Coalition of Peaks Media Statement: Accountability fundamental to Closing the Gap Partnership
NACCHO CEO and Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor, Pat Turner AM, welcomed today’s release by the Productivity Commission of its second tool for monitoring impacts of the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap, reached a year ago between the Coalition of Peaks and all Australian Governments.
“Today’s Annual Data Compilation Report joins the Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Dashboard (commencing last month) in providing building blocks for strong oversight and accountability under the National Agreement.
“The Coalition of Peaks, made up of community-controlled organisations, are accountable to their memberships and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities they serve. It is also essential that governments are accountable for their commitments under the National Agreement, which are geared to reaching targets on four Priority Reforms and an expanded set of socio-economic outcomes.
“Together, if we do this right, we will advance both self-determination and accelerate how gaps can be closed in the life circumstances of our People and other Australians.
“The Productivity Commission’s report and Dashboard are fundamental to tracking progress and holding all Parties to account for their responsibilities.
Read the media release by the Coalition of Peaks here. The Annual Data Compilation Report by the Productivity Commission is available here.
You can view the Closing the Gap Dashboard here.
Illustration from the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Feature image: Coalition of Peaks logo.
Privileged to lead Danila Dilba
The Board of Danila Dilba Health Service is pleased to announce the appointment of its new CEO, Rob McPhee. Mr McPhee will officially commence at the end of August, and was selected from a competitive field of applicants from all over Australia.
Mr McPhee has extensive experience in the Aboriginal health sector, having served as the Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services in Broome for the past six years. Prior to that Mr McPhee has worked in the energy and university sectors, consistently maintaining a focus on Aboriginal social justice, community development, and self-determination.
“I’m excited to be commencing in the role at the end of August, and getting to know the community that Danila Dilba has served for 30 years,” Mr McPhee said.
Read Danila Dilba Health Service‘s media release here.
Danila Dilba Health Service appoints new CEO, Rob McPhee.
76% vaccinated in two days
Proving small but mighty, the remote Aboriginal community of Warmun has vaccinated 76 per cent of its eligible population against the coronavirus in just two days.
The community, located 161km north of Halls Creek, vaccinated 182 community members in a huge effort alongside the WA Country Health Service.
Staff from the Kimberley Public Health Unit arrived in the community three days before the vaccination blitz to speak to the residents about the vaccine, and a well-attended primary school sports carnival provided the perfect opportunity to mingle and discuss people’s concerns.
Gija woman Catherine Engelke spearheaded the vaccination drive. Born in Derby and growing up in Halls Creek, the GP has family ties to Warmun and has worked with the community for a decade. She said being able to protect her people from the virus was a career highlight.
You can read the story in the National Indigenous Timeshere.
Dr Catherine Engelke. Image credit: The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.
Is your home COVID-ready?
The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW has developed a useful tool to help you and your family plan and be prepared should someone have to self-isolate at home. This could be of particular interest for people living in Sydney at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic could last a long time.
The Getting Your Home COVID-19 Ready document helps you think about the whole family and what it means for them.
Illustration from ‘Getting Your Home COVID-ready’.
Home-based palliative care resources
Health professionals, health workers and other interested parties are invited to take part in a national consultation to assist in the development of tailored resources for the caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families project.
The Australian Government-funded project aims to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, when this is preferred. This may help connect family, culture, community, country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.
You can take part by attending an in-person event, via an online survey, Microsoft Teams meeting or having a one-on-one conversation with the project manager.
Read the Factsheet for more information.
To participate or register visit the caring@home website or call on 1300 600 007
care@home image for health practitioners.
Campaign targeting syphilis outbreak
In 2020, notifications of infectious syphilis in Australia increased by nearly 90% from recorded rates in 2015.
Three populations are most at risk:
men who have sex with men
women of child-bearing age
those who live in outbreak areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities).
The Department of Health has launched a new Infectious and Congenital Syphilis campaign. The campaign will run nationally on a range of online channels including social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), online video, search and programmatic ads.
Visit the campaign webpage for more information and to access a range of downloadable resources.
You can also read more about the campaign in the Department of Health news here.
View the campaign video below.
Hepatitis Day trivia fun
Thank you to the ACCHO staff who join in the 2021 World Hepatitis Day Virtual Trivia session yesterday afternoon. The trivia was organised by NACCHO in partnership with EC Australia, Burnet Institute. We had an amazing turn up with 11 teams competing for some awesome prizes.
A huge congratulations to:
WINNER: AHCWAlube, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia
Second Place: Derbarl Dragons, Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
Third Place: Bunya Nuts, Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Service
There was also a price for the BEST DRESSED team: Watj Mi Djama, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has an opinion editorial published in today’s The Sydney Morning Herald. The below is an excerpt from Pat Turner’s article.
‘The Granites gold mine COVID outbreak is a reminder that we continue to be one spark away from a COVID-19 wildfirein Australia’s Indigenous communities. We know that COVID hits the elderly and those with underlying health conditions hardest. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are more likely to live with cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or cancer and almost one-quarter have two or more of these chronic conditions.
These COVID risks are compounded by where we live. One in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in overcrowded housing, which means COVID-19 could spread rapidly through our communities. And overcrowding poses real challenges for isolating suspected cases. Poor health outcomes and overcrowding are worse in remote settings, making the Granites mine outbreak all the more dangerous.
It has been because of the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and our community controlled health organisations that our peoples have been relatively unscathed by COVID-19 to date, with 153 cases nationally and no deaths. We need governments to step up on the vaccine roll out to keep it this way.’
To view the full opinion editorial click here. Note the 173 cases mentioned in the article should be 153.
Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
Earlier this morning Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO spoke with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast. Fran Kelly introduced the interview saying “as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to cause a national outbreak, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert, particularly in the NT and north Queensland. Lockdowns in the NT and now parts of Queensland, including the Aboriginal community of Palm Island, have highlighted the vulnerability of First Nations people as vaccination levels remain low.”
Dr Casey responded saying that ACCHOs are very worried however are on high alert and have been since March last year. You can listen to the interview here.
Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO. Image source: ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly website.
RACGP calls for nation-wide COVID-19 campaign
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is strengthening its calls for the federal Government to urgently ramp up a campaign to boost vaccine confidence in the community. The RACGP has previously stressed the importance of national targeted messaging and advertising for specific cohorts to clear up mixed messages and encourage more eligible people to get vaccinated. This is particularly important in the context of recent changes to AstraZeneca vaccine eligibility and patient concerns about vaccine safety.
Today during the National Immunisation Conference held by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, confirmed the introduction of a no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Scheme (VICS) for COVID-19 vaccines administered in Australia, a move that is strongly welcome to assist in Australia’s COVID vaccine roll out and boost public trust in the program.
A no-fault vaccine injury compensation scheme compensates individuals who have a vaccine injury following the correct administration of a registered vaccine. It is considered a vital component of a strong immunisation program by public health experts. PHAA CEO Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin commented, ‘This is a very welcome announcement.”
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) warmly welcomes the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP as Minister for Regional Health, and extends its gratitude to the Hon Mark Coulton MP for his service in this portfolio. PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, welcomed Dr Gillespie back to the portfolio and thanked Minister Coulton for his exceptional service to regional Australia.
“PSA congratulates Dr Gillespie on his appointment as Minister for Regional Health. His past experience in the portfolio, and as a clinician, will help drive innovation in the portfolio. PSA looks forward to working with him to improve health care and health outcomes for people in regional Australia.”
Dr David Gillespie. Image source: Port Macquarie News.
CoP priority reform video animations
The Coalition of Peaks has announced that all four Priority Reforms video animations are complete and available for Coalition of Peaks members use and community engagement. All members are encouraged to use the animations to help build awareness and ownership for the National Agreement and the Priority Reforms. The animations are available on the Coalition of Peaks website under resources or by using the below links.
Image source: CoPs website, Priority Reform One – shared decision making animation.
$12.9m for PHC research
$12.9 million is to be invested into seven new research projects around Australia to use data to improve health outcomes for Australian patients. Funded through the 2020 Primary Healthcare Research Data Infrastructure grants, a number of research institutions will receive funding to undertake projects that use new and existing data sets to improve access, quality, safety and efficiency of our primary health care (PHC) system.
As part of the program, the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute Ltd will receive around $2 million for its Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) project, which aims to expand the existing platform to understand emerging issues and continue ground-breaking research on key, and currently unknown, residential aged care impacts. ROSA’s efficient model leverages existing information, bringing together diverse datasets collected by different organisations throughout the country, to provide a whole picture of the ageing pathway.
The research will use new data gathered on immunisation, rehabilitation and social welfare to further research and embed ROSA as the only national data solution for policy and practice change in residential aged care.
Up to 40% of Indigenous adults in urban areas and 60% in remote communities have some degree of hearing loss. In some specific populations it is higher and in prison inmates over 90%. 79% of those affected are not aware they have hearing loss. Early onset hearing loss means bigger life impacts and unknown hearing loss has more impacts.
Below is a video giving information on Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training for health professionals:
New process for job advertising
NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.
Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
SNAICC’s latest campaign National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Daywill be held on Sunday 4 August 2021.
Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. It is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.
The Children’s Day 2021 theme, Proud in culture, strong in spirit, highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.
SNAICC has produced and will distribute 15,000 fun Children’s Day bags to communities across Australia to help local communities and organisations celebrate. These bags, containing resources and activities for preschool-age children, are now on saleat the usual price of $6 per bag. Each bag will contain the Children’s Day 2021 Activity Sheet which you can also download.
Contents of the SNAICC’s Children’s Day 2021 activity bag.
Through SNAICC’s social media, website and email communications, they will also support people with online resources and ideas on how to celebrate and acknowledge this year’s Children’s Day. SNAICC also encourages people to register their events to showcase here.
SNAICC would love you to get involved in their promotions as they build momentum for Children’s Day on 4 August!
Over the weekend the NT Government declared that Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield local government areas would enter a full lockdown for 48 hours effective from 1pm on Sunday 27 June 2021. Travel into remote Aboriginal communities on Aboriginal land – or travel to communities that involves crossing Aboriginal land – will be restricted to NT Government essential services staff and functions only.
The Northern Land Council (NLC) Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the NLC considers this the right thing to do and urged Aboriginal Territorians to look after each other: “The message is the same as last year: ‘Stay Safe, Stay on Country and Care for Family’.” Mr Bush-Blanasi also urged people not to respond to or be guided by what NT Police Commissioner Chalker called ‘rumour and innuendo’ being spread on social media. “People shouldn’t listen to gossip being spread on Facebook and other social media sites – particularly about something as serious as this. The best information is available at the NT Government website or on reliable media outlets like the NT News or the ABC,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi.
Referring to the reported case of COVID-19 in a worker in a mining site in the Tanami Desert in Central Australia, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Kidd has said “We are taking this very seriously – right from the start of the pandemic we’ve had plans in place to work with local Aboriginal communities to respond to outbreaks in remote areas in Australia. The Commonwealth is working with the NT government and the Aboriginal community controlled health services in the affected area to provide whatever support is needed.”
To view the NLC’s media release click here and to view the news article with Professor Kidd’s comments click here.
NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaks to SBS News:
NACCHO CEO Pat Turner warns “It’ll spread like wildfire” if the virus gets into remote indigenous communities, after a mine worker in Central Australia tested positive for COVID-19. @SBSNews#auspoIpic.twitter.com/6wGCzLQ1j3
The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is inviting you to participate in the consultation process for Potential new National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary health care (nKPIs).
In order to implement the recommendations from the Review, DoH commissioned KPMG to develop an Implementation Roadmap and set up a Clinical and Technical Working Group for the HS DAG. The Working Group met in April this year to discuss potential new indicators. After four meetings the Working Group recommended development of three new indicators: sexual health/STI, mental health, and ear health.
The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholder and community feedbackon the three proposed new nKPIs. The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders and interested members of the community are valued and will contribute to the final recommendations regarding the new nKPIs.
Feedback from the public consultation will be provided to the HS DAG who will provide final endorsement (or not) of the indicators. It is planned that any new nKPIsthat receive HS DAG approval will first be piloted with selected health services prior to full rollout to all health services and public data reporting.
You can access theConsultation Huband provide feedbackhere.
The consultation will be open for five (5) weeks and will close onThursday 29 July 2021.
Image source: University of Wollongong Australia website.
PM hosts second roundtable with CoPs
On25 June 2021 the Prime Minister hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks (CoPs), a representative body made up of more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations. The Prime Minister noted the joint success of the Australian Government’s and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations led by NACCHO in supporting their communities through the COVID pandemic.
Continuing leadership in the roll-out of the vaccination strategy is critical and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership is appreciated and recognised by all government members. The Morrison Government and CoPs are working together, with the states and territories and Australian Local Government Association, to implement the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments in July 2020.
PM Scott Morrison hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the CoPs to advance the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Image source: CoPs Twitter.
Consider Indigenous business for medical supplies
Why ACCHO members should consider a 100% Indigenous owned business for medical supplies?
Indigenous Medical Supplies (IMS) is a Supply Nation registered, 100% Indigenous-owned supplier of medical device, hand & hygiene, PPE & covid-19 to ACCHOs or AMSs, other medical centres, day hospitals and workplaces. Their product range includes surgical masks, a wide range of hand & hygiene stock, alcohol wipes, surgical gowns, medical gloves, face shields, protective eyewear, AED defibrillators and temperature devices at very competitive prices. You can view the IMS range on the IMS website here.
Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon recommends IMS to CEOs, Practice Managers and management of other ACCHOs “The service from this company is reliable, honest and great quality. This was particularly important to us during COVID-19 and now into the future. Please join Awabakal in supporting this business.”
For further information contact IMS Managing Director Merv Fernando by email here or mobile phone: 0411 290 755.
Wuchoperren Health Service (QLD) employee holding selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products and Awabakal Ltd (NSW) CEO and Board members.
Indigenous bowel cancer screening resources
The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) have publications on different health topics including bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program collection, contains of a range of resources specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:
Australian Government Department of Health Indigenous bowel screening postcard.
RVTS Targeted Recruitment 2022 placements
Be part of something special…AND complete your specialist GP training!
Picture yourself working as a doctor in an iconic rural or remote community, while also undertaking your specialist GP training?
Apply nowvia our Targeted Recruitment to train with Remote Vocational Training (RVTS) in 2022. Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with rural and remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities. RVTS is offering specialist GP training positions in the following Targeted Recruitment locations in 2022, including five Aboriginal Medical Services, (multiple positions are offered in some locations; * denotes Aboriginal Medical Service):
NT – Tennant Creek* and Santa Teresa*
QLD – Clermont
VIC – Portland*
WA – Halls Creek, Kununurra* and South Hedland*
NSW – Lake Cargelligo
TAS – Smithton
SA – Mid Eyre Peninsula (Cleve, Cowell, Kimba) and Streaky Bay
Find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions by clicking here.
Targeted Recruitmentis not the only entry pathway to RVTS training. Training is also available to doctors already working in eligible rural, remote and First Nation communities across Australia! Further information about ourAMS Streamfor doctors in Aboriginal Medical Services in MMM2-7 locations and the Remote Stream for doctors in MMM 4-7 locations can be found here.
Doctors interested in applying for Targeted Recruitment Streampositions after this date are encouraged to contact us, as deadlines may be extended for some Targeted Recruitment locations.
New AOD service in Wyndham
WA Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson has launched a new culturally secure alcohol and drug and mental health support service at the Ngnowar-Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation (NAAC) in Wyndham. NAAC, together with the Mental Health Commission, co-designed the service which will provide a 16-bed sobering up service as well as outpatient counselling, prevention and diversion services.
Local planning workshops and meetings ensured a culturally secure process and the local community had an opportunity to contribute to the development of the service model. The new principles of the service include whole-of-family approaches, holistic consideration of social factors and adverse life experiences; increasing Aboriginal staff participation; developing local employment pathways; and more community awareness and education.
The new program will be delivered through a partnership between NAAC and Anglicare WA. It will also contribute to developing the capacity of the Wyndham community to respond to mental health, alcohol and drug issues and lead responses from within the community.
To view Minister Dawson’s media statement in full click here and for an overview of NAAC watch the YouTube video below.
New process for job advertising
NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.
Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.
JulEYE is national eye health awareness month. 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early enough, yet every 65 minutes an Australian loses part or all their vision.
This JulEYE, the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF) (the fundraising arm of The Royal Australian and NZ College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)) will be campaigning to increase the public’s awareness of eye health issues. JulEYE has three core aims:
to raise community awareness of eye health issues.
to raise funding for research projects into the causes and cures of vision impairment and blindness.
to support international development projects whose goals are aligned with those of The Foundation.
The Morrison government is providing $16.6 million in grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents through nine new projects.
It is estimated that up to 10% of women experience depression while pregnant, and one in seven women in the year after birth. Men can also experience perinatal mental illness, with approximately one in 10 expectant and new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional distress in the perinatal period.
Some of the grants under the mental health initiative include:
$2.59 million for the University of Newcastle to deliver the SMS4dads digital prevention and early intervention service for fathers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, living in rural and remote regions.
$750,000 for Possums for Mothers and Babies to deliver training and professional peer support for health professionals and new parents in rural communities.
$250,000 for the Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity to produce health practitioner training materials and develop a mobile phone-based app version of the Baby Coming You Ready assessment and screening program for Aboriginal women.
You can read the full story and find out more about the other grants here.
Image source: AAP.
Yolngu Elders kick off COVID-19 vaccinations across Arnhem Land
Miwatj Health are gearing up for a COVID-19 vaccination blitz across the remote northern region of Arnhem Land.
Terry Yumbulul, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation’s Chief Culture Advisor and Head of Regionalisation, and CEO Eddie Mulholland, had their Pfizer vaccine in Gove last week.
They were joined by 10 Board Members of Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and other local leaders who received their vaccine in an effort to encourage others in the community.
ABC Radio Darwin’s Jo Laverty spoke with Terry Yumbulul about his experience and whether other Yolngu people would follow suit.
You can listen to the ABC Radio Darwin On Breakfast broadcast with Jolene Laverty here.
Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.
Healing the past project seeking participants
Becoming a parent is exciting but it can be hard. Particularly for parents who have experienced difficulties in their own childhood, which can have long lasting effects on physical, social and emotional wellbeing. This can make the transition to parenthood difficult, causing distress and challenges to creating a nurturing environment for a new baby. On the flip side, growing research shows that becoming a parent offers a unique life-time opportunity to heal from this childhood hurt.
‘Healing the past by nurturing the future’(video)is a community-based participatory research project which is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents to develop awareness and support strategies that could be offered during the perinatal period to support Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma.
The team are looking for participants for this important research project who are:
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
living in the NT, SA or Victoria, and
are pregnant, have a partner who is pregnant or have a child (under 5 years in SA; or any age in NT or Vic).
An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia ‘Suicide rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the influence of community level cultural connectedness’ examines associations between community cultural connectedness indicators and suicide mortality rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This retrospective mortality study looks at suicide deaths of people aged 10‒19 years recorded by the Queensland Suicide Register between 2001‒2015.
The age‐specific suicide rate was 21.1 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for First Nations young people and 5.0 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for non‐Indigenous young people. The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was higher in areas with low levels of cultural social capital (greater participation of community members in cultural events, ceremonies, organisations, and community activities) than in areas classified as having high levels, and also in communities with high levels of reported discrimination. Associations with proportions of Indigenous language speakers and area level socio‐economic resource levels were not statistically significant.
The study found that suicide mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Queensland were influenced by community level culturally specific risk and protective factors. The findings suggest that strategies for increasing community cultural connectedness at the community level and reducing institutional and personal discrimination could reduce suicide rates.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) has released new papers on Personalised Budgets to give more information on the way they propose to build participant budgets in the future.
In 2020 they released a paper on proposed changes to the planning policy for Personalised Budgets and plan flexibility, and encouraged participants, families, carers and the wider sector to respond. The feedback was that people want fairer decisions. People also wanted the NDIS to be more transparent about how they worked out the funds in participants’ plans.
The Personalised Budgets papers give you more information on how the NDIS are developing the new budget model and how they propose budgets will be built.
There are three versions of the Personalised Budgets paper available for increased accessibility. They include:
Personalised Budgets – technical information paper
Personalised Budgets – information paper for participants, their families and carers
Easy Read Guide – A new way to work out how much funding you receive in your NDIS plan
You can read more about the Personalised Budget paper on the NDIS website here.
Health Check 2020
‘Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap – Health Check 2020’
In 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to develop the Closing the Gap strategy for the next decade. Governments acknowledged the need for a respectful, collaborative approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to achieve productive and sustainable outcomes.
To give effect to that commitment, the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029 (Partnership Agreement) was negotiated and agreed to by the Coalition of Peaks and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March 2019. The Partnership Agreement provides an historic opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to be heard and incorporated into policy and program dimensions across all levels of government. The Partnership Parties committed to an annual Health Check of the Partnership Agreement and agreed to the development and subsequent annual review of a Partnership Risk Register. The objective of the Health Check is to review the state of the Partnership Agreement against success indicators agreed by the Parties. This report gives an account of the first Health Check and includes a draft Risk Register.
This Health Check has found that the Partnership Agreement has been successful in achieving the coming together of the Coalition of Peaks and Governments in partnership to support the Parties’ decision to negotiate a new National Agreement.
Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.
Digital mental health resources
In honour of National Reconciliation Week, the eMHPrac E-Mental Health in Practice website has decided to explore the Digital Mental Health Resources developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in mind. These resources include culturally relevant and evidence-based information, advice, stories, support, and counselling.
There are a range of digital mental health resources available to support individuals, families, friends, and communities including:
Coalition of Peaks – National Reconciliation Week 2021 Statement
Reconciliation requires action from all Australians! This year’s Reconciliation Week urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action.
A reconciled nation is where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have full control over our own destinies; where we live freely and equally, unencumbered by trauma and poor life outcomes; and where there is true recognition of our rights as First Peoples of this land, and our cultures and languages are honoured, protected and flourish.
The historic Partnership andNational Agreements on Closing the Gap provide a framework for all governments, policy makers, service delivery organisations and institutions, and all Australians, to take meaningful and impactful action towards reconciliation. They are centred on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been saying for decades is needed to achieve equality in life outcomes between our peoples and other Australians, whilst strengthening our right to self-determination and identity as First Nations peoples.
The National Agreement is built around four Priority Reforms that will support lasting change for our peoples. They are: building new partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations and governments to share in decisions that impact on our lives; strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to deliver services and programs to our peoples; transforming government agencies, institutions and organisations to address systemic racism and make them more accountable to our peoples; and improving the sharing of data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations so we can make more informed decisions about our future.
The foundations have been set to improve the life outcomes of our peoples. Governments, policy makers, service delivery providers and organisations and all Australians need to transform the way they engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples centred on the Priority Reforms.
This year’s Reconciliation Week is a chance to take action and do your part to implement the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the Priority Reforms and contribute to a more reconciled nation!
The Coalition of Peaks challenge every Australian on this Reconciliation journey to action
Become familiar and learn about both the Partnership and National Agreements
Support their implementation and promote them in your own organisation or business
Encourage your community to become involved
Talk to governments on how to apply the commitments under the Agreements to communities and organisations across the country
Make sure our precious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled media sector is involved in all communications about the Agreements.
For more info on the Coalition of Peaks and the National Agreement click here.
Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Committee to hear from Gayaa Dhuwi Australia
Today, the first day of National Reconciliation Week, the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention will hear from Mr Tom Brideson, CEO of Gayaa Dhuwi – Proud Spirit – Australia the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body.
The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2021, #MoreThanAWord #ReconciliationTakesAction, is fitting as the Committee turns its focus to identifying impactful measures to support mental health reform, suicide prevention, and improved wellbeing.
Chair, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The Committee looks forward to hearing from Gayaa Dhuwi to develop a better understanding of issues around accessibility to culturally-appropriate mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Committee is particularly interested in how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workforce can be strengthened to meet urban, rural and regional demand.’
Updated info: Vaccine storage, dose allocations, transfer of vaccine stock and more
For your information, ATAGI released a joint statement on Sunday, 23 May with the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ) on Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) and the use of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.
The statement reaffirms that for people aged 50 years and over, the expert medical advice is that the benefit of receiving the vaccination outweighs the risk of this rare but serious side-effect.
This statement and a letter from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has been distributed to all primary care vaccination providers. We have also attached the talking points that practices have received to support their conversations with patients on the risks and benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Your assistance in ensuring all general practitioners know and understand the latest advice and in directing any concerns to the available resources is much appreciated.
The, Phase 1B peak comms and following documents provide updated information about vaccine storage period, dose allocations, transfer of vaccine stock, social media posts and tiles, checking patient medical history and updated resources.
These documents are intended to provide you with regular updates and information to assist you with talking points if any questions arise.
Applications open for Oxfam’s leadership program for First Nations women
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from across Australia can now apply to participate in a weeklong summit in Canberra to build their political engagement skills to make positive changes in their communities. Part of Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk program – which is now in its 12th year – the national summit will run from 17-22 October.
The immersive program aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to learn more about, and participate in, the political system. Over 10 years, the program has empowered more than 850 First Nations women, by connecting them with Australia’s political system while building their capacity as changemakers. Oxfam’s Straight Talk Coordinator, Worrin Williams, said the program allows women to become comfortable engaging with the federal political system by giving them practical tools, and building connections and confidence.
Recognised each year as a time for all Australians to learn about shared histories, cultures, and achievements, it is an opportunity to explore how reconciliation can be achieved through this collaboration.
‘The RACGP is a leader in the space of reconciliation, and with the direction of our RAP, it gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians a further voice to move forward in the right direction and know that it is the right thing,’ he said.
‘Reconciliation is more than a word – it is a powerful action that we can all work towards.’
To mark National Reconciliation Week, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is calling on all Australians, governments, and institutions to take continued action and commitment towards reconciliation, and to reflect and communicate about the ways reconciliation can be supported.
‘If we can work together as a nation to address the disparity across different areas, we can deliver on reconciliation outcomes and start closing the gap,’ NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said.
‘Until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are fully engaged and have control over their health and wellbeing, any “refresh” will be marginal at best and certainly won’t close the gap.’
The RACGP has committed to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive, inclusive health services.
130,000 Additional Vaccines for Victoria
The Australian Government is releasing an additional 130,000 vaccines to support Victoria to accelerate vaccinations in the state, including in the Whittlesea Local Government Area.
This support will be provided through an immediate release of 40,000 doses this week and an additional 15,000 doses each week for six weeks.
Further, from Monday, the Altona North Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic will commence vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine, this is in addition to the AstraZeneca vaccine they are currently administering.
Read the full media release from the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged care here.
Caring for Spirit and the Sharing the Wisdom of Our Elders report launch Invite
The Aboriginal Health & Ageing Program at NeuRA would like to invite you to attend the launch of the Caring for Spirit online dementia education and training resources. Caring for Spirit has been co-designed with the Koori Growing Old Well Study, partners and wider networks, with funding support from the Department of Health Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund.
This launch will take place: On: Wednesday, 16th June 2021 At: Campbelltown Catholic Club (in the Emily room)
20 – 22 Camden Rd,
Campbelltown NSW 2560 From: 10.00am – 2.00pm (Lunch provided)
A unique birthing program in Brisbane has long been advocating for culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies. Now it has the data to prove it’s working.
About 300 women go through the Brisbane-based Birthing in Our Community Program (BiOC) was founded in 2013. It’s now been the subject of a long-term study into whether such culturally appropriate care improves the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children – and the results are promising. A study led by researchers at Charles Darwin University and published in The Lancet Global Health journal earlier this year found, over a seven-year period, an 80% increase in women attending antenatal appointments.
It also found women using the service were 50% less likely to have a premature baby than those accessing standard maternity care in hospital, as well as a 40% increase in breastfeeding.
Charles Darwin University professor Yvette Roe, who is co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and led the study, says the results are astonishing. “We’ve not seen this kind of evidence anywhere in Australia. This kind of research, this kind of model of care, this system of care, changes life trajectory.” Professor Roe, a Njikena Jawuru woman, says having a range of services available is part of its triumph.
BiOC participant Sarah Booth with her daughter Eva. Image source: SBS News website. Image in feature tile from ISA Healthcare Solutions website.
CTG Partnership Health Check
The 2020 Partnership Health Check report, Joint Council response and Risk Register were released late last week. The Joint Council’s response acknowledges the important leadership role of the Coalition of Peaks in bringing forward policy proposals for consideration and commits the Parties to strengthened shared decision making processes to support the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
The annual Partnership Health Check will make sure the Partnership is getting stronger, and we are all meeting our commitments of the National Agreement to Close the Gap. The Partnership Health Check Report, Joint Council Response and Risk Register are on the Coalition of Peaks website here.
4 in 10 children in OOHC are Indigenous
Indigenous children have remained disproportionately represented in Australian out-of-home care (OOHC) statistics, despite overall rates remaining steady. A 118-page annual report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows one in four of the roughly 46,000 children in out-of-home care in mid-2020 were Indigenous.
At the time there were about 18,900 Indigenous children in OOHC which includes living with a relative or foster carer. That represents one in 18 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia, and it was 11 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous kids.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of that group were living with family or other Indigenous caregivers, with the rest in other arrangements including foster care. “In positive news, over 80% of Indigenous children who exited OOHC into more stable and permanent arrangements, did not return to care within 12 months,” AIHW spokesman Dinesh Indraharan said.
Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family & Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.
Water quality leaves Doomadgee dialysis chairs unused
A remote Indigenous community’s water quality is being blamed for a delay in two dialysis chairs being installed in the town’s hospital. A total of six dialysis chairs were supposed to be installed in Doomadgee last year but were delayed due to COVID-19 border restrictions into Indigenous communities. North West Hospital and Health Service’s acting chief executive Karen Murphy said the Gulf region’s flooding and a shortage in tradespeople had further delayed the installation of the remaining two chairs.
“We actually have all of the chairs in Doomadgee ready to go,” she said. “The contractors who were planned to do the upgrades had gone out of business and we had to go back out to tender. “The complexity is that the water quality going into these chairs has to be very specific water quality and so we’re still finalising all of the plumbing and the filtration system that will be used.”
Renal dialysis in Mount Isa and Townsville are the only options for many Doomadgee residents. Photo: Kelly Butterworth. Image source: ABC News website.
Action needed for heart disease in women
Australian researchers are calling for urgent action to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women – the leading cause of death for women around the world. The first global report on the issue urges action to tackle inequities in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease. 17 experts from 11 countries, including Australia, authored the study, which found heart, stroke and blood vessel disease in women was understudied, under-recognised, underdiagnosed and undertreated.
Around 2.1 million Australian women have cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, and it accounts for about one-in-four female deaths. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 35% of women’s deaths worldwide each year. “This report reinforces that strategies to reduce heart disease in women should be targeted to the most vulnerable people globally, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous women to have heart, stroke and vascular disease.
To view the full article from The West Australian click here.
Image source: The Tennessee Tribune.
Patient immunisation details more easily available
Australian healthcare providers now have an improved and consolidated view of their patients’ immunisation details through My Health Record. This is important as the world continues to face the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and shows how the national digital health system can support the response to both this and future pandemics. Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Clinical Adviser, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the latest update to the system makes it much easier to see patient immunisation information. As a GP I can quickly and easily see my patients’ immunisation details, including their COVID-19 vaccination status or their children’s National Immunisation Program status, without having to go through time-consuming logins for separate systems. This is one of the great benefits of My Health Record, he said.
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health website.
Calls to reinstate rural medicine placement program
The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) has called upon the Australian Government to reinstate funding for the John Flynn Placement Program, which was suspended following the 2021–22 Federal Budget announcements.
The Program, named after the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, has provided thousands of students a taste of rural medicine through four funded fortnight-long placements in rural Australia since 1997. “This Program has fostered an interest in rural medicine among students who wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to immerse themselves in rural life,” AMSA President, Sophie Keen, said. “While we commend the investment into prevocational training in rural and remote areas, this leaves a hole in medical student experiences that cannot be filled by university-led programs through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary.”
In a year defined by uncertainty, isolation and grief, our mental health has been tested in new and perhaps unprecedented ways, and we are only now beginning to see the first aftershocks in a system already stretched to capacity to respond. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health will be the focus of talks at this week’s annual congress of Australian and NZ psychiatrists.
Workforce issues also will be discussed at length at the Congress, with the College to launch its 2021–31 Rural Psychiatry Roadmap focused on addressing significant access challenges for Australians outside of metropolitan areas, a “cycle of rural psychiatry disadvantage”.
While almost one in three Australians lives outside a major city, only 14% of psychiatrists practice in these areas – and this number is just 10% for full-time clinicians. A paucity of culturally appropriate services greatly compounds this problem for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
The Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Network at the Agency for Clinical Innovation, The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council and NSW Primary Health Networks would like to cordially invite you to join us for the virtual 2021 – Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Conference 10:00 AM 8 June to 3:00 PM 9 June 2021.
The aim of this free, open to all, virtual conference is to bring together stakeholders to showcase each other’s success and key learnings in designing and delivering virtual models of care for Aboriginal peoples. We also would like to showcase any key initiatives that have supported the emotional wellbeing of the workforce and community during these challenging times.
To register click here. Link will be provided to attendees 48hr prior to the conference.
Image source: NSW Government, Agency for Clinical Innovation.
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is rare in most high-income countries yet in Australia it persists in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, causing grief and heartache for many families and communities. A report released last week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has shown that the burden of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) continues to grow in Australia.
The disease is a consequence of ARF, stemming from an abnormal immune reaction to untreated Group A streptococcal (Strep A) infection in the throat or on the skin. The report shows that the rate of definite or probable ARF notifications from health services increased from 67 per 100,000 in 2015 to 81 per 100,000 in 2019.
Vicki Wade, who began the Champions4Change program in RHDAustralia – a culturally responsive support program for people living with ARF and RHD – understands that the key to changing the trajectory of ARF and RHD in Australia is to put people at the centre of care and ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have agency to drive change. “While the numbers show the burden of disease continuing to increase, I’m optimistic that there’s a growing movement of community-led solutions centred around people and culture that is beginning to shift the tides of inequity.”
To view the AIHW report Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in Australiaclick here.
Image source: SBS NITV website.
Vaccinations more important than ever
Viruses like influenza (the flu), COVID-19 and pneumococcal pneumonia can be dangerous, but there are ways to protect yourself and your mob. After more than a year of social distancing and isolating, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself against vaccine preventable diseases this winter. Getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene and staying home if you’re unwell will help keep you and your family strong and healthy this winter. Download The Lung Foundation Australia’s Vaccination Tracker and talk to your doctor or community healthcare worker about getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your mob. To view the Lung Foundation Australia’s Protect your mob website page click here.
Image source: Lung Foundation Australia.
Child eye health messages for parents
In a partnership between the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Vision Initiative, we have co-developed a series of social media messages for parents, giving a number of tips to help care for children’s eyes. The messages that accompany the tiles were developed in consultation with members of the Aboriginal community in Victoria, facilitated by VACCHO.
The colourful social media tiles, featuring artwork by Tamara Murray, are accompanied by culturally appropriate messages, each with a unique focus, and a call to action: that if your child has any problems with their vision, speak to someone at the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation. You are invited to download the tiles here and share them with your community.
Extracts from VISION 2020 Australia’s social media tiles developed in a partnership between VACCHO and the Vision Initiative.
Time for cultural determinants health approach
In an Croakey article titled On the Federal Budget, it’s time for a reframe Melissa Sweet examines ways in which budget measures as a whole could contribute to better health for all over time. Among the recommendations is to embed a cultural determinants of health approach into policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with flexible implementation to enable responses tailored to individual communities, and governments should resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to effectively develop and implement cultural determinants of health programs that meet the needs of their communities.
Illawarra Aboriginal health worker Dale Wright. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.
Hopes for increased healing commitments
The Healing Foundation will be looking for strong evidence of the Government’s commitment to greater healing efforts for First Nations peoples, especially for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, in Tuesday’s Federal Budget announcements.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the Government had engaged strongly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during special events like the Anniversary of the Apology and would like to see this goodwill and support continue into the long term with strong policies and partnerships and major reforms.
In its ‘Healing the Nation’ Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22, The Healing Foundation detailed the need for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress healing for Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impacts of intergenerational trauma.
To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.
Image source: ORIC website.
EOIs sought for Justice Policy Partnership
The Coalition of Peaks are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant experience and expertise who may be interested in joining the Justice Policy Partnership under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
If you have professional experience in the justice sector, on-the-ground knowledge of justice in the community, academic qualifications, lived experience of the justice system, or family experience of the justice system or deaths in custody, and want to be part of an historic opportunity to work in partnership with governments to improve outcomes for our people, please submit an EOI by 17 May 2021.
More details are available on to Coalition of Peaks website. Applications close Monday 18 May 2021.
National Families Week
National Families Week is held every year between 15 and 21 May, coinciding with the United Nations International Day of Families on 15 May. This day is observed by the United Nations to mark the importance that the international community places on families as the most fundamental units of society, as well as to show concern about their situation in many parts of the world.
All Australians, including community organisations, schools, councils, companies and individuals are invited to participate in National Families Week each year. The enduring theme is ‘Stronger Families, Stronger Communities’.
This theme continues to highlight the important role families play as the central building block of our communities and deliver the message that community wellbeing is enhanced by family wellbeing. For more information click here.
Pat Turner addresses First Nations Media conference
At the national CONVERGE Conference in Lismore organised by First Nations Media, Pat Turner Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO provided an update on the Coalition of Peaks work, and progress on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. You can access a transcript of Pat’s speech here.
NDIS reforms will discriminate against Mob
John Gilroy, ARC Research Fellow in Indigenous Health, Disability and Community Development, University of Sydney says although the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the greatest human services reform in Australia’s history, and holds great promise in improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with disability, the federal government’s proposed “independent assessments” aren’t the way forward for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability.
“I’m a Koori bloke from the Yuin Nation who lives with disability and has a research career spanning nearly 20 years. The biggest problem I have with the proposed framework is that it’s disrespectful and discriminatory towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Rather than designing another layer of bureaucracy, I recommend the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) invests more resources into building and up-skilling the current NDIS planning workforce and the Aboriginal community-controlled services sector.”
Sixty health and medical organisations – including Indigenous health groups, service providers, the Australasian College of Health Service Management, the HESTA Super Fund and the Australian Society for Medical Research – have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister urging climate action for health.
The letter says ‘write to you as a coalition of climate concerned health organisations in Australia that wish to see the threat to health from climate change addressed by the Australian Government. Climate change is described by the World Health Organization as “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.” Yet, climate action could be the greatest public health opportunity to prevent premature deaths, address climate and health inequity, slow down or reverse a decrease in life expectancy, and unlock substantial health and economic co-benefits.’ The letter calls on the Australian government to:
Prioritise health in the context of Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement
Commit to the decarbonisation of the healthcare sector by 2040, and to the establishment of an Australian Sustainable Healthcare Unit
Implement a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia
AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Servicehave issued a joint media release saying ‘The NT Government’s budget is framed in a way that is detrimental to the best interests of Territorians, hideously expensive and unlikely to be effective. It bolsters resources to allow the policing and surveillance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and reduces funding where it is actually needed, in providing effective solutions when dealing with complex issues, like youth justice. The Government is moving to bring damaging and non-evidenced based youth reforms to parliament.
CEO of Danila Dilba Olga Havnen said “More prisons and jailing more people does not work. Even the USA has moved away from locking people up. It is costly and does not work. It is time for the Government and Opposition to listen to the advice at hand and look at alternative options that work.”
CEO of AMSANT John Patterson agreed “the proposed [NT Government] youth reform changes will likely lead to a surge in reoffending and offer nothing more than a path to jail. The complex health needs of our youth need to be taken into consideration. These reforms are not in the best interests of our youth or in the best interests of the Territory.”
“We call on the Government to reconsider the proposed youth reforms and talk to us. Punitive legislation does not rehabilitate young offenders or keep communities safe. We know the tough-on-crime approach only facilitates more crime and disadvantage for our community. It is time the NT government responded humanely and responsibly by addressing the real causes of youth offending and investing in these evidence-based approaches.”
To view the joint AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service media release click here.
AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Servicealso joined CAAC, AMA NT Inc, The Royal Australian & NZ College of Psychiatrists and the AMA in an open letter to the NT Minister for Health, the Minister for Police and Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing outlining concerns over the NT government’s proposed youth justice reforms.
The Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) has also condemned the NT Government’s youth justice reforms. NTCOSS CEO, Deborah Di Natale, said incarcerating more children will not reduce crime. “This legislation will reduce access to diversion programs and impose electronic monitoring on young people prior to conviction. It does not break the cycle of crime. It entrenches it.”
To view the NTCOSS media release in full click here.
Image from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory final report. Image source: Croakey.
Indigenous workforce needs better support
Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) is surveying its members on the impact of COVID-19 on their education, training and professional practice. Its findings to date hold important lessons for educators, employers and governments on how they can better support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and, ultimately, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, particularly in times of disruption and public health emergencies.
Megan McIntosh and Tara Price with (front) Brock Kinchela and Lucy Ridds in one of Armajun Aboriginal Health Service’s offices. Image source: The Inverell Times.
AOD research – treatment, services, prevention
A number of papers and reports relating to alcohol and other drugs have recently been released.
The University of Sydney released a paper Alcohol consumption and dependence is linked to the extent that people experience need satisfaction while drinking alcohol in two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitieswhich argues that due to systematic disadvantage and inter-generational trauma, Indigenous Australians may be less likely to have satisfied basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness). When people are need-thwarted, they may engage in compensatory behaviours to feel better in the short-term. Better understanding the functions that alcohol may play for some Indigenous Australian drinkers may aid communities, clinicians, and policy makers in improving programs for reducing drinking-related harms.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: key findings, click here, and Patterns of intensive alcohol and other drug treatment service use in Australia 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2019, click here.
The Senate Community Affairs References Committee has also released a report Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, click here.
The Glen Art program participant. Image source: The Glen website.
AMA is urging all Australians to get their seasonal flu vaccination now, with general practices across the country having recently received stock ahead of the upcoming flu season. “Winter is coming, and influenza remains a very serious illness, particularly for the vulnerable members of our community,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
“Thousands of Australians are admitted to hospitals with influenza complications each year. Last year we saw record flu vaccinations, which was fantastic. We need to do the same again this year. The message is simple: get your flu vaccine now.
“There were significant social distancing measures in place last year that not only helped keep COVID-19 at bay, they also meant that cases of influenza were down significantly from previous years. Influenza has not gone away and with life now largely returning to normal, we mustn’t become complacent.”
Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.
WA Young Person of the Year, AHCWA employee
A Nollamara resident’s dedication to strengthen young people’s connections to Aboriginal culture has been recognised. Whadjuk Noongar man Derek Nannup, 23, was named WA’s Young Person of the Year at the 2021 WA Youth Awards last week.
Mr Nannup is working in sexual health education at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and is on the Mirrabooka Police District Youth Advisory Group and the Youth Educating Peers Reference Group. He also worked as a support worker for children in care at Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and was the Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator at Wesley College.
Mr Nannup also established the Boorloo Indigenous Youth Yarning Circles, a space for young people to practice traditional healing, discuss culture and community issues. The Nollamara resident said the award was not just about him but a recognition for his people and the Noongar community. “I’m really honoured to have been acknowledged as WA Young Person of the Year … that means a lot,” he said. “A lot of the mob have said ‘you’ve got leadership quality’ but all I’m really doing is listening to my Elders, doing and practicing my responsibility and obligations as a Whadjuk Noongar. It shows how far we’ve come together, we’re still a long way to go but hopeful.”
To read the full article in the Stirling Times click here.
Derek Nannup, 23, WA’s Young Person of the Year. Image source: Stirling Times.
Healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people
Are you an NSW-based service that works with older Aboriginal people?
Would your service like to be part of research that shows how important community programs are for older Aboriginal people?
The Ironbark Project is a healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people (45 years+). NSW-based services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people are invited to be part of this study involving Aboriginal-led community programs that improve social and emotional wellbeing, strength, mobility and independence, and prevent falls. Funding and training are provided to run the weekly community program with Elders.
Join an online information session 11 AM – 12 PM Monday 26 April 2021 to find out how you can be involved in the Ironbark Project.
Minister for Indigenous Essential Services Chansey Paech said a $28 million Territory Labor Government investment will help to shore up water security in Aboriginal communities across the NT. Tailored projects in ten remote communities will improve water quality and supply infrastructure, prioritising areas of critical need. The funding, $7 million per year for four years, will support initiatives to manage immediate problems and a long-term plan to tackle complex water supply issues. These include new bores, network upgrades, improved water disinfection systems, and the installation of meters to monitor and reduce water usage. The identified projects, tailored to address community-specific issues, will begin in Laramba, Engawala, Yuendumu, Epenarra, Imanpa, Atitjere, Warruwi and Numbulwar in the first year of the program; with works in Angurugu and Beswick to follow.
Priority Reform One of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is about building and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with governments on Closing the Gap at every level.
We want to see new formal partnerships established across the country at state and territory and regional levels between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and governments on closing the gap which reflect elements consistent with the Partnership Agreement.
Where there are existing partnerships, we want them strengthened to ensure that representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are chosen by those communities and are properly supported to share decision making about closing the gap in their locations.
You can view a new video animation for Priority Reform One here.
Mental health care – like hunting for unicorns
Numerous inquiries have analysed the barriers of cost and access to receiving mental health care, but these problems persist. This is particularly the case for people who experience the ‘missing middle’ – their case is too complex for a GP but not severe enough for hospital admission. One reader told Guardian Australia: ‘Finding a good psychologist or psychiatrist who bulk-bills and has appointments available is like hunting for unicorns while blindfolded.’
To view The Guardian article ‘Like hunting for unicorns’: Australians on the search for adequate, affordable mental healthcareclick here.
Image source: VentureBeat website.
SA – Adelaide – Flinders University
PhD scholarship x 1 (3 years) – Adelaide
Flinders University is seeking an outstanding candidate for a PhD scholarship for an Australian Research Council Project entitled: Contemporary lessons from a history of Aboriginal, women’s and generalist community health services in Australia 1970-2020. This exciting project is a partnership between Flinders University, the University of Sydney, La Trobe University, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), The Sydney Local Health District, Paul Laris and Associates and Tony McBride and Associates.
Any area of study relevant to the project will be considered, including one with a focus on the emergence of Aboriginal Community-Controlled health organisations as part of the broader community health movement. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this aspect of the project.
For further details about the position, including how to apply click here.
Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration
The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today and acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed that joined up work between all governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives is critical to reducing the rate at which Indigenous people are incarcerated, and thereby reduce deaths in custody. Given the urgency and enduring nature of this issue Joint Council agreed to the high priority of accelerating the critical work to establish a Policy Partnership on Justice with the aim of reducing youth and adult incarceration.
Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks said “It’s vital that governments, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, are taking urgent and decisive steps to address the overincarceration of our peoples. For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will be at the table with Ministers, Attorneys’-General, government officials, corrections, policing, housing and health under a formal shared decision making arrangement.”
To view the Coalition of Peaks media release click here.
Photo: Getty. Image source: BBC News website.
Aboriginal people still dying in custody
Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr died in a Sydney prison cell in 2015 after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, he was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative. Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly.
His case has parallels to that of African-American man George Floyd, whose death triggered global protests against racism and policing in the US. The Black Lives Matter movement also threw a spotlight on Australia’s own incarceration of indigenous people and their deaths in custody.
This week marks 30 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The royal commission made hundreds of recommendations to address the crisis. But three decades on, the situation has worsened. Central to the problem is overrepresentation. Indigenous people are about 12 times more likely to be in custody than non-indigenous Australians.
That reality, a product of systemic problems and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people, has prompted fresh anger over a lack of action. “The system is continuing to kill us and no one’s doing anything about it,” Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr, said at a rally this week.
The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC Radio 666 Canberra ‘Afternoons’ yesterday about the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and intergenerational healing.
Fiona Cornforth said “it is an important time to do that reflecting. Though it’s something we carry every day, I think, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where we’ve lost hope in recommendations being fully implemented, despite all our voices being in these reports over time and people being generous and courageous to put forward their stories, time and time again. Where the solutions are in community, the solutions are given up as important by those with lived experience. But the powers that be and the complex system, the incarceration system, and all the service providers, the big web just can’t seem to get these recommendations out of the too hard basket.”
The Morrison government has decided to delay introducing mandatory independent assessments (IAs) for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in a move strongly welcomed by disability groups.
New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said earlier this week that she would not be making any decisions around in IAs legislation until an IA trial was finished and the government could examine the feedback. While people currently need to get reports from multiple health providers of their choosing to assess their NDIS eligibility, the new mandatory assessments will be conducted by NDIS-appointed healthcare professionals using standardised tools.
The decision to introduce IAs has been met with overwhelming opposition from disability advocates, who say the process does not adequately capture the complexity of a person’s support needs and will lead to unfair outcomes for people with disability. Reynolds acknowledged the “significant feedback” IAs have already received, and said she would be consulting across the country with as many stakeholders as she could. Disability groups – who feared people would disengage from the scheme entirely because of their unwillingness to engage with IAs – strongly welcomed the minister’s comments.
To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.
Image source: Pro Bono Australia News website.
The more that have the vaccine, the safer we’ll be
NACCHO CEO and lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey received their first AstraZeneca vaccines at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services last week. “The more people have the vaccinations, the safer we will be,” said Pat. “We’ve managed to keep our community free of any deaths from COVID-19 to date and we want to continue that outstanding record.”
Contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or GP to find out when you can receive your vaccine and to ask any questions you may have. To view the Pat Turner’s video click here.
Review of kidney transplant wait-listing
Research has confirmed poor access to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the NT. The study found causes of delays to wait-listing included: failure to attend appointments due to competing priorities and communication barriers, access and navigating complex pathways to specialist services, transport, co-morbidities requiring multiple tests and multiple specialty services, and pressures on dialysis and hospital bed capacity.
The study concluded that barriers to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are complex and can be addressed by redesigning healthcare provision, including increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to provide education and patient navigation of the healthcare system and improve communication, streamlining investigations and coordinating specialist services.
A study has been undertaken to determine what lessons can be learned from the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS). The VASSS, which started in July 2010 and has operated continually since, aims to improve access to visual aids and eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.
An estimated 10,853 VASSS cofunded visual aids were delivered over the first 6 years of the scheme. During that time the mean annual number of comprehensive eye examinations provided within services using VASSS grew 4.6-fold faster compared with the 4 years preceding the VASSS. VASSS achievements were attained through collaborations, flexibility, trust and communication between organisations, all facilitated by funding resulting from evidence-based advocacy.
Access to visual aids and eye examinations by Aboriginal Victorians has improved during the operation of the VASSS, with associated direct and indirect benefits to Aboriginal health, productivity and quality of life. The success of the VASSS may be replicable in other jurisdictions and provides lessons that may be applicable in other fields.