NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aunty Jill’s bowel cancer journey

The image in the feature tile is of Jill Gallagher AO. Image source: Australian and NZ School of Government (ANZSOG) website.

Aunty Jill’s bowel cancer journey

When Gunditjamara woman Jill Gallagher was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer aged 54, she began self-reflecting on lifestyle choices which led her to this point. The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation CEO lived a busy life and found herself constantly tired and overworked, factors she blamed for her diagnosis. Ms Gallagher had experienced fatigue and persistent diarrhoea but had not associated the benign symptoms with bowel cancer.

After undergoing two major surgeries to remove sections of her bowel, part of her liver and growths on her diaphragm in 2010, Ms Gallagher said the path to recovery was lonely. “I’ve always been a very strong woman and never suffered with depression in my life until then, in the recovery phase, waiting to have chemo, waiting to see if I’m going to survive or die,” she said.

“The hospital took care of my medical needs, but there’s not a lot to take care of your emotional and spiritual needs.” After medication left her feeling unmotivated, Ms Gallagher turned to culture for comfort through the Healesville sanctuary where her son worked.

Ms Gallagher is among one in 15 Australians who will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, it is a cancer which can almost always be treated if detected early. She wants her experience 14 years ago to serve as a warning to others out there to get checked and make use of free screening for those aged 50 to 74.

To read the National Indigenous Times article When Aunty Jill needed guidance while recovering from cancer, Bunjil the creator spirit was there for her in full click here.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Black Up! national camp for young mob

Blak Up! is a national First Nations event, led by the First Nations Team at Foundation for Youth Australian (FYA) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 16-35 years old. The time is now to build power and create connections for our future – a Blak future. The all Blak line-up will be a 4-day camp, all expenses paid including travel, featuring yarns from Elders and experienced campaigners, practical workshops, art and performances from Blak musicians. Blak Up! will help guide young mob to create connections with each other, strengthening bonds across these lands, and support them to create change in their own communities.

This idea came out of the nation-wide consultation we did for our First Nations Strategy – young mob told us that they wanted more opportunities to gather, connect and learn across communities and generations. The 50 young participants will be selected from applications by a panel of First Nations people. The First Nations team are encouraging and prioritising applications from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16–35 years who have lived experience in the justice system, State care, mental health system, housing precarity and those mob who live remote, rural or regionally.

We want Blak Up to be an inclusive and safe place for young First Nations parents, young people with criminal records, disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ communities. There will not be drugs or alcohol allowed at this event. If you have young people in mind who would love to come but need additional support to attend (such as a person to travel with), please get in touch to discuss.

You can find key information about Black Up! here, a flyer here and an information pack here. Young mob who are interested in this event can apply here by Friday 30 September 2022. If you have any questions, please book in a time to discuss here or call 0478 772 390.

Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale audit results

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) project emerged from the concerns of Kimberley healthcare professionals that the mainstream perinatal depression and anxiety screening tool, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), was inappropriate for Aboriginal women. The first phase of the project involved a community based, participatory research action project with over 100 Kimberley Aboriginal women and 72 healthcare professionals to determine appropriate ways to screen for common perinatal mental health disorders. The resulting KMMS was validated in 2016 through a clinical trial involving 91 Kimberley Aboriginal women.

In 2017 funding was received funds from the National Health and Medical Research Council and WA Department of Health to progress the transferability of the KMMS in other geographic areas and implement the KMMS into routine clinical practice across the Kimberley. During 2017-2022 the KMMS was implemented in the Kimberley.

A recent audit of KMMS implementation demonstrated that it is the primary perinatal depression and anxiety screening tool across the Kimberley Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Central to all phases of this project has been Aboriginal voice, participation and leadership. This has included ongoing consultation with Aboriginal women (end users); a strong team of Aboriginal Investigators; and robust partnerships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

You can access the Implementation of the Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale across Primary Health Care Services in the Kimberley region of Western Australia: a mixed methods assessment research article here as well as a plain language report for community here and a plain language report for clinics here.

Image from KMMS module. Image source: AMSED.

New tool to identify patient sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening time critical condition that can occur when the body is fighting any bacterial, viral or fungal infection. It can be difficult to diagnose sepsis as it can be masked behind minor visible symptoms, and if not treated quickly, can lead to organ failure and death. A new tool is being piloted at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD)’s Westmead Hospital, that will help clinicians assess a patient’s risk of sepsis while they are in the emergency department (ED) waiting room.

The Sepsis Risk Tool Dashboard combines a patient’s age, gender and vitals and calculates a sepsis risk percentage for each patient to support the clinician in assessing if sepsis is a risk or not. This dashboard has been designed to complement the existing Sepsis Kills program which was initiated by the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC). “There are other sepsis detection algorithms, but none focus on the ED waiting room, which is where sepsis is most likely to remain undiscovered,” said Dr Amith Shetty, Senior Staff specialist at Westmead Hospital and Clinical Director of NSW Health. “This is what makes this tool unique; it ensures that patients who are waiting for care are not missed or deteriorate.”

To view The Pulse article Innovative new tool to identify patient sepsis risk in Western Sydney emergency departments in full click here.

Image source: The Pulse.

Know your heart disease risk

When you have a family history of a disease, this means a member of your family has, or had that disease. Generally, if you have a family history of a heart condition, you may have a higher risk of developing a heart condition. Inherited conditions are caused by a fault (or mutation) in one or more of your genes. If one of your parents has a faulty gene, there’s a chance you’ll inherit it. Some common inherited conditions are:

  • Heart muscle diseases
  • Life-threatening heart rhythms
  • Very high cholesterol levels.

Family history is more complex. Rather than just a single faulty gene, it could be a combination of shared genes and environments passed down from one generation to the next, which increases the risk of developing a disease. Let your doctor know if you have a family history of heart disease. A Heart Health Check is recommended from the age of 45 (from 30 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples), but your doctor may want to assess your risk of developing heart disease earlier if you have a family history of heart disease. You may not be able to change your family history or genetics, but you can make positive changes to your lifestyle to lower your risk. Adopting the following healthy lifestyle habits can help lower your chances of developing heart disease:

  • Be smoke free
  • Do regular exercise
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Lower your alcohol intake
  • Look after your mental health
  • Manage high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Manage diabetes.

To view the Heart Foundation webpage Know your risk: Family history and heart disease in full click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation.

NT Health Professional of the Year Award winner

A Pine Creek health practitioner has been named among the NT’s most outstanding primary health care workers that were recognised at the NT Health Professional of the Year Awards. Chris Rankine-Johnson from Top End Health Service in Pine Creek was named the Territory’s AMSANT Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner of the Year.

Over the past 12 months, Mr Rankine-Johnson has worked tirelessly to ensure the Pine Creek community was well engaged with health services, hosting BBQs and community meetings on his days off to discuss the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations. He has provided the community with much needed reassurance, practical assistance, and comfort measures, and also took opportunities to develop and implement other primary and preventative health care initiatives, including a program assisting diabetic patients to effectively manage their medication. The health professional was also recognised for helping raise school attendance in the community and his engagement with local families has led to increased health checks, health literacy and immunisation rates.

To view the Katherine Times article Pine Creek health worker Chris Rankine-Johnson recognised in NT Health Professional of the Year Awards in full click here.

Pine Creek’s Chris Rankine-Johnson among the other winners in this year’s NT Health Professional of the Year Awards. Image source: Katherine Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

The image in the feature tile is from the Menzies School of Health Research webpage PANDORA – pregnancy and neonatal diabetes outcomes in remote Australia.

Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

To mark International FASD Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has released data that demonstrates the impact of the Every Moment Matters campaign – Australia’s first, nation-wide public awareness campaign supporting alcohol-free pregnancies and safe breastfeeding practices.

Developed by FARE and endorsed and funded by the Australian Government, Every Moment Matters aims to increase Australians’ awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, and increase the number of Australian women who intend not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

With the tagline ‘The moment you start trying is the moment to stop drinking’, the campaign features nationally on television, radio, digital and out-of-home channels and runs until July 2024. The results of the ongoing evaluation led by the University of Adelaide demonstrates that Every Moment Matters is overcoming the mixed messages people often receive about alcohol and pregnancy.

As part of the broader program of work, NACCHO has designed a culturally appropriate awareness raising campaign with regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said, “FASD is a whole of community issue. We look forward to launching the Strong Born campaign with ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia next month. The campaign will support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD.”

You can find the joint FARE, NOFASD Australia and NACCHO media release Celebrating 9 months of impact on 9 September: International FASD Awareness Day on the NACCHO website here.

Referendum Working Group announced

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has announced members of the Referendum Working Group which will establish the path to a Voice to Parliament. Speaking at the Centre for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation conference at the National Museum of Australia, Ms Burney outlined a “working group of First Nations leaders” with Senator Pat Dodson and herself as co-chairs.

The Referendum Working Group will collaborate with the government to consider and navigate “the big questions” in the next following months. The minister said getting the groups working is the first step, with building a “broad consensus of community support” and “harnessing the goodwill in the Australian community to take Australia forward” being the following.

“[There are] many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum and let’s be clear government cannot lead this referendum,” she said. “This will come from the grassroots, from communities, because the Voice is a nation-building project.” Included among the  group of 22 are:

  • Co-chairs of Uluru Dialogue Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson AO
  • Co-chairs of the Indigenous Voice co-design group Professor Marcia Langton AO and Professor Tom Calma AO
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM and former Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

To view the SBS article Linda Burney outlines next referendum steps including working group with Ken Wyatt in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Dedicated to fighting for mental health

Australians of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly at risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Paul Bird and Alex Speedy of the National Wellbeing Alliance, a First Nations-owned and -operated training provider dedicated to fighting for mental health, are right on the forefront of advocating for “acceptance” of the devastating, hidden conditions plaguing many in the region.

The two spoke to students from Murgon, Proston and Goomeri schools at last month’s careers expo at the Murgon Cherbourg Youth Hub, extending helping hands to those wishing to speak out and start the journey of recovery. “Mental health issues are bad – they’re definitely on the increase,” Mr Bird said. “People are getting younger with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harm – and it’s not just for Indigenous people, it’s through all societies and countries!”

The pair are based out of the Murgon area but hold workshops for ‘mental first-aid’ wherever they are needed most -equipping people to have those all important conversations and to be able to respond in a mental health emergency. “Alex is a community member, born and bred here, and my father was born here, but I was born in NSW,” Mr Bird explained. “Through a turn of events I’ve come back to my father’s country to facilitate and engage with community through workshops and mental health first-aid.”

To read The Burnett Today article Locals join in tackling mental health crisis click here.

National Wellbeing Alliance workers Paul Bird and Alex Speedy are passionate about helping others improve their mental wellbeing. Photo: Julian Lehnert. Image source: Burnett Today.

Number of WA ACCOs to increase

The WA Government has announced a new strategy to strengthen the delivery of services to Aboriginal children, families and communities by increasing opportunities for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCO) to deliver culturally appropriate services. The ACCO strategy is directly aligned to Priority Reform Area Two of the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap, “Building the community-controlled sector.”

The ten-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

“Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions,” Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said. “ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services,” she continued.

To view The Sector’s article WA Gov will boost the number of ACCOs to improve services for First Nations families in full click here.

Image source: The Sector.

Physiotherapist making a difference

As an elite hockey player, Candice Liddy knew her strength was positioning: putting herself in the right place to maximise the team’s opportunity of moving forward and getting a goal. “There were other players who could run all day, but I just knew I had to be in the right spot,” she says.

Candice lives in Darwin, where she was born and raised on Larrakia land. Her grandparents on her dad’s side were part of the Stolen Generations, taken from other parts of the NT as children to live at Garden Point Mission on Melville Island. Her father grew up in Darwin and nearby Howard Springs but was evacuated after cyclone Tracy in 1974 to Brisbane, where he met Candice’s mother, who was born in India, and moved to Australia with her family.

Sporting talent runs in the family and also led Candice to a career in physiotherapy. Playing for many years at State level for the NT, she noticed the team physiotherapists were good at working in the athletes’ best interests while keeping them game-ready, and they also got to travel with the teams. “I wanted those skills and that lifestyle, and I was going to work as hard as I could to get there.”

A later non-clinical role brought her experience in remote communities as a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planner, where she quickly realised that all the planning in the world would be useless if services weren’t available where they were needed. “And that’s when I thought, You know what, there’s a gap. A gap I’m trained to fill.”

To view the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) article 2022 World Physiotherapy Day in full click here.

Candice Lidday. Image source: IAHA website.

Prostate cancer, know the symptoms

The Cancer Council of WA (CCWA) is urging men to visit their doctor and learn the common symptoms of prostate cancer this month. CCWA Great Southern regional education officer Bruce Beamish said prostate cancer awareness month was the perfect chance for men to learn more about how their bodies might be telling them something is wrong. He said unlike for breast, bowel and cervical cancer which have screening tests to confirm the presence of cancer prior to symptoms presenting, there is no such test for prostate cancer. Therefore, it is “vital” to visit a doctor, Aboriginal health care worker or clinic nurse when unusual symptoms present.

“Common symptoms of prostate cancer include waking a lot at night to pee, a sudden or urgent need to pee, problems starting or stopping peeing, needing to pee more often, a slow or weak flow when peeing, or dribbling at the end of peeing,” he said. “These symptoms can be found in other conditions but if you have had any of these for more than four weeks, or you’ve noticed blood in your pee or semen even just once, tell your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got prostate cancer — often it turns out to be something far less serious and your doctor may be able to help reduce the annoying symptoms.”

To view the Broome Advertiser article Men urged to learn the symptoms during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in full click here.

Image source: Vitalii Abakumou, Getty Images, iStockphotos.

Emergency relief centre for Gippsland mob

A groundbreaking emergency relief centre to support members of East Gippsland’s Aboriginal communities in times of crisis is getting underway thanks to a $2.4 million investment by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes joined Member for Eastern Victoria Tom McIntosh and representatives of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal community to announce the funding and hear about their vision for the new centre.

The Lake Tyers Emergency Relief Centre project will bring together Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust and Lake Tyers community to co-design a supportive, safe and secure space for Aboriginal communities within Lake Tyers during and after a bushfire disaster. The centre will also bring community together for activities and meetings outside of emergencies.

The need for the dedicated relief centre was identified following the devastating 2019-20 Eastern Victorian bushfires, during which over 1,000 known registered Aboriginal heritage places were damaged and hundreds of Aboriginal Victorians were affected.

To read The National Tribune article First Relief Centre For Aboriginal Community In Gippsland in full click here.

Terylene Hood says residents need a place where they can be comfortable during an emergency. Photo: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Learning from people with lived experience

The image in the feature tile is from the Aboriginal heart health webpage of the Heart Foundation website.

Learning from people with lived experience

Communities and individuals have a right and a duty to participate in the design and delivery of their health care. In tackling the complex global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health conditions, people with lived experience offer powerful expertise and narratives to shape policies, programs and services, and influence and inform those in power. Despite the right of participation, many global health interventions are top–down, one-size-fits-all or donor-driven models.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a short film documentary that sheds light on the experiences of people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions around the world. Nothing for Us, Without Us: listening and learning from people with lived experience highlights six individuals with diverse health conditions, including rheumatic heart disease, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, cancer, bipolar affective disorder and auto-immune disease and includes perspectives from Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

These individuals provide powerful expertise and evidence of why including the voices of people with lived experience is critical in the co-design of related policies, programs and health services. In addition to the full-length film, there is also the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the individuals, including the CEO of Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Limited, LaVerne Bellear, through a series of short films.

Click here to access the WHO’s Nothing for us, without us: new film series on people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions webpage. You can also access the WHO report Nothing for us, without us: opportunities for meaningful engagement of people living with NCDs here.

Addressing health holistically for 25 years

Addressing health holistically can go a long way to improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. On a day-to-day level, it’s services like Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement in Queensland that makes all the difference. The incorporated community not-for-profit organisation has been providing culturally safe and sensitive services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people in Queensland’s Toowoomba and Darling Downs regions, and SW Queensland for 25 years.

Goolburri knows that encompassing the importance of connection to land, culture, ancestry and how these impact on overall wellbeing of the individual and broader community cannot be underestimated. Goolburri supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a range of services to strengthen families and community relationships, while also protecting the vulnerable and those at risk. These services include GPs, dental services, home support, healing and wellbeing services and a family wellbeing service. It also extends to problematic substance abuse, domestic violence, social and emotional wellbeing, safety plans for children and in-home support.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Strengthening communities by advancing health care options in full click here.

Goolburri employs around 80 team members across 10 offices. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Condo SkyFest supports mental health initiatives

The recent Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) festival washosted by Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC) and Big Skies Collaboration. The festival showcased works from a number of local community organisations and individuals including the:

  • Condo SistaShed, where Sistas meet regularly to enjoy arts and crafts activities;
  • Marathon Health’s Wiradjuri Wellness Project’s Shine group, who meet regularly to paint, sew, yarn and relax. Their artworks celebrate good mental and physical health and positive attitudes;
  • Focus on the Sky: Suicide Prevention Program exhibition, by participants of workshops conducted by Condobolin artist Karen Tooth for the Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative of the Primary Health Network supported by Western Plains Regional Development, Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service and Lachlan Arts Council.

To view the Eastern Advocate article Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) held at the iconic Wiradjuri Study Centre in full click here.

Some of the Sistas at the Condo SistaShed with some of their lantern experiments. From left, Aleesha Goolagong, Zanette Coe, Bev Coe, Charmaine Coe. Photo: Merrill Findlay. Image source: Arts OutWest website.

Scholarships to support health workers

Applications for 400 scholarships for personal care workers and nurses undertaking vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to aged care, leadership and management have opened. There are also 100 scholarships available for allied health professionals to focus on dementia-related post-graduate qualifications under the three-year commonwealth program, which launched last year. Students are eligible to apply if their course commences or continues in 2023. There is a guaranteed number of scholarships per year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. All scholarship recipients are eligible for a completion bonus on successfully finishing their course.

Chief nursing and midwifery officer Professor Alison McMillan said the priority of the scholarships is to develop skills for aged care nurses in leadership and clinical management, and to improve expertise in areas such as palliative care, dementia care and infection prevention and control. “I’d encourage all nurses and aged care workers working in aged care to look at what courses are available and consider applying for study that will support their career in the long term,” Professor McMillan said in a statement.

“Personal care workers interested in becoming an enrolled nurse should consider applying for a scholarship to complete a Diploma of Nursing. Enrolled nurses can apply for a scholarship to complete a Bachelor of Nursing to become a registered nurse,” she said. For allied health, courses related to aged care including clinical gerontology, behavioural management, dementia, continence and palliative care are eligible in addition to leadership and management courses.

Aged care nurse practitioner Khera said the scholarships changed her life. “The best part about my studies is applying the theories and learnings in the workplace and seeing the positive outcomes.”

For more information you can access the Australian Ageing Agenda article More scholarships for aged care nursing, care, allied health staff in full here.

Image source: VACCHO website.

$2.1m for Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance

With access to health services a big issue for Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, BHP is providing $2.1 million in funding to help establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). BHP’s partnership with PAHA will help transform how Indigenous health services are provided in the Pilbara, by establishing new services and creating a strong voice for Indigenous health care.

The Alliance brings together three member organisations, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Newman), Wirraka Maya Health Service (Port Hedland) and Mawarnkarra Health Service (Roebourne and Karratha). Through their collective expertise and community connections, PAHA has a unique understanding of Indigenous health challenges in the Pilbara. Their goal is to work towards breaking down the barriers and improving the health and resilience of Aboriginal people now and in the future.

Wirraka Maya Health Service CEO, June Councillor, says the funding will make a huge difference in driving real improvements in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in the Pilbara. “It will help us identify, develop and roll out the Indigenous health services that will have the greatest impact on our communities in Newman, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Karratha.”

To view the BHP article Transforming Indigenous healthcare in the Pilbara in full click here.

PAHA logo, PAHA health workers. Image sources: PAHA Facebook, BHP website.

Indigenous Literacy Day

Today, Wednesday 7 September 2022 is Indigenous Literacy Day. This is a yearly initiative by Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Through literacy programs, the organisation seeks to improve the lives and possibilities of Indigenous Australians. Not just any literacy program, but one that puts the knowledge and wisdom of the Indigenous people first.

Australia’s First Peoples have a deep knowledge of community, culture, and land. These are concepts of “literacy” that the western world may not understand. We must redefine what literacy means for different communities and their needs. To create forward-thinking spaces without losing roots. Indigenous Literacy Day advocates people’s right to an education in the languages they speak at home. It celebrates Indigenous freedom of expression and participation in public life just as they are.

For more information about Indigenous Literacy Day click here.

Eating disorders research grants available

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, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders.

Open to anyone living in Australia, 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 $13m 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 you can access The University of Sydney webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Workforce shortages across the sector

The image in the feature tile is from the Trainee Aboriginal Health Practitioner webpage of the Danila Dilba Health Service website.

Workforce shortages across the sector

Workforce shortages across the health sector is impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.

The Government’s commitment to the roll out of a NACCHO-led national traineeship program has been welcomed by the ACCHO sector as an ideal way to grow a suitably qualified and job ready Aboriginal Health Worker (AHW) and Health Practitioner (AHP) workforce. Our Aboriginal Health Workers and Health Practitioners are the heart of our ACCHO workforce. They are skilled, valued and trusted members of ACCHO teams and local communities.

NACCHO is working closely with our eleven community-controlled RTOs which will play a key role in delivering these traineeships. Their focus on the provision of culturally competent, holistic care, and accessibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is a critical difference in the training they offer.

You can read more about the NACCHO-led traineeship program in this media release from the Minster for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, here.

Image source: AHCSA About RTO / Education webpage.

Eliminating workplace racism a must

Eliminating racism in the workplace and securing ongoing employment for Indigenous Australians must be a priority for all organisations, the Jobs and Skills Summit has been told. A first step is recognising racism as a genuine work health and safety issue, University of Queensland Business School Indigenous engagement director Sharlene Leroy-Dyer said yesterday at the summit.

Dr Leroy-Dyer said Indigenous workers who experience racism and a lack of action to combat it will often leave the workplace. She told the summit this perpetuates a welfare mentality rather than empowering Indigenous people to take up employment opportunities. “We would like to see a racism-busting agenda spearheaded by the union movement that ensures responsibility for tackling racism is shared by all: employers, government, business and sector bodies, and the public,” Dr Leroy-Dyer said.

Indigenous women and girls in particular are calling for the right to have a say on workplace reform, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner June Oscar said. “Their right to be at the table to inform these processes going forward, that are so needed, that will impact and create opportunities,” she told the summit.

To view The Standard article Racism in workplaces spotlighted at summit click here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar shines light on racism. Photo: Aaron Bunch , AAP Photos. Image source: The Standard.

Mentoring program aims to increase retention

Charles Sturt University has led a pre-pilot program with a local health district to increase retention and satisfaction of First Nations midwives and nurses through a cultural mentoring program. Charles Sturt University in conjunction with five local health districts and four universities has received a grant of more than $360,000 to extend a pilot program that aims to increase the retention and satisfaction of First Nations nurses and midwives through culturally safe practices.

The project: ‘DANMM that’s good!”: Evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of the Deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Mentoring (DANMM) Program across rural, regional, and metropolitan NSW’ received the funding from NSW Health to be piloted across five local health districts in NSW.

One of the chief academic investigators of the pre-pilot program who was heavily involved in the grant submission process, Senior Lecturer in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Health Care Sciences, Dr Jessica Biles said the pre-pilot program achieved positive outcomes which led to the extra funding.

To view the Charles Sturt University article $360,000 grant for First Nations Nursing and Midwifery Mentoring program in full click here.

Dr Jessica Biles, Senior Lecturer in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Health Care Sciences. Image source: Charles Sturt University website.

How to fix Australia’s broken health system

An article published in The Guardian yesterday six experts from different fields commented on ways to fix our healthcare system so that more people can access timely and affordable care. Profressor Mary Chiarella from the University of Sydney’s Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery said we need to rethink the role of nurses. True equity of access in community and primary healthcare, she said, will only be achieved by the full deployment of nurses.

Adjunct Associate Prof Lesley Russell from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics said more emphasis needs to be put on preventive care. If the system is to be truly patient-centred, then the focus must be on patients’ needs – and specifically on affordable and timely access to preventive services, treatment and care.  Dr Sebastian Cordoba from the International Federation of Social Workers and course coordinator at RMIT University said we need to understand that poverty is a health issue. He said PHC in Australia is an impenetrable, unnecessarily complex and expensive system that fails to provide care and support for some of the most marginalised groups in society. The system entrenches inequality and provides interventions that fail to get to the cause.

Prof Jen Smith-Merry, director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Research and Policy said we need to address disability competency. The health of people with disability is on average much worse than people without and they are more likely to have complex needs that necessitate a range of health and disability supports.

Dr Lisa Hodge, a counsellor, lecturer and social scientist at Charles Darwin University said we need to take mental health seriously. Mental health problems, including eating disorders, often manifest in self-harm and suicide. Finally Prof Catherine Chamberlain, an Indigenous and child health expert said we need to improve access for Indigenous children as currently, there is virtually no access to a range of essential primary healthcare services other than medical care for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children.

To read The Guardian article How to fix Australia’s broken health system: six experts have their say in full click here.

Image source: AMA News.

Chronic kidney disease education program

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common, harmful and silent disease that affects almost one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults. It is twice as common as diabetes, and a significant cause of cardiovascular deaths among Australian adults. CKD often remains undetected until the majority of kidney function is lost. Health workers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are well placed to carry out targeted screening for early detection of CKD. The disease can then be managed through individualised action plans that can slow the progression of CKD and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

NPS MedicineWise is inviting GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers and Health Practitioners who work for ACCHOs to take part in an educational visit on this topic. Sessions can be provided through an in-practice visit, or online through most video conferencing platforms (Teams, Zoom, FaceTime).

This program has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, with content developed in collaboration with the NACCHO and Kidney Health Australia.

Delivery starts on Monday 26 September 2022 and will be available until the end of December 2022. To register your interest click here.

NSW’s new 2-year CTG plan

Peak First Nations agencies are hopeful Aboriginal Communities across NSW will realise their ambitions for greater socio-economic outcomes as a new agreement boosting self determination efforts took its next steps this week. The state’s Closing the Gap initiation plan outlined five priorities over the next 24 months. Among them, commitments to strengthen group partnerships increasing community informed dialogue, redirection from state bodies into Aboriginal community controlled organisations and measures addressing experiences of racism in Government. The shift is said to see community-controlled organisations have equal say in the direction of funding.

The announced $30 million injection, under the Community and Place Grants, came from NSW Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations co-chair Charles Lynch and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Franklin. Some 28 of the 144 initiatives set to benefit were co-developed with CAPO. “The initiatives included in this plan have been driven by principles of self-determination, based on what communities have told us in consultations, and developed through shared decision-making with our government partners,” Mr Lynch said.

Going forward, ACCO’s will gain equal access to data and analytics to support decision making and business going forward. “We know that our communities are hurting, that there needs to be more support, more accountability and more transparency,” Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council co-chair Robert Skeen said.

ACCO’s are required to submit applications for funding by Friday 20 September and report back on program delivery by the end of 2023.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Priorities revealed in NSW’s new two-year plan to Close the Gap click here.

Image source: South West Aboriginal Medical Service website.

NACCHO Youth Conference

Are you under 29 years and working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector?

If so, register NOW for our FREE NACCHO Youth Conference 2022:

Where: Beautiful Ngunnawal and Ngambri country (Canberra)

Date: Monday 17 October 2022

Time: 9:00AM to 5:00PM

Engage in discussions, share your experiences, and meet up with many deadly peers from across the country.

Places are filling quick! Register here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time when cancer organisations around the world put the spotlight on children’s cancer and the need to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.

70% of Australians are unaware that more kids die from cancer than any other disease in this country. Sadly around 750 to 800 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer every year and almost half of those diagnosed are aged 0-4 years. Leukaemias, tumours of the nervous system (mainly brain tumours) and lymphomas are collectively responsible for two out of every three cases of childhood cancer. Australia is estimated to have the sixth highest incidence rate of childhood cancers among the G20 countries.

The good news is that survival rates for children with cancer in Australia continue to approve. Most of the gains have occurred as a direct result of improvements in treatment through international collaborative clinical trials.

Fore more information about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2022 visit the World Health Organisation Internationl Agency for Research on Cancer webpage here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Rut of policy failure linked to colonial ideas

The image in the feature tile is from The Mandarin article Reports point to failed Indigenous policies, 20 June 2020. Image source: Getty Images.

Rut of policy failure linked to colonial ideas

An article Colonial ideas have kept NZ and Australia in a rut of policy failure. We need policy by Indigenous people, for the people, available here, by Dominic O’Sullivan, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology and Professor of Political Science, Charles Sturt University was recently published in The Conversation. In the article Adjunct Professor O’Sullivan says “Crisis is a word often used in politics and the media – the COVID crisis, the housing crisis, the cost of living crisis, and so on. The term usually refers to single events at odds with common ideas of what’s acceptable, fair or good.

“But in NZ, Australia and elsewhere, Indigenous policy can be portrayed as a different kind of crisis altogether. Indeed, it can often just seem like one crisis after another, one policy failure after another: poor health, poor education, all kinds of poor statistics. A kind of permanent crisis. Policy success, on the other hand, often doesn’t fit the crisis narrative: record low Māori unemployment, for instance, or the Māori economy being worth NZ$70 billion and forecast to grow 5% annually. It may be that crisis makes better headlines. But we also need to ask why, and what the deeper implications might be for Indigenous peoples and policy in Aotearoa NZ and Australia.”

Image source: Shutterstock, The Conversation.

AMA President on health workforce woes

AMA President, Professor Steve Robson spoke yesterday on ABC AM about the health workforce, saying “I think if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that you can’t have a healthy economy without healthy Australians and that means a healthy workforce. So we need to future-proof the system and because it takes so long to train a doctor, it takes so long to get experience as a healthcare worker, there is no time to waste. All of the changes to the system need to be made now.”

Professor Robson wants incentive programs that’ll encourage more medical graduates to go into general practice, particularly in remote and regional areas, saying “It’s going to mean working conditions, it’s going to mean remuneration, it’s going to mean respect from the Government to make it a job that people want to do.” The same approach needs to be applied to public hospitals to make them more attractive workplace as well. It’s all part of the AMA’s National Health Workforce Strategy, which tries to match community needs with how many doctors need to be trained in particular specialist areas and geographic regions. It means funding more specialist training placements and regional training and research hospitals.

You can view the transcript of the AMA President’s interview in full here. You can also view a related AMA media release Implementing health workforce plan must be a priority for government here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreter. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 and vax updates for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have developed a range of COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. General COVID-19 vaccine information communication materials, including videos (such as the one below), radio advertisements and interviews, social media, fact sheets, posters and newsletters are available here. In addition subscribers can receive regular newsletters featuring COVID-19 and vaccines updates and other health updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. You can view the newsletter collection here and also subscribe to the newsletter email list here.

ACCOs should have greater control in CP cases

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children are nearly 10 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services compared to non-Aboriginal children. And data shows the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029. “The figures are appalling, and we should all hang our heads in shame,” Tanya Harper, from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), said. “Today in 2022, we are continuing to create yet a new generation of stolen children.”

The data, released by Family Matters, has led to renewed calls for Aboriginal-controlled organisations to be given greater control over Indigenous children needing out-of-home care across the country. Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Jamie-Lee Maynard-Burgess knows what it is like to be removed from her family and her culture. She spent much of her childhood in out-of-home care.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal organisations should be given more control over Indigenous kids in child protection system, advocacy group says in full click here.

Image: Paul Strk, ABC News.

Medicine shortages affecting sector

The NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team would like to notify you about a few recent medicines shortages affecting our sector, including:

tenecteplase (Metalyse) injection: shortage predicted to extend over the next 18 months, TGA has extended shelf-life of some batches by 12 months

semaglutide (Ozempic) and dulaglutide (Trulicity) injections: stock is predicted to return to normal supply by the end of August 2022

benzathine benzylpenicillin tetrahydrate (Bicillin L-A) injection: anticipated shortage has been resolved without issue

It is important that ACCHO and patient ordering remains consistent with previous orders, so that medicines are available for the entire sector. Please discourage stockpiling and hoarding behaviours which can prolong shortages or create inequities.  

The Medicines Supply Security Guarantee including the introduction of Minimum Stockholding Requirements (available here on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) webpage) should help reduce the impact of global medicine shortages that interrupt supply of medicines. Manufacturers will be required to hold a minimum of either 4 or 6 months’ of stock in Australia for certain PBS listed medicines.  

You can search for updates on all shortages at here on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website and subscribe to NACCHO’s monthly medicines newsletter here for tailored advice around shortages and general medicines issues for the sector. To nominate any specific medicines that would result in serious and immediate problems for your ACCHO (for example those with no possible substitute used for life-threatening conditions), contact the NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team here.

For further information you can access a NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team letter here.

Mike Stephens – Director, Medicines Policy and Program at NACCHO and a registered pharmacist. Image source: Making Connections.

Growing and supporting health workforce

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, says representatives from across Australia’s health workforce including unions, employers and other stakeholders met today to discuss how best to grow and support this vital sector – already Australia’s largest source of employment. Over the next two months the Minister for Health and Aged Care will continue to meet with frontline health care workers, including students and those who have recently left their positions, to understand their issues and what governments can do better.

The feedback from these meetings will inform and advise our new Health Workforce Taskforce as well as the Jobs and Skills Summit process. The Government’s health workforce priorities are: ensuring secure, well-paid jobs, supporting skilled workers throughout their career, and creating a safe work environment.

To view the Minister Butler’s media release Growing and Supporting our Health Workforce click here.

UniSA’s Horizon Hospital and Health Service. Image source: University of SA website.

Cervical screening options for mob

Most women have their cervical sample collected by their health professional. Some women who have never been screened or are overdue for screening may be more comfortable taking their own sample (called self-collection).

Self-collection is one way you can choose to do your Cervical Screening Test every 5 years. It involves collecting your own sample from your vagina, in a private space. These instructions help you to collect your own sample, so you can prevent cervical cancer and live long and strong for yourself and your family.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have developed a document specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, providing information on the Cervical Screening test and options available for screening. The document, Cervical Screening Test – how to collect your own sample, available here, including an illustrated 10-step instructions.

For further information and to order the cervical screening self-collection resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women 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: Bumper raise criminal age petition

The image in the feature tile is from a 29 July 2020 Happy Mag article The call to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Australia has been denied.

Bumper raising criminal age petition

More than 200,000 people nationwide have petitioned the Federal Government to take action to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14. Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney met with representatives from Change the Record and other human rights, legal and First Nations-led organisations who handed over the petition on Tuesday this week.

Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said the petition delivered a clear message from1,000s of Australians who want to see children looked after. “We are calling on every state and territory government to heed the medical, legal and child development experts who have been crystal clear; no child under the age of 14 years old should be arrested, hauled before a court or convicted of a criminal offence.”

A spokesperson for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the Federal government could take leadership on the matter which has traditionally been managed by state governments. “It’s sad fact that a significant number of children held in detention are Indigenous children and we need to invest in programs to tackle the unacceptably high rate of incarceration of Indigenous Australians.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article AG leaves door open to change as bumper criminal age petition handed to Federal Govt in full click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

UN urges child detention overhaul

A leading Indigenous international human rights law expert has urged the Federal Government to ratify a key protocol on children’s rights to assist youth in detention. United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expert member Hannah McGlade said while Australia had ratified the Convention, children still did not have the right to appeal human rights violations effectively with international agencies. “Children and youth are people who don’t have a voice,” she said.

“We particularly need to elevate their voices in terms of human rights issues, access to justice, and access to international human rights law mechanisms.” Ms McGlade said minors recently sent to a maximum security adult prison in WA could use the protocol, if ratified, to lodge a complaint. “We have adults in that position, former Banksia Hill detainees now in adult prison, who are talking about killing themselves,” she said. “Indigenous children and youth are particularly denied a voice, we especially need to advocate their rights through the communications process of this system.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article UN Indigenous experts urge Australia to overhaul child detention shame in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

Better support for mob with breast cancer

Indigenous Australians affected by breast cancer will benefit from important revisions to a Cancer Australia guide for health workers. Cancer Australia revised its widely-used Breast Cancer Handbook for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners in consultation with Indigenous health experts and leaders.

The Handbook provides information on breast cancer detection, diagnosis, treatment, and support. Following community and health worker feedback, the revised edition includes advice on supporting social and emotional wellbeing, palliative care, and breast cancer in men, and has been a critical resource for many Indigenous health workers, helping to build their knowledge and skills to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients. It also contains information on breast cancer symptoms and encourages breast cancer screening.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy said “Social support and emotional care for those affected by breast cancer are just as important as physical care during treatment. This evidence-based Handbook gives our dedicated health workers the tools they need to provide culturally appropriate care and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and expertly guide them through their cancer journey.”

The Handbook is available on the Cancer Australia website here.

Artwork by Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba, Mutti Mutti and Wiradjuri artist, Alkina Edwards for use on Aboriginal breast screening shawl. Image source: CancerScreen VIC.

QLD mob to lead CTG initiatives

Doomadgee will lead a state-first “closing the gap” pilot to identify how best to roll-out priority programs like health, housing, and early childhood in First Nations communities in Queensland. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the best chance to reach the 17 targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was through community-led decision making.

He said the pilot program in Doomadgee comes ahead of a history-making Path to Treaty launch by the Palaszczuk Government on16  August 2022. “Our approach now places First Nations people at the centre of decision-making,” Mr Crawford said. “We recognise that a shift in how we develop and implement government policies and programs is needed to ensure significant improvements in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This represents a new way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – together, in partnership.”

To view the media statement First Nations peoples to lead ‘closing the gap’ initiatives in Queensland released earlier today by QLD Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships the Honorable Craig Crawford, click here.

Photo: Allyson Horn, ABC Brisbane.

AHW Georgie supports Ngarrindjeri mob

Georgie Trevorrow is a pillar in the Murray Bridge Ngarrindjeri community that seeks to support the entire community. Georgie was employed as a Community Cultural Development Officer for the Rural City of Murray Bridge (RCMB) for nearly seven years, until Moorundi received funding. When Moorundi received their funding, Georgie transferred from the RCMB and continued her position with the new ability to spread her wings in an Aboriginal organisation. “

Georgie decided at the young age of 19 that she wanted to make a difference within the community and began studying the Aboriginal Primary Healthcare certificate. Her study had to be put on the backburner as Georgie had two children, but it was when her certificate was complete that she saw doors start to open for her “I became an Aboriginal health worker (AHW), and just worked with my community, and I just loved it,” Georgie said. “My background is in health, but it’s so much broader, it’s not just taking your temperature and your blood pressure and going to the doctors.”

To read the Murray Valley Standard article Georgie Trevorrow, singing and supporting the Ngarrindjeri community in full click here.

Georgie Trevorrow in front of Moorundi Ink’s artwork for a children’s book. Photo: Sam Lowe. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Winnunga Newsletter July 2022

The July 2022 edition of the Winnunga Newsletter is out now and available here.

This edition is jam-packed with articles, updates and information including:

  • Our Booris Our Way Press Release
  • From The Warehouse Of Broken Promises
  • Archie Roach – A Great Australian Taken Away – Again
  • Time For a Progress Report On Raising The Age
  • Minister Apologises For Treaty Consultation ‘Hurt’
  • And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse!

Sector Jobs

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

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

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week (DHW) is the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) major annual oral health campaign. It takes place each year in the first full week of August, this year from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 August. The campaign focuses on the importance of taking steps to care for your teeth and gums to help you to keep your teeth and smile for life. The ADA’s main oral health messages and the four key messages of the DHW campaign: brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste; floss; eat a healthy diet; and have regular dentist visits, aim to reinforce the importance of maintaining good oral heal of the to keep your teeth for life.

According to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience poor oral health such as multiple caries and untreated dental disease, and are less likely to have received preventive dental care. The oral health status of Indigenous Australians, like all Australians, is influenced by many factors but in particular a tendency towards unfavourable dental visiting patterns, broadly associated with accessibility, cost and a lack of cultural awareness by some service providers. To view the AIHW report in full click here.

You can find more information about DHW on the ADA website here.

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

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

NT COVID-19 cases on the rise

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

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

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

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

Telehealth cuts leave remote patients behind

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

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

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

Image source: Hospital + Healthcare.

Grants to improve cancer outcomes

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

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

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

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

Remote areas lack quality drinking water

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

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

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

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

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

Cervical cancer self-screening resources

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

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

PrioritEYES survey participants thanked

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

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

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

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

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

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

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

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: More time needed for diabetes patients

The image in the feature tile is of Townsville GP Jacinta Power with a patient. Image source: James Cook University website.

More time needed for diabetes patients

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and NACCHO have issued the following joint media release calling for greater investment in general practice care of people with diabetes:

RACGP: Greater investment needed in general practice care of people with diabetes

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has urged the new federal Government to boost investment in general practice to provide more time to care for people with diabetes.

It comes during National Diabetes Week (10 – 16 July 2022). Around 1.8 million people in Australia have diabetes (this includes all types of diabetes as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes) with 280 people developing the condition every day.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said that the new federal Government can do more to enhance general practice care of people with diabetes.

“GPs and general practice teams play a vital role helping people manage chronic conditions like diabetes,” she said.

“With the right kind of investment, we can do even more. Greater support for longer consultations and GP-led team care will make a huge difference for people with chronic conditions. The RACGP is calling for the introduction of a rebate for GP consultations that last 60 minutes or more and a 10% increase to existing Medicare rebates lasting more than 20 minutes. Longer consultations provide an opportunity for GPs to support care of people with chronic conditions.

“Coordinating care with other health professionals is also important in complex chronic conditions like diabetes. The Workforce Incentive Program or WIP provides financial incentives to practices across Australia to meet the complex health needs of older patients and those with chronic complex health conditions. It helps them to engage a range of health professionals including nurses, allied health professionals, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners.

“By boosting investment in the Workforce Incentive Program practices could, for example, work more closely with other health professionals such as diabetes educators or general practice-based pharmacists. The RACGP has long championed co-ordinated care to reduce fragmentation and healthcare costs.

“By incorporating the pharmacist role within the general practice setting we can offer an alternative model that delivers integrated care, something that is especially important for people with diabetes. This would be particularly beneficial for people managing their diabetes and make a real difference in communities nation-wide, especially those disproportionately affected by this condition such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Diabetes Network Dr Gary Deed backed Adj. Professor Price’s comments.

“We know that living day-to-day with a chronic disease such as diabetes can significantly impact someone’s life, including the fact that it is associated with higher rates of mental health issues. This is a national problem, and, with greater support, practices can help people take charge of their health and get a better handle on conditions like diabetes,” he said.

“If a patient doesn’t have the right kind of support and isn’t managing their condition properly, the consequences can prove dire. As an example, untreated or poorly managed diabetes can quickly lead to severe complications that involve almost all every part of your body, including your heart, eyes, blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, and more. So, I fully support Adj. Professor Price’s call for the Government to give practices a helping hand so that more people are supported in managing their diabetes.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Director, Medicines Policy and Programs Mike Stephens said that the right approaches are crucial in helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients better manage their diabetes.

“The Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease Management, known as the ‘IPAC Project’, which embedded pharmacists into ACCHOs has been effective in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including those with conditions such as diabetes,” he said.

“We are encouraged by the Medical Services Advisory Committee’s recent appraisal in June 2022 of IPAC: ‘an excellent example of an integrated, collaborative, patient-centred approach to primary care which has the potential to have a meaningful societal impact by improving equity of health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’.

“Given the project’s demonstrable acceptability and effectiveness, it is time for government to provide a sustained investment in integrating pharmacists into team-based primary care settings, including ACCHOs.  One existing program that provides a suitable framework for funding includes the WIP.”

In 2020 in collaboration with Diabetes Australia, the RACGP has launched the updated Management of type 2 diabetes: A handbook for general practice (Diabetes Handbook) as a primary healthcare tool to support practices nation-wide.

The RACGP’s Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system outlines a model of care that aims to address the nation’s healthcare challenges and ensure the best possible health outcomes for patients through general practice. The economic benefits of implementing the Vision show that it is a sound return on investment.

You can view the joint RACGP and NACCHO media release on the NACCHO website click here.

Unpacking diabetes and the heart webinar

On Thursday 28 July 2022 the Heart Foundation is partnering with the World Heart Federation and Australian Diabetes Society to bring to you a health professional webinar focusing on the latest evidence on cardiovascular (CVD) and diabetes. The event will be chaired by Prof Garry Jennings, Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation, who will be joined by Professor Rod Jackson, internationally renowned epidemiologist, as well as Australian experts as they discuss the latest evidence and how it can be translated into practical preventative care. Topics to be discussed will include:

  • How to stratify CVD risk within a diabetes cohort – who is at highest risk?
  • Updates on diabetes pharmacological therapies and their cardiovascular benefits
  • The fourth pillar of heart failure management – how are diabetes medicines used to treat heart failure
  • Practical advice on motivational and behavioural strategies to support improvements in CVD risk factor management.

This event has been accredited by RACGP for 2 CPD points. (Activity no. 355838).

You can register for the webinar using this link.

Mob urged to get bowel cancer screening

A new campaign featuring Gabbi Gabbi man Dr Joel Wenitong is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to stay healthy and strong by doing a bowel cancer screening test every two years. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of bowel screening and increase participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. The Australian Government program provides people aged 50-74 years with a free screening test every two years.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer and one of the most common cancers impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data (2018-2019) indicates that just over a quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (27.3%) participated in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program while a 2019 survey by Cancer Council found nearly half of eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people surveyed weren’t up to date with any kind of cancer screening. Dr Wenitong says early detection, through screening, can help save lives and reduce bowel cancer rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view the Third Sector article First Nations community encouraged to stay healthy and get bowel cancer screening in full click here.

Dr Joel Wenitong. Image source: Third Sector.

How much life has COVID-19 cost us?

New data from the  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows how Australians’ health changed over the course of the pandemic. It allows us to step back and assess what happened, and to whom. Australia’s management of the pandemic was overall very good, leading to about 18,000 deaths averted in 2020 and 2021. However, the pandemic is not over. The number of deaths in the eleven months since the plan was released is almost ten times the number than in the 18 months before.

Although most deaths throughout the pandemic were in people aged over 60, each of those was a shortened life. Thousands of years of life have been lost prematurely because of COVID-19. People living in the poorest communities had death rates three times that in wealthier communities.

Some preventive care was deferred during the pandemic, which could mean some diseases weren’t detected in their early stages, resulting in poorer outcomes. The rate of Indigenous health checks also took a downturn. This may mean it will be even harder to close the gap between the health of First Nations Australians and the rest of the population.

To view The Medical Republic article How much life has covid cost us? in full click here.

Image source: First Opinion.

People with diabetes at risk during COVID-19

People living with diabetes had an increased risk of complication and death during the COVID-19 pandemic, new data shows. More than 40% of COVID-related hospitalisations in 2020-21 had one or more diagnosed comorbid conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. This was a significant increase from 25% the year prior, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Additionally, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease were the most common comorbid conditions associated with COVID-19 hospitalisations between 2020-21.

The report also found in recent years the impact of diabetes has been higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those living in remote or lower socio-economic areas. The diabetes prevalence rate was 2.9 times as high among Indigenous Australians as non-Indigenous based on age-standardised, self-reported data from the 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey. The impact of diabetes is higher with increasing remoteness and socio-economic disadvantage.

To view the Daily Mail article People with diabetes at risk during COVID in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

Digital health design must have authenticity

The CSIRO have heard the calls for advice on how to design ehealth solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But the key is not designing for any particular community, it’s designing with them, over a long period and with authentic relationship. The CSIRO’s Indigenous eHealth Research Centre which is creating a best practice guide for designing digital health solutions with Indigenous peoples Ms Georgina Chelberg, who is from the eHealth Research Centre, says that at the core of good design are community priorities and the need to be honest about structural racism.

“We speak about the social determinants of health and that the disadvantage caused by policies and governance that are embedded with racism. When we don’t address that authentically in the way that we do our research, the health of people continues to suffer,” Ms Chelberg says. Sustainability in projects is another key requirement of best practice design. “Interventions often lack longevity; the funding cycle ends and the researchers disappear with a publication to their name. So, that creates mistrust and further disadvantage to community which flows on to create poor health outcomes,” Ms Chelberg says.

To listen to the Wild Health Summits podcast Indigenous digital health design should lead with authenticity click here.

The CommDoc app features 19 Aboriginal languages spoken in the NT provides audio translations of phrases and questions patients are asked in a consultation to be able to provide treatment. Image source: eLearn Australia.

Registrars in short supply in regional areas

Difficulties securing GPs and registrars in regional areas has left Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation with only one scheduled GP onsite for six months. It comes following the current GP registrar’s six month placement ending in early August. As a result, from August 8, there will only be scheduled visiting GPs onsite to provide community appointments, limiting the number of available appointments and leaving Pangula with a general practitioner for only five hours per week.

According to the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency, Mount Gambier has about 30 GPs, nine registrars and three visiting doctors throughout Pangula Mannamurna, Hawkins Medical Clinic, Ferrers Medical Clinic, Dr Try Medical Clinic and Village Medical Clinic. This number does not include GPs or registrars who work at the Mount Gambier and District Hospital. Pangula Mannamurna CEO Andrew Birtwistle-Smith said difficulty finding adequate housing was also an issue for incoming staff.

To view The Border Watch article Registrars remain in short supply in full click here.

Pangula Mannamurna’s CEO Andrew Birtwistle-Smith has his regular check up with Aboriginal health practitioner John Watson. Image source: The Border Watch.

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: COVID-19 antiviral eligibility expanded

Image in feature tile is from today’s ABC News COVID-19 antiviral treatments to become available to more Australians article. Photo source: Pfizer via AAP.

COVID-19 antiviral eligibility expanded

From today, more Australians will be eligible for COVID-19 antiviral drugs in an attempt to reduce the number of people in hospital. Health Minister Mark Butler said he was hopeful expanding the eligibility would help ease pressure on hospital systems. “COVID cases and hospitalisation numbers are climbing, particularly with the new variants,” he said.

Under the current rules, the drugs are restricted to Australians who are 65 years or older with particular risk factors, but from today any Australian who tests positive to COVID-19 and is over the age of 70 will be able to access antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Known as Lagevrio and Paxlovid, the drugs cost about $1,000 but because they are on the PBS they are reduced to $6.80 for a concession card holder. People aged over 50 with at least two risk factors that could lead to severe disease, as well as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 30 and older with at least two risk factors will also be eligible.

A broader range of chronic respiratory conditions have been added to the risk factors list. They include moderate or severe asthma, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, demyelinating conditions and renal impairment. Risk factors already on the list and that will remain include neurological conditions, such as stroke and dementia, cirrhosis, kidney failure, obesity, diabetes type one or two, and anyone who lives in remote areas and doesn’t have access to higher level healthcare.

To view the ABC News article COVID-19 antiviral treatments to become available to more Australians in full click here.

Paxlovid will be one of the antivirals available to more Australians under the scheme. Photo: AAP. Image source: ABC News.

Winnunga health service comes a long way

From its humble beginnings as a temporary medical service set up at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy site, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (Winnunga) has grown into an important part of the health services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national capital. WNAH&CS have recently moved into a new, purpose-built facility in Narrabundah, enabling the service to do more. 

Julie Tongs’ vision as CEO, a role she has held since 1997, has always been for Winnunga to be a leader in the provision of primary health care. “All Winnunga wants to do is give people an opportunity to be better, to feel good about themselves, and to start to work through some of the layers of trauma that Aboriginal people have experienced,” Tongs says.

Winnunga was established in 1988 by local Aboriginal people inspired by the national mobilisation of people around the opening of the new Parliament House in May and the visit by the Queen.  Since then it has grown into a pivotal healthcare service, which last year saw some 7,000 clients. Providing around 60,000 occasions of service to its clients annually, Managed by the local Aboriginal community, Winnunga takes a “holistic” approach to health care offering clinical and medical services, and social health programs.

To view the Canberra  City News article Winnunga health service comes a long way from the Tent Embassy in full click here.

Outside the new health centre in Narrabundah… “We managed the project, built it on time and on budget, without any government involvement apart from the funding,” says Julie Tongs. Photo: Holly Treadaway. Image source: Canberra City News.

Changing First Nations birth narrative

Shanara Fourmile wakes with a small pain under her belly. It’s seven in the morning and the sun is pouring through the window of her home in the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah. As she opens her eyes, her water breaks. Shanara, an Irukandji woman from far-north Queensland, knows the baby is coming.

She texts her sister, who calls an ambulance. Yarrabah women are directed to birth in Cairns Hospital — an hour’s drive through rainforest, winding coastline and cane paddocks. Shanara knows she won’t make it so she’s taken to Yarrabah’s small emergency department. It doesn’t have a permanent obstetrician. There’s no anaesthetist or resourcing for an emergency caesarean. No access to epidural or equipment to resuscitate a newborn if the baby is struggling to breathe. And no blood bank in case women haemorrhage after birth.

Kaurna and Narungga woman Tayla Smith, Yarrabah’s first Indigenous midwife who works at Gurriny Yealamucka Aboriginal-controlled Health Services says women some women wait until it’s too late to go to Cairns as they want to have their baby on Gunggandji Country. Local health workers call these women “the naughty mummies” of Yarrabah. While there are benefits for having the baby close to home, in Yarrabah it comes with serious risks. The clinic is just not set up to deliver babies. And if there are complications during the delivery, the consequences could be dire.

To read the ABC News article Meet the Black matriarchs changing the narrative of First Nations births in full click here.

Irukandji woman Shanara Fourmile gave birth to her baby girl Keilani in Yarrabah’s small emergency department in June. Photo: Kristy Sexton-McGrath, ABC RN.

NT mob worse GI cancer survival rate

Survival rates for gastrointestinal (GI) cancer among Northern Territorians have improved in the past 30 years but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in the Territory still have worse survival outcomes, a new analysis has found. “We need a concerted effort aimed at investigating the existence of modifiable sociodemographic factors underlying these disturbing trends,” Savio Barreto, Study Senior Author and Associate Professor, General Surgeon, Flinders Medical Centre and Researcher, Flinders University

“There is a need to enhance preventative strategies, as well as to improve the delivery of cancer care and its uptake amongst Indigenous peoples.”

The study, published in the journal Cancers, reviewed data from the NT’s Cancer Registry between 1990 and 2017, looking at adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum and pancreas, which are collectively known as GI cancers.

To read the News Medical Life Sciences article GI cancer survival rates improving among Northern Territorians except for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in full click here.

Image sources: News Medical Alert, heal+h plus.

Palm Is receives grant for youth program

Palm Island youth who have disengaged from the formal education system are the target of program to be delivered by the Palm Island Community Company in partnership with the state government. The Bwgcolman Youth Program will support local 13-to-17-year-olds by linking them with training, education and employment opportunities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the project was one of five locally led initiatives across the State, totalling more than $1 million, to improve community social health. “The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve mental health, emotional wellbeing, and social outcomes,” Mr Crawford said. “It will also respond to substance misuse, and reduce rates of suicide in their communities,” he said.

“Like other Local Thriving Communities initiatives, the Program supports First Nations peoples to make decisions about their own future, build on their strengths, invest in things that will make their communities stronger, and make an enduring difference to people’s lives.

To read The National Tribune article Palm Island Community Company secures $235,000 Queensland Government grant to develop youth training program in full click here.

Queensland Maroons legends visiting Palm Island youth. Photo: Siobhan Heanue, ABC North Queensland.

Docker River aged care facility upgrade

Culturally safe aged care sites and face-to-face support for older First Nations people are being invested into by the Australian Government. The programs are anticipated to cost a combined $221 million and will be delivered over four years.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Malarndirri McCarthy, said First Nations communities experience many barriers when accessing aged care services. “Lack of culturally safe care, a complex system, ongoing trauma, and social and economic disadvantages all contribute to older First Nations people accessing aged care services at a rate lower than needed,” she said. “The government is committed to delivering aged care and health services that meet the needs of our Elders and enables them to remain close to their homes and connected to their communities.”

Four National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) services in SA, the NT and Queensland will receive funding to construct culturally safe, purpose-built facilities. Among them will be the rebuilding of Kaltukatjara’s Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care, which which will provide care for First Nations peoples at Docker River.

Australian Regional and Remote Community Services (ARRCS) general manager, Wendy Hubbard, said the location for the rebuild will be close to the existing Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care service. “That means our residents can stay where they are at Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care and we can continue providing services without disruption, and watch our vision come to life,” she said.

Better mental health for Minjerribah youth

Better mental health and life outcomes for young people on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) is the target of the Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health in partnership with the Queensland state government. The North Stradbroke Island Indigenous Youth Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program will facilitate after-hours activities and yarning circles with Elders, offer counselling sessions and specialist services, and provide a safe place for young people to go when feeling overwhelmed.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the project was one of five locally led initiatives across the State, totalling more than $1 million, to improve community social health. “The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve mental health, emotional wellbeing, and social outcomes,” Mr Crawford said. “it will respond to substance misuse, and reduce rates of suicide in their communities,” he said. “Like other Local Thriving Communities initiatives, the Program supports First Nations peoples to make decisions about their own future, build on their strengths, invest in things that will make their communities stronger, and make an enduring difference to people’s lives.”

To view the Queensland Government media release Yulu-Burri-Ba Corporation secures $235,000 Queensland Government grant to improve mental health for Minjerribah youth in full click here.

Image sources: logo from Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health website, ORIC.

Ex-NRL star tackles mental health challenges

Owen Craigie was a teenage Rugby League prodigy. The only player to make the Australian Schoolboys team three years straight. While blitzing at schoolboy level, Craigie signed his first professional rugby league contract with Newcastle Knights in the early 1990’s, when he was just 17, and bought a house.

After leaving the club two years later, he had stints at the Wests Tigers, the Rabbitohs and Widnes in the English Super League. When he retired in 2005, things got tough. Craigie has previously spoken of how he turned to drugs, alcohol and gambling, and said he lost an estimated $2 million to his addiction. And three years ago, he said he entered the darkest phase of his life. Craigie went through rehabilitation, and says he’s now been able to recover.

“I am a different person than I was three years ago … I see my kids now. Life’s good. I am working on a couple of businesses.” Craigie said his biggest achievement over the past three years is that he has “found himself”. “I have mates that couldn’t,” said Cragie, who’s now determined to help those in the community who face similar challenges. He has just opened a gym; his charity, the Big OC Foundation, and his Chase the Energy initiative both aim to help people who’re battling addictions and mental health challenges. “I am passionate about [helping people] because I want to help the next Owen Craigie.”

To read the SBS NITV article How former NRL star Owen Craigie turned hardship into happiness in full click here.

Owen Craigie’s Chase the Energy initiative aims to help people battling additions and mental health challenges. Image source: SBS NITV.

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 on ABC’s The Drum

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, 17 June 2022.

NACCHO CEO on ABC’s The Drum

Last night NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was a guest on the ABC’s The Drum where she commented on range of topics including the need to accurately calculate the economic and health impacts of climate change and on how the detention system in Australia is completely broken. Ms Turner said Australian governments have been very bad at collecting nationally consistent data that can be used to compare data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people between jurisdictions. This data, Ms Turner said, is very important to accurately measure progress in Closing the Gap targets.

You can watch last night’s episode of the ABC’s The Drum here.

GAMS NAIDOC celebration biggest ever

Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service’s (GAMS) annual NAIDOC celebration saw a record number of stalls, activities and services gather at the Community Gardens to share in the culture and celebration. Reptile demonstrations, rides and food mingled in with stalls promoting financial wellness, physical health programs and merchandise.

Rebecca King from the GAMS was offering ‘health check passports’ – a list of tasks to complete and stalls to visit at the celebration including a blood pressure check and advice on healthy living to be rewarded with a shirt giveaway. Ms King said that the turnout had been really great. “It’s hugely important to celebrate, and you can get the health check done at the same time.”

Vickie-Louise Simpson, GAM’s family wellbeing coordinator and regional alcohol and other drugs co-ordinator, said that coming back after COVID-19 had led to a few busy weeks. “We ran out of food three times and have had to send people out,” she said. “It’s good to see so many people, all the smiles.” While the NAIDOC celebration has been happening annually for 15 years, this was the first year it had been held at the Community Gardens. “It’s been hectic, we’re really pleased.”

To view the The Area News article Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service’s annual NAIDOC celebration was the biggest and best it’s ever been click here.

Aunty Gloria Goolagong said that it had been a great day out that she wasn’t expecting. Photo: Cai Holroyd. Image source: The Area News.

Successful pharmacist scholarship recipients

In April 2022, NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients of the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship aims to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce and includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.  The successful recipients are: Jason Coleman; Jai-ann Eastaughffe; Louise Emery; Bryony Forrest; and James Sowter.

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu) said, “I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a Pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practicing as a Pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Another scholarship recipient, James Sowter said, “I have worked full time as a pharmacy assistant for the past 5 years. I have enjoyed working in the field and look forward to the challenge of becoming a pharmacist. I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship as it has helped in allowing me to pay for essential university items without the strain of financial struggle, over what will be a lengthy educational journey. NAIDOC week is very special to me as it celebrates and acknowledges nationally the rich history and culture of the nation’s first people which I am very proud to be a part of.” 

Scholarship recipients Bryony Forrest and James Sowter.

Sepsis Clinical Care Standard launched

Each year more than 8,700 Australians die from sepsis, a condition that is triggered by an infection and can turn into a deadly disease if undetected. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection, causing damage to its own tissues and organs. It affects more than 55,000 Australians of all ages every year. Many of these people are normally healthy, but those who survive sepsis often experience prolonged after-effects or will have a lifelong disability. Sepsis also has a tangible impact on our healthcare system, with $700 million in direct hospital costs, and indirect costs of more than $4 billion each year.

The National Sepsis Program is being implemented to halt the devastating impact of sepsis on Australian patients and their families. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has released the

NACCHO was involved in the development of the new national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard, (one of the 8 components of the National Sepsis Program) and associated resources, recently released by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health.

A campaign webpage including a video webcast; content for newsletters and social media; infographics and images; Sepsis Clinical Care Standard fact sheets and other useful resources and links can be accessed here.

You can also read a a case study available here in which Dr Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) in WA, explains why managing patients with sepsis in a remote community is high stakes – and how the national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard will help.

Image source: Australian Sepsis Network.

Canteen here to support youth with cancer

For all cancers combined, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from, cancers than non-Indigenous Australians. Whilst there is a lot of work and research going on in this space, young people can fall out of focus.

Canteen, the only organisation in Australia that supports young people aged 12-25 through a cancer diagnosis, is working to address this gap. Their mission is to be in the corner of every young person when cancer impacts their world. Canteen offers a wide range of services including counselling support, an online community to connect with peers, parent support services and an education and career support program.

The key purpose and core outcomes of all Canteen programs are new and/or stronger supportive relationships with other young people developed, reduced sense of isolation, quality respite and recreation experienced, and development of practical skills and/or effective coping strategies.

Canteen wants to work in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth leaders, and their families and communities affected by cancer, to improve health outcomes, both physical, mental and emotional. Their Young Adult Reconciliation Network (YARN) is one of Canteen’s initiatives to ensure that the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are at the heart of service delivery and can influence Canteen’s work within First Nations communities.

For further information about Canteen you can access their website using this link.

Jasmine Sarin, a proud Kamilaroi and Jerrinja woman, artist and graphic designer leads YARN, Canteen Australia’s First Nations Youth Leadership Group.

Raise the Rate for Good campaign survey

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) are running a campaign to Raise the Rate for Good. The goal of the  campaign is to fix our social security safety net for good so that it keeps people out of poverty, with an income of at least $70 a day.

If you’ve opened a newspaper in the last few weeks, you’ve probably been inundated with stories about the increased cost of living. Around the country, we’re seeing increases in the cost of everything from groceries to gas and electricity. People on income support will be hit hardest by these price increases, but those stories aren’t getting nearly enough media coverage.  Everyone should have enough to cover the essentials, like medicines, food, bills, and to keep a roof over your head. Income support payments were not enough to cover the cost of the basics even before the cost of living skyrocketed. Many are forced to make heartbreaking decisions between eating or keeping their heating on. These stories need to be heard and should be at the centre of the conversation about measures to ease the cost-of-living crisis.

That’s why ACOSS have created a ‘cost of living’ survey to capture data on the experiences of people on income support  so they can make sure the media and politicians understand how tough it is for people living on income support.

If you’re currently on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment single, Disability Support Pension, Aged Pension, Carer Payment or other income support, can you take our survey? ACOSS has had a great response from the community with over 400 people already taking part, but the survey closes Sunday 10 July 2022 and they need your help to reach 600 responses. If you are currently struggling to get by on income support payments, please take 5 minutes to fill in the survey so ensure your experiences are heard and also share the survey with others.

You can click this link to take the survey.

QLD UTI decision will ‘endanger patients’

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that extending the UTI pharmacy prescribing pilot sets a terrible precedent for patient safety and wellbeing. It follows the Queensland Government permanently extending the controversial pilot, which allows pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections or UTIs. To help justify the decision the Government has recently pointed to a 118-page evaluation report, which was reported on by The Australian earlier this year. The RACGP has repeatedly raised strong concerns about this pilot. RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett said that the permanent extension of the pilot would endanger patients for years to come.

To view the RACGP media release Permanent extension of pharmacy prescribing pilot a recipe for disaster in full click here.

AMA QLD has also issued a media release saying the Queensland Government has made a bad decision for Queensland women’s health by allowing pharmacists to diagnose UTIs and sell antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. “Every medical group in Queensland opposes this plan. The Commonwealth opposes this plan. The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), which represents pharmacists not pharmacy owners, opposes this plan,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said. “Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says this decision was based on an evaluation report of a pilot program that began in 2020. In fact, the evaluation report shows that 65% of women who took part in the pilot were never followed up with. Of those who were contacted, more than 300 said they had sought further assessment and treatment. Four ended up in emergency departments.”

To view the AMA QLD media release UTI decision bad for women’s health in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Comprehensive adoption of UNDRIP needed

The Law Council of Australia is calling on governments to comprehensively adopt the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in order to protect the human rights of First Nations Peoples. In a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s Inquiry into the Application of UNDRIP in Australia, the Law Council said that to date the protections offered by the Declaration have only been implemented domestically in a piecemeal manner. “The UNDRIP is the authoritative international standard informing the way governments across the globe should engage with and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples,” Law Council of Australia President, Mr Tass Liveris said.

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media release Australia must formally adopt UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People in full click here.

Image source: Land Portal.

Antimicrobial program applications open

Antibiotics to treat infections are the most commonly prescribed medicine in remote Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This high level of prescription is needed to treat the common, serious infections that are well reported in the north. However, the downside to antibiotic prescribing, is that bacteria may develop mechanisms that stop the antibiotic from working. This is called antibiotic resistance and is a really big problem in remote Australia.

Be at the forefront to help national efforts address antimicrobial use and resistance for remote living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by applying now, or nominating your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to join the Antimicrobial Academy where they will develop skills in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance. A five-month program starts in August and runs till December 2022. Sessions will be held fortnightly on Zoom. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion.

You can access more information about the program on the NACCHO website here and download the program here.

Applications are due by midnight, Wednesday 13 July 2022.

Young Leaders Forum scholarships available

ACOSS is once again offering a number of scholarships to McKinsey & Companys pre-eminent leadership programs to ACOSS National Members. Applications are now open for scholarships to the Young Leaders Forum (YLF). The YLF is a foundational leadership program designed to accelerate the development of rising leaders with 7-12 years of work experience.

Participants are typically making the transition into people leader roles and ‘stepping up’ to take on greater degrees of responsibility for driving business unit strategy and execution. Given the aspiration of YLF to reach and include a diverse group of leaders from organisations across the region, and the highly impactful online experience developed over the last two years, YLF will remain a virtual program in 2022 . The program will run from 25-28 October 2022.

If you wish to take up this opportunity and nominate candidates for the Mckinsey Young Leaders Program, please use this link to send the documents listed below by COB Wednesday 13 July 2022.

  • A brief cover letter (or email) from a member of your organisations executive leadership team outlining the reasons for nominating the candidate; and
  • a CV or bio of the nominated person.

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.