

Image source: Australian GP Alliance website.

Pandemic compounds hardship for PWD

Despite the refrain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that ‘we are all in this together’, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (PWD) last week revealed the many hardships encountered by PWD over the past six months. In his closing remarks, Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said the hearings had shed a “piercing light” on the impact of the pandemic and associated stringent measures to contain it on PWD.

He said the pandemic had exacted a “terrible”, and largely hidden, toll on people with a disability. We have heard people with disability experiencing the sudden loss of essential support services, an absence of clear and consistent information in accessible form essential to their health and wellbeing; an inability to access health care, personal protective equipment and even the basic necessities of life such as food and medication; we’ve heard of isolation from the community, from friends and family and from social networks; exposure to a heightened risk of domestic violence; stress and anxiety associated with exposure to the virus; inadequate measures for the protection of people with disability, and uncertainty about how to survive in the face of disruptions to care and essential services, sometimes leading to worsening mental health.”

To read the Croakey article in full click here.

wheelchair image overlaid on Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: AbSec website.

Kelvin Kong’s pandemic reflections

In a Q&A, ear, nose and throat specialist Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, a Worimi man, based in Newcastle on the country of the Awabakal people, has reflected upon the upheaval and life-changing lessons of the past several months. “I am so thankful that we have not seen the devastation that we have seen in other First Nation populations across the world. COVID-19 is such a travesty to all of us. But it really highlights the inequities we have as health service providers. We are lucky geographically that we were able to shut down communities so quickly. The Aboriginal leadership across the nation needs far more praise in its ability to get the message across. Messages that communities could relate to and believe was, and continues to be, paramount in the response.”

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

image of Associate Professor Kelvin Kong smiling at the camera in scrubs in operating theatre with two health professionals in the background

Dr Kelvin Kong. Image source: University of Newcastle.

First Aboriginal dermatologist

Dana Slape is Australia’s first Aboriginal dermatologist. Her mission is mentoring students who may have never considered a career in medicine, as well as advocating for more Indigenous leadership throughout our healthcare system. “I think there has been a really longstanding narrative in Australia particularly in the healthcare space that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are just sick people, and people that are chronically unwell, that are chronically suffering, but the truth of it is that what we have is a system of unconscious and conscious bias that impacts how people are provided care and how they are able to access all of the things that keep us, as a community, well as individuals but also collectively. So when you have people like me and all of the other people that end up working in senior leadership, in hospitals, in clinics, in places where we access healthcare, it starts to tell a different story. You’re deconstructing those unconscious biases around people being always the patient, and never the care provider.”

“My hope is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist numbers increase, because the greater leadership we have that are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at all layers of the health system and tertiary education system, means that we are opening up doors for people so that those people can go on and be the leaders of the future and provide care to the next generation and that’s extremely important, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

To listen to the ABC interview with Dana Slape click here.

photo of Dana Slape against outback grassland setting

Dr Dana Slape. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smoking kills half of those 45+

A study has found smoking kills one in two older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and experts are calling for more funding to boost culturally appropriate smoking cessation services. The report from the Australian National University found smoking caused 37% of deaths at any age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, but that increased to about half of deaths in those aged over 45.

Dr Michelle Bovill, a Wiradjuri woman and an Aboriginal smoking health researcher at the University of Newcastle, found the results were “quite alarming”. “Aboriginal people do want to quit,” she said. “But then people still don’t really know what to do to quit, and we really don’t have enough funding being put into our Aboriginal community controlled health services to provide that support.”

To view the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

elderly Aboriginal man smoking

Image source: The Conversation.

Pharmacy students inform WRAP toolkit

Delivering effective healthcare requires healthcare professionals to reflect on their own cultural background and their patient’s cultural needs. Culture is a determinant of health and if not considered, negative health outcomes can result. This is of particular importance when working with Aboriginal communities and caring for Aboriginal people whose views have been excluded from healthcare models, funding, and policy. Non-indigenous healthcare professionals, such as pharmacy students, benefit from understanding Aboriginal peoples’ healthcare needs and models of holistic healthcare, as well as reflecting on their own cultures, assumptions, and experiences on placement.

A research article, Pharmacy students’ learnings and reflections to inform the development of the ‘Working Respectfully with Aboriginal Peoples’ (WRAP) Toolkit  explores students’ views to inform the development of a Toolkit to support students’ learning prior to engaging in placements in Aboriginal communities. The study involved collaboration with students, Aboriginal community members, educators experienced in Indigenous health and allied health education.

For further details about the research article click here.

Dr Rallah-Baker checking elderly Aboriginal woman's eyes with torch

Dr Rallah-Baker has called for cultural competency to become standard good practice before health workers are registered. Image source: Michael Amendolia (Fred Hollows Foundation).

SNAICC appoints new CEO

SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has announced that Catherine Liddle has been appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Catherine will commence the role on 8 February 2021. An Arrernte/Luritja woman from Central Australia, she comes to SNAICC with a strong background in senior leadership positions with First Nations organisations. “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Catherine to SNAICC,” says Muriel Bamblett, SNAICC Chair. “With her previous leadership roles, combined with her experience on the Coalition of Peaks, Catherine will ensure that SNAICC can continue to strengthen our partnerships with state and federal governments to make sure our children are at the forefront of policies.”

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

Katherine Liddle standing in front of a tree in bushland holding a twig with leaves, smiling

Catherine Liddle. Image source: radioinfo website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: time to get back on track with diabetes

Back on Track with out diabetes promotion tile & words Back on Track diabetes campaign targets mob who've fallen behind during COVID-19

Time to get back on track with diabetes

Diabetes Australia is prompting people living with the disease to get back on top of their care with a new campaign, funded through the National Diabetes Services Scheme, an Australian Government initiative administered by Diabetes Australia. Titled ‘Back on Track’, the multi-platform campaign is urging those who may have fallen behind with their appointments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to get in touch with their local medical service. Indigenous people are almost four times as likely to live with diabetes compared with other Australians.

Ngunnawal Elder Violet Sheridan, who is a diabetic, admitted that her management of the disease had dropped off. She said her fear of COVID-19 was so great she was reluctant to go out into the community or to even engage with her health care providers, “I can be a bit naughty; I don’t listen sometimes which I should… I need to get my mind focused again after getting off track,‘ she told NITV News. “I went down to one of the supermarkets, I went in when COVID was raging real bad when it was first here in Canberra and the grocery store was just packed, I panicked, I panicked, panicked, I just left everything.”

Christopher Lee, the manager for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia said they’ve collected data that corresponds with stories like Ms Sheridan’s.

You can access an online copy of the NITV Back on Track news story featuring Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Violet Sheridan by clicking here and to you can view the Diabetes Australia media release regarding the Back on Track launch by clicking here.

Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan lives with diabetes and she was scared of contracting COVID-19. (Sarah Collard: NITV News)

Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan who lives with diabetes, was scared of contracting COVID-19. Image source: NITV News.

Get a heart check video

The Heart Foundation, Mawarnkarra Health Service, Glenys Collard and Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro from the University of WA, the WA Centre for Rural Health and consumers have contributed to the production of a short, animated video designed to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their local health worker to get a free heart check.

To view the animation click here.

image from Get a heart check animation - Aborigial man with two AMS health workers getting his blood pressure taking

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Schools urged to teach Stolen Generations story

The Healing Foundation is urging all Australian schools to include the story of the Stolen Generations in their curriculum to ensure students have a better understanding of the full history of Australia. As schools prepare for the 2021 year, they are encouraged to incorporate The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Resource Kit for Teachers and Students into their curriculums. The kit provides schools with a free resource that communicates the full history of Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a safe and age-appropriate way.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said Australia’s history dates back more than 60,000 years and is rich with stories of the oldest continuous culture on Earth. “The story of the Stolen Generations provides context and meaning for the struggles and inequities that First Nations peoples have faced since colonisation,” Ms Petersen said. “The traumatic impact of historical child removals continues to affect Stolen Generations survivors and their families today, but until now very little has been taught in schools. “The grief and trauma that resulted from historical child removals is deep, complex and ongoing, and it is compounded when unacknowledged or dismissed for a sanitised version of history.

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

black and white photo of Kahlin Compound, an institution for Indigenous children considered 'half-caste' in 1921

Kahlin Compound and Half Caste Home, Darwin, NT, 1921. Image source: ABC News.

NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy

The NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025 is designed to support and assists NSW health services in delivering respectful and appropriate mental health services in partnership with Aboriginal services, people and communities. The strategy is the foundation for change that will support a future way of working under the national Agreement for Closing the Gap in Aboriginal Health outcomes.

To view the strategy click here.cover of the NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2020–2025

Climate change health impacts

Climate change impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities – and all Australians. The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has recently issued a policy statement titled, Climate change and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. The paper outlines AIDA’s position in relation to climate change in Australia and the current research around its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

AIDA has invited you to read the paper, share it with your members and colleagues and promote it among your networks.

To view AIDA’s policy statement in full click here.

back of two people in black pants & t-shirts with words 'Climate Justice Now!' holding Aboriginal flag

Image source: Seed website.

Ever-present structural and systemic racism

As years go, 2020 was memorable to say the very least. For First Nations Australians and their allies the COVID-19 pandemic was not been the only stressor. The death of American black man George Floyd on 25 May at the hands of white Minneapolis police officers, and the subsequent resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement highlighted again the ever-present structural and systemic racism across Australia, including in the health system.

Kristy Crooks, an Aboriginal woman of the Euahlayi nation, who has three degrees under her belt and a PhD in progress, works every day to improve the health of First Nations people through her role as Aboriginal Program Manager with Hunter New England Population Health. Ms Crooks said “COVID has further marginalised people who are already disadvantaged, and it’s highlighted the structural barriers, including institutional racism”.

To view the full article in the Medical Journal of Australia click here and to read the opinion piece (First Nations people leading the way in COVID-19 pandemic planning, response and management) by Ms Crooks and her colleagues which focuses on the new community-driven approach to the pandemic click here.

tree trunk superimposed with square divided into black on top, red on bottom & yellow map of Australian with words 'No Room for Racism'

Image source: 3CR Community Radio website.

Health literacy needed to combat fake health news

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the AMA’s position statement on health literacy as important recognition of the need for strong public support for people to have access to valid health information. “CHF has long argued for more focus on health literacy to ensure people understand their own health and care needs so they have the power to make the best decisions for their health,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “In the internet era when so much good and bad information floods people’s screens, there is a need for a healthy information culture to overcome fake health news.

“We agree with the AMA that doctors, and health systems, have a vital role to play in improving health literacy by communicating effectively and sensitively with patients, encouraging discussion, and providing information that is understandable and relevant.  We would support the AMA’s call for an Australian Government-funded campaign to counter this misinformation and promote healthy choices, including information about vaccine safety and the health risks associated with alcohol, junk food, tobacco, and other drugs “Health literacy is vital to consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care. Right now, up to 60% of Australians appear to lack the capacity to access, understand, appraise and use crucial information to make health-related decisions.

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

4 icons; find with microscope; understand with head & cogs; appraise thumb up & thumb down; apply - running figure with though bubble stethoscope & cross

Image source: IC-Health.

Stroke Foundation award nominations open

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Stroke Foundation Stroke Awards. The Awards celebrate survivors of stroke, carers, health professionals and volunteers who have shown an outstanding commitment to make life better for Australians impacted by stroke.

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognised? Nominate them for the 2021 Stroke Awards by Friday 12 February 2021 by clicking here.

tile of man with Stroke Foundation on his t-shirt jogging along footpath and 4 Stroke foundation awards #strokeawards

2021 Nurses and midwives national awards

HESTA is calling on Australians to show their appreciation and support for the nation’s nurses and midwives by submitting a nomination to the 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards. The Awards recognise nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their outstanding work to provide exceptional care, leading the way for improved health outcomes.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the immense impact these professionals, who have gone above and beyond to deliver quality patient care during a very difficult time, have in keeping communities healthy and safe. “Our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our community; they deserve to be recognised,” Ms Blakey said.

“Nominating in these Awards is an opportunity to show support for and give thanks to all our nurses and midwives and acknowledge their hard work and achievements.”

To view the media release regarding the awards and details of how to submit a nomination click here. Nominations close on 7 February 2021.

Aboriginal mum & newborn in hospital bed with Aboriginal health professional

Angelena Savage and baby Tyrell and Gumma Gundoo Indigenous Midwifery Group Practice midwife Kat Humphreys. Image source: The Queensland Times.

Housing and infectious diseases study

Housing and crowding are critical to health. Sufficient, well-maintained housing infrastructure can support healthy living practices for hygiene, nutrition and safety. However, when there is insufficient public housing for a growing community and a lack of functioning health hardware, the transmission risk of hygiene related infectious diseases increases. The outcome is that many Indigenous Australians currently living in remote areas experience considerably higher levels of preventable infections, such as boils, scabies, middle ear infections and lung infections, than their non-Indigenous and urban counterparts.

The Pilyii Papulu Purrukaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness): A study of housing, crowding and hygiene-related infectious diseases in the Barkly Region, Northern Territory report provides a case study of Tennant Creek and the surrounding Barkly Region in the NT, to highlight the relationship between remote housing, crowding and infectious disease. It was conducted in partnership between The University of Queensland (School of Public Health and Aboriginal Environments Research Centre) and Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation that provides health services within the town and through a mobile clinic.

To view the report in full  click here.

photo of elderly woman and small child walking through dry grasses to tin shed

Photo by Trisha Nururla Frank, 2019.

Support for Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers

Palliative Care Victoria have produced a podcast which provides an example of the support Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers can offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a life-limiting illness. Suzanne Nelson, a Yorta Yorta woman and Aboriginal Health Liaison Worker, discusses how she supports Aboriginal people who have a life-limiting condition and their families. To listen to the podcast click here.

portrait photo of Suzanne Nelson

Suzanne Nelson. Image source: LinkedIn.

High youth incarceration rates in ACT

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services have expressed their deep concern over the high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the ACT as detailed in a recently released report. Data from the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (ROGS) 2021 revealed that the rate of Indigenous youth incarceration in the ACT in 2019–20 was at its highest since 2014–15. Dr Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “The ROGS data tells us that there is significant overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in detention in the ACT.”

To read the joint ACTCOSS and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services media release in full click here.

external view of ACT Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi

ACT’s Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi. Image source: Aulich Lawyer & Law Firm blog.

Health magazine seeks contributions

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), a peak body working to improve health and wellbeing in rural and remote Australia, is seeking contributions for the next issue of its online magazine, Partyline, to be published in March 2021. The March issue will focus on the long tail of COVID-19 in rural, regional and remote settings as we learn from the past 12 months. The extraordinary disruption of the pandemic has resulted in a swag of changes in the way we live, the way we perceive our own health, in our experiences and engagement with the health system, and in the way we understand the role of public health.

For the March edition NRHA welcomes stories about trends happening in rural health during the pandemic, and both positive and negative changes because of COVID-19. They recommend an article length of 600 words with accompanying photos that visually portray your message. As always, they are also happy to publish poetry or creative prose.

To view the current Partyline issue click here. Contributions to the next issue are due by COB Thursday 11 February 2021.

CSU lecturer in physiotherapy & placement supervisor Kay Skinner with CSU physiotherapy students Emily Barr and Kloe Mannering standing outside an ACCHO with brick walls covered in Aboriginal paintings

CSU lecturer in physiotherapy & placement supervisor Kay Skinner with CSU physiotherapy students Emily Barr and Kloe Mannering. Image source: Partyline.

SEWB programs review

Multiple culturally-oriented programs, services, and frameworks have emerged in recent decades to support the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) people in Australia. Although there are some common elements, principles, and methods, few attempts have been made to integrate them into a set of guidelines for policy and practice settings.

A Charles Darwin University review, A scoping review about social and emotional wellbeing programs and services targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Australia: understanding the principles guiding promising practice aims to identify key practices adopted by programs and services that align with the principles of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023.

The review argues the selective application of nationally agreed principles in SEWB programs and services, alongside a paucity of scholarship relating to promising practices in young people-oriented SEWB programs and services, are two areas that need the urgent attention of commissioners and service providers tasked with funding, planning, and implementing SEWB programs and services for Aboriginal people. Embedding robust participatory action research and evaluation approaches into the design of such services and programs will help to build the necessary evidence-base to achieve improved SEWB health outcomes among Aboriginal people, particularly young people with severe and complex mental health needs.

To access the review click here.

artwork 'Wellbeing' by Professor Helen Milroy 2017, used on cover of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023 painting of 4 concentric circles, one with Aboriginal figures with linked arms

Image source: ‘Wellbeing’ by Professor Helen Milroy, 2017.

Recognising mental illness patterns

Kylie Henry, a 43-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Wakka Wakka tribe in Cherbourg, Queensland, where she was born and raised, has learned to live with mental illness.

“I’ve always known that I was different from others and couldn’t understand why I was going through so much turmoil in my life. To admit to having a disability was shameful for me and I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I had a mental illness, largely because of being discriminated against by my own people along with others. I didn’t want people, especially those from my own community, to tease me because of my disability. I hid it for so many years.”

To view the article in full click here.

portrait shot of Kylie Henry

Kylie Henry. Image source: ABC News website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: CtG targets alone will not close the chasm of need


AIHCTG logo painting of black hand with thumb interlinked with thumb of white hand against burnt orange cirle, surrounded by golden yellor circle, then white dots then black circle

CTG targets alone don’t drive change

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap released in late July this year, was met with mixed reactions. Featuring 16 new socioeconomic targets and the commitment to shared decision-making between government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, it reset the original 2008 targets after little year-to-year progress. The Coalition of Peaks, a representative body made up of approximately 50 Indigenous community-controlled organisations, believes progress on the targets over the last 12 years didn’t progress as far as was hoped, as governments didn’t follow through with their commitments.

Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner AM said targets alone do not drive change. “The National Agreement gives our people and the wider Australian public a birds eye view of every government’s level of commitment to actually close the giant chasm of need,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article click here.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

SNAICC expresses out-of-home care concerns

The Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is deeply concerned about the increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care being placed away from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and carers, as revealed in a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators 2018–19 report measures progress towards implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle – a principle that aims to ensure the value of culture to the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is embedded in policy and practice.

To view SNAICC’s media release click here.

sad face of young Aboriginal girl

Image source: AbSec website.

COVID-19 homelessness short-term fix

Research for the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2020 reveals at least 33,000 rough sleepers and other homeless people have been booked into hotels and other temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis. COVID-19 triggered multimillion-dollar commitments by state governments to tackle homelessness, with several states pledging funds and support to move beyond this short-term fix to ensure former rough sleepers find long-term housing. These are commendable actions in a long-neglected policy area, even if largely inspired by public health anxieties rather than concern for the welfare of people without a home. Such action should be part of comprehensive national housing strategy to design and phase-in the wide-ranging reforms of taxes and regulations needed to rebalance Australia’s housing system and tackle homelessness at its source.

To view the full article click here.

homeless camps (multiple tents) Macquarie Street Sydney

Homeless camp in the centre of Sydney. Image source: The Conversation website.

COVID-19 wellbeing survey seeks youth voice

The Menzies School of Health Research Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong team is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth between 16–25 years old to take part in to understand the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on mental health and wellbeing.

HAVE A YARN WITH THE TEAM – the team would love to hear about your experiences during the pandemic. Join them for a casual interview in-person (in Darwin) or on Zoom! Each interview participant will receive a $30 voucher! For more information about the research click here and here and to express your interest in participating click here.

UNABLE ATTEND AN INTERVIEW? – you can still take part by completing this 10 minute survey and go in the draw to win a $20 voucher!

Not you, but know someone who might be interested?

Please share this information to spread opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a voice in Australian research.

backs of Aboriginal Trei and Karlie Stewart leaning against would post rail fence looking at football field

Trei and Karlie Stewart. Image source: ABC news.

Every Doctor, Every Setting National Framework

The Every Doctor, Every Setting: A National Framework was officially launched last week, as part of a national commitment to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of Australian doctors and medical students. The framework was developed under the guidance of a national working group and in consultation with doctors, doctors in training and medical students in addition to a review of best practice evidence. It aims to guide coordinated action on the mental health of doctors and medical students through target areas including – improving training and work environments, recognising and responding to those needing support, improving the response to doctors and medical students impacted and improving the culture of the medical profession to enable wellbeing and coordinated action and accountability.

To view the DRS4DRS media release click here.Every Doctor, Every Setting banner - stethoscope sitting on keyboard

Reward for NATSIHWA membership referrals

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) is holding a membership drive for the month of October 2020. NATSIHWA are inviting all student, associate and full members of NATSIHWA to refer new members. By referring a new member, you will assist others to discover the benefits of becoming a NATSIHWA member and get rewarded with a special gift pack for every successful referral. Also, there is a chance to win a Google Home Mini, for the most number of referrals!
 
The offer is valid for the month of October 2020 and applications must be made online.

Better healthcare in hospitals for our people webinar during NAIDOC Week 2020

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association will be holding a free webinar Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in acknowledgement of NAIDOC Week 2020 at 10.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020.

AHHA would like to invite you and any other interested parties to register here, where you will also find more information on the webinar and presenters.

health professional leaning on rail of hospital bed talking to Aboriginal woman patient

Image source: the footprints network webpage.

Racism embedded in healthcare system

Why do vast gaps exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians when it comes to health outcomes? What would you say if someone told you that racism is embedded in Australia’s healthcare system, and that the system itself was perpetuating inequities? Professor Roianne West is taking on the immense task of unravelling racism in Australia’s complex health system through innovative training and education, and inspiring a generation of healthcare workers to understand the impact of racism on the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To read the full Hospital and Healthcare article click here.

portrait photo of Professor Roianne West

Professor Roianne West, Griffith University. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Training to support Stolen Generations survivors

The Marumali Journey of Healing Model developed by Aunty Lorraine (Darcy) Peeters, a survivor of the removal policies herself. is unique, original and unparalleled. Since 2000 the Marumali Program, that is based on the nationally recognised best practice, good practice healing model, has been delivered to groups and individuals, with an aim of increasing the quality of support available to Stolen Generations, their families and their communities. Groups  include service providers in the Aboriginal community controlled sector and Government sector and survivors within community and the prison system.

Wingali Marumali Pty Ltd is running two courses in December:

Marumali Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Providers (4 days) – 1–4 December 2020, Brisbane.

Marumali Program Trauma-Informed Care For Stolen Generations Workshop for Non-Aboriginal Service Providers (2 days) – 7–8 December 2020, Brisbane.

For more information on the courses and to register click here.

close up photo of faces of Aunty Lorraine Peeters & her daughter Shaanf

Aunty Lorraine Peeters and her daughter Shaan. Image source: ABC All In The Mind webpage.

Mental health support network for our mob

Black Dog Institute is one step closer to developing a network to support mob struggling with mental ill-health. Led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, the network is being developed through extensive consultation with communities across the nation.

Head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, Quandamooka woman, Leilani Darwin. said “We have had an opportunity to host some national online yarning circles with mob who have lived experience and I feel so privileged to hear their stories and their journeys. Even though we know how much our communities are impacted by suicide and mental ill-health, when you have families there that are losing 20 people in a year in the family group … the fact they can [attend and] talk about it is powerful.” 

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

Aboriginal man talking on his mobile phone

Image source: ABC News website.

Health worker support essential

The national peak body Mental Health Australia, has released results of a survey on the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals across the country. The research looks at how the pandemic has affected healthcare professionals on a personal level, and what strategies they have used to maintain mental health and wellbeing over the past six months. Over 70% of healthcare professionals stated that COVID-19 restrictions have impacted their mental health and wellbeing in a negative way. 4 out of 5 say that working in healthcare during the pandemic has increased the amount of stress and pressure they experience in the workplace.

To view the Mental Health Australia’s media release click here.

3 Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers in office, one have blood pressure taken

Moorundi ACCHS Aboriginal Health Workers Alfie Gollan, Njirrah Rowe, Dorothy Kartinyeri. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Social determinants of health link to kidney disease

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has produced an updated Review of kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Kidney disease is a serious health concern for people living in Australia with one in three adult Australians at an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Australians diagnosed with CKD regularly suffer poor health outcomes and a compromised quality of life. CKD  can be associated with other chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience an increased burden of kidney disease, particularly those living in remote communities. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, “The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive synthesis of key information on kidney health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia and provide evidence to assist in the development and delivery of policies, strategies and programs”.

To view the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release in full click here.

Aboriginal person's arm & hand with tubes for dialysis

Image source: RACGP website.

Australia-wide – Hearing Australia

Hearing Australia is looking to fill the two Hearing Assessment Program (HAP) positions listed below. The HAP is a major initiative to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-6 years living in regional and remote communities.

FT Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP (fixed term)

The Aboriginal Manager Capability Strategy HAP position is a national role responsible for the detailed design and implementation of the capability strategy with a key focus of building capability in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  The capability strategy contains 3 key areas- ensuring services have the resources (human and physical) to do ear and hearing health checks on 0–3 year olds; that services have staff who are competent to undertake these checks and that services have a system in place to provide checks at regular intervals during a child’s first 3 years of life. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

FT Manager Clinical Operations HAP (fixed term)

The Manager Clinical Operations HAP position is a national role responsible for ensuring that HAP-EE has sufficient clinical staff to meet its national service targets. The Manager will work closely with other HAP-EE managers to ensure that clinical staff and clinical equipment are deployed effectively across all HAP-EE sites, hearing centres and tele-health services to complete assessments and to build capability in participating services. To view the job description click and to apply click here.

Applications for both positions close on Friday 30 October 2020.

Adelaide – CRANAplus

FT or PT Senior Psychologist: Mental Health & Wellbeing Service (permanent)

CRANAplus is the Peak Professional Body for Health Professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. We exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. Responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological interventions and supports to Health Professionals and their families, across Australia. We are seeking an experienced Practitioner who has a passion to: – Provide counselling care and interventions through CRANAplus’ Bush Support Line – Grow clinical resources, materials, and workshops available to remote and rural Health Professionals to support their wellbeing and professional knowledge growth. – Contribute to new innovations, designs, and position CRANAplus as a specialist service.

To view the position description click here.

Applications close 3.00 pm 9 November 2020.CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Youth must be central to service design and delivery

group of Aboriginal youth in Kalgoorlie-Boulder - Guthoo Youth Summit

Youth must be central to service design and delivery

Mission Australia CEO James Toomey says that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people must be central to the co-design and co-implementation of the services that they need and it is vital and logical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have greater influence over the policies, programs and services that affect them.”

This call has been backed by Professor Tom Calma AO, who said the policy and service response for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was more critical now than ever, “Policy leaders must be serious about reconciliation and enhancing the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and come together with them and prioritise tackling these issues with practical solutions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people should be actively involved in services design and delivery. After all, they hold the knowledge and wisdom about what it means to be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander young person today.” Calma believes a co-design approach has been gaining momentum recently.

To view the full article click here.

group of Aboriginal youth in Kalgoorlie-Boulder - Guthoo Youth Summit

Guthoo Youth Summit, Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Image source; National Indigenous Australian Agency.

National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System website launch

Lifeline Australia Chief Executive Officer, Colin Seery, welcomed the launch of a National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring System website by the Australian Mental Health Commission and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIWH) as a significant step toward. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released the public website which is funded by the Department of Health. Mr Seery said: “This suicide and self-harm monitoring system will greatly improve the way suicide prevention services can respond to suicide risk. It will provide us with greater insight into where both the immediate and heightened risk is occurring, enabling us to put in place preventative measures that will mitigate the risk of harm as soon as it is identified.”

To view the Lifeline Australia media statement click here.

close up image of Aboriginal woman's hand pressed to her face

Image source: The Wire website.

Diabetes and hypertension webinar

Kidney Health Education is hosting a health professional webinar called Diabetes and Hypertension – Case Study Discussions presented by Dr Angus Ritchie, Nephrologist at 7.00 pm AEST on Wednesday 14 October 2020.

To register for the webinar click here.

Aboriginal person doing diabetes test pricking finger

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

 

Young Stroke Project

The Stroke Foundation has been funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency to deliver information for younger stroke survivors aged 18 to 65 years old, their partners, families, friends and employers. The project has a focus on diverse communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the LGBTQI+ community. We have a proud Wiradjuri woman Charlotte on our lived experience working group and have commenced engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have registered interest in our project.

You can read more about the Young Stroke Project here.

stroke survivor Wiradjuir woman Charlotte Porter

Stroke Foundation’s Lived Experience Working Group member and stroke survivor Charlotte Porter. Image source: The Condobolin Argus.

New app to help curb ice use

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who use the drug “ice” are being urged to trial a new web-app as part of a public health project designed to stop methamphetamine consumption. The We Can Do This app was developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and SA medical researchers, with input from Aboriginal people who have previously used ice. UQ School of Public Health project leader Professor Jame Ward said the app included interactive modules on social, health and psychological elements linked to drug addiction.

For more information on the We Can Do This app click here and read the full article about the development of the new app click here.

Aboriginal hand holding packet of ice

Image source: UQ News website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth face unique issues

Mission Australia’s Youth Survey in 2019 has found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teenagers are three times as likely to have experienced homelessness and are more concerned about domestic violence and suicide than non-Indigenous youth. Indigenous teens were also twice as likely to be concerned about drugs, alcohol and discrimination. Professor Tom Calma, University of Canberra chancellor and co-chair of the Voice to Government Senior Advisory Group, said the report showed more needed to be done to properly support young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in need and a target policy and service response is overdue.

To view the 7 News article click here.

two Aboriginal teenage girls with white dot paint across their faces

Image source: BBC website.

NACCHO Aboriginal News: A free COVID-19 vaccine will be available throughout 2021, if promising trials prove successful

Prime Minister’s announcement on COVID-19 vaccines

Last week the Prime Minister announced Australia has secured onshore manufacturing agreements for two COVID-19 vaccines. This could mean a free vaccine for all Australians as early as January 2021 if proven safe and effective for use.

Advising the Australian Government on potential vaccines is the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and the COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatments for Australia – Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group.

Remember to keep up to date with changing state, territory and border restrictions.

There are now 147 GP led respiratory clinics in operation across Australia, providing assessment of people with fever and respiratory symptoms and COVID-19 testing. You can find testing locations on the Health Direct website.

Cancer patients to be ‘wrapped in culture’ as they undergo treatment

Yorta Yorta woman Leah Lindrea-Morrison knows all too well the experience of undergoing cancer treatment, both as a patient and as someone watching a loved one go through it.

As a survivor of breast cancer, Ms Lindrea-Morrison counts herself lucky, and she has started a project to revive a local Aboriginal tradition to bring comfort to other patients.

  • The project will create a possum skin cloak to be used by Indigenous cancer patients
  • It will be made during a workshop bringing together local people touched by cancer
  • A film will also be made to show the value of adding a cultural healing element to the medical process.

Read the full story here.

Image source: ABC

Victoria continues to move towards a Treaty with First Nations people

The Victorian Government is helping Traditional Owners build stronger nations and to ensure every voice is heard on the path to Treaty. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams today announced more than $4.3 million will be made available as part of the Traditional Owner Nation-Building Support Package to make communities stronger.

Funding will be used to support specific outcomes, such as improving governance arrangements, boosting youth engagement or building projects that will deliver economic and cultural benefits. Under the principles of the Nation-Building fund, it’s important Traditional Owners are engaged with their communities and are self-determining with strong identities, governance and knowledge, as well as economically sustainable and independent.

For further information click here.

Image source: Shutterstock

Government announces $13 million in funding for community nursing

Nurses are set to be recognised for their immense contributions in keeping Australians safe as a part of Nursing in the Community Week.

Starting on Monday, the week is about recognising the important role nurses have played during the pandemic and ensuring the most vulnerable are kept safe and healthy.

The federal government is planning to highlight the important role nurses have played for remote and regional communities, particularly in Indigenous and Defence Force health services.

Read the full story here.

Recent updates to Australian Immunisation Register

Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national priority. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides additional vaccines to help improve the health of Indigenous people, and close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous people in health and life expectancy.

Until recently, the AIR used information from Medicare to record whether a person identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Read the full article here.

Aboriginal child receiving an injection.vaccination

Image source: Deadly Vibe website.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service August Newsletter

Winnunga AHCS August Newsletter is out! To read the newsletter click here.

New COVID-19 mental health clinics in Victoria

Minster for Health, Greg Hunt, says from Monday 14 September 2020, Victorians will have access to additional mental health support with 15 new dedicated mental health clinics opening to the public.

“The clinics, announced on 17 August as part of a $31.9 million federal government mental health package to support Victorians during the COVID-19 pandemic, have been rapidly rolled out across the state at a cost of $26.9 million.

Image Source: Department of Health

“There will be nine HeadtoHelp clinics located in Greater Melbourne and six in regional Victoria. The locations are: Greater Melbourne: Berwick, Frankston, Officer, Hawthorn, Yarra Junction, West Heidelberg, Broadmeadows, Wyndham Vale, Brunswick East and Regional Victoria: Warragul, Sale, Bendigo, Wodonga, Sebastopol and Norlane.”

To read the full press release click here.

Image source: Department of Health

Adverse Childhood Experience Coordinator – Yerin, NSW Central Coast

Yerin is seeking an experienced Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Case Coordinator to work with children, young people and their families on the NSW Central Coast, Darkinjung country wo are experiencing multiple vulnerabilities and whose children are at risk or have experienced an adverse childhood trauma. Through screening children and families, you will provide appropriate intervention care by arranging the required services to address the Adverse Childhood Trauma.

Read the full position description here.

To apply and know about other job vacancies at Yerin click here.

2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference

Indigenous Eye Health has announced the dates for the 2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (previously the ‘Close the Gap for Vision by 2020 National Conference’). The conference will take place virtually from 20 April – 22 April 2021.

The full conference announcement can be read on the IEH website, here.

NACCHO Aboriginal News: Input Required to Renew Indigenous Suicide Prevention Strategy

 

Input required to renew Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy

Marking World Suicide Prevention Day, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) announced the renewal of the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (NATSISPS) and called for stakeholders to make sure their voices are heard during the process.

GDPSA CEO Mr Tom Brideson explained, “The NATSISPS was released in May 2013. It was developed by Indigenous experts and leaders in mental health and suicide prevention and remains a sound evidence-based strategic response to Indigenous suicide. However, it also responded to a set of circumstances that have changed since 2013 and that require it to be renewed.

“GDPSA would like to hear from you to inform the NATSISPS renewal process. To that end, between now and the end of 2020, we will be hosting a number of targeted subject matter roundtables and Zoom consultations with particular groups, but there is also the opportunity to participate through our website and to make submissions against a Discussion Paper we have developed.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon, GDPSA director and National Director of the Centre of Best Practice in Indigenous Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) continued, Australian governments announced the renewal of the NATSISPS, alongside the development of a new mainstream national suicide prevention plan, in the 2017 Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. GDPDSA has been asked by the Australian Government to renew the NATSISPS and will work closely with CBPATSISP and the Prime Minister’s National Suicide Prevention Taskforce to that end. We also want to hear from a range of stakeholders and – on behalf of both GDPSA and CBPATSISP – I strongly encourage you to participate – including Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders.”

GDPSA Chair Professor Helen Milroy said, “Preliminary advice we have provided to the Taskforce are that there are two priority areas for consideration in NATSISPS renewal. The first is establishing Indigenous governance of Indigenous suicide prevention including at the national, regional and community levels. The second is establishing what is important to include in integrated approaches to Indigenous suicide prevention in our communities. In particular, with reference to ATSISPEP’s Solutions That Work report, and the to-be-released learnings from the Indigenous-specific suicide prevention trial sites. This includes consideration of clinical and cultural support elements of mental health and suicide prevention service provision.

To find out more or to make a submission please visit: https://www.gayaadhuwi.org.au/sp-strategy-renewal/

NACCHO highlights ACCHO work on World Suicide Prevention Day

National Indigenous Times (NIT) feature:

Currently, suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Indigenous people in Australia, with rates twice as high as that for non-Indigenous Australians. ACCHOs are delivering place-based, community-led strategies and solutions to decrease suicide rates.

“For NACCHO and our communities, reducing suicide rates and improving the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has always been a priority,” said NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills.

“We know our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations are best placed to deliver these essential services because they understand the issues our people go through.”

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) in WA are working tirelessly to ensure suicide prevention is a top priority in their region.

“Every loss of life due to suicide is tragic because it is preventable. What we are trying to do in the Kimberley is trying to better understand the reasons why the rates are so much higher, they are twice that of other Aboriginal people in Australia and three times the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians,” said Rob McPhee, KAMS Chief Operating Officer.

“It is really about getting to the root cause of that over representation and being able to work with communities to be able to address the issues associated with them.”

KAMS has been heavily involved with the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Trial which is currently in its fifth and final year.

To read the full article click here.

Empowered Young Leaders Forum 2019’ in Broome WA

Health and safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Three recent reports and a new book share some critical messages for addressing systemic failures that are harming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, reports Associate Professor Megan Williams, a Wiradjuri scholar from the University of Sydney.

Her article is published on what would have been the 58th birthday of Tanya Day, whose death in custody in December 2017 is the subject of one of these reports. Across social media today, supporters shared photographs of themselves wearing pink to pay their respects, using the hashtag #PinkforTanya, in response to a request by her family.

Commission recommendations, Inquest findings and Ombudsman reports about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health and wellbeing are frequently quoted in attempts to improve systems and prevent further harms and deaths occurring. Their pages often include recommendations for mainstream, non-Indigenous workforce development, ranging from disciplinary actions to supervision and training.

To read the full story published in Croakey click here.

 

Stronger Together, There’s More to Say After #RUOK? 

Steven Satour, Stronger Together Campaign Manager, R U OK? says looking out for your mob is more important than ever in 2020, as it has been a challenging year for everyone and circumstances have made it even more important for us to stay connected.

“We know as a community we are Stronger Together. We know knowledge is culture and emotional wellness can be learned from our family members, so sharing resources, educating each other and providing guidance on what to say if someone answers they are not okay amongst our families is vital,” says Mr Satour.

Learn what to say next at www.ruok.org.au

Johnathan Thurston opens doors for Logan youth with ‘deadly’ new program

A new Deadly Choices jersey will be launched at Marsden State High School on September 11 by JT Academy Managing Director Johnathan Thurston – a key part of the JTConnect program that encourages the youth of Logan to believe in yourself and have the courage and confidence and pursue employment.

The JTConnect program is an initiative of the Johnathan Thurston Academy, sponsored by the Deadly Choices’ Indigenous health campaign, and is designed to empower young people to believe in themselves and be the difference. Students who complete the JTConnect program and are up to date with their 715 Health Check through their participating community controlled health service will receive a JTConnect Deadly Choices jersey.

“I’m excited about the new Deadly Choices jersey collaboration with the JT Academy and JTConnect – the program has already visited a number of high schools around Cairns and Logan,” Thurston said.  “We truly believe that by instilling a strong sense of self belief, confidence and courage will empower young people to pursue a career or a job for a better life.

“In everything we do, we aim to inspire our youth to feel proud and strong with their identity and who they are as individuals and this program will go a long way towards this goal.”

IAHA call for the long-term retention of temporary MBS telehealth items

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), the peak organisation for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce, calls on the government to extend access to Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) telehealth items for allied health professionals.

Introduced in March 2020 in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the ability of people to access in person care, 36 new telehealth allied health items were included on the MBS, replicating existing MBS allied health items traditionally provided face-to-face. Scheduled to expire at the end of September 2020, IAHA joins calls from other stakeholders for the longerterm retention of these telehealth items on the MBS.

Read the full IAHA press release here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News – Being Medicinewise during COVID-19

Being medicinewise during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is especially important to be medicinewise.

NPS MedicineWise is regularly updating its Coronavirus hub with important information. We encourage you to share and use these resources with your patients and communities.

Visit the Being medicinewisehub.

More mental health support for NSW Regional students

A fly-in fly-out psychology and telepsychology service of sixteen permanent senior psychologists will be introduced to support students in regional and remote parts of NSW with mental health.

This is part of the NSW Government’s $88.4 million mental health spend that also includes a commitment to provide every public high school with one full-time counsellor or psychologist and one student support officer. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government had run a successful trial of fly-in fly-out psychologists and the service will be permanent from 2021. “Students across NSW have shown incredible courage and resilience having been impacted by COVID-19, bushfires and drought,” Ms Berejiklian said.

To read the full media release click here.

Methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has released the Summary of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The summary provides key information about methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a style that is easy to engage with. It is particularly useful for health workers and those studying in the alcohol and other drugs field.

To read the summary click here.

 

August Newsletter | AOD Knowledge Centre

The August edition of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre newsletter has a round-up of content recently added to the Knowledge Centre website. There is information on events, programs, news and jobs from around Australia. .

To view the newsletter click here.

APO NT welcomes ACT’s decision to raise criminal responsibility age from 10 to 14 years


Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO NT) has welcomed the Australian Capital Territory’s recent decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years. This decision is consistent with the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory in 2017 and acknowledges concerns raised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that the minimum age for criminal responsibility in Australia is too young. Australia has failed to uphold this standard across all states and territories, including the Northern Territory. “We are concerned about the discriminatory application of the current age of criminal responsibility and the disproportionate impact that this has on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, their families and our broader community,” said APO NT spokesperson John Paterson.

Read the full press release here.

GP COVID-19 update Professor Michael Kidd AM

  • The Australian Government will increase aged care support programs across Australia with an additional $171.5 million to boost a new COVID-19 response plan.
  • Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca.
  • Enhancing the coronavirus response in disability residential care through a strengthened Disability Response Centre to coordinate and manage outbreaks and keep residents safe.
  • The National Mental Health Commission launched their #GettingThroughThisTogether campaign that provides practical tips to stay connected and mentally well during this challenging time.

Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing

A discussion paper from the UWA Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing grant titled – “Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing through Transformative and Decolonising Research and Practice.” from Prof Pat Dudgeon and colleagues.

To read the paper click here.

Prof Pat Dudgeon CBPATSISP

Prof Pat Dudgeon CBPATSISP

 

ACT/NSW

Marymead Executive Manager – Client Services

This is a newly created position that has been developed in response to the considerable growth and development of Marymead’s services, and the need to further drive diversity of funding streams and geographic expansion into the future. The newly developed role will report to the Director of Client Services and will be responsible for the overall leadership and management of 3 service delivery units within the division.

Read job description click here.

Marymead Community and Business Development Officer South Coast

This newly developed role will report to the Executive Manager, Client Services and will be responsible for driving the South Coast development project. The project will involve consulting with the community to identify areas of need, developing partnerships and relationships with local service providers and funders, being an ambassador for Marymead within the community, and initiating and driving service development to meet identified needs.

Read job description click here.

Feature Image tile - Aboriginal Health News Coalition of Peaks Close the Gap Interview Save the Date NITV The Point

NACCHO Aboriginal News: Coalition of Peaks Housing Interview on NITV

Tune in this Sunday 16 August at 7pm for the FINAL exclusive installment of interviews with Coalition of Peaks members working to Close the Gap. This week Jamie Lowe, National Native Title Council and Josie Douglas, Central Land Council, join John Paul Janke from NITV’s The Point to discuss housing, a really important issue that impacts all areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.

Australian Medical Students’ Association declare climate health emergency

The Australian Medical Students’ Association has joined Australia’s peak medical groups, representing around 90,000 or 75% of the nation’s doctors, in calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to commit to a climate-focused health recovery from COVID-19. A joint letter has been coordinated by Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment.

For further information about DEA and to view the joint letter to PM Scott Morrison click here.

Australian peak medical bodies, 10 in total

CHF calls for mandatory supply of health worker face masks

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) has warned an inadequate supply of face masks in some hospitals and widespread confusion about when and what masks are needed represents a serious public health hazard that endangers many Australians.

CHF CEO, Leanne Wells said “The ongoing problems with the supply of masks generally, and particularly of hospital-grade masks, highlight the need for mandatory measures to ensure all health settings are adequately supplied.”

To view CHF’s 11 August 2020 Media Release click here.

Two health workers with PPE

Image source: AAP: David Mariuz – ABC News.

Boots for All charity sports store

Located in Melbourne, Boots for All is the only charity sports store in Australia. BFA was created in 2006 to provide high-quality recycled and new sports equipment at low prices to enable as many Australians as possible — no matter where they live or their economic circumstances — to participate in sport and physical activity.

Relying on donations from individuals, sporting clubs and sports apparel companies, Boots for All provides a valuable service for families in the local community, as well as distributing sports equipment across Australia, including many Indigenous communities and organisations.

Funds generated by Boots for All are used to provide training and employment opportunities for young people in the Melbourne area.

Boots for All has a broad range of new and high-quality used sports equipment: the main items are football boots (and footballs), running shoes, basketball gear, tennis and cricket gear, and team uniforms. All at bargain prices!

The Boots for All sports store has been closed for the past several months due to COVID-19, but purchases can be made online or by calling the CEO (and founder) Joanne Rockwell on (0408) 102 918.

Boots for All is currently running an online promotion on the sale of football boots — good quality footy boots are available for as little as $10.

For more information or to purchase apparel please visit here.

Aboriginal kids legs with boots, Boots for All logo

Image source: Boots for All website.

Lack of Australia-wide preventative program investment

A successful remote cattle station youth-at-risk program, that has been operating for the past 30 years without any public funding, has received $4.5 million from the NT government to run intensive youth camps for the next five years.

Meagan Krakouer, Director at the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, said the funding is a “step in the right direction” however “small steps, even if in the right direction, are not enough”- there is a lack of Australia-wide investment in preventative programs and funding to date has been insufficient to make a real difference in people’s lives.

To read the full National Indigenous Times article click here.

Photo of Seven Emu Stattion owner Frank Shadforth standing in front of bush vehicle in outback

Seven Emu Station owner Frank Shadforth works with at risk kids to develop life skills and cultural connection. Photo supplied by Office of the NT Chief Minister.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Additional $33 Million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care

Additional $33 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health

The Hon. Ken Wyatt MP
Minister for Indigenous Australians

The Hon. Warren Entsch MP
Federal Member for Leichhardt

The Morrison Government will provide an additional $33 million to strengthen primary health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The funding, to be provided over three years, will help to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access culturally appropriate primary health care, when and where they need it.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) and other eligible providers will be able to apply for grants, to improve health outcomes in the communities who need it most.

As well as delivering better, more effective health care, the grants will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to better manage their own health.

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the Morrison Government is providing this funding to ensure a further step towards closing the gap on health, especially by reducing preventable disease and hospitalisation.

Key stakeholders, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Australian Medical Association, were closely involved in developing the revised funding model.

To read the full media release click here.

Significant drop in incarceration rates possible

Incarceration rates can be reduced significantly and quickly if backed by government, and this can be achieved without compromising community health.

Higher targets to reduce the over-representation of First Nations People in Australia’s criminal justice system could be achieved more quickly and safely based on new data, the New South Wales Bar Association said today.

To read the media release click here.

Johnathan Thurston launches Cairns youth program

The JTConnect program, sponsored by the Deadly Choices Indigenous health campain, is being launched by the Johnathan Thurston Academy today. The program is aimed at improving young people’s confidence, courage and self-belief and inspiring Australia’s next generation to pursue the employment and career options which spark their interest. The program will be offered free to schools and open to students aged 15 years and over.

To read more about the JTConnect program click here.

Photo of Johnathan Thurston & JTConnect resource materials.

Image source: Johnathan Thurston Academy website.

 

NSW – Newcastle

FT Project Manager x 1

The University of Newcastle has a vacancy for a Project Manager to guide the development of a campaign to increase smoking cessation rates among expectant Indigenous mothers.

For further information about this position click here.

Photo Pregnant Aboriginal Woman smoking, University of Newcastle Logo & University of Newcastle exterior

Image sources: Medical Xpress, Lyons Architecture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understand the purpose of the health check is to:

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

Know that a high-quality health check is:

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

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

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

Potential pitfalls of health checks:

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