NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting fontline workers against COVID

Feature tile - Fri 11.6.21 - Protect frontline workers against COVID

Protecting frontline workers against COVID

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) today welcomed the release of updated guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect health care workers against aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

The Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) developed the guidelines in collaboration with the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Infection Prevention and Control Panel and the Commonwealth Minister for Health in September last year after the AMA expressed its concerns over the lack of protection for health care workers from the risks of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the updated guidelines did much to address the concerns of the medical profession and they were much more explicit on the need for health care workers to be provided with N95/P2 masks when managing patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 to protect them against the risks of aerosol transmission.

“Too many health care workers in Australia have been placed at risk of COVID-19 because of the lack of adequate PPE and these new guidelines could not have come soon enough, particularly as Australia still remains at significant risk of outbreaks,” said Dr Khorshid

The updated ICEG guidelines follow the release by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care of an update to its Preventing and Controlling .Infections Standard, which were reviewed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red the media release by AMA here.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe.

Personal Protective Equipment. Image credit: https://infectioncontrol.care/blog/what-is-ppe. Feature image – Dr Glenn Harrison in PPE. Image credit: The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

 

Praise for Moree COVID-19 testing rates

More than 900 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Moree within 12 hours, with Hunter New England Health (HNEH) thanking people for their response. The numbers through the expanded hospital and drive through clinics in Moree is a credit to both the community and the medical staff, HNE LHD Chief Executive Mr Michael DiRienzo said.

It comes after residents were told to hold-off on attending the pop-up COVID-19 testing site on Thursday, due to the high number of vehicles at the Moree Gateway. However Mr Di Lorenzo assured the community that Moree District Hospital and Laverty Moree “have swabbing supplies and are not turning people away”.

“I want to sincerely thank the Moree community for quickly getting behind our call to get tested,” he said.

High rates of testing are so important because this will help us to detect any cases in the community as early as possible. Please remain vigilant for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested for even the mildest of symptoms.”

You can read the full story in Tenterfield Star here.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Moree District Health Service. Image credit: Tenterfield Star.

Experiences and impacts of racism on GP training

Dr Talila Milroy jumped at the chance to undertake the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Academic Post in 2020. The Western Australian GP was always interested in developing and furthering general practice research, and the post allowed a structured framework to delve into the data.

Now, having undertaken a year as the 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder, Dr Milroy is continuing her part-time research role and furthering her study into the experiences and impacts of racism on general practice training.

You develop so many skills, not only in research but in teaching as well,” she told newsGP.

‘It’s also the networking; you gain communication skills because you’re teaching medical students, and you get more of a grasp of how to design research and ask questions that are clinically relevant, useful and translatable.’

The AIDA post was first earmarked by the Department of Health as part of the Federal Government’s Closing the Gap strategy. The post is an identified training term open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs in training to undertake teaching and research that aims to improve the health and life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Read more about Dr Milroy’s experience in newsGP here.

Applications are now open for the 2022 intake of the RACGP Australian General Practice Training Academic Post with entries closing on 5 July. Find out more here.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Dr Talila Milroy, 2020 AIDA Academic Post holder. Image credit: GP News, RACGP.

Improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTQA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin is looking for people who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQA+ mob to join the Walkern Katatdjin Governance Committee.

The Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) project aims to improve the support available to our young mob through research. The Governance Committee will oversee the Walkern Katatdjin project design, procedures, data management, and translation of findings to ensure meaningful impacts from the project.

Find out more about the role of the Governance Committee and the Walkern Katatdjin project here.

Walkern Katatdjin - Rainbow Knowledge

 

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure

Health Professional Webinar
Kidney Health Australia

Presented by Prof Robyn Langham, Nephrologist

Tuesday 22 June, 7.30pm (AEST)
Register here (registration is essential)
For more information contact us via email.

Decision Making and Symptom Control in Kidney Failure - Kidney Health Australia webinar

Improved quality aged care

‘Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in aged care’

This webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will improve access to and quality of aged care delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including in remote communities.

Presenters

  • The Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services
  • Michael Lye, Deputy Secretary, Ageing and Aged Care Group
  • Helen Grinbergs, First Assistant Secretary, Service Delivery Division
  • Eliza Strapp, First Assistant Secretary, Market and Workforce Division

Webinar content

Aged care workers and providers who deliver services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to participate in the webinar.

The webinar will outline how the aged care reforms will help to:

  • involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in designing their services and care
  • ensure services and care are available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people no matter where they live
  • enhance the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care workforce.

You will have the opportunity to say how we can best work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families, carers and communities, health services, aged care providers and the workforce to make positive changes.

Date and time: 3.00pm to 4.30pm (AEST), Monday, July 19 2021.
Register here.
4 Aboriginal hands holding another Aboriginal hand

Image source: ORIC website.

Presenter Applications Open for Inaugural 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around 3x the rate of the non-Indigenous population. We see similar numbers across the seas, with Māori and Pasifika populations carrying the highest burden of suicide with higher incidences.

It is time to speak up, be heard and celebrate projects, programs and research contributing to the mission of closing the gap for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori peoples.

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association has announced a final call for applicants wishing to share their insight on Indigenous mental health and wellbeing for the inaugural Indigenous Wellbeing Conference. This event is taking place from 7-8 October at Cairns Pullman International.

The conference theme ‘Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap’ will be bringing attention to four core areas:

  • Promoting Wellbeing
  • Social, Political and Cultural Determinants
  • Community Care, Cultural Revitalisation & Healing
  • Culturally Responsive Care & Community Control

Together we will help to empower Indigenous communities to develop their own solutions to living long healthy lives; strengthen culture; and reconnect with spirit.

Applications close: Friday 18 June 2021.
Submit your presentation brief here.

Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations people16 years+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Feature tile -Tue 8.6.21 - 16 years+ eligible for COVID vaccine

First Nations people 16 years+ eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

From today 8 June 2021, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are 16 years and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. This news was announced following the National Cabinet meeting last Friday by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 (Taskforce) co-chaired by NACCHO and the Australian Government Department of Health.

Also included in today’s expanded eligibility are all NDIS participants aged 16 and up, as well as NDIS carers.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is preferred for adults aged 50 years and over. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for adults 16 years and older. Vaccines are available through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), Commonwealth vaccine clinics, general practices, state and territory health services and clinics.

The extended approved storage period of the unopened thawed Pfizer vaccine vials at 2–8°C of up to one month enables much greater flexibility in the distribution of the vaccine and will have a significant positive impact on the roll out of the vaccine across Australia, including to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities.

The Taskforce has convened a working group to provide advice on supporting ACCHOs to deliver Pfizer and other future vaccines as they become available to the program.

The Commonwealth Government will work closely with the ACCHO sector to ensure all ACCHOs currently participating in the COVID-19 vaccination program will have the option to administer Pfizer vaccine.

To book your COVID-19 vaccination, contact your health clinic or find a vaccination site near you through the Clinic Finder.

You can read the announcement here.

Health worker Keinan Keighran receiving the Pfizer jab at Katherine's Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service.

Health worker Keinan Keighran receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at Katherine’s Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service. Image source: ABC News.

New model for rural and remote health care

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) is proposing a new model of care for rural and remote Australia primary health care.

Australians living in rural and remote areas have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury and poorer access to and use of health services compared to people living in metropolitan areas. Governments have pursued a range of strategies to address these poorer health outcomes over many years. However, trend data reveal that these interventions are having limited success.

There are a range of drivers for the poor health outcomes for rural and remote Australians:

  • difficulty in attracting and retaining health professionals to rural areas
  • lack of access to services due to distance, lack of transport, income, health literacy and attitudinal barriers
  • social determinants of health issues including low socio-economic status, lower education outcomes, higher levels of disability and chronic disease and older population.

What are the barriers to attracting and retaining a rural health workforce?

  • Professional – career limitations, networking opportunities, clinical experiences, supervision, professional isolation and lack of support from peers, work life balance issues
  • Financial – practice financial viability, need to work across multiple settings, multiple sources of funding both government and private, administrative burden, business acumen requirements
  • Social – family and friendship networks, social isolation, cultural and recreational limitations, partner’s concerns including careers and children’s education

Models of care which work for metropolitan areas do not work in rural Australia. NRHA is proposing a locally-based model of health delivery aimed at addressing the key barriers to attracting a rural workforce.

You can read more about the NRHA proposal here.

The case for better health care - infographic by NRHA

Image source: NRHA.

Barriers in obtaining birth certification

In Australia, the birth certificate is of fundamental importance as the document that unlocks all the rights and privileges of citizenship. While the national rate of birth registration and certification is very strong, this is not the case for a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In Queensland for example, births are under-registered and under-certified at a rate of 15–8% compared to non-Indigenous births at 1.8%. WA’s statistics are similar, with almost one in five Indigenous children under 16 years of age having unregistered and uncertified births.

Birth under-registration and under-certification are generally most prevalent in disadvantaged and minority groups, such as Indigenous Australians, children in out-of-home care, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It is also more likely in births occurring in rural hospitals; where the mother smoked or had an alcohol-related diagnosis during pregnancy; and where the mother’s own birth was unregistered, and she had no private health insurance.

To reduce the rates of birth under-registration and under-certification, especially within minority and marginalised communities, the government must improve awareness and education surrounding the important purposes formal birth registration serves. It must also work to increase its accessibility, and broaden exemptions, such that birthplace, skin colour and parent circumstances cease to be barriers individuals cannot overcome.

You can read the full story in Lawyers Weekly here.

Map of Australia with pins on locations.

Map of Australia with pins on locations. Image credit: Layers Weekly.

ORCHID Study: diagnostic criteria for GDM

Following a large international study on Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) were changed in WA in 2015. The ORCHID Study (Optimisation of Rural Clinical and Haematological Indicators of Diabetes in pregnancy) was designed to help simplify screening for GDM in rural and remote WA. Their first paper showed that it can be difficult to do this test. Their second paper showed that two-thirds of women with GDM who do the test are missed due to blood glucose sample instability. The third paper showed that this glucose instability means that they miss identifying women at risk for large babies.

Now that the issue with glucose stability has been sorted, this paper looks at the utility of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in early pregnancy for identifying women at high risk for large babies. The study found that:

  • Almost three-quarters (71.4%) of Aboriginal women with early HbA1c ≥5.6% went on to have a positive OGTT. These women may have had prediabetes going into pregnancy.
  • There were clear differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women: 16.3% v 5.2% had elevated HbA1c (pre-pregnancy prediabetes) whereas 12.4% v 29.6% developed GDM during pregnancy. This suggests fewer non-Aboriginal women had prediabetes going into pregnancy compared to Aboriginal women.
  • The risk of having a large baby was twice as high in women with an early HbA1c ≥5.6% compared to women with an early HbA1c <5.6% and without GDM (21.4% v 10.5%). This suggests that women with prediabetes in early pregnancy have high-risk for a large baby.

For more information on this study you can download the following documents:

  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Using early pregnancy HbA1c to find Aboriginal women with high-risk of diabetes in pregnancy (GDM) and having babies that grow too big.
  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Early pregnancy glycated haemoglobin identifies Australian Aboriginal women with high-risk of gestational diabetes mellitus and adverse perinatal outcomes.
  • Download Prediabetes and pregnancy: Early pregnancy HbA1c identifies Australian Aboriginal women with high-risk of gestational diabetes mellitus and adverse perinatal outcomes.
  • Download Supplementary tables.

The plain language report and links to the papers are available on the KAMS research website here. For further assistance with your enquiries please contact ORCHID Study coordinator, Emma Jamieson.

Aboriginal pregnant woman.

Image source: knowpahology.com.au.

Indigenous policy codesign: risks and opportunities

In a discussion paper by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, the mainstream literature on co-design and collaborative governance is surveyed and considered, as a means of identifying the essential characteristics of effective co-design policy and program processes.

In recent years, the requirement for First Nations participation through co-design has emerged as a key prerequisite of policy legitimacy in the Indigenous policy domain. In this discussion paper, the mainstream literature on co-design and collaborative governance is surveyed and considered, as a means of identifying the essential characteristics of effective co-design policy and program processes. The literature survey identifies two strands: one that asserts the merits and opportunities inherent in policy and program co-design, and a second that highlights the risks and challenges.

Two nationally significant current and ongoing Indigenous policy development processes that have been described as co-design processes are then analysed and assessed. The paper concludes that co-design involves more than consultation, and ideally requires shared decision-making. Further, in relation to policy co-design processes, the literature and cases studies suggest the core design features that are required to ensure the processes contribute to creating public value and maintaining trust in democratic public policy institutions.

You can read the paper here and for more information about the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at ANU, visit their website.

ANU image

ANU image from report cover.

Remote Health: Going the extra mile

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) has an upcoming webinar on Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

Remote Australia features some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. However, delivering health services in this environment brings with it unique and challenging circumstances. With a small and geographically dispersed population base, ensuring remote Australia has access to high quality healthcare, requires an innovative and flexible approach.  This webinar explores the challenges and opportunities in delivering health services to these unique communities, including the experience of working remotely, the critical role of aeromedical support, and how to enhance the medical workforce training experience through remote placements. Get a better understanding of the remote health delivery experience – register for this webinar today.

Date: Thursday 17 June 2021
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 pm (AEST)
Cost: $45.00 (complimentary for NRHA Board, Council and Friends members)

Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

NRHA Webinar - Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

NRHA Webinar – Remote Health: Going the extra mile.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Feature tile - Fri 4.6.21 - ACCHO to reduce vision loss in mob

ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Diabetes Australia has launched a new partnership with Carbal Medical Services, a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness but only about 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes are having their eyes checked within recommended timeframes.

The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of KeepSight, an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

KeepSight is free and registration only takes a minute. People then receive regular reminders when their eye checks are due.

You can read more about the partnership in Mirage News here.

KeepSight - Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

KeepSight – Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

Cancer patients encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine

A new Cancer Australia initiative is encouraging Aboriginal people who have been impacted by cancer to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Facts on the Vax campaign is being rolled out to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal healthcare workers, across social media, and on the Cancer Australia website. The campaign includes a short, animated video and easy-to-understand factsheets about vaccination for Aboriginal people with cancer, their loved ones and health workers working with Aboriginal people.

Cancer Australia chief executive Professor Dorothy Keefe said the campaign hopes to cut through misinformation and answer frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

“The evidence is really strong that having the vaccine is a good thing,” Professor Keefe told NIT.

Every year approximately 1,400 Indigenous Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and as part of the COVID-19 roll out, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Jason Agostino from NACCHO says Aboriginal people impacted by cancer are very vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s really important that we give them all the protection we can and vaccines are a part of that,” said Dr Agostino.

You can read the full story in the National Indigenous Times here.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

Extra support for SA patients

Aboriginal patients travelling long distances for specialist medical treatment will be entitled to advanced subsidies and automatically have travel partners approved for reimbursements, as part of a range of improvements being introduced to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

Announcing the changes on National Reconciliation Week, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes are part of a new PATS Aboriginal Engagement Strategy which has been developed to engage more Aboriginal patients in the scheme.

“A review found that despite Aboriginal South Australians in regional areas having relatively low health status, only one percent of Aboriginal patients applied for subsidies through PATS, which clearly shows we are missing opportunities to reimburse patients,” said Minister Wade.

“The strategy has identified key areas to ensure the scheme is more accessible, more flexible, easier to understand and provides better support for Aboriginal patients travelling for medical treatment.

You can read the media release here.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

AMA calls for reform to public hospital funding

With ambulance ramping occurring in our public hospitals because of a lack of doctors, nurses and beds, the AMA is calling on National Cabinet to urgently address public hospital funding to pull hospitals ‘back from the brink’.

Record-breaking ambulance ramping in Perth, a delay in elective surgeries in WA due to overwhelming demand, disturbing incidences of hospitals unable to cope across the country, questions raised in this week’s Senate estimates, and stories coming from NSW Parliament’s inquiry into hospital services in rural and regional areas, has forced the issue on to the national agenda.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

The AMA says the National Cabinet must urgently move to shared 50 – 50 Commonwealth–State funding for public hospitals, and remove the artificial cap that stops our system meeting community demand.

Read AMA’s media release here.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

Aboriginal child is sedated while leaving surgery, at Katherine Hospital.

Share your vaccine story

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed this easy-to-use template for social media tiles showcasing a photo and story of why you want to get or have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a PowerPoint template that includes a square tile for use on Instagram and Facebook and a landscape tile to be used on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The aim is to share as many stories as possible on social media showcasing everyday people and their reasons for wanting to get the vaccine.

You can download the template here.

Alternatively, you can email: nacchonews@naccho.org.au with your photo and brief story together with your first name(s) and if you chose to, your identification(s) (example of identification: grandmother and granddaughter of the Yuin Walganga people, Mogo NSW) and we can share your story on NACCHO’s social media channels.

COVID-19 Vaccination - Image frame.

COVID-19 Vaccination – Image frame.

More doctors recruited to rural and remote communities

A unique national GP training program that enables doctors to gain their specialist qualification in General Practice – while living and working as a doctor in a First Nations, rural or remote community – has assisted the recruitment of an additional much-needed doctor for St George in Queensland.

Dr Gary Wood is among 32 doctors who will be training with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) this year. He was recruited under a collaborative approach by RVTS (through its Targeted Recruitment strategy), Health Workforce Queensland and Goondir Health Services.

He will be working at Goondir Health Services – a health service for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – while continuing his specialist GP training in the RVTS program.

The appointment is a major win for the St George community, as Dr Wood will work there for the duration of his specialist GP training, and hopefully for many years beyond.

“For their community, this means continuity of medical services and patient care. It really is a win-win situation for the doctors and their communities,” said RVTS CEO, Dr Pat Giddings.

Dr Wood said the benefits of working and training as a doctor under the RVTS training model were significant.

You can read the media release here.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

RVTS Round 1 applications now open

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is currently promoting their first round of applications for the 2022 intake. Round 1 Applications are now open – until Sunday 4 July 2021, for training to commence in February 2022, with positions available in both 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) as listed on the RVTS website.

For more application information click here.
For more information about targeted recruitment locations click here.

RVTS - Targeted Training Locations.

RVTS – Targeted Training Locations.

Webinar: Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

The AH&MRC is hosting a maternal health webinar. We will hear from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector as well as the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) on programs running in communities to support women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW.

Hear from:

  • Waminda – Melanie Briggs and Hayley Longbottom
  • NSW Ministry of Health – Elizabeth Best
  • Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation – Kristy Williams, Annika Honeysett, Rachel Fikkers and Megan Elliot-Rudder

We are inviting people working in the maternal and child health space as well as women in communities across New South Wales.

Date & time: 10:00am until 11:30am, 16 June 2021.
For more information about the event and how to register click here.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW - event image.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW – event image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Lack of cultural understanding can inflict grave harm

Lack of cultural understanding can inflict grave harm

Lack of cultural understanding by mental health practitioners can continue to inflict grave individual and intergenerational harms for First Nations people, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ 2021 Congress was told yesterday.

Cultural experiences and the legacies of dispossession, genocide and trauma are poorly understood and too often pathologised for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Maori people. As a result, symptom control is prioritised over strengths and healing, with a real risk that ongoing generations could be lost to child removal, the justice system and suicide.

These were the messages of a thought provoking series of sessions at this week’s annual Congress of Australian and New Zealand psychiatrists, where Indigenous clinicians from across the two countries called for a decolonisation of mental health systems, and a new reckoning with First Nations ways of knowing and experiencing the world.

Palyku woman and WA’s Australian of the Year Professor Helen Milroy, eminent New Zealand psychiatrists Allister Bush and Mark Lawrence and tohunga –  or Maori healer –  Wiremu NiaNia, offered rare insights at #RANZCP2021 into cultural experiences of mental health in a structurally violent and dismissive Western system.

To view the full article click here.

Image source: Travel NQ website.

AHCSA first to gain Rainbow Tick

The Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) has been successful in achieving Rainbow Tick Accreditation – a nationally recognised benchmark for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI+) inclusive practice. In addition, AHCSA is proud to announce that we are the first Aboriginal organisation to accomplish this. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identify as LGBTI+ are commonly subjected to the combined effects of racism and discrimination based on sexuality and/or gender identities.

Research findings suggest that suicidality, substance misuse and homelessness are primary health concerns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ people. There is a pressing need for service providers to increase their awareness of the contemporary issues faced by this community and to take concrete steps to create more inclusive and supportive health care.

Throughout the accreditation process, AHCSA was guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ community members to develop unique and innovative training and support centred on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI+ experiences and needs.
Although achieving this accreditation ensures that AHCSA is a safe space, it also acknowledges that there is more work to be done.

To view AHCSA’s media release click here.

Choices program expanded to new sites

The first program of its kind in WA, Choices connects vulnerable people at risk of poor health outcomes with culturally sensitive social and mental health support upon discharge from hospital emergency departments. Choices was developed in response to substantial evidence of the over-representation of people with multiple health and social needs presenting to emergency departments.

Since launching in late 2017, the Choices program has used peer and case workers to connect with thousands of people and offer supportive intervention through drawing on their lived experience in similar situations. The service provides care coordination and supports people to access and remain connected to primary healthcare services in the community.

To view the media release here.

Jason is on a new path after meeting his partner Kirsty and taking part in the Choices program at Royal Perth Hospital. Credit: Daniel Wilkins / The Sunday Times

Jason is on a new path after meeting his partner Kirsty and taking part in the Choices program at Royal Perth Hospital. Photo: Daniel Wilkins. Image source: Perth Now.

First Nations people look for climate justice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are leading the fight for climate justice and climate action in Australia, but continue to be left out of critical national work on bushfires and other climate disasters, a First Nations Climate Justice webinar heard recently. The all-Indigenous panel discussion heard that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge holders and communities “shouldn’t be fighting for space anymore” in climate policy and research, and that climate and emergency action should recognise their deep connections to country.

Indigenous researcher Bhiamie Williamson had to stop to hold back tears when he was asked last month whether Aboriginal communities along Australia’s east coast had recovered from the devastating 2019-20 bushfires. “No,” he said after a pause. “I think there is just a deep and unending sadness that lingers in those places, you know, and may do for the rest of their lives,” he told the First Nations Climate Justice webinar hosted by the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.

To view the full story click here.

Photo: Tony Birch. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

Budget hits & misses – more reaction

Health groups have raised concerns about the Federal Budget’s lack of action on climate change and prevention, and also welcomed investment in areas ranging from allied health to health and medical research.

A Croakey article wraps Budget reaction from the Australian Medical Students Association, National Health and Medical Research Council, and Allied Health Professions Australia, as well as linking to a detailed analysis by Macquarie University’s Centre for the Health Economy.

To view the article in full click here.

Colonoscopy resources for our Mob

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has developed new culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to provide useful information about having a colonoscopy procedure.

The resources include a video and fact sheet that will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers understand their rights, choices and what they need to do if they are referred for a colonoscopy. Healthcare professionals and health service organisations working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are encouraged to discuss and share these resources with their colleagues, and patients and their carers.

You can watch the consumer video here and download the consumer fact sheet here.vector images of computer screen with text 'Having a colonoscopy?' & diagram of bowel & hand holding colonoscopy fact sheet

GP COVID-19 update

Join Professor Michael Kidd AM, Dr Lucas de Toca and Dr Martin Leidvogel from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (AEST) Thursday 20 May for the latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs. At the 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, click on this link.

The webinar will have live captioning and be available to view on-demand via the same link within a few hours of the live stream.  If you aren’t subscribed to this mailing list, join the more than 9,000 GPs who stay up to date with the latest official COVID-19 advice by subscribing here.

banner text ' General Practice COVID-19 update Professor Michael Kidd AM' portrait of Prof Kidd, blue background & blue puple image of covid-19 virus cell

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Tomorrow, Thursday 20 May 2021 is the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments. From both a civil rights and a business perspective, people with disabilities are underserved. Common disability/impairments include:

  • Visual – People who are blind need alternative text descriptions for meaningful images and use the keyboard and not a mouse to interact with interactive elements.
  • Hearing – People who are deaf or hard of hearing will need captioning for video presentations and visual indicators in place of audio cues.
  • Motor – People with motor impairments may need alternative keyboards, eye control or some other adaptive hardware to help them type and navigate on their devices.
  • Cognitive – An uncluttered screen, consistent navigation and the use of plain language would be useful for people with different learning disabilities/impairments.

For information about GAAD click here.

banner tect 'Global Accessibility Awareness Day - Thursday 20 May' vector of hand, ear, eye, brain

Image source: Catalyst IT website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021–22 Federal Budget – Plenty of good news for Aboriginal health, but plenty of questions remain

NACCHO responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget 

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the Budget initiatives targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. These include funding for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, point-of-care testing, rheumatic fever strategy, bowel cancer screening, workplace training packages for health professionals in rural and remote areas, changes to the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme and changes to the Practice Incentives Program (Indigenous Health Incentive). These all seem to be very positive announcements. Also pleasing is the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the substantial aged care and mental health packages.

While these announcements are most welcome, there needs to be more clarity concerning implementation. It is important that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are closely involved in the new initiatives to ensure success.

In Cairns this morning, Donnella Mills, the NACCHO Chair, said ‘These Budget measures are very welcome, but we will need to work through the detail before we can be sure that what is proposed will work.’

‘It is pleasing to see that the NACCHO members are referred to in the Budget Papers in relation to a new role in the aged care sector and other areas. Certainly, the measures announced in the Budget won’t work unless Aboriginal people and organisations are fully involved in the design and delivery.’

The pandemic has proved the success of the model. The network of Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations in combatting COVID-19 shows what happens when local people are empowered to take local action.

Ms Mills said ‘We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died.’

NACCHO welcomes the aged care package. The identification of $630m to improve aged care access largely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a significant investment (about 3.6 per cent of the overall package). However, more will need to follow for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to receive their fair share of aged care (estimated at 7 per cent on population and eligibility).

Ms Mills said ‘All Australians welcome the overdue investment in aged care. We all want our elders to be loved and cared for with dignity and respect. But Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would like to see the specific details about how the measures will be tailored to our people and our communities and what role our services can play in all of this. We are keen to work with governments to ensure that the new funding is effectively invested. Governments need to start talking to us now, so that these good intentions deliver solid results on the ground for our elders.’

To read the full media release click here.

Coalition of Peaks responds to the 2021-22 Federal Budget

Positive start but First Nations must wait and see for promised Closing the Gap investment

Significant Budget measures announced by the Commonwealth Government provide a foundation for investing in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. As expected, detailed funding relating to Closing the Gap was not announced in the Budget last night, so the full scope of funding commitments remains to be seen.

“I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this Budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people,” said Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks.

“We are encouraged to see significant funding in areas of aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety; but this is very much a ‘wait and see’ budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said.

The federal government will announce more specific funding on Closing the Gap after Cabinet considers the Commonwealth’s Jurisdictional Implementation Plan mid-year.

“Our main concern with every Commonwealth Budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground. Too often, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations, which are responsible for delivering many of the services in our communities, have been left with inadequate funding to service our people. My hope is that our community-controlled organisations are not just left with the crumbs from the Budget table.”

“Given the massive new investments seen in this Budget, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a legitimate expectation that there will be a significant boost in funding in all areas of Closing the Gap — including implementation of the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement that we believe will accelerate the closing of gaps,” Ms Turner said.

“We look forward to an announcement of funding in the Closing the Gap measures to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the Justice Policy Partnership in particular and all policy and place-based partnerships to be established under the National Agreement”.

“It is also vital that meaningful proportions of the new funding initiatives in the Budget for the broader population that are critical for closing the gaps, such as in childcare and preschool, are allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, particularly community-controlled organisations”.

“This is a commitment made by the Commonwealth in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, but it is still uncertain and risky whether our community-controlled sector will receive the funding it needs to deliver much better services to our people,” Ms Turner said.

Finally, the Government’s new investment into our Family Violence Prevention Legal Services to address the severe problem of family violence is welcomed but more funding is needed to keep our women and children safe.

To read the full media release click here.

Family Matters National Week of Action Sun 9 – Sat 15 May 2021 #OurMobsMatter

Next week join the Family Matters National Week of Action, SNAICC’s campaign to create awareness of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Build your skills and knowledge and be part of our work to ensure all our children and young people grow up strong and safe in their families, cultures, and communities.

You can also register your own events, and access our resources page so you can download our Family Matters National Week of Action digital resources (including social media tiles, an email signature, and customisable posters for your own events) to help you promote the Family Matters campaign next week. Please share content including the Family Matters handle and using the hashtag #OurMobsMatter

The Family Matters leaders would like to remind non-Aboriginal organisations to support the campaign through your annual sponsorships – please check sponsorship information here and email familymatters@snaicc.org.au to arrange an invoice as soon as possible.

Wednesday 12 May (12-1.30pm AEST) – National commissioner call to action

Join SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle and Family Matters Co-Chair Dr Paul Gray as they lead a discussion by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners and deputy commissioners around the continent as we continue to call for the creation of dedicated, independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s commissioners in each state and territory and at the national level.

Speakers include: April Lawrie, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (South Australia); Justin Mohamed, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People (Victoria); Natalie Lewis, Commissioner for the Queensland Family and Child Commission; Richard Weston, Deputy Children’s Guardian for Aboriginal Children and Young People (New South Wales), and Nicole Hucks, Assistant Children’s Commissioner, Office of the Children’s Commissioner (Northern Territory).

Join this key call for accountability and in defence of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.

Register here.

Thursday 13 May (12-2pm AEDT) – Ways to connect children back to their family, culture and community

This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Jo-Anne Kelly, Project Manager Community Initiatives with Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation; Jacynta Krakouer, Family Matters National Leadership Group and University of Melbourne; and Jennifer Parsons, QATSCIPP Sector Development Officer.

Engage and learn from this fascinating discussion among four expert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in child and family services. Build your practice skills and learning through Aboriginal-led engagement, awareness, and ideas for skill development.

Register here.

Friday 14 May (12-2pm AEST) – Ensuring our babies get the safest start

Learn about how birth is a key point of removal from their families for too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies, and what we can do to stop this entry point from happening. Hear about how we can work to keep babies with their parents and families. This conversation will be led by Family Matters Co-Chair Sue-Anne Hunter.

Speakers include: Professor Megan Davis, Emma Buxton-Namisnyk and Dr Althea Gibson (all UNSW); Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain (La Trobe University, Healing the Past); Birri O’Dea (Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Charles Darwin University); Alison Elliott, The Bouverie Centre; and Debra Bennet (Executive Lead Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Cultural Advisor, Relationships Australia Queensland).

Register here.

The Family Matters Report 2020 was launched in November 2020. It reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be removed from family and kin at disproportionate rates – disrupting their connection to community and culture. The report identified a concerning trend towards permanency and adoption that is driving separation of children from family, community, and culture.

Keep an eye out for the Family Matters National Leadership Group members on @IndigenousX on Twitter, from Thursday 6 May to Thursday 13 May.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acting on social determinants of health part of CPHC

feature tile text 'CPHC must include acting on the social determinants of health', image of bright Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with text 'Preventive Health Conference'

Acting on social determinants of health part of CPHC

Earlier this week NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a presentation, Building on Success – Prevention Health for COVID-19 and Beyond at the Public Health Association of Australia Preventive Health Conference 2021. “Currently NACCHO is documenting a core services framework which articulates our model of comprehensive primary health care. One of the participants at a consultation session stated, ‘To call yourself a comprehensive primary health care service, you need more than a ‘sick care service’. You also need to be public health advocates to garner action on poverty and overcrowding. You must invest in communities, develop leaders and reclaim community empowerment, you must look to act on social determinants of health as well’. “These are the values that were brought to the table when dealing with the response to the pandemic. Each service is controlled by the community receiving the health service.”
You can read Dr Casey’s speaking notes for the conference here.
Dawn Casey receiving COVID-19 vaccine

NACCHO Chair responses to Federal Budget

As part of the 2021–22 Federal Budget Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will receive dedicated funding to support and expand health initiatives across aged care, chronic illness treatment, mental health support and more, with a focus on engaging culturally sensitive approaches across the board.

During an interview on The Wire Independent Current Affairs Community & Indigenous Radio Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills said this investment is welcomed by NACCHO, who are advocating for the government to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to define how programs are delivered to ensure the best outcomes.

To listen to the interview in full click here.

stethoscope on top of portion of Aboriginal flag & text 'The Wire' logo - orange text

Image source: The Wire.

SNAICC comments on 2021 budget

SNAICC – the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, has welcomed investment to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the Australian Government’s recent Budget announcement, but looks forward to further commitments for children and families through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

“The Budget includes important new measures for children and families, including increased investment in early childhood education and care, keeping women and children safe, mental health and suicide prevention, and increased support for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. However, more work is needed to achieve the ambitious targets for our children in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” said SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle. “Our children thrive when they have the opportunities to be proud in their identities and cultures and grow up safe and supported within their families and communities.”

To view SNAICC’s media release in full click here. This follows a SNAICC media release last week on early child care.

Lowitja calls for health & justice investment

The Lowitja Institute has welcomed several important spending measures in the 2021–22 Federal Budget but has called for more work and commitment to support comprehensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-driven solutions across much-needed areas. Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations had wanted to see significant investment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, although it is hoped that spending will be announced in the Implementation Plans due to be released mid-year.

“The Budget could have been a significant and important opportunity to comprehensively invest in historical truth-telling as called for through the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” Dr Mohamed said. Lowitja Institute welcomed several important measures, particularly a focus on building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care workforce, supporting COVID-19 responses by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, and important funding for suicide prevention.

To view the Lowitja Institute’s media release in full click here.

the Lowitja Institute logo

Groups await extra CtG funding

Indigenous organisations are hoping for federal government funding later in the year to help close the gap. The Closing the Gap agreement aims to end the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in social, economic and health areas, and now includes 16 targets after the original seven were overhauled because they were not on track to be met.

The Coalition of Peaks, which represents more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, did not expect funding for Closing the Gap in the budget. The group’s lead convener Pat Turner is encouraged by significant spending in aged care, Indigenous skills and jobs, mental health and women’s safety. “But this is very much a wait and see budget as the majority of funding directed towards Closing the Gap won’t be announced until later in the year,” she said. “I’m pleased to see the funding laid out in this budget contains promising investments in crucial areas that affect our people. Our main concern with every commonwealth budget is how the funding will trickle down and benefit our people on the ground.”

To view The West Australian article click here.

Pat Turner in beige jacket, purple glasses, hand raised with two fingers for two points, set against blurred parliament setting with two Australia flags

Pat Turner. Photo: Gary Ramage. Image source: The Australian.

Budget fails to close the gap

First Nations advocates have condemned the 2021 budget as failing to live up to the government’s talk of “closing the gap”. While the budget included investments in a number of health initiatives, there was a lack of investment in First Nations-focused services including family violence prevention services; investment to address the crisis of Aboriginal deaths in custody; and investment to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families have access to the support and services they need.

Australia’s only First Nations-led justice coalition, Change the Record, said the budget just entrenched more of the same. On the issue of justice, Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said it was “shameful” that after seven deaths in less than two months there has been no plan from the government to address the crisis of Black deaths in custody. “There is no funding in the budget to address the mass-incarceration of First Nations peoples by establishing a National Justice Reinvestment Body (despite this being a key recommendation) and no funding to support states and territories to Raise the Age to keep primary school aged children out of police and prison cells,” Axleby said.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

protester holding Aboriginal Lives Matter placard

Photo: Jack Fisher. Image source: ABC News website.

National suicide prevention trial extension

The Kimberley’s peak Indigenous health body has welcomed measures in the Federal Budget that will help remote communities cement strategies for suicide prevention. As part of a $2.3 billion spend on mental health, $12 million has been promised to extend the national suicide prevention trial by one year.

The initiative has been running in 12 locations around the country, including the Kimberley, and is focused on devising local programs to prevent suicides. The trial was due to wrap up in June this year but participants now have more time to secure their strategies. The funding has come in addition to $79 million for initiatives under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

To view the full article click here.

portrait of Rob McPhee in office, large Aboriginal painting in the background, Rob is wearing a blue collared shift with the BRAMS logo

KAMS Chief Operating Officer Rob McPhee. Image source: ABC News.

ACOSS Virtual Post Budget Event 2021

Hosted by MC Stela Todorovic (Political Reporter, Channel 10) The ACOSS Post Budget Event is the key annual event for civil society and the community services sector, providing a space for attendees to receive briefings on key budget measures and their likely impacts on people experiencing poverty and inequality.

The event will provide the opportunity for the Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer to address the community sector directly and for the community sector to engage in conversation following the release of the Federal Budget.

Speakers will include:

  • Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP
  • Dr Jim Chalmers MP, Shadow Treasurer
  • Lindon Coombes, Industry Professor (Indigenous Policy), Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (UTS)
  • Merle Mitchell, Aged Care advocate
  • Feyi Akindoyeni, Partner & Office Head, Newgate Communications
  • Kristin O’Connell, The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU)
  • Verity Firth, Executive Director, Social Justice at the UTS Centre for Social Justice & Inclusion
  • Cassandra Goldie, CEO, ACOSS

You can register for free here.

banner ACOSS virtual post budget event 2021 Tues, 18 May 12PM - 2:30PM AEST Bendigo Bank HESTA, UTS, ACOSS Joint the Campaign Raise the Rate for Good, image of a podium with microphones

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: RHDAustralia optimistic despite AIHW report

feature tile text 'RHDAustralia remains optimistic despite worrying new AIHW report', image of health professional with stethoscope to small Aboriginal child's chest

RHDAustralia optimistic despite AIHW report

To view the AIHW report Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in Australia click here.

health professional with stethoscope to small Aboriginal child's chest

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Vaccinations more important than ever

Viruses like influenza (the flu), COVID-19 and pneumococcal pneumonia can be dangerous, but there are ways to protect yourself and your mob. After more than a year of social distancing and isolating, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself against vaccine preventable diseases this winter. Getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene and staying home if you’re unwell will help keep you and your family strong and healthy this winter. Download The Lung Foundation Australia’s Vaccination Tracker and talk to your doctor or community healthcare worker about getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your mob. To view the Lung Foundation Australia’s Protect your mob website page click here.

Aboriginal man with black hoodie sitting at desk with Aboriginal dot paintings, logo superimposed text 'Lung Foundation Australia' with two green leaves with veins representing lungs

Image source: Lung Foundation Australia.

Child eye health messages for parents

In a partnership between the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Vision Initiative, we have co-developed a series of social media messages for parents, giving a number of tips to help care for children’s eyes. The messages that accompany the tiles were developed in consultation with members of the Aboriginal community in Victoria, facilitated by VACCHO.

The colourful social media tiles, featuring artwork by Tamara Murray, are accompanied by culturally appropriate messages, each with a unique focus, and a call to action: that if your child has any problems with their vision, speak to someone at the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation. You are invited to download the tiles here and share them with your community.

collage of part of 3 social media tiles for parents re child eye health, text 'Be sure your eyes are looking good!', 'sleep well, see well!', 'Shades are deadly!' - all tiles have Aboriginal dot painting art of an eye, plus drawing of sunglasses on one, one 'Zzzz's' for sleep

Extracts from VISION 2020 Australia’s social media tiles developed in a partnership between VACCHO and the Vision Initiative.

Time for cultural determinants health approach

In an Croakey article titled On the Federal Budget, it’s time for a reframe Melissa Sweet examines ways in which budget measures as a whole could contribute to better health for all over time. Among the recommendations is to embed a cultural determinants of health approach into policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with flexible implementation to enable responses tailored to individual communities, and governments should resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to effectively develop and implement cultural determinants of health programs that meet the needs of their communities.

To view the article in full click here.

Illawarra Aboriginal health worker Dale Wright wearing shirt with Aboriginal art, against cement wall looking at camera with hands outstretched

Illawarra Aboriginal health worker Dale Wright. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Hopes for increased healing commitments

The Healing Foundation will be looking for strong evidence of the Government’s commitment to greater healing efforts for First Nations peoples, especially for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, in Tuesday’s Federal Budget announcements.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the Government had engaged strongly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during special events like the Anniversary of the Apology and would like to see this goodwill and support continue into the long term with strong policies and partnerships and major reforms.

In its ‘Healing the Nation’ Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22, The Healing Foundation detailed the need for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress healing for Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impacts of intergenerational trauma.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

4 Aboriginal hands holding another Aboriginal hand

Image source: ORIC website.

EOIs sought for Justice Policy Partnership

The Coalition of Peaks are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant experience and expertise who may be interested in joining the Justice Policy Partnership under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

If you have professional experience in the justice sector, on-the-ground knowledge of justice in the community, academic qualifications, lived experience of the justice system, or family experience of the justice system or deaths in custody, and want to be part of an historic opportunity to work in partnership with governments to improve outcomes for our people, please submit an EOI by 17 May 2021.

More details are available on to Coalition of Peaks website. Applications close Monday 18 May 2021.logo - dark orange circle like cog with text ' Expressions of Interest Justice Policy Partnership represenetatives Coalition of Peaks' & CoP logo

National Families Week

National Families Week is held every year between 15 and 21 May, coinciding with the United Nations International Day of Families on 15 May. This day is observed by the United Nations to mark the importance that the international community places on families as the most fundamental units of society, as well as to show concern about their situation in many parts of the world.

All Australians, including community organisations, schools, councils, companies and individuals are invited to participate in National Families Week each year. The enduring theme is ‘Stronger Families, Stronger Communities’.

This theme continues to highlight the important role families play as the central building block of our communities and deliver the message that community wellbeing is enhanced by family wellbeing. For more information click here.

tile text 'Stronger families Stronger communities national families week 15-21 may 2021 www.nfw.org.au' watercolour art houses, trees circle, arch, road

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 response success

First Nations successful COVID-19 control

Indigenous populations around the world are more likely to be infected by or die of COVID-19. In countries like Canada and Brazil and in the US, Indigenous people are dying at disparate rates to the general population. However there is one notable exception: Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders). Despite having a life expectancy around 8 years less than non-Indigenous populations and overall worse health outcomes, Indigenous Australians were six times less likely to contract COVID-19. Zero deaths and just 148 cases of coronavirus were reported for 800,000 Indigenous people across the country.

How did they achieve such a remarkable result? In contrast to previous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders health policies and interventions, the Australian government worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities. They provided flexible grant funding in March 2020 to 110 remote communities, allowing local Indigenous controlled health agencies to run a culturally aware response. As the scale of the pandemic became apparent, the government funding increased with $6.9 million invested in the NACCHO and $123 million available over two financial years for targeted measures to support Indigenous businesses and communities to increase their responses to COVID-19.

To view the article in full click here.

7 health professionals with gloves, gowns & masks standing on road

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation team. Image source: AH&MRC website. Feature image: Tyreece, 8, and Trevor, 7, on the outskirts of Wilcannia. Image source: newmatilda.com.

Why mental health education is important

Kym Marsden, a Kamilaroi woman and accredited mental health social worker with 19 years’ experience in mental health and community services believes Schools and other places of participation for our young people like sporting clubs, cadets and other social outlets need to portray mental health as equally important as physical health.

“Kofi Annan is a role model of mine who understood education is the key to realising positive change across our future generations, evidenced by his beliefs that now are eternalised as a quote: ‘Knowledge is power, information is liberating, education is the premise of progress in every society and in every family!'”

Mental health awareness is important in our communities. Awareness creates change, but it is a task that we all have to sign up for.

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

Aboriginal dot painting in roange yeallow white black tan by Roma Winmar 2015

Artist: Roma Winmar 2015. Image source: NATSILMH website.

National Indigenous Postvention Service

Thirrili Ltd delivers the National Indigenous Postvention Service across Australia and has taken a national leadership role in the provision of suicide postvention support and assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities. Thirrili employs a dedicated team of professionals to provide support across all states and territories in Australia.

You can view Thirrili’s most recent newsletter here.

banner text 'Thirrili' aerial shot of multicoloured rock, Thirrili logo & strip of Aboriginal body painting art yellow purple black orange pink

GP maternity care involvement improves outcomes

Releasing the AMA Position Statement on General Practitioners in Maternity Care, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said all people thinking about starting a family or having another baby should consult with their GP, involving GPs in maternity care leads to better outcomes for mothers and babies.”

The AMA position statement outlines how to ensure GPs are involved in maternity care and are able to provide continuity of care to mothers and babies from pre-conception and through all the important milestones in the mother and baby’s lives. Dr Khorshid said having a usual GP or general practice leads to better health outcomes.

“We know that best-practice maternity care is provided by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals led by an obstetrician or GP-obstetrician in partnership with a patient’s usual GP, and includes midwives, nurses, physicians, allied health professionals and Aboriginal health workers,” he said.

To view the AMA’s media release  click here and to view the AMA Position Statement on GPs in Maternity Care click here.

Aboriginal woman smiling at tiny baby in her arms in health clinic room with examination bed & 5 images of growing baby in womb on wall

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Culturally responsive health care for older people

The final professional development webinar in a series of three focusing on older Australians, presented by Mental Health Professional Network in partnership with all 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will be held from 7:15–8.30 PM (AEST) Wednesday 19 May 2021.

This webinar will discuss the relationship between culturally diverse social and emotional wellbeing beliefs and aging related issues, and examine how this interplay impacts treatment and support sought by older people. Through a facilitated discussion, panellists will provide practical tips and strategies to engage in recovery oriented, culturally responsive conversations with older people. They will provide a deeper understanding of the role different disciplines, faith based groups and community services play in providing care for older people and as a result improve referral pathways.

To register for the webinar click here.

Aboriginal Elder Mildred Numamurdirdi sitting in an armchair with pillow behind head, lap rug & Danila Dilba staffer standing by her side

Aboriginal Elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: Goulburn Post.

Preventing deaths in custody research

Research from the University of Sydney and current coronial inquests highlight the immediate attention needed into Aboriginal health services for those incarcerated, in order to prevent deaths in custody. Over 30 years ago, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) made over 200 directives recommending that Aboriginal health services be funded to provide leadership and care for those in prison equivalent to what is available to the general community. However, the current coronial inquests into the preventable deaths in custody of Bailey Mackander and Wayne Fella Morrison and the seven deaths of Aboriginal people in custody in recent weeks highlight an overwhelmingly strained system.

To view The University of Sydney’s media release click here.

row of crosses along edge of path, painted with the Aboriginal flag & one with the words 'Black Deaths in Custody - Cross for Loss'

Image source: ABC News.

Free webinars for doctors in training

Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs (NQRTH) will be running a series of free webinars for doctors in training across Australia supporting the Queensland RMO and Registrars campaign during May and June this year.

The webinars will discuss the 2022 Queensland RMO Campaign application process and specialty training options available for doctors in training in northern Queensland. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the latest news and recruitment information provided by the Queensland Health RMO Recruitment team and learn about how the campaign works, who can apply, recruitment rounds and positions. There will be a panel of directors of training and doctors currently working in northern Queensland hospitals and health services, providing information about the region’s unmatched medical training opportunities.

Please see below the information about the 6-part webinar series:

exert from promotion tile with dates of webinars

The webinars are open to all doctors in training in Australia.

To view a flyer about the webinars click here and to register for the webinar series click here.

banner text 'Northern Queensland Regional Training Hubs' 3 images: monitoring equipment, operating theatre, tablets & stethoscope on page of medical text book

International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated around the world every year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

The theme for the 2021 resource is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A vision for future healthcare. In 2021, we seek to show how nursing will look into the future as well how the profession will transform the next stage of healthcare.

The International Council of Nurses commemorates this important day each year with the production and distribution of International Nurses’ Day (IND) resources and evidence. For more information about IND and to access a range of resources click here.

tile text '12 May 2021 International Nurses Day Theme: A OVOICE TO LEAD A Vision for Future Healthcare' - torso of health professional in white coat with purple gloved hands holding a globe

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Get your flu vaccine now

feature tile text 'AMA urges all Australians to get their seasonal flu vaccination NOW' pin in a calendar with 'get flu shot' circles in red

Get your flu vaccine now

AMA is urging all Australians to get their seasonal flu vaccination now, with general practices across the country having recently received stock ahead of the upcoming flu season. “Winter is coming, and influenza remains a very serious illness, particularly for the vulnerable members of our community,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Thousands of Australians are admitted to hospitals with influenza complications each year. Last year we saw record flu vaccinations, which was fantastic. We need to do the same again this year. The message is simple: get your flu vaccine now.

“There were significant social distancing measures in place last year that not only helped keep COVID-19 at bay, they also meant that cases of influenza were down significantly from previous years. Influenza has not gone away and with life now largely returning to normal, we mustn’t become complacent.”

To view the AMA media release in full click here.

banner text ' don't take the risk this season get the fle vaccine' vector image of read hand with the word 'flu' superimposed, background purple with octagons of varying sizes & colours red, yellow, green, pink & blue

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

WA Young Person of the Year, AHCWA employee

A Nollamara resident’s dedication to strengthen young people’s connections to Aboriginal culture has been recognised. Whadjuk Noongar man Derek Nannup, 23, was named WA’s Young Person of the Year at the 2021 WA Youth Awards last week.

Mr Nannup is working in sexual health education at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and is on the Mirrabooka Police District Youth Advisory Group and the Youth Educating Peers Reference Group. He also worked as a support worker for children in care at Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and was the Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator at Wesley College.

Mr Nannup also established the Boorloo Indigenous Youth Yarning Circles, a space for young people to practice traditional healing, discuss culture and community issues. The Nollamara resident said the award was not just about him but a recognition for his people and the Noongar community. “I’m really honoured to have been acknowledged as WA Young Person of the Year … that means a lot,” he said. “A lot of the mob have said ‘you’ve got leadership quality’ but all I’m really doing is listening to my Elders, doing and practicing my responsibility and obligations as a Whadjuk Noongar. It shows how far we’ve come together, we’re still a long way to go but hopeful.”

To read the full article in the Stirling Times click here.

Derek Nanup, 23, WA Young Person of the Year, doing Aboriginal dance with Always was Always will be march members in background

Derek Nannup, 23, WA’s Young Person of the Year. Image source: Stirling Times.

Healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people

Are you an NSW-based service that works with older Aboriginal people?

Would your service like to be part of research that shows how important community programs are for older Aboriginal people?
Interested?

The Ironbark Project is a healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people (45 years+). NSW-based services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people are invited to be part of this study involving Aboriginal-led community programs that improve social and emotional wellbeing, strength, mobility and independence, and prevent falls. Funding and training are provided to run the weekly community program with Elders.

Join an online information session 11 AM – 12 PM Monday 26 April 2021 to find out how you can be involved in the Ironbark Project.

For further details about the information session click here click here and to register click here.banner text 'The Ironbark Project' drawing of a tree without leaves covered in Aboriginal dot painting

Improving water in remote communities

Minister for Indigenous Essential Services Chansey Paech said a $28 million Territory Labor Government investment will help to shore up water security in Aboriginal communities across the NT. Tailored projects in ten remote communities will improve water quality and supply infrastructure, prioritising areas of critical need. The funding, $7 million per year for four years, will support initiatives to manage immediate problems and a long-term plan to tackle complex water supply issues. These include new bores, network upgrades, improved water disinfection systems, and the installation of meters to monitor and reduce water usage. The identified projects, tailored to address community-specific issues, will begin in Laramba, Engawala, Yuendumu, Epenarra, Imanpa, Atitjere, Warruwi and Numbulwar in the first year of the program; with works in Angurugu and Beswick to follow.

To view the media release in full click here.

water from tap flowing into Aboriginal person's hand, background is outback setting

Image source: ABC News website.

Shared decision-making a priority

Priority Reform One of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is about building and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with governments on Closing the Gap at every level.

We want to see new formal partnerships established across the country at state and territory and regional levels between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and governments on closing the gap which reflect elements consistent with the Partnership Agreement.

Where there are existing partnerships, we want them strengthened to ensure that representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are chosen by those communities and are properly supported to share decision making about closing the gap in their locations.

You can view a new video animation for Priority Reform One here.slide from Coalition of Peaks Priority Reform One National Agreement on CtG shared decision-making - cartoon drawing of 6 Aboriginal adults, 2 Aboriginal children, white man shaking hands with Aboriginal woman

Mental health care – like hunting for unicorns

Numerous inquiries have analysed the barriers of cost and access to receiving mental health care, but these problems persist. This is particularly the case for people who experience the ‘missing middle’ – their case is too complex for a GP but not severe enough for hospital admission. One reader told Guardian Australia: ‘Finding a good psychologist or psychiatrist who bulk-bills and has appointments available is like hunting for unicorns while blindfolded.’

To view The Guardian article ‘Like hunting for unicorns’: Australians on the search for adequate, affordable mental healthcare click here.

white line drawing of a brain held above palm of hand against background of sunset

Image source: VentureBeat website.

SA – Adelaide – Flinders University

PhD scholarship x 1 (3 years) – Adelaide

Flinders University is seeking an outstanding candidate for a PhD scholarship for an Australian Research Council Project entitled: Contemporary lessons from a history of Aboriginal, women’s and generalist community health services in Australia 1970-2020. This exciting project is a partnership between Flinders University, the University of Sydney, La Trobe University, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), The Sydney Local Health District, Paul Laris and Associates and Tony McBride and Associates.

Any area of study relevant to the project will be considered, including one with a focus on the emergence of Aboriginal Community-Controlled health organisations as part of the broader community health movement. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this aspect of the project.

For further details about the position, including how to apply click here.logo text 'Flinders University' ship, plaque with segment of sun at bottom of the plaque, open line drawing or book at top of plaque with navy background, line drawing of a ship with sails on top of plaque & drone view of the uni

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors

feature tile text 'pandemic health restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors' slide from The Healing Foundation video, black line drawing of Aboriginal person holding a pink cracked heart

Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma

New research released by The Healing Foundation shows that the strong and necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia since early 2020 retriggered trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors. The research data suggests an increased and heightened sense of vulnerability; significant disconnection from family, community, and country; and significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing among an already vulnerable cohort of people.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the research results will assist governments and authorities in future pandemic planning to build on Australia’s world-leading public health efforts to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected. “The excellent work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 – as part of national efforts guided by the National Cabinet – ensured that infection rates were very low in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations,” Ms Cornforth said.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here,

black & white collage of 40 portrait shots of Stolen Generations survivors

Image source: Creative Spirits.

ACCHO program reduces recidivism

Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path. He’s recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture. And now his eyes are set on joining the Army. During its demonstration phase, the program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system. All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.

Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.

Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health. Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol. But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone’s cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.

To view the full article click here.

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Image source: South Coast Register.

Facts about COVID-19

In a short video Dr Mark Wenitong, a GP in Indigenous health for 25 years, reminds us to get information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. You can access the video including a transcript here.

slide from YouTube clip, Dr Mark Wenitong, text 'Dr Mark Wenitong - Find out the facts about COVID-19 vaccines, Hi, it's Dr Mark here. Dr Mark Wenitong Aboriginal GP and Public Health MO

Suicide prevention roadmap

Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15–44 years – more common than deaths from motor vehicle accidents or skin cancer (Aleman & Denys 2014). Over 2,500 people die from suicide in Australia each year and more than 65,000 make an attempt.

The Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, announced today, paves the way for a clear roadmap for reform. In particular, the recommendation to establish a National Suicide Prevention Office has the potential to create a significant enhancement of suicide prevention and in turn, save lives. Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, is urging Governments across Australia to use the findings of the report to drive down suicide rates. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said, “the Final Report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser has the potential to be a game changer for suicide prevention in Australia. Immediate uptake of the key recommendations is critical to enable real reform that will save lives.”

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia’s media release in full click here.

painting of grey puzzle pieces, missing piece in the centre shows blue sky & white clouds

Image source: Australian Psychological Society website.

Child protection & adolescent self-harm

A history of child maltreatment is known to elevate the risk of self-harm in adolescence. However, until a recent study this link had not been investigated for Aboriginal children who experience a greater burden of both. This study Patterns of child protection service involvement by Aboriginal children associated with a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence: A retrospective population cohort study using linked administrative data confirms a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence is associated with child maltreatment, especially in middle childhood and concludes that addressing the intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal families is crucial to preventing child maltreatment and informing reforms to child protection responses that can better identify and address the culturally-specific unmet needs of Aboriginal families.

To read the research paper click here.

back of child leaning against outside of railing arms outstretched on the railing over-looking a riven, image in black & grey

Image source: ABC News website.

Cultural training in health services survey ENDS SOON

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a short survey to gain an understanding of the type and level of cultural safety training currently being undertaken by health service organisations. The Commission is committed to ongoing and evolving culturally safe practices, which are developed in consultation with, and determined by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The NSQHS Standards define six actions that specifically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the six actions states: “The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural awareness and cultural competency of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.” The Commission is calling on feedback to assist in the development of resources to strengthen cultural safety training and support services in implementing this action.

Click here to complete the survey for your organisation. The survey is open until Friday, 23 April 2021, and takes up to 10 minutes to complete.

You can read more about the survey here.

torso of healthcare professional with blue scrubs & stethoscope with hands over patient's hand

Image source: NursingCE.com website.

Stop it at the Start campaign

The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people aged 10–17 by role modelling positive behaviour, calling out disrespect and starting conversations about respect. It aims to unite the community around positive actions everyone can take to break the cycle of disrespect, and ultimately, violence against women.

Community influencers and campaign supporters Kristy Masella, Andy Saunders, Renee Thomson, and Sean Choolburra share a common message—even the simplest, smallest actions can make a big difference for young people, and for our community.

To access a range of Stop it at the Start resources released earlier this week click here. Please note, in this document the link for the Sean Choolburra & his daughter Tyra – Tips on how to speak up when you see disrespect video does not work, this link does.

To view the Australian government’s Unmute yourself – speaking up to end violence against women media release in full click here. and to access an editorial from Darumbal woman Kristy Masella, campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign click here.

Kristy Masella campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign, leaning against a brick wall smiling at the camera, blurred background of city street, text 'when it comes to talking to my daughters about respecct, I often draw on personal examples of things I've experienced or reflected on myself. I talk abou the disrespectful behaviours that I accepted at times in my life or thought were normal. Violence against women Let's Stop It at the start. For tools and resources visit respect.gov.au

Sexual wellbeing – what we do well

A recent research project, Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources has looked at how urban Aboriginal young people foster sexual health and wellbeing for themselves and others. The project purposely sought to adopt a strengths-based approach by identifying the resources and capacities of Aboriginal young people to minimise harm and promote health.

More specifically, the project aimed to explore the community resources that Aboriginal young people access to help them make positive sexual choices, inform their understandings of sexual health and relationships, manage their sexual wellbeing, and engage with health promotion and health care services. The research will provide health services and policymakers with insightful new knowledge to better support young urban Aboriginal people and their communities.

For further information on the project click here.

rear view of two Aboriginal youth walking down a road in Redfern, derelict terrace houses & entire wall painted with Aboriginal flag & graffiti

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Healing Foundation CEO – National Press Club

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Fiona will be releasing The Healing Foundation’s “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and to promote intergenerational healing. The address will be televised live on ABC TV.

The details of the event are here.

banner for National Press Club of Australia event Fiona Cornforth CEO of the Healing Foundation "Make Healing Happen: It's Time to Act"' & portrait shot of Fiona Cornforth