NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

Feature tile - Thu 16.9.21 - AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID jabs for healthcare staff

AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on National Cabinet to act urgently on nationally-consistent public health orders for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including GPs.

AMA President Omar Khorshid said legal protection should also be given to healthcare employers who mandate vaccinations for all their staff.

“Most health care providers in Australia are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources needed to navigate complex work health and safety laws. We need to make it easier for them to be able to mandate vaccination, which is the best way to protect their staff and patients.”

Dr Khorshid said the Federal Government needed to co-ordinate States and Territories through the National Cabinet to ensure a nationally-consistent approach to mandatory vaccination that included everyone – GPs and practice staff, pharmacists, hospital staff, ambulance staff, cooks and cleaners – leaving no exemptions, except for legitimate medical reasons.

“Nationally-consistent public health orders would provide legal protection to any employer who could reasonably establish work safety would benefit from a workplace vaccine mandate. It’s important for GPs and other small businesses to have government backing and protection when it comes to mandating vaccines for all employees,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release the AMA here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. What’s followed has been a successful rollout to Navajo Nation residents. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Concerns regional hospitals won’t cope with major COVID outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia is considered inevitable by many health experts, but doctors have warned if it happens before enough people are vaccinated it will be “horrendous” for regional areas where resources are limited and staff are hard to attract. WA has so far managed to keep out the Delta strain, despite it spreading through New South Wales and Victoria. However, with fewer than 40 per cent of people fully vaccinated in Western Australia, president of the Rural Doctors Association, Brittney Wicksteed, was worried.

“If COVID were to come before we’ve got adequate vaccination rates, it’s going to be horrendous in the regions,” she said.

Dr Wicksteed said many regional hospitals did not have the room, equipment or staff to cope with more than a couple of COVID cases at a time.

“The hospital has been extremely busy already this year,” she said.

“I [also] think it will be really hard to maintain adequate staffing in any of the hospitals in any of the regions in WA once there’s COVID there.”

“I don’t think any of our hospitals are fully prepared should we have a large outbreak … there are not enough ventilators at any hospital,” said Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) chief executive Vicki O’Donnell.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Improvements across health and welfare for mob

The two-yearly Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians was launched today by the release of a video message (see below story) from Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services.

In recent years, there have been improvements across a range of measures of health and welfare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The median equivalised household income for Indigenous Australians grew 29% between 2002 and 2018–19, twice the growth rate of non-Indigenous Australians (14%) over the same period after accounting for inflation,” said AIHW Deputy Chief Executive Officer Matthew James.

“Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the proportion of working age Indigenous Australians relying on a government pension or allowance as their main income source fell from 47% to 45%.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and severe outcomes due to a range of health and socioeconomic inequalities. As of 15 August 2021, there had been 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Indigenous Australians since the start of the pandemic. This includes 145 confirmed cases since the beginning of 2021 (1.3% of all cases in the period), and 148 in 2020 (0.5%).

For more information, visit the AIHW website.

Western NSW sets example with COVID jab rates

“We’ve now seen the biggest increase in Western NSW compared to the whole of the state, in vaccination rates, particularly people receiving their first dose and particularly across our Aboriginal community,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who’s come forward in the last month, in particular who’s changed life outcomes for people, getting protected from COVID.”

“Importantly second dose rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal in our community are now the same at 38 per cent right across our region.”

You can read the story in the Daily Liberal here.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

Mental health and wellbeing support tailored to mob

As the serious Delta outbreak continues across the state, the Victorian Government is making sure more Victorians struggling during this difficult period have access to the mental health and wellbeing support they need.

On top of the $225 million the Government has already provided to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, a further investment of $22 million will deliver fast-tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are less likely to engage early with mainstream mental health services, will receive $4 million in support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to self-determine the best, most culturally appropriate response to the mental health and wellbeing needs of their local communities.

You can read more about this investment by the Victorian Government here.

Last week, the McGowan Labor Government also committed more than $374 million to ensure
positive outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in Western Australia. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and well-being, and delivering social and economic opportunities.

“This significant investment will help us Close the Gap in Western Australia and aligns with
our four Priority Reform Areas for changing how governments work with Aboriginal people,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson.

You can read the media release by the McGowan Government here.

Aboriginal student resting on desk with two rocks one with the word 'lonely' & one with the word 'sad'

Headspace ‘take a step’ campaign photo.

Cultural safety important to patients and healthcare workers

Cultural safety is vitally important for the effective delivery of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as in medical schools for our medical students and the health settings where our doctors work.

The Australian Indigenous Doctros’ Association (AIDA) supports the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) National Scheme 2020-2025 definition of cultural safety as:

“A sense of being as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities” and furthermore, “culturally safe practise is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism”.

You can read mora about AIDA‘s Cultural Safety Program here.

Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care Is Vital For Indigenous Youth Right Now.
Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones told Junkee that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Indigenous psychologists have the lived experiences of the real issues and disparities that have existed, and continue within our communities,” Jones said.

“We are the best equipped to deal with Indigenous issues with Indigenous perspectives”.

You can read the article in Junkee here.

AIDA - Cultural Safety Training

Innovative research explores responses to COVID-19

A study being conducted by the University of Queensland, led by Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, and Professor James Ward, seeks to unpack the complexities of Indigenous health and social systems to better understand the effectiveness of responses to COVID-19 in Brisbane.

Although the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have posed numerous health risks for Indigenous peoples, in the most part, it has merely exacerbated pre-existing issues relating to underlying health conditions, food insecurity, housing, and other social determinants of disparate health outcomes.

This study seeks to better understand the structural reforms needed to construct an effective health system, particularly during times of pandemics. It draws on the collective knowledge and experience of Indigenous and non-indigenous service-providers and healthcare professionals while recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the experts of their own needs and that sustainable change must be community orientated and driven.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Rural health students protecting themselves and rural communities

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has acknowledged the efforts of rural health students to protect themselves, their patients and rural communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated ahead of their clinical placements.

The Chair of ARHEN, Christine Howard, said health students play a vital role in the delivery of clinical services in many rural and remote communities and can help ease the burden on already stretched services.

“It is pleasing to see so many health students from a range of disciplines step up and get vaccinated and join the fight against COVID-19 in rural and remote communities. Around the country student nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have been recruited by state health services to support the vaccine roll-out.

You can read the ARHEN media release here.

health professional looking computer screen engaging in teleconference

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Now Open: the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to announce that applications for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) are now open!

Thanks to the Australian Government Department of Health, the PHMSS provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are studying or intending to study an entry-level health course in 2022, in one of the following disciplines:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care
  • Nursing (RN and EN)
  • Midwifery
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (all specialties except pharmacy)
  • Mental health studies NEW

Additional places for mental health related studies have been made available for this year’s intake! You can view the full list of eligible courses and course areas on our website.

This is an exciting opportunity for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students to receive support to pursue their passion in health care!

Applications close at 11:59pm AEDT on Monday 11 October 2021.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, feel free to get in touch with us at 1800 688 628 or scholarships@acn.edu.au.

Download the flyer here.
You can apply for a scholarship here.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference 2021 
Online event
Wednesday 13th October 2021
The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health

The aim for the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues. The title of the conference ‘Ngar-wu Wanyarra’ translates to ‘listen and act’ in the language of the Yorta Yorta.

You can now download the program and conference booklet.
For up to date information on the conference please visit the website.
If you have any enquiries contact aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au or call (03) 5823 4512.

2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

feature tile text 'NACCHO receives additional funding to help vaccinate mob' & image of young Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vaccination

Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who aren’t vaccinated are prioritised under new funding to cover all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). An extra $7 million will be provided to NACCHO, with some of the funding to be used to hire more staff, who will liaise directly with communities to assist with the rollout of vaccinations.

Lieutenant General John Frewen who leads the national COVID-19 vaccine taskforce said:

“In some of the bigger communities, we’ll be doing things like super clinics, you know, a sort of blitz effort to get large numbers of people through. In other areas we’ll be doing very close community consultation, with an information campaign to get the community ready to accept vaccination and then we’ll provide the vaccinations there.”

There is also funding for First Nations Media Australia, which has been asked to produce new advertising material that can be shared among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout, to address vaccine hesitancy.

Note: image in feature tile –  Aboriginal health service, Wellington, NSW. Photo: Louise Austin. Image source: ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

 

Bathurst gets walk-in vax clinic

A good number of people received their COVID-19 shot at the Kelso Community Hub, Bathurst on its first day as a pop-up vaccination clinic. The Kelso Community Hub is a walk-in clinic, meaning no appointments are needed, and around 200 people per day will be able to be vaccinated.

The clinic is being led by the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service and CEO Jamie Newman said it is about making the vaccine more accessible to people in the community.

“We’ve got to be mindful that a lot of our people who live in low socioeconomic areas do not have transport, so to get into town would be difficult for them. We encountered the same thing in Orange. We need to be able to sometimes bring the mountain to Mohamed, so having it here right in the heart of Kelso allows for walking distance for community members here,” he said.

You can read the story in the Western Advocate here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

 

Communities rallying to get mob vaccinated

Vaccination rates must increase before reopening country

Seventeen of the 20 least vaccinated regions of Aboriginal people are in WA and QLD. Traditional Owners in the WA outback are the least vaccinated of any area in Australia, with just nine per cent of those living in the Southern Outback region having received both doses of the vaccineMichael Small is a Maths and Statistics Professor at the University of Western Australia; his modelling shows that if WA was to experience a NSW-style outbreak, the State would only have 30 days before the virus made its way to remote communities.

“The modelling showed that until the vaccination rate is at around 80 or 90 percent, then these communities are at great risk of local transmission within about a month [of the virus arriving in the State],” he said.

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

In a related article in Croakey Health Media, grave concerns have been raised about the implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health of the “Roadmap to Freedom” released by the NSW Government.

Under the plan, stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW passes the 70 percent double vaccination target. NSW hits the 80 percent double dose target, the Government intends to ease further restrictions around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.

Aboriginal health leaders in NSW, the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions are calling for public health orders to remain in place until at least 90 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are vaccinated.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.
Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

 

Lock-down of remote communities with low jab rates

In an article in The Australian (that requires a subscription to read), Western Australia is working on plans to lock down remote Aboriginal communities with low vaccination rates when it lifts state and international borders, with health officials concerned American evangelists were scaring residents into refusing inoculations.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed he had spoken to his federal counterpart, Greg Hunt, to request support to lock down communities with low Covid-19 vaccination rates once border restrictions were relaxed.

Health authorities in the state are particularly concerned about hostility towards the vaccination program in the far northern communities of Noonkanbah, Looma and Ringer Soak, although Mr Cook said he was aware of at least one community further south where local leaders were also ­agitating against inoculations.

The most recent publicly available vaccination data for WA’s northern outback region, released last Monday, shows just 28 per cent of adults have had one dose compared with 53 per cent across the entire state on the same day. Only 17 per cent were fully ­vaccinated.

Mr Cook said a small number of communities were simply turning away healthcare workers ­because “religious opposition (was) just too overwhelming … Those communities are now saying, ‘Look, we’ve heard you. We’re not going to take the vaccine ­because it’s against god’s will, and so just don’t come back,’ ” he said.

“I think we have to concede that there are some communities that simply will not participate in the … program.” Mr Cook said it may be necessary to restrict movement in and out of remote communities that remain largely unvaccinated in 2022 when international and interstate travel ­resumed.

Mr Cook said some communities had been turned against the vaccine after streaming YouTube videos from US evangelists.

“But just because you’re of a strong religious belief doesn’t mean that you’re anti-vax, it’s simply an interpretation of some of the churches.”

Mr Cook said the debate about when to open-up must include a proviso about the vaccination rate of Aboriginal people. “If you’ve got 80 per cent of mainstream WA vaccinated but only 20 per cent of the Aboriginal community vaccinated, you still can’t open up,” he said.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

 

Healthcare workers at increased risk of mental ill-health during pandemic

There is increasing concern about rising rates of mental ill-health and suicide among doctors.

A recent review led by the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney that was published in The Lancet has revealed doctors are at increased risk of suicide and, in their early years of training, one-quarter to one-third reported significant mental ill-health. The researchers said while this was an increasing issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there is emerging evidence that the impact of the pandemic is creating even more mental health problems.

The review suggested female doctors appeared to be at particular risk, with a suicide rate that is significantly higher than women in the general population.

“The acute nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of Australia at the moment highlights the importance of this issue. The mental health of doctors, along with other healthcare staff, is something we are all depending on,” said the lead author of the study Professor Samuel Harvey, who runs the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW.

You can read the article in the UNSW Sydney Newsroom here.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

 

Suicide intervention training saving lives

A training program to build Indigenous Australians’ skills in preventing suicides has brought national acclaim for a University of Queensland researcher. Associate Professor Maree Toombs said the I-ASIST program was developed in partnership with LivingWorks Australia over four years of consultation and collaboration.

Dr Toombs, a Euralie and Kooma woman, is the UQ Faculty of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Indigenous Engagement. On World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2021), she received the Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Impact Award.

“I-ASIST trains friends, family and outreach services to identify people early who are at risk of suicide, and to use their skills to address the situation immediately,” she said.

“It provides employment for Indigenous trainers, either through organisations or as sole traders, to deliver suicide first-aid skills to their local communities. It develops capacity and sustainability for evidence-based training.

“Now we need people who are embedded and trusted in their communities to be trained deliver this program, especially in Indigenous communities,” she said.

Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, will officially launch I-ASIST in November.

You can read more about the program here.

SPA_LifeAwards_Associate Professor Maree Toombs

 

NACCHO Conference postponed

📢 IMPORTANT NOTICE: As the COVID-19 situation and impacts continue, a decision has been taken to postpone our Conference until next year. NACCHO will review the situation in December including when we can convene the conference.

For any queries please email: conference@naccho.org.au.

NACCHO Conference 2021 - Postponed.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

This International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and NOFASD are calling on Australians to contribute to the prevention of FASD – a range of neurodevelopmental impairments caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that a new polling snapshot by FARE has identified that many Australians are not aware that alcohol is harmful to health during pregnancy.

“Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASD and almost one in four aren’t aware that alcohol should be avoided altogether in pregnancy,” Ms Giorgi said.

You can also join the Red Shoes Rock campaign, which was started by RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD. He decided to wear RED SHOES to stand out, be noticed and have some fun starting FASD conversations with strangers. With strong supports and increased awareness FASD can be prevented. Wear red shoes proudly to raise awareness about FASD.
#RedShoesRock #FASDawareness

You can view the media release by FARE and NOFASD here.
You can also download a Polling Snapshot for Alcohol use, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder here.
For more information about International FASD Awareness Day click here.

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.

 

‘Living with COVID’ – what front-line health workers are facing

With the Delta variant raging across New South Wales and Victoria, health services are stretched and strained. In the next few months, the health workforce will care for many more patients with COVID-19, with case numbers in NSW expected to peak over the next two weeks.

The nation is focused on plans to reopen borders and increase freedoms as soon as there are sufficiently high rates of vaccination. But what does ‘living with’ COVID-19 look like for health professionals?

In 2020, The Conversation surveyed front-line health-care workers across Australia and found the pandemic had taken a considerable toll on their mental health. Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have also been disproportionately infected – often through exposure to the virus at work.

If we are to live with COVID-19, we need a health-care system that can cope with the ‘normal’ pressures of providing health care for 25 million people, intermittent crises, plus respond to both the short and long-term needs of people with COVID-19. Preparing the health-care system to respond to crises such as pandemics, must include supporting health-care workers and protecting them from burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. We risk losing our most valuable asset in the health-care system if we fail to urgently respond to these issues.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: "How it started. How it's going." in November 2020.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: “How it started. How it’s going.” in November 2020.

 

Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

Last week, as case numbers in the COVID-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email. It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of COVID and prevent them from contracting it again”. The drug was ivermectin and the email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley.

In Wilcannia, where COVID cases reached 109 on Wednesday, or 14.5% of the population, the appearance of individuals pushing the use of ivermectin prompted an outburst of anger from Adams, who accused the sender of taking advantage of a community where people were already sick, confused and scared.

“This isn’t just happening in Wilcannia. We’re hearing this is happening in communities all over the far west. The information they’re pushing is not reliable, it’s not resourceful. We need them to stop and leave our communities alone. We’ve got enough to deal with at the moment,” he told the Guardian.

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

 

More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

Australia borrows Pfizer jabs, while it waits for purchases to arrive. But when might mRNA vaccines be made onshore? Also there’s anger among Aboriginal leaders about anti-vax propaganda targeted at vulnerable communities. And consumer shortages and delays as a cascade of problems hits global shipping.

Listen to:

  • Associate Professor Archa Fox, RNA biologist, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), GP and epidemiologist.
  • Rachel Premack, senior investigative reporter, Business Insider

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

Tune in to listen to This Week, 4 September 2021 on ABC Radio here.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

 

What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

The World Congress of Epidemiology opened on 4 September with a short silence to remember more than 4.5 million people who have died from COVID-19 to date, with particular mention of epidemiologists and public health workers. Hosted by the Australasian Epidemiological Association, the Congress this year is a virtual event, and began with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr.

Also at the opening ceremony, President of the International Epidemiology Association, Professor Henrique Barros, reflected on how COVID-19 had provided a “critical moment” for epidemiology. He contrasted the epidemiological tools used to combat the spread of COVID with approaches taken century ago when the 1918 influenza pandemic posed a similar threat to global health.

Clear messages from other keynotes and presentations included the need to celebrate the positive contribution epidemiology has played in worldwide efforts to combat COVID, while also applying a critical lens and learning from past mistakes to meet the challenges of COVID and other public health threats in the future.

Another strong theme was the need for epidemiology to be more effective in addressing health inequities, especially for First Nations people.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

 

Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

Consumers can now get their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. The digital certificate will become available once their vaccination provider has reported all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Consumers can already get an immunisation history statement from their record to show proof of all vaccinations recorded on the AIR, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

These documents are also available for non-Medicare eligible consumers who have a My Health Record.

Second dose alert date range
The COVID-19 vaccine second dose due date alert now displays a date range on the Record Home page. The dates are calculated based on the minimum and maximum recommended interval for the second dose of the vaccine brand. For example, if someone has one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose would be due between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

For more information, see Getting proof of vaccination from My Health Record.
You can also find answers to common consumer questions here.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

 

Are they really OK? Ask them today!

This year’s R U OK? Day theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’. R U OK?

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health this R U OK? Day. This year it is more important than ever before as we all continue to face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health.

Research has shown that around 22% of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help. However, a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

In another media release by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Dr Di Stow, President of the PACFA says you should be prepared for the answer to be ‘No’ when asking a friend, family member or colleague R U OK?

It’s being reported that in lockdown, pre-existing trauma is rising to the surface and cracks in families that were previously covered over with activity are being laid bare. People are seeking help for anxiety, depression and anger arising from the uncertainty and lack of control related to lockdown. Counsellors and psychotherapists are increasingly frustrated at the current situation where Australians struggling with their mental health will seek support on R U OK Day but be turned away by psychologists after referrals from GPs. GPs, particularly in locked-down states, report they cannot find help for their patients through the Better Access initiative because psychologists have waiting lists of 3-6 months, or have closed their books completely.

In the meantime, over 60% of PACFA members responding to a survey said they could take on a new client within a fortnight; 23% said they could take on a new client within 48 hours.

PACFA is advocating for the Federal Government to open up the Better Access initiative beyond psychologists, to counsellors and psychotherapists who are highly-trained, highly experienced mental health professionals.

You can read the media release here.

Click here for more information and resources around R U OK? Day.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


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Nominations open: the Dennis McDermott Memorial Award For Excellence In Cultural Safety

This award is named in honour of the late Professor Dennis McDermott. From Gomereoi country (north-western New South Wales), with connections to Gadigal country (inner Sydney), he was a psychologist, academic and poet, and was La Trobe University’s inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous). Dennis worked as an Indigenous health academic for many years. As a respected member of the LIME Network and Reference Group he contributed to the pedagogy of Indigenous cultural safety for future health professionals.

The award, a prize of $1000, will recognise outstanding work by a health practitioner, community organisation or educator in enhancing cultural safety in Australian health contexts, understood broadly. It is intended to recognise both existing good practice and innovations in the field.

Submission must be received by 5pm (AEST), 25 September 2021.

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham: lime-network@unimelb.edu.au.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

This is a webinar for health professionals run by Kidney Health Australia. It will be presented by Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason, Nephrologist.

7:30pm AEST, Wednesday 22 September 2021.
You can register your interest here.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Wake up call for mob who didn’t think COVID would affect them

Feature tile - Thu 2.9.21 - Wake up call - COVID-19 can affect mob

Wake up call – COVID-19 can affect mob!

As efforts intensify to deal with the NSW COVID-19 outbreak Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO joins The Conversation podcast to discuss politics with Michelle Grattan.

On western NSW, where there are hundreds of cases, Turner says crowded and bad housing make it “almost impossible to isolate and quarantine”. People in Wilcannia are “having to isolate in tents – in Australia in 2021”.

In WA First Nations communities, the low vaccine coverage “is a very significant concern to all of us. It has by far the lowest uptake, with less than 10% of its population 12 years and over fully vaccinated.”

“I would think that the first death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people […] has been a wake up call for some, especially those who didn’t think that COVID would affect them. The reality is sinking in for many of those,” Said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the podcast by The Conversation below.

 

Elder calling on community to get vaccinated

Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye is imploring local Indigenous communities to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The Aboriginal people need to get the COVID vaccine, not just for their own safety but for the community. There are no guarantees that COVID will not spread to our community, and put our people at risk,” she said.

Ms Coulthard-Waye is all too familiar with what diseases has meant for Aboriginal peoples in Australia, and does not want to unnecessarily lose community members.

“Back in the old times when our ancestors all died of measles, chicken pox and Spanish flu they could not be immunised,” she said.

“But they can now, and I want people to stop and think about our ancestors. It is the choice we can make for the sake of our people.”

You can read the article in The Transcontinental Port Augusta here.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

Be safe: Adnyamathanha Elder Cheryl Coulthard-Waye wants her community to know that their risk to COVID is not over. Image source: The Transcontinental Port Augusta.

 

COVID vaccine blitz in southern NT

Australia’s largest Indigenous health organisation has launched a six-week COVID vaccination blitz, as figures show 79 per cent of its central Australian town-based clients are unvaccinated.

Donna Ah Chee, CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) which is based in Alice Springs, said she was extremely worried that thousands of the organisation’s clients were unvaccinated.

“It’s not a case of if the Delta strain will come here, it is a case of when,” Ms Ah Chee said.

Ms Ah Chee said that one of the obstacles the CAAC was trying to overcome was vaccine hesitancy.

“We want to see 50 per cent of our town clinic people over the age of 16 to have at least had one dose. So that’s about 2,400 additional people.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: CAAC.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: CAAC.

 

In a related article in the Croakey Health Media, Ms Ah Chee talks about how Aboriginal communities across Australia must be safe before we open up. She maps out the risks and responses needed for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Central Australia, estimating that “every 30 people vaccinated has the potential to save a life should COVID-19 spread in the Aboriginal community in Alice Springs”.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

Eileen Hoosan and Geoff Shaw talk to Central Australian Aboriginal Congress doctor Jessica Johannsen. Image source: CAAC.

 

Increased access to rural and remote GP services

A new exceptional circumstance review for the Department of Health’s Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification will help regional and rural areas respond to unforeseen workforce and population changes which may be impacting access to local GP services. Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie said the DPA classification allows government to identify regions where locals face an increased challenge to access a GP. The DPA system assesses regions annually, using the most up to date available data to support approvals for priority access to internationally-trained doctors and bonded doctors.

“I have heard loud and clear the concerns that the current approach is not capturing current or emerging local pressures, sudden and unexpected changes and unmet demand,” Dr Gillespie said.

You can read the media release here.

Rural Health Crisis, GP Shortages. Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

Image source: Alecto Recruitment.

 

Blueprint to end RHD

Implementation of a blueprint for ending rheumatic heart disease is likely to bring wider health benefits, given that the social, cultural and environmental factors involved are also responsible for many other health conditions common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

That’s according to an analysis by Vicki Wade and Catherine Halkon, who also examine intersections between the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap and the RHD Endgame Strategy: The blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031.

The authors are from RHDAustralia based at the Menzies School of Health Research, and the Telethon Kids Institute. Their analysis is timely as the COVID outbreak in western NSW provides a powerful reminder of the wide-ranging benefits of addressing determinants of health such as overcrowded and poor quality housing.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

Rheumatic heart disease. Image credit Menzies School of Health Research.

 

SA unveils new Closing the Gap plan

The State Government has revealed its new plan to stamp out what the Premier describes as “institutional racism, discrimination and unconscious bias” across the public sector as part of a nationwide revamp of the Closing the Gap strategy.

The plan, estimated to cost several million dollars to implement, contains over 200 commitments from South Australian Government departments – some of which are already in train – to address Aboriginal inequality.

You can read the article in the In Daily here.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

SAACCON’s Chris Larkin, Scott Wilson and Tina Quitadamo with Premier Steven Marshall launching South Australia’s Implementation Plan for the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Photo: Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

 

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team

In 2019 the Quitline Enhancement Project was moved across to Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) employing two project officers to be a part of the Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team (QALT). The QALT Project Officers focus on promoting the Quitline and providing information about the Quitline service to primary health care services who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Western Australia (WA) to support and promote Quitline referrals and overall reducing the prevalence and incidence of smoking rates within WA.

​Their primary focus is to support the non-Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) recipients in the South West & Great Southern regions although they do provide support across state – wide of Western Australia.

They have a range of great resources including brochures and booklets that can be ordered online here.

If you want to begin your quit journey call the Quitline 13 78 48.

Quitline Aboriginal Liaison Team. ACHWA.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


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Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs

NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) and the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) of NSW invite you to attend the free webinar: Sound Scouts – Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

Founder, Carolyn Mee will introduce the Sound Scouts hearing screening app explaining the rationale behind its development, the rigour involved in ensuring it is fit for purpose (evidence based), how to use it and the supporting software developed to assist in wide scale hearing screening. The webinar will also include a live question and answer session.

This webinar will be hosted on Rural Health Pro’s Digital Venue, you will receive the link to the Digital Venue within your confirmation email.

12 – 1pm AEST, Wednesday 29 September 2021
Free webinar
Register here

Webinar: Sound Scouts - Hearing screening tool for individuals and school screening programs.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

Ronnie Murray says his brother has been sleeping in a tent to help the family isolate, a difficult task in a household of 10. (Supplied: Wilcannia River Radio)

Struggling to isolate in overcrowded housing

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner told The Point that overcrowded housing in remote communities has been brought to the attention of governments over many years and they’ve failed to act.

“We have repeatedly asked governments throughout Australia to address and to ensure that our people have safe and the right size housing, so we won’t have these problems. There will be future pandemics and we must get this housing issue addressed,” she said.

You can read the article in SBS NITV News here.

Ms Turner also spoke to The Point about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Delta strain, and what resources are in place to help with staff shortages at Aboriginal community controlled health services.

You can watch Pat Turner on Episode 17, Season 2021, The Point SBS NITV below.

 

The power of respectful partnerships

Last week, nursing academic Professor Rhonda Wilson was hard at work in Walgett assisting local health workers with COVID vaccinations. Writing from isolation upon her return home, she reflects on the importance of relationships, respect and trust in providing culturally safe services.

We have been working in partnership with Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) on another project for some time. We saw our partners needed a hand, and we knew we had skills, knowledge, respectfulness, and community connection to help in a culturally safe manner. If we could help, in partnership, we would volunteer to do so.

The response from WAMS was a swift, ‘Yes, your help is needed. When could you come?’

WAMS invited me and my nursing colleagues from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle, Professor Amanda Johnson and Associate Professor Donna Hartz, to help urgently with the escalating crisis of COVID-19 cases in their area.

You can read the story in Croakey Health Media here.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Professor Rhonda Wilson, contributing to the pandemic response at Walgett recently. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

On track for vaccine target in Deniliquin

The district population is on track to be 70 to 80 per cent fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November, according to Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Practice manager at the Deniliquin Aboriginal Medical Service Sarah Campbell said the clinic is set up to deliver up to 100 vaccines if the clinic opens for half a day, and 160 on a full day. The AMS has fully vaccinated 31 First Nations people while another 87 have had their first vaccine.

Deniliquin’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population at the time of the 2016 Census was about 330 people, or 4.5% of the local population, higher than the 2.9% Australia-wide population.

Ms Campbell said the medical service has been vaccinating elders since April. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can get vaccinated in Deniliquin.

You can read the story in Deniliquin Pastoral Times here.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Person receiving vaccine. Image source: ABC News website.

Stolen Generations Redress Scheme a step closer

The Morrison Government is deeply committed to supporting the healing of Stolen Generations survivors and has taken another step on the journey to provide redress for those forcibly removed as children in territories that were administered by the Commonwealth. The passage of the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Facilitation) Act 2021 and the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Act 2021 will ensure the Scheme can be established over the next six months and start receiving applications by 1 March 2022.

“Today we introduced two pieces of legislation to give effect to key elements of the Scheme
and to make sure that all supports going to Stolen Generations survivors are not hampered
by other Acts,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP said.

“With many Stolen Generations survivors being of an advanced age, the imperative to act now has been brought into sharp focus.”

“This redress scheme reflects the Morrison Government’s commitment to support our
nation’s journey to reconciliation and to support inter-generational healing for the health and
wellbeing of Stolen Generations survivors.”

You can read the media release by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

Resources to improve children’s wellbeing

With the COVID-19 pandemic amplifying pressures on families, a timely new initiative is seeking to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

The resource series, developed by The Healing Foundation and Emerging Minds, highlights the undercurrent of intergenerational trauma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and outlines a strengths-based approach to healing. This new package, released recently to coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, contains free e-learning modules, factsheets, and an animation (view below) to help elevate the importance of a child’s development.

You can read more about the initiative in Croakey Health Media here.
Visit the Emerging Minds website to access the e-learning modules.
Visit the Healing Foundations website to view the factsheets.

MBS billing guides now online

The MBS billing guides by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health are now online.

  • MBS guide for GPs working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • MBS guide for other medical practitioners (OMPs) working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

As well as an extensive list of MBS items used by GPs and OMPs, both guides also include items used by other healthcare professionals such as allied health providers and nurse practitioners. Unlike the other guides they have developed as part of our MBS online tool, these pages are unlocked and can be accessed by anyone.

You can view the MBS billing guides here.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Aboriginal man at GP consultation. Image source: GP Synergy.

Disease expenditure in Australia

A new release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW): Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19 describes the activity and characteristics of Australia’s health care system in terms of estimated expenditure for different demographic groups in the population, and expenditure relating to different groups of diseases.

This web report provides the most recent data available on the health care expenditure on all Australian Burden of Disease Study conditions, including expenditure by health care sector, type of condition, age group, and sex. Information is presented on the web pages using interactive visualisations, and downloadable Microsoft Excel workbooks.

Visit the AIHW website to view the Disease expenditure in Australia 2018-19.

One of the key findings in the 'Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018'.

One of the key findings in the ‘Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018’.

Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online survey

Cancer Australia is pleased to provide you with the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap online Delphi Survey. The survey is being conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Cancer Australia.

Consultation closes on 30 August 2021, however please feel free to reach out to NACCHO’s Cancer team anytime if you would like to discuss by emailing Kate.Armstrong@naccho.org.au.

You can access the survey here.
You can also read the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap – Discussion Paper 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.


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant eligible for COVID-19 vaccine' torso of pregnant belly with Aboriginal body painting

Pregnant women eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

All pregnant women or women trying to fall pregnant are now eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine.

You can hear Dr Marilyn Clarke explain why it’s important to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect both you and your baby during pregnancy in this video.

For more information speak to your local health care worker or visit the Australian Government Department of Health website vaccine eligibility page here.

 

Make an informed vaccine choice

“Make an informed choice after speaking to a trusted Aboriginal medical professional.” That’s the advice Andrew Birtwistle-Smith has for people who are on the fence about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Birtwistle-Smith is a Boandik Meintangk man from southeast SA and the CEO of South Australian medical service, Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation in Mount Gambier. Birtwistle-Smith is fully vaccinated and said he made the choice to get the jab after weighing up the pros and cons.

“I just got myself informed [by] speaking to my medical professional and my local GP in regards to the role of the vaccinations, what it means, and what the pros and cons were,” he told NIT. “The benefits far outweigh the negatives. If I got COVID and I wasn’t vaccinated, based on statistics, I could be in serious trouble.”

“Even with the vaccinations … I might not be 100% covered and I still might get the virus, but based on research around hospitalisations, death, and long-term effects from COVID, if I’m vaccinated, there’s less likelihood that will happen to me.”

He said it’s important to be aware that not all information available about the vaccinations will be reliable. “Try and avoid taking things from Facebook or from your particular websites that have no evidence about whether that information is accurate or not,” he said. “I know it’s difficult to do, particularly when it’s coming from family or family’s Facebook pages, but I still say that may not necessarily be accurate information. What’s best is to go and speak to medical professionals.”

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

Andrew Birtwistle Smith.

Andrew Birtwistle Smith: Image source: National Indigenous Times.

COVID-19 resources for carers

The current COVID-19 restrictions are affecting many among us in Australia, particularly family carers caring for a person at the end of life. To support them in their caring role, a  range of information resources have been developed by CarerHelp, including factsheets on:

  • Caring for a person at the end of life at home during COVID-19
  • Caring for a person at the end of life in hospital during COVID-19
  • Funerals and grieving during COVID-19
  • Using telehealth
  • Can I trust this information
  • Caring during COVID-19 infographics

You can access all of these resources on the CarerHelp website here.

CarerHelp logo & male & female Aboriginal elders

Image sources: CareHelp website and CarerSearch website.

COVID-19 task force commander interview

Lieutenant General John Frewen, the COVID-19 task force commander, was interviewed by Leigh Sales on ABC 7.30. In response to to Ms Sales question “In the race between cases spreading through the population and vaccination spreading through the population, vaccination is winning, but is it moving fast enough that when lockdowns and case numbers inevitably move into much higher figures, that death and serious illness will remain low?” Lieutenant General Frewen replied:

“Leigh, so as you’ve mentioned, I’m glad you’ve seen that the momentum in the vaccine rollout is really picking up speed, but of course, this Delta variant is- it’s really- it spreads rapidly. It’s really concerning. So we do have to have two arms at play. We’ve got to have the lockdowns, the testing, the tracing, the isolation. And then we also need to be vaccinating as quickly as we can. And I’m committed to a national vaccine rollout because I think for the very reason you’ve described about outbreaks moving around, that we do need to make sure that the vaccine rollout is happening as consistently as we can.”

“Ideally in some areas we’ll manage to get to those high rates of vaccination before further outbreaks. But in situations like we’ve got in Sydney right now, which you know are very, very challenging, we’ve got to do the two concurrently. So we’re working to get those vaccines into the highest priority areas as fast as we can. But all of those other measures we’ve got to persist with until we get the spread under control.”

To view a full transcript of the interview click here.

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30

Leigh Sales ABC 7.30. Image source: ABC iView.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm this Thursday 26 August 2021.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

tile light blue background text in navy 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for GPs' pink vector virus cells

All-Aboriginal police station brings huge change

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly helped make history when she transferred to the Aboriginal community of Warakurna: it became Western Australia’s first entirely Indigenous-run police station.

In a video produced by Isabelle Rodd, Senior Constable Kelly explains how a new policing approach had a dramatic effect in the community.

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder standing against police vehicle in outback setting

Senior Constable Wendy Kelly, her colleague Revis & Daisy Ward, Ngaanyatjarra Elder.

Child immunisation rates continue to rise

The Australian Government invests over $450 million each year though the National Immunisation Program, providing free vaccines to protect against 17 disease groups for eligible Australians, including children, adolescents, the elderly, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Among two-year olds, the coverage rate has increased to 92.63% for the 12 months to June 2021. One-year old children have a coverage rate of 94.85%. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years of age continue to have the highest coverage rate of any group at 97.12%. The coverage rate for two-year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children increased to 91.96%, while the rate for one-year olds is 93.36%.

To view the media release in full click here.

young Aboriginal child on mother's knee getting vaccinated

Image source: The North West Star.

If you see disrespect, unmute yourself, speak up

As parents and influencers of our young people, we want the best for them, and for our community. You may have seen the Stop it at the Start campaign’s ‘Unmute yourself’ advertising over the past few months. Stop it at the Start is the Australian Government’s national campaign to reduce violence against women.

While not all disrespect results in violence, all violence against women starts with disrespect. We all want our young people to be healthy and proud of who they are. We want them to understand right and wrong, and to respect others and respect themselves. Our young people learn from us — what we say and do tells them what kind of behavior is OK.

Stop it at the Start aims to unite the community to help break the cycle of disrespect and violence against women by:

  • setting positive role models for respectful behaviour
  • unmuting ourselves to ‘speak up’ about disrespect when we see it
  • yarning with young people about respect.

There are simple ways we can all make a positive change. By speaking up about respect, we can make our communities better, stronger places for our future generations.

You can access a range of resources, including the video below, developed especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the Australian Government’s Violence Against Women – Let’s Stop it at the Start website 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.
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Wear it Purple Day

Wear It Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real responses. As the world saw the faces of precious young lives lost, some young people found a new sense of conviction and purpose to ensure that young people everywhere would know that there were people who did support and love them. Wear it Purple was established to show young people across the globe that there was hope, that there were people who did support and accept them, and that they have the right to be proud of who they are.

Since 2010, when Wear it Purple was founded Wear it Purple has developed into an international movement. New generations of rainbow young people continue to be dedicated to promoting the annual expression of support and acceptance to rainbow young people.

What started out small has now grown; however the message remains the same. Everybody has the right to be proud of who they are.

For more information you can access the LGBTIQ+ Health Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Shepparton mob records zero cases

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative CEO Felicia Dean receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at the Rumbalara Medical Clinic.

Shepparton mob records zero cases

No First Nations people have yet tested positive in Shepparton’s growing cluster, while towns in the region are seeing encouraging vaccination rates.

While the city is home to Victoria’s largest Indigenous population outside Melbourne, no cases have been detected in Greater Shepparton’s Aboriginal community so far.

In the nearby rural town of Mooroopna where Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Health and Wellbeing is located, Executive Manager Shannon Drake said she was pleased to see more than 506 people show up to get tested over the weekend.

“Those who’ve come through over the weekend are encouraging the rest of the mob to come in and are explaining how simple the process is,” Ms Drake said.

“It’s wonderful engagement from our community.”

You can read the article on the SBS NITV website.

Nurses who helped Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative test 506 people over the weekend. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Nurses who helped Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative test 506 people over the weekend. Image source: SBS NITV website. Feature tile image: Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative CEO Felicia Dean receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at the clinic. Image source: Rumbalara Facebook.

 

Concern as COVID-19 reaches Gulargambone

The coronavirus has reached another remote community with a large Aboriginal population, with Gulargambone, recording a new case on Monday. The tiny western NSW town, when last measured, had a population of 400 people with almost half Indigenous.

Practice manager Steven McMahon at the local Bawrunga Aboriginal Medical Service said the virus could have a huge impact.

“In a community like Gulargambone where there is a lot of chronic disease, it was always going to be a concern. Now that we have a case, we’re watching to see what impact that has,” he told NITV News.

“There has been increased demand for vaccinations, which is good . . . I think that is going to be the key to getting back to some sort of normality.”

You can read the article on the SBS NITV website.

Gulgargambone town sign. Image source: SBS NITV website.

Gulgargambone town sign. Image source: SBS NITV website.

 

Mob urged to ‘Step Up’ for the jab

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) along with its four founding Community Controlled Health Services hopes to a spark a reason for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 12 and over to get the COVID-19 vaccine with the launch of the I Stepped Up campaign and website.

The campaign features informative videos, answers to frequently asked questions and a slew of other resources.

“It is crucial to provide our community with the information and resources they need to feel comfortable about coming out to get vaccinated. Everyone has a different motivation for getting the COVID-19 vaccine, whether to protect their community, to keep family members safe or to make plans for the future, so we want to highlight the different reasons to resonate with more of our mob,” said IUIH CEO, Adrian Carson.

You can read the press release by IUIH here.
For more information and resources, visit the I Stepped Up website.
Follow the campaign on Facebook here.

Keeping mob strong during pandemic

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention. They have created a range of free posters on how people can stay healthy and strong during the coronavirus outbreak.

Visit the Gayaa Dhuwi website to download the posters along with a range of other helpful resources.

Illustrations form 'Looking after ourselves - our way' poster by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia.

Illustrations form ‘Looking after ourselves – our way’ poster by Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia.

NT’s first Implementation Plan on Closing the Gap

The Territory Labor Government has released the first Closing the Gap NT Implementation Plan in partnership with APO NT and LGANT. This move follows the establishment of the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap, which reflects a shared genuine and meaningful commitment to achieve equity for First Nations people. The NT Implementation Plan outlines key actions and the transformation of Government to work in partnership with Aboriginal people and organisations to achieve the outcomes and objectives of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Territory will take a phased approach to the implementation of Closing the Gap, in line with the timeframes set out in the National Agreement, and reflecting the unique circumstances of the Territory.

You can read the media release by Northern Territory Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Selena Uibo here.
To read the Closing the Gap NT Implementation Plan please visit the Northern Territory Government Office for Aboriginal Affairs website.

Image source: Closing the Gap - Northern Territory Implementation Plan.

Image source: Closing the Gap – Northern Territory Implementation Plan.

 

Literacy key to COVID response

Australians going into remote Indigenous communities to fight the pandemic need to understand that many can’t read, an inquiry has been warned.

“How do Aboriginal people make an informed decision about whether to get the vaccination or not when they can’t read the literature?” said Jack Beetson, executive director of Literacy for Life.

“One thing that we’ve learnt is that Indigenous people aren’t going to take something on just because a bunch of white fellas tell them it’s a good thing to do,” said Liberal MP Terry Young who is part of an inquiry into adult literacy and also serves on federal parliament’s Indigenous affairs committee.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations chair Jane Halton said the vaccine flying squads need to work with Aboriginal medical services and Aboriginal people to make sure people turn up and get vaccinated.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Aboriginal woman learning to read. Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation.

Aboriginal woman learning to read. Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation.

 

TGA updates on COVID-19 vaccine and treatment

The AstraZeneca vaccine will now be called Vaxzevria after an application to rename it was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The vaccine is known as Vaxzevria in Europe and Canada, so there were concerns if the name was different in Australia it could lead to other countries not recognising the vaccine on vaccine passports when international travel resumes.

In a statement, the TGA said it hoped the change in name would make sure there would be no confusion in the future.

You can read more about the name change on the ABC News website.

The TGA has also granted provisional approval for a new COVID-19 treatment for use in Australia. Australians with COVID-19 who are at risk of hospitalisation will now have access to an additional antibody treatment. The sotrovimab treatment requires a single dose to be administered through an intravenous infusion in a health care facility and has been shown to reduce hospitalisation or death by 79 per cent in adults with mild to moderate COVID-19, who are at risk of developing severe COVID-19.

You can read more about the treatment on the Department of Health website.

Vaxzevria is the name used for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and Canada. Image source: ABC News website.

Vaxzevria is the name used for the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and Canada. Image source: ABC News 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Save the Date

Round 2 Applications for the 2022 training intake of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme

RVTS would like to encourage candidates to inquire now and be ready to apply for Round 2 Applications for the 2022 training intake of the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS).

Applications open on Monday 30 August to Sunday 12 September 2021.

Positions are available in both their AMS and Remote training streams.

In addition to the AMS stream MMM2-7 location eligibility, RVTS is also offering Targeted Recruitment Locations for 2022.

There are currently 5 Aboriginal Medical Services as approved Targeted Recruitment locations across NT, WA and VIC – you’ll find details of the Tennant Creek, Mutitjulu, Halls Creek & Kununurra, South Hedland, and Portland health services here.

For application information visit the RVTS website.

Dr Gary Wood - GP Training AMS Rural and Remote Communities.

Dr Gary Wood – GP Training AMS Rural and Remote Communities.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 impact on young mob

COVID-19 impact on young mob

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke with Dan Bourchier on ABC News about the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW and the vaccination roll-out and uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Turner said that it was very concerning to see the average age of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who contracted COVID-19 in NSW in the last day was 24 years old.

“I am really concerned about the impact it’s having on our young people and I implore you all to please stay at home,” said Ms Turner.

She also said she was very pleased to see that daily increases of the Pfizer vaccine is being rolled out in Western NSW.

“We really need all of the state health authorities to be working in partnership and collaborating with our community controlled health sector and making sure they have a constant supply,” she said.

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

Lieutenant General John Frewen, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and CEO of NACCHO Pat Turner have co-signed a letter addressing COVID-19 vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The letter that will be sent to Australian COVID-19 vaccine delivery partners states that we all have an important role to play in providing culturally safe vaccination services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“For all Indigenous Australians to be vaccinated and bridge the current gap, we are asking the whole primary care sector to work together and ensure there is equitable COVID-19 vaccine uptake across Australia.”

You can download the letter here.

An article by Croakey Health Media addresses the same issue: Rushed efforts to halt the alarming spread of COVID-19 in Aboriginal communities in western NSW will fail if they do not have cultural safety at their core. That’s the warning from national, state and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders. Responses that are not culturally safe will risk adding to vaccine hesitancy and disengagement with public health orders and add to the trauma experienced by Aboriginal people amid a public health emergency.

Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), said there are “huge risks” in “shipping out” mainstream health teams that have not worked before in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or done cultural safety training. Failure to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of “knowing, being and doing” often ends up in non-Indigenous people and services making uninformed judgements or blaming communities “and then that turns people off being vaccinated”, she said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service's Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service’s Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

The Army has been called into western NSW, and drive-through clinics are being set up in Dubbo, in a race to vaccinate the community as the COVID outbreak worsens. The outback town of Bourke had its first case confirmed earlier this week, along with further cases in Dubbo, Walgett and Mudgee.

“Nearly 40 per cent are kids between the ages of 10 and 19,” Western NSW Health’s Mr McLachlan said.

“This is a really serious warning for parents of kids running around everywhere at the moment. Please stay home.”

Mr McLachlan said there were low rates of vaccination among Aboriginal children and called on people to get vaccinated, and stressed that Pfizer is available. He urged residents to reach out to local Aboriginal Medical Centres, GP’s, vaccination hubs, respiratory clinics and prompted use of the Health Direct website.

You can read the article online at the NITV website.
To check where you can get your vaccine, visit the Health Direct website here.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

Video

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Feature tile - Tue.17.8.21 - Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

With COVID-19 reaching western NSW, health clinics and Aboriginal health experts are working overtime to protect Aboriginal communities.

After ordering a seven-day statewide lockdown effective as of Saturday evening, NSW Health recorded on Monday a total 478 cases and eight deaths overnight. This follows the week-long lockdown announced on Wednesday for the Walgett Shire area, along with the Brewarrina, Coonamble, Bogan, Narromine, Warren and Gilgandra Shires. Active cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Dubbo, Walgett, Bathurst and Orange.

Walgett’s Dharriwaa Elders Group released a statement calling for more resourcing and support for the community.

“Many of our Elders and others in Walgett experience health and social issues that make them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. The impact on our community could be devastating,” said the statement.

NACCHO is working to increase vaccination capacity to communities that are most in need. With the vast majority of cases in NSW being people under 40, NACCHO medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

“The vaccine is now available for all [Indigenous] people 12-years and over. The best strategy is to be vaccinating all ages right now … younger people are getting the virus and spreading it,” he said.

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

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times. Feature tile image source: The Guardian.

Three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine

The Northern Territory government yesterday implemented a snap three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine after a man in his 30s returned a positive result for what authorities fear could be the highly contagious Delta variant. The man spent several days in Darwin before driving to Katherine on Sunday, visiting the town’s busy Woolworths and checking into the Knotts Crossing resort.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) said it was worried about the potential spread of the virus, given the high rates of chronic illness and overcrowding in the region.

“We are very concerned about the deadliness and the seriousness of this Delta strain. If it gets into our communities, it’ll have a serious impact and threaten a number of our population and communities,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson said.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi urged people to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 during the lockdown period.

“If you don’t need to travel, don’t. Stay at home in your community or on your homeland with your family. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated then get it done,” Mr Bush-Blanasi said.

You can read the article by the ABC News here.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News - Michael Franchi.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News – Michael Franchi.

Mental health campaign to empower young mob

Headspace has launched a suite of new resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, empowering them to take charge of their social and emotional wellbeing.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 24 and under are three times more likely than other young people to die by suicide. Responding to this urgent need for support, the ‘Take a Step’ campaign encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to recognise the signs that something’s not right – and provides small, practical steps towards feeling better.

The materials have been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members from across Australia, including a reference group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

‘Take a Step’ television and radio advertisements will broadcast nationally and in select cinemas. A suite of print and online resources for young people, and for family and friends with a young person in their lives, are also available.

‘Take a Step’ is an initiative of headspace and funded by the Department of Health and Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Read the headspace media release here.
To learn more and to view available resources visit the headspace website here.

'Take a Step' wheel, headspace.

‘Take a Step’ wheel, headspace.

Boost to deliver better health care

Researchers from The University of Western Australia have been awarded more than $3 million in State Government funding to advance health innovation, including the development of future bacterial therapeutics, improving the physical health of people with mental illness and implementing clinical communication in Aboriginal health care.

WA State Health Minister Roger Cook announced the WA Near-miss Awards to 27 researchers across science, health and medicine to pursue knowledge that could improve the way healthcare is delivered in WA. The WA Near-miss Awards are granted to emerging researchers who narrowly missed out on State Funding to transform their National Health and Medical Research Council near-miss application into a future grant success.

Dr Ivan Lin from UWA’s Western Australian Centre for Rural Health received a Near-Miss award for his project ‘Yarn with Me’ that aims to implement Clinical Yarning Communication in Aboriginal Health Care. Clinical yarning is a patient-centred approach that marries Aboriginal cultural communication preferences with biomedical understandings of health and disease to deliver better health care to Aboriginal people.

You can read the news article on the University of Western Australia website here.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Updates to medicines labelling

Consumers need a good understanding of how and when to take a medicine. This can help them to use their medicines safely and help achieve the best possible health outcomes. Misunderstanding of how to use medicines can lead to unintentional misuse, which may result in harm or adverse health outcomes.

The design and content of information on a medicine label influences how well the consumer understands the information, especially for consumers with low health literacy. Standardised and consistent presentation of medicine-related information on dispensed medicine labels has the potential to improve health outcomes.

This standard is for all health professionals who dispense medicines, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurse practitioners, general practitioners, optometrists and dentists. It is based on best practice and evidence-based principles, recommendations published by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission)1, and further informed by user testing and hospital evaluation of prototype labels, and stakeholder consultation.

Download the National standard for labelling dispensed medicines by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care here.

'National standard for labelling dispensed medicines' by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Queensland’s new plan for Closing the Gap

Queensland has launched its first Closing the Gap Implementation plan — a key milestone in nationwide efforts to Close the Gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples. Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the plan continues the Palaszczuk Government’s reframing of the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We are working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – doing things with people and not to them – to deliver real change. We have partnered with Queensland’s peak community-controlled organisations to develop the plan, which will be updated annually, to reflect the experiences and ambitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,” Mr Crawford said.

You can read the Queensland Government media release here.
View the Queensland Closing the Gap Implementation Plan here.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Knowledge translation between Elders and young men

In Western Australia and Queensland, Aboriginal Elders have been sharing cultural knowledges with young men in research exploring their strengths, experiences and aspirations.

The Valuing Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men project was funded by the Lowitja Institute to support intergenerational knowledge exchange. It produced videos that demonstrate the power of yarning and connecting to Country within research.

“When we put young fellas through the law, we don’t sit them down in a workshop, talk at them or run them through a classroom learning module. We take them out and get them to follow the Jina…to walk, use their feet to travel the footprints of the old people. We get them to learn by following the steps, singing the old songs, being with their family and being on Ngurra or Country,” says Ngarluma Elder Peter Jeffries.

You can read the full article by Croakey Health Media here and watch one of the videos below.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


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NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Feature tile - Tue.10.8.21 - Changes to chronic disease incentive program

Changes to chronic disease incentive program

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) encourages general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to appropriately and effectively meet the health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease.

Chronic disease is responsible for 70% of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. The PIP IHI seeks to address this gap.

The Australian Government announced changes to the PIP IHI as part of the 2021–2022 Budget following a national consultation process. From 1 January 2023, the following will change:

  • Eligibility will be expanded to include children under the age of 15.
  • GP Mental Health Care Plans will be added as eligible items for the purposes of outcomes payments.
  • The requirement to deliver a certain number of services in a calendar year will be replaced with a 12-month rolling window, starting from the date the first eligible service is delivered. This will give practices more time to deliver the services required to achieve outcomes payments.
  • The program will start moving towards a back-ended payment structure. This means the majority of the payment will be provided after a threshold level of care has been provided. A transition period – where registration is gradually reduced, and the Tier 2 payment is gradually increased – will give practices time to adjust to this change.

You can read more about the PIP IHI on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
You can also download a fact sheet with information about the changes to the PIP IHI here.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive.

Artwork from factsheet on Changes to the Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive. Feature image credit: Unsplash.

 

Yarrabah fighting to stay COVID-free

The Aboriginal community in Yarrabah, about an hour’s drive from Cairns has about 350 homes. With serious overcrowding, high rates of ill-health, low rates of vaccination and the fact five of the community’s seven GPs have been forced into isolation, it is clear why Jason King and the 110-strong team at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service are desperate to keep COVID-19 from their side of the hill.

“It does leave us a little short-staffed, but we’ve got a great team around us,” said Dr King, director of clinical services. The community are responding really well and following all the directions for the lockdown,” he said.

“We’ve had a fantastic response, both testing and vaccination.”

On Monday, which was the first day the centre could start giving Pfizer doses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12 and above, parents began bringing in their teenagers, Dr King said. “We’ve had to restock our vaccines early with assistance from Queensland Health stocks, just to be able to provide [shots] ongoing until we receive our next shipment on Friday,” he said.

Read the story in the Brisbane Times here.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

Yarrabah residents casting netting for prawns in far north Queensland. Credit: Rhett Wyman.

 

Vaccination data essential to protect communities

Aboriginal health organisations are calling on the federal government to release more detailed data on vaccination rates in Aboriginal communities, with concerns “big gaps” in coverage have emerged that need to be urgently addressed.

NACCHO said detailed data was essential to the successful rollout to vulnerable remote and suburban communities. NACCHO’s senior medical adviser, GP and epidemiologist Dr Jason Agostino, said it was “hard to understand” why detailed data about Indigenous vaccination rates was not publicly available, as it is Canada, the USA, or New Zealand which publishes weekly data on Maori vaccination rates.

“Priority reform number four of the closing the gap agreement is about data for health services planning, and at the moment I think I’m the only person in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector that has access to really detailed data,” Agostino said. “Unless we’re paying attention to those small levels of geography and those individual communities, we might find islands of poor vaccination coverage that leave those communities vulnerable.”

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala'la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

A man gets a COVID jab in Maningrida. Photograph: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation.

 

TGA approves fourth COVID-19 vaccine

On 9 August 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval to Moderna Australia Pty Ltd for its COVID-19 vaccine — Spikevax (elasomeran) — making it the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia.

This messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine is provisionally approved and included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older. It is recommended that the vaccine is given in two doses that are administered 28 days apart. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has shown strong efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 in clinical trials.

Provisional approval of this vaccine in Australia is subject to certain strict conditions, such as the requirement for Moderna Australia Pty Ltd to continue providing information to the TGA on longer-term efficacy and safety from ongoing clinical trials and post-market assessment.

Read the full media statement here.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. Image credit: Cameron Schwartz via ABC News.

 

Complete your Census tonight

The Census will count each person and household in Australia TONIGHT Tuesday, 10 August 2021.

Adrian Dodson-Shaw a proud Yawuru, Arrernte and Kaytetye man and Assistant Director at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics is encouraging everyone to participate.

“We need our mob to be counted in the Census to ensure that we’re heard. Census data is used to help create a better future for our younger generations,” Adrian said.

“Census data is used to help plan services for our families and communities. Make sure you include everyone in your home on Census night. This includes Elders, babies and visitors.

In remote areas, the Census is conducted between July and August. This allows time for remote teams to cover large areas and visit households to help people complete.

View the Australian Bureau of Statistics‘ media release here.
Visit the Census website here.

Census

 

Are zero-alcohol beverages harmless?

Zero-alcohol beverages are becoming increasingly popular in Australia with major brands now stocked on supermarket shelves. Consumption of zero-alcohol products increased by 2.9% in 2020 and is expected to increase by 31% by 2024.

A new paper in the Drug and Alcohol Review by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The George Institute for Global Health (George Institute) raises questions about if these beverages are giving Australia’s young people a taste for alcohol.

Menzies and George Institute researcher and lead author Mia Miller said that zero-alcohol beverages are often packaged identically to alcoholic beverages and can be indistinguishable in taste. Miller says that further research is needed to assess whether the ease of availability of zero-alcohol beverages may lead to a gateway effect, where children who consume them would be more likely to consume alcoholic beverages underage.

You can read the media release by Menzies here.
View the Zero-alcohol beverages: Harm-minimisation tool or gateway drink? commentary here.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

Image credit: Hindustan Times.

 

Health impacts from climate change

Torres Strait Islander peoples intend to live on their traditional country long-term. Living on the northernmost islands of Queensland allows these “saltwater people” to maintain their cultural responsibilities, identity and kinship connections. Caring for country and keeping these connections can also bring health benefits. However, climate change increases the risks of negative health impacts.

“If our connection to these lands disappears, our Indigenous culture disappears”

An emergency call for increased attention to climate change and health impacts on Torres Strait Islander peoples was made in 2019 by 22 medical professionals working in the Queensland government’s Torres and Cape Health and Hospital Service region. They stated that climate change is a health emergency.

“We are concerned about the immediate effects of heat stress and extreme weather events as well as the long-term effects. Vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by climate change and unabated climate change will only steepen this social health gradient.”

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Below is a video outlining the issue called Our Islands, Our Home | Torres Strait Climate Justice Case.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


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