NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert: @AMAPresident releases its vision for the future – Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone has released its vision for the future of primary health care and general practice in post-COVID Australia – Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform.

General practice is the cornerstone of successful primary health care and the foundation of Australia’s world-class healthcare system.

However, despite agreeing with the rhetoric of the importance of properly funded general practice, successive Governments have overseen a rate of investment in general practice that has not matched the increase in the cost of providing high-quality patient care.

The AMA 10-Year Framework identifies immediate funding goals to ease the financial pressures on general practice, and long-term reforms that should be implemented as part of the Federal Government’s 10-year Primary Health Care Plan.”

Download the AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform HERE

Read over 50 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and AMA articles published over the past 8 years HERE

“Government spending on GP services is about $391 per person annually, down from $395 in 2017–2018.

The Australian population is growing, ageing, and developing more complex health needs as chronic disease and mental ill-health continue to increase. General practice funding models must change to meet the needs of the community.

COVID-19 has highlighted the under-funding of general practice for decades. Large financial incentives were needed to keep many practices viable.

Teleheath – an innovation that the AMA has long advocated for – was implemented in the midst of the pandemic to assist access and connection of patients with their usual GP at this time of critical challenge.

The AMA is calling for Federal Government spending on general practice services to be increased to at least a mandated 16 per cent of total health spending as part of a range of reforms to support general practice and improve access to GP care for all patients.

The AMA has made four key recommendations:

  • Primary care reforms to build on the existing GP-led model of primary health care, which deliver high-quality, cost-effective outcomes for patients;
  • The Government to work closely with the AMA and medical profession to develop and implement a suitable funding model to enable the transformation of general practice into a medical home;
  • General practice to be adequately funded to reach its full potential and meet the increasingly complex healthcare needs of the community, involving a mandated 16 per cent of total health spending; and
  • Continued investment in long-term strategies to ensure a sustainable medical workforce.

NACCHO welcomes the new AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid and Vice President, Dr Chris Moy.

The election of Dr Khorshid and Dr Moy at the AMA’s National Conference, follows the conclusion of the two-year term of President Dr Tony Bartone and Vice President Dr Chris Zappala.

Dr Khorshid, an orthopaedic surgeon in Perth and a former AMA WA President, said governments should increase medical, health, and aged care expenditure to combat both COVID-19 and help the economy avoid prolonged recession. “State and Federal Governments have rightly funded the response effort to COVID-19,” Dr Khorshid said.

NACCHO Chair and the NACCHO team congratulate Dr Khorshid and Dr Moy on their election. We look forward to working closely with you on Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Image credit: ABC News

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #ClosingTheGap Health Research : Report calls for increased support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and acknowledge the importance of bringing focused attention to bear on our primary and preventive health needs

” We strongly support calls for increased support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and acknowledge the importance of bringing focused attention to bear on primary and preventive health needs within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander towns.

It is difficult to rationalise the poorer access to local inpatient hospital services found here. It cannot be explained by proximity to larger centres or by a lesser need for services, as neither of these are true.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander towns without hospital services within 50 kilometres are all very remote towns in Northern Australia, which experience disproportionately high burdens of morbidity and mortality.

The lack of locally accessible hospital services does not only increase the risk of death and disability, it also contributes to substantial health costs associated with retrieval and relocation to distant centres for hospital care.

Such an initiative is likely to require a combination of federal and state or territory funding and should involve communities in the development and control of these services. “

Disparity in distribution of inpatient hospital services in Australia

First published HERE

The AMA stands with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They suffer health disparities that see them become sicker and die earlier than non-Indigenous Australians.

In usual times, many doctors and medical students would be marching in these protests. We want to see change. “

Read AMA Press Release HERE

The gap that exists between health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and non‐Indigenous Australians is multi‐factorial.

Some of the gaps that exist may be attributed to or exacerbated by limitations in access to health services faced by rural and remote towns.

In Australia, 19% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in remote or very remote areas.1

These people have, on average, worse health outcomes than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in urban settings, further amplifying the gap.2

We used census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics1 and jurisdictional and federal health department website data3 to conduct a review of the availability of inpatient hospital services in Australian towns with a population between 1,000 and 4,999, based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+) classification system.4

We compared towns with a population of more than 80% being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with other towns using Fisher’s exact test for comparison of categorical variables, and a p value <0.05 was considered significant

There are 533 towns in Australia with a population between 1,000 and 4,999 (median population 1,819). Of these, 14 (3%) have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population that accounts for more than 80% of the total population.

The vast majority of these towns either have a hospital with acute inpatient beds (226/533, 42%) or are within 50 kilometres of a nearby hospital (282/533, 53%). Towns with a population of more than 80% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to either have a hospital or be within 50 kilometres of one (5/14, 36% vs 503/519, 97%; <0.001), see Table 1.

The lack of locally accessible hospital services does not only increase the risk of death and disability, it also contributes to substantial health costs associated with retrieval and relocation to distant centres for hospital care.

In such towns where hospital services are not currently available, consideration should be given to developing these concurrently with efforts to improve primary and preventive health care and to facilitate increasing Aboriginal control and strengthening of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.5

Such an initiative is likely to require a combination of federal and state or territory funding and should involve communities in the development and control of these services.

References download 

1753-6405.12996

 

 

 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News and Resources Alert No 63 : May 15 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : The @AMAPresident is calling for extra targeted health policy support to help our mob get through the COVID-19 pandemic

“The $58 million retrieval package announced by Minister Wyatt was a great start to acknowledge the unique health service needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote communities, but more is needed.

Specialised Indigenous health services and programs that respond to the needs of the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in cities and towns must be made a priority and properly funded to provide greater protections coming out of the pandemic,”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be a high priority in national COVID-19 recovery measures, given their increased vulnerability due to already higher rates of chronic diseases.

” Five online training modules are being developed to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals in responding to cases of COVID-19 and support public health efforts to manage outbreaks in remote communities.

The first two modules, ‘Introduction to COVID-19’, and ‘Contact Tracing in Remote Communities’, are now available online.

These modules were developed in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 ” 

See Department of Health news Part 2 Below for the new online training modules for health professionals and resources

“The AMA has strongly welcomed existing measures to help combat COVID-19 in Australia, but they are nowhere near enough to reduce the risks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia,” Dr Bartone said.

“Further targeted approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are needed.

“The AMA recommends a dedicated pool of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations to draw on for specified purposes including the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), point-of-care tests, staffing and consumables, capital expenditure, isolation and quarantine facilities, and satellite and outreach services to address current service gaps.

“Importantly, the amount of funds allocated for this funding pool should be considered on a needs-basis.

“Given Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples comprise three per cent of the total population, and the burden of disease is 2.3 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians, it is reasonable for a benchmark amount of around seven per cent of total COVID-19 health funding be earmarked Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Testing is absolutely critical, and it must be an urgent priority to ensure that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service is provided with testing kits, the associated consumables, and the necessary training.

 

Part 2 : Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on coronavirus (COVID-19)

From HERE

New online training modules for health professionals

Five online training modules are being developed to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals in responding to cases of COVID-19 and support public health efforts to manage outbreaks in remote communities.

The first two modules, ‘Introduction to COVID-19’, and ‘Contact Tracing in Remote Communities’, are now available online.

These modules were developed in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19.

Resources toolkit for health professionals

Our amazing health workers are doing an incredible job keeping our communities COVIDSafe, and we all owe them a huge amount of gratitude. Let’s make sure we are supporting our health workers as much as possible. The more we help them, the more they can help us.

The teams at CATSINaM, AIDA, IAHA and NATSIHWA have developed a COVID19 resource toolkit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

The pack includes tips and information to help health workers care for themselves, as well as resources to share in community.

Don’t skip your flu shot – protect you and your family from flu

You can share this social media graphic or video to let others in the community know how important it is to get the flu shot.

Professor Tom Calma AO – Get your flu shot
Keep our families safe from violence

Tough times don’t excuse tougher times at home, even in a crisis. There’s no place for abuse or domestic violence.

Look out for people in our communities who may be at risk by:

  • keeping in contact with people
  • checking in to make sure they are OK
  • making sure they don’t feel like they are completely alone and without any support.

If you are worried about your immediate safety, contact 000. For confidential advice and counselling contact 1800 RESPECT.

Three stage plan to ease restrictions and stay COVID safe

The Prime Minister has outlined a 3-step plan to provide a pathway for states and territories to move toward COVIDSafe communities. This plan involves careful steps to ease restrictions while keeping everyone safe and containing the spread of the virus.

Some of the restrictions relating to where we can go in public and how many people we can gather with have already begun to be eased.

The changes are different in each state and territory, so make sure you stay up to date with the latest information on restrictions for your area. You can visit Australia.gov.au for the latest advice, and links to each state and territory.

Biosecurity restrictions remain in place to stop people travelling into remote communities. These restrictions were put in place to protect remote residents especially Elders. It is still very important to stop the virus spreading from cities and towns into remote communities. Information on biosecurity measures in place in remote communities is available at niaa.gov.au.

Even though some restrictions are being eased, we need to keep practising physical distancing (two big steps) and good hygiene to stop the virus from spreading in our homes, workplaces and communities. It is important to remember, if shopping centres or public spaces are overcrowded, making it difficult to practise social distancing guidelines, don’t enter the space. Come back at a time when it is not as busy or crowded. And most importantly of all, stay home if you are have cold or flu symptoms, and get tested for coronavirus.

Sending your kids back to school

Many students will start returning to school and classrooms as the coronavirus restrictions start to ease.

The Chief Medical Officer supported by a team of medical professionals has advised it is safe for children to be at school. This is because levels of the virus have remained low for several weeks in a row and children are at lower risk than adults from this virus.

Information about how schools will operate during this time will be provided by your school. Speak to your local school principal, teacher, or Aboriginal Education officers about any worries you might have.

Talking with kids about Coronavirus

It’s completely normal to be feeling worried and stressed at the moment. It is important to remember that our kids might also be feeling the same.

Their lives have had some big changes and they will be watching adults closely and picking up on moods and behaviours. Talk to kids about how they are feeling, it can help them to feel better too.

Here’s a few tips for talking with young people:

  • Pick your time and place carefully. Think about the best time to chat and in an environment where your child will feel relaxed and comfortable to talk freely. Choose a time when you can give them your full attention.
  • Let them know it’s normal to feel scared or confused about things happening at the moment. Talk in a calm and reassuring tone.
  • Ask questions to find out what your kids already know about the virus. This also helps to find out if they are hearing the wrong information.
  • Acknowledge their feelings and don’t minimise their concerns.
  • Make sure to explain to them that coronavirus has nothing to do with how someone looks or where they are from. Remind them that bullying is wrong.
  • Talk about the strength and connection to culture that we can draw on during this time.
  • Share stories about people who are working hard to keep our community safe, doing this will reassure them and it will comfort them to know that people are taking action.

It’s also important to look after yourself. The better you are coping the more you can help others. If you are feeling worried or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to others in the community for support.

Remind young people that you care, and you’re there for a chat at any time. Keep checking in and make it an ongoing conversation. Visit the Raising Children’s Network for more information.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus News Alert No 49 : April 29 #KeepOurMobSafe #OurJobProtectOurMob : This #WorldImmunisationWeek #VaccinesWork providing greater protections for our mob to minimise the possibility that they could contract both #influenza and #COVID19.

” World Immunization Week – celebrated this week April (24 to 30 April) – aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions

Yet, there are still nearly 20 million children in the world today who are not getting the vaccines they need.

The theme this year is #VaccinesWork for All and the campaign will focus on how vaccines – and the people who develop, deliver and receive them – are heroes by working to protect the health of everyone, everywhere.

2020 campaign objectives

The main goal of the campaign is to urge greater engagement around immunization globally and the importance of vaccination in improving health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere throughout life.

As part of the 2020 campaign, WHO and partners aim to:

  • Demonstrate the value of vaccines for the health of children, communities and the world.
  • Show how routine immunization is the foundation for strong, resilient health systems and universal health coverage.
  • Highlight the need to build on immunization progress while addressing gaps, including through increased investment in vaccines and immunization.

“Getting the flu vaccine early will help alleviate pressure on the health system. With many of our health resources focused on saving lives and treating those with COVID-19, we need to reduce the number of presentations for influenza.

We also need to provide greater protections for vulnerable people to minimise the possibility that they could contract both influenza and COVID-19.

The best and safest place to get the flu vaccine is from your GP at your local ACCHO or general practice.”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone,  reiterated the AMA recommendation that people should get their seasonal flu vaccination somewhat earlier this year to help provide greater individual and community health protection throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read full AMA Press Release

Protect your mob and get vaccinated says QAIHC
This World Immunisation Week is an important reminder to ensure that you are up to date with all of your vaccinations.
These includes but is not limited to:
• Hepatitis A
• Pneumococcal disease
• Varicella zoster
• Pertussis.
Make sure you also book in to get your yearly flu vaccination!
Contact your local health service for more information.

About vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are able to get extra immunisations for free through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) to protect you against serious diseases.

These extra immunisations are in addition to all the other routine vaccinations offered throughout life (childrenadultsseniorspregnancy).

Children aged 5 years old or under

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 years or under should receive all routine vaccines under the NIP. You can see a list of these vaccines on the Immunisation for children page.

The Australian Government recommends that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 years or under have the following additional vaccines.

Pneumococcal disease

An additional booster dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended and free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months who live in:

  • Queensland
  • Northern Territory
  • Western Australia
  • South Australia.

Visit the Pneumococcal immunisation service page for information on receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.

Hepatitis A

Two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine are given 6 months apart. These doses should be given from 12 months of age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in:

  • Queensland
  • Northern Territory
  • Western Australia
  • South Australia.

The age that both the hepatitis A and pneumococcal vaccines are given varies among the 4 states and territories. Speak to your state or territory health service for more information.

Visit the Hepatitis A immunisation service page for information on receiving the hepatitis A vaccine.

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Children aged 5 to 9 years old

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Catch-up vaccines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5 to 9 years should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Children aged 10 to 15 years

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Catch-up vaccines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 10 to 15 years old should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Other vaccines

All children should receive routine vaccines for children aged 10 to 15 years old. These are HPV (human papillomavirus) and diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis), meningococcal ACWY vaccines given through school immunisation programs.

People aged 15 to 49 years old

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 19 years old should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal vaccines are free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 49 years old who are at high risk of severe pneumococcal disease.

Visit the Pneumococcal immunisation service page for information on receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.

People aged 50 years old or more

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years old or more should receive any missed routine childhood vaccinations. Catch-up vaccines are free through the NIP. See the NIP Schedule for more information.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal vaccines are free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years old or over.

Visit the Pneumococcal immunisation service page for information on receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.

Influenza

The influenza vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over through the NIP.

Visit the influenza immunisation service page for information on receiving the influenza vaccine.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Communities #CoronaVirus News Alert No 11 of 11 March 18 : Contributions @AMAPresident Communique @AMSANTaus Community resources @normanswan Todays Update Plus #MentalHealth care for Health Care Workers

In this special Corona Virus edition 11

1.AMA Communique

1.1 Communication:

1.2 Prevention of spread:

1.3 Vulnerable Communities

1.4 Medical Workforce maintenance and support:

1.5 Protection of access to health care:

2. AMSANT Resources

2.1 INFORMATION FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS

2.2 INFORMATION FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS

2.3 HEALTH PROMOTION INCLUDING HYGIENE RESOURCES

2.4 PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

2.4 ACCESS TO ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES

2.6 MEDICARE MBS BILLING INFORMATION

2.7 LINKS TO EXTERNAL SITES

3.Dr Norman Swan Update March 18

4.Mental Health care for Health Care Workers

See NACCHO Corona Virus Home Page

Read all 11 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Coronas Virus Alerts HERE

1.AMA Communique 

Recognising that Australian Governments, advised by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), have been working to respond to the escalation of COVID-19 in Australia, and that many announced measures, particularly expanded use of medical telehealth services, are yet to be fully optimised, the AMA believes the next stage of responding to COVID-19 requires strong medical leadership.

Communication:

  1. Consistent, succinct and contemporaneous communication across all media from a single trusted source must be provided. The public has been receiving conflicting and inaccurate information about when they need to be tested, and how they should approach testing, and what comprises effective prevention and mitigation strategies. The messaging has been improving, but this confusion is causing undue community distress and system inefficiency.
  2. Involvement of the medical profession at all levels in planning and disseminating the public health message is essential.

Prevention of spread:

  1. The national response should focus on a greater effort to slow the pace of COVID-19’s spread in Australia as a means to ‘flatten the curve’ of the outbreak.
  2. Australia must act to prevent community transmission by: effectively implementing the announced ban on mass public gatherings; encouraging social distancing; and, minimising social contact where alternatives are readily available (such as working from home, virtual meetings). Public education on effective and sensitive public distancing measures should focus on individual as well as institutional responsibilities.
  3. Planning should be undertaken for potential advanced education centre closures, workplace restrictions, and the possibility of school closures.
  4. Measures to ensure essential services and health service providers are adequately stocked and properly trained in the appropriate use of PPE must be an urgent priority. Access for healthcare personnel to sufficient Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is still inadequate.

Vulnerable Communities:

  1. Communities identified as being vulnerable, and in which morbidity and mortality is expected to be higher, include: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations; people with complex and chronic disease, the elderly, persons in residential aged care; and, rural and remote populations.
  2. We call for the limiting of non-essential travel to Indigenous rural and remote communities and ask that healthcare delivery be culturally safe. We also ask that rural health needs be considered with emerging COVID-19 related policy and care delivery decisions.
  3. Preparation for potential virus spread in aged care must include published action plans for response to concentrated virus outbreak in residential aged care centres or densely populated areas of older Australians to guide preventive and responsive actions for older Australians, aged care workers, the medical and wider health profession, and those with family members in aged care.

Medical Workforce maintenance and support:

  1. The health, safety, and wellbeing of all healthcare workers must be prioritised to maintain healthcare delivery capacity during the response to COVID-19.
  2. Clear and consistent guidance on COVID-19 testing for health care workers is imperative and testing should be prioritised by pathology services to minimise periods off work due to isolation when not infected with COVID-19.
  3. Preparation for a large proportion of the healthcare workforce needing to self-isolate or cease work due to exposure or illness, and resultant consequences for patient access to care, must be urgently addressed.
  4. In order to minimise community spread of COVID-19 and maintain non-pandemic related health service provision, all doctors in private practice should have immediate access to telehealth for treatment of all patients, not just for screening and treatment of potential COVID-19 infection.
  5. Doctors in private practice, both GPs and other specialists, must be involved in planning and implementation of the COVID-19 response, and clear, accessible and authoritative communication lines must be established.
  6. Extraordinary workforce measures such as recruiting retired or semi-retired doctors and other health workers; reassigning healthcare workers including doctors out of their usual clinical fields; and, utilising medical students as physician extenders or clinical aides must be undertaken only with due consideration of clinical outcomes, personal and community safety outcomes, and without coercion.
  7. Consideration of means to maintain the adequate education, assessment, and continuous professional development of all doctors, including those in training and medical students, is essential as is considering the impact of pandemic related workforce and training disruption on the continuing visa status of internationally trained doctors.
  8. There must be planning for follow-up personal support for all health workers to ensure ongoing psychological wellbeing after this crisis has passed.

Protection of access to health care:

  1. A clear plan for the usual care of patients is needed for patients without COVID-19. It is essential that patients with other pressing clinical needs can access timely care.
  2. The role of the Private Health system in relieving health system pressure due to COVID-19 needs to be included in planning efforts. Releasing the public hospital system from dealing with less acute health problems will help sustain access but will require whole of health sector coordination. For example, it is possible that public elective surgery may need to pause to enable capacity of the public hospital system to receive patients with COVID-19.

The AMA in 2016 called for establishment of a national Centre for Disease Control (CDC). The challenges currently being faced by the Australian community underscores the need for strengthened national coordination of pandemic response capability. Establishment of a CDC is essential at the conclusion of this current emergency.


This AMSANT webpage is a collation of resources to support member services, health professionals and community members relating to COVID-19.  AMSANT will continue to update resources as information becomes available.

Please do not hesitate to contact liz.moore@amsant.org.au if you require additional information.

INFORMATION FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS
HEALTH PROMOTION INCLUDING HYGIENE RESOURCES
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
ACCESS TO ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES
MEDICARE MBS BILLING INFORMATION
3.Dr Norman Swan Update March 16

4.Mental health care for healthcare workers

For health workers, feeling under pressure is a likely experience for you and many of your health worker colleagues. It is quite normal to be feeling this way in the current situation. Stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak. Managing your mental health and psychosocial wellbeing during this time is as important as managing your physical

Take care of yourself at this time. Try and use helpful coping strategies such as ensuring sufficient rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat sufficient and healthy food, engage in physical activity, and stay in contact with family and friends. Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing.

This is a unique and unprecedent scenario for many workers, particularly if they have not been involved in similar responses. Even so, using strategies that have worked for you in the past to manage times of stress can benefit you now. You are most likely to know how to de-stress and you should not be hesitant in keeping yourself psychologically This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Some healthcare workers may unfortunately experience avoidance by their family or community due to stigma or fear. This can make an already challenging situation far more difficult. If possible, staying connected with your loved ones including through digital methods is one way to maintain contact. Turn to your colleagues, your manager or other trusted persons for social support- your colleagues may be having similar experiences to

Use understandable ways to share messages with people with intellectual, cognitive and psychosocial disabilities. Forms of communication that do not rely solely on written information should be utilized If you are a team leader or manager in a health

Know how to provide support to, for people who are affected with COVID-19 and know how to link them with available resources. This is especially important for those who require mental health and psychosocial support. The stigma associated with mental health problems may cause reluctance to seek support for both COVID-19 and mental health conditions.

The mhGAP Humanitarian Intervention Guide includes clinical guidance for addressing priority mental health conditions and is designed for use by general health workers.

Download 

mental-health-considerations

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander #RuralHealth : @RuralDoctorsAus President and CEO says quality rural and remote health care essential to #ClosingtheGap

“Both Federal and State governments, right across the country, need to step up and invest in rural health if they are serious about this.

There have been numerous examples of initiatives developed to improve access to health care in rural and remote areas being extended into urban areas to prop up under-funded services in for the socially disadvantaged.

This has resulted in the unintended consequence of further disadvantaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in rural and remote Australia.

We need continued investment in health infrastructure and services aimed at addressing the disparity in health outcomes between those who live in the city and those who live in the bush… and this extends across both our Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

Without this, as a nation we are never going to close the gap, and the divide for the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people living in rural and remote Australia will never be addressed.”

Dr John Hall, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), said that without access to high quality health services in rural areas, the gap will never close.

Photo above : Here is what GPs said about working in Indigenous health

” I’m particularly concerned with successive government failure to halve Indigenous child mortality rates.

A lot of this is about access, it’s around health literacy.

It’s also about the holistic care, it’s also around education, housing and a whole range of other things”.

Australia needs to boost hospital and birthing facilities in rural and regional areas in order to overcome entrenched Indigenous health disadvantage, according to Rural Doctors Association of Australia CEO Peta Rutherford told SkyNews .

Watch SkyNews interview HERE 

Read over 70 Aboriginal Rural and Remote Health NACCHO Articles HERE

Another disappointing Closing the Gap Report, released this month [12 February 2020], demonstrates why health care in rural and remote Australia is a key driver to Closing the Gap in health.

“The Government’s Closing the Gap Report 2020 showed that the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on key health indicators has not closed,” Dr Hall said.

“Two key health-related benchmarks were chosen by the

Government in 2008, with a target of halving the gap in child mortality by 2018, and to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031.

“Neither of these targets are on track.

“The main cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child deaths are perinatal conditions such as complications of pregnancy and birth.

“With 85 per cent of these deaths occurring during the first year of life, maternal health and risk

factors during pregnancy play a crucial role.

“Access to quality, culturally safe, medical care is the most direct way of improving these outcomes,” Dr Hall said.

Similarly, life expectancy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is strongly influenced by health and health care, with the report attributing 34 per cent of the gap to social determinants (such as education, employment status, housing and income), 19 per cent to behavioural risk factors (such as smoking, obesity, alcohol use and diet), leaving 47 per cent attributed to what is clearly a disparity in health outcomes and associated health care issues.

In rural and remote areas there is a noticeable difference of a more than six year reduction in life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females, when compared to those living in major cities.

This demonstrates a failure across the board in these key areas, all of which are influenced by the provision of quality health care.

“Clearly we can’t close the gap without a functional health system in rural and remote Australia,” Dr Hall said.

“And this cannot just be solved through funding Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS); the other parts of the health system need to be equally funded to service these communities in order to be able to provide the standard of care that will result in a reduction in the gap in health outcomes.

“We can’t have hospital services downgraded and expect to close the gap.

“We can’t have communities with no access to medical birthing services and expect to close the gap.

“We can’t have people needing to travel hundreds of kilometres to access cancer or surgical treatment and close the gap.

“We need quality rural hospitals, staffed by Rural Generalist doctors, with the skills needed to meet the needs of these communities in both the General Practice and hospital settings, if we are serious about improving health outcomes and actually closing the gap.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Budget2020 submission downloads : Both the @AMAPresident and @_PHAA_feature strong support for our #ACCHO’s and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

” The AMA is calling on the Federal Government to significantly increase recurrent spending on health to properly meet current and future demand for quality care and services in the Australian health system.

Releasing the AMA’s Pre-Budget submission for the 2020-21 Federal Budget, AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that the AMA wants the Government to lift spending from its current level of 9.3 per cent to a level in line with comparable countries.

From Page 17

Over recent years, there have been some modest health gains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, notably, the reductions in rates of child mortality and smoking. Despite this progress, the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is still significant.

Chronic diseases are a primary contributor to the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, many of which, stem from the social determinants of health

– poverty; unhygienic, overcrowded living conditions; poor food security and access to safe drinking water; lack of transport; as well as an absence of health services.

To make any significant progress in improving health and life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, these social determinants must be addressed. This should be done through culturally appropriate programs that are responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

From AMA 2020-21 Budget submission : Read Indigenous health support Page 17 or in full Part 1 Below

Read full AMA Press Release

Download full AMA submission

AMA_Budget_Submission_2020_21

Major efforts have been undertaken in recent decades to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. Life expectancy has increased notably, from levels well below those enjoyed by Australia’s non-Indigenous population.

There have been encouraging reductions in mortality rates from chronic diseases. Correspondingly, between 2012 and 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy at birth rose by over 2 years.

Nonetheless, it is vital that effort to maintain the increase in life expectancy is reinforced, as the gap in overall life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians remains largely unchanged.

It is unacceptable that, according to the 2019 Closing the Gap report, “The target to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031 is not on track” (p122, emphasis added), and it is widely believed that the target cannot be achieved within the CTG timeframe.

It is urgent that the underlying causes of the gap are addressed. This must involve deliberate, coordinated and long-term commitments, developed and delivered with and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Finally, noting the vital need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to lead health and other initiatives central to their own health, PHAA supports the funding of programs that are initiated and run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people such as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). “

From PHHA 2020-21 Budget submission : Read Indigenous health support Page 16 or in full Part 2 Below

Download the full PHAA Submission

Commonwealth Budget 2020-21 – pre-Budget directions

Part 1

The 2020-21 Budget presents an opportunity for the Government to translate available knowledge into action, including identifying and filling service gaps, and directing Indigenous health funding according to need.

This is particularly important given that the burden of disease for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is 2.3 times higher than for other Australians.

AMA POSITION

The AMA calls on the Government to:

  • allocate Indigenous health funding in the 2019-20 budget based on the much higher health needs of Indigenous communities, recognising that chronic disease is inextricably connected to the social determinants of health; and
  • implement the recommendations of the AMA’s recent Report Cards on Indigenous Health, in particular:

+ commit to achieving a minimum standard of 90 per cent population access to fluoridated water;

+ systematically identify, cost and fund unimplemented parts of the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023;

+ implement a coordinated national response to address chronic otitis media in Indigenous communities;

+ fund and implement a strategy to eradicate rheumatic heart disease from Australia; and

+ appropriately fund services that divert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from prison.

Part 2

Serious health care challenges remain for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Rheumatic heart disease remains a massive concern.

Alarmingly, mortality from cancer is actually rising, and the ‘gap’ in cancer mortality compared with the general population is actually growing. Rates of suicide remain far too high.

The health conditions of young Indigenous Australians should be a key focus. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have a younger age profile than the general population, having a median age of 23 compared with 38 (as at the 2016 Census). Over 60% of Indigenous people are aged under 30.

There are a number of current programs working to prevent illness in very young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people between 5 and 8 years old.

However, there is a major lack of targeted attention to people from the adolescent years through to around age 25.

This broad age group is formative of many lifelong health problems. Illnesses related to consumption habits (smoking, alcohol, sugar-added products and junk food) resulting in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, oral health problems, as well as mental health problems often have their genesis in this neglected period of adolescence and young adulthood.

Specifically, the evidence of a link between hearing loss in childhood and subsequent incarceration of Aboriginal people is overwhelming.

A program that has demonstrated the success of an Aboriginal controlled and led model is the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

The initiative to reduce smoking rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has made valuable progress but more is required to close the gap in smoking rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

Major initiatives in illness prevention are required to improve the wellbeing of adolescent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by:

  • reducing the suicide rate
  • reducing use of alcohol and other drugs
  • reducing tobacco use, with targets including:
  • reducing age 15-17 smoking rates from 19% to 9%
  • increasing age 15-17 ‘never-smoked’ rates from 77% to 91%
  • increasing annual health check for people aged 15-24
  • reducing rates of juvenile incarceration, through programs such as justice reinvestment programs should aim to close the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the wider Australian population in all health metrics

Environmental factors also impact on health and wellbeing. Programs to improve environmental health help prevent eye and ear health problems which are more prevalent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Rheumatic heart disease, including acute rheumatic fever, is almost exclusively experienced within Australia by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is also associated with poverty, poor and overcrowded living conditions and poor hygiene.

We note that the current National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, due to remain in effect until 2023, has not in fact been adequately funded to achieve its outputs.

One very obvious place for the Government to start in the coming Budget is to repair this defect. T

his would be consistent with the priorities, established by the COAG Joint Council on Closing the Gap co-chaired by the Pat Turner AM and the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, to accelerate improvements in life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by:

  • developing and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in shared decision making at the national, state and local or regional level and embedding their ownership, responsibility and expertise to close the gap
  • building the formal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled services sector to deliver closing the gap services and programs in agreed priority areas
  • ensuring all mainstream government agencies and institutions undertake systemic and structural transformation to contribute to Closing the

PHAA urges Government to adopt substantive and durable commitments aligned with the priorities identified by the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations advocating for Indigenous health and wellbeing, which include:

  • “Promote self-determination across national institutions, through Constitutional reform and the recommendations that arose from the Uluru Statement from the Heart;
  • Close the gap in life expectancy and the disproportionate burden of disease that impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through system-wide investment approach for the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, with COAG Health Council;
  • Prioritises and escalates actions under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Plan – to address the massive shortfall in this workforce across all professions and levels, and is essential to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing; and
  • Acknowledge the adverse impact of racism on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and aspects of the health system that prevent people from accessing and receiving the health care they require – and to work with the NHLF and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts in embedding co-design and co-decision making processes to embed culturally safe and responsive health practices and ”

Finally, noting the vital need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to lead health and other initiatives central to their own health, PHAA supports the funding of programs that are initiated and run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people such as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Workforce : @uwanews Five Indigenous women doctors graduate from #WA Uni Dr Tamisha King, Dr Adriane Houghton, Dr Heather Kessaris, Dr Kelly Langford, and Dr Shauna Hill

Five Indigenous women were among 206 students to graduate as doctors at a ceremony held last week in The University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall.

Tamisha King, Adriane Houghton, Heather Kessaris and Kelly Langford were awarded a Doctor of Medicine and Shauna Hill was awarded a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

Dr King, a Karajarri woman from the Kimberley region, completed her Rural Clinical School placement in Kununurra as well as electives in Melbourne and internship preparation in Broome.

Before enrolling in the MD she completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Anatomy and Human Biology, and Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing, winning several academic awards. She was also an active member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) and WA Medical Students’ Society (WAMSS) Indigenous Representative in 2016. Dr King will start work as an intern at Royal Perth Hospital next month.

Dr Houghton, a Ngarluma Yindjibarndi woman from Port Hedland, completed UWA’s Aboriginal Orientation Course in 2002 through the School of Indigenous Studies and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geography. After graduating she worked in labs and chemical analysis for Woodside in Karratha for six years before enrolling in the MD.

Dr Houghton completed her Rural Clinical School placement in Port Hedland and was Rural Health West’s first Aboriginal Ambassador. The single mother with two children aged six and 10 will take up an internship at Royal Perth Hospital next month.

Dr Kessaris, an Alawa and Marra woman from the Northern Territory, completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing and Population Health before enrolling in the MD. Also a member of AIDA, she represented UWA and AIDA at the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress (PRIDoC) in Hawaii this year and was also a WAMSS Indigenous Representative in 2016.

Originally from Cairns in Queensland, Dr Langford graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Anatomy and Human Biology and Economics before enrolling in the MD. In 2017 she completed her Rural Clinical School placement in Broome. Dr Langford is a Badjala woman from Fraser Island and Darraba woman from Starcke, Cape York.

The same year she also received the 2017 national LIMElight Award for Excellence in Indigenous Health Education Student Leadership for her contribution to the understanding of Indigenous health education to her peers, promoting rural and remote health careers and advocating for improvements to the health of Indigenous people in rural and remote communities. Dr Langford will start her internship at Fiona Stanley Hospital next month.

Dr Hill, a Yamatji-Noongar woman who was born and raised in Perth, completed UWA’s Aboriginal Orientation Course in 2002 and went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History and Political science and International Relations. She took up a graduate position in Canberra before returning to Perth to work for an Aboriginal organisation and a research officer at UWA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health.

Dr Hill then enrolled in the graduate entry Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, also representing UWA and AIDA at PRIDoC in Hawaii this year. The single mother of three children aged 13, 19 and 20 will take up an internship next month at Royal Perth Hospital.

NACCHO Announcement 2020

After 2,800 Aboriginal Health Alerts over 7 and half years from www.nacchocommunique.com NACCHO media will cease publishing from this site as from 31 December 2019 and resume mid January 2020 with posts from www.naccho.org.au

For historical and research purposes all posts 2012-2019 will remain on www.nacchocommunique.com

Your current email subscription will be automatically transferred to our new Aboriginal Health News Alerts Subscriber service that will offer you the options of Daily , Weekly or Monthly alerts

For further info contact Colin Cowell NACCHO Social Media Media Editor

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News / Download : The AMA 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health launched at @DanilaDilba ACCHO #Darwin by @amapresident that focusses on the oral health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia

” Good oral health is fundamental to our overall health and wellbeing. It allows us to eat and speak without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease that their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can largely be attributed to the social determinants of health.

Indigenous Australians are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need.” 

The 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health focusses on the oral health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia was launched in Darwin last week 

Download the 36 Page Report HERE

2019 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health

Pictured above : Warren Snowdon MHR Member for Lingiari ,Tony Bartone, President of the Australian Medical Association. Shannon Daly. Deputy Chairperson of Danila Dilba, NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles: Member for Nightcliff .

Good oral health is fundamental to our overall health and wellbeing. It allows us to eat and speak without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease that their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can largely be attributed to the social determinants of health. Indigenous Australians are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need.

Opportunities exist for political leaders at all levels of government to implement solutions to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. This includes increasing fluoridation of Australia’s water supplies, enhancing oral health promotion, growing the Indigenous dental workforce and strengthening data collection to monitor and evaluate the oral health status and the performance of oral health care services.

Fundamentally, governments must ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to affordable, culturally appropriate oral health care programs.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rely on public oral health services, where they exist.

However, the availability of these services depends on government funding, which is often short-term. Consequently, a significant proportion of the Indigenous population live without regular dental care, which has adverse health outcomes.

Oral health care is an important part of primary health care.

We urge governments to note the recommendations contained in this Report Card and put them into action to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

Related document (Public): 

2019 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health.pdf

Related AMA content (Internal page): 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Report Cards

Oral health is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing. Good oral health allows people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Five action areas present opportunities for governments to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. They are:

  • Fluoridated water supplies, especially in
  • Oral health promotion that works with fluoride varnish programs and a tax on sugar-sweetened
  • An effective dental workforce with greater participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Better coordination and reduced institutional racism in oral health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Data to know that the work being done is making a

Government action is needed because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have dental disease at two to three times the rates of their non-Indigenous counterparts in urban, rural, and remote communities across Australia. They are also much less likely to get needed dental care.

The social determinants of health, such as poverty, racism, and colonialism contribute to a large proportion of the oral health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their non-Indigenous peers.

As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-school and primary-school-aged children are much more likely to be hospitalised for dental problems.

Community water fluoridation is a safe, effective, and equitable way to reduce dental decay. In Australia, access to fluoridated water varies due to the lack of a national approach.

This disadvantages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with non-Indigenous Australians because a greater proportion livein rural and regional areas, where water fluoridation is less common.

The situation is particularly concerning in Queensland where nearly half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population does not have water fluoridation. Australian Government funding for State and Territory dental services is a lever to push for more water fluoridation.

Fluoride varnish programs also help in preventing dental decay, with proven effect in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The application is simple and requires minimal training. Australian Government leadership is needed to identify and remove the regulatory, administrative and program barriers to effective fluoride varnish programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults.

Sugary drinks are a major source of sugar that fuels tooth decay. A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce consumption and tooth decay, as well as the incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Nearly 70 per cent of Australians are in favour of taxes on soft drinks.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are nearly twice as likely to suffer from dental pain as non- Indigenous Australians, and five times as likely to have missing teeth. Pain from dental disease, and damage to teeth, can be effectively managed by dental practitioners.

Governments need to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with culturally safe dental care programs that are planned and implemented through collaborative and equal partnerships between communities and providers.

It is also well understood that health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are improved when they are treated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are grossly under-represented in the oral health workforce. The goal of 780 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dental practitioners by 2040 should be set as a target to promote employment parity in the dental workforce.

Finally, more comprehensive, consistent and coordinated oral health data are needed to better monitor and evaluate oral health status, as well as the performance of oral health care services across Australia. This in turn will lead to improvements in the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The two major dental diseases are tooth decay (caries) and gum disease (periodontal disease). Both diseases can cause pain, loss of function, and disfigurement.

Tooth decay is a chronic disease caused by dietary sugar. Oral bacteria ferment sugar to produce acids that demineralise, and ultimately destroy, the teeth. Tooth decay progresses with age, creating a lifelong burden.1 Gum disease damages the bone and gum supporting the teeth, and its progress is insidious, with symptoms of pain and loose teeth in the advanced stages

Gum disease susceptibilit varies between individuals, with a genetic component, and is exacerbated by smoking and diabetes.2,

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AIDAAustralia News : The @AMAPresident Dr Tony Bartone speech opening #AIDAConf2019 : We must use collective wisdom and advocacy to ensure that #ClosingtheGap is not just words, but a meaningful and deliverable target. #HaveYourSayCTG

 

 “ The basic principles of successful Indigenous healthcare models should be better promoted as exemplars and replicated across the country.

This will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to translate their knowledge into innovative practices that will help solve intractable health problems in their communities.

Governments at all levels must ensure that policy frameworks move towards harmonisation with norms recognising the autonomy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments must ensure that these frameworks are bolstered with adequate funding and workforce strategies to enable Indigenous communities to succeed in their pursuit of the right to health and wellbeing.

With the right support, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people stand to address health inequities by transforming services under their purview, as well as health services provided to Indigenous people by the mainstream.

As President of the AMA, I will continue to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a key priority.”

President of the AMA Dr Tony Bartone opening speech

Photo above : Opening of #AIDAConf2019 a Welcome to Country from Larrakia Dr Jessica King. MC Jeff McMullen, keynotes  AIDA President Dr Kris Rallah-Baker, NLC CEO Marion Scrymgour, Danila Dilba ACCHO Olga Havnen, Dr Tony Bartone

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet today, and I pay my respects to their elders, past and present.

Thank you to the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) for inviting me to speak at your annual conference. This is my third year attending, and I feel very privileged to be here.

The theme for this year’s Conference is ‘Disruptive Innovations in Health Care’.

As a General Practitioner who has been practising medicine for over 30 years, I well and truly understand that innovative health care is needed to achieve improved outcomes for patients.

Indeed, innovation will be crucial as we deal with a health system that is so under strain.

This is especially true for Indigenous health, given the much higher burden of disease and mortality rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the need for care to be delivered in a manner that is culturally safe.

We all know that Indigenous health statistics paint a bleak picture.

And we all know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have poorer health than other Australians.

Medical science is constantly evolving and we have, only in recent times, recognised the innovations and practices of Indigenous people here and overseas.

There are some parallels and similarities in the way Australia and Canada – both former British colonies – are trying to improve health care for First Nations peoples.

In both countries, we are trying to address a legacy of harm from the imposition of policies that resulted in poor health today.

Sadly, investments in Indigenous health are often inadequate, and they are implemented without proper engagement with, and direction by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We all know that this approach does not work.

However, I know that there are many innovative health services that are delivering high quality health care for their communities, driven by local leadership.

There are models of health care that are delivering proved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and these should be supported in terms of funding and workforce.

I was fortunate to visit one such model last year and see first-hand just one example of quality health services and witness the important work that they do.

There are others all underpinned by community oversight and direction. This sense of community leadership is a key feature.

I am sure you will hear of many more positive and innovative healthcare models throughout this Conference.

The problem with such models is that they are not being sufficiently resourced and funded to continue and further their development.

The basic principles of successful Indigenous healthcare models should be better promoted as exemplars and replicated across the country.

This will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to translate their knowledge into innovative practices that will help solve intractable health problems in their communities.

Governments at all levels must ensure that policy frameworks move towards harmonisation with norms recognising the autonomy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Governments must ensure that these frameworks are bolstered with adequate funding and workforce strategies to enable Indigenous communities to succeed in their pursuit of the right to health and wellbeing.

With the right support, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people stand to address health inequities by transforming services under their purview, as well as health services provided to Indigenous people by the mainstream.

As President of the AMA, I will continue to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is a key priority.

I am very proud to lead an organisation that champions Aboriginal and Torres Strait health care.

This is demonstrated through:

  • the AMA’s Taskforce on Indigenous Health, which I am honoured to Chair;
  • having AIDA represented on the AMA’s Federal Council;
  • producing an annual Report Card on Indigenous Health;
  • supporting more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become doctors through our Indigenous Medical Scholarship initiative;
  • participation in the Close the Gap Steering Committee; and
  • participation in the END Rheumatic Heart Disease Coalition, among many other things.

 See all NACCHO and AMA Articles HERE 

The AMA also supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and is encouraging the Australian Parliament to make this a national priority.

I firmly believe that giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a say in the decisions that affect their lives will allow for healing through recognition of past and current injustices.

The AMA believes respecting the decisions and directions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should underpin all Government endeavours to close the health and life expectancy gap.

The AMA is pleased to see the agreement between the Council of Australian Governments and a Coalition of Peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations – an historic partnership to oversee the refresh of the Closing the Gap strategy.

See Coalition of Peaks Press Release this week

But this is not enough.

We must use this collective wisdom and advocacy to ensure that Closing the Gap is not just words, but a meaningful and deliverable target.

This is certainly an innovative approach to improving health and life outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Since the beginning of the Closing the Gap strategy, progress has been mixed, limited, and, overall, disappointing.

This must change. It has to change.

It is simply unacceptable that year in, year out, we see the same gaps and the same shortfalls in funding and resources.

I hope that the partnership between COAG and the Coalition of Peaks will result in some real, meaningful change. It must.

Governments cannot keep promising to improve health and other services and not deliver on their commitments.

The AMA welcomed the stated intent of the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, to hold a referendum on Constitutional recognition for Indigenous peoples.

And I was disappointed by his recent announcement that an Indigenous voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution would not be included as part of this process.

Ken Wyatt has achieved a tremendous amount in his time as Minister, and I hope that Constitutional recognition is part of his legacy.

Let me conclude by saying that it is our responsibility as doctors to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can enjoy the same level of good health as their non-Indigenous peers – that they are able to live their lives to the fullest.

The AMA recognises that Indigenous doctors are critical to making real change in Indigenous health, as they have the unique ability to align their clinical and cultural expertise to improve access to services and provide culturally safe care.

The Indigenous medical workforce is steadily growing, but we need more Indigenous doctors. And dentists, nurses, social workers, and all other allied health specialists.

The AMA remains committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to advocate for better Government investment and cohesive, coordinated strategies to improve health outcomes.

Thank you, and I wish you the very best for your Conference.

 Part 2  Have your say about what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/