NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Months after floods, mob still homeless

Image in the feature tile of the Lismore floods in March 2022. Image source: Southern Cross University article Lismore floodwater enough to fill half of Sydney Harbour published on 23 May 2022.

Months after floods, mob still homeless

After moving accommodation five times in five months, Nyangbal and Dunghutti woman Teresa Anderson has had enough. The elder’s Cabbage Tree Island home, nestled on a flood plain of cane fields in northern NSW, was deemed uninhabitable after the February floods. She has been homeless since. “I’ve been moved around five times,” she said.  It’s taken a toll on my health. I couldn’t even cope, I couldn’t go to work. It just got me really emotional.” Teresa Anderson was in good health before the floods. But she believes a series of new health issues have been direct result of the grief and stress of being displaced. “Im struggling,” she said.

According to the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council, today, almost six months after the disaster, about 500 of the 1,296 northern NSW residents that are still homeless are First Nations people.  “That tells me clearly that we’re disproportionate again in relation to the numbers of people that are homeless,” Widjabul man and Jali Land Council chief executive Chris said.

To view the ABC News article Indigenous families still homeless months after the floods, as leaders say First Nations people are being overlooked for rentals in full click here.

After moving five times in five months, Teresa Anderson says she’s had enough. Photo: Emma Rennie, ABC News.

Discrimination a key homelessness factor

WA Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Dr John Byrne AM, says a lot of discussion is had about how to fix homelessness once it has occurred.  While Dr Byrne says “this discussion is an extremely important one as we do need more affordable housing and shelters for people who cannot access WA’s ever inflating rental market” he believes “it is important to explore one of the major factors that allows homelessness to occur – discrimination.”

Dr Byrne said he’d “like to do this by focusing on three of the major grounds of discrimination: sex, impairment and race, which also relates to three major cohorts within the homeless population.” Systemic race discrimination is also a contributing factor to homelessness.  Aboriginal people make up around 3% of the total population and 28% of the homeless population. This is also a community impacted greatly by systemic discrimination and bias in employment. Aboriginal people are under-represented in decision making roles at work and over-represented in unemployment, this is also exacerbated by over representation of Aboriginal people in our prison system. Prisoners often need to have housing before release on parole and may remain in prison at significant expense to the state due to lack of housing.

To view the WA.gov.au article From the Commissioner – Fix homelessness by addressing discrimination in full click here. A related WA Department of Communities news story Homelessness Week 2022 ends highlighting progress is possible if we work together mentions the success of Booloo Bidee Mia, a supported accommodation service for Perth CBD rough sleepers, and is available here.

Aboriginal people living in Victoria make up 8% of those sleeping rough, despite being only 1% of the population. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV.

AMC mental health reforms criticised

The delivery of mental health services to detainees at Canberra’s Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) – particularly the 24% who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – is ineffective, the Auditor-General declared in a March report. The ACT Government last week agreed to most of the report’s recommendations – 10 fully, eight in principle, and one noted, to be delivered through a different tool – by the end of 2023.

Aboriginal advocate Julie Tongs, head of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, which runs an autonomous Health and Wellbeing Clinic in the prison, is concerned some of these measures have been tried before and failed. “I feel like I’m in a time warp,” Ms Tongs said. “It’s a challenging environment, but why waste money when money’s short on the ground?”

Nor, she said, was Winnunga consulted; decisions were made without them. “All the buzz about co-design – the decision’s already been made – so how do you co-design around that? What role do we now have to play in that, when we weren’t at the table to discuss any of this?” Government, she says, must have a discussion or a roundtable to sort this out; she is keen to sit down with stakeholders and work out their processes and expectations.

To view the Canberra Weekly article ‘Time warp’: Winnunga critical of mental health reforms at AMC in full click here.

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Ian Cutmore, ABC News.

Palliative Care Clinic Box launched today

caring@home today launched its Palliative Care Clinic Box which contains a suite of tailored resources to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The launch, taking place at the Compass Conference in Darwin, follows an 18-month nationwide consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, health professionals in specialist and generalist services and relevant peak bodies.

Project Director, Professor Liz Reymond said the resources can support the provision of at home palliative care symptom management. “When care at home is preferred, it can be provided to help connect family, culture, community, Country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” This project is funded by the Australian Government and is conducted by a consortium involving Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives and Palliative Care Australia (CATSINaM) and is led by the Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative.

The caring@home Palliative Care Clinic Box is free and can be ordered from the caring@home website here. You can view the caring@home media release about the launch of its Palliative Care Clinic Box here.

Caleb follows pathway to healthcare job

As part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander career pathway day, Far North Queensland Indigenous students have been given a glimpse into the world of healthcare. Revolving around the opportunities available at Mater Private Hospital in Townsville, students from the region’s high schools attended an information day where they learnt about the healthcare needs of First Nations people and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander traineeships. Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson said the career day provided students with meaningful pathways they might not have otherwise known about.

One student who has benefited from the program is Caleb Baker, who recently won the school-based apprentice or trainee of the year. Mr Baker is currently working at the Mater Private Hospital while completing his Certificate III in health services assistance. “I was nervous about how I would transition from school to work, but just being acknowledged as someone who can work hard has made me feel really good about it,” he said.

Since he was young, Mr Baker has always wanted to make an impact. He cites empowering fellow Indigenous folk in healthcare as one of his main goals, with sights set on how better healthcare could help close the gap. “Having more Indigenous people in the health industry can help break down those barriers. It would make Indigenous people who are seeking help about their health feel a lot more comfortable, Mr Baker said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Caleb Baker’s life goal help people through healthcare, and it all started with a hospital work placement in full click here.

Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson, Caleb Baker and Seed Foundation engagement officer De’arne French. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Health sector must lead on climate change

Over 300 people, including the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly, attended the AMA and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) webinar – Climate change and sustainability: leadership and action from Australian doctors earlier this week.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley outlined the duty medical professionals have in treating climate change as a global health emergency, and Professor Alexandra Barratt highlighted the carbon footprint of low value care. Eleven medical colleges provided updates on the climate action they are taking, and highlighted specific climate change health impacts related to their specialty.

Professor Robson wrapped up the webinar saying “As President of the AMA, I seek a strong and united coalition for action because I don’t think we have any time to lose. As a profession, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to bequeath a heathy planet to our children and their children. “Climate change will have health effects on a scale that people are barely able to comprehend. We’re already seeing a series of rolling health crises around the world, but these are just the beginning. We’re facing the prospect of literally billions of climate refugees across the planet, it’s a crisis so enormous that it’s almost impossible to grasp.”

You can read The National Tribune article AMA & DEA urge health sector to lead on climate change here and the joint AMA and DEA media release Governments and the healthcare sector must lead on climate change here.

Photo: Adobe Stock. Image source: Healio.

High-tech, low-resource medical training

Port Augusta is embracing its medical practitioners – or kulpi minupa – of the future. The town’s residents are in the midst of hosting an eight-week placement by seven second-year medical students. The aspiring GPs, dubbed “cloud doctors” in the Nukunu dialect, have spent time at the flying doctor service, the hospital and Aboriginal health services to gain an insight into what it would be like working in the country, potentially at Port Augusta.

In what is a new way of medical training, the Adelaide Rural Clinical School linked with the Indigenous community, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the University of Adelaide to launch the Kulpi Minupa Program. Student Tarran Dunn, who was among a group of undergraduates from Adelaide, NSW, Tasmania and elsewhere, said the experience would shape “the rest of our lives and skills in medicine” He said he and his colleagues had spent time with interns and surgical registrars at the hospital as well as gained an insight into Aboriginal health.

Professor Lucie Walters, director of the clinical school, said the scheme was a “high-tech, low-resource” medical training approach. “If we want to create the next generation of rural doctors to work at the flying doctor service and in remote Australia, we need to train them for the environment in which we want them to work,” she said. “The program brings Aboriginal medical students and rurally-based students to Port Augusta where we are piloting the kind of technology that we need to teach them to work in places such as Port Augusta, Cummins, Arkaroola or Roxby Downs.” The students will work at the ACCHO, Pika Wiya Health Service.

To read The Transcontinental Port Augusta article Port Augusta rolls out the welcome mat for second-year university medical students in full click here.

Image source: Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CTG efforts must be redoubled

Image in the feature tile is of Clarence Paul, who died age 48, and his grandson. Photo: Closing the gap campaign. Image source: The Guardian, 12 February 2014.

CTG efforts must be redoubled

The Healing Foundation warns momentum must be gained urgently on the Closing the Gap Priority Reforms, or targets will remain out of reach. The warning follows the release earlier today of Productivity Commission data showing only four of the 17 Closing the Gap targets are on track for being met within the coming decade.

The Healing Foundation Board Chair Professor Steve Larkin said the news should come as shot in the arm to the incoming government, who now has the power to make the necessary changes to ensure Priority Reforms are just that – the priority of all governments. “We must use the knowledge from these updates as a catalyst for redoubling our efforts to right the wrongs of the past so that there is finally justice and healing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Professor Larkin said.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release Closing the Gap Progress Report a Warning to Redouble Efforts click here.

Image source: Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s What is ‘Closing the Gap’ webpage.

Root cause of First Nations incarceration

The head of the Territory’s only Indigenous-owned and community-controlled health service has accused the ACT Government of just putting words on paper over its recent Budget funding announcements aimed at reducing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system. Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs has again renewed calls for a Royal Commission-style inquiry into Indigenous disadvantage in the ACT – something the government hasn’t yet committed to.

Ms Tongs was concerned about how many initiatives the government said it would fund with that $11.5 million over four years. She said these commitments look good on paper but may not address the root cause of Indigenous incarceration rates. “The biggest problem in this community is the racism and the poverty. From there stems the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, family violence and other issues,” she noted. “We can’t just keep throwing bits of funding at things when things get a little bit political. It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. We are still going to have the problem until we work with the families who suffer racism every day.”

To view the Riotact article ‘Just words on paper’: Winnunga CEO calls for root cause of First Nations incarceration to be addressed in full click here.

Julie Tongs says nothing will change without a royal commission-style inquiry into Indigenous disadvantage in the Territory. Photo: Region Media. Image source: Riotact.

Breaking First Nations wealth ‘curses’

Young Indigenous women are breaking intergenerational patterns of economic disadvantage and using storytelling to cultivate “rich” mindsets, says a banker turned podcaster. Larisha Jerome, host of the Rich Black Women podcast, has worked across debt collection, financial hardship, financial capability and financial abuse prevention including at the Commonwealth Bank, Indigenous Business Australia and the Women’s Legal Service Queensland. She now plans to use the power of stories to empower Indigenous women to break “generational curses” and take control of their finances.

“We do that through sharing stories, connecting and breaking down that money shame, and by empowering our community,” Ms Jerome said. “We talk about generational curses, generational trauma, but what about our generational strength? I believe that healing ourselves is generational wealth.” The main message she wants to impart is that despite experiencing genocide, dispossession and colonisation, Indigenous women are capable and deserving of prosperous lives.

To view the Financial Review article The former banker who wants to break First Nations wealth ‘curses’ click here.

Larisha Jerome is photographed in her home in Mango Hill, north of Brisbane. Photo: Dan Peled. Image source: Financial Review.

Team to resuscitate MBS short a player?

Yesterday Health Minister Mark Butler unveiled the panel Labor hopes will drive its efforts to reinvigorate primary care. Dr Dawn Casey, deputy CEO, NACCHO is one of the 16-person panel making up the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce. Francis Wilkins who wrote the article Labor names team to resuscitate MBS, available here, that appeared in the Medical Republic yesterday argues that while most areas are represented on the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, medical technology companies are conspicuous by their absence.

“They are the companies that provide the infrastructure that enables Medicare and our models of care to operate,” digital health and interoperability expert Michelle O’Brien said. “The fact that our current technology is outdated and siloed, and there is no funding for multi-disciplinary care across the health eco-system is contributing to the crisis we are experiencing. Technology infrastructure shouldn’t just be an afterthought, and the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) does not represent our health technology companies.”

You can access the Minister for Health and Aged Care the Hon Mark Butler’s media release Strengthening Medicare Taskforce appointed in full here. You can also read the AMA’s media release welcoming the federal government’s establishment of a Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, to decide priority areas for primary care funding here.

Image source: The Medical Republic.

Recognising First Nations medicine

For tens of thousands of years, Indigenous people in Australia have prepared and used plants to treat ailments. But what happens if a community wants to take their medicine to the world? In an episode on ABC Radio tells the story of a thirty year quest to get a native plant listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – and the challenge isn’t over yet.

The discussion includes thoughts from Dr Virginia Marshall, Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University School of Regulation and Global Governance and Dr Emma Kowal, Professor of Anthropology at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University.

You can listen to the ABC Radio National episode Recognising Indigenous medicine here.

Juvenile detention food choices study

A study of food served in a youth detention centre in SA gives insights into the place diet and menu choices make in improving or reducing their incarceration experience. A Flinders University study found general disappointment in the quality of food and the need for the child or young person to make more healthy choices, practice their culture or make positive personal choices while in custody and after their release.  

“This is the first time we have considered the extent the lived food-related experiences of incarcerated children matched the principles proclaimed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Rights for Children and Young People Detained in Training Centres,” says Flinders University researcher Dr Simone Deegan. “The interviews at the Kurlana Tapa Youth Justice Centre revealed many of the young people found their food service a punitive aspect of their incarceration, particularly in so far as it fails to reflect cultural expectations or preferences.”  

More institutional engagement with residents to change or improve their food service would improve their experience, commencing with a review of the food offerings by a qualified nutritionist-dietitian. As well as getting youth involved in improving the quality, quantity and variety of meals and snacks in the tuckshop, the engagement of young people could then branch into learning to plan, budget, shop, cook and share a healthy meal provided independent living skills and maintain connections to culture where appropriate. 

To view the Flinders University media release Appetite for reform could be borne in juvenile detention food choices – study in full click here.

Flinders University researcher Dr Simone Deegan. Image source: Flinders University.

Final chance to nominate mental health hero

There is still a small window for Australians to nominate a deserving mental health hero for the Australian Mental Health Prize, with nominations closing on MONDAY 1 AUGUST 2022. The Prize aims to recognise the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians are doing for mental health.

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

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

To view the Southern Downs article Final chance to recognise a deserving mental health hero in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

Image in the feature tile is from the ABC News website.

NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

NT health experts say they are “alarmed” about a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, saying the territory’s infection rate is growing at a higher rate per capita than the national average. Their warning comes as coronavirus cases rise across the country, marking the start of what Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has described as the start of a new Omicron wave. Professor Kelly said the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of the COVID-19 Omicron strain were highly infectious, and that cases were expected to surge in coming weeks.

Data shows that surge may have already started in the NT, which recorded 671 cases on Tuesday — the highest daily caseload since February and a dramatic jump from 469 cases on Monday. That’s higher percentage per capita than the national average, according to John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliances of the Northern Territory (AMSANT). “[The figures] make us 22 per cent above the national per capita average on a seven-day rolling average, which is alarming and concerning for our members,” he said. “So, we’ve got to seriously consider perhaps some mandatory public health measures, especially for our most at-risk population and our community members. This is alarming for us.”

To view the view the ABC News article COVID-19 cases are rising in the Northern Territory as Australia approaches a new Omicron wave in full click here.

Territorians are being encouraged to wear face masks to combat the virus’s spread. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Telehealth cuts leave remote patients behind

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has once again urged the federal government to make Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth scheme so that patients living outside of major cities can get the care they need when they need it. It comes following reports of a study, which found that 40% of people living in rural and remote areas had internet speeds that were less than 28 kilobits per second. This makes conducting telehealth video consultations challenging, if not impossible, given that the minimum recommended speed for video calls is 600 kilobits per second. In addition, other people are not confident using the technology or find the cost of purchasing a smartphone or laptop prohibitive.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett  said “Removing Medicare rebates for longer consults is not only particularly detrimental for patients in the bush but also older patients across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those with disability or limited mobility. This is troubling as these patient cohorts already have poorer health outcomes than the general population. We are effectively denying healthcare access to those who need it most.”

To view the view the RACGP media release Rural and remote patients left behind by telehealth cuts in full click here. The AMA has also raised concerns in a media release, available here, that the dropping of a number of telephone Medicare items by the Government on 1 July has left vulnerable people at risk.

Image source: Hospital + Healthcare.

Grants to improve cancer outcomes

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy today announced that nine grants totalling over $1 million have been awarded to improve cancer outcomes, including three aimed at reducing the impacts of cancer on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Senator McCarthy said that Cancer Australia’s Supporting people with cancer grants will fund locally-based programs to make a much needed difference in regional and remote Indigenous Australian communities. “These grants are a step in the right direction to improve wellbeing, provide support and increase equitable cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

To view Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release New opportunities to improve Indigenous cancer outcomes click here.

Cancer Council SA’s Yarning Circles provide a way to comfortably connect with the community and break down any barriers or fears that may exist with regards to cancer. Image source: Cancer Council SA website.

Remote areas lack quality drinking water

Australians in more than 400 remote or regional communities lack access to good-quality drinking water, while about 8% of Australia’s population is not included in reporting on access to clean water, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU). The researchers reviewed public reporting by 177 water utilities to measure gaps in drinking water quality in regional and remote Australia.

They assessed water quality performance against the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), which provide guidance to water regulators and suppliers on monitoring and managing drinking water quality. The researchers found at least 25,245 people across 99 locations with populations of fewer than 1,000 people had accessed water services that did not comply with the health-based guideline values at least once in 2018–19.

They also identified 408 regional and remote locations with a combined population of 627,736 people that failed to measure up to either health-based guidelines or the ADWG’s aesthetic determinants of good water quality across taste, colour and odour. Furthermore, 40% of all locations with reported health-based non-compliances were remote Indigenous communities. Lead author of a peer-reviewed paper published in Nature Partner Journal Clean Water, Dr Paul Wyrwoll said their research also shows Australia’s national reporting of drinking water quality is not fit-for-purpose.

To view the ANU media release Aussies living remotely lack access to quality drinking water in full click here. You can also access a related Nature article Measuring the gaps in drinking water quality and policy across regional and remote Australia here.

Beswick’s water is very high in calcium. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi, ABC News.

Cervical cancer self-screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have produced a range of National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) resources, including videos (such as the one below), posters, brochures and fact sheets. The resources, available here include ones specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women:

  • a visual guide to help understand Cervical Screening Test results
  • an A3 poster to promote the National Cervical Screening Program
  • visual guide to help understand how to take a vaginal sample for a Cervical Screening Test
  • a video (below) explaining how to take a Cervical Screening Test sample if self-collection is chosen as a screening option for their Cervical Screening Test.

PrioritEYES survey participants thanked

This year in JulEye, NACCHO wants to give a shout out to all ACCHOs that completed the PrioritEYES Survey open from 8 April to 20 May 2022. The information gathered will help us tackle gaps in eye care for our ACCHOs and their communities.

80% of all ACCHOs provided a response to the PrioritEYES survey – a huge achievement and information that will help us progress ACCHO eye care needs.

We learnt, 81% ACCHOs that responded are interested in greater ACCHO ownership and leadership in eye care. We are excited to work towards this as ACCHOs are best placed to support eye and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ACCHOs will hear from us soon about the findings from the survey and what’s next.

JulEye is also a good reminder to get your eyes tested, wear eye protection, and eat well to maintain healthy eyesight.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The scheme provides scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people studying an entry level health course.

The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to First Nations Australians’ health and his role and Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). A NACCHO News special tribute edition available here provides an insight to Puggy and his tireless efforts to improve Aboriginal health.

PHMSS will open for applications on Monday 29 August 2022 for studies undertaken in 2023, closing Monday 10 October 2022. Online applications will be available from this website once the scheme opens.

If you would like to be sent the link to the application once the scheme opens, please register for application updates, click here.

PHMSS Deadly Health Professions recipient Shaydeen Stocker (pictured above with her husband and three children) has started her RN Grad program at SJOG in Midland. Image source: Australian College of Nursing First Nations health scholarships webpage.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Image in feature tile is of Rex Munungurr’s wheelchair, which isn’t suitable for uneven ground. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian, 5 November 2019 article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery.

NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Yesterday NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations Pat Turner gave evidence on Day 4 of the Disability Royal Commission Public hearing 25 – The Operation of the NDIS for First Nations people with disability in remote and very remote communities. Ms Turner gave a brief overview of NACCHO’s work, the types of services provided by ACCHOs and how many ACCHOs are expanding into disability and aged care service delivery. Ms Turner noted that a third of ACCHOs are in remote or very remote locations and those ACCHOs deliver over one million episodes of care each year.

You can access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here for more detail about hearing 25 and you can access a transcript of Day 4 of the hearing here.

Remote First Nations parents fear losing kids

Indigenous parents caring for children with a disability in remote communities aren’t seeking assistance from services due to fears their kids will be taken away, an inquiry has been told. This week the Disability Royal Commission has been examining the experiences of thousands of First Nations people with disabilities in isolated communities.

Deputy CEO of the First Persons Disability Network, June Riemer, said she was aware of nine families in Utopia, about three hours’ drive from Alice Springs, with children with severe disabilities who never left the house. “For our vulnerable families who may have children with severe disabilities, they’re afraid they’ll be taken rather than supported,” she told the inquiry yesterday. “They were hidden from the community because there was a fear that the children would be be taken. There is that fear across Australia.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, said data showed there were significant underspends in NDIS plans for Indigenous people. (This) demonstrates that even though our people are becoming NDIS participants, they can’t access the services they need,” she said. “This is compounded in remote and very remote areas. Many services are not available, or those that are may not be culturally safe.”

To view The Canberra Times article Remote Indigenous parents fear losing children click here.

NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) with brothers Djayak (left) and Mithili (right) and cousin Ted Wanambi (second from left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian.

Climate change is white colonisation

‘Climate change is racist’. So reads the title of a recent book by British journalist Jeremy Williams. While this title might seem provocative, it’s long been recognised that people of colour suffer disproportionate harms under climate change – and this is likely to worsen in the coming decades. However, most rich white countries, including Australia, are doing precious little to properly address this inequity. For the most part, they refuse to accept the climate debt they owe to poorer countries and communities.

The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, says climate change: disrupts cultural and spiritual connections to Country that are central to health and wellbeing. Health services are struggling to operate in extreme weather with increasing demands and a reduced workforce. All these forces combine to exacerbate already unacceptable levels of ill-health within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

To read the Daily Bulletin article Climate change is white colonisation of the atmosphere. It’s time to tackle this entrenched racism in full click here.

Members of Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. Image source: Seed website.

Managing diabetes needs comprehensive approach

The RACGP, along with the NACCHO, is also calling for a more integrated, comprehensive approach to managing diabetes in primary care. RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price said the college wanted to see the introduction of a rebate for GP consults that last 60 minutes. “Greater support for longer consultations and GP-led team care will make a huge difference for people with chronic conditions,” she said. Additional investment in the Workforce Incentive Program, Professor Price said, could also help boost multidisciplinary care for people with diabetes.

NACCHO called for continued funding for the Integrating Pharmacists within ACCHOs to Improve Chronic Disease Management, better known as the IPAC project. It has recently been described by the Medical Services Advisory Committee as an “excellent example of an integrated, collaborative, patient-centred approach to primary care”.

People with diabetes were one of the cohorts which had benefitted from the project so far, according to NACCHO medicines policy and programs director Mike Stephens. “Given the project’s demonstrable acceptability and effectiveness, it is time for government to provide a sustained investment in integrating pharmacists into team-based primary care settings, including ACCHOs,” he said.

You can view The Medical Republic article Why can’t GPs approve glucose monitors? in full here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Healthy diets can drain half of regional incomes

Research by Deakin University has found that healthy diets can cost as much as 50% of the disposable income of Australians living in rural and remote areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups) because of rampant inflation. The study by Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthy diets cost a low-income family of four about one-quarter to one-third of their income (after tax).

One in four Australians indicated that grocery shopping had a big financial impact on their household budgets. The increased costs were due to global economic factors, supply chain and global shipping issues, the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and severe weather events. The researchers found the prices of vegetables, particularly lettuce, broccoli and tomato have soared over the past few years.

To view The Canberra Times article Deakin researchers find healthy diets can drain as much as half of rural and remote community incomes in full click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the prices. Image source: SBS News.

What VTP will mean for First Nations health

Dean Parkin will join the AMA National Conference live from the Garma festival in remote Arnhem Land. The From the Heart Director will speak to doctors about what a voice to parliament (VTP) will mean for Indigenous health and take questions from attendees. Mr Parkin is from the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland and was closely involved in the process that resulted in the historic Uluru Statement From The Heart. The Voice to Parliament was proposed in the From the Heart statement and endorsed by the AMA in 2018.

The Federal Government has committed to a referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in its first term. In his role Mr Parkin continues to advocate for constitutional and structural reform to enable that establishment. He will join the AMA National Conference via video link from the annual celebration of Yolngu culture to discuss what a Voice to Parliament requires and the contribution it can make to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To read the Mirage article From Heart director to address national conference in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

VIC regional child and family program launch

Victoria’s peak child and family services body launched a travelling regional program this week, aiming to link like minded organisations within the sector, and share knowledge. The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s Connecting Communities Regional Tour is designed to strengthen their members’ and partners’ grasp on the unique challenges country Victorian families, children and young people experience. It’s also a chance for the Centre to hear from those working in the child and family services sector, to share ideas, start conversations, and strive to problem-solve.

Ballarat was the first stop, with local expert panellists including Child and Family Services Ballarat CEO Wendy Sturgess, Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich, and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative CEO Karen Heap. “This forum demonstrates a genuine commitment by the Victorian Government to listen to the community about the issues that affect our sector,” Ms Sturgess said. “We would be encouraging anyone who has an interest or works in the child and family services sector to take this opportunity to amplify the voice of regional Victoria directly to the key decision makers at a State level.”

To read the Ballarat Times article Children and families focus for tour in full click here.

Image source: Law Society of NSW Journal Online.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Reflecting on moments mob stood up

The image is the feature tile is of an Invasion Day rally in Sydney on 26 January 2018. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Reflecting on moments mob stood up

Alexis Moran has written an article for NITV reflecting on this year’s NAIDOC theme — Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up — reflection on some significant moments where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shifted history by fighting for their community. Ms Moran says “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people always stand up. It’s nothing new to our communities. Since colonisation, Indigenous people have fought against oppression. And that continues every day — whether it be on January 26, to march against deaths in custody and other wrongdoing, or just to speak up for what we believe in and what’s right. It’s because of this activism — getting up, standing up and showing up — that history can and has been changed.”

Ms Moran goes on to discuss specifically the frontier wars; land rights: Mabo and Wik vs. Queensland; deaths in custody; sports; establishing essential First Nations services; the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the Koori Mail during the NSW floods.

To read the SBS NITV article 7 historical moments where mob Got up, Stood up and Showed up click here. You can also watch LaVerne Bellear, CEO AMSC Redfern in the video below as she explains the story behind the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) established in 1971, Australia’s first ACCHO.

Register for CTG scripts BEFORE 1 July

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

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

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

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

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

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

You can download a poster here to put up at your service as well as images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

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

NACCHO Medicines Team

Intergenerational toll of nuclear tests

Three generations of First Nations survivors of historic nuclear tests have told the United Nations (UN) that Australia must do more to address the devastating impact the tests have had on their families. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) invited survivors to address a conference in Vienna, more than 60 years after nuclear bombs were detonated in the SA outback.

Yankunytjatjara woman Karina Lester, Kokatha elder Sue Coleman-Haseldine and her granddaughter, Mia Haseldine, shared their experiences via video link from Port Augusta. The women told the conference how the tests conducted by the British government at Maralinga and Emu Field in the 1950s had affected the health of successive generations of Aboriginal families from the region. They called on the Australian government to sign the UNTreaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which came into force in January last year.

To read the ABC News article Nuclear test survivors’ plea for Australia to sign treaty, as they speak at UN meeting in full click here.

Submissions to the UN from Port Augusta were part of the first meeting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo: Bethanie Alderson, ABC North & West SA.

AMA calls for telehealth extension

The AMA today called on the federal government to extend patient access to Medicare funded COVID-19 telehealth services beyond June 30 2022 Under a decision taken by the former Government, from 1 July access to both GP and non-GP specialist telehealth services will be cut back, particularly telephone consultations.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said patients cannot afford to lose access to COVID-19 telehealth as it will make access to medical care more difficult, particularly for vulnerable populations and those who might not have the access or skills to use other IT platforms. “Broad access to Medicare funded telehealth services has been a key part of our pandemic response by reducing patients’ exposure to the virus and helping people in self-isolation to access critical medical care,” Dr Khorshid said. Dr Khorshid said governments needed to be responsive to the ongoing situation and adapt as circumstances change.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA calls for telehealth funding extension as COVID-19 pandemic continues in full click here. You can watch an Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) video of a telehealth consultation below.

Minds need decluttering too

Accredited mental health social worker Kym Marsden’s article Decluttering isn’t just a house job, our minds need it too was recently published in the National Indigenous Times. Ms Marsden asks readers to “Picture a cluttered area in your home, now think about how all that clutter makes you feel as it grows, you start tripping over things and are unable to locate things you need. She admits to initially trying to ignore it, which is a short term solution, but as the clutter remains, or continues to grow so does the ability to ignore it.

Ms Marsden says the same applies when our minds are overloaded resulting in persistent overwhelming thoughts, regrets, worries or concerns. While we will all respond differently when our cluttered minds have reached capacity, for Ms Marsden it is disturbed sleep, feeling anxious and being unable to concentrate as she is fixated on certain thoughts and worries that are like a whirlwind in head head that won’t shut off, particularly at night.

To read the article in full, including strategies to help declutter your mind, click here.

Image source: iStock by Getty Images.

Preventing falls at any age

Falls are common. Each year 2 in 3 people aged over 65 will fall. Around 1 in 10 falls lead to serious injury. The most common serious injuries are fractures and brain injuries. Falls can also result in a loss of confidence, which can lead to restriction of activity and a lower quality of life. Many older people never regain their pre-fall level of function and might even struggle to keep living by themselves.

The consequences of falls cost Australia a staggering $4.3 billion every year. The good news is 20–30% of fall among older Australians can be prevented.

To view The Conversation article I’m getting older, how can I prevent falls? in full click here.

According to recently published Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data falls are one of the leading causes of hospitalisations for older Aboriginal people In 2019–20, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people there were 7,000 hospitalisations and 45 deaths due to unintentional fall with rates of fall hospitalisations being highest among people aged 65 and over. During that period Indigenous Australians were 1.4 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be hospitalised due to a fall injury. For the majority of causes, the most remote areas had the highest rates and the least remote areas had the lowest rates.

It has been proven that once someone has suffered a fall, they are at a higher risk of another injury. A free, culturally safe, falls prevention program, IRONBARK, run by South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and Curtin University has seen great success. Y ou can read more about the IRONBARK program here.

Image source: Health Times.

Noongar version of Baby Ways book

An award winning early years literacy program has been expanded to include the Noongar language, with the launch of the first dual language Baby Ways book. Maawit Mart/Baby Ways will be given to Aboriginal families living on Noongar land and aims to help narrow the gap between literacy rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.

The Baby Ways book is an engaging and fun-to-read book that features WA babies sitting, bathing, reading and playing. It is included in the Better Beginnings pack that is presented to all new families in WA at birth as part of a wider program that encourages parents to read to their children.

To view The National Tribune article Noongar version of Better Beginnings Baby Ways book launched in full click here.

Image source: Better Beginnings Indigenous Program State Library of WA webpage.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Continence Week

World Continence Week (WCW) is a health campaign run by the World Federation For Incontinence and Pelvic Problems (WFIPP) to raise awareness of incontinence related issues. This year it takes place from the Monday 20 to Sunday 26 June and during the week the WFIPP highlights the impact urinary incontinence can have on our life and encourages those living with it to seek help so they no longer have to suffer in silence.

For more information about WCW click here.

You can also access a range of resources developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by the Continence Foundation of Australia, here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Rural and regional health system is broken

Image in feature tile from Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, NSW website.

Rural and regional health system is broken

Dr Rob Phair, GP in Bairnsdale Victoria, and President of the Rural Doctor’s Association of Victoria. Dr Robin Williams, GP in Molong NSW, and Chair of the Western NSW Primary Health Network and Dr Gabreille O’Kane, CEO of the Rural Health Alliance were guests this morning on an episode of ABC Radio National Life Matters hosted by Michael Mackenzie discussing the question ‘Is the medical system in rural and regional Australia still fit for purpose?’

Rural doctors say the death, earlier this month, of a 72-year-old man in Bairnsdale, eastern Victoria, died in an emergency room bathroom after waiting more than three hours for treatment is the latest example of a broken medical system, which, they argue, needs a radical restructure to meet the changing needs of the times.

Dr O’Kane said the ACCHO model of care is appealing to the rural health sector and is proposing a community-led model of care employing a range of healthcare professionals, from GPs and psychologist to nurses and physiotherapists, similar to ACCHOs.

You can listen to the Life Matters interview in full here.

Photo: Ian Waldie, Getty Images. Image source: ABC News RN Life Matters webpage.

Health sector needs ‘whole-of-workforce’ strategy

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) is urging all political parties to recognise the importance of our workforce in establishing a health system that can deliver the care Australians deserve. ‘Matching and forecasting the needs, demands and supply of the health workforce is complex in any context,’ says AHHA Acting Chief Executive Kylie Woolcock. ‘However, ahead of the upcoming Federal Election, urgent action is needed to address workforce issues in Australia’s heath system if it is to continue to provide vital services to the community.’

To view the AHHA media release Whole-of-workforce strategy needed to deliver healthcare that Australians deserve in full click here.

RHD not purely due to remoteness

Lynette Bullio’s son Jalil was just seven years old when he found out he would need painful injections each month until at least his 21st birthday. The Cairns boy was limping around but he and his mother thought it was because he had tripped over at school. When, by the end of the week, Jalil couldn’t even manage a short walk from his mother’s car to the school gate, Ms Bullio knew it was something more serious. Jalil, now 11, was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease(RHD).

He is one of thousands of mostly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across northern Australia with the condition that was largely eradicated in Australia’s urban non-Indigenous population about 60 years ago. “It still is traumatic, I think, when I talk about it and realise how huge this disease is,” Ms Bullio said. “I start getting a lump in my throat.”

Ben Reeves, a paediatric cardiologist at Cairns Hospital, said while the disease was often associated with isolated communities he still saw new cases of rheumatic fever in Cairns children every week. “This is not purely due to remoteness,” Dr Reeves said. “It’s a lack of access to appropriate facilities and it’s a lack of awareness among the community and some health staff and we’re trying very hard to turn this around.”

You can access the ABC Far North News article Rheumatic heart disease strategy launched in Queensland as more people get sick in large centres in full here.

Image source: newsGP.

Major Parties ‘Nowhere on Health’

The AMA is disappointed the federal election campaign is half-way through and ‘nowhere on health’, while calls for politicians to address health policy are getting louder in the community. State Premiers, Health Ministers and State Treasurers have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal Health Minister previously to ask for a 50-50 split on hospital funding, and to remove the annual cap on activity, in order to deal with the backlog of care in the community following COVID-19 lockdowns.

“State and Territory Ministers, and even Premiers, have stated their clear, unequivocal support for a 50-50 agreement that removes the cap on funding growth – this is not something an incoming government is going to be able to ignore. So instead, political parties should be outlining how they will fix our hospital system, should they win government,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

To view the AMA’s media release Halfway to Nowhere on Health, AMA says future PM and Government can’t hide from urgent need for new hospital agreement in full click here.

Fears NT bill will open booze floodgates

Three Indigenous bodies are calling on the NT government to immediately shelve legislation which could allow take-away alcohol into more than 430 communities from mid-July this year. The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT), the Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency and Aboriginal Housing NT have proposed the bill be dismissed.

Under the 2007 Federal Intervention, these communities in NT became Alcohol Protected Areas, which continued under the Stronger Futures legislation. AMSANT CEO John Patterson said consultations for the proposed change have not begun. “There has been no proper consultation, and there simply cannot be any in the short time available,” he said. “Aboriginal health organisations and peak bodies did not know about the Bill. This Government has introduced many excellent alcohol reforms, and this sudden and puzzling change is a backward step that has not been explained properly to anyone. Why not move to an opt-out system instead which would ensure all communities make an active decision about what they want to do rather than simply have the current protections taken away.”

North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency executive officer Priscilla Atkins said the mixture of dry and unrestricted communities would be impossible to monitor. “The biggest issue we’ve got is a lot of criminal matters that come before the court are alcohol related,” she said. “You’re going to have alcohol coming into the remote communities there’ll be more violence, more pressure on the courts, more pressure on the police…and it’s disappointing that we’re talking about this now and the legislation expires on the 30th of June.

You can view the National Indigenous Times article Fears NT Govt bill will open booze floodgates in dry communities in full here.

Photo Tim Wimborne, Reuters. Image source: The Guardian.

Agent Orange poisoned WA mob

Premiering from June onwards on both NITV and SBS online platforms, a documentary On Australian Shores, produced and directed by Ngikalikarra Media, will tell the harrowing story of a large number of Aboriginal men and their families, who were knowingly and unwittingly poisoned by government in order to enhance the profits of the agricultural industry. The story of the wanton neglect of the WA Agricultural Protection Board (APB) via a series of interviews with survivors, their family members that have outlived them, and current generations still affected by Agent Orange poisoning.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers has spoken to Ngikalikarra Media co-producer, director and editor Dr Magali McDuffie about how despite numerous inquiries and reports the overwhelming majority of victims remain uncompensated, while the WA government continues to deny any of it ever happened.

You can read the article WA Poisoned First Nations With Agent Orange: An Interview With Ngikalikarra’s Dr Magali McDuffie in full on the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website here.

One of the APB work crews employed to unknowingly spray Agent Orange around the Kimberley. Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers website.

NDIS access in the Kimberley region

An article Equity in Access: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Access Program for the Kimberley Region, WA has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The article describes a study exploring the process and early outcomes of work undertaken by a program to increase Aboriginal people’s awareness of, and access to, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Access Program was reported as successful by staff in its aim of connecting eligible people with the NDIS. Vital to this success was program implementation by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector. Staff in these organisations held community trust, provided culturally appropriate services, and utilised strengths-based approaches to overcome barriers that have historically hindered Aboriginal people’s engagement with disability services. The results of the study demonstrate the Access Program is a successful start in increasing awareness of, and access to, the NDIS for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region, however much work remains to assist the large number of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region believed to be eligible for NDIS support who are yet to achieve access.

To view the article in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Get ready for Heart Week

One Australian is having a heart attack or stroke every 4 minutes.

This Heart Week from Monday 2 -–Sunday 8 May 2022, presents an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of heart health and for GPs, nurses and general practice staff to deliver Heart Health Checks for more at-risk Australians. It is an opportunity for health professionals and the Australian public to start a conversation about heart health and take steps to reduce their risk of heart disease. General practice teams and health professionals have a pivotal role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and have the power to change the one every 4 minute statistic by focusing on simple, routine practices that have a measurable lifesaving impact.

For more information about Heart Week 2022 click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mob 15 times more likely to have RHD

Image in feature tile is of Tenaya Bell, one of 1000s of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the incurable disease, RHD. Image supplied to ABC News by Telethon Kids Institute.

Mob 15 times more likely to have RHD

In a media statement released earlier today NACCHO commented on a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) concerning the rate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in comparison to other Australians. The media statement is reproduced here in full:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease than other Australians

In a report released on 12 April 2022, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) highlight the alarming findings that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with RHD than all Australians. New diagnoses of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are also increasing. Previous research has also shown that Aboriginal children between 5 to 15 years of age are 55 times more likely to die from RHD than other Australian children.

Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO said, “ARF and RHD are preventable conditions. Despite this, too many of our communities continue to experience the effects of these diseases of disadvantage. This updated report provides further evidence that a new approach to ending ARF and RHD is needed. It is imperative the ACCHO sector now plays the lead role in identifying and implementing future solutions.”

To address some of the significant issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in rural and remote areas, NACCHO, with funding support from the Department of Health, is co-designing a new program of activities with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector. These activities will be designed to support early detection and effective treatment of RHD and ARF and ensure services are provided in a culturally safe way, targeting highest need communities.

You can view the media statement on the NACCHO website using this link.

Image source: AIHW ARF and RHD in Australia, 2016–2020 website page.

Galiwin’ku AHP clocks up 30 years

Wanamula Dorothy Gondarra, who celebrated her 70th birthday yesterday, has shown dedication to health promotion in the Galiwin’ku community over the last three decades. During that time Wanamula has worked at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation for almost 20 years.

AMA gives major parties ‘F’ on health

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and Victorian emergency physician Dr Stephen Parnis where interviewed this morning on Channel 9’s Today show about the crisis in health and what Labor and the Liberal National Party are promising for health in the federal election.

Dr Omar said “what we need is a solution for our epidemic of chronic disease in the community. That means modernising our Medicare system and making sure that GPs can look after those things properly in the community and take the pressure on off our hospitals. And of course, the other thing we need is both sides of politics to get real, to understand that the ambulance ramping crisis is actually affecting people’s lives on a daily basis now in Australia. They’ve got to find a solution to work with the states, properly fund those hospitals and make sure that every Aussie who gets sick knows that when they go to the hospital, they’re going to get the care they need, when they need it.”

Dr Paris said “a whole number of things were needed, including better resourcing, and part of that means a better financial contribution from the Federal Government for hospitals. It needs better support for staffing, some of that in the short-term to ensure that staff can have time away – there is no substitute for that when you’ve got thousands of people who are burned out. And you also need the support of systems that take away pressure from hospitals, as Omar said, with general practice, but also in the area of aged care which puts an enormous amount of pressure on emergency departments and inpatient wards.”

To view the AMA’s transcript of the interview in full click here.

Calls to shelve NT alcohol legislation

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT), the Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and the Aboriginal Housing NT (AHNT) are calling on the NT Government to immediately shelve legislation that could allow take-away alcohol into more than 430 Community Living Areas, town camps and other small communities from mid-July 2022. These communities became Alcohol Protected Areas (APAs) under the 2007 Federal Intervention, and this continued under Federal Labor’s Stronger Futures legislation. The alcohol-related Stronger Futures provisions will expire on 16 July this year. Territory communities that were already ‘dry’ General Restricted Areas for many years, through their own choice, will keep that status – but the APA communities will have to apply to stay alcohol-free or the condition will lapse and they will have no restrictions.

If the Government’s amendments to the Liquor Act Bill is passed in May, it will open the floodgates to take-away alcohol unless communities ask the Director of Licensing to declare them ‘dry.’ “There has been no proper consultation, and there simply cannot be any in the short time available. Aboriginal health organisations and peak bodies did not know about the Bill,” said Mr Paterson, CEO of AMSANT. “Consultations for the proposed changes have not even begun”, Mr Paterson. “We call on the Chief Minister in the strongest terms to cease playing with Aboriginal people’s lives. High levels of alcohol consumption continue to lead to serious health and social problems in the Territory. This Bill must be withdrawn now, or the Federal Government must act.” concluded Mr. Paterson.

To view the joint AMSANT, Aboriginal Housing NT and North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency media release in full click here.

Photo: Claire Campbell, ABC News.

Deadly Choices drives positive health

The Men’s Health Golf Day marks one of Deadly Choices’ first community participation events for 2022, driving positive health behaviour from the Gold Coast’s Palm Meadows Golf Course.  The annual event brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men from across Queensland to ‘drive home’ the messages associated with healthy lifestyles, with a focus on raising awareness of mental health and encouraging men to seek out support from their local ACCHOs.  As with all Deadly Choices events, participants must have an up to date 715 Health Check.

The event will allow recently named Birmingham Commonwealth Games weightlifter and Olympian Brandon Wakeling a chance to limber up before international competition in July, joined by fellow Olympian, Australia’s fastest man and 2032 Brisbane Olympic Organising Committee member, Patrick Johnson. The Olympic feel is complemented by a distinct NRL presence, with league legends and fellow Deadly Choices Ambassadors Petero Civoniceva, Steve Renouf, Willie Tonga, Brenton Bowen and Tyrone Roberts enjoying the Gold Coast fairways.

“Mental health overarches everything we do with Deadly Choices relating to overall health and wellbeing, so when men can get on top of that, everything else seems that little bit easier to manage,” said Renouf. “These issues can blind men from their responsibilities as a son, as a husband and as a father – they become closed off and that’s when depression can take hold.”

Deadly Choices Ambassadors Petero Civoniceva, Steve Renouf, Willie Tonga, Tyrone Roberts, Brenton Bowen, plus Olympians Brandon Wakeling and Patrick Johnson joined150 men from right across Queensland to tee off this morning.

Deadly New Dads video competition

Entries are now open for the SMS4dads Deadly New Dads Video Competition, which invites soon-to-be and new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers to submit a short video (under two minutes) showcasing what they love about being or becoming a new dad.

Click here For more information. Those who enter the competition will go into the draw to win from a total prize pool of $10,000. For each category, prizes include:

  • overall winner – $3000
  • second prize – $1000
  • third prize – $500.

Entries close on Sunday 22 May 2022.

Real time prescription monitoring

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says a new medicine management system is now live across the NT ensuring greater care for patients. NTScript was jointly funded by the Territory Labor Government and the Federal Government, and it provides real time prescription monitoring (RTPM) information for controlled drugs at the point of care, helping to improve clinical decision making.

Through using NTScript, Clinicians in the NT now have greater access to prescribing records, including up-to-date information about the supply of high risk medicines. NTScript will assist with the identification of people who may be at risk of harm from medicine use. This will enable clinicians to have informed conversations with patients and help reduce the risk of medication related harm.

To view the media release in full click here.

TB in Australia’s Tropical North study

The NT has the highest tuberculosis (TB) rate of all Australian jurisdictions. A study has been undertaken combining TB public health surveillance data with genomic sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates in the tropical ‘Top End’ of the NT to investigate trends in TB incidence and transmission. This retrospective observational study included all 741 culture-confirmed cases of TB in the Top End over three decades from 1989–2020. The findings of the study support prioritisation of timely case detection, contact tracing augmented by genomic sequencing, and latent TB treatment to break transmission chains in Top End remote hotspot regions.

To read the research paper Tuberculosis in Australia’s tropical north: a population-based genomic epidemiological study published in The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific click here.

L-R: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium which causes TB. Image source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. TB most commonly causes pneumonia, The Conversation. A Mantoux test for TB being administered in a Darwin Clinic – Katherine Gregory, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS + Sexual Health Conferences

For 30 years the Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference, the leading HIV conference in Australasia, has brought together delegates from Australia, NZ, Asia, and the Pacific. Importantly, the Conference reaches beyond Australasia, with keynotes and invited speakers from around the world. This makes for an event with global and local relevance, giving delegates a global platform with access to state-of-the-art research and evidence.  ASHM coordinates the conference to disseminate new and innovative research findings among delegates from a range of backgrounds

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM)’s vision for reconciliation is that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience equity, dignity, and respect in all aspects of life. Therefore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples representation in research, policy and health education is an ongoing goal for both ASHM and the Conference, and we welcome all Indigenous delegates and submissions from Indigenous professionals. 

The four-day face-to-face conference will be held from Friday 29 August – Monday 1 September 2022 at The Sofitel Central Brisbane Centre.

For more information visit the Australasian Sexual Health Conference (ASRHA) website here.

Abstract Submission Deadline: Sunday 1 May

Early Bird Registration Deadline: Thursday 30 June

Standard Registration Deadline: Sunday 14 August

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cost of living hikes a health danger

feature tile text 'cost of living hikes dangerous for ATSI health' & Aboriginal hands holding shopping trolley

Image in feature tile from Adult Learning Australia website Food in remote Australia is expensive section.

Cost of living hikes a health danger

The cost of basic household items has reached new heights in regional centres but also Aboriginal communities. In yesterday’s episode of ABC radio’s The World Today with Sally Sara experts Diane Temple, Mamu woman, Queensland, June Riemer, Gumbaynggirr woman and deputy CEO, First Peoples Disability Network and Dr Joy Linton, GP, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, Yarrabah discuss how the cost of living hikes are dangerous for Indigenous health. Health experts are worried the lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables will cause serious health issues.

You can listen to the radio segment here and a related story Doctors fear impacts of more expensive fruit and veg, featuring Dr Kean-Seng Lin, GP in Mt Druitt, western Sydney and Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University also on The World Today here.

screenshot of The World Today ABC logo tile

Dietitians Australia say Improving food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in remote, regional and urban parts of Australia is essential to achieving health equity. “Food security is a fundamental human right,” said Board Director of Dietitians Australia and Gamilaroi woman, Tracy Hardy. “The 2021 Close the Gap Report stated that we need strategies to manage food security in response to the rising cost of food, and the impact of climate change on food availability.” You can view the Dietitians Australian media release here.

Remote community stores across Australia are receiving $8 million to strengthen the supply of essential goods, groceries and other critical supplies. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, said the funding will provide 43 stores with the resources they need to improve their supply chains, storage and delivery of products in their communities. “In the 2021–22 Budget we committed $5 million to invest in remote stores to improve food security and strengthen supply chains,” Minister Wyatt said. “Since then, we’ve seen an increased need for reliable food security in remote communities, and we’re responding with increased support. “We’re now investing $8 million to directly support remote stores to fund infrastructure upgrades, cool and dry storage expansion, green energy systems and training for staff and management.”

To view the Minister Wyatt’s Securing Essential Supplies for Remote Australia media release click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking with frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo: Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.

Purple House making families well on Country

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation is the official name for what is now more commonly known as the Purple House. The Purple House is an organisation dedicated to getting First Nations Peoples from remote communities back home on Country through the delivery of renal services. Its conception, design and delivery are based firmly in the values of Yanangu. It remains entirely Indigenous-owned and run, with an all-Yanangu Board of Directors who are elected by its members.

A translation of the Purple House’s official title means ‘making all our families well’. This is also the vision statement for the organisation. Since its beginnings in 2000, Purple House has concentrated on addressing the epidemic of renal disease inflicting remote First Nations communities. It has done this effectively and successfully, vastly improving the quality of life and life expectancy of renal patients. It is now possible to say that, in this space, the Purple House has not only closed the gap but has opened a gap on the national average.

The Purple House now operates 19 permanent remote dialysis clinics and two mobile units called Purple Trucks. The success of the model has led to an expansion of services, which now include aged care, disability, primary health and social support. However, there remains a constant call from other remote communities to support their needs as well.

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

Purple House van

The Purple Truck. Image source: RAHC Partyline website.

The disease of racism

Veteran Queensland health professional, Bindal Elder Gracelyn Smallwood and Aboriginal businessman and human rights campaigner Dr Stephen Hagan have filed complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging they were recently racially discriminated against at a Townsville service station. Professor Smallwood told CAAMA Radio it was not unusual in Townsville and that nothing surprised her about the alleged incident. Following a phone call from Ms Smallwood, Dr Hagan drove to the same service station to fill up his car as a “test” – but says he too was also discriminated against by the same attendant because he was Aboriginal. Professor Smallwood says despite being stereotyped for decades because of her stand against racism the only way attitudes are going to change is by suing the perpetrators. You can listen to the interview in full here.

A related article looks at a study exploring the relationships between experiences of perceived racism, mental health and drug and alcohol use among Aboriginal Australians. The current research indicates that racism is still frequently experienced by Aboriginal Australians and is directly associated with poorer mental health, and indirectly with substance use through poorer mental health. The findings demonstrate a clear need for further research in this area. To view the Examining the Associations Between Experiences of Perceived Racism and Drug sand Alcohol Use in Aboriginal Australians article in full click here.

Annual overview of First Nations health

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has just released its annual authoritative online publication The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2021. There is a featured section on the Coronavirus disease and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. During the pandemic, health authorities have reinforced that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk but have praised the response of ACCHOs in delivering strong evidence based and culturally responsive prevention initiatives.

The release of the key findings from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides promising news for specific diseases. There was a decline in total burden for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, hearing loss and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Improvements in birth and pregnancy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies continue, with evidence of an increase in the proportion of mothers attending antenatal care in the first trimester (increased from 49% in 2012 to 67% in 2019), a decrease in the rate of mothers smoking during pregnancy, and a slight decrease in the proportion of babies born small for gestational age. The national target for childhood immunisation has been met for 5 year olds with 97% coverage.

Of all specific causes of death, ischaemic heart disease was  the leading cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined in 2020.  Injury was the leading cause of hospitalisation in 2019–20 (excluding dialysis).

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew, said ‘Our annual authoritative Overview is a comprehensive evidenced based resource for those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. The overall data shows it is critical to also address environmental health factors  – such as housing and hygiene – that underpin the spread of many infectious diseases.”

As part of the HealthInfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics has been produced here with PowerPoint slides of the key points.

An ‘increasingly angry black woman’

In an article for the Canberra City News Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs refers to a feature in The Guardian written by South African writer, activist and political analyst Sisonke Msimang. Msimang says “while I have been full of admiration, each time Tame has earned the spotlight, I have imagined the response if I had behaved that way, or if any number of black and Indigenous women in the public domain had dared to do the same. I am yet to see black women’s anger greeted with the same kind of public solidarity or sympathy. And yet black women have been expressing anger for years as they address racist police and education systems, as they try to create opportunities for themselves and face the double burden of sexism and racism.”

Julie Tongs agrees with Msimang, saying “I will mention just two of the many issues that I, an increasingly angry black woman, have raised loudly, publicly and repeatedly over a number of years. However, the depth of the silence with which my entreaties for the scandalous treatment of Aboriginal women and children in Canberra to be addressed can, in my opinion, be best explained by reference to the fact that these issues are being raised and agitated by a black woman on behalf of other black women and their children. Frankly, what other explanation can there be?”

“Despite the lengths I have gone to, I have not generated any meaningful response from the ACT government or more than a scintilla of interest, concern or serious response from local media including the ABC, the Canberra community or the sisterhood. Those two issues are the rates of incarceration of black women and the number of Aboriginal children subject to care and protection orders in Canberra, the national capital and alleged haven of progressivity.”

To view the City News article in full click here.

Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Consent education needs Blak voices

The Teach Us Consent movement – founded by Chanel Contos in 2021 – has gained bipartisan political support to mandate consent education in Australian schools from 2023. The movement was rapidly successful after collecting over 6,600 stories of people who had experienced sexual assault by someone when they were at school. This was followed quickly by the federal government committing $189 million over five years to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in family, domestic and sexual violence.

Issues of sexual violence and consent are gaining momentum at a national level., yet, within these important discussions, the voices, experiences and needs of First Nations people are not widely represented or heard. Drawing on the current momentum and interest in consent education, there is an opportunity to fund place-based, culturally appropriate and co-designed consent education with First Nations young people.

The response to sexual violence must move beyond simply adding “dot paintings” to mainstream curricula to address the conditions that make sexual violence an issue for many. To have a real impact on young people and our communities, we need to be telling the whole story of women, gender and sexual violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives against the backdrop of colonisation.

To view The Conversation Consent education needs Blak voices for the safety and well-being of young First Nations people article in full click here.
Aboriginal teacher, two young boys with raised hands

Image source: The Conversation.

Urban health professionals in remote communities

Since 2008, the Commonwealth-funded Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) has been supporting urban-based health professionals wanting to work in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the NT. In that time, more than 1,700 registered nurses, GPs, dentists, dental therapists, dental assistants, audiologists and allied health professionals have taken up over 7,000 placements throughout the Territory.

RAHC’s main priority for 2022 is to assist in reducing health disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, addressing the Close the Gap strategy. More than a recruitment agency, RAHC provides cultural orientation and ongoing clinical support to healthcare professionals going out on placement. “Developing rapport with a community provides an experience that encourages health professionals to stay with us long-term,” says Clinical Manager Emma Thomas.

Acting National Manager Tess McGuigan adds, ‘We help improve the health and wellbeing of those living in rural, regional and remote areas of the NT with regular professional development, both online and through personal consultations with a clinical coordinator and cultural development adviser. It builds knowledge and confidence so our team can deliver high-quality health care tailored to the unique needs of that community.’

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

A RAHC health professional driving to Imanpa, a remote community in the NT. Photo courtesy of RAHC and Dr Richard Davey. Photo courtesy of Richard Davey. Image source: NRHA Partyline online magazine.

Increasing tick-borne dog disease awareness

An NT campaign to increase awareness in remote communities of a serious tickborne disease has been given a $150,000 boost by the Australian Government. Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the disease ehrlichiosis is caused by the tick-borne bacteria Ehrlichia canis and is carried by the brown dog tick, which is present across northern Australia. “The number of infections in dogs is continuing to increase in northern Australia’s vulnerable Indigenous communities, with prevalence rates of up to 100% in some places,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This disease is relatively new to Australia, having first been detected in WA in May 2020. It was then confirmed in the NT and SA within a year. Dog mortality rates range from 10–30%. However, the disease can be effectively controlled through a combination of antibiotic treatment, preventative measures such as tick collars and containing infected dogs. It’s not just an animal-health issue, dogs are an integral social part of many rural people’s lives.”

To view Minister Littleproud’s media release in full click here.

dogs on road remote community

Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Tuberculosis Day

March 24 marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease. However, TB still claims 4,100 people lives each day and close to 27,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. The emergence of drug-resistant TB poses a major health threat that could put at risk the gains made to end the global TB epidemic. World TB Day is an opportunity to focus on the people affected by this disease and to call for accelerated action to end TB suffering and deaths. For more information about World Tuberculosis Day 2022 click here.

Disparities in tuberculosis (TB) rates exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in many countries, including Australia. The social determinants of health are central to health inequities including disparities in TB rates. There are limitations in the dominant biomedical and epidemiological approaches to representing, understanding and addressing the unequal burden of TB for Indigenous peoples represented in the literature. This paper applies a social determinants of health approach and examines the structural, programmatic and historical causes of inequities for TB in Indigenous Australia.

Development of TB policies and programmes requires reconfiguration. Space must be given for Indigenous Australians to lead, be partners and to have ownership of decisions about how to eliminate TB. Shared knowledge between Indigenous Australians, policy makers and service managers of the social practices and structures that generate TB disparity for Indigenous Australians is essential.

To view the research article The missing voice of Indigenous Australians in the social, cultural and historical experiences of tuberculosis: a systemic and integrative review click here.

The most common kind of TB is pulmonary tuberculosis, which affects the lungs. A latent TB infection (left) can have no symptoms, while with active TB disease (right), the bacteria multiply in the body, becoming contagious. Image source: iStock, Everyday Health.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 24 March 2022.

The panel this week will include Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Dr Michael Bonning, Medical Director, Inner West GP Respiratory Clinic, Balmain Village Health.

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

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

National Advance Care Planning Week

National Advance Care Planning week, Monday 21 to Sunday 27 March 2022, an initiative of Advance Care Planning Australia, is a reminder for Australians to talk to their loved ones about who they would want to speak for them if they become too sick to speak for themselves. Advance Care Planning Australia ambassador and AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy said while advance care planning conversations might be confronting, they are important. “Advance care planning is a process of planning for your future health and personal care by ensuring your values, beliefs and preferences are known to guide those who will make health care decisions on your behalf, should you lose capacity in the future,” Dr Moy said.

“Without such a plan, you may have no voice to guide those decisions and no choice as to what decisions are made on your behalf, instead placing the burden of decision-making on loved ones who may have no idea what care you would actually want – which can bring a legacy of guilt on families which extends after death.

The AMA strongly supports advance care planning as it benefits everyone, the patient, their family, carers and health professionals and is particularly important for people with advanced chronic illness, a life-limiting illness, who are aged 75+ years or at risk of losing competence. The AMA strongly agrees with Advance Care Planning Australia that having an advance care plan can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and increase satisfaction with care for the patient’s family members. In addition, advance care planning assists healthcare professionals and organisations by reducing unnecessary transfers to acute care and unwanted treatment,” Dr Moy said.

Advance Care Planning Australia has found less than 15% of people have documented their health care preferences in an advance care directive.  Dr Moy said advance care planning discussions, and clearly delineating ‘goals of care’, should become a key part of routine healthcare conversations across Australia. He said the Advance Care Planning Australia website is an excellent resource for individuals, families, friends, carers and health professionals.

The AMA’s Position Statement on End of Life Care and Advance Care Planning can be found here and you can view a Palliative Care Australia video on Indigenous Advance Care Plans below.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Action needed on bullying of doctors in training

Image used in feature tile of doctor. Image source: News.com.au.

Action needed on bullying of doctors in training

AMA calls for legislation to tackle widespread bullying of doctors in training.

The results of the 2021 Medical Training Survey show bullying, harassment and discrimination experienced by doctors in training continues to be widespread and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on state and territories to act now to address the underlying factors that can lead to this type of unacceptable behaviour.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the survey demonstrated the need to act now to tackle systemic issues impacting the training and wellbeing of doctors in training (DiT).

“Seven out of 10 DiTs experienced bullying, discrimination and harassment saying it had adversely affected their medical training,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Very disturbingly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in training reported higher levels of bullying, discrimination and harassment, including racism, compared to non-Indigenous colleagues.”

You can read the AMA media release here.
The 2021 Medical Training Survey is available here.

Aboriginal student medical training, stethoscope to female patient's chest

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce is a fundamental part of Closing the Gap. Image: James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: newsGP website.

Case study of ACCHO’s holistic model

Culturally Safe and Integrated Primary Health Care: A Case Study of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services’ Holistic Model

To understand the importance of culturally safe integrated primary health care for Aboriginal families in the Central Coast of New South Wales, where their social and emotional wellbeing is impacted through a range of health issues related to domestic and family violence.

You can read the case study in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet here.

banner text 'Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services' & Aboriginal dot painting yellow purple concentric circles surrounded by spokes-like border

Booster recommended three months after primary vax

More than four million additional Australians are now eligible for their COVID-19 booster dose as of yesterday 31 January 2022. This follows the recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to provide booster doses at a minimum of three months after a person has completed their two-dose primary course of vaccination.

“ATAGI made its recommendation to reduce the interval after closely monitoring the epidemiology and characteristics of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant. It also considered the emerging data on the need, potential benefits, and optimal timing of a vaccine booster dose to prevent COVID-19 due to this variant,” said Minister Hunt.

“Immunocompromised people who have received three primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to receive a booster dose in line with the timing for the general population. ATAGI has also highlighted the importance of boosters for pregnant women.”

You can read the article in the Australian Seniors News here.

Below is a video by the Australian Government Department of Health featuring Dr Mark Wenitong, Aboriginal GP and Public Health Medical Officer, talking about the importance of getting two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine followed by a booster dose.

Ongoing over-incarceration

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) have welcomed news that the average daily number of prisoners in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) has gone down but expressed deep concern about the ongoing over-incarceration of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

The recent Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (RoGS) highlighted:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people make up less than 2% of the general population in the ACT, but 24.4% of the population in the AMC
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are imprisoned at 19 times the rate of non-Indigenous people, well above the national average ratio of 16
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are subject to community corrections orders at 12 times the rate of non-Indigenous people and have a much lower completion rate of 69% compared with 78%.

“We need to examine the myriad and complex factors that have led to these appalling outcomes for Aboriginal peoples in the ACT, including a lack of housing, a lack of access to specialist and mental health services and high rates of children in out-of-home care. This is not just a problem in our prison, but across the whole community. We need a whole-of-government response that takes our voices and our pain seriously,” said Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs OAM.

You can download the joint media release by ACTCOSS and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services from 28 January 2022 here.

hands gripping jail cell bars, overlaid with transparent Aboriginal flag

Image source: Amnesty International Australia website.

Aboriginal patient advocacy training

Health Consumers’ Council has partnered with the National Justice Project and The Aboriginal Health Council of WA to develop some training for organisations and workers who work with Aboriginal people, and Aboriginal community, to help support their clients and family, friends and community who are dealing with the health system.

The inequity and injustice that can confront Aboriginal people in our health system can lead to poorer health outcomes and health advocacy plays a big part in addressing these issues.

This training will help people gain a better understanding of the barriers and enablers for Aboriginal people in our health services and systems, a deeper understanding of health rights and the important role of health advocacy.

For further information about the training click here.

BRAMS December 2021 Newsletter

Broome Reginal Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) December 2021 Newsletter is out now covering the following topics:

  • CEO Report
  • New Staff
  • Staff Christmas Lunch and Awards + Kids Christmas
  • NDIS Accreditation
  • World International Disability Day – Seeing the Ability in Disability
  • Staff Profiles
  • COVID-19 Alert
  • NDS Board Appointment
  • New Positions at BRAMS
  • AGM and Board Elections

You can download the BRAMS newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Free the Flag campaign successful

feature tile text 'free the flag campaign succeeds, Aboriginal flag now free for all to use' & image of Aboriginal man & woman in free the flag t-shirts holding Aboriginal flag aloft

Note: the image is the feature tile is from the Herald Sun.

Free the Flag campaign successful

The iconic flag that has become a symbol of Aboriginal Australia is now freely available for public use, after its designer agreed to transfer copyright to the Commonwealth following long negotiations. Luritja artist Harold Thomas created the flag in 1970 to represent Aboriginal people and their connection to the land, and it has been an official national flag since the end of the last century — but its copyright remained with Mr Thomas.

Anyone who wanted to use the flag legally had to ask permission or pay a fee. Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt said following negotiations with Mr Thomas, the flag now belonged to all Australians. “Over the last 50 years we made Harold Thomas’ artwork our own — we marched under the Aboriginal Flag, stood behind it, and flew it high as a point of pride,” Mr Wyatt said in a statement. “Now that the Commonwealth holds the copyright, it belongs to everyone, and no-one can take it away.”

Mr Thomas said he hoped Australians would use the flag with respect and pride. “I hope that this arrangement provides comfort to all Aboriginal people and Australians to use the Flag, unaltered, proudly and without restriction,” he said. “I am grateful that my art is appreciated by so many, and that it has come to represent something so powerful to so many.”

The government has also agreed to establish an annual scholarship in Mr Thomas’s honour worth $100,000 for Indigenous students to develop skills in leadership, and to create an online history and education portal for the flag.

To read the ABC News article in full click here and to listen to an ABC Radio interview with the Free the Flag Free the Flag campaign and Clothing the Gaps CEO Laura Thompson click here.

Aboriginal flag on mast, text 'Breakfast with Sammy J, ABC News'

January 26 – a reminder of health battles

The following is an excerpt from Shahnaz Rind’s Opinion Piece for SBS NITV.  “I decided to become a nurse to change health outcomes for our people and to try to create a sense of equity in Indigenous health. Growing up, I would question why my family and my mob suffer from poor health outcomes compared to non-Indigenous people who had access to some of the world’s best healthcare.

It wasn’t until I was a little older that I started to understand how things were. Addressing racism key to better health outcomes for mob. A new study focusing on kidney disease adds to the growing evidence that suggests addressing institutional racism will improve overall health outcomes for First Nations peoples.

I am surprised by the numbers of non-Indigenous people I speak to, who aren’t aware of the true history behind January 26 and how it has impacted our health. It was the day our country was taken possession of by Captain Arthur Philip. It was the first introduction of the British flag, which was raised on Indigenous land.

This day was the start of our ongoing mental, spiritual and physical health struggle. It’s not one single thing that has caused this; but since the day of the invasion, our levels of health and education have declined, practicing our culture and language was denied and our lands were taken.”

To view Shahnaz Rind’s SBS NITV Opinion Piece in full click here.

RN Shahnaz Rind Rumbalara (VIC) in PPE

Shahnaz Rind is a registered nurse who has been on the frontlines during the pandemic in Victoria. Image source: SBS NITV website.

CAAC calls for urgent public health action 

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) is calling for more serious and effective public health measures to be put in place urgently; before it’s too late. “We need to see sharp and serious action to respond to growing case numbers in Alice Springs and surrounding Central Australian communities.” said Congress Acting CEO Josie Douglas.

“The lockout isn’t working. People are still moving around, and the virus is still spreading among vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Hospitalisations are now increasing, along with ICU admissions. 78 people in hospital in the NT is the equivalent of 2,800 people in NSW. We are now on a par with NSW but we will pass this peak without decisive action and our health system has less capacity.”

To view the CAAC media release in full click here.

solar powered road sign text 'social distancing applies'

Image source: NT News.

COVID exacerbates regional staff shortages 

Regional health workers are warning the system is struggling under the weight of an increase in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages. Kristy Wilson knows Griffith Base Hospital well. She was born there and has worked there throughout her 25-year nursing career.

Ms Wilson said the hospital in central NSW, like many around the country, was now feeling the pressures of COVID-19 cases and furloughed workers, who were isolating either because they had the virus or were a close contact, “I can honestly say that this is absolutely the worst I have seen it. Staff are now beyond exhausted and tired.”

Federal Regional Health Minister, David Gillespie — a former regional doctor — agreed “the whole health system is under pressure”, but said the federal government had taken steps to address staffing shortages in hospitals around the country. “We’ve set up the private hospital arrangement where not only private hospitals make themselves available if needed — and they are being used by the state governments — but also their staff,” he said. In a statement, NSW Health said the state was actively addressing staffing issues.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr Simon Quilty demonstrates one of the ventilation pods Purple House constructed. Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC News.

NT COVID-19 surge isn’t unexpected

The number of people in NT hospitals with COVID-19 has doubled in the past week and tripled from the number reported 10 days ago. But experts say the surge isn’t unexpected considering the territory’s “vulnerable” population and caseloads reported over the past fortnight.

Although the territory’s hospitalisation rate has been steadily increasing over the past two weeks, the number of cases reported in the jurisdiction has been gradually dropping.

After looking at the NT’s daily COVID-19 case numbers over the past fortnight, Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett said she wasn’t surprised by the high number of people in hospital with coronavirus. Professor Bennett said if a patient needed hospital-level care because of COVID-19 this typically happened seven and 10 days after their initial positive test result.

“People are often fine for the first week, they might have normal symptoms, but it’s the second week when they might get particularly unwell and maybe have to go to hospital,” she said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr Briceno, NT facing press, woman in background wears mask

Dr Briceno says NT health experts expected to see a higher hospitalisation rate. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

Health staff relieved border opening delayed

While WA Premier Mark McGowan maintains the hospital system is “strong and ready” to deal with COVID-19, he has also pointed to hospitalisations in other states as one of the reasons for delaying the border re-opening. “[The east] has hospitals overflowing with patients, hospitals in meltdown,” he said.“It would be grossly irresponsible of me not to act on that.”

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said while there has been relief from staff, he didn’t think the delay was the fix that was needed. “The hospital system is not ready, but is it going to be ready in a month?” he said. “We’ve had a couple of years, so I don’t think that’s what we need.”

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

Dr Omar Khorshid fronting press

Dr Omar Khorshid says the decision would buy time “at best”. Photo: James Carmody, ABC News.

COVID-19 vaccine update for Primary Care

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout, will be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 27 January 2022.

The panel this week will be: Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

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

DoH tile test 'Primary Care COVID-19 Update' blue background with image of virus

New process for job advertising

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

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