NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: RACGP calls for QLD government to come clean

The image in the feature tile is from an RACGP newsGP article ‘Very disappointing’: UTI pharmacy prescribing pilot extended indefinitely published on 4 July 2022.

RACGP calls for QLD government to come clean

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has called on the Queensland Government to come clean on the North Queensland Retail Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot. It comes following the RACGP lodging a Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act) request to the Queensland Health Department on 28 March this year – 256 days ago. So far, no information has been forthcoming. The application sought access to meeting agendas, meeting papers (including notes and briefing papers), minutes, correspondence, budget documents and briefings relating to the pilot.

The college has previously cautioned that the pilot will fragment care and put patient safety and wellbeing at risk. In October this year, the RACGP doubled down on warnings that the experiment will result in poorer health outcomes for patients and much higher healthcare costs. Since then, several jurisdictions including Victoria and NSW, have forged ahead with their own pharmacy prescribing plans.

RACGP President and Mackay-based GP Dr Nicole Higgins said that scrutiny of the pilot was needed more than ever. “This is not rocket science, if due process has been followed then these documents exist, and it is in the public’s interest to know what they contain, especially as this pilot is the product of an election promise rather than responding to a demonstrable public need,” she said.

To view the RACGP media release What is the Queensland Government hiding on the controversial pharmacy prescribing pilot? in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Concerns mob missing out on eating disorder treatment

To view the ABC News article Concerns Indigenous Australians missing out on eating disorder treatment in full click here.

Wiradjuri and Wotjobulak man AJ Williams battled bulimia for three years. Image source: ABC News.

Remote housing: holding government to account

Royal Darwin Hospital’s Dr Nerida Moore and paediatric registrar Dr Tasmyn Soller have co-authored an article about how overcrowding and poor-quality housing are significant driving forces of death and disease in remote communities of the NT, saying “As health care workers, we bear witness to the devastating impact that overcrowding and grossly substandard infrastructure brings. We see mothers who are desperate to find solutions to enable them to wash their children’s clothes, limited by access to washing machines, power and water. Likewise, we see families advocating to reduce overcrowding in their community who are told to wait patiently for nearly a decade for a new house to be built.”

Inadequate housing and overcrowding are at crisis level in many parts of the NT – a fact that has been established over many decades. In Australia, the highest levels of overcrowding occur in very remote communities. In 2019, it was estimated that 51% of Indigenous Australians living in very remote communities resided in overcrowded homes. Estimates suggest an extra 5,000 homes are needed by 2028 to reduce levels of overcrowding to an acceptable level.

It is therefore unsurprising that remote communities experience some of the highest rates of devastating and preventable diseases such as acute rheumatic fever (ARF), rheumatic heart disease (RHD), acute post streptococcal glomerulonephritis, chronic suppurative lung disease, skin infections and otitis media. These diseases, even though they have different pathophysiology, all have common links to the social determinants of health. This is further highlighted by the steep decline of these diseases globally as living conditions have gradually improved across the world.

To view the InSight article Remote community housing: holding government to account in full click here.

Gloria Chula lives in a three-bedroom house of 16 people in Wadeye, one of the Northern Territory’s poorest and most troubled Indigenous communities. Image source: The Islander.

Nine-year-old ‘doctors’ set to graduate

A group of primary school-aged “doctors” are set to graduate in Melbourne’s north and become life-long health ambassadors for themselves and their communities. The 30-odd students in grades three and four at Reservoir East Primary School are graduating from the 15-week Malpa Young Doctors for Life program this week.

The program is culturally derived and teaches both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children traditional ways of healing, along with modern ways of keeping communities healthy. Interstate, nine South Australian schools signed up in 2022, and three schools are also part of the program in NSW in Dubbo South, and in Smithtown and Kempsey West in the Mid North Coast region.

The program “equips them with Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge which they end up sharing with others – I believe they are closing the gap for themselves,” Malpa leader Mel Harrison said. “At Reservoir, one of the main benefits is that it has dramatically improved school attendance. “The way the program is designed means that every child feels some form of success in Malpa.”

To view the Milton Ulladulla Times article Nine-year-old ‘doctors’ set to graduate in full click here.

Students from a primary school in Melbourne took part in the Malpa Young Doctors for Life program. Image source: Milton Ulladulla Times.

NT facing COVID-19 spike

COVID-19 cases have doubled in the NT in the past week, rising faster than anywhere else in the country. The NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles says the NT has moved out of the COVID-19 emergency phase but Aboriginal health care providers say that call is premature. Angus Randall reports that health services are very worried about a Christmas peak. The NT recently recorded a worrying COVID milestone, 100,000 cases since the start of the pandemic. Experts say that is likely an undercount, but the trend in the official numbers shows a steeper rise in the NT right now than anywhere else in Australia.

John Paterson the CEO, of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) said “Up until this year we’ve had 40 Aboriginal deaths in the NT, it’s killing Aboriginal people at younger ages, with the highest numbers of deaths in the 60-69 age group then the 50-59 age group compared to over 80 for the non-Aboriginal population, so you can see the Aboriginal population is at most risk.”

Mr Paterson is concerned about what will happen over the coming weeks as those in remote communities travel to the more populated centres during the Christmas season. “It is unfortunate and I think premature that governments are taking their foot off the pedal and not giving this issue the attention it deserves given we are now seeing a rise in COVID-19 numbers again. Our advice would have been to wait until after the Christmas New Year period to see what the numbers are like and reconsider any other public measures we might need to take during that period.”

You can listen to The World Today ABC broadcast NT facing COVID-19 spike in full here.

Photo: Steven Schubert, ABC News. Image source: ABC News – The World Today.

Australia’s annual sexual health check up

New data released last week by the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney reveals how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted testing and diagnoses of sexually transmissible infections (STI) in Australia. The report titled HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia: Annual surveillance report shows that in 2021 there were 86,916 diagnoses* of chlamydia, 26,577 of gonorrhoea and 5,570 of infectious syphilis in Australia.

“Prior to the pandemic we were seeing increases in chlamydia and gonorrhoea, but in 2021 we recorded a small decline. We believe this reduction is a consequence of both reduced testing and reduced sexual activity with new or casual partners, due to social restrictions and lockdowns during 2020 and 2021,” says Dr Skye McGregor from the Kirby Institute, one of the report’s authors. “On the other hand, syphilis has been steadily increasing among women of reproductive age, gay and bisexual men and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This reflects sustained and ongoing transmission across Australia, which is extremely concerning.”

To view the scimex article Australia’s Annual Sexual Health Check Up: STIs are mostly down, but reductions in testing could be the cause in full click here.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) webpage of 1800 My Options website.

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: Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

The image in the feature tile is from ABC Radio National webpage Talkback: Australia’s first ‘wellbeing’ budget, Wednesday 26 October 2022. Image: marrio31, Getty Images.

Essential ingredients for Wellbeing Budget

As the world faces escalating climate disruption, environmental degradation and geopolitical instability as well as growing inequality and human rights abuses, the development of wellbeing indicators for the Federal Budget presents both opportunities and challenges.  Indigenous health, public health and environmental health experts and community groups will have an opportunity to contribute to the development of a landmark new set of wellbeing indicators that are being prepared for the 2023 Budget.

While Australian governments publish many indicators that support decision-making, including Closing the Gap and the State of the Environment Report, “no national framework or central set of indicators” to track overall progress on wellbeing currently exists. One of the central challenge of progress reporting is bringing attention to the broader factors that underpin community wellbeing and longer-term economic prosperity, in a focused way. Other countries that have frameworks to measure non-economic progress and quality of life include Scotland, Wales, Canada, Germany and Aotearoa/NZ.

The involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations, people with disabilities, and people with lived experience of mental illness will be important if future wellbeing budgets are to genuinely address inequities within our society. Speaking at the Indigenous Wellness Conference last week, Bardi woman Professor Pag Dugeon from the School of Indigenous Studies, University of WA, said “The things we bring to the table are for us in the first instance but they will also benefit non-Indigenous people. We can share the social and emotional wellbeing approach to wellness.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article To make a proper Wellbeing Budget, what are the essential ingredients? in full click here.

SWAMS funded for major facility upgrade

The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) has received a big boost in the federal budget, with funding allocated for a major facility upgrade. $18.3 million was set aside on Tuesday night’s budget announcement, honouring an election promise from the Labor government made in March. At the time, Federal Labor Senator Sue Lines said SWAMS first approached her office five years ago in the hopes of receiving support. “They’ve been spending $600,000 a year on rent, which is money that should be going into providing services, so this will allow them to do what they need to,” Ms Lines said.

The funding will go a long way towards building a brand new heath hub for SWAMS in Carey Park on land donated to the project by the City of Bunbury. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said the hub would be a huge step forward for Noongar people.,”The Heath Hub will have an enormous positive impact on the heath and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the south west.”

To view the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article South West Aboriginal Medical Service gets federal funds for new heath hub in full click here.

SWAMS Chairman Ernie Hill, WA Labor candidate for Forrest Bronwen English, Senator Sue Lines, and SWAMS CEO Leslie Nelson with 3-month-old Gregory Abbott. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Focus on better programs, services, self-determination

Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy has issued a media release stating the Albanese Labor Government is delivering on its election commitments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by improving programs and services and investing in self-determination, with this week’s Budget including funding:

  •  to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart, with funding to:
    • the Australian Electoral Commission to prepare for the referendum
    • commence work on establishing a Makarrata Commission to oversee processes for agreement-making
  • for Indigenous health and education, including funding to:
    • train 500 First Nations health workers and practitioners
    • build modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations
    • build a Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence
    • allow NACCHO to combat RHD in high-risk communities
    • provide 30 four-chair dialysis units
    • improve the ability of Redfern AMS and Tharawal AC AMS to care for patients with chronic diseases
    • provide dialysis treatment buses for remote NSW
    • employ First Nations educators in 60 primary schools to teach First Nations languages and provide greater cultural understanding
    • increase access to early childhood education and care for Indigenous families
    • help First Nations controlled and Community Sector Organisation maintain quality services in light of rising costs
  • for housing and essential services on NT homelands
  • for First Nations Justice, with funding:
    • for 30 community-led justice reinvestment initiatives
    • for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
    • to build capacity of the peak body National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)
    • to support the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum
    • to deliver crime prevention and community safety programs in Central Australia
    • to extend the Indigenous Protected Areas program
  • for microgrid technology across First Nations communities to increase access to cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy
  • to establish an Ambassador for First Nations Peoples
  • for a trial program to replace the Community Development Program with real jobs, real wages and proper conditions

To read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release Delivering a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  Australians in full click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCathy. Photo: Matt Roberts, ABC News.

Speeding access to innovative medicines

Yesterday Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler officially announced the appointment of the new independent Chair of the Health Technology Assessment (NTA) Review Committee, as well as extending the review by six months until December 2023. Chair of Medicines Australia, Dr Anna Lavell, said the new Chair Adjunct Professor Picone AO will lead major reforms that will speed up access to innovative medicines for all Australians. Dr Lavell said “Reform of Australia’s HTA system is well overdue, “We must reduce the time it takes for Australian patients to access innovative medicines, treatments and health technologies. Our health system must be modernised with a clear focus on patient needs and listening to patient perspectives.”

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey PSM is one of the seven members on the HTA Review Reference Committee. The Committee will undertake the first major review and reform of the HTA system in 30 years. “It is a pivotal opporunity to improve this crucial process in accessing innovative medicines” Dr Vavell said.

To view the Healthy Industry Hub article Health Minister formally announces HTA Review independent chair after earlier reveal in full click here.

Image source: Accestra Access Extra.

COVID-19 vax hesitancy study

A study aimed at addressing lower vaccination rates among First Nations expectant mothers and babies will work with Aboriginal medical services around WA following a funding boost. Curtin School of Allied Health senior research fellow, Noongar woman and project lead Anne-Marie Eade said although the current data for mums and bubs is limited a need for greater access to vaccination is needed to ensure their safety due to greater vulnerability. “What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in WA,” Ms Eade said.

The research comes after an $800,000 boost from the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund tackling health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. “Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children – and potentially target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine
rollout,” Ms Eade said.

Ms Eade attributes a mistrust of health systems, misinformation, and a lack of vaccine literacy as factors creating barriers for Indigenous mothers, expectant mothers and women of child-bearing age. The result comes with an increased risk of requiring intensive care, preterm birth and prenatal death. “A pressing concern for pregnant women is about the potential impact of vaccination on their babies. Many prefer to be vaccinated after birth,” Ms Eade said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Study aimed at increasing COVID-vaccination for vulnerable young mums and bubs backed by government funding in full click here.

Photo: Unsplash. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Calls for Netflix ads to prioritise health

More than 50 leading Australian and international health and community organisations have signed an open letter to Netflix, urging the streaming giant to exclude alcohol advertising from its new ad-supported subscription tier. As the world’s biggest streaming platform, Netflix has the chance to set the standard for establishing an ad model that prioritises people’s health and wellbeing, said Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) CEO Caterina Giorgi.

“Netflix has made a really important decision to exclude gambling advertising and they should do the same with alcohol advertising,” Ms Giorgi, a signatory to the joint letter, said. “Alcoholic products cause harm to so many families and communities across the world, causing more than 200 diseases and injuries and more than 3 million deaths each year.” “We know that alcohol advertising contributes to risky drinking particularly among young people, this is why the World Health Organization recommends restricting marketing as a priority area. Netflix can help to prevent harm by excluding alcohol advertising from their platform.”

The joint letter calls attention to research which shows that when young people are exposed to alcohol marketing, they are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age and to drink alcohol at riskier levels. Other signatories to the letter are: NOFASD Australia; Sydney University’s Centre for Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol, Addiction Medicine; World Health Organization Less Alcohol Unit; and the World Cancer Research Fund.

To read The National Tribune article Community organisations call on Netflix to set standard with ad model that prioritises health and wellbeing in full click here.

Image source: Candorium.

‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations protest

Embassy, an installation from the artist Richard Bell, Embassy, has a powerful presence in the forecourt of the Art Gallery of SA (AGSA) last week. A painted sign on the front of the canvas tent read ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ – a nod to the legacy of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a protest camp set up on the lawns of Parliament House on unceded Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) 50 years ago.

Also part of the Adelaide Film Festival, the Embassy tent brought together artists and community organisers for public talks, and featured film screenings between the conversations. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is recognised as “one of the most significant, if not the most significant moment in Aboriginal protest history. It put into action a lot of the philosophies around self-determination and created so much from it, including the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.

To read the CityMag article ‘Embassy’ upholds legacy of First Nations sovereignty and protest in full click here.

L—R: Nici Cumpston, Richard Bell and Dominic Guerrera. Image source: CityMag.

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: Management of COVID-19 in community

The image in the feature tile is from ABC News article Indigenous communities won’t be safe from COVID until we act on the lessons learnt in Wilcannia, 28 November 2021. Photo: Micahel Franchi.

Management of COVID-19 in community

A research article published in The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) says we need to learn from Australia’s response to the pandemic and break down siloes, so we can build a more integrated and resilient health system. While the Australian health care system is well regarded on the global stage in terms of the balance between investment in health care and outcomes delivered, there is considerable fragmentation and poor coordination of care and communication between hospitals and primary care, which limits further improvement. Geographical barriers, workforce shortages and issues relating to acceptability of services limit health care access for residents of rural, regional and remote communities, Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders, and together with an inadequate focus on prevention, limit progress towards health equity.

The article says strong advocacy from NACCHO and GPs in outbreak areas (including the Primary and Chronic Care Panel of the National COVID‐19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce) did consider the issues inherent in managing COVID‐19 in remote communities with overcrowded housing, but resource constraints limited execution of solutions. Early central planning and discussion also rarely involved primary care providers — from private, public or Aboriginal community controlled health sectors — and highlighted a lack of regional health care planning structures. The authors claim there is a particular need for purposeful rebuilding of remote PHC, emphasising the primacy of the Aboriginal clinical workforce, demonstrated as essential for overcoming vaccine hesitancy and enabling timely vaccine rollout.

To view The Medical Journal of Australia article Management of COVID‐19 in the community and the role of primary care: how the pandemic has shone light on a fragmented health system in full click here.

NACCHO developed COVID-19 resource. Image source: Croakey Health Media .

Racism is a public health issue

The Yokayi Footy panel has weighted in on the “horrifying chapter” of racism accusations embroiling Hawthorn football club and AFL coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan Program host Megan Waters made a heartfelt plea and said as mob the news makes her feel “sick to the gut” before emotions got the best of former players Andrew Krakouer, Gillbert McAdam and Darryl White.

Hawthorn football staff, including Clarkson and Fagan, are alleged to have targeted three unnamed First Nations players during their time at the club, pressuring them into severing relationships with partners and families to better focus on their careers. “The story of racism is still very much alive in this country,” Ms Waters said.

Krakouer said similar stories of racism seem to come up every week, highlighting the need for stronger processes to better address the issue, cut suicide rates and social determinate factors felt by Indigenous people as a result of its ongoing impacts. “Racism is a public health issue,” he said. “It affects our health, life and our safety so we need to get serious about racism because what has been done previously, it’s not good enough.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article ‘Racism is a public health issue’: Indigenous footy personalities speak out on Hawthorn probe in full click here.

Andrew Krakouver. Photo: AFL.com.au. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Abolition of cashless debit card

The Albanese Labor Government is delivering a long-term plan to ensure certainty, choice and support to communities moving off the cashless debit card program. Following extensive consultation in sites across the nation, the Government has today announced a suite of measures that empowers local communities and will assist in abolishing the cashless debit card program and ensure communities are better off.

This will deliver on our election commitment to end a failed program. The Government will abolish the cashless debit card program and make income management voluntary in Ceduna, East Kimberley, Goldfields and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. Under the plan, the Cape York region will retain all of its powers of self-determination and referral for community members to go onto income management under the Family Responsibilities Commission.

To view the joint media release Empowering communities with the abolition of the cashless debit card program in full click here.

Photo: Natalie Whitling, ABC News.

WA study to address low vax rate

Pregnant, expectant and breastfeeding First Nations mums will be the focus of new research that seeks to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Aboriginal women across WA. The project will be led by Dr Anne-Marie Eades from the Curtin School of Allied Health. Dr Eades, a Noongar woman from the Wagyl Kaip region of WA, said First Nations women, particularly of a childbearing age, urgently needed greater access to vaccinations because they were most vulnerable to infection.

“There is currently a lack of research addressing the barriers to the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal families,” Dr Eades said. “What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in WA. Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children – and potentially target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine rollout.”

Partnering with the South-West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and Babbingur Mia-Aboriginal Women’s Health Service, Dr Eades will be supported by a team of leading experts in Aboriginal health, COVID-19 vaccinations, immunisation, and midwifery. “We need to determine what factors could have encouraged a greater uptake of vaccination for First Nations mothers who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive,” Dr Eades said.

To view the Curtin University media release Study to address low COVID-19 vaccinations among Aboriginal women in full click here.

Michell Farrell gets her first COVID-19 vaccine at the Ngukurr Clinic. Photo: Kate Ashton, ABC News.

Healthy Skin Guidelines online survey

Telethon Kids Institute is inviting you to participate in an online survey to help with the evaluation of the 1st edition of the National Healthy Skin Guidelines (NHSG). The 1st edition of the NHSG was published in 2018 by the Australian Healthy Skin Consortium. It focuses on the prevention, treatment, and public health control of skin infections (such as impetigo, scabies, crusted scabies and tinea) for Aboriginal populations. Available online, the NHSG has been viewed >10,000 times, downloaded > 3,500 times, and the quiz for knowledge assessment completed >300 times.

Telethon Kids Institute want to know your experience of the guideline to help inform the updates to the next edition, or if you haven’t used it, we’d like to know about where you might go to access this kind of information and resources. The survey is intended for any healthcare worker who cares for people with skin infections. There are two separate surveys for those who have, and those who have not, used the 1st edition of the NHSG. You do not have to have used the 1st edition to take part in this survey, and you will only complete one survey.

It is estimated that the survey will take a maximum of 20 minutes. All responses are anonymous.

Click on this link to begin the survey. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Asha Bowen using this email link.

Increasing maternal health service uptake

University of Huddersfield researcher Devendra Raj Singh hopes that improvements in public health in disadvantaged communities will be the result of his international collaborations under the UK’s Turing Scheme. Devendra recently spent two months at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, where he found that his research drew parallels between health issues faced by Australia’s Aboriginal community and people in his native Nepal.

The PhD research aims to co-design an initiative to improve the delivery and uptake of free maternal and new-born health services in Nepal, where Devendra hails from Madhesh Province in the south of the country. While in Canberra, Devendra worked closely with academics at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU, one of Australia’s highest-ranked universities, and he gained invaluable insights into the issues facing Australia’s First Nations peoples.

“My visit to ANU has provided me with an excellent practical introduction to implementation research methodologies such as co-design, realist review, and policy analysis. But it was my absolute privilege to learn about the historical past, culture, and challenges of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia,” he adds.

To view the University of Huddersfield article Health researcher Devendra aims to build on Turing Scheme experience in full click here.

Natalia Moore-Deagan says the Indigenous health workers are one reason she goes to Danila Dilba. Photo: Lucy Marks, ABC News.

Medicare must be accessible to prisoners

Gerry Georgatos, a suicide prevention and poverty researcher with an experiential focus on social justice has written an article for Independent Australia arguing that Medicare must be accessible for prisoners. “It is my experience, in general, people come out of prisons in worse conditions than when they commenced the situational trauma of incarceration” Georgatos said. Health inequalities and discrimination in this nation’s 132 prisons are rife. Nearly 45,000 prisoners are denied Medicare.  Medicare is denied to prisoners, old and young, and to children as young as ten.

In addition, the incarcerated in effect are denied access to the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme  and denied access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with disastrous impacts. It is established and self-evident, nearly all of Australia’s prisoners are comprised of people living in the lowest quintile of income. Additionally, they also comprise the quintile of the weakest primary and secondary health.”

To view the Independent Australia article Medicare must be accessible for prisoners in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

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: Rut of policy failure linked to colonial ideas

The image in the feature tile is from The Mandarin article Reports point to failed Indigenous policies, 20 June 2020. Image source: Getty Images.

Rut of policy failure linked to colonial ideas

An article Colonial ideas have kept NZ and Australia in a rut of policy failure. We need policy by Indigenous people, for the people, available here, by Dominic O’Sullivan, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology and Professor of Political Science, Charles Sturt University was recently published in The Conversation. In the article Adjunct Professor O’Sullivan says “Crisis is a word often used in politics and the media – the COVID crisis, the housing crisis, the cost of living crisis, and so on. The term usually refers to single events at odds with common ideas of what’s acceptable, fair or good.

“But in NZ, Australia and elsewhere, Indigenous policy can be portrayed as a different kind of crisis altogether. Indeed, it can often just seem like one crisis after another, one policy failure after another: poor health, poor education, all kinds of poor statistics. A kind of permanent crisis. Policy success, on the other hand, often doesn’t fit the crisis narrative: record low Māori unemployment, for instance, or the Māori economy being worth NZ$70 billion and forecast to grow 5% annually. It may be that crisis makes better headlines. But we also need to ask why, and what the deeper implications might be for Indigenous peoples and policy in Aotearoa NZ and Australia.”

Image source: Shutterstock, The Conversation.

AMA President on health workforce woes

AMA President, Professor Steve Robson spoke yesterday on ABC AM about the health workforce, saying “I think if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that you can’t have a healthy economy without healthy Australians and that means a healthy workforce. So we need to future-proof the system and because it takes so long to train a doctor, it takes so long to get experience as a healthcare worker, there is no time to waste. All of the changes to the system need to be made now.”

Professor Robson wants incentive programs that’ll encourage more medical graduates to go into general practice, particularly in remote and regional areas, saying “It’s going to mean working conditions, it’s going to mean remuneration, it’s going to mean respect from the Government to make it a job that people want to do.” The same approach needs to be applied to public hospitals to make them more attractive workplace as well. It’s all part of the AMA’s National Health Workforce Strategy, which tries to match community needs with how many doctors need to be trained in particular specialist areas and geographic regions. It means funding more specialist training placements and regional training and research hospitals.

You can view the transcript of the AMA President’s interview in full here. You can also view a related AMA media release Implementing health workforce plan must be a priority for government here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interpreter. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 and vax updates for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have developed a range of COVID-19 vaccination resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. General COVID-19 vaccine information communication materials, including videos (such as the one below), radio advertisements and interviews, social media, fact sheets, posters and newsletters are available here. In addition subscribers can receive regular newsletters featuring COVID-19 and vaccines updates and other health updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. You can view the newsletter collection here and also subscribe to the newsletter email list here.

ACCOs should have greater control in CP cases

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children are nearly 10 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services compared to non-Aboriginal children. And data shows the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care is projected to double by 2029. “The figures are appalling, and we should all hang our heads in shame,” Tanya Harper, from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), said. “Today in 2022, we are continuing to create yet a new generation of stolen children.”

The data, released by Family Matters, has led to renewed calls for Aboriginal-controlled organisations to be given greater control over Indigenous children needing out-of-home care across the country. Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Jamie-Lee Maynard-Burgess knows what it is like to be removed from her family and her culture. She spent much of her childhood in out-of-home care.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal organisations should be given more control over Indigenous kids in child protection system, advocacy group says in full click here.

Image: Paul Strk, ABC News.

Medicine shortages affecting sector

The NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team would like to notify you about a few recent medicines shortages affecting our sector, including:

tenecteplase (Metalyse) injection: shortage predicted to extend over the next 18 months, TGA has extended shelf-life of some batches by 12 months

semaglutide (Ozempic) and dulaglutide (Trulicity) injections: stock is predicted to return to normal supply by the end of August 2022

benzathine benzylpenicillin tetrahydrate (Bicillin L-A) injection: anticipated shortage has been resolved without issue

It is important that ACCHO and patient ordering remains consistent with previous orders, so that medicines are available for the entire sector. Please discourage stockpiling and hoarding behaviours which can prolong shortages or create inequities.  

The Medicines Supply Security Guarantee including the introduction of Minimum Stockholding Requirements (available here on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) webpage) should help reduce the impact of global medicine shortages that interrupt supply of medicines. Manufacturers will be required to hold a minimum of either 4 or 6 months’ of stock in Australia for certain PBS listed medicines.  

You can search for updates on all shortages at here on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website and subscribe to NACCHO’s monthly medicines newsletter here for tailored advice around shortages and general medicines issues for the sector. To nominate any specific medicines that would result in serious and immediate problems for your ACCHO (for example those with no possible substitute used for life-threatening conditions), contact the NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team here.

For further information you can access a NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs team letter here.

Mike Stephens – Director, Medicines Policy and Program at NACCHO and a registered pharmacist. Image source: Making Connections.

Growing and supporting health workforce

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, says representatives from across Australia’s health workforce including unions, employers and other stakeholders met today to discuss how best to grow and support this vital sector – already Australia’s largest source of employment. Over the next two months the Minister for Health and Aged Care will continue to meet with frontline health care workers, including students and those who have recently left their positions, to understand their issues and what governments can do better.

The feedback from these meetings will inform and advise our new Health Workforce Taskforce as well as the Jobs and Skills Summit process. The Government’s health workforce priorities are: ensuring secure, well-paid jobs, supporting skilled workers throughout their career, and creating a safe work environment.

To view the Minister Butler’s media release Growing and Supporting our Health Workforce click here.

UniSA’s Horizon Hospital and Health Service. Image source: University of SA website.

Cervical screening options for mob

Most women have their cervical sample collected by their health professional. Some women who have never been screened or are overdue for screening may be more comfortable taking their own sample (called self-collection).

Self-collection is one way you can choose to do your Cervical Screening Test every 5 years. It involves collecting your own sample from your vagina, in a private space. These instructions help you to collect your own sample, so you can prevent cervical cancer and live long and strong for yourself and your family.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care have developed a document specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, providing information on the Cervical Screening test and options available for screening. The document, Cervical Screening Test – how to collect your own sample, available here, including an illustrated 10-step instructions.

For further information and to order the cervical screening self-collection resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

The image in the feature tile is of the super talented artist 23 year old Dion ‘Cheeky Dog’ Beasley who is profoundly deaf and has Muscular Dystrophy. Image is from ICTVPLAY – Indigenous community videos on demand, 2014.

Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

Some NDIS participants worry if they don’t spend their annual funds, they won’t be offered the same support in their next plan – and it’s harder for some to use what they’ve been allocated. Around 4.5 million Australians live with disability but less than 13% of them are covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Getting into the scheme is one thing. But many NDIS participants find using their funding is yet another.

Research indicates a major issue in terms of the fairness of the scheme is less in the allocation of funding but more about whether people are able to spend their funding. Some groups – particularly people living in regional or remote areas or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – are less able to use their budgets. The research compared plan size and spending for participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and according to where people live, taking into consideration factors such as age to ensure comparisons were “like with like”.

The research found participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people received larger plans than other NDIS participants. But they spent a similar amount, despite having bigger budgets. This resulted in lower levels of utilisation. Modelling showed increasing the use of support coordinators could increase plan utilisation and reduce inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse participants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those with psychosocial disabilities.

The ConversationTo view the UNSW Sydney Newsroom opinion piece ‘Use it or lose it’ – getting NDIS funding is only half the battle for participants by Helen Dickinson, Professor, Public Service Research, UNSW Sydney and George Disney, Research Fellow, Social Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne click here.

Xtremecare Australia founders William and Marjorie Tatipata with their son, Will. Image source: Hireup website.

Ear disease mistaken for misbehaviour

New research from Western Sydney University has revealed living with childhood ear disease and hearing loss can substantially impact the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the symptoms of Otitis Media often difficult to identify and mistaken for misbehaviour. The study focused on the experiences of caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with Otitis Media, revealing the barriers and challenges they face in accessing effective treatment.

Lead author, Letitia Campbell, a community-based Aboriginal Research Officer with Western Sydney University’s School of Medicine, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a high burden of Otitis Media in childhood, and she is determined to improve how families can manage the condition and receive better healthcare. “Living with chronic ear disease and its consequences on hearing, language development, school performance and behaviour is a common reality for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, with the impact of hearing loss in children having long lasting effects on their wellbeing and development,” said Ms Campbell. “Caregivers have described how easy it is to mistake ear disease for misbehaviour in a child, and how distressing this is to the children who feel they are always getting into trouble for ‘not listening’ or talking too loudly when there is a genuine underlying medical reason.”

The view The National Tribune article Symptoms of childhood ear disease and hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour, new study finds in full click here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Kidney replacements more than double

The number of Australians receiving kidney replacement therapy has more than doubled over the past two decades, new data shows. Kidney replacement therapy numbers jumped from 11,700 to 27,700 from 2000 to 2020, showing chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a significant health issue, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. CKD is defined as the presence of impaired or reduced kidney function lasting at least three months, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report. An estimated 1.7 million Australians are living with early signs of kidney disease, however, many are unaware due to its asymptomatic nature.

AIHW data shows that more than half (14,600) of those receiving kidney replacement therapy were on dialysis and the remainder (13,100) had functioning kidney transplants that required ongoing follow up care. Approximately 2,500 Indigenous Australians with kidney failure received kidney replacement therapy in 2020, a rate of 284 per 100,000, with more than 1 in 4 receiving treatment close to home.

After living with diabetes for 20 years, Ina, an Aboriginal artist from Central Australia, was diagnosed with kidney failure and needed dialysis. She was forced to relocate from a remote are to Adelaide for treatment, which has been the most difficult thing about living with kidney disease. “It’s very important and pretty difficult to manage. Some of us, some of our families, lose us on this machine,” she said.

To view the Daily Mail Australia article Kidney replacement therapy on the rise in full click here. You can also view the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) media release Recipients of kidney replacement therapy more than doubles over 20 years here.

Darwin dialysis patient Jacqueline Amagula would like to be waitlisted for a kidney transplant. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Child vax rates falling behind

First Nations people are being urged to get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster by the country’s peak Indigenous health organisation, NACCHO. The rate of people over 16 who have had two vaccine does sits at nearly 82%. However, only 55% have had a third does and just 30% of eligible people have had their fourth shot.

Earlier this morning Medical Adviser for NACCHO, Dr Jason Agostino, spoke on Koori Radio 93.7FM about how children’s vaccination rates are falling behind “in children coverage has been quite poor and only about one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 5 to 11 have received any vaccine and only about one in five are fully vaccinated and that hasn’t changed much in the last four, six months.” NACCHO says mob may be eligible for new antiviral medications and should talk to their doctor.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

PHC lessons from overseas

New federal Health Minister Mark Butler says primary care is “in worse shape than it’s been in the entire Medicare era” and has made it his top health priority. Primary care is any first point of contact with the health system, such as a GP clinic, dentist, or community pharmacy, but the government is likely to focus on GP clinics. A new taskforce will advise the minister on how to spend $750 million to improve access, chronic disease management, and affordability. The taskforce has until Christmas to come up with a plan, which is a big ask given where the system is now. It has been recommended that Australia should take on lessons from what’s worked overseas to reform general practice funding.

Almost half of Australians have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma or depression. More than half of Australians over 65 have two or more. Those proportions have been rising fast in recent decades. To help patients manage these conditions, GPs need ongoing relationships with patients (known as continuity of care), and a team working with them by providing routine care, outreach, coaching, and advice. That lets GPs spend more of their time working with the most complex patients, resulting in better care and outcomes. The National Rural Health Alliance has proposed the sector move towards a model with similarities to Aboriginal-controlled clinics and community health providers.

To view the on-line Viw Magazine article General practices are struggling. Here are 5 lessons from overseas to reform the funding system in full click here.

Image sources: Indigenous Access Program for health professionals webpage Services Australia.

Awabakal regional vax clinic IT lessons

At a time when most IT professionals retreated to isolated workplaces, local experts Smikteck found a unique way to assist others during COVID-19. The Cardiff business hit the road to support Aboriginal health care provider Awabakal at vaccination clinics in regional areas. Now, 12 months on, they are ready to share their lessons learnt with other medical services. Smikteck director Michael Stafford admitted the pandemic changed the way health care was provided and IT was fundamental to that adjustment. “Lots of industries had to pivot how they provided their services,” he said. “Medical and health services were no exception.”

Instead of trying to troubleshoot issues from a help desk, the Smikteck team joined forces with the health professionals and became an integral part of the clinic set up and service delivery. “Awabakal Ltd came to us with a challenge,” Mr Stafford said. “They provide medical services to an Aboriginal community of more than 8,000 patients. So, the solution was to provide pop-up vaccination clinics in local communities throughout the Hunter. But, to do this, they needed to have the same, secure technology available as a normal medical clinic – and system downtime needed to be minimal.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article IT helps build community health in full click here.

Smikteck director Michael Stafford and Awabakal Ltd chief operations officer Scott Adams. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Cultural safety training for optometrists

Last year, Optometry Australia offered 100 members the opportunity to undertake cultural safety education through Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA). Following the incredible interest they received they have purchased access to IAHA’s Cultural Responsiveness Training (Levels 1 and 2), available for free to all members via the Optometry Australia Institute of Excellence. IAHA’s cultural safety training uses an evidence-based Cultural Responsiveness Framework. Levels 1 and 2 are action-oriented and highly interactive, focusing on strength-based outcomes through critical self-reflective practice.

In 2022, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards (except Medical, Nursing and Midwifery and Psychology) released a revised Code of Conduct which took effect on 29 June. The revised Code includes a new section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety, requiring that all optometrists provide culturally safe and sensitive practice for all communities.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training now available for all Optometry Australia members article in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Everyone needs to be represented

The image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner presenting at the National Press Club. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2020.

Everyone needs to be represented

An interview with NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks regarding her views on the Voice to Parliament was aired on multiple radio stations yesterday. In the interview Ms Turner said “the national voice has to be elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives from each jurisdiction so that everybody is represented.” Ms Turner said “there will be cases put forward for the Torres Strait Islands to have their own representative and there will be large areas in states like NSW, Queensland, NT and WA that will want to have at least different areas of those states and territories represented. So the top end for example of the NT is very different to Central Australia, and the Kimberley is very different to the south-west of WA and likewise with outback NSW versus people who live in Sydney and along the coast.”

Ms Turner said she knows people are rushing on this, but an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island representative group needs to work with the Australian government on the nitty gritty of going to a referendum – the issues of what the referendum question should be, what approach the government takes and timing all need be sorted out first.

The interview appears from 3:05 to 3:29 of the ABC Radio Overnights with Rod Quinn recording here.

Image source: Institute of Public Affairs website.

Australia fails to deliver on UNDRIP

It is now well recognised that Indigenous peoples worldwide have a binding relationship to Earth and Nature which is integral to their health and wellbeing. In 2007 the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), was announced. It was expected to lead to improved understanding and delivery of the spiritual and cultural needs of Aboriginal peoples in relation to their attachment and ownership of lands. In turn this would benefit the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities.

In 2007 a majority of 144 nations voted for the Declaration. There were 4 votes against, Australia, Canada, NZ and the USA, all with a history of colonisation. Australia was reticent to sign, but eventually did in 2009. We are committed to implement the Declaration and promote indigenous people’s enjoyment of rights on an equal basis. However an Australian Human Rights report in 2021 shows the Australian Government  has not taken steps to implement the UNDRIP into law, policy and practice; has not negotiated with Indigenous peoples a National Action Plan to implement the UNDRIP; and has not audited existing laws, policies and practice for compliance with the UNDRIP.

These need to be addressed urgently in the context of Aboriginal health and well being, which has been a laggard in the Closing the Gap assessments, and in the spirit of moving forward in the context of the new Prime Minister’s commitment to constitutional change.

To read the National Tribune article Australia is failing to deliver on the UN Rights of Indigenous people in full click here.

National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Co-Chair Jackie Huggins delivered an intervention at the UN in New York on 19 April 2018 during the 17th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Image source: The Mandarin.

Booze bans ‘not a long-term fix’

Early intervention and reducing community demand for alcohol is the key to tackling problem drinking in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions, the head of an Aboriginal health and rehabilitation service said last Friday. Earlier this week new WA police commissioner Col Blanch said he would support a ban on takeaway alcohol apart from light beer in the Pilbara and Kimberley if it is deemed to be the most effective option for reducing alcohol-related harm.

Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Andrew Amor said he understood police and others were frustrated with the issue of problem drinking which he said was getting worse in Broome. “This is part of a complex issue that has been evolving over many generations. It will take generations to appropriately address,” he said. “Supply reduction measures do provide short-term relief and potential respite for frontline services, however, it is not a long-term solution. “The most effective approach is to reduce the community demand for alcohol. This must be a whole of government and community priority.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article Kimberley and Pilbara booze bans ‘not a long-term fix’, Aboriginal health group warns in full click here.

All booze except light strength may be banned in WA’s North West. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Wounds a costly health system sore point

A new report from the AMA shows the crippling cost of medical dressings and treating chronic wounds could be mitigated through targeted investment which would save the health system $203.4 million over the next four years. The report — Solutions to the chronic wound problem in Australia — says chronic wound care is a poorly understood and under-funded public health issue, despite studies indicating chronic wounds affect 450,000 Australians and cost $3 billion each year.

The AMA is calling on the Commonwealth to provide more support for GPs to provide high quality wound care for patients through the establishment of a national scheme to fund medical dressings for chronic wounds and extra Medicare funding to cover the unmet costs of providing care for patients suffering chronic wounds. AMA modelling shows chronic wounds treated in hospitals place an additional burden on an already stretched system, with the AMA’s modelling indicating they resulted in close to 32,000 hospital admissions in 2019–20 costing $352 million and 249,346 patient days. The report provides costed solutions to improve wound management in general practice and estimated savings associated with the proposed MBS items.

To read the AMA media release Wounds a Costly Sore Point for the Health System in full click here.

Image source: AMA website.

Caring for your kidneys

Looking after yourself includes keeping your kidneys healthy and having Kidney Health Checks. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 4 times more likely to have chronic kidney disease (CKD) and develop End Stage Renal Disease (ESRN). In remote communities ESRN is especially high, with rates almost 20 times higher than non-Indigenous people. Getting a regular Kidney Health Check is important because often there are no warning signs for sick kidneys. That’s why kidney disease is sometimes called a ‘silent disease’.

Healthy kidneys filter waste from your body; keep good blood pressure; maintain salt and water balance; keep your bones strong; and help make strong blood. If you have sick kidneys, your body can’t filter your blood properly and that means you can get really sick and even die. When you go to the doctor for a Kidney Health Check, one of the things they will ask you is how you feel and how you live. They will also check your height and weight and measure the size of your waist.

You should have a Kidney Health Check at least once a year! Yarn to your local healthcare worker about your Kidney Health Check today. For more information visit the Kidney Health Australia website here. To view The National Tribune article Chronic Kidney Disease click here.

Image source: Department of Health and Aged Care.

Stay COVID-19 safe!

Masks help protect people from viruses like COVID-19 and help stop them from spreading between people. Wearing a mask is something easy that you can do to protect yourself. Wearing a mask when in crowded places like public transport or at the supermarket is strongly recommended. Encouraging your loved ones to do the same will help protect them too.

Help stop the spread:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands
  • Maintain physical distancing (1.5m or two big steps)
  • Keep your COVID-19 vaccinations up to date, and
  • Stay at home and get tested if you’re unwell.

When wearing a mask:

  • Wash (or sanitise) your hands before putting on the mask
  • Make sure it covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
  • Do not touch the front of the mask while wearing it or when removing it. If you do touch the mask, wash or sanitise your hands immediately
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your chin or neck
  • Wash or sanitise your hands after removing the mask, and
  • Wash cloth masks after each use, or daily at a minimum.

Important: People with chronic respiratory conditions should seek medical advice before wearing a mask.

You can find more Stay COVID-19 safe! resources on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website here and view Dr Ngiare Brown explaining how to correctly wear a face mask in the video below.

Red Lily installs defibrillator

The Red Lily Team have installed an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) at the community hall in Warruwi. It will certainly play a significant role in saving lives if someone has a sudden cardiac arrest in the community. The community has 24/7 access to this device.

Support for the AED was received from the Warruwi Community, TOs, West Arnhem Regional Council – Warruwi Team, the Warruwi Health Centre, Yagbani Aboriginal Corporation, ALPA for their advice to select the installation spot and also the St. John Ambulance who partnered with Red Lily.

You can view the West Arnhem Regional Council article 24 hours access to lifesaving device here.

Red Lily Transition Manager Steve Hayes is with Red Lily Health Board Director from Warruwi Mary Djurundudu in front of the newly installed Warruwi community AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Image source: Red Lily Health Facebook page.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Transforming First Nations nursing education

The image in the feature tile is of midwives Mel Briggs and Kady Colman wearing Sister Scrubs, a new uniform for First Nations midwives to create awareness about the unacceptably high mortality rate of First Nations women and babies. Image source: NITV Radio website.

Transforming First Nations nursing education

Bold recommendations for transforming nursing and midwifery education will be unveiled in a new report to be launched at the 25th Anniversary National Conference of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM). The report, ‘gettin em n keepin em n growin em’ – Strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Education Reform, will include strategies to privilege Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery knowledges and embed Cultural Safety across all domains of nursing and midwifery education.

“Its recommendations are bold and practical, emphasising who should act and how,” says Professor Roianne West, the CEO of CATSINaM, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djunke peoples. Since the release of the first iteration of this report in 2002, Professor West says there has been negligible improvement in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander registered nurses and midwives. “We are far off the necessary numbers completing tertiary programs to ensure parity is reached in the near future,” she said.

Significantly, the conference will also include a National Apology from the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery about the role of nursing and midwifery education and research in contributing to the harm and ongoing suffering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives.

To view the CATSINaM media release CATSINaM making news at 25th Anniversary National Conference in full click here.

Image source: Northern Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery career pathways webpage.

Improving health research experiences for mob

Yesterday the University of Newcastle launched a new national study Murru Minya that aims to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s experiences and involvement in health research. The Murru Minya project is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers with the desire to improve the way all research is conducted with, and for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. You can find more details on the project’s website here.

Dr Michelle Kennedy, Wiradjuri woman and lead researcher said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the knowledge holders, it is our job to appropriately capture their voices, experiences and directives to improve the conduct of health research into the future”.

The project has launched a short community survey for Aboriginal Community Organisation’s to share their experience of research. Communities can also opt in to hold Yarning Circles with the research team over the next 12 months to share more details and directives for research into the future.

The Murru Minya survey can be accessed here.

Members of Murru Minya research team. Image source: Murru Minya website.

Push to ban junk food adverts aimed at kids

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) have welcomed the push for the Federal Government to ban junk food advertising aimed at children by Independent MP Dr Sophie Scamps. The RACP have been recently advocating for this through the Kids COVID Catch Up campaign which is calling for mandatory regulations to restrict the marketing of unhealthy diets to children and young people.

RACP President and Paediatrician Dr Jacqueline Small says, “The widespread advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks is strongly linked to high child obesity rates. In 2017 to 2018, almost one quarter or Australian children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese. This is a concerning statistic. The Federal Government must recognise this and take immediate action to establish formal standards to protect children and young people from unhealthy food marketing.”

To view the RACGP media release Physicians support push to ban junk food advertising aimed at children click here.

Last year NACCHO made a submission, available here, to the Department of Health on the National Obesity Prevention Strategy supporting efforts to restrict/ban advertising and marketing of unhealthy food, especially to children.

Image source: Priceless SA website.

GP in training returns to Central Australia

For Dr Ellie Woodward, the first time she experienced the landscape and community of the NT was enough to bring her back. Originally from NZ, Dr Woodward moved across the Tasman Sea in 2012 to study medicine in Sydney. It was during this time she was given the opportunity to travel to the NT or an elective placement with the Royal Darwin Hospital physician outreach service. ‘I was immediately drawn to the incredible country and cultures of the Territory,’ Dr Woodward said. “I came back as soon as I could.”

After working as a registrar in medicine and public health in Darwin, she began her GP training in Alice Springs in 2021. Since then, there has never been a dull moment for the GP in training, who this year is splitting her training between the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and the Alice Springs Centre for Disease Control, in addition to completing dual training on the Australian GP Training (AGPT) and an Extended Skills Post in Public Health with the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine.

All the while she is being enriched by what her surroundings offer. “It’s a privilege to live and work on Arrernte Country, and I’ve been fortunate to engage in two-way learning with patients and colleagues here to learn more about central desert cultures,” Dr Woodward said. “I’ve been hooked by the close-knit community, natural surroundings and unique medicine of Central Australia, and look forward to continuing my practice here after finishing training.”

To view the RACGP newsGP article ‘I came back as soon as I could’: Why this GP in training is staying rural in full click here.

Dr Ellie Woodward is a GP in training and public health registrar at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, Alice Springs Centre for Disease Control. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

COVID casts doubt on trachoma target

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malandirri McCarthy is having ongoing discussions about the previous government’s target to eliminate trachoma by 2025, as the COVID pandemic continues to impact health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Senator McCarthy told ABC News that overcoming trachoma is one of her priorities, but she would need to fully appreciate the situation before she could set a timeline. She said she would be talking to experts to see what could be done to eradicate the eye disease, which has been successfully eliminated in countries including Cambodia, Ghana, and Mexico, but not yet in Australia.

“I’m incredibly mindful we’re still in a pandemic with COVID, and I know that many communities across the country were isolated and the ability for trachoma and any other health programs to be carried out was severely limited, if not completely stopped, and we have to recognise that,” McCarthy said. “What I would like to see in my role as Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health is to ensure that we pick it up again and run with it, to get rid of trachoma in our country.”

To view the Insight News article COVID casts doubt on target to stamp out trachoma in full click here.

More severe cases of trachoma are treated with antibiotics or surgery but the best way to prevent the disease is better hygiene. Photo: The University Of Melbourne. Image source: The Guardian.

Wounds conference – First Nations focus

After a temporary move online in 2020 due to COVID-related restrictions, Wounds Australia’s biannual wounds conference is returning to Sydney this September. To be held at the ICC Sydney from 14–17 September 2022, the conference will bring together leading experts and clinicians to share their insights and experience in working with wounds.

Presentations in the program will explore this year’s theme: ‘Time to unite, time to heal, time to innovate’, with a special focus on Indigenous health care, in recognition of the need to close the gap between the quality of wound care provision in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Keynote addresses by James Charles and Lesley Salem will discuss Indigenous healthcare initiatives.

Wounds Australia Chair Hayley Ryan said, “As the peak body for wound prevention, diagnosis, treatment and healing in Australia, we are committed to ensuring that Australians receive the best possible wound care. Our national conference is one part of that commitment, helping our hardworking healthcare professionals stay up to date with technological advances and scientific innovations in the area.”

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article Wounds Australia Conference — keynote speakers announced click here.

ANU cybernetics scholarships for mob

The ANU Master of Applied Cybernetics is the world’s first graduate program focusing on the challenges of ensuring AI systems are safe, sustainable and responsible. Masters students participate in a range of educational experiences and research projects at the School of Cybernetics and beyond to consider: who is building, managing and decommissioning our AI-enabled future?

The the School of Cybernetics sees equity of access to their education programs as important. They believe diversity and inclusivity are a MUST if we are to build the future. People from all walks of life are needed to build that future. A future that is safe, responsible and sustainable for all of humanity. With this in mind, and to increase diversity within the School, new scholarship opportunities, named in honour of Florence Violet McKenzie, Australia’s first female electrical engineer, and the founder of the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps in the Australian Defence Forces in 1939, are being offered, including a targeted Florence Violet McKenzie Indigenous scholarship opportunity for the 2023 Master of Applied Cybernetics program.

You can access an information sheet on the Florence Violent McKenzie Master of Applied Cybernetics scholarships for Indigenous students here.

Image source: University of Texas website.

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: On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

The image in the feature tile is of Brooklyn Goodwin, kutalayna Collective and Pacey Riley, kanamaluka Collective. Both photos were taken by Kata Glover, Digital Communications Officer, Connected Beginnings, lutruwita.

On Children’s Day, hear voices of the future

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is celebrated across Australia each year on 4 August. Historically this was the date used to celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families at a young age, without knowing their birthday –  they became known as being part of the Stolen Generations.

Now, Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to celebrate the strength and culture of our children. The theme for this year’s Children’s Day is ‘My Dreaming, My Future’ – which askes our kids to reflect on what the Dreaming means to them, their lives, their identity, and the aspirations for the future.

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, actively supports and promotes Children’s Day.

TAC program supports strong beginnings

On National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, NACCHO would like to highlight the innovative work done towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them by our affiliate, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

The Connected Beginnings program aims to improve health, educational, developmental, and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-5 years to ensure every child is ready for the transition to school.

The program is delivered under an innovative Collective Impact framework that aims to elevate the Aboriginal community’s voice, support integrated service provision, advocate for culturally safe and appropriate services and facilitate positive actions to improve community outcomes.

TAC Chief Operations Officer and Program Director, Raylene Foster says, “A program like Connected Beginnings is vital to improving the whole ecosystem of service delivery for Aboriginal children.  This place-based program is essential for the successful delivery and utilisation of mainstream programs and child health, social, educational and development needs for Aboriginal children, to be delivered through an Aboriginal lens”.

The success of the Connected Beginnings program at kutalayna (Brighton), has led to the program’s expansion to two new sites in pataway (Burnie) and kanamaluka (George Town and Northern Suburbs Launceston). The expansion is a testament to the great work being carried out at TAC and to their ongoing commitment towards improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Connected Beginnings in pataway will be officially launched in tandem with the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

The program is jointly funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Department of Education. TAC is the recipient of both streams of Connected Beginnings funding from the Departments and delivers the program across lutruwita, Tasmania.

  • read the kutalyana Collective media release here
  • read a related National Indigenous Times article here
  • listen to an ABC News radio (Northern Tasmania) interview with Chloe Woolnough from TAC and Project Manager of Connected Beginnings, lutruwita, here.

Background Information

The Connected Beginnings program forms part of the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. It aims are to contribute to achieving Outcome 4, that children thrive in their early years, under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Connected Beginnings currently fund 14 ACCHOs and Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia. In 2021, the Australian Government provided additional funding to expand the Connected Beginnings Program to a minimum of 50 sites by 2025 and are working in partnership with NACCHO on the delivery of the health component of the Connected Beginnings program.

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment. The success of Connected Beginnings in lutruwita is being celebrated across the country, highlighting how, through Aboriginal community control, meaningful and lasting systems changes are best achieved.

You can find more information about Connected Beginnings on the Australian Government Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations joint website page here.

katalayna Collective logo, Francis Ketley, katalayna Collective, Leveigh Bernes, kanamaluka Collective, Isabella Romanelli, pataway Collective. Photos: Kate Glover.

COVID vax for kids with comorbidities

The Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommendations for COVID vaccination use in children 6 months to <5 years of age with significant comorbidities and these children will be eligible for a vaccine from Monday 5 September 2022.

The ATAGI have released a statement ATAGI recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine use in children aged 6 months to <5 years which is available on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here.

Of particular note:

  • there are eligibility conditions for the vaccine and most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children WILL NOT be eligible for the vaccine. Only children with immunosuppression, significant comorbidities or a disability that requires significant assistance with daily activities will be eligible
  • the Department of Health and Aged Care is engaging ACCHOs around vaccination for this age group, with webinars with ACCHOs organised for next week to discuss how to support access for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait children, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Occupational therapist at Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS). Image source: WACHS website.

Call for First Nations first responders

When Lismore was hit with its biggest flood in recorded history, national Indigenous newspaper the Koori Mail responded quickly to the needs of the community. The newspaper’s general manager Naomi Moran said she was able to salvage laptops and hard drives, but the building and most of its contents were destroyed. In the wake of the mud and wreckage, Ms Moran said they were forced to face the reality that for the first time in the organisation’s 30-year history, they would not be able to print the next edition, and possibly several after that. “We lost our building, we lost our first floor, we lost everything that the Koori Mail was for the past 30 years,” she said.

Far from calling it a day, the organisation pivoted and became a flood hub responding to the community’s needs for food, supplies, clothing and support. “We came up with a strategy and some ideas around how we, as an Aboriginal organisation – an independent organisation and business in this region – could utilise all of our resources, our contacts in our networks, to support the local community,” she said. In the days, weeks and months that followed, the Koori Mail team helped coordinate food, clothes, counselling and essential items for thousands of flood-affected residents relying on financial support from donations.

To view the ABC News article Success of Koori Mail flood response in Lismore prompts calls for First Nations first responders in full click here.

The Koori Mail’s Naomi Moran says the organisation used all its resources to support the community. Photo: Matt Coble, ABC News.

Pathway to improve services for mob

A new strategy that aims to increase opportunities for ACCOs to deliver culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children, families and communities has been launched in Fremantle. The 10-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

ACCOs hold an important role in delivering culturally secure services to Aboriginal people across WA. They provide a vast range of critical services and support including health, healing, safe homes, housing, education and training, child protection, disability support, justice, and maintaining strong connections to land and culture. As stated by Community Services Minister Simone McGurk: “Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions. We are committed to partner with and support ACCOs so that Aboriginal services can serve the unique needs of Aboriginal families alongside Communities ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services.”

To read The Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) Strategy 2022 to 2032: Empowering Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from secure and sustained foundations provided by ACCOs visit here.

Research shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled art centres play a significant role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older people and people living with dementia. Image source: Dementia Australia.

New health service for Mapoon

The community of Mapoon is preparing to celebrate the opening of a new purpose-built Primary Health Care (PHC) Centre on 23 August 2022. The Thimithi Nhii Primary Health Care Centre will be opened by Apunipima Chairperson and Mapoon Mayor, Aileen Addo, who will cut the ribbon on the new facility in front of elders, community members, the local Health Action Team and local and regional dignitaries who are all invited to come and enjoy the festivities.

“This is fantastic news. We’ve growing in size as a community and there was an increasing need for a PHC Centre to work alongside Queensland Health to match that population growth,” Mrs Addo said. The new facility was made possible thanks to local Traditional Owner group, the Rugapayn Corporation. “We’re extremely grateful to the Rugapayn Corporation for granting us the land to build a much-needed Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon,” she said.

“What we are seeing with the new PHC Centre in Mapoon is exactly what ‘community control’ is all about. The Centre has been designed by community, it will be staffed and run by community and it will ultimately belong to the community,” said Apunipima CEO Debra Malthouse. Currently Apunipima delivers its health services from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service premises in Mapoon. This arrangement has limited Apunipima’s capacity to increase primary health care services in the community. Community control was always the goal for the community and having a stand-alone centre will give Apunipima the opportunity to respond to community health needs in a way that community want.

To view the Apunipma Cape York Health Council media release Date announced for opening of new Health Care Clinic in Mapoon click here.

Health Worker Daphne De Jersey and Mapoon PHC Manager Debra Jia are excited about the PHC opening and what that means for their growing community. Photos supplied by: Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

Awabakal welcomes babies to Country

“It is important that our babies grow up knowing their identity and connection to country.” That’s the sentiment of Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon after the organisation welcomed the next generation of First Nations children into the community at Newcastle City Hall earlier this week. Following a COVID-enforced hiatus, more than 200 families across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Raymond Terrace and Maitland are expected to take part in Baby Welcoming Ceremonies this week, which coincide with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

“We have hosted this event since 2015,” Mrs Gordon said. “So, we’re glad to be back after a couple of years due to COVID-19. Our Baby Welcoming Ceremonies relate to the tradition of introducing newborns to the community where the Elders welcome them to the land. This sense of identity and belonging was denied for many of our people for so long. So, our ceremonies are a reminder to our community that you and your babies belong here – and they are loved. We all want to help them grow to be proud, safe and beautiful First Nations people.”

To read the Newcastle Weekly article Awabakal community welcomes babies to Country in full click here.

Awabakal Ltd hosted one its Baby Welcoming Ceremonies at Newcastle City Hall this week. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

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: More community control needed

Image in the feature tile is from the ACT Government 2022–23 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Budget Statement. The ‘Walk through Wiradjuri country’ painting was completed by two Wiradjuri men, Tony “TK” Levett and Trevor Ryan.

More community control needed

The ACT Council of Social Service’s Gulanga Program says the recent 2022–23 ACT Budget, which featured an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Budget Statement, responded to some of the calls from the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but much more is needed to be done to improve outcomes for First Nations peoples in the ACT. Head of the Gulanga Program, Ms Rachelle Kelly-Church said: “While welcomed, these announcements follow a long period of inaction in implementing recommendations under the Our Booris Our Way and We Don’t Shoot Our Wounded Reports.

“We also need to see significant increases in investment to establish and expand Aboriginal community-controlled organisations (ACCOs). We need to ensure there is a better distribution of funds so that new initiatives targeting our communities are delivered through Aboriginal community-controlled organisations – not just through ACT Government services. Time after time, experience shows that Aboriginal community-controlled organisations are best placed to support our community and achieve the improved outcomes that we are all desperate for.

“We also need investment to ensure that the services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are culturally safe and respectful. The announcement of $12m for the implementation of Corrections ACT’s Blueprint for Change must include the delivery of mandatory Aboriginal cultural competence training for staff involved in our justice system so that we can challenge ongoing systemic discrimination and racism.”

To read the ACTCOSS media release Gulanga Media Release: ACT Budget – more community control needed in full click here.

Mobile healthcare to remote NSW

A retrofitted motorhome will be used to bring medical care to remote NSW communities to help minimise the spread of COVID-19. Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) revealed it had purchased the vehicle through a BHP donation to provide medical care outside of traditional clinical spaces. It will allow ACCHOs to hold mobile vaccination clinics in communities, negating the need for people to travel to get vaccines.

AHMRC chief executive Robert Skeen said the service’s response team had been integral to the vaccine rollout. “With the help of the valuable partnership of BHP we’re able to provide care to all our mob in every community across the state,” he said. The motorhome will initially be used in the Northern Rivers region where flooding has impacted community clinics.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal medical group prepares new motorhome for flood-hit NSW healthcare roadtrip in full click here. You can also find more details about the motorhome on the AH&MRC website here.

Image source: AH&MRC website.

Clinic doubles usual 715 health checks

A clinic in WA more than doubled its usual number of health checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients after introducing free walk-in assessments during NAIDOC week. Lockridge Medical Centre in Perth offered free MBS 715 Indigenous Health Checks to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who came along during the week. “The health assessments were a great opportunity to offer support for preventive healthcare,” Dr Kayla MacKinnon, a GP at the clinic said.

The clinic doctors were given additional spaces to meet demand and accommodate walk-ins and all nurses agreed to work additional shifts for the week.  All doctors were rostered for one session per week, thereby sharing the experience. Dr Shashi Ponraja, also a GP at the clinic, said it was ‘an excellent opportunity for outreach’ and ‘patients seemed to really appreciate the flexibility in the appointment setup’.

When reflecting on the success of their NAIDOC week experience and increased health assessments, Director Mrs Watts said that “success is measured in many ways, such as the centre’s agreement to undertake Aboriginal Health Workers through Marr Mooditj Training, with the hope of employing an Aboriginal Health Worker as a result and the networking, the collaboration and the improvement in preparing the practice to be a culturally safe healthcare home for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”

To view the RACGP newsGP article NAIDOC week leads to more health assessments in full click here.

Boxing champion fights for mental health

Newly-crowned Australian masters boxing champion Darcy Brown knows whatever faces him in the ring, the larger fight on his hands is breaking down stigmas mental health, ADHD and autism. The 51-year-old Wiradjuri man won the national 75.1-80kg class in the 50-55 age bracket in July. Fighting under the name Buddy Oldman, Brown took to the sport fewer than two years ago to get back into physical shape before realising the bigger battle was fought upstairs.

Sexually abused as a child and later suffering from PTSD and depression through adulthood, Mr Brown shied away from boxing earlier in life. It was labelled a mug’s game by his late late father, who himself had been an exhibition tent-fighter in his youth. Brown’s dramatic rise from novice to national champ is spurred on partly by his own struggles, but even more so by the opportunity he hopes it brings to the lives of others.

Now living in Albury, he and his wife have fostered Aboriginal kids for 20 years and are currently the guardian to a neurodivergent child. Working in special needs and with an autistic son and grandson, Brown said representation through sport could have wide-reaching advantages. He fights to raise awareness for these conditions and for those diagnosed to be treated equally in all area’s of life. His message has stretched to include the Aboriginal health in general, and at times the LGBTQ+ community. “I’ve just taken it upon myself to make it happen,” Brown said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Boxing novice-turned national champion Buddy Oldman fights for mental health with every venture into the ring in full click here.

Newly-crowned Australian masters boxing champion Darcy Brown. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Telehealth provides care closer to home

A boy who accidentally slashed his throat when he rode his motorbike into a fence, a burns victim, and an elderly Indigenous woman who wanted to die on country – all are among rural patients successfully treated by telehealth, a conference has heard. The trio were seen by specialists through the WA Country Health Service Command Centre, which provides telehealth via video conferencing to help frontline doctors treat patients at rural hospitals. The centre is part of the world’s biggest rural service in geographical terms, covering more than 2.5 million square kms from Kalumburu in the Kimberley to Albany in the south.

Speaking at the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane, the command centre’s managing director, Justin Yeung, said it aims to provide “care closer to home” for people in rural and remote areas across the vast state. “We see the whole gamut,” Dr Yeung told the conference, which is focusing on collaboration and innovation in rural health. The centre runs emergency care, inpatient treatment to reduce the number of patients who need to be transferred to bigger hospitals, maternity care, psychiatry and palliative care. Dr Yeung said telehealth is not a replacement for face-to-face care, but supplements traditional treatment.

To read The West Australian article Burns and injuries treated via video in WA in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Diabetes youth webinar series

Menzies Diabetes Across the Lifecourse Northern Australia Partnership aims to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by targeting the intergenerational cycle of type 2 diabetes and is hosting a 10-part webinar series to give a comprehensive overview of youth type 2 diabetes, screening, management, multidisciplinary care, models of care and preventative strategies. The discussions will be co-led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and community members in partnership with clinicians and researchers. Delivered fortnightly starting on Thursday 4 August from 12:45–1:45 PM. Those who cannot attend the live sessions but would still like to view the sessions can sign up to be sent a recording of the presentation.

You can view a flyer about tomorrow’s webinar here. Please register for the first event by following this link. Registered participants will be sent a calendar invite and a zoom link for the live presentation and a link to the recorded presentations for later viewing. Subsequent events will be communicated thereafter.

HealthInfoNet user survey and prize draw

Australian Indigenous HealthINfoNet is conducting an online survey designed to gather feedback from users of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) as part of its continual improvement.

The survey will take about 5-10 minutes to complete.

Survey responses will remain anonymous. Choosing to answer the survey questions indicates your informed consent to participate. You can stop the survey at any time by closing the computer window in which the survey appears.

At the end of the survey, you have the option to submit an entry for a prize draw for a $350 Coles Group & Myer gift voucher. The winner’s name will be drawn at random and they will be contacted by phone or email after the survey closes. Your contact details will not be linked to your survey responses. Survey respondents who enter the prize draw within its first week will automatically be entered twice.

The survey is open now until 11.59pm (AWST) Sunday 21 August 2022.

You to complete the 2022 Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet User Survey by clicking here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eliminating trachoma by 2025 under threat

The image in the feature tile is a photo taken by Michael Amendolia (2014) featured on the Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Eliminating trachoma by 2025 under threat

The new federal minister responsible for Indigenous health has stopped short of backing the previous government’s target to eliminate trachoma by 2025 as the pandemic continues to impact health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. Australia is the most developed country in the world where trachoma — which causes blindness and is linked to poor face hygiene — is still prevalent. New Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy has declared overcoming trachoma is one of her priorities in the job, but said would need to fully appreciate the situation before she could set a timeline. “This is going to be an absolute priority for me and I will be travelling the country to talk to those experts to see what we can do to eradicate this scourge.”

Asked directly whether she backed the 2025 target, Senator McCarthy replied: “I’m having ongoing discussions, I’ve only been in this role a matter of weeks.” In 2009, the Rudd Labor government pledged to eliminate the eye disease by 2020. Since then, Cambodia, Ghana, Mexico and more have achieved the feat. But in Australia, the disease persists. The target was pushed back to 2022, but it is now clear Australia will not meet the commitment. The previous Coalition government announced a new target of 2025 to eliminate all avoidable blindness in Indigenous Australians, including beating trachoma.

To view the ABC News article Goal of eliminating eye disease trachoma by 2025 under threat as pandemic bites in full click here.

The Indigenous Eye Health unit travels to remote communities and teaches face hygiene. Photo: Jack Snape. Image source: ABC News.

Funding for Winnunga’s jail model of care

ACT Government says it is prioritising funding for community sector organisations that provide essential services and programs to Canberrans in crisis. Some the programs and organisations that will receive funding through the 2022–23 ACT Budget include: meeting health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC). The ACT Government will provide $9.40 million dollars over four years to continue a holistic model of health service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees. The funding will support the continuation of the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services’ model of care at the AMC.

To view the ACT Government website page More funding for the ACT community sector in full click here.

AMC cell converted into an Australian-first Indigenous health clinic in 2019. Photo: Jamila Toderas. Image source: The Canberra Times.

First Nations aged care voice boosted

The Federal Government has appointed Yugambeh woman Jody Currie to the National Aged Care Advisory Council. The appointment of Ms Currie, a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council, is part of efforts to close the gap in design and delivery of aged care programs and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Assistant Indigenous Health Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said First Nation voices were vital in the implementation of aged care reforms.

“For far too long older First Nations people have experienced barriers to accessing aged care services in their homes and communities,” she said. “To address service gaps and improve access to care, we must include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the design, discussion and implementation of aged care reforms.” While 27% of non-Indigenous people participate in the aged care system’s key programs, only 17% of Aboriginal Elders participate.

In WA’s south-west, including Perth, the gap is the largest in the country, with only 8.6% of Elders participating in aged care programs. Aboriginal Community Elders Aged Care Partnership for Perth and South-West WA chairman Jim Morrison said there was discrimination in the ability for Aboriginal older people to access culturally appropriate aged care services. “All Stolen Generation people will be (at least) 50 next year, and we will qualify for aged care,” he said. “We want to consider our elder care and look after our older people…and it might be that our elder care centres be healing centres where our Elders can depend on their culture.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Jody Currie gains Federal appointment to tackle ‘discrimination’ in aged care system in full click here.

Image source: Compass (an EAAA project) website.

Shocking treatment of mental health patients

First Nations Victorians are being restrained and secluded at a higher rate than the general population, a shocking new report by the state’s peak mental health advocacy body has revealed. The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) third Seclusion Report found more than 5% of people admitted to Victorian mental health facilities subjected to seclusion were Indigenous, despite First Nations people making up just 3.5% of total people admitted. The rate of restraint among Indigenous patients was also higher at 4.6%. The findings come one year after the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System found poor mental health and substance use disorders accounted for as much as 14% of the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

VMIAC CEO Craig Wallace said the new data made it clear why First Nations people might be apprehensive to seek help. “It’s these mental health services and the acute units where people are supposed to go to feel safe,” he said. “And then they’re being harmed by these practices, and traumatised by these practices. That makes people really concerned about seeking help in the future, knowing that these things have happened to them or could happen to them.” Djab Wurrung and Gunditjmara woman and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) social and emotional wellbeing executive director Sheree Lowe said the figures revealed in the report the tip of the iceberg. “(The figures) indicate that people might have been secluded twice in their stay,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Restraint, seclusion of Indigenous mental health patients in Victoria laid bare in damning report in full click here.

Image source: Melbourne University Pursuit.

SEWB services consultation survey

NACCHO is conducting a consultation survey to better understand the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) services, support and coordination provided to communities by Affiliates and ACCHOs. The survey has been developed in partnership with Professor Pat Dudgeon from the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) project, led by the University of Western Australia. Responses to this survey will help to build a national picture of what SEWB services and support are currently available, help to map SEWB services nationally, and identify service gaps. This evidence base will inform NACCHO’s advocacy to government for improved support to Affiliates and ACCHOs to deliver SEWB services and inform policy development.

The survey covers the following topics:

  • SEWB services and support
  • SEWB workforce and training
  • barriers to providing SEWB services or support
  • other SEWB activities that your organisation may be involved in.

NACCHO members should have received a link to the survey, and we are keen to hear from all of you! The survey will be open until Sunday 7 August 2022. If you have any questions about the survey, please reach out to Sasha Banjavcic-Booker, Senior Advisor Mental Health Policy and Programs via email or call 0409 919 398.

VACCHO Biannual Statewide Social and Emotional Wellbeing Gathering. Image source: VACCHO website.

headspace Grad Program applications open

Applications for the headspace Graduate Program 2023 have now opened for First Nations Allied Health Graduate roles.

These rewarding positions will be situated in a clinical team at a headspace centre and closely linked to the First Nations Wellbeing & Healing Division at headspace National. You’ll work alongside passionate people and make a real difference to young people, families, and communities. Where you’ll hit the ground running and continue developing your skills and career in youth mental health/social and emotional wellbeing. Find your place at headspace.

These graduate positions are designed to provide social work, occupational therapy and psychology graduates access to a two-year comprehensive youth mental health training and development program with support of cultural supervision.

Further information about this opportunity, including our First Nations information and yarning session, can be accessed at the headspace Graduation program website available here.

Applications close Monday 22 August 2022.

Data shows kids picking up healthy habits

Two-thirds of Indigenous children in Victoria are meeting encouraging levels of key wellbeing indicators, according to a report from a pair of leading health researchers. The results, courtesy of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation (IHT) found the vast majority of 9–12 year olds are getting enough sleep, practice a healthy diet with 84% meeting physical activity guidelines.

VACCHO and IHT also found relatively low levels of excess screen time, and a correlation between eating well and higher social and emotional wellbeing. Their Aboriginal Data and Action on Prevention Together report surveyed primary school students in 18 local government areas of the state’s Great South Coast, Goulburn Valley and Ovens Murray regions in 2019.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are the future of the world’s oldest population, and in my 25-plus years working in Aboriginal health there has always been limited data that can inform and assist us with decision making around improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Victoria,” VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher said. “Improving access to affordable healthy food is an important part of improving the holistic health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – our future.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Encouraging data reveals Indigenous Victorian children picking up healthy eating, excercise habits click here.

The Deadly Koolinga Chef Program involves cooking classes that teach skills in food and nutrition essential to improving Aboriginal health outcomes. Image source: Murdoch University Research Tweet 4 March 2021.

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Homelessness Week

Homelessness Week is held annually across the nation to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness. It’s also a time reflect on the collective action needed by community and all levels of government to help break the cycle of homelessness. In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night. Homelessness Week aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples made up 3% of the Australian population in 2016. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 20% (23,437 persons) (down from 26% in 2011) of all persons who were homeless on Census night in 2016. For further information about Aboriginal homelessness in Australia click here.

The theme for Homelessness Week 2022 is To end homelessness we need a plan. A range of resources are available on the Homelessness Australia website here including social media tiles, web banners, email signatures, posters and messaging to support your advocacy. One on the website you can also register for the Homelessness Week 2022 launch from 12:00 PM–1:30 PM Monday 1 August 2022.

Image source: The MHS Learning Network.