NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHOs exemplars of comprehensive primary healthcare

The image in the feature tile is of Uncle Patrick Dodson receiving a COVID-19 vaccination at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAH&CS) Canberra, ACT. Image source: WNAH&CS Facebook page, 6 August 2021.

ACCHOs exemplars of comprehensive primary healthcare

System-wide and comprehensive primary healthcare reform is “needed to bring together an increasingly fragmented system, where the most disadvantaged struggle to get the care they need, when they need it”, according to public health practitioner and Masters of Global Health student Lauren Richardson. In a submission to the Public Health Association of Australia’s Student Think Tank competition, Richardson calls on governments to show strong political commitment and leadership to reduce inequalities in accessing healthcare.

Richardson said Health Ministers face many demands from many competing interests, and this has led to health policy being driven in ways that often are not in the best interests of the community, patients’ and taxpayers. The election of a new Federal Government with a commitment to policy development and implementation brings an opportunity to rewrite the history of health reform and prioritise efforts to increase Australians’ access to comprehensive Primary Health Care (PHC).

So often, Richardson said, reform and public debate is focused on general practice rather than the multi-disciplinary PHC model required to deliver good health care. Whilst GPs deliver the majority of PHC in Australia, comprehensive PHC involves much more than this. According to Richardson the ACCHO sector provides exemplars of good, comprehensive PHC, with Aboriginal communities  successfully initiating and  leading the delivery of holistic, and culturally appropriate PHC through a team-based workforce model. Richardson argues we must focus our attention to good PHC models of care like this and scale up what works.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Seize the opportunity: prioritise comprehensive primary healthcare reform in full click here.

Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (UTHS), Coober Pedy, SA. Image source: UTHS.

Australia’s oldest AMS celebrates 50 years

800 guests joined the Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative (AMS Redfern) to celebrate 50 years (+1 for Covid) of outstanding achievements at a gala dinner at the International Convention & Exhibition Centre (ICC) Darling Harbour on 26 November 2022. The night of celebration was emceed by Walkley Award winning journalist Karla Grant and featured several live acts including, The Donovan Band, Jarrod Hicling, Kebi Kub Dancers ad The Brolga Dance Academy.

Welcome to Country by Gadigal Elder Allen Madden, speeches by the Honourable Linda Burney MP, Aunty Gracelyn Smallwood, Professor Kelvin Kong (Worimi man and the first Aboriginal surgeon in Australia), Aunty Dulcie Flower and also from AMS Redfern Chair Edie Coe, CEO LaVerne Bellear and Director Ricky Lyons traced the organisation’s history and impact.

AMS Redfern pioneered the concept of Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare and was founded to provide healthcare services to the local Aboriginal community. AMS Redfern is underpinned by the principles of self-determination and worked hard to overcome the neglect and racism Aboriginal people were experiencing in mainstream health services.

To view The South Sydney Herald article Australia’s oldest Aboriginal medical service celebrates 50th anniversary in full click here.

A gala dinner at the ICC Darling Harbour in November paid tribute to the Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative for 50 years of outstanding achievement. Photo: AMS Redfern. Image source: The South Sydney Herald.

Thrive by Five welcomes $335m investment

Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative has welcomed the Federal Government’s $334 million investment into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders early childhood education and care (ECEC). The Federal Government says the new programs and extension of existing funding will help 100,000 children across the country.

The investment, which will supplement current Commonwealth and State and Territory funding, will include a range of activities including facilitated playgroups in Alice Springs and SA’s Far West Coast and early childhood education programs in WA’s East Kimberley region. The Federal Government’s $334 million investment will continue until 2025 and is part of a broader commitment to the National Agreement for Closing the Gap.

To view the Minderoo Foundation’s media release Thrive by Five welcomes Federal Government’s $334 million investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Education click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne.

WA Cultural Treasures Award recipients

The WA Clutural Treasures Awards (previously known as the State Living Treasures Awards) were inaugurated in 1998 to honour senior WA artists who have made a lifelong contribution to their art form and their community. The awards acknowledge the ability of recipients to engage, move, involve and entertain audiences and honour the skill, imagination and originality of the artist.

The WA awards were again presented in 2004 and 2015 to honour and celebrate the diversity, talent and richness of a new group of individual artists. A distinguished panel selected recipients based on their exceptional level of artistic skill and dedication to developing their particular art form, their contribution in teaching and collaborating with other artists, as well as a demonstrated long- term involvement in the arts in WA.

The 2022 State Cultural Treasures Awards have seen a new category of community impact being introduced, acknowledging the impact community arts organisations have within their communities and on WA as a whole. Below is a video of one of the eight State Cultural Treasures 2022 award recipients, Jabbir Jabirr and Djugan Kimberley Lawman, Wayne Jowandi Barker, in the Community Impact – Individual category.

To view the Government of WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries article State Cultural Treasures 2022 in full click here.

55 days left for wellbeing budget consultation

The health sector, and particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector with its holistic approach to addressing the cultural and social determinants of health and wellbeing, has much to contribute to Treasury’s consultation on developing Wellbeing Budgets. As of 7 December 2022 Treasury’s website says there are only “56 days left to have your say” on the “Measuring what Matters” framework, outlined in the recent Federal Budget.

The framework is an opportunity to address climate concerns and the social determinants of health, a Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia event was told recently. Melissa Le Mesurier, who MC-d the event, reports below. More than 30 members of CHF recently examined the opportunities and risks posed by the Australian Government’s proposed Wellbeing Budget.

“The forum was designed to help organisations, particularly in the health and social service sectors, shape their submissions to Treasury on how Australia might better measure what matters,” CHF CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny said.“For those countries that already have wellbeing frameworks, the policy areas covered include income, employment, education, environment, personal safety and health. These are all social determinants of health and CHF has been actively involved in policy discussions around each of these issues. Submissions to Treasury close on Thursday 31 January 2023 so there is limited time to consider this important and broad-reaching topic,” Deveny said.

To read the Croakey Health Media article With just 56 days left on wellbeing budget consultation, putting some issues and questions on the radar in full click here.

Image designed by Mitchel Ward, reflecting cultural and social determinants of health and wellbeing. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Amazing race to walk away from smoking

A swarm of people in white shirts could be seen running around Coonamble last Wednesday 30 November 2022, twelve teams took on the Amazing Race challenge as a part of Quit B Fit’s ‘Walking away from Smoking and Vaping’ day. Quit B Fit works in partnership with the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) to reach Close the Gap targets.

More specifically, Quit B Fit focuses on ‘Tackling Indigenous Smoking’, through a series of community health promotion days like the Amazing Race challenge. Australia has been fighting the smoking habit for decades now, and while there is still progress to be made, it’s a battle we’re slowly winning.

In 2021, the Cancer Council found that 38% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are daily smokers, compared to the national average of 11.6%. As concerning as this statistic may seem, it is still a far cry from the 53.1% of Indigenous Australians that smoked in 2002 – that’s a 15% reduction over twenty years! Smoking in Coonamble is also significantly higher than the national average; a study from the University of NSW in 2015 found that 24.5% of Coonamble smoked daily – compared to a national average of 15%.

To view the Western Plains App article Amazing Race to walk away from smoking in full click here.

Kym Lees, Jyo Raman, Elsie Manson and Jess Blattman participated in the Amazing Race. Image source: Coonamble Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Fairfax Media image in the feature tile is from a WAtoday article One-stop-shop youth prison model a ‘failure’ as MP calls for to Banksia Hill to close published on 2 November 2018.

Time to treat sick kids, not punish them

The Policy Impact Program is a partnership between The Winston Churchill Trust and The University of Queensland (UQ). It aims to help Churchill Fellows draw upon the international knowledge they gain on their Fellowships to best inform policy reform in Australia. Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda is the Program’s flagship publication which combines some of the best of the Churchill Fellows’ insights with the policy and governance expertise of UQ’s Centre for Policy Futures.

Professor Thomas Edwin Calma, AO, co-Patron of The Winston Churchill Trust, said: “Policy Futures second issue includes four Churchill Fellow-developed reform agendas that have the potential to not only transform many Indigenous peoples’ lives for the better, but also support Australian Governments to achieve the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap targets.”

One of the four Fellows, Clement Ng, found almost 95% of children in NT detention are Indigenous. Research suggests that effective strategies that improve the mental health of First Nations young people will reduce their criminalisation and in turn, their over-representation. The Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the NT found 56% of children who gave evidence about their experience in youth detention had a history of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation. Further, justice-involved children are more likely to receive more than one mental health diagnosis or suffer from a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance misuse. Unfortunately, the current funding the NT receives for mental health services per capita is the lowest in the country and none of the community mental health services at present have capacity to meet demand.

Policy recommendations from Mr Ng’s research include:

  • Pilot a youth mental health diversion list in the NT.
  • Involve ACCHOs to co-design and deliver holistic community mental health services.

To read The Mandarin article Policy futures: A reform agenda in full click here.

Image source: Orygen Youth Mental Health Policy Briefing 2018.

Leading cause of death for mob – cancer

Jacinta Elston was in her 20s and had just had her first child when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Queensland mother needed surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to fight the disease, and almost 20 years later is cancer-free. She was working as an assistant professor of Indigenous health at James Cook University, which meant she had a good knowledge of the medical system.

She said other members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community may not be as used to dealing with, or even talking about cancer. “I’ve seen family, friends, mob and community who haven’t had the same sort of outcomes I have, ” Elston said. “Cancer hasn’t really been in our vocabulary in the same way that heart disease and diabetes and renal dialysis has been,” she said. “It’s now our leading cause of death.” First Nations Australians are almost one and a half times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The group are more likely to get the disease but less likely to use screening services, like those on offer for bowel or breast cancer, according to Cancer Australia figures from 2015–2019.

To view the 9 News article ‘Cancer hasn’t been in our vocabulary’: Plan to tackle ‘leading cause of death’ for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

Professor Jacinta Elston is working to improve cancer survival in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: 9 NEWS.

Global challenge to find health fixes for Pilbara

The WA government has announced a global challenge in hopes to improve health incomes in remote parts of the Pilbara. Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson announced the newly titled The Challenge last week. The WA government joined partners with corporate investors for a $5 million reward for applicants who are able to provide the best solution to enhance health care in the Pilbara.

Lead by the WA Department of Health, The Challenge seeks submissions from industry, the private sector, public sector agencies, universities, research institutes or collaborations from international organisations. Mr Dawson said the challenge wanted to find a technology solution to improve health outcomes for Pilbara residents.

“This is about improving the health of Western Australians living in rural and remote areas to reduce disease and injury for the community and particularly for remote Aboriginal communities,” he said. “We’re not calling for improvements, or incremental change. We need real change, we need world-leading innovation. We are looking for an outcome which harnesses new technology, deploys digital health to its full potential, and ensures all Western Australians can access the health services they need, and deserve.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article WA Govt sets mutli-million dollar global challenge to find health fixes for remote Pilbara communities in full click here.

WA’s Pilbara. Photo: Oliver Strewe – Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Better care for people living with eating disorders

The Albanese Government is investing $13 million to help mental health professionals and researchers improve treatment outcomes for Australians living with eating disorders. The InsideOut Institute will receive $13 million to fund the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, which was officially launched by the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Emma McBride at the University of Sydney yesterday.

Eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and many Australians often go undiagnosed. The new centre will focus on research to prevent and treat eating disorders, translating these developments into frontline services and co-designing treatments with people with lived experience, their family, and carers.

To view the Minister McBride’s media release Better care for people living with eating disorders in full click here. The below Butterfly Foundation Every BODY is Deadly video was developed to bring greater awareness to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the signs and supports available for people impacted by eating disorders.

Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs is hosting a webinar Social Work Perspectives on FASD at 1:00PM (AEDT) Wednesday 16 November 2022.

In this webinar, social work perspectives on FASD will be explored drawing on evidence from research, practitioner and caregiver studies and experiences. Three presenters will focus on the current situation in NZ. Dr Joanna Chu will identify the knowledge and attitude gaps among social work professionals recently surveyed by researchers from the University of Auckland; Karleen Dove will consider the roles and responsibilities and other key issues for social workers when helping families where FASD is identified as a likely disability for a child; and Professor Anita Gibbs will draw on research and lived experience to discuss best practice from social workers that is neuro-informed, culturally safe, system-wide, attuned to what families want and need, and ensures healthy outcomes for all.

To register for the Social Work Perspectives on FASD webinar click here.

National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference

The National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference 2022 kicks off on Sunday 4 December 2022.

Major topics of the conference include: Treaty, Voice, and Truth-Telling; Native Title and Land Rights; Health justice and justice reinvestment; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the over-representation of children and young people in State systems; the failure of Aboriginal heritage and environmental protection laws; intellectual property rights; and the challenges facing legal aid and access to justice.

Confirmed speakers include: Senator Pat Dobson – Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; Michael Mansell – activist, lawyer, and author of Treaty and Statehood; Donnella Mills – Chair of NACCHO and spokesperson for Health Justice; Pat O’Shane – former Magistrate and activist; Pat Turner AM – CEO of NACCHO and spokesperson for Coalition of Closing the Gap Peak Bodies; Corey Tutt OAM – founder and CEO of @Deadly Science; Leah Cameron – principal of Marrawah Law and Aboriginal expert on Australian Heritage Council; Patricia Adjei – Australia Council of the Arts; Jamie Lowe, CEO of National Native Title Council along with Native Title Senior Counsel, Aboriginal lawyers, serving and retired Magistrates; experts and law students; and legal aid practitioners.

Tickets for the National Indigenous Legal & Health Justice Conference are now on sale here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunities

The image in the feature tile is from the webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher degree by research applicants on The University of Queensland Australia’s website.

2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunities

The 2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunity will provide $27.8 million for Indigenous-led research into health issues of importance to First Nations people.

Funding is from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)’s Indigenous Health Research Fund.

Visit GrantConnect here and the MRFF grant opportunities calendar here for information on MRFF grant opportunities.

Learn more about the MRFF here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at The University of Queensland Poche Centre. Image source: UQ website.

ACCHO doctor named WA GP in Training of the Year

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (DYHSAC)’s Dr Daniel Hunt has been named the 2022 RACGP WA GP in Training of the Year. DYHSAC said they are so proud to have Dr Daniels’ unwavering commitment to DYHSAC’s patients and the community recognised.

Dr Dan works across all Derbarl clinics providing GP services; he has been proactive in the Derbarl COVID care program; providing telehealth services to patients in isolation, outreach COVID vaccinations to homeless and vulnerable patients, has been instrumental in CQI projects including HEP B, Hep B, Syphilis point of care and sexual health and has been a strong GP clinical lead in our SEWB program.

Dr Dan’s excellence in General Practice has been recognised by his peers and now by the RACGP. DYHSAC extended their best wishes to Dr Dan as he progresses to the Australian GP registrar Awards.

To view the DYHSAC Facebook post about Dr Daniel Hunt click here.

Image source: Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page 30 September 2022.

On Country, health and Indigenous knowledges

The world’s annual  CoP climate talks have begun in Egypt. For this year’s COP27, the Australian Government delegation is taking some different messages to previous years – including a stated commitment to featuring Indigenous Knowledges, voices and experiences in their climate change policy platform and the new Climate Change Bill 2022 that was passed in September.

There is a strong and growing body of relevant research on climate change impacts and responses in Australia from First Nations climate researchers and non-Indigenous allies from which evidence-based policy can be drawn. Core to this body of research are the interconnections between climate change, healthy Country and health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities.

Francis Nona, a public health lecturer, registered nurse and Badulaig man from the Torres Strait Islands whose climate change research describes the value of combining western scientific and Indigenous Knowledges says “Scientific knowledge is important, but not more important than what our Elders and ancestors have taught us. We need the two ways of knowing to work together. To adapt to climate change, there needs to be both ways of knowing: using the Torres Strait Knowledges in conjunction with western ways. There needs to be mutual respect on both sides.”

Until recently, the lived experience, Knowledges and  voices of First Nations Peoples had not been sought – let alone incorporated – in climate change discussions. This year for the first time the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 6 included climate data from First Nations Peoples’ Knowledges alongside western scientific data. In Australia, the latest State of the Environment Report included First Nations authors and Knowledges for the first time.

To view the Croakey Health Media article COP27: On Country, health and Indigenous knowledges in full click here.

On the Country of the Warumungu people, Tennant Creek. Photo: Nina Lansbury. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Changes to PIP Indigenous Health Incentive

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

Updates to the Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) aim to improve continuity of care and health outcomes for First Nations people with chronic disease. From Sunday 1 January 2023 changes to the IPIP IHI will come into effect. These changes include:

  • expanded eligibility for outcome payments to include First Nations patients under the age of 15.
  • the addition of GP Mental Health Treatment Plans as eligible items for outcome payments.
  • the introduction of a 12-month rolling window for practices to deliver services, giving them more time to achieve outcome payments.
  • the introduction of a back-ended payment structure.

The updated PIP IHI guidelines outline all the changes and are now available on the Services Australia website here.

For more information you can access the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpages Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive here and Changes to the Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Changes to the PIP IHI webpage.

Health education prior to prison research

Over 65% of people entering prison report risky alcohol or other drug use. Dr Michael Doyle has undertaken research considering whether more effective alcohol and other drug treatment could lead to improved health and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. The research highlights the much higher rates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are imprisoned when compared with other Australians. Noting that most First Nations families are affected in some way.

Taking a sample of both Aboriginal and non-aboriginal men in prison, Doyle investigated where and if they had received health education on alcohol and other drug use harms prior to receiving a session with a trained professional through the criminal justice system.

His research, published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia in May 2022, found no-one had received such education in primary or high school. And only one participant recalled receiving health information through media, and one individual had received treatment through a health service. This occurred serendipitously, by meeting a doctor at an Aboriginal men’s group, and subsequently seeing him.

To read the article Better services for alcohol and other drugs article published on The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health News webpage in full click here.

Dr Michael Doyle. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

National ASD diagnosis guideline to be updated

In 2018, Autism Cooperative Research Centre (Autism CRC) published the National Guidelines for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia, available here. This was the first national autism practice guideline in Australia, and it has led to important changes in the way autism is understood, assessed, and diagnosed in the Australian community.

It is now time to update the Guideline and Autism CRC are inviting all members of the autistic and autism communities to get involved.

There are two immediate ways to contribute to the update:

  1. If you are an autistic person, a family member, and/or a practitioner involved in assessment and diagnosis, you can join a focus group to share your views.
    • Registration closes 5pm AEST – Friday 11 November, 2022.
  2. Anyone can complete an online survey, which will ask for your views about assessment and diagnosis. An option to submit artwork instead of text responses is also available through the online survey.
    • Closes 5pm AEST – Monday 5 December, 2022.

To learn more and get involved, visit the Guideline Update page on the Autism CRC website here.

Medical research and innovation priorities 2022–2024

Following a national consultation the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) has developed medical research and innovation priorities that must be considered by Government when making decisions about funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

AMRAB has developed these priorities concurrently with the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2021–2026 to align with and facilitate the achievement of the Strategy’s vision, aim and strategic objectives. These priorities took effect on 6 November 2022, superseding the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2020-2022, which were in force until 5 November 2022.

The current MRFF priorities are:

  • consumer-driven research
  • research infrastructure and capability
  • translation and commercialisation
  • comparative effectiveness research
  • preventive and public health research
  • primary care research
  • health and medical researcher capacity and capability
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • priority populations
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • global health and health security
  • health impacts from environmental factors
  • data, digital health and artificial intelligence.

You can access the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2022–2024 publication here and the relevant Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpage here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker, who explained the symbolism of her artwork: the gum leaf shape, when upright, can also represent a flame. Inside the leaf is an aerial mapping of the Clarence River, the river is one that connects all people of the Clarence Valley. The dots represent people and the stripes represent the resilience embedded into us as people. The yellow dashes represent the bushfires which have caused havoc in the region, the green represents the replenishing and the new growth of nature. Image source: Monash University article Indigenous knowledge at the heart of planetary health published on the Monash Sustainable Development Institute webpage on 1 July 2022.

Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, is being held from 6–18 November 2022 as the 27th United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the thirty years since, the world has come a long way in the fight against climate change and its negative impacts on our planet; we are now able to better understand the science behind climate change, better assess its impacts, and better develop tools to address its causes and consequences.

Indigenous Peoples have resiliently weathered continued assaults on their sovereignty and rights throughout colonialism and its continuing effects. Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty has been strained by the increasing effects of global environmental change within their territories, including climate change and pollution, and by threats and impositions against their land and water rights.

This continuing strain against sovereignty has prompted a call to action to conceptualise the determinants of planetary health from a perspective that embodies Indigenous-specific methods of knowledge gathering from around the globe. A group of Indigenous scholars, practitioners, land and water defenders, respected Elders, and knowledge-holders came together to define the determinants of planetary health from an Indigenous perspective. Three overarching levels of interconnected determinants, in addition to ten individual-level determinants, were identified as being integral to the health and sustainability of the planet, Mother Earth.

To view The Lancet article The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective in full click here.

Photo: Nicolas Rakotopare. Image source: Threatened Species Recovery Hub website.

SWAMSmob digital health platform wins award

SWAMSmob app, a digital health platform designed specifically for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and their patients is the annual Curtinnovation Awards Faculty of Health Sciences winner. The app enables SWAMS patients to access telehealth and health promotion information 24-hours a day. It provides another way for SWAMS to engage and connect with the Aboriginal residents and promote wellbeing, by enabling GPs and Aboriginal healthcare workers to provide individual or group health consultations.

The app is novel in that it has been programmed for Aboriginal identity and cultural practices as well as health features. For example, the app accommodates ‘men only’ and ‘women only’ spaces. Importantly, the app will also help to increase digital literacy and technology education among Aboriginal users. Overall, the technology helps SWAMS to transform be more prepared for health challenges and to help Close the Gap.

To view the Curtin University article Alzheimer’s discovery crowned overall Curtinnovation winner in full click here.

Ieramaguadu woman uses FASD diagnosis to help mob

For 43-year-old Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson, her diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) opened the door to work and putting smiles on the faces of mob in the Pilbara. After accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) via Mawarnkarra Health Service, Ms Sampson took on the role of an NDIS community connector.

FASD can cause a range of complications to those exposed to alcohol in the womb. For Ms Sampson, difficulties concentrating and being easily distracted have been a factor in life. Now difficulties once endured to find work have shifted to a new confidence in her knack for brightening others’ days, travelling around Ieramagadu, Wickham and Karratha to assist people living with disabilities with their everyday needs and tasks. “I feel very proud of it,” Ms Sampson said. “I really feel that I’ve found my purpose to help others. It was nerve-wracking when I first started, but with love and support, with these guys I found my confidence.

To view the National Indigenous Times article The Roebourne foetal alcohol disorder sufferer turning disability into opportunity for local mob in full click here.

Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson. Image supplied by: Regen Strategic. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Non-Indigenous world views still inform health research

While Indigenous health research is often following guidelines aimed at ensuring Indigenous participation and governance, much of the research is still largely based on non-Indigenous world views, according to Australian researchers. Researchers conducted a survey of about 250 people involved in Indigenous research,to find out how frequently the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethics guidelines for Indigenous health and medical research were being followed. They say while the non-compulsory guidelines were seeing widespread use, Indigenous health research is still largely informed by non-Indigenous world views, led by non-Indigenous people, and undertaken in non-Indigenous organisations.

According to the researchers the fundamental question raised by the survey was “how can Indigenous health research benefit Indigenous people without meaningful oversight and participation by Indigenous people?” The survey findings suggest that barriers to translating the NHMRC guidelines into research practice remain,” they wrote. “These include inadequate levels of education about applying the guidelines, the history of Indigenous health research in Australia, and Indigenous governance and data sovereignty. Most importantly, we found that Indigenous governance and participation was inadequate at each stage of research. Re-orientation and investment are needed to give control of the framing, design, and conduct of Indigenous health research to Indigenous people.”

To view the Medical Journal of Australia media release Indigenous Health Research: governance by Indigenous organisations vital in full click here.

Aboriginal doctor and researcher Professor Alex Brown is leading a five-year $5m project to advance the benefits from Genomic Medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source: John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.

Kimberley urgently needs youth suicide action

A suicide in Fitzroy Crossing has sparked renewed calls for urgent action to address mental health needs among young people in the Kimberley. The recent death came two weeks after an attempted suicide by another young person. Local businessman Patrick Green said the blackout occurred after a young boy who had repeatedly sought medical attention attempted to take his own life.

WA Mental Health Commission’s operations acting deputy commissioner Ann Marie Cunniffe said Fitzroy Crossing Hospital provided 24/7 access to mental health support through drug and alcohol teams, psychiatrists and telehealth services. “Nurses and doctors at Fitzroy Crossing Hospital also work with Aboriginal liaison officers to provide cultural support and ensure care is culturally appropriate,” she said. Ms Cunniffe said the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing Steering Committee has been established to support Aboriginal community-led solutions to improve Aboriginal youth wellbeing.

The Committee facilitates implementation of the 86 recommendations identified in the State Coroner’s 2019 Inquest, among other measures. Ms Cunniffe said Aboriginal-led solutions and cultural understanding and respect were guiding principles of the approach. “The Commission funds regional Community Liaison Officers across the State, including the Kimberley,” she said. “These positions are employed by ACCHOs as they have the strongest understanding of their region, knowledge of appropriate cultural considerations and local issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Youth suicide sparks renewed call for urgent action in the Kimberley in full click here.

Patrick Green, Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Chlamydia prevention and management

14 years on from a call for innovative chlamydia screening programs to reduce the high rates of notifications in Australia at the time, chlamydia remains as the country’s most notified bacterial sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most new chlamydia infections are occurring among young people aged 15–29 years. An important exception is that notification rates appear to be falling in women under 25 years old, for whom chlamydia testing rates have plateaued and positivity among those tested is declining.

In addition to people with female reproductive organs and young people aged 15–29 years, chlamydia is also disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in remote and very remote areas, those with greater socio‐economic disadvantage, and among gay and bisexual men. People who are pregnant are also a priority population, where chlamydia infection is associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, and postpartum infections in the mother and/or newborn. Once treated, an individual may become reinfected, contributing to further potential transmission and increasing the risk of morbidity in the form of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydia remains a significant public health issue in Australia, with the search for novel prevention and management strategies ongoing.

To reduce the burden of disease from chlamydia in Australia, comprehensive follow‐up of cases and contacts to reduce the risk of complications is required. When chlamydia is detected, retesting at 3 months for reinfection and performing thorough partner tracing and management can help interrupt transmission and reduce the risk of reinfection and reproductive complications. Further studies investigating the timing of testing and treatment of chlamydia infections on the progression to reproductive complications will help guide public health strategies to further reduce the burden of chlamydia in Australia.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia article Chlamydia prevention and management in Australia: reducing the burden of disease in full click here.

Chlamydia bacteria. Image source: Medicine Plus website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Get hair this Movember!

The image in the feature tile is a a Twitter post from Kambu Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Health promoting their Movember event held at their Ipswich clinic, Queensland on 27 November 2020.

Get hairy this Movember!

Movember is the leading global charity changing the face of men’s health, focusing on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Since 2003, Movember has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world. Movember has set the goal of reducing the number of men dying prematurely by 25 and halve the number of deaths from prostate and testicular cancer by 2030.

For more information visit the Movember website here. This website includes examples of projects funded by Movember such as (1) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men’s research, a 12 month research grant to conduct research into common mental disorders among Koori Men, and to identify, test and investigate whether treatment for common mental disorders results in an improvement in general health and wellbeing of Koori Men; and (2) Mibbinbah, otherwise known as ‘Men’s Spaces’, an organisation, program and concept that centres on the idea that men require safe spaces within their communities to discuss issues and share experiences. This conceptual basis is similar to that of the Men’s Sheds program.

NACCHO staff participants of the 2022 Movember challenge.

Calls for data after NT alcohol bans lifted

A lobby group has called on the NT to release more data illustrating the extent of the harm caused, since long-term alcohol bans were lifted across dozens of Indigenous communities in July this year. There is particular concern around the level of alcohol-related harm occurring in the Central Australian town of Alice Springs, which serves as a services hub for dozens of surrounding communities.

While the NT government said there had been “no substantial increases” in harm to the community since the Stronger Futures legislation ended, police and other frontline organisations have told a different story about the impact alcohol is having. In the the latest NT Police statistics, there was a 159% jump in assaults involving alcohol in Alice Springs in August 2022, compared to the same period last year.

But the extent of the harm cannot be fully captured without additional data being from the NT government, according to leading alcohol reform lobby group People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC). PAAC spokesperson John Boffa said the number of assaults causing serious harm — broken down by region — was a key data set held by the government.

To view the ABC News article Alcohol data dashboard still in the works after bans lifted, as assaults surge in Alice Springs in full click here.

Dr Boffa wants real-time data on alcohol harm to be made public. Photo: Tobias Hunt, ABC News.

Lowitja Institute Major Grant Round webinar

Lowitja Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Major Grant Round 2022-23 is now open for applications.

The purpose of the Major Grants is to support innovative and responsive community research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is for research to influence policy and practice through the rapid translation of community priorities for improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It will also support the capability and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to do their own research, their way.

Applications are now open and close on Monday 21 November 2022. More information can be found on the Lowitja Institute website here.

Following success of the first Q&A webinar held on Friday 28 October 2022, and with the closing date for applications fast approaching, the Lowitja Institue Research and Knowledge Translation team will be hosting a second webinar to answer any questions community organisations may have with the application process.

The webinar will be hosted on Friday 4 November 2022 at 12.30pm AEDT. You can sign up for the webinar here.

Background image from Bond University website.

Campaign to bust end-of-life services myths

A new campaign placing the spotlight on palliative care services for Indigenous people has been launched by Australia’s health sector. Palliative Care Australia’s (PCA) Federal Government-funded More Than You Think campaign launched in September to prompt conversations and connect people to end-of-life care and support.

Palliative Care Australia chief executive Camilla Rowland said the campaign was challenging misconceptions about the service. “The campaign helps communities tap into the support that is currently available and builds awareness of some to the questions this stage of life can prompt, but our friends in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector tell us that much more needs to be done,” she said. “PCA has engaged with a group of Aboriginal health leaders to create the Palliative Care Yarning Circle to offer advice on existing programs and consider next steps. “It’s important to us that this work is led and shaped by the people it seeks to serve.”

Ms Rowland said cultural sensitivities needed to be understood for culturally appropriate care to be delivered. Complementing the More Than You Think campaign and PCA’s ongoing advocacy is the grassroots work of the Indigenous Program Experience in Palliative Approach (IPEPA), Caring@Home, and the Gwandalan Palliative Care Project.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Palliative Care Australia launches campaign to bust myths about end-of-life services in full click here. The video below is part of the animation series: Demystifying palliative care and dying for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples available on the Palliative Care NSW website here.

Making all equal at front door of health system

Following the outcome of this year’s Federal Election, Health Minister Mark Butler convened the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce (SMT). At its first meeting, the SMT established five focus areas to guide its recommendations to the Australian Minister of Health and Aged Care. The fifth focus area is to provide “universal health care and access for all through health care that is inclusive and reduces disadvantage.”

Providing universal healthcare means every person needs to be equal at the front door of the health system. It is well established that “where you live, how much you earn, whether you have a disability, your access to services and many other factors can affect your health”. These issues are compounded by issues related to funding models, workforce capacity and workforce distribution.

Planning true universal health care requires recognition of the health issues facing our most marginalised members of society. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) states that: Overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from areas of socioeconomic disadvantage, people in rural and remote locations, and people with disability experience more health disadvantages than other Australians. These disadvantages can include higher rates of illness and shorter life expectancy. Further, the AIHW reports that While many aspects of Indigenous health have improved, challenges still exist. Indigenous Australians have a shorter life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians and are at least twice as likely to rate their health as fair or poor.

To view the article The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce: Making everyone equal at the front door of the health system in full click here.

Image source: STAT+.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed annually in November and highlights the need for more research to be conducted while cultivating a better understanding of the disease. This is an important time of the year, that brings the community together to help provide awareness, and to inform and educate people on the signs and symptoms of the disease. It is the fifth most common cancer in Australia, with around 12,000 Australians diagnosed each year. In 2015, 11,788 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in Australia, this equates to nearly 9% of all cancers that were diagnosed that year. In 2016, 8410 deaths were caused by lung cancer in Australia.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report Cancer in Australia 2021 lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the leading cause of cancer-related mortality. If lung cancer is found at an earlier stage, there is more chance of a better outcome. It’s important to know the symptoms of lung cancer as although lung cancer occurs mostly in people aged 60 and over, it can affect people of any age. New and constantly evolving treatments such as immunotherapy are likely to continue to improve outcomes for people affected by lung cancer.

You can find more information about lung cancer on the Lung Foundation Australia website here.

Image source: MNA Group Limited website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

We’re just 5 days away from our long awaited NACCHO Members’ Conference, NACCHO Youth Conference, EGM and AGM!

Today we are delighted to announce the theme for this year’s conference – Honour the Past, Prepare for the Future.

NACCHO is proud to have a membership of 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations with over 50 years of cultural expertise, knowledge and capability in the delivery of comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our sector has led the way in responding to the many challenges faced over the last three years and have demonstrated that we are an integral part of the health architecture in Australia. The Conference is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate the resilience and success of our sector. It is a success worth celebrating and honouring as we prepare for the future.

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

NACCHO also wishes to acknowledge the generous support from our wonderful sponsors who helped make #NACCHOConference22 happen!

We can’t wait to network with you all next week at the NACCHO Youth and NACCHO Members’ Conferences on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country (Canberra).

Mob experience higher rates of obesity

Population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse
communities (CALD) experience health inequity and resulting disparities in disease rates. These include higher rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases. A paper in the Sax Institute journal, Public Health Research & Practice brings together three perspectives by researchers in the fields of Indigenous health, disability and CALD health to examine how overweight and obesity impact these populations in Australia and to put forward ways of addressing the problem.

The authors urge investment in research co-designed with people from each of these communities and with lived experience of obesity to build valuable knowledge about what preventive actions and interventions will work to reduce obesity rates. They call for evidence-based, tailored obesity prevention programs to address these historical disparities and improve health outcomes among some of Australia’s disadvantaged populations.

One of the three perspectives examined in the paper is the inequities in the treatment of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The author, Ray Kelly from the University of Melbourne finds:

  • Obesity is increasing in Indigenous people and is now up to 45% of that population
  • There is very little Indigenous input into Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Adopting traditional dietary lifestyle could help Indigenous people lose weight
  • Far more research involving Indigenous people needs to be done in this area.

To view the Public Health Research & Practice (a journal of the Sax Institute) article Inequities in obesity: Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, and disability perspectives in full click here.

Image source: NAAFA website.

Information vacuum around miscarriage

Miscarriage Australia is a first of its kind website that uses medically proven facts to help patients, and it’s been far too long in the making. The information vacuum around miscarriage, combined with the desperation of the grief-stricken, is the perfect breeding ground for misinformation and fertile soil for superstition. And that is why the development and launch of a new website, the first of its kind in Australia dedicated solely to evidence-based, medically-proven information and research, will be an absolute asset for patients in this space. It has been far too long in coming.

The team behind the Miscarriage Australia website comprises academics and clinicians. The site includes information for women, men, LGBTIQ+, friends or family of those affected. You’ll find details on what comprises a miscarriage, why someone miscarries, types of miscarriage and so on. There are referrals to support services. And crucially, there is information and support for medical practitioners working in this space or any other who are likely to come into contact with pregnancy loss patients. The information is fact-checked and the site is managed by the Miscarriage Australia research team, co-led by Bilardi and Temple-Smith, and an expert advisory committee.

You can access the new Miscarriage Australia website here.

To view The Guardian article After my miscarriage, it was hard to find reliable online support for an issue shrouded in silence – that’s about to change in full click here.

Image source: Miscarriage Australia website.

Pathology drones for remote Qld patients

Drones could be used to fly patient pathology samples from Moreton Bay island communities to Brisbane testing labs as early as next year. Yesterday Brisbane’s Mater Hospital announced a partnership program with drone company Swoop Aero that will see a fleet of drones used to shuttle patient pathology samples from areas across Moreton Bay to the hospital’s testing labs at Springfield in Ipswich.

Mater Pathology general manager Deb Hornsby said the initiative was an “Australian first” and would slash waiting times for test results, particularly blood samples and COVID-19 swabs. “It is a game-changer, it will take pathology services to a different level – we’re the first pathology service in Australia to offer this,” Ms Hornsby said. “Right now, we are reliant on ferry terminals and courier pick ups to get samples back to Mater for testing from Stradbroke Island and the other islands. Depending on ferry services, it can take up to six hours. Pathology is a time-sensitive service … turnaround times are really critical to get those results back to GPs and specialists.” She said a 45-minute drive would now become a 15-minute flight.

To read the ABC News article Drones set to transport Mater Hospital pathology samples across south-east Queensland in ‘Australian first’ in full click here.

Swoop Aero pathology drone. Image source: DroneDJ.

Rural GP shortage sees patients turned away

After the departure of a local doctor, a Quirindi aged care will have to turn residents away, threatening the centre’s viability. In a bid to entice a new doctor to urgently fill a vacancy, a NSW town is offering three months free rent, with an ongoing rent cap, in a bid to save its community-run aged acre home, Eloura. The doctor who has left treated a quarter of its aged care residents, and the current medical practices are not taking new patients due to high demand. Without a replacement, the community-built aged care centre will have to turn away new residents, unless they already have access to a GP.

Walhallow Aboriginal Health Corporation, based in Quirindi, has three GPs and two registrars, who are split between the three towns of Coledale, Caroona, and Quirindi. The practice manager, Eileen Goode, said that they did not just need another doctor, they needed “probably another four”. Walhallow has been seeing whoever they can, whenever they can, but still could not keep up with demand. We have a lot of phone calls from non-registered patients saying ‘Can we come and see you? We can’t get into a doctor, our doctor’s not here any more – can you help us?’” Goode said.

“Unfortunately, a lot of those people we’ve actually had to turn away because we’re servicing around 5,000. One of the worst feelings in the world,” Goode says, “is turning someone away, sending them to a hospital who also doesn’t have a doctor.” Goode’s experience means she understands the leap it takes to move to the bush, and that dealing with a backlog of patients in a rural practice meant that GPs could quickly burn out.

To view The Guardian article NSW town offering free rent to attract a GP so aged care home can avoid BYO doctor policy in full click here.

View of Quirindi, NSW. Image source: Aussie Towns website.

WA E-cigarette ban proposal

The WA Cancer Council is leading a push to “revitalise tobacco control” in the state by proposing halving the number of retailers and banning the sale of e-cigarettes, among other measures. The organisation, which is proposing to halve smoking rates in the state by 2030, launched its plan at a two-day symposium of health workers and experts in Perth this week. WA Cancer Council president Ruth Shean said tobacco control in WA had benefited greatly from a strong commitment by the state government.

“However, there are more than 200,000 West Australians still smoking,” Dr Shean said. “Our goal is to halve smoking rates in WA by 2030, but it requires all tiers of government to work together to implement an evidence-based, comprehensive approach.” The WA organisation wants to ban the sale and advertising of e-cigarette devices and components and prohibit vaping in places where cigarette smoking is banned.

Samuel Stubbs, a tackling Indigenous smoking coordinator at the WA Aboriginal Health Council, supported the call to ban e-cigarettes. He said his organisation was seeing a troubling number of young people using the smoking devices. “It’s huge. It’s just taking off,” Mr Stubbs said. “That’s probably the biggest thing we’re facing at the moment, with a lot of questions being asked from community groups, schools — how we can come in and help educate the youth about the effects that e-cigarettes have.”

To view the ABC News article E-cigarette ban proposed as WA Cancer Council aims to halve smoking rates by 2030 in full click here.

WA Aboriginal Health Council’s Samuel Stubbs says vaping has taken off among his community. Photo: Alicia Bridges, ABC Radio Perth.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

World Sight Day 2022

The aim of World Sight Day 2022 tomorrow Thursday 13 October 2022 is to focus the world’s attention on the importance of eye care.​ The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has confirmed it will continue the World Sight Day 2021 theme of Love Your Eyes for this year. The theme stresses the need for awareness about our eye health and the need for taking care of our eyesight. For this purpose, we must get our eyes tested and encourage those we know to go for it, as well.

As per data from IAPB people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. Out of these, 39 million are completely blind while 246 others have moderate to severe visual impairment. Most of these people (approx 90%) reside in low-income countries. However, 80% of visual impairment is avoidable, given that they are readily treatable or preventable. However, there is much that needs to be done to provide eye care facilty to each and every person in need of it. Spreading awareness of the eye related problems including blindness and vision impairment can help a lot in making eye care accessible to all. The World Health Organisation has identified eye health as critical to achieving its Sustainable Development Goals.

To find out more about World Sight Day 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NTRAI extended for two years

The image in the feature tile is of the remote community of Yarralin, west of Katherine, has received 25 new homes since 2016. Photo: Hamish Harty. Image source: ABC News article NT pleads with Canberra to pay for new homes on Aboriginal homelands, plays catch-up on remote housing targets, published on 4 October 2021.

NTRAI extended for two years

The Australian and NT Governments have signed the two-year extension to the National Partnership on NT Remote Aboriginal Investment (NTRAI). The agreement provides an additional $173.2 million for health, education, community safety, Aboriginal interpreter services in remote NT communities and ensures continuity for 400 jobs.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) will contribute to overseeing the extension agreement, reflecting the knowledge, expertise and lived experience of Aboriginal people living in remote parts of the NT to inform future funding options.

During the extension period, the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Department of Health and Aged Care will work in partnership with APO NT and the NT Government to design options for future investment in remote Aboriginal communities, giving life to the priority reforms identified in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

To read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release NTRAI extended for two years click here.

Bonnie Camphoo lives in a tent just outside of Tennant Creek. Photo: Jane Bardon, ABC News.

Recommendation to continue MUP on alcohol

Health and community organisations have welcomed  a new report released by the NT Government, which recommends that the minimum unit price (MUP) on alcohol be continued. An MUP on alcohol was implemented across the Territory in 2018, which resulted in a standard drink of alcohol not being sold for under $1.30.

In 2018 the NT Government introduced a comprehensive package of reforms to prevent and reduce alcohol harms. The report: Evaluation of Minimum Unit Price of Alcohol in the NT, released this week by the NT Government, shows that there have been significant reductions of alcohol harms since the introduction of these reforms. This includes:

  • Significant reductions of alcohol-related assaults
  • Declines in the number of alcohol-related emergency department presentations per capita
  • Decreases in alcohol-related road crashes across many parts of the Territory
  • Large declines in child protection substantiations
  • Strong decreases in the wholesale supply of cask wine.

“A comprehensive approach is needed to prevent and reduce the harms caused by alcohol. This report shows the need to stay the course on these reforms as a foundation to prioritising the health and wellbeing of Territorians,” said Dr John Paterson, CEO of The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

To read the joint media release Health and community organisations welcome recommendation to continue minimum unit price in the NT in full click here.

Photo: Jane Gibson. Image source: ABC News.

Mental health tech a gamechanger

Games can power good: that’s the message from this year’s Melbourne International Games Week. Featuring games designed to promote social impact in areas like mental health and community services, the week is a reflection of how games can touch our lives. One of the projects on show was the Biik Bilik (meaning ‘my place’ in Wurundjeri language) an animated game designed to help start conversations on important social issues in Aboriginal communities.

Biik Bilik was born out of a partnership between Dandenong and District Aboriginal Cooperative and social enterprise the Institute of Games, which developed the Streets of My Town social impact game platform. Streets of My Town is designed for young people and educates them about the support services available in their local community. It functions as a platform that can be tailored to different organisations and communities depending on their location and need.

Founder and CEO Steven Dupon, a social worker, wanted to find a way to appeal to young people on sensitive and tricky topics. “We had this idea to give that information as part of the game so young people would have fun while they’re learning about some of those more challenging things that could happen in their life,” he explained.

To read the Pro Bono Australia article Gamechangers: mental health tech on show at games week in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Orange Door helps families in crisis

After years of campaigning, a centre to help families in crisis has arrived in a regional city where family violence is ranked as the most reported crime. The Orange Door network connects people who need help with child protection, domestic violence, and child wellbeing with service providers in the community.

“We know that Horsham’s most reported crime is family violence and family violence is in the top five most reported crimes in other LGAs around our area such as Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and Northern Grampians,” Kara Johnson, a team leader at Orange Door Wimmera said. “It just proves that there are people in this area that need that support.”

Ms Johnson said since its doors opened, the centre in Horsham has received one to two walk-in cases a day, compared to most other rural centres which receive one to two walk-ins a week. Most people had been referred to Orange Door from neighbouring hubs and partner agencies like Uniting Wimmera, Grampians Community Health and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative.

To view the ABC News article Long-awaited Orange Door arrives to the Wimmera to help tackle family violence in full click here.

The new centre will reduce the need for Indigenous women fleeing family violence to leave their country. Photo: Alexander Darling, Wimmera ABC.

$6.9m for BBVSTI research

Three major projects, focusing on reducing stigma, community-led models and assessment of people living with chronic hepatitis B, have received funding. UNSW Sydney researchers from the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) and The Kirby Institute have been awarded more than $6.9 million over four years, in grants through the federal government’s Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Research Program.

Director of the CSRH Scientia Professor Carla Treloar has received $3.6 million, Kirby Institute epidemiologist Dr Skye McGregor has been awarded $1.65 million, and UNSW Scientia Fellow and Program Head, Therapeutic Research and Vaccine Program at the Kirby Institute, Professor Gail Matthews has received $1.63 million.

Scientia Professor Vlado Perkovic, Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health congratulated the researchers, and said the grants would lead to better outcomes for patients and more personalised approaches to treatments. “These projects are an exciting development in STI and BBV health policy and practice research and offer hope for people affected by, living with or at risk of blood-borne viruses and STIs in Australia,” he said.

To read the University of NSW article UNSW researchers receive $6.9m for blood borne virus and STI research full click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Supporting recovery from addiction

For Daniel Wilson, support from his family, a sense of connection and community, and the strength of his ancestors were key to leading him out of heroin addiction two decades ago and into his work now at Melbourne’s Odyssey House treatment centre. A senior alcohol and other drugs (AOD) clinician and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural advisor, he told the recent Rethink Addiction national convention about his experience of addiction, of using heroin “nearly up to the point that it killed me”.

Wilson was speaking in a lived experience session of the conference that highlighted the need for better treatment and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with alcohol, other drugs and gambling addictions. Each of the speakers talked about the importance of family, of safe spaces, and the need to connect to culture and community. They also described the role of trauma in addiction, particularly for the Stolen Generations and their descendants, and new generations now being impacted by escalating rates and risks of child removal.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Culture and community: supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in recovery from addiction in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Building back after the floods

Building back smarter from floods is about more than infrastructure. As Australia is finding out, improvements to healthcare are key to the solution. In the aftermath of the devastating floods that hit eastern Australia in early 2022, affected residents were left with serious questions about the country’s resilience to intensifying extreme weather events and the institutions tasked with mopping up afterwards.  It is a matter of when, not if, the next destructive flood hits — and lives depend on strengthening the long-term resilience of health and social services across the country.

The 2022 floods across areas of NSW and SE Queensland brought death, housing and infrastructure damage, and disruptions to healthcare and other important services.  But the visible, immediate effects that make the headlines are only a fraction of the overall health burden of floods. People affected by floods can experience long-lasting mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The problem is even more pronounced for vulnerable groups with existing health inequalities, such as people with disabilities, First Nations people, and socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

To read the article After the flood written by Veronica Matthews, who heads the Centre for Research Excellence, an Indigenous-led collaboration strengthening systems to improve primary health care and the social and cultural determinants of wellbeing, in full click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How do GPs practice cultural humility?

The image in the feature tile is of GP Dr Simon Quilty with a patient. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source: ABC News article Specialist on-country healthcare improving outcomes in remote Aboriginal communities, 1 December 2018.

How do GPs practice cultural humility?

Developing professional cultural humility is a ‘key strategy’ to help address health inequalities in Australia, according to researchers from the University of Melbourne. Defined as ‘a shift from the mastering of understanding other cultures, to an approach of personal accountability in advocating against the systemic barriers that impact marginalised groups’, cultural humility is also ‘positively associated’ with improved health outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients.

It is why researchers, including RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price, are asking practitioners to take part in a new project focused on assessing cultural humility in Australian GPs. The research will see GPs participate in a 10–15-minute online survey about their interactions with patients of different cultural backgrounds, experience in cultural humility training and their interest in further training in this area.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, a descendant of the Yankunytjatjara and Narungga Nations people and the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor – the first Aboriginal person to be appointed the role, says cultural humility is an ‘essential attribute’ for GPs. ‘For me, cultural humility is about understanding myself, my values, my affinities and biases, my attitudes and behaviours and how these effect the people around me,’ Dr O’Donoghue said.

To read the RACGP newsGP article How do GPs practice cultural humility? in full click here.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue. Image source: SBS NITV Radio.

Culturally safe birthing for the Cape

Women in western Cape York’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be able to give birth closer to home, thanks to a birthing project led by Weipa rural generalist obstetrician Dr Riley Savage. The Weipa Birthing Unit is set to open soon, with the completion of capital works due this month, September 2022. The unit’s central feature is the Palm Cockatoo Midwifery Group Practice.

‘I’m so incredibly proud of the service we have produced – a women-centred midwifery group practice model of care, focusing on collaboration, community engagement and cultural safety,’ Dr Savage says. ‘Bringing birthing services to Weipa is such important work. It is delivering maternity services to families who would otherwise have to leave their hometown for six weeks or more in order to have their babies, at great financial and psychological cost.’

The 2009 James Cook University (JCU) graduate, who has an advanced skill in obstetrics and gynaecology, was inspired to become a rural generalist while on fifth-year placement on Thursday Island. ‘I was starstruck by the rural generalists there, who were masters of so many disciplines, from critical care in the emergency department to primary care in beautiful island communities,’ Dr Savage says.

To view the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article Culturally safe birthing for Cape in full click here.

NSW government responds to ice inquiry

The NSW Government has finally issued its response to a landmark report on ice addiction more than two years since it was handed down, and less than a month after the state’s peak legal organisations condemned cabinet’s failure to implement urgent reforms. On 21 September, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a half-a-billion-dollar investment to deliver health and justice reforms as part of the Government’s final response to the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice. “Ice can ruin lives and have devastating impacts on families and communities. This funding will provide relief, help and hope for thousands of people across NSW,” Perrottet said.

The Law Society of NSW also pushed for the Government to partner with Aboriginal communities to urgently develop and significantly increase the availability of local specialist drug treatment services that are culturally respectful, culturally competent and culturally safe. “Aboriginal people are a priority population in relation to the investment that the NSW Government is making in a range of new programs and activities to increase the availability of specialist drug treatment,” the Government’s response read.

“Funding will support new treatment services, including withdrawal management, substance use in pregnancy and parenting services, rehabilitation and community-based support. There will also be targeted workforce development activities such as increasing the Aboriginal Health/Nursing Workforce, introducing traineeships, and skills development.”

To view the Law Society Journal Online article NSW Government unveils response to ice inquiry in full click here.

Image source: NSW Crime Stoppers.

Helping dads help their partners

For health professionals working to improve the perinatal mental health of women in rural communities, supporting dads is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, recent research into the antenatal psychosocial risk status of Australian women found that over 95% of respondents in the study said they would seek emotional support from their intimate partner. Reported rates for seeking support from health professionals, including GPs, did not exceed 55%.

Clearly, it would be a lost opportunity not to include fathers in efforts to help women who may experience mental health distress in the perinatal period. SMS4dads is a free service that all health professionals supporting women in the perinatal period should be aware of. SMS4dads helps fathers understand and connect with their baby and partner through free text messages that provide information, tips and encouragement. Dads can join from 12 weeks into a pregnancy and throughout the first year of parenthood.

Once enrolled, dads receive three messages a week to help them understand and connect with their baby and support their partner. The messages are brief and some have links to more information or other services. When enrolling, dads enter the expected date of delivery or bub’s birth date, so the texts are linked to the developmental stage of the baby. Some messages provide tips and encouragement. Others are health-related with information on looking after their baby or being mindful of their own health and ways to support their partner.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article Helping dads help their partners full click here.

Revised ITC Program for Western NSW

The new year will bring changes to local Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) in Western NSW following extensive reviews, with a revised Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program designed to improve the capacity of local services. The ITC is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents living with a chronic disease, and has been delivered by Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation since 2016.

Following a 2021 review, the redesigned program will change hands on January 1, changing how Coonamble, Gilgandra, Brewarrina, Walgett, Condobolin and Bourke implement ITC. CEO of Coonamble, Dubbo and Gilgandra AMSs, Phil Naden, has welcomed the funding from Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) for the ITC Program. “I’m looking forward to a strengthened approach in working with WNSW PHN and I’m keen to commence the project in our locations to service Aboriginal Clients in the region.”

To view the Western Plains App article Local AMSs receive funding to broaden services in full click here.

Phillip Naden, CEO of Coonamble and Dubbo AMS. Image source: AH&MRC website.

Advocating for mental health services for youth

Hayley Pymont is using the hundreds of kilometres she is clocking up on the NSW South Coast in preparation for the New York Marathon to build a new purpose for herself and help improve the mental health of others. The 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, who grew up on Dharawal land is one of the young people selected for the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) for 2022, which was founded by Australian champion runner Robert de Castella.

The program also asks participants to undertake further education and complete a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion. Pymont is putting her energy into building mental health resilience. “I struggled at school with bullying growing up,” she said.” Through the program, Pymont is reaching out to community organisations to urge them to provide more support to young people. “We need organisations out there and services to open their doors for everyone and to let people in regardless of how severe their mental health is,” she said.

To read the ABC News article Hayley Pymont aiming for place in New York Marathon to create positive ‘ripple effect’ for bullying support in full click here.

Hayley Pymont hopes to draw attention to the need for better mental health support services for young people. Photo: Billy Cooper, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

International Day of Sign Languages

The International Day of Sign Languages is a unique opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. During the 2022 celebration of the International Day of Sign Languages, the world will once again highlight the unity generated by our sign languages. Deaf communities, governments and civil society organisations maintain their collective efforts – hand in hand – in fostering, promoting and recognising national sign languages as part of their countries’ vibrant and diverse linguistic landscapes.

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.

For more information you can access the United Nations webpage International Day of Sign Languages 23 September here. You can also access a related ABC News article Aboriginal sign languages have been used for thousands of years here.

Michael Ganambarr showing the sign for “fruit bat”. Photo: David Hancock. Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How poor housing affects health

The image in the feature tile is of Shannon Urban is camping in a derelict building with no power and water connected while he waits for new houses to be built. Photo: Che Chorley. Image source: ABC News article Feeling again forgotten at a federal election, remote voters lament empty promises to close the gap, 5 May 2022.

How poor housing affects health

The housing crisis is currently a hot-button issue making headlines Australia-wide. But it’s been endemic in Central Australia for decades. A chronic shortage of available housing in remote Indigenous communities has significant consequences, with unintended household crowding ultimately contributing to the poor health of residents.

University of Queensland anthropologist and architect Professor Paul Memmott has been visiting the Barkly region in the centre of the NT for decades. He’s part of a multi-disciplinary team of five UQ researchers who collaborated with local medical service, Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, to examine the link between housing and health for Indigenous people living on remote Country. The resulting study, Pilyii Papulu Purrakaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness), won a UQ Research Partnerships and Translation Award (RPAT) on Friday (16 September 2022) last week.

“We co-designed a research project to investigate the relationship between housing, crowding and infectious diseases,” Professor Memmott said. “But importantly, it also collated an evidence base to advocate for change.”

To view The University of Queensland Australia article How housing affects health on remote Country click here.

Tin houses on the outskirts of Tennant Creek, NT, that are used informally as spillover accommodation. Image source: The University of Queensland Australia UQ News webpage.

Far North research to treat tuberculosis

A breakthrough treatment for tuberculosis and ways to prevent dementia were unveiled last week at the Cairns Hospital annual research and innovation symposium. The annual event featured more than 40 presentations from the Far North Queensland medical and allied health research community. The symposium heard about research into harnessing the power of immune cells for treating tuberculosis (TB), one of the world’s deadliest diseases, causing more than 1.5 million deaths a year.

Doctor Saparna Pai, from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, said his team had discovered immune cells called Q+ cells, which could help fight TB. TB risk is low in Queensland, but it’s frequently reported in Papua New Guinea and health authorities are concerned about potential spread through Torres Strait to mainland Australia.

To view the Tropic Now article Far North research to treat tuberculosis and prevent dementia click here. Note, a more detailed article on preventing dementia was published in the in the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander News on 16 September 2022 , available here.

Cairns Hospital. Image source: Tropic Now.

Strong Women for Healthy Country meet

Over 200 Aboriginal women have convened on Eastern Arrernte Country to finalise a 4 year effort in designing an NT wide network aimed at supporting each other in the face of urgent issues impacting their communities. The Strong Women for Healthy Country (SWHC) Forum takes place this week at Ross River where women caring for Country across the NT will continue driving the network.

The forum has once again drawn hundreds of women to make the journey from over 30 remote towns and communities, to continue to build a strategy to realise their vision. “We are strong Indigenous women of the NT. We stand united as one strong voice. We commit to a network that gives equal power to the rights of all our women. Strong Women means Healthy Country.” (SWHC Vision Statement). The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network, with the support of Mimal Land Management, was initiated by women involved in ranger programs, who quickly invited Aboriginal healers, artists, and community workers to join the conversation.

To view the SWHC Network media release NT’s First Nations women take their futures into their own hands in full click here.

2021 Strong Women for Healthy Country Forum. Image source: Indigenous Carbon Industry Network website.

Group A Streptococcus molecular POC testing

A research article Roadmap to incorporating group A Streptococcus molecular point‐of‐care testing for remote Australia: a key activity to eliminate rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has been published today in the Medical Journal of Australia. Strep A Point Of Care Testing (POCT) is a critical element in preventing acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and will contribute to the elimination of RHD in Australia.

Group A β‐haemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep A) most commonly causes superficial infections of the throat (pharyngitis) and skin (impetigo). In Australia, one‐third of primary school aged children have an episode of pharyngitis each year, with Strep A identified in about 20% of children with symptomatic pharyngitis and 10% of asymptomatic children. Superficial Strep A infections are the sole precursor of ARF and RHD. The burden of ARF and RHD in remote Australian communities is high and disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with the reported mortality rates of RHD in Aboriginal populations are among the highest worldwide. This is despite ARF and RHD being preventable through the early treatment of Strep A. I

Given the increasing pipeline of POCT and momentum to expand decentralised testing across Australia, evaluations are urgently needed to determine the population benefits, health service impacts and costs associated with integrated multi‐pathogen POCT. These will ensure that adequate frameworks including workforce planning and funding models are in place to support further scale up. The infrastructure, rationale and need for Strep A molecular POCT in remote Australia, where prevention of ARF has the highest economic and societal benefit, is crucial.

To view the article in full click here.

Group A Streptococcus. Image source: Microbiologics Blog webpage.

Mental health, substance use, reincarceration

New research shows that people released from prison who sought help for their mental health or substance use problems were more likely to end up back in prison, prompting calls for an overhaul of the system to allow quicker and more consistent support. The study, published in the Journal PLOS ONE, examined the link between contact with mental health and substance use treatment services and reincarceration rates among 1,115 adults released from prisons in Queensland, Australia.

Lead researcher Professor Stuart Kinner, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said despite widespread belief that access to substance use treatment and community mental health services after release from prison can reduce reincarceration rates, this study actually found the opposite. “Globally, more than 11 million people are incarcerated on any given day, and many of these individuals experience significant mental health and substance use issues. In our study, we found that more than half of the people released from prison had been diagnosed with a mental illness or a substance use disorder, and 21% had been diagnosed with both,” Professor Kinner said.

“In Australia, more than 60,000 people are released from prison each year and the incarceration rate is increasing rapidly. Almost one in two people released from prison is back in custody within two years. “Although you might expect that treating substance use and mental health issues would result in better outcomes, our study found that people who accessed these services after release from prison were actually more likely to be reincarcerated.”

To view the Curtin University article Inadequate post-release support drives up reincarceration rates: study click here.

Photo: Jono Searle, AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Aboriginal SEWB Scholarships Program

Over five years, $5.6 million will be invested to support the Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program which provide training courses and professional development opportunities for Aboriginal people who wish to work in the mental health sector. The state government said the program provided more than a dozen scholarships for students attending RMIT and Deakin Universities in semester one this year. “A mental health and wellbeing system that provides culturally safe and inclusive care ensures the best possible support for every Victorian with mental illness,” mental health and treaty and first peoples minister Gabrielle Williams said.

“Our dedicated mental health workers are the backbone of our reformed mental health system – supporting them through study and work is the best way to support every Victorian that needs help.” The program also allows our mental health services to learn from trainees about Aboriginal culture and gain knowledge and perspective, so they can develop more holistic and well-informed supports and care programs for all Victorians.

To view the Star Weekly article Funding for Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Practitioner Stevie-Lee Ryan with a client. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Dementia Action Week 19–25 Sep 2022

Dementia impacts close to half a million Australians and almost 1.6 million Australians are involved in their care. The number of people living with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years. With so many people impacted now and into the future, it is vital we clear up some of the prevailing misconceptions about dementia. People living with dementia can live active and fulfilling lives many years after diagnosis. Despite this, they often experience discrimination. In a Dementia Australia survey, more than 70% of people believed discrimination towards people with dementia is common or very common.

The concept for Dementia Action Week was developed in consultation with Dementia Advocates, who have a lived experience of dementia. The ‘A little support makes a big difference‘ campaign demonstrates that many people living with dementia can continue to live well for many years after their diagnosis. In 2021, the focus was also on supporting and celebrating carers of people living with dementia.

Dementia Australia has a range of resources for: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, available here, Aboriginal workers, available here, and Aboriginal health workers, available here.

For more information about Dementia Action Week 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: QLD health service delivery needs overhaul

The image in the feature tile is of the entrance to Doomadgee’s hospital emergency department. The photo is from an NCA NewsWire article Teenager given ‘shut-up pill’ before death, 7 March 2022.

QLD health service delivery needs overhaul

Speaking earlier this week at the the inquest of three young Indigenous women from Doomadgee who died with rheumatic heart disease between 2019–2020, Queensland health chief operating officer David Rosengren told the Queensland coroner health service in the town was too complicated. Gidgee operates branches across Queensland’s north-west and works with Doomadgee Hospital and the State’s health service, which the inquest heard could confuse patients on where to go for help. Earlier this week former Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman said she faced significant barriers during her time in Doomadgee.

The coroner heard those roadblocks included gaining ACCHO accreditation, recruiting, securing premises for operation and a fractured relationship with the local state hospital. Similar concerns had been echoed by witnesses during the week. The court heard difficulties obtaining medical notes between services complicated the treatment of one of the women at the centre of the inquest in the months leading up to her death.

Ms Blackman’s said Gidgee used a seperate platform for lodging patient records to the state hospital leading to constraints accessing information. The court heard a laptop was provided to the hospital for access to Gidgee’s notes when needed. But evidence presented to the coroner suggested there was a strained relationship between the two providers which may have affected collaboration. Ms Blackman said without a positive relationship people “will fall through the cracks”.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Ex-health boss backs inquest calls to overhaul fractured QLD Aboriginal health service delivery in full click here.

Former Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NACCHO leads environmental health workshop

A team from NACCHO had an awesome time last week in Darwin for the 13th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference 2022 (NATSIEH). The team hosted an Aboriginal-led workshop to identify longstanding issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health and new solutions through Closing the Gap.

This marked the beginning of NACCHO’s consultation for a National Strategic Roadmap on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Environmental Health Workforce with the NACCHO team excited to continue working closely with experts of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health sector.

For more information about the NATSIEH Conference 2022 click here.

NACCHO presentation at 13th NATSIEH Conference in Darwin, 5-8 September 2022.

ACCHOs consulted over RHD program

NACCHO held a meeting in Darwin last week with the first group of ACCHOs receiving funding through their new RHD program. This was a great opportunity to come together to discuss the program and hear from the participating ACCHOs and all the awesome work they are doing in community.

Organisations that attended included:

  • Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS)
  • Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
  • Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
  • Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
  • Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation

as well the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) and Gurriny Yealamucka (Good Healing) Health Services Aboriginal Corporation who  as joined the meeting online.

ACCHO representatives who met with NACCHO staff in Darwin to discuss their participation in an RHD program.

Homelessness linked to vulnerability clustering

Poverty and discrimination are key issues tipping Indigenous Australians into homelessness, but a lack of funding, affordable housing and crisis accommodation remain bigger problems, a new report has found. Research by the University of SAhas revealed the homelessness rate for Aboriginal Australians is 10 times that of other people.

It found that dispossession of land, racism, profound economic disadvantage and cultural oppression continue to shape the lived experience of many Indigenous communities. And it identified poor literacy, education, criminal histories, domestic violence and lack of sustained tenancies as leading to a “revolving door” of homelessness among Aboriginal people in cities.

“Homelessness among Indigenous people arises from a clustering of vulnerabilities that easily spiral out of control,” the authors said in the report, commissioned by the Australian Housing and Urban Institute.

To view the Inverell Times article Funding call for Aboriginal housing in full click here.

Poverty and discrimination are key issues tipping Indigenous Australians into homelessness. Photo: Dan Peled, AAP . Image source: The Inverell Times.

Better drug treatment needed in Far West NSW

During a visit to Broken Hill on 14 September 2022, the President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat said the remote area needs an alternative approach to making its community safer. She told ABC local radio “I was keen to get out here and particularly to some of the other regions that are further away from Sydney to just see what is going on and to really listen to some of the practitioners … to see what they’re facing in terms of their daily practice.”

Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows rates across multiple offence categories in Broken Hill sit at two and three times the state average. “With illicit-drug offences in Broken Hill in the year to March 2022 at about double the state average, and bail breaches at almost three times the average NSW rate, it’s clear that current approaches are not working,” van der Plaat said.

President of the Far West Law Society Eric Craney said establishing health and culturally safe treatment services for drug and alcohol use in Broken Hill would be a major step in helping to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. “Additionally, the Government should extend the Dubbo Aboriginal Bail Pilot across regional areas including Broken Hill, to reduce the incidents of technical bail breaches that cause no safety risk to the community, but that can result in unnecessary incarceration of vulnerable defendants,” Mr Craney said.

To view the NSW Law Society Journal online article Calls for better drug treatment and rehabilitation in NSW’s far west in full click here.

Image source: Australian Journal of General Practice.

Dementia cases could be prevented

More than half of Indigenous dementia cases in far north Queensland could be prevented after scientists identified a series of risk factors linked to the condition. The James Cook University study found 11 risk factors contribute to up to 52% of dementia cases in its sample population. “Dementia is an emerging health issue among Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples in Far North Queensland,” lead researcher Fintan Thompson said.

“We thought it likely that historically recent exposure to modifiable risk factors was contributing, and that a large proportion of dementia could potentially be reduced or delayed.” Analysing health data from more than 370 First Nations people in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula, the research team identified risk factors that could be modified. “The most important dementia risk factors are already public health priorities in this population. Risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and smoking were important contributors, which is somewhat similar to other populations,” the report said.

The study suggests rates of dementia could decline if these risk factors were reduced at a population level. The study also shows dementia risks in the Torres Strait region may be comparatively less certain. “Risks, such as social isolation and heavy alcohol consumption, contributed less to dementia in the Torres Strait region, which is great news,” Mr Thompson said.

To view the Pilbara News article Scope to lessen Indigenous dementia: study in full click here.

A study has found more than half of dementia cases in the Torres Strait region could be avoidable. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, AAP. Image source: Perth Now.

 

Youth held in police watch houses to sue

Three young people are taking on the Queensland government with a legal case claiming their human rights were breached when they were locked up in police watch houses. An anti-discrimination and human rights legal challenge is currently before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

The police cells are meant for some of the state’s worst criminals, including adults accused of murder or sexual abuse. Katie Acheson, the outgoing CEO of the Youth Advocacy Centre, believes the case will shine a light on the practice which she believes should end. “It should be a wake-up to the Queensland government and the Queensland population,” she said. “I think many of us don’t realise that there are children right now in an adult watch house. “They’re scared and alone and they’re children and we have a responsibility to take care of them and not be further traumatising them.”

One organisation is trying to keep kids out of custody. Five nights a week the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane outreach team, lead by Pita Taimani, head to areas where at-risk young people like to hang out. They check on their safety and offer them a lift home before there’s any trouble. “We see that there’s a need to support young people that are in the CBD, where they’re not in the eyes of the police, not getting into the watch house,” Pita Taimani said. Mr Taimani’s team also offers crucial support to young people, like access to health care and vocational education.

To view the ABC News article Young people taking legal action against Queensland government after being held in watch houses in full click here.

Pita Taimani’s outreach team is focused on keeping at-risk youth out of police custody. Photo: Michael Atkin, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.