NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Same disastrous results from same old, same old

feature tile, text "We can't afford to keep doing the same old, same old and achieve the same disastrous results year in, year out." AMSANT CEO - John Paterson, image of make shift outside bed town camp

Same disastrous results from same old, same old

Indigenous people living in remote NT communities want job opportunities and not welfare, Aboriginal advocates say. Participation in education is increasing but employment rates are falling due to a lack of available jobs, Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT says. Residents are living under immense economic stress – often paying three times the price for food and other essentials than in the city. Inadequate housing and poor health outcomes are also a challenge.

“The need for investment in jobs in remote communities remains large and unaddressed,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson told a federal parliamentary committee on Indigenous employment and business earlier this week. “We can’t afford to keep doing the same old, same old and achieve the same disastrous results year in, year out.” Unemployment has become systemic in many communities with an Aboriginal employment rate of 37% across the Territory.

Creating secure meaningful work leads to better outcomes than struggling to make ends meet on welfare payments, Mr Paterson said. “In the larger remote communities in the NT if every job was taken up by the jobseekers in that community, the employment rate would still be half the national average,” he said. APO NT called on the federal government to spend less on improving welfare programs – such as the cashless debit card – and invest in jobs.

To view the article in full click here.

dog sitting out the front of the Amata store, Amata

Front of Amata store, Amata, NT. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.

Cracks in the ice feedback sought

Researchers from the University of Sydney are seeking feedback on a recently developed Cracks in the Ice resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to give their feedback on the resources and website. If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community.

The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having an option of providing further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a voucher valued at $50. To access the survey, please click here.

close up image of ICE pipe in Aboriginal hand

Crystal methamphetamine pipe. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Alleged attack not just physical

A statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO: “My heart goes out to the First Nations woman and her daughter who were allegedly  attacked on Saturday by a man displaying white supremacist insignia in Perth. A racially-motivated attack is not only a physical assault, it is an attempt to terrorise people for who they are and an attempt to undermine the shared values that hold our democracy together. The trauma caused by attacks such as that which has been alleged can have acute and long-lasting impacts and I hope that this woman and her daughter are receiving all the support they need to heal and to help them feel safe in their community. It is imperative that urgent and serious attention is given to this issue. The Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has developed a proposed National Anti-Racism Framework and is in discussion with government about it.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media statement click here.

back of man at football with flag in Aboriginal colours, yellow centre with map of Australia & text ' no room for racism'

Image source: The Guardian.

Social distancing impacts those with hearing loss

Damien Howard, a consultant psychologist from Darwin, NT says social distancing can do unintentional harm. The many Aboriginal people with hearing loss often cope by using ‘social amplification’. Having family or friends help them understand what others say. It is especially important when talking to new people about unfamiliar topics. This means that social distancing can have a selective impact on them, if it prevents people using their usual communication support strategies. If communication is too stressful those with hearing loss often use avoidance as a way of coping. Increased avoidance of needed communication engagement will be the outcome if Aboriginal people with hearing loss are prevented from using ‘social amplification’ as a coping strategy.

painting of Aboriginal man & text about by social distancing discriminates

Rural health experts on bush vaccine rollout

Rural and Indigenous health experts are meeting regularly to ensure rural communities continue to be central to the phased rollout of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Remote Vaccine Working Group will provide advice to the Federal Government and identify issues as the rollout continues towards Phase 1B and beyond. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to every corner of the country was complex and that was why the Federal Government had a plan and was listening to expert advice from rural health stakeholders. “COVID-19 case numbers in rural and remote areas have been low, but the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine into regional, rural and remote communities is a vital part of the Government’s vaccine strategy to ensure everyone in Australia is protected,” Minister Coulton said.

To view Minster Coulton’s media release click here.

gloved hands administering vaccine

Image source: ABC News website.

Katherine residents dying prematurely

Professor Glover said the association between a lower median age at death, socioeconomic disadvantage and the proportion of the population who are Indigenous is very strong across the NT, “The gap is widening because whatever policies we’re taking aren’t getting through.” Katherine Indigenous advocate and Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King said his own lived experience aligns with Professor Glover’s research. Mr King said these poor health outcomes are an ongoing symptom of colonialism and the gap between First Nation’s people and the rest of the population, and this new research is another reason to push for truth-telling about Australia’s history and Closing the Gap targets to be met by governments.

To view the article in full click here.

Katherine Indigenous advocate & Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King in white t-shirt standing in bushland with head height green grasses, armed folded

Katherine Indigenous advocate & Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King, Photo by Tom Robinson. Image source: Katherine Times.

AHW helps QLD Close the Gap

Growing up, visiting the doctors made Dani Beezley uncomfortable. The Wulli Wulli and Wakka Wakka woman was raised in the rural town of Theodore in central Queensland. While the 32-year-old has fond memories of visiting her local GP, she remembers sharing uneasy feelings with family when they had to approach others. “I didn’t really feel that comfortable, and I know that my parents didn’t as well,” she said. “I think that might’ve been because there weren’t as many things put in place to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe and comfortable.”

Perhaps, that’s why Ms Beezley’s career path has led her back to helping her community access better health services. Ms Beezley is one of about 150 qualified Aboriginal Health Practitioners in Queensland. The nationally registered professionals usually work in hospitals or dedicated Aboriginal health services, but Ms Beezley works at a private practice. “[We] are there for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and not a lot even like to go to the doctor at all, and it can be a challenge to get them in,” she said.

To view the ABC News article click here.

AHW Dani Beezley Theodore Medical Centre

Aboriginal Health Worker Dani Beezley. Image source: ABC News website.

Parenting helpline & resources

The Government of South Australia Parenting SA has a helpline and a host of resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children 0 to 12. Via the Parenting SA website here you can get advice on baby and child health and parenting. There is a 10 Parent Easy Guides for Aboriginal Parents that cover topics such as: being a dad; raising strong children; children living with grandparents and now you are a parent.

young Aboriginal girl with huge smile looking to the camera, wearing blue aqua purple Aboriginal dot painting polo, two Aboriginal women in the background making baskets from raffia

Image source: Meerilinga Children and Family Centres website.

Homeless teen to PhD in medicine

To describe Lisa Jackson Pulver as an “inspiration” seems overly simplistic, a trite and lacklustre attempt at neatly containing her and her many triumphs to a neat box. Some people cannot be so easily contained – and it is difficult to find one word that truly encapsulates all that she is. So here are a few: Resilient domestic abuse survivor. Ambitious nurse. Social justice warrior. Progressive epidemiologist. Committed professor. Resolute activist.

A Jewish and Wiradjuri Koori woman. In fact, Lisa Jackson Pulver is the first known Aboriginal person to have received a PhD in medicine. And with a Member of the Order of Australia in tow, she holds the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services, at the University of Sydney.

To view the full article click here.

portrait of Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM, University of Sydney

Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

World’s first stroke air ambulance

Australia is set to save lives and lead the way internationally with the latest innovation in stroke treatment and care – a stroke air ambulance. Stroke Foundation is thrilled to be a primary partner in The Stroke Golden Hour research project awarded $40 million under Stage Two of the Frontier Health and Medical Research Initiative. The Stroke Golden Hour project is developing lightweight brain scanners that are more portable, meaning they can be put into ambulances on the roads and in the air. This will allow rapid diagnosis and treatment to those who have a stroke, saving lives and reducing disability.

Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan said the project had the potential to revolutionise treatment of stroke nationally and internationally. “For too long Australians living in our regional and rural areas have been denied the high-quality stroke treatment provided to their metropolitan based counterparts.Our country’s broad geography will no longer be a barrier to time-critical stroke treatment.”

Currently regional and rural Australians are overrepresented in stroke statistics. More than 27,000 Australians will experience a stroke for the first time this year. Rural and regional Australians are 17% more likely to have a stroke and are more likely to have a poorer outcome due to limited access to stroke specialists, treatments, and care.

For more information and to view a short video about the stoke air ambulance click here.

Wiradjuri woman Charlotte Porter & her husband James & their 4 children standing in front of their home

Parents of four kids, Wiradjuri woman Charlotte Porter and her husband James have each experienced a stroke. Both are advocates for community education on the signs of stroke and the need for urgent care. Image source: Stroke Foundation website.

World Hearing Day – Wednesday 3 March 2021

Ear disease and associated hearing loss are highly prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Poor ear and hearing health is a serious problem, which can profoundly affect a child’s life.

World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. It marks the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing, presenting a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course. The theme in 2021 is Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate

World Hearing Day coincides with Hearing Awareness Week in Australia (1 to 7 March).

For further information click here.

close up photo of an Aboriginal man's ear

Image source: Ear infections plague 9 in 10 kids article, Katherine Times.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: power of male role models confirmed

feature tile text 'power of male role models for Aboriginal children' silhouette of 3 Aboriginal men against sunset

Power of male role models

Almost 10 years ago, the Fathering Project was founded with the aim of delivering resources, programs and events to inspire and equip fathers and father-figures to engage with the children in their lives in a positive manner. Now through a collaboration between a number of researchers, the Fathering Project has asked Noongar men to explain what quop maaman (good men) looks like to them. The outcome was a workshop and video series that will introduce the program to boys and young men on Country with a focus on key Noongar concept and themes.

Professor Collard, a Whadjuk Nyungar Elder and the lead researcher behind the Aboriginal father’s program, said one of the key points in the discussion was that the fathering role model looked different to the Noongar men’s counterparts. He said while the western world may focus on the biological father being one of the primary caregivers, it wasn’t necessarily the same sentiment in the Noongar men’s discussions. The Fathering Project CEO Kati Gapaillard said “the research is profound, showing that increased father involvement in the lives of children creates many positive outcomes.”

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

Aboriginal man with arms around three young children, two boys & a girl

Image source: Mallee District Aboriginal Services website.

Vaccines welcome, still need COVID-safe practices

Expert health and medical science leaders welcome the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, but caution that the vaccines alone are not enough. The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out is a major development for Australia. It will enable people to take action that will help to protect themselves, their families and the wider community from a disease that has killed millions of people and impacted everyone, says the country’s expert body in the health and medical sciences. The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) is an independent body comprising more than 400 senior researchers and health leaders. It has been active in monitoring and guiding the nation’s pandemic response.

To view the AAHMS media release click here.

Also, you can access a community engagement kit (developed by the Australian Government Department of Health in collaboration with NACCHO) with information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines by clicking here and resources about keeping our mob safe here.

image of 3 DoH Aboriginal specific stay covid-19 safe brochures, the first with text 'keep the germs away, keep hands clean' & line drawing of hands being washed

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health website.

Standalone family court system abolished

The passing of legislation earlier this week to merge the Family Court with the Federal Circuit Court will place survivors of domestic and family violence at greater risk according to more than 155 stakeholders in Australia’s family law system who have signed an open letter to the Attorney-General opposing the merge.

The Law Council of Australia, Women’s Legal Services Australia, Community Legal Centres Australia and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) are among the stakeholders who have consistently opposed the Government’s bill to abolish the specialist, stand-alone Family Court out of concern it will harm, not help, Australian families and children.

NATSILS Co-Chair Priscilla Atkins voiced her concerns for First Nations people, saying the merger means the loss of the standalone, specialist, superior Family Court and this will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To view the National Indigenous Times article click here.

lettering on marble outside Family Court of Australia

Image source: Crikey website.

ACTCOSS supports systemic racism investigation

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the appointment of Ms Christine Nixon as chair of the new Oversight Committee to develop a blueprint for change for the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) however said that without an inquiry into systemic racism in Canberra’s prison the injustice experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees engaged with the justice system would not be resolved.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “We are pleased to see that this new Oversight Committee will soon start work to help improve culture and oversee the implementation of recommendations from inquiries and reports, “This oversight group will need to move promptly and comprehensively to rebuild trust. That must include close engagement with the community services sector, particularly Aboriginal community controlled organisations.”

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.

Alexander Moconochie Centre external view building, 3 flag poles & prohibited entry sign

Photo by Karleen Minney. Image source: The Canberra Times.

First Nations’ GP numbers keep growing

The past three years have seen a 55% increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students pursuing a career in medicine. In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools. That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase, ‘There is a greater engagement of universities with high schools to recruit into health-related degrees and improvements in entry pathways to ensure university readiness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – one of the barriers for [this population] undertaking any university degree.’

To view the full RACGP newsGP article click here.

Aboriginal medical student with stethoscope against young Aboriginal woman's chest

James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

More pressure on Woolies over NT grog shop

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous community and health leaders have called on Reconciliation Australia to revoke its endorsement of Woolworths’ Reconciliation Action Plan, as it did with Rio Tinto’s in the wake of the mining giant’s destruction of Juukan Gorge.

The signatories include many leading Indigenous health experts, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) CEO Donna Murray, Lowitja Institute chair Pat Anderson, Aboriginal Medical Service Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson, Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen, and former 60 Minutes journalist Jeff McMullen.

They say Woolworths should, like Rio Tinto, be held accountable for its relentless fight to build what will be one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores near three dry Aboriginal communities in Darwin, despite strong opposition from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health organisations, “and in the full knowledge that this store will increase alcohol harm”.

To view the full article in Croaky click here.

silhouette of a spirits bottle over a list of the signatories to Reconciliation Australia to ct ties with Woolworths over Darwin bottle shop proposal

Signatories to the letter to Reconciliation Australia. Image source: Croakey.

Loneliness epidemic goes on unnoticed

A report on loneliness, an issue which clouds the lives of many Australians and exposes them to increased risk of depression and other illness, has called for a national plan of action to address the often unrecognised condition. 15% of Australians were considered to be experiencing high levels of loneliness, according to a 2019 survey, yet there remain significant gaps in knowledge and community awareness of the extent and impact, the report finds. That survey finding is reported in the Loneliness Thought Leadership Roundtable Report produced by an expert roundtable established by the Consumers Health Forum in partnership with the Medibank Better Health Foundation. This report builds on the Ending Loneliness Together in Australia White Paper published in late 2020 by the Ending Loneliness Together coalition.

To view the Consumers Health Forum of Australia’s media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting against wall with head down, arms folded, blue hoodie & jeans

Image source: myDr.com.au.

Youth representatives sought for HealthInfoNet Board 

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet which undertakes knowledge exchange research activities to summarise, synthesise and analyse the available research and other information and make it available to the health sector workforce in ways that are timely, accessible and relevant, is seeking expressions of interest from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 18–25 years) to join its national Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides strategic advice and guidance to the HealthInfoNet‘s Director to ensure that it continues to provide support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce.

Youth representatives will provide important feedback from a young person’s perspective to guide the strategic and operational activities of the HealthInfoNet. The youth representatives will join the Advisory Board of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts and other health experts from throughout Australia.

For further information click here. BE QUICK as applications close Friday 26 February.Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet logo of goanna & Aboriginal dot painting

Settler colonials face family histories

There is a quiet movement among settler colonials in Australia to critically examine their family histories as a way of re-examining the impact of centuries of dispossession of Indigenous peoples and enabling a shift from celebratory tropes of benign settlement to deep considerations of legitimacy. The myth of great white men and women, bravely opening new worlds and taming the wilderness, including the “savage” Indigenes, is now being challenged by a search for the truth.

Working alongside Aboriginal people, documenting their stories of dispossession and survival, Australian writer and academic, David Denborough,  was challenged by Jane Lester, a Yangkunytjatjara/Antikirinya woman, to find his ancestors. Now, 20 years later, he has written a book about how the relationships between his ancestors and Aboriginal people were marked by colonisation, racism and often inhumane treatment.

Denborough is determined to tell the truth as part of his healing journey and his close relationship with Aboriginal people. He has realised  “there is no sense in moral superiority towards my ancestry because colonial violence in this country has not ended; no place for hopelessness because First Nations resistance has never wavered; and, no time for paralysing shame because invitations to partnerships are still being offered by Aboriginal people … and [there is] so much to be done.”

To view the full article click here.

Tom and Jane Teniswood holding 'Private Forest Reserve' sign on a tree trunk

Tom and Jane Teniswood have returned half of their 220-acre property in Tasmania to the local Aboriginal community. Image source: The Conversation.

Doctor shortage in rural & regional areas

In a recent interview The Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government was asked about RACGP figures suggesting a decline in doctors electing for GP training and choosing specialties instead and whether more incentives need to be in place to fill more GP training roles. Minister Coulton said “what we’ve seen here in the bush is a symptom of a larger problem. And that is as we speak this year, there’s 30% vacancy in funded training places for GPs across Australia. We need to lift the value of general practice as a discipline.

We’re also training generalists, which is proving to be very popular with students coming through. So, doctors that have that broader range of skills, a GP with an emergency skill, obstetric skill, that would be of use when you’re working more remotely by yourself. And so, we’re looking at a whole range of issues going right back to the training through the students, working with the colleges, right through workforce issues and incentives, putting more students from country areas into training.”

To view the full transcript of the interview click here.

overlapped image of health professional torso with stethoscope holding hand of person against red dusty grasslands

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance Partyline website.

Teal Ribbon Day – raising ovarian cancer awareness

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a different pattern of gynaecological cancer incidence and mortality compared to non-Indigenous women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 3.8 times more likely to die from cervical cancer, and are also 1.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with, and 2.2 times more likely to die from endometrial cancer. Cancer Australia have produced a handbook for Health Workers and Health Practitioners to help provide information and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with gynaecological cancers which can be accessed here.

Annually on the last Wednesday in February, Ovarian Cancer Australia hold Teal Ribbon Day. This is a day to support Australians affected by ovarian cancer, honour those  lost and raise awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations. To access the Ovarian Cancer Australia website click here.

photo of teal ribbon for Teal Ribbon Day

Image source: Ovarian Cancer Australia website.

NSW – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma – Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health & Community Services

Practice Nurses x 1 PT – Batemans Bay

Casual Practice Nurses x 1 or more – Batemans Bay, Bega & Narooma

Katungul is a not for profit organisation providing culturally attuned, integrated health and community services on the Far South Coast of NSW. Katungul provides a broad range of services including: Primary Health Care; Child and Maternal Health; Oral Health; Mental Health; Emotional Health; Alcohol and Drug Services; NDIS and Integrated Team Care (ITC).

The Practice Nurse is responsible for ensuring that high quality health care services are provided to Katungul clients attending the clinic and associated outreach venues. This role includes oversight of all clinical operations based at the branch including risk management, planning, reporting, and management of a multidisciplinary team.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Tuesday 9 March 2021.Katungul ACCHO logo black duck flying across curved Aboriginal brown yellow black art, inside ochre circle with golden yellow fill, silhouette of man, woman, girl & boy at bottom of the circle, text 'Health Care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dr Jason Agostino is a GP and an epidemiologist who has worked mainly in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. He joins 102.7FM, 3RRR Digital – Mission host Daniel James to talk about the plans underway on the vaccine rollout to First Nation communities across the country.

To listen to to the interview click here.

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino

World Hearing Day March 3 2021: New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available

March 3, 2021 is World Hearing Day, and the Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children have launched the new 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (“2020 OM Guidelines”).

You can view the OM Guidelines via the website and mobile app, which is free to download via the Apple App Store or Google Play. These guidelines provide interactive, engaging and culturally appropriate best practice up to date information on the prevention, diagnosis and management of otitis media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of otitis media (OM) in the world. If left without appropriate care, OM can cause conductive and/or permanent hearing loss and is associated with language delay, speech problems, high vulnerability on entering school, social isolation, poor school attendance, and low education and employment opportunities. Hearing loss and otitis media rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are well above the level considered a ‘public health crisis’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 2020 OM Guidelines mobile app and website have been designed to build on the Guidelines themselves and act as a multimedia tool for primary health care providers, with:

  • step by step guide to assist with diagnosis
  • user-friendly algorithms to assist with clinical decision making based on diagnosis
  • audio recordings in top end Aboriginal languages to assist with communication
  • educational videos for health workers, families and children
  • otitis media otoscopy image gallery and quiz
  • condensed Otitis Media Guidelines with graded evidence and links to publications

The Centre of Research Excellence’s mission is to ‘close the gap’ in educational and social disadvantage associated with the high prevalence of OM and conductive hearing loss in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The 2020 OM Guidelines have been prepared by a group of experts in the field of ear and hearing health* and bring up-to-date the Department of Health’s “2010 Recommendations for Clinical Care Guidelines on the Management of Otitis Media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations”.

The release of the 2020 OM Guidelines for World Hearing Day (3 March 2021) will be accompanied by the publication of an article in the Medical Journal of Australia Leach AJ, Morris P, Coates HLC, et al. Otitis media guidelines for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: summary of recommendations.

Please help share the 2020 OM Guidelines as well as putting them into practice.

Use their social media tag #earhealthforlife or tag them on Twitter @cre_ichear or Facebook @CREICHEAR. If you would like more information or to provide us with feedback please contact CRE_ICHEAR@menzies.edu.au or Joanne Howes on 08 89 468 661.

Production and dissemination of the 2020 OM Guidelines is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

health professional checking a small Aboriginal child's ear

Image source: the social photographer website.

Digital tool to dial back COVID-19 Anxiety, Depression and Alcohol Use

With more than a third of Australians now drinking alcohol daily, compared to 6 per cent pre-COVID-19, researchers are developing a digital tool to help communities manage the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

A team of researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been awarded one of 10 NSW Ministry of Health COVID-19 Research Grants, designed to fund research in priority areas to directly support the NSW Health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the mental health consequences of COVID-19 are still emerging, it is estimated depressive and anxious symptoms are two to three times higher than before the pandemic hit, placing more pressure on an already overloaded mental health support system.

Read the full media release here.

both hands over a face

Image source: UNSW Newsroom – UNSW Sydney.

Long-awaited Cashless Debit Card evaluation made public

The National Indigenous Times story featured on the $2.5 million report by the University of Adelaide into the Cashless Debit Card scheme has been released to the public, almost five months after it was made available to the Morrison Government.

The report, commissioned by the Federal Government, was submitted to the Government on October 27.

The report stated that 25 per cent of participants had reported less alcohol consumption and 21 per cent reported less gambling activity.

“These findings are consistent with the more than 10 other evaluations that the CDC leads to people consuming less alcohol, gambling less and feeling safer in their communities,” said Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston.

“This report will help the Government improve the program and we are already addressing issues such as stigma through our commitment to improving the technology to ensure the CDC works in the exact same way as any other bank card.”

To read the full article click here

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles across Australia for the 2021 Census. The teams will comprise of Remote Area Management Team Leaders and Remote Area Management Team Members.

Both roles have responsibility for ensuring that people in remote and very remote areas are counted in the Census including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and people in national parks and pastoral stations. Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said, “remote area teams will manage the collection of Census data in the field by conducting interviews to ensure people from all cultures and communities are included in this important count. ”

To read the full release click here.

Call for Reconciliation Australia to pull Woolworths support over Darwin Dan Murphy’s

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health leaders want Reconciliation Australia to revoke its support for Woolworths over the retail giant’s plans to build one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores in Darwin, near three dry Aboriginal communities.

A letter signed by health, legal, domestic violence and community group leaders draws comparison to Rio Tinto, which was dumped by Reconciliation Australia over the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site in the Pilbara, which said Rio’s actions were a “breathtaking breach of a respectful relationship”.

Read the full story in The Guardian here.

shipping container with spray painted Aboriginal flag heart & word Bagot, superimposed with logos for Woolworths and Dan Murphy's

Image source: BlackBusiness.

Funding support for COVID-19 impacted Aboriginal communities (NSW)

Applications have opened for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to apply for funding to strengthen their support of Aboriginal communities impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $50,000 are available from Aboriginal Affairs NSW for ACCOs to provide culturally appropriate, locally-based support to address community wellbeing, education and employment issues, as well as buy supplies for compliance with COVID-safe guidelines.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Don Harwin, said that the investment would support activity either as a response to the impacts of COVID-19, or provide additional support to enable scheduled events to take place safely. “COVID-19 has impacted life for Aboriginal communities in a range of unpredictable ways, and we want to ensure that Aboriginal community organisations can keep up their support, especially in regional and remote communities,” said Mr Harwin.

Read the full release here.

Two images: Aboriginal flag with stethoscope & Dr Vinka Barunga

Image sources: AMA, ABC News – Dr Vinka Barunga.

Growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP numbers to continue

In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools.

That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase.

Read the full story in the RACGP here.

Mortality and tobacco smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander adults

A study just published internationally has followed the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults for nearly 11 years to see the the impact of smoking and quitting. The results are dramatic and stark.

Guest: Prof Tom Calma, National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking

Host: Dr Norman Swan

To listen to the podcast click here.
two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

RACP welcomes landmark day for Australia’s COVID-19 protection response

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says today is a landmark day for Australia’s successful COVID-19 strategy and that Australians should be confident in the Government’s rollout strategy.

RACP President, Professor John Wilson said “Today marks an incredible achievement in our battle against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Australia is in this position today thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers, State and Federal Governments, and the everyday Australians who have been doing the right thing and following the advice of health experts.

“The vaccines being rolled out have gone through rigorous approval processes by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is one of the best regulators of its kind in the world.

“Australians should be confident in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them according to the Government’s roll-out schedule.

Read the full media release here.

gloved hand holding bottle of vaccine, writing with ungloved hand

Image source: BBC News.

NSW – North Ryde – Macquarie University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Macquarie University (North Ryde)

Macquarie University are seeking an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Postdoctoral Researcher with strong qualitative research skills and a background in health. The Postdoctoral Researcher will contribute to all qualitative aspects of the research, including developing focus group/interview templates, recruit expert stakeholders to focus groups, design and run semi-structured interviews, analyse the findings, develop evidence statements and write up the results for dissemination. They will work with communities to design and implement the focus groups and analyse the resulting data. They will also complete a qualitative evaluation of the new EHC approach at each study site.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here.

Applications close Monday 1 March 2021, at 11.55pm

21st International Symposium on Recent Advances in Otitis Media

Virtual meeting to be held on 11 – 12 June 2021.

Free registration! For more information on the symposium click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves to comment on government policy impacts

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on The Drum

NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves

Earlier this week NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke to ABC The Drum about COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines, the Industrial Relations Reform, employment and economy and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations.

Pat Turner also spoke to Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National Drive about the Closing the Gap report and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations Apology.

To view the ABC The Drum program featuring Pat Turner as a panellist click here and to listen to Pat Turner being interviewed on ABC Radio National Drive click here.

portrait of Pat Turner for RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas 13.2.21

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas. 15 February 2021

 

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, ABC The Drum, 15 Feb 2021

Danila Dilba to deliver 26,000 vaccines

In the traditional language of the Larrakia people, “Danila Dilba” refers to the dilly bag used to carry bush medicines. It’s also the name of one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal health services, which is about to undertake the biggest challenge it’s ever faced.

“It’s absolutely unprecedented in terms of scale, logistics and, I would say, importance as well,” said Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at Danila Dilba. Dr Webster is overseeing the mission to inoculate at least 13,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Darwin. They are among Australia’s most susceptible to the dangers of COVID-19.

To view The Aboriginal health service tasked with delivering at least 26,000 COVID-19 vaccines article click here.

Danila Dilba registered nurse Taylor Matthews opening medicines fridge

Registered nurse Taylor Matthews says it will be “very tough” to vaccinate all of Danila Dilba’s clients. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 vaccines common questions and answers

The Australian Government will shortly begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations. While details are still unfolding, you will be able to find the answers to many of your questions in the COVID-19 vaccines common questions factsheet here.

This Q&A document, together with vaccine-related information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, can be accessed via the Australian Government Department of Health’s website.

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) in collaboration with NACCHO have prepared a community engagement kit that has useful information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

To support communication with your stakeholders, networks and communities, a suite of resources have been developed, including:

  • newsletter article content
  • social media content
  • a script for videos
  • an editorial example
  • a poster
  • radio and social media advertising content.

Here is a guide that will provide you with the list of resources that are available in the COVID-19 vaccination community engagement kit.

To download the entire kit of resources click here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health

The EarTrain Program is here

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have much higher rates of middle ear infection compared to other children. The EarTrain program is a response to these statistics. It is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Federal Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

This program is delivered through an interactive online training platform with an option to register for practical skills workshops. During the practical skills workshops, you will learn to develop audiometry skills and use equipment appropriately. For further information about the EarTrain program click here.

Program eligibility – if you are a primary health care professional providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, you are eligible to participate in the EarTrain program. To register to participate click here.EarTrain banner, text deliver by NSW Government TAFE NSW & photo of Aboriginal man, woman & two young girls

Remote GPs urged to update AOD skills

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging more rural and remote GPs to update their skills using the latest research to support patients with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use problems in their communities. Under the $7.9 million initiative funded by the Federal Government the RACGP is delivering the Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program, which is tailored to meet the needs of GPs in all corners of Australia. The program encourages participation from rural and remote GPs and includes essential skills training to provide an update for GPs wanting to improve their approach to conversations about alcohol and other drug use.

To view the RACGP’s media release here.RACGP banner text Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program Training GPs to help people tackle alcohol & other drug use racgp.org.au/AOD, blue background, pills, beer

Trust in government soars during pandemic

It has become accepted wisdom that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen trust in government rise across countries. But by how much? And why should it matter?

To answer these questions, a representative online survey was conducted in Australia and NZ, with a separate sample for WA, in July 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey discovered a dramatic increase in trust in government. Indeed, 80% of Australians and 83% of New Zealanders agreed government was generally trustworthy, up from 49% and 53% respectively in 2009.

Moreover, this level of trust is far higher than found in studies carried out in several other countries.

To view The Conversation’s article Trust in government soars in Australia and NZ during pandemic in full click here.

NZ PM Jacinta Atdern & PM Scott Morrison standing 1.5m apart, both at lecterns, city in the background

Image source: The Conversation.

24/7 support for remote and rural health workers

Remote and rural health workers make a difference to people’s lives every day, supporting those who may be at their lowest ebb, and keeping the communities in which, they live healthy and safe. But who helps the health workers when the stresses of work, and life, become too much?

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line is a 24/7 telephone service offering free psychological support for this critical workforce, and their families. For decades, the service has been a lifeline for those facing personal or work-related challenges while delivering essential health services beyond Australia’s major cities.

With Australia’s remote and rural communities reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters including bushfires, drought and flooding, the provision of easily accessible, meaningful support for health workers has never been more important, says not-for-profit organisation CRANAplus, which provides the Bush Support Line as part of its suite of services for the remote, isolated and rural health workforce.

To view the article 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers in full click here.CRANAPlus banner, text Lend you an ear. Give you a hand. Bush Support LIne 1800 805 391 Available to remote and rural health workers and their families, CRANAPlus logo ' text CRANA plu Improving remote health www.crana.org.au

Grants to develop or grow NDIS services

Not-for-profit organisation, Community Business Bureau (CBB) are offering free consultancy services, for up to five organisations to help them develop a new or grow an existing NDIS service. The grant round is currently open, and applications close at 1:00 PM (ACDT) Friday 26 February 2021.

While applications are open to any organisation that provides or wishes to provide NDIS services – CBB are particularly welcoming applications from:

  • Organisations operating or wanting to operate in rural and remote communities in SA, WA, the NT and Queensland.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

For more information, or to apply click here.

rear view of older Aboriginal woman in wheelchair looking at white clouds against a blue sky

Image source: Power to Persuade website.

Mental health impacted by impaired vision

Dr Peter Sumich, Vice-President of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists and a cataract and refractive surgeon, spoke to newsGP following the release of new research published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Dr Sumich said ‘There is no doubt – and there’s plenty of research to back it up – that people who have cataracts or low vision have more depression, more social isolation, less independence, more falls and fractures and less ability to drive. Those things all work together to play on your mental health.’

Melbourne Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor, the past president of the International Council of Ophthalmology, the Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and previous Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne says GPs should assess visual capability as part of their health checks and that it is a mandatory part of the 715 health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Professor Taylor said it is also imperative that clinicians ensure any patient who has diabetes receives regular eye examinations. ‘For non-Indigenous Australians, that should be an eye exam once every two years, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that needs to be once a year,’ he said.

To view the newsGP article Impaired vision linked to lower mental and physical health in full click here.

Aboriginal woman with poncho in Aboriginal flag colours, walking cane on road with man assisting

Image source: mivision The Ophthalmic Journal website.

Collaboration sought to shape health policy 

The University of Sydney’s Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration (SCHC) is seeking collaborations with various partners to shape policies and practices that could promote people’s health and wellbeing under changing environment and climate. One of SCHC’s focused research areas is Indigenous health promotion. A current SCHC student member is Matilde Petersen – Research Assistant and MPhil candidate at School of Public Health. Matilde is involved in projects on climate change and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a glossary project on climate change and health to promote multisectoral collaborations.

You can access the University of Sydney’s website here for further information about how to get involved.

Aboriginal man conducting controlled grass burn

Image source: Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation – Russell Ord.

The big issues in outback health provision

In a series of webinars called Outback Conversations, members of The Outback Alliance and key stakeholders from diverse sectors have discussed a range of issues and challenges that have been identified following the first outbreak of COVID-19.

During The Outback Alliance Outback Conversations Webinar #2 – Health Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance in the NT (AMSANT) explored questions such as: What have been the big issues in health provision? How has the disruption in supply chains, personnel or internet access impacted remote communities? and How do we continue to protect people in the Outback?

To view the webinar click here.

Outback Conversations webinar tile, red dusty outback image, insert image of woman looking at arm of one of 2 boys sitting on the edge of a ute, text Webinar #2 - Health with Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive Royal Flying Doctor Service, John Paterson, CEO - Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT

Image source: The Outback Alliance website.

Vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’

“The rollout of COVID vaccines has been hastened because of the emergency nature of the pandemic, and that’s led to some vaccine hesitancy which is understandable,” Dr Aquino said. “So the Australian government, and pharmaceutical companies need to effectively communicate why these vaccines are safe, and comparable to any vaccine developed outside of the pandemic. “They need to cut through the misinformation from the anti-vaxxer movement to mitigate the growth of that movement. Because the reality is the way these vaccines have been developed for COVID is still scientifically, evidence-based, and they have to go through a stringent regulatory process. Australia is one of the strictest regulators in the world, which is why we haven’t already started rolling out the vaccine like in other countries.”

To view the Illawarra Mercury article It’s vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’, says UOW bioethicist in full click here.

male health professional holding syringe in front of his face

Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars

The Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research Fund (IHRF) was announced in February 2019 to provide $160 million for research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An Expert Advisory Panel was appointed in September 2019 to provide advice to the Minister for Health on the strategic priorities for research investment through the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel provides their advice on priorities for research investment through the IHRF by developing a Roadmap and Implementation Plan.

The Roadmap is a high level strategic document that includes the aim, vision, goal and priorities for investment for the IHRF. To support the Roadmap, the Implementation Plan outlines the priorities for investment (short, medium and long term), evaluation approaches and measures, supporting activities, and collaborative opportunities. The Roadmap and Implementation Plan are used by the Department of Health to design and implement IHRF investments via Grant Opportunities promoted through GrantConnect.

Consultation has now opened on the Roadmap and Implementation Plan for the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel will host two Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars on 23 and 30 March 2021 where you can provide your feedback.

Aboriginal woman in lab coat with microscope and beakers with yellow blue & red liquidr

Image source: Research Professional News Australia & NZ website.

Collingwood’s challenge is everyone’s challenge

As an Aboriginal doctor, cardiologist, and researcher, Burchill said he is often asked for solutions on how to Close the Gap for Aboriginal health outcomes. Since heart disease is one of the major drivers of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, you might think the solution lies in our interventions – heart pills, stents for blocked coronary arteries, pacemakers, and so on. The truth is that we can only close the gap by preventing heart disease in the first place. That begins with us understanding that health starts in the places we share our lives – our homes, schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods, clubs and communities.

If we apply this lens to Collingwood it becomes clear that systemic racism isn’t only a threat to the culture of an organisation but also for the health of those working within it.

To view Associate Professor Luke Burchill’s paper in full click here.

brick wall mural of Adam Goodes

Footballer Adam Goodes experienced one of the most malignant national displays of systemic racism. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Location negotiable across Australia – TAFE NSW

Teacher Audiometry – EarTrain Program (PT casual) – (Targeted) x multiple positions

The TAFE NSW Digital Team is looking for individuals with current industry experience and knowledge in Audiometry and Ear Health Prevention to join their team on a part time casual basis.

EarTrain is an online training program for primary health care professionals to identify and manage otitis media and other hearing conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The program is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 11:59 PM Monday 22 February 2021.EarTrain program banner, face & shoulders of Aboriginal girl sitting on lounge with headphones & huge smile, text EarTrain & logo - Aboriginal painting of ear, 'Enhance Health Service Delivery'

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – February 2021

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held each year in Australia to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is still the deadliest women’s cancer. Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and three will die from the disease. While there is no exact cause for most ovarian cancers, there are factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, such as increasing age, hereditary and other factors.

The symptoms of Ovarian cancer may include:

  • increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • abdominal or pelvic (lower stomach) pain
  • feeling full after eating a small amount
  • needing to urinate often or urgently

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech at the Ovarian Cancer Australia Teal Ribbon Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament house yesterday can be accessed here. and the joint Minister Greg Hunt and Senator Marise Payne’s media release announcing a further $1 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia can be read in full here.

Ovarian Cancer Australia banner: teal ribbon & text 'Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month & Aboriginal red line drawing of female uterus, fallopian tubes & ovaries, inside a white circle surrounded by purple dots against dark cream background

Image sources: Ovarian Cancer Australia; Graphic from Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre Yerin News, Edition 13, February 2019.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Optimism 13 years on from the Apology

feature tile text 'optimism 13 years on from the Apology' NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills at lecturn

Optimism 13 years on from the Apology

Thirteen years after then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations and set up the closing the gap targets, what needs to change?

Donnella Mills, Chair of the NACCHO, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander power is a key factor in improving health outcomes. Donnella says change is happening, and that when it comes to closing the gap, optimism is ‘in her DNA’. To listen to the radio interview with Donnella Mills on ABC Saturday Morning with Kate O’Toole click here.

rally on 11th anniversary of the National Apology to Stolen Generations in Sydney in 2019

rally on 11th anniversary of the National Apology to Stolen Generations in Sydney in 2019. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls for national memorial & healing centre

The Healing Foundation is calling on the Federal Government to establish a National First Nations Memorial and Centre for Healing in Canberra and a doubling of the core Commonwealth Grant that funds the Healing Foundation’s work to support Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants. In ‘Healing the Nation’ – The Healing Foundation Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22 – the Foundation is also calling for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress the healing of Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impact of intergenerational trauma. 

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said a National Memorial for First Nations people in the nation’s capital is long overdue, “A National First Nations Memorial, which incorporates a Healing Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, would send a strong message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – and all Australians – that the Federal Government is serious about reconciliation and righting past wrongs.”

You can access the Healing Foundation’s Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22 here and view their media release in full here,

image from The Healing Foundation's Intergenerational Trauma Animation silhouette of Aboriginal approx. 40 silhouettes of Aboriginal people with red hearts standing against green country background in shape of a heart

Image from the Healing Foundation’s Intergenerational Trauma Animation.

Still telling stories 13 years on from the Apology

February 13 each year marks the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, who suffered trauma because of past government policies of forced child removal. Many of these removals occurred as the result of laws and policies aimed at assimilating the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population into the predominately white community. Stolen Generations survivors are some of Australia’s most vulnerable people and many have kept their stories and experiences secret for many years, even decades.

One such story comes from Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Julie Black, a 64-year-old Barkindji woman, who was taken from her mother shortly after birth. Aunty Julie’s story is heart breaking and courageous and reminds us that behind the Stolen Generations policies there were people, and children, who are still alive and in need of support. To acknowledge the Apology Anniversary, you can watch Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Julie Black’s story here.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said it is important to commemorate this significant moment in national healing, acknowledging the wrongs of the past, while reflecting on the work that still needs to be done to address the impacts of unresolved trauma, “It’s important that we as a nation provide a safe environment for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories,  and be in charge of their own healing. Assimilation policies that led to the Stolen Generations continued right up until the 1970s and many of those affected by the trauma are still alive today.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release The Healing Foundation continues telling the stories of Stolen Generations survivors 13 years on from the Apology click here.

Aunty Julie Black sitting on lounge with wall covered in photos and Aboriginal art

Barkindji woman Julie Black was taken from her mother shortly after she was born. Image source: Healing Foundation.

A long way from the Stolen Generations

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians issued a media release on Saturday 13 February 2021, a day marking the 13th anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations. Minister Wyatt met with Wiradjuri Elder Isabel Reid, one of the oldest living survivors of the Stolen Generation in January 2021, “Isabel’s story is just one of tens of thousands of children who were forcibly removed between 1910 and 1970 by Australian governments. This is undoubtedly one of the darker chapters in our nation’s story. On this day I reflect upon the words of the Apology – because they serve as an important reminder of the journey we have all walked – a significant moment on the path to reconciliation – an acknowledgment of our shared history – the importance of our contribution to this national story. It is a story that in parts is raw and painful – and it is a story that in other parts shows that our resilience and determination, built up over 65,000 years, lives and grows in strength today.”

To view the Minister Wyatt’s media release click here.

Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Isabel Reid standing against Aboriginal art with words look, learn, listen, respect

Wiradjuir Nation Elder Aunty Isabel Reid. Image source: The Border Mail.

The Apology was only the first step

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle says the 13th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations on 13 February is an historic day for Australia in acknowledging the wrongs of the past, but the impact of child removal on First Nations children and families continues decades on, “In 2008, the Australian government finally said sorry for unjustly removing generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families – breaking up families and communities and leaving a legacy of intergenerational trauma for our peoples. We feel for our families on this day. The stories of the Stolen Generations are something that we all carry with us. They are our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents and our brothers and sisters. The Apology was only the first step in truth telling for our nation. Failures to adequately incorporate First Nations perspectives into policy and to support healing for families continue to impact our communities.”

To view SNAICC’s media release SNAICC Calls on Governments to Commit to Supporting First Nations Children and Families click here.

black and white photo of Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal body paint on face standing in crowd with a sign 'Sorry means you don't do it again', placard in background says 'Always was, Always will be'

Image source: Meanjin Quarterly.

Improving social media health information survey

A research project is being conducted by researchers at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University. The aim of the project is to develop Principles for Health Information on Social Media (PRHISM) to assess and help improve the quality of health-related information provided on social media. The PRHISM team are looking for individuals with experience in media, communications and/or social media who currently work for a health-related organisation to take part. Participation involves completion of three 20 minute online surveys. There will be a two to three week gap between each survey and the total time commitment will be approximately 60 minutes over six to nine weeks.

If you are interested in taking part or would like more information you can register your interest and read more about the study via the following link.

painting of three Aboriginal hands, one with soap, text 'always wash' one with cloth 'always dry' one with clenched fist 'Aboriginal hands'

Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs has teamed up with Illustrator Molly Hunt to create Covid-19 health messaging for First Nations communities. Image source: NITV website.

Closing the Gap reporting

Historically, the Australian Government has released a Closing the Gap report in February to coincide with the anniversary of the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, together with a statement to Parliament. This will change under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which came into effect in July 2020. Under the new Agreement, all parties including the Australian Government must deliver an Implementation Plan on Closing the Gap within 12 months, and report annually on the actions they are taking to achieve the targets. Consistent with the new National Agreement, the Australian Government will release its Closing the Gap Implementation Plan in July 2021 and report annually in the Spring sitting period thereafter.

To view the Minister for Indigenous Australians’ Closing the Gap media release click here.

aboriginal painting of black hand against ochre stripes reaching out to black hand with white border against white and black stripes

Image source: Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris blog.

Close the Gap Campaign refuses to be left wanting

The Close the Gap Campaign looks forward to seeing a comprehensive report on the refreshed targets for Closing the Gap by July 2021. The campaign notes the announcement that the release of the Closing the Gap data has been pushed back to July in order to allow a full reporting year since the signing of the new National Agreement with the Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap. The Close the Gap Campaign expects to see the PM and Minister Wyatt release the data in July, including a full analysis of what governments plan to do to reform and address the ongoing inequality. “While we understand the need for a change in timeframe to allow a year since the signing of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, this cannot be used as an excuse to kick the can down the road,” said Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chairs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO and National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners CEO Karl Briscoe.

To view the Close the Gap Campaign media statement click here.

Kathy Freeman sitting on lawn with yellow green red blue cut out hands on sticks with text 'Close the Gap'

Kathy Freeman. Image source: ANTaR website.

Speaking from the Heart podcast

Why is a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament critical to Australia’s journey towards reconciliation? Will Australia accept the ‘gift’ that is the Uluru Statement from the Heart? And is acknowledging history (and learning from it) an opportunity to build a more inclusive, more truly Australian national identity? On the second episode in a Policy Forum Pod mini-series on Indigenous wellbeing, co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council Pat Anderson AO joins hosts Professor Sharon Bessell and Dr Arnagretta Hunter for a remarkable conversation about healing, history, and having the courage to call for change. Listen here.Asisa & The Pacific Policy Society Policy Form Podcast: Speaking from the heart On healing and History banner, photo of Uluru

Ground-breaking Aboriginal Strategic Framework

Minister for Correctional Services of SA, Vincent Tarzia said in an Australian first, the Department for Correctional Services (DCS) has released a ground-breaking Aboriginal Strategic Framework (ASF) 2020-2025. The ASF is the first of its kind in the nation to encompass the needs of prisoners, offenders, staff and community. It provides a culturally informed and tailored approach to address the needs of Aboriginal prisoners and offenders and ensures that DCS programs, policies and supports are culturally safe. The framework was informed through consultation with prisoners, staff and the community and outlines three components to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people: 1. Ensure access to programs and services that are responsive to the unique cultural and gendered need of Aboriginal prisoners. 2. Build a culturally competent and responsive workforce. 3. Increase Aboriginal economic participation and strengthen partnerships with organisations, businesses and Aboriginal communities.

To view the media release click here.

rings of razer wire fence with Aboriginal flag flying in the background

Image source: The Stringer Independent News.

Unconvincing benefits of minimum alcohol price

NT Shadow Minister for Alcohol Policy, Gerard Maley, says the Gunner Government’s own study shows that total alcohol consumption only dropped in regions where Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) were stationed at bottle shops, and saw no decline in areas PALIs don’t man takeaway liquor outlets, “This data does not support a minimum floor price – this data supports the use of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors. The government’s own report shows areas with Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors had lower total alcohol consumption, and where there were no PALIs there was no drop in consumption. Yet the report states that this success was due to the minimum floor price.”

To view the media release click here.

cask wine bladder lying on footpath

Image source: ABC News website.

Tasmanian festival focuses on bridging the gap

Noi.heen.ner is an event focused on bridging the gap between the Tasmanian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community. The event’s name means ‘in good spirits’. Reconciliation Council Tasmania co-chair Bill Lawson AM said the event was about building curiosity and a warm dialogue about Aboriginal culture in the Tasmanian community, “I think a lot of Tasmanians have been curious for a long time but have been cautious to get involved as they don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. I think things, festivals like this, they’re a safe place for people to come and hear a Welcome to Country, be involved in a smoking ceremony, and realise it’s not all as we think, and that we have things to learn.

To view the Noi.heen.ner marks a ‘good spirited’ connection of cultures article published in The Advocate click here.

Cruze Smart-Pitchford, 12, with Aboriginal body paint & skin skirt painting mother Karen Smart-Pitchford with ochre before a welcome to country ceremony at Noi.heen.ner

Cruze Smart-Pitchford, 12, painting mother Karen Smart-Pitchford with ochre before a welcome to country ceremony at the Noi.heen.ner event. Image source: The Advocate.

Broncos ‘Deadly’ Health Plan for 2021

Brisbane Broncos CEO Paul White and players Kotoni Staggs and Patrick Carrigan, plus club legends and Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Petero Civoniceva have announced the Broncos ‘Deadly’ Health Plan for 2021.

Equipped with the most comprehensive suite of Brisbane Broncos Deadly Choices Health Check shirts ever produced in the 10-year history of its partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service providers from throughout Queensland will be able to maintain strong and essential connections with the people that matter most.

The 2021 Broncos Deadly Choices preventative health campaign, instigated by IUIH, represents a calculated response to the global, COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the empowerment of individuals and families to take control of their own health through the maintenance of regular health checks remains a top priority. “Our Deadly Choices partnership with the Brisbane Broncos has netted some amazing health successes over the last decade and we see the club’s role in the anticipated delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination as an evolutionary shift forward,” said IUIH CEO Adrian Carson.

Indicative of the direct impact Deadly Choices is having in communities, Queensland has the highest number and the highest rate of use (40%) of 715 heath checks of any State or Territory in Australia. This statistic isn’t lost on the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane, Jody Currie who is already excited by the New Year acquisitions, “The Broncos-Deadly Choices partnership provides a very strong community engagement tool to enhance positive health messaging and continue to encourage health checks among Indigenous communities right from right across South East Queensland”.

To view the media alert click here.

Steve Renouf arms crossed in Deadly Choices t-shirt looking side on to the camera

Gunggari and Gubbi Gubbi man Steve Renouf holds the record for the most tries for the Broncos. Image source: Deadly Choices website.

Sexual Health Week

Sexual Health Week, 4–21 February 2021, is an opportunity to celebrate and discuss sexual health in all of its facets, and during this week the WA AIDS Council (WAAC) has shared some advice on how you can make sure you’re looking after your sexual health.

Size is an issue – did you know that 70% of men who do not like wearing condoms are wearing the wrong size? Contrary to popular belief, condoms are not one-size-fits-all. And this small misconception is one of many that get in the way of people being able to have the most fulfilling, healthy and enjoyable sexual life possible. For many people, young and old, they got more of a sex education watching Sex Education on Netflix than in any sex-ed class in school. There is a pervasive thought that you need to pick between pleasure and safety, protection versus orgasm, as if they are opposites when they are very much not.

WAAC has partnered with the Department of Health to provide small grants of up to $1,000 to organisations and services working in regional and remote parts of WA. The grant enables organisations the opportunity to run sexual health programs that they would not have been able to run without funding.

This year they have been able to provide the grant to four organisations, including NACCHO members Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS), who will run a project to increase sexual health testing with young people and increase their knowledge, and Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS) who will travel over 1,200kms around the Mid West to educate young people about sexual health and offer testing services.

To view the full article It’s Sexual Health Week – when did you last check your sexual health? click here.

13 opened unused condoms purple, blue, black, green, pink, yellow, orange

Image source: OUTinPerth.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 kept out of communities came as no surprise

feature tile text 'success of ACCHOs in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities a welcome shockfeature tile text 'success of ACCHOs in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities came as no surprise' Stay Home, Stay Safe, two Aboriginal figures holding a stop sign all painted on a car bonnet

COVID-19 kept out of communities came as no surprise

The latest issue of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) The Health Advocate magazine includes NACCHO CEO Pat Turner’s oration at the 2020 Sidney Sax Award ceremony. Pat Turner said “the success of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has come as a welcome shock to most. Less than 150 Aboriginal people have contracted COVID-19 Australia-wide. Our share of the COVID-19 caseload was 0.5% when our share of the national population is 3.3%. This has been a wonderful achievement.”

“But pandemics are best defeated by community based action and the very ACCHO model itself is fundamentally about community control. It was no surprise to us. And there was too much at stake for us to fail. Look at what happened to the Navajo. They have the highest death rate of any ethnic group in the USA. If the virus had got into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the consequences would have been catastrophic with our levels of comorbidity and social disadvantage. While the press has been calling the pandemic and the measures to combat it ‘unprecedented’, the virus for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is, sadly, a familiar tale. Aboriginal people have been battling pandemics since 1788. The success of the measures put in place by our ACCHOs is well documented.”

To view Pat Turner’s speech published in The Health Advocate February 2021 in full click here.

Ltyentye Apurte No Visitors COVID-19 Community Protection Policy sign on outback dusty road

Image source: The Guardian.

ACCHO launches new outreach dental clinic

A new outreach dental clinic aimed at providing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is set to open in Woy Woy following an increase in community demand. Local Aboriginal health service provider, Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services, will expand its dental program with the launch of the new clinic on Friday, March 5. The Gulgul Yirra Outreach Dental Clinic will be located in Woy Woy Public Hospital and will operate every second Friday.

Yerin CEO, Belinda Field, said the new clinic is the provider’s second on the Coast, following the opening of a flagship dental clinic in Wyong in 2018. “Since opening our first dental clinic in 2018, we’ve seen firsthand the need and demand for culturally appropriate dental services,” Field said. “Our Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong has grown exponentially and is now open five days per week, supporting almost 2,000 patients and delivering over 15,000 treatments annually. We’re thrilled to be able to expand and offer these services in a new location on the southern end of the Central Coast, making them accessible to even more of our community.”

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

5 staff in purple uniforms standing at front of reception desk at Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong

Staff at the Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong. Image source: Coast Community News.

Rough sleeper numbers are back on the up

Australian governments acted to protect homeless people from COVID-19 in 2020 on an even larger scale than previously thought. In the first six months of the pandemic, the four states that launched emergency programs housed more than 40,000 rough sleepers and others. The states were anxious about rough sleepers’ extreme vulnerability to virus infection and the resulting public health risk to the wider community. NSW, Victoria, Queensland and SA acted fast to provide safe temporary housing, mainly in otherwise empty hotels.

To a great extent Australia’s homeless compared to other countries such as England reflects the country’s growing social housing deficit, as well as inadequate rent assistance and other social security benefits. All of these factors are barriers to helping low-income Australians into stable long-term housing. The fundamental flaws in Australia’s housing system have become glaringly exposed by the public health crisis of the pandemic.

To view the article in full click here.

Raymond Ward at Tent City homeless camp in Perth November 2020

Raymond Ward at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. On any given night the homeless camp has been hosting up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people such at Raymond Ward. Image source: Daily Mail Australia.

Youth perspectives on mental health

Indigenous researcher Cammi Murrup-Stewart has completed a PhD thesis investigating the links between Indigenous culture and Indigenous health. “Within the Aboriginal community, concepts such as mental health are more holistic,” she says. “We have this idea that everything is connected, and to be a well person, you need to have these positive connections with your family and community, with your physical body, and also with the land around you, which I think the Australian community is starting to understand a little bit better.”

“A lot of the research comes from a white perspective, and there’s not that much scientific evidence that has been verified by the scientific community that is based on an Aboriginal perspective,” Murrup-Stewart says. Generally speaking, the research she reviewed “definitely devalued the Aboriginal perspectives, and so missed a lot of important findings, or prioritised things that have not resulted in any positive change”.

To view the full article, Mental health and wellbeing: Listening to young Indigenous people in Narrm, published in the Monash University LENS click here.

8 Aboriginal students sitting around an outdoor table with books & water bottles

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

Visual impairment in Australia

Visual impairment is the partial or full loss of sight in one or both eyes. Visual impairment may be the result of disease or injury, may progress over time, and may be permanent or corrected with visual aids (such as glasses) or with surgery. According to self-reported data from the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), the prevalence of self-reported eye or sight problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 38%, affecting about 307,000 people—including about 44,100 who live in Remote areas (30% of the remote Indigenous population). According to the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), an estimated 15,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and over experienced vision impairment and blindness in 2016. The leading causes of vision impairment were uncorrected refractive error (61%), cataract (20%) and diabetic retinopathy (5.2%).

To view the Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Eye health web report click here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

ACCHO CEO furious over rejected prison inquiry

Indigenous and social service advocates are angry and disappointed that a proposed investigation into systemic racism at the Canberra Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) will not take place. Instead, Minister for Corrections Mick Gentleman replaced the Canberra Liberals motion – made on behalf of Indigenous Canberrans – with an amendment to continue a review into the ACT’s high Indigenous incarceration rates.

“I’m furious, to be quite honest,” Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service, said. “But I’m not surprised that the motion was watered down. This Labor-Green Government are progressive on selective issues. Unfortunately, Aboriginal disadvantage isn’t one of them. It reinforces the belief across the Aboriginal community that their issues and concerns are not a priority with this so-called progressive government.” Ms Tongs called the amendment “a cover-up”, and called for Mr Gentleman to resign.

To access the article in full click here and to view a previous Canberra Weekly article regarding the proposed investigation into racism at AMC click here.

portrait image of Julie Tongs OAM CEO Winnunga ACT

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Image source: ABC News website.

Big boost for Victorian health infrastructure

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Victorian hospitals, community health services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) with $320 million in funding to upgrade vital health infrastructure. Minister for Health Martin Foley has announced submissions for the new $200 million Metropolitan Health Infrastructure Fund (MHIF) and the fifth round of the $120 million Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) have opened, ensuring health services across the state can continue to provide world-class healthcare for all Victorians. Established as part of the Victorian Budget 2020–2021, the MHIF will fund construction, remodelling and refurbishment projects, equipment, information and communication technology and other vital upgrade works to meet service demand, and improve safety and infection prevention and control measures at Melbourne’s busiest hospitals and community health services.

To view the Victorian Minister for Health’s media release click here.

: Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Victorian Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), which proclaims its mission of Strong Culture, Thriving Communities.

Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Victorian Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), which proclaims its mission of Strong Culture, Thriving Communities. Image source: Croakey.

Minimum alcohol price curbs problem drinking

The “floor price” for alcohol introduced by the NT in 2018 reduced the consumption of cask wine by half, without significantly impacting sales of other types of alcohol, according to a new analysis of the policy’s effectiveness. On October 1, 2018, the NT introduced a minimum price of A$1.30 per unit (equivalent to 10 grams of pure alcohol or one “standard drink”) on alcohol, in a bid to tackle problem drinking. The price was chosen to target cheap wines that have historically been an issue throughout the NT, while not influencing other liquor types.

Alcohol has been ranked as the most harmful drug in Australian communities, and the greatest harm of all comes from heavy drinking. In Australia an estimated three-quarters of all alcohol is consumed by the top 20% of its heaviest drinkers, a group that the alcohol industry depends on and actively targets, labelling them as super consumers. Nowhere in Australia are the harms of alcohol more stark than in the  NT where alcohol-attributable harm costs the community an estimated A$1.4 billion a year. Alcohol-related deaths in the territory are 2–10 times higher than the national average.

Considering the effectiveness with which this policy has reduced consumption of cask wine in the NT, it is time for other state and territory governments to consider following suit.

To view the article in full click here.

image of bladder of cask wine

Cask wine consumption decreased by half in the year following the NT’s introduction of minimum pricing. Image source: Croakey.

Remote training scheme vacancies

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is a unique Commonwealth-funded Fellowship program offering distance education and training to allow registrars to stay in their rural or remote community and continue to provide vital healthcare services while progressing to Fellowship. It’s not too late to secure a training position with the RVTS for the 2021 intake.  Round 4 Applications are now open, with training to commence in April 2021.

Positions are available nationally, for training in the AMS and Remote training streams. In addition, there are Targeted Recruitment positions available in selected areas of high workforce need across Australia, offering exciting opportunities for GP training and employment.

For more information about the RVTS and to check your eligibility and apply click here. Applications close Sunday 21 February 2021.RVTS Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd logo sun rising on horizon red yellow Aboriginal art vector image

NSW bush’s health battles substantial

A parliamentary inquiry into regional and rural healthcare has received over 700 submissions, highlighting issues such as chronic doctor shortages, a lack of resources and a system that is overstretched. The submissions have revealed harrowing stories, such as a hospital requesting patients bring their own bandages and doctors allegedly trying to mend broken bones over videolink. Wee Waa Chamber of Commerce wrote that a lack of healthcare is “literally killing the town”, and Gunnedah Shire Council said doctors are so overstretched they are essentially “running a crisis medical service.”

A submission by the Riverina Murray Regional Alliance (RMRA), which incorporates the communities of Tumut and Wagga Wagga among others, said it was founded in 2015 in response to the reduction of government services in the area. RMRA held a Healing Forum in 2017 which identified intergenerational trauma as a key issue, with one impact of this being drug and alcohol addiction and its effect on local communities, such as poor physical and mental health, family violence and poor education outcomes. “A need was identified for services to be provided by Aboriginal people to Aboriginal people, to ensure that our communities are connected to them,” the submission reads. “This includes the involvement in Aboriginal people in the design and delivery of services they received.”

To view the full article in the Tumut and Adelong Times click here.

map of Riverina Murray Regional Alliance area & RMRA logo Aboriginal painting of a blue snake against yellow background

Riverina Murray Regional Alliance made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into regional and rural health care.

NSW – Narooma – Katungul ACRH&CS

Dentist x 1 FT or PT – Narooma – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services (KACRHCS) is seeking applications for the role of Dentist to work either Part Time or Full Time. KACRHCS is a not for profit organisation providing culturally attuned, integrated health and community services on the Far South Coast of NSW. Katungul is managed by a CEO reporting to an elected Board of Directors.

The Dentist performs preventative and restorative oral procedures to ensure the highest standards of dental health and dental care for Aboriginal clients. This role includes the provision of culturally appropriate clinical dental care, oversight of laboratory conditions and requirements, and community health promotion and health education activities to improve oral health status.

You can view the job advert here and access the position description here. Applications close 5:00 PM Monday 1 March 2021.Katungul logo black duck flying in front of boomerang shape with orange & yellow Aboriginal dot art, silhouette of man, woman & two chilren, text 'Koori Health In Koori Hands', at bottom of the circle with the duck & 'Katungul' at the top of the circle

National Condom Day – Sunday 14 February 2021

A day that began with an American AIDS support group in the late 1980s, as a way of promoting condom use and safer sex practices, National Condom Day has now become an annual highlight on the Australian sexual health calendar. National Condom Day is an Australia state-wide event and takes place on the 14 February ‘Valentine’s Day’ each year.

It’s is a day where we are reminded that condoms are still the best way to stop the transmission of STI’s and HIV, and also help prevent unplanned pregnancy.

If you’re going to get it on, get it on.

red cardboard with cut out raised hearts bottom half rectangle, black top half of rectangle & image of yellow condom packet in the middle

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

Feature tile text 'NBA star Patty Mills makes hoop dreams a reality with the launch of Australia's first Indigenous Community Basketball League', image of Patty Mills taking a shot at the hoop

Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

NBA star, Patty Mills is providing pathways for young Indigenous talent as a way to give back to the game in Australia. Patty Mills hopes the new league he has launched will give more Indigenous children the chance to not only play basketball at high levels but to achieve better educational and health outcomes. Mills said “Basketball as a sport has brought me happiness, joy, education and a real sense of purpose and perspective. It has changed my world and shaped the person I am today. However, not everyone has had the same opportunities as I have, which is why I’m so dedicated to using my platform, my profile and my voice to develop innovative programs like the Indigenous Basketball Association, which will allow my people to really own their story. I have spent over 10 years in the NBA, an organisation that has not only supported and championed me as an athlete, but celebrated my cultural identity as an Australian, an Indigenous man of the land.”

Yesterday NACCHO Chairperson Donnella Mills gave an address at the opening ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League at the Cairns Basketball Stadium. Donnella addressed the teams gathered saying “I don’t know as much about basketball as you all do, but I can share with you a few observations about health and how important sport is in keeping us all fit and healthy. Playing sport is not just good fun. Sport has a huge impact on a person’s daily life and health. Sport improves your heart function; reduces the risk of diabetes; lowers stress; and improves your wellbeing and strength of mind.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people usually fare pretty badly in the statistics and the press tends to focus on what we can’t do rather than what we can do. You are all living-and-breathing examples of what we can achieve and you should all be proud. In fact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do particularly well in sports statistics. Look at the amazing international career of Patty Mills, it speaks for itself.”

To access the article ‘We’re creating history’: Mills making Indigenous hoop dreams a reality click here, to view the NBA endorses Mills’ Indigenous Basketball Association news item click here, and to read Australian Men’s Health‘s glowing endorsement of Patty Mills’ initiative click here.

Far North Queensland teams sitting in rows on basketball court at opening ceremony of Indigenous Community Basketball League

Far North Queensland teams at the Opening Ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) on Sunday 7 February 2021.

Bill passed to decriminalise public drunkenness

The Victorian Lower House has passed a bill  to decriminalise public drunkenness, 30 years after it was first recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Upper House is expected to vote on the bill in coming weeks and if approved being drunk in a public place will no longer be treated as a criminal offence but rather a health issue, with reforms to be implemented over the next two years.

The move was triggered by the death of 55-year-old Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who was asleep on a V/Line train before she was arrested and taken to the Castlemaine Police Station in 2017. Ms Day was left unattended in a holding cell where she fell and hit her head at least five times, causing traumatic brain injuries which later ended her life.

Ms Day’s death was a haunting reminder of a strikingly similar tragedy that could have been prevented if public drunkenness offences were repealed decades earlier. On a winter afternoon in 1987, Gunai man Arthur Moffatt, 51, boarded a regional train from Moe to Morwell in eastern Victoria after spending the day enjoying a few drinks with friends. During his trip, Mr Moffatt suffered a diabetic hypoglycaemic attack (low blood sugar levels), which was a mixed reaction to the alcohol in his system and a lack of food, according to a federal inquiry into his death. He then fell unconscious and missed his stop but was soon carried off the train and taken by officers to Warragul Police Station where he died hours later in a cell.

Tanya Day with small girl on indoor play equipment

Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day. Image source: ABC News website.

App tackles women’s health risk factors

Associate Professor Gillian Gould and her all-women team comprising Aboriginal researchers, non-Indigenous researchers and experts have secured a $50,000 grant to support development of the MAMA-EMPOWER App. The app provides tailored support for women to tackle risk factors affecting their health. The funding from the NSW Government’s Investing in Women funding program allows for further development of the system designed to address the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal women during preconception or pregnancy.

Associate Professor Gould is based in Coffs Harbour, where she has established a University of Newcastle-affiliated research hub. Team member and University of Newcastle based Research Manager for the project, Dr Nicole Ryan said, “This funding will help in incorporating feedback from local women to not only make it culturally appropriate but to include evidence-based guidance for the individual person.”

The app provides tailored support to women to tackle four risk factors impacting their health – smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and low fruit and vegetable intake. It will incorporate behavioural change techniques such as goal setting and reminders and has an interface that is easy to connect with.

To view the Coffs Coast News of the Area article click here.

Associate Professor Gillian Gould standing on tree lined path

Associate Professor Gillian Gould. Image source: The University of Newcastle Australia.

Making diabetes care culturally safe

Gulumerridjin Traditional Custodian and Karrajarri man Christopher Lee is taking action to support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with Diabetes. Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia, Lee was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2014. “I was diagnosed around 2014 out in Toowoomba. I went in for the Deadly Choices check, then they rang me back and said doctor needs to see you. I rock up and he tells me I have Type 2 Diabetes. I had no idea what it was, was it poor lifestyle choice? Was my upbringing wrong?”

Now, seven years on, Lee has a lot more knowledge around Diabetes but has faced ignorance and adversity. “We are genetically predisposed to getting Diabetes,” he said. “I went through four or five different Aboriginal Medical Services in southeast Queensland. In one of them, the doctor said it was my fault, I had made poor lifestyle choices and brought it on myself.”

Researching on the internet and sifting through resources, it wasn’t until Lee got to yarn with a friend did he find confidence. “It wasn’t until I found a brother that we got to sit and yarn. We spoke about his Type 2 Diabetes and what I needed to know,” he said. “A yarning conversation with someone I respected, someone I trusted, and in a language I understood. From that point, I had a basic understanding and through talking with some fantastic health professionals, I’ve built up the trust to ask why this happens.”

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

Diabetes Australia's Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee standing on an oval with large green trees in the background, wearing black yellow and red t-shirt

Diabetes Australia’s Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee. Image source: NITV website.

1,000s of US marines coming to Darwin

The Australian Department of Defence has confirmed that 2,200 US marines, in batches of 200–500, will arrive in Darwin between now and June this year as part of an annual training rotation. Earlier this year, the use of a Darwin CBD hotel as a quarantine facility for international military arrivals was the subject of significant criticism from health groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

Western NSW Local Health District Board vacancies

The NSW Minister for Health is inviting applications from persons interested in becoming a member of the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) Board

There are a number of vacancies opening up on the board due to the retirement of members. WNSWLHD Board Chair Scott Griffiths explained “The Board is responsible for overseeing an effective governance and risk management framework for the district, setting its strategic directions, ensuring high standards of professional and ethical conduct are maintained, involve providers and the community in decisions that affect them, monitoring the service delivery and financial performance of the district against its targets and holding the chief executive accountable for their performance.”

NCSR release Healthcare Provider portal

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) has released a Healthcare Provider portal and is integrating the Register with Clinical Information Systems. This new functionality creates a new channel for users to interaction with the Register online at a time convenient for them.

In collaboration with the Department of Health, the NCSR is providing a Communications Toolkit to increase awareness of the Healthcare Provider Portal and integration with Clinical Information Systems. NCSR have worked closely with Best Practice and MedicalDirector to develop an API which will be shared with more vendors throughout the year with the intent to integrate with as many vendors as possible. The Best Practice integration recently went live and NCSR are working with MedicalDirector to finalise the necessary steps to integrate.

The toolkit provides links to supporting collateral to assist in raising awareness of the new ways to access and submit data to the NCSR. The supporting assets include:

  • A media release
  • Social media creatives
  • Awareness raising animations
  • Key messages
  • A Healthcare Provider Portal demonstration video (split into chapters)
  • A promotional PowerPoint resource

To access an overview of the NCSR Communications Toolkit – Healthcare Provider Portal and Clinical Software Integration click here.

orange background, text 'Australian Government, National Cancer Screening Register, Healthcare Provider Portal Logging in and your acc, vector image of female & male health professionals

AMA comment’s on draft National Workforce Strategy

The AMA recently provided feedback to the Department of Health on the Draft National Medical Workforce Strategy. The AMA was broadly supportive of the five priority areas and most actions outlined by the Draft Strategy. If executed well in concert with other major health reforms already underway, the Strategy should provide a solid platform to ensure that the medical workforce sustainably meets the changing health needs of Australian communities.

Some key points of the AMA’s response included support for the development of functional and reciprocal links between tertiary, regional and rural hospitals, Aboriginal health services, universities, medical colleges, and regional training providers, and the integration of prevocational and vocational training pathways within these networks as a priority. This will ensure trainees undertaking generalist training have adequate access to relevant terms in larger urban hospitals.

To view the article regarding the AMA’s comments on the draft click here.

banner, text National Medical WOrkforce Strategy, collage of photos, doctor with stethoscope, group of nurses, older couple, Aboriginal woman and young girl, male doctor, farmer

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Transitioning to PHC community control

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) play a critical role in providing culturally appropriate, accessible primary healthcare (PHC) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. The success of many ACCHSs has led to increased policy support for their growth and development, including the transition of state government administered PHC services to Aboriginal community control in select communities. However, there is minimal published literature available which evaluates such transitions. A research paper reports on an evaluation of the experience of one ACCHS (Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service) of transitioning local PHC services to community control in Yarrabah, Queensland, with a focus on the processes and strategies which were implemented to achieve successful transition.

Achieving successful transition to community control of PHC for Gurriny entailed a lengthy process of substantial, ongoing organisational growth and development. Gurriny’s experience provides a framework for both governments and the ACCHS sector to inform future transitions of PHC services to Aboriginal community control.

To view the research article in full click here.

outside shot of Gurriny Yealamucka Primary Health Care Service

Image source: Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Woolies responsibility does not stop at the check-out

feature tile text 'no meaningful dialogue over devastating public health issues Darwin liqour megastore will bring' image of Woolworths logo outside of Woolworths store

Woolies responsibility does not stop at checkout

Peak community organisations AMSANT, NTCOSS and Danila Dilba Health Service have responded to the announcement of the members who will make up the Independent Panel Review, into Endeavour Group’s proposal to develop a Dan Murphy’s retail outlet in Darwin. CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service, Olga Havnen said, “We are aware of the panel, welcome the review and look forward to meeting with the panel. However, our organisations will not be misrepresented by Endeavour Drinks Groups (EDG) purporting extensive consultations by EDG and Woolworths, regarding the Dan Murphy’s development in Darwin. Ultimately Woolworths needs to be held accountable for their lack of genuine engagement to consider the devastating public health issues that will arise from this megastore.”

Similarly CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson said, “If there was a genuine commitment to engaging with peak Aboriginal health bodies and other Aboriginal organisations the Woolworths Group, not EDG, should facilitate a meaningful dialogue. Instead, they have largely ignored the serious health concerns raised and the call to withdraw their application of this megastore in Darwin. This is a refusal by Woolworths to engage on important public health issues and knowingly ignoring the disastrous effects of alcohol in the NT. Danila Dilba, AMSANT and NTCOSS continue to wait for the decision-makers, Woolworths, to adopt an ethical stance and talk to peak health bodies in the NT about putting public health ahead of profits.”

To view the joint AMSANT, NTCOSS and Danila Dilba media statement click here. To view a related article SBS News article  click here.

empty VB cans dry sandy riverbed

Photograph: Time Wimborne/Reuters. Image source: The Guardian.

Katungul community control success stories

Telehealth has been a game changer for Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services (Katungul) on the NSW south coast as it sought to support its community through the devastation of the 2019–20 bushfires and the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid roll-out of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided unexpected and ongoing benefits for clinical staff and patients at Katungul.

For Katungul GP Dr Muhammad Azfar Nor Zaihan these benefits have included a higher patient appointment attendance rate and more time for preventative health, “It’s a huge game changer, especially for rural GPs and rural patients.” At the peak of the pandemic restrictions from March to July 2020 around 80% of Dr Azfar Nor Zaihan’s appointments were by phone telehealth but by December 2020 he was still doing 40% of consultations by phone.

To read the full Croakey article click here.

three Katungul NSW staff in PPE in shooting stance with gloved fingers in shape of pistol

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services staff taking a well-earned break at a mobile COVID-19 clinic at Eden. Image source: Croakey.

Reading between the lines of government data

Commonwealth and state governments collectively spend about A$115 billion annually on health services, but we don’t always know exactly what results we get for the money. Australia’s health system is an accountability black hole, despite exabytes of data being collected from hospitals, medical services and the public. Very often the data collected are simply about how many “things” have been produced — how many hospital bed days or patients treated, how many GP attendances — rather than what result was achieved for the patient, how efficiently and how equitably. And the data can be fragmented and overlapping. It is rarely transformed into useful information the public can understand and use to hold politicians, doctors, and hospitals to account.

The Productivity Commission recently released the health section of its annual Report on Government Services, bringing together a range of data on hospitals, primary care, ambulance services and mental health care in Australia. This report aims to help fill the accountability hole, with information going beyond simply counting activity to include information about quality as well. The idea is that public reporting will prompt governments to improve their health systems.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

stethoscope on top of black & white graph with figures and black columns for stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc.

Image source: HealthStaff Recruitment website.

Vaccine rollout for regional, rural and remote communities

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines into regional, rural and remote communities is a vital part of the Australian Government’s vaccine strategy to protect country people and managing the fight against the virus in the regions. The Australian Government is working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, General Practices, state and territory governments, Primary Health Networks, General Practitioner-led Respiratory Clinics and community pharmacies, to ensure that Australian’s living in regional, rural and remote locations have access to a vaccination if they choose to. To further strengthen  the rollout delivery across Australia, both GP’s and pharmacies have been invited to join the nation-wide effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said it is expected that there will be thousands of sites that will support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia.

To view the related media release click here.

outback road with kangaroo warning road sign

Image source: Pro Bono Australia website.

Benefiting from COVID-19

As part of The University of Sydney Business School’s ‘Thinking outside the box’ series, Dr Alastair Stone said “We should try to take advantage of the worldwide disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to establish new paradigms around what we value beyond pure monetary goals. COVID-19 has exposed imprecision in expressing our value systems with the debate of health vs economy the headline example. A return to all-encompassing political welfare economics could solve the semantic issue but given the many interpretations and adjectives to describe economics and social sciences, it would be better to define more accurately what we value, and build policy around that. It takes large disruptive phenomena like a pandemic (or war, or rebellion) to generate the energy for paradigmatic change. NZ introduced a “well-being budget” in 2019 targeting mental health, child welfare, Indigenous reconciliation, the environment, suicide, and homelessness, alongside traditional measures of productivity and investment.

To access the full article click here.

blue background 6 paper planes going horizontally across the page, one yellow paper plane going vertically

Image source: Forbes website.

Rural health under threat from climate change

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), a peak body representing 44 national organisations in the rural health and wellbeing sector, including health practitioners, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, NACCHO, and the CWA has called on the federal government to take tangible action on climate change, saying inaction has serious consequences for rural health. In a position paper released this week, the NRHA expressed concern that rural, regional and remote communities would bear the brunt of health effects caused by extreme weather events, food security threats, and vector-borne diseases.

NRHA CEO Gabrielle O’Kane said: ‘The paper provides a timely perspective on the trauma and other health impacts rural people experience from the effects of climate change, as well as the cost to society. Climate change is a significant threat to health, and the adverse health risks are generally greater in rural, regional and remote communities where people are already at a disadvantage from unequal access to health care and are more susceptible to poor health outcomes. The Alliance is calling for the inclusion of climate-driven impacts on rural health in all future health planning, as well as research and transition plans to help communities mitigate the short and long-term health effects of climate change.’.

To view the full article in the Echo Netdaily click here.

blue background 6 paper planes going horizontally across the page, one yellow paper plane going vertically

Image source: 10 Deserts Project website.

Making Time for mental health

Australian’s living with a mental illness or mental ill health and their families and carers have said that one thing that has helped them through difficult moments is making time for what matters to them – whether this is time to connect with friends and loved ones, time for themselves, time to talk, time to connect with support and treatment, time to learn something new, time offline, time for a swim or simply time in nature.

Following the difficult year Australians have had in 2020, the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) launched the #MakingTime initiative to build resilience, over the summer period, in Australians who live with mental illness, those who care for them as well as those who experience mental distress. NMHC would love people to contribute their experience via their own social networks using the hashtag #MakingTime and encourage family and friends to really share their personal experiences on the #MakingTime website on what has helped them manage their mental health.

To view the Australian Government National Mental Health Commission media release click here.

Aboriginal woman looking at Aboriginal art in an art gallery

Image source: #MakingTime website.

Building a stronger immunisation register

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says Australia’s vaccination system has been strengthened with the passage of new legislation through the Australian Parliament, making it a requirement for all vaccination providers to report life saving vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). The Australian Immunisation Register is a whole of life, national immunisation register, which records vaccines given to all people in Australia. The AIR includes vaccines given under the National Immunisation Program, through school-based programs and privately, such as for seasonal influenza and vaccines required for travel purposes. Importantly, it will also include COVID-19 vaccinations.

To view the Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

gloved hand holding vial with words Coronavirus vaccine 10 ml

Image source: ABC News website.

Managing diabetic kidney disease webinar

Kidney Health Australia is hosting a health professional webinar Diabetes and Kidney Disease – new information and recommendations at 7:30 PM AEDT Wednesday 10 February 2021. The webinar will be presented by Nephrologist, Dr John Saunders and include discussion around some new information and recommendations for Managing Diabetic Kidney Disease.

To view the webinar flyer click here.  Registration is essential. You can register here.text Kidney Health Education, dark blue background, red kidney shape overlaid with circle photo of gloved hands taking finger prick test

Building Indigenous research capacity

For nearly three decades, Professor Jacinta Elston, an Aboriginal woman from North Queensland and the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Monash University, has worked in higher education, furthering efforts to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia. When awarded an NHMRC Capacity Building Grant, Professor Elston and the team at James Cook University had two goals: to support emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and academic leaders to develop their careers in research and health; and to develop partnerships with Indigenous community-controlled health services. Professor Elston said the “NHMRC funding helped to provide the resources to create a space to share experiences, develop and discuss areas of interests and build a sense of community, as well as allowing us to foster emerging Indigenous researchers into the research community.”

Professor Elston’s project Building Indigenous Research Capacity in Australia has been included in the twelfth edition of the NHMRC’s 10 of the Best, a publication showcasing significant projects that support the improvement of human health.

For further information about the 10 of the Best click here and for a summary of each of the 10 projects click here.

portrait photo Professor Jacinta Elston, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University

Professor Jacinta Elston. Image source: Monash University website.

EOIs sought for HealthInfoNet Advisory Board

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is seeking expressions of interest from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to join its national Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides strategic advice and guidance to the HealthInfoNet Director to ensure that it continues to provide support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce. The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet undertakes knowledge exchange research activities to summarise, synthesise and analyse the available research and other information and make it available to the health sector workforce in ways that are timely, accessible and relevant.

Youth representatives will provide important feedback from a young person’s perspective to guide the strategic and operational activities of the HealthInfoNet.  The youth representatives will join the Advisory Board of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other health experts from throughout Australia.

For further information about the Advisory Board click here and to access the EOI click here. Applications are due by 26 February 2021. banner text Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet goanna & Aboriginal dot painting black grey white yellow pink

Chronic disease prevention survey

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre has developed a range of resources on chronic disease prevention. They is trying to improve the accessibility of their resources on their website and would greatly appreciate your feedback on want does and doesn’t work via a short 5-min survey here.banner text 'The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre Systems and solutions for better health, interwoven green yellow blue flower like symbol

Rising concerns about racism in Australia

The latest Mapping Social Cohesion report by the Scanlon Foundation shows a rising concern about racism in the Australian community. 37% of Australian-born respondents and 59% of Asian-born respondents expressed concern that racism was a growing problem in Australia. Disturbingly, 22% of Chinese Australian respondents reported they had experienced discrimination more often since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising concerns about racism, requires action and consistent leadership. A number of organisations have called on the Federal Government to tackle racism by committing to a national anti-racism strategy. To view an article on the call for a national anti-racism strategy click here.

collage of Australian racism related images e.g. Pauline Hanson, AFL player Adam Goodes lifting shirt pointing to his chest etc.

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous interpreting services available via My Aged Care

My Aged Care can connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to an Indigenous interpreting service to provide aged care information in a person’s preferred language. To access an Indigenous interpreter, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and ask for an interpreter in your client’s preferred language. If an interpreter for the required language is not available at the time of the call, another time will be arranged that suits the client.

To view a short video about My Aged Care click here and for further information about My Aged Care Indigenous interpreting services click here.Australian Government My Aged Care logo blue purple green silhouette of two people with arms reaching out to each other

Vote on Impact 25 Awards

Voting for the Pro Bono Australia 2021 Impact 25 Awards is now open, allowing people to nominate the social sector’s most influential leaders, many of whom may intersect with the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in their work with children and families. A shortlist of 150 people has been created from more than 400 nominations, with each list member recognised for their efforts in creating positive change amid the turbulent events of the past 12 months.

Pro Bono Founder and CEO Karen Mahlab AM encourages the general public to vote, and recognise the work of those who strive to improve the lives of others, “Over the past six years, the Impact 25 Awards have done what they first intended to do: showcase a steady stream of individuals, largely unnamed and largely unacknowledged working in our communities.”

Central Australian Aboriginal Corporation’s CEO Donna Ah Chee is among the 150 people who’ve made the shortlist.

For further information about the Australia 2021 Impact 25 Awards click here. to view the 2021 nominees click here and to cast your vote click here.banner !MPACT 25 Pro Bono Australia' 2021 Awards Recognising Positive Impact Bendigo Bank VOTE NOW! dark blue background & yellow half circle for 'Vote Now!' text

WA – Perth – Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service

People & Culture Manager x 1 FT

The Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (DYHS) was established in 1974 and is the largest Aboriginal community-controlled health service in Perth. Our team of 130+ staff enable the delivery of culturally safe holistic and integrated primary health care services to over 15,000 Aboriginal people across four clinics in the Perth metropolitan region. DYHS has a vacancy for a People & Culture manager to lead the People & Culture Team in the delivery of quality human resource and organisational development processes and services.

To view the advertisement for the position and to apply click here.Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service logo, black swan, silhouette of three Aboriginal people, outline of two Aboriginal hands in wings shape and falling blue circles

 

Papua New Guinea – Port Moresby – Abt Associates – Australia (in association with Ninti One Limited)

Program Support Officer – PNG Australia Transition to Health (PATH Program) x 1 FT (12 month contract, possible extension)

The PNG Australia Transition to Health (PATH) Program is one key way in which Australia is investing in PNG’s security, stability, and prosperity by delivering support to PNG’s health sector. PATH supports locally generated and scaled health systems reform, working in partnership with the Government of PNG on high priority health issues including health security, communicable disease, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal and child health.

PATH looks to attract staff who are committed to this vision, and who are also able to work in collaborative, creative and adaptive ways to contribute to better health outcomes for people in PNG. There is a current vacancy for a Program Support Officer to provide programmatic support to senior members of the PATH Program team  by assisting in operationalising all intermediate outcomes across the PATH program.

This position is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants only.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close Friday 26 February 2021 (Midnight local time).Abt Assoiciates logo, text Abt Associates with red square, grey squares at different angles around the red square & text 'Bold Thinkers Driving Real-World Impact'

Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) Inaugural launch – Sunday 7 February 2021

The Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) starts this Sunday!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills will be speaking at the opening ceremony at the Cairns Basketball Stadium to inspire the players.

Find out more by clicking here.

Aboriginal Basketballer Patty Mills in basketball kit with blurred background of a basketball court & the Indigenous Basketball Australia logo superimposed

NBA star Patty Mills.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations media services trusted sources of health information

microphone in radio broadcasting studio

First Nations media critical to health

The critical importance of First Nations media for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities has been highlighted in submissions to a Senate inquiry into media diversity in Australia. However, the sector is under pressure on multiple fronts, according to a detailed submission by peak body First Nations Media Australia (FNMA), which says operational funding provided by the Federal Government has remained virtually unchanged since 1996 despite numerous reviews urging increased funding for the sector.

The FNMA submission highlights many ways in which First Nations media, including radio, TV, newspapers and online sites, affect the social determinants of health, and says the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the sector’s capacity to deliver timely, relevant information and to address misinformation. “Communities turned to First Nations media services as trusted sources of information, particularly amid conflicting reports shared through social media and other networks,” the submission says.

To view the full Croakey article click here.First Nations Media Australia logo - word plus map of Australia filled with yellow orchre black aqua Aboriginal art circles

Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet

The Bega Gambirringu Health Service, Kalgoorlie (WA) has created a 20 page booklet to support and educate Aboriginal people and communities about tobacco use. The booklet is filled with colourful infographics and photos and contains a wealth of information about: tobacco history; what’s in a cigarette; how smoking makes you sick; health effects of vaping/e-cigarettes; smoking during pregnancy; second-hand smoke; the financial cost of smoking; benefits of quitting smoking; understanding why you smoke and how to quit. You can access a copy of the booklet here.

cover of Tackling Indigenous Smoking Bega Garnbirringu booklet

Cover of Bega Garnbirringu Health Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet.

Game changing heart monitor

With Indigenous Australians 20% more likely to experience heart or circulatory diseases than non-Indigenous people according to the Medical Journal of Australia. The risk is especially evident among younger people, with Indigenous Australians between 30 and 39-years-old over three times as likely to die from heart disease than non-Indigenous Australians.

New devices like the S-Patch Cardio can ease the strain on Aboriginal Medical Services and ACCHOs. S-Patch Cardio, a simple, lightweight, medically proven heart rate diagnostic device is set to be distributed and delivered through a 100% Indigenous-owned company, Supply Aus. Contracts with both Samsung (creators of the S-Patch Cardio) and Sigma Healthcare (a network of independent and franchised pharmacies throughout Australia) will see Supply Aus source and distribute the life-saving device across Australia. Through Sigma, Supply Aus will be able to use National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) members to provide a range of fairly priced health items to Indigenous communities.

To view the article in full click here.red background of graph & white lines of a heart beat

Why birthing on country is important?

NITV Radio have produced a podcast called What is birthing on country and why is it crucial for Aboriginal women? about the role and training of doulas (childbirth companions) in the community as part of the Caring for Mum on Country project.

The podcast features Kerri-Lee Harding from the SBS National Indigenous Television (NITV) Radio program in conversation with Dr Sarah Ireland, midwife and researcher from the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the Charles Darwin University, in the NT and other experts on the Caring for Mum on Country project.

To listen to the podcast click here.

three Aboriginal mums holding their babies sitting on rocks

Smoking Ceremony, Welcoming Waminda Goodjaga’s on Yuin Country. L–R; Gemmah Floyd, Elizabeth Luland, Patricia De Vries and their babies. Image source: Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Senior Australian of the Year

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM from the NT, has been named the Senior Australian of the year for 2021. Dr Ungunmerr Baumann was recognised for her contribution to children’s education, demonstrating an admirable commitment to making Australia a better place. Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said Dr Ungunmerr Baumann had gone above and beyond in her service to education in the Top End. “Miriam-Rose became the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the NT in 1975, and later served as the principal of the Catholic school in her home community,” Minister Colbeck said. “She is a renowned artist and a strong advocate for visual art to be a part of every child’s education.”

To view the Minister Colbeck’s media release click here.

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM receiving the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year award

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year recipient. Image source: Salty Dingo.

Criminal justice approaches prioritising health

Dr Jill Guthrie has been given one of Australia’s highest honours for significant service to Indigenous health, including her work on reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact with the criminal justice system. Dr Guthrie, a descendant of the Wiradjuri people of Western NSW, was one of three academics from The Australian National University (ANU) who have been appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australian honours.

Dr Guthrie’s work has led the way in crafting innovative evidence-based approaches to criminal justice that prioritise the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The epidemiologist recently led a justice reinvestment project in her hometown of Cowra which redirects funds from prisons to holistic initiatives and services to address the causes of offending and keep those at risk of incarceration from coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

To view the full article click here.

image of Dr Jill Guthrie during a panel discussion

Dr Jill Guthrie. Image source: Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Collaboration across health practitioners

As part of delivering holistic healthcare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work with many other health professionals to protect the public, and especially their communities. In the podcast Collaboration across professions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners Tash Miles from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) talks to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and their colleagues about what collaboration across professions looks like and what it means to them, the community, and the potential for the future.

Tash has an insightful discussion with Renee Owen, Program Manager, Aboriginal Health at Barwon Health; Mandy Miller, midwife, Koori Maternity Service, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative; Dr Ed Poliness, GP, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative and Damien Rigney, registered nurse and Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Aboriginal Health Council South Australia. Each guest brings a range of perspectives, centred around a strong connection and acknowledgment of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners in our healthcare system.

To listen to the podcast click here.

Aboriginal mum sitting holding standing young child getting a vaccine by health worker

The North West Hospital and Health Service. Image source: The North West Star.

Lived experience of suicide

The Seedling Group and The Lived Experience Centre, in collaboration with Black Dog Institute have produced a report ‘We are Strong. We are Resilient. But we are Tired’ – voices from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre Yarning Circles. The report aims to present the findings and outcomes from several virtual yarning circles used to explore lived experience and build upon the existing work to better understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lived experience of suicide. Information was gathered to understand: what has helped; how interventions have helped divert a suicide crisis; who was available to help; and what healing has looked like.

To view the report click here.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal rock art hand stencil and Aboriginal hand against the rockhand

Gundjeihmi hand stencil. Image source: Independent Australia website.

NT alcohol policies reduce ICU admissions

Alcohol misuse is a disproportionately large contributor to morbidity and mortality in the NT. A new study, The effect of alcohol policy on intensive care unit admission patterns in Central Australia: A before–after cross-sectional study, examines the effect of a raft of alcohol legislation reforms that came into effect in the NT in 2018, as part of the NT Government’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan. The reforms were based on recommendations from the Riley Review for an integrated alcohol harm reduction framework and included a minimum unit price for alcohol, the introduction of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspection Officers and a Banned Drinkers Register.

The introduction of alcohol harm limitation policies in Central Australia has had a marked effect on critical health figures, with a 38% relative reduction in Hospital Intensive Care Unit admissions associated with alcohol misuse, as well as a marked reduction in trauma admissions.

To view the media release about the study click here and to access the study click here.

mechanical ventilator for patient in hospital

Image source: Scimex website. 

It’s time to heal

As the state begins to emerge from COVID-19, mental health remains our greatest challenge. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria are three times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress. Victoria also has the second highest rate of “high to very high” levels of psychological distress in 39% of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018). We know there is a strong link between trauma and poor mental health.

Amongst the Stolen Generations, 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 plus have poor mental health because of the trauma of removal. This costs us on many levels. Mental health and related conditions have been estimated to be as much as 22% of the health gap (Global Burden of Disease Report 2003). The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic make existing conditions even worse for vulnerable Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the opinion piece in full click here.

painting of Union Jack & Aboriginal flag overlaid with Southern cross stars with cracks throughout painting

Image source: The Standard.

Unchecked misinformation risks vaccine response

A newly formed coalition of health and technology experts is calling on the Australian Parliament to force Big Tech companies to reveal the true extent of COVID-19 misinformation. In a letter sent to the Australian Parliament, the coalition warns unchecked misinformation risks Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. They have called on politicians to introduce a Big Tech ‘Live List’, which details the most popular coronavirus-related material being shared online. The coalition, led by Reset Australia , includes the Immunisation Coalition, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia, Coronavax and the Doherty Institute. “Rampant misinformation on social media is hampering Australia’s COVID-19 efforts and may deter widespread take up of the future vaccine,” said Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia, the local affiliate of the global initiative working to counter digital threats to democracy and society.

To view the Reset Australia media release click here.

drawing of COVID-19 cells & face with cap on head & mask stretched away from the the face with long Pinocchio nose

Image source: Forbes website.

Health scholarships open to regional SA students

Students studying a range of health courses in country SA are being encouraged to apply for scholarships worth up to $20,000. The latest initiative forms part of the SA Health’ 2021 Rural Health Undergraduate Scholarship program. Largely, it seeks to have students working in rural and regional areas of SA and in turn prosper these settings in the long-term.

SA Health’s Rural Support Service executive director Debbie Martin said six undergraduate scholarships. will be available to students who demonstrate a strong commitment to continue their future professional practice in regional areas. “We encourage all year 12 students and new and continuing university students who reside in regional areas to apply for the scholarship,” Ms Martin said. “Scholarship recipients are awarded $5,000 per year for up to four years of their study to help support them while learning.” Successful recipients will be required to work in regional health service settings once graduated, equivalent to the number of years they received funding.

To view the The Times on the Coast article in full click here.

dry SA landscape with sun setting, windmill & sparse vegetation, red dirt

Image source: The Advertiser.

AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarships – last chance

Applications close soon for a scholarship that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students balance work, study and family life. The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship provides $10,000 a year to already enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students for the remainder of their degree. Over the past 27 years, the Scholarship has supported 30 Indigenous medical students, including Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, Professor Kelvin Kong.

The 2020 recipient, Lloyd Diggins, was able to use his scholarship to cut down on his working hours, which were restricting his study time outside of classes and his ability to work on country. Mr Diggins, a Wongi man who grew up on Whadjuk and Wardandi Noongar countries in Western Australia, is a physiotherapist, but decided to retrain as a GP after seeing the needs of remote Aboriginal communities. “The scholarship has also allowed me to learn on country. The way I will think and work as a doctor has been changed by the Elders and local Aboriginal people I’ve been able to care for and learn from.”

To view the AMS media release click here.

Aboriginal medical student holding the strut of a light plane on tarmac in outback

Image source: AMA website.

ICE resource feedback sought

Researchers from the Matilda Centre are seeking feedback on a recently developed resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. This research is being done to learn more about the new Cracks in the Ice online resource developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This resource aims to provide trusted and evidence-based information and resources about crystal methamphetamine to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community!

The survey is open to people who are: aged 18 years or more; currently living in NSW, SA or WA; identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having the option to provide further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a grocery only voucher valued at $50.

For further information on how to provide your feedback click here.

hands lighting an ICE pipe

Image source: The Conversation.

Fully funded data analyst course

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) is an initiative led by the Department of Education Skills and Employment as part of the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package. Indigenous-owned business Goanna Education has been selected by the DSO to trial and test innovative solutions to train and drive employment for junior data analysts. Data Analytics is the science of being able to tell an accurate story from a set of data. It involves the use of powerful tech systems to organise, format, and model data in order to glean useful information.

Goanna Education is looking for Indigenous candidates over 18 years of age who are looking to pursue a career in tech. Applicants don’t need any previous experience. For further information about the 21 week course starting on 1 March 2021 click here.text Career Pathway Support, Goanna Education logo, Aboriginal woman & words Become a Data Analyst

VIC – Melbourne – Children’s Ground

Manager People & Culture x 1 PT (Initial Fixed Term) – Melbourne (possible occasional travel to NT)

Children’s Ground operates in Central Australia and across the Top End, with support provided by a Melbourne-based Shared Services team. With the organisation growing, following a review of the People & Culture function this position will be key to ensuring Children’s Ground recruits and retains staff who deliver on its vision and approach. Children’s Ground has a small People & Culture team working with the Director Children’s Ground Operations to implement the overall People & Culture (P&C) Function. The team includes the Recruitment/Human Resources Coordinator in Central Australia, Volunteer Coordinator (voluntary), P&C volunteers and this new position of Manager of People & Culture.

To view the position description click here. Applications close Monday 15 February 2021.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 one year on, lessons have been learnt?

feature tile 20.1.21 text: COVID-19 one year on, what lessons have been learnt? person in full PPE with graph behind him with increasing graph lines

COVID-19 one year on, lessons learnt

A year ago, Connor Bamford, a Research Fellow, Virology, Queen’s University Belfast, wrote about a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which transpired to be the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of writing, very little was known about the disease and the virus causing it, but Conor Bamford warned of the concern around emerging coronaviruses, citing Sars, Mers and others as important examples. Every day since we continue to learn so much about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, finding new ways to control the pandemic and undoubtedly keep people safer in the decades that will follow.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

Stop the Spread Stay Strong image form SA government Department of Health& AHCSA YouTube video

Image source: SA Government Department of Health YouTube image.

Healing Foundation supports Uluru Statement

As feedback is sought on the second stage of the Indigenous Voice co-design process, The Healing Foundation has reiterated its strong support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said that Stolen Generation survivors and their descendants see all elements of the Uluru Statement – the Constitutional change, the Legislative change, and the Makarrata Commission – as crucial to the process of healing for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Stolen Generations survivors and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community know what they need to heal, and they have been telling governments for years,” Ms Petersen said. “The benefits of healing flow to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and, ultimately, to all Australians.”

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release in full click here.

silhouette of pregnant Aboriginal woman with red heart for herself and baby

Intergenerational Trauma Animation screenshot. The Healing Foundation.

New permanent GP clinic for Katherine

Katherine’s only general practice closed late last year, but the town has now secured a new locally delivered service.

Talking to newsGP in November last year, following the closure of the only general practice in Katherine, NT, RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements said ‘It’s very disheartening and disappointing. The impact on this community can’t be underestimated … So we really must see the relevant agencies … look to see what novel solutions there are.’

Now, along with the local community, hospital and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), Dr Clements is welcoming the announcement of a permanent general practice, Katherine Family Medical Practice, opening in April 2021 saying ‘I am very excited for them [the new practice owners]. What they are doing in terms of linking in the ACCHOs, hospital, Northern Territory Primary Health Network [NT PHN] and Territory Government is excellent, and [they have] a good plan in mind’.

To view the full article in newsGP click here.

extract of a road map with a pin in Katherine

Image source: newsGP.

Decade-long syphilis outbreak needs national response

Australia’s peak medical body is calling for a coordinated national response to bring an end to a syphilis outbreak that has spread through the country for 10 years. The sexually transmitted infection is easily treatable but has been moving through parts of Queensland, the NT, WA and SA since January 2011. It has primarily affected young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote and rural areas, particularly Northern Australia.

More than 3,600 people have been diagnosed since the outbreak began, according to federal Department of Health data. “It was fairly clear that there was a very ineffective response to this very significant disease epidemic across four states, and there was a total lack of coordination from the various states and territories in dealing with it,” the Australian Medical Association’s NT president, Dr Robert Parker, said.

In 2017, a group of state and federal government health officials developed a strategic approach to deal with the outbreak. $21.2 million in federal funding was given to Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to fund extra staff and point-of-care testing until 2021. John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), says the funding is due to expire next month. He’s questioned what that will mean for screening and education programs in remote areas, which he says already need more resourcing. “It’s not enough,” he said. “We need a commitment from the Commonwealth Government to ensure we can get the appropriate ongoing funding.”

To view the article in full click here.

health professional's gloved hands holding cotton ball to finger of Aboriginal person after finger prick blood test

Image source: National Indigenous Television (NITV) website.

NT David and Goliath liquor laws battle

A David and Goliath battle is being waged in the NT as health and social welfare organisations and Indigenous leaders battle business behemoths and the Territory Government over the issuance of new liquor laws. In a reversal of previous policy and decisions, including a five-year moratorium on new liquor licences, the NT Government has given the go ahead to a Dan Murphy’s megastore in Darwin, two new Coles outlets in Palmerston, and takeaway alcohol sales in the Tiwi Islands community of Pirlangimpi.

At stake are, on the one hand, huge social costs from the increased availability of alcohol, especially for Indigenous communities, and on the other hand, the commercial interests of large corporations. There is particular concern for what this new Dan Murphy’s will mean for the three dry Aboriginal communities – Bagot, Kulaluk and Minmarama – that are within walking distance of the proposed megastore in Darwin. Indigenous leaders have led the opposition to it, fearing the health and social consequences.

But alcohol harm is not limited to Indigenous communities. The per capita alcohol consumption of the NT is among the highest in the world, estimated at 11.6 litres of pure alcohol per year, compared to the Australian average of 9.5 litres.. Moreover, while alcohol abuse is a serious problem in impoverished Indigenous communities, research shows that more Indigenous people abstain from booze than non-Indigenous people.

Not surprisingly, the per capita costs and harms of alcohol consumption in the NT have long been the highest in the nation. In 2015–16 the health and social costs for the NT were estimated by the Menzies School of Health Research at $1.4 billion a year, or four times the national average; this included $100 million for healthcare, $58 million for road accidents; $272 million for crime; and $171 million for child protection.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

3 empty Jim Beam bottles, one squashed can etc on side of red dirt road

Image source: ABC News website.

What’s app-ening with your lungs?

Learning about healthy lungs has just become a lot easier for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and health practitioners thanks to an expanded interactive app. The app, produced by the Menzies School of Health Research’s (Menzies) Child Health Division, uses interactive images, audio and quizzes to teach people about various conditions affecting the lungs and is available in eight different languages used in northern and central Australia. Originally released in 2020 with a focus on asthma, the app has been expanded to include other common childhood lung conditions such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia and bronchiectasis.

In Australia, the burden of ill health from acute and chronic lung diseases remains high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Health education that is culturally appropriate is important to reduce language and context barriers to health equity. Menzies senior research fellow and project lead Dr Gabrielle McCallum says that the expanded app is an innovative way to help people access important health information about common lung conditions in their home and at their own pace. “The team evaluated the app with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers and found that knowledge of lung health significantly improved after using the app, particularly how lung conditions are treated,” Dr McCallum said. “Health care professionals also described the app as an innovative and effective method of providing lung education to culturally and linguistically diverse groups.”

To view the Lung Foundation Australia and Menzies School of Health Research media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother's face looking over the shoulder of her child holding iPhone

Image source: National Indigenous Television (NITV) website.

Monsoon rains increase melioidosis risk

Recent monsoonal rains in the Top End have increased the threat of the potentially deadly disease, Melioidosis. There are between 40 and 90 cases of the soil-borne disease reported in the NT each year with the majority diagnosed across the Wet Season between October and May. Dr Vicki Krause, Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health, Top End Health Service said recent heavy rains and the monsoonal weather expected in the coming weeks increased the risk of the disease. “In past years around 10 per cent of infections have been fatal, even with the best medical care. Last season there were 45 cases of Melioidosis and one death in the NT,” she said.

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

bare feet walking across soil

Image source: NT News.

Time to revamp Medicare for 21st Century

The most exhaustive inquiry into the mechanics of Medicare in its 36 years makes a compelling case for extensive reforms that must be commenced now if Australians are to retain access to best available 21st Century health care, according to the Consumers Health Forum (CHF). The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Taskforce has reviewed more than 5,700 Medicare items and made more than 1,400 recommendations “to strengthen, modernise and protect Australia’s world class health system”.  Its final report states it has identified numerous opportunities to improve health outcomes for all Australians into the future.

“CHF welcomes this deep and detailed report An MBS for the 21st Century and its advocacy of consumer-centred health care,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today. “The 1980s Medicare model is being rapidly overtaken by the huge shifts in health care and the escalation of chronic conditions and this report shows why the Government and providers must change in areas such as remuneration to meet consumer needs and make the most of modern medicine.

To view CHF’s media release in full click here.

5 Medicare cards

Image source: Medical Business Services website.

Kimberley women’s antenatal care experiences

The second paper from the Nini Helthiwan Project looking at Kimberley women’s antenatal care experiences Aboriginal women’s experiences of strengths and challenges of antenatal care in the Kimberley: A qualitative study has been published. While the Australian pregnancy care guidelines note the importance of culturally safe care, this is not always assured for Aboriginal women. Studies exploring Aboriginal women’s antenatal care experiences in various locations have identified local strengths and priority areas.

Throughout the Kimberley, 124 Aboriginal women who had accessed antenatal care in 2015–2018 provided qualitative data during the Nini health assessment or standalone interview with an Aboriginal researcher. Most women expressed that overall they had a positive antenatal care experience. Key themes were. The experiences shared by these Kimberley women add to evidence from other parts of Australia, showing a need to improve culturally safe antenatal care for all Aboriginal women. This includes having more local Aboriginal antenatal care providers. There also needs to be more support for the large number of women and their families who need to travel for care.

To view a summary of the project click here. You can access the paper, including a plain language version, via the KAMS research website.

Aboriginal woman;s hands cradling pregnant belly painted with image of baby turtle in the sea

Image source: #LoveBroome.

AMSANT calls Darwin CBD quarantine ‘ludicrous’ 

More than 80 foreign military personnel and their family members staying at a Darwin CBD hotel are being released from quarantine over the next two days, despite concerns from an Aboriginal health group that genomic sequencing on two positive coronavirus cases detected at the hotel last week is yet to be made public. Last Wednesday, a foreign military official and the partner of another official tested positive to COVID-19 at the Darwin Travelodge, where up to 300 foreign military staff and their families were given approval by the NT’s Chief Health Officer to quarantine for 14 days. The decision to allow the cohort to stay at the inner-city hotel, rather than at the government-managed Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is considered Australia’s ‘gold-standard’ for infection control, has previously been labelled as inexplicable..

Earlier this week Associate Professor John Boffa, a spokesperson for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), said it would be a serious mistake to release any of the foreign military personnel before health authorities know which variant of the virus had been recorded within the Travelodge. Dr Boffa added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism from organisations like Danila Dilba and the NT Branch of the Australian Medical Association regarding military personnel quarantining in a CBD hotel rather than Howard Springs. “It’s ludicrous, it makes no sense that this exemption is given. It’s the position of AMSANT and other leading Aboriginal organisations in the NT that this is not good enough,” he said.

To view the article in full click here.

external view of Travelodge Hotels Darwin, front gate closing, Australian soldier standing guard

Image source: ABC News website.

Ways to contain COVID-19 faster

The level of vaccination uptake will be the most important factor in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new position paper by an international consortium of scientists which compared COVID-19 vaccination strategies. The position paper – authored by scientists and health experts from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Complex Systems and the Faculty of Medicine and Health in collaboration with scientists and epidemiologists from India and Europe – emphasises that, given the limited availability of vaccines at the initial stage of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, effective prioritisation and optimal use of vaccination resources will be crucial to contain the pandemic in the near future. “It is not desirable to expose a significant portion of the population to the pathogen in order to acquire herd immunity,” said lead author, Dr Mahendra Piraveenan, who is a senior lecturer in complex systems in the Faculty of Engineering.

To view the University of Sydney’s media release in full click here.

pink and white mini figures with arrows reaching our from central red figure to demonstrate COVID-19 spreading

Image source: MIT News.

Where are all the public health workers?

Significant gaps in the size, training, structure and credentialing of the public health workforce have been exposed as a result of the demands generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This problem has been highlighted by the need to scale up to levels of activity never previously required by a communicable disease outbreak in Australia. However, the demands on the nation’s public health workforce go beyond the management of a communicable disease outbreak alone. With the heavy and growing burden of preventable Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), workforce shortages are perhaps less urgent but just as real. Government capacity should be adjusted in line with this increasing threat and disease burden.

There is a broad scope of practice in public health, from epidemiologists and biostatisticians, through to contact tracers, community health promoters, transmissible disease experts, health economists, environmental health, nutrition and food safety workers, Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses, physicians, policy analysts, policy makers and more. A clearly agreed definition of those to include and exclude remains difficult. One size will not fit all in terms of training needs, employment options and support. There will also be differing demands depending on the extent of workforce and skills shortages.

Current best estimates suggest that about 80 per cent of the public health workforce is employed by government, academia and the not-for-profit sector. What little data we have suggests that the rate of growth of public health professionals currently in the workforce is very low to zero. Certainly, the growth rate of the public health workforce is behind that of most other health professions, and indeed most other professions generally.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

two small Aboriginal boys in traditional dress, one having heart checked & the other having his ear checked by health professionals

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report

The recently released Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing our Rights, Securing our Future 2020 Report holds the voices and stories of over 2,000 First Nations women and girls of all ages, from all across Australia, belonging to hundreds of different ancestral countries. The report carries their incredible strengths, unyielding determination and diverse lived realities. This is not a report for the shelves, it is a landmark report that puts a First Nations female-led plan for change on the table.

To access the report in full click here.cover of 2020 Australia Human Rights Commission Wiyi Yani U Thangani report

Long term Kakadu cancer cluster studies needed 

Aboriginal medical groups are calling on the NT and Federal Governments to fund long term studies into the causes of a cancer cluster and high fetal death rates in the vicinity of the now defunct Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu. A Health Department study into the cancer cluster couldn’t reach any firm conclusions. The groups also want a similar monitoring program extended to other Aboriginal communities near major mines.

An ABC News PM report with Linda Mottram includes comments from John Paterson, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance CEO, Dr Michael Fonda, Public Health Association of Australia, Justin O’Brien, Gunjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation CEO and Dr Hugh Heggie, NT Chief Health Officer.

To listen to the ABC News PM news report click here.

Aboriginal minor leaning on wire fence looking down into open cut mine

Image source: ABC News website.

NT – Darwin – Danila Dilba Health Service

Danila Dilba Health Service (DDHS) is going through a dynamic period of expansion and growth and in order to meet increasing client need, DDHS is looking to fill several vacancies within the operations area. The roles are at the core of DDHS’ services and are critical in ensuring delivery of culturally safe, comprehensive primary health care services.

As part of the DDHS team you’ll contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and be provided with great learning opportunities, given the chance to grow your skills and progress your career.

You’ll IMPACT the community, helping close the gap in Indigenous healthcare and wellbeing, one helping hand at a time.
You’ll be PROUD, both of the work you do and who you work for.
You’ll work with a TEAM, alongside people who are down to earth and truly dedicated to what we do.
You’ll EXPERIENCE and learn something new every day through the variety of your role.
You’ll embrace the OPPORTUNITY to progress your career – follow your path at Danila Dilba.

Head of ICT x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Darwin

Clinic Team Leader x 1 FT – Bagot Clinic – Darwin

General Practitioner (After Hours) x 1 PT – After-Hours Malak Clinic – Darwin

Medical Receptionist x 1 PT (after hours and weekend) – After-Hours Malak Clinic – Darwin

NDIS Support Worker x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Darwin

Finance and Contract Officer x 1 FT – Darwin

Dentist x 1 PT (Fixed Term) – Palmerston – Darwin

Indigenous Outreach Worker x 1 FT – Rapid Creek Clinic – Darwin

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close 1 February 2021.Danila Dilba Health Service logo - turtle, snake with two fish brown, black, white & yellow