NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: More time needed for diabetes patients

The image in the feature tile is of Townsville GP Jacinta Power with a patient. Image source: James Cook University website.

More time needed for diabetes patients

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and NACCHO have issued the following joint media release calling for greater investment in general practice care of people with diabetes:

RACGP: Greater investment needed in general practice care of people with diabetes

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has urged the new federal Government to boost investment in general practice to provide more time to care for people with diabetes.

It comes during National Diabetes Week (10 – 16 July 2022). Around 1.8 million people in Australia have diabetes (this includes all types of diabetes as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes) with 280 people developing the condition every day.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said that the new federal Government can do more to enhance general practice care of people with diabetes.

“GPs and general practice teams play a vital role helping people manage chronic conditions like diabetes,” she said.

“With the right kind of investment, we can do even more. Greater support for longer consultations and GP-led team care will make a huge difference for people with chronic conditions. The RACGP is calling for the introduction of a rebate for GP consultations that last 60 minutes or more and a 10% increase to existing Medicare rebates lasting more than 20 minutes. Longer consultations provide an opportunity for GPs to support care of people with chronic conditions.

“Coordinating care with other health professionals is also important in complex chronic conditions like diabetes. The Workforce Incentive Program or WIP provides financial incentives to practices across Australia to meet the complex health needs of older patients and those with chronic complex health conditions. It helps them to engage a range of health professionals including nurses, allied health professionals, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners.

“By boosting investment in the Workforce Incentive Program practices could, for example, work more closely with other health professionals such as diabetes educators or general practice-based pharmacists. The RACGP has long championed co-ordinated care to reduce fragmentation and healthcare costs.

“By incorporating the pharmacist role within the general practice setting we can offer an alternative model that delivers integrated care, something that is especially important for people with diabetes. This would be particularly beneficial for people managing their diabetes and make a real difference in communities nation-wide, especially those disproportionately affected by this condition such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Diabetes Network Dr Gary Deed backed Adj. Professor Price’s comments.

“We know that living day-to-day with a chronic disease such as diabetes can significantly impact someone’s life, including the fact that it is associated with higher rates of mental health issues. This is a national problem, and, with greater support, practices can help people take charge of their health and get a better handle on conditions like diabetes,” he said.

“If a patient doesn’t have the right kind of support and isn’t managing their condition properly, the consequences can prove dire. As an example, untreated or poorly managed diabetes can quickly lead to severe complications that involve almost all every part of your body, including your heart, eyes, blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, and more. So, I fully support Adj. Professor Price’s call for the Government to give practices a helping hand so that more people are supported in managing their diabetes.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Director, Medicines Policy and Programs Mike Stephens said that the right approaches are crucial in helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients better manage their diabetes.

“The Integrating Pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease Management, known as the ‘IPAC Project’, which embedded pharmacists into ACCHOs has been effective in improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including those with conditions such as diabetes,” he said.

“We are encouraged by the Medical Services Advisory Committee’s recent appraisal in June 2022 of IPAC: ‘an excellent example of an integrated, collaborative, patient-centred approach to primary care which has the potential to have a meaningful societal impact by improving equity of health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’.

“Given the project’s demonstrable acceptability and effectiveness, it is time for government to provide a sustained investment in integrating pharmacists into team-based primary care settings, including ACCHOs.  One existing program that provides a suitable framework for funding includes the WIP.”

In 2020 in collaboration with Diabetes Australia, the RACGP has launched the updated Management of type 2 diabetes: A handbook for general practice (Diabetes Handbook) as a primary healthcare tool to support practices nation-wide.

The RACGP’s Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system outlines a model of care that aims to address the nation’s healthcare challenges and ensure the best possible health outcomes for patients through general practice. The economic benefits of implementing the Vision show that it is a sound return on investment.

You can view the joint RACGP and NACCHO media release on the NACCHO website click here.

Unpacking diabetes and the heart webinar

On Thursday 28 July 2022 the Heart Foundation is partnering with the World Heart Federation and Australian Diabetes Society to bring to you a health professional webinar focusing on the latest evidence on cardiovascular (CVD) and diabetes. The event will be chaired by Prof Garry Jennings, Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation, who will be joined by Professor Rod Jackson, internationally renowned epidemiologist, as well as Australian experts as they discuss the latest evidence and how it can be translated into practical preventative care. Topics to be discussed will include:

  • How to stratify CVD risk within a diabetes cohort – who is at highest risk?
  • Updates on diabetes pharmacological therapies and their cardiovascular benefits
  • The fourth pillar of heart failure management – how are diabetes medicines used to treat heart failure
  • Practical advice on motivational and behavioural strategies to support improvements in CVD risk factor management.

This event has been accredited by RACGP for 2 CPD points. (Activity no. 355838).

You can register for the webinar using this link.

Mob urged to get bowel cancer screening

A new campaign featuring Gabbi Gabbi man Dr Joel Wenitong is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to stay healthy and strong by doing a bowel cancer screening test every two years. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of bowel screening and increase participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. The Australian Government program provides people aged 50-74 years with a free screening test every two years.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer and one of the most common cancers impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data (2018-2019) indicates that just over a quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (27.3%) participated in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program while a 2019 survey by Cancer Council found nearly half of eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people surveyed weren’t up to date with any kind of cancer screening. Dr Wenitong says early detection, through screening, can help save lives and reduce bowel cancer rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view the Third Sector article First Nations community encouraged to stay healthy and get bowel cancer screening in full click here.

Dr Joel Wenitong. Image source: Third Sector.

How much life has COVID-19 cost us?

New data from the  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows how Australians’ health changed over the course of the pandemic. It allows us to step back and assess what happened, and to whom. Australia’s management of the pandemic was overall very good, leading to about 18,000 deaths averted in 2020 and 2021. However, the pandemic is not over. The number of deaths in the eleven months since the plan was released is almost ten times the number than in the 18 months before.

Although most deaths throughout the pandemic were in people aged over 60, each of those was a shortened life. Thousands of years of life have been lost prematurely because of COVID-19. People living in the poorest communities had death rates three times that in wealthier communities.

Some preventive care was deferred during the pandemic, which could mean some diseases weren’t detected in their early stages, resulting in poorer outcomes. The rate of Indigenous health checks also took a downturn. This may mean it will be even harder to close the gap between the health of First Nations Australians and the rest of the population.

To view The Medical Republic article How much life has covid cost us? in full click here.

Image source: First Opinion.

People with diabetes at risk during COVID-19

People living with diabetes had an increased risk of complication and death during the COVID-19 pandemic, new data shows. More than 40% of COVID-related hospitalisations in 2020-21 had one or more diagnosed comorbid conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. This was a significant increase from 25% the year prior, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Additionally, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease were the most common comorbid conditions associated with COVID-19 hospitalisations between 2020-21.

The report also found in recent years the impact of diabetes has been higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those living in remote or lower socio-economic areas. The diabetes prevalence rate was 2.9 times as high among Indigenous Australians as non-Indigenous based on age-standardised, self-reported data from the 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey. The impact of diabetes is higher with increasing remoteness and socio-economic disadvantage.

To view the Daily Mail article People with diabetes at risk during COVID in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

Digital health design must have authenticity

The CSIRO have heard the calls for advice on how to design ehealth solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But the key is not designing for any particular community, it’s designing with them, over a long period and with authentic relationship. The CSIRO’s Indigenous eHealth Research Centre which is creating a best practice guide for designing digital health solutions with Indigenous peoples Ms Georgina Chelberg, who is from the eHealth Research Centre, says that at the core of good design are community priorities and the need to be honest about structural racism.

“We speak about the social determinants of health and that the disadvantage caused by policies and governance that are embedded with racism. When we don’t address that authentically in the way that we do our research, the health of people continues to suffer,” Ms Chelberg says. Sustainability in projects is another key requirement of best practice design. “Interventions often lack longevity; the funding cycle ends and the researchers disappear with a publication to their name. So, that creates mistrust and further disadvantage to community which flows on to create poor health outcomes,” Ms Chelberg says.

To listen to the Wild Health Summits podcast Indigenous digital health design should lead with authenticity click here.

The CommDoc app features 19 Aboriginal languages spoken in the NT provides audio translations of phrases and questions patients are asked in a consultation to be able to provide treatment. Image source: eLearn Australia.

Registrars in short supply in regional areas

Difficulties securing GPs and registrars in regional areas has left Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation with only one scheduled GP onsite for six months. It comes following the current GP registrar’s six month placement ending in early August. As a result, from August 8, there will only be scheduled visiting GPs onsite to provide community appointments, limiting the number of available appointments and leaving Pangula with a general practitioner for only five hours per week.

According to the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency, Mount Gambier has about 30 GPs, nine registrars and three visiting doctors throughout Pangula Mannamurna, Hawkins Medical Clinic, Ferrers Medical Clinic, Dr Try Medical Clinic and Village Medical Clinic. This number does not include GPs or registrars who work at the Mount Gambier and District Hospital. Pangula Mannamurna CEO Andrew Birtwistle-Smith said difficulty finding adequate housing was also an issue for incoming staff.

To view The Border Watch article Registrars remain in short supply in full click here.

Pangula Mannamurna’s CEO Andrew Birtwistle-Smith has his regular check up with Aboriginal health practitioner John Watson. Image source: The Border Watch.

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: COVID-19 antiviral eligibility expanded

Image in feature tile is from today’s ABC News COVID-19 antiviral treatments to become available to more Australians article. Photo source: Pfizer via AAP.

COVID-19 antiviral eligibility expanded

From today, more Australians will be eligible for COVID-19 antiviral drugs in an attempt to reduce the number of people in hospital. Health Minister Mark Butler said he was hopeful expanding the eligibility would help ease pressure on hospital systems. “COVID cases and hospitalisation numbers are climbing, particularly with the new variants,” he said.

Under the current rules, the drugs are restricted to Australians who are 65 years or older with particular risk factors, but from today any Australian who tests positive to COVID-19 and is over the age of 70 will be able to access antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Known as Lagevrio and Paxlovid, the drugs cost about $1,000 but because they are on the PBS they are reduced to $6.80 for a concession card holder. People aged over 50 with at least two risk factors that could lead to severe disease, as well as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 30 and older with at least two risk factors will also be eligible.

A broader range of chronic respiratory conditions have been added to the risk factors list. They include moderate or severe asthma, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, demyelinating conditions and renal impairment. Risk factors already on the list and that will remain include neurological conditions, such as stroke and dementia, cirrhosis, kidney failure, obesity, diabetes type one or two, and anyone who lives in remote areas and doesn’t have access to higher level healthcare.

To view the ABC News article COVID-19 antiviral treatments to become available to more Australians in full click here.

Paxlovid will be one of the antivirals available to more Australians under the scheme. Photo: AAP. Image source: ABC News.

Winnunga health service comes a long way

From its humble beginnings as a temporary medical service set up at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy site, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (Winnunga) has grown into an important part of the health services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national capital. WNAH&CS have recently moved into a new, purpose-built facility in Narrabundah, enabling the service to do more. 

Julie Tongs’ vision as CEO, a role she has held since 1997, has always been for Winnunga to be a leader in the provision of primary health care. “All Winnunga wants to do is give people an opportunity to be better, to feel good about themselves, and to start to work through some of the layers of trauma that Aboriginal people have experienced,” Tongs says.

Winnunga was established in 1988 by local Aboriginal people inspired by the national mobilisation of people around the opening of the new Parliament House in May and the visit by the Queen.  Since then it has grown into a pivotal healthcare service, which last year saw some 7,000 clients. Providing around 60,000 occasions of service to its clients annually, Managed by the local Aboriginal community, Winnunga takes a “holistic” approach to health care offering clinical and medical services, and social health programs.

To view the Canberra  City News article Winnunga health service comes a long way from the Tent Embassy in full click here.

Outside the new health centre in Narrabundah… “We managed the project, built it on time and on budget, without any government involvement apart from the funding,” says Julie Tongs. Photo: Holly Treadaway. Image source: Canberra City News.

Changing First Nations birth narrative

Shanara Fourmile wakes with a small pain under her belly. It’s seven in the morning and the sun is pouring through the window of her home in the Aboriginal community of Yarrabah. As she opens her eyes, her water breaks. Shanara, an Irukandji woman from far-north Queensland, knows the baby is coming.

She texts her sister, who calls an ambulance. Yarrabah women are directed to birth in Cairns Hospital — an hour’s drive through rainforest, winding coastline and cane paddocks. Shanara knows she won’t make it so she’s taken to Yarrabah’s small emergency department. It doesn’t have a permanent obstetrician. There’s no anaesthetist or resourcing for an emergency caesarean. No access to epidural or equipment to resuscitate a newborn if the baby is struggling to breathe. And no blood bank in case women haemorrhage after birth.

Kaurna and Narungga woman Tayla Smith, Yarrabah’s first Indigenous midwife who works at Gurriny Yealamucka Aboriginal-controlled Health Services says women some women wait until it’s too late to go to Cairns as they want to have their baby on Gunggandji Country. Local health workers call these women “the naughty mummies” of Yarrabah. While there are benefits for having the baby close to home, in Yarrabah it comes with serious risks. The clinic is just not set up to deliver babies. And if there are complications during the delivery, the consequences could be dire.

To read the ABC News article Meet the Black matriarchs changing the narrative of First Nations births in full click here.

Irukandji woman Shanara Fourmile gave birth to her baby girl Keilani in Yarrabah’s small emergency department in June. Photo: Kristy Sexton-McGrath, ABC RN.

NT mob worse GI cancer survival rate

Survival rates for gastrointestinal (GI) cancer among Northern Territorians have improved in the past 30 years but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in the Territory still have worse survival outcomes, a new analysis has found. “We need a concerted effort aimed at investigating the existence of modifiable sociodemographic factors underlying these disturbing trends,” Savio Barreto, Study Senior Author and Associate Professor, General Surgeon, Flinders Medical Centre and Researcher, Flinders University

“There is a need to enhance preventative strategies, as well as to improve the delivery of cancer care and its uptake amongst Indigenous peoples.”

The study, published in the journal Cancers, reviewed data from the NT’s Cancer Registry between 1990 and 2017, looking at adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum and pancreas, which are collectively known as GI cancers.

To read the News Medical Life Sciences article GI cancer survival rates improving among Northern Territorians except for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in full click here.

Image sources: News Medical Alert, heal+h plus.

Palm Is receives grant for youth program

Palm Island youth who have disengaged from the formal education system are the target of program to be delivered by the Palm Island Community Company in partnership with the state government. The Bwgcolman Youth Program will support local 13-to-17-year-olds by linking them with training, education and employment opportunities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the project was one of five locally led initiatives across the State, totalling more than $1 million, to improve community social health. “The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve mental health, emotional wellbeing, and social outcomes,” Mr Crawford said. “It will also respond to substance misuse, and reduce rates of suicide in their communities,” he said.

“Like other Local Thriving Communities initiatives, the Program supports First Nations peoples to make decisions about their own future, build on their strengths, invest in things that will make their communities stronger, and make an enduring difference to people’s lives.

To read The National Tribune article Palm Island Community Company secures $235,000 Queensland Government grant to develop youth training program in full click here.

Queensland Maroons legends visiting Palm Island youth. Photo: Siobhan Heanue, ABC North Queensland.

Docker River aged care facility upgrade

Culturally safe aged care sites and face-to-face support for older First Nations people are being invested into by the Australian Government. The programs are anticipated to cost a combined $221 million and will be delivered over four years.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Malarndirri McCarthy, said First Nations communities experience many barriers when accessing aged care services. “Lack of culturally safe care, a complex system, ongoing trauma, and social and economic disadvantages all contribute to older First Nations people accessing aged care services at a rate lower than needed,” she said. “The government is committed to delivering aged care and health services that meet the needs of our Elders and enables them to remain close to their homes and connected to their communities.”

Four National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) services in SA, the NT and Queensland will receive funding to construct culturally safe, purpose-built facilities. Among them will be the rebuilding of Kaltukatjara’s Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care, which which will provide care for First Nations peoples at Docker River.

Australian Regional and Remote Community Services (ARRCS) general manager, Wendy Hubbard, said the location for the rebuild will be close to the existing Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care service. “That means our residents can stay where they are at Tjilpi Pampaku Ngura Flexible Aged Care and we can continue providing services without disruption, and watch our vision come to life,” she said.

Better mental health for Minjerribah youth

Better mental health and life outcomes for young people on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) is the target of the Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health in partnership with the Queensland state government. The North Stradbroke Island Indigenous Youth Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program will facilitate after-hours activities and yarning circles with Elders, offer counselling sessions and specialist services, and provide a safe place for young people to go when feeling overwhelmed.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the project was one of five locally led initiatives across the State, totalling more than $1 million, to improve community social health. “The Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve mental health, emotional wellbeing, and social outcomes,” Mr Crawford said. “it will respond to substance misuse, and reduce rates of suicide in their communities,” he said. “Like other Local Thriving Communities initiatives, the Program supports First Nations peoples to make decisions about their own future, build on their strengths, invest in things that will make their communities stronger, and make an enduring difference to people’s lives.”

To view the Queensland Government media release Yulu-Burri-Ba Corporation secures $235,000 Queensland Government grant to improve mental health for Minjerribah youth in full click here.

Image sources: logo from Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health website, ORIC.

Ex-NRL star tackles mental health challenges

Owen Craigie was a teenage Rugby League prodigy. The only player to make the Australian Schoolboys team three years straight. While blitzing at schoolboy level, Craigie signed his first professional rugby league contract with Newcastle Knights in the early 1990’s, when he was just 17, and bought a house.

After leaving the club two years later, he had stints at the Wests Tigers, the Rabbitohs and Widnes in the English Super League. When he retired in 2005, things got tough. Craigie has previously spoken of how he turned to drugs, alcohol and gambling, and said he lost an estimated $2 million to his addiction. And three years ago, he said he entered the darkest phase of his life. Craigie went through rehabilitation, and says he’s now been able to recover.

“I am a different person than I was three years ago … I see my kids now. Life’s good. I am working on a couple of businesses.” Craigie said his biggest achievement over the past three years is that he has “found himself”. “I have mates that couldn’t,” said Cragie, who’s now determined to help those in the community who face similar challenges. He has just opened a gym; his charity, the Big OC Foundation, and his Chase the Energy initiative both aim to help people who’re battling addictions and mental health challenges. “I am passionate about [helping people] because I want to help the next Owen Craigie.”

To read the SBS NITV article How former NRL star Owen Craigie turned hardship into happiness in full click here.

Owen Craigie’s Chase the Energy initiative aims to help people battling additions and mental health challenges. Image source: SBS NITV.

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: Keep mob safe this winter

Keep mob safe this winter

With winter here, the best way you and your family can stay well and keep doing the things you love is to:

  • Wear a mask when out in crowded spaces
  • Stay home and get tested if you’re not feeling well
  • Get together outside or in well ventilated places
  • Stay up to date with your vaccinations, including COVID-19 and flu

The NSW Government have prepared a range of new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander winter and flu resources to promote help these messages. Your help in sharing these resources through your channels is appreciated to help protect the community this winter.

Even if you’ve had COVID-19, it is still important to stay up to date with your vaccinations to boost your immunity and protect yourself and others. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) now recommends waiting 3 months to receive your vaccine after a confirmed COVID-19 infection.

There are antiviral treatments available for people at higher risk of getting really sick from COVID-19, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 35 years and over and those with underlying health conditions. You can access more information about antivirals here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over are also eligible for a winter COVID-19 vaccine (second booster) four months after your first booster dose to help keep your immunity strong. If you get COVID-19 before your winter booster dose, wait three months to receive it.

For more information you can view the NSW Government’s Keep Our Mob Safe COVID-19 Newsletter here and access the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander winter and flu resources, including videos (screenshot of the Keep Our Mob Safe video below), posters, graphics and fact sheets here.

Lowitja Institute CEO reflects on NAIDOC Week

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed says that “NAIDOC Week can’t just be a tick box, where people invite us in for one week of the year, listen, take some notes, and then go back to business as usual. We need to celebrate and take pride in our First Nations peoples every day of the week and to examine our role in continuing injustice and inequity.”

“This year’s NAIDOC theme encapsulates this idea, it asks us all to: Get up! Stand up! Show up! My people already have a proud history of getting up, standing up, and showing up. From our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers who fight everyday for improved care, our Grannies fighting for our kids in out-of-home care, to our activists who scream for justice and remind us of the toll. Just to name a few.

We have been seeking to make change since the first days of colonisation. As an Elder at the NAIDOC flag-raising event on Naarm reminded us, our peoples have been long told ‘Sit down, and shut up, or be locked up!’ So I see this year’s NAIDOC theme as a call to action to non-Indigenous people, to the broader community and to the institutions and organisations that we work with and within. A call to create environments where racism is actively dealt with and prevented. Where governance at all levels privileges Indigenous leadership – and not just by putting an Indigenous person on a reference group. We need authentic involvement. True allyship. And a clear focus on those three NAIDOC Week calls to action.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Get up, stand up, show up – and listen up in full click here.

Lowitja Institute CEO Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed. Image source: Better Futures Australia.

RACGP slams QLD pharmacy pilot extension

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has slammed Queensland Health’s decision to extend the UTI pharmacy prescribing pilot despite concerns raised by leading health groups, including the RACGP. It follows reports of Queensland Health advising that the controversial pilot, which allows pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for uncomplicated urinary tract infections or UTIs, will continue while work takes place “determining the future of the scheme”. They also pointed towards a 118-page evaluation report, which has been made public for the first time. Some of the contents of the report were previously reported on by The Australian several months ago.

To view the RACGP media release RACGP slams pharmacy prescribing pilot extension in full click here.

Photo: AAP. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Improving kidney care for mob

The Adelaide-based Aboriginal Kidney Care Together – Improving Outcomes Now (AKction) project aims to transform Indigenous kidney health and healthcare. It is founded on long-term relationships, a shared determination for systemic change, and recognition of the need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, autonomy and governance.

Last week, the @AKction2 team took the reins of Croakey’s rotated Twitter account @WePublicHealth and shared knowledge, language and insights into the cultural determinants of health, plus photos from the recent Renal Society of Australasia conference.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Sharing vibrant, productive and creative journeys to improve kidney care for First Peoples in full click here as well as read more about AKction’s work here.

Support for VIC ACCHO frontline workers

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting more Aboriginal organisations across Victoria to provide vital health services in culturally safe ways with a landmark investment in new jobs across the state. Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams has announced $25 million is being shared across 26 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations as part of the second tranche of the Aboriginal Workforce Fund.

The fund was established to support organisations to set their own workforce priorities, with a focus on new jobs, staff wellbeing and building organisations’ capacity to continue delivering vital services to their communities. Recipients include:

  • Aboriginal Community Elders Service, which received $1.6 million to deliver holistic mental health and alcohol and other drug services, and to enhance Elders’ connections with their culture and community
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Services has also been allocated $1.4 million to strengthen the capacity and capability of its workforce to deliver a range of medical, dental and social services for Victoria’s Aboriginal community
  • Oonah Health and Community Services, which will expand its clinical arm and employ new staff to support the delivery of health, education, community and employment services, and
  • Kirrae Health Service, which will invest in skills training for its Aboriginal workers.

To read the Victorian Government’s media release Supporting Frontline Workers At Aboriginal Services in full click here.

Michael Graham, the CEO of Victoria Aboriginal Health Services, is pictured receiving his COVID-19 vaccination in Melbourne. Photo: Luis Ascui, NCA NewsWire. Image source: news.com.au

Coles raises funds for First Nations health

To raise funds for Indigenous health this NAIDOC week, Coles supermarkets and Express stores in the NT and select regional stores in WA have launched a ‘Purple House’ campaign. Purple House – also known as the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation – is a First Nations-owned not-for-profit health service that provides dialysis services to people suffering from chronic kidney disease in 19 remote communities across NT, WA and SA.

Through the campaign, Coles will donate $1 to Purple House for every customer who wears the colour purple during their shopping trip or fuel stop at participating Coles supermarkets and Coles Express sites in WA and the NT until Sunday 10 July. “The money raised will help dialysis patients who are forced far from home for treatment, to get back on country for important cultural business and precious time with family,” said, Sarah Brown, Purple House CEO.

To view the Inside Retail article Coles NT, regional WA stores raise funds for Indigenous health in full click here.

Image4 source: Coles Group.

AMSA call for greater disability representation

The Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) is calling for medical schools and healthcare systems across the nation to actively support students and professionals with disabilities. Considering almost 20% of Australians have reported to have a disability, the current healthcare systems are lacking the protocols and resources to adequately address the various challenges encountered by medical students and health professionals.

“The bottom line is our current approach is not good enough. We are leaving an important part of the population behind, which is unacceptable. We need to see the appropriate pathways for more students and professionals with disabilities in healthcare. We need more role models,” said Jasmine Davis, President of AMSA.

“Inclusion in medicine is important for so many reasons, including creating a better healthcare system for people with disability by embedding those with lived experience within it,” said Jimmy Jan, a current medical student and Ambassador for Wings for Life.

To view the AMSA media release ‘We need more role models’ – Medical students call for greater disability representation and support in the healthcare world 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: Cervical screening self-collection now an option

Image in feature tile from Cancer SA.

Cervical screening self-collection now an option

As of last Friday 1 July 2022, anyone eligible for a Cervical Screening Test under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) (i.e. women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 years who have ever had any sexual contact) will have the choice to screen either through self-collection of a vaginal sample using a simple swab or clinician-collection of a sample from the cervix using a speculum.

The Hon Ged Kearney MP, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care says the launch of self-collection for cervical screening is a game changer in the fight to eliminate cervical cancer.

You can access an information sheet with the title National Cervical Screening Program launch of self-collection eligibility expansion, including the following headings listed below, here.

  • Where to get more information
  • What you can do
  • Key messages for healthcare providers and laboratories
    • availability and procession of self-collected vaginal samples
    • important considerations
    • broad awareness of pathway changes
  • Want to know more or have any questions?
In addition, you can watch a video (screenshot below) of Minister Kearney, who is also a nurse, on the launch of self-collection including who can access self-collection, where you can access it and how to do it, using this link.

Screenshot of Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care video on Facebook about the launch of the self-collection cervical screening.

ACCHOs celebrating NAIDOC Week 2022

National NAIDOC Week celebrations are being held across Australia this week to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2022’s theme Get Up, Stand Up and Show Up with pride and respect for your culture is something Aboriginal leader Lizzie Adams, CEO of  Goolburri Aboriginal Health in Toowoomba, wants to scream from the roof tops.

“When I was born, I wasn’t even registered as a human being. I was born as flora and fauna,” she said. “In the march, other people see us doing this, and it’s us doing it in a way that our ancestors would like us to do it. “Be proud, be energetic and get our message across that we’re here and we’re here to stay.”

To view the Chronicle article NAIDOC WEEK: untied effort in working for change click here.

Lizzie Adams in the NAIDOC Week march in Toowoomba. Monday, 4 July 2022. Photo: Nev Madsen. Image source: The Chronicle.

Ungooroo Aboriginal CEO Taasha Layer said NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.

“The theme for NAIDOC Week this year  Get Up, Stand Up, and Show Up can take many forms. It might be pushing for systemic change to help Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, it might be calling out racism or working to improve access to health and social services, individuals and organisations all have a part to play,” explained Ms Layer.

Ms Layer said “The recent Ungooroo Health & Wellbeing Community Expo at Singleton Centre attracted hundreds of visitors and showcased a range of Ungooroo services and local organisations who work with Indigenous communities to improve health, social, education and employment outcomes. Our Community Expo is the perfect example of how we can work together to improve the lives of Indigenous communities and help people learn more about Aboriginal culture and tradition.”

To view the Hunter Valley News article NAIDOC WEEK: untied effort in working for change in full click here.

The Ungooroo Health & Wellbeing Community Expo at Singleton Centre attracted hundreds of visitors and showcased a range of Ungooroo services. Image source: Hunter Valley News.

Elders play critical community health role

In many parts of Australia – where a recent royal commission revealed a broken aged care system – we could do better with the way we treat our elders. So is there something to be learned from the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — cultures where where eldership is highly respected?

Worimi man Paul Callaghan says there is. He knows first-hand the essential role Elders play in their communities. His Elders gave him “solace and support” when he endured racism growing up in Karuah on the NSW coast, and urged Callaghan to continue his education when he felt like quitting. “They have always encouraged me to bridge two worlds,” he says.

Research shows eldership is critical to creating healthy Indigenous communities. A 2017 study identified the pivotal role Elders play in critical Indigenous issues such as health, education, unemployment and racism. “By empowering Elders with the support necessary to address issues in their communities, we can make a positive step in helping close the gap and transferring sacred spiritual knowledge,” said Dr Lucy Busija, one of the study authors.

You can read the ABC article What Indigenous culture can teach us about respecting our elders in full here.

Elders teaching culture to children. Image source: Katherine Times.

Racism barrier to healthcare participation

Challenging how health services might better meet the needs of Aboriginal people was the focus of NAIDOC Week activities at The Alfred this week Addressing a roomful of staff, the Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities and descendant of the Kalarie peoples of the Wiradjuri nation, Todd Fernando, said within a decade we will weed out homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Victoria.

“We will not achieve the same for racism. And that’s because of how the system is set up,” Mr Fernando said. Asking the audience to consider what changes they could make within their own work areas, Mr Fernando said that systemic and historical factors impact how Aboriginal people participate in health and that dismantling these barriers must become a priority. “We need to look at how services support Aboriginal people, particularly those from the LGBTIQ+ community, rather than contribute to feelings of marginalisation and isolation.”

To view the Alfred Health article Special guests call for change click here.

Antivirals key to fight next COVID-19 wave

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Dr Fei Sim is calling on governments to do more to protect the community and prepare for an increasing number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations by improving access to antiviral medicines.

Dr Sim says that governments – at both state/territory and federal levels – must take a pragmatic approach to ensure high-risk patients have timely access to antivirals, to avoid the shortages and last-minute policy-making that Australia saw with the rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines and Rapid Antigen Tests. “We cannot sit and wait for infections and hospitalisations to rise further – governments must act now. Timely access to antivirals is critical to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection and limiting complications.”

To view the PSA media release Access to antivirals key to tackling next COVID-19 wave click here.

Image source: NPS MedicineWise.

Brisbane leaders keeping culture alive

From learning the traditional name of your suburb, to joining in the fight for Indigenous rights and constitutional recognition, there are steps you can take to be an Indigenous ally this NAIDOC Week and beyond. Seven of Brisbane’s Indigenous leaders have explained how they are keeping their culture alive and how the whole country can help them.

One of the leaders, Dharumbal and South Sea Islander Jacob McQuire, a National Indigenous Radio Service and ABC journalist, said “These days I’ve been doing all that I can to be a healthier and better blackfulla for my family, my mob and my community. I’ve had struggles for a long time now with my mental health and making better choices around my health more generally. This year I’ve made it a goal of mine to improve myself so I can be stronger and better for the mob around me. There’s no keeping my culture alive if I’m not alive.”

When asked about whether he sees a shift toward non-Indigenous Australians wanting to respect and learn about Indigenous culture, Mr McQuire said, ” I think whatever change we see now is a part of a much longer, gradual shift, and that shift is the result of years of fighting and advocacy on the part of mob to make this place more hospitable for blackfullas. With that being said, wanting to learn and respect our culture is much different than wanting to fight with us and help dismantle racism and the institutions which uphold it in this country.”

To view the ABC article NAIDOC Week 2022: How Brisbane Indigenous leaders keep culture alive and how you can help click here.

Jacob McQuire, National Indigenous Radio Service and ABC journalist. Image source: ABC News.

Importance of cancer support for mob

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! promotes a systemic change to close the health inequities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still face today. Cancer Council Queensland and BuAkoko Mabo (Bua/ Benny Mabo Jr), third-generation Mabo, are working together to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are impacted by a cancer diagnosis to access Cancer Council Queensland’s various support services.

Benny, a professional translator and advocate for the preservation of the Torres Strait Island Meriba culture, was diagnosed with oesophageal and tonsil cancer in November last year, and subsequently underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Recently, Benny stayed at Cancer Council Queensland’s Gluyas Rotary Lodge in Townsville and took advantage of their Transport to Treatment service. He has been known to ‘light up the room’ and never turns down the opportunity for a chat with friends and strangers.

Cancer Council Queensland General Manager, Cancer Support and Information, Gemma Lock, said  “In 2021, our accommodation lodges provided 17,823 nights of accommodation and our Transport to Treatment services travelled over 195,676 kms to connect cancer patients and their carers to the support they needed. Patients like Benny often need to travel from regional and remote areas to access vital cancer treatment that they wouldn’t otherwise receive. The lodges provide support to those who need to travel for cancer treatment, offering practical services like transport to treatment.”

To view the Senior AU article Benny shares the importance of cancer support this NAIDOC week in full click here.

Benny Mabo Jr. Image source: Torres Strait Islanders Media, Association, Radio 4MW.

Better childhood disability management

Dr Gaj Panagoda is a paediatric rehabilitation physician and general paediatrician, Gaj who has worked at Queensland Health and Queensland Children’s Hospital for 10 years. Over that time, Gaj began to believe that childhood disability, injury and chronic disease could be better managed through the community rather than a hospital.

“I wanted childhood disability to be better managed in the community and I knew I had to jump out of the public health sector and set up this model of care myself,” he said. “It’s an innovative approach that meets the needs of young patients and their families while utilising their local community for management. Local organisations like schools, sports clubs and allied health therapists in their area are engaged to support the management of the disability to decrease reliance on hospital-based services.”

To deliver the new model of care, Gaj launched ‘Superkid Rehab’, a rehabilitation service aiming to maximise the potential of children and young adults with disabilities, injuries and chronic diseases. In addition to Superkid Rehab, he is now also the Lead Paediatrician at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, where the team provides paediatric and disability medical services across 20 Aboriginal health clinics.

To read the MBA News article MBA Student Sets Out to Change Healthcare System and Improve Outcomes for Kids with Disability click here.

Paediatric Disability Specialist and QUT MBA student Dr Gaj Panagoda. Image source: MBA News.

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: NACCHO welcomes aged care funding

Image in feature tile is from The Daily Beacon.

NACCHO welcomes aged care funding

Yesterday The Hon Anika Wells MP, Minister for Aged Care and Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians issued a joint media release Support for First Nations Elders to Access Aged Care available here. In response NACCHO has issued the following media statement:

NACCHO welcomes the funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Workforce

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) welcomes the announcement from Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, on the $86 million funding support for the Trusted Indigenous Facilitator–Aged Care Workforce program.

Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO said, ‘We are grateful to receive this investment that will help us deliver much better outcomes for our Elders. Over the life of the program, we will see 250 staff, predominately drawn from local communities, onboarded across our sector nationally to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders.’

The ACCHO sector are best placed to deliver this program because, ‘We have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for decades on matters that are important to our people and are best placed to represent areas like health, aged care, early childhood, education, land and legal services,’ stated Pat Turner.

‘The program will be developed and implemented in genuine partnership, where equal weight is given to the sector’s voice at the table alongside that of governments and agencies, ensuring equal decision-making authority with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This aligns with our goals in the National Agreement of Closing the Gap, to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

Overseeing the program will be our established NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Advisory group consisting of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) nationally who are currently involved in aged care or wanting to become a provider. This group will be responsible for advising NACCHO on implementing the program, including informing the development of a model of care, service linkages, and workforce training requirements.

You can view the NACCHO media statement NACCHO welcomes the funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Workforce on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: 3 Bridges Community websie.

NITV Big Mob Brekky host NACCHO CEO

Earlier this morning NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared on NITV’s Big Mob Brekky show, providing an update on COVID-19 and urging people to get their vaccines and/or booster shots as well as a flu shot. Ms Turner also reflected on what the theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week means to her.

Humour to destigmatise palliative care 

Indigenous comedian Sean Choolburra is the voice behind a new Queensland University of Technology (QUT)-led animation series that uses humour to help demystify and destigmatise palliative care and dying for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The QUT-based Indigenous Program of Experience in Palliative Approach (IPEPA) developed the animations to educate and entertain communities and health professionals in a grass-roots way about palliative care, serious illness, grief, feelings and pain management.

The IPEPA project director, Distinguished Professor Patsy Yates is a world-renown nurse and recognised leader in palliative care research said content for the IPEPA animations was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and drew on cultural strengths and perspectives. “Using humour to communicate about dying was a risk, but communities let us know it played an important role in their resilience and was the best way to engage people,” Professor Yates said.

You can view the Queensland University of Technology article Humour used to destigmatise death and promote community healing here. As well the video below on pain management you can view four other videos available here.

Rapper Adam Briggs on NAIDOC Week theme

Rapper Adam Briggs said “I was thinking about the slogan they’ve got [for NAIDOC Week] this year – the theme ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’ For me, it’s a reminder that we can’t be complacent. Many blackfellas have been doing this fight and this work for a lot longer than I’ve been alive, so I’m not allowed to be tired yet. It’s not about fighting all the time, but it’s about support and get up, stand up and show up for ourselves and for each other.”

NAIDOC Week encourages all Australians to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to acknowledge our history and to realise that acknowledgement is a crucial unifier. “I think a lot of the willingness to not engage with it, that White Australia has, comes from the top-down – it’s that Howard-era of ‘I refuse to look at the past with a black armband’, and so that tells people ‘that’s not my fault, why should I have to do anything?’” said Briggs.

Briggs continued, “It’s like ‘Mate, I’m not asking you to go and volunteer or give up your time’, but acknowledge – wholeheartedly and truthfully – what went on and how this manifested and how we’re here and what that disadvantage is. For the regular Joe, it might not be your job to close the gap on Indigenous health; these are complex, sophisticated issues, but acknowledgement that it’s an issue and that the people, whose job that is, should be doing something about it and fixing it. For the average Karen or Darren on the street, I’m not asking you to fix it – I’m asking you to understand that it’s an issue, wholeheartedly and truthfully.”

To view the Beat article Briggs: ‘It’s not about fighting all the time, it’s about support’ in full click here.

Rapper Adam Briggs. Image source: Beat.

Period care product access needed for all

In Australia, most states have introduced initiatives to provide people who menstruate with free period care products in public schools. However, there is value in enhancing the program by providing reusable products to reduce waste to landfill, by educating boys and other students who don’t menstruate, and tailoring this initiative appropriately for remote and Indigenous People who menstruate.

Australia has come a long way since The Conversation published an article in 2017 article about Indigenous girls potentially missing school in remote communities each month due to a range of period care challenges. The article began an important and ongoing Indigenous health collaboration towards ensuring all Indigenous and remote people who menstruate have access to information and products every month.

To view The Mandarin article Free period care products in Queensland schools is just a first step. Remote communities need access to these items as well in full click here.

Young girls learning about how to manage their menstrual cycles with confidence. Photo: Central Australian Youth Link Up Service. Image source: ABC News website.

UON students experience cultural immersion

A University of Newcastle (UON) scholarship program looks very different this year, with students swapping China for cultural immersion in Indigenous Australia. UON has run since 2018 the Ma and Morley Scholarship Program, which aims to provide students with an eye-opening and life-changing opportunity to travel.

Previously this has been to China, but this has not been possible for the past three years due to COVID-19. Instead, the 2020 scholars left Newcastle on Monday for Broken Hill, for a trip that will focus on Aboriginal connections to people, place and spirituality or purpose. Wiradjuri man and UON Pro Vice Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Leadership, Nathan Towney, said the trip showcases the commitment UON has to Aboriginal communities and to learning and respecting traditional culture.

To view the Newcastle Herald article University of Newcastle Ma and Morley Scholarship Program participants explore Indigenous Australia in full click here.

Images from University of Newcastle Ma and Morley Scholarship Program 2022. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Unintended pregnancy data for mob missing

Yesterday The Medical Journal of Australia published an article about the need for data about the prevalence, experiences and outcomes of unintended pregnancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (acknowledging that unintended does not necessarily mean unwanted), including issues relating to pregnancy intentions, decision making, and health care access.

Up to 40% of women in Australia have experienced an unintended pregnancy, which can be associated with suboptimal pre‐conception health behaviour and reproductive health care engagement and adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates of pregnancy risk factors, adverse perinatal outcomes, and adolescent pregnancy compared with non‐Indigenous women. However, little is known about the prevalence and impact of unintended pregnancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

This knowledge gap must be addressed.  Meaningful engagement and collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and researchers are required to confirm priority issues, design culturally appropriate data collection processes, and achieve a nationally representative sample. Data sources such as those held by primary health care providers and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations have an untapped potential to highlight the needs and priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, should they be used with appropriate consultation and respect for Indigenous data sovereignty.

You can read The Medical Journal of Australia article Unintended pregnancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: where are the data? in full here

Image source: MCWH website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness

Image in feature tile is of Pat Turner AM, delivering the Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration for 2020, Great Hall, University of Sydney. Image source: ABC Speaking Out website.

Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness

Yesterday the CEO of the NACCHO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM issued the following media release to mark the start of NAIDOC Week 2022:

Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness

NAIDOC Week 2022: Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!

CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM says NAIDOC Week 2022 calls upon us to Get up, Stand up and Show up, which can be tough! But as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we know how important it is.

‘We know that to achieve the changes necessary to improve the health, wellbeing, and economic prosperity of our people, we have to make this choice every day.

‘On the days that are especially tough, I remember that we stand on the shoulders of exceptional humans who have changed Australia for the better! Like my Uncle, Dr Charlie Perkins, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Eddie Mabo, Gladys Elphick, Albert Natmajira, Faith Bandler, Vincent Lingiari, all our mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who’s presence and strength are endless, and to our ancestors who maintained and handed down a rich culture that makes us who we are today. That makes us strong.

NAIDOC Week 2022 with quote from NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of Coalition of the Peaks, Pat Turner AM

‘I am the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman and I grew up in Alice Springs. Being Aboriginal and of the First Peoples of this Country is my story, the story of who I am.

‘And this is just one of the multitudes of worthwhile reasons that help me to Get Up, Stand Up, and Show Up, every day.

Pat further added, ‘Over time, and through our continual storytelling, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have reclaimed some of our Country back through native title and land rights, and as momentum builds towards a national Treaty as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the significance of our stories continues.

‘As the first CEO of NITV and working in the Aboriginal space for a long time, it is exciting to see the explosion of young people on social media, advocating for social justice, celebrating, and reconnecting with their identities and languages.

‘The stories I grew up with were told under big gum trees, out on porches, sometimes laying in swags and looking up to the stars. I would listen as my mother and father told the stories of my family and about our Country, and from others, I heard the stories of the fight for the civil rights of Aboriginal people.

‘Both these stories helped to shape who I am today. They gave me my sense of what it means to be an Aboriginal person and instilled a fire in me to imagine and work towards a better future for our peoples.’

You can view Pat Turner’s media release Standing on the Shoulders of Greatness in full on the NACCHO website here.

Interrogating intentions for First Nations health

In the PM’s 2020 Closing the Gap statement to Parliament, he reported “despite the best of intentions; investments in new programs; and bi‐partisan goodwill, Closing the Gap has never really been a partnership with Indigenous people”. The “best of intentions” for Closing the Gap has been widely questioned in academic literature, and mainstream media, including highlighting the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples involvement in decision‐making processes and acknowledgement of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as exemplars of best practice in providing holistic health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 2021, with a reformed agenda for Closing the Gap now established with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represented by their community‐controlled peak organisations, the Coalition of Peaks — an Aboriginal‐led research team — felt it timely to interrogate the intentions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through a critical review of research outputs since Closing the Gap was established in 2008.

To read the MJA article Interrogating the intentions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health: a narrative review of research outputs since the introduction of Closing the Gap in full click here.

Image source: Oxfam Australia.

CATSINaM demonstrates governance excellence

Wiradjuri academic Juanita Sherwood was working at The Block in Redfern in inner Sydney in the late 1980s when she first saw the need to decolonise research to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Professor Sherwood is a founding member of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives(CATSINaM), a member of its Elders Circle and a Board director. She said CATSINaM’s model of Indigenous governance today was “a beacon of light in how to do business in Indigenous health” compared to a generation ago when she started work as a nurse. “Our governance model reflects on what is important in our culture, our lore, how we pay respect to Elders, and how we promote primary healthcare as critical care for our community,” she said.

Board President Marni Tuala, a Bundjalung registered midwife, said CATSINaM’s model of Indigenous governance could be seen in multiple layers of the organisation where the distribution of power often seen in Western systems was replaced by the reciprocal distribution of knowledge that reinforces “our Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing”. “What we’re doing at CATSINaM is demonstrating the model of excellence in Indigenous governance,” she said.

To view the Croakey Media Health article Demonstrating excellence in Indigenous governance: Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives in full click here.

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

Adolescent health strategy a glaring gap

The current lack of a national strategy for Indigenous adolescent health in Australia is a glaring gap. While there has been work to establish a policy framework for Australia’s young people, there is no national strategy for Indigenous adolescent health. As a result, investments to date have been limited, reactive and fragmented. Efforts have been siloed around health issues including sexually transmitted infections, social and emotional wellbeing, youth suicide, rheumatic heart disease, and risk behaviours including substance misuse. However, these foci are inadequate given the persistent high rates of potentially avoidable mortality; unintentional injury (a key driver of adolescent mortality) is a notable gap.

Additional policy gaps relate to the health needs of Indigenous 10–14‐year‐olds, including the excess burden of sexually transmitted infection, injury, substance use, and poor mental health (including self‐harm and suicide). Young adolescents typically cannot access youth services independently and have needs beyond those currently provided for in paediatric services. Further, many existing efforts focus on diseases and risks amenable through the health system, too narrow a focus to address needs largely driven by complex social and structural determinants.

More than one‐third of Indigenous adolescents report high rates of psychological distress, a symptom of systemic racism and discrimination, intergenerational trauma, and associated socio‐economic deprivation. While responsive health services play a critical role, broader investments in health promotion and prevention are also required.

To view the MJA article The need for a roadmap to guide actions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent health: youth governance as an essential foundation in full click here.

Photo: Getty Images. Image source: BBC.

No telehealth puts vulnerable at risk

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says the Federal Government has failed an early test of its pandemic response by refusing to extend COVID-19 telehealth services despite the ongoing challenges to our health system. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the refusal of the Government to extend Medicare-funded COVID-19 telehealth services from 1 July would limit vulnerable patients’ telephone access to doctors. “This decision means telephone access to doctors will be significantly limited and this will hit vulnerable patients hardest, including those who do not have access to high bandwidth internet and those who can’t operate the necessary IT systems,” he said.

“This means that older patients, those with chronic health conditions including cancers and those who
are immune suppressed will have less access to care from tomorrow and may be put at increased risk of
contracting COVID if they now have to attend their doctors appointment face to face. “Each day thousands of Australians are required to self-isolate because of a COVID-19 infection and as
a close contact. Many of these people will not be able to continue to access medical care when they
need it.”

To view the AMA media release Government failure on telehealth services puts vulnerable patients at risk in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

Growing First Nations population a proud moment

Co-founder of The Demographics Group based in Melbourne and columnist with The New Daily has written an article about Australia’s growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, “Earlier [last] week, I was able to get a glimpse of the census data. The joys of writing a column include getting embargoed press releases the day before the official data launch. One figure, more than anything else, jumped out at me. Australia’s Indigenous population has increased sharply to 813,000 (3.2% of the population).”

“This 25% increase over 2016 data is huge. Obviously, this increase cannot, by definition, be due to migration, nor was it the result of an outrageously high birth rate. On the contrary, more people identified themselves as Aboriginal on the census form. Social progress still seems painfully slow for the relevant cohort, but zooming out, looking at longitudinal data, allows us to be much more optimistic about societal trends. We have collectively created an environment where more people are confident enough to proclaim their legacy loud and clear.”

To read The New Daily article The Stats Guy: Increase in Indigenous population a proud moment for Australia in full click here.

Photo: Wayne Quilliam, Oxfam Australia. Image source: AHRC.

Hope for Health program changing lives 

An Indigenous-led program in Arnhem Land is combating chronic illness and promoting healthy living using a combination of traditional and Western knowledge. The Hope for Health program has seen profound results among participants including weight loss; better control over diabetes; a reduction of medication use; and half of participants quitting smoking.

Co-founder of the framework Time Trudgen says the program could benefit communities across Australia to close the gap in health education and safeguard future generations.

You can listen to the SBS story Indigenous-led health program changing lives in Galiwin’ku here.

Hope for Health team recruiting for health retreat. Photo: Aneeta Bhole. Image source: SBS News.

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: Thurs 30.6.22

Image is feature tile is of health staff working long hours to test residents in Bidyadanga. Photo: KAMS. Image source: ABC News 28 February 2022.

KAMS’ quick response to COVID-19

At last week’s Communicable Diseases and Immunisation Conference, Dr Lorraine Anderson shared some valuable insights from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service’s (KAMS) response to COVID-19.

Medical director at KAMS, Anderson showcased their quick response to the pandemic, urging all conference delegates to consider the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) model of care to “help bring all people on board in the health space”.

In her presentation, Anderson said that communication, leadership, governance and the prioritisation of Aboriginal cultural and spiritual ways, self-determination and empowerment were critical.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Aboriginal leadership key to successful management of COVID-19 in the Kimberley region in full, including Anderson’s full presentation, as delivered at the conference on 21 June 2022 click here.

Vaughan Matsumoto, Senior Aboriginal Practitioner at the Beagle Bay clinic receives a coronavirus vaccine. Photo: KAMS, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Leading the way to improve RHD outcomes

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, between 5 and 15 years of age are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease (RHD) than other Australian children. The broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with RHD than other Australians. The prevalence of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is also significant. This was released in a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in April 2022.  

To address these alarming issues, NACCHO will develop a new service delivery model for the national Rheumatic Fever Strategy (RFS), for the prevention, treatment, and management of RHD and ARF. This model will be co-designed with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector. 

A Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) will oversee the strategy and be co-chaired by NACCHO and the Australian Government Department of Health. The JAC has been established to create a nationally cohesive approach to ARF and RHD, with a focus on improving care pathways and RHD data and includes representatives from: 

  • State and Territory Government Health representatives – NT, QLD, SA, and WA 
  • NACCHO Affiliates – NT, QLD, SA, and WA 
  • Heart Foundation 
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Members of the NACCHO RHD Expert Working Group.

A NACCHO RHD Expert Working Group has also been established and comprises representatives from the ACCHO sector.   

The JAC will meet bi-monthly during the establishment phase of the program. A meeting communique will be publicly available and provided to relevant stakeholders.  

Click here to read the JAC February 2022 communique.  

If you would like to be kept informed about progress in this space, you can contact the NACCHO RHD team using this email link.

Dr Josh Francis, Shannon Brown and Trey Brown in Maningrida. Photo: Mike Hill, Take Heart Program. Image source: NRHA Partyline on-line magazine.

Decolonising healthcare – a call to action

In her final story from the 21st International Conference on Emergency Medicine, Dr Amy Coopes has written about the call to decolonise healthcare, and for health workers to challenge “inequity and injustice in their work”. Dr Coopes explains that structural inequities and injustices as a legacy of colonisation can only be dismantled by acknowledging that a script of subjugation continues to be played out in healthcare settings, perpetuating a cycle of prejudice and ill health for oppressed peoples.

Disrupting this narrative is urgent work for all healthcare professionals, and begins with reflexive action, interrogating the motivations, power imbalances and potential for oppression, violence and injustice in our practices and approaches in health. These were the central messages of a compelling call to action for emergency doctors at a recent global summit held in Melbourne centred on the themes of equity, sustainability and innovation.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Decolonising healthcare: a call for equity in action in full click here.

REFOCUS makes profound difference

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! and it calls on the community to rally for systemic change and continue to support and secure institutional, structural, collaborative and co-operative reforms.

On a local level, one organisation working day in, day out to make a difference is REFOCUS. The charity is making a profound difference in the wellbeing of Indigenous youth and their families across the region. REFOCUS has been delivering wellbeing support services to the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Gympie regions since 2010.

The charity stands for ‘Redirecting and Empowering Families through Culturally Unique Services’ and provides a range of programs to support children to reach their full potential. REFOCUS CEO Darcy Cavanagh first began working in the youth and child protection sector in 1998 and knows firsthand the need for this type of support in the local community. “My interest in this line of work comes from my brief experience of being placed in the foster care system with my two brothers and the life that followed being returned home,” he says.

Launching REFOCUS with six staff, and now with a team more than 60, the charity supports thousands of individuals through a variety of programs across its catchment area, with a specific focus on children under 18. Programs include family wellbeing services, family participation programs, NDIS support services, foster and kinship care as well as Aboriginal medical service Gunyah of Wellness.

To view the My Weekly article It’s time to come together in full click here and to access the REFOCUS website click here.

Calls for VIC Treaty Authority

Last week, Co-chairs of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria called on Victorian parliamentarians to pass legislation enabling the establishment of the Treaty Authority in Victoria. In what Bangerang and Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson described as an “umpire” independent from government, a Treaty Authority would “support Treaty-making in Victoria between the First Peoples of Victoria and the state government.”

Marcus Stewart, a proud Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung Nation, said “the Treaty Authority agreement is decolonisation in action”. Although an agreement has been signed between the First People’s Assembly and the Victorian Government, legislation is required to facilitate the operation of Authority. The Treaty Authority bill passed the Victorian Parliament’s lower house last week.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Lore, law and cultural authority at the heart of Victorian Treaty Authority in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Census lacks detail about people’s lives

The census counted 812,728 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on census night, making up 3.2% of the total people counted. That’s up from 649,171 in the 2016 census, an increase of over 25%. Many have estimated the population prior to the arrival of the British was between 750,000 and 1 million. So the exciting news is in only 234 years we are nearing pre-colonial numbers.

Whenever there is an increase in the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, there is always speculation as to why. Of course the politics of identity is always at play. There will be the usual commentary that targets the way people look in those old arguments that refer to skin colour as the measure of who counts as Aboriginal and the idea that lighter skin signifies less Indigenous or no Indigenous identity at all.

These worn out tropes never take into consideration that colonial policies and practices such as those that led to the Stolen Generations directly targeted people with mixed heritage. These targeted people suffered unimaginable violence in the nation’s mission to breed the colour out of us.

But unfortunately, given the lack of information in the census about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ lives, we can’t be sure if overall health among Indigenous people is improving and why lifespans seem to be improving. And the census has failed to investigate other ways Indigenous people may choose to identify, and how we live as families.

To view the SBS NITV article OPINION: First Nations population has increased, but census lacks details about Indigenous lives in full click here.

Three generation Aboriginal family. Image source: CHF Journal Health Voices – June 2022 edition.

Preparation for work in communities

Charles Sturt University paramedicine students and First Nations mental health students recently participated in training scenarios as part of their preparation for work in communities throughout Australia.

Associate Head of School – Paramedicine Dr Sonja Maria in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences in Bathurst said the scenarios were designed to give both groups of students insights into the possible needs of First Nations patients and how the paramedics in particular operate when on-call. Dr Maria said the interdisciplinary training day was created with the assistance of Dr Jola Stewart-Bugg, the Discipline Leader for First Nations at Charles Sturt.

To read the Charles Sturt University article ‘Together we are stronger’; health students strive for better First Nations patient outcomes in full click here.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) paramedicine students and First Nations mental health students in training. Image source: CSU website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Struggle to see way forward on recognition

Labor faces fresh challenges as it works towards a referendum on the Indigenous voice to parliament, with Aboriginal leader Pat Turner revealing she is “struggling” to see a way forward on constitutional recognition and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe saying the nation is not ready for the vote. Ms Turner, who worked with former PM Scott Morrison to redesign the national agreement on Closing the Gap, says Australians will not vote for the Indigenous voice unless they have details.

The Coalition of Peaks chairwoman also told the Australian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce on Friday that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had unanswered questions. “This is a deeply personal view. I am struggling to see the best way forward on constitutional recognition and responding to the Uluru Statement,” Ms Turner said. “I accept the totality of the Uluru Statement and I am very supportive of a national voice to the parliament, but I need to start to see some detail here. I want some meat on the bones.
“And the proponents of the voice have got to start putting that out because I am not the only – Aboriginal person that is wondering what this is going to look like.”

Ms Turner was a member of the senior advisory group tasked with working on the design of an Indigenous voice for the Morrison government. The group’s work, overseen by prominent Indigenous academics Marcia Langton and Tom Calma, produced a detailed report recommending options for local and regional voices as well as a national voice representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.

To view The Australian article I’m struggling to see way forward on recognition, Pat Turner says click here.

Pat Turner. Image source: THe Sydney Morning Herald.

Rhythm appointed for new NDIS campaign

Following a competitive national pitch process, Rhythm has been appointed by the NACCHO to design, develop and produce a National NDIS communications campaign. The campaign will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia with culturally secure messaging to improve awareness and uptake of NDIS services. This follows Rhythm’s recent relaunch of its production offering as Rhythm Films, alongside its expansion as a fully fledged creative agency.

Briannan Dean, General Manager of Rhythm, said it’s an exciting and much-needed project. “The NDIS has so much potential to impact and improve people’s quality of life, and to date there hasn’t been a targeted communications campaign that is appropriate for and inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences. Rhythm is very excited to partner with NACCHO on a national level to drive awareness and better outcomes in this space.”

To view the Campaign Brief article NACCHO appoints Rhythm WA as agency and production partner for new NDIS campaign in full click here.

Rhythm WA team. Image source: Campaign Brief.

Pastors address COVID-19 vax misinformation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pastors have linked up to strike down COVID-19 misinformation. The religious leaders have united with health practitioners in our communities in the hope of countering conspiracies about COVID-19 vaccines. Research has told us there are multiple complex reasons for vaccine hesitancy in communities, ranging from misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy, concerns about side effects and some people’s belief that vaccinating goes against their faith.

To help raise awareness around how COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to protect your family and communities from COVID-19, NACCHO reached out to Pastors in select communities, who have lent their voices to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. Below are links to each of the Pastor videos that will be released through a nationwide campaign by NITV (YouTube link to each video):

  • Pastor Geoff Stokes – Kalgoorlie, WA: here
  • Pastor Willie Dumas – Tweed Heads, NSW: here
  • Pastor George Mann – Bourke, NSW: here
  • Pastor Ray Minniecon – Glebe, NSW: here
  • Uncle Col Watego – Glebe, NSW: here

Catchy iSISTERQUIT video clips launched

Southern Cross University’s iSISTAQUIT project has launched a compilation of catchy video clips in a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking. iSISTAQUIT is a blended model of community support and traditional treatment by GPs and other health professionals to help these women stop smoking.

“Through our research we found there are three main things we need to address to really make a difference to the numbers of Aboriginal women who smoke during pregnancy. These are clinician training, better access to oral forms of nicotine replacement therapy and specific health promotion messages to address the challenges Indigenous women face when quitting,” said Coffs Harbour campus-based SCU Professor Gillian Gould, lead investigator and GP.

“Our iSISTAQUIT social media campaign, designed in consultation with community women and with Aboriginal Health Professionals, has a bright, upbeat energy to focus on the positive outlooks and celebrate the successes of the women. It’s important that Aboriginal women feel comfortable with their health professionals to talk about quitting, and it’s vital that a health professional has the appropriate approach to start the chat with minimising barriers. It’s the chat that could save a life.”

To view the News Of The Area article SCU Launches Campaign For ISISTAQUIT Project in full click here.

SAWCAN governance award finalist

The South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) has been highly commended for outstanding examples of Aboriginal-led governance on a national level. On 8 June 2022 at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre Sydney, the Indigenous Governance Awards ceremony, hosted by Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation, acknowledged and celebrated outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous led non-incorporated initiatives, projects, or within small to large businesses.

SAWCAN were one of nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations / initiatives from around the nation who were shortlisted as finalists in the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards. Whilst SAWCAN didn’t win, they were one of two initiatives who were given high commendations from the judging panel. Romlie Mokak, Indigenous Governance Awards judging panel member and Productivity Commissioner said “the fact that you have been able to, in such a short amount of time, change the way that governments themselves saw their program objectives and you were able to step into that space and not only speak to it but re-negotiate what that looked like for your mob, I think speaks volumes about the strength of your collaboration and the value that others see in it as well, including government.”

To view the SAWCAN media release SAWCAN Highly Commended in Category 1 of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards in full click here.

L to R: Karen Mundine, CEO Reconciliation Australia; Janine Mohamed, CEO Lowitja Institute; Donna Murray, CEO Indigenous Allied
Health Australia; Cindy Zbierski, CEO Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service; Zell Dodd, CEO Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation; Warren
Clements, Public Health Manager Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, Polly Paerata SAWCAN Secretariat, Leeroy Bilney COO Tullawon
Health Service and Romlie Mokak Commissioner with the Productivity Commission.

Flu adds pressure to stretched NT health system

A steep rise in influenza cases across the NTis exacerbating ongoing staff and bed shortages at hospitals, with hundreds hospitalised and patients being flown in from remote communities for treatment. Data from NT Health shows the territory has nearly doubled its recent flu records, with 3,210 cases recorded so far this year — up from 1,878 in 2019. More than 1,000 of those cases have been reported in the past month.

It’s a concerning trend that is dumping more pressure on the NT’s already strained health system, with some units so busy that patients have at times been left waiting in beds in corridors. That’s according to Dr Stephen Gourley, the NT chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM). “Unfortunately, you may end up in a bed in a corridor,” Dr Gourley said.  “When the hospital gets very full, we try our best to find people places to be and they’re not always in the most ideal places.”

To view the ABC News article Rising flu cases increasing pressure on chronically stretched NT health system in full click here.

Health workers at Royal Darwin Hospital work hard to keep up with demand. Photo: Che Chorley, ABC News.

Matilda’s goalkeeper supports health workers

Throughout June, Bridging the Gap Foundation (BtGF) has teamed up with Matilda’s goalkeeper, proud Noongar woman, and Canberra local Lydia Williams, aiming to assist the mounting Indigenous healthcare crisis in the NT. Ms Williams is raising funds for The Ramaciotti Regional and Remote Health Sciences Training Centre (Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre) following a severe and systemic shortage of healthcare workers, particularly Indigenous staff, placing the healthcare system under enormous pressure.

This is one of the driving factors for ongoing poor health outcomes and unacceptable health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, says Bridging the Gap. The overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed hospitals rely on fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers due to a lack of investment in career pathways for local people to enter the health workforce. The Foundation revealed the workforce turnover rate is estimated to be around 148%.

“I am proud to work alongside Bridging the Gap Foundation to raise funds for the Menzies-Ramaciotti Centre’s trainees,” says Ms Williams. “I understand the importance of culturally appropriate health programs and I am keen to promote education campaigns that highlight the importance of healthy lifestyles. This campaign kicks these goals for me.”

To view The Canberra Times article Canberra’s Lydia Williams kicks goals with Bridging the Gap Foundation in full click here.

Lydia Williams Arsenal WFC & Matilda’s goalkeeper. Image source: NiniTTi.

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: 30th anniversary of Mabo decision

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

30th Anniversary of Mabo decision

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

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

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

$2m to extend Halls Creek ACCHO facilities

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

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

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

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

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

Need to decolonise mental health system

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

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

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

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

The Mob Way R U OK? podcast returns

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

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

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

Community-led literacy programs

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

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

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

Demand surges for alcohol support services

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

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

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

Remote PHC Manuals Project May update

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

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

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

Winnunga News April – May 2022 edition

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

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

You can access the newsletter here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Environment Day

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

For more information on World Environment Day click here.

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

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

‘Sorry’ is not enough – we need action

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

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

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

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

Aunty Lindy Lawler on her path to healing

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

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

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

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

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

First Nations nurse under-supply urgent

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

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

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

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

Fighting inequitable healthcare access

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

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

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

New advice on winter boosters

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

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

Links are provided below for the key documents:

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

Image source: Disability Support Guide.

Low booster uptake concerns experts

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

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

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

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

Image source: Jimboomba Times.

Our Country Our Story mental health program

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

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

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

HIV is just a part of me – Michelle

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Tobacco Day

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

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

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