NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Fight to shift dial on CTG has not ended

feature tile image: young ATSI boy clutching chest, looking up to camera with big smile; text 'Fight to Close the Gap has not ended despite Voice referendum result'

The image in the feature tile is from page 10 of the Barhava Report Indi Kindi Impact Report August 2020, available here.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Fight to shift dial on CTG has not ended

Victoria’s Minister for Treaty and First Peoples and key delegates in the state have declared the fight to shift the dial on positive outcomes has not ended despite October’s unsuccessful Voice referendum, with key goals in place before the end of the current government’s term. The Joint Council for Closing the Gap (CTG) held their first meeting following the result in Naarm (Melbourne) last Thursday (23 November 2023). State ministers responsible for Indigenous affairs, federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, and Coalition of Peaks, local government and First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria representatives attended the gathering. Recently re-appointed Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Natalia Hutchins said her government “remains steadfast in our commitment in progressing voice, truth and treaty with our First Peoples”.

Co-chair of Ngaweeyan Maar-oo (Voice of the People) – the Koori Caucus of Victoria’s Partnership Forum towards Closing the Gap, Lisa Briggs, said the journey towards better outcomes is “gaining momentum” despite being “challenging work”. Victoria’s implementation plan towards CTG has four priority areas; Formal partnerships and shared decision-making; Building the community-controlled sector; Transforming government organisations; and Shared access to data and information at a regional level.

“The priority reforms are intended to drive the structural changes needed to see meaningful improvements,” Ms Briggs said. First People’s Assembly co-chair Ngurra Murray said the assembly wants input on policy, and to see decision making in community. “We believe decisions about Aboriginal people should be made by Aboriginal people. Not just because it’s morally right, but it delivers better outcomes,” Ms Murray said. “My message to government is if you want to close the gaps, then give everyone an equal opportunity to implement our solutions. She said while “we can’t change history”, there is a need to address ongoing impacts of colonisation negatively affecting First Nations people.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Closing the Gap Joint Council meet for first time post-referendum in full click here.

Victoria's Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Natalia Hutchins at podium

Victoria’s Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Natalia Hutchins. Photo: Natalie Hutchins MP Facebook. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Flinders Uni empowers future health professionals

A group of 12 Indigenous students are celebrating a huge milestone on the path to becoming a doctor after successfully completing the 2023 Indigenous Entry Stream (IES) at Flinders University. Five students in NT and seven in SA have completed the program which provides Indigenous people with an alternative route to pursue a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.

Now in its 11th year, Flinders University offers this program to potential students wishing to study medicine who do not have a valid GAMSAT score. Arrernte woman and Program Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pathways in Medicine, College of Medicine and Public Health, Kath Martin is pleased to report that the IES has just seen their biggest intake since the programs inception.

“This is the biggest intake we’ve had (12). Previously we’ve got about 5 or 6 in total,” she said. “The IES is about preparing them for what’s required of them when they come into the medial program where they get a taste of what they’ll be studying like Anatomy and science.” IES participants get acquainted with cultural, academic, and social support staff and available programs for potential progression into medicine studies.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Flinders University is empowering future Indigenous health professionals in full click here.

looking at replicas of body parts: Sophie L'Estrange (IES participant) with Jason Baird & Jahdai Vigona (Flinders staff)

Sophie L’Estrange (IES participant) with Jason Baird & Jahdai Vigona (Flinders staff). Photo: Flinders University. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

$1.7m for Indigenous health research

Millions of dollars have been invested in five Hunter research projects through federal government health and medical funding. Two projects led by University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute researchers received $1.7m through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research scheme.

Professor Kirsty Pringle received $726,149 as part of The Gomeroi Gaaynggal Breastfeeding Study, a community-led program to support breastfeeding Indigenous families and Associate professor Michelle Kennedy was awarded $999,186 for Koori Quit Pack, support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to quit smoking.

To view the Newcastle Herald article Millions of dollars for Newcastle research teams in full click here. You can also access the Gomeroi Gaaynggal Study website here.

mum holding toddler & ATSI dad holding young girl standing in a paddock

Image source: Gomeroi Gaaynggal Study website.

New adult COVID-19, flu, shingles vax plan needed

Governments should create a new national plan to make adult vaccination as robust as childhood vaccines, as rates lag across dangerous diseases and misinformation increases, according to a new report. A Grattan Institute report published today has found Australia “urgently needs a policy reset” with data showing rates of adult vaccination against COVID-19, flu, shingles and pneumococcal disease are far too low.

Beyond childhood, adults are recommended to get the influenza vaccine every year, the shingles vaccine at 65 and the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against a bacteria which can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infection and meningitis, at 70. Indigenous Australians and adults with medical risks are recommended to get these vaccines earlier. However, the report – titled A fair shot: How to close the vaccination gap – has found fewer than half of all Australians in their 70s are vaccinated for shingles, and only one in five are vaccinated for pneumococcal disease.

The report also highlights that rates of COVID-19 vaccination have “plunged”, with two and a half million people over the age of 65 not up-to-date with their vaccinations at the start of winter 2023 – two million more than a year earlier. The report found certain sectors of the population were more likely to miss out, including people who are not proficient in English, Indigenous, living in rural areas and poorer Australians. “Recent vaccination for the poorest people is nearly 40% lower than it is for the richest people, and the poorest people are nearly 20% less likely to be vaccinated against flu,” the report said. It also found people who didn’t speak English at home were only half as likely to get recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, while Indigenous people were a third less likely.

To view The Guardian article Australia needs new adult vaccination plan for Covid, flu and shingles, report warns in full click here.

woman from AHCWA receives COVID-19 vaccination

A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

Nathan is proud of his old man for reaching out

Nathan Appo understands the importance of knowing when to reach out for help. The Brisbane resident and prominent Voice campaigner has worked in Indigenous health for years and watched his father struggle with depression and anxiety. “I’m really proud of my old man for eventually saying, “I need to go and see a doctor and get help”. “To see where he is now and how he looks after his health and how he reaches out for help when he needs it is really empowering.”

And Appo, a Mamu man from Innisfail with connections to Goreng Goreng and Bundjalung Country, recently did the same after spending more than a year campaigning for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. “I knew how I would feel if the vote didn’t get up, so I booked to see a counsellor straight away,” he says. In the lead-up to the referendum, he door-knocked Brisbane suburbs, hosted town halls, led Yes marches and handed out flyers at polling booths. While he never lost hope, by the campaign’s end his efforts on the frontline had taken a toll on his mental health.

“When I was polling, I had people racially abusing me, people try to fight me,” Appo says. “The discrimination and racism and the attacks on my identity and culture, the slander, it all really affected me, and I think it will have an effect on me for a long time.” But weeks after the referendum result, Appo was back on the campaign trail, this time as an ambassador for Movember. “The work doesn’t stop,” he says. Appo has grown his moustache to raise awareness for men’s health issues, including men’s suicide, for the past eight years.

To view The Age article ‘I’m really proud of my old man for saying he needed to get help’ in full click here.

Nathan Appo with arm around his dad's shoulders

Nathan Appo (right) is growing his moustache for the eighth year in a row to raise awareness around men’s health issues, inspired in part by his father’s mental health struggles. Image source: The Age.

Value of lived experience in creating change

Award winning founder of Yindamara Mens Healing Group, More Cultural Rehabs, Less Jails and co-founder of Brothers 4 Recovery Drug and Alcohol Awareness, Proud Wiradjuri man Jeffery Amatto, is an example of how recognising the value of lived experience can create the change our country needs. Mr Amatto, an advocate and presenter, has travelled more than 350,000 kms delivering workshops across Australia sharing his inspiring journey of grit, strength and resilience to uplift and give hope to others who are experiencing struggles similar to what he survived.

Bringing knowledge and passion to his work, Mr Amatto has a lived experience of incarceration, addiction and growing up black in the regional town of Wellington, New South Wales which he fondly refers to as god’s country. He currently resides on Darkinjung Country, a place he feels privileged to call home, because that is where his healing happened at a cultural rehab centre – The Glen.

As a child Mr Amatto was exposed to the negative impacts of intergenerational trauma including poverty, alcoholism and gambling, yet he still reflects on his childhood with positive memories of growing up and the strong relationship he had with his mum, nan and pop, and culture. “As a kid growing up, back home I loved it, I loved being back on country. It was a normal thing to go down to the river swimming and playing at the park or fishing,” he said. “We didn’t have the material things, but what we had was the three most important things for us as Indigenous people which was love, culture and respect.” Whilst there were good times growing up, once alcohol and gambling had started infiltrating his home life by age of five, his memories start to change.

To view the National Indigenous Times article More Cultural Rehabs, Less Jails founder Jeffrey Amatto on culture and lived experience in full click here.

Jeffery Amatto with white body paint & male ATSI youth with white body paint on beach

Mr Amatto sharing knowledge with the next generations. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Working Together (with youth), We are Stronger

The image in the feature tile is from the 2023 NACCHO Youth Conference.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Working Together (with youth), We are Stronger

From team building exercises including working together to stop balloons hitting the ground, to hearing from the AHCWA Youth Committee on how their youth leadership model can be replicated across the country – the 2023 NACCHO Youth Conference proved that Working Together (with youth), We are Stronger. Fun and games aside, the Youth Conference discussed topics including the unique barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in becoming doctors, the significant value in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of learning, and how we can better support young mob with cancer.

Vincent Carter, from Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) said his main takeaway from the conference was feeling supported to make connections with other youth.

“[At] my table, I didn’t know any of them at the start of the day and now we’re quite close and everyone’s having this yarn, and being able to hear the different ideas and different topics that are being floated around, especially outside in our own different communities.

“Yeah, for me I feel like it’s that networking and collaboration, and being able to work together,” he said.

Representing all Youth Conference attendees, a message of consolidation was delivered by Destiny Harrison from Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative, and Dale Thomas from Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, to the NACCHO Members’ Conference. The selected representatives spoke on the need for more opportunities to build the capacity of future leaders.

“We call on all of the member services here today, make space for us young mob. Teach us. We want to listen, and we want you to listen to our voices, our experiences.

“…We know that in our community-controlled sector healing is needed, and with the healing comes the trust of leaders to provide the space and the safety for us to step up and take on leadership roles.

“In our lives we have been witnesses to the constant trials and tribulations our people and communities have faced. We have witnessed Australia embrace us and turn their backs on us. We have watched our leaders stand at the forefront facing countless attacks. We have seen it. But now it is our turn to stand and face it.

“It will be our duty in the coming years to stand up and advocate and fight for our people. It is our duty to be the ones to face these attacks with resilience. But we won’t be standing alone, we will be standing with you all… We are empowered youths, and we are ready.”

NACCHO Youth Conference 2023.

Four Corners: Guarded

Four Corners latest episode titled Guarded investigates private security policing the public in Darwin, revealing violent interactions involving guards and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) CEO, John Paterson was interviewed for the program, explaining why many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are sleeping rough on the streets of Darwin. Mr Paterson explains, “They’re probably here from remote communities for health visits to hospitals for the acute end. They’re probably here for… Centrelink benefit-type arrangements or meetings, education.”

“They perhaps don’t have funding to rent accommodation in a hostel for a week or so. So, the alternative is to sleep in the streets. You know given the rough treatment, that’s not on,” said Mr Paterson.

Watch the Four Corners episode on ABC iview here.

AMSANT CEO, John Paterson on Four Corners Guarded.

Applications open for the 2024 Australian Government Youth Advisory Groups

Applications for the Australian Government’s Youth Advisory Groups have now opened. The Australian Government Youth Advisory Groups will bring 40 people together to work across five different groups on a specific policy or program to influence its development or implementation. There are five advisory groups that young people can apply for in 2024:

  • First Nations Education
  • Creative Industries
  • Employment
  • Prevention of Gender-Based Violence
  • Civic Engagement

The Youth Advisory Group for First Nations Education will partner with the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Department of Education. Members will provide input into four priority areas related to school engagement: the role of teachers, education policy settings like the National School Reform Agreement, cultural capability and curriculum content, and targeted program support for school engagement.

Any young person between 16 and 25 can apply. The Australian Government is seeking a diverse group of people from across the country with no previous experience required. Up to 8 young people will be appointed to each group and will be paid an honorarium to recognise contributions made over the advisory group term. The first meeting of the advisory groups will occur in Canberra from Monday 18 March to Friday 22 March 2024, with the costs of travel, accommodation and food covered by the Office for Youth. Applicants must be available for this meeting.

The team at OFY are hosting a free webinar where we will share more about the application process and answer questions on the application process and advisory groups. The webinar will be held on Thursday 9 November 2023, 6PM AEDT. Young people can register to attend here. Young people can also contact OFY at youth@education.gov.au if they need support to apply.

Applications are open until Sunday 19 November 2023.

Find more information here.

Treating drug and alcohol addiction as a health issue targets the heart of the problem

Amendment to drug laws in the ACT will now see people caught in possession of small amounts of illicit drugs receiving a $100 fine, as opposed to a prison sentence. The ACT Government’s new approach intends to reduce stigma and treat drug addiction primarily as a health issue, whilst reducing crime and improving community safety. As of this week, people in Canberra caught in possession of illicit substances will also be referred to a diversionary program and receive drug counselling.

ACT Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury said, “We know that it is better to treat drug and alcohol addiction as a health issue because it targets the heart of the problem, rather than simply the outcome. That leads to a reduction in re-offending and ultimately improves community safety.”

In line with the new drug reform changes, last month the ACT Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith announced plans for a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residential rehabilitation service facility which will also be developed in partnership with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

Read the full National Indigenous Times article here.

ACT Attorney General Shane Rattenbury alongside Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Improving access to primary care during the pandemic

Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) telehealth items were welcome additions that supported general practice care during the pandemic. They were particularly valuable for the safety of primary care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, at increased risk of COVID‐19 infection, hospitalisation, and death because of the effects of socio‐economic disadvantage, colonisation, and racism. During the pandemic, the Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care (the Inala Indigenous Health Service) offered telehealth alongside face‐to‐face consultations.

Results from a study surrounding data from the Inala Indigenous Health Service clinical database (Best Practice) for all people who attended the service during 1 March 2019 – 28 February 2021, found Telehealth consultations were a good approach to improving access to primary care during COVID-19. However, the number of consultations with practice nurses and Aboriginal health workers at the Inala Indigenous Health Service was lower during than before the pandemic, as were the numbers of primary care visits for men, young children, and people seeking preventive health care.

Read the full article here.

Image source: Unsplash.

Indigenous Wellbeing Centre announced as Bundaberg Medicare Urgent Care Clinic

A bulk-billed clinic offering urgent health care will begin operations from late November, helping to relieve pressure on the Bundaberg Hospital. The Indigenous Wellbeing Centre has been chosen as Bundaberg’s federally-funded clinic providing bulk-billed health care to the region. Bundaberg Medicare Urgent Care Clinic aims to relieve demand on hospital emergency departments, with Bundaberg Hospital regularly seeing the longest emergency department wait time in QLD.

Federal Health Minister, Mark Butler said the clinic would provide a significant boost to the availability of healthcare in the region.

“(It) will make a big difference to patients in the region who will be able to walk in seven days a week and get free urgent care from a nurse or a doctor,” Minister Butler said.

“The clinic will ease pressure on Bundaberg Hospital, so that its hardworking doctors and nurses can focus on higher priority emergencies.”

Read the full Cairns Post article here.

Image source: Cairns Post.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How the Voice could make a real difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

The image in the feature tile is from Croakey Health Media.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

How the Voice could make a real difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Strong health arguments for the Voice to Parliament were presented at two recent webinars hosted by the Lowitja Institute and the Our Collaborations in Health Research national network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers. Indigenous health leader Adjunct Professor Mark Wenitong said the Voice offers the chance to finally break down silos in policy and practice and put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues at the level of government where decisions are made. Mr Wenitong told the webinar he would be voting Yes because a Voice offers a new way to address intractable health issues like rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in remote Aboriginal communities. He said despite Indigenous health organisations having long sought to address social determinants of health, it is difficult to address RHD until health, housing and education portfolios came together to act.

Former long-standing Lowitja Institute chair and now co-patron, and one of the architects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Pat Anderson urged participants to “try cut out the noise” surrounding the referendum, saying that as health and health research professionals, they knew better than anybody the relationship between good health and a good society and happy people.

Ms Anderson said the referendum will “tell us what kind of people we are in Australia: what do we stand for and what are our values?”

Lowitja Institute CEO Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed said disinformation surrounding the Voice was ‘racially gaslighting’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Ms Mohamed raised concerns that many non-Indigenous allies did not realise, because of social media algorithms and a media focus on division, the breadth of support for the Voice from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with polling consistently showing at least 80% support it. Ms Mohamed said she completely understands that “a lot of our mob don’t trust governments” because they’ve been let down too many times.

“But I do trust our people and I have deep, deep faith that, when our people are at the table, we will see improvement in many outcomes,” she said.

Read the full Croakey Health Media article here.

From top L: Adj Prof Mark Wenitong, Selwyn Button, Tarneen Onus-Browne, Adj Prof Janine Mohamed. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

“When they had that voice, it was remarkable” – Fiona Stanley on The Deep End podcast

Fiona Stanley, AC FAA FASSA, is an Australian epidemiologist noted for her public health work and research into child and maternal health, as well as birth disorders such as cerebral palsy. She is a Distinguished Professorial Fellow in the School of Paediatrics and Childcare at the University of Western Australia. She became Founding Director of the Telethon Kids Institute In 1990 and still serves as its Patron. Her contributions to Indigenous Australian health have been nothing less than transformative and she has contributed profoundly to training a whole generation of Indigenous Australian health practitioners and professionals.

On the podcast The Deep End with Marcia Langton and Aaron Corn, Ms Stanley discussed how she feels about the Voice to Parliament. She spoke on her excitement about the referendum stating that, “I could think of no better way for Australia to now stand up and say, ‘this is going to be our nation deciding moment for acknowledging our history.’

“I think the best an only way forward is this Voice,” she said.

“…I think this is the most important and exciting thing that has happened to us, quite possibly in my lifetime.”

Ms Stanley pointed to data and the NACCHO and community led response to the pandemic as an example of what happens when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are listened to.

“Aboriginal people had the best result in the world.

“When they had that voice, it was remarkable.

“I don’t know why more people aren’t swayed by that argument,” she said.

Victorian Aboriginal Elders Summit

The theme of day two of the Victorian Aboriginal Elders Summit was Respect. In line with the theme, discussions focused on what matter to our Elders, beginning with the revitalisation of Victorian Aboriginal languages. Aunty Vicki Couzens addressed the summit in language, and shared how the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for languages has been working tirelessly to celebrate and replenish our knowledge of language. In a panel discussion with Rosales Martinez, Aunty Gina Bundle, and Aunty Cheryl Drayton, a call to action was made to increase collective advocacy for the revitalisation of language.

The afternoon session was spent in deep discussion about aspirations for the future of Aboriginal Community Controlled Aged Care. A call was made for an urgent expansion of funding for ACCHOs to provide greater access to non-profit community-controlled aged care services, including assessments, in-home and residential services.

Image source: VACCHO Facebook.

Remote Aboriginal community wins legal right for safe drinking water for all NT tenants

The NT Supreme Court ruled this week that the public housing landlord is legally required to supply safe drinking water to its tenants. In 2019 residents of the remote community of Laramba, west of Alice Springs took their landlord, the NT Chief Executive Officer (Housing), to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) over concerns about their drinking water, which contained uranium at levels three times the maximum safe level set out in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. The NTCAT found the landlord was not responsible for providing safe drinking water to its tenants. That decision was overturned by the NT Supreme Court on Monday.

Advocates said the decision “resolves a legal black hole wherein no government department or agency accepted responsibility for providing safe drinking water to people living in remote communities” and “opens an avenue for the estimated 250,000 Indigenous people who are currently unable to reliably access safe and healthy water, to seek legal redress and compensation”.

Read the full National Indigenous Times article here.

Image: Esther Linder (AAP).

Next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s Koori Kids Futures work experience program is helping launch local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students’ careers in health. The latest cohort of year 10 and 11 students completed an immersive three-day program where they enjoyed rotations across a variety of hospital and health services. Throughout the week, students had the opportunity to experience clinical settings, talk to health professionals about their work and gain hands-on learning.

One student said, “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had. It has confirmed my passion for medicine, and I fully intend to pursue a career in medicine.”

A total pf 27 students have taken part in the program this year. Acting Aboriginal Employment Coordinator, Natalie Boncales said offering Koori Kids as a career pathway into health remains an important part of their commitment to Closing the Gap.

“We’ve had a number of successes with Koori Kids over the years and we know it’s an excellent program that provides young Aboriginal people with a pathway into pursuing a career with our local health services.”

Read more here.

Image source: NSW Government.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 125 health organisations pledge support for Voice

The image in the feature tile is of Health organisations from across the country which have signed a statement supporting the Voice to Parliament. Image by ABC News.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

More than 50 health organisations pledge support for Voice

NACCHO is one of 125 health organisations across the country pledging their support for the Voice to Parliament with an open letter to the Australian public. The open letter in support of the Voice to Parliament follows a survey of 1,600 health workers by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Orgainsation (VACCHO) which found the majority of health care workers believe Indigenous health and wellbeing outcomes will improve if those communities are more involved in Aboriginal health policy.

The open letter states: We speak as leading health and medical organisations who spend our professional lives dedicated to caring for all Australians.

We have considered carefully both the case for and the case against the proposed Voice to Parliament.

We confidently believe that the proposed Voice will enhance government decision making about matters that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, ultimately improving health outcomes.

As health professionals, we witness firsthand the disparity in health outcomes between non-Indigenous Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Despite the best efforts of successive governments at all levels, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to have an average life expectancy gap 8.2 years compared to other Australians. The Voice is an opportunity for us to make a practical difference, to ensure the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians does not continue to widen.

We encourage all Australian to actively consider the possible health and wellbeing benefits that the Voice to Parliament would have for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Just as a good clinician listens to their patient, a Voice to Parliament is about listening to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Read more here.

An Open Letter to the Australian Public: A Voice to Parliament will improve health outcomes.

Why the Voice to Parliament will help close the gap.

In an edited extract from Thomas Mayo and Kerry O’Brien’s The Voice to Parliament Handbook, Professor Marcia Langton and Professor Fiona Stanley explain why Australia should vote yes in the upcoming referendum. The extract states that there is clear evidence mainstream government services have, for decades, failed to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Most state, territory and federal government services for Indigenous Australians have been very expensive, based on inappropriate data, and ignorant of vital Aboriginal knowledge. Programs that are initiated and implemented by Aboriginal experts, or in close collaboration with them, are trusted and used, are based on local personal/geographic/social circumstances about which Aboriginal experts are full informed and enhance the self-esteem and mental health of the community.

Examples include Aboriginal birthing, the Youth Justice System, and the First Nations COVID response; these show that when services are developed with Indigenous knowledge, they are extremely effective. For example, all colonised, Indigenous populations internationally are at very high risk from pandemics such as COVID. We, therefore, expected very high infection, hospitalisations, and death rates from COVID in Aboriginal populations. And yet, nationwide, Aboriginal populations had six times fewer cases than non-Indigenous groups.

This extraordinary, and unexpected outcome was due to the Aboriginal leadership taking control of all activities for prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as housing, social and medical support. From NACCHO down to state/territory, regional and remote areas, Aboriginal services demanded and received all the resources they needed to implement this success. They had a Voice that was acted upon.

The evidence is clear. Having a Voice will make a huge difference to improving First Nations outcomes.

Read more here.

Professor Fiona Stanley. Image source: Junkee.

Voting yes will provide a stronger platform to improve health.

Palawa man, and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Tasmania Professor Ian Anderson says Indigenous Australians need a ‘stronger platform’ to improve health and wellbeing. Explaining why he will be voting ‘Yes’ on October 14, Professor Anderson writes: An Indigenous Voice to Parliament does not guarantee outcomes, but it does provide a stronger platform through which governments can work more effectively with Indigenous Australian at a regional and national level.

Governments that don’t listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice can make significant errors in policy or legislation. Professor Anderson draws an example from 2022 where the Stronger Futures agreement between the Commonwealth and NT governments ended. This ended a regime of alcohol restrictions in towns such as Alice Springs. For over a year, Aboriginal community leaders and experts warned of the need for urgent action to maintain these alcohol restrictions, fearing a rise in crime and a decrease in community safety. Neither government took on advice from Indigenous leaders and a year later, the restrictions were lifted, and Alice Springs was in crisis.

“There is more to the crisis in Alice Springs than alcohol supply. It requires a focus on a range of issues such as access to domestic violence services or addressing poverty and improving educational outcomes. However, to see change, it is important to continue to engage with the voices of Indigenous people on the ground and Indigenous experts in this area of public health,” said Professor Anderson.

Read the full article here.

Image source: Shutterstock.

Dr Charles Perkins Oration 2023

The Dr Charles Perkins Oration celebrates Dr Charles Perkins life-long dedication to achieving justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the Oration and Memorial Prize. Keynote speaker, and Dr Charles Perkins’s daughter, Rachel Perkins reflected on her father’s leadership, as well as the upcoming referendum.

“As we stand on the brink of referendum in this country, it presents us with an extraordinary opportunity to bind this nation together with its first people, our greatest ever handshake, if you like, placed in the Australian Constitution.

“And it’s now, at this time, that I miss him most acutely. I miss his leadership, his fearlessness, his ability to reach out and touch the Australian people with his words.”

Rachel Perkins talked about the lessons which can be learned from her father’s leadership.

“…leadership that is earned, by being amongst and working with our people. It is not bestowed by a party preselection process, or the media spotlight. Leadership in our community is forged sitting in the dirt, listening to our people, working towards consensus, building organistions, building people’s capacity, talking with people, protesting on the streets. And on the inside, within the corridors of power, negotiating with grace and when that fails, going against all the odds, rejecting the status quo, paying the price of speaking truth to power. And still, when you are rejected and you have lost everything, having no regrets. That is what makes a great Indigenous leader.”

Watch the full Dr Charles Perkins Oration 2023 here.

Improving cultural comfort in pregnancy and early motherhood

Indigenous health practitioner Lisa McGrady says she could not ignore the lack of engagement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums-to-be in mainstream healthcare services during their pregnancy in the Bundaberg and North Burnett region. She said there are many reasons mums are not engaging in their healthcare, “with barriers like lack of transport, a lack of understanding on the importance and not having confidence to speak up and advocate for themselves in a clinical situation.”

Ms McGrady works at the Indigenous Wellbeing Centre which runs a midwifery program, offering monthly antenatal check-ups, post-birth weigh-ins, and breastfeeding checks. To help engage mums-to-be in the midwifery program the team has but together care bags with donated products to help mums care for bubs and themselves. Ms McGrady said she wanted to provide these bags as a thank you to mums for engaging in the program and ensuring they had what they needed when going to hospital to give birth.

Read more here.

Lisa McGrady, IWC Indigenous health practitioner. Image source: Burnett Today.

Time in the gym changing lives for young men in Mount Isa

A combination of time on Country and time in the gym is guiding young Aboriginal men in Mount Isa away from crime, connecting them with culture, and improving their mental and physical health. Brodie Germaine’s idea to open the gym in 2022 came after the death of his best friend’s father.

“He would ring me up 24/7 in really bad times,” Mr Germaine said.

“For me, I didn’t want to watch another mate lost to suicide, I wanted to help one of my brothers out and so from there I built a gym in my shed.”

Now, in his own gym Mr Germaine is working with the Department of Youth Justice, Employment, Small Business and Training, targeting kids at high risk of engaging in crime.

“The feeling I get when I help these young fellas in the community, them just turning up to the gym, turning up on a Saturday morning, where we take them out bush for the day, that’s a win for me,” he said.

Read the full article here.

Image source: ABC North West Queensland.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Don’t miss out – HUGE PRIZES to be won

feature tile text 'HUGE PRIZES to be won - DON'T MISS OUT on the COVID-19 Vaccination Promotion Competition'

The red and yellow dots in the feature tile are from the National NAIDOC Secretariat website.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Don’t miss out – HUGE PRIZES to be won

Enter the COVID-19 Vaccination promotion competition by submitting a deadly video advertisement/promotion that represents the theme: Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is looking after yourself, for your chance to win! Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the theme: Getting a COIVD-19vaccination is looking after yourself
  • Composition
  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Appropriateness for the target age group: Category 1 – kids 5–12 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 2 – teens and adults 13–49 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 3 – older adults 50+ (in the ACCHO community).

There are 3 amazing prizes up for grabs:

Category 1

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 2

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 3

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

This is an opportunity for you to really show who and what your community is like, and the best ways to communicate with them.

We encourage teams to be creative with the theme. Is the best way to get your mob interested, through humour? Being strong and serious? Telling a story? Addressing negative stereotypes?

Be open to the possibilities of what ‘self-care’ looks like. Self-care could be 30-year-olds discussing the importance of getting the vaccination; or 70-year-olds spinning around the basketball courts because they’re fit and healthy and vaccinated; or tie your promotion to building community strength and vitality.

The more original and community-oriented, the better.

You can access a competition Entry Form here. All entries must be submitted by Thursday 28 September 2023.

The Terms and Conditions for the competition are available here.

NACCHO tile text 'NACCHO Members' Conference 2023 - 23-26 October, Noongar Boodjar (Perth) MAY THE BEST ACCHOs WIN... - Return Flights; Tickets to NACCHO's Conference for 3 staff members; Accommodation; images of plane, city of Perth at night & motel bedroom

Elders say aged care system needs to change

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recognised the aged care system has failed to provide culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they age. It recommended major reforms, including active partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Australian government has also committed more funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care services, with a focus on boosting the role of ACCOs.

So what do older Aboriginal people need to age well? And how can aged care funding and systems enable that? This was at the centre of a study, led by the Dharriwaa Elders Group in its long-term partnership with the University of NSW, known as Yuwaya Ngarra-li. The study involved speaking with 22 Elders in the remote NSW town of Walgett about what ageing well means to them.

Aboriginal Elders play an important role as community leaders and protectors of cultural heritage. This involves passing down knowledge and stories, leadership, care-giving and safeguarding family, community and intergenerational wellbeing. Supporting this aspect of ageing well is crucial. As one Elder explained: “Talking about our stories and storylines, and telling those stories […] It’s Aboriginal culture – it’s an oral system of educating people and giving people information. It’s part and parcel of Aboriginal life […] you know your stories, you know where you come from. For Elders who have worked away from Walgett in various careers, this means a kind of “active retirement” – returning to Country to bring back knowledge and continue a legacy for future generations.

To view The Conversation article The aged care system has failed Aboriginal people. Here’s what Elders say needs to change in full click here. You can also access information about NACCHO’s Elder Care Support Program here.

Dharriwaa Elders Group members sitting at table in staff room - 1 woman, 3 men

Dharriwaa Elders Group. Image source: The Conversation.

Noongar mob encouraged to reach out

Content warning: This article contains reference to suicide. Please refer to the services at the bottom of this article for support.

This year’s theme of World Suicide Prevention Day (Sunday 10 September 2023) was “Creating hope through action” and South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) chairperson Megan Krakouer, who has worked for a decade in suicide postvention and prevention, is leading a push to raise awareness in Indigenous communities.

Suicide is the leading cause of death of First Nations people under 40 and almost all First Nation deaths by suicide involve individuals who were living below the poverty line. SWALSC encourages the Noongar community, and all First Nations people, to reach out to those around us and offer love and support to people who are struggling.

Ms Krakouer, who is also the Director of the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, said suicide is “the most pressing issue that affects our people. This needs to be prioritised by this nation, by every government in this country, before all other issues,” she said. According to the Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention website, available here, data from 2017–2021 shows the rate for suicide among Indigenous Australians is twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

An important step towards suicide prevention and mental wellbeing is connection to community and it’s one of the seven domains of social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Social and emotional wellbeing is a holistic way of looking at relationships between individuals, family, kin and community in the context of land, culture, spirituality and ancestry.

To read the National Indigenous Times article SWALSC encourages Noongar community to reach out on World Suicide Prevention Day in full click here. You can also access information about a recent documentary, Keeping Hope, presented and co-produced by actor and proud Nyikina man Mark Coles Smith (below) here.

Mark Coles Smith at Hovercraft Bay, Broome, WA

Presenter and Co-producer of documentary Keeping Hope, Mark Coles Smith at Hovercraft Bay, Broome, WA. Photo: Torstein Dyrting. Image source: SBS.

If this article brought up anything for you or someone you love, please reach out to, call or visit the online resources listed below for support:

13YARN – 13 92 76, 13yarn.org.au

Lifeline – 13 11 14, lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636, beyondblue.org.au/forums

MensLine – 1300 789 978

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, click here

Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800

Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467

Voice is a chance to close economic gap

The Liberal MP Julian Leeser, esigned in April as the shadow attorney general and shadow minister for Indigenous Australians after the Coalition decided to oppose an Indigenous voice in the constitution, says a voice to parliament is not about “special treatment or privileges” but about getting Indigenous Australians “to the same starting line that other Australians are at”. Amid rising partisan rancour in the referendum debate, with his own side leading the charge for the no campaign, Leeser told parliament he supported the voice because it was a manifestation of “deeply Liberal and conservative ideas”.

Leeser said he is supporting the voice to parliament because “my concern, as a Liberal, is that Indigenous Australians are not sharing in this country’s opportunities”. Leeser said establishing a constitutionally enshrined advisory body was about “Indigenous children, their lives and their future; and trying to create the conditions so that Indigenous children can walk confidently in two worlds”. It was also about “empowerment, respect and the strengthening of Indigenous civic infrastructure, all within our democratic system”. He said the disconnect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia was “the root cause of the economic disconnection in Indigenous communities and lives”.

“In our country, the Indigenous employment rate is around 49% – this compares with 75% for non-Indigenous Australians,” he said. “In terms of household income, the latest data of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found that 43% of Indigenous adults receive a total weekly pre-tax income of $500 a week or less. The poverty line in Australia is $489 a week for a single person. Almost one in two Indigenous adults live on the poverty line.” He said closing the gap meant creating opportunity. It meant “jobs, not welfare. It’s about universities not prisons.” Leeser invited “all Australians to lift up their eyes, and despite their own challenges, to see the gap that does not close.”

To view The Guardian article Voice can close economic gap for Indigenous Australians, says Julian Leeser in full click here.

Liberal MP Julian Leeser holding papers, facing press

Julian Leeser says closing the gap is about ‘jobs, not welfare. It’s about universities not prisons.’ Photo: Bianca de Marchi, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Prenatal program helps mums and bubs thrive

When Natalie Page went into labour suddenly with her first baby she was quite frightened. Ms Page’s mother drove her to the nearest hospital to give birth to her oldest daughter Emariah. “I was so scared, my mother had a very traumatic time giving birth and I kept thinking, ‘What if this is me? What if I don’t make it?’,” Ms Page said. But by the time she had her third daughter Unarra at the Mater Mothers’ Hospital she benefited from having a midwife by her side who made her feel at ease. Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) is a partnership program between Mater Hospital, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane (ATSICHS).

The prenatal health care program, now in its 10th year, is promoting a self-determination model that prioritises Indigenous mums’ physical and mental wellbeing. Ms Page said she benefited and wished she had been able to access the BiOC program with her first pregnancy. “They have provided so many services, including transport to medical appointments and have been there to provide milk and bread if needed,” she said.

ATSICHS Brisbane CEO Renee Blackman said the success of the birthing program showed what could be achieved when partners worked together with a shared vision and commitment to Aboriginal-led models of care and IUIH CEO Adrian Carson said improved outcomes demonstrated the success of ACCHOs leading reform with mainstream maternity services, such as Mater Mothers’ Hospital. “The ACCHS sector has long advocated that models of care specifically designed for First Nations people and delivered by ACCHSs can achieve better outcomes for our people and be more cost-effective,” Mr Carson said.

To view The West Australian article Prenatal program helps Indigenous mums and bubs thrive in full click here.

Natalie Page sitting on beach with children: baby, toddler & older girl

Natalie Page and her children were helped by a birthing program for Indigenous mums and babies. Photo: from PR handout, AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Mornington Island store engages Outback Stores

Mornington Island’s only grocery store and takeaway outlet are under new management. Gununamanda Limited Deputy Chairperson Roxanne Thomas says Outback Stores had been awarded a three-year management agreement to manage the store and lift standards after a select tender process was conducted. “We have undertaken a major restructure in the last 12 months, and Outback Stores have agreed to work with the directors to improve our store and we welcome them to Mornington Island,” Ms Thomas said.

The store is in the town of Gununa on Mornington Island, the largest of the North Wellesley Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, 125kms north-west of Burke and 444 kms from Mt Isa. The community of about 1,000, about 80% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, is serviced by five weekly flights from Mount Isa and Cairns and a weekly barge freight service. “Outback Stores was selected as the successful tenderer due to its retail expertise and successful track record over the last 15 years in assisting remote communities,” Ms Thomas said. “They operate as a not‑for-profit, provide a range of support services and return all profits to the community.”

CEO Michael Borg says Outback Stores was founded in 2006 to improve the health of Indigenous Australians living in remote Australia by addressing nutrition-related health problems, unreliable food supplies and poor management practices associated with many remote stores. The company operates 52 stores in the NT, SA, WA, NSW and now QLD. “Our priority will be to get the Mornington Island store back on its feet, ensure people have access to healthy food and provide a good range of produce at affordable prices. In particular, we will look at reducing prices on staples such as milk, bread, potatoes and carrots,” he said.

To read the RetailWorld article Mornington Island store engages Outback Stores in full click here.

Gununamanda Limited Deputy Chairperson Roxanne Thomas with Store Manager Tyler Sandercock

Gununamanda Limited Deputy Chairperson Roxanne Thomas with Store Manager Tyler Sandercock. Image source: RetailWorld.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Codesign important for healthcare and research

feature tile image of non-Indigenous researcher in bush with laptop & ATSI woman & 2 ATSI teenagers; text 'Listening and responding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can change healthcare for the better'

The image in the feature tile is of researcher Dr Jill Vaughan with a speaker of Burarra, northcentral Arnhem Land. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Codesign important for healthcare and research

The importance of codesigning First Nations healthcare and health research has been highlighted through insights by four researchers from the Menzies School of Health Research (MSHR). Published this week, 4 September 2023, in Insight+, by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), First Nations researchers Stuart Yiwarr McGrath and Mark Mayo and non-Indigenous researchers Professor Anna Ralph and Dr Vicki Kerrigan share their experiences in how listening and responding to First Nations collaborators changed healthcare and training for the better.

This forms part of a series of discussions published by Insight+ which addresses how constitutional change and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice could impact health. A key example shared was the development of Menzies COVID-19 vaccination videos. Through consultation and conversation with community, this allowed tailored, reputable and trusted resources to be created by community members, allowing healthcare choices to be genuinely informed.

As the nation faces an upcoming referendum on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, this article focuses on the value of building trusted relationships and shared decision making. Menzies is committed to walking together – Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians – to support better health and better futures.

You can read about each of the researchers’ codesign learnings here the Menzies School of Health Research media release Codesign and communication supports a healthier future in full click here.

The below video is one of the Menzies COVID-19 vaccination videos. It is an example of a health promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people codesigned with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. PLEASE NOTE: the vaccine information in this video is NOT up-to-date. You can find the latest recommendations from the Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) regarding COVID-19 vaccination here.

ACT apathetic around Indigenous issues

Speaking at a recent symposium on the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents of Canberra, Jon Stanhope looked at the ACT government’s response, as well as our collective response as a community, to the needs of our indigenous fellow citizens. Mr Stanhope said “The data from the Productivity Commission provides insight into the status of Aboriginal peoples in Canberra; it also reveals much, whether we like it or not, about the non-Aboriginal residents of Canberra and of the community.”

While Canberra on a per capita basis, is the nation’s wealthiest city with the largest relative cohort of upper/middle-class citizens it also has a low real and pro rata Aboriginal population compared to all other states and territories.

Mr Stanhope said the obvious question repeatedly raised with him by Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services CEO Julie Tongs is why the appalling life outcomes experienced by many Aboriginal residents of Canberra are greeted by the ACT government and non-Aboriginal Canberrans with either deafening silence or complete indifference.

To read the CBR City News article Why the apathy around harsh indigenous issues? in full click here.

exterior of the Alexander Maconochie Centre Canberra

Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) – “The ACT has the highest rate ration of Aboriginal peoples, male and female combined, in prison in Australia.” Image source: CBR City News.

Calls for major overhaul of VIC justice systems

Victoria’s Indigenous truth-telling inquiry is calling on the state government to create an independent watchdog to tackle police complaints, a First Nations-controlled child protection system and to stop detaining children under the age of 16. During a year-long inquiry, the Yoorrook Justice Commission found evidence of ongoing systemic racism and gross human rights abuses committed against First Peoples in the state of Victoria.

In its most significant proposal yet, the commission has put forward 46 recommendations amounting to a sweeping overhaul of Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems. It is the first time in Australian history a government will be forced to respond to a major reform agenda put forward by its own truth-telling commission.

The recommendations range from long-term transformative change — like establishing a dedicated child protection system for First Peoples children, controlled by First People — to urgent asks including raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14. “This is the first truth-telling commission in Australia, in Victoria, for Victorian First Peoples,” Wurundjeri and Ngurai Illum Wurrung woman and Yoorrook Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter said. “We are not going to tinker around the edges here.”

To view the ABC News article Victorian Aboriginal truth-telling inquiry calls for major overhaul of justice systems in full click here.

Yoorrook Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter

Yoorrook Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter. Photo: Danielle Bonica, ABC News.

SNAICC Conference attracts 1,500+ delegates

Yesterday the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak boy in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, commenced its biennial conference with more than 1,500 delegates in Garamilla (Darwin). The conference will highlight the work of SNAICC and its members when it comes to Closing the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, policy makers, researchers, government officials, non-government organisations and industry representatives will share knowledge and experience about supporting children and families to thrive while also highlighting the importance of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions to issues.

“The evidence is clear that when we are partners in the decision-making, running the services and developing the policy, it works,” said SNAICC Chair Muriel Bamblett AO. “SNAICC’23 will platform more than 110 sessions that will demonstrate how the work that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (ACCOs) are doing in early years services and care and child protection are delivering results.” Speakers include international keynote Judge Frances Eivers, former Aotearoa New Zealand Children’s Commissioner, now member of Board of Commissioners; Pat Turner AM, Lead Convenor Coalition of Peaks and CEO NACCHO; and, Dean Parkin, Yes23 Campaign Director.

You can find more information about the conference here and read The Sector article SNAICC Conference kicks off today – more than 1,500 delegates expected in full click here.logo text 'Voices @ the Top SNAICC'23 Larrakia Country 5-7 September

Kulay Kalingka cancer study for mob

A ground breaking national study, Kulay Kalingka, is asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about cancer beliefs and attitudes, experiences, engagement with cancer screening programs, cancer treatment, cancer diagnosis, and caring responsibilities. The Study will monitor and inform improvements in cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples against Cancer Australia’s National Cancer Control Indicators and provide data about our experiences of cancer where no data currently exists.

The Kulay Kalingka Study arose from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community needs to better understand cancer attitudes, beliefs and experiences and from calls for the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, families and communities in cancer research. The Study, funded by Cancer Australia, is designed, led and controlled by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person 18 years or older with or without a cancer diagnosis can complete the survey. You can find the link to the survey for People who HAVE had a cancer diagnosis here and People who have NOT had a cancer diagnosis here.

You can find more information about the Kulay Kalingka Study here.

COVID-19 vax competition offering HUGE prizes

6 ACCHOs and 15 creative people can win return flights, accommodation, and tickets for up to 3 ACCHO staff members to attend the NACCHO’s Members’ Conference in Perth this October.

Enter the COVID-19 Vaccination promotion competition by submitting a deadly video advertisement/promotion that represents the theme: Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is looking after yourself, for your chance to win! Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the theme: Getting a COIVD-19 vaccination is looking after yourself
  • Composition
  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Appropriateness for the target age group: Category 1 – kids 5–12 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 2 – teens and adults 13–49 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 3 – older adults 50+ (in the ACCHO community).

There are 3 amazing prizes up for grabs:

Category 1

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 2

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 3

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

This is an opportunity for you to really show who and what your community is like, and the best ways to communicate with them.

We encourage teams to be creative with the theme. Is the best way to get your mob interested, through humour? Being strong and serious? Telling a story? Addressing negative stereotypes?

Be open to the possibilities of what ‘self-care’ looks like. Self-care could be 30-year-olds discussing the importance of getting the vaccination; or 70-year-olds spinning around the basketball courts because they’re fit and healthy and vaccinated; or tie your promotion to building community strength and vitality.

The more original and community-oriented, the better.

You can access a competition Entry Form here.

The Terms and Conditions for the competition are available here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Indigenous Literacy Day – 6 September 2023

Indigenous Literacy Day is a yearly initiative by Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF). Through literacy programs, ILF seeks to improve the lives and possibilities of Indigenous Australians with literacy programs that put the knowledge and wisdom of the Indigenous people first.

Australia’s First People have a deep knowledge of community, culture, and land with concepts of “literacy” that the western world may not understand. Literacy must be redefined in terms of what it means for different communities and their needs, to create forward-thinking spaces without losing roots. Indigenous Literacy Day advocates people’s right to an education in the languages they speak at home and celebrates Indigenous freedom of expression and participation in public life just as they are.

At the Sydney Opera House earlier today the ILF presented a 15‑minute film celebrating Indigenous Literacy Day with stories and songs from remote Communities.

You can watch the launch of the film which celebrates Stories, Cultures and Languages here.

5 ATSI young kids sitting on a log, text 'Welcome to Barunga!' & Indigenous Literacy Day logo

Image: from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation 15-minute film celebrating Indigenous Literacy Day 2023.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: COVID-19 competition – win flights to Perth

feature tile, round dot art from conference promotional material overlaid with text 'competition time!' & text 'COVID-19 vaccination program competition win flights, accommodation and tickets to the NACCHO Members’ Conference'

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

COVID-19 competition – win flights to Perth

Win return flights, accommodation, and tickets to the 2023 NACCHO Members’ Conference

6 ACCHOs and 15 creative people can win return flights, accommodation, and tickets for up to 3 ACCHO staff members to attend the NACCHO’s Members’ Conference in Perth this October.

Enter the COVID-19 Vaccination promotion competition by submitting a deadly video advertisement/promotion that represents the theme: Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is looking after yourself, for your chance to win! Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to the theme: Getting a COIVD-19 vaccination is looking after yourself
  • Composition
  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Appropriateness for the target age group: Category 1 – kids 5–12 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 2 – teens and adults 13–49 years (in the ACCHO community), Category 3 – older adults 50+ (in the ACCHO community).

There are 3 amazing prizes up for grabs:

Category 1

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 2

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

Category 3

  • First Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 3 staff members
  • Second Prize includes return flights, accommodation, and tickets to NACCHO’s 2023 Conference in Perth for 2 staff members

This is an opportunity for you to really show who and what your community is like, and the best ways to communicate with them.

We encourage teams to be creative with the theme. Is the best way to get your mob interested, through humour? Being strong and serious? Telling a story? Addressing negative stereotypes?

Be open to the possibilities of what ‘self-care’ looks like. Self-care could be 30-year-olds discussing the importance of getting the vaccination; or 70-year-olds spinning around the basketball courts because they’re fit and healthy and vaccinated; or tie your promotion to building community strength and vitality.

The more original and community-oriented, the better.

You can access a competition Entry Form here.

The Terms and Conditions for the competition are available here.

NACCHO tile text 'NACCHO Members' Conference 2023 - 23-26 October, Noongar Boodjar (Perth) MAY THE BEST ACCHOs WIN... - Return Flights; Tickets to NACCHO's Conference for 3 staff members; Accommodation; images of plane, city of Perth at night & motel bedroom

ACCHO named WA’s Best GP Service for 2023

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Services (DYHS) has been awarded WA’s best GP practice of 2023 by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). This ACCHO that operates on the lands of the Whadjuk Noongar people in metropolitan Perth was recognised for demonstrating excellence in patient care, safety and a commitment to the wellbeing of the community. DYHS GP Registrar, Dr Corey Dalton, was named the RACGP’s 2023 GP in Training. It is the second consecutive year that an Aboriginal doctor from the DYHS medical team has taken out the award. DYHS CEO, Tracey Brand, said the RACGP awards come as the ACCHO prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

“It is remarkable that a service started 50 years ago by a group of volunteers in an old city building with disused equipment from Royal Perth Hospital has become the largest ACCHO in WA,” she said. “These awards acknowledge our Board’s strong leadership and the dedicated DYHS team’s compassion and commitment to cultural safety and clinical excellence.”

Earlier this year DYHS chose to undergo accreditation through the Australian General Practice Accreditation (AGPAL) which involved the practice team reviewing all systems and processes, prior to an independent assessment conducted by a team of AGPAL surveyors. Ms Brand said “Our model delivers culturally responsive comprehensive primary health services with a focus on prevention, early intervention, comprehensive care and care coordination across the life course of our 22,000 patients.”

To view the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service media release Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service named state’s best GP service for 2023 in full click here.

tile of 50+ Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service with hands in air at top landing & down stairs of DYHS office

Glen for Women officially opens

On Wednesday last week, 30 August 2023, The Glen for Women was officially opened. The Glen for Women runs a 12-week residential rehab program based on the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Residential Rehabilitation Network (ADARRN) model of care. The program is designed to support participants with individualised case management plans; grief and trauma counselling; financial counselling; relationship and parenting programs; anger management and relapse prevention programs and 12 step fellowship meetings. Through the program, participants can also learn a range of practical skills to set them up for their return to community.

The Glen for Women has now been operational for 15 months and 84 women have passed through its doors. At the official opening the women who had fought so hard for The Glen for Women, Aunty Coral, Aunty Cheryl, Aunty Gail, Aunty Jan and Aunty Barbara were acknowledged.

You can find more information about The Glen for Women on The Glen website here.

image of outside seated guests for opening of The Glen for Women 20.8.23

Official opening of The Glen for Women. Image sourece: The Glen Rehab Facebook page.

Why the Voice is crucial to health outcomes 

Respected Aboriginal leader Aunty Jill Gallagher – CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) – recently spoke on NITV Radio about the upcoming referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, how Aboriginal Elders drive the narratives as well as an upcoming VACCHO Elder’s Summit. Aunty Jill explained emphatically why a Yes vote is crucial.

You can listen to the NITV Radio interview Aunty Jill Gallagher on why a Yes vote is crucial, the impact on Aboriginal health outcomes and more in full here.

NITV Radio tile text 'Aunty Jill Gallagher on why a Yes vote is crucial, the impact on Aboriginal health outcomes and more' & portrait image of VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher

Image source: NITV Radio.

Children in detention increases crime

Some advocates say the best way to create an adult criminal is to lock up a child. The younger a child is slapped with a probation order or locked up for committing a crime, the more likely they are to return behind bars. So when QLD brought in laws allowing kids as young as 10 to be held in police watch houses, human rights groups were appalled.

Indigenous advocates were also alarmed given the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the youth justice system. Catherine Liddle, the head of a national organisation for Indigenous children known as SNAICC, said the Queensland government action was a disgrace.

“Suspending the Human Rights Act so children as young as 10 can be held in police watch houses and prisons designed for adults is utterly shameful,” she said. “It makes a mockery out of all the work that we’ve been doing to close the gap, which says to work in partnership with ACCOs before you make decisions like this.”

To view the SBS News article Does putting children in detention prevent or produce crime? in full click here.
corridor with closed prison doors either side

Photo: Jono Searle – AAP. Image source: SBS News.

Reducing medication-related problems

Medicines are the most frequent health care intervention type; their safe use provides significant benefits, but inappropriate use can cause harm. Systemic primary care approaches can manage serious medication‐related problems in a timely manner.

A quality improvement activity developed to improve medicine safety is ACTMed (ACTivating primary care for MEDicine safety). ACTMed uses information technology and financial incentives to encourage pharmacists to work more closely with general practitioners to reduce the risk of harm, improve patients’ experience of care, streamline workflows, and increase the efficiency of medical care.

A stepped wedge cluster randomised trial is planned to be undertaken in 42 Queensland primary care practices to assess the effectiveness of the ACTMed intervention. The primary outcome will be the proportion of people at risk of serious medication‐related problems — patients with atrial fibrillation, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, or asthma or congestive obstructive pulmonary disease — who experience such problems. The trail will also estimate the cost per averted serious medication‐related problem and the cost per averted potentially preventable medication‐related hospitalisation.

To read the Activating pharmacists to reduce the frequency of medication‐related problems (ACTMed): a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial article published in The Medical Journal of Australia today click here.

You can also read a previous article on ACTMed published in this newsletter here.

tablet dispenser & hand pouring tablets into palm of other hand

Image source: The Economic Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: World Congress on RHD

 

The image in the feature tile is from the Echo in ACCHOs Program workshop in June 2023.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

World Congress on RHD

Yesterday, 7 August, on the National Day of Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey addressed the Acute Rhematic Fever (ARF) and Rhematic Heart Disease (RHD) research community ahead of the World Congress on Rheumatic Heart Disease. In her remarks, she reminded the research community that investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners, is an essential part of the community-controlled sector’s response to ARF and RHD.

“We have stellar Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners leading the discussion, sharing solutions, and identifying common issues.

“This community of practice is a joy to watch,” said Dr Casey.

Read the full keynote address to the Australian pre-World Congress on RHD meeting here.

Dr Dawn Casey Speaking at the Australian pre-meeting for the World Congress on RHD.

Lorraine Anderson Speaking at the Australian pre-meeting for the World Congress on RHD

Why the Voice is a health issue

NACCHOs response to the pandemic has been recognised as an “extraordinary success story.” In the ABC Health Report, University of Western Australia’s Professor Fiona Stanley said it’s an example of what happens when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a voice.

“The Aboriginal Network of Health and other services worked across Australia to prevent the pandemic from having such a devastating effect on Aboriginal people as it did on other First Nations people everywhere else,” said Stanley.

“… All they need is to have that voice,” she said.

CEO of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Donna Ah Chee said the need for the Voice is about establishing genuine, substantive, and continued representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the policy-making process.

“We know…from our own experience that if you give us a voice, we will make a positive change,” she said.

On the NT Aboriginal Health Forum Mrs Chee said, “It really laid the groundwork for many of our health improvements in the Northern Territory that we’ve seen since.

“We’ve seen in the Northern Territory life expectancy for Aboriginal men improved by 9 years from 1999 to 2018,” she said.

Listen to the ABC Health Report here.

Homes for the future

Local communities, doctors, architects, and tradespeople have teamed up to address the remote housing crisis in the NT. The project, titled Wilya Janta, translates to standing strong, and aims to create culturally safe and climate-appropriate housing for remote Aboriginal communities. Residents in remote public housing currently access electricity through a prepaid system which means power is automatically disconnected when credit runs out. Hoping to change that, Warumunga Elder Norman Frank Jupurrurla and NT doctor Simon Quilty first envisioned Wilya Janta more than three years ago.

“We’ve been talking about better houses for my people for a long time now.

“Houses that are made better for my climate, for my culture, and for my children,” Mr Jupurrurla said.

Wilya Janta designs include solar panels and improved insulation, with a desire to create housing that will not only accommodate the extremes of climate change but help reduce costs for residents.

The project is already taking shape with the process of securing land tenure and housing design currently under way. The next step is to secure funding.

Read more here.

Government house accommodating 13 residents. Photo source: Wilya Janta.

Understanding Dementia

A new study will use yarning circles to examine the direct impact and awareness of dementia, sources of strength, and barriers to care from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in urban and remote communities. The PhD research Community, Country, and Cognition: A multi-jurisdictional assessment of dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by Monash University’s Dr Antonia Clarke aims to enhance culturally safe clinical practice, education, and community-led dementia care.

“As a researcher, my goal is to contribute to our understanding of the early identification of factors that promote healthy brain ageing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the development of culturally responsive and community-led prevention and risk reduction programs,” Dr Clarke said.

Read more here.

Image source: Unsplash.

Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners

Yesterday, on the National Day of Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, ACCHOs took to social media to acknowledge the dedication of their staff to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

SWAMS Senior Aboriginal Health Professional, Salena Linforth-Milham reflected on her 16-year journey with the ACCHO, “I have been a receptionist, Health Information Officer and now a Registered Nurse. My passion has always been to help my people and my community our way,” she said.

In 2021, Ms Linforth-Milham became involved in an Aboriginal Brain Study, led by SWAMS and Derbarl Yerrigan. The study has been testing whether we can improve brain health by improving heart health.

“We hope the study findings will help us develop effective programs that can reduce rates of dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” she said.

SWAMS Senior Aboriginal Health Professional Salena Linforth-Milham. Image source: SWAMS Facebook.

NACCHO would like to thank all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners for the wonderful work you do. Below are social media posts from ACCHOs to celebrate the day.

 

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Self-determination is key to positive health outcomes

feature tile image red gold Aboriginal art across map of Australia superimposed with white font text 'self Determination'; other text 'Self-determination is a key factor in achieving positive health outcomes'

The image in the feature tile is from an article To achieve racial justice, we must self-determine meaningfully by Jarrod Hughes published by IndigenousX on 6 August 2020.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Self-determination is key to positive health outcomes

Next Wednesday, 9 August, is the United Nations’s (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day to raise awareness and highlight the rights of the 476 million Indigenous people across 90 countries. In May this year the World Health Assembly passed an unprecedented resolution aimed at strengthening the health of Indigenous people. The resolution contains several ambitious obligations for member states to improve Indigenous health, including the development of national plans to improve access to health care for Indigenous peoples; the integration, where possible, of traditional and complementary medicine in health systems, particularly in primary care and mental health; and the training and recruiting of Indigenous people as health workers. It hopes to reduce some of the stark inequalities faced by many Indigenous peoples as a result of colonisation, displacement, and repression.

The term “Indigenous peoples” is in many ways a crude one, isolating and homogenising 5000 diverse cultures with vastly different experiences, needs, hopes, challenges, opportunities, and ways of life. But there are areas of common cause and solidarity, especially with regards to health. Life expectancy is more than 5 years lower in Indigenous than in non-Indigenous populations in Australia, Cameroon, Canada (First Nations and Inuit), Greenland, Kenya, NZ, and Panama. Maternal mortality, infant mortality, and mental health are often of particular concern. A recent Health Policy on environmental equity argues that Indigenous communities face a disproportionate burden of illness and mortality due to climate change, yet their inclusion and involvement in environmental health policy has been tokenistic at best.

Respect, support, and prioritisation of different Indigenous leadership, knowledges, cultural expression, and continuity and resilience are essential across health, as shown most recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. First Nations peoples in Australia were able to reverse initial disparities in the burden of COVID-19 when empowered by the government to lead their own response early in the pandemic. Indigenous sovereignty, coupled with a community-centred approach focused on cultural relevance and the use of Indigenous health-care providers, appears to have played a crucial role in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.

To view The Lancet article Indigenous health: self-determination is key in full click here.
health workers in PPE in Indigenous community

Health workers in an Indigenous community at the end of 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Michael Franchi. Image source: ABC News.

Purpose built AMS planned for Brewarinna

Frustration was apparent in the 2022 annual report of the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS). Mary Purse, the chairperson of the WAMS Board of Directors noted that “for some fifteen years past, the federal government are not responding to WAMS formal applications for the expansion of the Sandon Street property. Efforts to access funding have finally paid off with WAMS recently being awarded funding from the Federal Government’s $120m allocated for major capital works at community‑controlled organisations. Funding will help construct a new purpose built Aboriginal Medical Service building in Brewarrina.

“(We) are very pleased WAMS has secured the funding to assist in the build in a new purpose-built building and looking forward to the Brewarrina community having access to new state of the art primary health care facility,” Ms Purse said after the announcement. BAMS services Brewarrina and the surrounding communities and small towns in the area, providing not only health care but also programs which focus on Aboriginal culture, youth, education, housing and all aspects of life in a remote rural community for Aboriginal people.

BAMS is auspiced by the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service Limited (WAMS) who accepted an invitation from the NSW Department of Health to oversee the running of the service to maintain a well-disciplined ACCHO. Chief Operations Manager, Katrina Ward is excited to oversee the new project for enhancing medical services for the Brewarrina community and offered thanks the WAMS Board of Directors and CEO for their continued support and assistance in maintaining medical services for the local and surrounding communities. WAMS CEO, Mrs Christine Corby AM, who also recognises the overdue need for a new medical facility in Brewarrina, was very happy with the funding outcome.

To view the Western Plains App article Long term goal achieved with purpose built AMS planned for Brewarrina in full click here.

external view of Brewarrina Aboriginal Health Service Ltd

Brewarrina Aboriginal Health Service Ltd. Image source: Gather website.

CTG Report – no joy in ‘I told you so’

Last week the Productivity Commission released its draft Review of the National Closing the Gap Agreement (the Agreement). The Agreement was launched in July 2020, promising a new era of reform and a ‘genuine’ commitment of governments to work in partnership with First Nations peak organisations. Rather than any bland words of tepid excuse or obfuscating, the Commission launched right into the heart of why, 18 years after the first call to Close the Gap  in health outcomes between First Nations and non-Indigenous peoples, the Government’s ‘efforts’ to fix things continues to languish in failure:  “Progress in implementing the Agreement’s Priority Reforms has, for the most part, been weak and reflects a business-as-usual approach to implementing policies and programs that affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Weak. Business-as-usual. Michelle Gratton called it ‘depressingly predictable’. This has been the never ending story for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities when it comes to social policies that impact them. The Commission went on to say that the “Current implementation raises questions about whether governments have fully grasped the scale of change required to their systems, operations and ways of working to deliver the unprecedented shift they have committed to” and that “It is too easy to find examples of government decisions that contradict commitments in the Agreement, that do not reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s priorities and perspectives and that exacerbate, rather than remedy, disadvantage and discrimination. This is particularly obvious in youth justice systems.”

Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and convenor of the Coalition of Peaks that negotiated the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap has said ‘…that governments need to do much more to implement their commitments to the Priority Reforms, that progress has been patchy and not as intended. I hope this review is a wakeup call to governments to get on with the job they have all agreed to do.’ This was also the reflection of Productivity Commissioner, and Djugun-Yawuru man Romlie Mokak who said that good intentions are not translating to meaningful action on the ground and in communities.

To view the Pearls and Irritations blog post No joy in ‘I told you so’: the Productivity Commission’s 2023 Closing the Gap Report by Paul Wright published earlier today, in full click here.

Aboriginal & Australian flags flying

Image source: Pearls and Irritations.

National Cervical Screening Program update

The National Cervical Screening Program education course for healthcare providers has now been updated to reflect the expansion of self-collection eligibility on 1 July 2022. The course is a self-directed Continuing Professional Development (CPD) online training course consisting of six modules, intended to enhance, reinforce and increase knowledge about the Cervical Screening Test and clinical pathways.

The duration of each module is approximately one hour, with one self-directed CPD point able to be allocated per hour spent completing the modules. Information on self-collection as a screening option can be found throughout all modules, but of particular interest may be Module 4 Screening in Practice which describes the steps involved in supporting a patient to self-collect a vaginal Cervical Screening Test sample.

We encourage you to distribute this information to your networks to ensure all healthcare providers who administer cervical screening are able to offer and promote self-collection as a safe and accessible Cervical Screening Test option.

You can find more information about the National Cervical Screening Program education course here.

The below video is from the NSW Government Cancer Institute NSW webpage Cervical screening for Aboriginal women available here.

FASD Communications and Engagement grants

NACCHO is excited to announce Round 2 of the FASD Communications and Engagement Grant is now open to support NACCHO members to develop and deliver highly-localised, place-based communications materials and engagement activities to enhance and extend the Strong Born communications campaign. Strong Born has been designed to raise awareness of FASD and the harms of drinking alcohol while pregnant and breastfeeding, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural and remote communities.

Round 2 of the FASD Grant is open to all NACCHO members who did not receive funding in Round 1. Eligible ACCHOs are also able to deliver a place-based response in collaboration with other community-controlled organisations and communities.

Eligible ACCHOs can apply for between $5,000 – $60,000 (GST exclusive) of FASD Grant funding which can be used for activities such as:

  1. Creation of locally relevant communications materials and resources raising awareness of FASD and the harms of drinking alcohol while pregnant and breastfeeding
  2. Hosting community events and yarning circles
  3. Running information sessions for staff members
  4. Production of additional copies of the ‘Strong Born’ campaign materials
  5. Translation or adaptation of ‘Strong Born’ campaign materials and/or key messages into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages

You can register for the grant information session on Wednesday 9 August at 2.00pm AEDT here.

You can find more information about the FASD Grant and how to apply on the NACCHO website here.

Applications for Round 2 will close 11.00pm AEDT 11 August 2023.

You can also contact the NACCHO FASD Grants team by email using this link.

tile NACCHO logo; text 'FASD Communications & Engagement Grant Round 2 Open wwww.naccho.org.au/FASD Strong Born

Sector Jobs

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

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

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day is celebrated across the country each year on 4 August. It is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to celebrate the strength and culture of their children. Children’s Day was first held in 1988. Part of the reason it was started was because there were many of our children in orphanages and institutions who did not know their birthday, so Children’s Day was set aside each year to celebrate the birthday of these children.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) is the National Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children. As the national peak body, they have a responsibility to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s voices as powerful as possible, now and into the future. A First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution will amplify the work being done to ensure our children can flourish, with power over their destinies.

This year’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day theme ‘Little Voices, Loud Futures’ fires that ambition. SNAICC is raising awareness for the bright futures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the potential for their voices to pave a new path for our nation. As always, SNAICC supports the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in calling for a future where they are proud and empowered by their culture to speak their truth and be listened to by all Australians.

You can find more information about National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on the SNAICC website here.

banner SNAICC's National ATSI Children's Day 'Little Voices, Loud Futures' 4 August 2023

World Breastfeeding Week – 1–7 August 2023

During World Breastfeeding Week, 1–7 August 2023, NACCHO has been sharing a range information about breastfeeding as it relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their families.

Below is a video Just Let Them Them Feed requested by the Western Arrarnta people of Ntaria (Hermannsburg, NT). The Aboriginal women wanted to reinforce the benefits of breastfeeding and educate their community and other Aboriginal people about the importance of breastfeeding. Sometimes this essential health information gets missed in the messages health staff communicate out bush because most Aboriginal women are seen as “natural breast feeders,” but this isn’t always the case.

The project came about through a direct connection with a core group of breastfeeding women who live and work in Ntaria. They had been talking about the decline in breastfeeding among young women in their community, and they wanted to do something about it. Young men and women were involved from the start of the project to attract younger community members to watch and listen to what the older, wiser men and women had to say about the benefits of breastfeeding. The younger ones rapped about the importance of breastfeeding through the use of song and dance, while the elders spoke with wisdom and truth about the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby and the next generation.

Voices from the community, as well as from the staff at the local health centre, were recorded so that people could hear about how breastfeeding is important for the future of the culture and community. Published research about drops in breastfeeding rates in Central Australian remote communities has not been presented to date, but even a small shift down in these rates is something local women and Elders want to address now. Community members report that some young mums bottle feed because they want to smoke, drink, or go out, but they don’t want their actions to affect the baby, or they have tried breastfeeding and just cannot breastfeed for whatever reason. Another youthful perception is that if other people can formula feed, so can they; but they don’t really know the consequences to the health of their baby when making this decision. We know that during the first six months of a baby’s life, we need to Let Them Feed.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Embedding pharmacists in ACCHOs

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Embedding pharmacists in ACCHOs

The Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) has announced it supports funding for embedding pharmacists in ACHHOs. NACCHO Chair Donella Mills said, “MSAC’s support confirms ACHHOs can better ensure safe and effective use of medicines when pharmacists are present.”

“Our member services have been calling for support and funding for non-dispensing pharmacists integrated into ACCHOs for years… This endorsement further validates their requests and demonstrates the impact of team-based community-controlled healthcare,” she said.

The recommendation from Australia’s principal medical advisory group is based on a joint submission by NACCHO, PSA, and James Cook University, which found compelling evidence in the Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to improve Chronic Disease Management (IPAC) project. Pharmacists were proven to be valuable in improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; this includes a significant improvement in self-reported adherence to medicines, clinically significant improvements in the control of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes, and reduced risk of chronic disease patients developing CVD.

Read NACCHO’s media release here. Read the Australian Pharmacist article here.

Mandatory alcohol labelling – what’s next?

An expert panel including NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey will come together next month, Wednesday 2 August for the FASD Australia Mandatory Alcohol Labelling: A long fought battle. Now what’s next? webinar. From Tuesday 1 August labels identifying the harms of alcohol during pregnancy will be mandatory on all packaged alcoholic beverages with more than 1.15% alcohol by volume sold in Australia and NZ. Label messaging will state: “Alcohol can cause lifelong harm to your baby.”

The event will celebrate the landmark policy and the successful collaboration between researchers, advocates, community, and government. The panel will hear from a mother with lived experience of raising a child with FASD. The webinar will also explore the impact of the changes and other policies in reducing alcohol harms in communities, before looking at what’s next for reducing the risk of prenatal alcohol exposure and FASD across Australia.

Learn more here.

Image source: FASD Hub Australia.

Remote supervision keeps GP doors open

Remote supervision aims to get more GPs training and working in remote communities and communities in need across Australia. Regional NSW town, Armidale has been contending with workforce shortages in recent months, with clinics relying on telehealth services as a stopgap since its onsite GP moved away. A Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) remote supervision placement will see a new registrar practice at West Armidale Medical Clinic, supported by two remote supervisors.

“Remote supervision enables a GP to train in a community with limited or no onsite supervisor available – it’s an innovative way to get more GP registrars into communities in need and improve access for patients,” said RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins.

RACGP Senior Local Medical Educator, Head of Training New England Northwest, Dr Donna Quinn said the program in Armidale is an example of improving and expanding access to care for patients, “the fact that a registrar will be able to practice with remote supervision means that the patients at the clinic can continue to access care, and that makes a huge difference for a community.”

Read more here. More information about the RACGP’s remote supervision placements can be found here.

Image source: Unspalsh.

Ongoing impacts of COVID-19

Healthcare leaders are concerned about a lack of information and awareness about the ongoing risks of COVID-19. NACCHO Medical Advisor, Megan Campbell said, “COVID-19 continues to spread and affect many people across the country, including ACCHO clients and staff.” Victoria Allied Health Professionals Association, Executive Officer Andrew Hewat says across the board, COVID-19 continues to put pressure on the healthcare system and it’s important to recognise the ongoing efforts of health workers.

“COVID has taken regular healthcare workload pressures and put it on steroids,” he said.

Meanwhile, Professor Lesley Russell said national COVID data is lacking, and Australia has “no effective national surveillance or no standardised national collection of epidemiological and genetic data.” This makes it difficult to determine how many Australians are affected, plan for future waves, identify accurate prevalence of Long COVID, and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and treatments.

Lung Foundation Australia says not many people are aware of the impacts of Long COVID.  The Foundation is urging people to “remain vigilant as COVID continues to be a major health concern” and to ensure they are up to date with COVID and other vaccinations, particularly during winter while other respiratory viruses are circulating.

Read the full Croakey Health Media article here.

Image source: Unsplash.

Improving mental health literacy of young men

Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged between 1425 will be at the centre of new mental health research in Stirling. The Curtin University research project will aim to understand how young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men perceive mental health and their current approaches to promoting mental wellbeing, as well as the barriers and facilitators to fostering wellbeing and resilience. The research team will develop and test culturally appropriate mental health messages that will resonate with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

“We will conduct co-design workshops to develop new strengths-based approaches to increase mental health literacy and mental health promotion grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and being, which might include social media campaigns or mass media campaigns,” said Curtin’s School of Population Health, Professor Penelope Hasking.

“We will soon be recruiting our research team to guide the project… comprising young Aboriginal [and Torres Strait Islander] men and Elders before we commence an initial pilot within the City of Stirling early next year,” she said.

Read the full West Australian article here.

Curtin University. Image Source: The West Australian.

Palliative Care Conference registrations near 1,000

Registrations for the 2023 Oceanic Palliative Care Conference (23OPCC) are now open with registrations climbing towards 1,000 delegates. Running between Wednesday 13 September and Friday 15 September, the conference centres around the theme, ‘With the end in mind, shaping stronger health systems, delivering quality palliative care.’ Topics on the agenda include building and sustaining the workforce, caring for diverse populations, future models of care and primary health reform. Palliative Care Australia CEO, Camilla Rowland said, “our sector is very passionate about the care they provide and OPCC really energises innovative thinking, not just in the palliative care sector but also its connection with aged care, disability services and the wider health system.”

“We were blown away by the strength of the abstract submissions we received, the best and brightest speakers are lining up to share their work and knowledge at OPCC,” said Ms Rowland.

Speakers include geriatrician Dr Sue Kurrle, Canadian researcher and podcaster Dr Hsien Seow, former Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy, Aboriginal nurse practitioner Kat Hooper, and renowned researcher and leader Professor David Currow. Registrations are open until Thursday 17 August, a late fee will apply from Friday 18 August.

For further registration details click here.

To view the medianet. article Strong conference program and passion for reform draws palliative care sector to Sydney this September in full click here.

Image Source: Palliative Care Australia Twitter.

Sector Jobs

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

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