NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases

feature tile text 'concerns over growing covid case numbers in ATSI communities' & photo of Dr Jason Agostino standing in front of NACCHO banner

Concerns over growing COVID-19 cases

Distance and isolation are no longer providing a barrier to the spread of the virus in remote Indigenous communities, including in Yarrabah and on Palm Island in Queensland, which has now set up a temporary morgue.

Meanwhile, two towns in East Arnhem Land in the NT have been sent into lockdown in a bid to try and slow the spread amongst vulnerable populations there.

Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with the ANU and NACCHO Medical Advisor spoke with spoke with Cathy Van Extel on ABC RN Breakfast earlier today about the growing number of COVID-19 case numbers in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

You can listen to the radio interview by clicking on this link.

Dr Jason Agostino ABC radio interview tile

Dr Jason Agostino, Medical Advisor, NACCHO.

In a related news item on the ABC 7.30 Report (at 00:49:11) Dr Jason Agostino talks about how as state and territory borders reopen remote Indigenous communities face a situation they’ve long been dreading. Omicron is putting vaccination rates and health systems to the test as the virus infiltrates the far reaches of Queensland and the NT.

You can watch the news item in full here.

Indigenous COVID-19 response failure

Poor planning by state and federal governments is to blame for the significant lag in Indigenous COVID-19 vaccination rates nationwide, say researchers.

The University of NSW team said the substandard preparation, combined with mixed messaging on vaccines, have led to a shortage of trained workers to put jabs in arms and vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable communities.

“This substantial policy oversight reflects a failure of moral human rights responsibility for Australian First Nations people,” say the authors of the paper published in Jama Health Forum.

Planning, strategy and prevention work undertaken by NACCHO and ACCHOs around the country had also been undermined by the failed response.

To view the NITV article in full click here.

young ATSI woman get covid-19 vax in outdoor clinic, 3 children looking on

Image source: NITV.

Breaching the Indigenous vax gap

Wiradjuri man and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Faculty Chair Professor O’Mara says tailored messaging and outreach programs are vital for closing the gap in vaccination rates between mainstream and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 vaccination rates.

‘One of the things that we’ve seen in central Australia is that when we get community elders to have a good understanding of the importance of the vaccination, then the vaccination rates in those communities go up significantly,’ he said.

‘Where I work at Tobwabba Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service, our rates are really high … it’s about connection to the community and spreading that message. Once we got the vaccines in, it was just about going and having a one-on-one with community members about how important it is, and then they would then share that message with other community members to get the rates right up.’

Such an approach can be just as effective in metropolitan settings, Professor O’Mara says, provided the programs and the messaging are tailored to the leaders and people who live there.

‘I think the networks are thicker in those communities,’ he said. ‘The information flows and we talk about the “Koori Grapevine” as a way of getting messages around. In those cities it’s probably every bit as easy as it is in rural places, because even though the numbers are higher, the message spreads wider.’

To view the GPNews article in full here.

Palm Island resident Taishima-Rae Fraser-Baira receiving covid-19 vax

Palm Island resident Taishima-Rae Fraser-Baira is among more than 700 locals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP welcomes telehealth restoration

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has cautiously welcomed the federal Government’s move to temporarily restore telehealth to peak COVID-19 pandemic settings.

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Regional Health Minister David Gillespie have announced an additional $24 million for a range of measures to give GPs and other specialists more flexibility to support patients.

It comes after RACGP President Dr Karen Price met with Minister Hunt and Minister David Gillespie this week, along with other peak general practice and medical organisations, to discuss the challenges facing general practice and support needed to ensure GPs can stay open and deliver the essential care to Australians at this time.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that the announcement was a step in the right direction. “The stark reality is that many of the patients who benefit the most from telehealth are also the most disadvantaged when it comes to internet connectivity and reliability. Discouraging longer phone consultations is particularly disadvantageous for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking to undertake a health assessment, patients in rural and remote areas, older people, and those with multiple chronic conditions. So, we called on the Government to reinstate Medicare rebates for longer phone consultations as part of the permanent telehealth model.

“A six-month restoration of these rebates is welcome; however, we must not stop there – this must be a permanent fixture of telehealth for years to come and the RACGP will continue fighting to make that happen.”

To read the article in full click here and to access Minister Greg Hunt’s media release in full here.

health professional at desk giving telehealth consult

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Funding to improve cancer screening

More than $10 million is being invested in medical research to identify new and innovative approaches to help increase participation in Australia’s breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening programs.

Australia is a world leader in cancer screening through BreastScreen Australia, the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and the National Cervical Screening Program but there is always more that can be done to increase the number of Australians participating.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said regular screenings and early detection can lead to better outcomes for cancer treatments. “Australia’s cancer screening programs are world-leading and it’s simple: we know cancer screening saves lives,” Minister Hunt said.

The Australian National University will receive $1.7 million to understand why participation in the Bowel Cancer Screening Program are lower amongst Aboriginal than non-Indigenous Australians and how participation rates can be increased.

To help improve breast screening participation, the University of WA will receive funding to examine ways to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from diverse cultural and language backgrounds and women with different levels of educational attainment and income.

To view the media release in full click here.

doctor in whitecoat holding slate with chalk words 'CANCER SCREENING'

Image source: Boarding1Now.

AIDA launches 25th anniversary celebrations

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has launched its 25th anniversary celebrations.

Interviews can be arranged upon request by contacting the AIDA communications team via email here. To streamline the interview process, we ask that you please complete the interview request e-form available here, prior to contacting the communications team.

To view the AIDA media release click here.AIDA logo text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association - celebrating the past challenging the future' red, black, aqua

RVTS late application round

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is conducting a late application round for training to commence early in 2022.

Enquire now and be ready to apply when applications open on Friday 21 January to 3 February 2022.

In addition to vacancies in the AMS stream for doctors already working in AMS MMM2-7 locations, RVTS is also promoting opportunities to work in the following AMS Targeted Recruitment Locations – Tennant Creek (NT), Mutitjulu (NT), Halls Creek/Broome (WA), Kununurra (WA), and South Hedland (WA).

Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with Aboriginal Health Services and Rural and Remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities.

Click here to find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions. Additional Salary Support funding from the Federal Department of Health may also be available to support the recruitment and retention of doctors to some Targeted Recruitment locations.

Check details on the RVTS website here.

Call the RVTS Recruitment Team on 1800 497 196 or 02 6057 3400 for further information.

RVTS tile, outback, vehicle, text 'training & retaining rural, remote & First Nations communities'

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.

Unique pharmacy graduate program

Kimberley Pharmacy Services are offering a unique experience for recently graduated Pharmacists to join their our supportive and experienced team as part of our structured 2 Year Residency Program on a full-time basis. You can choose to start between January – March or later in 2022. You will be working with passionate individuals dedicated to making a tangible impact on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

You will be based in Broom for the first six months of the program. You will then be part of a rotational graduate experience at several pharmacies (community, clinical and outreach Aboriginal Health Services) throughout the region. 

To view the position description and to apply click here.Kimberley Pharmacy Services logo - leap, two halves of capsule one with Aboriginal dot art

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Invest in public health before next pandemic

Feature tile - Tue 7.12.21 - Invest in Public Health Workforce now

Invest in Public Health Workforce now, before the next pandemic hits

Chief Health Officers and public health leaders from across Australia will today, 7 December outline their ideas for the future of Australia’s Public Health Workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kerry Chant PSM (NSW), Prof Brett Sutton (VIC) and Dr James Smith (QLD) among others will focus their attention on ensuring the development of the future public health experts, in a forum organised by the Public Health Association of Australia in partnership with NACCHO and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM).

With the pandemic far from over and the next one around the corner, now is the time to plan for and commit resources to developing the next generation of public health leaders, PHAA CEO, Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said.

“In our efforts in ‘Closing the gap’, it is essential that we strengthen the cultural safety and Aboriginal health expertise of our public health workforce,” Dr Megan Campbell from NACCHO said.

“There must be training and leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition of the important role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe and healthy.”

You can view the media release here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

Closing the Gap National Agreement – a framework for our children’s futures

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered the keynote address this morning at the SNAICC National Conference.

“We have been protecting and caring for our families and our children for more than 60,000 years.”

“Before I am the CEO of any organisation, I am foremost an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman. I am part of a kinship structure where I have many reciprocal obligations and caring responsibilities to my family.”

“I say this as it is important that when we are talking now about supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive and addressing the rates of out of home care of our children, that we always remember the strength that is in our peoples, our culture and our own ways. And that we remember that it is not our culture that is the problem, as our culture is our strength and the way forward.”

“Today, I want to talk to you about the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are saying about the reasons why there are so many of our children in the child protection system and what is needed by governments and non-Indigenous organisations and those working to improve the situation.”

“As part of this, I will talk about how the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a framework to design and implement national and local responses to support our children.”

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

On Saturday 4 December 2021, Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Danila Dilba_30 years

Danila Dilba has a wide range of services in and around Darwin, including a special men’s clinic, tackling tobacco and healthy lifestyles, youth support, social and emotional wellbeing, care co-ordination, parenting support, alcohol and other drugs, and advocacy.

The service is an integral part of their local communities regularly organising BBQs, sports carnivals and beach events.

During the pandemic Danila Dilba has been organising meals for isolated elders. They also have a great record in getting services to transient people with about 800 people sleeping rough in the area.

Upon request by Danila Dilba, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM created the below video with a congratulatory message to be played during the anniversary ceremony.

“It is a truly wonderful thing to see the ‘community control’ model that was developed by Aboriginal people at the very first ACCHO in Redfern, fifty years ago, now taken up all over the country. And it’s organisations like Danila Dilba that have been leading the way,” said Ms Turner.

Health and medical experts call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14

Leading health and medical organisations in Australia say they will not stop pushing for the law to reflect medical science, and for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

In an open letter sent today, a coalition of 30 health and medical organisations has called on all state and territory Premiers, Health Ministers and Attorneys-General to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years of age.

The letter outlines evidence which shows children under 14 do not possess the capacity to have criminal intent:

  • Medical evidence is clear that children under 14 years of age are undergoing rapid brain development which makes them vulnerable to increased impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour and peer influence.
  • Child development and neuroscience demonstrates that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning are still evolving in children aged 10 to 13 years, due to the fact that their frontal cortex is still developing.

The experts say alternative models to incarceration exist, and there is already an evidence-based pathway to raising the age as set out through the independent review headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur.

You can read the media release here.
Read the open letter here.
You can read Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur’s independent review here.

Raise The Age logo

$540 million to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government has invested a further $540 million in response to the COVID 19 pandemic including significant funding to keep Australians safe, and for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on Australians’ way of life and the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern highlights that while we have come a long way, we require robust health measures to continue to underpin our COVID-19 Health Response.

Of this funding, $492 million will be invested into measures to continue support for all Australians, including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fee for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme

In addition, $48 million will be invested into COVID-19 medical research to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19-testing. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

First COVID death in the NT

This story contains names and details of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have passed on.

A 78-year-old woman from the remote community of Binjari has become the first person in the Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Her infection was linked to the current viral cluster in the Katherine region. The elderly woman who was not vaccinated died in Royal Darwin Hospital last Thursday night from complications related to COVID-19.

Before now, the Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction in Australia without any deaths from coronavirus.

“It is an awful reminder of the severity of COVID. It is a critical reminder of why we take COVID so seriously,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Connecting primary care, research and policy

Dr Isabel Hanson, a recent recipient of a research scholarship and a RACGP 2021 Academic Post Registrar, wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.

On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.

“I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said.

“I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.”

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community. Image source: RACGP

Diabetes strategy endorsed

The report found up to 80 per cent of people reported feeling a sense of blame or shame for having the condition, while more than 25 per cent said other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes negatively impacted their mental health.

52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes said people assume they were overweight or had been in the past, while 37 per cent said people made a judgment on their food choices. 26 per cent of respondents with type 2 diabetes said they had been told they brought it on themselves.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, the federal government’s strategy to identify and manage diabetes also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. The strategy found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had recorded increasing rates of diabetes in children, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women, leading to intergenerational patterns of premature disease.

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

feature tile text 'partnership agreement on Closing the Gap progress and challenges; & cartoon picture of NACCHO CEO, Ken Wyatt & two others & CoP logo

Partnership Agreement on CtG state of play

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today for the seventh time under the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap where governments are now working together with the Coalition of Peaks to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Progress was welcomed on several high priority actions to advance the four Priority Reforms and socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Areas where the partnership needs strengthening were also acknowledged.

Under Priority Reform Two, the Joint Council agreed in principle two of the Sector Strengthening Plans covering the early childhood care and development sector and the health sector, establishing high level priorities and joint ways of building these key community-controlled sectors nationally.

“I’m pleased to see the first two sector strengthening plans laid out. These plans are an important tool for change and accountability, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice. Our community-controlled sector is invaluable to our people: we see real change when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deliver services to our communities.” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“The Coalition of Peaks are working with governments to ensure they transform how they do business and rise to the challenges set out in the National Agreement. Shared decision making, accountability and transparency are central concerns for us. We also value the independent review of progress to be conducted by the Productivity Commission because there will be things we are doing well, but also areas where we must do better. There will be lessons to learn on how we can work better into the future and invest in those actions which will close gaps faster,” Ms Turner said.

A new target on Community Infrastructure was recommended to First Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks for sign-off and inclusion in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. This target now includes measures that ensure essential services for remote and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will meet or exceed jurisdictional standards. This will not only help with housing standards but deliver significant health outcomes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people.

To view the media release in full click here.

group of Aboriginal people, hands in air & sign Close the Gap

Image source: Their World website.

ACCHO’s telehealth use boosts attendance

When the COVID pandemic struck, the Bendigo District and Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) started seeing 90% of its patients via telehealth. BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. “We realised we had more people attending their appointments then we’d ever had before,” Mr Widdicombe said.

Clinical practice manager and Arabana woman Jaydene Burzacott confirmed the clinic started seeing a significant number of new patients during the pandemic due to the provision of telehealth, “We were increasing by about six patients a week, including a lot of new people for the first time in a very long time.”

Ms Burzacott says while telehealth helps make a range of health services more accessible for a lot of people, BDAC has seen a surge in people accessing mental health services via telehealth. “Mental health appointments were a really big one,” she said. “I think it really helped people to be able to talk about their mental health over the phone.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

BDAC CEO Dallas Widdicombe sitting at his desk

BDAC executive director and Dhrug man Dallas Widdicombe said the introduction of telehealth services was behind the rise in people showing up. Photo: Shannon Schubert, ABC Central Victoria. Image source: ABC News.

Sexual health trivia a super success

Last Friday, 3 December 2021, a highly successful virtual sexual health trivia event was held to mark Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW).

Associate Professor and Director of Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Queensland James Ward hosted the event together with NACCHO. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills gave everyone a beautiful welcome while thanking all the health workers for their amazing efforts.

There was a great turn out with 22 teams competing for pride, bragging rights and some nice prizes. After three rounds of trivia questions on HIV, sexual health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander popular culture, sports and geography, team AHCWALube (AHCWA) took home the first prize of $1,500 closely followed team Us Mob (Us Mob and HIV). Third place went to team GladiAIDors (Miwatj).

The costumes were all amazing and after much deliberation the Chancre Sisters (Congress) took home the prize for Best Dressed. A special shout out also goes to Rachial McCahon (Wirraka Maya) for spending an hour on her Christmas tree hair. Participants were thanked for the amazing work they do and encouraged to take part in next year’s trivia.collage of images from the sexual health virtual trivia afternoon

Government response to food insecurity

The Government has tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs’ report into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, welcomed the report and thanked the Committee for their work.

“Improving food security and making affordable, fresh and nutritious foods more available in remote Indigenous communities is an important part of improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Wyatt said. “This report has affirmed that food security is a long-standing and complex issue in remote and rural communities. It will take a concerted and coordinated effort across jurisdictions and private industry to improve supply chains and storage.”

To view Minister Wyatt’s statement in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking in an electric frypan

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

New Lowitja Institute Board chair

Lowitja Institute today welcomed health, education and governance leader Mr Selwyn Button, a Gunggari man and former Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations, as the new chairperson of its Board.

Mr Button succeeds Pat Anderson who retired last week after nearly 20 years in the role. “I am truly humbled to become the new chairperson of the Lowitja Institute,” Mr Button said. “Having served on the board with Pat over the last 8 years, I admire the contributions she has made and will continue to make to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.” “She has been an inspiration and hers are significant shoes to fill. I hope to do her proud in continuing her legacy.”

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release relating to Mr Button’s appointment click here.

new Lowitja Institute Board Chair, Selwyn Button in front of large circular grass wall sculpture

Selwyn Button. Image source: Australian Institute of Company Directors website.

HAPEE free hearing assessments available

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears, dubbed, HAPEE, conducts diagnostic hearing assessments to reduce the long term effects of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who have significantly higher rates of hearing loss than non-Indigenous Australian children.

Telehealth appointments are now available to allow parents and carers to access Hearing Australia services and ongoing support from anywhere in Australia. A telehealth appointment is an over the phone conversation where parents and carers can ask questions and an audiologist provides advice and ongoing support.

Parents and carers can choose a telehealth or a face-to-face appointment, depending on which best suits their needs. All HAPEE hearing checks are free* for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 0-6 years or not attending full time school. For more information and resources visit Hearing Australia or call 134 432 to book a telehealth appointment.

young Aboriginal boy having hearing test

Image source: Microsoft News Centre.

85,000 NSW adults waiting for dentists

Some 85,000 NSW adults are currently on the public dental waiting list in NSW and it could be two or three years before they see a dentist. Of those, about 30,000 are in rural, remote or regional areas.
Aboriginal man receiving dental treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Complex PTSD explained

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise after exposure to a traumatic event, with symptoms falling into four clusters:

  1. upsetting and intrusive re-experiencing of the trauma (memories and nightmares)
  2. avoiding reminders of a trauma
  3. profound changes to mood and beliefs following the traumatic experience
  4. heightened reactivity to and vigilance for danger.

However, there are a multiple of ways PTSD symptoms can manifest. For some, the highly distressing re-experiencing of trauma memories is most prominent, whereas for others, a persistent hypervigilance for danger and threat may be the most difficult aspect.

Previous efforts to describe a more complex version of PTSD focused on the nature of the traumatic event(s), for instance, that people with CPTSD may have experienced their trauma in childhood. This may lead to a more pervasive set of difficulties in adulthood. Others argues repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma throughout one’s life was the key feature.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

drawing of head made of barbed wire

Image source: Mood Disorders Clinic.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

feature tile text 'NT Chief Minister and ADF slam dangerous vax lies' & image of vax vials & dice with letters f, a, c, t, k, e

Image in feature tile from The Conversation, Photo: Alexander Limbach, Shutterstock.

ADF, NT Chief slam dangerous vax lies

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner blasted COVID conspiracy theorists, saying he wanted to address “the huge amount of misinformation being spread online over the past few days. There are ridiculous, untrue rumours about the ADF’s involvement. As we all know, they aren’t carrying weapons — they are carrying fresh food for people.” He urged people not to worry about the dangerous lies spreading online.

You can access the ABC News article in full here and view the Chief Minister’s press conference below – his comments mentioned above can be found from 3 min 46 sec to 7 min 13 sec.

The Australian Defence Force has also rejected as lies “wild” social media claims that it’s forcibly vaccinating Indigenous Northern Territorians against COVID-19. The misinformation has been shared and reposted to multiple platforms and there are fears it could threaten efforts to contain an outbreak.

“Defence is aware of social media posts claiming the Australian Defence Force is forcibly vaccinating or detaining members of the Australian community,” a spokesman said in a statement. “These claims are emphatically false.”

To read the Canberra Times article in full click here.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has commended the ADF for calling out the outrageous claims by people who are making the wild accusations without being privy to the facts. She said people need to stop confusing our people with all the misinformation on social media and talk to the health staff instead and look at credible sites for good advice.

AMSANT and Amnesty International Australia have also released a joint media release regarding ADF involvement in Katherine, NT which can be viewed here.

CEO protecting mob one vial at a time

A Queensland CEO armed with a syringe, is fighting to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples protected against COVID-19, personally administering the vaccine, one vial at a time. Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, a proud Gubbi Gubbi woman and registered nurse, has remained hands-on in her quest to have all her people from Mt Isa, the North West and Lower Gulf regions of the State fully vaccinated.

Renee is part of an entire First Nation contingent of doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners injecting vaccines, imparting a greater understanding of the virus, while also allaying personal fears around getting the jab. That process will again be on show in Mt Isa TONIGHT as Gidgee Healing hosts it’s Deadly Night Out push for vaccinations among Australia’s First Nations populations.

When: from 4:00 PM Friday, 26 November 2021

Where: Buchanan Park: Cnr Sutton and George Street, Mount Isa

Who: Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman, Current and former Broncos players Jordan Rikki, Ezra Mam, Xavier Willison, Ethan Quai-Ward and Lote Tuqiri; Deadly Choices Ambassadors Steve Renouf and Tallisha Harden

To view the media release about this event in full click here.

Gidgee Healing Mt Isa CEO Renee Blackman

Mob hit back at vax misinformation

They rejected claims made on social media that members of Binjari community were being forcibly removed by ADF personnel or otherwise mistreated by authorities. “We have been treated with a lot of respect and appreciate all the support being given by these support personnel people,” the statement reads. “We are in lockdown because we’re in the biggest fight of our lives. We’re trying to keep safe. We’re trying to do the right thing by the community and Katherine.”

To view the full story in the Katherine Times click here.

COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT

The COVID-19 Binjari roadblock in Katherine, NT on 23 November 2021. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Closing culture gaps to help sick kids

A new Curtin University study has found that there is an urgent need to develop and implement strategies to empower Aboriginal families to identify deteriorating health in their child and alert clinicians. The research, published in Pediatric Nursing, explored the perspective of family members of Aboriginal children to see if they could recognise, and respond to, health deterioration in a hospital setting.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Fenella Gill from Curtin’s School of Nursing, said it was hoped the study results would lead to the development of a culturally secure escalation system. “Previous research has indicated that there are higher rates of hospital mortality for Aboriginal children, including due to failures in escalation of care, therefore it is vital to address these barriers,” Associate Professor Gill said.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal mum holding toddler

Image source: Curtin University.

Crucial tool to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B

An educational app designed to improve health literacy around the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been translated to provide more than 70% of the NT Aboriginal population access in their first language. The Hep B Story App, a crucial tool in the work to eliminate Chronic Hepatitis B (CHB), a disease endemic in Aboriginal communities in the NT, was launched yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2021.

The NT has an estimated CHB prevalence of three to 12%, meaning the NT has the highest CHB prevalence in Australia at 1.77%. Of those living with CHB, 25% will die from decompensated cirrhosis (liver failure) or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC – liver cancer). Liver cancer is the fastest growing cause of cancer death in Australia and liver disease is the third most important contributor to the gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the media release regarding the launch in full click here.

The Hep B Story app is free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and the Menzies website here.

Cultural competence resources

The University of Sydney’s National Centre for Cultural Competence has produced a selection of articles and book chapters that continue to inform and shape the discourse of cultural competence nationally and internationally. This curated group of resources will be updated as new ideas and publications are encountered.

To access the resources click here.

Image source: The University of Sydney.

National Nurse Practitioner Plan

A new 10-year strategic plan is being developed to help Australia’s highly skilled and respected nurse practitioners, by enhancing the way they work as they deliver essential health care for Australians .

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Nurse Practitioners are focused on improving access to treatment, and dedicated to improving access to treatment, and improving health outcomes of all Australians, particularly at risk populations, including aged care residents, Indigenous Australians and those living in regional, rural and remote areas.

As part of the strategic plan, the Government is commencing consultations for the plan, which aims to address workforce issues and enhance the delivery of patient care. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said “This is the first opportunity for the community, health providers, clinicians, and experts to make a contribution to this new plan, which will be delivered by the middle of next year.”

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

Aboriginal health worker taken child's blood pressure

Image source: Department of Health website.

Suicide prevention grants double

Suicide prevention grants to organisations across the country are being increased to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate towards zero. Through the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program Grant Opportunity, $114 million will be available for national projects that will raise awareness of the impact of suicide and support Australians who are at risk.

Specific vulnerable groups – including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, veterans, men, regional communities, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities – have been identified as the primary focus of the Grant Opportunity as these groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said suicide is a national tragedy, with 3,139 Australians taking their lives in 2020.

To view the full media release click here,

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Diabetes Strategy targets priority groups

feature tile text 'Australia's new diabetes strategy aims to reduce impacts on mob' & image of Aboriginal hand finger prick test

Image in feature tile: University of Melbourne website.

Diabetes strategy targets priority groups

The federal government has released a new national diabetes strategy aimed at reducing the incidence and impacts of the disease among priority groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

More than 17,000 Australians died from diabetes-related illness over the past 12 months, as another 120,000 were diagnosed with the nation’s fastest-growing chronic disease. Currently, about 1.9 million Australians suffer from diabetes, with case numbers skyrocketing by 30% over the past eight years.

A new national plan for tackling the crisis was released yesterday, Sunday 14 November 2021. It is hoped the plan will help guide the health response to the “silent pandemic” over the coming decade.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Johnson said 58% of type two diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed and education programs were urgently needed. “Diabetes is particularly devastating for First Nations Australians and communities and it is a major contributor to the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said. “The gap is not closing and we hope the new strategy will guide important steps and stronger action.”

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

Diabetes Australia’s ‘First Nations Storytelling’ artwork

Diabetes Australia’s ‘First Nations Storytelling’ artwork created by Aboriginal graphic designer and artist Keisha Leon. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Academia has a lot to learn from mob

The Yapatjarrathati project team and the local community co-created a culturally-sensitive, structured yet flexible solution to assessing child neurodevelopment in remote Australian communities, using primary care as the home point of coordination.

The team found that when the knowledge, ideas, and ways of First Nations’ communities are excluded from research, we can do harm, and we risk continuing the ongoing imposition of dominant culture on First Nations people . Intentionally or not, researchers and practitioners from the dominant culture have failed to value, and at times, have disregarded First Nations knowledge and health / wellbeing practices. We can show our next generation of researchers how to do things differently.

Co-design with community results in: research that matters; outcomes that are sustained; and truly impactful change. When people are part of the process, they learn, they get excited, they take things in unexpected yet delightful directions. They help to solve problems, and apparent barriers become new directions. Co-design offers unique opportunities for personal learning and growth along with innovation and system re-design.

To find out more about the Yapatjarrathati project, which has been implemented at Gidgee Healing, Mt Isa, click here.

To view the Financial Review article in full click here.

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group in front of Gidgee building

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group.

AMA President on vax misinformation

On Friday 12 November 2021 Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Omar Khorshid was interviewed on Radio 2SM by John Laws about COVID-19 vaccination misinformation.

John Laws opened the interview saying “I’ve got to say that I’m quite astonished at the amount of misinformation people are so readily able to spread – they give themselves a platform and off they go. Absolute rubbish is being spoken by a whole lot of people.” Today “we hear from somebody who is actually an expert, who is qualified to give us correct information, and that’s the person we want to go to, because they’re the only people who are able to give us the information that is 100% correct. One of those people is the President of the AMA, Dr Omar Khorshid.

In response to a question about vaccine safety Dr Khorshid said” All the vaccines we have available in Australia, no matter what they are for, are safe. And they’re safe because they’ve been studied by the scientists, they’ve been, the data has been looked at very skeptically by a panel of experts in Australia. And the government have decided that not only are the vaccines safe, but they’re actually worth spending taxpayers’ money on too.”

“So every single vaccine we’ve got available to us is absolutely safe. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few side effects. There’s no doubt those do exist, and that’s part of what I think some people struggle to understand.” To read the transcript of the interview in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Tangentyere family violence prevention 

An evaluation of two Tangentyere family violence primary prevention programs has found explicit messaging can assist in changing attitudes towards violence against women. The Safe, Respected and Free from Violence Report is the first formal evaluation of primary prevention projects in the NT. It examined the impact of two projects, Girls Can Boys Can and Old Ways Are Strong.

The evaluation report, named “Rante rante ampe Marle and Urreye” in Arrernte, (roughly translates to girls and boys are equal), was co-authored by The Equality Institute researcher Dr Chay Brown. Dr Brown said the findings of the report provided evidence for funders and policy makers about what works in tackling the high rates of violence against women in the NT. “While a high proportion of the people we spoke to thought violence was sometime justified, especially in cases involving jealousy, we found explicit messaging around gender equity was working to challenge attitudes.”

To view the Tangentyere Council’s media release click here and to access the evaluation report click here.

cartoon drawing of Aboriginal girl and boy against desert landscape

Tales from the Bush Mob children’s stories

After a heartbreaking week of bearing witness to the historic abuse of children in Australia’s institutions, royal commissioner Helen Milroy would get on a plane for the five-hour flight back home to Perth. Her head would be reeling as she settled into her seat, but the trained psychiatrist in her had a way to calm her thoughts. Somewhere mid-flight, she would mentally transport herself into “an alternative world where everything can be good”.

And so Tales from the Bush Mob was born, a series of children’s stories that Milroy wrote and illustrated on her travels using only an iPad and her imagination. “You can’t paint when you’re on a plane every week, so I found a way to use digital platforms,” she explains. First came the cheeky Willy Wagtail, who rallies around the other Bush Mob animals. “She brings everyone together when they are challenged by a bushfire, and she’s the only one who can get them all to safety. She gets burnt and Crow rescues her. So Bush Mob is formed to keep each other safe.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Dr Helen Milroy

Dr Helen Milroy. Image source: The Australian.

Building the community-controlled sector

In a bid to deliver on Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap – building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector, the federal government will provide $1.2m over three years to the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) to build its strategic policy capability in order to represent and advocate on behalf of the territory’s community-controlled sector.

The investment is part of a $46.5 million Strengthening the Community-Controlled Sector Fund. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the APO NT investment will support new staff, stronger governance, and the production of content for members and the community.

To view the media release click here.

2 Aboriginal men holding cardboard sign black, red with yellow text 'Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs'

Photo: Time Winbourne, Reuters. Image source: The Conversation.

Award for kid’s hearing loss program

St John of God Murdoch Hospital has won the 2021 HESTA Compassion in Action Social Justice Award for a collaborative program that supports young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing hearing loss.

The program is a partnership between the hospital, the Djaalinj Waakinj Aboriginal Ear Health Program, Telethon Kids Institute, Telethon Speech and Hearing, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation, Cockburn Integrated Health and Paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist Mr George Sim. The award, run by Catholic Health Australia and sponsored by HESTA, recognises an individual or team who has shown creativity, commitment, and accomplishment in effecting positive social change.

To view the media release click here.

Val Swift, Telethon Kids, inspecting a young child’s ear. Photo: Robert Duncan. Image source: The West Australian.

Culturally safe cancer care communication

The Australian Government’s Cancer Australia has produced a Tip Sheet about culturally safe communication skills for non-indigenous health professionals. This Tip Sheet provides practical advice for cancer care specialists and other health professionals to optimise culturally safe and responsive communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, their families and carers.

You can view the Tip Sheet here and access the Australian Government Cancer Australia website click here.

Aboriginal man having blood test

Image source: GP Synergy website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

resident of remote community of Utju getting covid-19 vax

Image in feature tile: remote community of Utju resident getting COVID-19 vaccination. Image source: ABC News.

Huge spike in NT mob vax rate

There has been a huge spike in the number of Indigenous Territorians rolling up their sleeves to be vaccinated amid the NT’s most recent COVID scare, according to federal figures. Commonwealth public health expert Lucas de Toca said the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Territorians who had their first dose was now higher than the national average. As of yesterday, 69% of First Nations Territorians had had one jab, compared to 67% of Indigenous Australians.

“Overall, the NT has been really accelerating [its vaccine uptake] in the last few months, and of course in particular the last week, since the cases in Katherine were first detected,” Dr de Toca said. “In fact, the NT has been outpacing the national rate of first doses by an order of three to six times the last few days, which is really, really nice to see.”

Dr de Toca, who leads the Commonwealth’s vaccination program through GPs and Aboriginal health services, says the uptake in some remote communities was moving even faster. “We’ve seen pleasingly, for instance, East Arnhem has been increasing their First Nations vaccination rate by 4 to 5% … [in] the last couple of weeks, which is a really high rate, so we’re confident that will continue to grow,” he said. “That’s between 2-4 times higher than what we were seeing prior.”

To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat project

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said an innovative project to help more Indigenous expectant mothers to give birth on their home country is one of five projects funded through the Federal Government’s $5.5 million investment in the NHMRC Partnership Project scheme.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University. The project will receive nearly $1.5 million and will follow women’s law to incorporate Yolnu skills and knowledge to enhance the delivery of clinically and culturally safe healthcare in line with Yolnu priorities.

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

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

APY Lands lose mental health staff

Aboriginal elders and mental health experts are concerned about some of Australia’s most vulnerable children after the sudden departure of key support workers from SA’s remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

Two permanent mental health staff who lived and worked on the APY Lands for a decade are no longer there, and that a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) model has been implemented, despite objections from senior staff in the Department for Child Protection and traditional owners. Nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse have been made in the region in the past two years.

Pukatja community elder Makinti Minutjukar said the two Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) workers provided invaluable support to local families. “They have been a really strong support for everyone, they’ve been doing good work for many, many years,” she said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

blurred photo of torsos of Aboriginal kids in desert setting

Image source: ABC News website.

Understanding needs of mob with cancer

Aboriginal health professionals and educators from across WA gathered in Perth last week to increase their awareness and understanding of the specific needs of Aboriginal people with cancer.

The WA Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) of The University of WA in conjunction with Cancer Council WA hosted a three-day professional development course to train participants in the ‘Whisper No More’ learning package. WACRH Director Professor Sandra Thompson said part of the innovative program features Aboriginal cancer patients from WA’s Midwest sharing their personal stories on video.

“Understanding more about Aboriginal people’s views of cancer and experiences of health care is essential to developing better cancer care and health outcomes,” Professor Thompson said. “By sharing their stories on video, those involved in Whisper No More have contributed to a valuable resource for health professionals to help enhance their understanding of what matters to Aboriginal people when they have cancer.”

To view the University of WA article in full click here.

RACGP warns PHC plan will fail

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that general practice is in ‘a state of crisis’ that could further deteriorate. In a written submission responding to the Department of Health’s (DoH) draft Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, the RACGP states that high-quality care offered by GPs is at risk if substantial investment and reform do not take place.

Calling general practice ‘the most efficient and cost-effective’ aspect of the health system, the college says that the urgency of the situation has been exacerbated by COVID-19, “Rising rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed preventive care due to the pandemic and a looming mental health crisis are putting increasing pressure on the system. This is resulting in poorer outcomes and long hospital wait times. Unless there is significant investment and reform, the system will fail.’”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

stethoscope parts for ears, chest, pressure against blue background

Image source: AMA website.

Maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge

Researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU) are set to redesign maternity services to use Yolnu knowledge and non-Yolnu knowledge at Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island in Arnhem Land. New funding of about $1.5 million from the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership Project scheme will ensure that on-country maternity services reach communities where the premature birth rate is three times the national average.

The partnership-based research project To Be Born Upon a Pandanus Mat is led by Professor of Indigenous Health Yvette Roe, a proud Njikena Jawuru woman, and Professor Sue Kildea, Co-Directors of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at CDU.

To view the CDU media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby in coolamon

Image source: ABC News.

Crucial for GPs to understand mob 

A rural doctor is a true general physician, a jack of all trades. And a junior doctor’s clinical judgment is necessarily influenced by the epidemiology of regional and rural medicine and the particular issues facing centres in these areas.

11% of the Western NSW LHD is Indigenous. Dr Antonia Clarke has written an article about how understanding the complexity of the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our health care system is a crucial part of being a doctor, regardless of your intended specialty. Closing the gap in part means working to forge a relationship between the patient, medical and nursing teams and Indigenous support officers to help to enable early screening, referral and management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at risk of chronic disease.

To view the MJA Insight article in full click here.

Dr Antonia Clarke

Dr Antonia Clarke. Image source: MJA Insight website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

First Nations Women’s Voices

You are invited to attend an inspiring panel discussion about the transformative power of First Nations Women’s Voices. An incredible panel of speakers will explore the role women play in shaping and protecting culture and community – and what you can do to support First Nations gender justice and equality.

The discussion will be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO, in conversation with Professor Marcia Langton AO, Fiona Cornforth, Teela Reid and Charlee-Sue Frail. The conversation will be facilitated by Patricia Karvelas (ABC), with a special welcome from Rosalind Croucher AM, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The panel discussion will be held at 1:00PM Wednesday 24 November 202. For more information about the event and to register for your FREE ticket click here .

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

feature tile text 'Minister vows to reduce suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' & image of Minister Wyatt in Parliament

Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

In pointing out that Indigenous people are dying by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Key Wyatt,  vowed to use ‘every tool at our disposal to have a substantial impact’ on reducing the Indigenous suicide rate.

Minister Wyatt said “We know that there is a need to reach people in distress earlier to prevent the onset of suicidal behaviour. A focus on prevention and early intervention with a more integrated and compassionate mental health system is key.”

The minister added that the National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by governments last year created, for the first time, shared accountability, greater transparency and embedding working in partnership across all levels of government and the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations. A commitment under target 14 of the agreement would lead to annual reporting from all jurisdictions on their progress to achieving eliminating the suicide rate among the Indigenous population all together, he said.

To view The Mandarin article in full click here.

$9m+ research funding for CAAC

The Australian Government is supporting nine Australian researchers with almost $62 million to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians by accelerating research knowledge and outcomes into health care and practice. Funded through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the 2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) Grant Opportunity is investing $216 million over 10 years and focuses on turning research findings into real health benefits that help Australian patients.

The University of NSW has been granted $9,967,326 for scaling up infection disease point-of-care testing for Indigenous people; The George Institute for Global Health has $2,410,958 for Implementing holistic burn care through a culturally safe integrated model; and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation has received $9,760,245 for a research projected with the title Aboriginal prosperity through community driven translational research.

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

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on mob

New data shows Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT have been heavily and disproportionately affected by COVID-19, amid concerns that even after two months of “surge” efforts in 30 Indigenous communities, vaccination rates will not be high enough to withstand further outbreaks.

10% of all COVID-19 cases in NSW and the ACT are Aboriginal and Islander people, meaning they have been affected at twice the rate of other Australians. In the past three months, there have been 7,000 cases, 700 hospitalisations, 80 people in ICU and 14 deaths among Aboriginal people, according to data from NACCHO.

To view the The Guardian article in full  click here.

Door-to-door work by trusted local health workers to answer questions and counter vaccine hesitancy has been effective in raising rates. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Mary G asks KAMS CEO about COVID-19

Mary G has spoken with Vicki O’Donnell, Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and CEO of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), asking the hard-hitting questions about COVID-19 and vaccination.

You can listen to the interview and read the interview transcript here.

Mary G

Mary G. Image source: Mary G Foundation website.

Rising syphilis rates in remote WA

As syphilis cases continue to surge in WA, contact tracers say they are overwhelmed, with remote areas with high Indigenous populations of particular concern. Increased notifications associated with the outbreak of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014 and have spread throughout WA.

Health experts say while attention remains on COVID-19, syphilis rates are climbing without enough public awareness, especially among Indigenous populations where social stigma discourages people from getting tested. In the Kimberley, contact tracers are struggling to reach long lists of people who may have caught the STI. The infection can cause serious life-long health complications.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

Anne Clarke & Rosie Jack, Kununurra

Anne Clarke and Rosie Jack have been spreading the word throughout Kununurra that there’s no shame in getting tested. Photo: Ted O’Connor, ABC News.

Close the Gap for Vision events

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health is hosting the following two events over the next few weeks:

2021 Annual Update on the Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision report launch by Pat Anderson AO
with Professor Hugh Taylor AC – 11.00AM–11.45AM (AEDT) – Tuesday 16 November 2021. To register click here.

Sharing our Findings: Evaluating Regional Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision by Indigenous Eye Health –  12:00PM–1:00PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 24 November 2021. To register click here.

Aboriginal man having an eye test

Image source: SBS News.

Benefits of community development

Leading economics firm, ACIL Allen, has undertaken a social and economic Impact Assessment of a national community development organisation delivering projects in First Nations’ communities. It found the model has potential to deliver positive health, social and economic impacts for First Nations’ people and significant cost savings for government.

ACIL Allen stated, “Community development activities have the potential to generate large amounts of cost savings for government, by reducing the reliance on government support, services and safeguards. This cost saving is significant, considering the cost of service provision for Indigenous Australians has historically been higher than non-Indigenous Australians.”

The complete ACIL Allen impact statement on Community First Development can be found here and you can view the related media release here.

Economic security boost for two ACCHOs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting self-determination and increasing financial autonomy for Aboriginal organisations by releasing full ownership of five more properties back to the community.  Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that the latest group of properties owned by Aboriginal organisations have had their first mortgages removed as part of the First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure Program.

These properties include Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative’s main office, which includes their health service, in North Geelong; and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s office plus two other properties housing their services in Heywood. The removal of these mortgages gives Aboriginal communities rightful control of their assets and brings the total number of properties with mortgages lifted under the program to 30.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Perinatal Mental Health Week

This year between the Monday 7 and Saturday 13 November, Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) is celebrating Perinatal Mental Health week. Since 2005 PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the week to help our community better understand perinatal mental illness, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.

The theme for this year is “breaking down barriers”. In the last 12 months, PANDA has seen:

  • 51% increase in callers to PANDA’s Helpline.
  • 57% of callers are citing stressful life events as their reason for reaching out for help.
  • More pregnant callers reaching out for help – 75% are either pregnant with their second or third child.
  • Significant increase in the number of callers with babies under 1 month of age (12% in 2019-20 to 26% in 2020-21).

Many may think the statistics are alarming, PANDA sees the increase in demand as positive progress, as it means more families in Australia are no longer trying to manage alone. These families are breaking down barriers created by the stigma that surrounds perinatal mental illness to get the support they need. PANDA is incredibly proud of all the people who have reached out to us.

For more information click here.

tile text 'perinatal mental health week - breaking DOWN barriers - panda.org.au - 7-13 November 2021' & cartoon of max & woman sitting, woman holding baby

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Housing won’t withstand climate change

Feature tile text ' climate change will make First Nations' housing unsuitable for future living' & image of house in remote area

Image in feature tile from: Central Land Council website.

Housing won’t withstand climate change

Regional and remote Aboriginal housing is not able to withstand climate change and will be unsuitable for future living, forcing people to consider migrating away from their traditional lands if nothing is done, research says. Even the best-kept housing will not be enough to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change, according to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

Researchers warned that even if existing housing is improved to deal with the heat, widespread over-crowding in Aboriginal communities would cancel out the benefits. “Our message in a nutshell is: addressing climate change in Indigenous housing and health policy is imperative,” Professor Tess Lea from the University of Sydney said. “More housing is needed, and new design approaches are urgently required.”

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

remote Aboriginal housing

Part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

Mental health animations for mob

Katherine West Health Board has produced a suite of mental health animations including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and staying strong.

These animated videos aim to provide information about various mental health problems for Aboriginal people in the Katherine region of the NT. The videos explain what anxiety, depression and psychosis are and what to do if people suspect they have one of these conditions. The Staying strong video offers tips on how to keep your spirit strong.

For more information about the KAMS mental health animations and to view the animations (in addition to the one below) click here.

Door-to-door jabs boost vax rates

Leaders in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg are cautiously optimistic a door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination campaign will help it avoid another lockdown, as rates slowly climb. Health workers began door-knocking homes in the South Burnett town a week ago, offering free Pfizer vaccinations to people aged over 12.

The community has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Queensland, with just 26.9% of residents fully vaccinated and 37.7% partially vaccinated, as of Monday 1 November 2021. Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow said “To be honest, I was worried a couple of weeks ago, but now that they’re going around door-knocking I’m actually feeling a bit positive,” she said. “The numbers are going up and we just want them to keep going up. Then everyone can be safe.”

Darling Downs Health is coordinating the program through the Cherbourg Community Health Service, alongside the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Service (CRAICCHS).

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News.

Hunter New England pop-up vax clinics

There will be a number of pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the Hunter New England region (Windale, Dungog, Toronto, Woodberry, Wallsend, West Wallsend, Cessnock and Medowie) from Wednesday 3 to Thursday 18 November 2021. If you are over 18 are six months past your second dose you can go along and get your booster at any of these pop-up clinics.

To view a flyer with pop-up clinic locations and times click here and if you require transport to a clinic, please call 0498 693 907.

pop-up vax clinic regional NSW

Pop-up vaccination clinic in regional NSW. Photoe: Lani Oataway, ABC Western Plains. Image source: ABC News.

Booster program will add to GP load

Central Coast doctor, Elly Warren, has backed calls from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) for more help for GPs ahead of the rollout of COVID-19 booster shots from Monday 8 November 2021, amid fears the region’s medical practices will be overwhelmed.

Warren, who works at Yerin Aboriginal Health Services at Wyong one day a week said she was concerned that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of the Coast was still 25% behind the rest of the population in getting doubly vaccinated. She urged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people who have yet to be vaccinated to contact Yerin as a matter of urgency so they can be directed to the best outlet for vaccination ahead of the booster rollout.

As far as the booster program itself is concerned, she said more financial assistance and clearer communication were vital to its success so GPs in the north of the region aren’t swamped.

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

Dr Elly Warren

Central Coast GP Elly Warren. Image source: Your Family Doctors at Erina.

What will and won’t prevent suicide

Two major reports on mental health and suicide released this week suggest two very different solutions to preventing suicides. One, from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, recommends putting more resources into the mental health workforce. This includes recruiting and training more health professionals. This might sound commendable, but the evidence shows this is unlikely to work.

The other report, from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) provides the latest data on suicide and self-harm. It makes no recommendations about preventing suicide, however, it identifies child abuse and neglect as a major modifiable risk factor for suicide right across the lifespan. This approach to preventing suicide, involving removing the underlying causes, has more evidence to back it, yet was barely mentioned in the select committee report.

To view The Conversation in full click here.

To view AIHW’s media release New insights into suicide and self-harm in Australia, including modifiable risk factors click here.

black silhouette of head exploding with scrunched balls of paper

Image source: eMedicineHealth website.

Aboriginal advisers to guide justice matters

Nine men and women who reflect WA’s diverse Aboriginal community have been chosen from across the State to join the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (AJAC). The Committee will help identify and suggest improvements to initiatives, policies and strategies to help the Department of Justice achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Department of Justice Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, will chair the Committee with the support of Gina Hill, Director of Aboriginal Justice Transformation. Dr Tomison said establishing the AJAC was a key deliverable of the Department’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-2021, and “It will also greatly assist us in achieving justice targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.”

Ms Hill said: “The AJAC members are established and emerging leaders in their communities and bring a breadth of knowledge about the justice system. “The Committee will help keep the Department connected, informed and highly responsive to the Aboriginal community on justice matters,” she said.

To view the WA Department of Justice media release in full click here.

Gina Hill, Director Aboriginal Justice Transformation & Dr Adam Tomison, Chair of Committee standing in front of large Aboriginal dot painting

Gina Hill, Director of Aboriginal Justice Transformation and Department of Justice Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, Chair AJAC.

Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit

The Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit is a committed and strong voice advocating for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples living with and or at risk of diabetes. The First Nations Unit lobby state and federal governments to provide services for community, aligning with community recommendations and the National Diabetes Strategy. 

They work with community, health sectors and government agencies to develop and deliver community-centred support and education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples living with diabetes, community, Health Workers and Health Professionals. To view Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit website, including details of the range of resources they offer click here.

logo text 'diabetes nsw & act' & blue letters 'a' & 'd' overlapping

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.

Yarrabah new health service opening

Yarrabah’s Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services will celebrate the official opening of their brand new, award-nominated facility for primary health and community outreach services from 11:30 AM-12:30 next Thursday 11 November 2021 from at Workshop Street, Yarrabah.

Board chair Les Baird said it will be good for the community. “It’s Aboriginal-mob friendly,” he said. “They can relax outside or inside while they are waiting, and I have observed people; they look very comfortable when they are at the new building.”

The building was designed by People Oriented Design with Coburn Architecture and is already nominated for a Sustainable Building Award.

You can contact Christin Howes on 0419 656 277 for more information.

external view of new Yarrabah health service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health and Wellbeing Centre. Image source: POD People Oriented Design website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

Image in feature tile: a Torres Strait healthcare worker gets the coronavirus vaccine on Saibai Island. Image source: The Guardian.

Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

The Torres Strait Islands are beating the national average for Indigenous vaccination, with 67% of over 12’s on the Islands having received a first dose, and 56% fully vaccinated..

Torres Strait Regional Authority Chair, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said clear communication with health authorities has been key for his people to get the jab. Past negative experiences with Government remained a cloud over the rollout for some Torres Strait Islander people, but Stephen said having their questions answered clearly builds trust.

“People in my age group, we’re in the 60s plus, we were still aware of what actually happened to Indigenous people in the past, and the things that are very much in the back of our mind is that whilst we step up to assume our responsibility, the government [has to] step up as well,” he said. “The trust will come when community know that you have given them all information that is available, but also when you actually sit with them and be honest, then they [know they will] make that decision at the end of the day, [and] that you trust them to do the right thing.”

NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said the Torres Strait was identified early on as a priority area for vaccination against COVID-19. “For people, up on those northern islands like Saibai, there used to be really close relationships between the people of PNG, and the people of those islands,” Dr Agostino said.

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

Image source: The Australian.

Adequate health service funding critical

An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General   of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Fellows from across Australia. The report shows promise for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – but adequate funding for GPs and Aboriginal health services is critical.

This year’s findings show there is strong and growing interest among GPs to work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Professor Peter O’Mara, said “While we cannot ignore the gap in health outcomes between non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this year’s Health of the Nation report offers us hope for the future.”

“On the workforce front, we continue to see growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs, as well as interest in Aboriginal health among GPs in training. This is a positive step forward because we know that more GPs providing high-quality, culturally appropriate and accessible healthcare is key to closing the gap.

To view the article in full click here.

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

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

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes alarming

A new study, Youth-onset type 2 diabetes among First Nations young people in northern Australia: a retrospective cross-sectional study, has found alarming rates of youth-onset type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people across northern Australia. The study uncovered what is arguably the highest reported prevalence in any population of youth internationally within the past 25 years and ten times higher than previously reported in Australia.

Only 14% of young people in the study, defined as before the age of 25 years, had blood glucose levels within recommended targets. For those falling outside of the target, the risk of developing complications such as kidney damage at a young age is significantly increased.

This reflects the reality that the majority of young people in this study are living in poverty with very high levels of educational disadvantage. They are also living with the impacts of intergenerational trauma including exposure to multiple adverse early childhood experiences which we know contributes greatly to the development of chronic disease in later life, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Lack of food security further compounds these issues.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release in full click here.

table with fruit, water bottle, oats, scales, stethoscope, slate with chalk word 'DIABETES'

Image source: Jammu Links News website.

Lockdown related family violence spike

Aboriginal social workers in the NSW town of Bourke fear that lockdowns have created a spike in rates of domestic and family violence.

Gomeroi man and Manager of Bourke Aboriginal Corporation’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program at their Centre for Excellence and Wellbeing Joseph Clarke said lockdowns are not only keeping victims of domestic and family violence at home with perpetrators, but also making it much harder for them to report the violence. “Domestic and family violence is running rampant,” he said. “COVID is being used as a weapon. Basically, [perpetrators say] ‘you can’t go anywhere, you have to stay home,’ whether that be the male or the female perpetrator, it doesn’t matter.”

Social epidemiologist Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat is from the Yupungathi and Meriam people and sits on the Domestic Violence NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Steering Committee. She said they have found an increase in domestic and family violence in Aboriginal communities that isn’t reflected in reported statistics.

To view the article in full click here.

blurred image man's clenched fist, woman sitting in background

Image source: ABC News.

FASD Hub Australia feedback survey

FASD Hub Australia is currently conducting a feedback survey to evaluate the user experience of the website and seek feedback on its accessibility, content and usefulness, as well as suggestions for improvement. Ethics approval has been received from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

Feedback is important for improving and enhancing the website and is an opportunity to make more informed choices about content. It will also help FASD Hub Australia to meet their mission of being the leading source of high quality, evidence-based content about alcohol and pregnancy and FASD in Australia.

The full version survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and participants can enter a draw to win one of six $50 e-gift cards. The survey closes on Friday 12 November 2021.

FASD Australia logo blue & orange links, image of mum holding sleeping baby to chest

Hunting restrictions during pandemic

Regulations have made it difficult for some Indigenous Australians to carry out cultural hunting and fishing practices, according to two ANU academics.

You can listen to Stewart Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Health, and Amanda Wingett Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Health for On Country discuss the importance of cultural hunting to First Nations communities on the ABC Radio National Overnights with Rod Quinn here.

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot as he wades through a billabong near the 'out station' of Ngangalala, located on the outksirts of the community of Ramingining in East Arnhem Land

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot. Photo: David Gray, Reuters.

A related article in The Conversation examines the link between restrictions on cultural hunting and food insecurity. Western NSW, for example, has been significantly affected by rising COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal communities, with people becoming increasingly food insecure. Some have limited financial resources to purchase food, which in rural and remote areas, is comparatively overpriced.

People are also having to rely on food donations and this has worsened the longer lockdowns have continued. Earlier in the pandemic, Aboriginal people in Wilcannia had maintained their cultural practice of hunting kangaroo and distributing the butchered meat to families within the township. However, health authorities discouraged residents from hunting and distributing roo meat in August this year.

The author of the article argues Australia’s governments must find a way for public health orders and cultural food practices to work together. To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a video about an initiative to deliver kangaroo meat to mob during the pandemic below.

Quality use of medicine program survey 

NPS MedicineWise is developing a new program aimed at promoting the safe and effective quality use of medicine (QUM) approach to the provision of medicines to residents of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities under the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) program.

As part of this program, NPS MedicineWise is seeking feedback from health professions who are working in rural and remote areas to help inform the program direction and interventions. The feedback is key to delivering a nationally available and sustainable online solution that is accessible to any remote health service that provides medicines to patients/consumers.

You can access the survey here.

multiple coloured pills, capsules, tablets

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy.

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.

Cultural Safety and Well Being Review results

Be among the first to see the results of The First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review and seize the opportunity to give feedback by attending the Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review Stake Holder Feedback Session on Zoom from 1:30-3:00 PM on Thursday 11 November 2021 using this link.

During this session the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW and Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd will provide a summary presentation on the findings of the review and an opportunity to incorporate your feedback.

The session will be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded please inform us by the Tuesday 9 November 2021 and we will ensure that you have an opportunity to view the presentation and provide feedback.

Participating in the session will be: the Office of the Children’s Guardian, TEI funded services, ACCHOs across NSW as well as academic colleagues and service providers experienced in the field of cultural safety.

Further information about the First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review can be found here.

young Aboriginal girl with body paint on face

Image source: SNAICC.