NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: RHD impacts on young First Nations people

Image in feature tile from Bupa Take Heart of RHD webpage.

RHD impacts on young First Nations people

Mrs Vicki Wade, a Director at RHDAustralia and Senior Cultural Advisor at Menzies School of Health Research, is a senior Noongar woman with over 40 years’ experience in health at state and national levels. In 2021, she received a Heart Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award for her project investigating the impacts of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in young Aboriginal and and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Vicki is undertaking research to explore the social and emotional needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (aged 15 to 25 years) with RHD. The Heart Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award will support her PhD, and build the capacity of an Aboriginal community researcher. The award will also build the capacity of Aboriginal individuals and communities to advocate for their own needs – beyond their medical needs – which must be addressed to improve health outcomes.

To view the article Q&A with Mrs Vicki Wade – Beyond the Scars: The social and emotional wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with RHD on the Australian Heart Foundation website click here. You can also view Vick Wade talking in the video below about the an RHDAustralia program, Champions4change, which involves over 60 champions across Australia who are passionate about making a difference in their communities. These champions are ideally placed to support the emotional and social needs of their communities, as they have the lived experience of rheumatic heart disease.

Myriad issues compound poor youth health

WA’s north feels the pinch due to food insecurity more than most, according to a host of Boab Health Services professionals. Dieticians Mandy Cripps, Tara Rawson and Isabelle Walker, and paediatric dieticians Aimee Sullivan and Sally Conte said a large proportion of children and youth seen by Boab present with issues such as growth faltering, iron deficiency and obesity, often stemming from varying levels of food insecurity.

The group said many factors drive food insecurity at an individual and systemic level, including weather, remoteness, environment, power supply, poverty, unemployment, high staff turnover and a lack of locally produced food, all of which drive up the price of food. “The Kimberley Region has people who are amongst the most disadvantaged in Australia paying the most for their food,” they said. Boab also identified the lack of personal transport to purchase food, overcrowded housing, a lack of adequate cooking facilities, trans-generational trauma and significant rates of poor mental health.

The Boab dieticians said it was important any solutions to the crisis were co-designed and community driven. “There is an obvious need for crisis food provision – giving food to those in need short term – as well as a longer-term strategic approach,” they said. “Not having enough good food to eat impacts on learning and life outcomes, and we are keen to see what can be done to help children in this situation.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Myriad issues compounding poor health among WA’s youth revealed as govt launches inquiry in full click here.

Empty shelves in the Kimberley, WA. Photo: ABC. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Water woes for remote NT communities

Yuelamu is a small indigenous community of 200–300 people, with the population varying depending on which family came to visit. Located 280 kms NW of Alice Springs, the community is in one of the most remote areas of the country, nestled among rocky hills at the end of a long stretch of red dirt road. The large community dam and lush greenery surrounding the township are deceiving. The reality is that this is one of the most water-stressed communities in the country.

The most recent measurements from NT’s Power and Water Corporation suggest that the small aquifer that has been the community’s main source of water since 2016 has just 18 months of supply left. It’s an improvement from measures last month, when the utility announced that groundwater supplies had reached an all-time high and crews were immediately trucked to the community for water.

As the latest sampling put an end to the need to truck in water, crews began work on the facilities to truck water in from a temporary borehole on the highway. Tanami, 20 kms away, which should open by the end of May. It’s a band-aid solution with a hefty price tag, but one that could be the lifeline of Yuelamu.

You can read the Duchetridao article Indigenous Yuelamu community faces water crisis as aquifer dries up in full here and watch a short video about the water availability issues in Yuelamu here.

Signs around Yuelamu explain to locals how to save water. Photo: Saskia Mabin, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: Dicjetrodap.

Brain injury support for mob

An Edith Cowan University (ECU) research project has established in-community stroke and brain injury support groups run by, and catering to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Project lead Professor Beth Armstrong said the initiative was created after previous research identified a gap in the continuity of care of Aboriginal Australians following a stroke or traumatic brain injury caused by an incident such as a car accident, fall, or assault.

“The essential component involves providing a culturally safe space that Aboriginal Australians will be comfortable with and will want to come back to,” Professor Armstrong said. They aim to help improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians, who are often underrepresented in rehabilitation services.

You can access the SBS NITV radio interview Bridging the gap for Aboriginal Australians with traumatic brain injury SBS NITV Radio here.

Photo: Edith Cowan University. Image source: SBS NITV Radio.

Regional Australians avoid bowel cancer diagnosis

Listen to your body and don’t ignore what it’s telling you — that’s the advice of Geraldton man John McLellan who has battled bowel cancer and knows all too well how important it is to react quickly to unusual body changes. He recommended regional men and women listen to their bodies. “If you think you’re not well, don’t ignore it and seek advice,” he said. The Cancer Council is urging adults in the Mid West to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of bowel cancer, and to visit a doctor if they begin experiencing symptoms.

“In the Mid West region in 2019, 50 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 17 people died from it,” Cancer Council Mid West regional educational officer Aiden McDowell said. Cancer Council WA’s recent data shows 25 people a week are diagnosed with bowel cancer in WA alone, with regional Australians less likely to be alive five years after diagnosis compared with Australians living in metropolitan areas. Mr McDowell said in 2019, bowel cancer — or colorectal cancer — was the third most common cancer in men and women in WA.

“If you’re unsure about a possible symptom you should make an appointment to discuss the change with your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible,” he said. Common symptoms of bowel cancer include blood in faeces, a new pain, lump or swelling in the stomach, fatigue, paleness, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite and unusual bowel movements.

To view The West Australian article Cancer Council statistics show Mid West bowel cancer figures are high and regional Australians avoid diagnosis in full click here. You can also view a WA Cancer Council bowel cancer screening campaign Youtube video featuring Mary G below.

FASD clinician guideline questionnaire

The University of Queensland in collaboration with 12 organisations around Australia are currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the Australian Guide for Assessment and Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). As part of the process of revising the guideline, they would like to gather experiences, input, and feedback from Australian clinicians and are inviting you to complete the Australian clinicians’ determinants questionnaire to better understand clinicians’ awareness and current utilisation of the guideline.

Participation of this questionnaire is completely voluntary and should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. If you are interested in participating this research, you can access the questionnaire here and if you have any questions regarding the study, please contact Dr. Natasha Reid via email here.

You can view a recent article Key Stakeholder Priorities for the Review and Update of the Australian Guide to Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Descriptive Study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health which summarises initial input gathered from the project’s Advisory Group members here.

Image source: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

New treatment keeps bush kids close to home

Medical researchers have started a project designed to treat sick outback kids near where they live – keeping them close to home and family, and saving millions of dollars in aeromedical transport costs. Ms Sally West, a Clinical Nurse, researcher and PhD student at James Cook University’s Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health, is part of a study that includes researchers from Griffith University, James Cook University, Wesley Hospital and Metro South Hospital and Health Services. She said the team will focus on the treatment of children suffering Acute Respiratory Failure (ARF) in rural and remote areas.

“Acute respiratory distress in children is the most common reason for emergency department (ED) presentations in Australia and is the reason for more than half of all hospital admissions of children under one year of age. It’s also the most common reason for paediatric aeromedical transfers in remote Australia. We saw an opportunity to collaborate with lead world respiratory paediatric researcher Dr Andreas Schibler, this was the obvious step forward given his landmark work in nasal high flow therapy” said Ms West.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Donna Franklin from Griffith University  said many rural and remote hospitals see delays in transfers due to the distances involved, availability of aircraft or weather, often resulting in an extended stay in the local ED for the children and increased pressure on local resources. “What we are setting out to do is introduce nasal high-flow (NHF) therapy to rural and remote hospitals,’’ she said. “This is a relatively new and effective approach to help children with ARF. The uptake of NHF in urban and tertiary hospitals has been rapid over the past few years, but rural/remote health care settings are lagging behind.”

To view the James Cook University article New Treatment keeps bush kids close to home in full click here.

Proud Arrernte and Garrwa actor Dujuan Hoosan. Photo: Maya Newel. Image source: Outdoors Queensland.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: History is Calling Campaign

History is Calling Campaign

A new education campaign pushing for a First Nations voice to parliament is being rolled out by the creators of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The History is Calling campaign will urge Australians to answer the Uluru Dialogue’s 2017 invitation to legally enshrine First Nations people in the constitution via a referendum as an urgent election issue. Uluru Statement leader Roy Ah-See said First Nations people had been “at the whim” of consecutive governments that had failed to protect their rights and it was “long overdue” for their voice to be constitutionally enshrined. “The data’s there, in terms of overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, health statistics, infant mortality rates; it’s appalling, we’ve gone backward,” he said.

“In 1967, I was six months old when … non-Aboriginal citizens of this country gave my mother citizenship. Now it’s time to give my kids a voice in this country and future generations and we can do that through a referendum. “We don’t want a green voice, we don’t want a red voice, we don’t want a blue voice: we want a black voice.” Ah-See said the Uluru Statement was “never for the politicians”, but was a gift to the Australian people, who were best placed to vote on constitutional recognition. “Consecutive governments haven’t had our best interests at heart and legislation isn’t going to cut it,” he said. “The momentum’s there, the mood has shifted. We’ve lost a lot of First Nations people that haven’t seen a voice realised. It’s time.”

To view the article Australians urged to back Indigenous voice to parliament in History is Calling campaign published today in The Guardian click here.

some of the women artists who created the artwork surrounding the Uluru Statement from the Heart sitting around the painting on ground near Uluru

Some of the artists who created the artwork surrounding the Uluru Statement from the Heart in-situ. Photo: Clive Scollay. Image source: Barani Sydney’s Aboriginal History website.

ACCHO staff present at Sax Forum workshop

The Sax Forum is an initiative through which the Sax Institute is helping to share knowledge across its membership and understand what we can do better together. Earlier this month nearly 200 people from the Institute’s member organisations, Aboriginal-controlled health services and NSW Health met online to discuss how best to work collaboratively with Aboriginal communities while conducting important health research.

Attendees heard insightful presentations from speakers who have been intimately involved in working with Aboriginal communities to produce impactful Aboriginal-led research., including Jamie Newman, a Wiradjuri man and CEO of the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) who stressed how important research is in his sector. “We are very open to research and we understand why it is so critical for us,” he said. In order to secure funding, “we need to provide evidence that we have researched what we’re doing and properly evaluated what we’re doing. Evidence-based needs are what governments want to fund.” He said researchers should go out and meet people in the AMSs and start building partnerships and relationships, not just contacting them when they want a partner for a grant application. “We are more than happy to talk to universities, individual researchers. We’re open to everyone who can add something to our service, and if you can do that, the door will be open.”

Another speaker, Christine Corby OAM, CEO from Walgett AMS, spoke about the importance of conducting research that is respectful, builds relationships and contributes to local capacity. Any research program must reflect the needs and interests of the community, she said. Sandra Bailey, Senior Adviser in Aboriginal Health at the Sax Institute, joined the panel discussion after the presentations and provided some background to the partnership work that led to the creation of the Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health.

You can watch a video of the workshop in full below and access the relevant Sax Institute webpage here.

Mob 2.5 times more likely to visit ED

Westmead, Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals are the subject of a new $2.8 million research project that aims to improve the safety and quality of care in emergency departments. Macquarie University will lead this project addressing the needs of people with complex health conditions, who often spend longer than average there and have worse outcomes than the general population when they attend an emergency department — including greater likelihood of multiple return visits. This includes people who are older; have a disability; present with a mental health condition; are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; and/or come from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds

Macquarie University has been awarded $2,836,550 from the Medical Research Future Fund for this 5-year project led by Associate Professor Robyn Clay-Williams at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation. The  project will work to improve people’s experience while they are in the emergency department, reduce their length of stay and improve their care outcomes — including receiving a diagnosis or treatment plan, or being admitted to a hospital ward.

Associate Professor Robyn Clay-Williams, who will lead the project said “These communities have higher rates of presentation to emergency departments than other Australians and improving their care will reduce hospital waiting times for everyone.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples visit an emergency department 2.5 times more than other Australians and their rate of metal health presentations is more than four times higher. People with a disability visit emergency departments twice as often as people without disability. People over the age of 85 years have the highest rate of presentation to emergency departments.

To view the article $2.8 million to reduce emergency wait times in western Sydney hospitals published in The Pulse click here.

Image source: The Pulse website.

Our Kids Count birth registration campaign

The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (the Registry) is hitting the road to promote the registration of Indigenous births with the Our Kids Count campaign. NSW Registrar Amit Padhiar said Our Kids Count would visit the Central West and Orana region to provide on the ground support to help Aboriginal parents register their child’s birth. “Birth certificates are an essential pathway to enrol in school, open a bank account, join sporting clubs, enrol to vote and apply for a job, a driver licence or a passport,” Mr Padhiar said. “Ensuring kids have a birth certificate as soon as possible makes it easier for them and their families when growing up and navigating life.”

What you need to know about registering bub

  • It’s free
  • Hospitals do not register bub for you
  • Medicare and Centrelink do not register bub for you
  • It’s bub’s right to be registered within 8 weeks of birth

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls to improve lives of First Nations children

The peak national body for Indigenous children, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), has called on the major parties contesting the upcoming Federal election to deliver policy to improve the lives of First Nations children. SNAICC – National Voice for our Children wants to see investment into prevention and early support services for families led by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and creation of a National Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said policy change was needed for the Federal Government to start to close the gap. “Under the national partnership all governments have agreed to work with the Coalition of Peaks to reduce over-representation in out of home care by 45% by 2031,” she said. Ms Liddle said by achieving these targets there would be a reduction in child removals from families and pressure on the justice system. “Our children will have a better start in life with access to quality, community-controlled early childhood education and services,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Peak Indigenous children’s body puts Federal election wish-list on the table in full click here.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle. Image source: SNAICC website.

36,000 NSW mob impacted by floods

Thousands of NSW school students, including 16-year-old Wirajduri student Ethan Lyons, have participated in a march to raise awareness about the severity of climate disasters such as the recent floods across NSW and Queensland and call on the state government for more action on climate change. Mr Lyons, one of the organisers, pointed specifically to how Indigenous Australians are “disproportionately affected by the climate crisis”, and that more action was needed by the federal and state governments to move towards renewable energy by 2030. At the height of the floods, it is estimated that more than 36,500 Indigenous residents who live in the officially declared natural disaster zones in NSW had been directly, or indirectly, impacted by the natural disaster.

Cabbage Tree Island, where multi-generational Aboriginal families have lived for more than 100 years, was particularly hit hard during the relentless floods. Both state and federal governments have committed to disbursing $70 million to build new homes for more than 170 residents who were displaced. An extra $50 million will also go towards the repair and reconstruction of Aboriginal community infrastructure owned by Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

To view The Rural News article NSW students walk out for climate policies article in full click here.

cleaning up after floods

More than 180 residents live on Cabbage Tree Island, NSW in 23 homes. Photo: Rani Hayman, ABC News.

Women the victims of forced evictions

Julie Tongs, CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah (Strong Health) Aboriginal Health and Community Services was one of 14 to sign an open letter – addressed to ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry and Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services Rebecca Vassarotti and signed by community organisations working with vulnerable Canberrans living in public housing – calling on the ACT government to end all forced relocations under the scheme, and instead revert to a voluntary, opt-in program of relocation.

87% of social housing tenants to be forced from their homes under the ACT’s government’s Growth and Renewal program are women living alone or with children. 61% have disabilities, chronic health conditions or are caring for dependents who do, and 17% of tenants facing evictions are single mums with children. The data – captured through a survey of the affected tenants conducted by Canberra Community Law also shows that 14% of tenants affected by the scheme are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. “It is this cross section of elderly tenants, women, people with disabilities and people with lived experience of mental illness that makes this group of tenants particularly vulnerable,” the letter reads.

To view the CBR City News article Revealed: Women the victims of Housing’s forced evictions in full click here.

Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Ahpra to recruit 7 permanent identified jobs

Ahpra is excited to be recruiting seven (7) permanent Identified positions who’ll play an important role in creating a culturally safe healthcare system free of racism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples:

The positions will be supported by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit and are linked to implementing deliverables in the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025.

Please apply for these exciting roles here and share with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander networks who want to be a part of driving safer healthcare.

If you’d like any further information on the roles, a contact and their details have been provided on the job listing.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Lung Health Awareness Month

Respiratory diseases are conditions that affect the airways, including the lungs and the passages that carry air from the mouth and nose to the lungs. Common conditions include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. Nearly one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a respiratory condition; with Asthma and COPD contributing to the highest burden of disease.

May is Lung Health Awareness Month and aims to raise awareness about the importance of lung health and the signs and symptoms of lung disease. Anyone, no matter your age or background, can get lung disease – it affects approximately 1 in 4 Australians and is the second leading cause of death in this country, with 45 Australians dying of lung disease and lung cancer every day.

Despite this, many people ignore the signs and symptoms of lung disease for far too long. Breathlessness – A cough lasting more than 3 weeks – Fatigue are just some of the signs many of us ignore or put down to aging and lack of fitness. Don’t miss the signs that something isn’t right. Taking action could save your life.

You can access the Lung Foundation Australia website here which includes:

  • a checklist of lung disease signs
  • an interactive Lung Health Checklist
  • lung health tips: commit to quit smoking; prevention is your best protection; protecting your lungs at work; lifestyle matters

You can access more information about respiratory health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website here.

Willy Willy Lungs by proud Badimia, Noongar, Yamaji artist Nerolie Bynder. Image source: Telethon Kids Institute Many Health Lungs website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Congress concerned about end of APAs

Image in feature tile from ABC News website.

Congress concerned about end of APAs

In a media release today Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) added its voice to a growing chorus of concerns about the forthcoming end to Alcohol Protected Areas (APAs). As it stands, the sunset clause in s118 of the Australian Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act 2012 will take effect on 16 July 2022. At a stroke, many NT communities, town camps and Community Living Areas will lose their legal protection from alcohol abuse.

The ‘rivers of grog’ will once again flow through our communities. The effects on the broader community through increased crime, antisocial behaviour and violence will be of great concern. “Since the NT Government’s alcohol reforms of 2018, we have made really good progress on reducing alcohol-related harm in Alice Springs, and the introduction of the full-time Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) at bottle shops has been a big part of this,” said Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of Congress.

To view the Congress media release What everyone knows about Alice – the Alcohol Protected Areas and PALIs really work! in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mala’la Community Wellness Program awarded

The Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program are the winners of the Excellence in Indigenous AOD Programs Award at the recent 2022 Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies Northern Territory (AADANT) NT AOD awards night in Darwin. This Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet sponsored award is presented to a non-government organisation in the NT with an alcohol and other drug (AOD) program specifically for Indigenous Australians.

Mala’la successfully combines culturally safe and secure AOD interventions with individual psychotherapy, family therapy, wellness education and advocacy. It encourages reconnection with family and community, re-engagement with education and employment and participation in traditional ceremonies and other forms of culturally appropriate meaningful activity as part of the recovery journey.

Maddy Mackey accepted the award on behalf of the Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program. You can read more about Mala’la Community Wellness Program here and access the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website click here.

Felicity Douglas, Manager of Mala’la Community Wellness Support Service and participants of the Youth Dance Program. Images from Mala’la Health Service website.

Rapid antigen tests (RAT) information kit

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are a quick way to check if you have COVID-19 without needing to go to a clinic. There are 3 different types of RATs. These include RATs you can do from your nose, RATs you can do with your spit and RATs that you suck like a lollipop. The Australian Department of Health has developed a RAT information kit of communication materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The information pack contains resources which explain what RATs are, where to get them and how to use each type of RAT. Within the information pack are:

Fact sheets:

A social tile:

Videos:

You can access a summary of the RAT information kit here.

Mob encouraged to get protected for winter

As the country heads into winter, a new campaign is encouraging First Nations people to check in with their doctors to discuss COVID-19 boosters, vaccines for kids and the flu shot. SE NSW primary health network COORDINARE has partnered with local CCHOs for the digital campaign titled #fabvac. “This campaign highlights how vaccines make a difference, even for people who’ve had COVID,” COORDINARE’s Aboriginal Health Service development and performance manager Nathan Deaves said. “The videos are made by local young Aboriginal people who recently yarned with local Aboriginal community members and health workers about their experiences of COVID and attitudes to vaccines.”

One of the videos features Uncle Ken, a community member from Bermagui, who said 13 family members ended up catching the virus. “It is just as well we had the double jab in the first place, only the two out of the 13 went to hospital, but just overnight and they came back home,” he said. “It was scary at the time, we didn’t know if they were going to come back or not. We all said to ourselves we’ve got to get the jab whether we like it or not. “We’re all going to get COVID, but we won’t get it as bad so that’s what happened – no one got it as bad.”

Mr Deaves said the key message with the #fabvac campaign was that community members needed to keep up to date with their COVID vaccines because their immunity to current and future variants of the virus does reduce over time. Respiratory illnesses spread more in winter because we all spend more time indoors, so getting the flu shot is also important, he said.

You can watch a a short video about getting the COVID-19 vaccine below.

Top 3 questions – Flu season

In the video below Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Health answers the Top Three questions across their channels about the flu:

  1. Why are we especially vulnerable to flu this year?
  2. What can we do to protect ourselves against a bad flu season?
  3. I’ve heard of plenty of people who have been immunised with the flu shot and still get the flu! What’s the point?

You can access the Australian Government Department of Health Top 3 questions – Flu season webpage here.

First youth contact with health system critical

The first contact a young person has with a health professional about a problem with their mental health can be critical in helping them to engage with treatment and recovery. the NPS MedicineWise webpage How can GPs help young people engage with treatment for mental health issues? lists the following key points:

  • Mental health problems in young people are extremely common. More than 50% of young people will experience some form of mental ill health by the age of 25.
  • Early intervention with effective support and treatment is essential to reduce potential chronicity of mental illnesses. 75% of adult mental health disorders have their onset before the age of 25.
  • Personal connections between the young person, their supports and the health professional, a focus on the person’s needs rather than their diagnosis, and shared goals are essential for good engagement.
  • Regular, scheduled follow-up sessions can be very helpful as they demonstrate to the young person that you are invested in their wellbeing.
  • Evidence-based treatments are available, but not equally readily accessible for young people. Work with the young person to determine most suitable treatments based on their needs and preferences and to optimise meaningful engagement.

To access the relevant NPS MedicineWise webpage click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

Kidney Health Australia professional webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: The clinical importance to make the link from 7.30PM–8.30PM AEST Thursday 19 May 2022.

The guest Nephrologist speaker on this webinar, Dr Veena Roberts, will explore the evidence in making the link between chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and the clinical importance of these three conditions.

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 332307.

To register for this webinar click here. Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom.

New funds for Hep C awareness campaigns

The Eliminate hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia), created in 2018 to bring together researchers, implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations to ensure the whole of Australia sustains high numbers of people accessing hepatitis C treatment, has welcomed the provision of $1.25 million in funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

The funding will support three different awareness campaigns as part of a broader partnership, the National Hepatitis C 50,000 Project, which aims to scale up testing and treatment. The funds will boost paid advertising for the It’s Your Right campaign and will also support the codesign of Aboriginal specific artwork for the rollout. EC Australia will also work in partnership with NACCHO to design and implement a hepatitis treatment campaign for ACCHOs.

The 50,000 Project is an innovative national partnership project to scale up testing and treatment to find 50,000 people living with hepatitis C by the end of 2022. In doing so, the 50,000 Project will be central in Australia achieving the 2022 national hepatitis C targets for testing and treatment.

To view The National Tribune article New funding for hepatitis campaigns click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

FASD Forum 2022

The inaugural FASD Forum ’22 Conference aims to provide an opportunity for everyone interested in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to hear from research-leading and lived-experience experts. The conference theme is FASD@50 reflecting that it is 50 years since FASD was first identified in medical literature in the English-speaking world.

Presentations over the two-day conference will cover themes related to:

  • behaviour support
  • behaviours of concern
  • transitions in education and employment
  • parent/carer support and self-care (including an expert parent panel)
  • mental health
  • sexualised behaviour
  • justice.

Presentations will combine lived experience perspectives with professional knowledge and current research topics. They will also enable opportunities for information sharing to deepen understanding. Practical strategies and interventions to assist those living with FASD and their families will be a key focus.

The opening keynote address will be presented by world-renowned paediatrician and researcher, Professor Kenneth Lyons Jones MD (University of California, San Diego), who, together with Dr David Smith, was the first to identify FASD in their research fifty years ago.

To register your interest in the conference, contact NOFASD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Simple free bowel cancer test saves lives

Simple free bowel cancer test saves lives

Most bowel cancers (sometimes called colorectal, colon or rectal cancers) start as benign, non-cancerous growths called ‘polyps’ that form on the inner lining or the wall of the bowel. These polyps may become cancerous if they are not removed. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Although these cancers are experienced at lower rates than non-Indigenous Australians, the survival rates are lower and mortality rates are higher. This may be due to the lower participation in bowel screening programs, which is a particular risk for those in remote areas, where access to health services can be limited.

Initiatives such as the National Indigenous Bowel Screening Pilot Project have helped to address low rates of participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is important as when found early, bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can currently receive free screening for bowel cancer via the Australian Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a collection of resources, specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the NBCSP and the importance of bowel cancer screening, available here.

‘I was whitewashed’ says Uncle Jack Charles

Yesterday the actor and Indigenous rights activist, Uncle Jack Charles, told the nation’s first truth and justice commission to hear the impacts of colonisation and racist government policy on First Nations people of his removal from his family as a baby. Charles said he was placed in the Box Hill Boys’ Home, where he experienced “cruel and callous punishments” in the 1950s, and spoke of the cycles of incarceration, homelessness, familial dislocation and drug addiction he experienced for decades as a result of that treatment. “I wasn’t even told I was Aboriginal. I had to discover that for myself. I knew nothing, was told nothing, and had to assimilate … I was whitewashed by the system,” Charles told the Yoorrook Justice Commission on its first day of public hearings.

Elders were invited to make submissions at the commission’s hearings, or wurrek tyerrang, that opened at the former site of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service building on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, a symbolic landmark of self-determination to First Peoples in the state since the community organisation was founded in the early 1970s. Submissions to the commission, also referred to as nuther-mooyoop (a Boon Wurrung word for truth), were designed to provide an opportunity for First Nations elders in the state to share their experiences of the impacts of colonisation, including their experiences of resilience and survival of languages and little-known histories and traditions.

To view The Age article ‘I was whitewashed’: Uncle Jack Charles first elder to share his story at Yoorrook in full click here.

Uncle Jack Charles outside the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service, Fitzroy

Uncle Jack Charles outside the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service at Fitzroy. Photo: Darrian Traynor. Image source: The Age.

Protect your mob – immunisation campaign

Vaccination rates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have decreased over recent periods, particularly at 1 and 2 years of age. It is important to establish positive immunisation behaviours early in your children’s lives. Skipping or delaying vaccinations puts children and those around them at risk of catching serious diseases. It’s important that children receive their routine vaccines in line with the Childhood Immunisation schedule on time, every time, for the best protection.

A recently launched ’Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign uses a range of materials to engage with parents and carers, childcare workers and health care professionals about the importance of childhood vaccination. Materials specifically developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include online videos, an infographic and brochures. You can find out more about the ‘Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign here and access resources from the Australian Government Department of Health Routine childhood immunisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children webpage here.

Children need commitment in this election

National Voice for our Children is calling on all major parties in the upcoming Federal election to commit to actions that create a better start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. SNAICC’s election priorities have been sent to parties with the responses to inform a snapshot of where they stand on key policies impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said substantial policy change was crucial if a future Federal Government was to make headway on new Closing the Gap targets. “Under the National Partnership all Governments have agreed to work with the Coalition of Peaks to reduce over-representation in out of home care by 45% by 2031,” Ms Liddle said. “There is also agreement to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children developmentally on track against all 5 domains of the Australian Early Development Census by 55%.”

To view the SNAICC media release Children need commitment in this election contest in full click here.

Image source: SBS TV.

Jacci – no choice but to leave Katherine

Jacci Ingham had been living in the small NT town of Katherine, around 300km south of Darwin, for two decades. And she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. It was where her friends were, where her favourite memories were made and where her passion for landscape photography really flourished. But when her NDIS request to move into a local supported accommodation facility was knocked back, she was deemed legally homeless. The writing was on the wall – she had no choice but to leave.

Although she does not have a disability that is visible to the outside world, Jacci – who is in her 40s – has always relied on around-the-clock support to be able to live her life. “I used to see various counsellors and paediatricians and what not and they’d try these different things to see if that would improve me,” Jacci said. “To be honest, I was a bit out of it for a while like my speech was different, I had thought differently, I was prone to very delusional ways of thinking.”

Remote and Population Health Manager for Katherine West Health Board, Megan Green, was brought into the ACCHO as the Mental Health Coordinator in 2016, and tasked with the role of servicing the mental health needs of residents across the 160,000 sq km from the WA border to the edge of the Tanami desert. “So people have got…a number of options (in Darwin). For the mob out bush and even in Katherine itself, I think they’re quite limited,” she said. She said the only option for patients who are in the midst of a mental health crisis, because Katherine does not have the services required, is to have them flown to Darwin at a cost of “thousands of dollars.” It’s always a last resort to send someone out of community, it’s only if we can’t support them or their family, or support the family to support them,” Megan said.

The above was extracted from the Manning River Times article ‘If Katherine were to improve its mental health services, I would move back in a heartbeat’ published on 26 April 2022.

Image source: Manning River Times.

Universal access to oral healthcare needed

There’s a strong economic argument for providing free – or at least affordable – dental healthcare as poor dental health is linked to chronic conditions such as stroke, heart and lung diseases, which place a significant cost on the public health system. Vulnerable Australians are particularly at risk from oral disease and there are growing calls in the lead-up to the federal election to start the journey towards universal access to oral healthcare.

The Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells says dental care should be funded under Medicare because otherwise it is simply unaffordable for many Australians who risk long-term illness and preventable hospitalisation. Tan Nguyen and Associate Professor Amit Arora, co-convenors of the Public Health Association of Australia Oral Health Special Interest Group, have outlined how national leadership is required to address this neglected area of public health in a Croakey Health Media article Universal access to oral healthcare needs national leadership  here.

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Fierce advocacy for mob will be remembered

Prominent Kungarakan and Gurindji elder and community leader Kathy Mills died on Sunday aged 86. Ms Mills was known for her advocacy work for Aboriginal people in the NT, as well as a distinguished career as a songwriter and poet. Daughter June Mills said her mother had a powerful memory of local bloodlines and culture. “She’d take you on a journey, a beautiful journey, and I’ve witnessed that so many times … I’m going to miss that,” Ms Mills said.

Ms Mills held various leadership roles in the NT community, including helping to start Darwin’ oldest alcohol rehabilitation service, co-founding the Danila Dilba Health Service and, in the 1980s, being the first woman elected to the Northern Land Council. Critical of what she said was disappointingly slow work towards reconciliation, Ms Mills used her national profile to push for stronger action than token gestures for Aboriginal people.

“She had steely determination,” June Mills said. “Whether it was Stolen Generation or health or alcoholism, there was lots of things she championed throughout her life. “And once she set her teeth into something, she persevered until she got what she wanted to happen.” Ms Mills was named the NAIDOC person of the year in 1986, was inducted into what were then the NT Indigenous Music Awards (now National Indigenous Music Awards) Hall of Fame in 2005 and became a member of the Order of Australia in 2019. Earlier this year, Ms Mills was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the NT’s Batchelor Institute in recognition of her work.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal elder Kathy Mills remembered as formidable leader and brilliant storyteller in full click here.

Kathy Mills

Kathy Mills. Photo: Terry McDonald, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations housing in crisis

Image in feature tile of Cassandra Chula, Gloria Chula, Heather Tcherna and Majella Tipiloura in their home where 16 people live in Wadeye. Image source: SBS NITIV, 21 February 2020.

First Nations housing in crisis

An election forum on Indigenous housing will today hear that at least 8,500 new codesigned, culturally appropriate, climate resilient properties are needed in the next four years to address severe overcrowding and disadvantage. The call comes in an election priorities paper jointly released by Change the Record and Everybody’s Home.

The paper First Nations Housing – Election Priorities also calls for further funding to the states and territories to ensure existing public housing stock is retrofitted and properly maintained as the climate crisis worsens. The paper recommends sustained, long-term commitments to increasing and properly resourcing Aboriginal Community-Controlled housing, to meet the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

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

Aboriginal house on outskirts of Alice Springs

Part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Photo: Helen Davidson, The Guardian.

A related ABC News story illustrates at a personal level the impact of inadequate housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Karen Sebastian breaks down in tears as she contemplates life after COVID-19. “I don’t know where we’ll go after this,” she sobs. “Me and the kids will probably go squat at a house or try camp out with some family, if they’ll have us.”

The Broome woman has been homeless for 10 years, but was taken on a 220-km taxi ride to stay at a rundown hotel after contracting COVID-19. She and her teenage sons went into isolation in the tourist accommodation for a week as part of the WA government’s pandemic response.

Vicki O’Donnell, who heads the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, said “We’ve pushed for people to be put into hotels where it’s appropriate, purely so they can be looked after better, particularly for the homeless. Part of the reason people need to be taken to hotels is the terrible overcrowding we’ve got and poorly maintained houses and that’s been an issue for 20 years. It’s been highlighted during the virus and it’s something governments have to address.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman with hands against security door to motel

The WA government booked Karen Sebastian and her sons into a hotel to isolate while they had COVID-19. Photo: Andrew Seabourne, ABC News.

Bushfire impact disproportionate for mob

First Nations Australians suffered worse impacts from the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires due to inappropriate planning and unsuitable interventions by authorities during the crisis, researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) argue.

The researchers have published a report examining the first-hand experiences of Indigenous Australians during the 2019-2020 bushfires, and say the findings are also reflected in the current northern NSW floods. Indigenous Australians experienced racism and unfair treatment in the face of the bushfire catastrophe, in addition to loss of home, land and lives, the ANU researchers found.

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

burnt forest Yuin Nation S Coast NSW 2019 bushfires

Solutions to remedy nation’s dental system

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) says the coming election is a golden opportunity to remedy the enormous mess that the nation’s dental system. The peak body for dentists has a number of remedies on its election wish list to fix the system and is putting these to the major political parties for their pre-election consideration.

Over recent years the ADA has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to address the overwhelming and urgent need to set up a targeted and sustainable funding scheme to meet the needs of older, rural and low-income Australians. ADA president Dr Mark Hutton said “People often ask the ADA why there isn’t such a scheme and I have no answer as to why this is not yet in existence. Governments of all colours have consistently failed to address this issue which affects millions.”

TOne of the ways to address the issue according to the ADA is to ensure all over 75s, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55 and residents of aged care facilities get a mandatory and reportable oral health assessment.

To view the Bite Magazine article ADA offers solutions to fix a broken dental system in full click here.

Aboriginal man in dental chair receiving treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

NT Melioidosis on the rise

Top End residents and visitors are being urged to take extra precaution to avoid melioidosis following a recent spike in case numbers. Melioidosis, a potentially deadly disease, is caused by the bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei, found in tropical soil and water.

Dr Vicki Krause, Director of the NT Centre for Disease Control, said people are more likely to come in contact with these bacteria during the wet season, when they can be found in soil surface layers and muddy surface waters. “This wet season’s high rainfall has led to a 50% increase in the number of melioidosis cases than expected,” Dr Krause said. “On average, 32 cases of melioidosis are reported in the NT each wet season. So far this wet season, 48 cases have been recorded.”

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

Bare feet walking on soil image from NT News and the motile bacteria that causes  melioidosis from the Eye of Science.

Resources for mental health workers

A series of video interviews about the risks of poor mental health and other social issues for young people have been produced by True Pictures for the NSW Ministry of Health.

The videos, like the one below, explain how mental health workers can provide culturally safe services and programs. You can access the Working with Aboriginal People Enhancing Clinical Practice in Mental Health Care Discussion Guide here and the ​video resources on the WellMob website here.

Services for LGBTIQSB+ youth ineffective

There is an absence of research into the effectiveness of service provision for First Nations LGBTIQSB+ young people in Australia. To address this gap, young people’s perspectives on essential components of service provision have been gathered. Concerns were expressed about the ongoing impact of implicit and explicit settler-colonial heteronormativity and racism on services providing support for young First Nations LGBTIQSB+ peoples.

Although set in Australia, this research supports the body of international research and has the potential to create policies and practices centered on the voices and needs of First Nations LGBTIQSB+ youth. To view the abstract of Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services research article “I felt invisible”: First nations LGBTIQSB+ young people’s experiences with health service provision in Australia in full click here.

Photo: Getty Images. Image source: Maxwell Medical Group.

COVID-19 booster vax and RAT demo

In a recent video Dr Aleeta Fejo, Larrakia and Warumungu traditional owner and Elder, and a General Practitioner, Senior Doctor at Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland, WA explains why you should get a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. Dr Fejo emphasises how getting a booster dose can reduce a person’s risk of  spreading COVID-19 to family and community members, getting seriously ill, going to hospital, and dying.

Getting tested for COVID-19 and knowing when you should stay home helps protect the whole community. If you are feeling unwell, the quickest way to get tested is with a  rapid antigen test, also known as a RAT. In these videos, Dr Mark Wenitong walks us through the testing process step by step:

You can buy RATs from pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail and online outlets. It’s good to have a few at home, so if you feel sick you have one ready to go. If you have an eligible Commonwealth concession card, you can get up to 20 free RATs from participating pharmacies until the end of July 2022.

And remember, if you test positive, stay at home and isolate from others in your house if you can for at least 7 days. You should also let your friends and family know that you have COVID-19, so they can also monitor for symptoms and take a test if needed.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Support for mob to engage with NDIS

Support for mob to engage with NDIS

To increase support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIA) has engaged NACCHO to deliver the Aboriginal Disability Liaison Officer (ADLO) program until 30 November 2022. The program will provide dedicated support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in urban and rural areas to access the NDIS and use their plans.

Employed locally by ACCHOs, ADLOs work will work at a local level to build understanding of NDIS. ADLOs are generally members of the communities they work in, understand the culture and often speak the local languages. Working in partnership with the NDIA and Partners in the Community, ADLOs are a further cultural link between the Indigenous community and the system of disability related supports offered through the NDIS. The insights of ADLOs will also contribute to NDIA led co-design initiatives to improve the way NDIS works with First Nations Australians and communities.

Further information about the ADLO program, including a list of the 37 ACCHOs (NSW-13; NT-1; QLD-10; SA-5: VIC-6; and WA-2) delivering the program is available on the NDIS website here.

NACCHO CEO at Social Impact Strategy launch

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), Pat Turner AM delivered a speech at the King & Wood Mallesons’ Social Impact Strategy launch earlier today. Ms Turner said “A whole of nation effort is required if we are to close the gap in life outcomes between our peoples and other Australians and I am really pleased to see King & Wood Mallesons stepping up to the task and making its contribution.” Themes in Ms Turner’s speech included the struggle of Closing the Gap; the Coalition of Peaks; the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; and the four priority reforms set out in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

You can read Ms Turner’s speech in full here.

Pat Turner AM

NACCHO CEO, Pat Tuner AM. Image source: The Guardian.

AMSANT CEO awarded honorary doctorate

AMSANT is very proud to recognise the significant achievement of their CEO, John (Patto) Paterson, in being awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Arts by Charles Darwin University (CDU). John, received the honour in recognition of his leadership, commitment, and exemplary work over many decades, particularly in the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector and advocating for Aboriginal Territorians during COVID-19. John’s achievement is especially significant for the ‘AMSANT Family’ that John has led for the past 16 years as their CEO, supporting the personal and professional development of so many staff and strongly advocating for our Aboriginal community controlled health service members.

John is a proud born and bred Territorian with family ties to the Ngalakan people in Ngukurr and has worked in Aboriginal affairs in the public and community sectors since 1979 at a local, Territory and Federal level, focusing on First Nations health, housing and education. Donna Ah Chee, Chair of AMSANT said, “John’s commitment and leadership in Aboriginal Affairs has essentially been life long, and is now being rightly highlighted and formally acknowledged by CDU.”

To view AMSANT’s media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson in red yellow academic gown & black PhD bonnet

AMSANT CEO Dr John Paterson. Image source: AMSANT.

Beyond the Scars – RHD impacts

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) causes permanent damage to heart valves and is a leading cause of death in young Indigenous people in Australia. Currently there is no cure. Young Indigenous people with RHD experience countless encounters with health care providers and multiple hospital admissions. This is traumatic for the young people, their families and communities. Young Indigenous people already carry the scars of intergenerational trauma, a legacy of colonization. The added trauma of RHD and its social and emotional impact can further worsen health outcomes.

A Menzies School of Health Research have received a grant to explore the social and emotional needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (15–25 years) with RHD. The grant will support and build the capacity of an Aboriginal PhD student and community researcher, and build capacity of Aboriginal individuals and communities to advocate for their own needs – beyond the biomedical – that must be addressed to improve health outcomes. For further information about the research project visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Beyond the Scars: Impacts of RHD in young Indigenous peoples here.

In a related story, RHD Australia has developed a range of RHD resources available on their website here, including the video Michael’s Story below:

Grant for syphilis outbreak guide

Among the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Award recipients for grants awarded in 2021 is Dr Simon Graham from the Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne, who received the 2021 NHMRC Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership). Dr Graham is an epidemiologist and, through his Investigator Grant, he will be developing a community-led coordination and response guide for a syphilis outbreak in Aboriginal communities.

Dr Graham will work in the Global Outbreak Response Network at the World Health Organization in Geneva to examine how the organisation successfully coordinates and deploys specialist teams to investigate and stop an outbreak in different countries. He will also work with a cohort of Aboriginal people to develop an outbreak response and coordination guide to empower Aboriginal communities to stop outbreaks of syphilis infections.

For more information visit the NHMRC website here. You can also view a short video from the Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign below.

Men’s heart health program trial

Research shows that a 12-week program run in UK soccer clubs (Football Fans in Training) is effective in supporting men to get to a healthier weight and sustain changes 3.5 years later. Associate Professor Quested and team created an Australianised version, Aussie-FIT, and their pilot in WA found it attracts men living with obesity and supports them to make changes to their physical activity, eating behaviour, weight, and well-being. They have also shown Aussie-FIT to appeal to men with cardiovascular disease, for whom it can play an important role in secondary prevention.

Professor Quested has received funding to substantiate the program’s longer term impact on cardiovascular health by undertaking research with a larger sample and longer follow up. The team will also determine how Aussie-FIT deliveries can be sustained in WA; implemented across other States and Territories (Queensland, Northern Territory); scaled to appeal to a wider audience (e.g., via deliveries in rugby); and identify potential adaptations with marginalised populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

For more information visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Kicking Goals for Men’s Heart Health: A Multi-state Trial of the Aussie-FIT Program here.

EOI: Policy Partnerships under NACTG

The Expression of Interest (EOI) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representatives to the next two policy partnerships under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap are now open until COB (AEST) Friday 29 April 2022. Expressions of interest are being sought from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant expertise who wish to join the next two policy partnerships on:

  • Early childhood care and development (including out of home care), and
  • Social and emotional wellbeing (mental health).

These partnerships will be established in August 2022 and represent an historic opportunity to shift the dial in these important policy areas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For more information on the policy partnerships, including how to apply, please visit the ‘Get Involved’ section on the Coalition of Peaks website here.

If you have any questions or require support please reach out to the Coalition of Peaks using this email link.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 5-15-year-olds most at risk of RHD

Image in feature tile is of an RHD Australia doctor supporting RHD control programs. Photo: Emmanuelle Clarke. Image source: Australian Science Communicators website.

5-15-year-olds most at risk of RHD

Therlrina Akene woke up at her home on Yam island recently unable to walk. She and her mum Sandi were transferred via helicopter to Thursday Island Hospital for a series of medical tests. Weeks later they are still in Cairns Hospital Children’s Ward after Thelrina was diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD). Cairns & Hinterland Hospital and Health Service paediatric cardiologist Dr Ben Reeves said about a third of his patients were living with RHD.

“RHD, if left untreated, can cause structural damage to the heart, ” he said. “It’s a very sad fact that the common strep throat infection that we all develop in our lifetimes, can end up in life-limiting structural conditions in First Nations people.  Those most at risk of developing the disease are young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 5–15, who are 55 times more likely to die of the disease than their non-Indigenous peers. RHD is also responsible for the highest gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – higher than even diabetes or kidney failure.”

To view the full article in the Torres News, Edition 24 click here.

Dr Ben Reeves, Thelrine Akene, Sandi Martin and Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation CEO Gina Hogan in Cairns Base Hospital

Dr Ben Reeves, Thelrine Akene, Sandi Martin and Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation CEO Gina Hogan in Cairns Base Hospital. Image source: Torres News.

Child safety systems failing mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders surviving domestic and family violence are not having their needs met by child protection systems reveals a report released today. New Ways for Our Families is the first of two reports. It shows child protection responses to domestic and family violence must focus on children and women. It also reveals these responses do not adequately address all domestic and family violence issues. “Despite the overwhelming impact of child protection systems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people’s lives, often resulting from domestic and family violence, their voices on what will support them have largely been silent,” says Garth Morgan, CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak.

Professor Daryl Higgins, Director, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University added “No parent, carer or family plans to have their children go into child protection or youth justice. Families welcome children into their lives and communities but often the forces
of intergenerational trauma affect their ability to offer the best support to their children. And unfortunately, systemic bias and racism just make it harder for them.”

To view the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak media release in full click here.

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Aboriginal prisoner mental healthcare program

Researchers from UNSW will test the effectiveness of mental health interventions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. UNSW Sydney Professor Kimberlie Dean and her team have received a $1.18 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to improve mental healthcare in prison and support the prison-to-community transition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women.

“I’m excited to have the financial support necessary to progress this important research and also to have the opportunity to build much-needed research capacity in the area,” Prof. Dean said. Prof. Dean, who is the Head of Discipline for Psychiatry and Mental Health, and Chair of Forensic Mental Health at UNSW Medicine & Health, said the project will provide an enhanced service to meet the specific cultural and community-connection needs of Aboriginal men and women being released from prison.

The intervention also has the potential to contribute to reducing the over-incarceration of Aboriginal people by reducing risk of a return to custody. In 2021, the Productivity Commission reported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were imprisoned at 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians in 2019–20. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are incarcerated at an alarming rate and those in prison often suffer with significant mental health needs, which can be associated with an elevated risk of poor outcomes both before and after returning to the community, including risk of re-incarceration,” Prof. Dean said.

To view the full article from the UNSW Sydney Newsroom click here.

Professor Kimberlie Dean. Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom webpage.

Heart health program for First Nations dads

To address the growing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Indigenous Australians, Professor Philip Morgan’s is heading a project that will:

  • Culturally adapt the effective ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ family-based lifestyle program for Indigenous Australian families;
  • Test the feasibility of the adapted program with a sample of Indigenous Australian children and their fathers.

This project builds on Professor Philip Morgan’s pioneering ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ program, which has demonstrated clinically meaningful effects on CVD risk factors (e.g., weight, diet, activity) in fathers and children. In this context, Professor Philip Morgan’s team expect that a culturally adapted version of ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids’ have similar meaningful effects for Indigenous Australian families. Additionally, expected long-term outcomes include:

  • To formalise partnerships with Awabakal Aboriginal Medical Services to facilitate translation into the future;
  • Inform program refinements in advance of a major grant application to extend to rural and isolated Indigenous Australian communities to achieve widespread, lasting improvements in indigenous cardiovascular health.

For further information about the project you can access the Heart Foundation’s Improving heart health of Indigenous Australian families – ‘Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids – Indigenous’ website page here.

Addictive e-cigarettes harming youth

E-cigarettes, or vapes, are causing harm and risk introducing a new generation to smoking, warn experts from The Australian National University (ANU) following their government report into vaping. The major review found use of nicotine e-cigarettes increases the risk of a range of adverse health outcomes, particularly in youth, including taking up smoking, addiction, poisoning, seizures, trauma and burns and lung injury. “We reviewed the global evidence in order to support informed choices on vaping for Australia,” lead author Professor Emily Banks from the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health said.

Cancer Council’s Public Health Committee Chair, Anita Dessaix, said the ANU report is the most comprehensive study of all the health impacts of e-cigarettes ever published worldwide and it sends an urgent message to Australian governments. “Every week we’re hearing growing community concern about e-cigarettes in schools, the health harms and the risks of smoking uptake among young people,” Ms Dessaix said. “Now we have the world’s most authoritative independent scientific analysis showing us exactly why we’re seeing those problems. “A public health crisis is rapidly unfolding before our eyes.”

To view the ANU media release in full click here.

teenage girl vaping, face obscured by smoke

Image source: The Age.

Shared Code of conduct for 12 National Boards

A National Board Code of conduct or Code of ethics describes the professional behaviour and conduct expectations for registered health practitioners. 15 National Boards have an approved Code of conduct that applies to the registered health practitioners they regulate. These codes are an important part of the National Boards’ regulatory framework and help to keep the public safe by outlining the National Boards’ expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for registered health practitioners. Registered health practitioners have a responsibility to be familiar with and apply their relevant code.

A shared Code of conduct has been developed for 12 National Boards, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board and comes into effect on Wednesday 29 June 2022. An advance copy of the shared Code of conduct is available here and a range of resources to help health practitioners understand and apply the revised code can be accessed here.

Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was officially launched on 27 October 2014 at a special celebration attended by Mrs Kay van Norton Poche, Mr Reg Richardson AM and a number of distinguished Indigenous leaders in health and higher education.

The film Investing In The Future – The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, screened at the launch and available here showcases the vision of the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and highlights how leadership can make a real difference to health outcomes for Indigenous people in Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Every hour of every day one person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. That’s 24 people each day – that is more prevalent than many common cancers. The whole month of April is earmarked annually to try to get some awareness of the disease out into the community, with Monday 11 April 2022 recognised as World Parkinson’s Day.

Parkinson’s is still a very misunderstood condition that affects not only the person diagnosed with it, but their family, friends and carers. Parkinson’s is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s can occur at any age.

To view the April Is Parkinson’s Awareness Month article in The Hilltops Phoenix in full click here.

Image source: Southern Cross University website.

hiv@aids + sexualhealth 2022 abstract submission open

The Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS + Sexual Health Conferences, hosted by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), is being held from Monday 29 August to Thursday 1 September 2022 on the Sunshine Coast (QLD) and will highlight new and innovative research findings among delegates from Australia, NZ, Asia, and the Pacific from a range of backgrounds from healthcare, academia, government and social.

To support the conference ASHM are extending invitations to submit abstracts. Abstracts can go towards delivering an oral presentation or a poster presentation at the conference and is a great opportunity to share the amazing work your staff/services do, or share innovative models developed in the ACCHO sector, others in mainstream can learn from.

One of the conference themes has particular sessions with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focus, and it would be great to share some of the great work that’s happened and continues to happen in the ACCHO space relating to HIV&AIDS/Sexual Health. For those who submit abstracts and are successful, NACCHO and ASHM can support costs to attend (registration, travel, accommodation etc).

The deadline to submit abstracts is Sunday 1 May 2022. You can access guidelines for abstracts here and a template here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to NACCHO’s Megan Campbell using this email link or Edan Campbell-O’Brien here. They would love to work with you on writing a submission and answer any questions you have. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work of our sector and see ACCHOs represented at these large mainstream forums.

On a related note, ASHM are also hosting the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference from Monday 29 May to Wednesday 31 May 2022 in Brisbane (QLD). The registration deadline closes on Sunday 1 May 2022 – please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations self-governance aids mental health

feature tile text 'ATSI self-governance linked to improved mental health and suicide prevention outcomes'

The artwork The journey towards healing by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi) in the feature tile is from the cover of the AIHW paper Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention.

First Nations self-governance aids mental health

The Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published an 80 page paper Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention. The paper provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention and explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

To view the paper in full click here.

Artwork: Camilla Perkins for Mosaic.

NACCHO CEO to deliver keynote address

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM will be delivering a keynote address at leading law firm, King & Wood Mallesons’ refreshed strategy for Community Impact event this Friday 8 April at 12.30pm AEDT.

Standing Strong & Tall Together is King & Wood Mallesons’ new five-year strategy focused on transformational partnerships and systems change to create sustained generational change.

The event will be live-streamed via a free webinar that you can register for here.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM.

First Indigenous sleep coaches in Australia

Two First Nations people from Mount Isa have completed their certification to become Australia’s first Indigenous sleep coaches. Karen Chong and Jamie Dunne are working as project officers for Lets Yarn About Sleep program to promote sleep health in First Nations communities. The Lets Yarn About Sleep program was rolled out in Mount Isa in 2020 led by Dr Yagoot Fatima (Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland) and is funded by a Medical Research Future Fund-Indigenous Health Grant.

Dr Yaqoot said sleep and health are closely linked and problems with the quality, timing and amount of sleep affects physical and mental health. “There is strong evidence confirming the protective role of sleep in reducing the risk and severity of poor health outcomes,” Dr Yaqoot said. “Yet, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents, who experience a disproportionately high rate of health issues, the potential of sleep in improving health and wellbeing outcomes remains untapped”.

To view the Mount Isa has Australia’s first two Indigenous sleep coaches article in the North West Star in full click here.

Dr Dwayne Mann (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Roslyn Von Senden (Cultural Mentor), Karen Chong (Sleep Coach) and Jamie Dunne (Sleep Coach)

Dr Dwayne Mann (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Roslyn Von Senden (Cultural Mentor), Karen Chong (Sleep Coach) and Jamie Dunne (Sleep Coach). Image source: The North West Star.

First Nations students role models for mob

Birri Gubba woman Melissa Ann Fisher knew as a teenager she wanted to be a nurse, but it was not that simple. Her activist mother wanted Ms Fisher to attend university rather than learn a trade, which is what nursing was considered in those days, and refused to sign the application papers — a decision she later regretted. After a career doing other jobs and raising five kids, Ms Fisher decided it was her turn. “I just had this stock moment when I was actually quite pregnant with my last child, and said, ‘I’m gonna study nursing’,” she said. “I don’t care about my age … I’m doing it.” That was in 2015.

Some eight years later, Ms Fisher has just graduated from Charles Darwin University (CDU). Another seminal moment occurred when Ms Fisher, a diabetic, was sitting in a clinic as a patient. “I sat there in a couple of different appointments and thought, ‘I could do this so much better’,” she said. “I want to make a difference in Indigenous health in diabetes.” Ms Fisher is now studying for a masters and wants to become a nurse practitioner, which meant she expected to be studying for another six years.

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor of First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt said it was important to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of students. “Our First Nations students are role models for their communities and other students wanting to enter higher education, and are an important part of the university’s identity,” he said.

To view the Melissa among First Nations graduates changing their own lives to make a difference for others article in full click here.

CDU nursing grad Melissa Ann Fisher sitting on tree trunk by stream in tropics

Charles Darwin University nursing graduate Melissa Ann Fisher. Photo: Conor Byrne, ABC Radio Darwin. Image source: ABC News website.

Continuing on the theme of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary students, an article in the Shepparton News looks at 12 First Nations students who graduated last week from rural health courses under the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne. Taking in graduates from 2020 and 2021, the event saw seven students graduate from a specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities, one of which also completed a Graduate Certificate in Aboriginal Health in Rural Communities, one graduate from a Master of Public Health and four from the PhD program.

Professor Marcia Langton associate provost is one of the driving forces behind the creation of the courses. “It’s a dream come true for them and it’s a dream come true for me too,” she said. “It’s primarily a credit to the students themselves, some of them have really forged a pathway to create an indigenous health workforce that’s highly qualified and as good as any health workforce in the country.”

University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health director Lisa Bourke said the aim of the courses was for students to be able to study, live work and study on Country without having to go to the city.

To view the Shepparton welcomes graduates of rural health course article in full click here.

Professor Julian Wright, Andreia Marques, Dr Shanawa Andrews, Gwenda Freeman, Helen Everist, Dr Karen Ferguson, professors Marcia Langton, Lisa Bourke, Doug Boyle and John Prins; (front) Dr Raylene Nixon, Chanoa Cooper, Leah Lindrea-Morrison, Tracey Hearn and Dr Sharon Atkinson-Briggs

From back left: Professor Julian Wright, Andreia Marques, Dr Shanawa Andrews, Gwenda Freeman, Helen Everist, Dr Karen Ferguson, professors Marcia Langton, Lisa Bourke, Doug Boyle and John Prins; (front) Dr Raylene Nixon, Chanoa Cooper, Leah Lindrea-Morrison, Tracey Hearn and Dr Sharon Atkinson-Briggs. Image source: Shepparton News.

Mental health experts to guide research

The federal government has appointed mental health experts to the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission (MMMHRM), who will guide research into mental health, including looking at prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Almost one in four Australians experience some form of mental ill health in any given year, while almost one in two Australians will experience mental ill health in their lifetime. Mental illness significantly increases the risk of suicide, the leading cause of death of people aged 15–44.

Research is essential to improve our understanding of what causes and contributes to mental illness. It can also lead to better prevention, diagnosis and improved treatment options. The new expert panel will provide advice on priorities for future research investment through the Mission by reviewing the existing Roadmap and developing an Implementation Plan.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said we need ongoing research into mental health so we can reduce the impact on individuals, families and communities. “This research will ultimately improve the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, children and young people; and broaden our understanding of eating disorders and suicide prevention,” Minister Hunt said.

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

Image source: DoH website.

Anger over age of criminal responsibility

An Aboriginal-led coalition of legal and health experts has accused the Queensland government and opposition of “kicking the can down the road” while children are locked behind bars, after both refused to back calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility. In Queensland, as in all other Australian states and territories, children as young as 10 can be held in watchhouses and hauled before courts to face criminal charges.

Earlier this week, the Raise the Age coalition published an open letter to premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressing deep concern that their expertise “appears to have been ignored” by a parliamentary committee that rejected calls to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 in the state. The letter was signed by more than 20 health, legal, youth and child developmental organisations whose experts made submissions to that inquiry.

“We unanimously advised the Committee to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old,” the letter read. “This is consistent with the overwhelming medical evidence, unanimous support from more than 300 written submissions to the inquiry, and the views of the majority of witnesses who provided evidence at the inquiry’s public hearing.”

To read The Guardian Aboriginal-led coalition angered over Queensland’s failure to raise age of criminal responsibility article in full click here.

dark skinned hands gripping green jail bars

Photo: luoman, Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

$5m to support First Nations maternal health

Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Molly Wardaguga Research Centre has welcomed $5 million in this year’s budget for the Birthing On Country project to support First Nations mothers and their babies in remote communities for the next five years. Funding from the federal government allocated to the improving the Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous Mothers and Babies will raise the safety of birthing on country and integrating cultural sensitivities as women move into motherhood.

CDU Professor of Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor of Midwifery Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre said the project builds upon 25 years of health services research. “This gives us an opportunity to provide a strong research framework to enable First Nations communities to reclaim their birthing services to ensure the best start to life for mothers and babies,” Professor Kildea said. “We are very excited to be able to test the translation of research evidence that shows extraordinary benefits for First Nations mums, babies and communities into rural (Nowra, NSW), remote (Alice Springs, NT) and very remote (Galiwin’ku, NT) settings.”

To view the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre secures $5 million to support First Nations maternal health article in The National Tribune in full click here.

CDU Professors Yvette Roe & Sue Kildea

Charles Darwin University (CDU) Professors Yvette Roe (left) and Sue Kildea head the Birthing on Country program, which integrates culturally appropriate care with health outcomes to help First Nations women in birthing.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 7 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Office, Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) this week will be DoH Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

COVID-19 Treatments Forum

A special COVID-19 treatments forum co-hosted by the Australian Government Department of Health and the National Health and Medical Research Council is being held from 5–7:00PM (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 7 April 2022. The forum will provide information and the opportunity to discuss approaches to COVID-19 treatment strategies by government officials, regulators, research scientists and clinicians.

The forum will feature:

  • scientific and clinical information about COVID-19 treatments;
  • details on the appropriate use of available COVID-19 treatments based on current evidence;
  • discussion on the continuing transition to community-based healthcare for people with COVID-19;
  • discussion on key COVID-19 treatment issues faced by primary care providers and their patients including access through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS);
  • discussion on how the Commonwealth and States and Territories are facilitating equitable access to treatments through the PBS and the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) to eligible patients.

For further information about the forum, including the agenda click here. The forum can be watched live via the livestream or at a later time at your leisure. You can access the webinar link here.

green gloved hand holding lab tray, vial in background

Image source: The Pharmaceutical Journal.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Improving the ED experience for kids

Improving ED experience for kids

Aboriginal children presenting to Emergency Departments (ED) are more likely to be critically unwell and need urgent care than non-Aboriginal children, new data has revealed. A study looking at presentations of Aboriginal children to the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (SCHN) facilities between 2015–2020 has shown Aboriginal children are 2.2 times more likely to present to ED via ambulance compared to non-Aboriginal children and also have a higher chance of needing resuscitation and emergency response, accounting for 7.3 % of ED presentations, compared to just 5.2% in the non-Indigenous population.

The study highlights not just the inequalities that exist for Aboriginal children but also the need for consideration of the social determinants of Aboriginal health in order to Close the Gap. In the last year, SCHN has taken a number of positive steps towards improving health for Aboriginal children and their families, implementing several new programs and introducing new positions that focus on addressing Aboriginal health disparities and promoting safe, reliable and equitable healthcare for all.

Across SCHN, the Aboriginal workforce has grown by 20 staff in clinical and non-clinical roles, ranging from new graduate nurses, to cardiac concierge, through to the Aboriginal Health Outcomes and Equity Project Manager. The Aboriginal Health Outcomes and Equity Project Manager is the first role of its kind at SCHN and aims to ensure the constant delivery of high-quality, equitable services to Aboriginal children.

To view the Transforming health for a more equitable future article on The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network website click here.

Image source: ABC News.

Advance Care Planning resources

The Australian Digital Health Agency have worked closely with Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) in the lead up to Advance Care Planning (ACP) Week 21–27 March 2022 to engage consumers and healthcare providers about ACP and My Health Record. During ACP week last year, we saw a 21% increase in ACP uploads to MHR and an overall 78% increase from February to May 2021.

Last month the Australian Digital Health Agency held a workshop with consumers and carers to co-develop an ACP My Health Record Elevator Pitch which highlights the benefits and the value of uploading ACP documents to My Health Record. The ‘hero’ Elevator Pitch is Make your wishes known when you cannot speak for yourself, upload your advance care planning documents to My Health Record. Consumers and carers said this sentence would resonate the most, and will be used on the Australian Digital Health Agency website and in social media messages. Another complementary pitch that was supported is Do you want choice and certainty over what happens to you? Upload your advance care planning documents to My Health Record. This statement will also be used to support communications about ACP.

You can access the list of ADHA ACP resource information sheet here and a video for health workers illustrating culturally safe advance care planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Health researcher workforce review

The Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health – University of Melbourne is undertaking a review and analysis of progress in building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researcher workforce since 2000.

This research project is being undertaken in partnership with the Lowitja Institute and aims to identify changes in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research workforce, since 2000. Investigations will chart current educational and career-pathway models and initiatives; outline how research training can be more responsive, enriching and affirming of and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers and communities; and explore new ways to increase numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers.

A strength of the proposed project is to significantly address research gaps by conducting a comprehensive review foregrounding ‘whole of system’ analysis of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researcher workforce and learn first-hand from current and future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers via in-depth interviews and case studies.

For more information about the project click here.

Benefits of allied health outreach program

A student outreach program run by the WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) in Geraldton is providing valuable health services to primary school children in remote areas of WA while benefiting the learning needs of university students on rural placement. Now in its fifth year of operation, the long-standing partnership between WACRH and Yalgoo Primary School (YPS) sees speech pathology, OT and audiology students on rural placement with WACRH regularly visit the remote primary school.

The WACRH students set off early in the morning to drive to Yalgoo – two hours from Geraldton or one hour for university students based in Mount Magnet – for day visits to the primary school. YPS Principal Geoffrey Blyth says, “The regular visits and resulting reports form important information about our students. They test the students and I get a report usually within three days, so the information is current and useful. Every record they make we use for our teaching and learning, as well as our assessments. It gives our students something regular that is happening at our school, not just a one-off visit. So that means that the kids are completely comfortable.”

“Plus, our students get the opportunity to interact with people they would not normally interact with and that is almost as important as the tests themselves. The kids just love them because we get a group of very enthusiastic young people at our school who talk, play and interact with them. It adds a bit of vibrancy to our school.” OT student Sarah Oborne says, “It has been great to work one on one with the kids there, particularly as they do not have people come and visit the school on a regular basis. But we are there every week.”

For more information about the program click here and to read the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article in full click here.

algoo Primary School student Angelica Simms with OT student Keely Fitzpatrick

Yalgoo Primary School student Angelica Simms with OT student Keely Fitzpatrick. Image source: NRHA Partyline.

Suicide Prevention Research Fund extended

The National Suicide Prevention Research Fund is being extended with an additional $4 million over two years to increase Australia’s world leading research into suicide prevention and treatment. In 2020, a total of 3,139 Australians died by suicide. While it represents a 5.4% reduction in the number of suicides compared to 2019 and the lowest national suicide rate since 2016, suicide remained the leading cause of death among those aged 15–44. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to die by suicide at more than twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities.

To view Minister Hunt and Minister Coleman’s joint media release in full click here.

silhouette of head with exploding scrunched paper balls

Image source: eMedicneHealth website.

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you’re 45 and over, or 30 and over if you’re of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today.

Do you know what your risk of having a heart attack or stroke is? Having a regular Heart Health Check with your GP will help you better understand your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Most importantly, your GP and nurse can support you to lower this risk.  A Heart Health Check is a 20-minute check-up with your GP to assess your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

To view the relevant page for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Heart Foundation website click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Remote PHC Manuals project March update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated, with monthly updates provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date during the review process. The most recent RPHCM update advises: sales of 2017 editions of the manuals will cease as of April 2022. The very last chance to order copies is Thursday 31 March 2022. To order download and complete the order form here. The new editions are expected to be released in October/November 2022.

Secondary reviews are schedules for April/May with the stakeholder consultations occurring concurrently.

To view the RPHCM March 2022 Project Update click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Purple Day

Purple Day is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness, dispelling myths, and increasing support to those affected. Founded in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada, the Purple Day concept was born out of Cassidy’s own struggles with epilepsy, her motivation to get people talking about the condition, and her desire to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. Cassidy named the day ‘Purple Day’ after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.

Since that time, Purple Day has grown into a much loved and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia rallying their private, academic and corporate communities to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy.

Epilepsy affects around 151,000 Australians and thousands are hospitalised by their condition each year, according to the first comprehensive report, Epilepsy in Australia, from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). ‘Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterised by recurrent seizures caused by a temporary disruption of the brain’s electrical activity. Epilepsy does not refer to a singular condition, but rather represents a diverse range of disorders involving many seizure types,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Fleur de Crespigny. ‘A diagnosis of epilepsy brings with it lifelong management, and many experience difficulties in their work, education and long-term health.’

To read the AIHW media release in full click here and to find out more about epilepsy and Purple Day visit the Epilepsy Action Australian website here.

Black Knot – White Knot seminar

The Sydney Institute is hosting a seminar, Black Knot -White Knot as part of its Tow Way Seminar Series. The Black Knot – White Knot seminar will take place online via Zoom from 9:00 AM–12:00 PM Saturday 2 April 2022.

The seminar will be delivered by the esteemed Dr Craig San Roque and Yuin man Jade Kennedy. Craig will present intercultural and transferential relationship patterns based on 30 years of experience in Black/White cross-cultural interactions in Central Australia. This has given him a unique understanding of the people he has lived and worked with. He illustrates these significant relationships through art works.

Craig will be joined by Jade Kennedy, a Yuin man from the Illawarra and South Coast of NSW and a lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at the University of Wollongong. His generous sharing of his life story is a privilege rarely encountered. Jade’s comments enhances Craig’s rich presentation and their engagement is enthralling.

Click here for more information about the seminar and to book tickets click here. In case of financial hardship you are asked to offer a small donation. All profits will be donated to the CASSE (Creating A Safe Supportive Environment) Shields for Living Tools for Life project. The Shields for Living Tools for Life An intensive program for high-risk young people in central Australia Creating Safer Communities: Back on Track – Cutting Youth Crime Plan. When you register for this event you will receive reading material to help in your preparations for the seminar.

Dr Craig San Roque & Jade Kennedy

Dr Craig San Roque. Image source: CASSE Australia. Jade Kennedy. Image source: TEDx UWollongong 2018.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Feature tile - Fri 18.3.22 - CEO on The Drum

Image in feature tile: NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, Photo: Alex Ellinghausen, The Sydney Morning Herald.

Pat Turner on The Drum

When NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared on the ABC’s The Drum last night she said the Close the Gap report released earlier in the day “highlights in no uncertain terms what we already know – policy and programs led by our own people work better for our people. They work so much better because they provide a culturally safe environment for our people to engage with service providers and they also have an ability to reach out into the community. Most of our services are more trusted that government services. The recent Four Corners program on RHD shown that lack of trust was evident in the Doomadgee community.”

“But we also know that comprehensive structural reform is needed to ensure more equitable outcomes for our people, and quite frankly we’ve been telling governments this for decades and it’s about time they took note of the evidence that this report and many others demonstrate that Aboriginal-led initiatives and locally-led solutions work and that’s where the investments have to be made.”

“Key data shows that the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health is profound, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are:

    • 5.0 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease;
    • 4.5 times more likely to smoke during pregnancy;
    • 3.7 times more likely to have kidney disease;
    • 3.2 times more likely to have diabetes;
    • 2.1 times more likely to suicide as young people;
    • 2.0 times more likely to die in infancy; and
    • 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer.”

“So it’s really hardly surprising that we live 8–9 years less than other Australians.” Pat Turner also said there is a continuing funding gap in health with a dangerous myth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive ‘plenty of health funding’. A recent conservative calculation put the gap in health expenditure, compared to other Australians, at $5,042 per Aboriginal person per year. You can watch the full episode of the ABC’s The Drum here.

screenshot of ABC The Drum episode & panelists Narelda Jacobs, Pat Turner, Paul Karp & Kudzai Kanhutu

Awabakal opens new dental clinic

Hamilton is now home to a new Awabakal Dental Clinic following the official opening of the $400,000 facility this week. The state-of-the-art centre will operate in partnership with Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) to provide bulk-billed dental services to the local Aboriginal community.

Previously, the clinic boasted two chairs working out of a small section of the Awabakal Hamilton Medical Clinic. The new-look facility, funded by NSW Ministry of Health – Oral Health Unit, via the Centre for Aboriginal Health, was custom-built to meet the demand of local oral health needs. “We’ve been trying to get this off the ground for some time,” Awabakal CEO Raylene Gordon said. “So, it’s an important day for us – and I believe it’s one of the best clinics around. This is a collaboration between Awabakal and Hunter New England Local Health District that’s about making dental care more affordable for Indigenous people. Good oral hygiene is directly linked to good overall health. Poor dental care can impact on lots of nutrition and lifestyle issues. If you have no teeth, you can’t eat.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article in full click here.

wabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon, HNELHD Oral Health Unit’s Dr Lanny Chor, City of Newcastle councillor Deahnna Richardson and Newcastle state MP Crakanthorp at the official opening of the Awabakal Dental Clinic at Hamilton

Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon, HNELHD Oral Health Unit’s Dr Lanny Chor, City of Newcastle councillor Deahnna Richardson and Newcastle state MP Crakanthorp at the official opening of the Awabakal Dental Clinic at Hamilton. Photo: Peter Stoop. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

COVID response praised in CTG report

The Close the Gap report released yesterday detailed how Aboriginal decision-making was critical in responding to the unprecedented health challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found there was a need for trust and accountability in partnerships to enable transformative change.

Lowitja Institute CEO Janine Mohamed said the report showcased how community-led organisations and services were working to provide equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “The report is a beautiful and powerful call to action, showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led brilliance at work, in all sorts of settings, paving the way ahead as we have done as peoples over millennia,” she said. “Now it’s time for governments and mainstream services to step up, and step back, if we are to truly close the gap in health outcomes for our people.”

Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Vicki O’Donnell said Indigenous community-controlled services were crucial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “They achieve better results, employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are connected and embedded in the community, and are therefore often preferred over mainstream services,” she said.

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

vax being administered into arm

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

ACCHO model for LGBTQ+ health services

The NSW government has committed more than $4 million toward establishing a health centre, which will provide tailored medical services to Sydney’s LGBTQ+ community. The funding announcement is part of NSW Health’s five-year LGBTQ+ health strategy, which also saw the state dedicate $3.4 million annually for a specialist trans and gender diverse public health service. A further $2.65 million went toward NSW Health workforce education and training initiatives to support the strategy.

Operated by LGBTQ+ non-profit ACON, the health centre will also offer state-wide services through telehealth, service partnerships and shared care arrangements. ACON Deputy CEO Karen Price – who, it should be noted, is a fully separate person from RACGP President Dr Karen Price – said that the health centre is similar in concept to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Centre. “In other areas, we know that specific services really work well to meet the needs of specific populations,” Ms Price said.

To view The Medical Republic article in full click here.

Aboriginal and Pride flags flying

Photo: Julia Turner. Image source: Cosmos Magazine.

Community Dream Research Project

First Nations’ organisation, Community First Development, has launched a new research project that explores the benefits of tracking the narrative of the long-term dreams of First Nations’ communities.  The research project is set to spark some conversations and challenge some research and evaluation norms.

The organisation holds the belief that research can-and-does enable the creation of spaces that promote First Nations’ self-determination and strong Country. It is intended to make way for the valuable insights found in First Nations’ perspectives and to strengthen the leadership and governance of First Nations’ people in evaluation. Community First Development’s approach is to push the boundaries that limit people’s understanding of First Nations’ perspectives and culture. The organisation’s approach is inclusive to the hundreds of diverse First Nations’ communities it works with – over 800 over the course of the past 20 years.

Community dreams are multi-dimensional and consider a range of aspects: the economic, environmental, mob, spiritual, cultural customs, and Country. Dreams are holistic, shared and form the basis for strengthening First Nations’ future generations and ensuring that Country is sustainable. The dream narrative cannot be understated, not only for the success of individual community projects, but also for the revitalisation and resurgence strategies that communities are putting in place.

To view the Community First Development media release please click here.

Deadly New Dads video competition

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet and SMS4dads are proudly supporting a competition giving soon-to-be-dads or dads with a bub under 12 months old the chance to win $3,000 in a video competition.

First Nations dads are invited to submit a short video (under 2 minutes) showcasing what they love about being or becoming a new dad. The video should be about:

  • What’s deadly about becoming a new dad? (for soon-to-be dads); OR
  • What is something you love doing with your new bub? (for dads with a bub under 12 months)

GET YOUR ENTRY IN NOW!!  Don’t miss out – total prize pool of $10,000. To view a flyer with all the details click here.

banner for Deadly New Dads Video Comp - image of young Aboriginal dad & his baby

Medicines safety PhD opportunity

The Univeristy of Queensland in offering PhD opportunity focused in the area of medicine safety in primary care, as part of the MRFF funded trial “Activating pharmacists to reduce medication related problems: The ACTMed trial”. The focus of the PhD can take a number of directions related to this trial including: (i) co-design of the service with health practitioners and/or consumers; (ii) health service design and evaluation; (iii) medicine safety; or (iv) health economics, depending on the skills and interests of the candidate. The specific research questions can be tailored to the candidate.

The candidate will have the opportunity to work with the experienced team to improve medicine safety at ACCHOs and in mainstream health services and improve population health, including the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. First Nations candidates will have access to the UQ “Yarning for Success” program which will connect you with other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander researchers throughout their PhD.

The candidate will be required to work closely with ACCHOs, peak bodies such as NACCHO, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and other government agencies.

For further information about this PhD opportunity and to apply click here.

Image source: Journal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society website.

Scholarships to research racism

Two research scholarships funded by Australian Research Council (ARC) are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The first is an ARC Indigenous Discovery Aboriginal Youth Racism Project, a 3-year research project funded by the ARC to the value of $30,000 p.a. tax free for 3.5 years full-time study (or part-time equivalent). The objective of this project is to test a new model for assessing covert racism experienced by Indigenous youth, which includes the roles and responsibilities of non-Indigenous agents. This model can be utilised to guide evidence-based interventions to address multiple forms of racism against Indigenous Australians. You can access further information about this scholarship, including application details here.

The second scholarship is for the Aboriginal Youth Racism Project, a 3-year research project funded by the Australian Research Council to the value of s for $27,609 p.a. over 3 years. This project involves researchers from across five universities, led by Murdoch University. The candidate will be enrolled at the University of Technology Sydney based on research at the Perth and Sydney sites and the primary supervisors’ university affiliation. The objective of this research project is to test a new model for assessing covert racism experienced by Indigenous youth, which includes the roles and responsibilities of non-Indigenous agents. This model can be utilised to guide evidence-based interventions to address multiple forms of racism against Indigenous Australians. For further information about this scholarship, including application details here.

hand writing 'RACISM' with chalk on blackboard

Image source: Monash University website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Dietitians Week 2022

Dietitians Week, held from Monday 21 – Sunday 27 March 2022, is about supporting our nutrition champions and the work they do transforming our lives and communities. Accredited Practicing Dietitians (APDs) around the nation, supported by Dietitians Australia, will be sharing stories about how they improve lives through their experience as nutrition professionals.

Dietitians Week is the time to honour the dietitians in your community. Whether they are your colleagues, acquaintances, loved ones, educators, healthcare partners or carers, help share their extraordinary impact on the lives they touch.

You can find out more about Dietitians Week and download the Dietitians Week digital toolkit here.

The Good Tucker App is one example of the great work that dietitians do in the ACCHO sector. The App was developed by Uncle Jimmy Thubs Up, The University of SA and Menzies School of Health Research in partnership with The George Institute, to provide a simple way for people to identify the healthiest food and drink options available in stores. You can watch a video about the App below download the Good Tucker App here.