NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

Mob think they’re immune, they’re not

The full lockdown of remote Aboriginal communities during the first wave of the pandemic was “too successful” and now many Indigenous people believe COVID-19 will never reach them, according to evidence to a select committee on Australia‘s response to the virus.

Pat Turner, who represents Aboriginal health clinics across Australia as head of NACCHO, has offered the most comprehensive explanation yet for why so few Indigenous Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19. Ms Turner told the select committee she was deeply concerned about the consequences for Indigenous Australians when the nation opened up because only 37% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over the age of 12 was fully vaccinated. Only 50% had received one dose. Aboriginal people had died at twice the rate of non-Aboriginal Australians during the Delta outbreak in NSW and Victoria, Ms Turner said. Up until 16 June only 153 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had contracted COVID-19 and none of them had died.

However, since the outbreak of the Delta strain in NSW and Victoria, more than 4,500 Indigenous people had tested positive to COVID-19, more than 500 of them have required hospitalisation and 10 had died. Ms Turner said this was entirely predictable given that higher proportions of Indigenous people are susceptible to falling seriously ill and dying from Covid-19 because they have developed chronic disease early in life. Also, one in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in overcrowded housing which helps the virus spread. Overcrowding is far worse in regional and remote areas, she told the select committee. Ms Turner said her organisation had told parliament in July last year that if COVID-19 got into the far western community of Wilcannia it would be impossible to contain, and that is what happened.

Ms Turner said, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation were causing big problems in Aboriginal communities in WA, the NT, SA  and Queensland. Health workers were now going door to door to answer Aboriginal people‘s questions about the vaccines. While there, they vaccinate those who are willing. “They think it‘s not going to get there, so we are increasing our advice to them about how rapidly it spread from greater Sydney to Wilcannia,” Ms Turner told the select committee. She said states and the NT must organise contingency plans for Aboriginal communities. She said locking down remote communities at the start of the pandemic was successful but it would not work once Australia opened its borders. “I think we were too successful (during the first lockdowns of remote Aboriginal communities),” Ms Turner said. “They think they‘re immune to COVID-19, but they’re not.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Pat Turner AM. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

VACCHO launches medical cadet program

VACCHO has launched a new and innovative Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program. A first for VACCHO, the specialised program offers a life-changing opportunity through the two-year Medical Cadetship for a number of medical students from Victoria. It will see cadets develop their skills and knowledge by gaining hands-on experience in a real-life setting working as highly valued contributing member of an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO).

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO says the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program presents an exciting and unique opportunity for members, the cadets, and most importantly community. “Over the last 18 months we have seen ACCHOs play a critical role in the protection of our community against COVID – and this cadet program will be instrumental in inspiring the next generation of medical practitioners in this sector.”

Ms Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has also welcomed the program. “This program will encourage more Indigenous medical students to return to work in the ACCHO sector when they graduate as doctors. Aboriginal community controlled health services understand the comprehensive needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and Indigenous doctors’ unique medico-cultural skills can complement those services very effectively.”

Applications for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program are now open and will close on Sunday 24 October 2021.

To view VACCHO’s media release, including details on how to submit an application for the Aboriginal Medical Cadet Program click here.

Gayaa Dhuwi suicide prevention strategy

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is inviting you to attend the virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031 on Friday 22 October 2021 at 3:00pm AEDT.

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy. Extensive consultation with governments, stakeholders and community members over the past 12 months contributed to the renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031.

To attend the launch, please register here.

tile text 'National A&TSI suicide prevention strategy 2021-2031 virtual launch Frid 22 October 2021 3:00 PM AEDT' with Aboriginal dot art border in black, yellow, white, orange

It’s in our cultures to protect each other

Nayuka Gorrie, a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta freelance writer. has written an article Why vaccination presents an ethical dilemma for us, but remains the best way to keep our families safe.

In writing about getting the COVID-19 vaccine Nayuka says “So much is uncertain but what I do know is: I am surrounded by people who would become very sick and possibly die if they got COVID-19 and I’m not sure how I would live carrying that guilt. I also trust our community health services who are trying their best to keep us alive and well in a hostile colony.”

“I wrote to a friend a few weeks ago who was watching Covid-19 sweep its way across her Gomeroi country. I wrote that the way our community cares for each other is our greatest strength right now. Where white culture leaves their most vulnerable behind, it is in our cultures to protect each other to ensure our survival. Right now, with the information we have, we are all we have to keep each other safe.”

To view the story in IndigenousX in full click here.

vector images of covid-19 vax & diagram of people in circles linked to other people

Image source: IndigenousX.

Role of AHWs in administering vax

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and has required rapid paradigm changes in the manner in which health care is administered.

Previous health models and practices have been modified and changed at a rapid pace. The Rural and Remote Health section of James Cook University has published a paper detailing the experiences of a regional Victorian ACCHO in a COVID-19 vaccination program led and managed by Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

To view the paper in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

RHIF funding for VIC ACCHOs

The Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) provides government funding to rural and regional health services and agencies across Victoria so these services can continue to provide safe and efficient care to local communities.

Established in 2016, the $490 million fund is the largest program of its type in Victoria and was created to improve:

  • safety and quality of services
  • enhance service capacity
  • efficient models of care
  • patient and staff amenity
  • service efficiency.

Seventy-nine health services will share $120 million in funding from the fifth round of the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF), including ACCHOs Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd and Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative Limited. You can see the full recipient listing here.

Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative will also receive over $35,000 through the Supporting Carers Locally Grants Program. This program provides opportunities for carers to be physically and mentally healthy and connect with family, friends, other carers and their local community – whether through accessible peer support, grassroots community support programs or tailored resources. To view an article about this grant click here.

Suicide and self-harm monitoring website

The latest AIHW release Suicide and Self-harm monitoring website (new ambulance attendance data and social factors and deaths by suicide modelling) is now This release includes new data relating to: ambulance attendances for suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and self-injury, and a modelling study on the association between socioeconomic factors and deaths by suicide using the MADIP linked data asset.

The reporting of suicide and self-harm statistics and information on the AIHW website represents only one part of the National Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring Project. The web-based format for Suicide and self-harm monitoring includes interactive data visualisations and geospatial mapping to illustrate and explore the statistics as well as text to assist with their interpretation and clarification of the limitations of the data.

To view the media release in full click here.

Draft PHC 10 Year Plan opens for consultation

The Australian government is calling for stakeholder input following the opening of the consultation period for the draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.

The focus of the 10 Year Plan is on Australia’s primary health care (PHC) services provided through general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), community pharmacies, allied health services, mental health services, community health and community nursing services and dental and oral health services. The Plan also focuses on the integration of PHC with hospitals and other parts of the health system, aged care, disability care and social care systems.

You can now provide feedback on the draft plan, and individuals and organisations with an interest in primary health care and what a future focused system can deliver for all Australians are encouraged to share their views.  Written submissions can be provided until 11:59 PM Tuesday 9 November 2021 here.

For more information on the consultation process click here.

AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy spoke on Channel 10 talking about the PHC 10-Year Plan. To view a transcript of the Dr Moy’s interview click here.

Danila Dilba health worker checking child's ear

Image source: RTR FM92.1 website.

Outback Stores lead way on vax

As the Delta strain of COVID-19 continues to threaten remote communities, Outback Stores recognises that being vaccinated is one of the key contributing factors to saving lives and reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus to others.

The company’s CEO, Michael Borg, acknowledges the importance and understands the crucial role the company can play in safeguarding the health of customers and employees in the 44 retail sites for which Outback Stores manages on behalf of their owners. “In the anticipation of vaccinations becoming mandated, Outback Stores has been working for some time towards 100% vaccination of its front-line employees,” Mr Borg said. “We currently have 109 team members either based in or visiting remote communities regularly, and I can report that they are all double-vaccinated.”

To view the Outback Stores media release in full click here.

6 Ngukurr Outback Stores staff with certificates standing in front of wall refrigerators

Outback Stores Ngukurr store workers.

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.

Global Handwashing Day

Today, 15 October 2021 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. It is an opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

This unprecedented time provides a unique impetus to institutionalise hand hygiene as a fundamental component of health and safety. The learnings from the past year have emphasised the need for collective action to address the historic neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs once and for all. This year’s theme, Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together calls for coordinated action as we actively work toward universal hand hygiene.

A example of a creative way in the ACCHO sector of encouraging handwashing is the No germs on me: A social marketing campaign to promote hand-washing with soap in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. This social marketing campaign promoting handwashing with soap was implemented to reduce the high burden of infection experienced by Australian Aboriginal children living in remote communities.

For more information about Global Handwashing Day click here and to view a paper on the No germs on me campaign click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Importance of second vax dose

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

Importance of second vax dose

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

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

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

Calls for whole of government health response

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

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

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

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

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

AMSANT CEO John Paterson

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

Indigenous health gap narrows

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

To view the full article click here.

palm of hand painted black yellow red

Image source: newsGP.

Telehealth a turnoff for some mob

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

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

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

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

Prisoners struggling to access health care

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

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

To read the full story click here.

prison corridor, yellow cell doors closed

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

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

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

To view this story in the Canberra CityNews click here.

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

New project inspires rural GP careers

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

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

You can view the media release here.

stethoscope hanging on wire gate in bush

Image source: Australian Doctor.

Dedicated youth mentoring programs

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

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

To view the media release click here.

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

Image sources: Koori Youth Council website and YourTown.

PIP – Indigenous Health Incentive

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

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

$20 note, stethoscope, tablets

Image source: AMA.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Foot Health Week

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

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

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

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

You can view the full paper here.

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

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

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

Six-week blitz to boost vax rates in remote NT

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

RFDS delivers more than 15,000 jabs at Wilcannia

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Daily Liberal here.

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

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

Cultural identification key to vaccinating mob

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in newsGP by RACGP here.

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

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

Smaller residential aged care models beneficial

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Videos of mob who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

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

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

Free dental services for NT kids and teenagers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culturally appropriate gambling harm support in NSW

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

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

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

You can read the media release here.

Winnunga News – August edition

In the August 2021 issue of Winnunga News:

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

You can view the newsletter here.

Winnunga News - August 2021

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

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

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

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

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

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

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

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

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

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

You can read the story in 7 News here.

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

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

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

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

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

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

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

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

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

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

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

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

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

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

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

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

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

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New online MBS tool

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

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

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

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

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

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

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

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

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

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

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Wake up call for mob who didn’t think COVID would affect them

Feature tile - Thu 2.9.21 - Wake up call - COVID-19 can affect mob

Wake up call – COVID-19 can affect mob!

As efforts intensify to deal with the NSW COVID-19 outbreak Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO joins The Conversation podcast to discuss politics with Michelle Grattan.

On western NSW, where there are hundreds of cases, Turner says crowded and bad housing make it “almost impossible to isolate and quarantine”. People in Wilcannia are “having to isolate in tents – in Australia in 2021”.

In WA First Nations communities, the low vaccine coverage “is a very significant concern to all of us. It has by far the lowest uptake, with less than 10% of its population 12 years and over fully vaccinated.”

“I would think that the first death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people […] has been a wake up call for some, especially those who didn’t think that COVID would affect them. The reality is sinking in for many of those,” Said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the podcast by The Conversation below.

 

Elder calling on community to get vaccinated

Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye is imploring local Indigenous communities to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The Aboriginal people need to get the COVID vaccine, not just for their own safety but for the community. There are no guarantees that COVID will not spread to our community, and put our people at risk,” she said.

Ms Coulthard-Waye is all too familiar with what diseases has meant for Aboriginal peoples in Australia, and does not want to unnecessarily lose community members.

“Back in the old times when our ancestors all died of measles, chicken pox and Spanish flu they could not be immunised,” she said.

“But they can now, and I want people to stop and think about our ancestors. It is the choice we can make for the sake of our people.”

You can read the article in The Transcontinental Port Augusta here.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

 

COVID vaccine blitz in southern NT

Australia’s largest Indigenous health organisation has launched a six-week COVID vaccination blitz, as figures show 79 per cent of its central Australian town-based clients are unvaccinated.

Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) which is based in Alice Springs, said she was extremely worried that thousands of the organisation’s clients were unvaccinated.

“It’s not a case of if the Delta strain will come here, it is a case of when,” Ms Ah Chee said.

Ms Ah Chee said that one of the obstacles the CAAC was trying to overcome was vaccine hesitancy.

“We want to see 50 per cent of our town clinic people over the age of 16 to have at least had one dose. So that’s about 2,400 additional people.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

 

In a related article in the Croakey Health Media, Ms Ah Chee talks about how Aboriginal communities across Australia must be safe before we open up. She maps out the risks and responses needed for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Central Australia, estimating that “every 30 people vaccinated has the potential to save a life should COVID-19 spread in the Aboriginal community in Alice Springs”.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

 

Increased access to rural and remote GP services

A new exceptional circumstance review for the Department of Health’s Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification will help regional and rural areas respond to unforeseen workforce and population changes which may be impacting access to local GP services. Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the DPA classification allows government to identify regions where locals face an increased challenge to access a GP. The DPA system assesses regions annually, using the most up to date available data to support approvals for priority access to internationally-trained doctors and bonded doctors.

“I have heard loud and clear the concerns that the current approach is not capturing current or emerging local pressures, sudden and unexpected changes and unmet demand,” Dr Gillespie said.

You can read the media release here.

Rural Health Crisis, GP Shortages. Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

 

Blueprint to end RHD

Implementation of a blueprint for ending rheumatic heart disease is likely to bring wider health benefits, given that the social, cultural and environmental factors involved are also responsible for many other health conditions common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

That’s according to an analysis by Vicki Wade and Catherine Halkon, who also examine intersections between the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the RHD Endgame Strategy: The blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031.

The authors are from RHDAustralia based at the Menzies School of Health Research, and the Telethon Kids Institute. Their analysis is timely as the COVID outbreak in western NSW provides a powerful reminder of the wide-ranging benefits of addressing determinants of health such as overcrowded and poor quality housing.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

 

SA unveils new Closing the Gap plan

The State Government has revealed its new plan to stamp out what the Premier describes as “institutional racism, discrimination and unconscious bias” across the public sector as part of a nationwide revamp of the Closing the Gap strategy.

The plan, estimated to cost several million dollars to implement, contains over 200 commitments from South Australian Government departments – some of which are already in train – to address Aboriginal inequality.

You can read the article in the In Daily here.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

 

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team

In 2019 the Quitline Enhancement Project was moved across to Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) employing two project officers to be a part of the Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team (QALT). The QALT Project Officers focus on promoting the Quitline and providing information about the Quitline service to primary health care services who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Western Australia (WA) to support and promote Quitline referrals and overall reducing the prevalence and incidence of smoking rates within WA.

​Their primary focus is to support the non-Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) recipients in the South West & Great Southern regions although they do provide support across state – wide of Western Australia.

They have a range of great resources including brochures and booklets that can be ordered online here.

If you want to begin your quit journey call the Quitline 13 78 48.

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team. ACHWA.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs

NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) and the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW invite you to attend the free webinar: Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

Founder, Carolyn Mee will introduce the Sound Scouts hearing screening app explaining the rationale behind its development, the rigour involved in ensuring it is fit for purpose (evidence based), how to use it and the supporting software developed to assist in wide scale hearing screening. The webinar will also include a live question and answer session.

This webinar will be hosted on Rural Health Pro’s Digital Venue, you will receive the link to the Digital Venue within your confirmation email.

12 – 1pm AEST, Wednesday 29 September 2021
Free webinar
Register here

Webinar: Sound Scouts - Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs encourage youth to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'ACCHOs encourage ATSI youth to get vaccinated' photo of youth getting vaccinated at Winnunga

ACCHOs encourage youth to get vaccinated

With the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW growing by the day, ACCHOs are working overtime to get local mob vaccinated. Currently, most COVID-19 cases in the region are Aboriginal people, with Guardian Australia reporting a figure of 40% being unvaccinated Aboriginal young people between 10 and 19-years-old.

CEO of Coonamble and Dubbo Aboriginal Medical Services and Chair of the AH&MRC Phil Naden said there has been anxiety across community since the COVID-19 outbreak started. Despite this, the Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi man said that both Dubbo and Coonamble AMS remain “strong” in their messaging. “We want people to get tested, we want people to get vaccinated and we want people to comply with the public health orders and remain in lockdown during this time,” he said.

Considering the high rate of young Aboriginal people contracting the virus, Naden notes there has been some vaccine hesitancy within the community’s young people. “Our young people seem to think that they are a bit more resilient to COVID-19,” he said. “We want people to be vigilant, and aware of the fact that we do have people passing away from this illness.”

Naden said there has also been barriers to public health education. “The circumstance for a lot of our people is that they haven’t got access to social media so we need to be proactively advocating and getting the message out to people in different ways,” Naden said.

Naden notes that the AMS have had strong support from organisations such as AH&MRC, the Western NSW Primary Health Network and NACCHO. NACCHO has developed a strong line of communication with ACCHOs working in the west and are supporting more point of care testing machines being placed in health services.

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here and to watch a video of Linda Burney MP urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

snapshot of Linda Burney urging mob to get vaccinated

Feature tile: Registered nurse Michele Clarke administers Kautai Tulikaki’s Pfizer vaccine at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos. Image source: Canberra Times.

Victorian First Nations lead vaccination rates

As lockdowns drag on and cases rise, there is one piece of COVID-19 data worth celebrating. Indigenous people in Victoria are leading the country in vaccination rates.

According to data released by the federal government last week, more than 50% of Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population eligible for a vaccine has received a first dose and around 30% are fully vaccinated.

“It is a bit of a success story but we’re not out of the woods,” CEO of Victoria’s peak body for Aboriginal community health organisations Jill Gallagher AO said. Ms Gallagher says Victoria’s success is due to the partnerships forged between the Victorian Department of Health and community-controlled Aboriginal health services. “It has been a joint effort and credit should be shared,” she said. “But the most obvious factor leading to success was access to vaccines.”

Ms Gallagher said it was very sad to see the rise in cases among Aboriginal communities in regional NSW.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal person's wrist with BDAC COVID-19 wristband

A Ballarat and District Aboriginal Corporation vaccination wrist band. Photo: BADAC. Image source: ABC News.

Make the Choice vaccination campaign

The Redcliffe Hospital community vaccination centre is hosting ‘special Saturdays’ over the next six weeks to support local First Nations families to get vaccinated. Starting from this Saturday, 21 August 2021, the Moreton Bay Integrated Care Centre based at the Redcliffe Hospital campus will accept walk-ins for First Nations people from 10am to 2.30pm. These hours will be extended if there is further demand.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the targeted vaccination push was a combined effort of the Queensland Government, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) as part of a new campaign to encourage more First Nations people to get vaccinated.

Last week the Queensland Government also released a Make the Choice campaign, which aims to help address the gap in vaccination rates between First Nations people and the general population. “The overall vaccination rate for First Nations people is almost half the vaccination rate of non-First Nations people. The campaign will be important to get the message out into the community – Make the Choice and get vaccinated” Minister D’Ath said.

QAIHC Chairperson, Matthew Cooke, added that a showpiece of the Make the Choice
campaign is a new website that has proudly been developed with the QAIHC. “The website is filled with helpful and easy to understand information about COVID-19
vaccinations and the vaccination process to help inform the choice about getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” Mr Cooke said.

“It’s been specifically created by QAIHC for Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Queensland clinicians and front-line workers in community health organisations and Hospital and Health Services. “We know people want to read and hear information from trusted sources to help them make an informed choice about their health. “Our message for every Queenslander that can be vaccinated is simple – make the choice and get vaccinated so we can work towards a pathway out of the pandemic.”

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

thumb with bright blue nail polish holding COVID-19 vaccination record showing Dose 1 & Dose 2

Image source: ABC News.

Youth specific gambling harm program

Most people in Aboriginal communities play the pokies or have a bet without any trouble. But for some people, gambling causes money problems, stress and arguments in the family. Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne says the Victorian Government is prioritising the needs of young First Nations people, launching Australia’s first youth specific First Nations Gambling Awareness program on Wadawurrung Country.

Aboriginal-owned organisation Strong Brother Strong Sister has been selected to deliver the Djilang Gambling Awareness Program, which will provide support to young people affected by their own or their family’s gambling activities. The program will receive $250,000 over 15 months to help young Wadawurrung people pursue self-determination through social, emotional, and health and wellbeing measures, with a key focus on minimising gambling harm.

You can view the media release in full here and a video below featuring Victorian Aboriginal community members yarning about gambling.

Remote PHC Manuals review update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) are currently being reviewed and updated, with monthly updates being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date throughout the review process. You can view the RPHCM August 2021 progress update here.

The Primary Review process has been completed for 60% of the protocols and the RPHCM project team is on track to complete all of the Primary Reviews by December 2021.

Protocol groups have been endorsed for: (1) Resuscitation and trauma (2) Emergencies in pregnancy and birthing (3) Remote medicines and (4) Child respiratory and the protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: (1) Skin (2) Infectious disease (3) Injuries and (4) Disability and dementia.

You are invited to contact the RPHCM project team here for more information or to provide input. You can also view the Manuals online or purchase printed copies (limited supplies) here.4 Remote PHC Manuals stacked, blue, pink, purple, green

NDIS Ready Yarning Circle cancelled

Unfortunately, the Yarning Circle for Remote and Very Remote ACCHOs scheduled for September 28 – 30 2021 in Alice Springs is now cancelled. Due to COVID-19 outbreaks locking down states and threatening many of our communities, we are not able to run the event at this time.

NACCHO thanks you for your ongoing support and commitment to this event and said it was shaping up to be a fantastic couple of days. NACCHO said that while it is incredibly disappointing to have to cancel, the health and safety of our members, their staff and communities are of primary importance.

If we can, NACCHO hopes to hold the Yarning Circle sometime in the first half of 2022.

Please note, NACCHO will not be running an alternative online event at this stage, however may look to do something later in the year when the current outbreaks are resolved.

Please begin the process of cancelling your travel and accommodation. NACCHO recognises the administrative burden of cancelling bookings and are available to assist if needed. If you incur any cancellation fees, please email NACCHO here and they will arrange for these to be reimbursed by NACCHO.C

Census 2021 – there’s still time

The ABS Director of Centre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics, Tony Grubb, has written a letter outlining the status of the 2021 Census to date and explaining it is not too late to complete the census. In the letter Mr Grubb says:

“Over 8.7 million Census forms have been submitted to date. This is a very positive result, and we are now encouraging those who have not completed to do so as soon as possible. I am writing to seek your support in helping make sure everyone is counted.

Data from the 2021 Census will be more important than ever, providing valuable insights for all of us into how the pandemic has changed life in Australia and helping to plan our recovery.

In remote areas, the Census is conducted over an extended period between July and August. This is so we can cover vast areas and visit multiple communities. If your community hasn’t been counted yet, please don’t worry. Our remote teams are still working with communities across Australia and have not completed our Census work.”

If you have any questions about how your community will complete the Census, please reach out to your local contact or email the ABS using this link.

NT Health Worker Excellence Awards

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said finalists have been unveiled for the 2021 NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards set to be held on Thursday 2 September 2021. The outstanding work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals to support their families, communities and healthcare system in the Territory will take centre stage.

The awards are held in partnership with the Australian Government Health Department, Darwin Sunrise Rotary Club, United Workers Union, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT and the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners.

To view the media release in full click here.

Sunrise NT health worker Desleigh Shields listening to patient's heart with stethoscope

Desleigh Shields followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a healthcare worker in Barunga. Photo: Alexia Attwood Image source: 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Daffodil Day 2021

This year Daffodil Day falls on Friday 27 August. It is a chance for Australians to come together and show their Flower Power; their ability to create change in the lives of people impacted by cancer, by funding cancer research.

In 2020, the Daffodil Day Appeal raised almost $1.5 million for life-saving cancer research, but looked a little different. Despite a global pandemic, Australians still dug deep and donated online to show their commitment to a cancer free future.

Sadly, with nearly 150,000 Australians diagnosed with cancer every year, most people have been touched by this heartbreaking disease.

You can find more information about Daffodil Day here.

torso of person in white coat holding bunch of daffodils, yellow pop out with text 'It's Daffodil Day - Friday 27 August 2021'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 impact on young mob

COVID-19 impact on young mob

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke with Dan Bourchier on ABC News about the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW and the vaccination roll-out and uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Turner said that it was very concerning to see the average age of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who contracted COVID-19 in NSW in the last day was 24 years old.

“I am really concerned about the impact it’s having on our young people and I implore you all to please stay at home,” said Ms Turner.

She also said she was very pleased to see that daily increases of the Pfizer vaccine is being rolled out in Western NSW.

“We really need all of the state health authorities to be working in partnership and collaborating with our community controlled health sector and making sure they have a constant supply,” she said.

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

Lieutenant General John Frewen, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and CEO of NACCHO Pat Turner have co-signed a letter addressing COVID-19 vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The letter that will be sent to Australian COVID-19 vaccine delivery partners states that we all have an important role to play in providing culturally safe vaccination services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“For all Indigenous Australians to be vaccinated and bridge the current gap, we are asking the whole primary care sector to work together and ensure there is equitable COVID-19 vaccine uptake across Australia.”

You can download the letter here.

An article by Croakey Health Media addresses the same issue: Rushed efforts to halt the alarming spread of COVID-19 in Aboriginal communities in western NSW will fail if they do not have cultural safety at their core. That’s the warning from national, state and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders. Responses that are not culturally safe will risk adding to vaccine hesitancy and disengagement with public health orders and add to the trauma experienced by Aboriginal people amid a public health emergency.

Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), said there are “huge risks” in “shipping out” mainstream health teams that have not worked before in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or done cultural safety training. Failure to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of “knowing, being and doing” often ends up in non-Indigenous people and services making uninformed judgements or blaming communities “and then that turns people off being vaccinated”, she said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service's Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service’s Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

The Army has been called into western NSW, and drive-through clinics are being set up in Dubbo, in a race to vaccinate the community as the COVID outbreak worsens. The outback town of Bourke had its first case confirmed earlier this week, along with further cases in Dubbo, Walgett and Mudgee.

“Nearly 40 per cent are kids between the ages of 10 and 19,” Western NSW Health’s Mr McLachlan said.

“This is a really serious warning for parents of kids running around everywhere at the moment. Please stay home.”

Mr McLachlan said there were low rates of vaccination among Aboriginal children and called on people to get vaccinated, and stressed that Pfizer is available. He urged residents to reach out to local Aboriginal Medical Centres, GP’s, vaccination hubs, respiratory clinics and prompted use of the Health Direct website.

You can read the article online at the NITV website.
To check where you can get your vaccine, visit the Health Direct website here.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations take action to prevent COVID-19 outbreak

feature tile text 'First Nations take action to PREVENT COVID-19 outbreak' AMSANT developed poster black top half white font test 'STAY SAFE!', bottom half red text 'Stay on Country, Care for Family' - middle vector hand giving thumbs up sign

First Nations take action to prevent outbreak

Community leaders are monitoring their borders closely as half the country remains in lockdown due to the highly contagious Delta variant. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert after the latest outbreak of the coronavirus forced lockdowns in NSW, Queensland, WA and the NT.

In the top end, The Northern Land Council NLD (which oversees approximately 51,000 First Nations people that live in around 200 communities) has extended the suspension of permits to enter and remain on Aboriginal Land until 1pm on Friday, when the lockdown of the Greater Darwin region is expected to end. In a statement NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said “I congratulate all of our mob who have done a great job looking after families so far and this extension of the suspension of permits is another way we can do our best to make sure people stay safe.”

The organisation’s CEO, Marion Scrymgour, said that the move will not disrupt the delivery of essential services to remote communities. “We need to do whatever it takes to make sure our mob stays [safe]. Communities right across the NLC area have told us very clearly that we have to stop people traveling unless they are performing an essential service or function,” she said.

To view the SBS NITV article in full click here.

A Beagle Bay (WA) community member receives a coronavirus vaccine in April, 2021

A Beagle Bay community member receives a coronavirus vaccine in April 2021. Photo Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: SBS NITV website. Feature tile image source: AMSANT developed poster.

In a rapid response to the emerging COVID-19 concerns in the NT the NLC has also produced new material in the Kriol language, spoken throughout much of the southern parts of the NLC area.

NLC CEO praised the efforts of the workers at the Meigim Kriol Strongbala program who prepared the translation: “The Meigim Kriol Strongbala mob have provided a really quick turnaround to call by the NLC’s Executive Council to get information out to our mob in their own languages in this very urgent situation. We’ve learnt from our experience when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 that people out bush need straight forward information in their own language.”

To view the NLC’s media release click here.

poster in Kriol black half at top, red at bottom, Aboriginal vector hand with thumbs up in the middle, text 'COVID-19? Wi garra holot maindim mijal! Stap la kemp! Translation: Weigim Kriol Strongbala'

COVID-19 poster in Kriol, Meigim Kriol Strongbala. Image source: munanga linguist (@MunangaLinguist) Twitter.

Getting messages out from city to bush

John Paterson, CEO AMSANT has released a statement about getting the COVID-19 vaccine messages out to remote communities:

“I’m not telling anyone anything you don’t know when I say things are pretty chaotic across the country with the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment. Not least here in the Territory with lockdowns in Darwin, and now Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Nevertheless, AMSANT member services are responding magnificently across the Territory despite limitations on movements and interruptions and shortages of vaccine supplies. We are also working closely with many other Aboriginal community-controlled across both areas to work constructively to get the best results for people in town camps and those country men and women who are homeless or are stuck in town.

At the same time, we are producing material to encourage people to stay away from town, look after their families and care for their communities. A big part of this, in the near to long term, is to ramp up our work in promoting vaccination among our mob. With confusing messages, this is what has led to what I call “vaccine caution”. Not “hesitancy” or “resistance”.  Blackfellas aren’t stupid—we want to think about things carefully—with caution.

An initial part of our communications is by producing a series of designs promoting vaccination and the benefits to all of us: our Elders, our Kids and our Communities. These are being distributed—free of charge—for our mob to use on social media, as posters, banners and T-shirts—you name it!

And, as a member of NACCHO, AMSANT are more than happy for our members across the First Nations to use as they think will work in your own areas. This might involve your local languages; local branding with your logos; local messaging. As far as we are concerned, they are yours to use, and we will assist in any way we can.

If you want to get digital copies of the [images developed by AMSANT]—and any material in the future—contact vaccines@amsant.org.au. We would love to see material produced from other areas, as well.”

horizontal banner black yellow red with vector hand making 'V' sign in the yellow middle section, text 'VACCINATE! Protect our Elders!' - AMSANT logo in bottom left of the banner

One of the COVID-19 images developed by AMSANT.

Barriers to getting Indigenous people vaccinated

First Nations people are considered especially vulnerable to COVID-19, but health workers say they’re battling on many fronts to get them immunised. Listen to a ABC News video clip about vaccine update, featuring epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino who has been an advisor on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to remote communities across Australia here.

snapshot from ABC News video, image of Aboriginal flay & text 'vaccine uptake, ABC logo news'

According to Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO, the snap lockdowns have highlighted the vulnerability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as vaccination rates remain low. Dr Casey said about 6% of Indigenous people are fully protected with both doses and despite frontline organisations spending months encouraging remote communities to come forward for vaccinations, mixed messaging around the AstraZeneca jab had put many people off. “The hesitancy has occurred because of the initial concerns around AstraZeneca and then the changes of birthdates (eligibility age brackets) continually over the last several weeks,” she told ABC radio.

Ms Casey said coronavirus immunisation rates were noticeably lower than previous rollouts of flu vaccinations and there was a clear need to improve messaging. “But we’ve seen just in the last couple of days an increase to around 5,000 vaccinations happening.”

To view The West Australian article in full click here.

Min Ken Wyatt against DoH COVID-19 Vaccination health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines banner

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM PM. Image source: The West Australian.

AMA President on vaccine rollout changes

In an interview  earlier this week AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid commented on changes to the COVID-19 rollout:

“Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister regarding the vaccine program after National Cabinet, indicates a really significant change in the vaccine program. It means that Australians under the age of 40, anyone over the age of 18, will be potentially able to access the AstraZeneca vaccine. The advice, though, from the AMA, and from doctors, is the same. The experts have said that the preferred vaccine under the age of 60 is the Pfizer vaccine and that is still the health advice. However, the PM’s announcement does mean that for those who really want their vaccine now or who think that they are happy to take the risks associated with AZ, that’s actually an option now for all Australians.”

“We, like the PM, recognise that there has been a desire in the community for access to AZ. People have been saying ‘I want it, I’m happy to make that call’. So, whilst the AMA does support ATAGI’s advice and says you should get Pfizer, this change is something that will free the vaccine up. It is an approved vaccine for anybody over the age of 18 and Australians in conjunction with their GPs can make that decision.”

To view the AMA media release containing a transcript of the interview with Dr Omar Khorshid click here.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid standing against blue banner covered in AMA logo

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid. Image source: ABC News.

Behaviour modification crucial to stop COVID-19

Hygiene habits are set but social distancing behaviours slip over time  One of the longest-running studies examining COVID-prevention behaviours shows hygiene changes have been sustained but not complex changes, like social distancing, with important policy implications. A longitudinal survey from just after the first lockdown in Australia in 2020 shows people have maintained simple hygiene measures in response to the pandemic but reduced their physical distancing over time, indicating that lockdowns may be required to stop outbreaks.

The study by University of Sydney researchers in the School of Public Health and Sydney Health Literacy Lab, Faculty of Medicine and Health, found people who tended to keep up distancing behaviours were more concerned about the pandemic, had stronger feelings of responsibility towards their community, and felt more confident about their ability to keep up the behaviours.

To view The University of Sydney media release click here.

AMSANT poster text 'social distancing in the NT, 10 footies, 6 boomerangs, 5 sea turtle, 1 small saltie' with line figures of people either end of the different quantities, yellow & blue striped background

Image source: The Conversation.

Medicine shortage campaign

Do you know what to do if your regular medicine becomes unavailable?

Medicine shortages can be stressful, but knowing where to go for information can help.

The TGA publishes a range of information about medicine shortages on their website. You and your health professional can use this information to discuss options for continued treatment if you are affected by a shortage.

Visit the Medicine Shortages Hub page on the TGA website here for the latest updates and information to help you access medicines during a shortage.

5 empty foil tablet packets, each packet with 10 empty tablets

Image source: AJP.com.au.

Research to improve First Nations’ health

The federal government has allocated $180 million to ground-breaking medical research projects around Australia to improve health outcomes, including for Australians with cancer, dementia, brain injuries, heart problems and neurofibromatosis. $20.1 million in new funding will support 16 projects from real-time cardiac monitoring, to after stroke care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, from medicine management for stroke patients to arm strength and rehabilitation.

Seven projects will receive a share of $7.4 million to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the 2020 Indigenous Health Research Grant Opportunity:

  • The University of Adelaide – to work with Aboriginal families and health and social service providers to assess the feasibility of a novel care package to reduce cannabis and alcohol use and social stress in pregnancy
  • The Council of Queensland Institute of Medical Research – to develop cultural sensitivity and capability through communication training for mental health professionals
  • University of NSW – to understand how cultural resilience impacts Aboriginal health and quality of life
  • University of Sydney – two projects: (1) to understand the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and wellbeing to health: Implementation of the What Matters 2 Adults wellbeing measure; and (2) VOICE – Validating Outcomes by Including Consumer Experience. Developing a patient reported experience measure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing primary health care
  • La Trobe University – Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future: Trauma-integrated perinatal care to improve health outcomes for Indigenous parents and infants in a rural setting
  • The Sax University – Indigenous Led Evaluation of Aboriginal Programs (ILEAP)

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

portrait of Dr Yvonne Clark from Uni of Adelaide

Dr Yvonne Clark’s research will assess the feasibility of a novel care package to reduce cannabis and alcohol use and social stress in pregnancy. Image source: Centre of Research Excellence Safer Families website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Lack of cultural understanding can inflict grave harm

Lack of cultural understanding can inflict grave harm

Lack of cultural understanding by mental health practitioners can continue to inflict grave individual and intergenerational harms for First Nations people, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ 2021 Congress was told yesterday.

Cultural experiences and the legacies of dispossession, genocide and trauma are poorly understood and too often pathologised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Maori people. As a result, symptom control is prioritised over strengths and healing, with a real risk that ongoing generations could be lost to child removal, the justice system and suicide.

These were the messages of a thought provoking series of sessions at this week’s annual Congress of Australian and New Zealand psychiatrists, where Indigenous clinicians from across the two countries called for a decolonisation of mental health systems, and a new reckoning with First Nations ways of knowing and experiencing the world.

Palyku woman and WA’s Australian of the Year Professor Helen Milroy, eminent New Zealand psychiatrists Allister Bush and Mark Lawrence and tohunga –  or Maori healer –  Wiremu NiaNia, offered rare insights at #RANZCP2021 into cultural experiences of mental health in a structurally violent and dismissive Western system.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Travel NQ website.

AHCSA first to gain Rainbow Tick

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) has been successful in achieving Rainbow Tick Accreditation – a nationally recognised benchmark for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI+) inclusive practice. In addition, AHCSA is proud to announce that we are the first Aboriginal organisation to accomplish this. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identify as LGBTI+ are commonly subjected to the combined effects of racism and discrimination based on sexuality and/or gender identities.

Research findings suggest that suicidality, substance misuse and homelessness are primary health concerns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ people. There is a pressing need for service providers to increase their awareness of the contemporary issues faced by this community and to take concrete steps to create more inclusive and supportive health care.

Throughout the accreditation process, AHCSA was guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ community members to develop unique and innovative training and support centred on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ experiences and needs.
Although achieving this accreditation ensures that AHCSA is a safe space, it also acknowledges that there is more work to be done.

To view AHCSA’s media release click here.

Choices program expanded to new sites

The first program of its kind in WA, Choices connects vulnerable people at risk of poor health outcomes with culturally sensitive social and mental health support upon discharge from hospital emergency departments. Choices was developed in response to substantial evidence of the over-representation of people with multiple health and social needs presenting to emergency departments.

Since launching in late 2017, the Choices program has used peer and case workers to connect with thousands of people and offer supportive intervention through drawing on their lived experience in similar situations. The service provides care coordination and supports people to access and remain connected to primary healthcare services in the community.

To view the media release here.

Jason is on a new path after meeting his partner Kirsty and taking part in the Choices program at Royal Perth Hospital. Credit: Daniel Wilkins / The Sunday Times

Jason is on a new path after meeting his partner Kirsty and taking part in the Choices program at Royal Perth Hospital. Photo: Daniel Wilkins. Image source: Perth Now.

First Nations people look for climate justice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are leading the fight for climate justice and climate action in Australia, but continue to be left out of critical national work on bushfires and other climate disasters, a First Nations Climate Justice webinar heard recently. The all-Indigenous panel discussion heard that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge holders and communities “shouldn’t be fighting for space anymore” in climate policy and research, and that climate and emergency action should recognise their deep connections to country.

Indigenous researcher Bhiamie Williamson had to stop to hold back tears when he was asked last month whether Aboriginal communities along Australia’s east coast had recovered from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires. “No,” he said after a pause. “I think there is just a deep and unending sadness that lingers in those places, you know, and may do for the rest of their lives,” he told the First Nations Climate Justice webinar hosted by the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.

To view the full story click here.

Photo: Tony Birch. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

Budget hits & misses – more reaction

Health groups have raised concerns about the Federal Budget’s lack of action on climate change and prevention, and also welcomed investment in areas ranging from allied health to health and medical research.

A Croakey article wraps Budget reaction from the Australian Medical Students Association, National Health and Medical Research Council, and Allied Health Professions Australia, as well as linking to a detailed analysis by Macquarie University’s Centre for the Health Economy.

To view the article in full click here.

Colonoscopy resources for our Mob

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has developed new culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to provide useful information about having a colonoscopy procedure.

The resources include a video and fact sheet that will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers understand their rights, choices and what they need to do if they are referred for a colonoscopy. Healthcare professionals and health service organisations working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are encouraged to discuss and share these resources with their colleagues, and patients and their carers.

You can watch the consumer video here and download the consumer fact sheet here.vector images of computer screen with text 'Having a colonoscopy?' & diagram of bowel & hand holding colonoscopy fact sheet

GP COVID-19 update

Join Professor Michael Kidd AM, Dr Lucas de Toca and Dr Martin Leidvogel from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (AEST) Thursday 20 May for the latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs. At the webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome. When you’re ready to join, click on this link.

The webinar will have live captioning and be available to view on-demand via the same link within a few hours of the live stream.  If you aren’t subscribed to this mailing list, join the more than 9,000 GPs who stay up to date with the latest official COVID-19 advice by subscribing here.

banner text ' General Practice COVID-19 update Professor Michael Kidd AM' portrait of Prof Kidd, blue background & blue puple image of covid-19 virus cell

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Tomorrow, Thursday 20 May 2021 is the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments. From both a civil rights and a business perspective, people with disabilities are underserved. Common disability/impairments include:

  • Visual – People who are blind need alternative text descriptions for meaningful images and use the keyboard and not a mouse to interact with interactive elements.
  • Hearing – People who are deaf or hard of hearing will need captioning for video presentations and visual indicators in place of audio cues.
  • Motor – People with motor impairments may need alternative keyboards, eye control or some other adaptive hardware to help them type and navigate on their devices.
  • Cognitive – An uncluttered screen, consistent navigation and the use of plain language would be useful for people with different learning disabilities/impairments.

For information about GAAD click here.

banner tect 'Global Accessibility Awareness Day - Thursday 20 May' vector of hand, ear, eye, brain

Image source: Catalyst IT website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

Attention NACCHO members! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant applications are NOW OPEN!

IBSF offers funding to eligible Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 member ACCHOS.

ACCHOs have been contacted via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

Applications close on the 14 May 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions.

Australia made a plan to protect Indigenous elders from COVID-19. It worked

Washington Post story is all praise for us on how effectively we have managed to keep COVID-19 out of our communities!

From Alaska to the Amazon, Indigenous people are more likely to get sick with or die of covid-19, as the pandemic magnifies deep-rooted health and socioeconomic inequities.
Not only have Indigenous Australians recorded far fewer infections per capita than their global counterparts, they are six times less likely than the wider Australian population to contract the coronavirus, government data shows.
There have been no cases in remote communities, and not a single Aboriginal elder has died. Of the 149 cases involving Indigenous people since the start of the pandemic nationwide, few were serious enough to require hospitalization. By contrast, covid-19 is killing Native Americans at a faster rate than any other group in the United States.
Dawn Casey, who co-chairs a government task force established to develop a virus plan for Indigenous communities, said Aboriginal doctors expressed alarm during weekly meetings at the number of flights arriving from countries where the virus had taken hold. “We could see what was happening overseas,” she said. “If it got into remote communities, it would wipe them out.”
Pat Turner, chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization, wrote to state and federal leaders in March 2020, asking them to use their powers to order the closure of remote communities to stop visitors from entering. Accordingly, the communities were sealed off.
“I think increasingly the Australian government is looking at the Aboriginal-controlled model and seeing they can be really effective,” said Jason Agostino, an epidemiologist and medical adviser on Aboriginal health.
To read the full story in the Washington Post click here.

Join Dementia Australia in calling on Governments to commit to action

Dementia Australia is calling on the Australian Federal Government to act with urgency in response to the Final Report, Care, Dignity and Respect of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

An estimated 472,000 Australians live with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million in 2058. I want dementia to be core business for government #dementia #auspol

Dementia is one of the largest health and social challenges facing Australia and the world. As well as being the chronic condition of the 21st century it is a debilitating, progressive and ultimately terminal disease and the second leading cause of death of Australians annually and the leading cause of death of women. Many Australians living with dementia require care, whether this is in their own home, or in an aged care setting – 68 per cent of people living in care have dementia. This of course includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians.

Since September 2018 people living with dementia, their families and carers have entrusted the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety with their views, personal experiences and often traumatic stories. The Royal Commission’s Final Report captures the essence of those issues and demonstrates that the Commissioners have listened.

Dementia Australia’s Roadmap for Quality Dementia Care has been shared with all sides of government in the lead up to the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report and the 2021-22 Federal Budget.

The Roadmap is the product of extensive consultations with people living with dementia and reflects all of the recommendations in relation to dementia made in the Royal Commission’s final report.

We encourage you all to join this plea to the Federal Government to implement this much required Roadmap.

For any of your stakeholders that may need guidance on how to call on the Government to implement the Roadmap, please refer them to Dementia Australia’s webpage, Engaging your local Member of Parliament, Senator or political candidate.

The page features draft social media posts and tiles, letter and email templates, scripts and guides for calls and meetings and many more resources.

Thank you in advance for any support you can provide and should you have any questions please contact Alex Shaw – 03 9816 5731 or Alex.Shaw@dementia.org.au 

Joint Council on Closing the Gap will discuss progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet Friday 16 April to discuss the progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that came into effect in July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss:

  • the impact of COVID-19 on all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the success of the partnership approach between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and governments in responding to the pandemic.
  • the release of the Joint Council’s response to the first annual Partnership Health Check report of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap assessing the successes and challenges faced by the Partnership since it came into effect in 2019. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time, including revisions to the Joint Council Terms of Reference and development of a risk register.
  • the release of its Joint Communications Strategy to ensure engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to build their awareness and ownership of the National Agreement and to assist them to talk to governments about how to apply the commitments to communities and organisations across the country.
  • the next stages of the Strategic Plan for Funding the Development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Sector (Strategic Plan) to guide investment from the joint funding pool committed by governments to support Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement, investment priorities for the Health and Disability Sectors.
  • revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect.
  • allowing more time for the development of Sector Strengthening Plans and Place-Based Partnerships to facilitate community and organisation engagement.

Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Australasian Society for HIV Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (2020) Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Sydney: This national consensus testing guideline for sexually transmitted infections, is for use by primary care clinicians working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read more click here.

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service Newsletter for March 2021

To read the BRAMS March newsletter click here.

Delivering more Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the NT

The Australian Government is investing $8.75 million over four years to provide additional health services in the Northern Territory as part of its commitment to strengthen Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Delivered through the Northern Territory Pathways to Community Control program (NT P2CC), the funding will provide First Nations people with access to effective, high quality, comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services.

This investment builds on the $4 million already committed for transition activities occurring in West Arnhem, demonstrating the strong partnerships that exist between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government and other key members of the NT Aboriginal Health Forum, including the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT). Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said community driven approache  s to delivering health services were delivering major benefits for First Nations people.

Read the full media release here.

Have Your Say – Participate in Survey to Contribute to National Evaluation

Indigenous Eye Health at The University of Melbourne is asking people who work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector to participate in an anonymous survey as part of a national evaluation.

The survey asks questions about your experience working in the sector, what kinds of activities you’ve seen or been involved with at a regional level, what changes have happened over time, what has supported this work and what more is needed to improve eye care and eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It takes around 20 minutes to complete the survey.

Those who complete the survey can go into the draw for a ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ Diabetes Eye Care T-Shirt or a pair of Deadly Eyewear Sunglasses (there are 20 of each to be won!).

The survey is being run by independent evaluators from ARTD Consultants. If you would prefer to complete the survey over the telephone you can do this by contacting Rachel Aston from ARTD at rachel.aston@artd.com.au

To complete the survey click here.

Deaths in custody: Canberra Aboriginal health leader calls for justice system overhaul on royal commission anniversary

A new royal commission is needed into Canberra’s jail, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, to reset the entire system, says Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs.

“I’m always concerned there’s going to be another death in custody.”

Read the full story released in the Canberra Times here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah chief executive Julie Tongs is fearful another Indigenous life will be lost in custody. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

AMA Media statement: Time for Calm and Clear Information on Vaccine Rollout

Australians should trust the advice of the experts when deciding on their COVID-19 vaccination, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“The AMA has supported the decisions made by independent scientific experts – the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) – to keep Australians safe throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The Federal Government has also accepted this advice. While the changed advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine may seem confusing, and further delays to the rollout are frustrating, Australia is in the very fortunate position of being able to watch and learn from the experiences overseas.

“Communicating in this rapidly changing environment has been a challenge for the Government but it is critical for Australia’s future that public confidence in the vaccine program is maintained.

“The patient-GP relationship is one of the most trusted and important relationships in every person’s life.

“Your GP will give you the best advice about any medicine or vaccine. They will offer you what they believe to be of medical benefit to you and explain any risks and benefits of having or not having the treatment.

“They will ask you if you need any clarification and answer your questions. You can then decide whether you want the treatment.

“This is the same as for any treatment whether it is an antibiotic, surgery or a vaccine.

“GPs are guided by Government advice about AstraZeneca, and the risks for the under-50 cohort – most of whom would not be eligible for the vaccine until later this year anyway.
“The advice around the incredibly rare but serious thrombotic events associated with AZ vaccination has made decision making more difficult for those under 50 who are currently eligible for the vaccine. The AZ vaccine remains very safe and effective, and access to the alternative, preferred Pfizer vaccine is likely to be delayed.

“Our advice for Australians with questions is to make an appointment with their GP for a full discussion about the possible risks and benefits of having the vaccine, or of not having it, taking into account of their own specific circumstances.

“There has been some talk about doctors being concerned about potential litigation from side-effects of any vaccines. Please be assured that all registered doctors are fully covered – your GP is more concerned with your health.”

Do you think the state of epilepsy care in Australia could be improved?

Do you believe there is enough support, resources and information available?

Epilepsy Smart Australia invites you to participate in an online survey to better understand your needs and the gaps that exist in epilepsy services and supports in Australia.  The survey is open from April 1st to May 31st and should only take you 20 minutes.

This research is being conducted as part of the Epilepsy Smart Australia Program Pilot and will be managed in conjunction with independent consultant KPMG. Your responses will remain anonymous.

Tap this link to access the survey and have your say today!

If you would like more information about how to get involved on a deeper level, please contact Mohana Ryan on 0436 404 895 or mryan@epilepsyfoundation.org.au.

Alternatively, you can email au-fm-EpilepsySmart@kpmg.com.au.

Elephant in the Room! – Kununurra

A training program designed for professionals working in community services, health and education who provide services to children, youth, adults and families who have experienced trauma by Complex Trauma Training WA.

The ‘8 principles of trauma-informed practice’ will be discussed and practical strategies to implement these in various contexts will be explored.

Learning outcomes for this course:

  • Define complex trauma.
  • Discuss the immediate and long term impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s).
  • Identify the impact of trauma on: brain development, attachment and memory.
  • Define Trauma-Informed care.
  • Discuss 8 Principles of trauma-informed care.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to create safe environments and build strong relationships with children, youth, adults and families you work with.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to support workers, including self-care strategies to manage secondary traumatic stress (vicarious trauma).
  • Identify resources & further professional development to implement trauma-informed practices in your workplace.

To know more about the training and to register click here.