feature tile elderly Aboriginal woman sitting on a chair in desert setting

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News – COVID-19 highlights health inequalities

feature tile elderly Aboriginal woman sitting on a chair in desert setting

COVID-19 highlights health inequalities

The COVID-19 crisis has turned a spotlight on existing health, social and economic inequities in Australia and internationally and been a stark reminder of the importance of the social determinants of health, and the need to prioritise support for marginalised individuals and groups in our community.

People with pre-existing health conditions, and those from lower-socioeconomic communities and marginalised groups are at greater risk of experiencing the worst effects of the pandemic compared with those from non-marginalised communities.

When people contract COVID-19 and have pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, obesity and asthma, they’re more likely to experience respiratory failure and death. Respiratory infections such as COVID-19 are more easily transmitted among lower-socioeconomic communities who typically live in more crowded conditions. COVID-19 pandemic recovery should include more funding for local community-led initiatives such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led response which has successfully emphasised health equity through all stages of the pandemic to ensure low rates of infection.

To view the full Monash University LENS article click here.

Turning up for alcohol and drug education

Scott Wilson who works with the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (ADAC), SA has been profiled to give an insight into ‘what excellence in drug and alcohol care looks like’. Scott said, “I would love to see an ADAC all around the country because I think unless you’ve got a group that has that role of helping and coordinating, then you just have piecemeal attempts. Everyone’s just struggling in isolation.”

To view the full article click here.

large group of Aboriginal men on country undertaking ADAC training

ADAC alcohol and drug education. Image source: Croakey website.

Paramedic degree offered for first time in NT

Paramedics will soon be able to train in the NT thanks to a new partnership between Charles Darwin University (CDU) and St John NT. St John NT’s CEO Judith Barker said the NT was one of the country’s most interesting and diverse locations, giving paramedics the opportunity to develop skills and experience with complex medical cases, high speed trauma, and delivery of care in extreme and isolated conditions. CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said that CDU was uniquely positioned to explore issues of national and regional importance such as tropical medicine, Indigenous health and mental health.

To view the full article click here.

four Aboriginal female paramedics standing in front on an ambulance

Image source: Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Facebook p

SA Eyre Peninsula child health initiative

Indigenous children have some of the highest levels of preventable diseases in the world. Eyre Peninsula communities will benefit from a new partnership between the Starlight Children’s Foundation and Masonic Charities SA/NT, which will help bridge the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians living in rural and remote communities. Masonic Charities have committed $900,000 to the Starlight Children’s Foundation over the next three years, allowing them to roll out the Healthier Futures Initiative in SA on a permanent basis. As part of the program Starlight personnel will accompany health professionals, keep the children present and entertained, and aim to provide a positive overall experience.

To view the full article in the West Coast Sentinel News click here.

health worker checking Aboriginal child's throat

Image source: The Australian.

Barriers to hepatitis C treatment

Research on the hepatitis C treatment intentions of Aboriginal people in WA has been published in the October issue of the The Australian Health Review, a peer-reviewed journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association. The study found there are substantial hurdles to achieving hepatitis C elimination in Aboriginal communities, including lack of knowledge and concerns about the stigma of seeking treatment. Stable housing was also an important pre-requisite to seeking treatment because Aboriginal people who were homeless were much more focused on day-to-day problems of living on the street, including lack of regular sleep, physical exhaustion and daily anxiety. 

To view the research paper click here.

4 Aboriginal people against graffitied wall with words HEP C is Everyone's Business

Image source: Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc. website.

Suicide Prevention white paper

Suicide rates in Australia have continued to rise over the last decade. The challenge to bend this curve is immense, especially in the context of COVID-19 and the recent bushfire season, which have disrupted lives and impacted the psychological health of Australians. The need for evidence-based solutions has never been more important. Black Dog Institute is pleased to present a white paper which shares critical insights from emerging research and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lived experience evidence that explores contemporary issues and offers innovative responses.

To view the white paper in full click here.

graffiti of Aboriginal man's face in red, yellow & black

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission.

ITC Program helps health system navigation

The Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program is one of Northern Queensland Primary Health Network’s (NQPHN’s) funded initiatives under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Northern Australia Primary Health Limited (NAPHL) delivers the program throughout northern Queensland. Without the program, many Indigenous people would struggle to access the health care they need to manage their chronic or complex health conditions.

The ITC Program was established to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with complex chronic diseases who are unable to effectively manage their conditions to access one-on-one assistance for the provision of coordinated, multidisciplinary care.

To view the article click here.

Aboriginal health worker taking blood pressure of Aboriginal man

Image source: PHN Northern Queensland website.

NSW/ACT GP in Training of the Year award

Dr Josephine Guyer has won the RACGP’s NSW/ACT General Practitioner in Training of the Year award.

Currently working at the Myhealth Liverpool clinic, Dr Guyer has completed terms at the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in Airds, the Primacare Medical Centre in Roselands and Schwarz Family in Elderslie. In 2017 she received the RACGP’s Growing Strong Award and has embraced that ethos in her GP training.

RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda congratulated Dr Guyer, saying “Dr Guyer brings extraordinary strength and resilience to her training and work as a GP. Her background as a registered nurse for almost 20 years, cultural experience as a proud Wiradjuri woman and the fact that she is the parent of three teenagers means that she comes to the role of general practice with valuable life experience that will help her care for patients from different walks of life. Providing responsive and culturally appropriate care is absolutely essential and Dr Guyer is perfectly placed to do just that.”

To view the full Hospital and Healthcare article click here.

Dr Josephine Guyer holding RACGP NSW/ACT GP in Training of the Year award

Dr Josephine Guyer. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare website.

Food security webinar

Access to sufficient, affordable nutritious food is important for the health of rural and remote communities. With the recent bush fires, floods and now the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional supply chains have been interrupted and rural and remote communities that are already at risk of food insecurity, are being impacted even further. Early this year the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) conducted a webinar covering a range of perspectives on current challenges in ensuring food security for households in rural and remote communities, including from an Indigenous health perspective and considered policy and practical solutions to address the issue well into the future.

The recording of the NRHA webinar called A virtual conversation: affordable and nourishing food for rural and remote communities during COVID-19 and beyond is available for free here.

four Aboriginal children with oranges

Image source: NPY Women’s Council website.

SA ACCHO funding to improve disability services

Four Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) will share in $1 million of federal government funding to improve disability services across SA’s Eyre Peninsula and the Far West.

Ceduna’s Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation, Tullawon Health Service at Yalata, Oak Valley Aboriginal Corporation and Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service at Whyalla were awarded the funding under the banner of the South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network. The funding will go towards a two-year ‘Aboriginal DisAbility Alliance’ project aimed at supporting Aboriginal communities to access culturally appropriate disability services.

To view the full article in the West Coast Sentinel click here.

painting re yellow black two stick figures & one stick figure in a wheelchair

Image source: NITY website.

Mental Health Month

October is Mental Health Month and as part of the 2020 World Mental Health Day campaign, Mental Health Australia is encouraging everyone to make a promise to “Look after your mental health, Australia.” It is a call to action for the one in five Australians affected by mental illness annually, and for the many more impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the increased uncertainty and anxiety that has ensued. The more individuals and organisations who commit to promoting mental health awareness this month and support the campaign, the more we reduce the stigma surrounding mental ill health and play our part in creating a mentally healthy community.

To view the media release click here.words Mental Health Month October in blue and red lettering logo

Image Source: Department of Health


Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

When coronavirus came to the small outback town of Halls Creek in WA it was “like a bomb went off”, according to Brenda Garstone, CEO of the Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service. “We all had to run for cover,” she said. “We were scrambling. We didn’t know where to go, or what to do.” The WA Department of Health had warned that any community transmission in towns with remote communities would be devastating for the populations. When four healthcare workers at the local Halls Creek hospital returned positive tests, all at once, residents refused to attend the healthcare clinic for fear of picking up the virus, local shops emptied and Aboriginal men from the town’s night patrol went door to door, trying to communicate the seriousness of what was unfolding. While the outbreak was quickly contained, tensions in the small town have still not eased, with the community now fully aware of the threat COVID-19 poses.

To view the full article click here.

Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Image source: ABC News website.

Groundbreaking FASD diagnostic framework

Long wait times and centralised specialist doctors have left families in rural and remote areas waiting up to three years for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But now a group of doctors, academics and Indigenous elders have come together in north-west Queensland to create a unique diagnostic tier system for the disorder. Local Indigenous leaders and Mount Isa rural doctor Marjad Page, a Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, wrote a dreamtime story to explain not only the disorder but the medical process to local Indigenous families. “The program is run from the Aboriginal medical service here in Mount Isa called Gidgee Healing, so it’s run out of a culturally appropriate medical service for the region,” Dr Page said.

To read the full article click here.

Gidgee Healing Dr Marjad Page portrait photo & Gidgee Healing logo

Dr Marjad Page. Image source: ABC News – ABC North West Queensland.

Six steps to stopping germs video launch

Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma and almost all cases occur in  remote Aboriginal communities. The Ending Trachoma project, which is run out of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA at Curtin University, aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through implementing environmental health strategies. They have developed a short video (see below) showing the importance of personal hygiene using ‘Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs’ message. The video features women from the Nollamarra Football Team together with their children. It was developed by the Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, with extensive input from Aboriginal community members and services in WA, SA and the NT. The message aims to encourage everyone, particularly kids, to stay healthy and strong and eliminate trachoma and other infectious diseases through following six steps.

For more information about the project click here.

COVID-19 offers unexpected opportunity to quit smoking

Smokers are worried. A respiratory disease is running rampant across the globe and people with unhealthy lifestyle habits appear to be especially vulnerable. Smokers hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to become severely unwell and die than non-smokers with the disease. At any point in time, most smokers want to quit. But COVID-19 provides the impetus to do it sooner rather than later. A recent study has found the proportion intending to quit within the next two weeks almost tripled from around 10% of smokers before COVID-19 to almost 30% in April. This heightened interest in quitting in the face of COVID-19 represents a unique opportunity for governments and health agencies to help smokers quit, and stay off smoking for good.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

Adolescent “never smoked” rate rises

Using data from the Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, a Prevention Centre PhD project led by Christina Heris found that the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents who have never smoked rose from 49% in 2005 to 70% in 2017. Additionally, rates of low smoking intensity increased by 10% from 67% in 2005 to 77 % in 2017 meaning that, overall, the number of cigarettes smoked in a day has decreased amongst smokers in the 12–17 age group.

Prevention Centre investigator Professor Sandra Eades, a Noongar woman, who supervised Christina’s project said “It’s fantastic to see that tobacco control is working for all students, including driving down rates among Aboriginal young people. But we know that young Aboriginal people experience more of the risk factors for smoking such as stress, racism and disadvantage. There is a need for governments to address these broader determinants.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal child holding & looking atan unlit cigarette

Image source: Deadly Vibe.

Original articles sought for inaugural HealthBulletin

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is welcoming submissions from researchers, practitioners and health workers of original articles (not published elsewhere) for inclusion in their inaugural edition of the next generation of the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin. They are seeking submissions that provide examples of research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including policies, strategies and programs that have the potential to inform and support everyday practice.

For further information about how to submit papers click here.

Australian Indigenous HealthInforNet HealthBulletin Call for papers banner

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website.

National COVID-19 healthcare worker guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher prevalence of respiratory conditions, many of which share symptoms with COVID-19. Healthcare workers examining a patient with respiratory symptoms are at risk of spreading infection between patients with the highest risk of transmission likely during throat and nose examination including when a swab is being collected.

Griffith University researchers have helped develop national guidelines to minimise healthcare workers’ risk of acquiring and spreading infection while examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with respiratory symptoms. “These new guidelines aim to provide resources and support healthcare teams in prevention and management of COVID-19,’’ said Associate Professor Jing Sun from the School of Medicine who led the project.

For more information about the new national guidelines click here.

health professional in PPE removing swab from text tube

Image source: Flinders University website.

PPE innovation needed in remote health services

Clinicians, service providers and researchers have issued an urgent call for an Australian innovation in personal protective equipment (PPE) –  the ventilated hood – to be made available to remote health services, saying that without the hoods, the risk of coronavirus transmission within remote healthcare services and communities is grave.

To read the full article click here.

woman in hospitals bed under COVID-19 hood

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

JT Academy offers free employment advertising

Lendlease and JT Academy are encouraging all local employers to utilise the JT Academy FREE employment functions and resources. All you need to do is send the details of any job vacancies you have and let them help you find the best candidates – they will advertise your vacancy on their fully functioning job board for free!

This unique collaborative employment initiative, directed by Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston is fast becoming one the most ambitious employment initiatives Far North Queensland has ever seen. It harnesses the unique strengths of both Lendlease and JT Academy, who together are striving to provide direct job opportunities for local jobseekers.

For more information visit the JT Academy website here.

Jonathan Thurston in suit smiling, Job Board advertisement

Image source: Twitter #jtacademy.

Funding still required for rehab services

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation Inc Chairperson Ray Harris and CEO Daniel Jeffries have doubled down on the need for more funding to be made available for rehab services, saying revenue streams remained of concern with no additional recurrent funding available for rehab services. The Weigelli Centre and other services across the sector need additional funding to address the increasing need for drug and alcohol treatment services. The continuing challenges remain for services to provide support and assistance to Aboriginal individuals, families and their communities.

To read the full article in the Cowra Guardian click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW website.

CHF Big Ideas Competition

Do you have an idea which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered?

What about an idea which will transform how the health system works?

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is invites you to send in videos of your ideas for innovation in health, to be part of the Big Ideas Forum at their Australian and NZ Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021. Your big idea could be something totally new, or it might be an example of something that has worked well in your community that could be expanded or tried in other places. You may like to base your idea on one or more of the key shifts highlighted in CHF’s 2018 White Paper Shifting Gears: Consumers Transforming Health. To view the White Paper click here.

For more information about the CHF Big Ideas Competition click here and for details about the CHF Summit 2021 click here.

4 people, each holding speech bubbles: Big Idea, Brain Storm, Think Different, Be Creative

Image source: Consumers Health Forum of Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Sector has got pandemic ‘by the horns’

Dr Mark Wenitong standing new tropical foliage in Apunipima Cape York Health Council shirt

Our Sector has got the pandemic ‘by the horns’

Enlisting local initiatives, networks and the lessons of the past, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services were quick off the mark when coronavirus came. Their success to date is a powerful testimony to the importance of Indigenous leadership in narrowing the health gap, experts say.

“We have the basic infrastructure, and probably one of the best primary healthcare models in the world, some of the best public health experts in the world,” says Dr Mark Wenitong, a longtime health officer on Cape York. “The ‘vulnerability’ of our remote communities is much more related to longstanding under-investment in health infrastructure than our people as individuals. Don’t discount us as major players in the Australian health system.”

To view the full article in The Citizen click here.

external image of the Victorian Aboriignal Health Service in Fitzroy

The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service in Fitzroy. Image source: The Citizen.

Durri ACMS rebuild getting back on track

The $5.6 million rebuild of the Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service (ACMS) in Kempsey is getting back on track after progress was delayed by nine months due to staffing issues. The work is expected to start in February 2021 with a temporary medical centre to be set up at Kempsey District Hospital. The rebuild will feature modern facilities focused on key Indigenous health needs, including neonatal, chronic illness and mental health care.

To view the ABC News article relating to the rebuild click here.

DRA Architects sketch of new Durri medical centre

Image source: ABC News.

$25 million for safe use of medicines

The federal government has announced a $25 million investment in a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for research to improve the safe use of medicines and medicines intervention by pharmacists.

“The new Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of Medicine Use and Medicine Intervention by Pharmacists MRFF Grant Opportunity will support the Quality Use of Medicine and Medicine Safety National Health Priority, and is part of the Government’s significant ongoing investments aimed at improving access to medicines and the safe use of medicines in the community. On World Pharmacists Day, our Government acknowledges the outstanding work of Australia’s pharmacists and pharmacy staff in communities across the nation.”

To read the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt’s media release click here.

range of different coloured pills and tablets

Image source: The Guardian.

TGA rules prescription required for e-cigarettes

Young Australians will be protected by the interim decision of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure that e-cigarettes and vaping fluids containing nicotine are only available on prescription, Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today. “The TGA has recognised the significant risks that come with using e-cigarettes, and the lack of evidence for their role as a quit smoking aid,” Dr Khorshid said.

To view the AMA media release click here

person vaping

Image source: Curtin University news and events.

Funding to protect Victorian mental health and AOD services

The Victorian Government has announced an additional $21 million in funding to ensure mental health and alcohol and other drugs services, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations have increased COVID-19 safe protections in place.

To view the media release click here.

industrial site person sitting head on knees with beer bottle by side

Image source: Alcohol Rehab Guide.

Funding for Victorian Aboriginal Family Violence sector

The Victorian Government is boosting Aboriginal-led family violence prevention and responses so that more Aboriginal Victorians can access culturally sensitive support when and where they need it. $18.2 million will be made available to Aboriginal organisations and community groups through the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund to provide culturally appropriate responses for both victim survivors and those using or at risk of using violence in the home, including emergency support, family counselling and behaviour change support. Organisations and community groups will be granted funding over two years, giving them more certainty in planning how they deliver family violence services that are tailored to the needs of their communities.

To view the media release click here.

person holding palm to camera with word ENOUGH written on palm of hand

Image source: NITV website.

Extra $13 million for community nursing

The Commonwealth government has allocated an additional $13 million for community nursing to provide remote health professional accessibility to instruction, services and mental health care. An additional $8 million will be supplied to assist employment opportunities for nurses in primary healthcare.

For more information on the $13 million funding click here.

Inala Indigenous Health Service staff attending to patient

Image source: Queensland Health.

ACCHO gambling research webinar

Mallee District Aboriginal Services and Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Services, in collaboration with La Trobe University have conducted two exploratory studies on gambling. 50 Aboriginal people in regional Victoria were interviewed to identify benefits and harms associated with gambling and what community members thought should be done in response. Using social practice theory, findings of the research will be presented and some of the interventions recommended by research participants will be outlined in a free webinar to be presented by Darlene Thomas, Mallee District Aboriginal Services and Sarah MacLean, La Trobe University on Wednesday 20 September from 12.30–1.30 pm.

To register for the webinar click here.Aboriginal woman with hand across shoulder of Aboriginal woman looking sad

National youth survey report released

Mission Australia has released its National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Report: Youth Survey 2019. This report draws on the findings of its Youth Survey 2019 and highlights the views, concerns, experiences and aspirations of 25,126 young people, 1,578 of whom identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. In response to the findings, the report also provides a range of recommendations.

For more information, please read the media release, report and infographic.

Aboriginal man & Aboriginal child looking at laptop

Image source: Mission Australia website.

QLD – Cairns – Wuchopperen Health Service Ltd

FT Deputy Chief Executive Officer 

An exciting opportunity is available for the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service based in Cairns.

This full-time, permanent position is responsible for the strategic leadership, direction, management and coordination of the portfolio of Deputy Chief Executive Officer, including the areas of Health Services and Service Integration.

To view the position statement click here.  Applications close 5.00 pm Monday 5 October 2020.

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

FT Woongi Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program Manager x 1

The Woongi SEWB Program Manager is responsible for managing and delivering on the key objectives of the Woongi service.

The successful applicant will provide leadership and utilise effective work practices that enhance the operation, planning and delivery of culturally appropriate, community based, Alcohol & Other Drugs (AOD) and Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB), Bringing Them Home Re-connections and Traditional Healing Services including early intervention and prevention.

FT Woongi Social and Emotional Wellbeing Group Programs Coordinator x 1

The SEWB Group Programs Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the delivery of a structured program of evidence informed SEWB groups (cultural, healing, recovery and rehabilitation) for clients, families and the broader community, impacted by AOD misuse and/or mental health.

To view the position descriptions for the above vacancies click here. Applications close at 4.00 pm on Friday, 9 October 2020.external view of Rumbalara logo emu against a clinic & Rumbalara logo - emu against curve of black, yellow & red curves

National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) virtual symposium

Innovations in therapeutic practice for methamphetamine use disorder

The 2020 symposium will focus on innovations in therapeutic practice for methamphetamine disorder. The symposium brings together leading national researchers, including presentations from recipients of NCCRED’s Round 2 Seed Funding Program. Recipients will share the most up-to-date aspects of their work and research around methamphetamine and emerging drug use.

11am Friday 20 November 2020

For more details regarding the symposium click here.

crystal methamphetamine

Image source: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health #WorldHepatitisDay News Alerts : #LetsTalkHep editorial contributions from @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills, Dr Jason Agostino , Dr Mark Wenitong , Troy Combo : Plus link todays @HepAus event

“We are so proud of the work done by our members and affiliates in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but we cannot lose sight of the need to reduce our viral hepatitis rates.

We are concerned about the harm caused to our communities from the spread of Hepatitis B and C and I encourage our people to get vaccinated and continue ongoing treatments.

Keep in touch with your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.”

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is spreading the message to all Australians that while the rates of hepatitis in Australia are declining, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are being left behind.

Read / Download full NACCHO World Hepatitis Day press releases HERE .

“Great work has been done in improving immunisation rates against Hepatitis B and on treatment for Hepatitis C, yet the prevalence of viral hepatitis and subsequent liver damage remains high amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What is particularly concerning are rates of viral hepatitis in remote and very remote communities are five times higher compared to metropolitan areas.

In the COVID-19 environment, we want to urge everyone to continue their regular health care. This involves getting childhood immunisations and for those on treatment for Hepatitis, don’t change or stop treatments unless advised to do so by your treating doctor.”

NACCHO Medical Adviser, Dr Jason Agostino

“At Apunipima we provide screenings for Hepatitis in our clinics and work closely with prison screening programs to help control the disease being transmitted within communities when prisoners are released.

Hepatitis in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a preventable disease, but with both short-term and potentially chronic implications, Hepatitis has a significant impact on our mob’s health.

We need to work together to ensure we practice prevention in our communities, but also that we get tested, detect the disease early and have access to best practice treatment and management.”

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO), Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Mark Wenitong

” In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia.

The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance.

This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Troy Combo EC Australia as the Program Manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan see Part 1 below

 ” Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020. “

See Part 2 Below for link todays event 

Part 1 EC Australia, Partnering to Eliminate Hepatitis C

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, Troy Combo, I have a joint appointment with the Burnet Institute and am employed and based at University of Queensland, School of Public Health and have recently been appointed as the Aboriginal Program Manager for EC Australia.

I have worked in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector since completing my Diploma in Aboriginal Health at Redfern AMS in 1994. I have held positions with local AMS’s, State Affiliates (AH&MRC & QAIHC) and I have also worked for NACCHO (2013-2014). More recently I was employed at Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (2015-2020).

Australia can be one of the first countries to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

In 2016 an estimated 188,951 Australians were living with the hepatitis C virus resulting in up to 630 deaths from liver cancer and liver failure each year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disproportionate burden of hepatitis C and account for 10% of all people living with the virus in Australia.

As a priority population in our own right, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also overrepresented amongst people in custodial settings, people who currently inject drugs or previously injected drugs and people accessing drug treatment programs; all of which increases a person’s risk of contracting hepatitis C.

In 2017 notification rates for hepatitis C were 4.4 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians (168.1 per 100 000 vs 38.4 per 100 00) and the rates for newly acquired (evidence of acquisition in the prior 24 months) hepatitis C was 13.7 times that of non-Indigenous Australians (24.6 v 1.8 per 100 00 respectively).

In 2016, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medication was made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to most people living with hepatitis C, regardless of disease stage. DAAs have revolutionised hepatitis C care making elimination of hepatitis C possible; they are highly effective with efficacy rates over 95%, have minimal side effects, and require only 8-12 weeks of once-daily tablets. While initial uptake of DAAs was positive, by 2018 the number of people commencing treatment started to fall. If Australia is to achieve its elimination targets, it is crucial that testing remains high and that DAA treatments are provided to people with hepatitis C to cure people of hepatitis C and prevent further transmission.

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia

Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia (EC Australia) is a nationwide, multidisciplinary project with the aim to achieve a coordinated response to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. The project brings together researchers and implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations, peak and other non-government organisations to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment in community clinics.

The specific goals of EC Australia are to:

  • Ensure that 15,000 Australians with chronic hepatitis C are treated and cured
  • Ensure that people identified with cirrhosis related to hepatitis C infection are treated and cured, and regularly reviewed to monitor for liver
  • Establish a national collaborative framework to facilitate a coordinated response to the elimination of hepatitis C as a public health threat from

In recognition of the inequitable burden of hepatitis C amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, EC Australia has developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Strategy (The Strategy) that will inform and guide the activities of EC Australia. The Strategy will cut across the four key components of EC Australia: health promotion, workforce development and health services delivery, implementation research and evaluation and surveillance. This will ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to accessible and culturally appropriate hepatitis C care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

My experience working within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector has shown how the model of care provided by these services is well suited to take up the challenge of the EC Australia goals. At EC Australia, we believe the “test and treat” model required to increase treatment uptake for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is an achievable goal at a local service delivery level.

We will be convening an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Leadership Group in late 2020 that will provide expert advice and cultural governance for all EC activities as part of the Strategy. Our aim is to build strong networks and work closely with the viral hepatitis and the Aboriginal Community Control Health sectors. We seek to build on successful models of care and workforce development programs within these sectors, to expand and inform other areas.

Over the coming weeks we will be contacting organisations to participate in a mapping of current and/or past hepatitis C health promotion, workforce development and service delivery activities.

If your organisation would like to participate or learn more about the EC Australia Partnership and Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples Strategy you can contact Troy Combo at t.combo@uq.edu.au or by phone on (07) 3346 4617.

For more information please visit the below link:


 Part 2 Leading organisations unite to discuss COVID-19 impact on hepatitis C elimination in Australia on World Hepatitis Day

Australia’s leading drug and infectious disease organisations will join forces to call for a re-engagement in elimination of hepatitis C in an online event on World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, 28 July 2020.

Australia is on track to become one of the first countries to eliminate hepatitis C, which is part of the global goal from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and related social isolation has impacted drug use, drug and hepatitis C treatment services, and the health of people who use drugs. This puts an increased risk on new hepatitis transmission, access to treatment, and the elimination goals for 2030.

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), Hepatitis Australia, the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol & other Drugs (APSAD), the Kirby Institute and National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, have partnered to address what COVID-19 will mean for hepatitis C elimination in Australia.

CEO of Hepatitis Australia, Carrie Fowlie said, “Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus and people who inject drugs are a crucial priority population.”

“Not only is there a risk that the WHO 2030 elimination goal could be set back, but more immediate negative impacts could be experienced by people at risk of contracting hepatitis or seeking hepatitis treatment in Australia due to current and future social, health, and policy changes.”

CEO of AIVL, Melanie Walker said some of the new regulations and social requirements are impossible for people who use drugs to abide by.

“People who use drugs need to attend needle and syringe programs (NSPs) and be able to have ongoing access to the full range of harm reduction, pharmacotherapy and other drug and hepatitis treatments,” said Ms Walker.

“If people who use drugs cannot access these services, we could see an increase in sharing of injecting equipment, which could lead to increased cases of hepatitis C and compound the negative health outcomes already experienced by this group.”

In the newly released National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, illicit drug use was responsible for 75 percent of Australia’s acute hepatitis C burden of disease.

Professor Greg Dore, Head of Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, said there had been encouraging recent data from the Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey on prevalence of active hepatitis C infection in people who inject drugs which had declined from 51 percent to 18 percent between 2015 and 2019.

“However, despite these declines in number of people with hepatitis C, continued declines in numbers being treated through 2019 and into 2020 compromises the achievement of WHO elimination goals,” said Professor Dore.

“More strategies are needed to raise awareness of the need for testing and availability of new hepatitis C treatments to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.”

In a new NDARC study of 702 people who used drugs during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, it was found only 24 percent were able to avoid sharing drug injecting equipment.

Professor Michael Farrell, Director of NDARC, UNSW Sydney, said the research shows that people who use drugs want to limit their risk of contracting viral diseases like COVID-19 and hepatitis C, but this can be challenging due to a range of factors.

“We need to continue to find solutions that support people who use drugs to ensure hepatitis C elimination remains a priority.”

About the online event

Facilitated by health reporter Dr Norman Swan, this event brings together affected communities, doctors, scientists, health and community workers, researchers and the public to discuss the immense challenges COVID-19 brings to hepatitis C elimination and the health of people who use drugs, and to discuss strategies to ensure Australia stays on track to become one of the first countries in the world to eliminate hepatitis C.

Date: Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Time: 12:30pm – 2:30pm

Book here.


  • Jude Byrne, National Project Coordinator, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Sione Crawford, Chief Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria
  • Greg Dore, Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Carrie Fowlie, Chief Executive Officer, Hepatitis Australia
  • Jules Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Scarlet Alliance, Australian Sex Workers Association
  • Andrew Lloyd, Head, Viral Immunology Systems Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney
  • Stuart Manoj-Margison, Director, BBV, STI and Torres Strait Health Policy Section, Australian Government Department of Health
  • Amy Peacock, Senior Research Fellow, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
  • Melanie Walker, CEO, Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
  • Michael Farrell, Director, The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #FASD Health #visiblehealthwarning 2 of 2 : Australia’s social justice commissioner @June_Oscar links alcohol label reform to closing the gap

” The health costs of inaction would be greater than those incurred by the alcohol industry.

It is our responsibility as a nation to ensure that all of our citizens have a right to know of these harms.

FASD is 100 per cent preventable. People in our community have a right to know.”

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner, June Oscar, has written to the Ministerial Forum of Food Regulation urging the body to implement stronger pregnancy warnings on alcoholic beverages. Originally published here

Key points:

  • The Ministerial Forum of Food Regulation is holding a vote today ( July 17 )  on whether pregnancy warning labels in red, black and white are needed
  • The alcohol industry says the financial costs of applying the labels would be millions of dollars
  • Health experts argue the labels would help reduce rates of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Read all Aboriginal Health and FASD articles published by NACCHO over 8 years 

The letter came one day out from today’s key vote on alcohol labels, which will determine whether all pregnancy warnings will need to be printed in red, black and white.

In the letter, which is co-signed by 52 members of the Close the Gap Campaign, June Oscar asked ministers to take an “easy step” to protect unborn children from foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)

“Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has designed that effective warning, based on extensive research and consultation.”

“The red, black and white health warning they propose clearly alerts the community to the harm from using alcohol when pregnant and the risks to unborn babies and should be supported.”

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, while Indigenous women drink less on average than the rest of the female population, some Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by FASD.

Clinicians argue new labels key to reducing FASD

Prior to taking up her role at the Australian Human Rights Commission, June Oscar spent years working with communities in the Fitzroy Valley affected by FASD.

The commissioner said there are still many people in Australia who don’t know the risks of consuming alcohol whilst pregnant.

“I think many people do, but there are so many that I’ve had conversations with that have said to me that they wish they had known,” she said.

Also urging the government to implement the proposed new label is University of Sydney Professor of Paediatrics Dr Elizabeth Elliot.

The FASD specialist said she is constantly surprised at how little is known about the potential risks of drinking whilst pregnant.

“Many women drink during pregnancy, probably about 60 per cent of women in Australia, and many of those are not aware of the potential harms to their unborn child, or indeed their own health and the outcomes of their pregnancy.”

University of Sydney Professor of Paediatrics Dr Elizabeth Elliot argues alcohol label reform is key to better health outcomes.(Supplied)

The doctor said a label featuring prominent colours like red, black and white is more likely to change behaviour and spread the message to the wider community.

“We know from studies that labels will change awareness, knowledge and practice.

“It’s important that the community as a whole understands the harms, so that they can support women to stop drinking during pregnancy.”

Alcohol industry pushes back

Alcohol Beverages Australia CEO Andrew Wilsmore said the industry he represents was “absolutely committed” to adequate pregnancy warnings.

But he said the requirement to make labels red, black and would be an overstep that would cost businesses money they don’t have right now.

“The mandating of three colours does come at a substantial cost at a very critical time for our industry,” he said.

“It would cost the industry a one-off cost of over $400 million, and $200 million ongoing.”

Alcohol Beverages Australia CEO Andrew Wilsmore said the requirement to make labels red, black and would be an overstep that would cost businesses money they don’t have.(ABC News: Dane Meale)

Andrew Wilsmore said if the change to labelling was implemented, smaller craft alcohol producers would be most impacted.

“They’ve got higher costs involved in label changes than the efficiencies you can gain from some of the larger operators”

“These guys are small businesses. They’ve mortgaged their house. They can’t make money magically appear to appease a regulatory decision by bureaucrats.”

Health vs business costs

But June Oscar says the health costs of inaction would be greater than those incurred by the alcohol industry.


NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #FASD Health #visiblehealthwarning: @NACCHOChair Australia’s leading health & advocacy organisations are calling on our nation’s leaders to listen to the community & put the health and safety of our children and families first.

Open Letter: It’s time for a clear, visible health warning label

Dear Food Forum Ministers meeting 17 July  2020

For families, the most important thing in life is the health and wellbeing of our children.

That’s why it matters to all of us that our families have access to clear information about the health and safety of the products they buy – especially products that may harm our children.

Alcohol can cause brain damage in unborn babies when consumed during pregnancy – a condition known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Alcohol can also lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight and developmental problems.

Yet these products have never before been legally required to carry a health warning.

Thankfully, that’s about to change.

We are all in agreement that we need a mandatory label. Now our independent food authority has developed a clear and visible label that, with your support, will soon appear on all alcohol products sold in Australia and New Zealand.

This will replace the ineffective and confusing label applied inconsistently by some alcohol producers to date.

You will soon be meeting to decide whether to support this carefully designed label. As you do so, we ask that you put the health and wellbeing of Australian children first by supporting the evidence-based design in full.

Watering down the label through changes to its colour, size or wording, would be risking the health and wellbeing of thousands of Australians for years to come.

As a community, we want Aussie kids to have the best start in life.

Help our community give them that by supporting this new label without further delay.

Read all Aboriginal Health and FASD articles published by NACCHO over 8 years 

Yours , thousands of community members and 150 organisations

See all signatures HERE ( 40 Pages )

200715 open letter pregnancy warning labels

Show your support at visiblehealthwarning.org

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #AODConnect Resources Alert : Download an app to improve access to #alcohol and other #drugs AOD service information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

The AODconnect app has been developed by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre to help alcohol and other drug (AOD) workers, community members and health professionals working in the AOD sector to locate culturally appropriate services.

The app aims to support efforts to reduce harmful substance use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read over 200 Aboriginal Health Alcohol and other Drugs articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are increasingly using online platforms to share and access information about different health topics.

The ownership and use of mobile phones in rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is widespread and increasing, making apps a viable way to provide people living in these regions with access to health information.

AODconnect provides an Australia-wide directory of over 270 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AOD treatment services.

It delivers a portable way to easily access information about service providers such as contact details and program descriptions, helping to facilitate initial contact and referral.


Once the app has been downloaded, users can search for AOD services even when their internet connection is unstable or not available.

This is especially useful in rural and remote areas of Australia where the Internet coverage is not always extensive or reliable.

The app enables users to search for services by state, territory, region and postcode via either an interactive map of Australia or by alphabetical listing.

Services can be filtered by the type of treatment they provide: counselling and referral, harm reduction and support groups, outreach, mobile patrols and sobering up shelters, residential rehab, withdrawal management and young people.

The services listed on the app are also available through the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre website.

The app is free to download on both iOS and Android devices.

If you would like to have your service added to the app or would like more information about the AODconnect app, please contact the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre email: aodknowledgecentre@healthinfonet.org.au or Ph: (08) 9370 6336.

Alcohol and other drugs GP education program

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Resources Alert : Download @HealthInfoNet Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 : Continuing to show important positive developments for our mob

In the Overview we strive to provide an accurate and informative summary of the current health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In doing so, we want to acknowledge the importance of adopting a strengths-based approach, and to recognise the increasingly important area of data sovereignty.

To this end, we have reduced our reliance on comparative data in favour of exploring the broad context of the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people and how this may impact their health journey “

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew

The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status (Overview) aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the most recent indicators of the health and current health status of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Download HERE 


The annual Overview contains updated information across many health conditions.

It shows there has been a range of positive signs including a decrease in death rates, infant mortality rates and a decline in death rates from avoidable causes as well as a reduction in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke.

It has also been found that fewer mothers are smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy meaning that babies have a better start to life.

The initial sections of the Overview provide information about:

  • the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • social determinants including education, employment and income
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population
  • measures of population health status including births, mortality and hospitalisation.

The remaining sections are about selected health conditions and risk and protective factors that contribute to the overall health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

These sections include an introduction and evidence of the extent of the condition or risk/protective factor. Information is provided for state and territories and for demographics such as sex and age when it is available and appropriate.

The Overview is a resource relevant for the health workforce, students and others requiring access to up-to-date information about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This year, the focus will be mainly on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and presentation is within the framework of the strength based approach and data sovereignty (where information is available).

As a data driven organisation, the HealthInfoNet has a publicly declared commitment to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to advance our understanding of data sovereignty and governance consistent with the principles and aspirations of the Maiam nayri Wingara Data Sovereignty Collective (https://www.maiamnayriwingara.org).

As we have done in previous years, we continue our strong commitment to developing strengths based approaches to assessing and reporting the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

It is difficult to make comparisons between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non- Indigenous Australian populations without consideration of the cultural and social contexts within which people live their lives.

As in past versions, we still provide information on the cultural context and social determinants for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

However, for the selected health topics and risk/protective factors we have removed many of the comparisons between the two populations and focused on the analysis of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data only.

In an attempt to respond to the challenge issued by Professor Craig Ritchie at the 2019 AIATSIS conference to say more about the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ not just the ‘what’ where comparisons are made and if there is evidence available, we have provided a brief explanation for the differences observed.

Accompanying the Overview is a set of PowerPoint slides designed to help lecturers and others provide up-to-date information.

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Download the PowerPoint HERE


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #FASD #BacktoSchool : Download or View @NOFASDAustralia Teachers play a critical role in facilitating positive learning and life outcomes for students with FASD.

” NACCHO in 2018 partnered with the Menzies School of Health Research and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to develop and implement health promotion resources and interventions to prevent and reduce the impacts of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and young children.”

 Although high rates of alcohol consumption have been reported across all Australian populations, research shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more likely to consume alcohol at harmful levels during pregnancy, thereby greatly increasing the risk of stillbirths, infant mortality and infants born with an intellectual disability.”

FASD is an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can occur in individuals whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy.

These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, developmental, and or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications.”

From the FASD Strategy 2018 -2028 NACCHO Post 

Teachers play a critical role in facilitating positive learning and life outcomes for students with FASD.

These children do not respond to traditional instructions or classroom management techniques, and while many children with FASD have average or high intelligence, they also have complex needs which impact many aspects of the school environment. Behaviours and challenges of a child with FASD vary, and can include:

  • learning difficulties
  • impulsiveness
  • difficulty connecting actions to consequences (don’t learn from mistakes)
  • difficulty making and keeping friends
  • attention / hyperactivity
  • memory challenges (short and long term)
  • developmental delays

NOFASD Australia’s website provides a range of resources for teachers and educators.

We have also produced a number of webinars including a 45 minute webinar for teachers which can be viewed here.

Some valuable resources include:

The Marulu FASD Strategy publication Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and complex trauma: A resource for educators is valuable for educators and other professionals.

This book contains detailed information about FASD and how it interacts with trauma, and provides many practical strategies for supporting young people with FASD in the classroom.

South Australia’s Department of Education has a comprehensive webpage on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which can be accessed here. This page covers the education implications of FASD, managing FASD in education and care, supporting children and families with FASD and related resources. Downloadable resources include:

  • An interoception support planwhich provides a detailed explanation and opportunity for the development of individualised strategies to assist children to understand their bodies and thus self-regulate.
  • sensory overview support planwhich can provide a detailed understanding of individual sensory difficulties and assist in developing strategies to minimise sensory overload in the education setting.
  • regulation scale which assists children and adolescents to identify what is impacting their mood, what signals their body is giving them, and ways to respond and manage their change in mood.

WRAP Schools has produced short videos based on 8 Magic Keys: Developing Successful Interventions for Students with FAS by Deb Evensen and Jan Lutke. These are valuable resources for teachers and may be beneficial for parents and caregivers too. Read an overview of each Magic Key and watch them here.

NOFASD Australia’s resource, an Introduction to Teachers, can be downloaded and completed by parents/carers to provide specific information on strengths, challenges, and effective strategies for their individual child.

We recommend you access NOFASD’s comprehensive resources for teachers and educators. Recommended links include:

Supporting students with FASD – online learning

Trying Differently Rather Than Harder – highly recommended reading

Teaching a student with FASD

Understanding FASD: A comprehensive guide for pre-k to 8 educators

What teachers can do

Finally, this video describes a shift in approach when working with students with FASD:

To read other NOFASD Australia blogs click here.

You may also like to read Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network’s blog KNOWFASD: Academic Difficulties.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts : Indigenous culture not to blame for alcohol abuse, violence says NT MP Yingiya Guyula

” To tackle the problems that (Jancita ) Price and myself and all of us want to see fixed requires a more mature conversation.

This should start with focusing on the behaviour and not pointing the finger at “culture “.

The idea that abandonment of culture is the great hope for Aboriginal people is false, offensive, and dangerous.

We must connect our past, present, and future as we look to address these ­issues.”

Yingiya Guyula is a senior leader for the Liya-Dhalinymirr clan of the Djambarrpungu people within the Yolngu Nation.

He is an independent member of the Northern Territory parliament.

Published in todays AUSTRALIAN

The efforts by Jacinta Price and others to blame Aboriginal culture for violence and abuse serve no one and achieve nothing positive.

The argument that Aboriginal culture is to blame for Aboriginal people being over-represented in cases of domestic and other forms of violence is wrong.

Our culture is who we are. We are inextricably part of our culture, our language, our customs, our spirituality, our worldview. Our law maintains our culture. To take these things away is to remove our identity.

It is a dangerous discussion because it is about the systematic dehumanisation of a group that might have catastrophic consequences.

Price wrote on this page about Yolngu law, but she is not a member of the Yolngu nation and she is not from Yolngu country. She has referred to an article titled Ngarra Law that has no authority.

It was written in English by one Yolngu elder and edited by a non-indigenous man who has no connection to, or authority, under Yolngu law, and was published in a journal no longer in print.

It was not supported by any other Yolngu leader or elder and was challenged by Yolngu leaders in meetings in Galiwin’ku, Ramingining and Maningrida in 2017 to dispute much of the content. We are disappointed about what has been written of our law.

I am not relying on anyone else for my understanding of my law. I am a djirrikaymirr (senior leader) and djungaya (manager) and djagamirr (caretaker) for many Yolngu law ceremonies, including a custodian of Ngarra rom (an institution of law). Our law is not merely a collection of crimes and punishments, it is a whole system of education, discipline and leadership that starts at a young age and continues for a lifetime.

I know this not from reading an article but because I have been trained in this all my life. I was taught by my elders to keep true to the law. When I went away to school I was warned there would be many outside temptations (like alcohol, drugs, greed) and that I must hear the sound of clapsticks and feel the painting on my skin, that signifies living by discipline and a pathway to leadership.

This law system has kept alive and made strong a society that has existed since time began. But these are modern-day issues, they are new to us, and just as Western law has adjusted, we need the opportunity for our elders — men and women — to apply a modern Yolngu response. It’s up to us to do that. It must come from us.

It is clear that foreign solutions are not working for our people. Billions of dollars are spent each year trying to solve what others call the “Aboriginal problem”, but as the Intervention continues to evidence, this pathway is failing everyone.

It is a very sad thing that these days visitors to our communities see all of the outward signs of poverty and disadvantage. These should never be confused with our system of law and culture. Alcohol and drugs are not our culture; overcrowding is not our culture; unemployment and bored kids are not our culture; high rates of imprisonment are not our culture; poor health and suicide are not our culture; and family violence is not our culture. These are not a product of our culture, they are all the side-effects found in every society around the world that is affected by poverty, disadvantage, and colonisation.

As a senior leader, I need to be clear: the family violence that we are seeing in our communities is not lawful — it is breaking the law.

But we are also facing issues of alcohol and drug addictions, gambling addictions, high levels of unemployment, high levels of welfare dependency, and low levels of self-worth, and we must solve these issues too if we are to be successful.

If a visitor to our communities is fortunate enough to attend our ceremonies or live with us, they will see elders leading and organising and educating. They will see young men, fit and confident, humble and dedicated. They will see young women proud and strong. They will see small children everywhere learning and observing. This is our culture, it is full of healthy and vibrant life. At one point not so long ago, this was our everyday — where our communities were governed without outside influence.

To tackle the problems that Price and myself and all of us want to see fixed requires a more mature conversation. This should start with focusing on the behaviour and not pointing the finger at “culture”. The idea that abandonment of culture is the great hope for Aboriginal people is false, offensive, and dangerous. We must connect our past, present, and future as we look to address these ­issues.

Yingiya Guyula is a senior leader for the Liya-Dhalinymirr clan of the Djambarrpungu people within the Yolngu Nation. He is an independent member of the Northern Territory parliament.