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: Stan Grant on knowing how to live well

Image in feature tile is of Stan Grant. Image source: The Monthly.

Stan Grant on knowing how to live well

Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi journalist Stan Grant delivered an impassioned and eloquent keynote address reflecting on the scars of colonisatio at the recent Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists Congress in Sydney. Grant said that after years of “dragging my history around with me”, which took “an enormous toll”, he decided to leave Australia – a “foreign country, for other people” where he never felt he belonged. “I felt a great sense of liberation, freed from the history of this country and what it does to us, written on our bodies,” he said.

Overseas, reporting on the legacies of “colonisation, empire, dictators and despots, kings appointed by foreign powers”, he recognised in oppressed people, “positioned on the other side of history”, a familiar grief where “only the afflicted know the truth. I saw the eyes of my own family, people for whom all certainty had been removed, who cou;ldn’t believe in the promise of Western liberalism and all it purported to deliver,” he said. Grant reflected on the cumulative trauma of growing up Aboriginal in Australia, culminating for him in a breakdown whilst posted overseas with an “irrepressible surging wave” to end his life. Grant seeing a psychiatrist was very important in his recovery, but absolutely nothing was as important as “standing on my land.”

To view Croakey Health Media article Yindyamarra winhanganha – the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in click here.

You can also watch a video below of Stan Grant delivering a National Reconciliation Week 2022 Keynote Address.

NACCHO CEO welcomes end of cashless debit card

Labor will push ahead with plans to abolish the cashless debit card scheme with Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth saying last week that she was in discussions to terminate the program, which was a Labor election commitment. She pledged to work with communities to find “better local solutions”. The decision followed an Australian National Audit Office ­report released on Thursday last week which highlighted a lack of evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the scheme. “The former Coalition government spent more than $170m on the privatised cashless debit card – money that could have been spent on services locals need,” Ms Rishworth said.

Implemented under the ­Abbott government in 2016, the scheme was designed to encourage socially responsible behaviour by quarantining 80% of a person’s welfare payments on a debit card to prevent it being spent on alcohol and gambling. It was initially introduced in Ceduna, SA, East Kimberley and the Goldfields in WA, and then ­expanded to Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland. The cost of the program reached $36m in 2020–21, with nearly 17,000 people participating as of February this year.

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO, said the scheme had caused “unnecessary embarrassment” for Indigenous Australians. “I certainly welcome the scrapping of the cashless debit card,” she said. “The Auditor-General’s report confirms what we already knew and why we were so opposed to the scheme. It’s simply poor public policy to run trials as the former government did for five years.”

The above has been extracted from an article by Jess Malcolm’s Cashless welfare card to be folded article published in The Australian on Friday 3 June 2022.

Image source: Crikey, 3 June 2022.

Using culture to turn suicide tide

Rocked by a spate of suicides, Shepparton’s Aboriginal community is using culture to turn the tide It began in October 2021 when a group of Shepparton’s First Nations community members came together in a backyard to figure out how to change the situation on youth suicide rates in town. “We had a cuppa and said, ‘what are we going to do about this?’,” Yorta Yorta woman and founding member of Dunguludja Dana Jean Miller said. “Our kids have been exposed to way too much trauma here, and something needs to be done.” Shepparton is home to the largest Aboriginal community and one of the highest rates of suicide in regional Victoria. Jean Miller said last year the community experienced about seven suicides by youth in just two months. This is when Dunguludja Dana was formed with a purpose to change the numbers. “It’s a Yorta Yorta word for strong pathways or strengthening journeys, and that’s what we want to do, that’s our vision,” Jean Miller said. “It was just about trying to engage our youth and let them know that no matter what life path they’re currently on, there’s always someone that loves them and cares and wants to support them.“ It could be a friend, it could be a cousin, it could be someone they knew in their school, but the impact is a ripple effect.”

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

Each Wednesday, the group run three sessions where First Nations students partake in painting, drawing, charcoal, and burning art – as well as creating possum skin cloaks. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Undrinkable water, casual racism the reality

Rebecca Davis, a Senior News & Features Writer for MamaMia, has written a lengthy article Undrinkable water and casual racism: The reality of Indigenous health in Australia. In the article Ms Davis includes several accounts from Indigenous women about:

  • undrinkable water contaminated with uranium in Laramba, NT
  • Betty Booth from Doomadgee who died after being given Panadol by the local hospital and told to go home
  • a Melbourne woman routinely soiling herself as her bathroom door is not wide enough for her walker

For her article Ms Davis spoke to Pat Turner, a revered figure; a Gudanji-Arrernte woman with a long history as an Indigenous and women’s rights activist. Aside from being CEO of NACCHO, she was the founding CEO of NITV, and is an advisor to the establishment of an Indigenous voice to government. NACCHO facilitates 144 ACCHOs across the country, bringing comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It’s not just for Indigenous people – it’s largely run by them too, with more than half of their 6,000-strong staff of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.

Speaking with Mamamia from Darwin, Pat reflected on the impact of institutionalised racism that still plagues many state-run hospitals. “Many Indigenous people also discharge themselves against medical advice, which I think is a sign of being unhappy with how they are treated, and not having access to their families,” she says. “There is still a lot of unconscious bias and racism across the board, particularly where you have large numbers of Aboriginal clients, so it’s about getting staff that are more culturally competent. Some of the worst offenders are the nurses. They really have to smarten up their attitudes. They think they know everything, and they can be very direct and rude. A lot of Aboriginal people feel very confronted by that.”

To read the article in full click here.

Feature Image: Children from the remote Indigenous community of Laramba in the Northern Territory, a region affected by undrinkable tap water. Credit: Marianna Massey, Corbis via Getty Images, Mamamia.

Moves to save Coonamble’s Marrabinya program

Petitions are circulating in each of the western NSW communities served by the Marrabinya program as Aboriginal people react to a decision by the Western NSW Primary Health Network (Western PHN) to cease funding the service from the end of 2022. Marrabinya is a Wiradjuri word meaning “hand outstretched” and since 2016, the Aboriginal-run program has acted as brokerage service to assist Aboriginal people with a diagnosed chronic illness to access medical support services, even in the most isolated communities. The priority chronic diseases are heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney and liver disease and cancer.

The Western NSW PHN are yet to issue a statement regarding the end of funding for Marrabinya’s program however, Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service CEO Phil Naden told the Coonamble Times that the situation was not all doom and gloom. “A major review was conducted and feedback provided from right around the region,” he said. “Whilst Marrabinya might not continue in its current form the service will not be lost.”

To learn more about the Marrabinya program you can listen to a podcast “Marrabinya – Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” here. You can also read the May 2022 Marrabinya News, including details of the Save Marrabinya Campaign 2022 here.

To view the Coonamble Times article Moves afoot to save Marrabinya in full click here.

Alarming STD-caused throat cancer

The prevalence of throat cancer caused by a prominent sexually transmitted disease among Indigenous Australians has been laid bare by new global research. University of Adelaide (UOA) researchers human papilloma virus-led throat cancer was 15 times more prevalent in Indigenous Australians than young non-Indigenous Australians, and five times higher than rates found in the US, Brazil, Mexico and Finland.

UOA Indigenous oral health unit director and Yamatji woman Joanne Hedges said Indigenous communities had worked closely with the researchers on the project. “Participants wanted to be part of this HPV project because they wanted to be part of change,” she said. “The theme coming out was, ‘I had a family member pass away with this throat sickness, and I don’t want to happen to any other Nunga in my community or my family’. There was a real strength of participation.”

HPV is normally associated with cervical cancer, but can spread to the throat, head and neck via oral sexual activities, and is increasing at a rapid rate globally. UOA Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health director Lisa Jamieson said extending the study would allow a deep dive of the knowledge they had already learnt.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Alarming STD-caused Indigenous throat cancer statistic laid bare in new report in full click here.

Lisa Jamieson and Joanne Hedges (inset). Photo: University of Adelaide. Image source: University of Adelaide.

Home Stretch WA supports kids leaving OOHC

The WA State Government has committed $37.2 million to support the Department of Communities state-wide roll out of its Home Stretch WA program over the next three years. Home Stretch WA will support young people who exit the State’s child protection system at 18 years of age, until they turn 21, helping them successfully transition to independence. Research shows young people leaving care are at greater risk of unemployment, homelessness, mental health issues and interacting with criminal justice systems.

The Home Stretch WA program will provide flexible one-to-one individualised support focused on coaching young people towards independence. This support can include to obtain stable accommodation, enrol in further education, progress to work opportunities, identify where to access assistance in the local community, access health services, build support networks and improve financial skills.

The WA Department of Communities is looking forward to working in partnership with Yorganop Association Incorporated (Yorganop) to deliver Home Stretch WA to young Aboriginal people preparing to leave the child protection system  in the metropolitan area. Yorganop’s readiness to deliver Home Stretch WA is built from direct involvement in development of the ‘Nitja Nop Yorga Ngulla Mia’ (our boys and girls are staying home) model that formed part of the Home Stretch WA Trial.

You can view the WA Government Department of Communities article Young people to benefit from the state-wide roll out of Home Stretch WA click here.

Image source: WA.gov.au.

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 delivers Dr Mickey Dewar Oration

NACCHO CEO delivers Dr Mickey Dewar Oration

Last night NACCHO CEO Patricia Turner AM was in Darwin to present the Dr Mickey Dewar Oration. The oration is presented in recognition of Dr Dewar’s significant contribution to the NT and as 3-term member of the National Archives’ Advisory Council. In her oration with the title ‘The Telling of Aboriginal Stories’ Ms Turner said: “Mickey Dewer was a storyteller. She understood that the stories of our nation needed to be told so that, as a country, we could understand where we have come from and who we are. Mickey knew that for us to move forward as a more reconciled and modern nation, the stories of our past needed to be told.”

“Mickey’s work led to the stories of many Aboriginal people being told and some of our history being recognised. This evening I want to talk to you about the importance of Aboriginal storytelling, and how it shapes the nation and our own cultures and identities. Aboriginal peoples are the original storytellers. Telling stories is both a cultural practice of who we are as peoples and is a way in which we sustain our identities and lands.”

You can read a full transcript of the oration click here.

Dr Michelle Sue “Mickey” Dewar (1 January 1956 – 23 April 2017), pictured during her time as NT Library Heritage Co-ordinator. Photo: Katrina Bridgeford. Image source: NT News.

New Minister for Indigenous Australians

Earlier today Linda Burney, a member of the Wiradjuri nations, and the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives was sworn in as the Minister for Indigenous Australians. Yesterday as she delivered the 15th annual Lowitja O’Donoghue Oration, Ms Burney has extended an olive branch to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and urged him to support an Indigenous Voice to parliament. The oration, run by the Don Dunstan Foundation in honour of influential Aboriginal leader Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue.

Burney outlined her vision for the future and urged the new Liberal leader to offer bipartisan support for an Indigenous Voice. “Peter Dutton has in recent days reflected on what it is like to be on the wrong side of history after walking out of the apology to the stolen generations,” she said. “But you know what? We all grow, and we all change, and there is no shame in that at all. “In fact, that is what the journey of reconciliation is all about, and it is a path I would be very pleased to walk with Peter Dutton – and the Liberal Party.” In his first press conference as opposition leader on Monday this week, Dutton admitted he was wrong to oppose former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to stolen generations survivors.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Linda Burney urges Peter Dutton to support Indigenous Voice in full click here.

The incoming Indigenous affairs minister Linda Burney has urged the opposition to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Collaboration key to reconciliation

In an article Collaborate and ‘design a way forward’ towards reconciliation published in the RACGP newsGP yesterday Morgan Liotta describes how she spoke to allyship leaders about the steps GPs can take to promote national reconciliation. Reflect: identify what is the heart of the matter. Relate: put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Reconcile: design a way forward together. The ‘three Rs’ were developed to strengthen allyship and kinship by the co-directors of cultural awareness training organisation, Evolve Communities.

Aunty Munya Andrews, a Bardi Elder originally from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, is a lawyer and educator. Carla Rogers is a training facilitator and community engagement specialist. The two have worked closely together since 2011 to strengthen partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. To mark National Reconciliation Week, Aunty Munya and Ms Rogers spoke with newsGP about how the three Rs align with this year’s theme – ‘Be Brave. Make Change’ – and highlight the important role of courage in reconciliation, which GPs can apply to their practice.

‘It is a really simple three-step approach that GPs could apply when they’re exploring something with one of their patients,’ Ms Rogers said. ‘Immerse yourself in that understanding, learn more about Aboriginal people’s identity – connection to country is all about healing. ‘The land is sick, people are sick. Healthy country, healthy people.’ Outside the GP community, all Australians can learn more about these values and collaborate to ‘design a way forward together’ towards reconciliation. For Aunty Munya, it’s about everybody playing their part.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Others magazine.

Courage to be uncomfortable needed

Dr Bini Bennett, Associate Professor First Nations Health, Bond University, has written an article The courage to feel uncomfortable: what Australians need to learn to achieve real reconciliation in which she writes: “Be Brave, Make Change” is the mantra for this year’s National Reconciliation Week. This is a call urging all non-Indigenous Australians to be allies and take up unfinished reconciliation actions for a fairer nation for all. But often reconciliation actions are observed as insincere and tokenistic. Instead, non-Indigenous people’s actions need to be real, effective and aimed at long-lasting change.

Historical acceptance is one of the five dimensions of reconciliation. Acceptance would mean all Australians acknowledge this nation’s history of injustice, colonisation, dispossession, displacement, exploitation and violence against First Nations people. However, this endeavour to learn is often hindered by hesitant white educators who don’t feel confident or capable to include Indigenous perspectives in their classrooms. The topic of Australia’s difficult history is also often rebutted as First Nations people’s failure to move on and simply “get over it”. If non-Indigenous people are to be honest about our nation’s efforts to achieve reconciliation, it’s time to stop trying to being “seen” to be engaged in First Nation issues, and instead take the time to educate themselves about what is often uncomfortable to learn.

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

Invasion Day protests, Melbourne. Photo: James Ross, EPA. Image source: Aljazeera.

COVID-19 – a barrier to early cancer diagnosis

It’s a worrying fact that data worldwide is demonstrating a delay in doctor visits, as well as missed or decreased cancer registrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you find yourself putting off seeing your doctor about new symptoms, that’s not a good idea. Cancer does not stop or slow down for a global pandemic.

Visit your doctor if your symptom involves blood, such as coughing up blood or blood in your poo or blood in your pee, or if you have any of these symptoms for more than four weeks:

It’s important to see your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker now rather than putting it off! It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer – often, it turns out to be something less serious, but telling your doctor straight away ensures any further investigation or treatment can begin as soon as possible. If it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the better the treatment options and outcomes.

Cancer Council WA’s Find Cancer Early team have put together some FAQ’s which you can find on the Cancer Council WA website here.

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service, Darwin NT website.

Mental health crisis in flood-affected NSW

Months after northern NSW’s worst floods on record, many of the thousands displaced are now struggling with depression, anxiety and trauma. An Indigenous-led counselling hub based on cultural traditions is supporting flood victims and working to prevent an even bigger disaster. Michele Laurie is among thousands of flood victims in northern NSW struggling to rebuild their lives after this year’s catastrophic floods. Although the high water has receded, the mental health impacts are far from over.

“I’ve certainly found myself really quite overwhelmed where I’ve had a panic attack just recently,” says Ms Laurie, 47, whose family was among those forced out of home for many weeks by flooding. We have had a housing crisis here on the Northern rivers before the flood, and this is just amplified the disadvantage of families throughout this whole community.” According to state government disaster recovery body Resilience NSW, the Laurie family home is among more than 8,359 damaged by flooding, of which 3,585 are uninhabitable. Yet many northern rivers residents consider themselves lucky to have survived at all. Some sheltered for hours on rooftops, others were trapped inside the roof cavity and were forced to cut themselves free.

The mental health impacts are now being felt across the region. Michele Laurie is also an Aboriginal trauma specialist of Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl heritage and is working to support others affected, like herself, at a healing hub in Lismore. The Aboriginal-led centre has so far offered wellbeing support in more than 1,400 sessions, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

You can read the SBS News article The Indigenous trauma specialists working to ease a growing mental health crisis in flood-affected NSW in full here and also watch an SBS News video about the weaving and yarning circles here.

A weaving circle at the Lismore healing hub. Photo: Kingsley Haxton, SBS. Image source: SBS News website.

Cultural responsiveness training encouraged

Optometry Australia is encouraging its members to undertake cultural education that supports critical self-reflection and the integration of culturally safe and responsive care into practise to improve the health outcomes of First Nations patients. Optometry Australia’s CEO Lyn Brodie said they have partnered with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) to offer their Cultural Responsiveness Training to 100 members , In addition all Optometry Australia are completing the training so an understanding of First Nation’s cultures is embedded within our organisation.

Anya Dashko, who has completed the training, works as a regional optometrist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Windsor, Queensland, which she says has provided her with a great opportunity to learn from her patients. “Back at university, there was no focus on cultural awareness or cultural safety, or how you might adapt your practice when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,’ Anya said. ‘Although I’ve been fortunate enough to learn through working at the IUIH, I also wanted to take the opportunity to learn from IAHA as they’ve done a lot of important work in this space and provided guidance for allied health professionals across the board. ”

“The cultural training course not only included historical and diverse cultural background information of First Nations people, but also a lot of introspective work. I thought it was a great addition to ask us to consider our own culture and belief systems, how they inform our day-to-day actions and how they might differ for someone from a different cultural background. I think this training course provides optometrists with a solid foundation to build upon and hopefully make their own practice a trusted and safe environment for First Nations people.”.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training will help to improve health outcomes for First Nations peoples in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry Australia.

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 congratulates ALP on election win

Image in the feature tile is of Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese as he walks off the stage during a reception after winning the 2022 general election in Sydney. Image source: SBS NITV.

NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) congratulates the Australian Labor Party for its win in the 2022 Federal election and looks forward to working with the incoming government in continuing to fight for improved outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In particular, NACCHO welcomes the emphasis that Senator Penny Wong and Prime Minister elect, Anthony Albanese, gave to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in their victory speeches on election night. The Uluru Statement from the Heart sets out the way forward for all Australians in a process of genuine reconciliation. There must be no further delay in implementing a Voice to Parliament for First Nations peoples enshrined in the constitution.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner, speaking in Canberra, said, ‘NACCHO congratulates Linda Burney for her strong win in Barton. We are looking forward to seeing the first Aboriginal woman serve as Minister for Indigenous Australians and, presumably, in the new Albanese Cabinet.’

NACCHO also congratulates all the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the new Parliament and thanks Ken Wyatt, the outgoing Minister for Indigenous Australians, for his contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs over the past three years.

NACCHO commits to working with the incoming government and the likely new Health Minister, Mark Butler, on the $111m package announced for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, said at Cairns on Sunday, ‘The ALP’s package was a welcome pre-election announcement. It includes the 500 trainees for our ACCHOs and badly needed dialysis clinics. It also includes action in combatting rheumatic heart disease, a preventable disease that is killing so many of our children, needlessly. Our youths are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease than other Australian youths. This must stop. The ALP’s funding commitment is a critical step.’

The ACCHO sector serves over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Our clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve.

You can view the NACCHO congratulates the ALP media statement on NACCHO’s website here.

Image source: The Guardian.

It comes down to working together, differently

When the landmark National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed in 2020, Pat Turner AM, lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO called for celebration – and hard work. “Today we celebrate this historic Agreement and those who fought hard to make it a reality,” said Turner, at the time. “But tomorrow, the true work begins when we start to implement its commitments within our communities.”

Tomorrow has well and truly arrived. And so, while we continue to applaud the intent of the agreement between federal, state/territory and local governments, and the Coalition of Peaks; it’s time to get down to work. There’s a shared understanding that working together should look different in 2022. Australian governments have committed to working in new ways with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can achieve self-determination. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, meanwhile, have expressed a desire to work alongside governments to design and implement outcomes that are identified by – and with – Indigenous communities.

This new approach is not about changing Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. In fact, it’s about embracing them. This change is about governments and Indigenous communities finding ways to work in the ‘middle space’ together. It’s about collective decision-making and shared accountability. And it’s about common outcomes and positive change. The key, however, will be working differently.

To view the PwC’s Indigenous Consulting article Meeting in the middle: How governments and Indigenous communities can work together, differently published in The Mandarin in full click here.

Image source: The Mandarin.

What now for mob under Labor?

The National Indigenous Times editor, Tom Zaunmayr, has looked at what is in store for Indigenous Australians following Labor’s win in the 2022 Federal election. Zaunmayr says it is good news for First Nations people, as there will be a referendum on a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution by 2025. By putting a nation-changing Indigenous policy front-and-centre of its campaign, Labor showed how serious it is about First Nations issues. The talk has been promising, now it is time for action. Suring up the Voice – how it will look, who will be involved and when the vote will happen is priority number one. Truth and treaty, the other two key elements of the Uluru Statement are as important to get to work on.

Bringing the Federal Government back to the table in funding remote housing is critical, and Labor now needs to follow through. Labor’s campaign policies on justice and deaths in custody were lacklustre and remain a point of concern. The money pledged for remote justice initiatives is chicken feed and is insufficient for one region, let alone the entire nation. The promise to bring a stronger Indigenous voice to deaths in custody cases lacks detail.

Climate action in the Torres Strait Islands remains a sticking point too. We heard plenty about long-term plans for a net-zero economy, but nothing about what will be done for communities being swallowed by the sea right now. Without short-term infrastructure fixes, the first climate refugees to mainland Australia may very well be our own Indigenous island nation inhabitants.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Labor has won the election and the Greens may have power. What now for Indigenous Australians? in full click here. You can view a related article ‘This will change Australia’: Linda Burney says Labor committed to Indigenous Voice published today in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Incoming Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney says Australia is ready for a referendum on a Voice to parliament. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

First Nations eating disorders research

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, focuses on risk and protective factors, very early intervention and individualised medicine as part of the top 10 research priorities identified in the National Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy 2021–31.

The Centre has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders. IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information and to apply for an IgnitED Fund grant ,visit The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

WA bowel cancer screening campaign relaunch

Due to its great success, the Cancer Council WA recently relaunched its 2021 bowel cancer campaign on social media platforms to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Aboriginal WA community. The campaign encourages eligible people to do the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) home test. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer affecting the Aboriginal Australian community but is one of the most treatable cancers if found early. Less than half of all eligible West Australians participate when they receive the home test kit which is designed to detect bowel cancer in its very early stages. When detected early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully.

The campaign shares social media tiles featuring local people who are keen to share the message about bowel screening with their communities and encourage more people to do the NBCSP test when they receive it in the mail. Cancer Council WA has teamed up with Mary G, an Aboriginal personality, educator, and radio presenter to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal communities.  The campaign was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, with Aboriginal Medical Services, Elders, and Aboriginal staff from local clinics and organisations in the regions, including WA Country Health Service being consulted in the process.

You can access further information to the Cancer Council WA website here.

Irrkerlantye forgotton for 40 years

Nestled in the hills east of Alice Springs lies Irrkerlantye, a community in limbo. Irrkerlantye has none of the basic services the rest of Australia takes for granted: water is trucked in and a meagre power supply is provided by a few solar panels. There is no sewerage. The residents live in tin sheds and a few decaying demountables that offer little protection from Central Australia’s extreme desert temperatures.

Felicity Hayes has lived at Irrkerlantye most of her life. The stoic Elder is at her wit’s end, saying “We’ve been asking the government for housing and essential services this whole time, however nothing has been done to provide the most basic services that all people are entitled to. We just want people to come here and have a look and not sit in their offices all day and make decisions about us. They need to come here and talk to us because we’re the ones that are suffering.”

The only water supply to the community was cut in 2014 under a Country Liberal government and was never restored. At the time it was seen as an attempt to force the closure of Irrkerlantye. Felicity Hayes and her family could be facing another forty years forgotten on the fringes of one of the world’s most developed countries. “We’ve been fighting for forty years and we’ve got children, the next generation, and they’re still going to be living here” Ms Hayes said.

To view the SBS NITV article How governments have forgotten this NT community for 40 years click here.

Locals say Irrkerlantye has been ignored by all levels of government for decades. Image source: SBS NITV.

‘Through the rood’ food prices in remote NT

John Paterson regularly has people from remote communities text him grocery receipts to show how prices have spiked over the past few months. Travelling across the NT in his role as CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) Paterson says he notices prices increase sharply the more remote the location. “It has almost become unaffordable now,” he says.

In the NT, food in supermarkets is 56% more expensive in remote communities than regional supermarkets due to long supply chains and poor quality roads, according to a 2021 report by AMSANT. Inflation – predicted to reach 6% by year’s end – has increased pressure. The Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), supports 27 remote community stores by securing grocery items and covering the store’s freight budgets to reduce the cost of food. Normally, its annual freight budget is $250,000. But in the past 18 months, the fuel levy to deliver food to just five of its remote communities – that require delivery by sea – has risen from $37,000 to $279,000. Rob Totten, store manager of a supermarket in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, says the price of some food products has “gone through the roof”.

Paterson is advocating to extend the footprint of an Aboriginal controlled organisation like ALPA to increase the buying power of remote community stores. “People want fresher food, they want cheaper food, and the way to do that is bulk purchasing by community stores that are run and led by Aboriginal people,” he says. “If we want to close the gap, plus the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, then food security is a major issue that needs serious attention.”

To view The Guardian article ‘Through the roof’ food prices in remote NT are forcing Aboriginal families to make impossible choices in full click here.

Docker River Community Store. Image source: B4BA. Docker River Community Store NT $9.20 receipt for 2L of milk. Image source: The Guardian.

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.

National Palliative Care Week

National Palliative Care Week  (NPCW), held from Sunday 22 to Saturday 28 May 2022, is Australia’s largest annual awareness-raising initiative held to increase understanding of the many benefits of palliative care. The theme for National Palliative Care Week 2022 is It’s your right. The theme seeks to raise awareness about the rights of all Australians to access high-quality palliative care when and where they need it. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that.  Anyone with a life-limiting illness has the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible.  

Virtual and face-to-face events will be held across the country during National Palliative Care Week 2022 to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment and dedication of all those working and volunteering in the palliative care sector across Australia.   Now in its 27th year, and traditionally held in the last full week of May, NPCW is organised by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and supported by the Australian Government Department of Health.

To find out more about National Palliative Care Week 2022 you can access the PCA website here. You can also view a range of palliative care resources PCA have developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Uluru Statement must be core of party promises

Image in the feature tile is from Social Ventures Australia website, 10 December, 2020.

Uluru Statement must be core of party promises

The Close the Gap 2022 report calls on governments to make “large-scale systemic reforms to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” This is a call to recognise and support self-determination and leadership. It is no accident that the very first recommendation of the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2022 is for the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and particularly for a Voice to Parliament.

The Uluru Statement is described as a  “a gift to all Australians“by one of its architects, Pat Anderson, the long-term chair of the Lowitja Institute. The Uluru Statement is foundational for change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and well-being. Therefore, it must be core to the promises made by all parties in the lead-up to the federal election and beyond. At this federal election, change that tinkers at the edges is not good enough.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need the system – the health and education systems in particular but, also the Australian political system – to listen and respond to Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. To be free of racism. To hear our Voice. The full implementation of the Uluru Statement, and its call for Voice, Treaty and Truth would be a huge step forward. This would be an opportunity to address the health inequity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view The Conversation article The Uluru Statement must be core to promises made by all parties in the lead-up to the federal election in full click here.

Forward-looking health reform plan needed

The major parties could do more to improve access to health care for all Australians with an ambitious, forward-looking overall plan for health reform, the Consumers Health Forum  (CHF) said yesterday. In the CHF’s Scorecard on the major Parties’ health policies, Community health and wellness in the 21st century – none of the three Parties have presented an overarching vision for the health system of the future, nor a plan for the structural changes needed.

CHF CEO Ms Leanne Wells said that health consistently rates among the top issues in people’s minds as we head into the Election. “Overall, the pledges in health have been piecemeal and do not lay down a long-term plan for how our health system needs to adapt to 21st century needs,” said Ms Wells.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

Image source: University of Wollongong Australia divi webpage.

UN Indigenous rights body to visit Australia

Human rights issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be put under the microscope when the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes its first visit to Australia. First Nations leaders from around the world gathered in New York earlier this month for the 21st session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The forum called on governments, courts, and UN agencies to implement mechanisms to support and protect Indigenous peoples’ lands and lives.

Indigenous human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade said the visit to AUstralia would highlight the human rights issues Aboriginal people were experiencing. “I originally requested the visit on behalf of the Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council five years ago… in the context of the high rate of child removals and the lack of self-determination in government responses,” she said. “Self-determination is recognised in legislation but not given meaningful effect in the actual systems and processes. “We need this addressed now… these are fundamental human rights issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Top UN Indigenous rights body makes first flight to Australia for human rights probe in full click here.

United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: Daily Sabah.

Cervical cancer screening options expanded

From 1 July 2022 the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP), will expand screening test options, offering self-collection of a vaginal sample as a choice to all people participating in cervical screening. These changes mean that healthcare providers may start to see an increase in the volume of requests from patients to use self-collection as an option for their Cervical Screening Test.

Additional details can be found in the NCSP Program Update here which has been developed to support promotion and awareness of this important program change. Further advice will be provided when relevant education and training resources are available and accessible, to support healthcare provider readiness for the changes and be able to offer patients the option of self-collection for cervical screening.

Should you or your members like further information or have any questions about the upcoming self-collection changes, please feel free to contact the NCSP team here.

To view the Department of Health’s media release in full click here.

Photo: Cancer Institute NSW. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Living with COVID-19 resources for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a collection of communication materials on living with COVID-19 specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. The collection includes:

You can access the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Living with COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people webpage here.

Mob and COVID-19, future priorities

A KT & Coffee Webinar, the first for 2022, will be hosted by Yorta Yorta woman, Dr Summer May Finlay and occur on Wednesday 25 May 2022.

he COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of public health responses. Over the past two years we have experienced fast paced investment in research, knowledge translation and mobilisation. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the pandemic also emphasised the impacts and implications of social determinants of health both in responses to, and arising from complications from COVID-19. This KT & Coffee event will facilitate a panel of experts discussing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 responses and impacts, from the science, to policy and research, as well as future priority setting.

Topic experts joining the panel include:

  • Dr Lucas De Toca: First Assistant Secretary, Implementation and Primary Care Response for the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce within the DOH.
  • Dr Mark Wenitong: from the Kabi Kabi group of south Qld, a GP and Public Health medical advisory for the Qld Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.
  • Dr Jason Agostino: GP, epidemiologist and NACCHO Senior Medical Advisor.
  • Dr James Ward: Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, infectious diseases epidemiologist and national leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research.

You can see the panellist and MC full bios and register here.

VIC ACCOs to redesign mental health delivery

A new mental health hub will give Aboriginal groups leadership to redesign how care is delivered to their communities across the Victoria, as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s landmark reform agenda, transforming the way the mental health of Victorians is supported. Yesterday Minister for Mental Health James Merlino launched the new Balit Durn Durn Centre in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).

The Balit Durn Durn Centre will work in collaboration with health services and ACCOs to undertake research, provide workforce training and development, and share best practice in delivering culturally appropriate and tailored support. Mental healthcare is best driven from within communities that know their needs best and this initiative will support Victorian Aboriginal communities to develop their own informed care pathways that are informed by their connection to language, lore and cultural knowledge.

To view the Victorian Government media release 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: RHD impacts on young First Nations people

Image in feature tile from Bupa Take Heart of RHD webpage.

RHD impacts on young First Nations people

Mrs Vicki Wade, a Director at RHDAustralia and Senior Cultural Advisor at Menzies School of Health Research, is a senior Noongar woman with over 40 years’ experience in health at state and national levels. In 2021, she received a Heart Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award for her project investigating the impacts of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in young Aboriginal and and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Vicki is undertaking research to explore the social and emotional needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (aged 15 to 25 years) with RHD. The Heart Foundation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award will support her PhD, and build the capacity of an Aboriginal community researcher. The award will also build the capacity of Aboriginal individuals and communities to advocate for their own needs – beyond their medical needs – which must be addressed to improve health outcomes.

To view the article Q&A with Mrs Vicki Wade – Beyond the Scars: The social and emotional wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with RHD on the Australian Heart Foundation website click here. You can also view Vick Wade talking in the video below about the an RHDAustralia program, Champions4change, which involves over 60 champions across Australia who are passionate about making a difference in their communities. These champions are ideally placed to support the emotional and social needs of their communities, as they have the lived experience of rheumatic heart disease.

Myriad issues compound poor youth health

WA’s north feels the pinch due to food insecurity more than most, according to a host of Boab Health Services professionals. Dieticians Mandy Cripps, Tara Rawson and Isabelle Walker, and paediatric dieticians Aimee Sullivan and Sally Conte said a large proportion of children and youth seen by Boab present with issues such as growth faltering, iron deficiency and obesity, often stemming from varying levels of food insecurity.

The group said many factors drive food insecurity at an individual and systemic level, including weather, remoteness, environment, power supply, poverty, unemployment, high staff turnover and a lack of locally produced food, all of which drive up the price of food. “The Kimberley Region has people who are amongst the most disadvantaged in Australia paying the most for their food,” they said. Boab also identified the lack of personal transport to purchase food, overcrowded housing, a lack of adequate cooking facilities, trans-generational trauma and significant rates of poor mental health.

The Boab dieticians said it was important any solutions to the crisis were co-designed and community driven. “There is an obvious need for crisis food provision – giving food to those in need short term – as well as a longer-term strategic approach,” they said. “Not having enough good food to eat impacts on learning and life outcomes, and we are keen to see what can be done to help children in this situation.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Myriad issues compounding poor health among WA’s youth revealed as govt launches inquiry in full click here.

Empty shelves in the Kimberley, WA. Photo: ABC. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Water woes for remote NT communities

Yuelamu is a small indigenous community of 200–300 people, with the population varying depending on which family came to visit. Located 280 kms NW of Alice Springs, the community is in one of the most remote areas of the country, nestled among rocky hills at the end of a long stretch of red dirt road. The large community dam and lush greenery surrounding the township are deceiving. The reality is that this is one of the most water-stressed communities in the country.

The most recent measurements from NT’s Power and Water Corporation suggest that the small aquifer that has been the community’s main source of water since 2016 has just 18 months of supply left. It’s an improvement from measures last month, when the utility announced that groundwater supplies had reached an all-time high and crews were immediately trucked to the community for water.

As the latest sampling put an end to the need to truck in water, crews began work on the facilities to truck water in from a temporary borehole on the highway. Tanami, 20 kms away, which should open by the end of May. It’s a band-aid solution with a hefty price tag, but one that could be the lifeline of Yuelamu.

You can read the Duchetridao article Indigenous Yuelamu community faces water crisis as aquifer dries up in full here and watch a short video about the water availability issues in Yuelamu here.

Signs around Yuelamu explain to locals how to save water. Photo: Saskia Mabin, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: Dicjetrodap.

Brain injury support for mob

An Edith Cowan University (ECU) research project has established in-community stroke and brain injury support groups run by, and catering to, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Project lead Professor Beth Armstrong said the initiative was created after previous research identified a gap in the continuity of care of Aboriginal Australians following a stroke or traumatic brain injury caused by an incident such as a car accident, fall, or assault.

“The essential component involves providing a culturally safe space that Aboriginal Australians will be comfortable with and will want to come back to,” Professor Armstrong said. They aim to help improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians, who are often underrepresented in rehabilitation services.

You can access the SBS NITV radio interview Bridging the gap for Aboriginal Australians with traumatic brain injury SBS NITV Radio here.

Photo: Edith Cowan University. Image source: SBS NITV Radio.

Regional Australians avoid bowel cancer diagnosis

Listen to your body and don’t ignore what it’s telling you — that’s the advice of Geraldton man John McLellan who has battled bowel cancer and knows all too well how important it is to react quickly to unusual body changes. He recommended regional men and women listen to their bodies. “If you think you’re not well, don’t ignore it and seek advice,” he said. The Cancer Council is urging adults in the Mid West to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of bowel cancer, and to visit a doctor if they begin experiencing symptoms.

“In the Mid West region in 2019, 50 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 17 people died from it,” Cancer Council Mid West regional educational officer Aiden McDowell said. Cancer Council WA’s recent data shows 25 people a week are diagnosed with bowel cancer in WA alone, with regional Australians less likely to be alive five years after diagnosis compared with Australians living in metropolitan areas. Mr McDowell said in 2019, bowel cancer — or colorectal cancer — was the third most common cancer in men and women in WA.

“If you’re unsure about a possible symptom you should make an appointment to discuss the change with your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible,” he said. Common symptoms of bowel cancer include blood in faeces, a new pain, lump or swelling in the stomach, fatigue, paleness, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite and unusual bowel movements.

To view The West Australian article Cancer Council statistics show Mid West bowel cancer figures are high and regional Australians avoid diagnosis in full click here. You can also view a WA Cancer Council bowel cancer screening campaign Youtube video featuring Mary G below.

FASD clinician guideline questionnaire

The University of Queensland in collaboration with 12 organisations around Australia are currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the Australian Guide for Assessment and Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). As part of the process of revising the guideline, they would like to gather experiences, input, and feedback from Australian clinicians and are inviting you to complete the Australian clinicians’ determinants questionnaire to better understand clinicians’ awareness and current utilisation of the guideline.

Participation of this questionnaire is completely voluntary and should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. If you are interested in participating this research, you can access the questionnaire here and if you have any questions regarding the study, please contact Dr. Natasha Reid via email here.

You can view a recent article Key Stakeholder Priorities for the Review and Update of the Australian Guide to Diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Descriptive Study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health which summarises initial input gathered from the project’s Advisory Group members here.

Image source: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

New treatment keeps bush kids close to home

Medical researchers have started a project designed to treat sick outback kids near where they live – keeping them close to home and family, and saving millions of dollars in aeromedical transport costs. Ms Sally West, a Clinical Nurse, researcher and PhD student at James Cook University’s Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health, is part of a study that includes researchers from Griffith University, James Cook University, Wesley Hospital and Metro South Hospital and Health Services. She said the team will focus on the treatment of children suffering Acute Respiratory Failure (ARF) in rural and remote areas.

“Acute respiratory distress in children is the most common reason for emergency department (ED) presentations in Australia and is the reason for more than half of all hospital admissions of children under one year of age. It’s also the most common reason for paediatric aeromedical transfers in remote Australia. We saw an opportunity to collaborate with lead world respiratory paediatric researcher Dr Andreas Schibler, this was the obvious step forward given his landmark work in nasal high flow therapy” said Ms West.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Donna Franklin from Griffith University  said many rural and remote hospitals see delays in transfers due to the distances involved, availability of aircraft or weather, often resulting in an extended stay in the local ED for the children and increased pressure on local resources. “What we are setting out to do is introduce nasal high-flow (NHF) therapy to rural and remote hospitals,’’ she said. “This is a relatively new and effective approach to help children with ARF. The uptake of NHF in urban and tertiary hospitals has been rapid over the past few years, but rural/remote health care settings are lagging behind.”

To view the James Cook University article New Treatment keeps bush kids close to home in full click here.

Proud Arrernte and Garrwa actor Dujuan Hoosan. Photo: Maya Newel. Image source: Outdoors Queensland.

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: Midwife program closing infant mortality gap

Image if the feature tile is by Aboriginal photographer Bobbi-lee Hille, Daily Mail.

Midwife program closing infant mortality gap

When Kelsey Muhl’s midwife caught her new baby in a hospital shower it was a shared moment between two women who had built a relationship over months. “Gravity helped,”  The mother of three described her latest birth as poles apart from her earlier experiences. Ms Muhl and her midwife, Storm Henry, are part of a midwifery program pairing First Nations mothers with midwives for the duration of their pregnancy, delivery and the first days of the baby’s life. About one in 10 Australian mothers opt to have a single midwife, or caseload midwife, throughout their pregnancy, but for mothers of First Nations babies that rate has historically been much lower. “We know when women have a main midwife or continuity-of-care model there’s reduced childbirth complications,” La Trobe University professor Helen McLachlan said. “Babies are less likely to get sick, mothers are less likely to need caesarean sections.”

More than 18,000 First Nations babies are born across the country each year. Those babies are at a higher risk of arriving early, being born underweight or needing special care. “Outcomes for [First Nations] mothers and babies are pretty much twice as bad as non-Aboriginal mothers and babies — double the rate of preterm birth, almost triple the rate of maternal mortality,” Professor McLachlan said. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 13% of Indigenous babies were born underweight in 2019. Reducing that number is a key target of the Closing the Gap agreement.

The culturally safe Baggarrook midwifery care program, being led by Latrobe University and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, has now matched more than 700 women giving birth to Indigenous babies with either a First Nations midwife or one who has been through cultural awareness training. “We’ve gone from 5% of Aboriginal women receiving access to this gold-standard model of care to over 90% of Aboriginal women presenting at one of the three hospitals participating,” Professor McLachlan said.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal midwife program works to close the gap in infant mortality and birth complications in full click here.

Kelsey Muhl enlisted a midwife from a First Nations program to help deliver her daughter Emilia. Photo: Nicole Asher, ABC News.

Helping older Australians avoid ED

Improving the care of older Australians in a bid to help them avoid hospital emergency departments will be the focus of a new project that federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says has been awarded funding from the Medical Research Future Fund. Led by Flinders University in partnership with SA Health’s Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) and the SA Ambulance Service, the research will engage patients and the medical community to find the best way forward for treating older Australians, who make up almost a quarter of all ED visits. “Emergency departments across Australia are often overwhelmed by the high demand from our growing ageing population but nearly half of the visits are potentially preventable,” says Flinders University’s Associate Professor Craig Whitehead, Director of Rehabilitation, Aged, and Palliative Care at SAHLN and the project’s Chief Investigator.

The project will also explore what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers look for in emergency care, as well as seek to understand the barriers they face, with the team including two Aboriginal researchers – Associate Professor Tamara Mackean and Shane D’Angelo – from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Health group in Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. They bring both public health and Indigenous health research experience and will engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through yarning circles. “This is an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews and experiences to be incorporated into the conduct of the research from the beginning,” said Associate Professor Mackean.

To view the Flinders University article Helping older Australians avoid ED click here.

Image source: Flinders University News webpage.

Lower healthcare costs, but no PHC reform

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) welcomes recent announcements from both major parties that the cost of prescriptions will be eased by reducing the PBS co-payment. In addition, both parties have committed to raising the threshold for access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC). CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said that these two measures will help to bring down costs for people on fixed incomes in the face of rising inflation pressures. “Commitments to lower the cost of prescriptions if either side wins the election will be a much needed saving for health care consumers. When medicines become unaffordable, the costs to the nation’s healthcare system becomes more burdensome, as people are missing essential treatment,” said Ms Wells.

“However, we remind both parties that there are many others in the community such as young people, those who have had their NDIS packages cut, and people living in poverty on Jobseeker for whom access to affordable healthcare is dire.  Measures to support their capacity to access healthcare are sorely needed. CHF would like see more health care affordability measures directed to people on low incomes, who need it most,” she said. “We are acutely aware that many families in Australia will be forgoing items in the household budget to make ends meet,” said Ms Wells, “but affordability and access to healthcare goes beyond the cost of medicines.”

To view the CHF media release Parties promise to reduce costs but what about health care reform? in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Inquiry highlights rural NSW’s health crisis

The NSW government has been handed a scathing report finding the rural health system is “in crisis and is failing residents of rural, regional and remote areas”. A cross-party committee has made 44 recommendations, following hundreds of hours of evidence held across NSW, to try to overhaul the system. What was found was people living outside of the city have “significantly poorer health outcomes, greater incidents of chronic disease, and greater premature deaths”.

To address “historic failures” by both levels of government to fix workforce shortages, particularly in relation to doctors and nurses, it put forward a range of sweeping changes. They include the state government collaborating with the Commonwealth on a 10-year workforce strategy, a single employer model for GPs, and for the committee to hold another inquiry in two years’ time to see if the changes have been implemented.

You can view the ABC News article Inquiry into rural, regional and remote healthcare hands down findings to NSW government in full here.

The AMA (NSW) has welcomed the final report from the NSW parliamentary inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional, and remote New South Wales, but says achieving the report’s recommendations will not be feasible unless Governments make a meaningful funding commitment to improving health. “The report underscores the paucity of investment made into rural health to date and the absolute necessity to rethink current funding arrangements,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen. “The

To view the AMA’s media release Rural health inquiry highlights desperate need for more funding, AMA (NSW) says in full click here.

Image source: Careers Connections.

80% + Aboriginal people speak Kriol

Sylvia Tkac was born to be an Aboriginal interpreter but fell into the profession quite by accident. “My grandmother was an interpreter,” Ms Tkac said. “She said to me, ‘I need another interpreter, are you interested in interpreting?’ “I did it for the first time and I thought, ‘Gee I’m fluent’, because I spoke it as a child.” Kriol interpreter services are still used regularly across Australia. Interpreters hold an important role in communities for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “A Kriol interpreter is needed in the local courts,” Ms Tkac said. “Darwin use them, (as well as) Katherine and Alice Springs — they’re also used in the Supreme Court and in hospitals as well.”

Ms Tkac is an Anindilyakwa Interpreter from the Groote Eylandt archipelago and is based in Darwin with the Aboriginal Interpreter Service. She interprets for a wide range of service providers in topics such as health, education, and law at the Local, Supreme and Children’s courts. The service collaborates on recordings with other agencies and mining companies, and produces a range of aids and resources, including DVDs, animations, driving apps and video interpreting. The service is vital to the 80% of Aboriginal people in Australia who speak Aboriginal English or Kriol, which has been recognised as a language since the 1970s.

To view the ABC News article More than 80% of Aboriginal people speak Kriol — why is it still widely misunderstood? in full click here.

Research Institute to tackle health inequities

Charles Sturt University’s new Rural and Regional Health Research Institute will work with communities to address the local burden of disease in lower socio-economic communities within rural, regional, and remote areas. Professor of Medicine and Executive Director of the Institute, Professor Allen Ross is applying his extensive international experience in rural and remote health to establish an organisation that delivers regional, national, and international impact. The Institute received $18 million over five years from the Australian Government to develop a world-class rural health and medical research facility that will support the needs of rural communities in Australia and beyond.

The Institute will focus on conducting research that:

  • addresses First Nations people’s health inequities
  • improves the experience of ageing and aged care in rural communities
  • improves child development health outcomes
  • promotes consumer-driven rural health research
  • boosts clinical research capability and
  • enables research to improve health and medical service delivery in regional cities, rural towns, and remote communities.

Professor Ross said “We will work with community leaders, such as the local Aboriginal Medical Services, to identify chronic health issues of the highest priority.”

To view the Charles Sturt University article Rural and Regional Health Research Institute, a world-class facility to tackle health inequalities in full click here.

Image source: Charles Sturt University.

People urged to get vax as flu cases rise

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, and Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan, say with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s winter season will likely see both an increase in transmission of the coronavirus and, for the first time since 2019, a resurgence in influenza. Given this, it is important that people, particularly those in at-risk population groups, maximise their protection against both viruses by being vaccinated – and continue to practise all of the safe hygiene measures we have become accustomed to throughout the pandemic. Both influenza and COVID-19 are highly contagious viral infections that can lead to serious illness, hospitalisation or even death. Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine each year.

To read the Dr Bennett and Professor McMillan’s media release in full click here.

In a related media release NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said flu is circulating widely in the community for the first time in two years, coinciding with ongoing high levels of transmission of COVID-19. “It is crucial everyone gets vaccinated against flu to not only protect themselves, but their colleagues and loved ones against serious illness or worse,” Mr Hazzard said. “Whilst we know there is vaccination fatigue, I urge the more vulnerable members of our community to book in for a flu jab with their GP or pharmacist as soon as possible. The elderly, pregnant women, children aged under five years, Aboriginal people and those with serious health conditions can get a free flu shot now, so please book in.”

To read Minister Hazzard’s media release in full click here.

Image source: The Department of Health website.

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 Ovarian Cancer Day

World Ovarian Cancer Day was stablished in 2013 by a group of leaders from ovarian cancer advocacy organisations around the world. May 8 – World Ovarian Cancer Day, is the one day of the year we globally raise our voices in solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.4 times as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer as non-Indigenous Australians, are 0.9 times as likely to die and have only a 45% change of surviving for five years. You can access the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report containing these figures about ovarian cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

For more information about World Ovarian Cancer Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Simple free bowel cancer test saves lives

Simple free bowel cancer test saves lives

Most bowel cancers (sometimes called colorectal, colon or rectal cancers) start as benign, non-cancerous growths called ‘polyps’ that form on the inner lining or the wall of the bowel. These polyps may become cancerous if they are not removed. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Although these cancers are experienced at lower rates than non-Indigenous Australians, the survival rates are lower and mortality rates are higher. This may be due to the lower participation in bowel screening programs, which is a particular risk for those in remote areas, where access to health services can be limited.

Initiatives such as the National Indigenous Bowel Screening Pilot Project have helped to address low rates of participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which is important as when found early, bowel cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can currently receive free screening for bowel cancer via the Australian Government’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a collection of resources, specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the NBCSP and the importance of bowel cancer screening, available here.

‘I was whitewashed’ says Uncle Jack Charles

Yesterday the actor and Indigenous rights activist, Uncle Jack Charles, told the nation’s first truth and justice commission to hear the impacts of colonisation and racist government policy on First Nations people of his removal from his family as a baby. Charles said he was placed in the Box Hill Boys’ Home, where he experienced “cruel and callous punishments” in the 1950s, and spoke of the cycles of incarceration, homelessness, familial dislocation and drug addiction he experienced for decades as a result of that treatment. “I wasn’t even told I was Aboriginal. I had to discover that for myself. I knew nothing, was told nothing, and had to assimilate … I was whitewashed by the system,” Charles told the Yoorrook Justice Commission on its first day of public hearings.

Elders were invited to make submissions at the commission’s hearings, or wurrek tyerrang, that opened at the former site of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service building on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, a symbolic landmark of self-determination to First Peoples in the state since the community organisation was founded in the early 1970s. Submissions to the commission, also referred to as nuther-mooyoop (a Boon Wurrung word for truth), were designed to provide an opportunity for First Nations elders in the state to share their experiences of the impacts of colonisation, including their experiences of resilience and survival of languages and little-known histories and traditions.

To view The Age article ‘I was whitewashed’: Uncle Jack Charles first elder to share his story at Yoorrook in full click here.

Uncle Jack Charles outside the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service, Fitzroy

Uncle Jack Charles outside the Victoria Aboriginal Health Service at Fitzroy. Photo: Darrian Traynor. Image source: The Age.

Protect your mob – immunisation campaign

Vaccination rates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have decreased over recent periods, particularly at 1 and 2 years of age. It is important to establish positive immunisation behaviours early in your children’s lives. Skipping or delaying vaccinations puts children and those around them at risk of catching serious diseases. It’s important that children receive their routine vaccines in line with the Childhood Immunisation schedule on time, every time, for the best protection.

A recently launched ’Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign uses a range of materials to engage with parents and carers, childcare workers and health care professionals about the importance of childhood vaccination. Materials specifically developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include online videos, an infographic and brochures. You can find out more about the ‘Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign here and access resources from the Australian Government Department of Health Routine childhood immunisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children webpage here.

Children need commitment in this election

National Voice for our Children is calling on all major parties in the upcoming Federal election to commit to actions that create a better start in life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. SNAICC’s election priorities have been sent to parties with the responses to inform a snapshot of where they stand on key policies impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said substantial policy change was crucial if a future Federal Government was to make headway on new Closing the Gap targets. “Under the National Partnership all Governments have agreed to work with the Coalition of Peaks to reduce over-representation in out of home care by 45% by 2031,” Ms Liddle said. “There is also agreement to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children developmentally on track against all 5 domains of the Australian Early Development Census by 55%.”

To view the SNAICC media release Children need commitment in this election contest in full click here.

Image source: SBS TV.

Jacci – no choice but to leave Katherine

Jacci Ingham had been living in the small NT town of Katherine, around 300km south of Darwin, for two decades. And she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. It was where her friends were, where her favourite memories were made and where her passion for landscape photography really flourished. But when her NDIS request to move into a local supported accommodation facility was knocked back, she was deemed legally homeless. The writing was on the wall – she had no choice but to leave.

Although she does not have a disability that is visible to the outside world, Jacci – who is in her 40s – has always relied on around-the-clock support to be able to live her life. “I used to see various counsellors and paediatricians and what not and they’d try these different things to see if that would improve me,” Jacci said. “To be honest, I was a bit out of it for a while like my speech was different, I had thought differently, I was prone to very delusional ways of thinking.”

Remote and Population Health Manager for Katherine West Health Board, Megan Green, was brought into the ACCHO as the Mental Health Coordinator in 2016, and tasked with the role of servicing the mental health needs of residents across the 160,000 sq km from the WA border to the edge of the Tanami desert. “So people have got…a number of options (in Darwin). For the mob out bush and even in Katherine itself, I think they’re quite limited,” she said. She said the only option for patients who are in the midst of a mental health crisis, because Katherine does not have the services required, is to have them flown to Darwin at a cost of “thousands of dollars.” It’s always a last resort to send someone out of community, it’s only if we can’t support them or their family, or support the family to support them,” Megan said.

The above was extracted from the Manning River Times article ‘If Katherine were to improve its mental health services, I would move back in a heartbeat’ published on 26 April 2022.

Image source: Manning River Times.

Universal access to oral healthcare needed

There’s a strong economic argument for providing free – or at least affordable – dental healthcare as poor dental health is linked to chronic conditions such as stroke, heart and lung diseases, which place a significant cost on the public health system. Vulnerable Australians are particularly at risk from oral disease and there are growing calls in the lead-up to the federal election to start the journey towards universal access to oral healthcare.

The Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells says dental care should be funded under Medicare because otherwise it is simply unaffordable for many Australians who risk long-term illness and preventable hospitalisation. Tan Nguyen and Associate Professor Amit Arora, co-convenors of the Public Health Association of Australia Oral Health Special Interest Group, have outlined how national leadership is required to address this neglected area of public health in a Croakey Health Media article Universal access to oral healthcare needs national leadership  here.

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Fierce advocacy for mob will be remembered

Prominent Kungarakan and Gurindji elder and community leader Kathy Mills died on Sunday aged 86. Ms Mills was known for her advocacy work for Aboriginal people in the NT, as well as a distinguished career as a songwriter and poet. Daughter June Mills said her mother had a powerful memory of local bloodlines and culture. “She’d take you on a journey, a beautiful journey, and I’ve witnessed that so many times … I’m going to miss that,” Ms Mills said.

Ms Mills held various leadership roles in the NT community, including helping to start Darwin’ oldest alcohol rehabilitation service, co-founding the Danila Dilba Health Service and, in the 1980s, being the first woman elected to the Northern Land Council. Critical of what she said was disappointingly slow work towards reconciliation, Ms Mills used her national profile to push for stronger action than token gestures for Aboriginal people.

“She had steely determination,” June Mills said. “Whether it was Stolen Generation or health or alcoholism, there was lots of things she championed throughout her life. “And once she set her teeth into something, she persevered until she got what she wanted to happen.” Ms Mills was named the NAIDOC person of the year in 1986, was inducted into what were then the NT Indigenous Music Awards (now National Indigenous Music Awards) Hall of Fame in 2005 and became a member of the Order of Australia in 2019. Earlier this year, Ms Mills was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the NT’s Batchelor Institute in recognition of her work.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal elder Kathy Mills remembered as formidable leader and brilliant storyteller in full click here.

Kathy Mills

Kathy Mills. Photo: Terry McDonald, 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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Culturally responsive palliative care

Culturally responsive palliative care

The Palliative care curriculum for undergraduates (PCC4U) project has launched the Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illness toolkit. The PCC4U is a QUT-led initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to support development of graduate capabilities in palliative care.

National Indigenous Project Manager, Nicole Hewlett, a Palawa woman from Lutruwita (Tasmania), from the QUT School of Nursing worked with PCC4U to ensure culturally safe resources are developed and delivered. She said the new toolkit formed part of the PCC4U curriculum for educators, health and aged care providers, and would bring greater awareness to inequity. “Given the history, trauma and current experience of racism in healthcare, it can be particularly difficult for Australian Indigenous peoples to talk about the kind of care and support they would like as they age or become seriously ill,” Ms Hewlett said.

“As a result, most communities are not receiving the best quality of care and support while they live with chronic Illness and at the end of life. This can have a profound effect on both the sick person and their loved ones’ experience during this end-of-life journey.” Ms Hewlett said the toolkit had not just been redeveloped, but decolonised.

You can access further information about the Caring for Australian Indigenous peoples affected by life-limiting illness toolkit on the QUT website here.

The Glen for Women opens doors

The songs of bellbirds fill Coral Hennessy with peace. They echo around a picturesque rural landscape at Wyong Creek, on the NSW Central Coast. “Just what people need for healing,” Malyangapa woman Ms Hennessy said. Now, the 4.45 hectare property is home to the state’s first Aboriginal community controlled women’s drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation centre. The Glen for Women is a decades-old dream that will open intake applications this week.

The 20-bed facility will house 80 to 100 clients each year, with a focus on local Aboriginal women. During their 12 week stay, women will drive their activities, including a yarning circle, sports and art. Ms Hennessy said her daughter, who struggled with alcohol addiction, died in late 2020. “I always found it hard to find a place for her to go to,” she said. “There never seemed to be the right place … so that was one of my reasons for getting a rehab to be run along the lines of The Glen centre.”

Ms Hennessy is the chair of The Glen for Men, as well as this new women’s offshoot. Her passion to improve lives through drug and alcohol rehabilitation is a legacy of her late brother Cyril, who founded the nearby men’s centre in 1994. The name was in honour of his son, Glen, who died after a battle with addiction.

Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA) CEO Robert Stirling said the centre will respond to a gap in treatment. “NADA is excited that The Glen for Women is about to become a reality – a culturally secure place for Aboriginal women to address alcohol and drug related harms,” he said. The Glen for Women chief operating officer Kylie Cassidy said it had already been inundated with calls from women.

To read the ABC News article The Glen for Women, Aboriginal community controlled drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, opens doors in full click here.

The Glen for Women is a 20-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre

The Glen for Women is a 20-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre set on more than four hectares. Photo: Sofie Wainwright, ABC Central Coast. Image source: ABC News website.

80% of mob over 16 have had 2 doses

It’s FANTASTIC to see that 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 16 have had 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

NACCHO is extending a huge thank you to all ACCHOs for their tireless efforts so far in the vaccination roll-out, and to all the deadly mob who have stepped up to protect themselves, their families and community.

Now, let’s aim for 100%.

To book your vaccination, contact your local Aboriginal health service or visit the Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder website here.

CTG dashboard update

The Australian Government Productivity Commission Closing the Gap Information Repository is being developed (in stages) to help support reporting . The latest update to the Dashboard (31 March 2022) includes disaggregations of data for a subset of targets under the socioeconomic outcome areas (with a new year of data for five socioeconomic outcome areas) and refinements to the method for assessing progress against the targets.

A further update to the Dashboard will be available in late June 2022. It will include reporting on a further 20 indicators across the Priority Reform areas and socioeconomic outcome areas. The release of the second Annual Data Compilation Report is anticipated by end July 2022.

You can view the fact sheet about the dashboard here.

Image source: wingaru.com.au

New BCNA First Peoples resources

BCNA is thrilled to advise that this month they have launched new content to support First Peoples women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The development of the content, created with support from Cancer Australia, has enabled BCNA to expand their resources for First Peoples women to help them feel empowered to make decisions about their treatment and care and to help them through their breast cancer journey. The information was developed with significant input and contribution through BCNA’s First Peoples Advisory Group and those First Peoples who are part of the BCNA network.

In addition to written information, the information for First Peoples now includes a series of eight new videos in which First Peoples women from around Australia share their experiences with breast cancer. Video topics include: Advice for First Peoples and their communities; Family and support; Connection to culture; and Treatment.

In the coming weeks, a webcast on the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be recorded and made available. The videos and webcast will be available to watch on My Journey via this link and on the BCNA website. You can read more about resources available for First Peoples communities here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap released

The Australian Government has today launched the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap (Roadmap) and has committed funding of $20.3 million to support improved outcomes and survival for Australians affected by pancreatic cancer. The Roadmap, developed by Cancer Australia and overseen by a multidisciplinary national expert Steering Group, is for the Australian community. Its implementation will be a collective responsibility involving people affected by pancreatic cancer, health professionals, professional colleges, researchers, pancreatic cancer organisations, peak bodies, non-government and government organisations.

Cancer Australia has created the Roadmap as an interactive, easy to use web-based tool where users can easily identify information in their areas of interest across the continuum of pancreatic research, treatment and care.

To access the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap, visit the Australian Government Cancer Australia website here.

Hepatitis elimination needs longer-term funding

Hepatitis Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment of short-term (12 months) funding under the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021–2030 to support key organisations to continue existing programs in the national response to hepatitis B, C, HIV and STIs. “The Government has allocated $8.6 million in 2022–23 allowing key organisations to continue important work towards elimination by 2030,” said Carrie Fowlie, CEO of Hepatitis Australia, the national peak body representing the interests of 350,000 people living with viral hepatitis and the State and Territory Hepatitis Organisations.

It should be noted that the $8.6 million includes a $5 million commitment to implement key activities under the Fifth National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2018–2022, to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of blood borne viruses and/or sexually transmissible infections.

To view the Healthcare Channel article in full click here.

Blood testing to detect HIV. Photo: Mak Remissa, EPA. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Health disparity for LGBTQIA+ people

Yesterday on International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is celebrated the achievements, presence and community of transgender (trans) and gender-diverse people and highlighted the immediate need to address the health gaps they experience. “Today, I would like to acknowledge the persistent contribution trans and gender-diverse people make to our society and especially those who are my colleagues in the nursing profession,” ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.

“It is unconscionable that this group continues to experience discrimination in accessing many of our areas of society such as health, education and sports. The flow on effect means trans and gender diverse people are more likely to experience much higher rates of violence, mental health problems and homelessness – just to name a few examples. These statistics are even more troubling for those in already marginalised groups, such as people of colour, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and young Australians. Our society must not tolerate discrimination based on gender or any other form.” Adjunct Professor Ward also highlighted how the nursing profession has a leading role to play in tackling the systemic issues trans and gender-diverse people experience.

You can view the Australian College of Nursing Health disparities of transgender and gender diverse people require urgent attention media release in full here.

Image source: MJA InSight.

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) have also issued a media release saying they are extremely disappointed by the lack of measures in the Federal Budget to improve the access to healthcare for LGBTQIA+ Australians. “Transgender and gender diverse Australians are in urgent need of support. The failure of the Government to direct funding to increase access to gender-affirming services will cause significant harm to patients who are unable to afford access,” Jasmine Davis, AMSA President said.

AMSA is also disappointed to see a lack of specific funding for LGBTQIA+ mental health. “Queer Australians already experience higher rates of mental-ill health and suicide. Nearly a third of LGBTI Australians aged 18 and over have attempted suicide, a number which is eight times higher than the general population,” Flynn Halliwell, Chair of AMSA Queer, said. “The federal government has itself continued to perpetuate direct harm to the mental health of these communities through attempts to introduce harmful legislation, as well as political weaponizing of trans and gender diverse people in public discourse. If the Government is serious about improving mental health, and reducing suicide rates in Australia, there should be specific funding for LGBTQIA+ mental health services,” Mr Halliwell said.

You can view the AMSA’s media release in full here.

Image source: The Conversation.

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 Health Day

The Australian Global Health Alliance, in partnership with the Climate and Health Alliance, Australian WHO Collaborating Centre Network, Melbourne Climate Futures, and Monash Sustainable Development Institute are delighted to present an expert panel on World Health Day 2022 to celebrate and reflect on our past, present and future connections to this year’s theme: Our Planet, Our Health.

Many groups and individuals claim knowledge in the field of planetary health and global health, and it can sometimes be a cacophony of competing rather than joined interest to act. Our expert panel will explore lived experiences facing floods and heatwaves in Australia and the region, the application and respect for all global and First Nation’s knowledge, and the processes and platforms we use to communicate for action – and for whom.

Our discussion will be co-chaired by Australian Global Health Alliance Executive Director, Dr Selina Lo and Georgia Langmaid, a young generation lead in planetary health from 12:00–1:30PM (AEST) Thursday 7 April, 2022. You can register for the event here.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month with World Parkinson’s Day recognised on 11 April each year. Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety and diagnosis can occur at any age. With one person every hour of every day diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is important to continue education, research and support for consumers, families and support people who are living with PD.

For more information about PD and Parkinson’s Awareness Month click here.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the elderly after Alzheimer’s disease. It is expected that PD cumulative incidence will increase in the future, as there are far more people surviving into late age than there ever used to be. Socioeconomic, cultural and genetic factors may influence the way in which anti-parkinsonian medications are prescribed, and how patients respond to them. There is growing recognition that more detailed Australian-specific data are required and that special consideration should be given to obtaining estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of Australia.

You can access the BMJ Neurology Open article Variations in the patterns of prevalence and therapy in Australasian Parkinson’s disease patients of different ethnicities containing the above information here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $43m for NT suicide prevention services

Balgo WA graves

Image in feature tile of Balgo cemetery, WA. Photo: Matt Bamford, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

$43m for NT suicide prevention services

The Commonwealth and NT Governments have announced $43 million in funding for mental health and suicide prevention services in the NT that they say will cover the gaps on existing services, which the NT Lived Experience Network has welcomed, while calling for community engagement in the development of NT mental health service delivery plan. The fresh funding will cover the next five years of mental health services after the NT’s suicide prevention strategic framework launched in 2018 is set to end next year.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the agreement will ensure Territorians will have access to additional mental health support, including young Australians, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistant Minister to the PM for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman meanwhile said a key focus of the bilateral agreement would be reducing the heartbreaking suicide rate in Indigenous communities. “Indigenous Australians die of suicide at more than double the rate of the non-Indigenous population,” Mr Coleman said. “This is a national tragedy and through this agreement we will be working closing with ACCHOs and NGO service providers across the NT to ensure relevant services are culturally appropriate.”

To view the NT Independent article in full click here.

Photo: Joshua Spong. Image source: ABC News website.

Nhulundu CEO witness at Senate Committee

Late last week Bailai man Matthew Cooke, CEO of Gladstone Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service Ltd (trading as Nhulundu Health) and chairman of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) appeared as a witness at the Senate Community Affairs References Committee – General practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australians. In giving evidence Mr Cooke said:

“One other thing I’d like to mention in my opening statement is that the Indigenous Australians Health Program (IAHP) is the Australian government program run by the Department of Health. It is the Commonwealth budget which provides funding to the Aboriginal community controlled health services across Australia more broadly and here in the state of Queensland. There are challenges not only with regard to how the implementation of the Modified Monash Model works across rural and regional and remote communities but also with regard to the implementation of the IAHP and the funding methodology used by the Australian government. It too creates issues for our community controlled health services.”

“One thing I’ve quite well pointed out over many years—I’ve been the previous chair of NACCHO and the previous chief executive of the state peak body, QAIHC, on which I now serve as chairman—is the fact that 141-plus of our ACCHOs across the country are seen as a larger service provider to our people for primary health care, yet we’re funded with less than half the budget of the IAHP to deliver care to our people and communities. And if all levels of government, including the Australian government, have signed up to Closing the Gap by 2031 and we are recognised for playing a key part in terms of access to and delivery of care, then, even with workforce challenges, surely there has to be a greater sum of those funds coming to the Aboriginal community controlled health sector to deliver that much-needed care.”

To read a complete transcript of Mr Cooke’s testimony click here.

Matthew Cooke

Matthew Cooke. Photo: Emilie Gramenz, ABC News.

Grant to boost HIV awareness

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations will use a ViiV Healthcare Australia grant to fund their Discover HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities program. The program aims to increase HIV health literacy in Indigenous communities and ensure healthcare networks have the skills and knowledge to effectively address HIV in the community.

Discover HIV project officer Justin Salerno, whose mother’s family has roots in the Indigenous community in WA’s Mid West said there were disproportionately high rates of HIV and STIs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. “There is a need for more education and health promotion reaching these communities because unfortunately the message is not getting through as it has with other communities,” he said.

“We have formed a partnership with Anwernekenhe, a national HIV alliance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, doing the work we do, which involves building the capacity of health care workers.” Mr Salerno said a new edition of the Us Mob booklet, with information on treatment and services not included in the first three editions, had been launched.

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

Image source: HIV Justice Network.

Lower life expectancy post cancer 

New research from Cancer Council Queensland has revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have consistently lower remaining life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis than non-Indigenous Australians. In a new report titled Quantifying differences in remaining life expectancy after cancer diagnosis, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians, 2005-2016, contributing researchers found on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients had 12 years of life remaining and non Indigenous Australians had 20 years, revealing an 8 year disparity in life expectancy across the two groups. The researchers concluded a cancer diagnosis exacerbates the disparities in remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Interventions to address these must consider both cancer related factors and those contributing to non-cancer mortality.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the study highlights the need to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. “It’s disappointing to see such a prevalent gap in the remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when compared with other Australians faced with cancer,” Ms McMillan said. “This new research shines a light on the need to address both factors related to cancer management, such as access to treatment and support, and those contributing to a higher non-cancer mortality to help improve outcomes.”

To view the Mirage article in full click here.

Aboriginal Yarning Circle support group participants. Image source: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Victoria Australia website.

Progress in eliminating skin disease

One Disease is a non-profit organisation with a mission to eliminate crusted scabies as a public health concern in Australia by the end of 2022. Crusted scabies develops from cases of untreated ordinary scabies in people who have compromised immune systems. Scabies is also known to underlie many skin infections in the NT, which can lead to serious conditions such as sepsis, acute rheumatic fever, RHD and chronic kidney disease. Crusted scabies is categorised into three grades – 1, 2 and 3 – in accordance with the scabies mite load present, with Grade 3 being the most severe and infectious.

One Disease’s approach to improving the health of people living in Northern Australia has been multifaceted and is built on partnerships with the NT Government and communities across Darwin (covering Darwin Urban, Top End West, Top End Central), East Arnhem Land, West Arnhem Land, Katherine and Central (including greater Alice Springs Region and Barkly).

To view the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article in full click here. You can also access a range of One Disease resources here, including the Scratching the Surface Podcast and educational videos such Walking Together, Working Together one below.

New SA Government health pledges

The newest Premier of SA, Peter Malinauskas, has pledged to improve the lives of those living in the country, including $15.8m for a new home for Ceduna’s Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation.

To view the Naracoorte Herald article in full click here.

entrance to Yadu Health AC, Ceduna

Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation in Ceduna. Image source: In Daily Adelaide Independent News website.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) South Australian Branch said it looks forward to a positive and productive relationship with the new SA Premier and Health Minister,“As we transition back to normality, it is crucial that the incoming government continue to implement measures which would improve the health and wellbeing of South Australians, like the recommendations PSA has recently provided.

“These recommendations include embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities, enabling pharmacists to administer medicines by injection with an expanded range of vaccines, providing funding to employ pharmacists in Aboriginal Health Clinics across the state, and employing transition of care pharmacists in all South Australian hospitals.”

To view The National Tribune article in full click here.

Pharmacists working in an ACCHO. Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

WA pilot keeps mums and bubs together

The number of Indigenous newborns taken from their mothers has more than halved at Perth’s dedicated birthing hospital as a result of a pilot program that supports pregnant women and their families to plan a safe household. The contentious practice of removing babies from their mothers at King Edward Memorial Hospital – sometimes when the baby is just a few hours old – was increasingly common in WA for years.

The minister responsible for child protection in WA, Simone McGurk, told state parliament that women at risk had been taking part in pre-birth planning and as a result, the number of babies taken into care from the hospital had fallen 52% in the past two years overall. The number of Indigenous babies taken at birth at that hospital has fallen 54%.

entrance of King Edward Hospital, Subiaco, Perth, WA

King Edward Memorial Hospital has had enormous success with its pilot program to prevent Indigenous children being taken from their mothers. Photo: Marie Nirme. Image source: The Australian.

 

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.

National Tobacco Strategy input

The Australian Government Department of Health is seeking feedback on the draft National Tobacco Strategy (NTS) 2022-2030. The draft NTS 2022-2030 sets out a national policy framework for all governments to work together and in collaboration with non-government organisations to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and its associated health, social, environmental and economic costs, and the inequalities it causes.

The Department welcomes all feedback and interested parties are invited to share their views on some, or all of the consultation questions or upload a written submission or response by Thursday 24 March 2022. You can view the draft NTS and submit a response at the Department of Health’s consultation hub here.

tobacco leaves from cigarette spelling QUIT

Image source: Victoria State Government Education and Training website.-