NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness

Image in feature tile is of Pat Turner AM, delivering the Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration for 2020, Great Hall, University of Sydney. Image source: ABC Speaking Out website.

Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness

Yesterday the CEO of the NACCHO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM issued the following media release to mark the start of NAIDOC Week 2022:

Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness

NAIDOC Week 2022: Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!

CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM says NAIDOC Week 2022 calls upon us to Get up, Stand up and Show up, which can be tough! But as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we know how important it is.

‘We know that to achieve the changes necessary to improve the health, wellbeing, and economic prosperity of our people, we have to make this choice every day.

‘On the days that are especially tough, I remember that we stand on the shoulders of exceptional humans who have changed Australia for the better! Like my Uncle, Dr Charlie Perkins, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Eddie Mabo, Gladys Elphick, Albert Natmajira, Faith Bandler, Vincent Lingiari, all our mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who’s presence and strength are endless, and to our ancestors who maintained and handed down a rich culture that makes us who we are today. That makes us strong.

NAIDOC Week 2022 with quote from NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of Coalition of the Peaks, Pat Turner AM

‘I am the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman and I grew up in Alice Springs. Being Aboriginal and of the First Peoples of this Country is my story, the story of who I am.

‘And this is just one of the multitudes of worthwhile reasons that help me to Get Up, Stand Up, and Show Up, every day.

Pat further added, ‘Over time, and through our continual storytelling, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have reclaimed some of our Country back through native title and land rights, and as momentum builds towards a national Treaty as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the significance of our stories continues.

‘As the first CEO of NITV and working in the Aboriginal space for a long time, it is exciting to see the explosion of young people on social media, advocating for social justice, celebrating, and reconnecting with their identities and languages.

‘The stories I grew up with were told under big gum trees, out on porches, sometimes laying in swags and looking up to the stars. I would listen as my mother and father told the stories of my family and about our Country, and from others, I heard the stories of the fight for the civil rights of Aboriginal people.

‘Both these stories helped to shape who I am today. They gave me my sense of what it means to be an Aboriginal person and instilled a fire in me to imagine and work towards a better future for our peoples.’

You can view Pat Turner’s media release Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness in full on the NACCHO website here.

Interrogating intentions for First Nations health

In the PM’s 2020 Closing the Gap statement to Parliament, he reported “despite the best of intentions; investments in new programs; and bi‐partisan goodwill, Closing the Gap has never really been a partnership with Indigenous people”. The “best of intentions” for Closing the Gap has been widely questioned in academic literature, and mainstream media, including highlighting the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples involvement in decision‐making processes and acknowledgement of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as exemplars of best practice in providing holistic health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 2021, with a reformed agenda for Closing the Gap now established with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented by their community‐controlled peak organisations, the Coalition of Peaks — an Aboriginal‐led research team — felt it timely to interrogate the intentions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through a critical review of research outputs since Closing the Gap was established in 2008.

To read the MJA article Interrogating the intentions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health: a narrative review of research outputs since the introduction of Closing the Gap in full click here.

Image source: Oxfam Australia.

CATSINaM demonstrates governance excellence

Wiradjuri academic Juanita Sherwood was working at The Block in Redfern in inner Sydney in the late 1980s when she first saw the need to decolonise research to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Professor Sherwood is a founding member of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives(CATSINaM), a member of its Elders Circle and a Board director. She said CATSINaM’s model of Indigenous governance today was “a beacon of light in how to do business in Indigenous health” compared to a generation ago when she started work as a nurse. “Our governance model reflects on what is important in our culture, our lore, how we pay respect to Elders, and how we promote primary healthcare as critical care for our community,” she said.

Board President Marni Tuala, a Bundjalung registered midwife, said CATSINaM’s model of Indigenous governance could be seen in multiple layers of the organisation where the distribution of power often seen in Western systems was replaced by the reciprocal distribution of knowledge that reinforces “our Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing”. “What we’re doing at CATSINaM is demonstrating the model of excellence in Indigenous governance,” she said.

To view the Croakey Media Health article Demonstrating excellence in Indigenous governance: Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives in full click here.

CATSINaM member Kamilaroi-Wiradjuri nurse and artist Kisani Upward painted this portrait of CATSINaM founder Dr Sally Goold – the first Aboriginal nurse at the first ACCHO in Redfern – for the 2022 Archibald Prize. Photo courtesy of Kisani Upward. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Adolescent health strategy a glaring gap

The current lack of a national strategy for Indigenous adolescent health in Australia is a glaring gap. While there has been work to establish a policy framework for Australia’s young people, there is no national strategy for Indigenous adolescent health. As a result, investments to date have been limited, reactive and fragmented. Efforts have been siloed around health issues including sexually transmitted infections, social and emotional wellbeing, youth suicide, rheumatic heart disease, and risk behaviours including substance misuse. However, these foci are inadequate given the persistent high rates of potentially avoidable mortality; unintentional injury (a key driver of adolescent mortality) is a notable gap.

Additional policy gaps relate to the health needs of Indigenous 10–14‐year‐olds, including the excess burden of sexually transmitted infection, injury, substance use, and poor mental health (including self‐harm and suicide). Young adolescents typically cannot access youth services independently and have needs beyond those currently provided for in paediatric services. Further, many existing efforts focus on diseases and risks amenable through the health system, too narrow a focus to address needs largely driven by complex social and structural determinants.

More than one‐third of Indigenous adolescents report high rates of psychological distress, a symptom of systemic racism and discrimination, intergenerational trauma, and associated socio‐economic deprivation. While responsive health services play a critical role, broader investments in health promotion and prevention are also required.

To view the MJA article The need for a roadmap to guide actions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent health: youth governance as an essential foundation in full click here.

Photo: Getty Images. Image source: BBC.

No telehealth puts vulnerable at risk

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says the Federal Government has failed an early test of its pandemic response by refusing to extend COVID-19 telehealth services despite the ongoing challenges to our health system. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the refusal of the Government to extend Medicare-funded COVID-19 telehealth services from 1 July would limit vulnerable patients’ telephone access to doctors. “This decision means telephone access to doctors will be significantly limited and this will hit vulnerable patients hardest, including those who do not have access to high bandwidth internet and those who can’t operate the necessary IT systems,” he said.

“This means that older patients, those with chronic health conditions including cancers and those who
are immune suppressed will have less access to care from tomorrow and may be put at increased risk of
contracting COVID if they now have to attend their doctors appointment face to face. “Each day thousands of Australians are required to self-isolate because of a COVID-19 infection and as
a close contact. Many of these people will not be able to continue to access medical care when they
need it.”

To view the AMA media release Government failure on telehealth services puts vulnerable patients at risk in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

Growing First Nations population a proud moment

Co-founder of The Demographics Group based in Melbourne and columnist with The New Daily has written an article about Australia’s growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, “Earlier [last] week, I was able to get a glimpse of the census data. The joys of writing a column include getting embargoed press releases the day before the official data launch. One figure, more than anything else, jumped out at me. Australia’s Indigenous population has increased sharply to 813,000 (3.2% of the population).”

“This 25% increase over 2016 data is huge. Obviously, this increase cannot, by definition, be due to migration, nor was it the result of an outrageously high birth rate. On the contrary, more people identified themselves as Aboriginal on the census form. Social progress still seems painfully slow for the relevant cohort, but zooming out, looking at longitudinal data, allows us to be much more optimistic about societal trends. We have collectively created an environment where more people are confident enough to proclaim their legacy loud and clear.”

To read The New Daily article The Stats Guy: Increase in Indigenous population a proud moment for Australia in full click here.

Photo: Wayne Quilliam, Oxfam Australia. Image source: AHRC.

Hope for Health program changing lives 

An Indigenous-led program in Arnhem Land is combating chronic illness and promoting healthy living using a combination of traditional and Western knowledge. The Hope for Health program has seen profound results among participants including weight loss; better control over diabetes; a reduction of medication use; and half of participants quitting smoking.

Co-founder of the framework Time Trudgen says the program could benefit communities across Australia to close the gap in health education and safeguard future generations.

You can listen to the SBS story Indigenous-led health program changing lives in Galiwin’ku here.

Hope for Health team recruiting for health retreat. Photo: Aneeta Bhole. Image source: SBS News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Must know shape The Voice will take

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

Must know shape The Voice will take

Last night NACCHO CEO, Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner AM spoke to Narelda Jacobs and John Paul Janke on NITV The Point. The presenters  introduced the interview saying that while the while Uluru Statement from the Heart with its enshrined Voice to Parliament was one a big agenda item for the new federal government and the PM had this week renewed his vow to push ahead with the Voice to Parliament without or without the Coalition’s support, questions remain on how to move forward.

Ms Turner, who has a long history of being involved in constitutional conventions, including being a Board member of the Constitutional Centenary Foundation, said she always imagined that when it cam time to amend the constitution there would be a clear understanding of what shape the amendment would take.

You can view Episode 20 The Point, Season 2022 including Pat Turner’s interview from 1:50-6:51 minutes  here.

APO NT welcome NT Treaty Commission report

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) is proud to recognise the significant achievement of the NT’s Treaty Commission on the public release of its Final Report. “First Nations across the NT can boast a long and proud history of calling for recognition, truth, justice and self-determination for our people,” said AMSANT CEO, John Paterson.

“From Gwalwa Daraniki, to the Yirrkala Bark Petitions, to the Barunga Statement, to the Wave Hill walk off- all our calls for control of our own affairs are at the heart of our work here at APO NT. Treaty is the obvious next step. We call on Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, Minster for Treaty, Selena Uibo, and the whole NT Government to support the recommendations in the report.”

To view the APO NT media release APO NT celebrates the public release of the NT Treaty Commission’s Final Report, and support its calls for Truth and Treaty in full click here.

Hon Selena Uibo, NT Minister for Treaty and Local Decision-Making with the Treaty Commission Final Report. Image source: Katherine Times.

National report on ear and hearing health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released an inaugural national report on the ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults. Indigenous Australians experience excessive rates of ear and hearing problems which can have profound impacts on overall health and quality of life. The AIHW report brings together information on the prevalence of ear and hearing problems among Indigenous Australians along with insights on key protective and risk factors.

To view the AIHW citation for the Ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report released on 29 June 2022 in full click here.

Image source: NHMRC website.

Stan Grant on building Aboriginal workforce

Esteemed Journalist Stan Grant has supported discussions around how to bolster the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD). Amid a panel chat facilitated by Stan at Blacktown Hospital, the WSLHD launched its Aboriginal Workforce Plan on 27 June 2022.

Stan said discussions like these are critical because “if you don’t hear the voices, if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you can’t possibly devise a strategy to meet their needs. It’s about building an overall relationship with the communities and creating opportunities for people to enter into the workforce, stay in the organisations and to have those pathways to feel integrated.”

To view The Pulse article Stan Grant on strengthening Aboriginal workforces in western Sydney in full click here.

Stan Grant. Image source: Griffith News, Griffith University.

Near-miss Award for hepatitis C research

Implementation Science Group Co-Head, and Coordinator of EC Australia, Dr Alisa Pedrana is one of 11 recipients of an exciting new award, The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot. The award aims to support the retention and development of outstanding emerging researchers and future leaders from groups facing systematic barriers to success, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot addresses disadvantage by supporting the best eligible but unfunded Victorian applicants from these groups at the 2021 NHMRC Emerging Leader level 2 scheme.

Each award is valued at $74,000 and is matched with a cash contribution of the same value from the recipient’s primary employer. Dr Pedrana said the award would support her work on two projects focused on the elimination of hepatitis C in Australia – a partnership with Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Coroporation (BNMAC) in northern NSW to develop campaigns for hepatitis C testing; and the evaluation of a same-day hepatitis C test-and-treat model in Cairns.

You can access the Burnet Institute article Near-miss boost for hepatitis research in full click here and a related article ACCHO Leads Hepatitis C Elimination Effort on the BNMAC website here.

BNMAC hep c testing. Image source BNMAC website. Dr Alisa Pedrana. Image source; Burnet Institute website.

Funding needed for bush health access

Dr Ross Maxwell, Chair of Health Workforce Queensland says the government needs to commit real funding to help remote and rural communities with access to doctors and health workforce when and where they need them, both now and into the future.

“There is currently too much stress on existing GP, allied health and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Many services are considered to be unsustainable from financial and workforce perspectives. Solutions will involve additional workforce and innovative service delivery models fully supported by enhanced funding. It is a time for genuine partnership in remote and rural communities and it has never been more important to work collaboratively at the local, state and federal levels to address these health workforce and health service challenges”.

To view the Mirage article Funding Reform Required for GP & Allied Health Practices in full click here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Noongar elders’ fight for recognition

In 2015, an Indigenous-led protest against state government plans to shut down a number of remote Aboriginal communities in WA spawned a tent embassy and “refugee camp” on an island in Perth’s Swan River. After weeks of tension, police and council rangers moved in to forcibly shut down the Heirisson Island (Matagarup) camp and remove the protesters  from the island.

But in the wake of the closure, the City of Perth Council realised it needed to apologise and embark on a process of reconciliation to make Noongar people feel safe and welcome in the city. So it hosted a series of meetings. The meetings have led to an unexpected legacy project documenting the stories of the Noongar people’s fight for recognition. A short film, podcast and book have been published that tells the journey of the Noongar through first-hand stories.

To view the ABC News article Noongar Aboriginal elders’ fight for recognition documented in podcast, short film and book in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Labor faces fresh challenges as it works towards a referendum on the Indigenous voice to parliament, with Aboriginal leader Pat Turner revealing she is “struggling” to see a way forward on constitutional recognition and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe saying the nation is not ready for the vote. Ms Turner, who worked with former PM Scott Morrison to redesign the national agreement on Closing the Gap, says Australians will not vote for the Indigenous voice unless they have details.

The Coalition of Peaks chairwoman also told the Australian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce on Friday that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had unanswered questions. “This is a deeply personal view. I am struggling to see the best way forward on constitutional recognition and responding to the Uluru Statement,” Ms Turner said. “I accept the totality of the Uluru Statement and I am very supportive of a national voice to the parliament, but I need to start to see some detail here. I want some meat on the bones.
“And the proponents of the voice have got to start putting that out because I am not the only – Aboriginal person that is wondering what this is going to look like.”

Ms Turner was a member of the senior advisory group tasked with working on the design of an Indigenous voice for the Morrison government. The group’s work, overseen by prominent Indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, produced a detailed report recommending options for local and regional voices as well as a national voice representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.

To view The Australian article I’m struggling to see way forward on recognition, Pat Turner says click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: THe Sydney Morning Herald.

Rhythm appointed for new NDIS campaign

Following a competitive national pitch process, Rhythm has been appointed by the NACCHO to design, develop and produce a National NDIS communications campaign. The campaign will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia with culturally secure messaging to improve awareness and uptake of NDIS services. This follows Rhythm’s recent relaunch of its production offering as Rhythm Films, alongside its expansion as a fully fledged creative agency.

Briannan Dean, General Manager of Rhythm, said it’s an exciting and much-needed project. “The NDIS has so much potential to impact and improve people’s quality of life, and to date there hasn’t been a targeted communications campaign that is appropriate for and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences. Rhythm is very excited to partner with NACCHO on a national level to drive awareness and better outcomes in this space.”

To view the Campaign Brief article NACCHO appoints Rhythm WA as agency and production partner for new NDIS campaign in full click here.

Rhythm WA team. Image source: Campaign Brief.

Pastors address COVID-19 vax misinformation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pastors have linked up to strike down COVID-19 misinformation. The religious leaders have united with health practitioners in our communities in the hope of countering conspiracies about COVID-19 vaccines. Research has told us there are multiple complex reasons for vaccine hesitancy in communities, ranging from misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy, concerns about side effects and some people’s belief that vaccinating goes against their faith.

To help raise awareness around how COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to protect your family and communities from COVID-19, NACCHO reached out to Pastors in select communities, who have lent their voices to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. Below are links to each of the Pastor videos that will be released through a nationwide campaign by NITV (YouTube link to each video):

  • Pastor Geoff Stokes – Kalgoorlie, WA: here
  • Pastor Willie Dumas – Tweed Heads, NSW: here
  • Pastor George Mann – Bourke, NSW: here
  • Pastor Ray Minniecon – Glebe, NSW: here
  • Uncle Col Watego – Glebe, NSW: here

Catchy iSISTERQUIT video clips launched

Southern Cross University’s iSISTAQUIT project has launched a compilation of catchy video clips in a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking. iSISTAQUIT is a blended model of community support and traditional treatment by GPs and other health professionals to help these women stop smoking.

“Through our research we found there are three main things we need to address to really make a difference to the numbers of Aboriginal women who smoke during pregnancy. These are clinician training, better access to oral forms of nicotine replacement therapy and specific health promotion messages to address the challenges Indigenous women face when quitting,” said Coffs Harbour campus-based SCU Professor Gillian Gould, lead investigator and GP.

“Our iSISTAQUIT social media campaign, designed in consultation with community women and with Aboriginal Health Professionals, has a bright, upbeat energy to focus on the positive outlooks and celebrate the successes of the women. It’s important that Aboriginal women feel comfortable with their health professionals to talk about quitting, and it’s vital that a health professional has the appropriate approach to start the chat with minimising barriers. It’s the chat that could save a life.”

To view the News Of The Area article SCU Launches Campaign For ISISTAQUIT Project in full click here.

SAWCAN governance award finalist

The South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) has been highly commended for outstanding examples of Aboriginal-led governance on a national level. On 8 June 2022 at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre Sydney, the Indigenous Governance Awards ceremony, hosted by Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation, acknowledged and celebrated outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives, projects, or within small to large businesses.

SAWCAN were one of nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations / initiatives from around the nation who were shortlisted as finalists in the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards. Whilst SAWCAN didn’t win, they were one of two initiatives who were given high commendations from the judging panel. Romlie Mokak, Indigenous Governance Awards judging panel member and Productivity Commissioner said “the fact that you have been able to, in such a short amount of time, change the way that governments themselves saw their program objectives and you were able to step into that space and not only speak to it but re-negotiate what that looked like for your mob, I think speaks volumes about the strength of your collaboration and the value that others see in it as well, including government.”

To view the SAWCAN media release SAWCAN Highly Commended in Category 1 of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards in full click here.

L to R: Karen Mundine, CEO Reconciliation Australia; Janine Mohamed, CEO Lowitja Institute; Donna Murray, CEO Indigenous Allied
Health Australia; Cindy Zbierski, CEO Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service; Zell Dodd, CEO Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation; Warren
Clements, Public Health Manager Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, Polly Paerata SAWCAN Secretariat, Leeroy Bilney COO Tullawon
Health Service and Romlie Mokak Commissioner with the Productivity Commission.

Flu adds pressure to stretched NT health system

A steep rise in influenza cases across the NTis exacerbating ongoing staff and bed shortages at hospitals, with hundreds hospitalised and patients being flown in from remote communities for treatment. Data from NT Health shows the territory has nearly doubled its recent flu records, with 3,210 cases recorded so far this year — up from 1,878 in 2019. More than 1,000 of those cases have been reported in the past month.

It’s a concerning trend that is dumping more pressure on the NT’s already strained health system, with some units so busy that patients have at times been left waiting in beds in corridors. That’s according to Dr Stephen Gourley, the NT chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). “Unfortunately, you may end up in a bed in a corridor,” Dr Gourley said.  “When the hospital gets very full, we try our best to find people places to be and they’re not always in the most ideal places.”

To view the ABC News article Rising flu cases increasing pressure on chronically stretched NT health system in full click here.

Health workers at Royal Darwin Hospital work hard to keep up with demand. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Matilda’s goalkeeper supports health workers

Throughout June, Bridging the Gap Foundation (BtGF) has teamed up with Matilda’s goalkeeper, proud Noongar woman, and Canberra local Lydia Williams, aiming to assist the mounting Indigenous healthcare crisis in the NT. Ms Williams is raising funds for The Ramaciotti Regional and Remote Health Sciences Training Centre (Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre) following a severe and systemic shortage of healthcare workers, particularly Indigenous staff, placing the healthcare system under enormous pressure.

This is one of the driving factors for ongoing poor health outcomes and unacceptable health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, says Bridging the Gap. The overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed hospitals rely on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers due to a lack of investment in career pathways for local people to enter the health workforce. The Foundation revealed the workforce turnover rate is estimated to be around 148%.

“I am proud to work alongside Bridging the Gap Foundation to raise funds for the Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre’s trainees,” says Ms Williams. “I understand the importance of culturally appropriate health programs and I am keen to promote education campaigns that highlight the importance of healthy lifestyles. This campaign kicks these goals for me.”

To view The Canberra Times article Canberra’s Lydia Williams kicks goals with Bridging the Gap Foundation in full click here.

Lydia Williams Arsenal WFC & Matilda’s goalkeeper. Image source: NiniTTi.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Agreement on CTG vital to making change

Image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner AM with A Report on Engagements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to Inform a New National Agreement on Closing the Gap in June 2020.

National Agreement on CTG vital to making change

Today, at the commencement of National Reconciliation Week Friday 27 May to June 2022, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM has issued the following media release :

National Agreement on Closing the Gap vital to making change

This National Reconciliation Week, Australians are challenged to be brave and make change. Members of the Coalition of Peaks have been doing change-making work in and for their communities for more than 50 years. The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) which has a membership of 144 community-controlled health services in every jurisdiction of Australia is one of the key members of the Coalition of Peaks and strongly supports the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

It was a desire to continue driving change that led the Coalition of Peaks – now a representative body of over 70 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations– to enter a genuine, formal partnership with Australian governments to Close the Gap.

This historic partnership and associated National Agreement on Closing the Gap set out how governments and the Coalition of Peaks will change the way they work together, to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It also provides a framework for governments, policy makers, service delivery organisations and institutions, and all Australians, to take meaningful action towards reconciliation.

“A reconciled Australia is a country in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have full control over our own destinies. A country 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”, said Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO, Ms Pat Turner AM.

“The National Agreement can make real changes in the lives of our people, but we won’t get there without Australians understanding it and the part they play in its implementation.

“The National Agreement’s outcomes are centred on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been saying for decades is needed to achieve equality in life outcomes between our people and other Australians, while strengthening our right to self-determination and identity as First Nations peoples.”

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “NACCHO has been working on this new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, as a member of the Coalition of Peaks. This agreement belongs to all of us!

“The National Agreement is built on four priority reforms to address ongoing critical issues around the social determinants of health such as housing, environment, access to health services, education, justice and others as the targets in there.

“We have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for decades on matters that are important to our people and are best placed to represent areas like health, early childhood, education, land and legal services.”

For those wanting to be brave and make change this National Reconciliation Week, the Coalition of Peaks is putting out the challenge to:

  • Become familiar with 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.

You can view NACCHO’s media release National Agreement on Closing the Gap vital to making change here. You can also find out more about National Reconciliation Week on the Reconciliation Australia website here.

Completing unfinished business of reconciliation

For Ken Markwell, National Reconciliation Week from Friday 27 May to Friday 3 June 2022 is a time for Australians to learn about our shared history, culture and achievements – and to find ways we can contribute to achieving reconciliation. NRW is a time to reflect on how we as a country treat our Indigenous elders and the gaps and barriers that currently exist in Australia that prevent them from ageing well. It is widely accepted that how a society treats its elderly is a measure of its humanity. NRW provides an opportunity to consider our most vulnerable older Australians, our First Nations elders, and to measure our progress towards reconciliation by how well we care and look after them. This will be critical in the coming years when Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and eligible for aged care support.”

This year’s theme “Be Brave. Make Change.” is a challenge to us all to be brave and complete the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can make change for all. There is no better place to address the unfinished business of reconciliation than to implement aged care reforms improving access to aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aged care royal commission expressed concerns that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not “accessing aged care at a rate commensurate with their level of need”.

The royal commission identified a range of factors for this, including social and economic disadvantage, a lack of culturally safe care, and the intergenerational impacts of colonisation and prolonged discrimination. Their findings also revealed that long-term health conditions affected 88 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 55 years and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “should be receiving proportionately higher levels of aged and health care” than the rest of the population. Yet sadly, we find this is not happening.

To view the Australian Ageing Agenda article Completing the Unfinished business of reconciliation in full click here.

Ken Markwell is a Mununjhali man and executive general manager for indigenous services at Australian Unity. Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

‘They hug a blackie and move on’

Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, has characterised Canberra’s Reconciliation Day as “tokenistic”, highlighting that more needs to be done to address the treatment of Aboriginal people in the ACT. Ms Tongs has asked “How many people actually turn up for Reconciliation Day? Most of them jump in their car and go down to the coast for the weekend.” Tongs argues that Reconciliation Day – to be celebrated on Monday 30 May this year – is meaningless without greater action to address the ongoing issues facing indigenous people in Canberra. “For me it’s about actions and until the government and the wider community take Aboriginal issues seriously I think that reconciliation is a long way off,” says Tongs.

Tongs, who has worked in Aboriginal Affairs for more than 30 years, says there’s more to addressing the plight of indigenous people in the ACT than merely on one day of the year. “A friend of mine, [the late] Dr ‘Puggy’ Hunter – who was chair of NACCHO used to say ‘They turn up, they hug a blackie and they move on’.” “If we are fair dinkum then people need to turn out and turn up every day not just Reconciliation Day.”

To view the CBR City News article ‘They turn up, they hug a blackie and more on’ click here.

Julie Tongs… “It’s tokenistic. How many people actually turn up for Reconciliation Day? Most of them jump in their car and go down to the coast for the weekend.” Photo: Belinda Strahorn. Image source: CBR City News.

Chance to put children front and centre

With the formation of the newly elected Government imminent as seats are finalised, advocacy body Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) – National Voice for our Children has expressed its satisfaction at the prominent positioning of early years issues in the campaigning, calling on the new Government to continue to make early learning education and care (ECEC) a priority.

CEO Catherine Liddle said SNAICC is looking forward to working with the new Government to progress much needed policy reform to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have their needs and voices heard. While describing the elevation of early learning by both major parties and independents as heartening, Ms Liddle said more needed to be done to consider the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. “The current policies and systems just aren’t working for our families or our early leaning and support centres,” she explained.

To view The Sector article Formation of a new Government is a chance to put children front and centre: SNAICC in full click here.

Image source: The Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Keynote for Dr Mickey Dewar oration

Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO, will give the keynote address at National Archives of Australia’s biennial Dr Mickey Dewar oration. The oration will be held at NT Parliament House, Darwin from 5:30PM next Tuesday 31 May 2022, and streamed live from 6:00PM. National Archives’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Director Phyllis Williams said this year’s event, which is held during National Reconciliation Week, is an opportunity to learn about Indigenous matters and explore how each of us can contribute to reconciliation in Australia.

“The oration will bring together notable Indigenous figures Arrernte/Gurdanji woman Pat Turner and MC for the night Gurindji man Charlie King OAM. National Archives will also have key representatives attending the event, including new Director-General Simon Froude”, Ms Williams said. “The Dr Mickey Dewar oration is a not-to-be-missed event. This year’s discussion promises to be lively and engaging for anyone wishing to attend.”

Every second year, a speaker from the NTis invited to give an oration about the history, society or culture of the territory. Ms Turner was raised in Alice Springs and is at the forefront of community efforts to close the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Her talk will provide a fascinating insight into the challenges and achievements in relation to Indigenous issues. “I am delighted to be a part of such a prestigious and important event”, Ms Turner said. “With the impacts of the pandemic exposing critical issues in the healthcare system and Australia’s ongoing struggle to close the gap, now is the time to inspire change and action from all Australians.”

To view the National Archives of Australia media release Pat Turner AM to deliver keynote for 2022 Dr Mickey Dewar oration click here. You can book to attend this free event here.

The late Dr Mickey Dewar. Image source: Perth Now.

Asymptomatic STI testing research

Dr Simon Graham is an epidemiologist in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne. He received the 2021 Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership) for his research which aims to increase opportunistic sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing to identify asymptomatic infections early so treatment is provided to prevent poor health outcomes.

Dr Graham said he had wanted to stay in the field of sexual health but gain specific academic skills via a Master of Applied Epidemiology at the ANU. Dr Graham said, “The bit I enjoy the most is the field work. Not surprising since one of the components of my master’s degree was investigating outbreaks. Whether its visiting Aboriginal Health Services to visiting prisons in regional Victoria, I have always felt the real work is out in the field connecting with others and listening to people who live in the local area about what they think could be a solution. My brain starts ticking at that point in how I can team up with that local community and test that idea or measure what that community just spoke about.

“I hope that my greatest contribution is to listen, connect, and deliver on what l promised. I aim to design things that communities can own and lead and most importantly keep after the project ends. For me the writing and statistics comes second to the ability to listen and connect. The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted this. Although l have won fellowships overseas, I have never planned for my work to have national or international relevance. I am focused on the relevance of the intervention for the communities I work with. Sometimes we are successful at highlighting that this intervention or program made a difference and then we can share it with other communities so they can succeed.”

To view the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) article Research excellence: Build grit and set out a plan in full click here.

Action needed to protect kids in detention

On Wednesday this week Amnesty International Australia issued a statement welcoming election pledges from the new Albanese Government on key human rights issues, and asking for swift action on 11 issues in the Government’s first 100 days, including raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 nationally, establishing a National Justice Reinvestment Unit, and implementing a process for real time national reporting of deaths in custody.

Another human rights issue for the incoming Government’s urgent attention is the 5-year delay in meeting out obligations under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), ratified by Australian in 2017. In an article published this week in Croakey Health Media Lindsay Pearce (University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Andreea Lachsz (Victorian Aboriginal legal Service) and Tiffany Overall (Youthlaw) discuss why this delay is putting children and young people in Australian detention facilities at risk, and highlight the importance of consulting with ACCHOs on the implementation of our OPCAT obligations.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Australia must act now to protect children and young people in detention in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

Image in the feature tile is of Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese as he walks off the stage during a reception after winning the 2022 general election in Sydney. Image source: SBS NITV.

NACCHO congratulates ALP on election win

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) congratulates the Australian Labor Party for its win in the 2022 Federal election and looks forward to working with the incoming government in continuing to fight for improved outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In particular, NACCHO welcomes the emphasis that Senator Penny Wong and Prime Minister elect, Anthony Albanese, gave to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in their victory speeches on election night. The Uluru Statement from the Heart sets out the way forward for all Australians in a process of genuine reconciliation. There must be no further delay in implementing a Voice to Parliament for First Nations peoples enshrined in the constitution.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner, speaking in Canberra, said, ‘NACCHO congratulates Linda Burney for her strong win in Barton. We are looking forward to seeing the first Aboriginal woman serve as Minister for Indigenous Australians and, presumably, in the new Albanese Cabinet.’

NACCHO also congratulates all the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the new Parliament and thanks Ken Wyatt, the outgoing Minister for Indigenous Australians, for his contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs over the past three years.

NACCHO commits to working with the incoming government and the likely new Health Minister, Mark Butler, on the $111m package announced for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, said at Cairns on Sunday, ‘The ALP’s package was a welcome pre-election announcement. It includes the 500 trainees for our ACCHOs and badly needed dialysis clinics. It also includes action in combatting rheumatic heart disease, a preventable disease that is killing so many of our children, needlessly. Our youths are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease than other Australian youths. This must stop. The ALP’s funding commitment is a critical step.’

The ACCHO sector serves over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Our clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve.

You can view the NACCHO congratulates the ALP media statement on NACCHO’s website here.

Image source: The Guardian.

It comes down to working together, differently

When the landmark National Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed in 2020, Pat Turner AM, lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO called for celebration – and hard work. “Today we celebrate this historic Agreement and those who fought hard to make it a reality,” said Turner, at the time. “But tomorrow, the true work begins when we start to implement its commitments within our communities.”

Tomorrow has well and truly arrived. And so, while we continue to applaud the intent of the agreement between federal, state/territory and local governments, and the Coalition of Peaks; it’s time to get down to work. There’s a shared understanding that working together should look different in 2022. Australian governments have committed to working in new ways with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can achieve self-determination. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, meanwhile, have expressed a desire to work alongside governments to design and implement outcomes that are identified by – and with – Indigenous communities.

This new approach is not about changing Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. In fact, it’s about embracing them. This change is about governments and Indigenous communities finding ways to work in the ‘middle space’ together. It’s about collective decision-making and shared accountability. And it’s about common outcomes and positive change. The key, however, will be working differently.

To view the PwC’s Indigenous Consulting article Meeting in the middle: How governments and Indigenous communities can work together, differently published in The Mandarin in full click here.

Image source: The Mandarin.

What now for mob under Labor?

The National Indigenous Times editor, Tom Zaunmayr, has looked at what is in store for Indigenous Australians following Labor’s win in the 2022 Federal election. Zaunmayr says it is good news for First Nations people, as there will be a referendum on a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution by 2025. By putting a nation-changing Indigenous policy front-and-centre of its campaign, Labor showed how serious it is about First Nations issues. The talk has been promising, now it is time for action. Suring up the Voice – how it will look, who will be involved and when the vote will happen is priority number one. Truth and treaty, the other two key elements of the Uluru Statement are as important to get to work on.

Bringing the Federal Government back to the table in funding remote housing is critical, and Labor now needs to follow through. Labor’s campaign policies on justice and deaths in custody were lacklustre and remain a point of concern. The money pledged for remote justice initiatives is chicken feed and is insufficient for one region, let alone the entire nation. The promise to bring a stronger Indigenous voice to deaths in custody cases lacks detail.

Climate action in the Torres Strait Islands remains a sticking point too. We heard plenty about long-term plans for a net-zero economy, but nothing about what will be done for communities being swallowed by the sea right now. Without short-term infrastructure fixes, the first climate refugees to mainland Australia may very well be our own Indigenous island nation inhabitants.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Labor has won the election and the Greens may have power. What now for Indigenous Australians? in full click here. You can view a related article ‘This will change Australia’: Linda Burney says Labor committed to Indigenous Voice published today in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Incoming Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney says Australia is ready for a referendum on a Voice to parliament. Photo: Brook Mitchell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

First Nations eating disorders research

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, focuses on risk and protective factors, very early intervention and individualised medicine as part of the top 10 research priorities identified in the National Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy 2021–31.

The Centre has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders. IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13 million grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information and to apply for an IgnitED Fund grant ,visit The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

WA bowel cancer screening campaign relaunch

Due to its great success, the Cancer Council WA recently relaunched its 2021 bowel cancer campaign on social media platforms to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Aboriginal WA community. The campaign encourages eligible people to do the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) home test. Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer affecting the Aboriginal Australian community but is one of the most treatable cancers if found early. Less than half of all eligible West Australians participate when they receive the home test kit which is designed to detect bowel cancer in its very early stages. When detected early, more than 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully.

The campaign shares social media tiles featuring local people who are keen to share the message about bowel screening with their communities and encourage more people to do the NBCSP test when they receive it in the mail. Cancer Council WA has teamed up with Mary G, an Aboriginal personality, educator, and radio presenter to raise awareness of bowel cancer amongst the Pilbara and Kimberley Aboriginal communities.  The campaign was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, with Aboriginal Medical Services, Elders, and Aboriginal staff from local clinics and organisations in the regions, including WA Country Health Service being consulted in the process.

You can access further information to the Cancer Council WA website here.

Irrkerlantye forgotton for 40 years

Nestled in the hills east of Alice Springs lies Irrkerlantye, a community in limbo. Irrkerlantye has none of the basic services the rest of Australia takes for granted: water is trucked in and a meagre power supply is provided by a few solar panels. There is no sewerage. The residents live in tin sheds and a few decaying demountables that offer little protection from Central Australia’s extreme desert temperatures.

Felicity Hayes has lived at Irrkerlantye most of her life. The stoic Elder is at her wit’s end, saying “We’ve been asking the government for housing and essential services this whole time, however nothing has been done to provide the most basic services that all people are entitled to. We just want people to come here and have a look and not sit in their offices all day and make decisions about us. They need to come here and talk to us because we’re the ones that are suffering.”

The only water supply to the community was cut in 2014 under a Country Liberal government and was never restored. At the time it was seen as an attempt to force the closure of Irrkerlantye. Felicity Hayes and her family could be facing another forty years forgotten on the fringes of one of the world’s most developed countries. “We’ve been fighting for forty years and we’ve got children, the next generation, and they’re still going to be living here” Ms Hayes said.

To view the SBS NITV article How governments have forgotten this NT community for 40 years click here.

Locals say Irrkerlantye has been ignored by all levels of government for decades. Image source: SBS NITV.

‘Through the rood’ food prices in remote NT

John Paterson regularly has people from remote communities text him grocery receipts to show how prices have spiked over the past few months. Travelling across the NT in his role as CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) Paterson says he notices prices increase sharply the more remote the location. “It has almost become unaffordable now,” he says.

In the NT, food in supermarkets is 56% more expensive in remote communities than regional supermarkets due to long supply chains and poor quality roads, according to a 2021 report by AMSANT. Inflation – predicted to reach 6% by year’s end – has increased pressure. The Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), supports 27 remote community stores by securing grocery items and covering the store’s freight budgets to reduce the cost of food. Normally, its annual freight budget is $250,000. But in the past 18 months, the fuel levy to deliver food to just five of its remote communities – that require delivery by sea – has risen from $37,000 to $279,000. Rob Totten, store manager of a supermarket in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, says the price of some food products has “gone through the roof”.

Paterson is advocating to extend the footprint of an Aboriginal controlled organisation like ALPA to increase the buying power of remote community stores. “People want fresher food, they want cheaper food, and the way to do that is bulk purchasing by community stores that are run and led by Aboriginal people,” he says. “If we want to close the gap, plus the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, then food security is a major issue that needs serious attention.”

To view The Guardian article ‘Through the roof’ food prices in remote NT are forcing Aboriginal families to make impossible choices in full click here.

Docker River Community Store. Image source: B4BA. Docker River Community Store NT $9.20 receipt for 2L of milk. Image source: The Guardian.

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.

National Palliative Care Week

National Palliative Care Week  (NPCW), held from Sunday 22 to Saturday 28 May 2022, is Australia’s largest annual awareness-raising initiative held to increase understanding of the many benefits of palliative care. The theme for National Palliative Care Week 2022 is It’s your right. The theme seeks to raise awareness about the rights of all Australians to access high-quality palliative care when and where they need it. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that.  Anyone with a life-limiting illness has the right to live as well as possible, for as long as possible.  

Virtual and face-to-face events will be held across the country during National Palliative Care Week 2022 to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment and dedication of all those working and volunteering in the palliative care sector across Australia.   Now in its 27th year, and traditionally held in the last full week of May, NPCW is organised by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and supported by the Australian Government Department of Health.

To find out more about National Palliative Care Week 2022 you can access the PCA website here. You can also view a range of palliative care resources PCA have developed specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Support for mob to engage with NDIS

Support for mob to engage with NDIS

To increase support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIA) has engaged NACCHO to deliver the Aboriginal Disability Liaison Officer (ADLO) program until 30 November 2022. The program will provide dedicated support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in urban and rural areas to access the NDIS and use their plans.

Employed locally by ACCHOs, ADLOs work will work at a local level to build understanding of NDIS. ADLOs are generally members of the communities they work in, understand the culture and often speak the local languages. Working in partnership with the NDIA and Partners in the Community, ADLOs are a further cultural link between the Indigenous community and the system of disability related supports offered through the NDIS. The insights of ADLOs will also contribute to NDIA led co-design initiatives to improve the way NDIS works with First Nations Australians and communities.

Further information about the ADLO program, including a list of the 37 ACCHOs (NSW-13; NT-1; QLD-10; SA-5: VIC-6; and WA-2) delivering the program is available on the NDIS website here.

NACCHO CEO at Social Impact Strategy launch

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), Pat Turner AM delivered a speech at the King & Wood Mallesons’ Social Impact Strategy launch earlier today. Ms Turner said “A whole of nation effort is required if we are to close the gap in life outcomes between our peoples and other Australians and I am really pleased to see King & Wood Mallesons stepping up to the task and making its contribution.” Themes in Ms Turner’s speech included the struggle of Closing the Gap; the Coalition of Peaks; the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; and the four priority reforms set out in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

You can read Ms Turner’s speech in full here.

Pat Turner AM

NACCHO CEO, Pat Tuner AM. Image source: The Guardian.

AMSANT CEO awarded honorary doctorate

AMSANT is very proud to recognise the significant achievement of their CEO, John (Patto) Paterson, in being awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Arts by Charles Darwin University (CDU). John, received the honour in recognition of his leadership, commitment, and exemplary work over many decades, particularly in the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector and advocating for Aboriginal Territorians during COVID-19. John’s achievement is especially significant for the ‘AMSANT Family’ that John has led for the past 16 years as their CEO, supporting the personal and professional development of so many staff and strongly advocating for our Aboriginal community controlled health service members.

John is a proud born and bred Territorian with family ties to the Ngalakan people in Ngukurr and has worked in Aboriginal affairs in the public and community sectors since 1979 at a local, Territory and Federal level, focusing on First Nations health, housing and education. Donna Ah Chee, Chair of AMSANT said, “John’s commitment and leadership in Aboriginal Affairs has essentially been life long, and is now being rightly highlighted and formally acknowledged by CDU.”

To view AMSANT’s media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson in red yellow academic gown & black PhD bonnet

AMSANT CEO Dr John Paterson. Image source: AMSANT.

Beyond the Scars – RHD impacts

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) causes permanent damage to heart valves and is a leading cause of death in young Indigenous people in Australia. Currently there is no cure. Young Indigenous people with RHD experience countless encounters with health care providers and multiple hospital admissions. This is traumatic for the young people, their families and communities. Young Indigenous people already carry the scars of intergenerational trauma, a legacy of colonization. The added trauma of RHD and its social and emotional impact can further worsen health outcomes.

A Menzies School of Health Research have received a grant to explore the social and emotional needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (15–25 years) with RHD. The grant will support and build the capacity of an Aboriginal PhD student and community researcher, and build capacity of Aboriginal individuals and communities to advocate for their own needs – beyond the biomedical – that must be addressed to improve health outcomes. For further information about the research project visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Beyond the Scars: Impacts of RHD in young Indigenous peoples here.

In a related story, RHD Australia has developed a range of RHD resources available on their website here, including the video Michael’s Story below:

Grant for syphilis outbreak guide

Among the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Award recipients for grants awarded in 2021 is Dr Simon Graham from the Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne, who received the 2021 NHMRC Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership). Dr Graham is an epidemiologist and, through his Investigator Grant, he will be developing a community-led coordination and response guide for a syphilis outbreak in Aboriginal communities.

Dr Graham will work in the Global Outbreak Response Network at the World Health Organization in Geneva to examine how the organisation successfully coordinates and deploys specialist teams to investigate and stop an outbreak in different countries. He will also work with a cohort of Aboriginal people to develop an outbreak response and coordination guide to empower Aboriginal communities to stop outbreaks of syphilis infections.

For more information visit the NHMRC website here. You can also view a short video from the Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign below.

Men’s heart health program trial

Research shows that a 12-week program run in UK soccer clubs (Football Fans in Training) is effective in supporting men to get to a healthier weight and sustain changes 3.5 years later. Associate Professor Quested and team created an Australianised version, Aussie-FIT, and their pilot in WA found it attracts men living with obesity and supports them to make changes to their physical activity, eating behaviour, weight, and well-being. They have also shown Aussie-FIT to appeal to men with cardiovascular disease, for whom it can play an important role in secondary prevention.

Professor Quested has received funding to substantiate the program’s longer term impact on cardiovascular health by undertaking research with a larger sample and longer follow up. The team will also determine how Aussie-FIT deliveries can be sustained in WA; implemented across other States and Territories (Queensland, Northern Territory); scaled to appeal to a wider audience (e.g., via deliveries in rugby); and identify potential adaptations with marginalised populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

For more information visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Kicking Goals for Men’s Heart Health: A Multi-state Trial of the Aussie-FIT Program here.

EOI: Policy Partnerships under NACTG

The Expression of Interest (EOI) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representatives to the next two policy partnerships under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap are now open until COB (AEST) Friday 29 April 2022. Expressions of interest are being sought from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant expertise who wish to join the next two policy partnerships on:

  • Early childhood care and development (including out of home care), and
  • Social and emotional wellbeing (mental health).

These partnerships will be established in August 2022 and represent an historic opportunity to shift the dial in these important policy areas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For more information on the policy partnerships, including how to apply, please visit the ‘Get Involved’ section on the Coalition of Peaks website here.

If you have any questions or require support please reach out to the Coalition of Peaks using this email link.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $43m for NT suicide prevention services

Balgo WA graves

Image in feature tile of Balgo cemetery, WA. Photo: Matt Bamford, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

$43m for NT suicide prevention services

The Commonwealth and NT Governments have announced $43 million in funding for mental health and suicide prevention services in the NT that they say will cover the gaps on existing services, which the NT Lived Experience Network has welcomed, while calling for community engagement in the development of NT mental health service delivery plan. The fresh funding will cover the next five years of mental health services after the NT’s suicide prevention strategic framework launched in 2018 is set to end next year.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the agreement will ensure Territorians will have access to additional mental health support, including young Australians, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistant Minister to the PM for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman meanwhile said a key focus of the bilateral agreement would be reducing the heartbreaking suicide rate in Indigenous communities. “Indigenous Australians die of suicide at more than double the rate of the non-Indigenous population,” Mr Coleman said. “This is a national tragedy and through this agreement we will be working closing with ACCHOs and NGO service providers across the NT to ensure relevant services are culturally appropriate.”

To view the NT Independent article in full click here.

Photo: Joshua Spong. Image source: ABC News website.

Nhulundu CEO witness at Senate Committee

Late last week Bailai man Matthew Cooke, CEO of Gladstone Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service Ltd (trading as Nhulundu Health) and chairman of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) appeared as a witness at the Senate Community Affairs References Committee – General practitioner and related primary health services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australians. In giving evidence Mr Cooke said:

“One other thing I’d like to mention in my opening statement is that the Indigenous Australians Health Program (IAHP) is the Australian government program run by the Department of Health. It is the Commonwealth budget which provides funding to the Aboriginal community controlled health services across Australia more broadly and here in the state of Queensland. There are challenges not only with regard to how the implementation of the Modified Monash Model works across rural and regional and remote communities but also with regard to the implementation of the IAHP and the funding methodology used by the Australian government. It too creates issues for our community controlled health services.”

“One thing I’ve quite well pointed out over many years—I’ve been the previous chair of NACCHO and the previous chief executive of the state peak body, QAIHC, on which I now serve as chairman—is the fact that 141-plus of our ACCHOs across the country are seen as a larger service provider to our people for primary health care, yet we’re funded with less than half the budget of the IAHP to deliver care to our people and communities. And if all levels of government, including the Australian government, have signed up to Closing the Gap by 2031 and we are recognised for playing a key part in terms of access to and delivery of care, then, even with workforce challenges, surely there has to be a greater sum of those funds coming to the Aboriginal community controlled health sector to deliver that much-needed care.”

To read a complete transcript of Mr Cooke’s testimony click here.

Matthew Cooke

Matthew Cooke. Photo: Emilie Gramenz, ABC News.

Grant to boost HIV awareness

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations will use a ViiV Healthcare Australia grant to fund their Discover HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities program. The program aims to increase HIV health literacy in Indigenous communities and ensure healthcare networks have the skills and knowledge to effectively address HIV in the community.

Discover HIV project officer Justin Salerno, whose mother’s family has roots in the Indigenous community in WA’s Mid West said there were disproportionately high rates of HIV and STIs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. “There is a need for more education and health promotion reaching these communities because unfortunately the message is not getting through as it has with other communities,” he said.

“We have formed a partnership with Anwernekenhe, a national HIV alliance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, doing the work we do, which involves building the capacity of health care workers.” Mr Salerno said a new edition of the Us Mob booklet, with information on treatment and services not included in the first three editions, had been launched.

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

Image source: HIV Justice Network.

Lower life expectancy post cancer 

New research from Cancer Council Queensland has revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have consistently lower remaining life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis than non-Indigenous Australians. In a new report titled Quantifying differences in remaining life expectancy after cancer diagnosis, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians, 2005-2016, contributing researchers found on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients had 12 years of life remaining and non Indigenous Australians had 20 years, revealing an 8 year disparity in life expectancy across the two groups. The researchers concluded a cancer diagnosis exacerbates the disparities in remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Interventions to address these must consider both cancer related factors and those contributing to non-cancer mortality.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the study highlights the need to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. “It’s disappointing to see such a prevalent gap in the remaining life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when compared with other Australians faced with cancer,” Ms McMillan said. “This new research shines a light on the need to address both factors related to cancer management, such as access to treatment and support, and those contributing to a higher non-cancer mortality to help improve outcomes.”

To view the Mirage article in full click here.

Aboriginal Yarning Circle support group participants. Image source: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Victoria Australia website.

Progress in eliminating skin disease

One Disease is a non-profit organisation with a mission to eliminate crusted scabies as a public health concern in Australia by the end of 2022. Crusted scabies develops from cases of untreated ordinary scabies in people who have compromised immune systems. Scabies is also known to underlie many skin infections in the NT, which can lead to serious conditions such as sepsis, acute rheumatic fever, RHD and chronic kidney disease. Crusted scabies is categorised into three grades – 1, 2 and 3 – in accordance with the scabies mite load present, with Grade 3 being the most severe and infectious.

One Disease’s approach to improving the health of people living in Northern Australia has been multifaceted and is built on partnerships with the NT Government and communities across Darwin (covering Darwin Urban, Top End West, Top End Central), East Arnhem Land, West Arnhem Land, Katherine and Central (including greater Alice Springs Region and Barkly).

To view the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article in full click here. You can also access a range of One Disease resources here, including the Scratching the Surface Podcast and educational videos such Walking Together, Working Together one below.

New SA Government health pledges

The newest Premier of SA, Peter Malinauskas, has pledged to improve the lives of those living in the country, including $15.8m for a new home for Ceduna’s Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation.

To view the Naracoorte Herald article in full click here.

entrance to Yadu Health AC, Ceduna

Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation in Ceduna. Image source: In Daily Adelaide Independent News website.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) South Australian Branch said it looks forward to a positive and productive relationship with the new SA Premier and Health Minister,“As we transition back to normality, it is crucial that the incoming government continue to implement measures which would improve the health and wellbeing of South Australians, like the recommendations PSA has recently provided.

“These recommendations include embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities, enabling pharmacists to administer medicines by injection with an expanded range of vaccines, providing funding to employ pharmacists in Aboriginal Health Clinics across the state, and employing transition of care pharmacists in all South Australian hospitals.”

To view The National Tribune article in full click here.

Pharmacists working in an ACCHO. Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

WA pilot keeps mums and bubs together

The number of Indigenous newborns taken from their mothers has more than halved at Perth’s dedicated birthing hospital as a result of a pilot program that supports pregnant women and their families to plan a safe household. The contentious practice of removing babies from their mothers at King Edward Memorial Hospital – sometimes when the baby is just a few hours old – was increasingly common in WA for years.

The minister responsible for child protection in WA, Simone McGurk, told state parliament that women at risk had been taking part in pre-birth planning and as a result, the number of babies taken into care from the hospital had fallen 52% in the past two years overall. The number of Indigenous babies taken at birth at that hospital has fallen 54%.

entrance of King Edward Hospital, Subiaco, Perth, WA

King Edward Memorial Hospital has had enormous success with its pilot program to prevent Indigenous children being taken from their mothers. Photo: Marie Nirme. Image source: The Australian.

 

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.

National Tobacco Strategy input

The Australian Government Department of Health is seeking feedback on the draft National Tobacco Strategy (NTS) 2022-2030. The draft NTS 2022-2030 sets out a national policy framework for all governments to work together and in collaboration with non-government organisations to improve the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and its associated health, social, environmental and economic costs, and the inequalities it causes.

The Department welcomes all feedback and interested parties are invited to share their views on some, or all of the consultation questions or upload a written submission or response by Thursday 24 March 2022. You can view the draft NTS and submit a response at the Department of Health’s consultation hub here.

tobacco leaves from cigarette spelling QUIT

Image source: Victoria State Government Education and Training website.-

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aboriginal-led initiatives, solutions the answer

Image in feature tile: Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO, Lead Convenor of The Coalition of Peaks. Photo: Jamila Toderas. Image source: The Australian.

Aboriginal-led initiatives, solutions the answer

The Close the Gap report released today has called for an urgent investment in community-led health services to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NACCHO strongly supports the messages, the actions taken and the recommendations that need to be addressed to drive health transformation.

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner states, “We already know that policy and programs that are led by our people work better for our people and that comprehensive structural reform is needed to ensure equitable outcomes for our people. These are things we’ve been telling the government for decades, and it’s about time they took note of the evidence that this report demonstrates – that Aboriginal-led initiatives and locally-led solutions work.

“Key data show that the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health is profound. It is hardly surprising that we live 8-9 years less than other Australians.

“The big questions for all governments and all jurisdictions are in closing the funding gap in health and in fixing the deplorable state of Aboriginal housing.”

“Fully implementing the National Agreement on Closing the Gap will be critical to ensuring structural reform that embeds Aboriginal self-determination and leadership. That means increased investment in models and approaches that are self-determined and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led. It also means ensuring the health system more broadly is equipped to provide flexible, culturally safe and place-based care across the whole life course.”

“We are already seeing some movement from governments to implement the four Priority Reforms, which is encouraging. But there is still a significant way to go before Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have decision-making power over the policies and programs that affect us.

The 2022 Close the Gap campaign report will be available for the public to read and is accessible here.

To view the NACCHO media release in full click here.

banner with image of NACCHO CEO Pat Turner & quotes re CTG report

Photo: Jamila Toderas. Image source: The Australian.

ACCHO health service for prisoners

The Winnunga Alexander Maconochie Centre Health and Wellbeing Service (AMCHWS) is the first prison health service operated by an ACCHO in Australia. A pilot study has developed and implemented a patient experience survey to evaluate the novel model of healthcare delivered by the Winnunga AMCHWS to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners.

Patients accessing the Winnunga AMCHWS between February and May 2020 were invited to participate in the study. Descriptive data were analysed and compiled for demographics, patient satisfaction, patient perception of care quality, cultural safety, and patient thoughts on the Winnunga AMCHWS.

Sixteen of 26 eligible patients participated in the survey (62% response rate). At least 75% of patients were satisfied with the waiting time to see staff at the Winnunga AMCHWS most or all of the time. All 16 patients reported that Winnunga AMCHWS staff always treated them with dignity and respect. Of 14 patients who identified as Aboriginal, nine felt that they were treated better by staff because of their Aboriginal identity while the other five felt their Aboriginal identity made no difference to their treatment by the staff.

This patient experience survey of the Winnunga AMCHWS found that it has provided highly satisfactory, timely, respectful, and culturally safe care to patients. Due to the limitations of this study, continual evaluation of the Winnunga AMCHWS and future studies to evaluate the continuity of care, health, and re-offending rates of released patients are needed to fully evaluate the Winnunga AMCHWS model.

You can view the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article that appeared in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet here.

view of front of AMC

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Kathleen Dyett. Image source: ABC News.

National Close the Gap Day

Australia’s peak Indigenous and non-Indigenous health bodies, NGOs and human rights organisations are working together to achieve equality in health and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.

In February 2018 the Close the Gap: 10 Year Review was released. The review examines why Australian governments have not succeeded in closing the health gap, and why they will not succeed by 2030 if the current course continues. The aim is to close the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health gap by implementing a human rights based approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In 2007, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) set measurable targets to track and assess developments in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. These targets include achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality within a generation and halving the mortality rate gap for children under five years old within a decade. In March 2008, the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and the Opposition Leader at that time, Brendan Nelson, signed the Close the Gap Statement of Intent at the Close the Gap Campaign’s National Indigenous Health Equality Summit.

The Close the Gap Statement of Intent is the touchstone of the Close the Gap campaign. When the Australian Government signed the Statement of Intent it committed to a sound, evidence-based path to achieving health equality, a path supported by the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

To access the Australian Human Rights Commission website click here.

screenshot of Close the Gap new website home page

Community-led health solutions need funding

The Close the Gap campaign has called for an urgent investment in community-led health services to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the country. The 2022 Close the Gap Report: Transforming Power – Voices for Generational Change has 12 recommendations for large scale transformation and systemic reform to avoid further preventable deaths and protect Indigenous health, wellbeing, culture, and Country.

These include the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap plans, investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led data development at the local level and the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research agenda for health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on the impacts of systemic racism in health systems.

To read the Close The Gap media release in full click here.

Darryl Wright, CEO. Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Airds, NSW

Darryl Wright, CEO. Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Airds, NSW.

Impact of jailing children unfathomable

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says the age of criminal responsibility must be raised to 14 years to end the jailing of mostly Indigenous primary-aged children, warning incarceration is harming their mental health. The college is part of a Close the Gap campaign and supports their report released today calling for urgent investment in community-led Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services.

Professor Ngiare Brown, a Yuin nation woman and National Mental Health Commissioner, said about 600 children under the age of 14 were jailed every year despite “substantial evidence showing the detrimental and long-term effects” on physical and mental health. “The fact that Indigenous children account for 65% of youth incarcerations is a harrowing statistic,” Professor Brown, who chairs the RACP’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee, said. “The human impact of this is unfathomable.”

RACP President Professor John Wilson called on governments to follow the recommendations of the 2021 Close the Gap report to take a preventative and rehabilitative approach. “We are calling for all Australian states and territories to address the incarceration of Indigenous children and raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years in line with the best health evidence,” Professor Wilson said.

To view the Brisbane Times article in full click here.

Aboriginal hands gripping mesh wire

Image source: The Conversation.

$140m to improve health services for mob

Health Minister Greg Hunt and Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt released a joint media statement today saying:  National Close the Gap Day, is a day to reflect on the gap in health and wellbeing outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. All of us can contribute to closing the gap by working together to recognise and address the factors behind the health gap.

To continue to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities, a $140 million major capital works program is being opened tomorrow for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to build, buy or renovate health clinics and staff housing. The Major Capital Program grant opportunity complements the recent Service Maintenance Program grant opportunity which was for repairs, maintenance and minor upgrades. Minister Wyatt said “For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, communities and people will become genuine partners in efforts to support their mental and physical health. The National Agreement on Closing the Gap, reached in July 2020 between the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies, and the Australian Local Government Association, was an historic step forward. “Through the agreement, in health and other areas of government service, we are working with Indigenous experts to design and deliver policies and programs for indigenous people.”

“We are also adopting more effective, better targeted approaches to other major health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” Both grant programs were co-designed in partnership with the sector through the national peak body – NACCHO. Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and NACCHO Ms Pat Turner, said, “NACCHO has advocated for a long time for increased funding for infrastructure for the health sector and this funding supports and recognises the critical role that ACCHS play in the Australian primary health care architecture.”

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

staff from Orange Aboriginal Medical Service standing in front of OAMS building

Staff from Orange Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness website.

Calls to lower bowel screening age

New research led by the Daffodil Centre, a partnership between Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney, shows screening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for bowel cancer from the age of 45 instead of 50 could reduce bowel cancer death and incidence rates by up to 44% and be cost-effective. The research, published internationally in the Journal of Cancer Policy and conducted by a team from the Daffodil Centre and Wellbeing SA, is the first Australian study to establish the benefits of extending the age range and boosting participation of Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Lead author Dr Jie-Bin Lew, from the Daffodil Centre’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Policy and Evaluation stream, said the study modelled and compared maintaining the current program age range of 50-74 to lowering the starting age to either 40 or 45. “The benefits in lives saved and cancers prevented were higher if the starting age in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was lowered to 45 and could also be cost-effective,” Dr Lew said.

“In our analysis, screening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from age 45 would reduce bowel cancer mortality rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by 28%, compared to no screening if the current participation rate of 23% is maintained. If participation increased to 42%, bowel cancer mortality could drop by 44% compared to no screening.

To view The National Tribune article in full click here.

Photo: Andreas Smetana.

PHMSS Mental Health Studies mentors needed

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) would like to extend the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, to participate in the PHMSS Mental Health Studies Mentoring Program as a mentor.

The mentoring program pairs PHMSS scholarship recipients (within the mental health discipline) with more experienced First Nations practitioners with the aim of increasing entrance and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health professionals into practice. It will do this by supporting the students to complete their studies and transition successfully into practice.

The benefits for participants in a mentoring program include: improved confidence, self-awareness, clearer career direction, better communication skills, listening skills, feedback skills, more assertive communication, and enhanced management skills.

During the program, you will receive frequent communications from the scholarships team, giving you helpful tips and information about mentoring and access to other relevant materials available for supporting mentees. For first-time mentors and those who would like a refresher, there is an online training program and relevant materials available to help prepare you for a mentoring relationship.

During the seven month program, mentors and mentees will be expected to be in contact at least monthly.

You can apply now by clicking here. ACN will be holding an online information session Monday 4 April 2022, full details will be uploaded here soon.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact the ACN scholarships team by email here or call 1800 688 628.

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.

World Oral Health Day

The World Dental Federation began World Oral Health Day in 2007 with the aim to bring together the world of Dentistry to achieve good oral health for everyone. World Oral Health Day aims to empower people with the knowledge, tools, and confidence to secure good oral health. On the 20 March each year the world is asked to come together to help reduce oral diseases which affect individuals, healthcare providers and economies everywhere.

Oral diseases are a major health concern for many countries and negatively impact people throughout their lives. Oral diseases lead to pain and discomfort, social isolation and loss of self-confidence, and they can often be linked to other serious health issues. There is no reason to suffer as most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages, this is the message being spread across the world.

For more information about World Oral Health Day click here.

Image source: Quality Compliance Systems website.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News: Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

feature tile text 'celebrating NACCHO's inspiring & strong women's leadership this International Women's Day' & photo collage of 7 women: NACCHO CEO, Chair etc

Feature tile images clockwise from top left: Pat Turner AM, Donnella Mills, Dr Dawn Casey, Donna Ah Chee, Raylene Foster, Vicki O’Donnell and Polly Sumner-Dodd.

Celebrating NACCHO’s women leadership

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisation (NACCHO) is proud to be guided and led by an extraordinary group of women from the NACCHO Executive team to the Board of Directors.

From the top left in the image collage above:

  • Pat Turner AM – NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks. Pat is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman and was raised in Alice Springs. As CEO of NACCHO, she is at the forefront of community efforts in Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pat has over 40 years of experience in senior leadership positions in government, business and academia, including being the only Aboriginal person and longest-serving CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
  • Donnella Mills – NACCHO Chair and Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service, a member of James Cook University Council and was recently appointed to the Australian Government’s Advisory Council on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence. Donnella Mills is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir. From 2014 to 2021, she worked as a Cairns-based lawyer with LawRight, a community legal centre which coordinates the provision of pro-bono services for vulnerable people. She was also the managing lawyer for the innovative Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, in which lawyers and health professionals partnered to achieve improved health, wellbeing and justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Dr Dawn Casey – NACCHO Deputy CEO and Co-chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19. Dr Dawn Casey is a descendant of the Tagalaka clan from North Queensland. She was recently awarded the Public Health Association Australia’s 2021 Sidney Sax Public Health Medal Award. She has also been awarded three Honorary Doctorates (QLD Charles Sturt, QLD and Macquarie Universities), a Commonwealth Government’s Public Service Medal (PSM), an Australian Government’s Centenary Medal, three Australia Day Public Service Medals, the Australian Institute of Architects’ Clem Cummings Award and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA).
  • Donna Ah Chee – NACCHO Board Member and CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation (CAAC) in Alice Springs. She is a Bundgalung woman from the far north coast of NSW and has lived in Alice Springs for over 25 years. Donna has been actively involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for many years, especially in the area of adult education and health.
  • Raylene Foster – NACCHO Board Member and Chief Operating Officer Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC). Raylene represents Tasmania/Lutruwitadeep on the NACCHO Board. She has a historical understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, at national and local levels. For the past 25 years, Raylene has worked for the TAC in various leadership roles building the capacity of the organisation, staff, and community to provide health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Vicki O’Donnell OAM– NACCHO Board Member and CEO Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Ltd (KAMS). Vicki is a Nyikina Mangala woman from Derby who has worked as a strategic leader in Aboriginal community-controlled health for 15 years. Vicki was instrumental in the establishment of both the Derby Aboriginal Health Service dialysis unit and the Kimberley Renal Service. Vicki has been a board member of AHCWA for over 15 years (eight years as chair) and chairs the WA Aboriginal Health Ethics Committee. She is an advisor on numerous state and federal ministerial committees involved in Aboriginal health including the WA Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the national Closing the Gap Coalition of Peaks.
  • Polly Sumner-Dodd – NACCHO Board Member and Aboriginal Health Council of SA Ltd (AHCSA). Now retired, Polly was CEO of Nunkuwarrin Yunti of SA for over 30 years. Polly advocates strongly for Aboriginal community control, self-management and self-determination. She has participated on a wide and varied range of committees and boards, including NACCHO, Aboriginal Sobriety Group, Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, Women’s Legal Service, Pharmacy Board SA and the Women’s Art Movement, to name a few. Polly’s involvement with NACCHO’s affiliate AHCSA has spanned more than 38 years, beginning with the Aboriginal Health Organisation that underwent major transformations, giving birth to ACHSA and, more importantly, moving to Aboriginal community control.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias.

Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias. As women who are a guiding force and carers of our families and communities, we need to look after ourselves, our physical, spiritual, and mental health and wellbeing.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can break the bias in our communities and families. We can break the bias in our workplaces. We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.

You can read more about International Women’s Day and download resources here.BreakTheBias - International Women's Day - Selfie CardsExcerpt from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar’s newsletter:

This year’s theme, Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, reminds us of the powerful leadership and legacy of First Nations women and girls on the frontline of climate justice movements. It is within our women’s knowledge systems, ways of living and caring for all members of our families and Country, that the solutions exist to form more sustainable social, economic, ecological and political structures.

This International Women’s Day, read the new Wiyi Yani U Thangani Implementation Framework—which will drive dialogue and decision making in the lead up to the first-ever First Nations women and girls’ national summit in 2023.

Artwork: Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice from the Australian Human Rights Commission website

 

Showcasing the women of Yarrabah

One of our ACCHOs, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) has done their own campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, recognising the #WomenOfYarrabah.

They value the contribution made to their community by women: mothers, sisters, aunties, daughters and grandmothers. ‘Who we are today is a reflection of the work and sacrifice of the women in our community’.

You can read more about the Women of Yarrabah campaign here.

Gurriny Yealamucka - Break The Bias campaign

Adelaide Sands, Renee Grosso and Lucresia Willett (pictured left to right above) are three of the employees at GYHSAC who feature in the campaign.

All governments “buck-passing” on housing

Australia’s road map for reducing Indigenous disadvantage is at risk because all governments are “buck-passing” over housing and reluctant to cede control to Aboriginal organisations, according to Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

Ms Turner, who has previously praised Scott Morrison for his commitment to recast the national agreement on Closing the Gap as a partnership with Indigenous organisations, says there is a concerning lack of political will from all governments who “think they know best”.

The new Closing the Gap obliges state, territory and even local governments to work with the commonwealth and Indigenous organisations to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians against key markers, including by reducing incarceration rates and increasing employment rates.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Pat Turner

Closing the Gap co-chair and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: The Australian.

ABC Four Corners aired episode on Heart Failure and Rheumatic Heart Disease

Last night ABC Four Corners aired Heart Failure: An investigation into the hidden killer in remote Australian communities. According to the ABC Four Corners website page the episode is ‘an investigation into the hidden and shameful failure in public health taking place in remote Australian communities, where incompetent and inexcusable medical care has resulted in multiple preventable deaths.’

The program starts off with reporter Louise Milligan’s description of Doomadgee in remote NW Queensland Gulf country: “The children have come out to play. They’re joining in a medicine dance. Almost 40% of the people who live here are aged under 14 years old. Despite the joy in the children’s faces, there’s a sadness that runs through the heart of this place. In Doomadgee, young people are dying from a disease that all but disappeared in the rest of Australia decades ago, without getting the healthcare they need.”

In referring to one of the teenagers who died from Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) NACCHO CEO Pat Turner says “If that was a white kid, in middle class Sydney, you know, there’d be an uproar, okay? But it’s not a white kid. You know? It’s an Aboriginal kid living in the bush. Does that child deserve any less, than a white kid living in middle class Sydney?”

Paediatric cardiologist, Dr BoReményi said “We had the solutions for this over 50 years ago, yet today we’re standing back and watching young people developing rheumatic fever and RHD and dying from this.”

You can view the Heart Failure episode and access a transcript of the episode here.

image of ABC Four Corners episode text 'HEART FAILURE' across image of graveyard with heart shaped headstones

Qld releases new RHD strategy

Queensland has announced a new strategy dedicated to reducing the impact of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Queensland. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath released the Ending Rheumatic Heart Disease: Queensland First Nations Strategy 2021-2024 on Friday 4 March 2022.

Minister D’Ath said Queensland was leading the way with a targeted action plan, and now a strategy, to address the prevalence of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among First Nations peoples. “Both RHD and ARF are preventable conditions. Unfortunately, Australia has some of the highest documented rates of RHD in the world, with a significant number of patients living in the north of the Queensland,” Minister D’Ath said.

To view Minister D’Ath’s media release in full click here. You can also view a short film about Queensland teenager Shikyna’s RHD story below.

Combatting syphilis epidemic webinar 

While Australia has made some notable progress in the management of sexually transmissible infections (STIs), Syphilis remains a significant public health challenge. About 2 million Australians see a GP each week, and most STI’s are diagnosed in general practice – GPs have a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of Syphilis in the community through early diagnosis, testing and re-testing at risk patients, and timely and appropriate antibiotic treatment for cure.

The Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) is hosting a FREE webinar from 7:30 PM – 9:30 AEDT PM Wednesday 23 March 2022 to inform GPs of how they can help to strengthen Australia’s response to syphilis, and help people to access testing and treatment. You can register for the free webinar via this link.

blue rubber gloved hand holding Syphilis vial, positive box ticked

Image source: RACGP Events webpage.

Addressing AOD workers’ needs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre, in partnership with the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), invite you to attend a FREE webinar on Wednesday 16 March 2022 where key findings from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drugs (AOD) workers who participated in a national AOD workforce survey will be presented, along with discussion on next steps for the sector.

There will be a Q&A session facilitated by Professor Neil Drew, Director of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. Key findings from the report will be presented by Dr Alice McEntee, report co-author and Research Fellow at NCETA and further insights will be provided by Dr Jocelyn Jones on what these findings mean to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in the AOD sector.

For further information about the webinar and to register click here. Registrations are due by Friday 11 March 2022.

Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee & Dr Jocelyn Jones

Clockwise: Professor Neil Drew, Dr Alice McEntee and Dr Jocelyn Jones.

NRL club and ACCHO join forces

A Newcastle Knights initiative to ensure healthy, positive futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been labelled “momentous” by CEO Phil Gardner. The NRL club unveiled its formidable partnership with leading Hunter Valley medical provider Awabakal at its new $20 million Centre of Excellence yesterday, Monday 7 March 2022.

The program, Knight Strong, will promote better health outcomes for Indigenous residents throughout the region – and country NSW. “It’s an important day for us,” Gardner said. “It is the start of the Knights walking the walk. The likes of South Sydney and North Queensland Cowboys, for example, have done a great job with similar campaigns in their areas – I take my hat off to them. So, there’s nowhere better for us to begin our own Indigenous relationships than Knight Strong. Awabakal – who cares for people’s health and mental wellbeing, while providing many other fantastic services – is hugely vital to us.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article in full click here.

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong

Newcastle Knights CEO Phil Gardner at the launch of their new initiative, Knight Strong. Photo: Peter Stoop. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

feature tile text ' NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino speaks about the spread of COVID-19 & screenshot of Dr Agostino from interview

NACCHO Medical Advisor on COVID-19 spread

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino was a guest on the ABC The Drum panel hosted by Stan Grant on Friday 4 February 2022. Asked what is particular to Indigenous communities that enhances the risk and spread of COVID-19 Dr Agostino said “the central problem, particularly in the NT, is poor quality housing, with people living in crowded homes with multiple generations in there, so in those circumstances COVID-19 spreads really rapidly and on top of that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease at earlier ages, so young people are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 because of those conditions.”

Dr Agostino said that NACCHO has been very vocal in their advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and has been pushing as hard as possible, over a long period of time to have the underlying social determinants of health addressed. Dr Agostino said that while there have been some things that have moved forward with regard to health services during the pandemic, there is still so much to do, “It is about the community-controlled sector being at the table, that is what the priority reforms of the National Agreement are about, they are about switching that relationship in bringing community-controlled organisations, whether they are health or in the social sector to the table to have a greater role in decision-making.”

To view Dr Agostino being interviewed on The Drum (from 17:42 to 30:36 minutes) click here.

Stan Grant host The Drum, panellist Dr Jason Agostino screen shot

ACCHO CEO slams vax misinformation 

Gurriny Yealamuck Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC) CEO Sue Andrews has spoken out strongly against COVID-19 vaccination misinformation. Ms Andrew’s Facebook post (on 25 January 2022) below, which was also featured on the Queensland Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Craig Crawford’s Facebook page, struck back against those spreading the misinformation is GYHSAC’s Facebook post below.

We have all received the email from a member of the Nigerian royal family offering us untold wealth if we help them out with our bank details. We accept this is a scam, in the same way we accept that calls from NBN Technical Support are scams. The latest ‘scam’ circulating on social media relate to the supposed death of Lachlan Leary from a COVID related heart attack.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services chief executive Suzanne Andrews spoke out today regarding the impact fake social media posts are having on the health care of her community. “We all know the Nigerian prince emails and NBN Technical Support phone calls are a hoax. They are designed to steal our money. But what’s worse is the fake social media posts like the Lachlan Leary post, posts of this nature are appalling, they are designed to take our most precious, our children,” Ms Andrews stated.

“We commenced our children vaccination rollout earlier this month. In the first week we vaccinated more than 20% of our kids. Unfortunately, the Facebook fake post circulated through our community’s social media pages over the following weekend and we saw our number drop in the second week. The post is fake, totally discredited by Westmead Hospital in Sydney, but the damage has been done. In our community there are some members who have concerns regarding vaccination. These people are targeted by anti-vaxxers pushing their distorted truth with lies. “If you have concerns regarding vaccination, speak to your GP or come and talk to our GPs.”

screenshot of false FB post about child dying from covid-19 vax

Screenshot of Facebook post referred to by GYHSAC Facebook page 25 January 2022.

BDAC reaches vax milestone

Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) recently celebrated a new milestone after successfully vaccinating 89% of the active Indigenous population in the Greater Bendigo region, something Victoria’s COVID commander Jeroen Weimar dropped by to praise their efforts on last week. BDAC CEO Raylene Harradine said the visit from the COVID commander was also to encourage people to get their third booster shot. “Mr Weimar toured our Prouses Road site to see first-hand the work our Aboriginal Health Practitioners have been doing in protect Community against COVID,” she said.

“BDAC was quick to respond to the need to protect community against the virus and we established a vaccination clinic onsite.” Mr Weimar congratulated the team at BDAC on its great results as well as the expansion work that is underway.

To view the Bendigo Advertiser news article in full click here.

BDAC staff Dallas Widdicombe & Jaydene Burzacott in clinic room

Dallas Widdicombe and Jaydene Burzacott preparing for COVID-19 vaccinations at Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative. Photo: Darren Howe. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

VACCHO and cohealth partner to roll out vax

Not-for-profit community health service, cohealth, and the Victorian Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), have partnered to roll out a vaccination road show across regional Victoria. cohealth will this week be offering vaccinations in Orbost, Halls Gap, Stawell, and Ararat for the local community. In the last two weeks cohealth has taken the mobile vaccination clinic to Aboriginal health centres in Swan Hill, Mildura, Kerang and Morwell. Acting CEO, Chris Turner, said that the success of the activity relies on the partnership with VACCHO, and utilising spaces that are familiar and welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher is very pleased to be working with cohealth to get the vans back on the road and believes they will be an excellent addition to the great work achieved by ACCHOs across Victoria. “I’ve been so proud of the way the vans have been welcomed with open arms – it has been incredible. We have seen some great outcomes achieved by the ACCO vaccine van. This reflects what trust looks like in the community,” said Ms Gallagher.

To read the media release in full click here.

tile text 'Protect MOB - ACCO COVID VACCINE VAN coming to Orbost! - avail 1st & 2nd does bosters child vax 5-11 years' & logos VACCHO & cohealth

Image source: VACCHO Facebook page.

Healing centre breaking FV cycle

Devon Cuimara left an abusive home and started abusing his own partner until he found a way to break the cycle of family violence. It’s this lived experience that allows him to help others do the same. “I wasn’t born violent. I grew up with violence, and if you grow up with violence it becomes the norm and I believed it to be the norm because everywhere I looked, it was.”

As Devon says, the problem is widespread. A 2018 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found Indigenous women are one of the most at-risk groups for family violence, being 32 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Indigenous women. And two in five Indigenous homicide victims (41%) were killed by a current or former partner.

Devon now spends his time working as the founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC), a not-for-profit organisation working to break the cycle of domestic violence in WA’s Pilbara region. The centre is based in Newman, a small mining town almost 1200km northeast of Perth, with a large Indigenous population that has become vulnerable to poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence. The AMHC was born after Devon’s own attempts to use mainstream rehabilitation services fell flat because he says they failed to address decades of intergenerational trauma which dates back to colonisation.

To view the 7 News article in full click here.

Devon Cuimara standing in front of gumtree

Devon Cuimara, founder and chief executive of the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre (AMHC). Image source: 7 News.

Decision should lead to better public housing

The NT court of appeal has upheld a ruling that state-owned housing must be reasonably comfortable to be considered habitable, in a decision that advocates say should result in better housing outcomes for remote communities across the territory. The decision follows a six-year legal battle brought by residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community 85km south-east of Alice Springs. The community said inadequate and inhumane housing was due to repeated failures by public housing authorities to conduct necessary repairs.

Seventy residents took the territory government to the NT civil and appeals tribunal over the state of housing in the Eastern Arrernte community in 2016. One of the claimants lived with a blocked toilet and a leaking shower for 269 days and many homes had missing doors, faulty stoves and leaking air conditioners. One resident, Enid Young, went without an air conditioner for 540 days.

To view The Guardian article in full click here.

street scene of Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) NT

Residents of the Ltyentye Apurte or Santa Teresa community argued inadequate and inhumane housing was due to failures by public housing authorities to conduct repairs. Photo: Grenville Turner, AAP. Image source: The Guardina

First Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon

Australia’s first Indigenous orthopaedic surgeon is a trailblazer, forging a path for young First Nations athletes to overcome injury. A proud Dharug man, Dr Anthony Murray has extensive experience in trauma, joint replacement and general orthopaedic surgery and is passionate about providing the best possible medical attention to his patients.

Dr Murray is a driving force in the First Nations realm through his role in the Australian Orthopaedic Association, as the chair for the Cultural Inclusion Working Group, “Orthopaedics is one of those areas where you get to work with people with an immobility and be able to help them regain movement and their life. That’s what I love about it,” he said.

Growing up in Central Queensland, orthopaedics was not Dr Murray’s first career choice. He was hoping to pave a career as an AFL player, but a knee injury set his course on a different trajectory, “I was playing some regional football and working my way towards that goal and ended up having a pretty bad knee injury.”

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

Dr Anthony Murray

An injury changed Dr Anthony Murray’s life and allowed him to help others. Image source: Sunshine Coast News.

New Lifeline service for hard-to-reach

Since 2019, Lifeline has provided Australia’s only Crisis Text helpline, providing support to people in psychological distress. Thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Australian Government, Lifeline Australia has now been able to fast-track the expansion of text and chat services to 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to meet demand and increase accessibility for hard-to-reach groups.

Lifeline CEO Colin Seery said that rather than diverting phone calls from the 13 11 14 service, the always-on digital platform has in fact increased the range and total number of people contacting the organisation. This is a landmark in suicide prevention in Australia and is all about bringing help to people who are in situations and environments where accessing support through digital communication is the only safe or viable option, said Mr Seery.

To view Lifeline’s media release in full click here.banner line drawing woman texting text 'what to talk about it? in speech bubble, Lifeline counsellor with headset, Lifeline logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held every February to educate Australians on ovarian cancer, and raise awareness by sharing the stories of real women affected by the disease. One Australian woman dies from ovarian cancer every eight hours.

Cancer Council WA (CCWA) is reminding women in the Pilbara to remain ever vigilant about the changes in their body. CCWA Pilbara regional education officer Anne Johnston said women should pay attention to any unusual, new, persistent or troublesome symptoms. “If you have any of the symptoms and they happen on most days for three weeks or more, particularly if you’re over 50 or have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, go to your doctor or Aboriginal Health Professional and get a check-up,” she said. “You won’t be wasting the doctor’s time and in most cases it won’t be anything to worry about but if it is cancer, your chances of successfully treating it are much greater.”

“More research is required to better understand the causes of ovarian cancer but as with many cancers, there are steps we can take to reduce our overall individual cancer risk, including quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, getting enough exercise, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and reducing alcohol intake.” Women are advised to look out for any pain in the lower and side abdomen, irregular periods or bleeding after menopause, back pain, loss of appetite, indigestion or nausea.

For more information about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month click here and to view the full article in the Albany Advertiser about CCWA’s ovarian cancer awareness raising activities click here.

tile text 'Feb is ovarian cancer awareness month' & image of gloved surgical hands holding paper cut-off female reproductive organs

Image source: Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation website.