Aboriginal hand with cannula on edge of hospital bed

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA says COVID-19 shows a need to reset health spending

COVID-19 shows a need to reset health spending

According to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, Australia needs to reset it attitude to health expenditure, with a fundamental reassessment of the priority put on real increases to health spending. “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to rethink many of our assumptions about the functioning of society. Absolutely fundamental to this is our understanding of what a health system that is fit for purpose looks like,” Dr Khorshid said. “The pandemic has shown the strains on so many parts of our health system, particularly aged care, mental health, and protections for our frontline healthcare workers, as well as the need to keep this deadly virus out of our Indigenous communities. There can be no avoiding it. A serious investment in health with a substantial real increase in spending is required.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

Diagnosing otitis media with telehealth

Each year 650,000 Australian children suffer from recurrent or chronic ear infections called otitis media (OM). OM can cause permanent hearing loss but is entirely preventable when treated early. Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by middle ear disease with OM affecting one in four children in Australia – but one in every two Aboriginal children. The current average wait time of two years for assessment is too long for children who are in crucial key stages of language, behavioural and educational development. Struggling to understand what is happening to them, many may face long-term social or mental health impacts.

Paediatric audiologist Dr Chris Brennan-Jones is committed to finding solutions for ear health – like changing assessment wait times from two years to 10 days. Dr Bennan-Jones is working with an ear health partnership in metro Perth called Djaalinj Waakinj – ‘Listening, Talking’ in Noongar language. In a program that is the first of its kind in Australia Djaalinj Waakinj fuses telehealth technology with support from local Aboriginal health workers to facilitate remote diagnosis of OM.

To view the full article click here.

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones sitting outside with laptop

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones. Image source: Particle website.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Health scholarships

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying, or intending to study, entry-level health courses could receive life changing financial assistance to follow their passion thanks to the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS). The PHMSS is designed to encourage and assist undergraduate students in health-related disciplines to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter’s outstanding contribution to Indigenous Australians’ health and his role and Chair of the NACCHO.

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

Applications for the PHMSS are now open and will close on Sunday 8 November 2020. For more information click here.

portrait of Ashleigh Ryan PHMSS recipient

PHMSS recipient Ashleigh Ryan. Image source: Australian College of Nursing website.

NCCRED Clinical Research Scholarship Program

The National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) has developed a Clinical Research Scholarship Program to build the scope and capacity of clinical research on emerging drugs across the drug and alcohol sector. This is a national program open to clinicians at all levels, anywhere in Australia. NCCRED is opening TWO new competitive rounds which will give financial and research support allowing recipients to conduct a new research project. The rounds will have a focus on the following areas:

  • Practicing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals (clinicians, nurses, allied health workers) in the AOD sector.
  • nursing and allied health professionals preferably practicing alcohol and other drugs nurses and allied health professionals, though applications are open to all clinicians working within the AOD sector.

For more information about the NCCRED scholarship program click here. 

Applications are now open and close on 6 November 2020.

Aboriginal health professional sitting in from of Aboriginal D&A banner

Image source: ABC News website.

National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Communique

You can read the full National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Communique #25 here.

National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce logo

Image source: National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce website.

COVID-19 transmission in educational settings

Since March 2020, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) has joined forces with the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW Department of Education to investigate COVID-19 cases in schools and early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.

You can view the webinar Learning together – Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in NSW educational settings covering COVID-19 transmission in NSW educational settings, what the latest data show and how a multi-disciplinary approach has helped people learn together by clicking here.

Nawarddeken Academy school - 14 Aboriginal students sitting at a table

Nawarddeken Academy school. Image source: The Conversation website.

Melbourne workers of concern to Tennant Creek health groups 

Up to 10 gas pipeline workers from a coronavirus hotspot have begun quarantining in a Tennant Creek hotel under a Government-approved plan that Indigenous health groups are demanding be shared with them. The group from Melbourne has also been given permission to leave the hotel under an arrangement organised for maintenance work on Jemena’s Northern Gas Pipeline, which runs from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa. The vast majority of people arriving in the NT from coronavirus hotspots are ordered into a fortnight of supervised quarantine at designated facilities in Darwin or Alice Springs at a cost of $2,500.

Indigenous health groups are concerned the alternative arrangement risks coronavirus spreading to Tennant Creek’s majority Indigenous population and that of nearby communities. Barb Shaw from Anyinginyi Health, the region’s major Indigenous health service, said she had requested to see the company’s COVID-19 management plan early last week but never heard back.

To read the full ABC News story click here.

portrait of Anyinginyi Health CEO Barb Shaw

Anyinginyi Health CEO Barb Shaw. Image source: ABC News.

Keep Our Mob Safe from COVID-19

The latest update on COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, communities and organisations is available click here. Things can change quickly so it is important to stay up to date.

Keep Our Mob Safe, Stop The Spread banner

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

2021 seasonal influenza preparation required

During 2020 there was a significant demand for seasonal influenza vaccines in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that this demand is likely to continue and also be evident for future seasons. To this end, the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer is encouraging key stakeholders to turn their minds to their preparations for next year’s season. To view the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s letter to stakeholders click here.

text flu season syringe inserted in vial

Image source: 1011 Now News website.

PBS changes a win for palliative care

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomes much needed improvements to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings for opioids, which will clarify their important role in alleviating suffering for palliative care patients. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Association supported important reforms to reduce the inappropriate use of opioids in Australia. Dr Khorshid said the original PBS changes implemented on 1 June 2020 caused significant confusion and concern from prescribers and their patients, unintentionally making prescriber access to opioids more difficult for palliative care patients with a legitimate clinical need. This was particularly difficult for non-cancer palliative care patients.

The AMA has been advocating to the Department of Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, providing feedback from AMA members on the 1 June 2020 changes. “The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has reflected this feedback in the 1 October 2020 PBS listing changes, so it’s pleasing that the vital advocacy work of the AMA has been heeded,” Dr Khorshid said. “Patients will be exempt from the 12-month pain management review by a second doctor or palliative care nurse practitioner if their clinical condition makes the review not possible. “This is an important change for palliative care patients who may be too unwell for this to occur.”

To view the AMS’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man with arms around Aboriginal woman looking out across river in Australian landscape

Image source: Palliative Care Victoria.

Social enterprise to tackle remote NT food inequities

An urgent food crisis is threatening remote Aboriginal communities across the country, with an estimated 1.2 million Australians unable to regularly access culturally appropriate, safe and nutritious food from a non-emergency source. Kere to Country, a new First Nations-led social enterprise, hopes they can make a difference, starting in Alice Springs/Mparntwe. Kere means ‘food from animals’ in Arrernte.

Three young Indigenous entrepreneurs—Jessica Wishart, 31, Jordan Wishart, 25, and Tommy Hicks, 24 (pictured below) —were inspired to do something about the crisis after visiting Alice Springs/Mparntwe. The trio saw Aboriginal communities couldn’t afford essential products that were necessary to keep their families healthy and safe. “It’s an urgent crisis—one that has been going on for a really long time, but it’s gotten worse since the pandemic,” CEO Jessica Wishart said.

The concept is simple: Kere to Country will provide remote communities with access to meat through bulk purchases or smaller packs. Aiming to eventually expand to all of central Australia, the team will distribute packs to Alice Springs/Mparntwe, both in and out of town, and the Tennant Creek region.

To visit the Kere to Country website click here.

Kere to Country entrepreneurs Jessica Wishart, Jordan Wishart, Tommy Hicks

Kere to Country entrepreneurs Jessica Wishart, Jordan Wishart, Tommy Hicks. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Palkyu descendent 2020 Australia Mental Health prize finalist

Professor Helen Milroy is one of seven finalists in the running for the 2020 Australia Mental Health prize. The Prize, now in its fifth year, recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

Professor Milroy is recognised as the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, completing medical studies and specialist training in child and adolescent psychiatry. She is passionate about combining Aboriginal and western knowledge systems to improve outcomes. Her work and research in the areas of holistic medicine, child mental health, recovery from trauma and grief, application of Indigenous knowledge, and cultural models of care have made a significant difference to the lives of children and young people, particularly those with a trauma background. Her efforts in developing and supporting the Aboriginal medical workforce and cultural safety in health and mental health through curriculum development, education and training, implementation and evaluation, has had a lasting impact on Aboriginal health and mental health across Australia.

To view the full article about the 2020 Australia Mental Health prize finalists click here.

portrait of Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Helen Milroy. Image source: AusDoc website.

Breast cancer survivor fears many others won’t

Breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, but what’s more concerning is that not a lot of these women survive. It’s a hidden disease that shows no symptoms until it has developed into a lump some time down the track.

Aunty Joy was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 48. She had a single mastectomy and says “I am a survivor and still a sufferer. Around the time of my diagnosis, there were no radiographers where I was. But if I had waited, who knows what the end result would’ve been? I went through the experience alone and it was traumatic, something that I don’t want to see other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women go through. Every two weeks I would take myself to chemotherapy, the most grueling and horrible experience with side effects that were harrowing.”

portrait photo of Aunty Joy

Aunty Joy. Image source: MamaMia website.

To read the full article about Aunty Joy’s breast cancer journey click here.

ACT – Canberra

Social Media Communications Coordinator

NACCHO is seeking a Social Media Communication Coordinator to manage and maintain NACCHO’s social media presence and daily blog. The position requires working cohesively with the NACCHO Communications team towards the creation and delivery of social media campaigns and driving key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector new content across channels. To view details of the position click here.

Applications close at 9.00 am Friday 16 October 2020.

AFL Indigenous All Stars coach Michael O'Loughlin with the “Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” app

AFL Indigenous All Stars coach Michael O’Loughlin with the “Aboriginal Health in Aboriginal Hands” app. Image source: Australian Government NIAA website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Daffodil Day – cancer awareness

Feature tile - Daffodil Day - Aboriginal flag with yellow daffodil as centre

Every day around five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed with cancer. Aboriginal and Torres Islander people have a slightly higher rate of cancer diagnosis, however are approximately 40 per cent more likely to die from cancer than other Australians (Reference: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019 – Cancer series no.119. Cat. no. CAN 123).

The daffodil is recognised internationally as the symbol of hope for all people affected by cancer. Cancer Council chose it as its emblem as the bright yellow colouring heralds the return of spring, representing new life and growth. Daffodil Day is Cancer Council’s most iconic and much-loved fundraising campaign. Funds raised this Daffodil Day Appeal will help fund researchers dedicated to discovering the next cancer breakthroughs, including less harsh cancer treatments.

To visit the Cancer Council Daffodil Day Appeal website click here.

ACCHOs’ wealth of expertise much to offer

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector has a wealth of expertise in addressing the social and cultural determinants of health, responsive service development, and providing culturally safe care. The wider health sector needs to gain a deeper understanding of the contributions of the ACCHO sector.

Cover image from the report: Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in practice: Sharing ways of working from the ACCHO sector

These are some of the findings in a report from the work of the Centre of Research Excellence in Aboriginal Chronic Disease Knowledge Translation and Exchange (CREATE), a collaborative enterprise between NACCHO, Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit, at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, and the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health.

To view the full article by Croakey click here.

More required so well placed to emerge from COVID-19

Yesterday the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and members of the Aboriginal Executive Council (AEC), a group made up of 11 Aboriginal CEOs from peak Aboriginal organisations across Victoria, provided evidence to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said the low incidence of COVID-19 cases in Victorian Aboriginal Communities was testament to Aboriginal community control and what can be achieved when working meaningfully together. In order for Aboriginal Communities to be well placed to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, more needs to be done now to ensure the sector is better placed to help Aboriginal communities affected by disproportionate rates of mental health and social emotional wellbeing issues, as well as justice and correctional issues.

To read the VACCHO media release click here.

Image sources: National Geographic for Kids and Belyuen youth NT, ABC News.

Additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions

The Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a media release Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Government recognises the mental health impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on individuals and communities, particularly those in areas such as Victoria where more stringent measures have been necessary to stop the spread to the virus.

To view the full media release click here.

oil paingint of Aboriginal man with head in hand sitting on rock in outback

Image source: Camilla Perkins for Mosaic.

QLD – Cairns

FT Member Support Regional Manager – Northern Region (Identified)

QAIHC is a non-partisan peak organisation representing all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations across Queensland at both state and national Level. QAIHC members deliver comprehensive and culturally appropriate, world class primary health care services to their communities.

QAIHC is seeking an experienced, passionate and high-level manager to support its members in the Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Sector.

To view the job description click here.

Broome – WA

Regional Sexual Health Facilitator – Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service

KAMS now has an opportunity for Regional Sexual Health Facilitator to join their friendly, multidisciplinary team in Broome WA, on a full-time fixed term contract basis till 30 June 2021.

In this role, will be responsible for providing support for the coordination, development, implementation and review of practice in the area of Sexual Health in the Kimberley. In particular, this position provides advice and facilitation for an increase by clinicians in provision of opportunistic and targeted screening and appropriate management and follow up of people with sexually transmitted infections.

To view the job description click here.

Feature Image - Aboriginal boy head in hands

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Survey to review mental health youth services

Mental health youth services survey

If you work or volunteer with an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation or other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisations you are invited to participate in a short headspace online survey and share your views on issues of access, engagement and cultural safety of mental health supports for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All participants go into the draw to win a $100 voucher!

To view a survey flyer click here and to access the survey click here.

Young Aboriginal girl crying

Image source: newsinmind.com

NT outreach services improve hearing impairment

Ear and hearing health is vital for overall health and quality of life. Ear disease and associated hearing loss can have long-lasting impacts on education, wellbeing and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to experience ear and hearing problems.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has shown positive results are being achieved by hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. The report shows that in 2019, 2,156 audiology; 770 ear, nose and throat teleotology; and 1,119 Clinical Nurse Specialist services were provided. Among children and young people who received treatment, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To access a more detailed summary of the report click here.

Health professional checking ear of Aboriginal boy

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research website.

National cancer screening health worker engagement project

The University of Melbourne is undertaking a project to understand how the primary healthcare workforce engages with the national cancer screening program (bowel, breast and cervical). Findings from the study will lead to the development of materials and initiatives to assist in boosting cancer screening participation.

During the first phase of the project the researchers are interested in interviewing nurses, GPs and Practice Managers to understand more about their role, their go-to-resources when they need more information about the screening programs and resources they would like to have access to.

Everyone that will be interviewed will be reimbursed with a $50 Gift Card. We intend to carry out interviews during the month of September. The interviews will be recorded with your permission.

For information about how to become involved in the project please contact Ebony Verbunt, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne email ebony.verbunt@unimelb.edu.au or phone 0429 928 039.

Aboriginal male & female cartoon figures with ages for breast, bowel, cervical cancer screening tests

Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

COVID-19 information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities survey

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, it has been extremely important to make sure health information about the virus reaches people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Australian Government Department of Health has worked with Indigenous communications agencies to produce a range of communications materials to help share information about the virus and inform communities about how they can stay safe.

You can provide feedback on how effective these campaign materials have been in reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by taking this survey.

7 Keep Our Mob Safe resource images e.g. posters

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Residential aged care risk assessment urgently required

The AMA has warned urgent improvements in aged care and a coordinated response from all levels of government are needed to prevent the pandemic outbreak in Victorian aged care homes spreading into residential aged care nationwide. The AMA has called for every residential aged care home in Australia to be urgently and comprehensively assessed for its ability to safely care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Elders hands in carer's hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

ACT paves way for raising incarceration age

The Australian Capital Territory’s Legislative Assembly has voted to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, paving the way for other jurisdictions to reform an outmoded law which disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To read the related Amnesty International Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal child's hands on jail barred overlaid with Aboriginal flag.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

COVID-19 vaccine will not be compulsory

Health Minister, Greg Hunt has confirmed that although any potential coronavirus vaccine will be strongly encouraged, it will not be made compulsory.

To read a transcript of Minister Hunt’s interview with David Koch on the Sunrise program click here.

QLD – Cairns or ACT – Canberra

PT Cultural Lead x 1 (Identified Position)

CRANAplus, the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia, has a vacancy for a Cultural Lead. This identified position, available to Aboriginal, First Nations, and Torres Strait Island people, will collaborate closely with internal and external stakeholders to develop and drive priorities supporting CRANAplus’ Organisational Strategic Plan.

You can view the CRANAplus website here and find details of the Cultural Lead position here.

CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

ACT – Canberra

FT Flexible Education Classroom Teacher  x 1 (Identified Position) – 6 months with the possibility of permanency

The ACT Education Directorate is seeking a reflective practitioner who: is able to create dynamic learning environments and authentically personalised education programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; has a demonstrated understanding of trauma and neuroscience informed education practices; and is passionate about inclusion, social justice, innovation and equity. Flexible Education is a community of schools/settings for students with complex and challenging needs including Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre, Muliyan, Boomanulla, the Hospital School, the education program at The Cottage and Distance Education.

For more details about the position click here.

Aboriginal youth and teacher against graffitied wall

Image source: School News Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Career Pathways Report commissioned by Lowitja Institute, led by AMSANT, UNSW released on #IndigenousPeoplesDay

Career Pathways Report commissioned by Lowitja Institute, led by AMSANT, UNSW released on #IndigenousPeoplesDay

Working for our people: what helps build a stronger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce?

The Career Pathways Project (CPP) commissioned by Lowitja Institute and led by Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) was released on World Indigenous People’s Day 2020 on 9 August.

The CCP focuses on providing insights and guidance to enhance the capacity of the health system to retain and support the development and careers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the health workforce.

For more information and to go through the report click here.

 

Kids ear health resource developed by AHCWA

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) ear health team has developed a new and innovative health promotion resource for children and youth called Simon Says. The first issue of Simon Says is an ear health brochure designed to support, teach and empower Aboriginal children with chronic ear conditions.

To access the brochure click here.

Cartoon characters, a man and three children with 'Keep your ear clean with good hygiene' speech bubble.

Image Source: AHCWA Clean Ears Brochure.

Aboriginal men’s experiences during partner’s pregnancy

A study looking at Kimberley Aboriginal men’s experience during their partner’s pregnancy “When I got the news”: Aboriginal fathers in the Kimberley region yarning about their experience of the antenatal period was recently released. The study explores Aboriginal men’s perceptions of being an expecting father, their social and emotional wellbeing, and their experience with health providers.

Plain language reports of the study for community and staff:

To view the full report click here.

Photo of Aboriginal man and pregnant partner

Image Source: NITV News.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap initiative

Cancer Australia is commencing the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap initiative, to improve outcomes for people affected by pancreatic cancer, one of Australia’s deadliest cancers. In developing the Roadmap, Cancer Australia will seek broad public consultation and collaborate with key stakeholders, including consumers, to build on the efforts and expertise of the non-government sector.

A key focus of the consultation phase will be engagement with targeted population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rural and remote and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Further details will be provided through the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap website in the near future.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap banner

Image Source: Australian Government Cancer Australia.

 

IAHP Yarnes Project Year One Report

A Year One Site Engagement Report of the evaluation of the Australian Government’s Investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care through the Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme (IAHP Yarnes) has been released. The report provides an overview of the site engagement processes and outcomes of IAHP Yarnes. The short name for the evaluation, ‘IAHP Yarnes’, stands for yarning, action, reflection, national evaluation, systems.

A full copy of the Year One Report can be accessed here.

IAHP Yarnes banner

Job Alerts

VIC – Melbourne

FT Fundraising Coordinator x 1 (6 months)

Children’s Ground is seeking applications by 5pm Monday 24 August 2020 for a Fundraising Coordinator to lead the development and implementation of a digital fundraising strategy so that Children’s Ground may continue to be sustainable into the future.

You can visit the Children’s Ground website here and apply for the Fundraising Coordinator position here.

Children's Ground purpose statement.

WA – Perth

Derbal Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation are seeking applications for six (6) positions, including:

Click on the job title for further details. Applications for the above four (4) positions are due by 5pm Friday 14 August 2020.

Click on the job title for further information. Applications for the above two (2) positions are due by 5pm Monday 17 August 2020. Derbal Yerrigan Logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New funding for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to close the gap

 

New funding for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to close the gap

NACCHO welcomes a joint funding pool being established by Australian governments to strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to deliver vital services to communities and help deliver on the commitments of Priority Reform Two under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Commonwealth Government has announced an initial contribution of $46.5 million over four years, with the Victorian Government adding an additional $3.3 million.

This funding comes on the heels of the unveiling of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap which was signed last week.

Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM, said that the Coalition of Peaks welcomes the leadership of Ken Wyatt, the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Australians Minister, in establishing the fund.

“The Coalition of Peaks fought hard to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations at the centre of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap. They deliver better services for our people, get better outcomes, protect our cultures and employ more First Nations people in their home communities,” Ms Turner said.

“This new funding for the initial delivery of Priority Reform Two will help strengthen and build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector to deliver additional services to First Nations people, including in new areas like housing and early childhood.” Ms Turner said.

“The joint funding pool complements the commitments in the National Agreement on Priority Reform Two which will also bring additional funding to community-controlled organisations over time and provide more jobs for First Nations people.”  Ms Turner said.

To read the full media release click here.

To view the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap click here.

 

Culturally safe cancer care guide released

Cancer Australia recently released A guide to implementing the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer (the Guide), a companion guide to the Optimal Care Pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer (OCP).

The Guide is designed to support health services and clinicians in the planning and delivery of culturally safe and responsive cancer care. Using the OCP as the foundation for best practice, the Guide contains priorities for consideration at a system level, practical strategies to help health services plan for improvement and guidance for health professionals to consider in relation to their own practice.

Click here to view the Guide.

 

ATAGI Secretariat EOI request

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) Secretariat recently published a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to fill a vacant role on the ATAGI, to provide expertise with respect to the delivery of health services to and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, commencing 31 August 2020.

The EOI deadline for this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative member role on the ATAGI has been extended – EOIs must now be received by midnight 12 pm 6 August 2020.

EOIs can be submitted to ATAGI.Secretariat@health.gov.au

For more information on the role click here.

Syringe drawing from a vial

Source credit: AMA Website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #WorldCancerDay @CancerAustralia and @HealthInfoNet Many cancers are preventable among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

” In Australia, the poorest among us are 30% more likely to die of cancer than the richest.

There is also a big gap in cancer outcomes for our Indigenous Australian population, where incident rates from cancer are 10% higher than non-Indigenous Australians and mortality rates are 30% higher.

Similarly, cancer incidence (particularly cancers with poorer prognoses) and mortality are significantly higher outside capital cities, with outcomes worsening in step with remoteness.

So why are money, cultural background, geographic location and cancer types leading to some Australians being left behind?

More research is required to definitively pinpoint why these trends are occurring, but several factors stand out. More needs to be done to promote healthy lifestyles and cancer prevention to some parts of our community.

As an example, we know that smoking rates are higher in Indigenous populations and among poorer Australians and also link to cancers with poorer prognosis such as lung cancer.

Continued investment in anti-smoking campaigns tailored to these communities is critical in reducing this disparity. Currently around 40% of Indigenous Australians smoke compared with 12.2% of the general Australian population. In remote communities, this rises to around 60%.

Other unhealthy lifestyles that can increase cancer risk, including excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet and obesity, are also more prevalent among socio-economically disadvantaged populations

Professor Sanchia Aranda is the CEO of Cancer Council Australia

Read over 75 Aboriginal Health and Cancer articles published by NACCHO last 8 years

According to the Cancer Council Australia 1 in 3 cancers could be preventable through lifestyle choices.

We know that preventing cancer is one of the most effective ways of creating a cancer free future.

At least one in three cancer cases could be prevented and the number of cancer deaths could be reduced significantly by choosing a cancer smart lifestyle.

Each year, more than 13,000 cancer deaths are due to smoking, sun exposure, poor diet, alcohol, inadequate exercise or being overweight.

Fortunately, there are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk of cancer such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Being SunSmart
  • Get checked

Read more about the seven steps to reducing your cancer risk in Cancer Council’s cancer prevention lifestyle fact sheets.

Read full article and link to resources

” The review shows that cultural safety in service provision, increased participation in breast, bowel and cervical screening and reduction in risk factors will improve outcomes for cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The good news is that many cancers are considered to be preventable. Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, followed by breast cancer, bowel cancer and prostate cancer.

Tobacco smoking is still seen as the greatest risk factor for cancer’.

HealthInfoNet 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services are located in all jurisdictions and are funded by the federal,state and territory governments and other sources [91].

They are planned and governed by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait and Torres
Strait Islander communities and aim to deliver holistic and culturally appropriate health and health-related services.

Services vary in the primary health care activities they offer. Possible activities include: diagnosis and treatment of illness or disease; management of chronic illness; transportation to medical appointments; outreach clinic services; immunisations; dental services; and dialysis services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer support groups have been identified as important for improving cancer awareness and increasing participation in cancer screening services [92].

Aboriginal women attending these support groups have reported an increased
understanding of screening and reported less fear and concern over cultural appropriateness, with increases in screening rates [19].

Support groups have also been found to help in follow up and ongoing care for cancer survivors [19, 93], particularly where they are shaped to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [73, 94].”

See Page 12 of 2018 Review

Download Review+of+cancer+among+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+people

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) at Edith Cowan University published a in 2018 Review of cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The review, written by University of Western Australia staff (Margaret Haigh, Sandra Thompson and Emma Taylor), in conjunction with HealthInfoNet staff (Jane Burns, Christine Potter, Michelle Elwell, Mikayla Hollows, Juliette Mundy), provides general information on factors that contribute to cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It provides detailed information on the extent of cancer including incidence, prevalence and survival, mortality, burden of disease and health service utilisation.

This review discusses the issues of prevention and management of cancer, and provides information on relevant programs, services, policies and strategies that address cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The review provides:

  • general information on factors (historical/protective/risk) that contribute to cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • detailed information on the extent of cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including: incidence, prevalence and survival data; mortality and burden of disease and health service utilisation
  • a discussion of the issues of prevention and management of cancer
  • information on relevant programs, services, policies and strategies that address cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • a conclusion on the possible future directions for combating cancer in Australia

Selected Extract

2018 Lung Cancer Framework: Principles for Best Practice Lung Cancer Care in Australia is released
2016 National Framework for Gynaecological Cancer Control is released
2015 First National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework is released
2015 Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is released
2014 Second Cancer Australia Strategic Plan 2014–2019 is published
2013 First National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 is published
2011 First Cancer Australia Strategic Plan 2011–2014 is published
2008 National Cancer Data Strategy for Australia is released
2003 Report Optimising Cancer Care in Australia is published
1998 First National health priority areas cancer control report is published
1996 Cancer becomes one of four National health priority areas (NHPA)
1988 Health for all Australians report is released
1987 First National Cancer Prevention Policy for Australia is published

Concluding comments

Despite considerable improvements in cancer detection and treatment over recent decades, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with cancer generally experience poorer outcomes than non-Indigenous people for an equivalent stage of disease [2797]. This is highlighted by statistics which showed that, despite lower rates of prevalence and hospitalisation for all cancers combined for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with non-Indigenous people, between 1998 and 2015, the age-standardised mortality rate ranged from 195 to 246 per 100,000 while the rate for non-Indigenous people decreased from 194 to 164 per 100,000 [2].

Furthermore for 2007–2014, while 65% of non-Indigenous people had a chance of surviving five years after receiving a cancer diagnosis, only 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people did [2].

The disparities are particularly pronounced for some specific cancers – for lung cancer the age-standardised incidence rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was twice that for non-Indigenous people, while for cervical cancer the rate was 2.5 times the rate for non-Indigenous people for 2009–2013 [2].

The factors contributing to these poorer outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are complex. They reflect a broad range of historical, social and cultural determinants and the contribution of lifestyle and other health risk factors [6], combined with lower participation in screening programs, later diagnosis, lower uptake and completion of cancer treatment, and the presence of other chronic diseases [2798155]. Addressing the various factors that contribute to the development of cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important, but improvements in some of these areas, particularly in reducing lifestyle and behavioural risk factors, are likely to take some time to be reflected in better outcomes.

Current deficiencies in the prevention and management of cancer suggest there is considerable scope for better services that should lead to improvements in the short to medium term. Effective cancer prevention and management programs that are tailored to community needs and are culturally appropriate are vital for the current and future health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [5657]. Providing effective cancer prevention and management also requires improved access to both high quality primary health care services and tertiary specialist services. Effective and innovative programs for the prevention and management of cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do exist on an individual basis and, in some cases, the efforts made to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in screening programs, in particular, are impressive. However, a more coordinated, cohesive national approach is also required.

Reducing the impact of cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a crucial aspect in ‘closing the gap’ in health outcomes. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer framework [56] may be an important first step in addressing the current disparity in cancer outcomes and raises the probability of real progress being made. Cancer Australia has recently released the Optimal Care pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which recommends new approaches to cancer care and with the aim of reducing disparities and improving outcomes and experiences for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer [156]. As encouraging as these developments are, substantial improvements will also depend upon the effective implementation of comprehensive strategies and policies that address the complexity of the factors underlying the disadvantages experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Action beyond the health service sector that addresses the broader historical, social and cultural determinants of health are also required if real progress is to be made [6]

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Women’s Health  : October is #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth Our Feature Story @VACCHO_org BreastScreen Victoria’s hot pink breast screening vans Plus Download Resources from @CancerAustralia

 ” October, Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, provides an opportunity for us all to focus on breast cancer and its impact on those affected by the disease in our community.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Australian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Survival rates continue to improve in Australia with 89 out of every 100 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer now surviving five or more years beyond diagnosis.

Take the time this month to find out what you need to know about breast awareness and share this important information with your family, friends and colleagues.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and is the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Research shows that survival is lower in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women diagnosed with breast cancer than in the general population.

Cancer Australia is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to provide women with important information about breast cancer awareness, early detection as well as breast cancer treatment and care.

Looking after your breasts – Find breast cancer early and survive see Part 2 Below

See BCNA story Part 4 Below

BreastScreen Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) are saying goodbye to the days of sterile, cold mammograms under fluorescent flickering lights and saying hello to mammograms in hot pink vans, with beautifully created cultural shawls and lots of love and giggles.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the organisations have introduced a program which enables Aboriginal women living in regional and remote areas of Victoria to access safe, free and comforting breast screening facilities.

 “ The idea for the program was born from conversations between BreastScreen Victoria CEO, Vicki Pridmore and VACCHO Manager of Public Health and Research, Susan Forrester.

Ms Forrester said that most women shy away from breast screening due to the safety aspect.

“Why we use the word safe is because there are lots of layers around health and some of the themes that were emerging were that women may have felt a bit uncomfortable being screened for multiple reasons and at times, the staff they had contact with across the health system, although [they] may have been very well meaning, lacked cultural awareness.”

See full story Part 3 below

Picture opening graphic  : Almost all the DWECH BreastScreen Team. Rose Hollis DWECH Community Worker, Allira Maes DWECH Aboriginal Health Worker, Joanne Ronald BSV Radiographer, Lisa Joyce BSV Health Promotion Officer

Part 1 Cancer Australia is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce the impact of cancer on Indigenous Australians

About 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are diagnosed with cancer every day. Indigenous Australians have a slightly lower rate of cancer diagnosis but are almost 30 per cent more likely to die from cancer than non-Indigenous Australians1.

Cancer Australia is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to reduce the impact of cancer on Indigenous Australians.

Our work includes:

  • raising awareness of risk factors and promoting awareness and early detection for the community
  • developing evidence-based information and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer and health professionals
  • providing evidence-based cancer information and training resources to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers
  • increasing understanding of best-practice health care and support, and
  • supporting research.

We have a range of resources which provide information to support you and the work you do:

Breast Cancer: a handbook for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers

This handbook has been written to help health professionals support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with breast cancer. Increasing the understanding of breast cancer may help to encourage earlier investigation of symptoms, and contribute to the quality of life of people living with breast cancer.

This handbook has been written for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, Health Practitioners and Aboriginal Liaison Officers involved in the care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with breast cancer in community and clinical settings.

Download HERE

Part 2 BE BREAST AWARE

Finding breast cancer early provides the best chance of surviving the disease. Remember you don’t need to be an expert or use a special technique to check your breasts.

Changes to look for include:

  • new lump or lumpiness, especially if it’s only in one breast
  • change in the size or shape of your breast
  • change to the nipple, such as crustingulcerredness or inversion
  • nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing
  • change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling
  • an unusual pain that doesn’t go away.

Most changes aren’t due to breast cancer but it’s important to see your doctor without delay if you notice any of these changes.

My breast cancer journey: a guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families

Cancer Australia has developed a new resource My breast cancer journey: a guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families which outlines the clinical management of the early breast cancer journey to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with breast cancer and their families.

DOWNLOAD HERE

Part 3 BreastScreen Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) are saying goodbye to the days of sterile, cold mammograms under fluorescent flickering lights

Read full story from NIT 

The program was trialled, a screen-friendly shawl was designed using artwork by Lyn Briggs, and the shawls were gifted to each woman who was screened.

The trial was a result of a team of around 15 women who screened 14 First Nations women. The feedback received was exactly what BreastScreen Victoria’s Senior Health Promotion’s Officer, Lisa Joyce had hoped for.

“The feedback included things like, I feel safe, protected by culture, cultural safety blanket, made me proud of who I am and visible, the shawl was a screen from feeling shame and it was beautiful, easy to wear and makes you feel comfortable and safe,” Ms Joyce said.

BreastScreen Victoria and VACCHO have partnered with eight Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) who will receive visits from Nina and Marjorie – BreastScreen Victoria’s hot pink breast screening vans.

The vans will work with ACCHOs to provide Aboriginal women with free mammograms, which assist in the identification of breast cancer in its early stages. The program is aimed particularly at women between 50 and 74, who are at higher risk of breast cancer.

Picture above :Rose Hollis who is a DWECH Community Worker had her breast screen and then spent the rest of her day driving Community members to their screenings.

The program will also gift a shawl to 50 women from each centre – which will be printed with a design of their country.

Amber Neilley, VACCHO’s State-wide Health Services Program Officer said artworks have been created by artists both established and emerging.

“Each shawl has been designed by a local artist, we are taking the shawls with the designs back to country,” Ms Neilley said.

Ms Joyce said that bringing the vans onto ACCHO sites offers leadership to those centres.

“We are playing into self-determination in that way as the organisation is in control of who screens and what happens in their community in that time,” Ms Joyce said.

“Many of the sites we are going to … have permanent breast screening facilities in the town but we know that Aboriginal women aren’t attending those clinics so we are trying to increase that by bringing it to a familiar place.”

“Taking the van and using the shawls is the first step in improving Aboriginal women’s experiences when they come to breast screens. I think unfamiliarity, lack of trust and potential fear is why we don’t have that contact with many women.”

Research shows that once a woman has screened for breast cancer, she is more likely to regularly screen – a hope the team have for the women in these communities.

“We hope that when the project leaves town the shawl will be in the permanent screening space and people will become involved,” Ms Forrester said.

“We want to be able to say here is a strength-based, culturally-led model that can go national, and international. The CEO of BreastScreen has just been at the World Indigenous Cancer Conference in Canada and presented this on our behalf and she has had a world of interest.”

Dates and locations for BreastScreen Victoria’s screening vans include:

  • 30/9 – 4/10 at Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service (DWECH)
  • 7/10 – 10/10 at Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation
  • 14/10 – 18/10 at Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative
  • 21/10 – 24/10 at Kirrae Health Service
  • 28/10 – 1/11 at Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative
  • 11/11 – 15/11 at Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative
  • 18/11 to 22/11 at Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation.

For more information, visit: https://www.breastscreen.org.au/.

Part 4 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women share their breast cancer experience in new BCNA video

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have come together to share their stories and experiences as breast cancer survivors as part of a  video produced by BCNA.

See Website 

The video shares the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander women affected by breast cancer and aims to encourage other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to connect, seek support and information on breast cancer.

A number of women in the video, including Aunty Josie Hansen, highlight the importance of early detection.

‘Early detection is really important; not just for women, but for men too,’ Aunty Josie said.

‘Being diagnosed with breast cancer isn’t a death sentence, there’s always hope … as long as you have breath there’s hope,’ she said.

Aunty Thelma reflected that breast cancer is ‘just a terrible disease’.

‘I think it’s so important that women go and have their breast screens done,’ she said.

The video was filmed at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Think Tank at BCNA’s National Summit in March. The Think Tank was facilitated by BCNA board member Professor Jacinta Elston.  Jacinta said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s outcomes are poorer both in survival and at diagnosis.

The Think Tank brought together 48 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from around Australia to share issues around treatment and survivorship of breast cancer in their communities. The key outcome of the Think Tank was the development of a three-year Action Plan that outlines BCNA’s key future work, in partnership with national peak Aboriginal health organisations.

The group worked to develop and prioritise future action to improve support and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women diagnosed with breast cancer.

This included identifying locally based cultural healing projects, to allow breast cancer survivors to connect and support each other in culturally safe spaces. A weaving project in Queensland and a possum skin cloak project in Victoria is being undertaken and used to support the training of health professionals in local culture and knowledge. The Culture is Healing projects are supported by Cancer Australia.

This video was produced as part of BCNA’s ongoing commitment to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women diagnosed with breast cancer.

You can watch the video below:

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Cancer #Smoking : Report from Canada where 400 delegates are meeting at #WICC2019 with theme ‘Respect, Reconciliation and Reciprocity “ discussing cancer and its impact on Indigenous peoples.

“Cancer has been largely overlooked amongst Indigenous populations world-wide and remains the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “

Professor Gail Garvey, who convened the first WICC and is co-chair of WICC 2019 :Pictured above with Professor Tom Calma and Blackfoot Fancy Feather Dancer Kyle Agapi.

“Smoking is the single biggest contributor to early deaths, including cancer deaths, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – which is why it is so important that we encourage people not to take up smoking and assist smokers to stop “

Professor Tom Calma AO, National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, and member of the Cancer Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Leadership Group

Read over 80 Aboriginal Health and Cancer articles published by NACCHO in past 7 years

Read over 130 Aboriginal Health and Smoking articles published by NACCHO in past 7 years

Indigenous communities, consumers and health experts from around the world have come together at the opening of the second World Indigenous Cancer Conference (WICC) at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre in Canada.

The conference, which has drawn a large contingent of Australian delegates, follows on from the success of the inaugural WICC held in Brisbane, Australia in 2016.

The WICC 2019 theme is ‘Respect, Reconciliation and Reciprocity,’ with over 400 delegates from across the globe discussing cancer and its impact on Indigenous peoples.

World-wide, Indigenous peoples bear a disproportionately higher cancer burden than non-Indigenous peoples, which makes WICC 2019 so very important.

Hosted by the Canadian Indigenous Research Network Against Cancer (CIRNAC) in partnership with the host sponsor Alberta Health Services, this premier event is supported by the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

 Professor Gail Garvey , Blackfoot Piikani Chief Stan Grier and Professor Tom Calma 

WICC 2019 has drawn expertise of leading cancer researchers, public health practitioners, clinicians, advocacy groups, Indigenous community leaders and consumers.

They are coming together to share knowledge about critical issues across the cancer continuum from prevention and treatment to survivorship and end of life.

Several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates with a lived experience of cancer are making an important contribution to the conference.

Des McGrady, an Aboriginal cancer survivor, said “An international meeting is important for the information sharing that we can pass on to community and people working in this space. This will allow us to work in partnership to drive positive change.”

The burden of cancer among Indigenous populations is of major public health importance and forums for collaboration such as this conference will strengthen research and service delivery and help accelerate progress in improving cancer outcomes.

Indigenous leadership, culturally sound service delivery and encouragement of mainstream services to prioritise Indigenous cancer are critical to these efforts and central to WICC 2019.

For more details about the conference, please visit the website: http://wicc2019.com

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CancerAwareness : @JacintaElston @KelvinKongENT Hey you mob It’s ok to talk about #cancer – For assistance download #YarnforLife resources

“Yarn for Life aims to reduce feelings of shame and fear associated with cancer and highlights the importance of normalising conversation around cancer and encouraging early detection of the disease.

It also emphasises the value of support along the patient journey.”

Professor Jacinta Elston, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), Monash University, said that finding cancer early gave people the best chance of surviving and living well.

“Yarn for Life seeks to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to participate in screening programs, discuss cancer with their doctor or health care worker openly, and if cancer is diagnosed, complete their cancer treatment.”

Australia’s first Australian Aboriginal surgeon Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, University of Newcastle : continued below 

Download Yarn for Life Resources HERE

Read over 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Awareness articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years 

In a national first, Cancer Australia has launched Yarn for Life, a new initiative to reduce the impact of cancer within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by encouraging and normalising discussion about the disease.

Cancer is a growing health problem and the second leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians who are, on average, 40 percent more likely to die from cancer than non-indigenous Australians.

The multi-faceted health promotion Yarn for Life has been developed by and with Indigenous Australians, and weaves the central message that it is okay to talk about cancer by sharing personal stories of courage and survivorship from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Yarn for Life features 3 individual experiences of cancer which are also stories of hope.

“While significant gains have been made with regard to cancer overall, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes. Cancer affects not only those diagnosed with the disease but also their families, carers, Elders and community,” said Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO, Cancer Australia.

Associate Professor Kong said it was also important for health services to support better outcomes for Indigenous patients by being culturally aware.

“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, health and connection to land, culture community and identity are intrinsically linked. Optimal care that is respectful of, and responsive to, the cultural preferences, sensitivities, needs and values of patients, is critical to good health care outcomes.”

The Yarn for Life initiative is supported by two consumer resources which outline what patients should expect at all points on the cancer pathway.

Yarn for Life will feature television, radio and social media resources designed to be shared with friends, family and the community, to carry on the Yarn for Life conversation online.

SEEING YOUR DOCTOR OR HEALTH WORKER

Finding cancer early gives you the best chance of getting better and living well. The good news is there are things you can do to find cancer early. If there are any changes in your body that could be due to cancer, it’s really important to have them checked out. Speak to your health worker about:

  • any new or unusual changes in your body
  • how you are feeling
  • whether you are in any pain
  • whether anyone in your family has or had cancer
  • any other problems that are worrying you.

Free screening programs

It’s also important that you and your family participate in screening programs for breast, bowel and cervical cancers.

You can find out more about these free programs including how old you need to be to participate at cancerscreening.gov.au. Remember most of us will need to go to a check-up or screening at some point in our lives—so there’s no shame in talking to family or friends about it as well as your health care worker.