NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap Partnership

Feature tile - Thu.29.7.21 - Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap

Coalition of Peaks Media Statement: Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap Partnership

NACCHO CEO and Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor, Pat Turner AM, welcomed today’s release by the Productivity Commission of its second tool for monitoring impacts of the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap, reached a year ago between the Coalition of Peaks and all Australian Governments.

“Today’s Annual Data Compilation Report joins the Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Dashboard (commencing last month) in providing building blocks for strong oversight and accountability under the National Agreement.

“The Coalition of Peaks, made up of community-controlled organisations, are accountable to their memberships and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities they serve. It is also essential that governments are accountable for their commitments under the National Agreement, which are geared to reaching targets on four Priority Reforms and an expanded set of socio-economic outcomes.

“Together, if we do this right, we will advance both self-determination and accelerate how gaps can be closed in the life circumstances of our People and other Australians.

“The Productivity Commission’s report and Dashboard are fundamental to tracking progress and holding all Parties to account for their responsibilities.

Read the media release by the Coalition of Peaks here.
The Annual Data Compilation Report by the Productivity Commission is available here.
You can view the Closing the Gap Dashboard here.

Illustration from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Illustration from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Feature image: Coalition of Peaks logo.

 

Privileged to lead Danila Dilba

The Board of Danila Dilba Health Service is pleased to announce the appointment of its new CEO, Rob McPhee. Mr McPhee will officially commence at the end of August, and was selected from a competitive field of applicants from all over Australia.

Mr McPhee has extensive experience in the Aboriginal health sector, having served as the Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services in Broome for the past six years. Prior to that Mr McPhee has worked in the energy and university sectors, consistently maintaining a focus on Aboriginal social justice, community development, and self-determination.

“I’m excited to be commencing in the role at the end of August, and getting to know the community that Danila Dilba has served for 30 years,” Mr McPhee said.

Read Danila Dilba Health Service‘s media release here.

 

Danila Dilba Health Service appoints new CEO, Rob McPhee.

Danila Dilba Health Service appoints new CEO, Rob McPhee.

 

76% vaccinated in two days

Proving small but mighty, the remote Aboriginal community of Warmun has vaccinated 76 per cent of its eligible population against the coronavirus in just two days.

The community, located 161km north of Halls Creek, vaccinated 182 community members in a huge effort alongside the WA Country Health Service.

Staff from the Kimberley Public Health Unit arrived in the community three days before the vaccination blitz to speak to the residents about the vaccine, and a well-attended primary school sports carnival provided the perfect opportunity to mingle and discuss people’s concerns.

Gija woman Catherine Engelke spearheaded the vaccination drive. Born in Derby and growing up in Halls Creek, the GP has family ties to Warmun and has worked with the community for a decade. She said being able to protect her people from the virus was a career highlight.

You can read the story in the National Indigenous Times here.

Dr Catherine Engelke. Image credit: The Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association.

Dr Catherine Engelke. Image credit: The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

 

Is your home COVID-ready?

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW has developed a useful tool to help you and your family plan and be prepared should someone have to self-isolate at home. This could be of particular interest for people living in Sydney at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic could last a long time.

The Getting Your Home COVID-19 Ready document helps you think about the whole family and what it means for them.

You can view the toolkit here.

Illustration from 'Getting Your Home COVID-ready'.

Illustration from ‘Getting Your Home COVID-ready’.

Home-based palliative care resources

Health professionals, health workers and other interested parties are invited to take part in a national consultation to assist in the development of tailored resources for the caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families project.

The Australian Government-funded project aims to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when this is preferred. This may help connect family, culture, community, country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.

You can take part by attending an in-person event, via an online survey, Microsoft Teams meeting or having a one-on-one conversation with the project manager.

Read the Factsheet for more information.
To participate or register visit the caring@home website or call on 1300 600 007  

care@home image for health practitioners.

care@home image for health practitioners.

Campaign targeting syphilis outbreak

In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in Australia increased by nearly 90% from recorded rates in 2015.

Three populations are most at risk:

  • men who have sex with men
  • women of child-bearing age
  • those who live in outbreak areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities).

The Department of Health has launched a new Infectious and Congenital Syphilis campaign. The campaign will run nationally on a range of online channels including social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), online video, search and programmatic ads.

Visit the campaign webpage for more information and to access a range of downloadable resources.
You can also read more about the campaign in the Department of Health news here.

View the campaign video below.

 

Hepatitis Day trivia fun

Thank you to the ACCHO staff who join in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session yesterday afternoon. The trivia was organised by NACCHO in partnership with EC Australia, Burnet Institute. We had an amazing turn up with 11 teams competing for some awesome prizes.
A huge congratulations to:
🥇 WINNER: AHCWAlube, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia
🥈 Second Place: Derbarl Dragons, Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
🥉 Third Place: Bunya Nuts, Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Service
👗 👔 There was also a price for the BEST DRESSED team: Watj Mi Djama, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
ACCHO staff participating in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session.

ACCHO staff participating in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session.

 

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.


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

In an article in the ABC News, outback doctors warn that the COVID-19 Delta variant makes a regional outbreak even more dangerous. They said they do not have enough staff, let alone ventilators, to cope with a Delta outbreak.

NACCHO medical adviser, Dr Jason Agostino, said to ABC News that talk of abandoning any attempt to control COVID-19 would be dangerous.

“In remote Australia and across all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, we only have around 22 per cent of people [who] have received a first dose of any vaccine, and that’s much lower than in the non-Indigenous population.

“We know that COVID-19 causes more serious disease in people with chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes and heart disease and [that] it spreads easily among crowded houses.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have these chronic diseases from younger ages and also live in crowded houses.

Dr Agostino agreed it was important for Australia to find vaccines that were safe for Indigenous children and said that, until a much higher rate of vaccination had been achieved, “lockdowns are going to be a way of life”.

You can view the article in ABC News here.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times. Feature tile image credit of University of Queensland website.

 

Successful place-based pandemic approach

Pandemics such as COVID-19 are a serious public health risk for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet primary healthcare systems are not well resourced to respond to such urgent events. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal government advisory group recommended a rapid, tailored Indigenous response to prevent predicted high morbidity and mortality rates. This paper examines the efforts of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny), which in the absence of dedicated funding, pivoted its operations in response to COVID-19.

Gurriny is the only primary healthcare service in the discrete Indigenous community of Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. They responded to COVID-19 by leading with local solutions to keep Yarrabah safe. Four key strategies were implemented: managing the health service operations, realigning services, educating and supporting community, and working across agencies.

The success of the locally led, holistic, comprehensive and culturally safe response of Gurriny suggests that such tailored place-based approaches to pandemics (and other health issues) are appropriate, but require dedicated resourcing.

You can read the paper in the DocWire News here.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service.

 

Eye health inequity

A recent study published on Science Direct provides a critical realist analysis of eye health inequity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The prevalence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is three times greater than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to a greater risk of blindness from treatable and preventable ocular conditions, most prominently cataract and diabetic retinopathy. In rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, blindness prevalence is higher, and ocular treatment coverage and uptake are lower. In collaboration with Aboriginal Community Based Researchers, this study explored complex contingent factors that shape access to eye health services among rural and remote Aboriginal Australians living with diabetes.

The paper highlighted that:

  • Sociocultural contingencies shape eye health outcomes among Aboriginal Australians.
  • Linguistic, economic, and cultural marginalisation underpin eye health inequity.
  • Differences between Western biomedical and Aboriginal cultural norms form tensions.
  • Supporting linguistic and cultural sovereignty in clinical spaces is needed.
  • Cultural responsivity training and an expanded Aboriginal health workforce are key.

Read the full study in Science Direct here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

 

Bridging the Gap in homeownership

Owning your own home has long been part of the Aussie dream, however for some indigenous Australians this pursuit is difficult to achieve for a number of economic, social and cultural reasons.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 38 per cent of indigenous people owned their own home compared to two-thirds of non-indigenous Australians.

According to AIHW, “not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation – all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage”.

Acknowledging this fact, Nicheliving has established a new division called Kambarang, created to bridge the gap for indigenous people and their communities, providing access to affordable housing opportunities to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

“The unit’s main goal is to support homeownership through providing open discussions, cultural support, credit assistance, communication and process support, affordable housing options, loan support and an end-to-end experience, including settlement,” said Nicheliving Managing Director Ronnie Michel-Elhaj.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Nicheliving - Willetton

Nicheliving – Willetton. Image credit: Julius Pang via The West Australian.

 

NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap

The NSW 2021-2022 Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap is focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The starting point in 2021-22 is to focus on the five Priority Reform areas as they know that transforming the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is key to creating positive change. They have also identified a few focus areas under each Priority Reform.

They are working in partnership to bring together expertise from across Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to develop further detailed and ambitious actions. To do this, they need your voice. Get involved and tell them what will make the biggest difference to you and your communities here.

You can view the 2021-22 NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap here.
Visit the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website for more information here.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

Winnunga Newsletter

The Winnunga Newsletter June – July 2021 edition is now available here.

Winnunga News June-July 2021 banner

Red socks for kidney support

Kidney Health Australia’s Red Socks Appeal is back and better than ever. Grab your friends, family, your work buddies, even your beloved pooch and either join Kidney Health Australia on one of their Red Socks Walks, set yourself a challenge or buy yourself a pair of red socks to show people living with kidney disease you care.

Wondering what Red Socks have to do with kidney disease? People on dialysis are strapped to a machine for 60 hours a month on average while it cleans their blood. While having dialysis treatment they often get cold, especially their feet. This is why Kidney Health Australia is asking you to go bold this October and wear Red Socks to show people living with kidney disease that you care.

Read more about the appeal and how you can show your support here.

Kidney Health Australia Red Sock Appeal

 

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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Save the Date

Connecting to Country grants program now open

The Connecting to Country grants program is now open, providing support to culture and arts projects and initiatives that renew links between community, Country and culture.

Aboriginal people and organisations can apply for up to $25,000 for activities on-Country that encourage sharing of cultural knowledge and skills between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities.

Applications close: 26 August 2021.
For more information visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website here.

Connecting to Country program image.

Connecting to Country program image.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reform to butt out smoking rates

Feature tile - Tue.20.7.21 - Reform to butt out high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates

Reform to butt out smoking rates

A recent report from a health committee formed to advise the government on tobacco control shows Territorians are more likely to smoke than people anywhere else in Australia, and that half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Research shows the smoking rate for people in remote and regional areas has not changed, although nationally fewer Aboriginal people are smoking.

“There needs to be more investment if we are serious and fair dinkum about reducing the number of Indigenous Australians who are smoking”
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT Chief Executive John Paterson

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) NT Branch President Robert Parker urged the Chief Minister and his colleagues to introduce new laws which would help people in the NT quit smoking. While his letter did not flag any specific legislative reforms, Dr Parker told the ABC he wanted stronger surveillance on the sale and supply of tobacco, especially in remote areas.

You can read the full story by ABC News here.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory. are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP.

Half of Aboriginal adults in the NT are daily smokers. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP. Feature tile image credit: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr).

 

Delivering 50,000 remote COVID jabs

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has vaccinated more than 5,000 people against COVID-19 in remote communities across Australia.

“We’re expecting on the back of the plans we’ve worked up to be delivering some 50,000 vaccines to some 500 vaccine clinics between now and the end of the year,” said RFDS Federation Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

The RFDS has been brought in to help federal, state, and territory health services and ACCHOs rollout the vaccine.

“The remoteness of some communities has been both their protection but also their risk because we know that those communities are often protected by distance but at the same time they experience poorer health by distance, and we know if COVID was to get into communities the impact would be devastating,” Mr Quinlan said.

In some areas, the RFDS are just delivering vaccine doses to medical centres. In others, they’re also deploying support staff to help local health workers. Elsewhere, they’re supplying the vaccines and all the health care staff required to administer the jabs.

Read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

A Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia plane on the job in 2019. Image credit: Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

 

More patients eligible for PBS

The Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program has expanded. From 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration database and more patients are eligible. To support providers register patients they have included three new exciting education resources on the Health Professional Education Resources Gateway:

eLearning module – the customised e-Learning module provides a clear overview of the CTG PBS Co-payment program, including patient access and prescriber eligibility. It also explains CTG PBS prescription requirements and the PBS Safety Net.

How to register a patient for CTG – the simulation demonstrates how to register a patient for CTG PBS Co-payment. It is easy to register patients using the new national registration database. You can access it through Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). To use HPOS, you need a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account.

How to create a PRODA account – if you do not have a PRODA account, you can check out the new simulation on how to create a PRODA account.

You can read more about CTG PBS Co-payment program on the Australian Government Services Australia website.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines. Image credit:. healthstaffrecruitment.com.au.

 

National Anti-Racism Framework

The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched a plan to develop a National Anti-Racism Framework. The Commission is working with all levels of Government, peak bodies, human rights agencies and community organisations to progress the Framework. A Commission Concept Paper available on their website provides an initial overview of the Framework’s key principles, outcomes and strategies.

The Commission is in the early stages of scoping this proposal and is undertaking a series of targeted consultations and roundtables to identify stakeholders’ priorities and build a strong foundation for the Framework.

For more information and if your organisation is interested in participating in this process, please visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Anti-racism image

Anti-racism. Image Credit: http://www.australiansagainstracism.org.

 

Meningococcal B Vaccination Program continues

The Marshall Liberal Government’s world-leading Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will continue indefinitely after proving it’s been incredibly effective at preventing the illness in high-risk age groups.

“This landmark vaccination program is saving lives and protecting lives.”

The landmark immunisation program was initially a three-year commitment, but the recent State Budget committed $3 million in 2021–22 and $5.3 million ongoing from 2022–23 to embed the program indefinitely for SA babies and young people. That’s on top of the $30.7 million allocated in the first three years of the program.

It comes as a joint Women’s and Children’s Hospital and University of Adelaide study found the program has been key in a 60% reduction in cases among infants and a 73% drop in cases for adolescents.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said given the program’s success, it will now be ongoing.

Read the media release by Steven Marshall Premier of SA here.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign image. Credit: healht.gov.au.

 

New dashboard on Closing the Gap

The Australian Government Productivity Commission have been populating a new dashboard on Closing the Gap. From this Dashboard, you can access available data on the targets agreed as part of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Baseline data are available for the targets under the 17 socioeconomic outcome areas and more recent data are available for seven of these targets. Data are not yet available for the targets under the four Priority Reforms.

You can read more about how to access and interpret the data on the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s website.

view from waist up of two Aboriginal children one with arm around the shoulders of the other facing away from the canera

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

 

Know Your Country campaign

We love our country but how well do we really know it? Closing the knowledge gap about First Nations people and cultures start at school.

The Know Your Country campaign asks principals, teachers, organisations and individuals to sign the petition to employ First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school.

  • Give every kid a better education about local First Nations people and culture.
  • Ally with local First Nations communities and their right to share the wisdom of their own culture in school.
  • Back all parliaments to commit proper funding before their next elections.

Know Your Country is an open source, coalition advocacy campaign calling for locally approved First Nations Cultural Educators in every primary school across the continent.

The campaign policy was written and convened after 12 months of extensive consultation by Wiradjuri Man and World Vision Senior Policy Advisor Dr Scott Winch but it is being led by a First Nations Advisory Panel which includes Professor Tom Calma. The campaign is supported by a growing list of ally organisations.

Visit their website to sign the petition and download a range of great educational resources.

Know Your Country campaign logo.

 

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.


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

feature tile text 'ACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM receives seond dose of COVID-19 vaccine TODAY' phot of Pat Turner at Winnunga

NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman, is fully vaccinated today!

Pat received her second dose of her vaccine at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services earlier today and urges all of you to follow up on your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities. The more people have the vaccination the safer we will be.

It doesn’t matter if you already have existing health conditions, don’t use that as an excuse not to have the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact it’s more important that you do have it! Any concerns that you have you must talk to the doctor at our health services.”

photo of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga with text 'Pat Turner AM CEO, NACCHO' & COVID-19 VACCINATION footer with NACCHO logo

Diabetes Australia partners with ACCHO

Diabetes Australia is partnering with Carbal Medical Services (Carbal), a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Darling Downs. The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of the national eye screening initiative for people with diabetes KeepSight. KeepSight is an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

To help raise awareness of this important program Diabetes Australia has partnered with Indigenous Hall of Fame star and Gamilaroi man Roger Knox. Roger is asking people to register with KeepSight to reduce their risk of diabetes-related blindness.

You can read more about the project here and sign up for KeepSight at here and never lose sight of future eye checks.

You can also access the Diabetes Australia and Carbal Medical Services joint media release herel.

country singer Roger Knox standing in front of Carbal Medical Services sign

Country singer Roger Knox.

Australia’s human rights response disappointing

Amnesty International Australis says the Australian Government’s decision to ignore key recommendations from UN member states aimed at improving its human rights record is extremely disappointing. The recommendations, made at the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Australia earlier this year, found that 31 countries called for the Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, while 47 wanted Australia to stop offshore processing and mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Amnesty International Australia is deeply disappointed the Australian Government has rejected both these recommendations and calls on it to immediately review its position. National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said: “In 2019–20, 499 children aged between 10 and 13 years were detained by Australia in the youth justice system – 65% of those children detained were First Nations children – even though First Nations children constitute only 5% of the population of that age.

To view Amnesty International’s media release click here.

The Law Council of Australia has also commented on this topic: “Australia’s appearance at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 8 July, in which a formal response to the recommendations received during the third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be presented, puts a spotlight on Indigenous rights during NAIDOC Week.

The Law Council of Australia believes that it is imperative that First Nations peoples are heard on the issues that affect them, particularly at the federal level, and calls on Australia to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution; take immediate measures to address the overincarceration of First Nations peoples; and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years. The Law Council urges the Australian Government to clearly commit to the constitutional entrenchment of the Voice, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the subsequent recommendations of the Referendum Council.”

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media statement click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

Hearing Australia unites with First Nations people

This NAIDOC Week Hearing Australia is uniting with First Nations people across Australia to help heal Country and the hearing health of Frist Nations children. Kim Terrell, the Managing Director of Hearing Australia said: “Hearing Australia is dedicated to improving the hearing health of all Australians and preventing avoidable hearing loss in the community.

1 in 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are affected by ear disease and hearing loss⁺. With the support of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services across Australia, we’ve helped over 8,000 First Nations children aged 0–6 in 240 communities over the past 12 months. This is a key priority for us given 30% of these children had undiagnosed middle ear infections, while 25% had some form of undiagnosed hearing loss and were placed into specialist referral pathways.

I’d like to thank the amazing ear health workers involved around the country for their support. It’s terrific for us to be able to work so closely with them. Together, we’re seeing great progress in helping more children to listen, learn and talk.”

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here and to listen to HAPEE Community Engagement Program Officer Denise Newman, who knows from personal experience the importance of checking children’s hearing at an early age and has an important to message to share with the community click on the video link below.

New Indigenous medical scholarships

A $1million gift from generous benefactors to Flinders University will establish an Indigenous student scholarship to increase the numbers of medically qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals working in their communities. The Calthorpe Wong Indigenous Medical Scholarship has been established through the generosity of retired ophthalmologists Mary Calthorpe and George Wong, who previously worked at the Flinders Medical Centre, the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park and the Marion Road Eye Clinic.

The endowed gift donation is expected to provide $80,000 annually to fund up to four scholarships each to the value of up to $20,000 in an academic year (or in future years a mix of new and ongoing scholarships) to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates to study medicine.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says it’s especially fitting that the scholarship has been made possible during NAIDOC Week: “We’re incredibly grateful to Drs Calthorpe and Wong for their determination to make a difference in this practical and meaningful way. It’s a deeply significant moment to be able to initiate a new scholarship that will be able to support so many Indigenous students simultaneously.”

To view the Flinders University media release here.

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University.

CTG PBS Co-payment changes positive

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients registered under the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program will now have easier access to subsidised medicines. Changes that came into effect on 1 July 2021 mean eligible patients will have access regardless of their geographical location, their chronic disease status, or whether their prescriber is enrolled in the Practice Incentive Program.

Professor Peter O’Mara, Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, welcomed the changes as a ‘positive step forward’. ‘Expanding access to Close the Gap scripts for all patients regardless of where they live, where they got the prescription from and their chronic disease status will make a real difference,’ he said. ‘It is much more straightforward and that can only be a good thing.’

A centralised patient registration database has been developed to support the changes. Managed by Services Australia, the database allows for a one-off registration of patients via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) and will cover the patient even if they move to a different clinic.

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara standing at a lectern,

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara, Welcomes the fact ‘the process has been made simpler and less centralised’. Image source: newsGP.

First Peoples Health camp for teens

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students experienced a taste of university life and learned about possible allied health careers at Griffith University’s First Peoples Health (FPH) Aspiration to Health Programs Camp. In all, 19 students from grades 10–12 attended the three-day immersive camp, hosted by FPH in partnership with The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

FPH Engagement Lead Chris Levinge said the camp showed students how people from all backgrounds could succeed at university and specifically, in the health sector. “We want to encourage the students to study a health program, as the evidence is already there that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people delivering health services, get better health outcomes for First Peoples,” Mr Levinge said.

“The camp is a really good way to bring the kids in so they can feel comfortable in a university setting and see for themselves that anyone can study here. You just need to work hard and find what you are passionate about learning in the health space.” IUIH academy manager Tracy Hill said the students were already completing a school-based traineeship for a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

To view the article in full click here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the second Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. In focus for this update are the literature review, mapping of treatment and care against the Optimal Care Pathway, and the analysis of characteristics of people with pancreatic cancer activities.

You can visit and interact with an infographic here.

“NACCHO continues to engage with Cancer Australia and other stakeholders on the Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. If you have specific feedback or comments you would like to share please contact NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Kate Armstrong here.

banner text 'National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap - have your say about pancreatic cancer' purple footer, yellow, orange, blue, green top half

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Diabetes Week

This National Diabetes Week ‘it’s about time’ we all took the time. That means it’s about time we took the time to learn the 4Ts, the early warning signs of type 1 diabetes. It also means it’s about time we took the time to get checked for type 2 diabetes.

Life is busy. Work, family, friends, chores, a social life. The days fill up quickly. Sometimes we’re so busy running around after everyone else, we don’t take the time to think about our health.

For many Australians, putting themselves at the bottom of their ‘to do list’ puts their health at risk. This could include being diagnosed with diabetes too late. This is true for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Not making time for yourself, or time to learn the early warning signs, can put you at risk of major life-threatening health problems. Both types of diabetes are more common than you think.

Take the time. You’re important, your family is important and it’s really important, we don’t waste any more time. It’s about time.

Did you know diabetes…

  • Is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults?
  • Is a leading cause of kidney failure?
  • Is the leading cause of preventable limb amputations?
  • Increase a person’s risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times?

It’s about time you made ‘me time’, took time out and put you first. There is no time to lose. The earlier type 2 diabetes is detected,  the more lives will be saved.  

For more information on National Diabetes Week click here.

vector image in navy, blue & white of alarm clock & text 'diabetes australia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: National housing response needed

feature tile text 'national response needed in supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander housing & communities' & image of makeshift tent with blue tarp in Minyerri NT in dry scrub

National housing response needed

June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has written and opinion piece for The Australian for NAIDOC Week. Commissioner Oscar spoke about this year’s theme, ‘Heal Country!’, and the need for a national response to supporting First Nations Communities to live on country. Below is an excerpt from the opinion piece:

“For decades governments have chronically underinvested in remote housing, roads, sewerage, education, health and much more. At the beginning of the pandemic, in the rush to get our peoples home, already dangerously overcrowded communities struggled to accommodate the influx. Tents sprang up. Our peoples returning to community were largely experiencing homelessness and poverty – their lives on the margins a direct result of the fact there has never been enough housing, not in cities, towns, communities or anywhere.

The reason we continue to live in vulnerable and unacceptable conditions is because there is no national plan to enable our people to live on or easily access our lands. In 2014, with commonwealth funding cuts, the WA government announced it would close more than half the remote communities in the state. The state government said it couldn’t shoulder the costs and has maintained this position. This is not unique to WA. In 2018 the commonwealth’s remote housing agreement with the states came to an end, with only an exit payment, and nothing else arranged for WA, SA and Queensland. It shows the disregard of governments at all levels to invest effectively in places where we live.

The real cost of the commonwealth walking away from these agreements, and all governments failing to respond to our needs, is entrenched human suffering, abuse and a deep scarring of this land. Enough is enough. The urgency of these issues demands immediate action by the commonwealth in partnership with all Australian governments and most importantly with First Nations peoples.”

To read the opinion piece in full click here.

makeshift housing on edge of Tennant Creek, NT

Tennant Creek traditional owner Diane Stokes lives on her block as an alternative to staying in an overcrowded family house. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile: Aboriginal community of Minyerri, NT. Image source: Welcome to Country website.

Trial could change type 2 diabetes treatment

NT GP Sam Heard sees the harm type 2 diabetes causes in Indigenous communities; in some places, up to 40% of the population is affected by the illness. “Dire might be a good word. The outcome for people getting diabetes when you are 40 is not good, and when you are very young it is terrible,” Dr Heard said. “If you tell an Aboriginal person that they have got diabetes, they are pretty devastated, and there is stigma involved. It is a really major disease that has implications for everybody — their family and their children.”

But Dr Heard is seeing some promising results in his patients who are trialling a low-calorie weight management program. “All of those have managed to stay on [the program] are very, very positive about it,” said Dr Heard,  who is the medical director at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC). “One 40-year-old fella describing it to a large group of Aboriginal people at a meeting got a standing ovation, and they could see the difference in his whole demeanour and how much weight he had lost.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands doing blood sugar test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

COVID-19 assets for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health have developed a pack of COVID-19 resources tailored to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience. The pack includes suggested social tiles and captions, two posters and a community announcement radio script, reminding everyone on the importance of keeping two big steps away from others, washing hands regularly, getting tested if you’re unwell, and following state and territory guidelines and restrictions.

You are welcome to use these assets as you see fit and adapt to your local requirements.

To view the range of resources click here.

tile with Jade North image & quote "If you're feeling sick, please stay away from others." Australian Governet #keepourmobsafe Australia.gov.au Coronavirus (COVID-19), image of Jade North playing soccer, border Aboriginal dot painting

One of the #keepourmobsafe COVID-19 resources.

Community sector climate justice webinar

On 12 July 2021 ACOSS is launching its Climate Campaign to build the capacity of the community sector to act on climate justice. ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an ambitious net zero emissions reduction target, which is the first step to tackling the injustice being done to vulnerable people as a result of climate inaction.

You can join community sector leaders including NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, and climate experts at the Climate Campaign Webinar to discuss what your organisation can do to address climate change. You will hear from experts on the science and human impacts of climate change and learn from community climate leaders whose organisations have taken action on the issue.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie will share how community organisations can take part in the community sector push for climate justice in the leadup to the November UN Climate Summit.

The webinar will take place on Zoom from 1–3pm on Monday 12 July 2021.

Registrations close 5pm Friday 9 July 2021 – to register click here.

banner text 'ACOSS Climate Campaign Webinar - empowering the community sector to take action on clime justice' image of man in checked shirt with face mask, background thick bushfire smoke

Lowering heart disease risk resources

Are you at risk of heart disease? Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. The Heart Foundation has a range of support and resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples stay healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can access the Heart Foundation’s information and resources here.

Aboriginal woman in outdoor setting using weight resistant exercise equipment

Image source: The Heart Foundation.

Infectious disease ‘surveillance network’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will benefit from the expansion of a University of Queensland-led health project aimed at improving clinical care within primary health care services nationally. The Improving surveillance infrastructure for Indigenous primary health care project will expand an existing online surveillance network (named ATLAS) focussed on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs), thanks to federal funding.

STIs and BBVs are endemic in many remote and regional communities in Australia, with STIs identified as the leading incident morbidity for Aboriginal people aged 15–24 years. UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health director Professor James Ward said he welcomed the funding to deliver the largest connected Indigenous primary care surveillance network in Australia.

“As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man and an infectious diseases epidemiologist, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly develop our work in this sector,” Professor Ward said. “Our aim is to grow the size of the ATLAS network by including more primary health care services within the network especially Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). In addition, the new funding will enable the ATLAS surveillance system to extend to include other infectious diseases such as vaccine preventable diseases within the scope of the ATLAS network.”

To view the full article click here.

light blue background with 3 clay brightly coloured sculptures of STI cells

Image source: 1800 my options website.

First Nations to inform national plan

The federal government has established a 13-member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the development of the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia and support the implementation of the Closing the Gap Target 13.

Indigenous rights campaigner Professor Sandra Creamer will be the interim chair of the multidisciplinary Advisory Council and be joined by advisors from across the health, community services, legal services, children and family services, and university sectors. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Advisory Council would help ensure the issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples were elevated and given specific focus in the next National Plan.

To view the media release click here.

young boy holding ripped piece of paper with the work HELP in front of face

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

feature tile text 'Yolgnu women are reclaiming their right to give birth on the lands of their ancestors' & image of a newborn Aboriginal baby in a coolamon with mother's hands resting on the baby's chest

Reclaiming the right to give birth on Country

One in five babies born in East Arnhem Land are born premature. The ABC Radio National episode of Science Friction Medicine, listen up! Birthing on country makes the land shake looks at how a Yolngu community has a plan to change that statistic.

For many millennia, Aboriginal women in remote East Arnhem land gave birth on their traditional lands. But for the Elcho island community of Galiwin’ku, that all changed when women were made to travel to the big smoke to give birth, far away from home. Medical professionals said it would be safer for mothers and babies, but now Yolgnu women want to reclaim their birthing rights.

To listen to this episode of ABC Radio National’s Science Friction click here.

Female Elder with white wavy hair & white ceremonial paint on face

Elaine Guyman, Galiwin’ku community, Elcho Island, East Arnhem Land. Photo: Emma Vincent. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile photo taken by Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

You can also listen to another interview about the benefits of Birthing on Country here. In this ABC Radio Conversations with Richard Fidler episode midwife Christian Wright, talks about his work with the Indigenous women of Arnhem Land. screenshot of Conversations with Richard Fidler, ABC Radio, episode The male midwife, Christian Wright standing in bush with Akubra & open short sleeved shirt

Study tracks lives of preterm babies

Long before Cian McCue had any say in it, his mother Camille Damaso enrolled the healthy newborn in Australia’s own 7-Up program. Aidan Hill, 34, was also enrolled. He was born four weeks early. Lennair Hill, 34 and now Aidan’s wife, is also in the program. She was born eight weeks premature, at a very low birth weight, with a heart condition. Ms Hill’s mother Donna Sinclair said the birth was “as traumatic as you can get. I thought I was giving birth to a dead baby”.

The Life Course study was started in 1987 by the late paediatrician Dr Susan Sayers from the Menzies School of Health Research in DarwinShe described it as “Australia’s own 7-Up“. It started with an Aboriginal birth cohort of 686 babies including Aidan and Cian, and later added 196 non-Indigenous participants, including Lennair. Dr Sayers wrote that it would follow “the progress of tiny babies into adults, into sickness and health, for the rest of their lives.” The study is loosely modelled on the 7-up documentary series in England that followed the lives of 14 children from 1964, checking in with them every seven years.

Mr McCue, 33, a father and a video maker, said the project was about more than health checks. “It is about trying to close the gap, and raise that life expectancy of Aboriginal people,” he said. The study is looking for clues to who will get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, the No.1 killer of Indigenous people.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article in full click here.

Cian McCue & his mother Camille Damasco standing under a tree with beach in the background

Cian McCue and mum Camille Damaso. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia’s poor human rights results

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) tracker has again revealed Australia’s poor results when it comes to Indigenous human rights and treatment. Surveying experts and collating data analysis on civil, political, economic and social rights, the HRMI measures a nation’s performance on all human rights covered by international law. It found the majority of experts agreed Indigenous Australians had most of their human rights at risk.

Across the four key rights to education, food, health, and work, Australia averaged a ‘bad’ score of 78.85%. 57% of experts surveyed identified a risk to education, 71% identified a risk to health, and 61% noted the right to housing was also at risk. It was also identified that 71% of experts believe Indigenous people are at risk of having their freedom from arbitrary arrest violated. This lack of safety was particularly present in the freedom from torture for Indigenous people, which three-quarters of experts found to be in danger of not being recognised.

Whilst the poor results were not limited to Indigenous Australians, they were at a significantly higher risk of not having their human rights upheld. “It’s certainly true that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with disabilities, people with low socioeconomic status, and refugees and asylum seekers are identified as being at risk of violations of nearly every right that we measure,” HRMI strategy lead Thalia Kehoe Rowden told SBS News.

You can view this National Indigenous Times article in full here and a related article in Croakey Health Media here.

older Aboriginal woman sitting cross-legged with face in hands, makeshift bedding, surrounded by rubbish, black dog looking at camera

One Mile Dam, an Aboriginal community camp close to Darwin, where Indigenous people live in extreme poverty. Photograph: Jonny Weeks. Image source: The Guardian.

Charity status changes – a public health hazard

Leading public and Indigenous health groups have joined environmental, social sector and legal organisations in warning the Federal Government against proceeding with changes to the regulation of charities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice advocates warn the move could silence their advocacy for people in custody, as well as undermining the work of organisations such as the First Peoples Disability Network Australia.

In an open letter to PM Scott Morrison, more than 70 organisations warn that the regulations would impede the work of charities in responding to communities’ needs in times of crisis and disaster. Signatories include the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Fred Hollows Foundation, Doctors for the Environment Australia, People with Disability Australia, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the Climate Council.

To view the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.

top of the white caps with FPDN logo on two children bending down, image of blurred green grass in the background

Image source: First Peoples Disability Network website.

Indigenous health checks and follow-ups

Through Medicare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive Indigenous-specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous-specific follow-up services. In 2019–20, 239,000 Indigenous Australians had one of these health checks (28%). The proportion of Indigenous health check patients who had an Indigenous-specific follow-up service within 12 months of their check increased from 12% to 47% between 2010–11 and 2018–19.

A recent AIHW report presents data on Indigenous health checks for a time period up until the end of June 2020 (i.e. overlapping with the COVID-19 period). It also includes data on telehealth MBS items that were introduced in 2020 as part of the response to COVID-19.

To view the AIHW report click here.

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check

Comedian Sean Choolburra receiving one part of his 715 health check. Image source: NIAA website.

Access to Aged Care medicines programs expanded

Access to Aged Care medicines programs have been expanded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas. From 1 July 2021, Aged Care Facilities funded under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care program (NATSIFAC) are able to receive Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) support from a pharmacist. Access to the Residential Medication Management Review (RMMR) program was extended to these Aged Care Facilities on 1 April 2021.

You can get more information about these program here or contact the pharmacy coordinating supply of medicines to your ACF.

blue multiple pill holder each compartment with 6 different coloured tablets

Image source: iStock.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NAIDOC Week 2021 – 4–11 July

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

This year’s theme – Heal Country! – calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. Events will be held around Australia during the week to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can download this year’s poster here and resources here and find out more about NAIDOC Week here.   banner - Aboriginal dot painting art circles, gum leaves blue green brown orange pink white & text 'Health Country! 4–11 JULY 2021 & Celebrating NAIDOC Week logo

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

feature tile 2.7.21 text 'protect our people who give us the knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation.' image of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills in light pink top & gold chair with hand against shoulder where she has had the covid-19 vaccine

Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.

“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”

“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”

“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”

To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.

You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said.  “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”

Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.

Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.

The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman Tarna Andrews from Utju, sitting outside, red dust, couple of camp dogs, yellow black beanie, black t-shirt, pink t-shirt, red grey hoodie, orange glasses on top of head

Tarna Andres is encouraging family members in other remote communities to get vaccinated. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 and remote communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.

screenshot of frame from ABC The Drum Pat Turner CEO NACCHO talking

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO, The Drum 1 July 2021.

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.

The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.

Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

People wearing masks in Smith Street, Darwin. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.

NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.

Annual health check resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.

cover of brochure text 'patient information your health is in your hands - have you had your 715 health check?' photo of Aboriginal woman holding toddler & health worker in outdoor setting, purple, aqua, black colours, Aboriginal & Torres Strait flags

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).

Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.

To view the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.

metal wall with large painting of Aboriginal man's face in black, yellow & red colours in pop art style

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.

A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.

To view the full article click here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

At the last census in 2016, there were 742 children aged under 19 living on the APY Lands communities like Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.

banner text 'Heal Country! 4–11 JULY 2021' & NAIDOC logo black circle with red yellow green blue Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with white circle & 2 boomerang shapes, one for the arms & one for the legs, text around inner rim of circle 'Celebrating NAIDOC Week'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

feature tile text "Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Care for Family" - 'Northern Land Council' - skyview of Santa Teresa NT

Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

Over the weekend the NT Government declared that Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield local government areas would enter a full lockdown for 48 hours effective from 1pm on Sunday 27 June 2021. Travel into remote Aboriginal communities on Aboriginal land – or travel to communities that involves crossing Aboriginal land – will be restricted to NT Government essential services staff and functions only.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the NLC considers this the right thing to do and urged Aboriginal Territorians to look after each other: “The message is the same as last year: ‘Stay Safe, Stay on Country and Care for Family’.” Mr Bush-Blanasi also urged people not to respond to or be guided by what NT Police Commissioner Chalker called ‘rumour and innuendo’ being spread on social media. “People shouldn’t listen to gossip being spread on Facebook and other social media sites – particularly about something as serious as this. The best information is available at the NT Government website or on reliable media outlets like the NT News or the ABC,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi.

Referring to the reported case of COVID-19 in a worker in a mining site in the Tanami Desert in Central Australia, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Kidd has said “We are taking this very seriously – right from the start of the pandemic we’ve had plans in place to work with local Aboriginal communities to respond to outbreaks in remote areas in Australia. The Commonwealth is working with the NT government and the Aboriginal community controlled health services in the affected area to provide whatever support is needed.”

To view the NLC’s media release click here and to view the news article with Professor Kidd’s comments click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaks to SBS News:

New PHC nKPIs? – have your say

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is inviting you to participate in the consultation process for Potential new National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary health care (nKPIs).

In May 2018, the Department commissioned the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to undertake a comprehensive review of the nKPI collection (the Review). The final report was endorsed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Data Advisory Group (HS DAG) in December 2019 and published in February 2020. 

In order to implement the recommendations from the Review, DoH commissioned KPMG to develop an Implementation Roadmap and set up a Clinical and Technical Working Group for the HS DAG. The Working Group met in April this year to discuss potential new indicators. After four meetings the Working Group recommended development of three new indicators: sexual health/STI, mental health, and ear health.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholder and community feedback on the three proposed new nKPIs. The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders and interested members of the community are valued and will contribute to the final recommendations regarding the new nKPIs.

Feedback from the public consultation will be provided to the HS DAG who will provide final endorsement (or not) of the indicators. It is planned that any new nKPIs that receive HS DAG approval will first be piloted with selected health services prior to full rollout to all health services and public data reporting.

You can access the Consultation Hub and provide feedback here.

The consultation will be open for five (5) weeks and will close on Thursday 29 July 2021.

5 Aboriginal women sitting cross-legged in colourful tropical skirts, elder at front is holding a sign with words 'Please support my hope for health', tropical green foliage in background

Image source: University of Wollongong Australia website.

PM hosts second roundtable with CoPs

On25 June 2021 the Prime Minister hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks (CoPs), a representative body made up of more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations. The Prime Minister noted the joint success of the Australian Government’s and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations led by NACCHO in supporting their communities through the COVID pandemic.

Continuing leadership in the roll-out of the vaccination strategy is critical and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership is appreciated and recognised by all government members. The Morrison Government and CoPs are working together, with the states and territories and Australian Local Government Association, to implement the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments in July 2020.

To view the media release click here.

multiple people at large oval desk in Parliament House for second roundtable of senior Ministers & the CoPs

PM Scott Morrison hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the CoPs to advance the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Image source: CoPs Twitter.

Consider Indigenous business for medical supplies

Why ACCHO members should consider a 100% Indigenous owned business for medical supplies?

Indigenous Medical Supplies (IMS) is a Supply Nation registered, 100% Indigenous-owned supplier of medical device, hand & hygiene, PPE & covid-19 to ACCHOs or AMSs, other medical centres, day hospitals and workplaces. Their product range includes surgical masks, a wide range of hand & hygiene stock, alcohol wipes, surgical gowns, medical gloves, face shields, protective eyewear, AED defibrillators and temperature devices at very competitive prices. You can view the IMS range on the IMS website here.

Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon recommends IMS to CEOs, Practice Managers and management of other ACCHOs “The service from this company is reliable, honest and great quality. This was particularly important to us during COVID-19 and now into the future. Please join Awabakal in supporting this business.”

For further information contact IMS Managing Director Merv Fernando by email here or mobile phone: 0411 290 755.

health worker from Wuchopperen Health Service Limited (QLD) holding a selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products e.g. PPE; Awabakal Ltd NSW CEO & Board

Wuchoperren Health Service (QLD) employee holding selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products and Awabakal Ltd (NSW) CEO and Board members.

Indigenous bowel cancer screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) have publications on different health topics including bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program collection, contains of a range of resources specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:

yellow tile with text 'don't delay do a bowel test today' - header & footer Aboriginal dot art in blue, brown, purple, green, orange

Australian Government Department of Health Indigenous bowel screening postcard.

RVTS Targeted Recruitment 2022 placements

Be part of something special…AND complete your specialist GP training!

Picture yourself working as a doctor in an iconic rural or remote community, while also undertaking your specialist GP training?

Apply now via our Targeted Recruitment to train with Remote Vocational Training (RVTS) in 2022. Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with rural and remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities. RVTS is offering specialist GP training positions in the following Targeted Recruitment locations in 2022, including five Aboriginal Medical Services, (multiple positions are offered in some locations; * denotes Aboriginal Medical Service):

  • NT – Tennant Creek* and Santa Teresa*
  • QLD – Clermont
  • VIC – Portland*
  • WA – Halls Creek, Kununurra* and South Hedland*
  • NSW – Lake Cargelligo
  • TAS – Smithton
  • SA – Mid Eyre Peninsula (Cleve, Cowell, Kimba) and Streaky Bay

Find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions by clicking here.

Targeted Recruitment is not the only entry pathway to RVTS training. Training is also available to doctors already working in eligible rural, remote and First Nation communities across Australia! Further information about our AMS Stream for doctors in Aboriginal Medical Services in MMM2-7 locations and the Remote Stream for doctors in MMM 4-7 locations can be found here.

Don’t miss outRound 1 of the 2022 intake (all streams) is open for applications until 4 July 2021.

Doctors interested in applying for Targeted Recruitment Stream positions after this date are encouraged to contact us, as deadlines may be extended for some Targeted Recruitment locations.

text 'RVTS Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd - GP Training for Doctors In Aboriginal Medical Services, Rural and Remote Communities'; RVTS logo line drawing of white sun against orange sky sinking into red ground/sea; image of young man & older man wearing polo with Aboriginal art & text 'cultural mentor'

New AOD service in Wyndham

WA Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson has launched a new culturally secure alcohol and drug and mental health support service at the Ngnowar-Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation (NAAC) in Wyndham. NAAC, together with the Mental Health Commission, co-designed the service which will provide a 16-bed sobering up service as well as outpatient counselling, prevention and diversion services.

Local planning workshops and meetings ensured a culturally secure process and the local community had an opportunity to contribute to the development of the service model. The new principles of the service include whole-of-family approaches, holistic consideration of social factors and adverse life experiences; increasing Aboriginal staff participation; developing local employment pathways; and more community awareness and education.

The new program will be delivered through a partnership between NAAC and Anglicare WA. It will also contribute to developing the capacity of the Wyndham community to respond to mental health, alcohol and drug issues and lead responses from within the community.

To view Minister Dawson’s media statement in full click here and for an overview of NAAC watch the YouTube video below.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live. dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

JulEYE

JulEYE is national eye health awareness month. 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early enough, yet every 65 minutes an Australian loses part or all their vision.

This JulEYE, the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF) (the fundraising arm of The Royal Australian and NZ College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)) will be campaigning to increase the public’s awareness of eye health issues. JulEYE has three core aims:

  • to raise community awareness of eye health issues.
  • to raise funding for research projects into the causes and cures of vision impairment and blindness.
  • to support international development projects whose goals are aligned with those of The Foundation.

For more information about JulEYE click here.

tile text 'look out for your eyes this JulEYE' 'wyes & July are in white font, rest is in yellow font, medium blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Culture and Country important to health

feature tile text 'culture and country critically important to health and wellbeing' & side on portrait photo of Jessica Lovett-Murray Gunditjmara & Yorta Yorta woman

Culture and Country important to health

Dr Janine Mohamed, a Narungga Kaurna woman and CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and her colleague Nicole Bowman, a Wiradjuri woman and senior policy advisor at the Institute have written an article for Croakey Health Media titled Heal Country – at timely call for action and justice. They congratulate the National NAIDOC Committee for the 2021 NAIDOC theme, Heal Country! saying this year’s theme is a timely reminder for all Australians about the importance of greater climate action and what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ wisdom, knowledges and practices can offer our collective efforts for climate justice.

To heal Country, we also need to understand the importance of culture and Country to our health and wellbeing.

Dr Ray Lovett’s work on the cultural determinants of health, through Mayi Kuwayu: the National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing tells us why this is critical. It is showing clearly how being unable to express our culture has negatively affected our health and wellbeing. It also tells us – and it’s a message for all Australians – that if we take care of Country, Country takes care of us.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman cross-legged drawing in riverbed sand for 3 young Aboriginal children

Image source: Broadsheet website. Feature tile image: Jessica Lovett-Murray Gunditjmara & Yorta Yorta woman. Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing.

ACCHO’s new health and wellbeing centre

Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services recently bought the now vacant Japara aged care facility in Mardi, with plans to transform it into a health and wellbeing centre. The new centre will house all services, except the dental clinic, currently available at the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service in Wyong.

CEO, Belinda Field, said the purchase was self-determining and hoped the fit-out of the new centre would be complete in two years. Yerin’s Business Manager, Paul Hussein, said it would be an advantage to the community, allowing the organisation to expand their services. “We will be relocating our staff to the new facility, this includes our general practice, mental health clinic and our drug and alcohol clinic,” he said. “We’ll also have our family preservation program, our recently acquired homeless support program, as well as our NDIS community programs at the new centre.”

Hussein said that the largest obstacle so far was acquiring funding to complete the move, which he expects will cost between $2m and $3m. “We’re looking for support to help fund this move,” he said. “We’re currently going through the development application process and we’re working with the local state and federal Members of Parliament, and the State Government will put in a bit too. “We’re excited to get the new centre up and running as a lot of people know the Japara aged care home and have had family members live there.”

To view the article in full click here.banner text 'Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services' & Aboriginal dot painting yellow purple concentric circles surrounded by spokes-like border

Lethal gaps in remote health services

When Dr Seema Basil started work as a GP at Mawarnkarra Health Service in Roebourne (Ieramagadu, in the local Ngarluma language), a small community in WA’s north-west, just over seven years ago, there was an effective support system in place for former inmates of the local prison. Two staff members at Mawarnkarra, an ACCHO, were dedicated to supporting people who had been released from Roebourne Regional Prison, which is on the outskirts of the small town, more than 1,500 kilometres north of Perth.

The program was funded by the WA Country Health Service under the Footprints to Better Health Program. Dr Basil said “It was really useful because when you got a discharge summary, you could engage the team to go and reach out to this person. Fast forward to 2021 and program is no longer funded. Funding was discontinued in 2015 after the Holeman Report, an external review of WA’s State-funded Aboriginal Health Programs.” For the tiny rural community this lack of support seems particularly unjust, with more than 75% of people in Roebourne Regional Prison identifying as Aboriginal.

It was here, in 1983, that a 16-year-old Yindjibarndi boy, John Pat, died, sparking the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), which handed down its findings 30 years ago. One of the Commission’s critical recommendations was that Aboriginal Health Services be included in health planning decisions in prisons.

To read the article in full click here.

large sign at Melbourne RCIADIC 30 Years rally text '28.9.83 John Pat 16 assaulted by 5 drunk policy...'

Ongoing calls for justice on deaths in custody, including the 1983 death of John Pat in Ieramagadu (Roebourne). Photo from a Melbourne #RCIADIC30Years rally by Marie McInerney. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Mental health treatments not working

A University of Queensland study is calling for changes to the way depression is treated in Indigenous communities in Australia. UQ Rural Clinical School researcher Dr. Bushra Nasir said the research has found that current treatments for Indigenous Australians are not working.

“Mainstream treatment models fail to incorporate the Indigenous understanding of mental health,” Dr. Nasir said. “Our results show that treating depression in Indigenous communities should extend beyond just clinical approaches. Retaining culture, spiritual beliefs, autonomy and a connection to Country will have a significant impact on improving Indigenous mental health and wellbeing.”

Dr. Nasir said there’s also emerging evidence of the link between health and Indigenous connections to traditional grounds. “Culture and identity were found to be central towards perceptions of health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, not just individually, but as a community,” she said. “Rates of mental disorders for those residing on Country have been identified as about half of those in mainstream communities.

To read the article in full click here.

vector image yellow background, Aboriginal male side view hand to face, back of head shattering

Image source: UQ News website.

Public health measure looks like profiling

Health and human rights leaders have expressed alarm at the NSW’s decision to send in police to ensure COVID-19 restriction compliance in south-western Sydney, when no such action was taken in the more well-heeled eastern suburbs where the outbreak began.

Policing in the pandemic has targeted culturally and linguistically diverse communities, many of whom already have lived experience of profiling, trauma and oppression at the hands of law enforcement. Now, as Sydney battles to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are seeing an asserted escalation of police presence in some of Sydney’s most culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

According to Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine, CEO, Health Justice Australia and a criminologist who works with health and legal assistance services across Australia we can’t ignore the resounding lesson from the pandemic – public health messages, backed up by culturally appropriate services, improve access to healthcare and, through that, improved health outcomes.

We need public debate to recognise the inequities that lead to disproportionate impacts of the pandemic. We need health, social and economic policies to address the underlying drivers of these inequities, from poor quality housing to insecure work. Until then, policing compliance of public health measures is likely to alienate and isolate communities at a time we need trust and connectedness the most.

GP Dr Tim Senior added “If the police are your language and communication channel for public health messaging, then you are speaking the wrong language and using the wrong channel for public health messaging.”

To view the article in full click here.

screenshot of side view of 3 masked police officers at hard lockdown of Melbourne public housing towers July 2020

Screenshot from coverage of police presence at the hard lockdown of Melbourne public housing towers in July 2020. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Strong Mob Health Awareness Campaign

Hunter Primary Care has created an exciting new health awareness campaign, titled ‘Strong Mob’. The campaign is directed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to encourage young mob to visit a clinic once a year for a  health check, also known in the medical profession as the ‘715 health check’.

The campaign features a series of videos and posters of four key Aboriginal influencers, Kobie Dee, BIRDZ, Naomi Wenitong and Dr Joel Wenitong (The Last Kinection), who are well-established in the Australian Aboriginal hip-hop music scene. These influencers share their personal stories in regard to the importance of their health and wellbeing, their connection to country, culture and community. The Strong Mob campaign has been launched across social media sites Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube.

Supporting ‘Closing the Gap’ initiatives, Strong Mob has been created by young Aboriginal people for young Aboriginal people.  The campaign will aim to increase the numbers of Aboriginal children and youth groups presenting for annual 715 health checks, more specifically, children from 18% to 46% and youth from 17% to 42%, by 2023.

To view the media release full here.

tile text 'Get Your Health Check. Kobie Dee supports Strong Mob Strongmob.com.au' & side on photo of Kobie Dee facing recording microphone

ATSIEB gives a seat at ACT policy table

As the Commonwealth argues over a voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians, the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is quietly electing the next round of representatives to ATSIEB, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body. ATSIEB was constituted in 2008 and represents all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Territory, reflecting that in addition to traditional owners, there are many Indigenous people who have come here for education, work and other reasons.

“We are unique in having a voice to government in the ACT,” says Katrina Fanning, the Elected Body’s chair for the last term and a former ACT Australian of the Year. “No other mechanism in Australia has the legislative accountability that we have. A few statutory authorities have narrow, specific areas of influence, but the Elected Body’s role is across the whole of government in the ACT. “We listen to issues in our community, look at what’s happening or not happening and work through a formal agreement and governance arrangements to make the necessary changes.”

Fanning says that ATSIEB has been an important mechanism for giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a seat at the policy table in the ACT. In turn, the Elected Body is accountable to its community.

The big picture priorities are around health, wellbeing and education. Important structural changes have been implemented on ATSIEB’s advice, including ensuring that a portion of human services – like out of home care, youth services and drug and alcohol programs – can be delivered by Aboriginal-controlled organisations.

To view the article in full click here.

Katrina Fanning, ATSIEV Chair this term, standing against background of an oval

Katrina Fanning has chaired the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body this term. Image source: RIOTACT! website.

Ceduna clinic a ‘ticking time bomb’

An Aboriginal health service in Ceduna says its government-owned building is a “ticking time bomb” riddled with asbestos and mould, but both the state and federal governments have failed to heed calls for funding to build a new clinic. Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation says between 30 to 40% of the SA Health-owned building out of which it runs its services is deemed unsafe due to water damage, asbestos and mould.

The ACCHO, which services Ceduna as well as surrounding communities such as Koonibba and Scotdesco in the state’s west, says it has repeatedly raised the building’s dilapidated condition with several state and federal ministers. It says it has applied for multiple government grants to help it fund a new clinic – estimated to cost up to $15 million – but its applications were rejected because it does not own the land and SA Health has until recently only offered short-term leases.

To view the article in full click here.

exterior of Yadu Health AC Ceduna SA

Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation, Ceduna, SA. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide Independent news.

RACGP award nominations open

It’s time to celebrate excellence in general practice – nominations for the 2021 RACGP Awards are now open. The RACGP Awards celebrate exceptional individuals in Australian general practice for their outstanding achievements and contribution to the health of their community.

RACGP Rural Health Awards

RACGP Rural provides the following awards:

  • Brian Williams Award: awarded to a rural GP
  • Rural GP in Training of the Year Award: awarded to a GP registrar who is currently enrolled in the Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP) through a Training Organisation (RTO/RVTS)
  • Medical Student Bursary Award: awarded to a medical student who is a member of a rural health students’ club at an Australian university.

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Awards

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health provides the following awards:

  • Standing Strong Together Award – celebrating partnerships between GPs and communities
  • Growing Strong Award – to support the growth of a current GP in Training
  • Medical student award – to support a current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical student

You can find out more about the awards here and nominate by visiting the RACGP website here.

Nominations will close on Monday 19 July 2021. Please contact us if you have any questions here.

tile text '2021 RACGP Awards Recognising excellence in general practice' RACGP logo & navy background with vector spotlight to right of image

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Racism linked to poorer health

feature tile text 'racism linked to poorer health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' overlaid silhouette images of heads of different shades of brown, yellow, cream overlaid with transparent white medical thickness symbol cross

Racism linked to poorer health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who have experienced discrimination have poorer health and wellbeing outcomes regardless of their age, where they live and their gender, according to a new national study. It’s the first national study outlining the experiences of racism and health outcomes among Indigenous Australians. Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) analysed data from more than 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults from the national Indigenous-led Mayi Kuwayu Study, collected between 2018–2020.

“These results highlight the breadth and extent of just how bad racism is for our mob’s wellbeing,” ANU Associate Professor Raymond Lovett said. “Across the board, we found consistent links between racism and poor mental health, physical health and cultural wellbeing. “Experiencing discrimination is linked to negative outcomes ranging from low happiness to heart disease.” Discrimination was linked to all negative outcomes examined in the study. These included, but are not limited to, pain, poor life satisfaction, psychological distress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

“We found these negative outcomes were increasingly common as the extent of discrimination increased,” lead author Dr Katherine Thurber, from ANU, said. “Discrimination experiences were pervasive, with almost six-in-10 participants in the study reporting having experienced discrimination in their everyday life.”

To view the ANU’s media release click here.

brick wall with mural of Aboriginal people, with 2 Aboriginal men walking past

Image source: The Young Witness.

Census data used to determine need

Last year, Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), opened a purpose-built wellbeing and rehabilitation centre in Orange, NSW. The name of the centre – walu-win – comes from the Wiradjuri word for ‘healthy’. Jamie Newman, proud Wiradjuri man and OAMS’ CEO, said they use Census data to understand needs of the local community and help secure further investment from partners. walu-win’s services include health, housing and employment, which are vital for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to thrive.

OAMS combined Census data with other local data to build a profile of the region, helping it to better understand what was needed in the local community. The centre combines holistic and traditional medical practices to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Improving access to health services through walu-win, and a more holistic and wellbeing focus is vital to closing the gap. We can’t close the gap without focusing on wellbeing for our people,” Jamie said.

Walu-win’s Manager, Zara Crawford, describes salu-win as a hub for a variety of health outcomes. “We often see clients more than a GP would, which could be about something that is stressing them out socially or emotionally, through to developing exercise and nutritional programs. That’s our day-to-day service and that’s what we mean about being holistic.” Jamie and Zara believe participation in the Census is an important conversation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities ahead of this year’s count.

For further details about how Census data and local partnerships promote wellbeing at the new walu-win Centre in Orange click here.

image of the Walu-win Centre in Orange NSW

New walu-win Centre in Orange NSW.

Making CTG data more accessible

The Productivity Commission has today launched a new Closing the Gap Information Repository, making available the most comprehensive data set for measuring the 17 targets agreed to in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the new website is another step towards delivering on the Government’s commitment to share data and support more informed decision making by all parties to the National Agreement. This delivers on the Morrison Government’s 2020–21 Budget commitment of $10.1 million to provide independent oversight and accountability of progress under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

To view the media release click here.

piece of paper with graph 2016 - 2021

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Advance redress payments now available

Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse who are older or terminally ill will be able to access advance payments of $10,000 under proposed changes to the National Redress Scheme. Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston announced the plan as part of the Morrison Government’s initial response to the Final Report, Second Year Review of the National Redress Scheme (the Final Report) prepared by Independent Reviewer Ms Robyn Kruk AO. I would like to thank Ms Kruk for her work on the Final Report which outlines how the Scheme can be improved and deliver a better experience for survivors, Minister Ruston said.

To view Senator Ruston’s media release click here. In another media release the Healing Foundation welcomed the Australian Government’s advice that it supports making advance payments to elderly or terminally ill survivors.

Eunice Wright in wheel chair holding sign with 'stolen' written on it at rally in Melbourne

Stolen Generation survivor Eunice Wright. Image source: ABC News website.

Future of primary care – much to discuss

The Primary Health Reform Steering Group has circulated a discussion paper to stakeholders seeking feedback on its recommendations to inform the Australian Government’s Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan. Croakey columnist and contributing editor Associate Professor Lesley Russell has written an overview of the paper’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as identifying important omissions.

One such glaring gap is the absence of any discussion around the sector’s role in planning, preparing and responding to climate change and its health impacts. Yet, there is an extensive literature that could have informed such a discussion, dating back to a 2007 paper by the late Professor Tony McMichael and others arguing that “primary health care has an important role in preparing for and responding to these climate change related threats to human health.”

To view the full article in the Croakey Health Media click here.

dark outback signpost against pink blue cream sky of dusk

Image source: Croakey Health Media website.

Victoria leading the way on CTG

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams says Victoria is leading the way on Closing the Gap, using self-determined solutions to tackle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. The Victorian Government is delivering an additional $5 million to support reaching the targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, to improve the lives of Aboriginal people.

The new funding builds on the $3.3 million announced in 2020, when Victoria became the first state or territory to provide funding to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This funding has been vital to making some of the significant progress highlighted in the Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2020 possible.

To view the Victoria State Government media release click here.

shadow of child cast over Aboriginal flag on the ground

Image source: The West Australian.

Martumili art for Newman Health Service

Health Minister Roger Cook said the Newman Health Service is set to become home to a series of artworks by local Martumili artists when the brand new hospital and health service is completed in 2023. The $61.4 million McGowan Government redevelopment project, which includes a $15 million contribution from BHP Iron Ore (BHP), will provide Newman and the surrounding communities with a modern, fit-for-purpose facility delivering care closer to home and on Country.

The incorporation of artwork by local Aboriginal artists is part of the State’s commitment to ensuring Aboriginal people can receive care in a culturally safe and welcoming facility that meets the needs of the community. Artwork for the main entry screen of the Newman Health has been awarded to Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney whose piece tells the story of Minyipuru, or the Seven Sisters, and embodies Aboriginal notions of interconnectedness between spirituality, land and self.

To view Minister Cook’s media release click here.

portrait of Mulyatingki Marney & photo of her from waist down sitting painting

Manyjilyjarra woman Mulyatingki Marney. Image source: Spinifix Hill Studio.

New kidney unit location ‘despicable’

The decision by the Queensland Government to establish a new Kidney Transplant Unit in Townsville ahead of Cairns has been labelled as “despicable and appalling” by Cairns Mayor Bob Manning. “We were originally told that Cairns had been slated to get this unit, but then we were told that people from the State Government got involved who were in favour of it being in Townsville – it became political,” Cr Manning said.

“We took up the matter in support of a number of Indigenous councils and communities who indicated they found it hard to take the matter forward. As part of that, we did an analysis with clinicians from within the hospital and we were given assurances that the right place for this facility was in Cairns.” Cr Manning said he was shocked to learn of the decision to establish the kidney unit in Townsville. “This is possibly the most despicable act I have seen. This decision is despite that clearly the greatest need is in this region – the facts support this.”

To view the Cairns Regional Council’s media release click here.

arm of Aboriginal man linked to dialysis with red black white tartan blanket over lap

Image source: newsGP.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Go Dry This July

Dry July Foundation is the registered charity behind the Dry July campaign. Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages you to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds to help improve the comfort, care and wellbeing of people affected by cancer, whether it’s a lift to a life-saving appointment, guidance from a specialist nurse, connection to an informative voice, access to therapy programs or a bed close to treatment.

Since the first Dry July in 2008, the Dry July campaign has raised over $60 million dollars for people affected by cancer. Funds raised through the Dry July campaign are distributed to cancer organisations across Australia. These organisations provide support services to cancer patients, their families and carers. Like the Dry July Foundation, these organisations depend on the generosity of the community through campaigns like Dry July.

Having a month off alcohol also has great health benefits, such as sleeping better, having more energy and of course, no hangovers! So you’re not only helping others, you’re helping yourself. It’s a win-win!

For more information click here.yellow bottle top with black text 'Dry July' against blue background, 'v' in word 'July' is an empty beer glass