NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

feature tile text 'urgent support from Commonwealth Government needed in face of NT COVID-19 crisis' & photo of Aboriginal man being tested in Katherine

Note: the image in the feature tile is of COVID-19 testing in Katherine, NT. Image source: The Canberra Times.

APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) has called for urgent Commonwealth Government support in the face of a growing emergency in the COVID-19 response in the NT.

“Despite a lot of hard work and good collaboration on the part of government and Aboriginal community sector organisations, the haste towards living with COVID is pushing the health system, Aboriginal community service organisations and the communities they serve to the brink”, APO NT spokesperson, John Paterson said.

“We need urgent direct support from the Commonwealth Government. The multiple outbreaks we are now seeing in remote communities and in our towns have been fuelled by a critical shortage of workforce, testing and logistical capacity that is overwhelming local health services and exhausted staff, leading to rapid, avoidable spread of the virus”.

“Critical shortages in availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) is leaving Aboriginal health and community service organisations with insufficient capacity to test their own staff, let alone the needs of the community members they serve. The result is that infected individuals are not being identified and are spreading the virus undetected.”

To read the APO NT media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson wearing a covid-19 mask

John Paterson, CEO AMSANT/Chairperson APO NT. Image source: ABC News.

Calls for military help on NT outbreaks

APO NT Spokesman John Paterson said there are not enough health workers on the ground, and local health centre staff are exhausted and at breaking point. NT virus response teams are also struggling to transport and isolate infected people, who are “being left to isolate in overcrowded and inadequate accommodation”.

Mr Paterson said the labour shortage had slowed the remote vaccination rollout in communities with ACCHOs. A surge workforce is urgently needed to deal with the current crisis,” he said while raising concern over “a looming food security crisis” due to supply chain issues. This is the time, when the essential elements of the COVID response are faltering, to enlist the direct support of the Commonwealth and defence force,” he said.

To view The Canberra Times article in full click here.

back of 3 uniformed military staff in PPE walking in remote community

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Useful COVID-19 readiness resources

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Queensland Government have produced a number of useful COVID-19 readiness resources. Although some of the information contained in the documents below are Queensland-specific, the information is useful across all jurisdictions.

front of QAIHC COVID-19 Readiness Family Plan document - Aboriginal family at table with paper & pens

NDIS COVID-19 vax access support continues

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC has announced support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants to access the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters will continue into 2022.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has a temporary pricing arrangement in place, for eligible providers to support participants to get their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

This support for the first two doses will be extended to the end of March. An additional $75 payment is now available for eligible providers to support participants to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

The COVID-19 booster support will be backdated to 8 November, and available to 30 June 2022. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of NDIS participants has been our utmost priority, and this extension ensures eligible participants will continue to be supported to get the COVID-19 vaccination,” Minister Reynolds said.

To view the Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here and for more information, click on the NDIS coronavirus page here.

vax being drawn from vial

Image source: The Guardian.

Pharmacists embedded into ACCHOs

Consideration for the funding of the Integrating Pharmacists in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease management (IPAC project) goes before the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in March 2022.

The public summary document for IPAC is available here and NACCHO would like to invite you to make a submission on behalf of your ACCHO in support of funding for pharmacists in ACCHOs as per the model proposed in the IPAC project.

Submissions can be made on the provided ‘survey’ form on the above link or by direct email. If you require help to interpret public documents or if you have other questions, please contact the NACCHO IPAC team using this email link.

Aboriginal hand reaching for pharmacy supplies from plastic draw

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service (NT) website.

Tangentyere Youth Development Model

Young people living on Alice Springs Town Camps will be supported through a new multifaceted Youth Development Model designed by Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation.

Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw said Town Campers had identified the need for a program model that supported young people to have safe, healthy lives and make positive choices about their futures. “Culture is key to our youth development model,” Mr Shaw said “We know that practising cultural activities increases the wellness of all Aboriginal people, including young people. Culture is fundamental is each of the four elements of the model and is incorporated into each activity
and program.”

To view the Tangentyere Council’s media release click here and to access the model click here.

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden announcing the Youth Development Model,  Thursday 16 December 2021.

Cervical cancer conference invites abstracts

The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control is inviting abstract submissions for the Preventing Cervical Cancer 2022 Hybrid Conference (PCC2022), a hybrid face-to-face and virtual event from 23–25 March 2022.

This is a great opportunity to present and discuss your findings with other researchers in the field and contribute towards the elimination of cervical cancer. Abstracts can be submitted for selected presentation as a pre-recorded oral or virtual poster.

The abstract deadline is Friday 28 January 2022 and you can submit an abstract here.

aqua banner text 'preventing cervical cancer 2022 - hybrid conference 23-25 March 2022' photo of 3 women with arms around each other

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

Feature tile - Tue 14.12.21 - Permanent telehealth

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Wednesday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from MiVision – Delivering telehealth in Western Australia.

Permanent telehealth to strengthen health system

In a media release published yesterday 13 December 2021 by the Australian Government, telehealth will become a permanent feature of primary health care, which has been transformational to health care delivery and underpinned much of the Government’s successful COVID-19 response.

The Morrison Government is providing $106 million over four years to support permanent telehealth services, ensuring greater flexibility to patients and doctors for the delivery of health care; allowing GPs, specialists, and allied health professionals to continue to consult with their regular patients by phone or online.

The AMA says the health of all Australians will benefit from the availability of telehealth.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said telehealth also improved access to healthcare for people who found it difficult to take time off work; could not leave children or people they were caring for and who live out of town and away from their GP or non-GP specialist.

You can  read the AMA media release here and the Department of Health’s media release here.

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Jigalong patient and carer being supported by Stephen Copeland, optometrists via telehealth. Image credit: mivision.com.au

Urgency to contain Katherine and Big Rivers outbreak

In a media release published by The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) yesterday 13 December 2021, AMSANT expressed alarm and deep concern at the rapidly increasing numbers of cases stemming from the Katherine COVID-19 outbreak and its spread into communities in the surrounding regions.

“AMSANT is today calling on the NT Government to take immediate steps to strengthen their response to this continuing crisis”, AMSANT Chief Executive officer, John Paterson, said.

“We acknowledge the very good job that the NT Government has done in responding to the outbreaks in Robinson River, Binjari and Rockhole, however, subsequent measures to contain the Katherine outbreak have been unsuccessful.”

“News of a likely positive case in Timber Creek and multiple positive wastewater results appearing in numerous remote communities underscores the growing and urgent need for a stronger response,” Paterson said.

You can read the AMSANT media release here.

Possible positive COVID-19 case in Timber Creek

A possible positive COVID-19 case was recorded in Timber Creek yesterday and is being re-tested to confirm the result. Image source: CareFlight, ABC News.

Importance of timely COVID-19 booster vaccination

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) states that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Australia are critical in protecting against COVID-19 due to all variants, including the newly emerged Omicron variant. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends COVID-19 booster vaccination for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 5 or more months ago.

Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk (e.g. occupational risk or outbreak areas) or who have risk factors for severe disease. ATAGI reiterates that a third (primary) dose of COVID-19 vaccine is also recommended for anyone with immunocompromising conditions, a minimum of two months after their second dose.

Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been provisionally approved for use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine in people aged 18 years and older by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as of 12 December 2021.

You can read the ATAGI statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination here, and you can read the ATAGI recommendations on the use of Moderna as a COVID-19 booster vaccine here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

10-year preventive health strategy plan

Yesterday 13 December 2021, the Australian Government launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life. The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths. The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • tobacco
  • immunisation
  • cancer screening
  • alcohol and other drug use;
  • and mental health.

You can read the Government Department of Health‘s media release here.
The National Preventive Health Strategy can be downloaded here.

National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030

Tracking progress in First Nations’ health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a data visualisation tool for tracking progress against the 20 Implementation Plan goals for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023. It presents data for each of the 20 goals, and assesses progress against the goals at the national level.

Of the 14 goals for which updates were available, 5 were on track, 6 were not on track and 3 were not assessed.

Some of the key findings:

  • In 2019, 64% of Indigenous mothers had antenatal care in the first trimester and 89% attended 5+ antenatal visits.
  • The proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15–17 who had never smoked increased from 61% in 2002 to 85% in 2018–19.
  • In 2020, 97% of Indigenous children aged 5 were fully immunised, compared with 95% of other children.

You can read more about the AIHW tracking progress here and you can view the report here.
View the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2012-2023 here.

Exciting opportunity for Aboriginal health students

Aboriginal health students across the Northern Territory can now apply for the 2022 NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. The Program is a key ‘entry to practice’ initiative for NT Health to achieve greater representation of tertiary educated Aboriginal employees and increase Aboriginal health professionals in our workforce.

NT Health currently supports five cadets and will offer a sixth space in the 2022 intake.

The program assists eligible NT Aboriginal students undertaking their first undergraduate degree or postgraduate studies to gain professional health qualifications in skill shortage areas. Additionally, the program provides work placement and experience within NT Health.

The program is funded by NT Health and will provide successful cadets with:

  • Study allowance of up to $1200 per fortnight whilst engaged in full time studies
  • Book allowance of up to $1000 per year
  • An incentive payment of up to $4000 per year
  • 12 weeks paid on the job work placement during the university major academic breaks.

NT Health has a dedicated Aboriginal Workforce Development unit that administers the program. The unit’s staff will provide ongoing mentoring and support to the cadets for the term of their cadetship.

You can read the media release by NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.
Further cadetship information can be found on the NT Health website.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

NT Health Aboriginal Cadetship Program. Image Source: NT Health Facebook page.

Covid Song – Ali Curung

Check out this great Red Dust video with a straight-up message from the Ali Curung mob made with the help of Barkly Shire Council and Anyingini Health Aboriginal Corporation.

“I don’t want to see you get sick when the COVID comes in quick. We gotta get the jab before it’s too late. No time to hesitate. I got one, two, what about you! What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when the COVID comes?”

“Yeah, we gotta do it for our families. To protect our communities. Go to the clinic and check the facts. We’re only safe when we all get vaxxed!”

Managing inappropriate comments online

The Department of Health has created a guide that can help your service with managing inappropriate comments and misinformation on your social media channels. There has recently been a significant spike in online activity and emotion. This high level guide provides information about steps your service can take to moderate inappropriate comments and content on your pages.

You can download the social media guide here.

Word cloud - misinformation

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New COVID-19 variant arrives in Australia

feature tile text 'new COVID-19 variant Omicron arrives in Australia' & image of virus cell

New COVID-19 variant arrives in Australia

The new COVID-19 variant Omicron has arrived in Australia, with two returned travellers in Sydney testing positive to the strain. There’s still a lot that’s unknown about Omicron. It has health authorities worried because of its large number of mutations. And it appears more likely to reinfect people than other strains.

But while countries including Australia were quick to ban travellers from nine southern African nations, Professor Anthony Zwi from UNSW argues this isn’t the answer. It may slow the spread and buy limited time, but it’s unlikely to stop Omicron.

Instead, he says, countries should focus on interventions that work, including physical distancing, well-fitted masks and good ventilation, as well as testing, contact tracing and isolating. And wealthy countries should support African nations that take prompt action against variants of concern, and help them boost low vaccination rates.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

Danila Dilba Health Service turns 30

This year marks Danila Dilba Health Service’s 30th anniversary and to celebrate this significant milestone an official dinner is being held at the Darwin Convention Centre from 6:30 PM Saturday 4 December, hosted by Rob Collins and Shari Sebbens.

The night will be a look back on an incredible 30 years and provide an opportunity to hear from prominent figures locally and nationally, to mark three decades of providing primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Darwin.

Danila Dilba has been an important part of the Darwin community and a crucial part of Darwin’s history. The dinner will bring together the Darwin community, their founding members, current and former staff as well as significant organisations locally to celebrate this milestone together.flyer text 'celebrating 30 years of Danila Dilba Health Service Saturday 4 December, 2021, Darwin Convention Centre'

False COVID-19 rumours still spreading

The Australian Defence Force is supporting the vaccination in the NT areas that are impacted by the latest outbreaks by offering COVID-19 vaccine to communities. Claims that there are forcible vaccinations are false. It’s important people get information from trusted and reliable sources.

There is a lot of misinformation on social media so it is best to talk to the Aboriginal Medical Service health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

In the videos below, Thomas Mayor, Kaurareg Aboriginal and Kalkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander, from Larrakia Country, NT and Dr Mark Wenitong NT address the COVID-19 rumours including ones involving Aboriginal communities and the Army.

CAAC CMO calls for NT vax passport

The top doctor at one of Central Australia’s key Aboriginal health bodies has renewed calls for a “vaccine economy” in the NT, where access to all venues would require patrons to have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) Dr John Boffa said first-dose vaccination rates among Indigenous clients had improved by 10% across the region in the last fortnight. According to recent data from the Australian Immunisation Register, 72.5% of CAAC clients had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Alice Springs. In the MacDonnell LGA, that figure was almost 78%, while it was still below 70% in the Central Desert LGA.

Dr Boffa said demand for the vaccine increased alongside the latest outbreak affecting Katherine and nearby remote communities, Binjari and Rockhole, but it had started to wane in recent days. “At the rate we’re going, in two weeks’ time we’ll be above 80% first dose but it looks like it might drop off,” Dr Boffa said.

To view the ABC news article in full click here.

Influential Central Australians, Sabella Turner, Paul Ah Chee (front), Michael Liddle and Donna Ah Chee, after receiving their vaccinations. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC News.

Child protection processes harming kids

Child protection processes in Australia have a history of injustice that disproportionately targets and harms First Nations children, families and communities. As a result, contemporary child protection systems and associated professions have sought to distance themselves from explicitly racist past policies and practices by apologising for their past involvement in the Stolen Generations and committing to change.

Yet child protection systems continue to operate on assumptions about race and class that increase inequalities and injustices against First Nations families. In a Queensland study published in 2018 that used data from 2010-2011, Indigeneity was found to be a greater predictor of “subsequent child protection reports and investigations than a rating of ‘high risk’ on child protection’s risk assessment tool”. Another study in Western Australia found, when controlled for all other factors, Aboriginality was associated with almost double the risk of infant removal.

Understandings of risk, child abuse and neglect are often biased in favour of white middle-class parenting practices. This can lead to over-surveillance of First Nations families, and a flawed notification system.

To view the article in full click here.

Photo: Joel Carrett, AAP. Image source: InDaily.

My Health Record upgraded

An upgrade to My Health Record last Thursday 25 November 2021  includes a COVID-19 vaccination dashboard as well as other enhancements.

The new COVID-19 vaccination dashboard for consumers brings together, in one place, information from the Australian Immunisation Register and My Health Record related to a consumer’s COVID-19 vaccination journey. The dashboard includes vaccination details, COVID-19 test results, relevant medicines and allergy information from My Health Record and links to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder and side effect checker.

The dashboard is easily available from a new COVID-19 Dashboard tab and can be used as a quick reference when answering questions before a vaccination or booster dose or to get proof of vaccination. You can view an example of the dashboard screen here and find more information here.

Other enhancements include:

  • Consumers can now download their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to a digital wallet.
  • COVID-19 test results are available to consumers as soon as they are uploaded (removing the previous 24-hour delay).
  • The profile page includes new fields for consumers to add their preferred language and country of birth. This is an important step to capturing cultural diversity in My Health Record. In future, healthcare providers will be able to see these fields, which may help in providing care to their patients.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

Prevent, test, treat to eliminate HIV

This HIV Awareness Week, and in the lead up to World AIDS Day, NSW Health, is encouraging people across the state at risk of HIV to get tested. As NSW opens up, it is a good time for the community to speak to a healthcare professional about HIV testing and prevention options available to them.

NSW Health, Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant said the state has made great progress in the virtual elimination of the virus however testing rates are down from last year, driven by the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve come a long way over the last 40 years and have many new tools to help prevent HIV transmission including effective HIV treatment, condoms, sterile injecting equipment, and prevention medication – PrEP,” Dr Chant said. “Early testing and diagnosis linked to treatment prevents transmission and enables people living with HIV to enjoy a long and healthy life.”

From January to September 2021, 141 NSW residents were diagnosed with HIV, a decrease of 31% compared to the average for the last five years. This decline was likely driven by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted movement, as people remained at home.

To view The Pulse article in full click here

gloved hand holding test tube with HIV positive box ticked

Image source: The Conversation.

VACCHO CEO to advise on aged care

VACCHO CEO, Jill Gallagher AO, is one of 17 prominent Australians appointed to the new National Aged Care Advisory Council, which will guide the implementation of the Federal Government’s $17.7 billion aged care reforms – led by a former Victorian Shadow Minister for Ageing and Carers.

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, noted that the new Council is a departure from the previous principal aged care advisory group – the Aged Care Sector Committee, which ended in June – as it includes operators with direct experience within the sector. “Our intention is to ensure we have strong representation across five consumer groups, including Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, carers and advocacy groups,” he said.

To read the full article in The Weekly Source click here.

portrait shot of Jill Gallagher, VACCHO CEO

VACCHO CEO, Jill Gallagher AO.

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.

Decembeard/hair to beat bowel

Help Bowel Cancer Australia spread the important bowel cancer awareness message to your colleagues and local community, while raising much needed funds to help beat bowel cancer. All you need to raise awareness and funds for Australia’s second deadliest cancer killer is let your hair grow – face, head, legs, body – if it’s hair – let it grow or let it go!

For more information about bowel cancer, the Decembeard/Decembhair funding-raising campaign and to read empowering stories of people living with or beyond bowel cancer go to the Bowel Cancer Australia website here.

banner text 'this December get hairy raise funds, help us beat bowel cancer - Decembeard - Decembhair' - background to text is hair

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases

National Framework for 'Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases in remote communities.

‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases

Researchers, clinicians and community and government partners have been funded to develop a national framework to scale up point-of-care testing for infectious diseases in rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Announced on Sunday by the Minister for Health the Hon. Greg Hunt, the team, comprising over 20 organisations will receive $9,967,326 over six years from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

“This significant grant from the federal government represents a paradigm shift for managing infectious diseases in remote communities, by bringing the power of diagnostic laboratories into a local community system,” says Prof. Guy, who is the Public Health Theme Director at the Kirby Institute.

“It will allow us to improve clinical practice by better targeting treatment, and thereby reduce the burden of infectious diseases and their complications for Aboriginal communities in rural and remote Australia.”

The research will be governed by an Indigenous advisory committee chaired by NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey. The advisory committee will include members from across all states and territories and will ensure Indigenous ownership of the processes and outcomes of the research.

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

Point of care testing for syphilis

Point of care testing for syphilis at the Maningrida Community Health Centre with staff from the Mala’la Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

Vaccination gap a big concern

Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with ANU, and Senior Medical Advisor at NACCHO spoke with with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning about how the national double vaccination rate continues to climb, but the figures are much lower in Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander communities.

With the national double vaccination rate at close to 82% of people aged 16 and over, only 55% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Agostino says the vaccination gap is of big concern as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being hit hard by Delta already.

“Over the last three months in NSW, Victoria and the ACT we have seen over 7,500 cases of infection, 750 hospitalisations, close to 90 people in the ICU and 15 deaths.”

“We are really concerned about what will happen when boarders open and more people are exposed,” said Dr Agostino.

In the interview he also talks about why the vaccination rates are so low, what is working to increase those rates and what the focus needs to be moving forward.

You can listen to the full interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccination Gap

 

Orange region passes 95% double vaxxed

After facing the virus head-on throughout July and then again during a lengthy lockdown in August, September and October, the Local Government Areas of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne have rallied.

All three LGAs can boast a first dose of 95 per cent or greater, according to the Australian Government’s LGA vaccination roadmap data, while the double dose rates are equally impressive. Orange and Blayney have both passed the 95 per cent double jab mark too – with the combined 15 and over population of those areas around the 40,000 people mark.

You can read the article in the Central Western Daily here.

Joey getting vaccinated at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS). Image Source: OAMS.

Joey getting vaccinated at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS). Image Source: OAMS.

Rumbalara vaccine rollout boosted by van

A vaccine van has rolled into town to help increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among First Nations people in Shepparton.

“I think the van will be a great asset in that it will complement the hard work our team have been doing at Rumbalara,” said Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Felicia Dean.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Rumbalara jointly launched the dedicated Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) COVID-19 Vaccine Van in Shepparton on Tuesday. The van is staffed by health professionals from Rumbalara,  Star Health and VACCHO.

“The van can go out to homes for those that are struggling and don’t have transport,” Ms Dean said.

The Rumbalara chief executive officer said home visits could be booked via Rumbalara Medical Service, which also offered walk-in vaccinations.

“All we can do is provide as many opportunities for people to come and get vaccinated as possible, be it in Mooroopna or Shepparton, or in the home,” she said.

You can read the article in the Shepparton News here.

Protect mob: Rumbalara staff Shelley Norris and Jannali Fermor, wearing tops designed by Yorta Yorta artists, are part of a collaborative effort to boost vaccination rates among Traditional Owners. Picture: Megan Fisher.

Protect mob: Rumbalara staff Shelley Norris and Jannali Fermor, wearing tops designed by Yorta Yorta artists, are part of a collaborative effort to boost vaccination rates among Traditional Owners. Picture: Megan Fisher.

Requirements for a safe COVID opening up of the NT

In a media release by the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) they outlined key principles and actions required for a safe COVID opening up of the Northern Territory. These were agreed to following the release of the new Doherty modelling for the NT and following a meeting of AMSANT’s Board in Darwin on Tuesday.

“Critical to reopening is the need to achieve a safe threshold of high vaccination rates across NT communities as well as reliable data to tell us when we have reached these thresholds and can safely take the next steps,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“Above all, our urgent priority is to accelerate the vaccination rollout across the NT and particularly in Aboriginal communities, as the best protection we can provide. But to do this we need a close partnership and collaboration between the NT Government and the ACCHSs sector, as well as the Land Councils and other key stakeholders”, Mr Paterson said.

“Finally, before we open up, we need to ensure we have enough staff to deal with COVID outbreaks across primary health care and the hospital sector, that we know will occur when we open up.”

You can view the media release by AMSANT here.

AMSANT - Vaccinate to protect our community

Concerns as COVID care transitions back to community

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt last Friday announced the next stage of care for COVID-19 patients in light of rising vaccination rates and the lower numbers of people expected to require hospitalisation.

“As we open up, we know that there will be more cases that will be treated at home because people will be fully vaccinated. They may not require hospitalisation, and so the balance will shift from hospitalisation to community care,” Hunt said at a press conference.

The move to devolve the care of COVID-19 patients from hospitals and specialised services to general practitioners has alarmed some patients and doctors concerned at the risk of infection in waiting rooms and an inadequate $25 “bonus” Medicare payment.

The Government’s $180 million funding package for primary care to support COVID-19 patients at home and in the community includes:

  • A new, temporary MBS item for $25 for general practices to cover the extra cost of treating COVID-positive patients face-to-face, including infection control measures.
  • GPs supervising COVID patients will receive pulse oximeters from the national medical stockpile to assist in remote monitoring of patients’ oxygen levels at home.
  • The existing GP-led respiratory clinics will be continued until June 2022.
  • Home visits for COVID patients by nurse practitioners and practice nurses organised by Primary Health Networks.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the third Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap.

The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer.

In focus for this update are the priority setting process, and the development of Roadmap resources.

You can visit and interact with the infographic here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap

Working together to improve outcomes for people affected by pancreatic cancer.

Seeking submissions on cannabis use or diabetes research

The 42-year-old HealthBulletin has been renamed to the ‘Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. The newly designed journal (with a new logo and website) will facilitate access to evidence-based research and other information to support those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector and is becoming increasingly visible and accessible to researchers and other readers.

To celebrate the launch of the journal’s new name, the journal is encouraging submissions to accompany two Special Editions in 2022. Each year the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet commissions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health topic reviews which are subject to blind peer review and published as Special Editions in the journal. In 2022, the following reviews will be published:

  • a Review of cannabis use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • a Review of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Submissions may cover any evidence-based aspect of either cannabis use or diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and can be full or brief research reports. All manuscripts will be subject to blind peer review.

The closing date for submission is Thursday 23 December 2021.

See the For Contributor’s page for further information and submission preparation guidelines.
View the new website here.

Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet _ Edith Cowan University

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Save the date – HIV Awareness Week Trivia

HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 - Save the date.

Join us for ATSIHAW virtual trivia

Save the date: Inviting all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 at 3pm (AEST), 1 December 2021.
 
Each year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week gets a conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV.
 
What team will take the title this year?
Will Condoman or Lubelicious make an appearance?
Special prizes for BEST and WORST dressed once again.
 
Stay tuned! More information coming soon.
ATSIHAW2021 VIRTUAL TRIVIA - Save the date.

#TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

Struggle to vaccinate communities in QLD

Health officials in Queensland are struggling to vaccinate Indigenous communities across the state due to misinformation and hesitancy.

Health officials are taking vaccines directly to communities. Teams of nurses from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital began the clinic last week in partnership with Indigenous health workers.

“It enables people to have a private conversation and ask the questions that they’ve got about vaccine. We know that there is misinformation, we know that there is hesitancy and I think having that personal conversation with people makes a difference,” said Michelle Forrest from Darling Downs Health.

135 vaccines have been delivered in the week since the program started, but with a 2-dose vaccination rate of 27% Cherbourg still has a long way to go.

You can view the story on the ABC News website.

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland.

COVID-19 vaccination highly effective

Fully vaccinated people have been significantly less likely to become seriously ill or die, and better protected from acquiring COVID-19, during the Delta outbreak.

Yesterday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant highlighted the findings in the latest NSW Health In Focus report which shows hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths were all far lower among the fully vaccinated population during the outbreak’s peak. Dr Chant said the report also makes it clear fully vaccinated people were significantly less likely to become infected with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 Delta outbreak has been the biggest challenge the state has faced during the pandemic because of its transmissibility. However, this report shows vaccination has been key in protecting ourselves, our families, and the community from the harmful effects of the virus,” Dr Chant said.

You can read more on the NSW Government Department of Health website.
You can view the In Focus report here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

98% of COVID-19 cases in Moree are First Nations people

Large gatherings have led to an explosion of COVID-19 positive cases in and around Moree in the past week. Since the first positive cases were identified last Monday, the number of positive tests has jumped close to 100, and COVID-19 has also been found in the neighbouring shire of Inverell.

The surging outbreak is almost exclusively impacting Aboriginal people: 98 per cent of the 94 active cases on Sunday were Indigenous, according to NSW Health. And the vast majority with the virus, at present, are young: 90 per cent are under 40, and 43 per cent are under 20.

Ros Rose, nursing manager at Moree’s Pius X Aboriginal Corporation, said the organisation, which provides health care to 3,500 Indigenous residents, has been offering vaccines since March but has struggled to convince young people to get the jab. The outbreak has been a “wake-up call”, she said, and more people – about 30 a day – are now coming for their vaccinations.

After having COVID-19 for a week, 34-year-old Gomeroi woman Lisa Duncan now regrets that she was hesitant. She said she was anxious about side effects, and thought: “I’ll be right, I won’t get coronavirus.”

Now, she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she’s clear of the virus. She doesn’t want to get it again.

“I can’t be a voice for everybody but just coming from my point of view, get the vax, or you do suffer. The symptoms are bad, it’s horrible.”

You can read the article in the Brisbane Times here.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Raising awareness around perinatal mental health

In Australia, one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety. Many support services have seen a sharp rise in calls for help during the pandemic. Health experts say Indigenous, multicultural and LGBTIQ+ families are especially at risk.

“We know that so many parents are having a really hard time, even more than normal,” said clinical psychologist Chris Barnes from Gidget Foundation Australia.

It’s why more than 40 organisations across Australia have united to help raise awareness for Perinatal Mental Health Week, which runs from 7 to 13 November.

Their aim is to break down the stigmas, particularly affecting parents from Indigenous and migrant backgrounds, that prevent many families from reaching out for help.

“New and expectant parents are not alone. There are many services available,” said Ms Barnes.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

Strong community support for #RaisetheAge

The ACT Council of Community Service (ACTCOSS) has commended the ACT Government on its progress towards raising the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT. In its Listening Report, the ACT Government found that 90 per cent of submissions supported raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 years. It also showed that:

  • this change is required to protect the safety and wellbeing of the Territory’s children and young people
  • medical evidence clearly shows that children under the age of 14 are developmentally and neurologically unable to form criminal intent and should not be held criminally responsible for their actions; and
  • there is limited support for the creation of exceptions or ‘carve outs’ to the minimum age for serious or repetitive behaviour.

“All the evidence tells us that prison is no place for children. Not only is the brain of a child under 13 years of age not yet sufficiently developed to understand criminal responsibility, we know that imprisoning kids only makes them far more likely to become repeat adult offenders,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell.

You can view the media release by ACTCOSS here.
The Listening Report and submissions can be found on the ACT Government YourSay website.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

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

Improving access to mental health services 

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has welcomed the Final Report from the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and the recommendations to improve access to services for people in rural and remote Australia. The Committee recommended the Australian Government leverage the existing Australian Rural Health Education Network by providing funding for clinical placements in regional, rural and remote university clinics and using these clinics to trial multi-disciplinary, hybrid mental health hubs that integrate digital services and face to face services.

“For more than twenty years the University Departments of Rural Health have been training health students from a range of allied health disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and pharmacy to work in rural and remote locations. With appropriate additional resourcing our rurally-based university campuses would be well-placed to deliver on the Committee’s recommendation to trial mental health clinics and hubs which may offer a mix of digital and face to face services for people in rural and remote regions,” said Chair of ARHEN Christine Howard.

You can read the media release by ARHEN here.
You can view the Final Report here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

Aerial view of APY Lands community Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Post-Lockdown support for Belconnen and Gungahlin mob

Lockdown has put a strain on households with the increase in electricty and heating usage and Yerrabi Yurwang are providing support of $100 towards utility bills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families residing in Belconnen or Gungahlin areas.

Funds are limited and to be eligible for this support you must be:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • be over 18 and
  • live in the Belconnen or Gungahlin area

For more information, please contact Selina Walker at: info@yerrabi.org.au

You can download a flyer for the initiative here.
Please visit the Yerrabi Yurwang website to apply.

Hands of different skin tones gently stacked.

Image source: Yerrabi Yurwang website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated.

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

On Tuesday night, NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips spoke to John Paul Janke and Narelda Jacobs on SBS NITV The Point about COVID-19 vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy and complacency, and the lifting of borders and other restrictions.

“We have seen services go above and beyond to get our mob vaccinated. We’ve had door-to-door vaccinations, we’ve had vax-a-thons, we’ve had barbeques. Whatever it takes, our services on the ground are going to do,” said Phillips.

“It’s really important that people go out and get vaccinated.”

You can watch episode 27 of season 2021 here.
Phillips joins the program at 15 minutes and 36 seconds.

NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips on The Point, NITV.

 

WA rolls up sleeves during football festival

South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) attended the GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival in Bunbury on Saturday 30 October 2021 where they had a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic set up. They offered COVID-19 vaccines and provided general information about their services and programs to community. Thank you to everyone who Rolled Up for WA!

SWAMS at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021

SWAMS with COVID-19 vaccination clinic at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021.

Congratulations to ACT Senior Australian of the Year nominee

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today congratulated Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, on her the nomination for the Senior Australian of the Year award.

Julie Tongs is one of the ACT’s most prominent and respected community leaders. She has worked in the CEO position at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services for more than 20 years, advocating for health care services to be delivered in a culturally appropriate way to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Julie Tongs is an an incredible leader, service provider and campaigner for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT and beyond. She is a fearless advocate for people who face inequality and injustice not only in the health services sector but also on issues including child protection, justice, housing and the other social determinants of health and wellbeing.”

You can read more about Ms Tongs nomination in the ACTCOSS media release here.

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services,

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

Only half of mob fully vaccinated

According to SBS News, just 50.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 63 per cent have gotten their first jab as of Wednesday 27 October 2021. Across the country, about 76 per cent of all over-16s are double-dosed and nearly 88 per cent have received one dose.

Concerns were raised after more than 200 Indigenous workers at remote community stores, mostly in the Northern Territory, were left unvaccinated two weeks out from the jurisdiction’s jab mandate deadline.

More than 20 Aboriginal leaders and health professionals have sought a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his ministers for health and Indigenous Australians.

There is alarm about the lack of “realistic or actionable contingency plans” to deal with outbreaks agreed to by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and Indigenous experts.

“It is evident that quarantine is currently near-impossible for those in overcrowded housing, as well as those without ready access to food, grocery and pharmaceutical delivery services,” the letter said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

Half of Australia's Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

Half of Australia’s Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

The impact of climate change for mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on the frontlines of the climate emergency, with record temperatures, drought, and loss of biodiversity compounding social and health inequities caused by more than 200 years of colonisation.

It was reported this week that a group of five young Australians, including Wiradjuri teenager, Ethan Lyons, have lodged three human rights complaints with the United Nations over the Morrison Government’s inaction in climate change. And Torres Strait Islander communities, fearful that their islands will be wiped out by sea level incursion and storm damage, have also filed a class action arguing that the Australian Government must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 74 percent.

Affordable, secure energy supply is a critical issue in places like Tennant Creek, where residents are seeing an increasing number of days above 40 degrees Celsius, and the inside temperature of some homes can soar as high as 60 degrees Celsius.

Reliable energy supply takes on added importance for many in the community who require reliable power to undergo kidney dialysis, including Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank, a Waru­mungu Tra­di­tion­al Own­er who requires dialysis three times a week.

“The seasons don’t really match with our climate in our Country how it used to be,” he said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

An expert in the field of Indigenous suicide prevention is optimistic about progress being made to tackle the high rates of suicide in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA following a report by the WA Ombudsman Chris Field. The report was tabled in WA Parliament evaluating the progress towards recommendations made in his previous report on the topic from last year. The Ombudsman’s investigation, Preventing suicide by children and young people 2020, made mention of the disproportionately high rate of suicide within the Indigenous population and included seven recommendations. Two of the recommendations were specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bardi woman and Director of the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, Pat Dudgeon welcomed the follow-up report.

“What I liked about it was that they’ve followed through, that there is some kind of continuation rather than do a report and then let it gather dust and forget the issues,” she said.

You can read the article in National Indigenous Times here.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Costs of accreditation standards for ACCOs

Who benefits from the maze of accreditation standards affecting the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs)?

This critical question is raised in an article by Croakey Health Media. Written by Jenifer Darr, a Yuwi Vanuatu woman and researcher, it invites ACCOs to participate in research investigating the impacts of accreditation standards on their work.

Australia has a national network of more than 154 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCOs) providing holistic primary healthcare wrap around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Accreditation Standards are premised on supporting quality improvement in the work of ACCOs. However, the application of multiple, different standards represents a significant business expense for ACCOs.

You can ready the article in Croakey Health Media here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Yarrabah’s digital health journey

Episode 8 of Build ‘Em Up is a special podcast with guest host, Jen Beer, a Darlot woman who works with regional and remote communities for nbnTM. We chatted with the team at the Gurriny Yealamucka (Gurriny) Health Service Aboriginal Corporation at Yarrabah in Far North Queensland – Chief Executive Sue Andrews and Medical Director Dr Jason King.

Themes included expanding the medical perspective of primary care to encompass social, spiritual and cultural health, as well as the health service’s digital journey to prioritise high quality services, information and data.

Build ‘Em Up, which is supported by nbnTM, is available here.

'Build 'Em Up' podcast episode 8.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 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