NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 30th anniversary of Mabo decision

Image in feature tile is of Eddie Mabo by John Citizen, 1996. Image source: National Portrait Gallery website.

30th Anniversary of Mabo decision

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Craig Crawford, says today (3 June 2022) marks the 30th anniversary of the Mabo decision – a key milestone in the reconciliation journey of our nation. Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said truth-telling was fundamental to progressing a Path to Treaty in Queensland. “Today marks 30 years since the fiction of Terra Nullius was overturned, when the law recognised the truth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to Country and Culture is continuous and enduring. “For ten years, Eddie Koiki Mabo pursued a case in the High Court of Australia to establish legal recognition of his family’s ownership of their lands on the island of Mer in the Torres Strait. Ultimately, his claim was successful when on 3 June 1992, the High Court ruled in his fav  our, though sadly he did not live to see the result of his advocacy.

To view Minister Crawford’s media release in full click here. You can also read an ABC News article It’s 30 years since the Mabo decision was handed down, overturning terra nullius featuring comments from Eddie Koiki Mabo’s daughter Gail Mabo, in full here.

Gail Mabo hopes all Australians recognise the importance of the Mabo decision. Photo: James Cook University. Image source: ABC News website.

$2m to extend Halls Creek ACCHO facilities

Yesterday WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti today presented $2 million in support to Yura Yungi Medical Service to extend its facilities in Halls Creek. Yura Yungi is an Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service providing a range of programs to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Halls Creek and the surrounding area. The Lotterywest support of $2 million will go towards the design and construction of an expansion to its existing clinic.

This project will provide new activity rooms, counselling rooms, a large community meeting room, office accommodation for staff and a new restroom, so Yura Yungi can meet the needs of often vulnerable clients. The building extension also includes an expanded dialysis unit, pharmacy and vaccination rooms.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti said “Delivering health services in regional parts of Western Australia can be challenging, and primary health providers like Yura Yungi are vital to their communities. Aboriginal medical services are critical to Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people.” WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said she wanted “to thank the staff at Yura Yungi for their continued dedication and for their integral work in the Halls Creek community.”

To view The National Tribune article Remote Kimberley medical service receives $2 million boost in full click here.

Yura Yungi Medical Service, Halls Creek, WA. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services website.

Need to decolonise mental health system

Vanessa Edwige, Joanna Alexi, Belle Selkirk and Pat Dudgeon’s recent article Australia needs to decolonise the mental health system and empower more Indigenous psychologists examines how decolonising the mental health system is key to transformative system change and is a movement that has been gaining significant traction in recent years. It is a movement that seeks to restore harmony to the knowledge taught and practised, to the benefits of all Australians.

Decolonising the mental health system will mean that Indigenous knowledges are equally heard and integrated in the provision of culturally safe care. This means decolonising our education systems so that psychologists receive an inclusive and broad education that enables them to work effectively. It also means addressing the underrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists.

To view the Guardian article Australia needs to decolonise the mental health system and empower more Indigenous psychologists in full click here.

‘Decolonising the mental health system is part of the journey to fairer representation and culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’ Photo: Loren Elliott, Reuters. Image source: Guardian.

The Mob Way R U OK? podcast returns

R U OK? has launched a new R U OK? Stronger Together podcast, Mob Way. In this podcast, they yarn with First Nations people and their experiences of life’s ups and downs, how we have conversations and how we open up and ask that simple question ‘are you okay?’, in our way: Mob Way.

New episodes are dropping every Monday, starting this week with one of Australia’s most celebrated singer-songwriters, Shellie Morris, to discuss the importance of connecting with family and Country and the power of healing through music. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or here. R U OK? would love your help to get these important conversations far and wide, across social media, EDM’s etc.

For free resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including videos, posters and conversation guides, check out the R U OK? Stronger Together hub here.

Community-led literacy programs

Jack Beetson has written an article When more than half of Aboriginal adults have low literacy, the best gift you can give a child is a parent who can read and write published earlier today on the ABC News website in which he explains “I come from Brewarrina and Nyngan in NSW. That’s where my parents are from, that’s where my spirit belongs and that’s who my people are. These days I live in the Sydney suburb of Pemulwuy, near Parramatta. It has become a special place to me. As a Blackfella, living in Pemulwuy is like going to heaven before you die. Not only is the suburb named after an Aboriginal warrior, but the streets are all Aboriginal words. Pemulwuy was a remarkable Aboriginal man famous for leading resistance against the European invasion in the 1790s. I taught about him for 25 years when I was working at Tranby Aboriginal College. Living here connects parts of my life, especially fighting for Aboriginal rights and improvements in education.

Jack Beetson’s conversation with Geraldine Doogue for a Reconciliation Week episode of Compass, airs at 6:30PM this Sunday 5 August 2022 on ABC TV. The Compass episode is already available online and can be viewed here.

Jack Beetson speaks with Geraldine Doogue about Pemulwuy for a Reconciliation Week episode of Compass. Image source: ABC TV.

Demand surges for alcohol support services

The number of Australians seeking out alcohol support services is climbing, according to a new report released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). The report, Alcohol use and harms during the COVID-19 pandemic, monitored emerging evidence in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-21). FARE Policy and Research Director, Mr Luke Hutchins, said that the pandemic has significantly disrupted the health and wellbeing of Australians, with stress, anxiety and depression contributing to alcohol problems. “Last year, Australians made over 25,000 calls to the National Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Hotline – triple the numbers seen pre-pandemic in 2019.

We know many of these people are calling due to an alcohol problem. Alcohol is the most common drug that people seek treatment for, accounting for a third of all AOD treatment in Australia.” With Australia now well into the third year of this pandemic, there is clear evidence of the growing harms of alcohol.  Mr Hutchins said the data raises severe concerns about the health and wellbeing of Australians, with evidence showing that the psychological impacts of COVID-19 have been linked to an increase in people drinking alcohol at risky levels. Professor Dan Lubman AM, Executive Clinical Director of Australia’s leading addiction treatment, research, and education centre Turning Point, said that the demand we are seeing for AOD services is just the tip of the iceberg.

You can read the Alcohol use and harms during the COVID-19 pandemic – May 2022 report here and the FARE media release COVID-19 sees surge in Aussies seeking alcohol support services in full here.

Remote PHC Manuals Project May update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date as RPHCM moves through the review process. This month’s update advises that the editorial committee will be meeting in Adelaide in June for the final endorsement of all protocols before the manuals are sent to the printer. Further changes will not be made to the draft protocols after this meeting.

RPHCM thanked everyone who contributed to the stakeholder consultations and secondary reviews. These are now complete. Major feedback will be considered by the editorial committee at the June meeting.

You can view the RPHCM Project Update May 2022 flyer here.

Winnunga News April – May 2022 edition

The April – May 2022 edition of the Winnunga News is available now available on the ACCHO’s website. The newsletter includes a range of interesting articles including:

  • CEO Update
  • Letter for the Alexander Maconochie Centre prisoner on current conditions
  • Nerelle Poroch – Winnunga Researcher
  • Tongs Presses Candidates to Support Royal Commission article published in CityNews, 24 May 2022
  • Congratulations to 2022 ACT Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards recipients, including proud Bundjalung woman Narelle King
  • ACT Supreme Court Confirms a Further Breach of Human Rights at AMC
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body (ATSIEB) – The Need for Reform
  • Measuring the Gap in Health Expenditure
  • Incentives and Earned Privileges
  • Reports Of The AMC Official Visitors
  • Housing Evictions
  • COVID-19 and Influenza Update
  • Staff Profile – Carley Winters, Justice Reinvestment Worker

You can access the newsletter here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Environment Day

World Environment Day held on Monday 5 June 2022 is the biggest international day for the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually since 1973, the event has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet. This year’s theme is ‘Only One Earth’.

For more information on World Environment Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

Flag image in feature tile is from AbSec NSW Tweet 26 May 2021 published in The Conversation article National Sorry Day is a day to commemorate those taken. But ‘sorry’ is not enough – we need action published today 26 May 2022.

‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

On the 25th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, chair of The Healing Foundation Board Professor Steve Larkin calls for aged care that is trauma-informed and enables healing for the Stolen Generations survivors. The Bringing Them Home report was result of a national inquiry that investigated the forced removal of First Nations children from their families and the first publicly documented account of the experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and the devastating effects of forced removals. In doing so, the report marked a pivotal moment in the healing journey of Stolen Generations survivors and their families.

25 years on, the report continues to guide the work of countless survivors, families, advocates, and organisations. However, implementation of many of the report’s numerous recommendations remain outstanding. Bringing Them Home was followed by other pivotal inquires calling for action in key areas for Stolen Generations survivors, including The Healing Foundation’s own Bringing Them Home: 20 years on and Make Healing Happen reports. Commemorative events, like National Sorry Day, are important reminders not only of what has been achieved to date, but also of what remains to be down. Without meaningful action, the commemoration of National Sorry Day falls short of its potential to be a catalyst for change.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Without action, Sorry Day falls short of its potential as a catalyst for change in full click here. You can access further information about National Sorry Day on the National Today website here and also read a SNAICC’s media release Hope for Our Children this National Sorry Day here.

Image source: Knox City Council, Wantirna, Melbourne (VIC) website.

Aunty Lindy Lawler on her path to healing

Some of Aunty Lindy Lawler’s earliest memories are scarred with fear and pain, including having her little four-year-old hand held over a gas flame as a regular punishment from her government-appointed carer. The 63-year-old Aboriginal elder, Yuin woman and survivor of the Stolen Generations suffered horrendous abuse for years after being removed from her family.

Aunty Lindy and her identical twin sister were born in David Berry Memorial Hospital at Berry on the NSW South Coast in December 1958. In May 1959, their parents were told to take the twins back to the hospital for a check-up and when they returned the girls were gone. “We had no idea we were removed from that place — we were five months old when this happened,” Aunty Lindy said. Over the next few years, the twins were taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney, the Ashfield Infants’ Home, and a convalescent home before being sent to a home in Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches in 1963.

Aunty Lindy attended the apology to the Stolen Generations, delivered by former PM Kevin Rudd, on 13 February 2008. She said it meant a great deal, but her twin had died the year before and never had the chance to hear the words. “But I will never forget it, and how many people went to it, and believed us and that was a really big healing,” she said. It has taken her years to speak about her pain and she said she received help on the journey from the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service. She’s now driven to help people understand what happened to those who were stolen.

To view the ABC News article Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Lindy Lawler speaks on her path to healing for National Sorry Day in full click here.

Aunty Lindy Lawler says official records held by the government of her removal fail to include any documentation of the abuse. Photo: Sarah Moss, ABC Illawarra.

First Nations nurse under-supply urgent

From a modest shopfront in Redfern half a century ago, there are now 144 ACCHOs in Australia and the sector is the third largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aunty Pat Turner, A Gudanji-Arrente woman and NACCHO CEO said Indigenous peoples overwhelmingly preferred to access ACCHOs over mainstream health services because “their cultural safety is guaranteed”. “Our ACCHOs are more than just another health service. They put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands,” she told the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back to the Fire conference last year. “As the health system becomes more complex, the role of our services becomes even more critical. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is increasing rapidly and funding levels have not kept pace with demand.”

These funding shortfalls are widespread across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce, according to CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West. A report for CATSINaM by Dr Katrina Alford in 2015 predicted a national shortage of 100,000 nurses by 2020 and estimated that an additional 2,172 Indigenous nurses and midwives were required each year to reach population parity. “The Task is huge and required urgent action. The under-supply of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce has been a persistent and long-term problem in Australia,” Professor West said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Celebrating the many achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations click here.

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

Fighting inequitable healthcare access

In her address at the 2022 David Cooper Lecture, former PM Julia Gillard spoke of the need for the global community to enact policy that helps our most vulnerable, to ensure we emerge from the pandemic as a healthier and fairer society. The event, a conversation between Ms Gillard and ABC Science and Health reporter Tegan Taylor, was broadcast to an online audience and was co-presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas, Kirby Institute and UNSW Medicine & Health.

“It was a privilege having Julia Gillard as the guest speaker for this year’s David Cooper Lecture. She is a truly motivational speaker and her conversation on how infectious diseases disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged in society and what that means for how we respond was fascinating. Her observations on how COVID-19 has helped reduce the stigma attached to mental health were particularly pertinent,” Professor Anthony Kelleher, Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, said.

You can watch a video of Julia Gillard presenting the David Cooper Lecture below and access the UNSW Sydney Newsroom article The importance of fighting inequality: Julia Gillard on lessons learnt from the pandemic in full here.

New advice on winter boosters

Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd has issued an important Bulletin including information about:

  • the expanded ATAGI recommendations on winter COVID-19 booster doses
  • maintaining cold chain requirements when transferring vaccines off site
  • vaccine ordering

Links are provided below for the key documents:

  • Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin 25 May 2022 here 
  • ATAGI Advice for Additional groups recommended for a winter booster dose as of 24 May 2022 here
  • Question and Answer regarding ATAGI revised winter dose advice here

Image source: Disability Support Guide.

Low booster uptake concerns experts

Pathologists are sounding the alarm over the low uptake of coronavirus vaccine boosters as the national immunisation group suggests a fourth dose for some Australians. The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia says third doses are particularly low in Queensland and NSW even as COVID-19 cases rise. “With winter commencing, it is important for everyone that they are fully up to date with all relevant vaccinations,” RCPA fellow Professor William Rawlinson said.

“The RCPA recently highlighted that it is very likely that we will experience far more influenza cases in Australia this winter. This, combined with the current, rising trend of COVID-19 cases is likely to put an extraordinary strain on the healthcare system.” WA has the highest uptake of third doses at about 80%, while Queensland is the lowest at 58%. Nationally, about two-thirds of eligible Australians have received a booster.

Yesterday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) on Immunisation expanded eligibility for a second booster to people with health conditions or a disability. Previously, the fourth dose has only been available to people 65 and over, those in aged or disability care, the severely immunocompromised or Indigenous people aged over 50. Acting Health Minister Katy Gallagher urged eligible Australians to get their fourth shot.

To view the Jimboomba Times article Experts concerned over low booster uptake click here.

Image source: Jimboomba Times.

Our Country Our Story mental health program

Most youth mental health service staff are “dedicated people with a strong sense of social justice. They want to meet the needs of young Aboriginal people,” says Professor Michael Wright, Curtin School of Allied Health. “But they also know they don’t know how to do this. For historical reasons, Aboriginal youth distrust mainstream organisations. For this reason, they often don’t seek help early for mental health issues.”

“Our Journey Our Story aims to build the capacity of mental health service staff. We want them to be flexible, confident, and competent in responding to the cultural needs of Aboriginal young people.’ A Nyoongar man, Michael worked with Aboriginal Elders to develop the Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny (Steady Walking and Talking) co-design framework (DKW). DKW disrupts by questioning service providers’ ‘typical ways of working,’ Michael says. Participants are asked to commit to being motivated, present and teachable, respecting status, staying connected, and continually weaving. Aboriginal Elders and youth and mental health staff usually have a deep self-realisation that change is possible!” Michael said. “Our experience is that the changes they experience are profound.”

To view The National Tribune article Our Journey Our Story in full click here. You can view Professor Wright talking about the Our Journey, Our Story Project in the video below.

HIV is just a part of me – Michelle

As part of their HIV is: Just a part of me campaign Gilead Sciences and the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) have created a series of videos showcasing the lived experience, resilience, joy and hope of six exceptional people living with HIV. In the third video Michelle Tobin, an Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation, shares her story. At present, Michelle is one of two women across Australia who advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with HIV. She also represents the positive voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, especially for women, on a number of advisory committees.

To read more about ‘HIV Is Just A Part Of Me’ campaign and view all six videos you can access the NAPWHA website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Tobacco Day

Monday 31 May is the World Health Organization’s 35th World No Tobacco Day. This day raises awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and exposure. It highlights national and global efforts to fight the tobacco epidemic and protect future generations from its harmful effects.

World No Tobacco Day is an annual reminder of the dangers of tobacco use and its impact on the health of individuals and communities. It also sheds light on the tactics used by tobacco and related companies to attract younger generations of smokers, despite public health and regulatory efforts to lessen their influence. Growing evidence that smokers are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 disease if they become infected, has triggered millions of smokers world-wide to want to quit tobacco.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2022 is Protect the environment, highlighting that, throughout its lifecycle, tobacco pollutes the planet and damages the health of all people. Commit to Quit measures aim to create healthier environments that: For more information on World Tobacco Day 2022 you can access the WHO website here and the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO-RACGP National Guide user review

NACCHO and RACGP are keen to hear from members of primary healthcare teams to help create a fourth edition of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that best meets your needs and supports effective preventive healthcare that is valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities.

The National Guide is part of a suite of resources developed by NACCHO and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners which aim to support health promoting and disease preventing activities that are valued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

By having your say in this 7-minute survey, you’ll be helping NACCHO and RACGP to understand how you are using the 3rd edition of the National Guide, what suggestions you have for future content, the format of the 4th edition and ideas that can support implementation. Your feedback will support development of the fourth edition of the National Guide due for publication in the second half of 2023.

If you have any questions about this survey or the NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project, you can contact RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health using this email.

This anonymous and confidential survey can be completed on your smart phone, tablet or computer and is open from Tuesday 24 May 2022 until midnight Monday 13 June 2022. To complete the survey click here.

Binjilaanii founder Midwife of the Year

Winners of the 2022 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards have been announced. Now in their 16th year, the national awards recognise Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their contributions to improving health outcomes. Each of the winners received $10,000, courtesy of ME – the bank for you, for professional development or to improve services or processes in the workplace.

Melanie Briggs, Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, Binjilaanii Maternity Services, Nowra, NSW was awarded Midwife of the Year in recognition of her tireless work to improve First Nations’ maternal and infant health. A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaanii, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia. She is also a Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Briggs said she was honoured to hear she had been named Midwife of the Year. “Being recognised and being an Aboriginal midwife and caring for women on Country is a privilege and I feel incredibly proud,” she said. “My team should be here standing here with me. This award is in recognition of the amazing work our team and organisation do in the community to ensure that our First Nations mums and bubs receive the best start to life.”

Briggs is renowned for her strong advocacy, implementing the Waminda Birthing on Country Model. The model incorporates culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to Country for their baby and their families. “Practising culture and working with First Nations mothers and supporting women on that journey during pregnancy is so important for us; it is empowering for our women as it brings incredible outcomes — seeing that is the most rewarding part of my job,” she said.

Briggs plans to use the $10,000 prize money to conduct further research and embed cultural practices into the Birthing on Country model of care.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article HESTA nurses and midwives awards — winners announced in full click here.

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.

Culturally safe stroke screening needed

Professor Ben Freedman, Director of External Affairs at the Heart Research Institute and founder of AF-SCREEN International Collaboration is warning revision of guidelines to screen Aboriginal people for atrial fibrillation (AF), a leading cause of stroke, is needed to help prevent cardiovascular disease in this at-risk population.

Prof Freedman said research shows Indigenous Australians are experiencing catastrophic strokes at a much younger age than other Australians. AF occurs more commonly in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at an earlier age, and when AF is found earlier, the risk of stroke is much higher than for non-Aboriginal people.

“We’re look­ing at intro­duc­ing life-sav­ing screen­ing for Aus­tralians aged over 65 but that’s too late for half of Abo­rig­i­nal suf­fer­ers. We’re call­ing on cul­tur­al­ly-spe­cif­ic screen­ing guide­lines that will pro­tect this at-risk pop­u­la­tion from an ear­li­er age,” Prof Freed­man said.

Yesterday Professor Freedman is travelled to Armidale with a team led by Dr Kylie Gwynn to take part in a combined health screening program at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service. Dr Gwynne and Professor Freedman and the team will be using a handheld ECG device which they successfully trialled in Aboriginal health services around Australia previously.

To view The National Tribune article Leading Australian heart expert to improve Indigenous health in full click here.

Rapid skin infection test for First Nations kids

A rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children could be a step closer, thanks to support from the WA Government’s Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (FHRIF). Telethon Kids Institute and The University of WA researcher, Dr Tim Barnett, has been awarded a FHRIF Translation Fellowship to lead a research project to tackle the burden of skin disease in Aboriginal children. It will aim to develop a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test for antibiotic-resistant Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria, which would fast track accurate treatment.

Dr Barnett said untreated skin infections from both Strep A and Staph aureus bacteria cause significant health problems for young Aboriginal people. “Half of all Aboriginal children suffer from the burden of skin infection, which can lead to severe illness including blood infections and autoimmune diseases like Rheumatic Heart Disease,.” he said. “To combat this, we need to be able to identify resistant infections early for alternative antibiotics to be prescribed.”

84% of Aboriginal children are diagnosed with skin sores caused by Strep A and Staph aureus before their first birthday. Dr Barnett said antimicrobial resistance from regular antibiotic use was common in remote Aboriginal communities but can be well-managed if there is a fast diagnosis.

To view the University of WA article Funding for rapid test to detect antibiotic-resistant skin infections in Aboriginal children in full click here.

Dr Tim Barnett, Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia researcher. Image source: The University of WA website.

Labor’s First Nations health promises

An article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese published yesterday has looked at promises Albanese and his party made during the election campaign including a commitment to training “500 new First Nations health workers, increasing access to lifesaving dialysis treatment for those living with chronic kidney disease and expanding efforts to eradicate rheumatic heart disease in remote communities”. The funding promises include:

  • $52.9 million for a First Nations Health Worker Traineeship Program, following a co-design process with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and community-controlled registered training organisations. Traineeships will be rolled out over 4 years, with 100 new trainees starting in the first 2 years of the program, increasing to 150 in the later 2 years;
  • $45 million for better renal services in the city and bush, including $30 million for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units in urban and remote locations across the country, and $15 million for small scale water infrastructure projects that improve access to clean water critical for dialysis; and,
  • $13.5 million to help eradicate rheumatic heart disease, including $12 million to double current federal funding to combat rheumatic heart disease, and $1.5 million to fund portable echo-cardio machines and screening efforts.

To view the Insight article Health promises we must hold Anthony Albanese to click here.

Image source: The New Daily.

Pastor Willie Dumas on COVID-19 vax

In this video developed by the Australian Government Department of Health (DoH), Pastor Willie Dumas from Tweed Heads, NSW, says that the COVID-19 vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives and invites his mob to yarn with their local healthcare worker and get vaccinated today.

In the video Paster Dumas says “COVID-19 vaccinations bring security and safety. They’re a way to help our Mob and all of humanity. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what COVID is, and what the vaccine is. Which leads to a lot of fear but the vaccines are here to bring hope and solutions to our lives. It’s only our prejudices that can stand in the way. So, yarn with your local healthcare worker – and get vaccinated.”

For further information visit the Australian Government DoH COVID-19 vaccination – Pastor Willie Dumas shares his COVID-19 message (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) webpage here.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking video resources

Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Cairns, Queensland, has developed a Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) video resource package. The videos (including the one below), created by the Apunipima Cape York Health Council TIS Team feature community members from Napranum, Queensland discussing their quit smoking journeys:

You can access the Apunipma Cape York Health Council website here; their TIS webpage here; and their contact details here.

Cultural considerations in SEWB support

Emerging Minds has released a recording of its webinar Cultural considerations in the social and emotional wellbeing support provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. The webinar aims to increase health practitioners’ understanding of the significance of cultural identity when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, and has the following learning outcomes:

  • outline the importance of cultural identity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • describe self-determination when working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
  • identify strategies and resources that support the cultural needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families at an individual, family, community and organisational level.

The webinar was facilitated by Dana Shen, Aboriginal Cultural Consultant, with an interdisciplinary panel of experts including  Adele Cox, SNAICC Sector Development Manager, and Tricia Nagel, Psychiatrist and Senior Researcher.

You can access the Emerging Minds website, including a link to the webinar here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Gayaa Dhuwi Australia virtual conference

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) are extremely excited to announce the first ever Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference, which will be held over two days from Tuesday 7- Wednesday 8 June 2022. The theme for the 2022 Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia Conference is ‘Keeping Our Spirit Strong’.

The theme #KeepingOurSpiritStrong is an acknowledgment to the achievements of the organisation in building a national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and suicide prevention, as well as the achievements of the sector and their initiatives contributing to strengthening approaches and access to mental health care. It also draws on the challenges our communities have faced over the past three years with COVID-19 and natural disasters, and our resilience to keeping a strong spirit in times of isolation and worry.

The conference will be an entirely FREE to attend. Registrations will go live within the week, so make sure you save the dates in your calendars and set your reminders so you don’t miss out on this innovative and exciting virtual event! For further information on this event and how you and your organisation can get involved, please contact Ethan French using this email link.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Uluru Statement must be core of party promises

Image in the feature tile is from Social Ventures Australia website, 10 December, 2020.

Uluru Statement must be core of party promises

The Close the Gap 2022 report calls on governments to make “large-scale systemic reforms to truly empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” This is a call to recognise and support self-determination and leadership. It is no accident that the very first recommendation of the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2022 is for the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and particularly for a Voice to Parliament.

The Uluru Statement is described as a  “a gift to all Australians“by one of its architects, Pat Anderson, the long-term chair of the Lowitja Institute. The Uluru Statement is foundational for change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and well-being. Therefore, it must be core to the promises made by all parties in the lead-up to the federal election and beyond. At this federal election, change that tinkers at the edges is not good enough.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need the system – the health and education systems in particular but, also the Australian political system – to listen and respond to Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. To be free of racism. To hear our Voice. The full implementation of the Uluru Statement, and its call for Voice, Treaty and Truth would be a huge step forward. This would be an opportunity to address the health inequity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

To view The Conversation article The Uluru Statement must be core to promises made by all parties in the lead-up to the federal election in full click here.

Forward-looking health reform plan needed

The major parties could do more to improve access to health care for all Australians with an ambitious, forward-looking overall plan for health reform, the Consumers Health Forum  (CHF) said yesterday. In the CHF’s Scorecard on the major Parties’ health policies, Community health and wellness in the 21st century – none of the three Parties have presented an overarching vision for the health system of the future, nor a plan for the structural changes needed.

CHF CEO Ms Leanne Wells said that health consistently rates among the top issues in people’s minds as we head into the Election. “Overall, the pledges in health have been piecemeal and do not lay down a long-term plan for how our health system needs to adapt to 21st century needs,” said Ms Wells.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

Image source: University of Wollongong Australia divi webpage.

UN Indigenous rights body to visit Australia

Human rights issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be put under the microscope when the United Nations’ Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes its first visit to Australia. First Nations leaders from around the world gathered in New York earlier this month for the 21st session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The forum called on governments, courts, and UN agencies to implement mechanisms to support and protect Indigenous peoples’ lands and lives.

Indigenous human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade said the visit to AUstralia would highlight the human rights issues Aboriginal people were experiencing. “I originally requested the visit on behalf of the Noongar Family Safety and Wellbeing Council five years ago… in the context of the high rate of child removals and the lack of self-determination in government responses,” she said. “Self-determination is recognised in legislation but not given meaningful effect in the actual systems and processes. “We need this addressed now… these are fundamental human rights issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Top UN Indigenous rights body makes first flight to Australia for human rights probe in full click here.

United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Shutterstock. Image source: Daily Sabah.

Cervical cancer screening options expanded

From 1 July 2022 the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP), will expand screening test options, offering self-collection of a vaginal sample as a choice to all people participating in cervical screening. These changes mean that healthcare providers may start to see an increase in the volume of requests from patients to use self-collection as an option for their Cervical Screening Test.

Additional details can be found in the NCSP Program Update here which has been developed to support promotion and awareness of this important program change. Further advice will be provided when relevant education and training resources are available and accessible, to support healthcare provider readiness for the changes and be able to offer patients the option of self-collection for cervical screening.

Should you or your members like further information or have any questions about the upcoming self-collection changes, please feel free to contact the NCSP team here.

To view the Department of Health’s media release in full click here.

Photo: Cancer Institute NSW. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Living with COVID-19 resources for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a collection of communication materials on living with COVID-19 specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations. The collection includes:

You can access the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Living with COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people webpage here.

Mob and COVID-19, future priorities

A KT & Coffee Webinar, the first for 2022, will be hosted by Yorta Yorta woman, Dr Summer May Finlay and occur on Wednesday 25 May 2022.

he COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of public health responses. Over the past two years we have experienced fast paced investment in research, knowledge translation and mobilisation. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the pandemic also emphasised the impacts and implications of social determinants of health both in responses to, and arising from complications from COVID-19. This KT & Coffee event will facilitate a panel of experts discussing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 responses and impacts, from the science, to policy and research, as well as future priority setting.

Topic experts joining the panel include:

  • Dr Lucas De Toca: First Assistant Secretary, Implementation and Primary Care Response for the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce within the DOH.
  • Dr Mark Wenitong: from the Kabi Kabi group of south Qld, a GP and Public Health medical advisory for the Qld Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.
  • Dr Jason Agostino: GP, epidemiologist and NACCHO Senior Medical Advisor.
  • Dr James Ward: Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, infectious diseases epidemiologist and national leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research.

You can see the panellist and MC full bios and register here.

VIC ACCOs to redesign mental health delivery

A new mental health hub will give Aboriginal groups leadership to redesign how care is delivered to their communities across the Victoria, as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s landmark reform agenda, transforming the way the mental health of Victorians is supported. Yesterday Minister for Mental Health James Merlino launched the new Balit Durn Durn Centre in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).

The Balit Durn Durn Centre will work in collaboration with health services and ACCOs to undertake research, provide workforce training and development, and share best practice in delivering culturally appropriate and tailored support. Mental healthcare is best driven from within communities that know their needs best and this initiative will support Victorian Aboriginal communities to develop their own informed care pathways that are informed by their connection to language, lore and cultural knowledge.

To view the Victorian Government media release in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Major parties have barely said anything useful

Major parties have barely said anything useful

Scott Morrison’s dismissal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is “disheartening,” according to the CEO of the peak Aboriginal Health Body. Speaking to NITV’s The Point, Pat Turner said a voice to Parliament would give Aboriginal people the right to practice self-determination. “I think it’s a national shame that the two major parties have barely said anything useful,” she said. “What Labor has said is it’s committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is fine, and to hold a referendum. “Apparently the polls are saying that a majority of Australians support a voice to Parliament, but getting that through a successful referendum is another story.”

Ms Turner also highlighted the issue of Indigenous health, saying billions more needs to be spent to address the ‘gap’ in life expectancy between First Nations people and non-Indigenous populations. A report, commissioned by NACCHO and released on Tuesday identified a $4.4 billion underspend in Indigenous health from state, territory and commonwealth governments. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities have always been underfunded,” she said. “It’s like a patronising, paternalistic regime that thinks ‘oh well, that’s enough from them and they can get on with it’. “Well, we do get on with it but we can’t continue on unless we want to see the health gap widen even more… so what we will be telling all of the jurisdictions is stand up and be counted in terms of fulfilling your responsibilities.”

You read the SBS NITV article Election 2022: Major parties’ approach to Indigenous issues slammed here, view the Pat Turner being interviewed on NITV’s The Point below and read a transcript of the interview here.

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was interviewed by Fran Kelly on ABC News Afternoon Briefing. Ms Turner addressed the upcoming federal election and the health funding shortfall. In response to the question “Is there enough attention being paid in this election campaign to Indigenous issues?” Ms Turner said “absolutely not, I think it’s a  disgrace the major parties have not given sufficient attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. There are many needs that remain unmet and we launched a report today to show that the gap in health funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is $4.4 billion and that adds to our trove of evidence that we will use to continue to argue with governments how they can make up that $4.4 billion shortfall.”

You can watch a video of interview from 34:20 minutes onwards to 50 minutes here.

Poor public policy without consultation

This month will likely see the NT government pass laws that will see alcohol allowed into a host town camps, living areas and some communities for the first time since 2007. Those areas that were self-declared dry beforehand will not be affected. Under the changes, the management of alcohol will pass from the federal government back to the NT government who are legislating for an opt-in approach to alcohol bans, with many communities and town camps needing to specifically ask to remain dry. A range of bodies including police and peak Aboriginal organisations have questioned the move and called for a pause to changes to allow for proper consultation and avoid what many believe will be a spike in grog-fuelled mayhem in both town and out bush. NT has the highest level of grog harm, alcohol related deaths and alcohol consumption in Australia. The NT government has rejected extending the federal measures with the Chief Minister saying they are racist and they need to go. This is supported by Chansey Paech who is the Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps.

In a recent interview on ABC Alice Springs NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM she would never speak on behalf of local communities but speaking from the experience of ACCHOs who deal with the fall out of alcohol abuse. Ms Turner said “the NT government needs to ensure full consultation with every Aboriginal community that’s going to be affected by the changes in the alcohol laws that it is proposing. To say that the legislation is racist and was done on that basis is Chansey Paech’s view but doesn’t reflect the reality of opening the gates in the communities where people don’t want the change.” Ms Turner continued on to say that where services exist, and many communities don’t have services, the impact on ACCHOs will be enormous. Ms Turner described the proposed changes to the alcohol laws as “poor public policy without proper consultation and full informed choice.”

You can listen to the ABC Alice Springs radio interview in full by clicking on the image below:

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

New mums requiring specialist care for a severe mental illness can now have their babies stay with them at NSW’s first public, purpose-built Mother and Baby Unit. The new facility at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Camperdown is the first state-wide facility designed to keep families together when a mother requires hospitalisation for a severe perinatal mental illness. Named ‘Naamuru’, a local Aboriginal dialect word meaning ‘leading the way’, the unit will care for up to 120 NSW residents a year who have infants up to 12 months of age.

The eight-bed unit is staffed by specialist perinatal health professionals who can attend to the mental health needs of the mother, as well as facilitate appropriate care of the baby and promote positive mother-baby interactions. Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate the mother, up to two infants under 12-months of age and a partner or family member. There are also therapeutic spaces, including a 24-hour respite nursery; a mothercraft room; dining and kitchen areas; outdoor courtyards; play areas; and a retreat room.

To view the NSW Health media release in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

When someone is placed in prison, they are entirely dependent on prison officers and prison health-care providers. Incarcerated people do not get to choose when they see a doctor or mental health practitioner, when they take medicine, or what type of care they receive. They cannot call 000 and be taken to a hospital if they are dangerously ill. In Victoria, if a prisoner is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, they do not get access to culturally competent care through ACCHOs. In Victoria, prison health care is provided by for-profit private companies contracted by the state government.

Imprisoned peoples’ physical health and/or social and emotional well-being is at the mercy of prison officers and prison health-care providers. Through their practice the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, have seen the differences between how people are treated in the community and how they are treated in prisons and youth prisons. The right to health care continues when people are incarcerated. International law requires “prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community”. This health care should be “free of charge” and “without discrimination”. It also makes clear everyone has the right to the “highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

To view the article Victoria’s prison health care system should match community health care in The Conversation full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

From humble beginnings over a kitchen table, to the largest national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, Butterfly Foundation has been changing lives for 20 years.  More than a million Australians live with an eating disorder, with many more suffering body image issues. For two decades, Butterfly’s efforts in advocacy, community education, early intervention, prevention and clinical services has helped to significantly change the conversation and understanding around eating disorders, establishing them as serious and complex mental illnesses, rather than a lifestyle choice. However, Butterfly’s work remains critical, as many misconceptions and stigma prevail.

Today Wednesday 11 May 2022 Butterfly has launched a new campaign celebrating its 20th anniversary and setting the agenda for the next 20 years of treatment and prevention of eating disorders and body image issues in Australia. Butterfly’s big ambitions include:

  • A national parliamentary inquiry into body image
  • Preventing eating disorders from occurring
  • Reducing stigma and increasing help-seeking
  • Improving eating disorder treatment and support services

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said, “Anecdotally speaking, the way we talk about eating disorders is about 10 years behind how we now speak about anxiety and depression. Eating disorders are still misunderstood and grossly under-estimated, with stigma and stereotypes acting as a major barrier to help-seeking. “There is so much more work that needs to be done in the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of eating disorders as well as education for the broader community.”

The Butterfly website includes the video below and a number of articles relating to eating disorders and body image concerns among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

At the The Preventive Health Conference 2022 which runs from today until Friday 13 May 2022 in Brisbane, some of the world’s leading experts will explore a range of topics including decolonising and disrupting whiteness in preventive health, the priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and investments in prevention. Conference Advisory Committee Chair Associate Professor Louisa Gordon of QIMR Berghofer said Australia needs to spend 5% of total health expenditure on prevention because it will save lives and is far cheaper than spending on treatments.

To view the Public Health Association of Australia media release Risky behaviours, exercise, and gambling among topics to be explored at Preventive Health Conference 2022 in full click here.

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 12 May 2022.

This week Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response will be chairing the webinar and will be joined by DoH Dr Nick Simpson, Medical Medical Adviser, Technology Assessment and Access Division.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CTG PBS script co-payment – register NOW!

CTG PBS script co-payment – register NOW!

As of 30 June 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

Early this year the Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline was extended from 31 January 2022 to Thursday 30 June 2022. As of 30 June 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines. Potentially many thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts are still affected NACCHO is urging all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to talk with their health service, GP and/or pharmacy to check if they are correctly registered for the program on the new registration database. If this is not resolved by July 2022, then the cost of that person’s medicines will increase. 

A new national registration database run by Services Australia began on 1 July 2021. It aims to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines through the CTG PBS Co-payment program. Patients only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS), to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.   

NACCHO’s media statement advising of the extension can be accessed here. For more information, NACCHO maintains a webpage on the CTG reforms and can run workshops for ACCHOs wishing to know more about the measure, registration system and upcoming deadline.  Services Australia information here. 

We want your good news nursing stories 

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world each year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. On Thursday next week NACCHO wants to showcase the amazing nurses working in ACCHOs around Australia. Please inundate us with your good news nursing stories and go in the draw to win a voucher for your efforts.

You can access more information about International Nurses Day 2022 on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

DREAMT dementia telehealth project

For many people living in remote areas, the idea of leaving home and travelling to the city is an expensive and scary prospect. Increased financial pressures from unintended travel costs and loss of income, mixed with fears of the unknown can be very real barriers to treatment and prevent people from receiving the proper healthcare they need. Telehealth aims to bridge this gap by providing the same specialist health services via telephone or video conference, removing the need for locals to travel from remote communities to the city. The University of Queensland’s DREAMT project (Dementia, Regional and remote, Empowering, Aboriginal and Torres Strait, Medicine and Telemedicine and telehealth) aims to improve choice and access to dementia care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in rural and remote areas. The DREAMT project looks at issues and its clinical effectiveness from multiple perspectives to ensure it meets the true needs of the communities it serves.

For more information including an additional film Using telehealth to support Torres Strait Islander people with dementia click here.

Integrating ACC aged care with PHC

There is a growing number of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and an unmet demand for accessible, culturally safe aged care services. The principles and features of aged care service delivery designed to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have not been extensively explored and must be understood to inform aged care policy and primary health care planning into the future.

A research paper Aboriginal community-controlled aged care: principles, practices and actions to integrate with primary health care published in the Cambridge University Press looks identifying 1) best practice aged care principles and practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older peoples, and 2) actions to integrate aged care services with Aboriginal community-controlled primary health care.

A range of principles guided Aboriginal community-controlled aged care service delivery, such as supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity, connection with elders and communities and respect for self-determination. Strong governance, effective leadership and partnerships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and culturally safe non-Indigenous workforce were among the identified enablers of aged care. Nine implementation actions guided the integration of aged care with primary health care service delivery. Funding limitations, workforce shortages, change management processes and difficulties with navigating the aged care system were among the reported challenges. These findings contribute to an evidence base regarding accessible, integrated, culturally safe aged care services tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the research article in full click here.

Aboriginal elder Mildred Numamurdirdi of Numbulwar

Aboriginal elder Mildred Numamurdirdi of Numbulwar. Image source: The Senior.

First Nations health data state of play

According to the an article Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Information: Progress, Pitfalls, and Prospects recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health despite significant developments in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health information over the last 25 years, many challenges remain. There are still uncertainties about the accuracy of estimates of the summary measure of life expectancy, and methods to estimate changes in life expectancy over time are unreliable because of changing patterns of identification. Far too little use is made of the wealth of information that is available, and formal systems for systematically using that information are often vestigial to non-existent.

Available information has focussed largely on traditional biomedical topics and too little on access to, expenditure on, and availability of services required to improve health outcomes, and on the underpinning issues of social and emotional wellbeing. It is of concern that statistical artefacts may have been misrepresented as indicating real progress in key health indices. Challenges and opportunities for the future include improving the accuracy of estimation of life expectancy, provision of community level data, information on the availability and effectiveness of health services, measurement of the underpinning issues of racism, culture and social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), enhancing the interoperability of data systems, and capacity building and mechanisms for Indigenous data governance. There is little point in having information unless it is used, and formal mechanisms for making full use of information in a proper policy/planning cycle are urgently required.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Healthcare IT News.

Public drunkenness decriminalisation delayed

Victoria will delay repealing public drunkenness as a crime. The offence was to be officially repealed in November last year, however may not take effect until 2023 – more than five years after the death of 55-year-old Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who was arrested in December 2017 after being found drunk on a train, and later died in hospital from head injuries sustained in a prison holding cell. Last year, the Andrews government passed landmark legislation to decriminalise public drunkenness in line with a recommendation made after a coronial inquiry into Day’s death. The state government has said however that delays in establishing trials of sobering-up centres – as part of a shift to a health-based response – meant that the decriminalisation would be pushed back.

Yesterday Victoria Legal Aid released a statement saying they support the removal of the offence of public drunkenness as soon as possible in favour of an appropriate and culturally safe health-based response. “31 years ago, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended that being drunk in public should not be a criminal offence,” said Dan Nicholson, Executive Director Criminal Law.

Mr Nicholson said “It is important for the government to take the time to get the details right, in consultation with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and other stakeholders and communities who are directly affected. From our practice experience we know these laws have a direct and harmful effect on First Nations peoples in Victoria. Repealing this offence remains a crucial step in recognising this harm and in working towards racial and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

You can view the Guardian article Decriminalisation of public drunkenness delayed by Victorian government in full here and the Victoria Legal Aid’s statement A culturally safe health-based approach to public drunkenness remains crucial in full click here.

Apryl & Kimberly Watson with photos of their mother Tanya Day outside Vic Coroners Court

Daughters Apryl Watson and Kimberly Watson outside the Victorian Coroners Court with photos of their mother Tanya Day. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Pharmacogenomics of Indigenous populations

While pharmacogenomic (the ‘science of personalised medicine’ is a branch of genetics research that focuses on predicting a given individual’s responses to specific therapeutic drugs) studies have facilitated the rapid expansion of personalized medicine, the benefits of these findings have not been evenly distributed. Genomic datasets pertaining to Indigenous populations are sorely lacking, leaving members of these communities at a higher risk of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), and associated negative outcomes.

Australia has one of the largest Indigenous populations in the world. Pharmacogenomic studies of these diverse Indigenous Australian populations have been hampered by a paucity of data. In this article, we discuss the history of pharmacogenomics and highlight the inequalities that must be addressed to ensure equal access to pharmacogenomic-based healthcare. We also review efforts to conduct the pharmacogenomic profiling of chronic diseases among Australian Indigenous populations and survey the impact of the lack of drug safety-related information on potential ADRs among individuals in these communities.

To view the article The Gene-Drug Duality: Exploring the Pharmacogenomics of Indigenous Populations published in the Frontiers in Genetics in full click here.

pills, capsules laid out in gene pattern

Photo: Katy Pack, Shutterstock.com. Image source: News Medical Life Sciences.

ACCHO praises health battalion for COVID support

An Aboriginal community-controlled health service in Port Augusta, SA, has praised the invaluable support of the 3rd Health Battalion (3 HB) during COVID-19 outbreaks over the past two years. Vaccination Coordinator for the Pika Wiya Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (PWHS), Rebecca Simpson, said: “The support from 3 HB came just in time as the number of COVID cases in the community increased and the demand for vaccinations and testing within the Aboriginal community was on the rise and resulted in a 50% decrease in the time to taken to conduct its outreach clinic, and get swabs out to their community members.

3 HB received an honorary mention in the 2022 Australia Day Awards for their community engagement work with Pika Wiya and the Stepping Stones day centre in SA, having received a joint nomination for Community Event of the Year. Members of 3 HB were in Port Augusta as recently as February, providing support in response to a surge in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. They focused on administrative support to PWHS, allowing them to accelerate the process for vaccinations and Rapid Antigen Testing as part of their outreach program.

To read the Department of Defence article Health battalion praised for vital COVID support article in full click here.

Private Tori Doherty, Lieutenant Joshua Mildrum and Captain Michele Muncaster, from the 3rd Health Battalion, provide administrative support during the pop-up clinic at Stepping Stones in Port Augusta, SA

From left: Private Tori Doherty, Lieutenant Joshua Mildrum and Captain Michele Muncaster, from the 3rd Health Battalion, provide administrative support during the pop-up clinic at Stepping Stones in Port Augusta, SA. Image source: Department of Defence Defence News webpage.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 5 May 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Office, Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) this week will be DoH Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response. The panel will provide key updates and answer

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Congress concerned about end of APAs

Image in feature tile from ABC News website.

Congress concerned about end of APAs

In a media release today Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) added its voice to a growing chorus of concerns about the forthcoming end to Alcohol Protected Areas (APAs). As it stands, the sunset clause in s118 of the Australian Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act 2012 will take effect on 16 July 2022. At a stroke, many NT communities, town camps and Community Living Areas will lose their legal protection from alcohol abuse.

The ‘rivers of grog’ will once again flow through our communities. The effects on the broader community through increased crime, antisocial behaviour and violence will be of great concern. “Since the NT Government’s alcohol reforms of 2018, we have made really good progress on reducing alcohol-related harm in Alice Springs, and the introduction of the full-time Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) at bottle shops has been a big part of this,” said Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of Congress.

To view the Congress media release What everyone knows about Alice – the Alcohol Protected Areas and PALIs really work! in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mala’la Community Wellness Program awarded

The Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program are the winners of the Excellence in Indigenous AOD Programs Award at the recent 2022 Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies Northern Territory (AADANT) NT AOD awards night in Darwin. This Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet sponsored award is presented to a non-government organisation in the NT with an alcohol and other drug (AOD) program specifically for Indigenous Australians.

Mala’la successfully combines culturally safe and secure AOD interventions with individual psychotherapy, family therapy, wellness education and advocacy. It encourages reconnection with family and community, re-engagement with education and employment and participation in traditional ceremonies and other forms of culturally appropriate meaningful activity as part of the recovery journey.

Maddy Mackey accepted the award on behalf of the Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program. You can read more about Mala’la Community Wellness Program here and access the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website click here.

Felicity Douglas, Manager of Mala’la Community Wellness Support Service and participants of the Youth Dance Program. Images from Mala’la Health Service website.

Rapid antigen tests (RAT) information kit

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are a quick way to check if you have COVID-19 without needing to go to a clinic. There are 3 different types of RATs. These include RATs you can do from your nose, RATs you can do with your spit and RATs that you suck like a lollipop. The Australian Department of Health has developed a RAT information kit of communication materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The information pack contains resources which explain what RATs are, where to get them and how to use each type of RAT. Within the information pack are:

Fact sheets:

A social tile:

Videos:

You can access a summary of the RAT information kit here.

Mob encouraged to get protected for winter

As the country heads into winter, a new campaign is encouraging First Nations people to check in with their doctors to discuss COVID-19 boosters, vaccines for kids and the flu shot. SE NSW primary health network COORDINARE has partnered with local CCHOs for the digital campaign titled #fabvac. “This campaign highlights how vaccines make a difference, even for people who’ve had COVID,” COORDINARE’s Aboriginal Health Service development and performance manager Nathan Deaves said. “The videos are made by local young Aboriginal people who recently yarned with local Aboriginal community members and health workers about their experiences of COVID and attitudes to vaccines.”

One of the videos features Uncle Ken, a community member from Bermagui, who said 13 family members ended up catching the virus. “It is just as well we had the double jab in the first place, only the two out of the 13 went to hospital, but just overnight and they came back home,” he said. “It was scary at the time, we didn’t know if they were going to come back or not. We all said to ourselves we’ve got to get the jab whether we like it or not. “We’re all going to get COVID, but we won’t get it as bad so that’s what happened – no one got it as bad.”

Mr Deaves said the key message with the #fabvac campaign was that community members needed to keep up to date with their COVID vaccines because their immunity to current and future variants of the virus does reduce over time. Respiratory illnesses spread more in winter because we all spend more time indoors, so getting the flu shot is also important, he said.

You can watch a a short video about getting the COVID-19 vaccine below.

Top 3 questions – Flu season

In the video below Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Health answers the Top Three questions across their channels about the flu:

  1. Why are we especially vulnerable to flu this year?
  2. What can we do to protect ourselves against a bad flu season?
  3. I’ve heard of plenty of people who have been immunised with the flu shot and still get the flu! What’s the point?

You can access the Australian Government Department of Health Top 3 questions – Flu season webpage here.

First youth contact with health system critical

The first contact a young person has with a health professional about a problem with their mental health can be critical in helping them to engage with treatment and recovery. the NPS MedicineWise webpage How can GPs help young people engage with treatment for mental health issues? lists the following key points:

  • Mental health problems in young people are extremely common. More than 50% of young people will experience some form of mental ill health by the age of 25.
  • Early intervention with effective support and treatment is essential to reduce potential chronicity of mental illnesses. 75% of adult mental health disorders have their onset before the age of 25.
  • Personal connections between the young person, their supports and the health professional, a focus on the person’s needs rather than their diagnosis, and shared goals are essential for good engagement.
  • Regular, scheduled follow-up sessions can be very helpful as they demonstrate to the young person that you are invested in their wellbeing.
  • Evidence-based treatments are available, but not equally readily accessible for young people. Work with the young person to determine most suitable treatments based on their needs and preferences and to optimise meaningful engagement.

To access the relevant NPS MedicineWise webpage click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

Kidney Health Australia professional webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: The clinical importance to make the link from 7.30PM–8.30PM AEST Thursday 19 May 2022.

The guest Nephrologist speaker on this webinar, Dr Veena Roberts, will explore the evidence in making the link between chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and the clinical importance of these three conditions.

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 332307.

To register for this webinar click here. Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom.

New funds for Hep C awareness campaigns

The Eliminate hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia), created in 2018 to bring together researchers, implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations to ensure the whole of Australia sustains high numbers of people accessing hepatitis C treatment, has welcomed the provision of $1.25 million in funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

The funding will support three different awareness campaigns as part of a broader partnership, the National Hepatitis C 50,000 Project, which aims to scale up testing and treatment. The funds will boost paid advertising for the It’s Your Right campaign and will also support the codesign of Aboriginal specific artwork for the rollout. EC Australia will also work in partnership with NACCHO to design and implement a hepatitis treatment campaign for ACCHOs.

The 50,000 Project is an innovative national partnership project to scale up testing and treatment to find 50,000 people living with hepatitis C by the end of 2022. In doing so, the 50,000 Project will be central in Australia achieving the 2022 national hepatitis C targets for testing and treatment.

To view The National Tribune article New funding for hepatitis campaigns click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

FASD Forum 2022

The inaugural FASD Forum ’22 Conference aims to provide an opportunity for everyone interested in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to hear from research-leading and lived-experience experts. The conference theme is FASD@50 reflecting that it is 50 years since FASD was first identified in medical literature in the English-speaking world.

Presentations over the two-day conference will cover themes related to:

  • behaviour support
  • behaviours of concern
  • transitions in education and employment
  • parent/carer support and self-care (including an expert parent panel)
  • mental health
  • sexualised behaviour
  • justice.

Presentations will combine lived experience perspectives with professional knowledge and current research topics. They will also enable opportunities for information sharing to deepen understanding. Practical strategies and interventions to assist those living with FASD and their families will be a key focus.

The opening keynote address will be presented by world-renowned paediatrician and researcher, Professor Kenneth Lyons Jones MD (University of California, San Diego), who, together with Dr David Smith, was the first to identify FASD in their research fifty years ago.

To register your interest in the conference, contact NOFASD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Image in the feature tile is from the Brian Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) website.

Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times more vision loss than non-Indigenous people, creating a concerning gap for vision. Associate Professor Hessom Razavi from The University of WA explains that much of this is due to diabetic macular oedema (DMO).  Macular oedema blurs the central vision, diminishing the ability to recognise people’s faces, to drive and work, and perform other essential tasks. DMO affects around 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with most of them of working age.

The good news is DMO is treatable, with medications known as anti-VEGF agents. A world-first clinical trail has been undertaken to test longer-acting DMO treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people patients find it impractical, for complex and varied reasons, to attend 10–12 appointments a year. There is, therefore, a need for an alternative. Longer-acting medications do exist. One example is a dexamethasone implant, a steroid injected into the eye which only needs to be dosed every three months.

You can view the Longer-acting eye treatment could reduce vision loss for Indigenous Australians article in full here and a short video from The Fred Hollows Foundation website explaining the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Help stop the flu in 2022

Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. This year, it’s even more important to get the influenza vaccine as we are more vulnerable to influenza. This is due to lower recent exposure to the virus and lower uptake of influenza vaccines in 2021. With international borders reopening, it’s likely we will see more influenza in 2022.

Who should get an influenza vaccine – vaccination experts recommend influenza vaccination for all people aged 6 months and over. Under the National Immunisation Program, free influenza vaccines are provided to the following groups who are at higher risk of complications from influenza:

  • children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
  • pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over.

Influenza vaccines are available NOW – FREE influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program became available this month and can be administered by GPs, community health clinics, and eligible pharmacies. To locate a service in your area you can search the National Health Services Directory. Book your appointment to get vaccinated to ensure you have the best protection at the peak of the season (usually June to September). However, it’s never too late to get  vaccinated as influenza can spread all year round.

For further information you can access the Department of Health’s Help stop the flu in 2022 website page here.

Telehealth’s role in modern health care

In recent years teleconsultations have played a growing role in the delivery of healthcare and support services across Australia. Far from a stop-gap measure, these services are set to become one of the standout legacies from the global pandemic. The government has announced it will invest AU$100 million towards making telehealth a permanent option in the healthcare system. This comes on the back of consistent research indicating confidence in the method and a lasting appetite for its convenience. A recent white paper by Deloitte, Curtin University and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia found that seven in 10 Australians are willing and ready to use virtual health services.

The research also found that geographical disparity is one of the biggest causes of inconsistent patient outcomes across the country. With the availability of videoconferencing services, people no longer need to leave their homes to receive care, and providers can ensure those in inaccessible areas aren’t left behind. We saw an example of this in the remote aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, which, during March 2020 and January 2021, faced a shortage of healthcare professionals due to a state border closure with SA. Following the introduction of telehealth services, the 160 residents had reliable access to virtual care for chronic conditions and mental health issues.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article The role of telehealth in modern health care click here.

welcome to Tjuntjuntjara hand painted sign beside outback red sand road

Image source: ExporOZ.

New COVID-19 oral treatment on PBS

From Sunday 1 May 2022 the second, prescription-only, COVID-19 oral treatment will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) is an oral anti-viral medicine which can be used by patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing severe disease. This medicine will help reduce the need for hospital admission.

Adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 – which is confirmed by a PCR or a Rapid Antigen Test and verified by the prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner – and who can start treatment within five days of symptom onset, can be prescribed the oral anti-viral medicines if:

  • they are 65 years of age or older, with two other risk factors for severe disease (as increasing age is a risk factor, patients who are 75 years of age of older only need to have one other risk factor)
  • they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and are 50 years of age or older with two other risk factors for severe disease, or
  • they are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Image source: ABC News.

AIHW releases mental health papers.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released two important publications:

Employment and Indigenous mental health

  • this paper provides an overview of policies and programs that address Indigenous employment and mental health and evaluates the evidence that labour force outcomes can improve Indigenous mental health.

Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention

  • this article provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention. It explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

You can view the Employment and Indigenous mental health paper in full here and the Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention article here.

Aged and dementia care scholarships 

Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships.  Applications for studies in 2022 are open until 5 May 2022 to nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals.

The  Department of Health’s Ageing and Aged Care Sector Newsletter article Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships available here includes comments from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Alison McMillian, Chief Allied Health Officer Dr Anne-marie Boxall, and previous scholarship recipients.

Additional information about the scholarships is available on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

Kurranulla’s Aboriginal aged care and disability worker Larissa McEwen with her client, Aunty Loyla Lotaniu. Photo: John Veage. Image source: St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.

$25m to fix ‘dehumanising’ Banksia Hill conditions

The Banskia Hill juvenile detention centre will receive a $25.1 million upgrade after it was slammed by a Perth Children’s Court judge as a “dehumanising” space. The money will go towards a $7.5 million crisis care unit, improvement to the centre’s intensive supervision unit, in-cell media streaming for education and therapeutic purposes, and a new Aboriginal services unit.

While sentencing a 15-year old boy for a range of offences, in February, Perth Children’s Court President Judge Hylton Quail said “if you wanted to make a monster, this is the way to do it”.

To view the ABC News article Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre gets $25 million to address ‘dehumanising’ conditions, cut incarceration rates in full click here.

parents of children inside Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre protesting

Parents of children inside Banksia Hill have recently spoken out about conditions inside the centre and are considering a class action. Photo supplied by Megan Krakouer. Image source: ABC News.

In a related story Condobolin Health Worker Ellen Doolan says while people have got to feel safe in their own homes, sending more Indigenous kids into juvenile detention is not the solution. Elderly Aboriginal people in Condobolin are just as frightened as elderly whites, she says. Many of the kids ­involved have grown up in ­“extremely tough circumstances” and are being raised by elderly grandmothers. “We’ve already got the highest rate of incarceration of any people in this country and so a lot of the fathers are in jail and now a lot of the mothers are too,” ­Doolan says. To view Ellen Doolan speaking click here.

Condobolin AHW Ellen Doolan

Condobolin health worker Ellen Doolan. Image source: The Australian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 3:30 PM–4:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 21 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health on the panel this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2022–2023 budget short-changes health

2022-2023 budget short-changes health

NACCHO released a media statement earlier today in response to the 2022–2023 Federal Budget announced last night:

Another big-spending budget short-changes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has already welcomed the previously announced four-year rolling funding agreement for the sector, but this is just a necessary adjustment to support the current arrangements. ‘Business as usual’ is not going to close the health gap.

NACCHO is tiring of singular announcements in Aboriginal health while the health gap fails to close. Structural reform is required and substantial funding investment. The last three big-spending budgets were the Government’s opportunity to address this. They have failed to act.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner said, “Although I am grateful to see the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme and support for screening services, mental health policy partnerships and $2.4m for ACCHOs to help in responding to the East Coast floods, I am disappointed that the core funding for our services has remained much the same. I am also worried that the Budget has assumed that ACCHOs’ expenditure will contract significantly after COVID. This may be a significant flaw in their modelling.”

In Cairns, the Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills said, “What we need is a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. In work we commissioned from Equity Economics it has been calculated – as conservatively as possible and using validated Government data – that the funding gap in Aboriginal health is $4.4 billion (= $5,042 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person). The Commonwealth’s share of this shortfall is $2.6 billion. Yet dangerous myths prevail that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is over-funded. How can we seriously expect as a nation to ever close the health gap if the funding gap is so large? We will continue to live lives 8-9 years shorter than other Australians.”

NACCHO serves well over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Its clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve. They are more cost-effective than mainstream health services and represent an effective investment means for the Commonwealth. The model was developed in 1971 – which predates Medicare itself – and can no longer be considered an unproved model of care.

The government has had the opportunity to fix the funding gap in three big-spending budgets focused on stimulus measures. If it had done so, at the same time, it could have delivered financial stimulus to the 550 local economies in which our services are located.

CEO Pat Turner said, “As long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close. This Budget is an opportunity lost. NACCHO calls upon the Government to close the funding gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

You can view NACCHO’s media statement in full here.

Budget misses key suicide prevention priorities

Suicide Prevention Australia has welcomed additional funding in the 2022 Federal Budget but urged further investment for those most at-risk and across key whole-of-government priorities. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said “Investment in local responses, suicide prevention research and young people at risk will help save lives. Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity for other priority populations including men, LGBTIQ+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We need to see extra support for those in distress, those who have attempted suicide and the loved ones of those touched by suicide. Greater investment is needed to ensure people with lived experience are integrated in all parts of suicide prevention and a comprehensive suicide prevention workforce strategy.”

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

First Nations voices needed in climate conversation

The urgency of tackling climate change is even greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other First Nation peoples across the globe. First Nations people will be disproportionately affected and are already experiening existential threats from climate change. The unfolding disaster in the Northern Rivers regions of NSW is no exception, with Aboriginal communities completely inundated or cut off from essential supplies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have protected Country for millennia and have survived dramatic climatic shifts. They are intimately connected to Country, and their knowledge and cultural practices hold solutions to the climate crisis. Despite this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be excluded from leadership roles in climate solution discussions, such as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

Student climate protest in Melbourne. Image source: The Conversation.

Help improve how pharmacists provide services

Have your say – Help improve how pharmacists provide services

NACCHO is working to make the guidelines for pharmacists working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples better.

We want to understand from you how pharmacists and pharmacies can be culturally safe and give the best care to you and your community.

Click here to complete the online survey.

Please pass this information on to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who would be interested in completing the survey.

WA COVID-19 resources for mob

The WA Department of Health has developed a factsheets to provide information about the COVID-19 vaccines and ensure WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are informed about the vaccines and are aware of any misinformation.

Topics include:

  • vaccine mythbusters – click here
  • what the COVID-19 virus is – click here
  • available vaccines
  • why having the COVID-19 vaccine is important – click here
  • side effects of vaccines – click here
  • COVID-19 and pregnancy – click here.

For further information click here.

Connections improve hep C care for homeless

Aaron was shocked when his hepatitis C rapid test came back positive. When he was approached by a nurse and peer worker at the Hutt Street Centre to get tested, he had been pretty sure his results would be ok. If you’re homeless and have no symptoms, testing for hep C is probably low on the list of priorities. Aaron considered himself pretty clued in about blood-borne virus risk; he’d been injecting drugs for many years and was an expert in technique, always using clean equipment. He was keen to go on treatment straight away and was indeed referred immediately to get started. Viral Hepatitis Nurse, Lucy Ralton said Aaron later told her that he had seen his GP due to persistent fatigue but hadn’t been screened for an HCV infection at the time. “He was very glad he got talked into having a test that day and said he only did so because he was asked,” she said.

The testing clinic at the Hutt Street Centre was part of the PROMPt study where a nurse and a Hepatitis SA peer worker directly approach individuals to invite them to have a test. Anyone with a positive result is referred to the community Viral Hepatitis Nurses for treatment. What programs like this have shown is the importance of connections and support for community and health workers who provide services to clients who are homeless and at risk of hepatitis C.

One way to improve access to hepatitis C care for this vulnerable group, is to bring together different services to explore ways of working together to make the process as simple as possible for both service providers and clients.

New models of care that integrate peers and healthcare workers have demonstrated that community-based screening, point of care testing and on the spot prescribing by either a nurse practitioner or GP in a non-judgmental and friendly environment can improve screening and treatment uptake. PROMPt – the project which helped Aaron get cured of his hepatitis C – was one example of such a model.

C the Whole Story is an online forum hosted by ASHM to discuss this challenge. This forum will provide participants with the tools, contacts and confidence to be able to discuss HCV screening and treatment with their clients. As well, it will create an opportunity for people to connect and explore ways for services to work together. The forum is on Friday 1 April 2022 via Zoom. For more information and to register click here.

To read the HepSAY article Improve Hepatitis C Care for People who are Homeless article in full click here.

Image source: Hepatitis SA website.

We’ve Got Your Back toolkit for mob

The new online safety laws give greater protection from serious online abuse, and are available to all Australians. It’s important that everyone in the community knows about the new protections, including how to report serious online abuse.

A New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit and printed resources are available here to support the new online safety laws.

ATSI woman looking at laptop with sticker 'online safety laws we've got your back'

Image from cover of ‘New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit – Australian Government eSafety Commissioner.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 31 March 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Groups, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO welcomes $54.7m for ACCHO sector

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO says new measures recognises the crucial role ACCHS plan in delivering health services' & image of Pat Turner Parliament House

Image in feature tile of NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: newsGP.

NACCHO CEO welcomes $54.7m for ACCHO sector

Last night NACCHO CEO Pat Turner wrote to NACCHO Members advising of a joint announcement by Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt and Minister for Indigenous Australians, Key Wyatt of measures to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS). Pat summarised the key messages in the announcement, “From 1 July 2023, four year rolling funding agreements will be introduced. This and the commitment to annual indexation will provide certainty and stability for you all. In addition to this, there will be an immediate injection of more than $54.7million to further strengthen the sector by support those services under funding pressure.”

“This is such welcome news and a real recognition of the critical role ACCHS play in delivering health services and that your work is essential in the Australian health system,” Pat Turner concluded.

You can view Minister Hunt and Minister Wyatt’s joint media release here.

collage of 4 ACCHOs Awabakal, KAMS, WUchopperen, Danila Dilba

Four ACCHOs (clockwise): Awabakal Ltd, NSW; Kimberley AMS, WA; Wuchopperen Health Service, QLD; Danila Dilba Biluru Butji Binnilutlum Health Service, NT.

COVIDSafe and COVID-19 vax messaging

The Australian Government Department of Health is promoting the following COVIDSafe and COVID-19 vaccine messaging:

Every time you go out or meet someone, you carry a risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 🦠 to your loved ones. Even when you don’t have the symptoms, you could still have the virus in you. So don’t risk it. Stay at home 🏠 as much as possible.

Keep washing your hands regularly, stay two big steps away from others, stay home if you don’t feel well, and get tested if you have #COVID19 symptoms 🤧🤒😣. COVID is in, or near, your area so start planning for your COVID #vaccinations now.

To get tested, yarn to your local healthcare worker.

COVIDSafe messaging tile text 'FACT COVID-19 can affect everyone in Australia, including ATSI peoples'

The COVID-19 vaccine is available in your area! Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can get their vaccine at any Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. Check with your local vaccine provider how to get yours.

tile text 'fact COVID-19 vaccines help protect you from getting really sick'

New info hub on COVID-19 antiviral medicines

NPS MedicineWise has launched a hub containing information on recently approved antivirals and monoclonal antibody medicines that can be used to treat COVID-19. The hub will provide new clinical information, resources and links to help keep health professionals and consumers up to date with the latest approvals, evidence and guidance.

The hub currently features:

  • FAQs about the use of COVID-19 oral antiviral medicines in residential aged care.
  • A medicine table summarising key information about the two oral antivirals (molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir), and also the intravenous medicine sotrovimab.
  • An NPS MedicineWise podcast episode titled The new oral antiviral covid medications: What HPs need to know. Guests are Dr Kate Annear and Associate Professor Charlotte Hespe. Dr Kate Annear is a GP and medical adviser at NPS MedicineWise. Associate Professor Charlotte Hespe is a GP, Head of General Practice and GP Research at the University of Notre Dame and the NSW/ACT Faculty Chair for RACGP.
image of capsule smashing into covid-19 virus cell

Image source: NPS MedicineWise website.

NASH PKI certificates expire in March

To maintain access to important digital health tools such as electronic prescribing and My Health Record, your organisation needs to ensure that your NASH PKI certificate is renewed if it is expiring on or before Sunday 13 March 2022.

In order to complete this process, please view this short NASH PKI renewal animation which includes simple step-by-step with screenshots in PRODA and HPOS. The video is a quick and useful way to help the Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) for your organisation understand the steps involved.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has developed additional resources to support you during the renewal process:

GPs hand on computer, other hand holding bottle of tablets

Image source: PHN North Western Melbourne.

Risk of fatal FV spikes during separation

New research clearly shows that women are at the greatest threat of fatal violence during the process of separation. As separation draws closer, men proceed to escalate abusive behaviours: controlling, stalking, monitoring. But when the victim and offender have finally separated or are negotiating reconciliation, the period of escalation which precedes the lethal violence is often very short, on average about three months. Just three months.

Hayley Boxall, lead author of this report from Australia’s National Research Organisation on Women’s Safety, shows killers fit into three categories. First, there are the fixated threat offenders, who account for one in three of these murders. They’re the ones who look normal from the outside – the “good guys”. It’s in this category where separation as a trigger for murder is most common.

Boxall’s team describes the second category as “persistent and disorderly”, accounting for 40% of murders – killers with significant histories of violence towards their partners and others, and mental, emotional and physical health problems. They are more likely to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, with complex histories of trauma and abuse.

Boxall says this research will put the emphasis on the community, not on individual women. More often than not, these women have contact with different types of services at different stages of their relationship, and have talked about what is going on in their lives. But no one picks up the signs – or if they do, it is too late. “We’re too reliant on women to identify when they’re at risk of homicide, and to be able to articulate that. It moves the responsibility to family members, to friends, to statutory systems and services that are engaging with these women,” she says.

You can view the Redland City Bulletin new story in full here.

Woman gazing out window; 2nd image panic room installed in her home

Family violence survivor Rach has built a panic room in case she ever needs to lock herself and her kids in. Image source: Redland City Bulletin.

Mosquito warning for NSW

NSW Health has issued an alert for people to protect themselves against mosquito bites. Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus has been detected in samples from commercial pig farms at five locations in southern and western NSW indicating the virus is likely circulating in the mosquito population. JE is a mosquito borne disease that may affect animals, including pigs, and humans. The virus is spread by mosquito bites.

“It is really important to protect yourself from mosquito bites as mosquitoes can spread viruses including Japanese encephalitis,” said Dr Kerry Chant, Chief Health Officer. Less than 1% of people infected with JE experience symptoms, which typically include fever, joint pain, and rash.  Occasionally, JE can cause severe a neurological illness with headache, convulsions and reduced consciousness. “There is no specific treatment for JE or other mosquito-borne viruses. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes”, Dr Chant said.

You can access further information on mosquito-borne disease and way to protect yourself click here; fact sheets on specific mosquito-borne diseases, including JE, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus here and the NSW Government website here.

University of Queensland PhD opportunity

The University of Queensland has a PhD opportunity focused on medicine safety in primary care. The research will be part of the MRFF funded trial “Activating pharmacists to reduce medication related problems: The ACTMed trial”. The focus of the PhD can take a number of directions related to this trial including: (i) co-design of the service with health practitioners and/or consumers; (ii) health service design and evaluation; (iii) medicine safety; or (iv) health economics, depending on the skills and interests of the candidate. The specific research questions can be tailored to the candidate.

The candidate will have the opportunity to work with the experienced team to improve medicine safety at ACCHOs and in mainstream health services and improve population health, including the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. First Nations candidates will have access to the UQ “Yarning for Success” program which will connect you with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers throughout their PhD.

The candidate will be required to work closely with ACCHOs, peak bodies such as NACCHO, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and other government agencies. For further information on the scholarship and application details click here.

Uni Qld purple logo & image of UQ School of Pharmacy

UQ School of Pharmacy. Image source: UQ website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for Primary Care

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout, will be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 3 March 2022.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

tile text 'primary care covid-19 update' blue background, vector image of covid-19 virus cell