NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Support needed to close the mental health gap

feature tile: outline of face side on, filled with tree roots

Support needed to close mental health gap

To mark World Mental Health Day and World Mental Health Week 2020, NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills has issued a Media Statement emphasising that the commitment in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap needs continued funding support to close the mental health gap. In Australia, the rate of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continues to grow. NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills states, “Our people experience very high levels of trauma at nearly three times the rate of other Australians and recent statistics point out that we are twice as likely to commit suicide.”

Image source: Department of Health

“The new targets in the National Agreement on Close the Gap focuses on 16 socio-economic targets which were not included in the previous Closing the Gap strategy such as suicide, children in out-of-home care, adult incarceration and juvenile detention. To meet these targets, NACCHO believes sustained funding support for Aboriginal led, culturally appropriate mental health and suicide prevention programs is critical. We will not stop advocating for appropriate funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) until the Mental Health Gap is closed. We need funding support for sustainable community-led solutions to expand their mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention, and alcohol and other drug services, which use best-practice trauma-informed approaches,” said Ms Mills.

To read the NACCHO Chair’s media statement click here and to read the media release from Mental Health Australia click here.

Innovative program helps reunite families

Almost 400 children have been safely restored to their parents thanks to an innovative program designed to drive down the number of children in out-of-home care, which is funded by an Australian-first Social Benefit Bond (SBB).  NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the Newpin program has achieved unprecedented restoration results for vulnerable families across NSW. “Newpin is designed to reunite families by providing long-term therapeutic support that builds parenting skills and addresses issues like mental health, isolation, social disadvantage or family violence,” Mr Ward said.  “Over the course of the seven-year pilot, more than 60% of children returned to the care of their parents. Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the program demonstrates what can be achieved when Government works with organisations that have the right expertise to deliver the best outcomes for communities.

To view the media release click here.

mother watching small child as he draws on chalkboard

Image source: Social Ventures Australia.

Donnella Mills reaction to the Budget 2020 on ABC NewsRadio

Listen to NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills providing a reaction to the Budget 2020 to ABC NewsRadio, welcoming the increase in funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and stating that NACCHO will continue to press the Government for targeted infrastructure investment in our clinics.

To listen to the interview click here.

VIC ACCHOs to lead local responses to COVID-19

More than $500,000 in grants under the first round of the $10 million Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund has been announced. The Fund – announced in July – was set up to provide support for communities during the pandemic, including emergency relief, outreach and brokerage, social and wellbeing initiatives – as well as cultural strengthening and virtual celebration opportunities.

Four Aboriginal organisations were successful in the first round, including Wathaurong Aboriginal Corporation in Geelong, The Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited in North Melbourne, the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Corporation and the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association in Hastings.

To read the Victorian State Government’s media release click here.

Image source: Victorian Government Twitter.

Culturally appropriate care for chronically ill

A program by Blacktown-based service, Western Sydney Integrated Team Care (ITC), is ensuring chronically ill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have improved access to quality holistic care in the greater Western Sydney region. The federally funded program is facilitated by Western Sydney Primary Health Network and is operated by WentWest. It has proven itself to be a success and over time tailored itself to the community’s needs. With the largest urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia and one of the highest diabetes rates compared to the national figure, as well as heart and respiratory diseases, hepatitis and asthma becoming increasingly common within community, the importance of the service is not lost on the Western Sydney ITC team.

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

Aboriginal health worker standing in front of window with words Western Sydney ITC Program

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

More needed to address eye health services backlog

The Fred Hollows Foundation has welcomed the Government’s six month extension to telehealth services announced in the Federal Budget, but said more must be done to address the backlog of eye health services caused by COVID-19. The Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart said urgent action was needed to address the backlog of cataract surgeries and other ophthalmic treatments because of the pandemic. “Already long waiting lists are getting longer. Without targeted investment to support cataract surgery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, there is a real concern that gains made over the past decade in closing the eye health gap could be lost,” Mr Wishart said. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are three times more likely to be blind than other Australians and we know that more investment is needed to close the gap in eye health. We need commitment from all levels of government towards the implementation of Strong Eyes Strong Communities, a five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care.”

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal artist Peter Datjin with eye patch in outdoor setting

Indigenous artist Peter Datjin. Image source: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness website.

Healing through connection and culture report launched

Lifeline Australia, in partnership with The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, have launched the Wellbeing and Healing Through Connection and Culture Report. Authored by Professor Pat Dudgeon, Professor Gracelyn Smallwood, Associate Professor Roz Walker, Dr Abigail Bray and Tania Dalton, the report is the first literature review undertaken in Australia analysing the emerging research and knowledge, key themes and principles surrounding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural perspectives and concepts of healing and social and emotional wellbeing as they relate to suicide prevention.

To read the Lifeline Australia media release regarding the launch click here.

nine Aboriginal people on beach at dusk, dance & digeridoo

Image source: SNAICC website.

Record investment in WA Aboriginal communities

More than $750 million has been committed in the 2020–21 WA State Budget to enhance the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities. This record amount of funding aims to build the resilience and capacity of Aboriginal communities and individuals. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and wellbeing and delivering social and economic opportunities. An important component is $9.77 million for Aboriginal regional suicide prevention plans in each region of WA, prioritising Aboriginal-led and locally endorsed initiatives. Suicide affects the whole community, and a whole-of-community approach is required to prevent it.

To view WA Mental Health Minister Roger Cook’s media release click here.

Aboriginal woman and male youth in foreground against building in remote Australia

Image source: Government of WA Department of Communities website.

More can be done to prevent diabetes related vision loss

Diabetes-related vision loss is the leading cause of blindness for working-aged Australians, yet it’s almost entirely preventable. A recent Australian study found that only half of the people with diabetes get the recommended annual eye checks. Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people three times more likely to develop diabetes than non-Indigenous Australians. There is potential to prevent blindness in more people with diabetes if the ongoing improvement of eye care that involves and empowers people with diabetes, their health teams, and communities to develop services, systems, new technology, and policies that meet their needs is pursued.

To view the full Micky Newsletter article click here.

Aboriginal woman and male youth in foreground against building in remote Australia

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Health care equity post graduate scholarships available

The Centre for Research Excellence – Strengthening systems for Indigenous health care equity’s (CRE-STRIDE) goal is equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through quality improvement (QI) and collaborative research to strengthen primary health care systems. CRE-STRIDE’s research approach is based on growing evidence of the importance of community-driven, culture-strengthening interventions in Indigenous primary health care settings. CRE-STRIDE’s way of working puts the strengths, needs and aspirations of Indigenous people at the centre of the research process informed by methodologies that reflect Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing and advance international Indigenous scholarship.

CRE-STRIDE is offering scholarships to support honours, Masters of Research and PhD candidates. 

To view the CRE-STRIDE website click here and to view details about the scholarship program and how to submit an Expression of Interest click here.CRE-STRIDE banner - words CRE-STRICE in semi-circle, Aboriginal meeting symbols and yellow red grey dots in background against purple banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Aboriginal health funding boosted, but infrastructure overlooked

external view of medical clinic in slightly run down state

Aboriginal health funding boosted, but infrastructure overlooked

NACCHO has welcomed the increase in funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the Budget with the Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills, saying, “I am heartened by the additional investment in the Indigenous Australians Health Program with $33m for our hard-working services over the next three years. I am also pleased to hear of the regional-and-remote health funding that will assist many of our clinics and the communities they serve as well as assistance for training and workforce development. These are all very welcome.”

NACCHO Conference 2017
Photo: Geoff Bagnall

“While these measures are significant, NACCHO will continue to press the Government for targeted infrastructure investment in our clinics. If stimulus is the main objective of the Budget, we believe that there is no better way to do so than to invest in local communities. There was a valuable opportunity here to invest in our 550 local clinics across the country where our 410,000 clients reside. This was an opportunity missed.”

To view NACCHO’s media release on the Budget click here.

new Armajun Aborignal Health Service Inverell being built

Armajun Aboriginal Health Service, Inverell. Image source: Adam Marshall MP website.

Mental health support extended in NPY region

Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council (NPYWC) and Smiling Mind have partnered to see crucial, prevention-focused mental health support extend even further into Australia’s Indigenous communities. Over the past two years, Smiling Mind has worked closely with NPYWC, translating its popular in-app mindfulness sessions into the region’s Indigenous languages, in order to support the communities’ youth with tools in their native language. To date, the programs have engaged more than 2,500 subscribers, and more than 5,000 meditations have been completed. Three remote schools in the central desert region have also benefited from mindfulness training, where educators were supported to foster positive mental health habits with their students and the wider school community. 

Envato Foundation, the philanthropic arm of leading technology business Envato, have donated $100,000 to give new life to the partnership, allowing for an extension to the tools and resources already created to infiltrate further across the NPY  region of Central Australia, a region spanning 28 remote communities in the tri state region of NT, SA and WA over an area covering 350,000 square kms.  

To view the full Mirage article click here.

Aboriginal woman on Country listening to podcast

Image source: NPYWC website.

Centre for Disease Control an urgent priority

‘The pandemic experience this year is a clear reason for the establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control,’ says Alison Verhoeven, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive. ‘The call for this has been long-standing, with a 2013 recommendation to the Government by the Standing Committee on Health and Ageing overlooked in favour of the development of a National Communicable Disease Framework. Such a Centre would position Australia well to demonstrate global leadership in communicable disease planning and response capabilities. ‘It would also support existing state and territory disease control measures through a cohesive approach to research, diagnosis, screening, reporting, case management, contract tracing, forecasting and trend monitoring.’

To read the AHHA media release click here.

scientist in laboratory with full PPE looking at a sample

Image source: The Conversation website.

Budget health response scale warranted

Federal AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid has commended the Federal Government’s $16 billion COVID-19 health response and further stimulus spending aimed at fending off a COVID-19 recession, saying ‘The health and economic impacts of COVID-19 warrant this scale of health response and stimulus spending directed toward restarting the economy. A safe, effective and widely available vaccine is not guaranteed for next year and if it doesn’t eventuate and a large outbreak occurs, economic recovery will be threatened, along with many Australian lives. Governments cannot drop the ball and must continue a broad range of strong policies to keep COVID-19 out of the community in order to ensure a sustained health and economic recovery.’

To view the AMA media release click here.

Aboriginal flat with stethoscope sitting on top

Image source: My South West Directory website.

Telehealth must be start of a health ‘revolution’

CEO of the Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF), Leanne Wells, says the use of telehealth during the pandemic shows transformative change is possible in healthcare. She went on to say ‘telehealth has been stimulated by the pandemic to trigger easier and safe access to doctors, we look forward to further developments after the six month extension to March 2021 expires and we hold great ambition for the scope of services that will be possible under the 10 Year Primary Health Care Plan currently in development.’

To view the CHF media release click here.

two Aboriginal men and health professional looking at monitor

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

 

ACT – Canberra – National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)

Social Media Communications Coordinator

As the Social Media Communications Coordinator within the NACCHO Communications team, you will manage and maintain NACCHO’s social media presence and the daily blog. You will report to the Director, Communications and seek direction and approval on content delivery. You will work cohesively with the NACCHO Communications teams towards the creation and the delivery of social media campaigns and driving key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector news content across channels.

This position will be offered as a fixed contract on a full time or part time basis depending on the candidate. 

To view the full position description click here. Applications close 9.00am Friday 16 October 2020.

NSW – Narooma – Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services

FT Systems Analyst

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services has a vacancy for a Systems Analyst. The focus of the role is to oversee the implementation, maintenance and upgrading of information technology systems to support the delivery of Katungul’s range of services and for related research, analysis and performance reporting functions. The Systems Analyst will be an integral member of a collaborative team that works closely with Katungul’s service areas to deliver the best outcomes for the community.

To view the position description click here. Applications close 5.00 pm Friday 16 October 2020.Katungul Log

 

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

When coronavirus came to the small outback town of Halls Creek in WA it was “like a bomb went off”, according to Brenda Garstone, CEO of the Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service. “We all had to run for cover,” she said. “We were scrambling. We didn’t know where to go, or what to do.” The WA Department of Health had warned that any community transmission in towns with remote communities would be devastating for the populations. When four healthcare workers at the local Halls Creek hospital returned positive tests, all at once, residents refused to attend the healthcare clinic for fear of picking up the virus, local shops emptied and Aboriginal men from the town’s night patrol went door to door, trying to communicate the seriousness of what was unfolding. While the outbreak was quickly contained, tensions in the small town have still not eased, with the community now fully aware of the threat COVID-19 poses.

To view the full article click here.

Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Image source: ABC News website.

Groundbreaking FASD diagnostic framework

Long wait times and centralised specialist doctors have left families in rural and remote areas waiting up to three years for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But now a group of doctors, academics and Indigenous elders have come together in north-west Queensland to create a unique diagnostic tier system for the disorder. Local Indigenous leaders and Mount Isa rural doctor Marjad Page, a Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, wrote a dreamtime story to explain not only the disorder but the medical process to local Indigenous families. “The program is run from the Aboriginal medical service here in Mount Isa called Gidgee Healing, so it’s run out of a culturally appropriate medical service for the region,” Dr Page said.

To read the full article click here.

Gidgee Healing Dr Marjad Page portrait photo & Gidgee Healing logo

Dr Marjad Page. Image source: ABC News – ABC North West Queensland.

Six steps to stopping germs video launch

Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma and almost all cases occur in  remote Aboriginal communities. The Ending Trachoma project, which is run out of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA at Curtin University, aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through implementing environmental health strategies. They have developed a short video (see below) showing the importance of personal hygiene using ‘Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs’ message. The video features women from the Nollamarra Football Team together with their children. It was developed by the Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, with extensive input from Aboriginal community members and services in WA, SA and the NT. The message aims to encourage everyone, particularly kids, to stay healthy and strong and eliminate trachoma and other infectious diseases through following six steps.

For more information about the project click here.

COVID-19 offers unexpected opportunity to quit smoking

Smokers are worried. A respiratory disease is running rampant across the globe and people with unhealthy lifestyle habits appear to be especially vulnerable. Smokers hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to become severely unwell and die than non-smokers with the disease. At any point in time, most smokers want to quit. But COVID-19 provides the impetus to do it sooner rather than later. A recent study has found the proportion intending to quit within the next two weeks almost tripled from around 10% of smokers before COVID-19 to almost 30% in April. This heightened interest in quitting in the face of COVID-19 represents a unique opportunity for governments and health agencies to help smokers quit, and stay off smoking for good.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

Adolescent “never smoked” rate rises

Using data from the Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, a Prevention Centre PhD project led by Christina Heris found that the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents who have never smoked rose from 49% in 2005 to 70% in 2017. Additionally, rates of low smoking intensity increased by 10% from 67% in 2005 to 77 % in 2017 meaning that, overall, the number of cigarettes smoked in a day has decreased amongst smokers in the 12–17 age group.

Prevention Centre investigator Professor Sandra Eades, a Noongar woman, who supervised Christina’s project said “It’s fantastic to see that tobacco control is working for all students, including driving down rates among Aboriginal young people. But we know that young Aboriginal people experience more of the risk factors for smoking such as stress, racism and disadvantage. There is a need for governments to address these broader determinants.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal child holding & looking atan unlit cigarette

Image source: Deadly Vibe.

Original articles sought for inaugural HealthBulletin

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is welcoming submissions from researchers, practitioners and health workers of original articles (not published elsewhere) for inclusion in their inaugural edition of the next generation of the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin. They are seeking submissions that provide examples of research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including policies, strategies and programs that have the potential to inform and support everyday practice.

For further information about how to submit papers click here.

Australian Indigenous HealthInforNet HealthBulletin Call for papers banner

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website.

National COVID-19 healthcare worker guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher prevalence of respiratory conditions, many of which share symptoms with COVID-19. Healthcare workers examining a patient with respiratory symptoms are at risk of spreading infection between patients with the highest risk of transmission likely during throat and nose examination including when a swab is being collected.

Griffith University researchers have helped develop national guidelines to minimise healthcare workers’ risk of acquiring and spreading infection while examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with respiratory symptoms. “These new guidelines aim to provide resources and support healthcare teams in prevention and management of COVID-19,’’ said Associate Professor Jing Sun from the School of Medicine who led the project.

For more information about the new national guidelines click here.

health professional in PPE removing swab from text tube

Image source: Flinders University website.

PPE innovation needed in remote health services

Clinicians, service providers and researchers have issued an urgent call for an Australian innovation in personal protective equipment (PPE) –  the ventilated hood – to be made available to remote health services, saying that without the hoods, the risk of coronavirus transmission within remote healthcare services and communities is grave.

To read the full article click here.

woman in hospitals bed under COVID-19 hood

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

JT Academy offers free employment advertising

Lendlease and JT Academy are encouraging all local employers to utilise the JT Academy FREE employment functions and resources. All you need to do is send the details of any job vacancies you have and let them help you find the best candidates – they will advertise your vacancy on their fully functioning job board for free!

This unique collaborative employment initiative, directed by Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston is fast becoming one the most ambitious employment initiatives Far North Queensland has ever seen. It harnesses the unique strengths of both Lendlease and JT Academy, who together are striving to provide direct job opportunities for local jobseekers.

For more information visit the JT Academy website here.

Jonathan Thurston in suit smiling, Job Board advertisement

Image source: Twitter #jtacademy.

Funding still required for rehab services

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation Inc Chairperson Ray Harris and CEO Daniel Jeffries have doubled down on the need for more funding to be made available for rehab services, saying revenue streams remained of concern with no additional recurrent funding available for rehab services. The Weigelli Centre and other services across the sector need additional funding to address the increasing need for drug and alcohol treatment services. The continuing challenges remain for services to provide support and assistance to Aboriginal individuals, families and their communities.

To read the full article in the Cowra Guardian click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW website.

CHF Big Ideas Competition

Do you have an idea which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered?

What about an idea which will transform how the health system works?

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is invites you to send in videos of your ideas for innovation in health, to be part of the Big Ideas Forum at their Australian and NZ Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021. Your big idea could be something totally new, or it might be an example of something that has worked well in your community that could be expanded or tried in other places. You may like to base your idea on one or more of the key shifts highlighted in CHF’s 2018 White Paper Shifting Gears: Consumers Transforming Health. To view the White Paper click here.

For more information about the CHF Big Ideas Competition click here and for details about the CHF Summit 2021 click here.

4 people, each holding speech bubbles: Big Idea, Brain Storm, Think Different, Be Creative

Image source: Consumers Health Forum of Australia website.

Feature tile - First Nations-lead pandemic reponse a triumph - two Aboriginal boys holding a sign 'too dangerous to stop in Wilcannia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations-led pandemic response a triumph

Feature Story

Telethon Kids representatives, including Dr Fiona Stanley, have written to The Lancet, describing Australia’s First Nations-led response to COVID-19 as ‘nothing short of a triumph’. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Australia, there have been only 60 First Nations cases nationwide. This represents only 0.7% of all cases, a considerable under-representation, as First Nations people make up 3% of the total population. Only 13% of First Nations cases have needed hospital treatment, none have been in intensive care, and there have been no deaths.

These results have shown how effective (and extremely cost-effective) giving power and capacity to Indigenous leaders is. The response has avoided major illness and deaths and avoided costly care and anguish.

To read the letter published in The Lancet click here.

Wiradjuri man appointed as a Professor

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the appointment of Peter O’Mara as a Professor of Newcastle University. The Chair of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Faculty, Professor O’Mara is Director of the University’s Thurru Indigenous Health Unit and a practicing GP in an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation, Tobwabba Aboriginal Medical Service. Professor O’Mara said becoming a GP was not something he grew up believing was possible, “I always had a strong interest in science, but in my early years I believed in the stereotypical view that studying and practicing medicine was for other people – doctors’ children and wealthy families.”

To view the full article about Professor O’Mara click click here.

Professor Peter O'Mara speaking into a microphone at a lecturn

Image source: GP News.

Face masks for our mob

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed an information sheet called How to keep our mob safe using face masks.

To access the editorial click here.

Aaron Simon standing against wall painted with Aboriginal art, wearing an Aboriginal art design face mask

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Racial Violence in the Australian health system

The statistical story of Indigenous health and death, despite how stark, fails to do justice to the violence of racialised health inequities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to experience. The Australian health system’s Black Lives Matter moment is best characterised as indifferent; a “business as usual” approach that we know from experience betokens failure. In an article published in The Medical Journal of Australia a range of strategies have been offered, ‘not as a solution, but as some small steps towards a radical reimagining of the Black body within the Australian health system; one which demonstrates a more genuine commitment to the cries of “Black Lives Matter” from Blackfullas in this place right now.’

To read the full article click here.

back of BLM protester holding sign of face of Kevin Yow Yeh who dies in custody at 34 years

Image sourced Twitter @KevinYowYeh.

Water fluoridation required

Poor oral health profoundly affects a person’s ability to eat, speak, socialise, work and learn. It has an impact on social and emotional wellbeing, productivity in the workplace, and quality of life. A higher proportion of Australians who are socially disadvantaged have dental caries. Community water fluoridation is one of the most effective public health interventions of the 20th century. Its success has been attributed to wide population coverage with no concurrent behaviour change required. The authors of a recent article in The Medical Journal of Australia have said the denial of access to fluoridated drinking water for Indigenous Australians is of great concern and have urged the Commonwealth government to mandate that all states and territories maintain a minimum standard of 90% population access to fluoridated water.

To view the full article click here.

close up photo of three Aboriginal children smiling

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Torres Strait communities taking back control of own healing

Torres Strait Island communities are leading their own healing by addressing the trauma, distress and long-term impacts caused by colonisation. The island communities of Kerriri, Dauan and Saibai will host a series of healing forums coordinated by The Healing Foundation, in conjunction with Mura Kosker Sorority Incorporated; the leading family and community wellbeing service provider in the Torres Strait. Identifying the need for healing in the Torres Strait, Mura Kosker Sorority Incorporated Board President Mrs Regina Turner said: “We believe that the forums will provide Torres Strait communities a voice for creating their own healing solutions.”

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

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation. Image source: The Healing Foundation.

New tool to manage healthcare trial

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can trial a new tool to help them manage their healthcare with the launch of a pilot program in Perth of the GoShare digital platform which has supported over 1,000 patients so far. Launched by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, the pilot program enables doctors, nurses and other clinicians at St John of God Midland Public Hospital in Perth to prescribe a tailored information pack for patients. The electronic packs may include video-based patient stories, fact sheets, apps and tools on a range of health and wellness topics. They are prepared and adapted according to the patient’s health literacy levels and are being sent by email or text to improve their integrated care and chronic disease self-management.

To view the Australian Digital Health Agency’s media release click here.

GoShare Healthcare digital platform logo - clip art hand or hand

Image source: Healthily website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News – Being Medicinewise during COVID-19

Being medicinewise during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is especially important to be medicinewise.

NPS MedicineWise is regularly updating its Coronavirus hub with important information. We encourage you to share and use these resources with your patients and communities.

Visit the Being medicinewisehub.

More mental health support for NSW Regional students

A fly-in fly-out psychology and telepsychology service of sixteen permanent senior psychologists will be introduced to support students in regional and remote parts of NSW with mental health.

This is part of the NSW Government’s $88.4 million mental health spend that also includes a commitment to provide every public high school with one full-time counsellor or psychologist and one student support officer. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government had run a successful trial of fly-in fly-out psychologists and the service will be permanent from 2021. “Students across NSW have shown incredible courage and resilience having been impacted by COVID-19, bushfires and drought,” Ms Berejiklian said.

To read the full media release click here.

Methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has released the Summary of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The summary provides key information about methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a style that is easy to engage with. It is particularly useful for health workers and those studying in the alcohol and other drugs field.

To read the summary click here.

 

August Newsletter | AOD Knowledge Centre

The August edition of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre newsletter has a round-up of content recently added to the Knowledge Centre website. There is information on events, programs, news and jobs from around Australia. .

To view the newsletter click here.

APO NT welcomes ACT’s decision to raise criminal responsibility age from 10 to 14 years


Aboriginal Peak Organisations (APO NT) has welcomed the Australian Capital Territory’s recent decision to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years. This decision is consistent with the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory in 2017 and acknowledges concerns raised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that the minimum age for criminal responsibility in Australia is too young. Australia has failed to uphold this standard across all states and territories, including the Northern Territory. “We are concerned about the discriminatory application of the current age of criminal responsibility and the disproportionate impact that this has on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people, their families and our broader community,” said APO NT spokesperson John Paterson.

Read the full press release here.

GP COVID-19 update Professor Michael Kidd AM

  • The Australian Government will increase aged care support programs across Australia with an additional $171.5 million to boost a new COVID-19 response plan.
  • Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca.
  • Enhancing the coronavirus response in disability residential care through a strengthened Disability Response Centre to coordinate and manage outbreaks and keep residents safe.
  • The National Mental Health Commission launched their #GettingThroughThisTogether campaign that provides practical tips to stay connected and mentally well during this challenging time.

Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing

A discussion paper from the UWA Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing grant titled – “Addressing Inequities in Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing through Transformative and Decolonising Research and Practice.” from Prof Pat Dudgeon and colleagues.

To read the paper click here.

Prof Pat Dudgeon CBPATSISP

Prof Pat Dudgeon CBPATSISP

 

ACT/NSW

Marymead Executive Manager – Client Services

This is a newly created position that has been developed in response to the considerable growth and development of Marymead’s services, and the need to further drive diversity of funding streams and geographic expansion into the future. The newly developed role will report to the Director of Client Services and will be responsible for the overall leadership and management of 3 service delivery units within the division.

Read job description click here.

Marymead Community and Business Development Officer South Coast

This newly developed role will report to the Executive Manager, Client Services and will be responsible for driving the South Coast development project. The project will involve consulting with the community to identify areas of need, developing partnerships and relationships with local service providers and funders, being an ambassador for Marymead within the community, and initiating and driving service development to meet identified needs.

Read job description click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Daffodil Day – cancer awareness

Feature tile - Daffodil Day - Aboriginal flag with yellow daffodil as centre

Every day around five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed with cancer. Aboriginal and Torres Islander people have a slightly higher rate of cancer diagnosis, however are approximately 40 per cent more likely to die from cancer than other Australians (Reference: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019 – Cancer series no.119. Cat. no. CAN 123).

The daffodil is recognised internationally as the symbol of hope for all people affected by cancer. Cancer Council chose it as its emblem as the bright yellow colouring heralds the return of spring, representing new life and growth. Daffodil Day is Cancer Council’s most iconic and much-loved fundraising campaign. Funds raised this Daffodil Day Appeal will help fund researchers dedicated to discovering the next cancer breakthroughs, including less harsh cancer treatments.

To visit the Cancer Council Daffodil Day Appeal website click here.

ACCHOs’ wealth of expertise much to offer

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector has a wealth of expertise in addressing the social and cultural determinants of health, responsive service development, and providing culturally safe care. The wider health sector needs to gain a deeper understanding of the contributions of the ACCHO sector.

Cover image from the report: Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in practice: Sharing ways of working from the ACCHO sector

These are some of the findings in a report from the work of the Centre of Research Excellence in Aboriginal Chronic Disease Knowledge Translation and Exchange (CREATE), a collaborative enterprise between NACCHO, Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit, at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, and the University of Adelaide’s School of Public Health.

To view the full article by Croakey click here.

More required so well placed to emerge from COVID-19

Yesterday the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and members of the Aboriginal Executive Council (AEC), a group made up of 11 Aboriginal CEOs from peak Aboriginal organisations across Victoria, provided evidence to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Inquiry into the Victorian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said the low incidence of COVID-19 cases in Victorian Aboriginal Communities was testament to Aboriginal community control and what can be achieved when working meaningfully together. In order for Aboriginal Communities to be well placed to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, more needs to be done now to ensure the sector is better placed to help Aboriginal communities affected by disproportionate rates of mental health and social emotional wellbeing issues, as well as justice and correctional issues.

To read the VACCHO media release click here.

Image sources: National Geographic for Kids and Belyuen youth NT, ABC News.

Additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions

The Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a media release Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Government recognises the mental health impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on individuals and communities, particularly those in areas such as Victoria where more stringent measures have been necessary to stop the spread to the virus.

To view the full media release click here.

oil paingint of Aboriginal man with head in hand sitting on rock in outback

Image source: Camilla Perkins for Mosaic.

QLD – Cairns

FT Member Support Regional Manager – Northern Region (Identified)

QAIHC is a non-partisan peak organisation representing all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations across Queensland at both state and national Level. QAIHC members deliver comprehensive and culturally appropriate, world class primary health care services to their communities.

QAIHC is seeking an experienced, passionate and high-level manager to support its members in the Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Sector.

To view the job description click here.

Broome – WA

Regional Sexual Health Facilitator – Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service

KAMS now has an opportunity for Regional Sexual Health Facilitator to join their friendly, multidisciplinary team in Broome WA, on a full-time fixed term contract basis till 30 June 2021.

In this role, will be responsible for providing support for the coordination, development, implementation and review of practice in the area of Sexual Health in the Kimberley. In particular, this position provides advice and facilitation for an increase by clinicians in provision of opportunistic and targeted screening and appropriate management and follow up of people with sexually transmitted infections.

To view the job description click here.

medical professional with PPE - head covering, mask & rubber gloves

NACCHO Aboriginal News Alert: Healthcare worker PPE too little too late

Healthcare worker PPE too little too late

The AMA has demanded revised guidelines on personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, following revelations that more than 2,500 Victorian healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19. More than two-thirds of the second wave infections of healthcare workers in Victoria have been confirmed to have happened in the workplace.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Updated RACS Indigenous Health position paper

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ (RACS) has released an updated Indigenous Health position paper outlining its commitment to addressing health inequities of Indigenous communities in Australia and NZ.

To review the position paper click here.

two medical staff in scrubs in theatre

Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Framework to guide health professional practice

Working effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important in maximising the effectiveness of health care interaction between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health professionals. BioMed Central (BMC) Health Services Research has published a paper outlining a framework to guide health professional practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To view the research article click here.

Image of ophthalmologist with Aboriginal patient lying on medical bed under eye equipment

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Self-harm spike across Kimberley

Researchers and medical services in the Kimberley say they are “concerned but not surprised” at the findings of a new University of WA report A profile of suicide and self-harm in the Kimberley, outlining the still disproportionately high suicide and self-harm rates in the region compared to the rest of WA and Australia. The report recommends a thorough redesign of health services in the Kimberley and the need to ensure adequate resourcing to ensure better care is provided.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

image of multiple white crosses marking graves in red dusty country

Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous LGBQTI+SB suicide prevention introduction

Indigenous LGBQTI+SB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect, contributing to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. To coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day activities globally on Thursday 10 September 2020, Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male, recognised as an Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+SB suicide, will be presenting an on-line introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI+SB suicide prevention.

To register for this event click here.Dameyon Bonson banner for on-line Indigenous LGBTIQ+SB suicide prevention course & photo of Dameyon Bonson

SNAICC COVID-19 resources for children

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) has developed a number of resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people develop a better understanding of COVID-19 and help children, carers and families get through this difficult time.

For details of the SNAICC COVID-19 resources click here.

young Aboriginal boy

Image source: Health Times.

2020 smoking in pregnancy roudtable summary

An alarming 46% of Indigenous women smoke during pregnancy, 3.6 times the non-Indigenous rate. Serious effects from smoking in pregnancy include obstetric and per-natal complications, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and behavioural and learning problems in children. Maternal tobacco smoking is the most important preventable risk factor for chronic lung disease in offspring. Babies born to smokers are twice as likely to have low birth weight compared to those born to non-smoking mothers, but if the mother quits smoking early in pregnancy the low birth weight risk decreases to non-smoking levels.

The Australian Government Department of Health convened a Smoking and Pregnancy Roundtable discussion in February 2020, chaired by Professor Tom Calma AO. The summary report of the roundtable presentations and discussions, including videos of the presentations, can be found here.

belly of pregnant Aboriginal women breaking a cigarette in half

Image source: Coffs Coast Advocate.

Canberra – ACT

ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women – Council Member

The ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women (MACW) has opened up nominations for the next MACW term, 2021–22.

Members of the Council meet bi-monthly and raise and debate issues which matter most to women and girls in Canberra, as well as advocate for the advancement of women and the opportunities available to them, with the Council then providing strategic advice to the ACT Government as an independent voice.

The ACT MACW are hoping for a diverse range of women to be on the Council and would welcome applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

For further information click here.

silhouette of 10 women holding hands at sunset

Image source: ANU website.

National Stroke Week – 31 August – 6 September 2020

National Stroke Week Become a F.A.S.T. Hero poster - image of man standing against a wooden fence, hand on hip, looking skywards like a hero

Image source: Stroke Foundation website.

World Suicide Prevention Day Thursday 10 September 2020World Suicide Prevention Day & orange & yellow ribbon cross over point hands

Feature Image - Aboriginal boy head in hands

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Survey to review mental health youth services

Mental health youth services survey

If you work or volunteer with an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation or other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisations you are invited to participate in a short headspace online survey and share your views on issues of access, engagement and cultural safety of mental health supports for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All participants go into the draw to win a $100 voucher!

To view a survey flyer click here and to access the survey click here.

Young Aboriginal girl crying

Image source: newsinmind.com

NT outreach services improve hearing impairment

Ear and hearing health is vital for overall health and quality of life. Ear disease and associated hearing loss can have long-lasting impacts on education, wellbeing and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to experience ear and hearing problems.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has shown positive results are being achieved by hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. The report shows that in 2019, 2,156 audiology; 770 ear, nose and throat teleotology; and 1,119 Clinical Nurse Specialist services were provided. Among children and young people who received treatment, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To access a more detailed summary of the report click here.

Health professional checking ear of Aboriginal boy

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research website.

National cancer screening health worker engagement project

The University of Melbourne is undertaking a project to understand how the primary healthcare workforce engages with the national cancer screening program (bowel, breast and cervical). Findings from the study will lead to the development of materials and initiatives to assist in boosting cancer screening participation.

During the first phase of the project the researchers are interested in interviewing nurses, GPs and Practice Managers to understand more about their role, their go-to-resources when they need more information about the screening programs and resources they would like to have access to.

Everyone that will be interviewed will be reimbursed with a $50 Gift Card. We intend to carry out interviews during the month of September. The interviews will be recorded with your permission.

For information about how to become involved in the project please contact Ebony Verbunt, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne email ebony.verbunt@unimelb.edu.au or phone 0429 928 039.

Aboriginal male & female cartoon figures with ages for breast, bowel, cervical cancer screening tests

Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

COVID-19 information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities survey

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, it has been extremely important to make sure health information about the virus reaches people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Australian Government Department of Health has worked with Indigenous communications agencies to produce a range of communications materials to help share information about the virus and inform communities about how they can stay safe.

You can provide feedback on how effective these campaign materials have been in reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by taking this survey.

7 Keep Our Mob Safe resource images e.g. posters

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Residential aged care risk assessment urgently required

The AMA has warned urgent improvements in aged care and a coordinated response from all levels of government are needed to prevent the pandemic outbreak in Victorian aged care homes spreading into residential aged care nationwide. The AMA has called for every residential aged care home in Australia to be urgently and comprehensively assessed for its ability to safely care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Elders hands in carer's hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

ACT paves way for raising incarceration age

The Australian Capital Territory’s Legislative Assembly has voted to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, paving the way for other jurisdictions to reform an outmoded law which disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To read the related Amnesty International Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal child's hands on jail barred overlaid with Aboriginal flag.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

COVID-19 vaccine will not be compulsory

Health Minister, Greg Hunt has confirmed that although any potential coronavirus vaccine will be strongly encouraged, it will not be made compulsory.

To read a transcript of Minister Hunt’s interview with David Koch on the Sunrise program click here.

QLD – Cairns or ACT – Canberra

PT Cultural Lead x 1 (Identified Position)

CRANAplus, the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia, has a vacancy for a Cultural Lead. This identified position, available to Aboriginal, First Nations, and Torres Strait Island people, will collaborate closely with internal and external stakeholders to develop and drive priorities supporting CRANAplus’ Organisational Strategic Plan.

You can view the CRANAplus website here and find details of the Cultural Lead position here.

CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

ACT – Canberra

FT Flexible Education Classroom Teacher  x 1 (Identified Position) – 6 months with the possibility of permanency

The ACT Education Directorate is seeking a reflective practitioner who: is able to create dynamic learning environments and authentically personalised education programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; has a demonstrated understanding of trauma and neuroscience informed education practices; and is passionate about inclusion, social justice, innovation and equity. Flexible Education is a community of schools/settings for students with complex and challenging needs including Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre, Muliyan, Boomanulla, the Hospital School, the education program at The Cottage and Distance Education.

For more details about the position click here.

Aboriginal youth and teacher against graffitied wall

Image source: School News Australia.

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 87 : #KeepOurMobSafe @VACCHO_org urges Aboriginal people to do the right thing after confirmed cases of #COVID19 detected in Aboriginal Communities Plus @AIDAAustralia calls for public #BlackLivesMatter protest to be postponed

“While news of two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ballarat is really concerning, it is an important reminder to remain vigilant in looking after ourselves and our families to stop the slow of the spread of this virus, especially now since it’s entered regional Victoria.

We know communities have been working hard to minimise any infections which has been quite successful to date, but we are entering a very challenging period. We are seeing alarming rates of community transmission – unlike the first lockdown period.

To protect our loved ones and our Elder Aboriginal Communities, people must continue to stay home where they can, wear masks, practice good hygienepractice physical distancing, and follow the limits for public gatherings

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher AO recognised that seeing triple digit spikes of COVID-19 was an anxiety provoking and uncertain time for many Aboriginal Communities in metropolitan Melbourne and now regional Victoria, but said support was available for those that need it. See Part 1 below

 ” We acknowledge the work of Black Lives Matter protest organisers in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in protests held so far, and do not link existing cases of COVID-19 to previous protests. Despite this, as doctors we are bound to remind everyone that social distancing is still the best way to prevent the further spread of this potentially deadly new virus.

COVID-19 is currently spreading through communities in Victoria and in New South Wales, and restrictions on mass gatherings need to be respected.”

Australian Indigenous Doctors Association press release See Part 2 Below

Part 1 VACCHO Press Release

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) has strongly urged Aboriginal people to stay home where they can, to get tested, and to self-isolate at home for 14 days while waiting for test results after two confirmed cases of COVID-19 were detected in Aboriginal Communities in Ballarat.

While face coverings are now mandatory for people living in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire when leaving their home, Ms Gallagher said that face covering should also be considered in rural areas, especially in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained.

“We can’t force anyone to wear a mask outside of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, but as the peak Aboriginal health and wellbeing organisation we strongly encourage our communities in rural Victoria to wear a face covering if they own one. Particularly when you cannot apply physical distancing.  Face coverings have been shown to reduce the risk of transmission and should be considered earlier rather than later for our mob,” Ms Gallagher said.

If people have symptoms of COVID-19, Ms Gallagher said it was important that they remain home and get tested no matter how mild.

“Symptoms could include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste,” Ms Gallagher said.

“Go home straight after your test and self-isolate while you wait for the results. This usually takes 1-3 days. No heading to the shops or fishing with your mates until you have your results.

“If you are a confirmed case of COVID-19, you must isolate at home for 14 days to stop the virus spreading to other people. That’s really important.”

During this uncertain time, Ms Gallagher said staying connected with family, friends and your community was important.

“Some ways you can do this are calling people for a yarn on the phone, talking about the community and checking if they are OK, talking about the virus and how to stop the spread, connecting with family and friends on social media and sharing your tips on social media #KeepOurMobSafe,” she said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk of coronavirus if they:

A one-off payment of $1,500 is available to workers who are unable to work during their isolation, have no income during this period, and are not entitled to any paid sick leave, special pandemic leave or other income support.

The Victorian Government will now extend the scheme to ensure that as soon as a person is tested, they will be eligible for a $300 support payment from the Victorian Government – as long as they meet the eligibility of the existing scheme.

People should call 1800 675 398 (option 8) to register for support.

There are three main sites in Ballarat where people can get tested:

  • Ballarat & District Aboriginal Co-operative, 108 Armstrong Street Nth Ballarat, 03 5331 5344
  • Ballarat UFS Respiratory clinic, corner Merz St and Eleanor Dr, Lucas (ph. 4311 1571 for an appointment).
  • A pop up testing site is also available at the Ballarat Senior Citizens Centre, 16 Little Bridge Street (ph. 1800 054 172 for an appointment) operated by Ballarat Community Health.

Clinics around the country to assess people with fever, cough, a sore throat, or shortness of breath.

These are being rolled out gradually. If there is not one in your area yet visit your state or territory health department website for more information on fever clinics and other services.

Find out if there is a clinic near you and how to register for an appointment:

Part 2. The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) unreservedly supports peoples’ right to protest and acknowledges the historic and ongoing role that protest has played in changing laws and practices that have discriminated against Indigenous peoples.

From the 1938 Day of Mourning and the Freedom Rides to the Wave Hill Walk Off, the AIDA remembers those who stood up for equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

We also understand the historic devastation that unchecked viral contagions can bring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For the sake of our Elders and most vulnerable, AIDA urges people not to attend the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest marches in Sydney until the risks of further spread of COVID-19 can be mitigated.

We acknowledge the work of Black Lives Matter protest organisers in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in protests held so far, and do not link existing cases of COVID-19 to previous protests. Despite this, as doctors we are bound to remind everyone that social distancing is still the best way to prevent the further spread of this potentially deadly new virus.

COVID-19 is currently spreading through communities in Victoria and in New South Wales, and restrictions on mass gatherings need to be respected.

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association recognises the legacy of racism and calls for greater commitment to justice reinvestment strategies, diversion programs and culturally appropriate approaches that address the core issues of injustice raised by the BLM movement.

We do not encourage any action that will increase the risk of COVID-19 entering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

We will continue to support the community’s rights to engage in advocacy and encourage people to protest by other means during this health crisis, due to the inherent danger posed by mass gatherings at this time.

 

 

 

Aboriginal Health #CoronaVirus Alert No 86 : #KeepOurMobSafe @VACCHO_org @ahmrc @TheAHCWA #OurJobProtectOurMob Dr @KelvinKongENT says ” If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe “

1.Dr Kelvin Kong introduction ” Protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19) “

2.Testing for coronavirus

3.Where can I get tested?

4.Update Victoria / VACCHO

5.Update NSW/ AHMRC

6.Help stop the spread

7.Download the COVIDSafe app

8. Download COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA

9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong

“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread.

Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.

The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location.

Some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.

The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,” 

Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.

Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time. Section 9 below for full release

Protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19)

2.Testing for coronavirus

Testing lets health workers know if people have coronavirus. This helps control and stop the spread of the virus.

Early diagnosis means you can stop spreading the virus to your friends, family, or community. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or any other symptoms of respiratory illness, it is important you get tested. Even if you only have one of these symptoms, get tested.

Testing is even more important if you are unwell and:

  • You have recently come back to Australia from overseas. All travellers will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival into Australia;
  • You have been outside of your community and want to go back;
  • You have been close to someone who tested positive for coronavirus in the past 14 days;
  • You are a health care, aged care or residential care worker or staff member with direct patient contact.

3.Where can I get tested?

You can call your doctor or medical service to make an appointment for a test. If you visit your doctor, it is important to call the clinic first and tell them about your symptoms. This will help them prepare for your arrival and protect other people at the clinic.

You can also go to a free COVID-19 clinic without making an appointment. For Melbourne

COVID-19 GP respiratory clinics are health centres that focus on testing people with acute respiratory illness symptoms.

You can find a respiratory clinic near you here, or visit:  www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#how-to-get-tested

If you get tested for coronavirus, you need to stay at home and avoid contact with other people at least until your symptoms have gone away. It may take a day or two for your test results to come back.

The COVID-19 Point of Care Testing (POCT) Program helps people in regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia get tested more easily. The goal of this program is to make sure that health care services are no more than a two to three hour drive from a testing location. This allows people to get their test results much more quickly than they would if the test had to be sent to a laboratory in a bigger town.

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, you should call 000 for urgent medical attention.

4.Update Victoria / VACCHO

You can find more information on keeping safe, restrictions etc. at                        http://www.vaccho.org.au/about-us/coronavirus/

As of Wednesday 22 July 11.59pm everyone 12 years old and over, living in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will HAVE to wear a face covering (can be a hospital or home made mask or a scarf) when outside their home to protect them from COVID-19.

There will be a $200 fine for those not wearing one.

There is information on making and wearing masks at https://bit.ly/2CafiiI

Info: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-covid-19

There are some reasons not to wear one:

  • those who have a medical reason
  • kids under 12 years of age
  • those who have a professional reason
  • it’s just not practical, like when running

Teachers don’t have to wear a face covering while teaching – but students attending for VCE, VCAL or for onsite supervision will, while everyone will be expected to wear one to and from school.

However you will still be expected to carry your face covering at all times to wear when you can.

Otherwise, if you’re leaving your home for one of the four reasons, you need to cover your face.

Face coverings in regional Victoria are recommended in situations where 1.5 metres distance is not possible – however regional Victorians will have to wear a mask when visiting metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire for one of the permitted reasons.

Wearing a face mask does not apply to:

  • children under 2 years of age
  • people with breathing difficulties
  • people who have physical conditions that make it difficult to wear one.

Remember, if you’re sick you should stay at home unless you need medical care.

You can find more information on keeping safe, restrictions etc. at http://www.vaccho.org.au/about-us/coronavirus/

5.Update NSW/ AHMRC

More info HERE

Batemans Bay Soldiers Club cluster: Six more have COVID-19 | Were you there on July 13, 15, 16 or 17?

6.Help stop the spread

To protect our communities, everyone should continue to practise physical distancing and good hygiene. Make sure you stay two big steps away from other people, keep your hands clean, and stay at home and away from other people if you are unwell.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol based rub and cough or sneeze into your elbow. We are all part of keeping our mob safe and stopping the spread of coronavirus.

7.Download the COVIDSafe app

You should download the COVIDSafe app to help protect your family, friends and the community. The app helps health officials to quickly let people know if they have been close to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The information can’t be shared, even with you. The more people who use the app, the more effective it will be and the faster we can get back to the things we love.

Together, we can keep our mob COVIDSafe. Visit: health.gov.au for more details.

8. Download 4 COVID-19 mental health poster / graphics from AHCWA

Feeling angry 😡 or frustrated during the #COVID_19 lockdown ? Here are a few tips to help you cope.
If you need someone to yarn to, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or find your local Headspace.

Alternatively, you can contact your local ACCHO / Aboriginal Medical Service or GP.

Deadly artwork by Will Bessen provided Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia

4 Downloads

9. If you’re unwell – get tested to help keep our community safe says Dr Kong

Like many Aboriginal health professionals, Worimi man Dr Kelvin Kong has been exceptionally busy the last few months, helping to keep communities safe from COVID-19.

Dr Kong is a surgeon at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and has leant his voice to support Aboriginal communities across NSW, sharing videos and tips for communities to protect themselves during this time.

Over his career, Dr Kong has gained extensive experience working in rural, urban and remote communities and knows first-hand the challenges some communities face in overcoming barriers to health care.

Dr Kong says it’s now more important than ever to keep up with regular appointments, encouraging members of the community to get tested if they have any concerns about COVID19 symptoms.

“It’s important we detect any cases in our community early by getting tested if you have even minor symptoms. Don’t be afraid of the people who are taking the tests, because they’re going to be in protective gear. It’s to help keep us all safe from the spread,” explains Dr Kong.

Testing is available to all members of the community, for free. Aboriginal communities can contact their local Aboriginal Medical Service or Local Area Health District for information on where to access the test in their area.

“The type of test you get might vary depending on where you live and where you go to get tested. You might be tested at the hospital, you might be at a GP practice, or it might be in a drive through testing location,” says Dr Kong.

Dr Kong acknowledges that some members of the community might be worried about getting the test, not knowing what is involved.

“The test is relatively straightforward and simple. It’s not painful at all but can be uncomfortable. The common test involves a nasal swab, which is like a big cotton bud. A swab is taken from inside your nose. It might make you want to sneeze, but it’s over before you even realise that they’ve actually started. It’s really very quick,” Dr Kong explains.

While we are seeing reduced community spread of COVID-19 cases, it’s important to continue testing patients that are unwell, to quickly detect any positive cases and stop the spread in the community, through self isolating.

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will need to self-isolate, and this can be a really difficult thing for many families. For our mob there can be extra barriers,” says Dr Kong.

“Sometimes, it’s really hard because we don’t have the space to actually self-isolate, but when you can, and if you can, it’s important to be in your own room. If you do have to be in the same room as someone, wear a mask.

“If you’re going to be getting food, make sure that you’re getting it alone. Wipe down surfaces, don’t interact with other people. It’s better if people can place food at your door,” says Dr Kong

While the whole community plays a part in maintaining good hygiene and regular hand washing, health workers also play a key role in helping to stop the spread between patients.

It’s really important for health workers to stay safe while they’re treating patients. The most important thing is to make sure you wear the protective equipment provided. Face shields or goggles and masks are a must,” said Dr Kong.

“Regular hand washing and wearing gloves and a gown whenever you’re in patient contact is important. These are all simple things to do, and if you’re just seeing one or two patients, it’s very easy. But when you start seeing lots of patients, you get very tired, very quickly.”

Dr Kong is urging health workers and the community to look after their own health and wellbeing too.

“It’s important to have a break. It’s a stressful time and we all need to look out for each other.”

“If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, or concerned about someone close to you, call the Coronavirus mental health line 1800 512 348.”

For the latest information, including resources for Aboriginal communities and health care workers visit nsw.gov.au.