NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

Image in feature tile from 2019 NACCHO Members’ Conference.

NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

In just over 100 days NACCHO delegates from 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, guests and presenters from across our sectors will come together to at the NACCHO Members’ Conference in beautiful Canberra to celebrate our successes over the years and discuss all the good work to come.

Please join us:

NACCHO Youth Conference 17 October 2022

NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting and Annual General Meeting 18 October 2022

NACCHO Member’s Conference 19–20 October 2022

Early bird rates available (2-day conference package only).

For more information and to register click here.

NACCHO looks forward to celebrating with you all in October.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the NACCHO Members’ Conference was not held in 2020 or 2021. You can watch a video below with highlights from the 2019 conference below.

AHCWA to deliver $17.6m mental health pilot

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has been awarded $17.6 million to deliver a mental health pilot to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people. The regional Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Model of Service pilot program aims to increase access to social and emotional wellbeing and healthcare services for Aboriginal people of all ages in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West, Goldfields and South-West regions of WA.

Local ACCHOs will run the program in their communities:

  • Bega Garnbirringu Health Service in Kalgoorlie;
  • Derby Aboriginal Health Service in Derby;
  • Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland;
  • Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service in Geraldton; and
  • South West Aboriginal Medical Service in Bunbury.

Through culturally secure prevention and community development, psychosocial support, targeted interventions and coordinated care by multidisciplinary teams, the pilot is expected to improve quality of life for Aboriginal people. The Mental Health Commission will work with AHCWA to support the governance and evaluation of the pilot.

To view the Government of WA Media Statement Mental health pilot to boost Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing in full click here.

Image sources: Wikivoyage, Queensland Government IMHIP webpage.

$1.25m NDIS grants to ACCHOs

NACCHO has delivered over $1.25 million in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM welcomed the funding, “These grants will enable the ACCHO sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability.” CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Rob McPhee, said: “Danila Dilba is committed to helping our Mob with disabilities live the life they want. The IBSF grant will help us further the work we do in supporting our communities in accessing NDIS services. Demand for support and services is much higher than what we can provide alone – but the IBSF grant can assist in strengthening our internal business planning and development and organisational readiness for addressing the unmet need of many in our community with a disability.”

To view The National Tribune article $1.25 million to support community-controlled sector to deliver NDIS services for their communities in full click here.

Kelvina Benny, WA. Image source: NDIS website.

Staying physically and mentally healthy

The Australian Government Department of Health as produced two resources designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with tips on staying physically and mentally healthy. You can download the resources below:

Stay Physically Healthy – Let’s put looking after our physical health on our to do lists in 2022

Stay Mentally Healthy – Let’s put looking after our social and emotional wellbeing on our to do lists in 2022

You can also access the relevant Australian Government Department of Health webpages here and here.

Images from the Department of Health Stay Mentally Healthy and Stay Physically Healthy resources.

Lack of housing bites harder in winter

Djiringanj man Uncle Lewis Campbell has been homeless for seven years, and has been on the list for social housing just as long. In the last two years, his health has deteriorated rapidly and he has suffered multiple bouts of pneumonia due to repeated exposure to the cold. Uncle Lewis has been supported by services in the area to access temporary accommodation through motels, but said he can only access those services for four nights per week. Other nights he stays with friends in the community.

But beds with friends are becoming few and far between.

In early June Uncle Lewis was staying in a spare room with Aunty Kath Jones in her flat in Bega. Ms Jones said she had never seen the housing situation as bad as it had been in her community over the last two years due to multiple natural disasters and the pandemic. “He’s not the only one, I’ve got another homeless girl at the moment, so since she’s been there Uncle Lewis has been staying at the motel to let her have the room because she’s a woman,” Ms Jones said.

The above story is from a Bega District News article Lack of housing and refuges bites even harder in winter with health issues exacerbated for South Coast homeless.

Uncle Lewis Campbell from Bega has been homeless for seven years. His health has suffered immensely as a result, with several bouts of pneumonia in the last few years. He is pleading for more refuges for women and men on the Far South Coast. Photo: Ellouise Bailey. Image source: Bega District News.

LGBTQ+ mob shouting to be heard

For individuals who identify within multiple marginalised groups, their opinions and concerns in a climate of change can often go without consideration. In Pride Month (June) members of the First Nations LGBTQ+ community and leading organisations are shouting for their voice to be heard while creating an environment of support for those left out of the discussions effecting them. Indigenous LGBTQ+ advocacy group BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation founding director and chairman John Leha said recent policies ostracising trans people took an increased toll on First Nations people within the community.

Mr Leha described the recent religious discrimination bill and ban of trans women competing in elite swimming, international rugby league and policy reviews in other sports as a targeted onslaught. “I think the onslaught of this type of anti trans movement or people not having a true understanding of what it looks like and means for the community is the is what is of concern,” Mr Leha said. “Aboriginal trans people are one of the most highest populations that are faced with mental health, suicide rates across the country, and particularly young people.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous LGBTQ+ support body stands up for community caught up in public debate in full click here.

Black Rainbow LGBTIQA+SB 2021 poster. Image source: Black Rainbow website.

Neoliberalism’s impact on oral health

A study examining the detrimental effect of neoliberalism on the oral health of Australian indigenous peoples was presented by Brianna Poirer of the University of Adelaide, Australia during the “Keynote Address; Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network” session yesterday the 100th General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research.

In Australia, Indigenous peoples experience poorer oral health than their non-Indigenous counterparts across nearly every oral health metric. Recently, neoliberalism has been suggested as an overwhelming contributor to Indigenous oral health disparities. The objective of this qualitative research was to generate an understanding of how neoliberal subjectivity exists for Indigenous peoples in the context of oral health in Australia. The authors argue that personal responsibility for health, as a tenet of neoliberal ideologies, furthers Indigenous oral health inequities and that neoliberalism as a societal discourse perpetuates colonial values by benefitting the privileged and further oppressing the disadvantaged.

To view the News Medical Life Sciences article Study examines the impact of neoliberalism on oral health of Australian indigenous peoples in full click here.

Kyleesha Boah receives a dental check-up at Mackay Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services. Image source: NIAA website.

Take Home Naloxone Program update

This year’s Federal Budget included $19.6 million (over 4 years) for a Take Home Naloxone Program (THN) in all Australian states and territories which will commence on 1 July 2022. The THN program aims to provide people who may be at risk of an opioid overdose, or are likely to witness an overdose, access to free naloxone without a prescription from participating settings. Naloxone will be available at no cost and without a prescription to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.

From 1 July 2022, Section 90 (s90) community pharmacies and Section 94 (s94) hospital pharmacies in all States and Territories will be able to register via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) Portal at here to participate in the THN Program. In addition, naloxone will continue to be available at a range of other sites in NSW, SA and WA, including alcohol and other drug treatment centres, custodial release programs and needle and syringe programs. The Department will be working with jurisdictions that did not participate in the Pilot program in the coming months to support access through these non-pharmacy settings.

We do know that awareness around naloxone and its use can be improved. The roll-out of the THN Program at a national level provides an opportunity to start conversations to improve awareness of naloxone and support individuals to identify their personal risk, and where appropriate, access naloxone. The Department’s website will be updated on 1 July 2022 to include further information and resources around naloxone and the THN program. The THN Administrator’s website will also be updated from 1 July 2022 to reflect the new Program Rules and other resources to support the national program.

Your support in promoting the program through your networks is greatly appreciated as we work together to improve the lives of Australians who may overdose on opioids. Providing access to naloxone for free and without prescription will continue to remove barriers to access this important medicine and save lives.

Photo: Bridget Judd, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Vital role of First Nations midwives

Image in feature tile is of a participant of a new, dedicated, midwifery service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be, established by Townsville Hospital and Health Service in partnership with Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services (TAIHS). Image source: Townsville Bulletin.

Vital role of First Nations midwives

First Nations midwives play a vital role in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children, according to Pamela McCalman (midwife and PhD Candidate at La Trobe University), Professor Catherine Chamberlain (Professor of Indigenous Health Equity at The University of Melbourne) and Machellee Kosiak, who is affiliated with Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund.

Reporting on results from the Birthing in our Community study, they write that “in addition to western midwifery training, First Nations midwives draw on cultural and community knowledge systems” and “foster a sense of cultural safety and trust in maternity services for First Nations women”. While Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, First Nations women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than other Australian women and First Nations infants are almost twice as likely to die in the first month of life, with preterm birth the biggest cause of mortality.

Ensuring First Nations children are born healthy and strong is the second Closing the Gap target – a critical foundation for “everyone enjoying long and healthy lives”. A much needed step to guarantee this is to increase First Nations health workers, particularly midwives and nurses. The article goes on to discuss the health impacts of colonisation, the vital role of First Nations nurses and midwives and the need to increasing their number.

To read the Croakey Health Media article First Nations midwives’ leadership and care are central for improving outcomes click here.

Midwife Mel Briggs, wearing “Sister Scrubs” to identify herself as Indigenous, Yuin woman Hayley Williams and baby Jaari. Photo: Janie Barrett. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

AMA emergency pharmacy trial meeting

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has called an emergency virtual meeting tonight to discuss the North Queensland Scope of Practice Pilot. The North Queensland pharmacy trial, as it has been called, will allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense autonomously. It will allow chemists in 37 local government areas to diagnose and treat 23 conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart failure and asthma without consulting a GP.

The Queensland Government says a recent two-year Queensland urinary tract infection (UTI) pharmacy prescribing trial was a success, but the AMA strongly disagree, saying the trial lacked transparency. With no meaningful data available about the UTI trial, which was open to non-pregnant women aged 18 to 65, AMA Queensland surveyed 1,300 doctors and found approximately one in five treated patients for serious complications which were either missed or misdiagnosed by pharmacists in the trial. The complications ranged from antibiotic allergies to ectopic pregnancies to cervical cancer.

The AMA and AMA Queensland believe the trial places an unacceptable risk on patient health and safety and will exacerbate workforce shortages and hospital pressures; widen the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; fragment healthcare and exacerbate emergency department ramping and hospital logjam; and is a major conflict of interest for pharmacists.

To view the AMA Queensland article AMA calls emergency Town Hall meeting click here. You can also view NACCHO’s Media Statement NACCHO and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector oppose the proposed Queensland Community Pharmacy Trial on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: AMA News website.

The new addiction of vaping

Vaping is a multi-billion-dollar global industry that is rapidly growing in popularity amongst teenagers and young adults. Vaping was hailed as the new way to quit smoking but there are serious concerns the product is now causing nicotine addiction in teenagers. On Monday next week Four Corners investigates the explosion in vaping amongst teenagers and the booming black market which is thriving in Australia due to a failure to police the rules. Reporter Grace Tobin tracks down some of the suppliers who are illegally selling nicotine vapes either online or under the counter in stores.

To view the ABC Four Corners media release Vape Haze: The new addiction of vaping in full click here.

According to a Talking About the Smokes survey 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke have tried vapes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had tried vaping were younger; living in non-remote areas or more advantaged areas; people who smoke daily and wanting to quit, having made a quit attempt/used NRT in the past year.

You can find more information on Tackling Indigenous Smoking webpage Facts about vaping (e-cigarettes) webpage here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mental health surf program for youth

Biripi and Bundjalung siblings Amber Hamer and James Mercy are working to raise awareness about the importance of mental health through surfing. Surfing has been part of their lives from their earliest days in Coffs Harbour, NSW. “We went straight from the hospital when I was born ,Mum and Dad took me straight to the beach, because Dad was dying for a surf. I guess that started my lifelong affinity with the water,” Ms Hamer said.

Their late father Eric Mercy was a well-known surfer and beloved member of the local community who took his own life. Now, the brother and sister duo are continuing their father’s legacy by teaching youth about mental health and well-being on Gumbaynggirr Country. Five years ago they started hosting regular surfing camps to help young people learn about the healing beauty of the ocean. Their project is called Naru, the Gumbaynggirr word for water.

To view the SBS NITV article The surfing program teaching youth about culture and mental health click here.

Equity and emergency care

Equity and emergency care was the theme for day two of the 21st International Conference on Emergency Medicine on 17 June 2022. One of the speakers, Professor Greg Phillips, spoke about improving outcomes for First Nations people, how to address systemic racism and decolonise healthcare by blending Aboriginal and Western health paradigms with better representation and rewritten health curricula. He highlighted the importance of separating intent from affect, saying white fragility and recognition of privilege in healthcare is a pressing issue that involves a lot of listening and a lot of unlearning, especially for clinicians.

Ways to keep mums-to-be healthy

Dr Karen Best leads SAHMRI research in Adelaide, SA that targets optimal nutrition for women and kids. Dr Best, a Senior Fellow in the Women & Kids theme at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), designs and manages clinical trial research to understand the best nutrition for pregnant women.

Food eaten during pregnancy keeps the mother healthy and supports the growth and development of the baby. However, certain components of food – nutrients- are important for more subtle aspects of health. Karen’s recent research has focused on a type of fat called omega-3, which is found in oily fish, walnuts and other foods. “We found a dietary supplement of omega-3 in women who had low levels could reduce their risk of preterm birth,” Karen explains.

Preterm birth can result in developmental problems for babies and is often distressing for families. Required support and healthcare are costly. Even just a small improvement in that rate could translate into better outcomes for the children and families involved, and lowered expense for the healthcare system. SAHMRI’s Women & Kids theme is also researching optimal levels of iodine in pregnancy. Iodine is a naturally occurring mineral important for developing the brain and nervous system. “In this study, we’re looking at levels of iodine in pregnant women and how that is linked with developmental measures we assess once the baby reaches age two,” Karen explains.

To read The Lead article Discovering the best ways to keep mums-to-be healthy in full click here.

Photo: Emma by Jess Naera Creative. Image source: Australian Birth Stories.

Community First Development Fellow’s Oration

At Community First Development, ‘research success’ is research that is requested, led and delivered by First Nations’ people and communities. It is undertaken through deep listening and strives to achieve the outcomes that communities have set out to achieve. The First Nations Research and Evaluation Fellow is a pathway for First Nations’ academics to explore, design and deliver evaluation and research projects driven and led by First Nations’ people and communities.

Community First Development launched the inaugural Fellowship in 2020. As part of the Fellowship Murran/Iwaidja woman, Donna Stephens, our first Fellow, took a lead role in a participatory action research project with 11 communities across Australia. The final report has been published, and findings have been presented at numerous events. At this year’s oration Donna will speak on Participation and Community Development: Reflections on Change Organisations.

You can download an the invitation to the event here and register for the live webcast this Friday, 25 June 2022 by clicking here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

Download this poster that you can put up at your services here and images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to please do share this across all your networks.

200+ years of injustice – is redress likely?

Opinion columnist David Fickling leads a recent article with ‘Talk is easy. Political change is hard. In Australia, it’s more than two centuries overdue.’ He goes on to write: ‘Claiming victory in last month’s election, new PM Anthony Albanese’s first words were a vow to redress the unfinished business from the colonial invasion of 1788. His promise to “commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart” — a set of political demands from Indigenous groups, first outlined in 2017 — puts Australia on the path to the most substantive constitutional change it’s seen in more than half a century. If the resulting referendum succeeds, the country may wind up with a new First Nations elected chamber, an array of treaties with state and federal governments, and a truth and reconciliation commission.

Adopting the Uluru Statement would ensure Indigenous people are “given a seat at the decision-making table where it comes to laws and policies that affect us,” Dani Larkin, a legal lecturer at the University of New South Wales and Bundjalung and Kungarykany woman. Megan Davis, a Cobble Cobble woman and constitutional lawyer instrumental in the drafting of the Uluru Statement, wrote in a 2015 essay on the halting process of reform saying  “Public policy no longer requires the imprimatur of the Aboriginal people; Aboriginal participation in the decisions taken about their lives is negligible.”

To view the The Print article How Australia is likely to redress two centuries of injustice towards indigenous groups in full click here.

Photo: Luas Cosh, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Coonamble ACCHO needs a dentist

The Coonamble Dental Surgery remains without a resident dentist and the Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) says that the hole left by the departure of the last dentist is a problem for the whole community. “The previous dentist left in December for bigger and better things,” said CAHS CEO Phil Naden. “That left us in a challenging position to recruit a permanent dentist and we’ve been relying on locum dentists since before Christmas.”

According to Mr Naden, CAHS have been pulling out all stops to find a new permanent dentist and the package on offer is very competitive, “We’ve tried every avenue we can think off over the last 6 months to make it as attractive as possible in competition with other areas, but we are challenged with recruiting a full time dentist. While it is CAHS’ responsibility to recruit a dentist, ensuring that the service continues, oral health is closely linked to chronic disease and if we can’t have treatment locally the matter is a community issue and we need some longer term solutions.”

To view the Coonamble Times article Dentist vacancy starting to bite article in full click here.

CAHS Executive Assistant Beau Ewers with one of the chairs at Coonamble Dental Surgery in need of an on-site dentist. Image source: The Coonamble Times.

‘Go Rural’ program inspires medical students

The Rural Doctors Network (RDN) recently took 20 medical, nursing and allied health students on a number of immersive excursions to GP clinics, hospitals and multipurpose services. The trip’s western region leg spanned from Dubbo to Nyngan, Cobar, and Wilcannia. Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia showed rural exposure during medical training was key to getting medical students to consider leaving capital cities for the bush after graduation.

A massive part of that effort is educating, familiarising future healthcare workers with the unique healthcare needs Aboriginal people living regionally. RDN Future Workforce Manager Chris Russell said communicating the importance of Aboriginal Medical Services, and the role they played in the whole community, was best done in person. “It allows [students] to get some insight into Aboriginal culture and people and the specific healthcare needs they have,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Rural road trip gives health students a taste of life and work in western NSW amid staff shortage in full click here.

The students toured Dubbo Base Hospital as part of the Rural Doctors Network ‘Go Rural’ program.Photo supplied by the NSW Rural Doctors Network. Image source: ABC News.

Public drunkenness health-based response

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring the right programs and systems are in place to help people who are drunk in public get the support they need to stay safe. Minister for Health Martin Foley today announced $50 million over two years to continue the trial site operations that will help develop a health-based response to public drunkenness ahead of the state-wide rollout of the reforms.

Four trial sites will begin operating in the City of Yarra, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Greater Shepparton and Castlemaine from mid-year onwards and be managed in partnership with local health services and Aboriginal organisations. These trials will inform how a new public health model will be rolled out across the state. The investment will provide outreach services in all four trial locations and sobering facilities in Yarra, Dandenong and Shepparton – ensuring intoxicated people are transported to a safe place where they can receive appropriate support.

To read the Victorian Health Minister’s media release Delivering a Health-Based Response to Public Drunkenness click here.

Family of Tanya Day – a mother, grandmother and proud Yorta Yorta woman – who died in a holding cell after being arrested for public drunkenness. Photo: Nicole Asher, ABC News.

Nominate a mental health hero

With the pressures of COVID-19 restrictions, followed by the current cost of living crisis, the work of mental health professionals has rarely been so important. Now is the time to put them in the spotlight and recognise the amazing work they do in communities across Australia. On Tuesday 14 June 2022, nominations will open for the Australian Mental Health Prize, which seeks to recognise the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians do in this area.

This year, the prize has expanded to accept nominations in four categories:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: To recognise and celebrate outstanding Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mental health leadership at a national or community level;
  • Lived experience: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership by someone with lived experience of mental health, either personally or as a supporter, at a national level;
  • Professional: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership in the clinical, academic or professional sectors at a national level; and
  • Community hero: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership at a state or community level.

Henry Brodaty, Professor of Ageing and Mental Health at UNSW, said “While we will continue to recognise people who have dedicated their lives to improving the mental health of Australians, we specifically wanted to shine a light on the incredible work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health leaders. People with lived experience have so much insight and wisdom to share. We also wanted to recognise our community heroes, as a great deal of innovative work begins at a grass-roots level in local communities.”

You can nominate a deserving Seymour and district-based mental health professional by visiting the UNSW Sydney Australian Mental Health Prize webpage here.

You can view the Kyabram Free Press article Honouring Seymour’s mental health heroes in full here.

Suicide prevention consultation in Balgo community, WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: NIT website.

Healing Circle facilitator training program

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, causing shockwaves of isolation and trauma throughout Australia, Kultchafi Managing Director Ara ‘Julga’ Harathunian made a commitment to support the healing of individuals and communities right across the nation. Two years later, an innovative and ground-breaking Healing Circle Work Facilitator Training program has been officially launched. The training will be showcased again at the National Rural Health Alliance’s 16th National Rural Health Conference in August and at the 23rd International Mental Health Conference being held by the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMA) in September.

“My wife, Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri ‘Yingaa’ Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, devoted her life to the development of Healing Circle Work right up until her passing in December 2019. We had always committed to share this work for the highest good of others,” says Ara. “Healing Circle Work is not a therapy, but therapeutic outcomes are experienced. It is a healing process based on an ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander methodology. Participants learn to live life in the moment, recognising and understanding their own spirituality, and reaffirming themselves. It is suitable for any trauma, and for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women.”

To view the Partyline article Kultchafi healing training rolls out across Australia in full click here and the Kultchafi website page here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Maningrida flu outbreak worsens

Note: image in the feature tile is of Sharana Turner and her daughter Collette seeking treatment for influenza at Maningrida. Image source: ABC News.

Maningrida flu outbreak worsens

Maningrida. a remote NT Indigenous community is medically evacuating two residents a day as the Top End deals with a “tsunami” of flu cases during its worst outbreak in years. For the past week, one or two people have been flown out of Maningrida — 370 kms from Darwin on the north coast of Arnhem Land — each day due to a severe outbreak of influenza. “These are unprecedented numbers in volumes per day,” local health clinic manager Jessica Gatti said. “The flu season definitely has come a lot earlier and a lot harder than was anticipated, so we didn’t have the opportunity to do a mass vaccination,” she said.

She said management of the flu outbreak was much different to COVID-19. “With COVID-19, there had been so much pre-preparation going into it and we had so many policies and procedures and workflows around how we were going to internally manage an outbreak,” Ms Gatti said. “The flu outbreak is definitely worse in the sense that it’s a huge strain on the staffing and on the patients in that [we’re] trying to see them all in a timely manner.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said Maningrida was not the only community struggling to contain outbreaks of influenza. He said the flu season normally peaked in August or September in the NT. “For some unknown reason, it’s arrived early and it’s caught our clinicians a little bit off guard,” Mr Paterson said.

To view the ABC News article Two patients a day evacuated from Maningrida as flu outbreak worsens in Northern Territory in full click here.

Maningrida on Arnhem Land’s north coast is experiencing a severe influenza outbreak. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Galambila receives health and wellbeing funding

Galambila Aboriginal Health Service, which works in and around Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, is one organisation on the Mid North Coast receiving a share of $834,000 that has been granted to eleven regional charities and community groups by the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for projects improving health and social wellbeing for those most in need, and initiatives supporting disadvantaged and at-risk young people.

Tracy Singleton, CEO at Galambila Aboriginal Health Service said “It’s about improving health and closing the gap. We are looking at ten families every term, so 60 families over twelve months, which is a fair goal. Our footprint takes in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen shires across Gumbaynggirr country – though Gumbaynggirr country is much bigger than that. We have a population of over 5,000 Aboriginal people in our area and I think that if we can reach 60 families that’s a really good start.”

The program will be based around early childhood development. “We may start with something like hearing and bring in speakers and have playgroups where we bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families together, that live on Gumbaynggirr country, and they’ll be able to talk through issues that they actually deal with that may not be issues the broader community deal with, so they’re not going to be isolated in what they bring to the table.”

To read the News Of The Area article Galambila Aboriginal Health Service Granted Funding For Health And Wellbeing Program in full click here.

Image source: Galambila Aboriginal Health Service website.

Jail now rehab for First Nations women

A drug and rehabilitation facility to be established in remote Australia is finally offering women battling addiction the chance to seek treatment with their family and on country. Yetta Dhinnikkal Centre, a former prison, sits on more than 10,000 hectares in Brewarrina in north-west NSW and has been vacant since its closure in 2020. The property is now being handed back to the First Nations community for two vital purposes; to become a women’s rehab facility and to be used by the Ngemba Traditional Owners for cultural and agricultural purposes.

The Orana Haven Aboriginal Corporation has taken on the role of turning the former prison into a rehab exclusively for women and will allow them to remain with their children while receiving residential care. Acting CEO Tracy Gordon said there was a serious shortage of services for women struggling with addiction. “We’ve had numerous phone calls for a women’s rehab as well calls to see whether we take all of the family as well,” Ms Gordon said. “It’s just hard when you have to say no, we don’t have the services available. We have eight beds in this area for women to get help with drug or alcohol dependency,” Ms Gordon said. “We provide detox for females but from there, they have to go away.”

To view the ABC News article Jail turned rehab facility in remote NSW offers new hope for First Nations women battling addiction in full click here.

The former prison’s infrastructure will be repurposed into a rehabilitation facility. Image source: ABC News.

Tasmania to raise age of detention

The Tasmanian Minister for Education, Children and Youth, Roger Jaensch, has announced that Tasmania’s minimum age of detention will be raised from 10 to 14 years. This will be one key element in our plan to build a nation-leading, best practice approach to young people in conflict with the law. We know that detention does not support rehabilitation or reduce the likelihood of re-offending for younger children. Early exposure to a detention environment can also further traumatise young people, expose them to problem behaviours of older detainees and increase criminal networks.

You can view Minister Jaensch’s media release in full here.

Amnesty International Australia welcomed the announcement with their Indigenous Rights Advisor, Rodney Dillon, saying: “although we don’t have a lot of detail on the plans at this stage, Amnesty welcomes this significant step in a smarter approach to justice. Putting children in prisons causes irreparable harm, governments know this, but continue to allow children to be subject to this treatment. That the Tasmanian Government has recognised that children don’t belong in prison, and there are alternatives to dealing with crime, is a huge step forward.”

You can view Amnesty International Australia’s media release Tasmania’s commitment to raise the age of detention to 14 welcome, Time to raise the age of criminal responsibility here.

Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Tasmania. Image source: The Examiner.

NT on alert for Japanese encephalitis

NT residents and visitors are being reminded to protect themselves from mosquito bites following an increase in the number of feral pigs that have tested positive for Japanese encephalitis (JE) in the Top End region. Since March 2022, 44 feral pigs infected with JE have been detected in the Victoria Daly, Litchfield, Marrakai-Douglas Daly and Cox-Daly region, as well as the Tiwi Islands.

Nina Kurucz, Director of the Medical Entomology Unit, NT Health, said JE is a serious disease spread by mosquitoes that can infect humans and animals, such as pigs, horses and some birds. “The highest risk period for being bitten by an infected mosquito is after sundown within five kilometres of wetlands where feral pigs and water birds potentially infected with JE are present,” Ms Kurucz said.

To view the NT Government NT Health media release NT on alert for Japanese encephalitis click here and for further information about the Japanese encephalitis virus you can access the Australian Government Department of Health Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) webpage here.

Launch of national standard of sepsis care

You are invited to the online launch of the first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, hosted by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that is difficult to recognise. Early action saves lives and reduces the risk of serious complications and death. The after-effects of sepsis extend beyond the acute crisis, posing challenges for coordinated follow-up in hospital and post-discharge.

Join the webcast from 12:00PM – 1:00PM AEST Thursday 20 June 2022 to hear the experts discuss timely recognition of sepsis, systems to support time-critical management, the ongoing effects of sepsis, and the importance of multidisciplinary, coordinated sepsis care.

This event, The event will be hosted by broadcaster and commentator Julie McCrossin AM, is relevant to all healthcare professionals who may need to recognise and respond to sepsis on the ward, in the emergency department or in pre-hospital and community settings.

To register for the webinar click here.

New Health Professional Education Resource

Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) HPOS is an internet based portal, providing a simple and secure way for health professionals and organisations to do business with government online. HPOS enables online self-service access to government programs, payments and services. You need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account to access HPOS. The Health Professional Education Resources Gateway contains an a vast and growing range of customised educational resources for health professionals.

A new education resource that examines HPOS in now available. This new simulation, HPOS Fundamentals, gives providers and their delegates,

  • An insight on setting up HPOS,
  • Overview of the key HPOS features, and
  • Closer analysis of some specific HPOS features.

To view and learn more about the new simulation click here and for further information about the new HPOS education resource 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 30th anniversary of Mabo decision

Image in feature tile is of Eddie Mabo by John Citizen, 1996. Image source: National Portrait Gallery website.

30th Anniversary of Mabo decision

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Craig Crawford, says today (3 June 2022) marks the 30th anniversary of the Mabo decision – a key milestone in the reconciliation journey of our nation. Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said truth-telling was fundamental to progressing a Path to Treaty in Queensland. “Today marks 30 years since the fiction of Terra Nullius was overturned, when the law recognised the truth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to Country and Culture is continuous and enduring. “For ten years, Eddie Koiki Mabo pursued a case in the High Court of Australia to establish legal recognition of his family’s ownership of their lands on the island of Mer in the Torres Strait. Ultimately, his claim was successful when on 3 June 1992, the High Court ruled in his fav  our, though sadly he did not live to see the result of his advocacy.

To view Minister Crawford’s media release in full click here. You can also read an ABC News article It’s 30 years since the Mabo decision was handed down, overturning terra nullius featuring comments from Eddie Koiki Mabo’s daughter Gail Mabo, in full here.

Gail Mabo hopes all Australians recognise the importance of the Mabo decision. Photo: James Cook University. Image source: ABC News website.

$2m to extend Halls Creek ACCHO facilities

Yesterday WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti today presented $2 million in support to Yura Yungi Medical Service to extend its facilities in Halls Creek. Yura Yungi is an Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service providing a range of programs to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Halls Creek and the surrounding area. The Lotterywest support of $2 million will go towards the design and construction of an expansion to its existing clinic.

This project will provide new activity rooms, counselling rooms, a large community meeting room, office accommodation for staff and a new restroom, so Yura Yungi can meet the needs of often vulnerable clients. The building extension also includes an expanded dialysis unit, pharmacy and vaccination rooms.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti said “Delivering health services in regional parts of Western Australia can be challenging, and primary health providers like Yura Yungi are vital to their communities. Aboriginal medical services are critical to Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people.” WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said she wanted “to thank the staff at Yura Yungi for their continued dedication and for their integral work in the Halls Creek community.”

To view The National Tribune article Remote Kimberley medical service receives $2 million boost in full click here.

Yura Yungi Medical Service, Halls Creek, WA. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services website.

Need to decolonise mental health system

Vanessa Edwige, Joanna Alexi, Belle Selkirk and Pat Dudgeon’s recent article Australia needs to decolonise the mental health system and empower more Indigenous psychologists examines how decolonising the mental health system is key to transformative system change and is a movement that has been gaining significant traction in recent years. It is a movement that seeks to restore harmony to the knowledge taught and practised, to the benefits of all Australians.

Decolonising the mental health system will mean that Indigenous knowledges are equally heard and integrated in the provision of culturally safe care. This means decolonising our education systems so that psychologists receive an inclusive and broad education that enables them to work effectively. It also means addressing the underrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists.

To view the Guardian article Australia needs to decolonise the mental health system and empower more Indigenous psychologists in full click here.

‘Decolonising the mental health system is part of the journey to fairer representation and culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’ Photo: Loren Elliott, Reuters. Image source: Guardian.

The Mob Way R U OK? podcast returns

R U OK? has launched a new R U OK? Stronger Together podcast, Mob Way. In this podcast, they yarn with First Nations people and their experiences of life’s ups and downs, how we have conversations and how we open up and ask that simple question ‘are you okay?’, in our way: Mob Way.

New episodes are dropping every Monday, starting this week with one of Australia’s most celebrated singer-songwriters, Shellie Morris, to discuss the importance of connecting with family and Country and the power of healing through music. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or here. R U OK? would love your help to get these important conversations far and wide, across social media, EDM’s etc.

For free resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including videos, posters and conversation guides, check out the R U OK? Stronger Together hub here.

Community-led literacy programs

Jack Beetson has written an article When more than half of Aboriginal adults have low literacy, the best gift you can give a child is a parent who can read and write published earlier today on the ABC News website in which he explains “I come from Brewarrina and Nyngan in NSW. That’s where my parents are from, that’s where my spirit belongs and that’s who my people are. These days I live in the Sydney suburb of Pemulwuy, near Parramatta. It has become a special place to me. As a Blackfella, living in Pemulwuy is like going to heaven before you die. Not only is the suburb named after an Aboriginal warrior, but the streets are all Aboriginal words. Pemulwuy was a remarkable Aboriginal man famous for leading resistance against the European invasion in the 1790s. I taught about him for 25 years when I was working at Tranby Aboriginal College. Living here connects parts of my life, especially fighting for Aboriginal rights and improvements in education.

Jack Beetson’s conversation with Geraldine Doogue for a Reconciliation Week episode of Compass, airs at 6:30PM this Sunday 5 August 2022 on ABC TV. The Compass episode is already available online and can be viewed here.

Jack Beetson speaks with Geraldine Doogue about Pemulwuy for a Reconciliation Week episode of Compass. Image source: ABC TV.

Demand surges for alcohol support services

The number of Australians seeking out alcohol support services is climbing, according to a new report released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). The report, Alcohol use and harms during the COVID-19 pandemic, monitored emerging evidence in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-21). FARE Policy and Research Director, Mr Luke Hutchins, said that the pandemic has significantly disrupted the health and wellbeing of Australians, with stress, anxiety and depression contributing to alcohol problems. “Last year, Australians made over 25,000 calls to the National Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Hotline – triple the numbers seen pre-pandemic in 2019.

We know many of these people are calling due to an alcohol problem. Alcohol is the most common drug that people seek treatment for, accounting for a third of all AOD treatment in Australia.” With Australia now well into the third year of this pandemic, there is clear evidence of the growing harms of alcohol.  Mr Hutchins said the data raises severe concerns about the health and wellbeing of Australians, with evidence showing that the psychological impacts of COVID-19 have been linked to an increase in people drinking alcohol at risky levels. Professor Dan Lubman AM, Executive Clinical Director of Australia’s leading addiction treatment, research, and education centre Turning Point, said that the demand we are seeing for AOD services is just the tip of the iceberg.

You can read the Alcohol use and harms during the COVID-19 pandemic – May 2022 report here and the FARE media release COVID-19 sees surge in Aussies seeking alcohol support services in full here.

Remote PHC Manuals Project May update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date as RPHCM moves through the review process. This month’s update advises that the editorial committee will be meeting in Adelaide in June for the final endorsement of all protocols before the manuals are sent to the printer. Further changes will not be made to the draft protocols after this meeting.

RPHCM thanked everyone who contributed to the stakeholder consultations and secondary reviews. These are now complete. Major feedback will be considered by the editorial committee at the June meeting.

You can view the RPHCM Project Update May 2022 flyer here.

Winnunga News April – May 2022 edition

The April – May 2022 edition of the Winnunga News is available now available on the ACCHO’s website. The newsletter includes a range of interesting articles including:

  • CEO Update
  • Letter for the Alexander Maconochie Centre prisoner on current conditions
  • Nerelle Poroch – Winnunga Researcher
  • Tongs Presses Candidates to Support Royal Commission article published in CityNews, 24 May 2022
  • Congratulations to 2022 ACT Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards recipients, including proud Bundjalung woman Narelle King
  • ACT Supreme Court Confirms a Further Breach of Human Rights at AMC
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body (ATSIEB) – The Need for Reform
  • Measuring the Gap in Health Expenditure
  • Incentives and Earned Privileges
  • Reports Of The AMC Official Visitors
  • Housing Evictions
  • COVID-19 and Influenza Update
  • Staff Profile – Carley Winters, Justice Reinvestment Worker

You can access the newsletter here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Environment Day

World Environment Day held on Monday 5 June 2022 is the biggest international day for the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually since 1973, the event has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet. This year’s theme is ‘Only One Earth’.

For more information on World Environment Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Closing First Nations life expectancy gap

Image in feature if of Helicopter Joey Tjungurrayi Waruwiyi – Canning Stock Route Project website.

Closing First Nations life expectancy gap

Closing the gap in life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be the focus of an Australian first health alliance. The Research Alliance for Urban Goori Health will unite a research organisation, health service and primary health care provider to improve health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The partnership between UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and Metro North Health, has identified cancer care, rehabilitation programs and innovative models of care, such as hospital in the home, as priority areas.

Poche Centre Director Professor James Ward said the Alliance’s work would be transformational, helping to accelerate Australia’s progress towards closing the gap in life expectancy. “Some of the issues we’re looking to explore is where the health system works well for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and where it needs to be improved,” Professor Ward said. “As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, I know how important it is to ensure our peoples’ voices are at the center of service design and delivery, to ensure equal access across the healthcare system.”

To view the University of Queensland article Australian-first health alliance aims to close life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people published on the New Medical Life Sciences website click here.

Image source: SNAICC website.

Pain Scales don’t work for mob

Presenting at the Australian Rheumatology Association Annual Scientific Meeting last week, Dr Manasi Murthy Mittinty said it was critical to address cultural differences into the diagnosis and management of pain. “Conventional pain scales have only been tested for Caucasian populations and do not capture the significant influence of spirituality and chronic harm,” said Dr Mittinty, clinician and pain scientist from the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney.

Dr Mittinty’s research on conceptualisation of pain by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples revealed that it is embedded in a psycho-socio-spiritual context that is core to perceptions of health and wellbeing in Indigenous Australian communities. The research revealed that some experiences of pain by Indigenous people are unique. These perceptions of pain incorporate factors such as spiritual connection with pain, grief and loss, history of trauma and injury, fear of addiction to pain medication and exposure to pain from early childhood.

To view the Oncology Republic article Why pain scales won’t work for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Image source: Gidgee Healing website.

Food insecurity not only a remote issue

A new study has found Aboriginal families in urban and regional NSW regularly experience food insecurity and has identified five key contributing factors that need to be addressed. The research – led by Aboriginal Doctoral researcher Simone Sherriff and senior researcher Sumithra Muthayya from the Sax Institute – is based on collaborative work with two Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs): Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in Campbelltown in outer Sydney and Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation in Wagga Wagga in regional NSW. Extensive interviews were conducted with local Aboriginal people and AMS staff from the two communities, along with stakeholders from local food relief and government agencies, food suppliers and schools.

Aboriginal people felt strongly that food insecurity was a huge issue facing many Aboriginal families in the two communities, despite not being in remote areas. When data obtained from both sites were analysed, the authors identified five key drivers of food insecurity unique to Aboriginal communities in non-remote areas.

To read the Sax Institute media release Aboriginal families strongly impacted by food insecurity, study
finds in full click here. The research paper Murradambirra Dhangaang (make food secure): Aboriginal community and stakeholder perspectives on food insecurity in urban and regional Australia is available here.

Let’s Yarn About Sleep program

Young Indigenous people in Mt Isa will be taught about the mental health benefits of a good night’s sleep as part of a nation-leading program developed by The University of Queensland. Australia’s first ever Indigenous sleep coaches, Karen Chong and Jamie Dunne from Mt Isa, will work with 120 local youth on sleep education, sleep health coaching and narrative therapy as part of UQ’s Let’s Yarn About Sleep program (LYAS).

Launched last year by the Institute for Social Science Reseach, Senior Research Fellow Dr Yagoot Fatima said the program was an Australian first that promotes sleep health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by integrating traditional knowledge with Western sleep science. “The LYAS program provides holistic, inclusive and responsive solutions to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents’ understanding of sleep and empowers them to embrace sleep health,” Dr Fatima said.

To view The University of Queensland UQ News article Dreamtime: Australia’s first Indigenous youth sleep program forges ahead in full click here.

Community members have created an artwork, “Lets Yarn about Sleep”. The artwork is a powerful representation of how the research team, community Elders, youth workers, and service providers work together to connect young people with their culture and improve their sleep and SEWB. Image source: The University of Queensland website.

Good Medicine Better Health online modules

The Good Medicine Better Health IGMBH) team at NPS MedicineWise have developed a series of seven education courses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners. The free online learning modules are designed to improve quality use of medicines (QUM) in Aboriginal communities, with each module featuring a member of a family as they learn more about their medicines.

In the video below, proud Ankamuthi and Erub woman and Advanced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker, Judith Parnham, talks about the importance of QUM education and introduces the modules which cover a range of medical conditions: asthma, chronic pain, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, respiratory tract infections, and anxiety and depression, with more to come in 2022. All modules are self-paced, free to enrol in and earn CPD points.

To find out more you can access the GMBH program webpage here.

Prevocational standards committee EOIs sought

The Australian Medical Council (AMC) is currently seeking expressions of interest for a member of its Prevocational Standards Accreditation Committee who is an international medical graduate (IMG) and who has been granted general registration following completion of an AMC-accredited workplace based assessment (WBA) program. As the AMC is planning to undertake a review of the WBA processes (along with other assessment pathways for IMGs) they are hoping to receive expressions of interest from IMGs with experience working in an Aboriginal Medical Service, to share their insights on this, as well as the other areas of responsibility of this Committee.

You can find information regarding the position and how to apply on the AMC website: here. Expressions of interest should be submitted to using this email link by Friday 24 June 2022.

For more information, please contact Brooke Pearson, Manager, Prevocational Standards and Accreditation, using the above email link or by phoning 02 6270 9732.

Act now on Ice Inquiry recommendations

The Law Society of NSW is calling on the NSW Government to act without further delay on the recommendations of the Ice Inquiry to implement a health focused approach to battling the scourge of drug abuse. President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat says that it has taken far too long for the Government to act on the recommendations of the Ice Inquiry, and now is the time to make a decision and start implementing programs that will tackle the drug problem in earnest.

“The Law Society agrees with the experts called to give evidence during the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice that the current prohibitionist approach is not working. We agree with law enforcement authorities who have said we can’t arrest our way out of drug problems,” Ms van der Plaat said.

To view The Law Society of NSW media release No MERIT in further delay of bold drug law reform and rehab in full 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.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day will be held on Thursday 4 August 2022 with this year’s theme “My Dreaming, My Future.”

Children’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate our children and their connection to culture, family and community. Each year the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) promotes the event to engage children and communities across the country.

People are encouraged get involved with the day by hosting their own event. You can register your event on the SNAICC website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mob more likely to die in car accidents

Mob more likely to die in car accidents

In a 2021 submission to the Joint Select Committee on Road Safety, the National Aboriginal Community Contorlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 2.7 times more likely to die, and 1.4 times more likely to suffer serious injury because of a vehicle crash compared to other Australians.

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO says, ‘this year’s National Road Safety Week is an important reminder that significant and sustained action must be taken to improve road safety outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The level of fatalities is unacceptable for our people. It is also unacceptable across the board for all Australians.’

In a 2021 policy submission, NACCHO outlines key recommendations for improving road safety outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community including, the need to fund Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and other community-controlled organisations to develop and deliver targeted road safety campaigns to their local communities, and to provide post-accident and trauma care, including training, medicines, and equipment.

Other recommendations include, subsidising public transport options for regional and remote communities to reduce the need for people to drive when it is unsafe to do so; developing and implementing road safety programs, including those that target prevention and early intervention; and, ensuring that any road enforcement policies do not disproportionately impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

‘These recommendations must be addressed in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and local communities and made widely accessible,’ Pat Turner stated.

Donnella Mills, Chair of NACCHO further commented, ‘government must take immediate action to improve road safety outcomes and reduce fatalities and injuries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the four Priority Reforms. These responses must be holistic and consider the social determinants of health.’

The policy submission can be accessed on the NACCHO website here and this media release here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Growing diabetes epidemic in remote NT

A new paper published this week shows rates of diabetes among Aboriginal people in remote NT communities are some of the highest in the world and getting worse—with the condition affecting more people, year after year. The research shows the prevalence of diabetes is currently 17% (of which 99% is classified as type 2 diabetes)—up from 14.4% recorded in 2012. When focusing on the adult population, the findings show a massive 29% of Aboriginal people in remote NT communities have diabetes, with the burden highest in the Central Australia region, where a staggering 40% of adults now have the condition. Diabetes is a leading contributor to kidney disease, heart disease, strokes, impaired vision and amputations due to infections.

The study analyses seven-years’ worth of health data relating to over 21,000 Aboriginal people from 51 remote communities across the NT. It was published in the online open access journal BMJ Open. Lead author Endocrinologist Dr. Matthew Hare said the burden of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal people in remote communities of the NT is among the highest reported of any population globally, and there is an urgent need to introduce preventative strategies to address the crisis. “Type 2 diabetes is not due to ‘lifestyle choices.’ This epidemic is strongly related to the impacts of colonisation and the ongoing social and economic disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal people in the remote NT.” “Holistic prevention strategies need to be developed and implemented in partnership with Aboriginal community members, alongside better resourcing of clinical care for chronic conditionsin remote communities,” Dr. Hare said.

To view the Medical Xpress article Growing diabetes epidemic in remote NT communities by Menzies School of Health Research click here.

Keen basketballer Kudin Brogan and her mum, Gemma Brogan, both live with diabetes. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Dramatic increase in RHD funding needed

A dramatic increase in funding will be needed to eradicate a disease which stems from poverty in Australia’s Indigenous community, according to a leading paedeatrician. The federal government has committed to ending rheumatic heart disease (RHD) by 2030, but advocates are adamant the goal will not be met unless there’s a major increase in investment and a radical shift in the way overcrowding is tackled in remote communities.

The disease starts with repeated strep A infections which damage the heart over time, leading to serious illness and death. While the disease is no longer an issue in mainstream Australia, it disproportionately impacts Indigenous people, particularly women, in places like the Kimberley, NT and outback Queensland and SA, where overcrowding and poverty are entrenched. Experts warn the current trajectory of new diagnoses means more than 8,000 Indigenous people are expected to develop the disease in the next decade, leading to the deaths of about 600 people.

Commonwealth funding is largely targeted towards treatment, a task made difficult by cultural barriers and logistical challenges. Remote health workers and specialists who research the disease nationally say overcrowding and poverty among Indigenous Australians must be tackled meaningfully if the 2030 goal has any chance of being achieved.

To view the ABC News article Rheumatic heart disease funding needed to help Indigenous communities in full click here.

Curtis and Trey Brown travelled from Maningrida, NT, to Canberra in 2018 to raise political awareness of rheumatic heart disease. Photo: Josh Francis. Image source: ABC News.

Sign up to join the LIPPE family

The Leaders in Indigenous Pharmacy Profession Education (LIPPE) Network” is a partnership of the Australian Pharmacy Council, and the Council of Pharmacy Schools Australia and New Zealand. Under the leadership of Indigenous pharmacists, and in collaboration with other individuals and organisations, LIPPE will foster transformational change in the pharmacy workforce beginning with the recruitment and retention of students to the provision of care in practice settings.”

And “Sign up to join the LIPPE family – You will be part of a dynamic and growing community who are committed to making a difference through the work that pharmacists do. You will receive news on our progress, be invited to take part in events, including sharing your knowledge and expertise.”  You can watch a short video below of Wiradjiri woman Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM welcoming you to LIPPE, and find further information on the LIPPE Network website here.

New NT liquor laws process “shameful”

A coalition of peak Aboriginal and community bodies have ramped up their attack on the NT Government over its decision to allow booze to be sold in remote communities again for the first time in 15 years. The NT Government on Tuesday passed amendments to the Liquor Act allowing the sale of takeaway booze into hundreds of alcohol protected areas from mid-July. More than 200 remote communities and homelands will be able to decide for themselves whether they remain dry. About 100 will revert to old restrictions.

Aboriginal health, housing and justice organisations have panned the government’s lack of consultation before implementing the changes, arguing the move risked opening the floodgates to booze in remote communities. And now the Territory’s police union and council of social services have added their voices to the chorus of criticism, urging immediate consultation to avoid a looming booze-fuelled disaster. NT Police Association president Paul McCue said frontline police held “significant” concern about the reforms. “The passing of this legislation goes completely against what the Government claims to be achieving in relation to reducing alcohol-related harm,” he said. “Our already stretched resources will now undoubtedly suffer further strain, not to mention the risk to them, other frontline workers and the wider community as a result of alcohol related harm, “Residents in communities and town camps will now likely be subject to an increase of violence and isolation.”

NT Council of Social Services chief executive Deborah Di Natale said the legislation was rushed and done against the advice of ACCOs. The coalition is calling for a moratorium on takeaway alcohol sales until transparent negotiations have taken place, and for more funding for alcohol harm programs to manage increased needs. Concerns have also been raised about the impact of the policy on already-stretched Aboriginal medical services. AMSANT CEO John Paterson said the legislation’s process was shameful.

To view the National Indigenous Times article A relic of NT Intervention is being lifted, but peak Aboriginal groups are furious in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Initiative allows vision-impaired kids play football

Blind and vision impaired Aboriginal children from some of Australia’s most disadvantaged and remote communities will be able to participate in the transformational program through the use of audible balls. A new partnership between two of Australia’s most prolific sporting initiatives will provide football opportunities for children with eye and vision problems, currently the most common long-term health conditions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The program established by John Moriarty Football (JMF) and Australian Blind Football (ABF) will help facilitate education and knowledge to coaches which will allow for children to enjoy the social benefits of the sport. Yanyuwa man John Moriarty AM, the Co-Founder of JMF and the first Indigenous man to be selected for the Socceroos, claims that the new partnership will be “game changing. Improving access to the game of football is paramount to us at JMF,” he said.

To view the SBS Sport article Game-changing initiative allowing blind, vision-impaired Aboriginal children to play football in full click here.

Vision impaired JMF participant, Alyawarr boy Tarrant Jackson (16 years), celebrates a goal in Tennant Creek, NT. Image source: SBS Sport website.

Chance for 2 years of PIHW membership

Want to be more LGBTQ inclusive in your care?

Through the Coles Grant Scheme, two 2-year Pride in Health + Wellbeing Memberships are available to help smaller organisations provide more LGBTQ inclusive care. These memberships will allow these organisations to not only review and upskill on their care for gender and sexuality diverse patients/service users but also to measure this change through the free annual Health + Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI) benchmark and surveys.

For further details about the grants and to access an EOI form click here. EOIs close Wednesday 1 June 2022 – so get in QUICK!

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.

National Road Safety Week

Every year, approximately 1,200 people are killed and another 44,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15 and the second-biggest killer of all Australians aged between 15 and 24. These numbers are growing every year but are preventable if we choose to Drive So Others Survive!.

National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative from the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group, partnering road safety organisations and Government. The week highlights the impact of road trauma and ways to reduce it.

You can access the National Road Safety Week 2022 website here, as well as view a short video below:

HIV&AIDS Sexual Health conference scholarships deadline extended

The deadline for Scholarship applications for HIV Clinicians to attend the Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences 2022, has been EXTENDED to this Sunday 22 May 2022.

HIV Clinician scholarships include:

  • Return economy flights to the conference
  • Accommodation
  • HIV&AIDS Conference registration

View the Scholarships webpage here for more information on eligibility and priority.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT mob 80%+ less Medicare funding

NT mob 80%+ less Medicare funding

Medicare, Australia’s universal health insurance scheme, provides financial protection against the cost of medical bills, and makes public hospital care available without any charge to the patient. For the large majority of Australians in urban settings, it is a brilliant system – providing subsidised access to care. But subsidised access is only useful for those who have access. If there is no doctor nearby, there is nothing to subsidise. This creates a huge inequity – most of Australia has good access to doctors, but the NT does not.

NT residents receive roughly 30% less Medicare funding per capita than the national average (A$648 compared with A$969). The gap is worse for First Nations Australians in the NT, who attract only 16% of the Medicare funding of the average Australian. The inequitable funding is even worse when the poorer health status of First Nations Australians and the additional costs associated with geographical remoteness are taken into account. Despite Medicare’s intended universality, the NT is systematically disadvantaged.

People in the Territory have poorer access to primary health care, which includes GP services and those provided by Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Aboriginal health services receive some special additional funding separate from the Medicare-billing funding. However, even with that extra funding, there is still a shortfall  to NT residents of about A$80 million each year.

To view The Conversation article First Nations people in the NT receive just 16% of the Medicare funding of an average Australian click here.

Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: The Conversation.

Comprehensive truth-telling project

The most comprehensive truth-telling project in Australian history is documenting every law and policy that has targeted or had a disproportionate impact – deliberate and accidental – on Indigenous people since 1788 commencing with NSW. “Towards Truth” is the first attempt to chronicle in forensic, legal detail the story of how Australian governments and institutions have touched every aspect of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The interactive database The interactive database has drawn on the pro-bono skills of legal researchers from some of Australia’s top law firms to document the story of colonisation in NSW. Pioneered by Professors Megan Davis and Gabrielle Appleby, two constitutional lawyers from UNSW Law involved in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the University of NSW’s Indigenous Law Centre are creating the database and website to tell the story of how dispossession has occurred methodically under the rule of law.

Towards Truth’s project coordinator is 30-year-old lawyer Corey Smith, a Ngemba man whose work on the database helped him understand in vivid detail the pressures on his own great grandmother May Biles not to be proud of her Aboriginality. May lived in Brewarrina at a time when the NSW government exempted Aboriginal people from the draconian restrictions of the Aborigines Protection Act if they could prove they did not speak their language or associate with other Aboriginal people. “It meant access to publicly-funded health, education and housing,” Mr Smith said.

To view The Australian article Facing the truth about Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Indigenous lawyer Corey Smith. Photo: John Feder. Image source: The Australian.

AMA election health report card

The AMA’s election health report card released yesterday, gives Australians an overview of each of the major parties’ health commitments made during the campaign so far. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said healthcare, for good reason, had been one of the major concerns of the public during the election campaign, but despite this neither major party had committed to a public hospital funding model which would help alleviate the enormous stress on the hospital system.

“The AMA’s logjam campaign has called on Government and Opposition to commit to a new hospital funding agreement with State Governments, aimed at addressing the crisis of ambulance ramping, overloaded emergency departments and delayed essential surgery,” he said. “But the lack of commitment to the necessary $20.5 billion investment is disappointing as the incoming PM, whoever it may be, will be forced to negotiate a new agreement with States regardless.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA releases its election report card in full click here.

Lifting of alcohol bans “disgraceful”

Booze will be allowed back into hundreds of NT remote Indigenous communities under “disgraceful” new laws replacing Intervention-era alcohol bans. The NT government says its amended liquor laws, which were passed by parliament late on Tuesday this week, will give communities “greater power” to choose if they want alcohol restrictions when a commonwealth law expires in July.

But social service groups say the legislation is disappointing, disgraceful, and lacks integrity. “The passing of this legislation before any consultation has been done with Aboriginal communities and against the advice of Aboriginal community controlled organisations in the NT is disgraceful,” NT Council of Social Service chief executive Deborah Di Natale says. “At best the government’s process around these significant liquor changes, lacks integrity.”

Under the law, communities must choose to remain alcohol free. If they don’t there will be no alcohol restrictions or bans when the commonwealth law expires on 17 July this year. The Northern Land Council called on the NT government to withdraw the legislation and consult with health experts and Indigenous groups. “For us this is about our lives and our people,” chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said. “The government has to take time to listen to the concerns of our health professionals and community leaders when they are making these important decisions that affect our mob out bush.”

To view the The West Australian article NT laws replacing remote booze ban slammed click here.

Image source: news.com.au.

Optimising health checks research

UNSW Sydney researchers will receive $4.7 million in funding from the NSW government for prevention research in infectious diseases, drug and alcohol use and primary health care.

The funding, announced as part of NSW Health’s Prevention Research Support Program (PRSP), is designed to support NSW research organisations conducting prevention and early intervention research that aligns with NSW Health priorities. The program supports research infrastructure and strategies to build research capability and translate evidence from research into policy and practice.

A team of researchers at The Kirby Institute at UNSW have been awarded $1.8 million to undertake research aimed at preventing people acquiring a range of infectious diseases, including:

  • Developing capacity for the evaluation of HIV prevention interventions implemented within clinics and community settings
  • Monitoring and evaluation of hepatitis C elimination
  • Organising and co-designing HPV immunisation services with students with disabilities
  • Community led models to optimise the uptake of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health checks and embed syphilis testing.

“The Kirby Institute has a strong track record of impactful prevention and early intervention research, including scale-up of HIV prevention programs, research to prevent STIs among young Aboriginal people and studies to prevent the spread of hepatitis C in prisons,” the Kirby Institute’s Director, Professor Anthony Kelleher, said.

To view UNSW Sydney Newsroom article UNSW receives $4.7m to pursue health prevention research click here.

Image: Shutterstock, UNSW Sydney website.

Protecting mob this winter

The NSW Government has produced a range of COVID-19 and flu information resources specifically for Aboriginal communities

You can access the resources, including the video below here.

Concerns over lack of gender-affirming care

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is extremely disappointed with recent comments made by members of the federal government regarding the trans and gender diverse community. AMSA expresses deep concern over the stigmatising representations of the trans community in the political debate, a lack of gender-affirming care in political statements and the disregard for the mental health of trans and gender diverse communities.

“Gender affirming care is not a matter of personal belief or subjective concern – it is a matter of access to evidence-based, patient-centred healthcare,” said Flynn Halliwell today, Chair of AMSA Queer. “Not only is the ‘concern’ purported by our politicians regarding children’s access to gender affirming surgery stigmatising, but it is also factually incorrect,” continued Mr Halliwell. In Australia, genital surgery is only available to adults over the age of 18 years old [1].

“Trans and gender diverse people are continually being framed as talking points for political attention, without consideration of subsequent effects on the mental health and wellbeing of these communities. Publicly debating the validity of gender-affirming healthcare is not the solution. It is part of the problem.”

To view the AMSA media release in full click here.

Image source: University of Florida website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Major parties have barely said anything useful

Major parties have barely said anything useful

Scott Morrison’s dismissal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is “disheartening,” according to the CEO of the peak Aboriginal Health Body. Speaking to NITV’s The Point, Pat Turner said a voice to Parliament would give Aboriginal people the right to practice self-determination. “I think it’s a national shame that the two major parties have barely said anything useful,” she said. “What Labor has said is it’s committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is fine, and to hold a referendum. “Apparently the polls are saying that a majority of Australians support a voice to Parliament, but getting that through a successful referendum is another story.”

Ms Turner also highlighted the issue of Indigenous health, saying billions more needs to be spent to address the ‘gap’ in life expectancy between First Nations people and non-Indigenous populations. A report, commissioned by NACCHO and released on Tuesday identified a $4.4 billion underspend in Indigenous health from state, territory and commonwealth governments. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities have always been underfunded,” she said. “It’s like a patronising, paternalistic regime that thinks ‘oh well, that’s enough from them and they can get on with it’. “Well, we do get on with it but we can’t continue on unless we want to see the health gap widen even more… so what we will be telling all of the jurisdictions is stand up and be counted in terms of fulfilling your responsibilities.”

You read the SBS NITV article Election 2022: Major parties’ approach to Indigenous issues slammed here, view the Pat Turner being interviewed on NITV’s The Point below and read a transcript of the interview here.

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was interviewed by Fran Kelly on ABC News Afternoon Briefing. Ms Turner addressed the upcoming federal election and the health funding shortfall. In response to the question “Is there enough attention being paid in this election campaign to Indigenous issues?” Ms Turner said “absolutely not, I think it’s a  disgrace the major parties have not given sufficient attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. There are many needs that remain unmet and we launched a report today to show that the gap in health funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is $4.4 billion and that adds to our trove of evidence that we will use to continue to argue with governments how they can make up that $4.4 billion shortfall.”

You can watch a video of interview from 34:20 minutes onwards to 50 minutes here.

Poor public policy without consultation

This month will likely see the NT government pass laws that will see alcohol allowed into a host town camps, living areas and some communities for the first time since 2007. Those areas that were self-declared dry beforehand will not be affected. Under the changes, the management of alcohol will pass from the federal government back to the NT government who are legislating for an opt-in approach to alcohol bans, with many communities and town camps needing to specifically ask to remain dry. A range of bodies including police and peak Aboriginal organisations have questioned the move and called for a pause to changes to allow for proper consultation and avoid what many believe will be a spike in grog-fuelled mayhem in both town and out bush. NT has the highest level of grog harm, alcohol related deaths and alcohol consumption in Australia. The NT government has rejected extending the federal measures with the Chief Minister saying they are racist and they need to go. This is supported by Chansey Paech who is the Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps.

In a recent interview on ABC Alice Springs NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM she would never speak on behalf of local communities but speaking from the experience of ACCHOs who deal with the fall out of alcohol abuse. Ms Turner said “the NT government needs to ensure full consultation with every Aboriginal community that’s going to be affected by the changes in the alcohol laws that it is proposing. To say that the legislation is racist and was done on that basis is Chansey Paech’s view but doesn’t reflect the reality of opening the gates in the communities where people don’t want the change.” Ms Turner continued on to say that where services exist, and many communities don’t have services, the impact on ACCHOs will be enormous. Ms Turner described the proposed changes to the alcohol laws as “poor public policy without proper consultation and full informed choice.”

You can listen to the ABC Alice Springs radio interview in full by clicking on the image below:

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

New mums requiring specialist care for a severe mental illness can now have their babies stay with them at NSW’s first public, purpose-built Mother and Baby Unit. The new facility at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Camperdown is the first state-wide facility designed to keep families together when a mother requires hospitalisation for a severe perinatal mental illness. Named ‘Naamuru’, a local Aboriginal dialect word meaning ‘leading the way’, the unit will care for up to 120 NSW residents a year who have infants up to 12 months of age.

The eight-bed unit is staffed by specialist perinatal health professionals who can attend to the mental health needs of the mother, as well as facilitate appropriate care of the baby and promote positive mother-baby interactions. Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate the mother, up to two infants under 12-months of age and a partner or family member. There are also therapeutic spaces, including a 24-hour respite nursery; a mothercraft room; dining and kitchen areas; outdoor courtyards; play areas; and a retreat room.

To view the NSW Health media release in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

When someone is placed in prison, they are entirely dependent on prison officers and prison health-care providers. Incarcerated people do not get to choose when they see a doctor or mental health practitioner, when they take medicine, or what type of care they receive. They cannot call 000 and be taken to a hospital if they are dangerously ill. In Victoria, if a prisoner is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, they do not get access to culturally competent care through ACCHOs. In Victoria, prison health care is provided by for-profit private companies contracted by the state government.

Imprisoned peoples’ physical health and/or social and emotional well-being is at the mercy of prison officers and prison health-care providers. Through their practice the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, have seen the differences between how people are treated in the community and how they are treated in prisons and youth prisons. The right to health care continues when people are incarcerated. International law requires “prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community”. This health care should be “free of charge” and “without discrimination”. It also makes clear everyone has the right to the “highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

To view the article Victoria’s prison health care system should match community health care in The Conversation full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

From humble beginnings over a kitchen table, to the largest national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, Butterfly Foundation has been changing lives for 20 years.  More than a million Australians live with an eating disorder, with many more suffering body image issues. For two decades, Butterfly’s efforts in advocacy, community education, early intervention, prevention and clinical services has helped to significantly change the conversation and understanding around eating disorders, establishing them as serious and complex mental illnesses, rather than a lifestyle choice. However, Butterfly’s work remains critical, as many misconceptions and stigma prevail.

Today Wednesday 11 May 2022 Butterfly has launched a new campaign celebrating its 20th anniversary and setting the agenda for the next 20 years of treatment and prevention of eating disorders and body image issues in Australia. Butterfly’s big ambitions include:

  • A national parliamentary inquiry into body image
  • Preventing eating disorders from occurring
  • Reducing stigma and increasing help-seeking
  • Improving eating disorder treatment and support services

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said, “Anecdotally speaking, the way we talk about eating disorders is about 10 years behind how we now speak about anxiety and depression. Eating disorders are still misunderstood and grossly under-estimated, with stigma and stereotypes acting as a major barrier to help-seeking. “There is so much more work that needs to be done in the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of eating disorders as well as education for the broader community.”

The Butterfly website includes the video below and a number of articles relating to eating disorders and body image concerns among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

At the The Preventive Health Conference 2022 which runs from today until Friday 13 May 2022 in Brisbane, some of the world’s leading experts will explore a range of topics including decolonising and disrupting whiteness in preventive health, the priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and investments in prevention. Conference Advisory Committee Chair Associate Professor Louisa Gordon of QIMR Berghofer said Australia needs to spend 5% of total health expenditure on prevention because it will save lives and is far cheaper than spending on treatments.

To view the Public Health Association of Australia media release Risky behaviours, exercise, and gambling among topics to be explored at Preventive Health Conference 2022 in full click here.

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

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

This week Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response will be chairing the webinar and will be joined by DoH Dr Nick Simpson, Medical Medical Adviser, Technology Assessment and Access Division.

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CTG PBS script co-payment – register NOW!

CTG PBS script co-payment – register NOW!

As of 30 June 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

Early this year the Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline was extended from 31 January 2022 to Thursday 30 June 2022. As of 30 June 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines. Potentially many thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts are still affected NACCHO is urging all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to talk with their health service, GP and/or pharmacy to check if they are correctly registered for the program on the new registration database. If this is not resolved by July 2022, then the cost of that person’s medicines will increase. 

A new national registration database run by Services Australia began on 1 July 2021. It aims to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines through the CTG PBS Co-payment program. Patients only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS), to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.   

NACCHO’s media statement advising of the extension can be accessed here. For more information, NACCHO maintains a webpage on the CTG reforms and can run workshops for ACCHOs wishing to know more about the measure, registration system and upcoming deadline.  Services Australia information here. 

We want your good news nursing stories 

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world each year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. On Thursday next week NACCHO wants to showcase the amazing nurses working in ACCHOs around Australia. Please inundate us with your good news nursing stories and go in the draw to win a voucher for your efforts.

You can access more information about International Nurses Day 2022 on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

DREAMT dementia telehealth project

For many people living in remote areas, the idea of leaving home and travelling to the city is an expensive and scary prospect. Increased financial pressures from unintended travel costs and loss of income, mixed with fears of the unknown can be very real barriers to treatment and prevent people from receiving the proper healthcare they need. Telehealth aims to bridge this gap by providing the same specialist health services via telephone or video conference, removing the need for locals to travel from remote communities to the city. The University of Queensland’s DREAMT project (Dementia, Regional and remote, Empowering, Aboriginal and Torres Strait, Medicine and Telemedicine and telehealth) aims to improve choice and access to dementia care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in rural and remote areas. The DREAMT project looks at issues and its clinical effectiveness from multiple perspectives to ensure it meets the true needs of the communities it serves.

For more information including an additional film Using telehealth to support Torres Strait Islander people with dementia click here.

Integrating ACC aged care with PHC

There is a growing number of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an unmet demand for accessible, culturally safe aged care services. The principles and features of aged care service delivery designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have not been extensively explored and must be understood to inform aged care policy and primary health care planning into the future.

A research paper Aboriginal community-controlled aged care: principles, practices and actions to integrate with primary health care published in the Cambridge University Press looks identifying 1) best practice aged care principles and practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older peoples, and 2) actions to integrate aged care services with Aboriginal community-controlled primary health care.

A range of principles guided Aboriginal community-controlled aged care service delivery, such as supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity, connection with elders and communities and respect for self-determination. Strong governance, effective leadership and partnerships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and culturally safe non-Indigenous workforce were among the identified enablers of aged care. Nine implementation actions guided the integration of aged care with primary health care service delivery. Funding limitations, workforce shortages, change management processes and difficulties with navigating the aged care system were among the reported challenges. These findings contribute to an evidence base regarding accessible, integrated, culturally safe aged care services tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the research article in full click here.

Aboriginal elder Mildred Numamurdirdi of Numbulwar

Aboriginal elder Mildred Numamurdirdi of Numbulwar. Image source: The Senior.

First Nations health data state of play

According to the an article Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Information: Progress, Pitfalls, and Prospects recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health despite significant developments in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health information over the last 25 years, many challenges remain. There are still uncertainties about the accuracy of estimates of the summary measure of life expectancy, and methods to estimate changes in life expectancy over time are unreliable because of changing patterns of identification. Far too little use is made of the wealth of information that is available, and formal systems for systematically using that information are often vestigial to non-existent.

Available information has focussed largely on traditional biomedical topics and too little on access to, expenditure on, and availability of services required to improve health outcomes, and on the underpinning issues of social and emotional wellbeing. It is of concern that statistical artefacts may have been misrepresented as indicating real progress in key health indices. Challenges and opportunities for the future include improving the accuracy of estimation of life expectancy, provision of community level data, information on the availability and effectiveness of health services, measurement of the underpinning issues of racism, culture and social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), enhancing the interoperability of data systems, and capacity building and mechanisms for Indigenous data governance. There is little point in having information unless it is used, and formal mechanisms for making full use of information in a proper policy/planning cycle are urgently required.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Healthcare IT News.

Public drunkenness decriminalisation delayed

Victoria will delay repealing public drunkenness as a crime. The offence was to be officially repealed in November last year, however may not take effect until 2023 – more than five years after the death of 55-year-old Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who was arrested in December 2017 after being found drunk on a train, and later died in hospital from head injuries sustained in a prison holding cell. Last year, the Andrews government passed landmark legislation to decriminalise public drunkenness in line with a recommendation made after a coronial inquiry into Day’s death. The state government has said however that delays in establishing trials of sobering-up centres – as part of a shift to a health-based response – meant that the decriminalisation would be pushed back.

Yesterday Victoria Legal Aid released a statement saying they support the removal of the offence of public drunkenness as soon as possible in favour of an appropriate and culturally safe health-based response. “31 years ago, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended that being drunk in public should not be a criminal offence,” said Dan Nicholson, Executive Director Criminal Law.

Mr Nicholson said “It is important for the government to take the time to get the details right, in consultation with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and other stakeholders and communities who are directly affected. From our practice experience we know these laws have a direct and harmful effect on First Nations peoples in Victoria. Repealing this offence remains a crucial step in recognising this harm and in working towards racial and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

You can view the Guardian article Decriminalisation of public drunkenness delayed by Victorian government in full here and the Victoria Legal Aid’s statement A culturally safe health-based approach to public drunkenness remains crucial in full click here.

Apryl & Kimberly Watson with photos of their mother Tanya Day outside Vic Coroners Court

Daughters Apryl Watson and Kimberly Watson outside the Victorian Coroners Court with photos of their mother Tanya Day. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Pharmacogenomics of Indigenous populations

While pharmacogenomic (the ‘science of personalised medicine’ is a branch of genetics research that focuses on predicting a given individual’s responses to specific therapeutic drugs) studies have facilitated the rapid expansion of personalized medicine, the benefits of these findings have not been evenly distributed. Genomic datasets pertaining to Indigenous populations are sorely lacking, leaving members of these communities at a higher risk of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), and associated negative outcomes.

Australia has one of the largest Indigenous populations in the world. Pharmacogenomic studies of these diverse Indigenous Australian populations have been hampered by a paucity of data. In this article, we discuss the history of pharmacogenomics and highlight the inequalities that must be addressed to ensure equal access to pharmacogenomic-based healthcare. We also review efforts to conduct the pharmacogenomic profiling of chronic diseases among Australian Indigenous populations and survey the impact of the lack of drug safety-related information on potential ADRs among individuals in these communities.

To view the article The Gene-Drug Duality: Exploring the Pharmacogenomics of Indigenous Populations published in the Frontiers in Genetics in full click here.

pills, capsules laid out in gene pattern

Photo: Katy Pack, Shutterstock.com. Image source: News Medical Life Sciences.

ACCHO praises health battalion for COVID support

An Aboriginal community-controlled health service in Port Augusta, SA, has praised the invaluable support of the 3rd Health Battalion (3 HB) during COVID-19 outbreaks over the past two years. Vaccination Coordinator for the Pika Wiya Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (PWHS), Rebecca Simpson, said: “The support from 3 HB came just in time as the number of COVID cases in the community increased and the demand for vaccinations and testing within the Aboriginal community was on the rise and resulted in a 50% decrease in the time to taken to conduct its outreach clinic, and get swabs out to their community members.

3 HB received an honorary mention in the 2022 Australia Day Awards for their community engagement work with Pika Wiya and the Stepping Stones day centre in SA, having received a joint nomination for Community Event of the Year. Members of 3 HB were in Port Augusta as recently as February, providing support in response to a surge in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. They focused on administrative support to PWHS, allowing them to accelerate the process for vaccinations and Rapid Antigen Testing as part of their outreach program.

To read the Department of Defence article Health battalion praised for vital COVID support article in full click here.

Private Tori Doherty, Lieutenant Joshua Mildrum and Captain Michele Muncaster, from the 3rd Health Battalion, provide administrative support during the pop-up clinic at Stepping Stones in Port Augusta, SA

From left: Private Tori Doherty, Lieutenant Joshua Mildrum and Captain Michele Muncaster, from the 3rd Health Battalion, provide administrative support during the pop-up clinic at Stepping Stones in Port Augusta, SA. Image source: Department of Defence Defence News webpage.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 5 May 2022.

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

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