NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Race to protect communities after borders open

feature tile text 'race to protect ATSI communities after borders open' & image of Aboriginal elderly woman receiving vax Wilcannia

In feature tile Leanne Bulmer, 67, receives the Pfizer vaccine on the verandah of her home from nurse Susie Jarman, watched by Dr Joy Linton. Photo: Brian Cassey. Image source: The Australian.

Race to protect communities after borders open

In his article in The Australian titled Sprint is on to close gap after ‘Covid cyclone’ journalist Tom Dusevic says “As we begin to open up, the race is on to protect Indigenous communities lulled into complacency by lockdowns and vulnerable to bureaucracy and the spread of dangerous ideas.”

Wilcannia became an emblem of COVID-19’s nasty streak, when the Delta strain steamrolled through the remote, mainly Indigenous town in the dust-red NSW far west in August and September. Infections reached 152, or between one-quarter and one-fifth of residents, most of whom were living in overcrowded public housing.

Delta hit Wilcannia like a cyclone, as some locals described the outbreak , but it did not surprise Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO. More than a year earlier, Turner’s organisation told a parliamentary committee Wilcannia was a sitting duck. If COVID-19 hit the town, “it would be impossible to contain due to overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of resources needed to quarantine properly,” NACCHO said in a submission in July last year.

Late last week, Ms Turner, who is also lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks, told the Senate’s COVID-19 committee the “rapid spread of Delta has been entirely predictable. Despite repeated calls for appropriate accommodation, the residents of Wilcannia were left to isolate in tents during the first weeks of the outbreak.”

As Wilcannia’s cases escalated, authorities threw everything they could muster at a response – including the Australian Medical Assistance Team, a crack team of emergency disaster responders, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, state services, and volunteers – while community leaders stepped up to distribute food, persuade family and friends to get vaccinated, and sort out living arrangements.

The good news today is there isn’t a single active case in Wilcannia and there hasn’t been a new infection in 16 days. Thirty motor homes set up on the banks of the mighty Darling in Victory Park for quarantine – only six were eventually occupied – are being moved to Wentworth and Dubbo.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy on the verandah of their home

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy have had many family members test positive to Covid. Photo: Toby Zerna. Image source: The Australian.

National Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Centre

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the National Apology for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, commemorating the childhoods that were stolen and renewing the Government’s commitment and responsibility to protecting Australia’s children.

In honour, the Morrison Government announced that the Blue Knot Foundation, along with its key consortium partners the Australian Childhood Foundation and The Healing Foundation, would establish and deliver the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. PM Scott Morrison said on this day three years ago we confronted our failure to listen, to believe, and to provide justice.

To view the media release in full click here.

art of child's face, shadows by Alex Williamson, red, grey, black, cream

Art by Alex Williamson. Image source: The Economist.

Success in turning around type 2 diabetes

In a new 3-part documentary series, Ray Kelly teams up with world renowned medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley to explain research showing how rapidly the progression of type 2 diabetes can be turned around.

Ray Kelly has developed the ‘Too Deadly for Diabetes’ program to turn around the progression of type 2 diabetes within the Indigenous community. It has been provided through Aboriginal medical services in Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Coonamble and other locations throughout the state. The results have shown that if community are provided with a program they understand and good support, they will achieve great results. In just 11 months the community in Coonamble have lost a combined total of 1,316kg, with many having medications reduced or totally removed. In other towns people have been taken off insulin within weeks, after 15-20 years of giving themselves daily injections.

The programs are led by their local team of GPs, nurses and Aboriginal health workers.

To view the article in IndigenousX in full click here.

Australia’s Health Revolution aired on SBS on October 13 and October 20 at 7:30pm. The last episode will air next Wednesday 27 October 2021. You can also watch on SBS On Demand here.

2 images: Aboriginal & TSI flags blowing in breeze; bowl of fruit, tape measure & blood sugar level monitor

Image source: IndigenousX.

Pleas for transport in face of COVID-19

The head of a Victorian Aboriginal health organisation is pleading for personal transport assistance as her community grapples with its first Delta outbreak. Jacki Turfrey from Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) says she has been asking for help from the Health Department to get infected people to emergency accommodation, testing and vaccinations.

While mobile testing vans and pop-up vaccination clinics have been set up to accommodate people who cannot travel, Ms Turfrey says positive cases are the organisation’s greatest concern.

“The biggest challenge that we’ve had is people who have been contacted by the Department, know that they’re COVID-positive or a close contact and need to be put into emergency accommodation and there is no transport available for those people to safely move from one place to another,” she said. “I’ve been asked personally on a number of occasions to get in a bus, put on some PPE and drive people around, which is just not acceptable.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura standing in front of MDAS van

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura on Monday. Photo: Richard Crabtree, ABC Mildura-Swan Hill. Image source; ABC News.

Liver disease could be next epidemic

A first of its kind study published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) shows liver disease looks to be Australia’s next epidemic affecting at least 36% of regional Victorians. The study looked at rates of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in the Goulburn Valley area and concluded the rate in this regional community was higher than the estimated rate in metropolitan areas.

Based on the Fatty Liver Index which uses pathology data combined with Body Mass Index (BMI) and other measurements, researchers found NAFLD affects 36% of people in the region, and 45% of those aged 60 or more. Lead author, Professor Stuart Roberts, is the Head of Hepatology and a consultant gastroenterologist at The Alfred, he said; “Rates of liver disease have been based on estimates developed from overseas data and little is known of the true prevalence of fatty liver disease in Australia.

To view the Pathology Awareness Australia media release in full click here.

torso of man holding stomach overlaid with image of a liver

Image source: eMediHealth.

Promise for future rural general practice

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General Practice: Health of the Nation report shows promise for the future of rural general practice. An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Health of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of RACGP fellows from across Australia. This year’s survey was undertaken by EY Sweeney during April-May 2021, with 1,386 respondents.

This year’s report highlights strong and growing interest among GPs to work in rural health, offering hope for the future health of rural general practice and communities, including: Almost three in five (59%) GPs in training report an interest in rural practice, compared to two in five (40%) of other specialists in training. While two out of five (44%) GPs in training report that they intend to work in urban areas post-Fellowship, a larger proportion (48%) plan to work in rural or a mix of urban and rural locations.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

yellow road sign with vector of head, shoulders, with stethoscope around neck

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Remote PHC Manuals progress update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

What’s new: almost all (98%) of the Primary Reviews have now been completed! Protocols are now being updated to reflect endorsed changes. Clinicians will be consulted about major content changes prior to Secondary Review.

Protocol groups endorsed: alcohol and other drugs; ante/post natal emergencies; clinical assessment; eyes; women’s health; and wounds.

Coming up: secondary reviews will start early in 2022. If you use the manuals please visit the RPHCM website to see how you can become a Secondary Reviewer.

Protocol groups coming up for endorsements: contraception; diabetes/renal/cardiac; mental health’ scabies; and urinary.

To view the RPHCM October 2021 information flyer click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Suicide Prevention Strategy launch

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) 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.

The virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031, via Zoon Meetings (hosted at the University of WA by GDPSA) originally scheduled for tomorrow, at 3:00pm AEDT, Friday 22 October 2021, has been POSTPONED.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'Aboriginal natural helpers help counter COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy' & vector image of syringe & vial

Natural helpers help counter vax hesitancy

An Edith Cowan University project funded by the WA government has been consulting with natural helpers in Aboriginal communities in the south west and Perth urban areas of WA. Led by Dr Uncle Mick Adams, Senior Aboriginal Research Fellow at the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Professor Neil Drew, Director of the HealthInfoNet, and Associate Professor Stuart Medley from the School of Arts and Humanities, supported by community Cultural Consultant Brett Hill, the project has been asking natural helpers about their experiences of COVID-19.

Natural helpers are those in the community who are naturally turned to in times of crisis for information and support. A particular focus was to explore where people are getting their information from and how trustworthy they feel those sources are.

Many participants in the study felt that, despite the overwhelming weight of information available, they still lacked information that they could trust. They felt that many of the people used to promote the messages, like sports people or politicians were too far-removed from the circle of trust in communities. Many want to see and hear from local identities or natural helpers; people they know and trust. This includes Elders and community leaders but also, and importantly, other trusted natural helpers. They want authorities to visit and sit with them to discuss the issues in their community.

To view the full article click here.

large group of people sitting & standing around table

Mandurah Focus Group.

Improving Hep C diagnosis

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said to help improve the treatment times of those with hepatitis C, the Morrison Government will fund a new national point-of-care testing (POCT) program that can confirm active hepatitis C infections within an hour and allow treatment to begin immediately.

The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW and the International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing at Flinders University will be provided with $6.5 million combined to establish the program. Being able to provide the testing and treatment all in one visit is a real game-changer for people who would normally have to wait several weeks for a test result.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal man in front of brick wall, overlaid with line drawing of hands & syringe, text 'protect' your blood

Image source: VIVA Communications website.

Kids with disability in OOHC

The 16th hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has shifted its focus to the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care (OOHC).

More than 20%of Indigenous children have a disability, compared to 8% in the general population. Out of the 45,996 children in OOHC in Australia in 2019 and 2020, 18,862 – more than 40% – were Indigenous despite only making up 6% of the total child population.

Earlier, the inquiry heard that some Indigenous families were having their disabled children taken from them amid a shortage of specialised support programs. The children often need constant care but a lack of services to help parents was leading to perceptions of neglect, health service the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) said. “They can’t meet the care needs of that child because the care needs are higher,” CAAC chief executive Donna Ah Chee said. “We need to have equitable access so that the ability to provide the appropriate level of care is not a consideration for children being removed.” Ms Ah Chee called for more early intervention and child care programs, and trained carers to help struggling families, many of whom live in poverty.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

young girl gazing out a window

EY Oceania website.

CAAC welcomes NT COVID-19 plan

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) has acknowledged the NT Government’s Plan for COVID-Management At Stage 3 of The National Plan which will enact some of the strongest protections in the nation for our vulnerable Aboriginal population.

“The modelling for Victoria shows that even opening up at 80% will lead to daily infections in the thousands along with potentially thousands of deaths and a hospital system close to breaking point,” said CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.” The NT cannot afford to get to anything like this and the NT Government should be commended for their approach,” she continued.

To view the media release click here.

CAAC logo & CAAC staff member receiving covid-19 vax

CAAC logo from CAAC website. Image source: NT News.

Speech Pathology Indigenous Health major

The number of domestic applications for the undergraduate speech pathology course at Southern Cross University (SCU) have increased 79% compared to the same time last year. It is the only Speech Pathology degree in Australia to offer an Indigenous Health major. The SCU Speech Pathology program has multiple community partnerships which support the students to engage in a range of external placements, across NSW, Queensland and beyond.

“One reason for our growth in demand for the course is a greater community awareness about the need for people trained in this discipline, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas,” SCU Professor Yoxall said.

“There is such a high demand for paediatric speech pathology services, that some families can wait years to have their young child assessed, thereby missing out of vital early intervention. We hear about children who have NDIS funding but are going through a full calendar year or longer without managing to secure an appointment with a speech pathologist.”

To view the Echo article in full click here.

Model improves Type 2 Diabetes outcomes

Research shows an innovative model-of-care that includes a weekly nurse review and an injection of a drug known as Exenatide-LAR significantly improves sugar management for Indigenous Australians with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) in remote communities.

Diabetes affects Indigenous Australians at alarmingly high rates – more than three to four times that of non-Indigenous Australians. In some of the worst-affected communities in Australia, Indigenous Australians are experiencing a 13-fold increase in kidney failure for people aged 35-44 years and an alarming eight-fold mortality attributed to CVD.

A cluster randomised study known as the ‘Lower Sugar Study’ allocated two communities in Central Australia to receive either a once-weekly Exenatide injection with weekly nurse review and adjustment of medication for 20 weeks, or a weekly nurse review in addition to standard care over 20 weeks in the community without Exenatide.

The aim of the study was to test the feasibility of the intensive diabetes management model-of-care with and without weekly supervised Exenatide. The research team also looked at the change in HbA1c, which is a marker of sugar levels.

Associate Professor Ekinci said there are many reasons why Indigenous Australians have been impacted by diabetes. “We know that the social determinants of health matter here. These include significant cultural losses and dispossession, racial discrimination and food insecurity. These historical, social and other issues contribute to Indigenous Australians developing early on-set and rapidly progressive forms of diabetes,” Associate Professor Ekinci said.

To view the University of Melbourne article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New RPHCM website launched

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) have launched a new website. The RPHCMs are a widely used and highly regarded resource in remote health across central, northern, and remote Australia – they support and promote good clinical practice in primary health care.

To view the RPHCM website launch flyer click here.

cover of each of 4 RPHCMs

You can also view the RPHCM September 2021 Update here. More than 85% of the Primary Reviews are now completed. Protocol groups endorsed include: birth and birth emergencies; bites and stings, injuries; mental health emergencies; skin; and wounds. Protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: cardiac, renal and diabetes; clinical assessment; contraception; eyes; and respiratory.

Secondary reviews of protocols to check that protocols are clear and can be applied to
remote practice will start later this year.

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

Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium

Virtual registrations are now open for the 8th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium which will be held on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 October 2021. The full digital program includes more than 60 research presentations, poster sessions and engagement with high-quality keynote speakers.

The theme of the virtual symposium is ‘Connecting research, practice and communities’ – bringing together rural health academics, clinical researchers and practitioners, students, as well as policymakers engaged with the Alliance and the rural health sector. The symposium offers comprehensive knowledge learning and professional development, as well as the opportunity for personal engagement with speakers, presenters and peers.

To register for the symposium click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO will be a keynote speaker at the symposium.

Ngar-wu Wanyaraa Health Conference

Health professionals and community members from across Australia will come together online for the 6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference on Wednesday 13 October 2021. The conference will be hosted by the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health and showcase advances in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, highlighting key findings and current health issues facing the community.

Multi-award winning broadcaster and journalist, Stan Grant, who is currently International Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will deliver the keynote address. Further information and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website here.

To register for the virtual conference click here.

Norm Stewart, Kidneys of the Dungala, 2012. Community/Language Group: Yorta Yorta, acrylic on canvas.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

feature tile text 'AHW led COVID-19 vaccination blitz sees unbelievable community update'

AHWs lead major vaccination blitz

In Wellington, a small community in western NSW, Aboriginal health workers are leading a major vaccination blitz. While Indigenous vaccination rates in this region are still the lowest in the state, Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) is working hard to change that.

“Over the last two weeks we’ve been able to deliver about 1,500 individual doses,” Jay Forrester from the WACHS said. “I think the community uptake has been unbelievable.”

The health service in Wellington is in the midst of a six-week vaccine drive. Staff believe they have already vaccinated about 50 per cent of the targeted population, and they aim to reach 80 to 90% by the end.

To view the article in full click here.

Feature tile shows WACHS staff administering COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: ABC News.

WACHS vaccination clinic

WACHS vaccination clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Second COVID-19 death in Western NSW

The tiny community of Enngonia in Northwest NSW is in mourning following the death of an Elder yesterday (6 September 2021). The lady in her 70s, who was unfortunately unvaccinated, passed away in Dubbo Hospital after contracting COVID-19.

The news follows the death of an Aboriginal man  in his 50’s in Dubbo on August 30. “A really sad day for a little place like Enngonia to lose one of their much-loved Elders up there,” said Western NSW Police Commander Geoff McKechnie.

The small isolated community, which is an hour’s drive from the nearest hospital in Bourke, has less than 200 residents in the town with almost half the population Indigenous. There are 21 active cases of the virus in the town, while six new cases were announced in Bourke on Monday.

Western Health District CEO Scott McLachlan urged the community to continue to follow health advice to prevent further spread of the virus. “This is a very sombre reminder of the tragic outcomes that can happen when people get COVID,” he said.

To read the full SBS article click here.

entrance to Dubbo Hospital

Image source: The Guardian.

Free WellMob website webinar 

Our health and wellbeing workers are under extra pressure given the COVID-19 pandemic and additional physical and mental health risks to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

A free webinar will explore the WellMob website, a project delivered by some of our University Centre for Rural Health staff who work under the national electronic Mental Health in Practice project. Wellmob is a digital library of Indigenous specific SEWB resources that makes it easy for you to find culturally relevant online tools to keep our mob strong in these challenging times.

The seminar will tell you about how best to navigate the website and discuss ways for you to use digital wellbeing tools in your work and with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. The Q & A will allow you to share your insights and discuss your needs in using online resources to maintain the health and wellbeing of our diverse First Nations communities.

The webinar will take place on Thursday 16 September 2021 at 4:00pm AEST. The webinar is free to attend, however, registration is required.

WellMob Health Our Way banner/logo

Discrimination links to poor mental health

Globally, Indigenous populations have higher rates of suicidal behaviour and psychological distress compared to non-Indigenous populations. Indigenous populations also report high rates of exposure to discrimination, which could potentially contribute to poor mental health outcomes.

A research team have estimated the prevalence of discrimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in Australia and examined the role of discrimination in the association between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status and suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms.

The team’s analysis adds to evidence that discrimination is a contributor to mental health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations in Australia. The research concludes that reducing discrimination ought to be considered as part of strategies to improve the social and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To access the article published in the Australian and NZ Journal of Psychiatry click here

silhouette of Aboriginal man's head with light shining on to eye

Image source: Australian Men’s Health Forum.

A Life Changing Life campaign

The Australian Government wants to see a growing skilled and sustainable care and support workforce. As part of their A Life Changing Life campaign, they have partnered with SEEK to help employers attract the right people to fill care and support roles

They are hosting an exclusive webinar exploring current employment trends and showcasing the tools available to support your resourcing strategies. In the webinar, employers will learn:

  • Employment market trends and insights
  • Employment trends in care and support sector
  • Tools and products available to optimise hiring activity.

The free webinar will be held from: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM AEST Thursday 9 September 2021.

This is part of a new webinar series in partnership with SEEK, connecting employers with industry experts who will share insights and practical advice tailored to recruiting people into the care and support sector.

The webinar is designed for all employers in the care and support sector, and there is no cost. To register for the webinar click here.

A Life Changing Life tile - Aboriginal woman & man sitting on a bench outside

Support available if concerns about drinking

With the extension of COVID restrictions affecting many Australians, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is reminding people that there are supports available if they have concerns about their drinking or the drinking of someone they know.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that people might notice themselves drinking more frequently or drinking as a way to cope with anxiety or stress. “Many of us are experiencing disrupted routines and increased levels of stress as we deal with the affect that the ongoing pandemic has on our everyday lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

“These feelings are unsettling and can increase the likelihood of turning to alcohol to cope. But alcohol increases anxiety and leads to sleep disturbance and having less energy.” Ms Giorgi encouraged anyone concerned about their drinking to reach out to support services.

“There are a range of online, phone and face-to-face support that people can reach out to if they are concerned about their alcohol use or that of someone in their lives,” Ms Giorgi said.

Support is available by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug hotline (1800 250 015) and online support sites Daybreak, Drinksmeter and Bushtribe.

More support services are available on the FARE website here.

To view the FARE media release here.

FARE logo, photo nuclear family

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

R U OK? Day

R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives. Their work focuses on building the motivation, confidence and skills of the  help-giver – the person who can have a meaningful conversation with someone who is struggling with life.

R U OK? contributes to suicide prevention efforts by encouraging  people to invest more time in their  personal relationships and building the capacity of informal support networks – friends, family and colleagues – to be alert to those around them, have a conversation if they identify signs of distress or difficulty and connect someone to appropriate support, long before they’re in crisis.

This year’s R U OK? Day message is Are they really OK? Ask them today.

Do you know how the people in your world are really going?

Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are someone you know might be struggling. Your genuine support can make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small.  So, don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going. Are they really OK? Ask them today. Your conversation could change a life.

You can visit the R U OK? website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health problems dire long before COVID-19

feature tile text 'ATSI health problems dire long before COVID-19 hit' & image of Aboriginal man on dialysis Purple House

Health problems dire long before COVID-19

According to Brewarrina GP Dr Sonia Henry the recent headlines about the northwest of NSW have been clear in their message. Here are two: “Australia’s failure to vaccinate Indigenous Australians” and “Funeral in Wilcannia leads to COVID-19 spread”. Anyone who has lived or worked in remote Australia with Indigenous populations knows the real headline should be: “Australia’s failure of its Indigenous people – full stop”.

The reason Indigenous populations are so “vulnerable”, as we say, is that we effectively have created a two-tiered health system where this is inevitable, long before COVID-19 and long after.

Dr Henry says Brewarrina shares many similarities to Wilcannia (about 500 kms away), where COVID-19 is spreading through the Indigenous population. We all know if COVID-19 were to explode here, not only would issues such as overcrowding and food be problematic (we have two tiny shops, both of which would be forced to close if there were a big outbreak), but also what is always an issue – how to get decent medical care.

To view the article in full click here.

mural on Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA

A mural on the Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA. Photo: Coorong Council. Image source: The Australian. Image in feature tile: NITV news website.

ACCHO trying to meet high vaccine demand

Awabakal Ltd, which runs an Aboriginal medical service in the Hunter, has been running regular vaccination clinics to try and meet the high demand. They have been inundated with requests for appointments and are doing what they can to progress their waiting lists as quickly as possible, although demand far outweighs current supply.

Awabakal is considering mobile vaccination services. “We are in the process of assessing suitable locations and will actively seek to provide outreach services in the coming weeks,” it said.

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith said Aboriginal people often relied on organisations like Awabakal for health care, rather than GPs. “We don’t necessarily participate in the mainstream health sector like everyday Australians do. Generally we don’t get any help until it’s almost the 11th hour. Wilcannia and other communities are a clear example of where we are continuously being left behind and put in the too-hard basket.”

To view the article in full click here.

Worimi Local ALC Andrew Smith receiving first jab

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith receiving first Pfizer vaccination. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Community-led programs to reduce family violence

Nine service providers across Australia have received a share of $13.5 million for targeted community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. This funding is part of $35.3 million for Indigenous-specific measures under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said each of these measures were driven by the experiences and expertise of local Indigenous communities. “Breaking the cycle of violence requires community-driven approaches that prioritise cultural healing and family restoration,” Minister Wyatt said. “Putting Indigenous experience at the heart of our efforts is absolutely crucial to reducing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.”

To view the media release in full click here.

rear shot of three Aboriginal women in dim light, dusk

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021

On Monday this week (1 September 2021) the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Despite the pandemic’s impact, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow, reaching 104,300 in 2019-20 (compared to 100,700 in 2018-19).

The report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need, such a wait times substantially longer for cataract surgery (a median number of 124 days) than for other Australians (82 days).

Vision 2020 Australia says investing in public provision of priority treatments (such as cataract surgery and treatments for diabetic eye disease), supporting development of community led models and building local case management that can help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people connect to, and remain engaged with, treatment are all critical.

Vision 2020 Australia continues to call for Australian Government investment in these and other priority areas so that we can achieve the goal of ending avoidable blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by 2025.

You can read Vision 2020 Australia’s media release in full here and access the AIHW Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021 report here.cover of AIHW Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report

Old homelessness interventions don’t work

A government taskforce looking at Adelaide’s Aboriginal homelessness population has found COVID-19 lockdown shelters which permitted alcohol consumption and yarning circles led by Indigenous translators and leaders were more successful than traditional responses.

The taskforce’s report found that unless changes occur to understand and help the “constantly changing groups of people” who gather in the City of Adelaide and Adelaide Parklands, there will continue to be “severe” health and safety consequences of Aboriginal people. “Tragically, this includes a significant but unknown number of Aboriginal people dying prematurely in the heart of the City of Adelaide,” the report says.

Some of the 30 recommendations include decriminalising public drunkenness, funding more Aboriginal health workers, and pursuing tenancy reform to support more culturally appropriate housing.

To view the article in full click here.

homeless person lying on ground covered entirely with blanket, next to shopping trolley

Image source: CityMag website.

First Nations’ community development framework

Community First Development’s (CFD) latest publication A First Nations’ Approach to Community Development: our community development framework results from over 20 years of experience and practice working alongside First Nations’ communities.

Alyawarre woman, Ms Pat Anderson AO, known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples, said, “It is my view that  Community First Development’s Community Development Framework is an essential guide in the field of community development, both in Australia and internationally. This practical and ethical guide is the culmination of conversations shared, relationships nurtured, and activities facilitated. I encourage you to read and reflect on this guide and consider how your initiatives can respect, promote, and fulfil the right to self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

To learn more, join a webinar with special guests Ms Pat Anderson AO, Stephanie Harvey, CEO regional staff and representatives from two communities from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Wednesday 8 September. To register click here.

cover of 'A first nations' Approach to Community Development', image of two Aboriginal boys sitting on back of a ute

Overdose deaths remain stubbornly high

International Overdose Awareness Day, marked on Tuesday this week (31 August 2021) is proclaimed as the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

It also comes with an urgent demand for action on a number of fronts according to Professor Dan Lubman and Associate Professor Suzanne Nielsen, from Turning Point and the Monash Addiction Research Centre who have written:

‘Unfortunately, the number of Australian deaths from unintentional overdose remains higher than the national road toll, and deaths involving heroin and climbing. We build safety barriers on our roads to reduce fatalities, but too often our response to drug use is just to park the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. As heroin harms increase, we need to rapidly upscale a broader range of treatment options, and remove as many barriers to care as possible.’

‘Pilots and trials are welcome, but we’ve had evidence-based solutions to the problem of overdose for a long time. They should be implemented everywhere and without further delay. As we’ve seen with other public health responses, small, slow steps in the right direction are not enough in the race to save lives.’

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

purple ribbon, black background, text in chalk font 'Drug Overdose Awareness'

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

Women’s Health Week

In 2013, realising there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the very first national Women’s Health Week. Women’s Health Week held from Monday 6 to Friday 10 September 2021 is a nation-wide campaign of events and online activities – all centred on improving women’s health and helping women to make healthier choices. For more information click here.

During Women’s Health Week the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention will hold its final public hearing with a focus on the mental health concerns and systems that impact women.

Chair, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The Committee commends the work of Jean Hailes in continuing Women’s Health Week. When we support women in accessing mental health care, as and when they need it, we improve women’s overall health, boost women’s participation in the workforce, and support Australian families.’ To view the Parliament of Australia’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother & two young children, girl, boy

Image source: Jean Hailes for women’s health website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: System failing traumatised kids

Feature tile - Thu.12.8.21 - System failing traumatised kids

System failing traumatised kids

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates in ATSI communities' photo of back of Aboriginal man in outback receiving vaccine

NACCHO CEO talks about COVID-19 vaccination rates

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM spoke with journalist John Paul Jenke (Wuthathi from Cape York and from Murray Island in the Torres Strait) on NITV’s The Point last night about COVID-19 vaccination rates. Mr Jenke asked Pat Turner why we aren’t further along with the vaccinations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and whether this is a supply issue or vaccine hesitancy.

Pat Turner said the vaccination rates are worrying but 96 of NACCHOs [143] member services around Australia are now delivering the Pfizer vaccine and 16 ACCHO Commonwealth vaccination centres (formally the respiratory clinics ) have commenced delivering Pfizer and 13 ACCHOs are being supported by the RFDS. In total have 197,246 doses have been ordered by ACCHOs, 75,486 of Pfizer and 121,760 of AstraZeneca. Pat Turner emphasised that COVID-19 is a very dangerous virus and to avoid getting seriously ill and ending up in hospital and possibly dying you must get vaccinated.

You can watch the interview with Pat Turner at 19:43:40 here.

tile text 'NITV NACCHO CEO Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM COIVD-19 Vaccine rates National Agreement on Closing the Gap View Episode 15, Season 2021: The Point, NITV' & photo of Pat Turner smiling in very colourful shirt

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

GP COVID-19 update for GPs TOMORROW

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health webinar series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs is tomorrow Thursday 12 August from 11:30am-12pm (AEST). Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response Department of Health and Dr Chris Harrison, General Practitioner, Canberra will join Professor Michael Kidd AM on the webinar this week.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout.  GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

When you’re ready to join the webinar, use this link.

Mental health fastest growing hospital admission

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned that despite additional investment in the last Budget, chronic underfunding of existing frontline services and a lack of psychiatrists is besetting a mental health sector struggling to cope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AMA has told the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Australia’s mental health system is suffering from underfunding at all sector and government levels, and services are not coping with demand, even before the impact of COVID-19 is felt.

Calling for more investment into mental health care, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that although extra funding in the last Budget was welcome, the providers of existing mental health services received no additional support despite overwhelming demand. The situation in public mental health is even more dire, landing more people with severe mental health conditions in already over-stretched hospital emergency departments.

“There are not enough psychiatrists in Australia and there is likely to be increased demand for their services generated by the pandemic. We urgently need an alternative to emergency departments treating people experiencing acute mental ill-health. We know that mental health admissions to hospitals are the fastest growing of any hospital admission, increasing at an average rate of 4.8% each year from 2013–14 and the five following years, so that’s a total growth of 26.4% over five years from 2013.

“People with mental health conditions are also staying longer in hospital – up to twice as long as people with heart conditions, for example, according to data from AIHW. “Australia also has a serious shortage of child and adolescent child psychiatrists and we need a serious commitment to grow this cohort of the mental health workforce to support early detection. We need to understand there is very high demand for mental health services in regional and rural areas and getting the workforce into these places requires urgent attention,” Dr Khorshid said.

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

Image source: Australia247 website.

First Nations census inclusion only 50 years ago

It’s been half a century since Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the national headcount. It’s more important than ever. The national census rolls around every five years, like just another item on life’s to-do list. But this year is special.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 census, the first ever to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It followed the successful 1967 referendum to change Australia’s constitution, allowing First Nations people the right to be counted as citizens in their own country.

While many may see the quinquennial event as just another piece of government administration, a glorified headcount, it’s a significant moment. It’s a chance to get a clear picture of the country: where we come from, how old we are, what languages we speak, our health, and so much more. It’s why this anniversary is important: it gives us a snapshot of where we are as a community.

“The census is the largest time where our voices are heard as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” says Haidee Allan, a Census Spokesperson for 2021. “The census tells us things like housing, education, who’s living at home, and those things are really important for the services that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders need so vitally.”

To view the article in full click here.

Census Engagement Officers. Image source: NITV News.

Funding boost for FASD diagnosis and care

The diagnosis and treatment of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is set to be strengthened with the announcement of $3.68 million in funding from the Federal Government’s Drug and Alcohol Program awarded to Griffith University researchers.

Led by Professor Sharon Dawe and Associate Professor Dianne Shanley from Menzies Health Institute Queensland, the projects worth $1.88 million and $1.8 million respectively, will help further the development of diagnostic and family support across south-east Queensland and establish new diagnostic facilities in rural and remote Queensland with a focus on supporting First Peoples communities.

In collaboration with Associate Professor Doug Shelton (Queensland Health), Dr Andrew Wood (University of the Sunshine Coast) Dr Gerald Featherston (Kummara Association) and Associate Professor Paul Harnett (Griffith) Dr Dawe’s project will help establish a specialist neurodevelopmental clinic at Griffith’s Logan Campus. It will also assist ongoing collaboration with the Gold Coast Child Development Clinics, Kummara Association, Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, University of the Sunshine Coast and Coastal Developmental Paediatrics, Sunshine Coast.

“The expansion of these clinics allows us to provide services to younger children aged 3–7 and embed a pathway of care that support children at a key developmental phase,” Professor Dawe said. She said early diagnosis and support was essential for children with FASD, “Early to middle childhood is a time when children learn important foundational skills around managing their own behaviours, learning to plan activities and follow more complex instructions. These skills are essential for success in school and life.” “Children with a FASD need extra help in developing these skills and there is growing evidence that supporting children and their families at this critical time can help reduce some of the damage that has occurred due to prenatal alcohol exposure,’’ Associate Professor Shelton said.

“This grant will expand the capabilities of health professionals in primary care, by using our co-designed, culturally sensitive, tiered assessment process to identify and support children who are developmentally not-on-track. Our project involves true partnerships between community Elders, health practitioners and university researchers whereby multiple world views have been genuinely valued and integrated,’’ Dr Page said.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Australian Government AIFS website.

Build ’em up podcast

The Build ’em up podcast series which aims to inspire communities to build the health, social and mental wellbeing of rural, regional and remote communities around Australia.

In the first episode of Build ’em up Elsie Seriat OAM, a Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat, an inspirational mum of two young boys, talks about her life and her involvement in Deadly Runners an Indigenous marathon project involving her participation in the New York Marathon. Elsie talks about why she took up running to self-manage her weight problems, the role models in her life and how important it is to inspire others in her community to make positive changes and not to be shame or ashamed.

You can listen to the Build ’em Up Elsie Seriat interview here and access the Build ’em Up website here.

TSI mum Elise Seriat holding two young sons - a baby & toddler

Torres Strait Islander Elsie Seriat. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

Solving rural health workforce shortages

Three local government areas (LGAs) in north-western NSW have been selected to participate in a research project to address their long-standing health workforce shortages. Glen Innes, Gwydir Shire and Narrabri LGAs will work with a research team headed by Dr Cath Cosgrave to establish, fund and manage a Health Workforce Recruiter & Connector (HWRC) position.

“We have had a fantastic response from interested communities to establish the Health Workforce Recruiter and Connector (HWRC) positions,” said Dr Cosgrave. “The successful towns should be congratulated for their commitment to ensuring their residents have access to a range of health professionals needed to keep people healthy.” The purpose of the HWRC is to build networks to better identify and successfully attract health professionals (allied health, doctors and nurses) who are a ‘strong fit’ for the local community.

To view the media release click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Feature tile - Tue.10.8.21 - Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Changes to chronic disease incentive program

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) encourages general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to appropriately and effectively meet the health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease.

Chronic disease is responsible for 70% of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. The PIP IHI seeks to address this gap.

The Australian Government announced changes to the PIP IHI as part of the 2021–2022 Budget following a national consultation process. From 1 January 2023, the following will change:

  • Eligibility will be expanded to include children under the age of 15.
  • GP Mental Health Care Plans will be added as eligible items for the purposes of outcomes payments.
  • The requirement to deliver a certain number of services in a calendar year will be replaced with a 12-month rolling window, starting from the date the first eligible service is delivered. This will give practices more time to deliver the services required to achieve outcomes payments.
  • The program will start moving towards a back-ended payment structure. This means the majority of the payment will be provided after a threshold level of care has been provided. A transition period – where registration is gradually reduced, and the Tier 2 payment is gradually increased – will give practices time to adjust to this change.

You can read more about the PIP IHI on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
You can also download a fact sheet with information about the changes to the PIP IHI here.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive. Feature image credit: Unsplash.

 

Yarrabah fighting to stay COVID-free

The Aboriginal community in Yarrabah, about an hour’s drive from Cairns has about 350 homes. With serious overcrowding, high rates of ill-health, low rates of vaccination and the fact five of the community’s seven GPs have been forced into isolation, it is clear why Jason King and the 110-strong team at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service are desperate to keep COVID-19 from their side of the hill.

“It does leave us a little short-staffed, but we’ve got a great team around us,” said Dr King, director of clinical services. The community are responding really well and following all the directions for the lockdown,” he said.

“We’ve had a fantastic response, both testing and vaccination.”

On Monday, which was the first day the centre could start giving Pfizer doses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12 and above, parents began bringing in their teenagers, Dr King said. “We’ve had to restock our vaccines early with assistance from Queensland Health stocks, just to be able to provide [shots] ongoing until we receive our next shipment on Friday,” he said.

Read the story in the Brisbane Times here.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

 

Vaccination data essential to protect communities

Aboriginal health organisations are calling on the federal government to release more detailed data on vaccination rates in Aboriginal communities, with concerns “big gaps” in coverage have emerged that need to be urgently addressed.

NACCHO said detailed data was essential to the successful rollout to vulnerable remote and suburban communities. NACCHO’s senior medical adviser, GP and epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said it was “hard to understand” why detailed data about Indigenous vaccination rates was not publicly available, as it is Canada, the USA, or New Zealand which publishes weekly data on Maori vaccination rates.

“Priority reform number four of the closing the gap agreement is about data for health services planning, and at the moment I think I’m the only person in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector that has access to really detailed data,” Agostino said. “Unless we’re paying attention to those small levels of geography and those individual communities, we might find islands of poor vaccination coverage that leave those communities vulnerable.”

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala'la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

 

TGA approves fourth COVID-19 vaccine

On 9 August 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval to Moderna Australia Pty Ltd for its COVID-19 vaccine — Spikevax (elasomeran) — making it the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia.

This messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine is provisionally approved and included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older. It is recommended that the vaccine is given in two doses that are administered 28 days apart. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has shown strong efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 in clinical trials.

Provisional approval of this vaccine in Australia is subject to certain strict conditions, such as the requirement for Moderna Australia Pty Ltd to continue providing information to the TGA on longer-term efficacy and safety from ongoing clinical trials and post-market assessment.

Read the full media statement here.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

 

Complete your Census tonight

The Census will count each person and household in Australia TONIGHT Tuesday, 10 August 2021.

Adrian Dodson-Shaw a proud Yawuru, Arrernte and Kaytetye man and Assistant Director at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics is encouraging everyone to participate.

“We need our mob to be counted in the Census to ensure that we’re heard. Census data is used to help create a better future for our younger generations,” Adrian said.

“Census data is used to help plan services for our families and communities. Make sure you include everyone in your home on Census night. This includes Elders, babies and visitors.

In remote areas, the Census is conducted between July and August. This allows time for remote teams to cover large areas and visit households to help people complete.

View the Australian Bureau of Statistics‘ media release here.
Visit the Census website here.

Census

 

Are zero-alcohol beverages harmless?

Zero-alcohol beverages are becoming increasingly popular in Australia with major brands now stocked on supermarket shelves. Consumption of zero-alcohol products increased by 2.9% in 2020 and is expected to increase by 31% by 2024.

A new paper in the Drug and Alcohol Review by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The George Institute for Global Health (George Institute) raises questions about if these beverages are giving Australia’s young people a taste for alcohol.

Menzies and George Institute researcher and lead author Mia Miller said that zero-alcohol beverages are often packaged identically to alcoholic beverages and can be indistinguishable in taste. Miller says that further research is needed to assess whether the ease of availability of zero-alcohol beverages may lead to a gateway effect, where children who consume them would be more likely to consume alcoholic beverages underage.

You can read the media release by Menzies here.
View the Zero-alcohol beverages: Harm-minimisation tool or gateway drink? commentary here.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

 

Health impacts from climate change

Torres Strait Islander peoples intend to live on their traditional country long-term. Living on the northernmost islands of Queensland allows these “saltwater people” to maintain their cultural responsibilities, identity and kinship connections. Caring for country and keeping these connections can also bring health benefits. However, climate change increases the risks of negative health impacts.

“If our connection to these lands disappears, our Indigenous culture disappears”

An emergency call for increased attention to climate change and health impacts on Torres Strait Islander peoples was made in 2019 by 22 medical professionals working in the Queensland government’s Torres and Cape Health and Hospital Service region. They stated that climate change is a health emergency.

“We are concerned about the immediate effects of heat stress and extreme weather events as well as the long-term effects. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by climate change and unabated climate change will only steepen this social health gradient.”

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Below is a video outlining the issue called Our Islands, Our Home | Torres Strait Climate Justice Case.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

feature tile text 'rethinking opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain' & photo of multiple different coloured pills

Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

NACCHO and NPS MedicineWise have released two new videos in the Asking Painful Questions series. In the video trailer below, Chronic pain and opioids, Aboriginal man Steve talks about living with chronic pain 24/7 for 22 years and Dr Hester Wilson who is a GP and Addiction Specialist talks about the risks of using opioids.

In the second video trailer, Rethinking Opioids in Chronic Non-Cancer Pain, Pene Wood who is a Pharmacist at Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Health Service talks about how opioids work, their side effects and changes to tolerance. She also talks about the new regulations around opioid use and how they will increase safety and protect patients, and how better pain management is important.

You can view NACCHO’s previous news item about the Asking painful questions video series here and access the Living with pain section of the NPS MedicineWise website here including the full video Asking Painful Questions – Yarning about managing pain, in which the above two trailer videos have been extracted.

ACCHO leads hepatitis C elimination effort

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (BNMAC), Burnet Institute and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) are joining forces to help stop new infections and reduce severe illness due to hepatitis C infection among Aboriginal communities in northern NSW.

Aboriginal people represent around 8% of Australians living with chronic hepatitis C infection, while comprising only 3% of the population. They are four times more likely not to be included in hepatitis C surveillance data, which means many will miss out on effective treatments if they remain undiagnosed. There are also barriers that prevent testing, treatment and continuing with hepatitis care, including the need for trained staff who can engage in culturally sensitive ways, as well as the stigma felt by Aboriginal people with hepatitis C, which studies have shown reduces their intention to take up treatment.

The project brings together Bulgarr Ngaru’s extensive knowledge of Aboriginal communities in northern NSW; Burnet’s expertise in implementation research, surveillance, monitoring and evaluation; and ASHM’s track record in delivering clinical education in blood borne viruses including viral hepatitis.

To view BNMAC’s announcement in full here.

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (NSW) staff completing screening for hepatitis C

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation staff completing screening for hepatitis C.

Yarn Up about COVID-19 vaccination

The Centre for Aboriginal Health is hosting a Yarn Up video event about COVID-19 vaccination which will be featured on the NSW Health Facebook page on Thursday 29 July 2021.

This is an opportunity for you, your colleagues or community members, to ask any questions about COVID-19 vaccination and have them answered by Aboriginal researchers and a Doctor with specialist knowledge in vaccination.

All and any questions you have about COVID-19 vaccination are welcomed – The Centre for Aboriginal Health will ensure these are answered with the most accurate and current information. As many questions as possible will be answered as part of the Yarn Up and by email if they can’t be answered during the event.

Some examples of questions you might want answers to include:

  • How are the COVID-19 vaccinations made?
  • Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?
  • Which is the best vaccine?
  • Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • What can I expect when I get my COVID-19 vaccination – what are the likely side effects ?
  • Will the vaccination be mandatory?
  • Do all Health Workers need to  be vaccinated?
  • Can I pass on COVID-19 to other people if I am vaccinated?
  • What is my immunity after the first dose?
  • Will we need booster shots each year?

Please send your questions through a video recorded on your phone or written, by email by 5:00 PM Monday 26 July.

Some tips on recording your video questions:

  • Try and find a space with good light on your face and an interesting background that is not brighter than you.
  • Film in horizontal “landscape” format.
  • Sit the laptop or phone an arms-length away at around eye height.
  • When you speak, look into the camera lens rather than at the screen.
  • If you are asking multiple questions, make sure there is a gap in between each one.text 'CORONAVIRUS Q&A' against navy blue background with COVID-19 virus vector images

Mental health unit for incarcerated women

Women incarcerated in WA have been given access to the first dedicated mental health unit inside the state’s prison system. A 29-bed unit opened on Friday last week at WA’s largest women’s jail, Bandyup Women’s Prison, to address the complex mental health needs of women behind bars.

Bandyup inmate Anna* told SBS News the facility was a step in the right direction. “It will make [people] feel happy about themselves, have a yarn and a conversation. It will change their mood swings on the day, to actually talk to someone about their problems,” she said.

The new $7 million facility – called Bindi Bindi, the Aboriginal Noongar word for butterfly – will be accessible to the 618 women currently in prison across the state, of which nearly half are Indigenous.

Anna, a Yamatji-Noongar woman, has become a support worker herself for other inmates at Bandyup. “I’ll be proud for them to change and to cope properly in prison with their mental health, just to see them not come back, to go the right way, in their life,”

To view the SBS News story in full click here.

photo of back of woman with two long plaits at the door of a jail cell

Photo: Aaron Fernandes. Image source: SBS News.

Help get your community Census-ready

The 2021 Census is happening soon and ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff have been working with communities across Australia to get Census-ready. The national advertising campaign began on 4 July. It includes materials and resources to encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete the Census this August. Radio advertising will be translated into 19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

It’s important that we continue to work together, to make sure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are counted in the Census. The data from the 2021 Census will be more important than ever. It will provide valuable insights into how the pandemic has changed life in Australia.

A range of resources have been developed to support you in getting your community Census-ready, including:

  • Indigenous stakeholder toolkit
  • conversation guide
  • information sheets and posters
  • infographics and social media tiles

You can access all of these resources here.

You can also read and share stories about how Census data has benefited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. For example, you can access the story of how Orange Aboriginal Medical Service used Census data to plan its new wellbeing centre, Walu-Win, for the local community here.

All the resources are available for you to download and share on your channels, as well as help you answer any questions from your community.  You’ll get a hard copy pack of some resources in the mail shortly. Remote communities are counted by Census staff throughout July and August, and we’ve been active in many communities until recently.

The health and safety of the community and our staff will continue to be our highest priority. We’re closely monitoring the developing situation across multiple states and territories and will adapt our approach to suit local circumstances. Visit the Census website for the latest updates.

If you have any questions, please reply to this email here or get in touch with your local Census contact. You can also follow us on Facebook for up to date information.

Network supports women’s reproductive choices

Are you a clinician who wants to support women’s reproductive choices?

We invite any GPs, practice nurses, and community pharmacists working in general practice/primary care to participate in the AusCAPPS Network.

A study is being led by Prof Danielle Mazza, Head of Department of General Practice at Monash University and SPHERE CRE, and funded by an NHMRC Partnership Grant. The aim of the study is to establish, implement and evaluate an innovative, multidisciplinary online network to increase the availability of long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion services in Australian primary care. We will be doing this via PBS and MBs data comparing in the year before and the year after the intervention.

 Involvement

  • Connect with like-minded peers.
  • Engage in a safe space through discussions, case studies, ask an expert, webinars, and more.
  • Provide consent for us to access your PBS and MBS data for the relevant long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion numbers.

YOU CAN GET INVOLVED by registering here and/or using this email is you have any questions.

This project is in collaboration between Monash University, The university of British Columbia, The University of Sydney, The Centre of Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, La Trobe University, Family Planning NSW, Marie Stopes Australia and SPHERE CRE.SPHERE CRE Centre or Research Excellence log - purple green lavender sphere & text 'SPHERE'

Australia-first eye care nurse survey

Australia’s nurses are being encouraged to take part in a research survey which will help shape the discussion about the future of nurse involvement in eye care. The survey, the first of its kind in Australia, also aims to create a snapshot of the eye care nurse workforce.

CERA researcher Heather Machin, a registered nurse, is leading the study which is supported by the Australian Ophthalmic Nurses Association. She says the study will gather key information about the kinds of settings nurses, caring for people with eye care needs, work in, where they are located and the different roles they perform. “We hope the data collected in this survey will contribute to policy discussions about the future of eye health services in Australia and the role of nurses in how they are delivered,’’ she says. “Currently there is a wealth of data about eye care professionals such as orthoptists, optometrists and ophthalmologists – but there is no data on nurses, despite being the largest healthcare provider group, and their critical role in many settings.

To view the Centre for Eye Research Australia news item in full click here and for information about the survey and how to participate click here.

tile text 'Centre for Eye Research Austrlai - Survey: Australian nurses involved in eye care - Take part in an anonymours 15-minute survey' photo of nurses face in cap, mask, blue gown, Eye Research Australia logo, peach colour background behind text in black font

Remote PHC Manuals project update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process. The July 2021 Project Update can be accessed here.

FYA identified roles for mob

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has some deadly identified roles for mob to work on building the power of our young people, their campaigns and movements to heal injustice and transform the future! Young mob are strongly encouraged to apply for the following positions:

First Nations Director, full-time, $105k-113k pa. Location flexible.

The First Nations Director will have a leading role in putting our First Nations Strategy into practice, working closely with young First Nations mob and communities to build and unlock their power to transform the future. We’re looking for a campaigner, activist, advocate or organiser who has experience running projects with community. This person will be working across FYA including with the Advocacy and Campaigns team, Capacity Building and Strategic Projects on exciting initiatives.

2 x First Nations Program Officers, part time or full-time, 18 month contract, $65k-75k pa. Location flexible.

This is a learning and development opportunity – the Program Officers will be working closely with the First Nations team to coordinate campaigns, movement building and programs in community with young mob. We’re looking for someone passionate about building the power of young mob, with experience or interest in working with community on place-based and national projects, ideally someone who loves facilitating and doing training with mob. The Program Officers will be getting coaching, training and guidance and gain experience in campaigning, media, government relations, strategy, project management and more.

FYA is also looking for two exceptional individuals to join the Movement Building team as Training Lead, to deliver a nine-month long place based program in Melbourne’s West, and Wellbeing Project Lead,  to create an environment of safety, nourishment, and care  for young people leading hard, game-changing and important work to heal injustice and transform the future.

Last but not least, FYA’s social enterprise YLab is searching for a nurturing individual with a strong track record of empowering young people to deliver creative co-design projects to become its new Learning and Community Lead.

If you are interested in joining FYA, or know someone who would be a great fit for any of the roles, please direct them here. People can also email Roxanne Moore, Executive Director of FYA, who is keen to yarn with anyone interested in these positions here.

Applications close Wednesday 4 August at 6pm AEST.

tile text 'FYA - Foundation for Young Australians' - photo of 4 participants on the IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program sitting outside on rocks, sandy soil, green trees in background

Participants of FYA IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

You can view other job listings on the NACCHO website here.

World Hepatitis Day

On the 28 July each year, World Hepatitis Day brings the world together to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. In Australia, the national World Hepatitis Day campaign is coordinated by Hepatitis Australia.

World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis, encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners and the public and highlight the need for a greater global response as outlined in the WHO’s Global hepatitis report of 2017. With a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis. World Hepatitis Day 2021 in Australia will align with the global theme, which is ‘Hep Can’t Wait’.

For more information access the Australian World Hepatitis Day website here.

You can also read about an NACCHO member’s involvement in an initiative to boost hepatitis C elimination in regional Aboriginal settings and beyond in the Good News Story section of above.

bannder text 'Australian can't wait to eliminate Heapatitis! #WrldHepatitisDay #HepCantWait - World Hepatitis Day HEP CAN'T WAIT!' orange font, navy background with vector image in lighter blue of the globe

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Census to inform quality health care

Feature tile - Thu.22.7.21 - Census to inform quality health care for mob

Census to inform quality health care

First Nations surgeon and Worimi man, Professor Kelvin Kong, said Census information helps health professionals and policy makers locate areas of need, and target efforts to improve community health across Australia.

“Census data helps me understand areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live, their ages and other basic demographic information.”

“We can combine this with other data to see which areas have better access to hospital treatment, for example, and also see the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in treatment rates.

“This helps us target our efforts to improve health services by facilitating better access to quality care where and when it is needed.”

“I encourage all our mob to make sure they are included in this year’s Census. It’s the best way to let policy makers know what services are needed, and where, to help us grow and be healthy.” Professor Kong said.

View the case study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics here.

The 2021 Census will be held on Tuesday 10 August.
People living in remote communities will complete the Census during July and August with help from Census staff. Information and resources to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is available here or by phone on 1800 512 441.

Census image tile featuring Professor Kelvin Kong.

 

$50,000 raised for Birthing on Country program

The program requires $800,000 to be raised in order to be facilitated, which will help Indigenous women experience their pregnancy in a culturally safe environment. Aboriginal midwife at Waminda, Melanie Briggs said:

“It’s about providing clinical maternity care and embedding culture as part of that.”

“It will also provide social and emotional support and ensure Indigenous women have access to services that they need to.

“The program also invests in Indigenous women for workforce including increasing the number of Aboriginal midwives in the country.”

To donate to the Birthing on Country fundraiser, visit the GoFundMe page here.
Read the full story in the South Coast Register here.

Birthing on Country. Image credit: www.southcoastregister.com.au.

Birthing on Country. Image credit: http://www.southcoastregister.com.au.

 

Grant to give babies best start in life

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is supporting research to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women currently have limited access to maternity and midwifery care that meets their cultural, spiritual, social, emotional and physical needs.

Research has highlighted the importance of culturally safe models of care for birthing mothers, which help give babies the best possible start in life.

The MRFF 2021 Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mothers and Babies grant opportunity is supporting research that will improve access to culturally safe care during pregnancy, birthing and the post-natal period.

Up to $15 million is available over four years from 2021-22 to 2024-25. You can read more about the MRFF’s Emerging Priorities and Consumer-Driven Research initiative here.

Visit GrantConnect for more information about this grant opportunity.
Applications open on 12 August 2021, and close on 25 November 2021.

Research to improve health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.

Research to improve health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies. Image credit: health.gov.au website.

 

Alcohol sold to children online

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and Berry Street are calling on governments to keep families and children safe from the harms from online sales and delivery of alcohol.

A new report by FARE has found children are being put at risk as alcohol retailers in Australia are not required to verify proof of age identification when selling alcoholic products online.

FARE CEO, Ms Caterina Giorgi said that there has been a rapid growth in online alcohol sales in Australia and it’s important we close the loopholes to help keep families and communities healthy and well.

Michael Perusco, CEO of Victoria’s largest child and family services provider, Berry Street, agrees more needs to be done to ensure young people aren’t so easily able to access alcohol.

“For too many, alcohol appears to be an easy escape. But it only adds to the complexities and challenges they face as they seek to recover from their trauma.

View the media release by FARE and Berry Street here.
Read the Online and delivered alcohol during COVID-19 report by FARE here.

Examples of age verification online.

Examples of age verification online.

 

Elders protected from social isolation

A new report by the University of Sydney’s Research Centre for Children and Families has brought to light stories of hardship and the incredible resilience afforded to Aboriginal people in caring roles by informal social networks during COVID-19 lockdowns.

“We realised from our research that this was going to be a particularly challenging time for families [caring for children in out-of-home care] because many of them were already dealing with sick children with significant additional needs, and many of them were our older carers,” said lead researcher Dr Susan Colling.

“What we heard was that children in Aboriginal families stepped up. It was very obvious how mutually beneficial the caring was because the children were in the houses with older family members.”

The report shows that for many older Aboriginal carers, having children in the household was deeply protective against the negative impacts of social isolation.

Another surprising finding was how quickly families found ways to keep Elders who weren’t normally carers from becoming socially isolated.

You can read more about this story in the National Indigenous Times here.
Read The University of Sydney Research Centre for Children & Families NSW Carer Support Needs: Coping in the context of COVID-19 report here.

'Three Rivers' - artwork by Aunty Lorraine Brown and Aunty Narelle Thomas, Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation.

‘Three Rivers’ by Aunty Lorraine Brown and Aunty Narelle Thomas, Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation featured as cover image on The University of Sydney Research Centre for Children & Families – NSW Carer Support Needs: Coping in the context of COVID-19 report.

 

Psychiatric morbidity higher in mob

Limited information exists about the prevalence of psychiatric illness for Indigenous Australians. A study examining the prevalence of diagnosed psychiatric disorders found that there is significant inequality in psychiatric morbidity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across most forms of psychiatric illness that is evident from an early age and becomes more pronounced with age. Substance use disorders are particularly prevalent, highlighting the importance of appropriate interventions to prevent and address these problems. Inequalities in mental health may be driven by socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous individuals.

You can read the Prevalence of psychiatric disorders for Indigenous Australians: a population-based birth cohort study from the Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences journal here.

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

App to reduce ice use

The number of people using ice in Australia has increased in recent years in many communities.

We Can Do This is a confidential web-app designed to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who use methamphetamine (ice) to reduce or stop using. They are seeking people to test the We Can Do This web-app.

It was developed with input from many people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have used ice.

We Can Do This is free, confidential and easy to use. But they need help to make sure it works.

To do this, they are making We Can Do This available to people to use either by themselves, or with extra support from participating health services.

Anyone who is 16 years old or older; is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and has used methamphetamine (ice) about weekly or more often for the past three months is invited to take part in the We Can Do This trial.

The project is sponsored by South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute with Principal Investigator Associate Professor James Ward.

Visit the We Can Do This website to find out more.

We Can Do This video.

Image from ‘We Can Do This’ project video.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency

feature tile text 'Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency' Granites Tanamai gold mine site with vector images of covid-19 virus

Territorians warned against complacency

NT medical authorities are urging residents to avoid complacency after the outbreak of coronavirus at a Central Australian mine site. On Saturday morning (27 June 2021), a FIFO worker at the Granites Mine site, 540 kms NW of Alice Springs, tested positive for Coronavirus. 24 close contacts of the worker, including a town camp resident, travelled to Alice Springs last week.

Head of Public Health at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), John Boffa, said by Saturday night all had been contacted and were in isolation. By Sunday afternoon all 24 had returned negative test results. He said another 19 close contacts of the man transited through the Alice Springs airport and were being managed in other states. “We’re not totally out of the woods yet, you know, day three some of those people might become positive. But with the Delta variant it does look like the incubation period is very short, so it’s very encouraging. We’re quietly confident that perhaps we’ve dodged a bullet.” said Dr Boffa.

Dr Boffa said that vaccination rates among Indigenous residents of Central Australia remained low and that this near miss should be heeded as a wake-up call. Dr John Boffa said he hoped this near miss showed the Alice Springs community the importance of getting vaccinated. “We’ve been living as if COVID doesn’t exist – well it does exist, its real. We hope now with this scare that people will really jump in and get vaccinated.”

To view the full ABC News article click here.

CAAC female health worker being given the COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: ABC News, Samantha Jonscher. Feature tile image of Granites Tanamai gold mine site. Image source: NT Independent.

In another article in The Guardian: Low rate of Indigenous vaccination a worry, says minister, as NT Covid cases rise to seven

“I don’t want to see any deaths,” says Ken Wyatt, pointing to significant vaccine hesitancy in some communities.

“Our population is very young, the bulk of our people are under 50 so we need a good supply of Pfizer on a regular basis, especially now there’s a real risk to remote communities,” said CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson.

Minister Ken Wyatt says he is ‘worried’ that the current Covid outbreak poses a significant risk to Indigenous communities. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Focus on remote vulnerable NT communities

In an interview on Saturday 27 June 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt MP said the NT has taken strong actions early to ensure that their Territory and their Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous communities are protected and that these actions were appropriate and timely.

Minister Hunt outlined the 10 principal actions that make up the Commonwealth’s response, “Firstly, we have set up a National Incident Management Team to support the NT response, and that’s hosted in the National Incident Centre and includes representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. We’ve ensured that the current stock of point of care testing is focused in the NT. More than 4,000 cartridges for testing all of those who maybe need it in remote or otherwise difficult-to-reach communities.”

“Thirdly, asymptomatic testing has been activated in the NT. Fourthly, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has been put into a position to assist with rapid deployment. Fifthly, Aspen is available for additional workforce support to the Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Then we have Purple House, where we are working to ensure that dialysis for patients continues safely. The seventh action is that all aged care facilities have had first and second dose visits and that we are assisting the NT Health in terms of their joint aged care response centre.”

“And we have convened a joint briefing with the Aboriginal health sector along with the NT and are working closely with them. Our focus is in particular on the remote and vulnerable Indigenous communities. Then, finally, flight manifests have been provided to all states and territories with regards to the workers who have left the Granites Gold Mine near Yuendumu. And then finally, we’ve offered any and all support to the NT Government for contact tracing.”

To view a transcript of Minister Greg Hunt MP’s interview click here.

The granites gold mine, Tanami Desert NT view from the sky

The Granites gold mine, Tanami Desert, NT. Photo: Caddie Brain. Image source: ABC News.

AMSANT and Land Council message to Mob 

In a joint media release the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Aboriginal Land Councils and the Aboriginal Medical Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and provided the following message for Aboriginal people living in their areas: “If you are in the Greater Darwin lockdown area you must stay there. If you are outside the lockdown area you should stay in your community. That is the safest place for you and your family. Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Look after Family.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man & woman at the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the woman is receiving the covid-19 vaccine by a health worker

The vaccine rollout in East Arnhem Land started in early April 2021. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

Culturally sensitive service boosts jab rate

An Aboriginal Health Service in South Australia is operating dedicated vaccination cubicles for Indigenous people. All Indigenous Australians above the age of 16 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. To listen to the SBS News audio describing a program run by the Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health Clinic in Adelaide offering culturally safe primary health care including COVID-19 vaccination click here.

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls to turn tide on unsafe medicine use

A consortium of Australia’s leading medicine safety experts has endorsed calls to turn the tide on unsafe medicine use and to better protect Australians against preventable harm caused by medicines. In a new report released yesterday, the consortium made consensus recommendations which will help shape Australia’s response to the declaration of medicine safety and quality use of medicines as Australia’s 10th National Health Priority Area.

With the long-awaited review of the National Medicines Policy starting next month, there is no better time to ensure medicines safety is front and centre of Australia’s National Medicines Policy. The recommendations come off the back of last month’s NPS MedicineWise Symposium, hosted by NPS MedicineWise, where health and government leaders lamented the lack of good data on medicine errors and data on the patient impacts of those errors.

To view the media release click here.

hand palm up on wooden table, blister pack of tablets - 3 remaining, 6 tablets on table & a syringe

Image source: Business Daily website.

Indigenous LGBTQIA+ discrimination research

New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found 73% of Indigenous LGBTQIA+ participants have experienced discrimination, in a first-of-its-kind study that addresses the impacts of racism, social exclusion and queer-phobia on Indigenous LGBTQIA+ people in WA. The study, Breaking the Silence, was led by Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Braden Hill, a Nyungar Wardandi man and head of Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. The research was also supported by Indigenous LGBTQIA+ researchers from Kurongkurl Katitjin and funded by government health promotion organisation Healthway.

The study also found over 40%of participants decided not to disclose their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage on dating apps for fear of racism. Almost 13% had experienced homelessness or housing insecurity, one third felt ‘invisible’ within their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and about 45% felt a sense of belonging to the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Over 60%of participants had listed GPs and psychologists as a source of significant support.

Breaking the Silence centres on the findings from a survey of 63 Indigenous LGBTQIA+ community members, 206 health care professionals and 49 focus group sessions. “For many of the participants there was a great sense of pride in being Indigenous and LGBTIQ+, however, the experience of discrimination, particularly racism, was a major concern,” said Professor Hill. Participants noted discrimination in the forms of being ignored, teased, maliciously outed, followed in public or being “victims of physical violence or other crimes”.

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

Professor Braden Hill in navy suit, purple shirt & tie standing outside university building with wooden totem poles

Professor Braden Hill. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Diabetes remission diet

It wasn’t too long ago that researchers in the UK challenged the convention that type 2 diabetes – diabetes that comes on in adulthood – is a lifelong condition that’s irreversible. Using a weight management program, they showed for some, that the diagnosis can be shelved.

Now those researchers have found more encouraging signs. The high blood pressure that often goes along with type 2 diabetes may be helped as well, with some people no longer needing medication. Here in Australia, experts have taken notice, with the very low calorie program now being used in Sydney as well as in remote communities where people are at greater risk.

To listen to the ABC Health Report with Norman Swan episode Diabetes remission diet also found to reduce high blood pressure click here.hot pink background with stethoscope, blood pressure gauge, pills, syringe and board with the word Diabetes

New process for job advertising

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

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

Group B Strep Awareness Month

July is Group B Strep Awareness Month, an annual campaign to highlight the importance of group B Strep awareness, education and research.

  • Group B streptococcal bacteria can cause a wide range of illnesses.
  • Between one and four out of every 1,000 newborns contract group B streptococcal disease (GBS disease) from their mothers during birth.
  • Some of the life-threatening complications of GBS infection in newborns include bacterial infection of the bloodstream (septicaemia), pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Many Australian maternity hospitals screen pregnant women for GBS infection to reduce the risk of GBS infection in newborn infants.

Tragically, many families first hear about group B Strep after their baby is seriously ill with GBS meningitis, sepsis or pneumonia.

It is important more families hear about group B Strep so they can take action to protect their newborn baby.

For more information click here.pink vector paper with tape at top & text 'July is International GBS Awareness Month! GROUP B STREP INTERNATIONL' pink, white & blue awareness ribbons