NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

feature tile text 'Minister vows to reduce suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' & image of Minister Wyatt in Parliament

Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

In pointing out that Indigenous people are dying by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Key Wyatt,  vowed to use ‘every tool at our disposal to have a substantial impact’ on reducing the Indigenous suicide rate.

Minister Wyatt said “We know that there is a need to reach people in distress earlier to prevent the onset of suicidal behaviour. A focus on prevention and early intervention with a more integrated and compassionate mental health system is key.”

The minister added that the National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by governments last year created, for the first time, shared accountability, greater transparency and embedding working in partnership across all levels of government and the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations. A commitment under target 14 of the agreement would lead to annual reporting from all jurisdictions on their progress to achieving eliminating the suicide rate among the Indigenous population all together, he said.

To view The Mandarin article in full click here.

$9m+ research funding for CAAC

The Australian Government is supporting nine Australian researchers with almost $62 million to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians by accelerating research knowledge and outcomes into health care and practice. Funded through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the 2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) Grant Opportunity is investing $216 million over 10 years and focuses on turning research findings into real health benefits that help Australian patients.

The University of NSW has been granted $9,967,326 for scaling up infection disease point-of-care testing for Indigenous people; The George Institute for Global Health has $2,410,958 for Implementing holistic burn care through a culturally safe integrated model; and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation has received $9,760,245 for a research projected with the title Aboriginal prosperity through community driven translational research.

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

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on mob

New data shows Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT have been heavily and disproportionately affected by COVID-19, amid concerns that even after two months of “surge” efforts in 30 Indigenous communities, vaccination rates will not be high enough to withstand further outbreaks.

10% of all COVID-19 cases in NSW and the ACT are Aboriginal and Islander people, meaning they have been affected at twice the rate of other Australians. In the past three months, there have been 7,000 cases, 700 hospitalisations, 80 people in ICU and 14 deaths among Aboriginal people, according to data from NACCHO.

To view the The Guardian article in full  click here.

Door-to-door work by trusted local health workers to answer questions and counter vaccine hesitancy has been effective in raising rates. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Mary G asks KAMS CEO about COVID-19

Mary G has spoken with Vicki O’Donnell, Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and CEO of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), asking the hard-hitting questions about COVID-19 and vaccination.

You can listen to the interview and read the interview transcript here.

Mary G

Mary G. Image source: Mary G Foundation website.

Rising syphilis rates in remote WA

As syphilis cases continue to surge in WA, contact tracers say they are overwhelmed, with remote areas with high Indigenous populations of particular concern. Increased notifications associated with the outbreak of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014 and have spread throughout WA.

Health experts say while attention remains on COVID-19, syphilis rates are climbing without enough public awareness, especially among Indigenous populations where social stigma discourages people from getting tested. In the Kimberley, contact tracers are struggling to reach long lists of people who may have caught the STI. The infection can cause serious life-long health complications.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

Anne Clarke & Rosie Jack, Kununurra

Anne Clarke and Rosie Jack have been spreading the word throughout Kununurra that there’s no shame in getting tested. Photo: Ted O’Connor, ABC News.

Close the Gap for Vision events

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health is hosting the following two events over the next few weeks:

2021 Annual Update on the Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision report launch by Pat Anderson AO
with Professor Hugh Taylor AC – 11.00AM–11.45AM (AEDT) – Tuesday 16 November 2021. To register click here.

Sharing our Findings: Evaluating Regional Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision by Indigenous Eye Health –  12:00PM–1:00PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 24 November 2021. To register click here.

Aboriginal man having an eye test

Image source: SBS News.

Benefits of community development

Leading economics firm, ACIL Allen, has undertaken a social and economic Impact Assessment of a national community development organisation delivering projects in First Nations’ communities. It found the model has potential to deliver positive health, social and economic impacts for First Nations’ people and significant cost savings for government.

ACIL Allen stated, “Community development activities have the potential to generate large amounts of cost savings for government, by reducing the reliance on government support, services and safeguards. This cost saving is significant, considering the cost of service provision for Indigenous Australians has historically been higher than non-Indigenous Australians.”

The complete ACIL Allen impact statement on Community First Development can be found here and you can view the related media release here.

Economic security boost for two ACCHOs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting self-determination and increasing financial autonomy for Aboriginal organisations by releasing full ownership of five more properties back to the community.  Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that the latest group of properties owned by Aboriginal organisations have had their first mortgages removed as part of the First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure Program.

These properties include Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative’s main office, which includes their health service, in North Geelong; and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s office plus two other properties housing their services in Heywood. The removal of these mortgages gives Aboriginal communities rightful control of their assets and brings the total number of properties with mortgages lifted under the program to 30.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong 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.

Perinatal Mental Health Week

This year between the Monday 7 and Saturday 13 November, Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) is celebrating Perinatal Mental Health week. Since 2005 PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the week to help our community better understand perinatal mental illness, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.

The theme for this year is “breaking down barriers”. In the last 12 months, PANDA has seen:

  • 51% increase in callers to PANDA’s Helpline.
  • 57% of callers are citing stressful life events as their reason for reaching out for help.
  • More pregnant callers reaching out for help – 75% are either pregnant with their second or third child.
  • Significant increase in the number of callers with babies under 1 month of age (12% in 2019-20 to 26% in 2020-21).

Many may think the statistics are alarming, PANDA sees the increase in demand as positive progress, as it means more families in Australia are no longer trying to manage alone. These families are breaking down barriers created by the stigma that surrounds perinatal mental illness to get the support they need. PANDA is incredibly proud of all the people who have reached out to us.

For more information click here.

tile text 'perinatal mental health week - breaking DOWN barriers - panda.org.au - 7-13 November 2021' & cartoon of max & woman sitting, woman holding baby

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

feature tile text 'targeted suicide prevention campaign for ATSI communities - Stronger Together - Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?' yellow font, border black & white Aboriginal body paint

Ask your mob, your way, R U OK?

This week R U OK? has launched “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?”, to support ‘Stronger Together’ a targeted suicide prevention campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The suite of resources for “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” includes culturally appropriate content led by community voices with guidance from the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and in collaboration with the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association.

The campaign encourages people to engage and offer support to their family, friends and colleagues who may be struggling with life. The resources feature engaging and authentic stories that promote a sense of connection, hope and identity.

“The Stronger Together campaign reinforces the power of yarning and “I ask my mob, in my way, are you OK?” is about showing the many ways we can ask, listen, encourage, and check in with our mob,” said Stronger Together Campaign Manager, Mr Stephen Satour. “The most important thing for mob to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be yourself and ask, in your own way, so you look after your mob. The resources give us the opportunity to get conversations started with individuals, organisations, and communities across Australia.” The stories show there are so many ways we can, and already do, have R U OK? conversations.”

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. We know that starting conversations early can stop little problems growing into big ones. We need our mob to ask the question, their way.” says Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat (BTD, MPH, PhD) is the Chair of the R U OK? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. “When we launched Stronger Together in 2019 it got conversations started. These new stories from our community will help to keep the conversation going,” said Dr Lee. “Together we can empower our friends, family members, and the wider community to look out for each other as well as provide guidance on what to do if someone answers ‘no, I’m not OK’.”

The FREE Stronger Together community resources, including the Stronger Together video (screenshot below), are available on the R U OK? website here.

To view the media release click here, and to listen to a radio interview with Mr Satour click here.

screen shot from Stronger Together vimeo video, rectangular tile made up of portrait shots of 8 Aboriginal people with text 'stronger together' in the cetre

1,000s invited to join vaccine rollout

Thousands of community pharmacies and additional GPs across Australia will be invited to join the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

This additional workforce will be brought on board to support pharmacies and GPs already delivering COVID-19 vaccines in cities, regional, rural and remote areas, as well as areas with a COVID-19 outbreak. To date, 118 community pharmacies are currently vaccinating across the country and over 470 community pharmacies will be vaccinating by the end of July 2021.

From Monday, over 3,900 community pharmacies who have expressed interest in joining the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and who have previously been found suitable, will also be invited to participate.

For further information visit the Department of Health website here.

Torres Strait Islander woman receiving covid-19 vaccine with blurred image of inside of a warehouse in the background

Image source: BBC News.

ACCHO model key to PHC reform?

Wider implementation of a model of care exemplified by ACCHOs may be key to reforming primary healthcare in the bush, says a rural health leader. Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), recently outlined a proposal for a Rural Area Community Care Health Organisations (RACCHO) model of care to ensure greater sustainability and accessibility of primary healthcare in rural Australia.

“[It is] picking up on the ideas of ACCHOs, where we want wrap around services for people living rurally,” O’Kane said. This place-based model of care could employ a range of health practitioners – including GPs, nurses, midwives and psychologists – and would have close links with community pharmacies, infant health centres, dentists, multipurpose centres and hospitals, paramedics, and scope for visiting specialists.

O’Kane discussed the proposal in a recent Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) webinar exploring how the draft recommendations from the Primary Health Reform Steering Group may work on the ground. One the Primary Health Care Reform Steering Group recommendations is for “single primary health care destinations”. This has been the way ACCHOs have been doing things for 50 years, NACCHO’s Dr Dawn Casey told the webinar. “The most important feature [of ACCHOs] is that all of the people working in that particular health service will know all of the patients, whether it’s the receptionist at the front, the nurse, or the GP; they know their patients,” she said. GPs, she said, played an important role in ACCHOs, but so did all other practitioners and staff. There is equal recognition given to health practitioners, nurses, along with GPs, so that has been critical,” Casey said.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Primary health reform: some real-world views in full click here.

Orange AMS nurse Jamie Maney in clinic room with OAMS logo polo, name badge & lanyard

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service nurse Jamie Maney. Image source: NIAA website.

Indigenist Health Humanities for QUT

Indigenous academic Professor Chelsea Watego will join QUT on 26 July 2021, leading a $1.7 million project to develop Indigenist Health Humanities. Professor Watego, who joins QUT from The University of Queensland, said the project was aimed at developing Indigenist Health Humanities as a new and innovative field of enquiry, building an intellectual collective.

The funding was announced under the Federal Government’s ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme for 2021. “We are aiming to bridge the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to close the gap in Indigenous health inequality,” Professor Watego said. “The project will bring together health and the humanities and will examine how race and racism operate within the health system in producing health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples.”

She said the potential benefits included a more sustainable, relational, and ethical approach to advancing new knowledge, advancing research careers and advancing health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. The work will include opportunities for artists, academics, and activists to join and to take part in podcasts, writing retreats and public seminars.

To view the full article click here.

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT, in horizontal striped dress grey navy green with arms folded leaning against wood sculpture wall

Professor Chelsea Watego, QUT. Image source: QUT website.

Inspiring rural Aboriginal health careers

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why the RACGP has decided to run a photo competition to showcase the experiences of members working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Launched as part of ‘This Rural Life’, a new collaborative project of the college’s Rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health faculties, it aims to inspire others to pursue a career in rural general practice by showcasing the diverse work and skills being carried out in communities across Australia.

‘We know that our rural doctors and those working in Indigenous communities have some of the highest levels of professional satisfaction and personal satisfaction in their roles,’ Dr Michael Clements, Chair of RACGP Rural, told newsGP. ‘So we’re hoping that through using the photo competition and using these stories, we can really connect with and engage with the membership to think about taking on some of this work.’

To view this full article click here.

woman holding a camera to her face against dry outback blurred background

Image source: newsGP.

Pandemic’s health workforce impact

Right across Australia the health and medical workforce is stretched thin and fatigued by COVID-19 outbreaks, lockdowns, border restrictions and the vaccine rollout program. Workforce shortages are particularly severe in remote, rural and regional communities, and have highlighted Australia’s longstanding reliance on overseas-trained health professionals.

In WA, the remote communities in the Kimberley rely heavily on a fly-in fly-out workforce of remote area nurses who spend six weeks living and working in Aboriginal communities, then rotate for two weeks’ isolation leave and a week of annual leave. But since COVID-19 arrived in Australia 18 months ago, the nurses – and other health professionals like doctors and Aboriginal Health Workers – have been harder to recruit and retain.

The annual turnover rate of healthcare staff in the five remote communities serviced by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) is now 87%, more than double the rate of 35% a year ago. Julia McIntyre, KAMS Executive Manager Workforce, said staff have simply got “isolation fatigue” from having to quarantine for 14 days almost every time they entered WA.

Nurses account for 65% of KAMS workforce in the remote communities of Balgo, Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, Billiluna and Mulan. Overall, the service employs 290 people and has a footprint across 421,000 square kilometres. Up to 70 staff work in the remote communities. Compounding domestic recruitment problems is the inability to use overseas staff, who make up a significant percentage of KAMS’ workforce. The impact of the staff shortage has resulted in reduced clinic hours, the use of more telehealth, redirection of clinical staff away from working on programs such as smoking cessation, and calls to recruitment agencies in Perth and the NT.

“But we can’t let it affect the vaccine rollout, that’s absolutely our priority,” McIntyre said. “We have a separate strategy for that, a dedicated FiFo team and the Royal Flying Doctor Service is now working with us to do Pfizer [vaccine] drops.”

To view this article in full click here.

rremote area nurse administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo Aboriginal Elder WA, sitting at a table outside a building

A remote area nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a Balgo community member in WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Health treatment satisfaction gap

Indigenous Australians using the NSW public hospital system reported less satisfaction with their treatment than their non-Indigenous peers, according to new data. The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has released new data on 8,000 Indigenous people who were admitted to a NSW hospital between 2014 and 2019, as well as almost 300 women who gave birth in one of the state’s hospitals in 2019.

It found ratings of care provided by Aboriginal admitted patients improved from 2014 to 2019 in several areas, most notably in rural NSW hospitals. But a gulf between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians still exists. More than seven in 10 Aboriginal patients said health professionals always explained things in an understandable way, but that figure was eight in 10 for non-Aboriginal patients. “Aboriginal patients admitted to hospital were significantly less likely to provide positive ratings of communication, information provision and being treated with respect and dignity,” BHI chief executive Diane Watson said in a statement.

In maternity care, 77% of surveyed Indigenous women said they always had confidence in the health professionals who cared for them during childbirth. However confidence rates sat at 85% among non-Indigenous women. More than a quarter of surveyed Indigenous women also said their decision on how to feed their baby was not always respected. Dr Watson said the data should be used to drive improvements in Indigenous health, highlighting the importance of Aboriginal Health Workers in supporting and communicating with patients.

To view the full article click here.

older Aboriginal man in hospital bed with young Aboriginal girl looking at machines & young Aboriginal boy sitting on his bed

Image source: The Conversation.

TGA website refresh – have your say

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are responsible for regulating the supply, import, export, manufacturing and advertising of therapeutic goods, including medicines.  This ensures all Australians have access to safe and high-quality health products.  For example, TGA have an important role in the oversight of medicines shortages, side effects and product recalls.

TGA are currently in the discovery phase of their Website Redevelopment Project. They are looking to capture a clear understanding of the sector’s needs, including functionality, design, and integration of dependent services. This research is an informal exploration of how TGA can provide a better experience or service for you and your colleagues.  The findings and recommendations will help inform the website TGA will launch by 30 June 2022, as well as the continuous improvements they make next financial year and beyond.

How can you get involved? – over the next two weeks (19-31 July), TGA will be running 1 hour informal discussions via video conference to understand:

  • How you currently interact with the TGA website and any issues or barriers you encounter
  • A ‘hand’s on’ exploration of the current TGA website to identify pain points and future needs, and
  • Opportunities to provide an enhanced experience.

If you would be interested in getting involved to share your views and ideas for improvement of the TGA website, please get in touch here. The other option is  to register for our External Collaboration Forum session to be held on Thursday 5 August 2021 from 10am to 1pm via video conference. To register for this session click here.

TGA.gov.au logo & vector image of TGA building

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Proud in culture, strong in spirit webinar

You are invited to the ‘Proud in culture, strong in spirit: celebrating National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day’ webinar on Tuesday 10 August 2021, 1:00pm–2:00pm (Sydney AEST).

The webinar will be moderated by Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director of The George Institute and include presenters Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Dr Julieann Coombes, Research Fellow in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at The George Institute.

Dr Mohamed will outline the importance of services in providing cultural connection, and the key role of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce in the safety and wellbeing of children and families. Dr Coombes will share her work, ‘Safe Pathways’- a quality improvement and partnership approach to discharge planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children following burn injury.

A facilitated conversation will follow the presentations. You can register for the webinar here.

purple banner text '#georgetalks - Pro9ud in culture, strong in spirit: Celebrating National ATSI Children's Day with Dr Janine Mohmed CEO Lowitja Institute & Dr Julie3ann Coombes, Research Fellow, ATSI Health Program, The George Institute for Health'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: benefits of using knowledge translation

Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne -Aboriginal dot art, yellow dot background, outline of 4 pairs of dark grey hands with red bordered by white wavy line from the centre of each hand to circle in the centre

Benefits of using knowledge translation

Knowledge translation has been at the heart of the Lowitja Institute’s work since its inception, due to the transformative potential for research, practice, policy and community wellbeing. The Lowitja Institute’s way of doing knowledge translation means community members and end users drive the research agenda, ensuring it is research that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want and need.

“We have always been researchers,” says Dr Mark Wenitong, one of the first Aboriginal people trained in western medicine in Australia and an experienced researcher and policy adviser. “Our knowledge bank is based on research over a very, very long period of time; it’s experiential research that has meaning for the cultural, social and emotional wellbeing of our communities.” It is this sustained and effective use of research over millennia that compels Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers today as leading practitioners of knowledge translation and research for impact.

In this role Indigenous researchers are also frequently compelled to redress the overwhelmingly negative experiences Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have had with their knowledges often being ignored, dismissed or diminished by western science researchers and rigid research methodologies and funding processes. “Much of today’s health research is still done on, rather than by or with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities, without valuing local cultural protocols and ways of knowing, being and doing,” says Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and a Narrunga Kaurna woman from SA. “Since day one of British colonisation, systems in society had been created which privilege non-Indigenous peoples and lock out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including from research and the benefits of research.

To read the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.

10 Aboriginal men sitting on rocks around campfire on banks of river

Image source: newsGP. Feature tile image: Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne (acrylic on canvas) community / language group – unknown. Image: Chris Thorne. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

Rush to vaccinate Mob in outbreak areas

Aboriginal health services are securing more supplies of Pfizer and are now racing to inoculate as many vulnerable people as possible. You can view the report by ABC News Indigenous Communities Reporter Nakari Thorpe here.

In a related story on the ABC Radio Sydney, PM with Linda Mottram Aboriginal health services in Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak zones are beginning a vaccine blitz in their communities with hopes to immunise hundreds in just a few weeks. It’s hoped it will bring much needed protection for the thousands of vulnerable Indigenous residents locked down in the city’s COVID-19 hotspots. You can listen to the broadcast here.

Spotlight shines on SEWB

Decolonising psychology, social and emotional wellbeing and best practice in suicide prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were key issues discussed on Croakey Health Media’s communication platforms during NAIDOC Week 2021 – Health Country. Calls were made to put the spotlight on social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB), holistic health, and the role of connection to Country and land for individual, community and global wellbeing.

You can view a selection of the issues discussed here. including reference to the role of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) in promoting and disseminating best practice programs and services, such as the Love and Hope video below, to stakeholders.

Lockdown health impacts vs virus

New research shows the loss of access to healthcare during lockdown is not worse than exposure to the virus itself.  James Cook University and University of Queensland researcher Dr Lea Merone was part of an international team of doctors who examined the impacts of lockdowns on mortality, routine health services, global health programs, and suicide and mental health.  She said they were trying to determine whether government interventions or the lethality and infectiousness of COVID-19 are to blame for negative health consequences.  “We found that although lockdowns are undoubtedly associated with health harms, their impact on health is unlikely to be worse than the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic itself,” said Dr Merone.

To view the media release click here.

young man on stretched out on window sill looking out picture window to city, transparent virus vector images on the outside of the window

Image source: The University of Manchester.

Mental health workforce web resource

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet‘s existing social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) portal has been expanded to encompass information that is based on the holistic meaning of social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This new content is based on substantial evidence around models of SEWB which will provide a strengthened coverage of updated resources for both policy makers and health practitioners.

New subtopics on the already comprehensive portal will include Staying strong; Country, culture and spirituality and Family, kinship and community. Each of these subtopics will provide high quality information for the health sector workforce about relevant publications, resources and programs. The existing subtopics have been changed to fit within these models. The free to access portal will continue to be regularly updated.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says of the expanded portal “The importance of social and emotional wellbeing to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should not be underestimated. It includes the social, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing and connection to country, family and community which all impact on wellbeing. This new evidenced based information will be of great use to those in the sector and will provide them with an expanded suite of resources to support them in their work”.

To view the media release about HealthInfoNet‘s expanded SEWB portal click here. and to access the portal click here.

banner text 'Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet - Social and Emotional Wellbeing' black line drawing of goanna & Aboriginal dot painting aqua, blue, green, yellow

Data key to suicide prevention

Data released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reinforces the value of data collection to help save lives. Despite a rise in demand for helplines and mental health services, the AIHW’s National Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System shows the numbers of suspected deaths by suicide in 2020 were similar to those in previous years. Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Monitoring the number, trends and rates of suicide in Australia is key to understanding who is at risk and for the planning and targeting of suicide prevention activities. Every life lost to suicide is heartbreaking. It’s important to remember that every statistic represents a life lost and a cascade of grief amongst family, friends, schools, workplaces and community groups.”

To view the media release click here.

banner text 'suicide & self-harm monitoring data now available - statistics on death by suicide, intentional self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian AIHW' purple aqua, image of hands cupping other hands

In a related story suicide prevention grant deliver territory success stories. Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the NT Labor Government’s Suicide Prevention Grants have helped local organisations make a genuine difference to the lives of Territorians. One success story from last year was FORWAARD Aboriginal Corporation’s Lyrics for Life project, which was rolled out with the support of 30 Territorians. FORWAARD used their Suicide Prevention Grant to produce two songs touching on themes including how to reach out for help and overcome the stigma associated with mental health. This enabled FORWAARD’s clients to pass on the message to their community in a simple way understood by all ages.

To view the media release click here.logo for 'FORWAARD AC Foundation of Rehabilitaition with Aboriginal Alcohol Related Difficulties - "Keep the circle strong" under Aboriginal art of fishh over red, yellow, black concentric circles

Girls forced to give birth alone

When she was a teenager, Vicki O’Donnell was sent thousands of kms away from her hometown in remote WA to give birth – alone. She spent weeks waiting in Perth for her little girl to arrive, and when she did, Ms O’Donnell had to quickly return to Derby to look after the other child she’d to leave behind. For three months she was unable to see her newborn and received updates about her condition through letter and through telegram. “I was 18 years of age,” Ms O’Donnell said. “That was 40 years ago. When you think about it, not a lot has changed.”

A Nyikina Mangala woman, Ms O’Donnell is now the CEO of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) in Broome. It’s a service that regularly helps pregnant mothers from remote communities come into WA regional centres to give birth and if necessary, works to connect them with travel to Perth if they have complications beyond the resources of local healthcare providers.

This means using the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS). A State Government-funded model, PATS provides a subsidy towards the cost of travel and accommodation for regional patients, and an approved escort. While the model has undoubtedly provided valuable access to healthcare for regional West Australians, health authorities and medical services have long highlighted problems with the PATS model and how it works for pregnant women in remote communities in the North West. Many midwives say the experience of women coming into town or Perth to give birth stands completely at odds with how Indigenous women in community often choose to give birth.

To view the full article click here.

KAMS CEO Vicki O'Donnell in front of KAMS building

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Vicki O’Donnell. Photo: Andrew Seabourne. Image source: ABC 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

International Self-Care Day

International Self-Care Day (ISD) has been running since 2011 and is held on 24 July each year, to provide a focus and opportunity to raise the profile of healthy lifestyle self-care programs around the world. Self-care is a lifelong habit and culture. It is the practice of individuals looking after their own health based on the knowledge and information available to them. It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.

A recently released report by the Mitchell Institute, Self-care and health: by all, for all, Learning from COVID-19, highlights the effectiveness of self-care in improving health and wellbeing for individuals and communities, and how it can help limit the devastating impact of infectious diseases. Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder explains, “COVID-19 has shown us that engaging people in understanding how to prevent infection and illness, and how to be as healthy as possible, can reduce preventable health problems. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply this lesson to develop our health system to help people to be healthier, rather than waiting for them to be unwell with health problems that are preventable – which is what happens now.”

For more information on the Mitchell Institute report click here. and to view a short video about International Self-Care Day click here.

woman with long dark hair eyes closed head tilted back to sky, green tree foliage in the background, text 'self-care day - Saturday, July 24, 2021'

Image source: selfcare.ca,

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors

feature tile text 'pandemic health restrictions retrigger trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors' slide from The Healing Foundation video, black line drawing of Aboriginal person holding a pink cracked heart

Pandemic restrictions retrigger trauma

New research released by The Healing Foundation shows that the strong and necessary public health restrictions introduced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia since early 2020 retriggered trauma for some Stolen Generations survivors. The research data suggests an increased and heightened sense of vulnerability; significant disconnection from family, community, and country; and significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing among an already vulnerable cohort of people.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the research results will assist governments and authorities in future pandemic planning to build on Australia’s world-leading public health efforts to ensure the most vulnerable in the community are protected. “The excellent work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 – as part of national efforts guided by the National Cabinet – ensured that infection rates were very low in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations,” Ms Cornforth said.

To view The Healing Foundation’s media release click here,

black & white collage of 40 portrait shots of Stolen Generations survivors

Image source: Creative Spirits.

ACCHO program reduces recidivism

Tyrone Walter says the Ngudjoong Billa program has put him on a better path. He’s recently completed the 20-week program and said it has helped him get his white card and feel a greater connection to his Aboriginal culture. And now his eyes are set on joining the Army. During its demonstration phase, the program has helped 73 young Aboriginal people reintegrate and transition out of the juvenile justice system. All of those who completed the 20 week program did not re-offend during that time.

Started in 2017, and delivered in partnership between the South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (SCMSAC) and the Department of Communities and Justice, the program provides a consistent support network for Aboriginal children exiting custody on the South Coast.

Jordan said Tyrone had gained a lot of confidence from the program which had helped him with his mental health. Jordan said Tyrone was lacking motivation at the start of the program because of his lifestyle choices with drugs and alcohol. But through a slow and intensive approach with a particular focus on strengthening Tyrone’s cultural identity and building his connections to family, community and country, Tyrone is now off drugs and has been for a while.

To view the full article click here.

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward

Tyrone Walter standing between his caseworker Jordan Farrell, and the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. Image source: South Coast Register.

Facts about COVID-19

In a short video Dr Mark Wenitong, a GP in Indigenous health for 25 years, reminds us to get information about COVID-19 vaccines from trusted sources. You can access the video including a transcript here.

slide from YouTube clip, Dr Mark Wenitong, text 'Dr Mark Wenitong - Find out the facts about COVID-19 vaccines, Hi, it's Dr Mark here. Dr Mark Wenitong Aboriginal GP and Public Health MO

Suicide prevention roadmap

Suicide is the most common cause of death in Australians aged 15–44 years – more common than deaths from motor vehicle accidents or skin cancer (Aleman & Denys 2014). Over 2,500 people die from suicide in Australia each year and more than 65,000 make an attempt.

The Final Advice of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, announced today, paves the way for a clear roadmap for reform. In particular, the recommendation to establish a National Suicide Prevention Office has the potential to create a significant enhancement of suicide prevention and in turn, save lives. Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, is urging Governments across Australia to use the findings of the report to drive down suicide rates. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said, “the Final Report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser has the potential to be a game changer for suicide prevention in Australia. Immediate uptake of the key recommendations is critical to enable real reform that will save lives.”

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

painting of grey puzzle pieces, missing piece in the centre shows blue sky & white clouds

Image source: Australian Psychological Society website.

Child protection & adolescent self-harm

A history of child maltreatment is known to elevate the risk of self-harm in adolescence. However, until a recent study this link had not been investigated for Aboriginal children who experience a greater burden of both. This study Patterns of child protection service involvement by Aboriginal children associated with a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence: A retrospective population cohort study using linked administrative data confirms a higher risk of self-harm in adolescence is associated with child maltreatment, especially in middle childhood and concludes that addressing the intergenerational trauma in Aboriginal families is crucial to preventing child maltreatment and informing reforms to child protection responses that can better identify and address the culturally-specific unmet needs of Aboriginal families.

To read the research paper click here.

back of child leaning against outside of railing arms outstretched on the railing over-looking a riven, image in black & grey

Image source: ABC News website.

Cultural training in health services survey ENDS SOON

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has developed a short survey to gain an understanding of the type and level of cultural safety training currently being undertaken by health service organisations. The Commission is committed to ongoing and evolving culturally safe practices, which are developed in consultation with, and determined by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The NSQHS Standards define six actions that specifically meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. One of the six actions states: “The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural awareness and cultural competency of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.” The Commission is calling on feedback to assist in the development of resources to strengthen cultural safety training and support services in implementing this action.

Click here to complete the survey for your organisation. The survey is open until Friday, 23 April 2021, and takes up to 10 minutes to complete.

You can read more about the survey here.

torso of healthcare professional with blue scrubs & stethoscope with hands over patient's hand

Image source: NursingCE.com website.

Stop it at the Start campaign

The Stop it at the Start campaign encourages adults to positively influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people aged 10–17 by role modelling positive behaviour, calling out disrespect and starting conversations about respect. It aims to unite the community around positive actions everyone can take to break the cycle of disrespect, and ultimately, violence against women.

Community influencers and campaign supporters Kristy Masella, Andy Saunders, Renee Thomson, and Sean Choolburra share a common message—even the simplest, smallest actions can make a big difference for young people, and for our community.

To access a range of Stop it at the Start resources released earlier this week click here. Please note, in this document the link for the Sean Choolburra & his daughter Tyra – Tips on how to speak up when you see disrespect video does not work, this link does.

To view the Australian government’s Unmute yourself – speaking up to end violence against women media release in full click here. and to access an editorial from Darumbal woman Kristy Masella, campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign click here.

Kristy Masella campaign supporter for the Stop it at the Start campaign, leaning against a brick wall smiling at the camera, blurred background of city street, text 'when it comes to talking to my daughters about respecct, I often draw on personal examples of things I've experienced or reflected on myself. I talk abou the disrespectful behaviours that I accepted at times in my life or thought were normal. Violence against women Let's Stop It at the start. For tools and resources visit respect.gov.au

Sexual wellbeing – what we do well

A recent research project, Fostering the sexual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people by building on social, cultural and personal strengths and resources has looked at how urban Aboriginal young people foster sexual health and wellbeing for themselves and others. The project purposely sought to adopt a strengths-based approach by identifying the resources and capacities of Aboriginal young people to minimise harm and promote health.

More specifically, the project aimed to explore the community resources that Aboriginal young people access to help them make positive sexual choices, inform their understandings of sexual health and relationships, manage their sexual wellbeing, and engage with health promotion and health care services. The research will provide health services and policymakers with insightful new knowledge to better support young urban Aboriginal people and their communities.

For further information on the project click here.

rear view of two Aboriginal youth walking down a road in Redfern, derelict terrace houses & entire wall painted with Aboriginal flag & graffiti

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Healing Foundation CEO – National Press Club

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth will be addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Fiona will be releasing The Healing Foundation’s “Make Healing Happen: It’s time to act” report. The report sets out a plan with recommendations to achieve real and lasting healing for Stolen Generations Survivors and to promote intergenerational healing. The address will be televised live on ABC TV.

The details of the event are here.

banner for National Press Club of Australia event Fiona Cornforth CEO of the Healing Foundation "Make Healing Happen: It's Time to Act"' & portrait shot of Fiona Cornforth

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

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

Healthcare worker PPE too little too late

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

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Updated RACS Indigenous Health position paper

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

To review the position paper click here.

two medical staff in scrubs in theatre

Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Framework to guide health professional practice

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

To view the research article click here.

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

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Self-harm spike across Kimberley

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

To view the full ABC News article click here.

image of multiple white crosses marking graves in red dusty country

Image source: ABC News.

Indigenous LGBQTI+SB suicide prevention introduction

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

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

SNAICC COVID-19 resources for children

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

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

young Aboriginal boy

Image source: Health Times.

2020 smoking in pregnancy roudtable summary

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

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

belly of pregnant Aboriginal women breaking a cigarette in half

Image source: Coffs Coast Advocate.

Canberra – ACT

ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Women – Council Member

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

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

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

For further information click here.

silhouette of 10 women holding hands at sunset

Image source: ANU website.

National Stroke Week – 31 August – 6 September 2020

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

Image source: Stroke Foundation website.

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI): Minister @KenWyattMP announces $2.8 million national project improving people’s health through better quality control and health data collection at local ACCHO’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services  

 ” Improving people’s health through better quality control and health data collection at local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services is the aim of a $2.8 million national project funded by the Federal Government.

Our Government recognises the importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), with data showing they provide over 2.5 million episodes of care each year for more than 350,000 people.

However, to help achieve better health outcomes as our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population grows, we need to support accountability, quality improvement and accurate data reporting.”

Minister Ken Wyatt Press Release Part 1 Below

” This National Framework for Continuous Quality Improvement in Primary Health Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2018-2023 booklet is designed to provide practical support for all primary healthcare organisations in their efforts to ensure that the health care they provide is high quality, safe, effective, responsive and culturally respectful.”

NACCHO Acting Chair Donnella Mills

” NACCHO is proud of the record of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in delivering primary health care to our community. We have learnt many lessons over the last 50 years about how to structure, deliver and improve care so that it best meet the needs of our communities across Australia.

This experience is used in the Framework to describe how to do, support and inform culturally respectful continuous quality improvement (CQI) in primary health care.”

Further resources including the Framework are available on our NACCHO website.

Direct link to PDF – https://www.naccho.org.au/wp-content/uploads/NACCHO-CQI-Framework-2019.pdf

Updated CQI pagehttps://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/cqi/

Pat Turner CEO of NACCHO see Press Release Part 2 below

 

Part 1 Ministers Press Release

In 2017, the Department of Health engaged KPMG to develop a national baseline quality audit at the individual service level to identify issues impacting on data quality and reporting and make recommendations for improvement. From February to May last year, 53 ACCHS volunteered to participate in the project.

The final report found that, despite reporting on national Key Performance Indicators and Online Services Report data collections since 2012-13 and 2007-08 respectively, only 30 per cent of the services visited were rated as having effective and mature processes in place to support and measure health data. The remaining 70 per cent were classified as needing support to improve.

The reports found characteristics of mature services include:

* Leadership focussed on a strong culture of Continuous Quality Improvement

* Clear workflows including induction, training and monitoring programs

* Resources and staff dedicated to recording and reporting health care activities

In Stage 2 of this project this year, KPMG will offer all health services not involved in Stage 1 the opportunity to participate, plus follow-up consultations for ACCHS in Stage 1 and the development of online training resources.

KPMG will also convene a national forum on best practice so ACCHS can share successful and effective reporting processes and practices with each other.

Part 2

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has just published the National Framework for Continuous Quality Improvement in Primary Health Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 2018-2023.

Download the full NACCHO Press Release HERE 

al Community Controlled Health Services and Affiliates, health professional organisations and government. The project was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

The CQI Framework provides principles and guidance for primary health care organisations in how to do, support and inform culturally respectful CQI.

It is designed to assist Aboriginal health services and private general practices, NACCHO Affiliates and Primary Health Networks, national and state/territory governments in their efforts to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to and receive the highest attainable standard of primary health care wherever and whenever they seek care.

It is relevant to clinicians, board members and practice owners, health promotion, administrative and management staff. Six case studies which illustrate how CQI has been implemented in ACCHSs are included.

NACCHO welcomes further case studies from other health services, general practice and Primary Health Networks.

Further resources including the Framework are available on the NACCHO website.

  1. Direct link to PDF – https://www.naccho.org.au/wp-content/uploads/NACCHO-CQI-Framework-2019.pdf
  2. Updated CQI page – https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/cqi/

For further information about the CQI Framework please contact: cqi@naccho.org.au