NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Much written about us, not with us

The image in the feature tile is from an ABC News article WA’s banned drinkers register to be overhauled as figures reveal less than 200 people on list published on Thursday 29 September 2022. Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC News.

Much written about us, not with us

A study examining the portrayal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian Government policies regarding alcohol and other drug (AOD) use used critical discourse analysis, informed by an Indigenous Research Paradigm, to analyse texts and contexts of six key Australian Government AOD drug policies; two Aboriginal AOD data documents, two reporting documents and two AOD strategy documents.

The social practice analysis found issues of power imbalance relating to the socio-political situation the documents were created in. Textual analysis identified: culture being performative or functional in documents; cultural unsafety in construction of targets and outcomes, and; the decentring of Aboriginal peoples in the framing of the documents. The discourse analysis identified that the documents often wrote about Aboriginal peoples rather than writing documents with or by Aboriginal peoples. This typically: absented complexities of consultation occurring within a complex power imbalanced cultural interface; did not support an Aboriginal paradigm; centred Gubba people in power and; promoted a paternalistic view of ‘helping’ Aboriginal people.

The researchers concluded there is an urgent need to move from policy relating to Aboriginal affairs that relies on a deficit discourse, to more effective AOD policy that improves power balance in policy development, is written with or by Aboriginal people, is inclusive of Aboriginal epistemologies and ontologies, and represents a paradigm-shift to a strength-based approach.

To view an abstract of the article Much being Written about Us, not much being Written with Us: Examining how alcohol and other drug use by Indigenous Australians is portrayed in Australian Government policies and strategies: A discourse analysis published in The International Journal of Drug policy in full click here. Below is a video of from the Danila Dilba Biluru Butji Binnilutlum Health Service AOD team, who would be well placed to inform government policy.

AMA shines light on hidden waiting list

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says Australia’s “hidden waiting list” is a scandal that adds months and sometimes years to the time patients wait for essential surgery. AMA President Professor Steve Robson today launched a new report Shining a light on the hidden waiting list, which highlights the unreported time it takes patients to see a specialist in public hospitals.

“These hidden figures are a scandal that affect hundreds and thousands of patients and impact a health system already in logjam, including general practice that has to deal with the pressure of looking after many of these patients in the meantime,” Professor Robson said. “There are no reliable data on the time it takes a patient to see a specialist in a public hospital outpatient clinic after seeing their GP, but we know it can be years,” he said.

“Patients, many of them in pain, aren’t just waiting years for surgery, sometimes they are waiting years just to see a specialist who can get them on the official surgery waiting list. During this wait, they often develop other health issues, such as mental health issues and diabetes, which further affects their quality of life and ends up costing the system more.

To view the AMA’s media release Hidden waiting list scandal leaves patients in agony and adds to health system chaos in full click here. You can watch a short ABC News video ‘Hidden waiting list’: Elective surgery wait times significantly longer than reported by clicking this link.

Cost of living crisis hits remote mob hardest

As our cost of living continues to sky rocket, it’s painfully clear that remote and Indigenous communities are suffering because of it. Recent statistics show that most Closing the Gap 2022 targets for Indigenous Australians cannot be achieved without better nutrition and health.

Our Closing the Gap targets this year clearly state that without good health, people can’t lead long and healthy lives, children can’t be born strong and healthy or thrive in their early years, students can’t achieve their full potential and youth can’t be engaged in employment or education.

At least 20% of the health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is caused by poor nutrition. As cost-of-living pressures intensify for all Australians, the already-prohibitive cost and accessibility of healthy fresh food in regional and remote communities only worsens. Hungry and desperate people are being forced to eat cheaper processed foods because that is all they can afford — and we all pay a terrible price for the result.

To view the North West Telegraph article Caroline de Mori: Cost of living crisis hits Indigenous communities hardest click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the high prices. Source: Image source: SBS News.

Tennant Creek Indi Kindi initiative

For many families in remote and regional communities access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) can be difficult, and employment options are few. This is not the case for those with access to Indi Kindi.

Delivered by Moriaty Foundation and supported by UNICEF Australia, Indi Kindi is an early childhood initiative for children under five years of age in remote aboriginal communities that integrates education, health and wellbeing. Following ground-breaking success since 2012 in the remote communities of Borroloola and Robinson River in the NT, the initiative expanded to Tennant Creek and to nearby Mungkarta in 2021.

The Indi Kindi team in Tennant Creek is made up of six local Aboriginal women who are ‘vibrant, committed and well connected’ within the community. Having an entirely Aboriginal team helps create bonds and trust with the parent, meaning there is no cultural divide between educator and child and parent.

To view The Sector article For Warumungu / Wambaya woman Keara Indi Kindi has been transformative in full click here.

Image source: The Sector.

Funding available under ACPG program  

The NSW Government is calling on eligible Aboriginal community organisations and groups to apply for funding through the new solutions-focused $30 million Aboriginal Community and Place Grants program. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said the program is about achieving tangible, community centered outcomes across NSW and drive practical support for Aboriginal communities.

“Eligible Aboriginal community organisations and groups can apply for grants of up to $250,000 for one-off projects that will effectively empower Aboriginal communities to drive social, tangible change,” Mr Franklin said. “This is an exciting and unique program that will invest critical funding into the hands of Aboriginal communities who best know how to deliver culturally appropriate and community centered opportunities and outcomes for their community.”

Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO) Co-Chair Cr Anne Dennis said the Community and Place Grants Program will drive local change and contribute towards the 17 socio-economic outcome targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The funding is about communities identifying their needs and accessing support in order to experience measurable change locally and sooner. It’s designed to help close the gap at a local level. If an Aboriginal Medical Service, for example, identifies child development issues in the community, the Community and Place Grants funding can help expand the care offered to Aboriginal children.

To view the NSW Government media release Calling Aboriginal communities and organisations to apply for funding in full click here.

ACCHO hosts mental health awareness event

Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative’s inaugural mental health awareness campaign and event HAND UP is a unique opportunity to highlight the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to connect during profound times. Comedian Kevin Kropinyeriand will MC the main event today featuring the premiere its HAND UP music video, featuring local Indigenous rappers and artists.

Research in Australia shows that the ongoing impacts of colonisation have placed First Nations people at far greater risk of severe and extensive mental health problems. Goolum Goolum General Manager Johnny Gorton said cultural resilience and connection to family and community were crucial for counteracting these impacts and encouraging positive mental health. “Days like today are to bring our people together, hopefully share a laugh and reconnect,” he said.

To view The Wimmera Mail-Times article Goolum Goolum to host inaugural mental health awareness event in full click here.

Photo: Nick Ridley. Image source: The Wimmera Mail-Times.

$11.5m for Indigenous-led health research

Yesterday the Albanese Government announced it will invest $33.6 million in medical research grants for 41 projects to help reduce the number of Australians affected by heart disease and stroke. The grants are part of $156.7 million for 93 innovative medical research projects to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The research projects are diverse, supporting research into areas such as:

  • Using stem cells to boost the body’s ability to heal
  • Genetic analysis to create personalised, more effective treatments
  • Partnering with communities to improve culturally sensitive care for First Australians and improve COVID vaccination rates
  • Improved management of sports concussion
  • Surviving heart attacks
  • Reducing strokes using the ‘Love Your Brain’ app
  • New treatments for life-threatening pneumonia and golden-staph infections.

The MRFF grants will be provided across eight areas, including Indigenous Health Research. This area will receive more than $11.5 million for 11 Indigenous-led projects. One of the projects will be conducted by The University of Queensland. They have received almost $400,000 in funding to look at Type 2 diabetes prevalence and management in patients attending an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service in SE Queensland over a twelve-year period: factors associated with good management and low risk of hospitalisation. Statistics show that by 55 years of age, at least one in three Indigenous Australians will have diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious heart and kidney problems for which people need to go to hospital, but there are ways to reduce the risk of having such problems. The research aims to learn if The Inala Indigenous Health Service can do better for people with diabetes.

To view The National Tribune article $156 million for innovative medical research in full click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Joint Council on CTG Co-Chair interviewed

The image in the feature tile is of Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP in Adelaide today for the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. Image source: The Coalition of Peaks Facebook page, 26 August 2022.

Joint Council on CTG Co-Chair interviewed

The ALP has made a commitment to Close the Gap, a strategy aimed at closing the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people within a generation. The policy was refreshed under the Coalition government with a Joint Council set up to oversee it. The group is meeting with the responsible minister today, Linda Burney. The Council Co-Chair, Pat Turner, who is also the Lead Convener of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peak) and NACCHO CEO spoke with Sabra Lane on ABC Radio AM earlier this morning.

Ms Turner spoke about what needs to be prioritised to meet the CTG targets. Ms Turner said the priorities have to be:

  • shared decision-making partnerships between Aboriginal leadership and Torres Strait Islander leadership with government where they are negotiating for new arrangements, so we have to be at the table and have equal decision-making arrangements in place.
  • build and strengthen the community-controlled service sector to deliver services, because we do it much better than mainstream or anywhere else and we get better outcomes.
  • mainstream organisations like youth detention police services, hospitals etc. they have to become places that are more culturally respectful in their dealings and culturally safe places for Aboriginal and Torres State Islander people

You can listen to Pat Turner’s interview from 7:15 minutes of the recording here.

Earlier today the Coalition of Peaks issued a media release Joint Council on Closing the Gap meets in Adelaide, available here, outlining the ‘hefty agenda’ aimed to progress actions under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Members of Joint Council on Closing the Gap, Adelaide 26 August 2022. Image source: Coalition of Peaks Facebook page.

Voice won’t usurp CTG

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney has dismissed concerns enacting a voice to parliament would come at the expense of closing the gap outcomes. The Joint Council on Closing the Gap is meeting today for the first time since 2021. Ms Burney said closing gaps in key health and education areas between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians remained a top priority for the government. As debate continues on a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution, she said both were just as important.

“It is wrong to suggest that that agenda (of the voice) will be usurping the agenda of closing the gap. They are part and parcel of the same thing,” she said. “Unless First Nations people are living lives of choice and chance, just like other Australians, then we cannot ever hold our heads high in the space of Indigenous affairs.”

To view The Canberra Times article Voice won’t usurp closing gap: Burney in full click here.

Minister Linda Burney. Photo: Tanja Bruckner. Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Detention of kids in adult prisons must stop

The peak body of psychiatrists in Australia has called on the Federal and state and territory governments to stop the detention of children in adult prisons. In light of the recent events at Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre (WA), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has staunchly opposed the detention of children in adult facilities and urged governments to prioritise the mental health of children detained in the juvenile system.

RANZCP President Vinay Lakra highlighted that research shows over 75% of young persons in detention have one or more psychiatric disorders that need treatment. “Youth detention is associated with increased risks of suicidality and psychiatric disorders including depression, substance use, and behavioural disorders. Detaining young children and putting their future at risk should be the absolute last resort.”

To view the RANZCP media release Psychiatrists say the detention of children in adult prisons must stop in full click here.

Photo: Matt Davidson. Image source: WAtoday.

500 new First Nations health workers

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said the Australian Government is progressing on a commitment to train 500 new First Nations health workers to fill gaps across the health system, ahead of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap in Adelaide today. National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is working hand-in-hand with the Australian Government to design the program to ensure it meets the needs of First Nations people, and the health services which care for them. The program will support up to 500 First Nations trainees to undertake Certificate III or IV accredited training to enable them to work in various health settings and deliver culturally appropriate care to First Nations peoples.

To view the joint media release from Minister Burney and Senator McCarthy Closing the Gap in Health click here.

Image source: Aboriginal Workforce Development webpage of CommunitySkills WA website.

Australia fails to meet trachoma targets

NT artist Lena Campbell watched her late grandmother go blind from the impacts of trachoma — now she is trying to stop the next generation from going down the same path. She lives in Titjikala, a town more than 100 kms south of Alice Springs that sits among the red sands of the Simpson Desert, and the dust is a normal part of daily life. But dusty conditions are a common contributor to the preventable eye-disease trachoma.

Trachoma is caused by infection with the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, which is spread easily through personal contact, sharing bedding and even from flies that have picked it up. Most days, kids living in Titjikala aged from two to 14 years run around the basketball court — sharing hula hoops and kicking the footy around. Ms Campbell calls the kids to a big watering trough, where they lather up with soap and splash their faces with water. “If the parents are not here, I look after them to stay clean,” she explains. “Especially after school, the kids come out here and play and we usually ask them to wash their hands and faces in case of trachoma, in case of sore eyes.”

Australia is the highest-income country to still have endemic trachoma, according to the World Health Organization. Environmental factors such as housing conditions play a major part in countering this blinding disease. Ms Campbell is considered one of the “stronger ladies” in her community for speaking up for residents. She’s upset that trachoma still exists in Indigenous communities like hers even though cities were able to eradicate the disease 100 years ago.

To read the ABC News article Trachoma still exists in remote Indigenous communities as Australia fails to meet eradication targets in full click here.

Titjikala kids are learning how to keep their eyes – and faces – clean. Photo: Stephanie Boltje, ABC News.

Thrive by Five backs calls for funding guarantee

Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative supports calls made by the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), for the Federal Government to reinstate funding for Indigenous-led child and family centres across Australia. The Childcare Deserts and Oasis Report, recently completed by the Mitchell Institute, highlights that families located in areas defined as inner regional (42.6%), outer regional (62.6 %), remote (87.5%), and outer remote (79.9%) are more likely to be living in a childcare desert compared to families living in major cities. This lack of early learning and care is exacerbated in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which is contributing to poorer outcomes for children.

To view the Minderoo Foundation media release Thrive by Five backs call to guarantee funding for Indigenous-led early learning and childcare click here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Wear it Purple Day

Wear It Purple strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people, with a focus on four key areas:

Awareness – We provide support and resources for Schools, Universities, Gender & Sexuality Alliances (GSA’s) and Youth Organisations to assist them in creating inclusive experiences for rainbow young people. We act as a source of resources to support the effective delivery of Wear It Purple Day in Schools, Universities, Workplaces and the broader community.

Opportunity – We provide meaningful opportunities for rainbow young people to develop their skills, expand their network and contribute to the inclusivity of their communities.

Environment – We provide supportive and safe spaces (digital and physical) and contribute to a world where young rainbow people feel proud of who they are.

Collaboration – We collaborate and unite with other organisations to further the inclusion of rainbow young people. Through partnerships, we support the effective delivery of Wear It Purple Day in Schools, Universities, Workplaces and the broader community.

An Australian Human Rights Commission article Brotherboys, Sistergirls and LGBT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, available here, describes how Brotherboys, Sistergirls and other LGBT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience a number of significant and intersecting points of discrimination and marginalisation in Australia.

For more information about Wear it Purple Day click here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: PM’s Voice to Parliament proposal

Image in the feature tile is PM Anthony Albanese with Yothu Yindi Foundation chair Galarrwuy Yunupingu at the Garma festival in the NT. Photo: Carly Earl. Image source: The Guardian, 30 July 2022.

PM’s Voice to Parliament

The PM, Anthony Albanese, acknowledged we have been here before as a nation: at a crossroads, about to decide a path that will affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people for generations to come. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this time the stakes are so much higher, because the past is littered with the broken promises of politicians.

The PM said as much in his stirring speech at the Garma festival in Arnhem Land on Saturday. Anthony Albanese spoke of “over 200 years of broken promises and betrayals, failures and false starts”. “So many times, the gap between the words of balanda [whitefella] speeches and the deeds of governments has been as wide as this continent,” Albanese told a packed crowd.

In response to comments about addressing urgent, critical matters before any referendum, the lead convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, Pat Turner, said it was possible to do more than one thing at a time. Turner said the voice and improving the lives of Aboriginal and Islander people was “not an either-or prospect”. “Our members undertake service delivery across Australia to some 500,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait people,” Turner said. “Our members are on country, working in and for our communities, to make a difference in our people’s lives.”

To view The Guardian article Indigenous voice campaigners say ample detail already available in wake of PM’s stirring speech in full click here. You can also view a transcript of PM Anthony Albanese’s speech at Garma on The Voice published in WAtoday here.

Goodbye Archie, who gave voice to many

Songman Archie Roach has been remembered as the voice of generations and a truth-teller whose death is a loss to his community and the world. The Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller died at the age of 66 after a long illness. His sons said Uncle Archie died surrounded by his family and loved ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria. His family has granted permission for his name and image to be used so that his legacy will continue to inspire.

Gunditjmara woman Jill Gallagher, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), said it felt like “a little bit of hope has gone”. “Uncle Archie, through his music, brought that hope, because he told the world … Australia does have a dark history,” she told the ABC. “And he showed the world that Aboriginal people are still here. And we have a story to tell.”

To view the ABC News article Archie Roach remembered as a truth-teller and activist who gave voice to many click here.

Pharmacist guideline for supporting mob

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched guidelines for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with medicines management, as part of PSA22. The principles included in the guideline are relevant to all current and future pharmacists, from those just starting their professional journey to those with years of experience working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said that the guidelines were a vital part of the pharmacy profession’s effort to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians. “PSA is proud to have worked with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to develop these guidelines, which will help pharmacists around Australia, in all practice settings, deliver the best care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,” she said.

Deputy CEO of NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey, says that the guidelines offer practical and detailed information, as well as some challenging ideas. “All pharmacists have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients as well as colleagues, business partners or family who we interact with, know and work alongside,” she said.

To view The National Tribune article Guideline for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples launched at PSA22 click here and to view the Guideline for Pharmacists Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with Medicines Management click here.

Image source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

Ideally placed to help family violence victims

Health systems play a key role in addressing gender-based violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence, but have not been given adequate resources to respond in a way that benefits victims/survivors and children, according to the authors of a Narrative Review published today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Gender-based violence includes physical, psychological, sexual or economic behaviour causing harm for reasons associated with people’s gender. Women are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, with Indigenous women and girls facing particularly high risk.

Victims/survivors are more likely to access health services (eg, general practice, sexual health, mental health, emergency care, Aboriginal community-controlled health services and maternity services) than any other professional help. Health practitioners are ideally placed to identify domestic and sexual violence, provide a first line response, and refer on to support services. However, domestic and sexual violence continue to be under-recognised and poorly addressed by health practitioners. It is essential for practitioners to have the skills to ask and respond to domestic and sexual violence, given that victims/survivors who receive positive reactions are more likely to accept help.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia’s media release Transforming health settings to address gender‐based violence in Australia in full click here.

Image source: MamaMia article ‘Indigenous women are the unheard victims of domestic violence. It’s time to break the silence.’ – 26 January 2022.

Mob with disability a double disadvantage

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began a full national rollout in July 2016 with a fundamental objective to give those with a disability choice and control over their daily lives. Participants can use funds to purchase services that reflect their lifestyle and aspirations. People with disability living in remote communities may receive money for supports, but that doesn’t mean there’s anywhere to purchase them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with severe disability face many barriers to fully accessing the support offered by the NDIS. This group of people has already experienced long-standing isolation and are particularly vulnerable to being left behind, again. The prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is twice that experienced by other Australians. It is more complex in terms of more than one disability or health issue occurring together, and it is compressed within a shorter life expectancy.

The latest NDIS quarterly states 9,255 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are participating in the NDIS (roughly 5.4% of the total). Though, being a “participant” means they have been signed up to an insurance policy. It doesn’t necessarily mean the policy has been paid out. And many others aren’t on the scheme at all.

To view the NewsServices.com article Indigenous people with disability have a double disadvantage and the NDIS can’t handle that in full click here. A related article Making everyone count: it is time to improve the visibility of people with disabilitiy in primary care published in the Medical Journal of Australia today is available here.

Willie Prince, a founding member of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland. Image source: Queenslanders with Disability Network.

Complexity of GP role needs respect

General practice is at a tipping point, and besides root-and-branch reform of models of funding, experts say attitudes to general practice need to change, and change now. With rising costs of providing care, increasing burnout rates of doctors and low number pursuing GP training, there are repeated calls across the industry to dump universal bulk billing and fund primary care in a different way. But it’s not just about the money. GPs want wide-ranging changes for the sustainability of their profession.

Dr David King, Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the University of Queensland said “We need to be included in decisions that involve health care, and the nation needs to realise that we’re the foundation of health care in Australia, particularly primary health care.”

Dr Karen Price, President of the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) went further saying there needs to be a funding model that integrates other services. “We need to look at different models like the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have done. They’ve got a great model for Aboriginal medical services. We need to look at centres like that in some of the lower socio-economic areas where they can’t afford a gap. We need to look at how that might work with access to physiotherapy and social work and occupational therapy and psychologists in a way that is equitable and supported.

To view the InSight article GPs at “top of the medical hierarchy” crying out for respect in full click here.

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Healing power of the arts

A young woman dying of cancer wanted music to soothe her in the final moments of life. So a harpist went to her bedside at a Brisbane hospital, where she and her family were preparing for the end. “She wanted to be played to the other side,” said Peter Breen who curates the Stairwell Project, a Queensland charity that organises musical performances in hospitals to calm and distract patients and staff.

Stairwell Project is one of many arts organisations featured at this week’s National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane, where hundreds of professionals will gather for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Deadly Weavers founder Felicity Chapman, a Wiradjuri businesswoman who used traditional craft to rehabilitate after a brain aneurysm, will also feature alongside other Indigenous artists.

To view the Health Times article ‘Like Narnia’: the healing power of music 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: World Hepatitis Day 2022

The image in the feature tile is from the Hepatitis Australia website.

World Hepatitis Day 2022

World Hepatitis Day, held on 28 July, is an international annual day observed by the United Nations and one of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) nine officially mandated global public health days. In Australia, World Hepatitis Day is coordinated by the national peak body Hepatitis Australia to raise awareness and promote action on viral hepatitis. Hepatitis Australia’s vision is to see an end to viral hepatitis in Australia.

In November last year The Kirby Institute released a report, available here, Progress towards hepatitis C elimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. This was the first report to provide an account of progress of hepatitis C elimination among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as framed by global and national strategies. The key findings of the report were:

  • At end 2020, an estimated 117,810 Australians were living with chronic hepatitis C of whom 18% (21,548) were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Unrestricted access to government subsidised direct-acting antiviral therapy for hepatitis C has seen large numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people treated and some declines in hepatitis C related liver failure and mortality.
  • Although hepatitis C testing and diagnosis proportions are high, findings highlight gaps in treatment uptake and harm reduction coverage, including new hepatitis C infections, of particular concern among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

You can access Hepatitis Australia’s website here and download a factsheet with the latest statistics on hepatitis B and C in Australia here.

More work needed to CTG

The Closing the Gap Annual Data Compilation Report, released today, provides new information for nine socio-economic targets within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The assessment of these targets paints a mixed picture, and emphasises the need for more resources to finally Close the Gap in life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

While targets relating to the healthy birthweight of babies, enrolment of children in preschool, youth detention rates, and land mass subject to rights and interests are on track, many are not. Children commencing school being developmentally on track, out-of-home care, adult imprisonment, deaths from suicide, and sea country subject to rights and interests all need work.

“We only have 8 years left of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. That’s 8 years to meet every target, not just some of them. This report should instil a sense of urgency in everyone working on Closing the Gap activities”, said Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Patricia Turner AM.

To view the Coalition of Peaks media release More work needed to Close the Gap click here and the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Annual Data Compilation Report July 2022 here. A related ABC News article Latest round of Closing the Gap data shows ‘disappointing’ progress for Indigenous Australians with only four of 17 targets on track published today, and available   here, the Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said “It’s incredibly disturbing to see that a number of Closing the Gap targets are not on track.”

Heal Our Way campaign launched

Heal Our Way is a NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Campaign funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZA) initiatives. The campaign, led by Cox Inall Ridgeway in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW, aims to encourage help seeking from community by equipping them with the skills to have safe conversations around suicide.

Heal Our Way recognises that cultural identity, belonging and connectedness are central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ wellbeing and are protective factors that help in managing life stressors. Dr Summer May Finlay, a Yorta Yorta woman and lecturer at the University of Wollongong, attended a launch of the campaign in Dubbo this week, where she co-facilitated a panel discussion, together with Andy Saunders, while also tweeting the news.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Connect, reach out, and Heal Our Way – suicide prevention campaign launches in full click here.

From the launch at Dubbo. Photo: Shayne Connell. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Children sought for sore throat study

More than 1,000 children are being sought for a study to learn more about sore throats and how best to prevent them. Murdoch Children’s project lead Professor Andrew Steer said the study would investigate how many children got sore throats, what was the most common cause of a sore throat and how sore throats could change during different seasons of the year. The information collected will help inform how a vaccine could be used to prevent a wide range of illnesses caused by Strep A.

“Strep A is often responsible for mild infections like a sore throat, also called ‘strep throat’, and impetigo, which causes skin sores,” Professor Steer said. But when left untreated it can become life-threatening if the bacteria invades the body’s bloodstream, muscles or lungs, which can cause severe illnesses such as septicaemia, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease.”

Strep A infections disproportionately affect young children, the elderly, pregnant women and Indigenous Australians. Rates of rheumatic heart disease among Indigenous populations in northern Australia are some of the highest in the world. There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Strep A and infection can only be treated with antibiotics. “This study is an important step towards helping inform how a vaccine could be used to prevent a wide range of illnesses caused by Strep A,” Professor Steer said.

To view the SCIMEX article Children sought for study into how to prevent sore throats in full click here.

Image source: Australian Journal of General Practice.

Celebrating motherhood and culture

Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri woman Mahlia McDonald nearly didn’t take part in The Mubal and Bali Photography Program, but she is glad she changed her mind. Now her work is part of a Wodonga exhibition featuring photographs of Aboriginal women and their children taken by Aboriginal women, celebrating motherhood and tradition.

A co-partnership between Wodonga TAFE and the Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service, the Mubal and Bali (Mums and Bubs) Photography Program aimed to bring Aboriginal women together to learn photography skills. It also provided a stepping stone back into the education system.  TAFE photography teacher Tania Martini said the 15-week program, in Victoria’s north-east, taught photography and editing skills while capturing images of mothers and children on country. “It was based on the concept of Aboriginal women around birthing, childhood, and motherhood,” she said.

To view the ABC News article Wodonga’s Mubal and Bali photography exhibition celebrates motherhood and culture in full click here.

This photo by Demelsa Wakefield was taken as part of the program that celebrates motherhood and culture.(Supplied: Mubal and Bali Photography Program). Image source: ABC News.

Medicare needed for prisoners

A NSW coroner has supported the idea of Medicare becoming available to Aboriginal inmates on a trial basis after a 44-year-old man died in custody from a preventable ear infection. Douglas “Mootijah” Shillingsworth, a Budjiti and Murrawarri man, died at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital in February 2018 after an otitis media middle ear infection spread to his brain, causing sepsis and neurological injury.

In findings last week, Deputy State Coroner Joan Baptie said Mootijah’s “Mootijah’s death was the result of the systemic failures prevalent in the public health system, the custodial health system in NSW and the lack of identification and appreciation of this silent killer, otitis media. Whilst his manner of death was from natural causes, this was clearly precipitated by the failure to identify and treat his ear disease whilst in custody.”

Inmates in NSW cannot receive Medicare benefits because the Health Insurance Act prevents a health service from receiving Commonwealth funding if it also receives state funding. This means inmates are blocked from receiving a yearly Aboriginal health assessment, a screening that is intended to pick up chronic issues before they progress. No similar screening operates outside the Medicare system. Jeremy Styles from the Aboriginal Legal Service, who represented the family during the inquest, said any one of these Aboriginal health assessments would have documented, recorded and discovered Mootijah’s ear disease.

To read The Sydney Morning Herald article Coroner calls for Medicare for prisoners after Indigenous man dies of ear infection in full click here.

Ruby Dykes (left) and Fleur Magic Dennis, family members of Douglas “Mootijah” Shillingsworth, hug outside court on Friday. Photo: Dean Sewell. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wounds conference speakers announced

After a temporary move online in 2020 due to COVID-related restrictions, Wounds Australia’s biannual wounds conference is returning to Sydney this September. To be held at the ICC Sydney from 14–17 September, the conference will bring together leading experts and clinicians to share their insights and experience in working with wounds.

Presentations in the program will explore this year’s theme: ‘Time to unite, time to heal, time to innovate’, with a special focus on Indigenous health care, in recognition of the need to close the gap between the quality of wound care provision in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Keynote addresses by James Charles and Lesley Salem will discuss Indigenous healthcare initiatives.

Wounds Australia Chair Hayley Ryan said, “As the peak body for wound prevention, diagnosis, treatment and healing in Australia, we are committed to ensuring that Australians receive the best possible wound care.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article Wounds Australia Conference — keynote speakers announced click here.

Image of leg being dressed from National Seniors Australia website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Improved environmental action needed to CTG

The image in the feature tile is of artwork that appears on the cover of the Australia State of the Environment Report 2021. The painting We All Share Water 2001 is by Gertie Huddleston, Wandarang/Mara peoples.

Improved environmental action needed

Earlier today the Coalition of Peaks (CoPs) issued a media release saying: as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we have been saying for a long time that we need to have a much greater say in how programs and services are delivered to our people, in our own places, and on our own country. The Australia State of the Environment Report 2021, released last week, reiterates the importance of this.

“The State of the Environment Report’s findings are shocking, but they’re not surprising”, says CoPs Lead Convener Patricia Turner AM. “Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations see the impacts of colonisation on our Country every day. Our people aren’t involved enough in decision-making on key environmental and heritage issues, to the detriment of the environment. The National Agreement on Closing the Gap outlines formal partnership and shared decision-making, and clearly this mindset needs to be extended to environmental and heritage issues as well”, Ms Turner said. “The report found that Australia’s environment is poorer because of lack of Indigenous leadership, knowledge, and management. We’ve been caring for Country for 65,000+ years – it’s time to listen to what we have to say”, said Ms Turner.

The report also found that ongoing and intergenerational impact and trauma of colonisation continues to adversely affect Indigenous people’s connection to Country and manifests in unacceptable rates of imprisonment, suicide, and unemployment. “This report shows unequivocally that our connection to Country is vital to our wellbeing. We will never close the gap and reach the socio-economic targets in the National Agreement without governments acknowledging our deep, cultural connections to Country”, Ms Turner said.

To view the CoPs media release State of Environment Report highlights need for improved action under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in full click here.

The devastating 2020 bushfires killed or displaced an estimated 3 billion animals. Photo: James D Morgan. Getty Images. Image source: The Guardian.

Elder reveals mental health demons

A stolen generation survivor has revealed his own mental health demons as he pleads for his community to rally around those with suicidal thoughts. Uncle George Ellis is a “third-generation dispossessed person”, his grandmother brought to Sydney from Tennant creek as a child, his mother growing up at Cootamundra Girls Home and father at Kinchela Boy’s Home. Uncle Ellis was taken to Marella Mission in Kellyville as a boy.

Speaking at the Cox Inall Ridgeway Connect, Reach Out, Heal our Way suicide prevention campaign launch on Wiradjuri land Tuesday, Uncle Ellis spoke of his plight and decision to make a change. “I never thought I’d say this out to people, I’m actually seeing a psychologist,” Uncle Ellis said. “And that’s made a big difference in addressing issues that I’ve had.” Uncle Ellis shared his lived experience and its impact on life, parenting and his own father’s “big decline” later in life from similar tolls from dispossession.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in suicide statistics, accounting for 5.5% of all deaths compared to 1.9 % of non-Indigenous Australians according to the Governments Institute of Health and Welfare’s most recent reporting period.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Stolen Generations Elder bravely reveals mental health demons in rallying cry for community support in full click here.

Uncle George Ellis – Dubbo Suicide Prevention campaign launch. Photo: Brycen Horne. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Australia urged to join NZ tobacco ‘endgame’

Leading tobacco-control experts have urged the federal government to join NZ in pursuing “endgame” reforms that could eliminate smoking and dramatically close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and white Australians. As the Ardern government introduced legislation designed to make tobacco products non-addictive and prohibit the sale of cigarettes to future generations, anti-tobacco campaigners said the Australian government needed to shake a decade of complacency and resume its global leadership role.

While adult smoking rates in Australia are among the lowest in the world, rates among Indigenous Australians remain lethally high. Tobacco-related disease kills more than one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “We are talking about a significant opportunity for change,” said ANU researcher Raglan Maddox. “If we are talking about closing the gap, eliminating or reducing as far as possible tobacco use is a massive step in the right direction.”

Tom Calma, an Aboriginal social justice campaigner whose work led to the Closing the Gap movement, praised NZ’s ambition and lamented our own. “The New Zealand parliament has embraced this target of a smoke-free Aotearoa. The Australian government hasn’t been so interested.”

To view the WAtoday article Australia urged to join New Zealand in tobacco ‘endgame’ in full click here.

Photo: Dave Hunt, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

VIRAL: Are You The Cure? film launched

Ilbijerri Theatre Company’s VIRAL: Are You The Cure? is a  deadly short film about smashing hepatitis C. Originally staged as a play which toured in 2018 and 2019, VIRAL is a short film made by Australia’s longest running First Nations theatre company, Ilbijerri, about navigating hepatitis C. The film is one of a suite of works tackling health and social issues, commissioned by Ilbijerri’s long term partners of 15 years, the Victorian Government’s Department of Health. These works are specifically designed for First Nations audiences and are performed and distributed in community spaces, prisons, and health centres across Victoria. Now, in film format, VIRAL is set to reach broader audiences, available via Ilbijerri’s website, and will be further disseminated by myriad partners across the health and justice sector, and many First Nations community groups.

This project has been commissioned by the Victorian State Government via the Department of Health. With special thanks to Liver WELL incorporating Hepatitis Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), Justice Health via Department of Justice and Community Safety, Thorne Harbour Health, the Burnet Institute, and the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH).

You can view the Ilbijerri Theatre Company’s media release VIRAL: Are You The Cure? A deadly short film about smashing hepatitis C here and the film here. The film below is one of the true stories you can access on the Ibijerri Theatre Company Are You The Cure? webpage.

ACT overincarceration funding ‘not enough’

Faced with disproportionate numbers of First Nations people in prison, the ACT Government has announced it will spend more than $20 million to reduce overincarceration and to improve health services for inmates. But Julie Tongs, head of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAHCS), which runs a clinic in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), Canberra’s prison, thinks more must be done.

For perhaps the most progressive jurisdiction in Australia, the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison figures are concerning – as the government recognises. Indigenous people make up less than 2% of the ACT’s population, but nearly a quarter (24.4%) of AMC detainees, January’s Report on Government Services stated. The ACT has the lowest adult imprisonment rates in Australia – but Indigenous people in the ACT are incarcerated at 19 times the rate of the general population (well above the national average of 16 times). And 91% of Indigenous detainees have been imprisoned before.

To view the Canberra Weekly article ACT’s $20M response to Aboriginal overincarceration ‘not enough’ in full click here.

Julie Tongs, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services. Photo: Kerrie Brewer. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Preserving language a matter of life and death

With a history stretching back more than 60,000 years, Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, have one of the world’s oldest continuous cultures. But that long history — centuries and generations linked by the common thread of shared languages — is at risk. For thousands of years, Indigenous languages relied on storytelling to pass down historical accounts, and with them a sense of nationhood. In 1788, there were approximately 250 languages and 800 dialects spoken. Today, estimates suggest that just  120 languages are in use.

That number is likely to decrease as more Indigenous communities across the globe lose their languages due to the consequences of colonisation: changes to way of life, land dispossession, assimilation policies and migration, as well as the death of native speakers resulting in the loss of intergenerational transmission of Indigenous language.

As language declines, so too does its associated culture and all the knowledge it has acquired over countless generations. It is yet possible, however, to preserve these ancient languages and cultures — and in doing so, improve medical outcomes for Indigenous communities who have too often missed out on the extraordinary medical advances of recent years and decades.

To view the World Economic Forum article For Australia’s Indigenous communities, preserving their languages is a matter of life and death in full click here.

The Sea of Hands exhibit was part of Australia’s National Reconciliation Week for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Image source: World Economic Forum website.

Calls to pause post-intervention alcohol laws

Alcohol bans, first introduced by the Commonwealth during the NT intervention in 2007, lifted in some remote communities after federal legislation expired earlier this month. The end to the bans has coincided with reports from frontline services of a spike in alcohol-related incidents and health presentations, as well as a rise in liquor sales. Independent MLA Robyn Lambley said the end to alcohol restrictions in some remote communities was fuelling domestic incidents in Alice Springs. “What we’re seeing in Alice Springs is the rolling out of an absolute disaster,” she said.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson has previously said the organisation had concerns about the “hasty” transition process following the end to the legislation and that more consultation was needed. “We’re predicting that there will be an increase in emergency department admissions, alcohol-related injuries, domestic violence, child safety,” he said in April. Earlier this year, Mr Paterson said he had written to the federal and NT ministers requesting a delay to allow Aboriginal organisations to prepare. He said he could see a future where the alcohol bans were lifted, but that “we’ve got to have good regulations”.

To view the ABC News article Northern Territory government facing calls to pause new post-intervention alcohol laws in full click here.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has defended the lifting of alchohol restricitons in dozens of remote communities. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC 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: 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.