NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

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

Rethinking chronic pain and opioid use

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

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

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

ACCHO leads hepatitis C elimination effort

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

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

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

To view BNMAC’s announcement in full here.

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

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

Yarn Up about COVID-19 vaccination

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

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

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

Some examples of questions you might want answers to include:

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

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

Some tips on recording your video questions:

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

Mental health unit for incarcerated women

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

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

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

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

To view the SBS News story in full click here.

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

Photo: Aaron Fernandes. Image source: SBS News.

Help get your community Census-ready

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

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

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

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

You can access all of these resources here.

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

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

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

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

Contraception baseline data survey

Are you a clinician with something to say about contraception and abortion care? General practitioners, practice nurses, and community pharmacists working in general practice/primary care are invited to participate in a short 15 minute survey in the area of long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion.

The aim of the study is to establish national baseline levels of knowledge, attitudes, and current practices regarding long-acting reversible contraception and medical abortion. The study is led by Prof Danielle Mazza, Head of Department of General Practice at Monash University and SPHERE CRE, and funded by an NHMRC Partnership Grant. You will be reimbursed with a $40 gift card for your time.

Please complete the survey here or contact AusCAPPS here for more information.

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

Australia-first eye care nurse survey

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

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

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

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

Remote PHC Manuals project update

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

FYA identified roles for mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications close Wednesday 4 August at 6pm AEST.

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

Participants of FYA IMPACT NT Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

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

World Hepatitis Day

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Census to inform quality health care

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

Census to inform quality health care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Census image tile featuring Professor Kelvin Kong.

 

$50,000 raised for Birthing on Country program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Grant to give babies best start in life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Alcohol sold to children online

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of age verification online.

Examples of age verification online.

 

Elders protected from social isolation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Psychiatric morbidity higher in mob

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

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

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

Photo depicting mental illness by Rene Muller, Unsplash.

App to reduce ice use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Can Do This video.

Image from ‘We Can Do This’ project video.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

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

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

Territorians warned against complacency

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

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

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

To view the full ABC News article click here.

CAAC female health worker being given the COVID-19 vaccine

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on remote vulnerable NT communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMSANT and Land Council message to Mob 

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

To view the media release in full click here.

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

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

Culturally sensitive service boosts jab rate

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

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

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

Calls to turn tide on unsafe medicine use

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

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

To view the media release click here.

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

Image source: Business Daily website.

Indigenous LGBTQIA+ discrimination research

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes remission diet

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Group B Strep Awareness Month

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

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

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Racism linked to poorer health

feature tile text 'racism linked to poorer health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' overlaid silhouette images of heads of different shades of brown, yellow, cream overlaid with transparent white medical thickness symbol cross

Racism linked to poorer health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who have experienced discrimination have poorer health and wellbeing outcomes regardless of their age, where they live and their gender, according to a new national study. It’s the first national study outlining the experiences of racism and health outcomes among Indigenous Australians. Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) analysed data from more than 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults from the national Indigenous-led Mayi Kuwayu Study, collected between 2018–2020.

“These results highlight the breadth and extent of just how bad racism is for our mob’s wellbeing,” ANU Associate Professor Raymond Lovett said. “Across the board, we found consistent links between racism and poor mental health, physical health and cultural wellbeing. “Experiencing discrimination is linked to negative outcomes ranging from low happiness to heart disease.” Discrimination was linked to all negative outcomes examined in the study. These included, but are not limited to, pain, poor life satisfaction, psychological distress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

“We found these negative outcomes were increasingly common as the extent of discrimination increased,” lead author Dr Katherine Thurber, from ANU, said. “Discrimination experiences were pervasive, with almost six-in-10 participants in the study reporting having experienced discrimination in their everyday life.”

To view the ANU’s media release click here.

brick wall with mural of Aboriginal people, with 2 Aboriginal men walking past

Image source: The Young Witness.

Census data used to determine need

Last year, Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), opened a purpose-built wellbeing and rehabilitation centre in Orange, NSW. The name of the centre – walu-win – comes from the Wiradjuri word for ‘healthy’. Jamie Newman, proud Wiradjuri man and OAMS’ CEO, said they use Census data to understand needs of the local community and help secure further investment from partners. walu-win’s services include health, housing and employment, which are vital for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to thrive.

OAMS combined Census data with other local data to build a profile of the region, helping it to better understand what was needed in the local community. The centre combines holistic and traditional medical practices to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Improving access to health services through walu-win, and a more holistic and wellbeing focus is vital to closing the gap. We can’t close the gap without focusing on wellbeing for our people,” Jamie said.

Walu-win’s Manager, Zara Crawford, describes salu-win as a hub for a variety of health outcomes. “We often see clients more than a GP would, which could be about something that is stressing them out socially or emotionally, through to developing exercise and nutritional programs. That’s our day-to-day service and that’s what we mean about being holistic.” Jamie and Zara believe participation in the Census is an important conversation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities ahead of this year’s count.

For further details about how Census data and local partnerships promote wellbeing at the new walu-win Centre in Orange click here.

image of the Walu-win Centre in Orange NSW

New walu-win Centre in Orange NSW.

Making CTG data more accessible

The Productivity Commission has today launched a new Closing the Gap Information Repository, making available the most comprehensive data set for measuring the 17 targets agreed to in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the new website is another step towards delivering on the Government’s commitment to share data and support more informed decision making by all parties to the National Agreement. This delivers on the Morrison Government’s 2020–21 Budget commitment of $10.1 million to provide independent oversight and accountability of progress under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

To view the media release click here.

piece of paper with graph 2016 - 2021

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Advance redress payments now available

Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse who are older or terminally ill will be able to access advance payments of $10,000 under proposed changes to the National Redress Scheme. Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston announced the plan as part of the Morrison Government’s initial response to the Final Report, Second Year Review of the National Redress Scheme (the Final Report) prepared by Independent Reviewer Ms Robyn Kruk AO. I would like to thank Ms Kruk for her work on the Final Report which outlines how the Scheme can be improved and deliver a better experience for survivors, Minister Ruston said.

To view Senator Ruston’s media release click here. In another media release the Healing Foundation welcomed the Australian Government’s advice that it supports making advance payments to elderly or terminally ill survivors.

Eunice Wright in wheel chair holding sign with 'stolen' written on it at rally in Melbourne

Stolen Generation survivor Eunice Wright. Image source: ABC News website.

Future of primary care – much to discuss

The Primary Health Reform Steering Group has circulated a discussion paper to stakeholders seeking feedback on its recommendations to inform the Australian Government’s Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan. Croakey columnist and contributing editor Associate Professor Lesley Russell has written an overview of the paper’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying important omissions.

One such glaring gap is the absence of any discussion around the sector’s role in planning, preparing and responding to climate change and its health impacts. Yet, there is an extensive literature that could have informed such a discussion, dating back to a 2007 paper by the late Professor Tony McMichael and others arguing that “primary health care has an important role in preparing for and responding to these climate change related threats to human health.”

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

dark outback signpost against pink blue cream sky of dusk

Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Victoria leading the way on CTG

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams says Victoria is leading the way on Closing the Gap, using self-determined solutions to tackle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. The Victorian Government is delivering an additional $5 million to support reaching the targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, to improve the lives of Aboriginal people.

The new funding builds on the $3.3 million announced in 2020, when Victoria became the first state or territory to provide funding to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This funding has been vital to making some of the significant progress highlighted in the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2020 possible.

To view the Victoria State Government media release click here.

shadow of child cast over Aboriginal flag on the ground

Image source: The West Australian.

Martumili art for Newman Health Service

Health Minister Roger Cook said the Newman Health Service is set to become home to a series of artworks by local Martumili artists when the brand new hospital and health service is completed in 2023. The $61.4 million McGowan Government redevelopment project, which includes a $15 million contribution from BHP Iron Ore (BHP), will provide Newman and the surrounding communities with a modern, fit-for-purpose facility delivering care closer to home and on Country.

The incorporation of artwork by local Aboriginal artists is part of the State’s commitment to ensuring Aboriginal people can receive care in a culturally safe and welcoming facility that meets the needs of the community. Artwork for the main entry screen of the Newman Health has been awarded to Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney whose piece tells the story of Minyipuru, or the Seven Sisters, and embodies Aboriginal notions of interconnectedness between spirituality, land and self.

To view Minister Cook’s media release click here.

portrait of Mulyatingki Marney & photo of her from waist down sitting painting

Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney. Image source: Spinifix Hill Studio.

New kidney unit location ‘despicable’

The decision by the Queensland Government to establish a new Kidney Transplant Unit in Townsville ahead of Cairns has been labelled as “despicable and appalling” by Cairns Mayor Bob Manning. “We were originally told that Cairns had been slated to get this unit, but then we were told that people from the State Government got involved who were in favour of it being in Townsville – it became political,” Cr Manning said.

“We took up the matter in support of a number of Indigenous councils and communities who indicated they found it hard to take the matter forward. As part of that, we did an analysis with clinicians from within the hospital and we were given assurances that the right place for this facility was in Cairns.” Cr Manning said he was shocked to learn of the decision to establish the kidney unit in Townsville. “This is possibly the most despicable act I have seen. This decision is despite that clearly the greatest need is in this region – the facts support this.”

To view the Cairns Regional Council’s media release click here.

arm of Aboriginal man linked to dialysis with red black white tartan blanket over lap

Image source: newsGP.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Go Dry This July

Dry July Foundation is the registered charity behind the Dry July campaign. Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages you to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds to help improve the comfort, care and wellbeing of people affected by cancer, whether it’s a lift to a life-saving appointment, guidance from a specialist nurse, connection to an informative voice, access to therapy programs or a bed close to treatment.

Since the first Dry July in 2008, the Dry July campaign has raised over $60 million dollars for people affected by cancer. Funds raised through the Dry July campaign are distributed to cancer organisations across Australia. These organisations provide support services to cancer patients, their families and carers. Like the Dry July Foundation, these organisations depend on the generosity of the community through campaigns like Dry July.

Having a month off alcohol also has great health benefits, such as sleeping better, having more energy and of course, no hangovers! So you’re not only helping others, you’re helping yourself. It’s a win-win!

For more information click here.yellow bottle top with black text 'Dry July' against blue background, 'v' in word 'July' is an empty beer glass

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

feature tile text'The Partnership for Justice in Health is working to address racism in health and justice sectors' P4JH logo - Aboriginal dot painting black, orange, aqua, yellow circles, Aboriginal hand & Aboriginal figure holding justice scales

P4JH fights racism in health and justice sectors

The Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH) is working to address racism in the health and justice sectors at individual, institutional and systemic levels, according to its co-chairs, Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP).

Dr Janine Mohamed and Karl Briscoe, both health professionals who have built strong, dedicated careers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, healthcare and health research, say what still comes as a shock to many of their non-Indigenous colleagues is that rather than health services being viewed as places of healing and safety, they are too often neither safe nor welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for some they are dangerous and fatal.

“The complicity and failures of the health system and professions to care for us goes back to the early days of colonisation. We saw it in medical experimentation and the lock hospitals, the removal of children from their mothers’ arms by nurses and doctors, and in ongoing, systemic abuse and neglect. In recent years, two names speak loudly to how that experience of unsafe healthcare continues for our people.”

“Ms Dhu, a 22-year-old Yamatji woman who died in custody in WA in 2014 because of “deficient” medical care — with the Coroner finding that both police and hospital staff were influenced by their racial bias. And Naomi Williams, a 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, who was 22 weeks’ pregnant with a son when she died of septicaemia at Tumut Hospital in NSW in January 2016. The coronial inquiry into Ms Williams’ death found she went to hospital 15 times in the months before she passed away without receiving a referral to an expert, and she should have received further examination on the night she passed away. Both she and Ms Dhu died from preventable causes within racially biased systems.”

To view the full Croakey Health Media article click here.

portrait shots of Dr Janine Mohamed & Karl Briscoe

Dr Janine Mohamed. Image source: Concordia College website. Karl Briscoe. Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Bendigo men supported by mob

Dedicated to supporting First Nations men in their local community, the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) provides a variety of services to men in their community, including a healing program which supports men who have used family violence. Beginning with funding from Family Safety Victoria in 2018, the program is titled Merrijig Mooroopook, meaning ‘healthy spirits’, a name gifted by Dja Dja Wurrung Elder Uncle Rick Nelson.

With a therapeutic based approach, the 16-week program acknowledges the effect of colonisation and trauma on Aboriginal men who use family violence. It is facilitated by Yorta Yorta man and social worker Jamaal Cross, and Uruguayan man and Men’s Program Coordinator in BDAC’s Family Safety Team Camilo Demarco. “Our programs are always out on Country, we work with Elders and culture is embedded into everything — we always do things around the fire,” Demarco told NIT. “Jamaal and I share as well; we make sure we take away that hierarchy. We’re just another man in that space sharing our own stuff … we move as far away from that classroom setting as we can because there is trauma from spaces like that.”

Both Cross and Demarco acknowledge the 16-week program is just one part of the healing process. “It’s longer than a regular course, and we acknowledge that this can be a life-long journey. You don’t finish the behaviour change course in 16 weeks and expect a man to be totally different … so it is ongoing,” said Demarco. “The last part of our program is for the men during ceremony with the group, and with an Elder present, to state what changes they want to make in their lives and that gives that accountability.

To view the full article click here.

screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video, blurred image of men in bush sitting around a fire, text 'The Healthy Spirit's Program has a whole of community approach that aims to support families on a healing journey.'

Screenshot from BDAC Healthy Spirits video.

Lower limb amputation in Central Australia

Large health inequalities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians exist with Aboriginal Australians currently four times as likely as non-Aboriginal Australians to have type 2 diabetes (T2D), increasing their risk of lower limb amputation (LLA). There is a geographical variance in the incidence of LLA in Australia; the NT is overrepresented, with rates 2–3 times higher than that of the national average. Regional incidence rates are not currently known.

A study has been conducted reviewing the demographic details of those who have undergone LLA surgery in Central Australia and determining the region-specific age-adjusted incidence rate of LLA. Central Australia appears to have the highest incidence rate of LLA for any region in Australia, with Aboriginal Australians, particularly females and those undergoing renal dialysis, being disproportionately represented. Further studies should aim to determine targeted, culturally safe and successful methods of diabetic foot ulcer prevention, early detection and management with a view to reducing the high amputation rates for these cohorts.

To access the Incidence of lower limb amputation in Central Australia research article click here.

hands holding bandaged stump of below knee amputation patient, patient is a man sitting in a wheelchair

Image source: Disability Support Guide website.

Supporting Victorian Aboriginal communities

The Victorian Government has allocated funding for Aboriginal communities to deliver a range of Aboriginal-led initiatives and programs supporting local communities. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that 30 Aboriginal organisations will share in $4.6 million through the COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund to deliver 35 local initiatives.

The programs will support locally designed initiatives that provide emergency relief, outreach and brokerage for at-risk groups, cultural strengthening, and social and emotional wellbeing. Recipients include the Dhauward-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service who have received $85,000 to provide emergency relief to community members experiencing hardship following the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the media release in full click here.

back of worker in hall making up food packages

Image source: Yarra City Council website.

AMA welcomes extra vaccine funding

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the Federal Government announcement of extra funding for longer GP consultations to inform patients of benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 and assist them in making informed decisions. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the announcement by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, would allow GPs to spend more time with patients to ensure that they were aware of all the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccination, and boost confidence in the vaccine.

Dr Khorshid said he had been raising the need for doctors to spend more time with patients with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health for several months, and was pleased with the Government’s announcement of a new level B equivalent Medicare item that could be used in addition to the standard COVID-19 assessment items for patients who require longer consultations.

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

GP in rooms sitting at desk & computer talking to Aboriginal man patient also sitting in a chair

Image source: GP Synergy website.

Corporate Australia must walk the talk

The corporate sector is on notice after a wide-ranging review of Woolworths’ proposal to build a Dan Murphy’s alcohol store in Darwin, commissioned by the company, found it had failed to “adequately consider the issues of social value and legitimacy in the eyes of First Nation’s people”. Among its findings and recommendations, the report called on Woolworths to make sure that future liquor outlet proposals “explicitly consider the social and health impacts on at-risk groups and vulnerable communities” before progressing them. It is noteworthy that the report repeatedly mentions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as “vulnerable” when this is really a story about the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, leaders and communities in campaigning successfully against corporate power.

Olga Havnen, CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin which had fought the store proposal for five years, said in a statement that the review’s implications went beyond Dan Murphy’s and Darwin. “This is a landmark decision that will have important implications for the liquor industry and corporate Australia, and government,” Havnen said, describing the report as “an excellent case study into the failures of corporate Australia to walk the talk of corporate social responsibility”.

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

back of businessman in a suit with briefcase walking across black & white striped road

Image source: Croakey.

Deinstitutionalised design for new ACCHO Building

Newman’s Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service healthcare hub has been voted one of the best examples of public architecture in the State at the 2021 WA Architecture Awards this month. NSW-based company Kaunitz Yeung Architecture designed the Newman facility last year with a focus on community ownership and involving local Aboriginal people.

The PAMS healthcare hub was the first primary healthcare facility of any type to be constructed in Newman. Kaunitz Yeung Architecture director and co-founder David Kaunitz said he had called on experience from working with more than 30 Aboriginal communities in building culturally sensitive projects. “What’s most important is that projects like this are well used and well embraced by community,” Mr Kaunitz said.

“We’re dealing with quite traditional Aboriginal communities and it is quite foreboding to go to a health facility. We’re trying to deliver buildings that are deinstitutionalised and really make people feel comfortable going and receiving health care.” Mr Kaunitz said features such as the courtyard, landscaping, rammed earth and the art all play a role in achieving this. “The way the building is planned minimises the internal experience of clients. The waiting room is quite linear, full of glazing and the courtyard serves as a waiting area. The consultation rooms are not far from the waiting area.”

To view the article in full click here.

external view of Puntukurnu AMS Newman, gravel, native gums, red walls, rusted iron

Puntukurna Aboriginal Medical Service, Newman. Image source: Architecture & Design website.

Racism in health webinar

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Sydney is hosting a Key Thinkers Forum – Racism in Health. The current models of practice are not working to effectively “Close the Gap”. Despite a growing willingness and need to consider new proposed models of practice, there remains a deep-seated resistance to identifying and addressing institutional and systemic racism and racist attitudes, including unconscious biases held by individuals. How can we get the ‘r’ word on every agenda?

The webinar will be facilitated by Professor Tom Calma AO with panel members including: Carmen Parter, Karen Mundine, Leilani Darwin and Raymond Lovett.

The webinar will be held from 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM AEST on Wednesday 7 July 2021. Register for this FREE event here.

large cardboard sign text 'racism is a pandemic' in black font, white background, letter 'p' in red font' sign against wall

Image source: Crikey.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse. This year’s theme is Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives.

Each year, individuals, entire communities, and various organisations all over the world join in on this global observance, to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent for society. Every year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issues the World Drug Report, full of key statistics and factual data obtained through official sources, a science-based approach and research. UNODC continues to provide facts and practical solutions to address the current world drug problem, and remains committed to attaining a vision of health for all based on science.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented public awareness on health, protective measures for staying healthy, and most importantly, and on  protecting each other. A growing sense of global community and solidarity continues to emerge, as does the need to ensure health care for all. World Drug Day is a day to share research findings, evidence-based data and life-saving facts, and to continue tapping into a shared spirit of solidarity. UNODC invites everyone to do their part, by taking a firm stance against misinformation and unreliable sources, while committing to sharing only the real science-backed data on drugs and save lives.

For further information click here.

banner background blocks of green, red, yellow overlapping watercolour paints, top 2 syringes pointing down 2 capsules, 2 tablets & pack of tablets, text '26 June International Day Against Drug Abuse & Trafficking' in white font

Image source: AFEW International.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Yarning about managing pain

feature tile text 'asking painful questions - yarning about managing pain' image of multiple coloured tablets & capsules pouring from a brown medicine bottle

Yarning about managing pain

Living with pain can be challenging and everyone experiences pain in a unique way. Opioids are commonly used for pain management. However, their role in the management of chronic non-cancer pain is limited and the potential for harm, particularly with long-term use and with higher doses, is significant.

In the new Asking painful questions video series Australians living with chronic non-cancer pain and health professionals experienced in pain management provide honest answers to questions about pain, opioids and other options for management. The videos were developed with funding from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Government Department of Health and in collaboration with Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and NACCHO.

banner text 'asking painful questions - yearning about managing pain, NACCHO logo & background Aboriginal dot art, 'NPS MEDICINEWISE Independent. Not-for-profit. Evidence-based.'

Deputy CEO NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “We aim to secure the best health outcomes for our people, providing a culturally safe healthcare experience. Ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use pain medicines, including opioids, safely and effectively is really important – sometimes these medicines can have big risks. Finding the best possible pain management option for our people can be challenging, especially considering when complex comorbidities. But our ACCHOs are best placed to understand the issues clients face and can provide overall health and wellbeing services that are culturally safe and meets clients’ needs, including pain management” Dr Casey further added, “The administration of effective and appropriate services provided by ACCHOs for managing pain is well demonstrated in these videos.”

Lisa Briggs, CEO of Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative Limited, said, “Managing pain is a complex and important issue for our clients.  Chronic pain can be confronting and debilitating and sometimes unfairly stigmatised.  The videos in this project have really highlighted these issues and the way that ACCHOs and culture are central to managing pain for many Aboriginal people. Through accessing holistic services and support through ACCHOs, such as Wathaurong, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the best chance of managing their pain effectively.”

Watch the video of two Aboriginal men living with pain, a pharmacist and a GP talk about their experiences with chronic non-cancer pain, opioids, non-medicines approaches and pain services here.

 

ACCHOs get the results

When Kristie Watego gave birth to my third son, Luke, in 2018 her experience was vastly different to that of her previous pregnancies: “Throughout my second pregnancy I had felt categorised and disempowered. For my third pregnancy I chose to receive my care through the Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) program, offered to women pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander bub booked to birth at Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane. I was surrounded by a team who took the time to hear me and to listen. When it was time for Luke to be born my extended family were there and were able to be involved in this magical and sacred time. The difference for me as an Aboriginal woman birthing my baby surrounded by support from a program that has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was astounding.

Kristie Watego’s experience is backed up by research. A paper published this year in Lancet Global Health has confirmed that babies born through the BiOC program are 50% less likely to be born premature and more likely to be breastfed – and their mothers are more likely to access antenatal care.

BiOC was established by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS), Brisbane in 2013 in partnership with Mater Mothers’ Hospital. It is a unique example of what can be achieved through genuine partnership in an Indigenous-led setting. The program was designed by Elders, mums and dads and community.

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

photo of Kristie Watego holding her sleeping son Luke to her chest

Kristie Watego, with baby Luke. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

New Medicare funding for vaccination

The AMA has welcomed the Government’s announcement of new Medicare funding for GPs to vaccinate patients against COVID-19 during home visits and visits to aged care facilities, but warned more is needed to address vaccine hesitancy in those patients over 50 years of age.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said “It is critical we complete the job of vaccinating the most vulnerable in the community as soon as possible. This measure will help plug the current gaps in COVID vaccination in aged care facilities. However, the biggest issue right now is vaccine hesitancy in the over 50s. AMA has been working with the Minister for Health and his Department to allow vaccine hesitant Australians time for a proper discussion with a GP about COVID vaccination.”

“Current Medicare funding only supports brief consultations. Yet GPs may need to spend up to 30 minutes for some patients to discuss their specific circumstances and ensure they understand the benefits of COVID vaccination. When this occurs, most Australians decide to go ahead and get vaccinated.”

Dr Khorshid said GPs had done “a wonderful job in lifting vaccination rates across the country, with the vaccine roll out accelerating significantly since general practice became involved. But the job is nowhere near done and GPs need the Government’s support to take our over 50s vaccine program to the next level. The Government needs to assure patients that if they need to spend more time with their GP discussing COVID-19 and vaccination, Medicare will cover this extra time with a GP in the interests of all Australians.”

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

collage of 3 images Medicare cards, vaccine being drawn, gold dollar symbol

Image sources clockwise: The Australian; Medical Economics; AMA.

COVID-19 posters for health clinics

The Australian Government Department of Health have produced a collection of materials created for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccine providers to download and print to utilise in their health clinics and practices. These materials include posters, social media resources, handouts and web banners.

A recent inclusion to the suite of resources is a printable posters stating they are a COVID-19 vaccination site, and what vaccines they have available for the public.

To view the range of resources including the poster click here. DoH poster 'We are a Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination clinic Talk to reception to make an appointment. health.gov.au/covid19-vaccines COVID-19 vaccination'

Protect your little one from flu

Influenza in kids can be serious. This year getting vaccinated against flu is more important than ever. It is the best way to protect your child and others from flu. The influenza vaccine is available free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program. Flu (influenza) is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. It is a leading cause of hospitalisation for children aged under 5 years. Vaccination is our best defence against flu viruses and is free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program.

Increased hand washing and social distancing helped to stop the spread of flu viruses last year. However, flu could recirculate this season as we relax restrictions. Vaccinating yourself and your child against influenza this year is more important than ever as we lead into the colder months. For further information on influenza in kids click here.

Last week the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) announced that the time between COVID-19 and flu vaccination has been reduced to 7 days.

NSW Government poster text 'Protect your little one from flu - FREE flu shots for all Aboriginal children - Ask you health worker of GP - It's in your hands' image of Aboriginal hand held up palm facing camera, 2 fingers turned down, thumb black ink child, one finger face & syringe, other finger happy face

Image source: NSW Government Aboriginal children flu poster.

Community liver cancer rates rise

The Australian study just published in international Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine reveals the survival difference was largely accounted for by factors other than Indigenous status – including rurality, comorbidity burden and lack of curative therapy. The study of liver cancer, or Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), included 229 Indigenous and 3587 non-Indigenous HCC cases in SA, Queensland and the NT.

“The major finding was important differences in cofactors for HCC between Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients, with Indigenous patients more frequently having multiple cofactors for HCC such as hepatitis B, diabetes and alcohol misuse,” says Flinders University Professor Alan Wigg, who led the investigation.

While cancer care is difficult to deliver to remote Australia, he says HCC is preventable with surveillance. “What is needed is a culturally appropriate model of care that in rural communities that screens for liver disease and identifies at risk patients,” says Professor Wigg, who also is Head of Hepatology and Liver Transplant Medicine Unit at the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network in SA.

To view the Flinders University media release click here.

blue gloved hands holding surgical instruments removing pieces of red jigsaw puzzle of a liver

Image source: Johns Hopkins Medicine website.

Age of criminal responsibility – national action needed

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie, says CEOs of the national COSS Network, ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury MLA, and ACT Minister responsible for Youth Justice Emma Davidson MLA will call for the Commonwealth, states, and territories to follow the ACT’s lead and raise the age of criminal responsibility. There is overwhelming medical consensus that locking away children as young as 10 can cause lifelong damage to their mental health and cognitive development. However, despite this evidence the only jurisdiction to commit to raising the age of criminal responsibility is the ACT. There is nothing stopping states and territories from acting in the best interest of children and of the community. The time to raise the age is now.

To view the ACTCOSS media alert click here.

blurred image of youth with arm outstretched and palm facing camera obscuring face

Image source: The Conversation.

SA Elder abuse campaign

Respecting the rights and safety of older Aboriginal people is the focus of a new video series being unveiled today, to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said Office for Ageing Well has launched the set of videos as part of its Respect.Connect awareness campaign, which will target Aboriginal communities over the next five years. “Office for Ageing Well has joined forces with Aboriginal community representatives for the first time, to develop the videos featuring Aboriginal ambassadors talking about the importance of keeping Elders safe,” Minister Wade said. “The Respect.Connect campaign emphasises that valuing and respecting Aboriginal Elders and their wisdom is the pathway to maintaining culture and building a better future.”

To view the Government of SA media release click here. and to view the Respect.Connect. campaign for Aboriginal communities click here.banner text 'respect connect #stopelderabuse' golden yellow background, purple text with Aboriginal art blue, purple, pink, lavender, golden yellow

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Make Healing Happen

Feature tile - Wed 2.6.21 - Make Healing Happen

Make Healing Happen

The Healing Foundation’s Make Healing Happen report, released today, signals the urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments to assist the healing process for a growing number of Stolen Generations survivors and descendants.

The Make Healing Happen report – released in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018-19, provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the extent and complexity of their contemporary needs today and as they grow older.

“The AIHW has estimated that the number of Stolen Generations survivors has more than doubled – from 17,150 in 2014-15 to 33,600 in 2018-19,” said The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth.

“This dramatic increase points to an urgent need for policy responses from all Australian governments, especially in the areas of health, mental health, aged care, disability, welfare, and wellbeing.

“One of the more significant findings is that all Stolen Generations survivors will by next year be eligible for aged care.

Compared with the general non-Indigenous population aged 50 and over (on an age standardised basis), Stolen Generations survivors aged 50 and over are:

  • 3 times as likely to be living with a severe disability;
  • 7 times as likely to have poor mental health;
  • 6 times as likely to have kidney disease;
  • 1 times as likely to have diabetes; and
  • 7 times as likely to have heart, stroke, or vascular disease.

You can download the Make Healing Happen report here.

View The Healing Foundation’s media release Significant increase in Stolen Generations survivor numbers signals urgent need for government solutions in health, aged care, and other services here.

View the AIHW report Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations aged 50 and over: updated analyses for 2018–19 here.

View the AIHW media release Stolen Generations survivors face poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than other Indigenous Australians here.

Make Healing Happen - It's Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report

Make Healing Happen – It’s Time to Act: The Healing Foundation report.

ACCH model to lead Hepatitis response

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO spoke at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney yesterday, 1 June 2021 on Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a higher burden of disease in comparison to the wider Australian population and viral Hepatitis is no exception.” “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represent approximately 3% of the total Australian population, yet we account for an estimated 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses,” she said.

These numbers highlight that more needs to be done to reach the national and international target of elimination of viral Hepatitis by 2030.

“In order to respond to viral Hepatitis, and other STI and BBV, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (ACCH) model of integrated primary health care,” said Casey pointing to the following factors that need to be addressed:

  • Sustained funding
  • Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Improved data and surveillance
  • Innovative recall systems
  • Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
  • Community engagement and education
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Access and effective integration of PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing

“We need to develop strong partnerships and open relationships with state and territory governments, peak organisations and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector, working together to respond to the high rates for viral hepatitis in our communities.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney 1 June 2021.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO speaking at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney on 1 June 2021.

Telehealth and hepatitis C study seeks participants

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University is conducting a Commonwealth-funded, interview-based study of people’s experiences using telehealth for hepatitis C treatment and care during COVID-19. The outcomes of this study will be to make recommendations to optimise the use of telehealth in hepatitis C care and treatment.

Dawn Casey’s keynote at the recent 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference, Progress and future challenges for enhancing viral hepatitis care in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people highlighted that telehealth has provided ‘culturally safe healthcare’ across ACCHOs.

We are inviting GPs and other specialists providing hepatitis C treatment and care for an interview to identify experiences, advantages, and barriers of telehealth; as well as people who have received telehealth care (re-imbursed $50 for their time).

Participation involves an audio-recorded 40–60 minute interview with a trained university researcher. Interviews will be conducted over phone or Zoom.

Please contact Dr Frances Shaw to arrange an interview or receive recruitment flyers to advertise this study in your ACCHO.
Email: f.shaw@latrobe.edu.au – Mobile: 0431 483 918

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

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

Review of FASD among First Nations people

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has published a Review of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleThe review states that FASD is a preventable, lifelong disability. FASD disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however, there are limited prevalence statistics available in the mainstream Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Accompanying the review is a short video of key points from the review, a summary version of the review with infographics and a factsheet.

The review explores the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in preventing FASD and proposes that programs that work best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are those that are done with, for and by the communities and their leaders. Authors Sharynne Hamilton, Michael Doyle and Carol Bower, recommend that, where possible, federal and state governments should choose to invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisations to develop their own evidence-based, fit-for-community FASD prevention, intervention, and management strategies. Men are largely absent in FASD interventions. Co-author Michael Doyle says, “There is a need to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in research to understand the role they can play in the prevention, treatment and management of FASD”.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says, “We were delighted to commission this important review and partner with the authors to provide a comprehensive and sensitive review of the evidence around FASD with clear recommendations for future action”.

You can view the media release by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre here.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - video.

FASD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – video.

Grog in pregnancy videos

Katherine West Health Board (2021)
Grog in pregnancy videos – partners, women and men
Katherine, NT: Katherine West Health Board

In these videos, community members share information with one another about drinking alcohol and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

The videos promote health messages such as:

  • have a check up at the clinic if you are planning to get pregnant
  • if mum drinks while pregnant the baby can be born with FASD
  • men can support women who are pregnant by not drinking
  • if you are breastfeeding you should not drink alcohol.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Grog in Pregnancy - Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Grog in Pregnancy – Partners: video by Katherine West Health Board.

Outcomes of community-based FASD workshop

There is a lack of neurodevelopmental assessment services in rural and remote locations in Australia that consider fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a possible outcome.

87 participants attended a workshop to support community-based professional development and co-design of a novel assessment approach. Qualitative data collection included video recording of the workshop, and small group discussions, for which a narrative analysis was utilised. Quantitative data collection included self-report questionnaires to understand current community practices and three key constructs: practitioner knowledge, attitudes, and intentions for future practice.

The study identified key learnings from workshop facilitators and participants. The findings call attention to the importance of a co-design approach, where collaboration is vital to support the appropriate adaption of evidence-based practice to suit the local context.

You can read the abstract here.

FASD graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

This is a graphic produced by the FASD Hub Australia, which distributes information about the disorder online.

NDIS Ready grants now open!

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN!  

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCOs to help address: 

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

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 ACCHOs and ACCOs.  

For information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website. Applications close on Friday 11 June 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions. 

NDIS Ready - Funding Round Open

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding ACCO grant round applications are NOW OPEN.

Call for abstracts – now open!

Abstract submissions open for the 6th Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference, The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health.
Abstract submissions should address the conference theme ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing’.
Abstract submissions close Wednesday 30 June 2021. If you are interested in presenting, please complete the registration here.
Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.

Abstract submissions for Ngar-wu Wanyarra Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pat Turner addresses First Nations Media conference

feature tile text 'Pat Turner addresses First Nations Media National Conference CONVERGE', image of Pat at lecture at conference with screen in background with words 'Coalition of Peaks Update from Pat Turner'

Pat Turner addresses First Nations Media conference

At the national CONVERGE Conference in Lismore organised by First Nations Media, Pat Turner Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO provided an update on the Coalition of Peaks work, and progress on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. You can access a transcript of Pat’s speech here.banner First Nations Media Australia logo map of Australia with Aboriginal painting dots aqua, black, ochre, dark yellow; First Nations Media National Conference CONVERGE Lismore 4 - 7 May in dark aqua, 4 dots orange, ochre, aqua, moss green

NDIS reforms will discriminate against Mob

John Gilroy, ARC Research Fellow in Indigenous Health, Disability and Community Development, University of Sydney says although the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the greatest human services reform in Australia’s history, and holds great promise in improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with disability, the federal government’s proposed “independent assessments” aren’t the way forward for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability.

“I’m a Koori bloke from the Yuin Nation who lives with disability and has a research career spanning nearly 20 years. The biggest problem I have with the proposed framework is that it’s disrespectful and discriminatory towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Rather than designing another layer of bureaucracy, I recommend the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) invests more resources into building and up-skilling the current NDIS planning workforce and the Aboriginal community-controlled services sector.”

To read the full article click here.

wheelchair sitting in a field at sunset

Image source: The Conversation.

Health leaders urge action on climate crisis

Sixty health and medical organisations – including Indigenous health groups, service providers, the Australasian College of Health Service Management, the HESTA Super Fund and the Australian Society for Medical Research – have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister urging climate action for health.

The letter says ‘write to you as a coalition of climate concerned health organisations in Australia that wish to see the threat to health from climate change addressed by the Australian Government. Climate change is described by the World Health Organization as “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.” Yet, climate action could be the greatest public health opportunity to prevent premature deaths, address climate and health inequity, slow down or reverse a decrease in life expectancy, and unlock substantial health and economic co-benefits.’ The letter calls on the Australian government to:

  • Prioritise health in the context of Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement
  • Commit to the decarbonisation of the healthcare sector by 2040, and to the establishment of an Australian Sustainable Healthcare Unit
  •  Implement a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine members march in nipaluna/Hobart in 2019, man is holding a sign with text 'Emergency Doctors diagnose Climate Emergency'

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has signed the open letter. Here its members march in nipaluna/Hobart in 2019. Photo: Amy Coopes. Image source: Croakey.

New Simon Says ear health booklet

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) has released Volume 3 of its Simon Says Ear Health series. This publication specifically looks at Swimmers Ear, what it is and how to prevent and treat it.

To view the booklet click here.ront of Aboriginal Health Council of WA Ear Health Simon Says booklet, title 'It's Summer Time!' cartoon drawing of Aboriginal family in a car with dog & roof piled with camping gear

NT budget & youth reforms flawed

AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service have issued a joint media release saying ‘The NT Government’s budget is framed in a way that is detrimental to the best interests of Territorians, hideously expensive and unlikely to be effective. It bolsters resources to allow the policing and surveillance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and reduces funding where it is actually needed, in providing effective solutions when dealing with complex issues, like youth justice. The Government is moving to bring damaging and non-evidenced based youth reforms to parliament.

CEO of Danila Dilba Olga Havnen said “More prisons and jailing more people does not work. Even the USA has moved away from locking people up. It is costly and does not work. It is time for the Government and Opposition to listen to the advice at hand and look at alternative options that work.”

CEO of AMSANT John Patterson agreed “the proposed [NT Government] youth reform changes will likely lead to a surge in reoffending and offer nothing more than a path to jail. The complex health needs of our youth need to be taken into consideration. These reforms are not in the best interests of our youth or in the best interests of the Territory.”

“We call on the Government to reconsider the proposed youth reforms and talk to us. Punitive legislation does not rehabilitate young offenders or keep communities safe. We know the tough-on-crime approach only facilitates more crime and disadvantage for our community. It is time the NT government responded humanely and responsibly by addressing the real causes of youth offending and investing in these evidence-based approaches.”

To view the joint AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service media release click here.

AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service also joined CAAC, AMA NT Inc, The Royal Australian & NZ College of Psychiatrists and the AMA in an open letter to the NT Minister for Health, the Minister for Police and Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing outlining concerns over the NT government’s proposed youth justice reforms.

To view the open letter click here.

The Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) has also condemned the NT Government’s youth justice reforms. NTCOSS CEO, Deborah Di Natale, said incarcerating more children will not reduce crime. “This legislation will reduce access to diversion programs and impose electronic monitoring on young people prior to conviction. It does not break the cycle of crime. It entrenches it.”

To view the NTCOSS media release in full click here.

rear view of 2 Aboriginal children on swings

Image from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory final report. Image source: Croakey.

Indigenous workforce needs better support

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) is surveying its members on the impact of COVID-19 on their education, training and professional practice. Its findings to date hold important lessons for educators, employers and governments on how they can better support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and, ultimately, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, particularly in times of disruption and public health emergencies.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

Megan McIntosh & Tara Price with (front) Brock Kinchela & Lucy Ridds in one of Armajun Aboriginal Health Service office

Megan McIntosh and Tara Price with (front) Brock Kinchela and Lucy Ridds in one of Armajun Aboriginal Health Service’s offices. Image source: The Inverell Times.

AOD research – treatment, services, prevention

A number of papers and reports relating to alcohol and other drugs have recently been released.

The University of Sydney released a paper Alcohol consumption and dependence is linked to the extent that people experience need satisfaction while drinking alcohol in two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which argues that due to systematic disadvantage and inter-generational trauma, Indigenous Australians may be less likely to have satisfied basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness). When people are need-thwarted, they may engage in compensatory behaviours to feel better in the short-term. Better understanding the functions that alcohol may play for some Indigenous Australian drinkers may aid communities, clinicians, and policy makers in improving programs for reducing drinking-related harms.

To view the paper in full click here.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: key findings, click here, and Patterns of intensive alcohol and other drug treatment service use in Australia 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2019, click here.

The Senate Community Affairs References Committee has also released a report Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, click here.

Aboriginal man painting at The Glen

The Glen Art program participant. Image source: The Glen website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Voice to Parliament key to social justice reform

feature tile text ' A Voice to Parliament is a veital step towards social justice reform', image of Aboriginal flag flying in the breeze taking up 2/3's of the image with Parliament House with Australian flag flying in the background

Voice to Parliament key to social justice reform

The Fred Hollows Foundation, ANTaR National, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Bakerare are together calling for the government to commit to a referendum on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament (the Voice) once the model for the Voice has been settled. The call comes after The Foundation, ANTaR, RANZCO and DCA made submissions to the Australian Government’s Indigenous Voice co-design process.

The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart said “Fred Hollows believed ‘inequity diminishes us all’ and this couldn’t be more glaring than when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. More than 50 years after being granted the right to vote, Australia’s First Nations still do not have a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament which would give them a say in laws and policies that affect them. A Voice to Parliament designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is a vital step towards social justice reform. A constitutionally enshrined Voice would ensure First Nations Peoples will always be able to provide frank and fearless advice to the government.”

To view the article in full click here.

painting of Aboriginal flag in shape of map of Australia

Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom. The image in the feature tile is from the SBS NITV News website.

Prevention key to health crisis

The AMA has made a submission in response to the Department of Health’s draft National Preventive Health Strategy, welcoming many parts of the draft strategy while also calling for strengthening specific measures targeting social determinants of health. The National Preventive Health Strategy, due to be finalised mid-year, forms part of the third pillar for mental health and preventive health as outlined in Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan.

Currently only 1.7% of the health budget is invested in preventive health. The AMA supports the draft Strategy’s proposal to increase that to 5% of health funding by 2030. “The AMA welcomes the draft Strategy as a leading example of collaborative, evidence-based policy work and is pleased to be involved in genuine engagement with the Government during its development,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“We know a person’s health is shaped by social, economic, cultural and environmental conditions in which they live. Prevention is key. Investing just 1.7% of the health budget in preventive measures is woefully inadequate and far below the example set by similar countries in the OECD. The AMA’s submission calls on the Government to implement a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and a volumetric tax on alcohol to source revenue for increased funding, rather than taking from other areas of the already-stretched health budget.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

tip of sneakers, red hand weights, yellow tape measure, scales, apple, wholemeal bread slice, bottle of water & cherry tomatoes

Image source: Medgadget Newsletter.

Indigenous-led birthing benefits

It was “very, very scary” being pregnant at 16 years old for Mackapilly Sebasio. The Torres Strait Islander Erubian woman felt she would be judged if she went to her local hospital. “It’s really hard to ask for help or get that support you need, when you’re with a [non-Indigenous] different organisation,” Mackapilly says. “You feel you’re being judged, or you’re not speaking proper. But when you’re around other Indigenous mothers and people that understand how you feel, it just makes you feel a lot better.”

It was thanks to the Birthing in Our Community program, which provides Indigenous-led birthing programs and support services for women who are pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander baby, that “changed everything” for Mackapilly.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

photo of Mackapilly Sebasio with her three children, baby Melanie-Ann on her lap & older daughters e.g. 3 and 7 sitting either side of her with Aboriginal white ochre on faces under a young tropical tree& Sunni.

Mackapilly Sebasio with her three children, Seini, Melanie-Ann and Sunni. Image source: ABC News website.

Childhood immunisation rates break records

Australian parents continue to show their confidence in vaccinations, with record rates of childhood immunisations in the first quarter of 2021. For the fourth consecutive quarter, the coverage rate for five year olds has increased to a historic 95.22%. This surpasses the national aspiration of 95%, and gives Australia the herd immunity needed to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

It is also well above the estimated World Health Organization international average immunisation coverage rate of 86% for five year olds, making Australia a world leading vaccination nation. The highest coverage rate continues to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years of age – an impressive 97.26%. The vaccination rate for two year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children increased to 91.73%t, while for one year olds it was 93.7%.

To view the media release in full click here.

photo of baby from neck down lying down, red white stripe sleeveless body suit, gloved hands about to give injection in the thigh

Image source: healthdirect Australia.

Greater attention for rural challenges

Queensland Health’s Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Professor Shelley Nowlan, has taken on a new role as Deputy National Rural (NRH) Health Commissioner, which will see her play a key role in the Federal Government’s agenda to increase access to rural health services and address rural workforce shortages.

Federal Rural Health Minister, Mark Coulton, and NRH Commissioner Professor Ruth Stewart welcomed the engagement of Professor Nowlan, as a second NRH commissioner. “By engaging two Deputy Commissioners to provide expert advice on allied health, nursing, and Indigenous health disciplines and making the National Rural Health Commissioner a permanent office, we are ensuring rural challenges receive the attention and the expertise they deserve.

To view the media release in full click here.

green highway sign text '43 Forgotten World Highway, Healthcare 819 km Nearest Town 87 km' sitting in green grass to side of ploughed field blue sky white fluffy clouds

Image source: Croakey.

Northern Australia agenda report

The Select Committee on the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia agenda, Final Report, tabled 28 April 2021 has  recommended:

  • investment in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce to continue development strategies, including in innovative community roles and in leadership positions.
  • continued expansion of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service models of community governance.

Ms Marion Scrymgour, CEO, Northern Land Council, emphasised that development in Northern Australia ‘cannot be successful unless it properly acknowledges Aboriginal rights and interests, engages fully with Aboriginal people as partners rather than just another stakeholder’. Ms Scrymgour stated that Aboriginal people must be placed ‘at the centre of the policy framework in regional and remote areas’.

To view the final report of the Select Committee on the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia agenda click here.

top of map of Australia vector image, 3 segments light orange WA, yellow NT & dark orange QLD, overlaid at edges

Image source: Austrade.

Is it really the end for Dan Murphy’s?

After a five-year saga involving court challenges and political twists, the Woolworths has abandoned its plan to set up its first Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin. Woolworths is now in the process of a demerger with Endeavour Drinks Group, the company that oversees the Dan Murphy’s portfolio.

While Woolworths says it won’t pursue a large-scale liquor outlet at the same location, it’s CEO Brad Banducci, says there’s no guarantee its subsidiary won’t propose an alternative Darwin site, if and when it becomes an independent entity, “As to whether there’s a future Dan Murphy’s in Darwin, that would be up to the Endeavour Group.”

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Helen-Firth leaning on verandah rail full of drying clothes, small Aboriginal child is to right, Helen is wearing a yellow t-shirt with black footprints, in the background door with posters/stickers, besser bricks either side of door Aboriginal hand paintings

Helen Fejo-Firth was fiercely opposed to the Dan Murphy’s proposal. Photo: Emilia Terszon. Image source: ABC News website.

Lung Health Awareness Month

Since 1990, Lung Foundation Australia (LFA) has been promoting lung health and early diagnosis, advocating for policy change and research investment, raising awareness about the symptoms and prevalence of lung disease and championing equitable access to treatment and care. 

May is Lung Health Awareness Month. With 1 in 3 Australians affected by lung disease, LFA is asking the community to start taking their lung health seriously and know the early signs and symptoms. Early diagnosis is critical and the LFA wants you to encourage your community to take two minutes to complete its new Lung Health Checklist.banner text in purple font 'Lung Health Awareness Month Check. Protect. Connect. Take the Lung Health Checklist, Lung Foundation Australian' cartoon drawing of man sitting on park bench seat with hand to his chest

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Woolworths dumps Dan Murphy’s mega store plan

feature tile text 'Woolworths dumps plan for dan murphy's mega store after 5-YEAR battle with Aboriginal & health groups' & logo, vector drawing of Dan Murphy & text 'Dan Murphy's' with red cross through image

Woolworths dumps Dan Murphy’s mega store plan

Supermarket giant Woolworths has scrapped its long-running push to open a large-scale Dan Murphy’s outlet near Darwin’s airport, but has not ruled out a development at another location. The company said a review found Woolworths had not done enough to engage with Aboriginal groups concerned the store would worsen the region’s already high rates of alcohol-related harm. The outlet was to be built on airport land in Darwin’s northern suburbs, close to three dry Aboriginal communities.

The announcement was welcomed by Darwin’s Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, which had launched a legal challenge to the development, calling on the Woolworths board to abandon the project. Chief executive Olga Havnen said she commended the company on its decision. “We think that’s the right thing to do and it was certainly more than just the lack of appropriate consultation. It actually goes to the question of public health issues, the public health concerns that we raised consistently and the potential for increased harm as a result of alcohol.”

Noelene Swanson, NT director of Save the Children, also welcomed Woolworths’ decision, saying it was the best outcome possible for children and their families in the territory. “It made zero sense to open a Dan Murphy’s megastore in the NT, especially so close to dry communities′ Ms Swanson said. “This shows the power of community advocacy and I’m very relieved that Woolies has listened to the people.”

You can read the ABC News article here; a related article in the Financial Review here. and a Joint Statement from the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education (FARE), Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), Danila Dilba Health Service and the Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) here.

Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen in blue Danila Dilba logo shirt stanind inside an office building near a very large glass window

Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen. Image source: ABC News website.

RHD cases continue to grow

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has shown that the burden of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) continues to grow in Australia. RHD is rare in most high-income countries yet in Australia it persists in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, causing grief and heartache for many families and communities.

RHD is a consequence of ARF, stemming from an abnormal immune reaction to untreated Group A streptococcal (Strep A) infection in the throat or on the skin. The report shows that the rate of definite or probable ARF notifications from health services increased from 67/100,000 in 2015 to 81/100,000 in 2019. The data for the report, drawn from Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales from 2015 to 2019, also highlights that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounted for 81%, or 4,337, of all RHD diagnoses during that same time.

To view the RHDAustralia and Menzies School or Health Research media release click here, and to view a summary and analysis of the April 2021 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report into rates of ARF and RHD in Australia click here.

small Aboriginal boy pretending to listen to heart of adult woman with Aboriginal girl & rack of dress-ups in the background

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research website.

Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) have released a video of Professor Alison McMillan answering the top 3 questions asked on the DoH’s social accounts. You can view the video here.YouTube title page text 'Your top 3 questions answered Chief Nuring and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMilan' with photo of Prof McMilan in checked blazer, blue background with COVID-19 virus cell

Deaths in custody deserves multifaceted response

Both the Federal Government and the Opposition have announced funding regarding Indigenous deaths in custody, spurring hope for a multifaceted national response which addresses the impact of the criminal justice system on First Nations people. Last week the Morrison Government announced an investment of $2.4 million across three years to create a new Custody Notification System (CNS) in SA as of July 1 this year and a funding increase of over $724,000 for the NT and Victorian services.

The CNS is a 24/7 phone line that is mandatory for police to use when a First Nations person is taken into custody. It provides access to health and welfare checks and access to legal services. “With contemporary knowledge of police processes and experience in providing crisis support, Custody Notification Services delivered by Aboriginal Legal Services are a proven way to reduce the risk of a death occurring in custody,” said Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

To view the article Indigenous deaths in custody deserves multifaceted response in the National Indigenous Times click here.

protest march female & male wearing covid-19 maskes with banner in background of Aboriginal flay overlaid with words 'stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody'

Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers website.

Ask a Pharmacist Sessions

NPS MedicineWise is running a series of ‘Ask a Pharmacist’ sessions on the topic of Opioids. These use existing NPS MedicineWise platforms and are being promoted on the NPS MedicineWise Facebook page. The ‘Ask a Pharmacist’ sessions provide an opportunity for consumers to ask their medicines questions via Facebook, for these to be answered by specialist pharmacists. Responses may include links to relevant online resources, suggestions to call the NPS MedicineWise telephone line services, or referral to another appropriate health service provider.

The pharmacists provide evidence-based information about opioids, their safety profile, side effects and interactions with other medicines and health conditions. Responses provided as part of these sessions aim to inform consumers about medicines, offer reassurance where appropriate and direct consumers to trusted sources of information including the NPS MedicineWise Medicine Line and AME Line telephone service.

Upcoming sessions will be active for one week starting:

  • Session 4: 3 May 2021
  • Session 5: 24 May 2021
  • Session 6: 14 June2021

The theme for Session 4 starting on Monday 3 May will be Reducing the risk of harms associated with opioids. Themes for other sessions will be advised at a later date.banner man with tie, white shirt grey pullover jumper, black belt, grey pants, text 'Ask a Pharmacist about Opioids - NPS MedicineWise'

Racism declares a serious health threat

The United States’ leading public health agency, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, has recently declared racism to be a “serious public health threat” that must be a critical focus of its work. In here article United States public health agency declares racism a serious health threat. Meanwhile, in Australia… Marie McInerney says this declaration contrasts with continuing muted responses from the Australian Government. Instead, ‘the Australian health system’s Black Lives Matter moment is best characterised as indifferent; a ‘business as usual’ approach that we know from experience betokens failure’.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

drawing of multiple head silhouettes in different colours white, drawn brown, brown, peach overlaying each other superimposed with th transparent thick white cross

Image source: TED Recommends website.

Telehealth needs to stay

The Government’s decision to extend Medicare-funded telehealth for GPs and non-GP specialists until the end of the year is welcome but is a missed opportunity to enshrine telehealth as a permanent feature of the Australian health system in a form which has greatest benefit for our vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“The existing COVID telehealth items were designed specifically to respond to the pandemic, which, as the recent lockdown in Perth illustrates, is far from over,” Dr Khorshid said.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

vector image laptop with white coated doctor reaching through the screen writing on a clipboard, either side of laptop is stethoscope, pill bottle, pen holder, thermometer & mobile phone

Image source: Musculoskeletal Australia website.

Cultural supervision research scholarship

The University of Sydney is offering a $20,000 postgraduate research scholarship in cultural supervision. The scholarship is to support Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander PhD students at the Faculty of Medicine and Health. For further information, including how to apply for the scholarship click here.Sydney University logo vector image of lion against red rectangle & blue cross with yellow star on each cross end with open book in the middle inside yellow outline of a shield, text 'THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY' & photo of sandstone uni building seen from arched sandstone walkway