NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Cancer screening saves lives! It helps to keep our communities strong, safe and healthy

Cancer screening saves lives! It helps to keep our communities strong, safe and healthy

It’s really important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to keep taking care of our health, even during a pandemic.

COVID-19 has been on everyone’s mind and the safety of our communities has been a major priority. Cancer screening may have been put off or forgotten during this time.

However, cancer screening really does make a big difference to the health of our community members and families. When cancer is found early, treatment can be a lot more effective.

National screening programs are available in Australia for breast cancerbowel cancer and cervical cancer.

For further information about the campaign click here.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report: Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia 

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in Australia. This report consolidates the most recently available information on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Australia, and includes key trends in the availability, consumption, harms and treatment for vulnerable populations. Further, information on a range of health, social and economic impacts of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use are highlighted.

This release includes data relating to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic up to November 2020.

For other data and information from this period, please see our AIHW COVID-19 resources.

Aboriginal hands holding can of Bundaberg Rum & cigarette

Image source: ABC News website.

The 2021 Antimicrobial Academy -Improve antibiotic use and management of infections in your community

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enroll in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. 

The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details available via the HOT NORTH Website, Opportunities Page, Antimicrobial Academy click here

The deadline for the submission have been extended till Sunday 20 December 2020. Please email or or call (07) 3646 1886 for further information.

Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

IHF Young Executive Leaders: Call for 2021 applications now open

Young executive leaders who have proven outstanding merit in healthcare management can have the chance to exchange with peers on capital healthcare issues, as well as to interact with talented thought leaders from all around the world. Through IHF Young Executive Leaders program, participants will build sustainable relationships and expand their network internationally. As a group, they will discuss current trends, challenges and opportunities for the young healthcare leaders of today, creating an environment for vibrant and exciting dialogue.

Through the IHF Young Executive Leaders program, participants will build sustainable relationships and expand their professional network. As a group, they will discuss current trends, challenges and opportunities for the young healthcare leaders of today, creating an environment for vibrant and exciting dialogue.

Through this program, the 2021 cohort will share experiences and work together on a topic related to the 2021 IHF World Hospital Congress which will take place in Barcelona with the overarching theme “PEOPLE ON BOARD: TRANSFORMING HEALTHCARE. Blending Agility, Responsiveness, Resilience.” 

Young executive leaders wishing to join the IHF YEL initiative can submit their applications until 25 January 2021.

For further info click here.

Award for Don Dale youth detention centre in the NT shows Indigenous-led, youth-justice solutions work

Amnesty International Australia welcomed the news that Danila Dilba – which took over the health services at Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory – has won the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) Justice Without Borders International Award.

“This shows us that our people know what’s best for them, and Indigenous-led solutions like Olga Havnen and her team’s program at Danila Dilba are available to governments around the country,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advisor, Rodney Dillon said.

“The solutions to youth offending – and actually addressing the over representation of Indigenous people in Australia’s jails – are already there. We just need our State and Territory Governments to listen to the experts, like the IJJO.

“All the evidence shows that diversion, and getting kids out of watchhouses and bail houses is what’s effective on youth crime.

“With the right wrap around services in place, like those Danila Dilba provide, there is simply no reason not to raise the age of criminal responsibility.”

Danila Dilba Health Service logo

NSW – Armajun Aboriginal Health Service, Full Time – Glen Innes
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Caseworker (Aboriginal designated position)

Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent?

Do you already live in the Glen Innes district or looking for a tree change away from the hustle of the city and the pandemic? Are you looking for a cooler climate? Do you want to hike through the Washpool National Park, which offers wilderness walks, camping, and horse riding in stunning World Heritage surrounds? Do you want to learn to fossick for sapphires and topaz?

Do you possess formal qualifications in health, welfare, social work, alcohol and other drugs or related area at a TAFE level (Certificate IV minimum) or above and/or have substantial experience in any of these areas?

Would you like to become part of a great team providing culturally appropriate primary health care services to Aboriginal people and communities living in Glen Innes and surrounding districts?

Glen Innes offers an attractive lifestyle including a well serviced and friendly rural community, laid back living, short commuting times, affordable housing, easy access to NSW north coast beaches and larger regional centres, and terrific recreational and sporting facilities. The Glen Innes district has a deep cultural and spiritual significance for traditional owners, the Ngoorabul people.

Applicants must obtain a job package and address the selection criteria in the position description as well as attach a current resume to their application. 

On-going applications for this position will be accepted.

Job Package: Belinda Butler  0267 219 777 Enquiries: Jenny Ryan   0267 219 777

NSW – OzChild in Blacktown/Campbelltown

Aboriginal Practice Lead

The position will be a part of our Dhiiyaan Mirri (family of stars), OzChild’s Bridging Cultures Unit (BCU) and will support their Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare (FFT-CW), Multi systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) Teams at Blacktown and Campbelltown. The position will be based a min of 2 days per week at each location, however this can be flexible based on need.

The Aboriginal Practice Lead Position within OzChild will work to ensure that participating First Nation families can benefit from these Evidence Based Models (EBMs), and from time to time other programs that OzChild may deliver in the future. The Aboriginal Practice Lead will also facilitate access and receive support in a timely and culturally responsive manner.

Working with OzChild’s Teams, for the effective delivery of OzChild Services to First Nations Children, Young People and their Families /Kin /Carers, the Aboriginal Practice Lead will contribute from intake through to completion (when required) to the provision of culturally responsive services and a culturally safe working environment through consultation and engagement with OzChild staff, First Nations Peoples, stakeholders and relevant Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

To apply for the position click here.

Cairns, Adelaide or Alice Springs – CRANAplus

Professional Officer, Workforce Development Nursing

A senior position in our Workforce Development programs, driving initiatives to support Nursing across remote and regional Australia.

This position is responsible for professional knowledge contribution, project management, and industry networking to strengthen resources and pipelines encouraging and supporting nurses in rural and / or remote practice.

Be sector aware and reactive to the needs of the remote health workforce.

  • Contribute professional knowledge and experience to a range of projects and priorities engaged by the Office of the Chief Operating Officer, including contribution to the development of consultation papers and position statements.
  • Strategic and operational management of CRANAplus programs, including remote areas nurse (RAN) certification program and RAN standards, fellowship, awards, and scholarships, conference abstract committee, and other programs identified in the annual busines plan.
  • Develop and drive Continuous Professional Development initiatives, including:
    – Author or curate clinical articles or updates for the quarterly CRANAplus Magazine
    – Professional Services guest presenter webinar series
    – Contribute to the development of on-line or e-resources for CRANAplus members and wider community stakeholders
    – Participate in the delivery of professional development workshops, as required, to remote workforces.

To submit your application, please email your resume to, outlining your alignment to the above four criteria. This position will close as of Monday 11 January 2021.

For the position description click here.



feature tile text 'community based organisations are the way forward to overcome disadvantage'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-based organisations are the way forward

feature tile text 'community based organisations are the way forward to overcome disadvantage'

Community-based organisations the way forward

The latest Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report shows support for self-determination and community-based organisations is the way forward to address the systemic barriers faced by First Peoples, Oxfam Australia says. The Productivity Commission’s eighth report, which examines progress against 52 indicators, identified some areas of progress, but systemic problems remain in the high rates of removal of children from their families, incarceration, poor mental health, and in rates of suicide and self-harm. “Oxfam has long advocated self-determination as a core element in addressing the challenges that First Peoples face. We welcome the report’s finding that shared decision-making and participation on the ground are common elements in successful outcomes,” said Ngarra Murray, National Manager of Oxfam’s First People’s program.

To view a short video about the report click here and to read the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2020 report click here.

To view Oxfam’s media release click here and to access the Productivity Commission’s media release click here.

front cover of the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators 2020 report

COVID-19 paves new ways for remote health

One positive from COVID-19 disrupting face-to-face teaching is the opportunity it is giving health professions education (HPE) in regional, rural and remote communities, education experts from around Australia say. Health professionals and students are commonly required to drive long distances at a cost of time and money either to themselves and their families, or the health service which employs them.

However, this burden on regional, rural and remote (RRR)-based professionals and students will reduce if in-service, tertiary and professionally accredited training providers can embrace defensibly effective and engaging teaching approaches to make lectures, tutorials, skill education, and practice development accessible from a distance,” says SA Riverland-based Dr Amy Seymour-Walsh, lecturer in Clinical Education Development at Flinders University.

To view the Flinders University media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health worker and Aboriginal mum with Aboriginal baby

Pika Wiya Health Service, SA. Image source: NIAA website.

Condoman creater reflects on career

ABC Radio’s James Valentine spoke with Professor Gracelyn Smallwood on World HIV-AIDS day and two weeks into her retirement. Professor Gracelyn Smallwood AM is a Birrigubba woman from Townsville where she became internationally acclaimed for her work in Indigenous health. After 45 years of midwifery and 50 years of being a registered nurse, Gracelyn reflects on her achievements such as the creation of Condoman, a superhero that was used to promote culturally appropriate sexual health messages to Indigenous communities in the 1980s.

To listen to the Afternoons with James Valentine interview with Professor Gracelyn Smallwood click here.

close up photo of face of Gracelyn Smallwood & the Condoman poster

Professor Gracelyn Smallwood and Condoman poster. Image source: Townsville Bulletin, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.

Meth use risk and protective factors

A recently published study Identifying risk and protective factors, including culture and identity, for methamphetamine use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: Relevance of the ‘communities that care’ model has highlighted that methamphetamine use is of deep concern in Aboriginal communities and a deep understanding of risk and protective factors is needed to prevent harm. While many risk and protective factors overlap with mainstream settings some do not and it is crucial for culturally informed prevention systems to include culturally relevant factors.

To view the details of the study click here.

silhouette of person smoking ice

Image source: SBS website.


Young voices challenge negative race perceptions

Following on from large-scale Black Lives Matter rallies in Australia earlier this year, The Healing Foundation has launched the third podcast in its new series on intergenerational trauma and healing. This latest episode explores how racism continues to impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 250 years after colonisation. It features four young Indigenous people as they confront the negative perceptions, stereotypes and prejudice they have encountered growing up.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said the latest Healing Our Way podcast highlights the importance of truth telling in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma and enabling healing for young people and the nation more broadly.

You can listen to this podcast by clicking here and view The Healing Foundation’s related media release here.

Healing Foundation Healing Our Way podcast logo - microphone drawing surrounded by purple, orange, blue & black Aboriginal dot painting

Image source: Healing Foundation website.

Health problems related to trauma

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen, a proud Wuthathi descendant with family roots from the Torres Strait has given a speech to the Indigenous Allied Health Australian (IAHA) Conference. Ms Petersen said “Healing refers to the recovery from the psychological and physical impacts of trauma, which is largely the result of colonisation and past government policies including state and federal assimilation policies.  By healing trauma, we are tackling the source of social and health problems that are far more prevalent for our people, including family violence, substance abuse, incarceration and children in out-of-home care. These are the symptoms of trauma, not the nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes like this still remain, but with your help we can improve understanding about the impacts of trauma that are still being felt today.”

To view the transcript of Fiona’s speech click here.

portrait of Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen

Fiona Petersen, CEO Healing Foundation. Image source: The Healing Foundation website.

Maari Ma mixed results for young people

A new report looking at a number of health, educational, and social indicators for Indigenous children and young people in far-west NSW has shown improvements in some areas but a decline in others. Aboriginal health service Maari Ma released its latest Health, Development, and Wellbeing in Far Western NSW — Our Children and Youth report last week. It was compiled throughout 2019 with the cooperation of several agencies such as the state’s health and education departments, and follows previous reports on the indicators in 2014 and 2009. Maari Ma’s latest report shows that the rate of smoking in pregnancy for young Aboriginal people in the region is more than nine times higher than the rest of the NSW population.

To view the full report click here.

photo of 1 Aboriginal man, 3 Aboriginal women & 4 Aboriginal children walking along river

Image source: ABC News website.

Pioneer Indigenous doctor wins top WA gong

She currently serves as commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and lectures in psychiatry at the University of WA. A pioneer in Aboriginal and child mental health research, Professor Milroy was also appointed in 2018 as the AFL’s first Indigenous commissioner. “It’s been a privilege as a doctor and as a child psychiatrist to go on those journeys with so many people in their lives,” she said in a UWA profile last month. I think I have a natural inclination to wanting to find out more, to find out what makes people tick and to actually help them get back on track, particularly kids.”

To view the full article published in The Standard click here.

portrait photo of Professor Helen Milroy

Professor Helen Milroy. Image source: The Standard.

Locals unmoved by Dan Murphy’s new site

NRHA Board reflects diverse health skills

The diversity of health professionals working across the rural sector is reflected in the new Board of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance), elected at the 29th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canberra this week. The Alliance of 44 national rural and health-related organisations advocates for sustainable
and affordable health services for the 7 million people in rural and remote Australia. There membership includes representation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, health professional organisations, health service providers, health educators and students, as well as consumer groups.

At the AGM on Monday 30 November 2020, the representative for Allied Health Professions Australia, Nicole O’Reilly, was elected Chair. A former occupational therapy clinician and health manager from the NT, Ms O’Reilly has comprehensive skills and knowledge, and strong relationships across the allied health sector.

To view the Alliance’s media release about the new board click here.

National Rural Health Alliance logo circle of 8 leaves and dots & portrait shot of NRHA new Chair Nicole O'Reilly

Nicole O’Reilly. Image source: NRHA website.

Palliative care at home project seeks input

Although comprehensive data on rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing palliative care services are not available in Australia, clinically it has been observed that these Australians are underrepresented in the palliative care patient population. In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be admitted for palliative care-related hospitalisations, with the rate of admissions in public hospitals approximately double that for other Australians.  These statistics are noteworthy given that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report feeling culturally unsafe in hospitals and some (especially in remote communities) express a preference for dying ‘on country’. 

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is funding a new project entitled caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families.  The initial phase of this project is to consult with relevant stakeholders across the country to get feedback on how the existing caring@home resources for carers need to be tailored to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. DoH is currently designing the consultation with the aim of undertaking consultation in 2021.

As a first step in this process DoH would like to connect with relevant individuals/Departments at the state government/local health networks level and with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to ensure that everyone knows about this project. DoH has Steering and Advisory Committees for the project but would appreciate any advice/feedback about the project, especially any local consultation/processes they should undertake, that will help to promote use of the new resources.

A factsheet describing the project can be accessed here and you are invited to have input into the proposed 2021 consultation process by contacting Karen Cooper by phone 0428 422 818 or email

Aboriginal woman holding a cuppa and caring at home logo

Image source: Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative website.

CRE-STRIDE scholarships available

The Centre for Research Excellence – Strengthening Systems for Indigenous Health Care Equity (CRE-STRIDE) vision is equitable health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through quality improvement (QI) and collaborative research to strength primary health care systems. CRE-STRIDE involves leading researchers from across Australia with expertise in health systems and QI research, participatory action research, Indigenous methodologies, epidemiology, public health, health and social policy. The CRE Investigator team, and higher degree research (HDR) supervisors have outstanding national and international reputations and track records.

CRE-STRIDE is offering scholarships to support honours, Masters of Research and PhD candidates. 

For more information about the scholarships and details of how to submit an Expression of Interest click here.CRE-STRIDE banner

NT – Alice Springs – Children’s Ground

FT Health Promotion Coordinator – 6 months fixed term contract (extension subject to funding)

The Health Promotion Coordinator will work within a multi-disciplinary team that delivers the Children’s Ground Family Health and Wellbeing Framework – Health in the Hands of the People (HIHP) to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for the community. This will include the recognition and support of local cultural knowledge systems and practices, and the agency of consumers. This position will coordinate the work of the Health and Wellbeing team. It will also be responsible for leading the development and implementation of family health plans with individuals and families and creating and delivering responses to population health needs with the local community

Children’s Ground is working to create an environment where families realise their aspirations for the next generation of children to be free from trauma and suffering, enjoy equity and safety, be able to grow into adulthood happy and healthy, and have agency over their social, cultural, political and economic life.

To view the position description click here and to apply click here.

Applications close 9.00 am NT time (10.30 am AEST) Monday 7 December 2020.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country

AHW and patient Wuchopperen Health Service

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community best placed to deliver human services

AHW and patient Wuchopperen Health Service

Community best placed to deliver human services

Earlier this week (Wednesday 25 November) NACCHO CEO Pat Turner appeared as a panelist the ABC’s The Drum. Pat Turner described why the  NACCHO COVID-19 communication strategy was so successful “it was done at the local level through NACCHO’s 143 members because they know the community and know what sort of messaging will resonate in the community and they know the behaviours of people, there were things that we said like ‘don’t share your smokes and don’t share your drinks’ because we know people do that. It was a way of making sure the messaging that was going out was really going to resonate with the people in those regions and that’s why we did it ourselves, our members did a great job and we were able to do it because we have a long established relationship with the communities and therefore they trust the messaging that comes from us.

The interviewer asked Pat Turner “how do you say to government ‘you’ve had a crack at closing the gap, let us have a try – how do you shake the cage of government and say ‘look you’ve got to let the community do its own delivery of human services because frankly with the best will in the world, Commonwealth government you’re rubbish at it.'”

screen shot of Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: ABC The Drum.

Praise for hospital models of care

The St John of God Midland public hospital, which has just celebrated its firth birthday, has been praised for developing models of care in providing Aboriginal health services and building a strong relationship with local community groups. Aboriginal engagement and cultural advisors work across the hospital’s wards to assist patients and their families and assist with post discharge planning. St John of God Midland Public Hospital has created significant links with the local community, and works closely with local health agencies, community service providers and patient support groups and provides important outreach and in-reach services to patients.

To view the Government of WA’ s media release click here.

AHW talking to middle aged Aboriginal patient

Image source: St John of God Midland Public Hospital website.

Child removal Catch-22

Life with Archie

Laugh and cry as you listen to Aboriginal mum Carly and her husband Luke talk about raising their beautiful little four year old boy Archie who has a number of disabilities. Carly talks about her pregnancy, the birth of Archie, learning of his various disabilities, therapy, navigating the NDIS and more. Listen here to the interview on an episode of the Too Peas In A Podcast podcast.

toddler Archie eating sandwich blue plastic bib and Aboriginal colours headband

Archie as a baby. Image source: carlypuck Instagram.

Social media racism affects mental health

In her 2015 book, The Internet of Garbage, Sarah Jeong writes: “The internet is experienced completely differently by people who are visibly identifiable as a marginalised race or gender. It’s a nastier, more exhausting internet, one that gets even nastier and even more exhausting as intersections stack up.” When it comes to racism (and all of its intersections), the exhaustion of experiencing it in our own lives is being increasingly compounded by its visablity online.  To be clear: as a person who is victimised by systemic racism, it’s never your responsibility to adapt. But there are ways to take back control when things feel overwhelming.

To view the article on ABC Life click here.

graphic of Aboriginal person with sweat on forrid looking at iPhone

Image source: ABC Life website.

Ngarrindjeri woman awarded grant

Murray Bridge woman Brooke Vanzati has been awarded a grant to support her study by Flinders University Rural Health SA. Funded and awarded by the rural health departments of the three SA universities – Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of SA, the bursary is open to any Aboriginal Health Professional, Practitioner or Worker who is currently working in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in rural or remote SA.

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Brooke Vanzati standing next to Flinders University signage

Brook Vanzati. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Cultural support for hospital patients

Around 3% (more than 10,000) of the NSW Central Coast’s population is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, with numbers steadily rising as more people move to the region to be close to family and to access better employment opportunities and healthcare. The region has one of the fastest growing Aboriginal populations according to data from the last two Censuses.

Nunyara Aboriginal Health Unit provides an important service to local hospitals and the community. Aboriginal liaison officers Jody Milson and Wayne Merritt have explained, “We work out of all hospitals in the Health District and at Woy Woy we concentrate on patients in rehabilitation, sub-acute and transitional care,” Milson said. “We provide cultural support to Aboriginal patients and help them in engaging with staff. “Some of them have been newly diagnosed and need that one on one support.”

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

external image of Nunyara Aboriginal Health Unit NSW

Image source: Unique Building Partners website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: world-first virtual healthcare technology will improve remote area training access

feature tiel - two nurses using virtual healthcare training goggles

World-first virtual healthcare training trial

Training for healthcare workers is about to go virtual for the first time as part of a new partnership between industry, TAFE and NSW Health. Learning how to take a blood test will no longer need to be done in a real health setting. Instead, trainees including doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and Indigenous health workers will be able to learn the procedure while fully immersed in a virtual hospital, including sound effects such as blipping machines.

The NSW government said the virtual reality training technology was a world first that would be piloted in a yet-to-be named regional hospital. The virtual reality blood testing pilot was developed by TAFE NSW with NSW Health Pathology, CognitiveVR and diagnostic solutions company Werfen. Healthcare workers will use a virtual reality headset to learn “hands-on” blood testing. The simulation aims to provide healthcare professionals across the state, including in regional and remote areas, with greater access to hands-on training scenarios, ultimately increasing the quality of care while also reducing time away from clinical care.

To read the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

Werfen Australian NZ GM Sally Hickman demonstrates virtual reality blood testing - wears virtual reality goggles, hand is outstretched

Werfen Australian NZ General Manager Sally Hickman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Purple House HESTA Excellence Award finalist

Purple House is one of six finalists in the Outstanding Organisation category of the HESTA 2020 community services awards. Purple House has been recognised for getting Indigenous dialysis patients home to country and providing a home away from home in Alice Springs. Purple House is an innovative Indigenous-owned and run health service operating from a base in Alice Springs. It runs dialysis units in 18 remote communities across the NT, WA and SA, and a mobile dialysis unit called the Purple Truck and has a focus on getting patients back home so families and culture remain strong.

Before Purple House, patients were forced to leave country and move far away for dialysis, leaving communities without elders to share knowledge and families disrupted. Many patients are now home but there are still communities without dialysis and patients who need to live short or long term in Alice Springs. Purple House’s base in Alice also offers primary health care, allied health, wellbeing, aged care, NDIS and a bush medicine social enterprise.

To view the full article click here.
Purple House CEO Sarah Brown with patient Rosie Patterson from Yuelamu

Purple House CEO Sarah Brown and patient Rosie Patterson. Image source: Hospital and Healthcare.

Homelessness affects children’s health

Seven new Flinders University research projects have been funded by the Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, including support for special studies to help homeless, at-risk, migrant and autistic children and Indigenous health. Nurse practitioners working with social service agencies is one way to help the estimated 22% of Australian children living in temporary or precarious living conditions, with families hit hard by unemployment and other problems created by the pandemic. These children – some skipping health checks, vaccinations and even nutritional meals – may not have regular doctor appointments, and poorer access to health services, leading to more physical and mental health issues and emergency department presentations.

To view the full article click here.

small Aboriginal child with tangled hair, scrapped knees sitting on concrete floor with head in knees, hands wrapped around legs

Image source: Flinders University website.

NT 2021 Australian of the Year Award nominees

Across Australia (except Vic & Tas) – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

2021 Census Engagement Manager x 35 (25 in remote areas, 10 in urban/regional locations)

The ABS is recruiting Census Engagement Managers for the 2021 Census. Due to the close working relationship with the community, 35 Census Engagement Manager positions will be only open to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants. Census Engagement Managers are specialised roles requiring a high degree of community interaction. They will be working within communities telling people about the Census and ensuring everyone can take part and get the help they need. Where possible, Census Engagement Managers will be recruited locally. To view a recruitment poster click here.

For further information on the roles and to apply click here.

Applications for Census Engagement Manager roles are open now and close Thursday 5 November 2020.

Feature tile - First Nations-lead pandemic reponse a triumph - two Aboriginal boys holding a sign 'too dangerous to stop in Wilcannia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations-led pandemic response a triumph

Feature Story

Telethon Kids representatives, including Dr Fiona Stanley, have written to The Lancet, describing Australia’s First Nations-led response to COVID-19 as ‘nothing short of a triumph’. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Australia, there have been only 60 First Nations cases nationwide. This represents only 0.7% of all cases, a considerable under-representation, as First Nations people make up 3% of the total population. Only 13% of First Nations cases have needed hospital treatment, none have been in intensive care, and there have been no deaths.

These results have shown how effective (and extremely cost-effective) giving power and capacity to Indigenous leaders is. The response has avoided major illness and deaths and avoided costly care and anguish.

To read the letter published in The Lancet click here.

Wiradjuri man appointed as a Professor

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the appointment of Peter O’Mara as a Professor of Newcastle University. The Chair of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Faculty, Professor O’Mara is Director of the University’s Thurru Indigenous Health Unit and a practicing GP in an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation, Tobwabba Aboriginal Medical Service. Professor O’Mara said becoming a GP was not something he grew up believing was possible, “I always had a strong interest in science, but in my early years I believed in the stereotypical view that studying and practicing medicine was for other people – doctors’ children and wealthy families.”

To view the full article about Professor O’Mara click click here.

Professor Peter O'Mara speaking into a microphone at a lecturn

Image source: GP News.

Face masks for our mob

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed an information sheet called How to keep our mob safe using face masks.

To access the editorial click here.

Aaron Simon standing against wall painted with Aboriginal art, wearing an Aboriginal art design face mask

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Racial Violence in the Australian health system

The statistical story of Indigenous health and death, despite how stark, fails to do justice to the violence of racialised health inequities that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to experience. The Australian health system’s Black Lives Matter moment is best characterised as indifferent; a “business as usual” approach that we know from experience betokens failure. In an article published in The Medical Journal of Australia a range of strategies have been offered, ‘not as a solution, but as some small steps towards a radical reimagining of the Black body within the Australian health system; one which demonstrates a more genuine commitment to the cries of “Black Lives Matter” from Blackfullas in this place right now.’

To read the full article click here.

back of BLM protester holding sign of face of Kevin Yow Yeh who dies in custody at 34 years

Image sourced Twitter @KevinYowYeh.

Water fluoridation required

Poor oral health profoundly affects a person’s ability to eat, speak, socialise, work and learn. It has an impact on social and emotional wellbeing, productivity in the workplace, and quality of life. A higher proportion of Australians who are socially disadvantaged have dental caries. Community water fluoridation is one of the most effective public health interventions of the 20th century. Its success has been attributed to wide population coverage with no concurrent behaviour change required. The authors of a recent article in The Medical Journal of Australia have said the denial of access to fluoridated drinking water for Indigenous Australians is of great concern and have urged the Commonwealth government to mandate that all states and territories maintain a minimum standard of 90% population access to fluoridated water.

To view the full article click here.

close up photo of three Aboriginal children smiling

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Torres Strait communities taking back control of own healing

Torres Strait Island communities are leading their own healing by addressing the trauma, distress and long-term impacts caused by colonisation. The island communities of Kerriri, Dauan and Saibai will host a series of healing forums coordinated by The Healing Foundation, in conjunction with Mura Kosker Sorority Incorporated; the leading family and community wellbeing service provider in the Torres Strait. Identifying the need for healing in the Torres Strait, Mura Kosker Sorority Incorporated Board President Mrs Regina Turner said: “We believe that the forums will provide Torres Strait communities a voice for creating their own healing solutions.”

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click ere.

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation. Image source: The Healing Foundation.

New tool to manage healthcare trial

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can trial a new tool to help them manage their healthcare with the launch of a pilot program in Perth of the GoShare digital platform which has supported over 1,000 patients so far. Launched by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, the pilot program enables doctors, nurses and other clinicians at St John of God Midland Public Hospital in Perth to prescribe a tailored information pack for patients. The electronic packs may include video-based patient stories, fact sheets, apps and tools on a range of health and wellness topics. They are prepared and adapted according to the patient’s health literacy levels and are being sent by email or text to improve their integrated care and chronic disease self-management.

To view the Australian Digital Health Agency’s media release click here.

GoShare Healthcare digital platform logo - clip art hand or hand

Image source: Healthily website.

Feature Image - Aboriginal boy head in hands

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Survey to review mental health youth services

Mental health youth services survey

If you work or volunteer with an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation or other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisations you are invited to participate in a short headspace online survey and share your views on issues of access, engagement and cultural safety of mental health supports for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All participants go into the draw to win a $100 voucher!

To view a survey flyer click here and to access the survey click here.

Young Aboriginal girl crying

Image source:

NT outreach services improve hearing impairment

Ear and hearing health is vital for overall health and quality of life. Ear disease and associated hearing loss can have long-lasting impacts on education, wellbeing and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to experience ear and hearing problems.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has shown positive results are being achieved by hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. The report shows that in 2019, 2,156 audiology; 770 ear, nose and throat teleotology; and 1,119 Clinical Nurse Specialist services were provided. Among children and young people who received treatment, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To access a more detailed summary of the report click here.

Health professional checking ear of Aboriginal boy

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research website.

National cancer screening health worker engagement project

The University of Melbourne is undertaking a project to understand how the primary healthcare workforce engages with the national cancer screening program (bowel, breast and cervical). Findings from the study will lead to the development of materials and initiatives to assist in boosting cancer screening participation.

During the first phase of the project the researchers are interested in interviewing nurses, GPs and Practice Managers to understand more about their role, their go-to-resources when they need more information about the screening programs and resources they would like to have access to.

Everyone that will be interviewed will be reimbursed with a $50 Gift Card. We intend to carry out interviews during the month of September. The interviews will be recorded with your permission.

For information about how to become involved in the project please contact Ebony Verbunt, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne email or phone 0429 928 039.

Aboriginal male & female cartoon figures with ages for breast, bowel, cervical cancer screening tests

Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

COVID-19 information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities survey

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, it has been extremely important to make sure health information about the virus reaches people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Australian Government Department of Health has worked with Indigenous communications agencies to produce a range of communications materials to help share information about the virus and inform communities about how they can stay safe.

You can provide feedback on how effective these campaign materials have been in reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by taking this survey.

7 Keep Our Mob Safe resource images e.g. posters

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Residential aged care risk assessment urgently required

The AMA has warned urgent improvements in aged care and a coordinated response from all levels of government are needed to prevent the pandemic outbreak in Victorian aged care homes spreading into residential aged care nationwide. The AMA has called for every residential aged care home in Australia to be urgently and comprehensively assessed for its ability to safely care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Elders hands in carer's hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

ACT paves way for raising incarceration age

The Australian Capital Territory’s Legislative Assembly has voted to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, paving the way for other jurisdictions to reform an outmoded law which disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To read the related Amnesty International Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal child's hands on jail barred overlaid with Aboriginal flag.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

COVID-19 vaccine will not be compulsory

Health Minister, Greg Hunt has confirmed that although any potential coronavirus vaccine will be strongly encouraged, it will not be made compulsory.

To read a transcript of Minister Hunt’s interview with David Koch on the Sunrise program click here.

QLD – Cairns or ACT – Canberra

PT Cultural Lead x 1 (Identified Position)

CRANAplus, the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia, has a vacancy for a Cultural Lead. This identified position, available to Aboriginal, First Nations, and Torres Strait Island people, will collaborate closely with internal and external stakeholders to develop and drive priorities supporting CRANAplus’ Organisational Strategic Plan.

You can view the CRANAplus website here and find details of the Cultural Lead position here.

CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

ACT – Canberra

FT Flexible Education Classroom Teacher  x 1 (Identified Position) – 6 months with the possibility of permanency

The ACT Education Directorate is seeking a reflective practitioner who: is able to create dynamic learning environments and authentically personalised education programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; has a demonstrated understanding of trauma and neuroscience informed education practices; and is passionate about inclusion, social justice, innovation and equity. Flexible Education is a community of schools/settings for students with complex and challenging needs including Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre, Muliyan, Boomanulla, the Hospital School, the education program at The Cottage and Distance Education.

For more details about the position click here.

Aboriginal youth and teacher against graffitied wall

Image source: School News Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Racism : Download Report : Confronting racism to improve healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with kidney disease

Action is urgently needed to confront the immense health disparities in kidney disease outcomes suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘There is some encouraging work being done—especially by the Queensland and South Australian governments, and in some individual agencies—but much more is needed.’

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke.

Read the 120 Aboriginal Health and racism published by NACCHO over past 8 years

Read the 12 Aboriginal Kidney Health published by NACCHO over past 8 years

Dr Bourke, who is Australia’s first Aboriginal dentist, has co-authored a Perspectives Brief published by the AHHA’s Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research—Addressing racism to improve healthcare outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: a case study in kidney care.

‘The raw facts are that Indigenous Australians have at least 6 times—in some age groups up to 15 times— the incidence of end-stage kidney disease as non-Indigenous Australians.

‘Yet we have one-quarter of the chance of receiving home-based dialysis, and one-third of the chance of receiving a kidney transplant.

‘We believe that many of the answers to solving this problem lie in addressing racism—mostly unintentional—particularly at the institutional level, but also at the individual level’.

‘There is documented evidence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples receiving poorer healthcare outcomes when treated by non-Indigenous healthcare organisations and health professionals’.

‘My fellow authors and I feel that equity in kidney care should come from concerted action in four interconnected areas:

Cultural safety: Boards, accreditation agencies, and education and training providers can do more to promote self-reflection in non-Indigenous healthcare professionals about providing accessible and responsive care that is safe and free of racism, as judged by Indigenous individuals, families and communities.

Institutional racism: Healthcare organisations can actively work within the health system to reverse the exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from governance, control, and accountability of healthcare organisations, and to employ more Indigenous health workers.

National safety and quality health service standards: The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s triennial accreditation processes for hospitals set out how healthcare organisations can improve service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Race discrimination law: The existing laws tend to focus on individual rather than systemic discrimination, with racism being hard to prove, even though intention to discriminate does not have to be proven.

The laws also focus on equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcomes. Nevertheless, it is important for healthcare organisations to ensure that the need to avoid discrimination is factored into their governance and operations and to be aware that the laws do provide for “positive discrimination” in removing barriers to care and bringing about better outcomes.’

Addressing racism to improve healthcare outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: a case study in kidney care is available here. More information on the Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research is available here.




Aboriginal #CoronaVirus News Alert No 45 : April 23 #KeepOurMobSafe : #OurJobProtectOurMob : Will new #COVID19 laws increase risk to Aboriginal people already facing discrimination and racial profiling by the justice sector.

” The COVID 19 Pandemic has seen a raft of laws passed across all Australian states aimed at reducing the serious risk the virus poses, and while these new laws limit personal freedoms to protect health and safety, they also increase risk to Aboriginal people already face discrimination and racial profiling by the justice sector.

The UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues also urges Member States and the international community to include the specific needs and priorities of indigenous peoples in addressing the global outbreak of COVID 19.

It should be remembered that ‘Indigenous peoples can contribute to seeking solutions.’

This is especially so in relation to the criminal justice system, which continues to have a major impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in Australia and across the world.” 

Dr. Hannah McGlade is a Noongar human rights law researcher and social justice activist. She is a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues and the Senior Indigenous Research Fellow at Curtin University.

Originally published IndigenousX to support see link HERE 

This issue is a national one and especially relevant to Western Australia as it records the highest rates of Aboriginal deaths in custody. Recent cases include the 2019 police shooting of Joyce Clarke in Geraldton, and the death of Cherdeena Wynne in Perth.

In WA, Aboriginal children and youth are also incarcerated at double the national average, being 50 times more likely to be in detention and Aboriginal women have been described as ‘the most incarcerated group of people in the world’. This state was also the first to disband the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council (AJAC) established in the wake of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody more than 25 years ago.

In 2018 Australian Law Reform Commission in the Pathways to Justice Inquiry, called for the re-establishment of the AJAC’s to drive reforms and reduce Aboriginal imprisonment rates. There has been a lack of response to the Inquiry at the state and federal level, which is difficult to understand in WA where the Minister for Indigenous Affairs has promised to reduce Indigenous incarceration by one third.

And while WA’s Attorney General promised to stop incarcerating Aboriginal people for fines, the bill is not yet law as it hasn’t passed both houses of parliament. Police are also now issuing COVID fines and move on notices to homeless Aboriginal people and their advocates, increasing the likelihood of incarceration as a result.

Prison is the most unsafe place that Aboriginal people can be in a pandemic as there is no ability for prisoners to self isolate and protect themselves. Many Aboriginal prisoners also have chronic health conditions placing them at high risk of serious outcomes, including death, in the event of COVID.

Last month over 300 academics, lawyers and concerned citizens issued an Open Letter supporting immediate actions to protect prisoner’s safety. All states should begin to release low risk prisoners, consistent with approach adopted in many countries including the US, Turkey and Ireland. Releasing Aboriginal prisoners at this time will prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody, argues Cheryl Axelby, chair of the NATSILS:

“With the over-representation of our people in prison, our lives are on the line,”

“We are calling for immediate early release, particularly of people who are on remand, women who are victims of family violence and sentenced for lesser offences like fines and public order offences, young people and those most at risk of transmitting Covid-19, like elderly and people with health conditions.

Risk to Aboriginal prisoners is a national and international human rights issue. In British Columbia Canada the Assembly of First Nations has also demanded proactive responses from governments. This should include developing release plans for as many Aboriginal prisoners as possible, prioritizing those with health conditions, and providing immediate release for low risk prisoners with a home they can self isolate.

Several United Nations bodies including the World Health Organisation, the Office of Drug Control and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have given clear advice that there is no time to lose. Prisoner health is a public health matter and prisoners must not be forgotten. The risks to prisoners, and also staff, are imminent and must be urgently addressed.  Incarceration should only be a matter of last resort and states should release prisons who do not pose a risk to society. Disappointingly the advice is not being followed by WA government, who instead appear to be adopting a ‘tough on crime’ approach.

A punitive approach fails to recognise that many Aboriginal prisoners haven’t been found guilty of a crime and are on remand, and that many, including women, have experienced significant trauma and also discrimination which has played a role in their incarceration. The children and youth detained are very young, as the state imposes liability on children from 10 years of age, and they may be incarcerated in country far from their families.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #CulturalSafety : Download National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 focusing on #Indigenous patient clinical and cultural safety.

When we talk about patient safety it’s important to understand that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this is inextricably linked with cultural safety.
This means that cultural safety is not an ‘add on’ or ‘nice to’. It’s something all registered health practitioners and health regulators need to understand and apply’,

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association CEO, incoming Strategy Group Co-chair Mr Karl Briscoe 

Photo above : Prof Gregory Phillips, Karl Briscoe, Martin Fletcher & Gill Callister launching The National Scheme’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health & Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025. Source

February 27 marked the release of a new strategy prioritising cultural safety in the health system brought forward by First Nations health experts, regulators and health organisations.

The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 focuses on Indigenous patient clinical and cultural safety.

Download the Strategy 2020-2025

Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-cultural-health-and-safety-strategy-2020-2025 (1)

Presented by Ahpra (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and National Boards, the strategy was endorsed by 43 organisations, academics and individuals.

With the four objectives of cultural safety, increased participation, greater access and influence, the strategy has already achieved some of its targets, including:

  • Partnering with the National Health Leadership Forum to develop a baseline definition of cultural safety
  • Commissioning a high-quality cultural safety training
  • Recommending and advocating for changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

Established by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, the strategy was led by First Nations organisations and individuals.

The Strategy focuses on achieving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the norm and the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety.
A key feature is that the Strategy was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and individuals via the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group that represents all signatories to the Strategy (see below).
Inaugural Co-chair of the Strategy Group Prof Gregory Phillips said this work has been a long time in the making and marks an important milestone for addressing health equity.
‘The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group has already instigated and progressed significant reform to help achieve health equity and address racism in the health system.
We are proud of our achievements to date and the launch of the Strategy.
We have much work to do, but together we can have a broad-reaching effect that will help embed cultural safety into the health system across Australia.
This is a significant step in the right direction to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s health, and the national priority of a health system free of racism,’ said Prof Phillips.
Ahpra Chair Ms Gil Callister PSM said ‘self-determination has underpinned this work. The Strategy Group was guided by a caucus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to lead this work and reach a clear definition of cultural safety.
As we saw in the recent 10-year Closing the Gap report – our health system must embrace this strategy to fundamentally improve the health of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’
Strategy Group Co-chair and Chair of the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia Ms Julie Brayshaw said ‘cultural safety needs to become the norm in order for patient outcomes to become equal between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians. Without cultural safety, there is no patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.’
CEO of the Dental Council of Australia Ms Narelle Mills said the collaboration of the signatories and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership means the Strategy is an opportunity to demonstrate strength and commitment in this vitally important area.
‘With this Strategy, 43 entities have a clear way forward to support cultural safety, work in a culturally safe way and deliver to clear strategic objectives that seek to embed cultural safety across the registered health workforce, education providers, students and the entities regulating health practitioners’, said Ms Mills.
 The vision
Patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is the norm. We recognise that patient safety includes the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety, and that this link must be defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.


 The objectives
 Cultural Safety A culturally safe health workforce through nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all registered health practitioners in Australia.
 Increased participation Increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the registered health workforce and across all levels of the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally.
 Greater access Greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services from registered health practitioners.
 Influence Using the Strategy Group’s leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals. This includes developing a nationally consistent baseline definition to be used across the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally, which has already been achieved in partnership with the National Health Leadership Forum.

As part of the Strategy, some key achievements have already been delivered:

  • partnering with the National Health Leadership Forum (the forum for national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak organisations) to develop, consult and finalise a baseline definition of cultural safety for the scheme for regulating health practitioners
  • commissioning high-quality cultural safety training to ensure that the regulation of health practitioners, including the development of standards practitioners must meet and the handling of notifications (concerns about registered health practitioners), is culturally safe
  • recommending and advocating for changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to ensure consistency in cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Signatories to the Strategy

The Strategy was developed with the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and individuals, and is proudly endorsed by:


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee
  • Dental Board of Australia
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
  • Indigenous Allied Health Australia
  • Ahpra (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency)
  • Medical Board of Australia
  • Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council
  • Medical Radiation Practice Accreditation Committee
  • Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council
  • Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
  • Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association
  • Australian Dental Council
  • National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
  • Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
  • Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
  • Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association
  • Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
  • Australian Medical Council
  • Optometry Board of Australia
  • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
  • Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand
  • Australian Pharmacy Council
  • Osteopathy Board of Australia
  • Australian Physiotherapy Council
  • Paramedicine Board of Australia
  • Australian Psychology Council
  • Pharmacy Board of Australia
  • Chair, Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd
  • Physiotherapy Board of Australia
  • Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee
  • Podiatry Board of Australia
  • Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
  • Prof Mark Wenitong
  • Chiropractic Board of Australia
  • Prof Noel Hayman
  • Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
  • Prof Pat Dudgeon (represented by Dr Sabine Hammond)
  • Council of Chiropractic Education Australasia
  • Prof Roianne West, Dean First Peoples Health
  • Councils Presidents Forums (NSW)
  • Psychology Board of Australia

Please note this list includes organisations that have provided endorsement and interim endorsement.

For more information

NACCHO Aboriginal cultural safety in health care: New @AIHW monitoring framework assesses progress in achieving cultural safety in the health system for Indigenous Australians

” For the purpose of developing a monitoring framework cultural safety is defined with reference to the experience of the Indigenous health care consumer, of the care they are given, their ability to access services and to raise concerns.

Some of the essential features of cultural safety include an understanding of one’s culture; an acknowledgment of difference, and a requirement that caregivers are actively mindful and respectful of this difference.

The presence or absence of cultural safety is determined by the experience of the recipient of care and is not defined by the caregiver (AHMAC 2016).” 

AIHW Online Report HERE

Or Download Summary

Cultural safety in health care_ monitoring framework

1.Culturally respectful health care services

Cultural respect is achieved when the health system is a safe environment for Indigenous Australians, and where cultural differences are respected. This module reports on how health care is provided, and whether cultural respect is reflected in structures, policies and programs.

The 2017–18 Online Services Report data showed that among Indigenous primary health care providers:

  • 95% had a formal commitment to providing culturally safe health care
  • 84% had mechanisms to gain advice on cultural matters
  • over 70% of organisations  with a formal board had over half of Board members who were Indigenous
  • nearly 4 in 10 provided interpreter services; while around one third offered culturally appropriate services such as bush tucker, bush medicine and traditional healing.
  • 41% of health staff employed in these organisations were Indigenous
  • almost all (99%) provided cultural orientation for non-Indigenous staff.

National health workforce data showed that from 2013 to 2017:

  • the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical practitioners employed in Australia increased from 234 to 363
  • the number of Indigenous nurses and midwives employed in Australia increased from 2,434 to 3,540.

See more info PART 2 Below for modules 2 and 3

Part 1 Cultural Safety Background

The concept of cultural safety has been around for some time, with the notion originally defined and applied in the cultural context of New Zealand. It originated there in response to the harmful effects of colonisation and the ongoing legacy of colonisation on the health and healthcare of Maori people—in particular in mainstream health care services.

A commonly accepted definition of cultural safety from the Nursing Council of New Zealand (2002:7) is the ‘effective nursing or midwifery practice of a person or family from another culture, and is determined by that person or family… Unsafe cultural practice comprises any action which diminishes, demeans or disempowers the cultural identity and wellbeing of an individual.’

A distinctive feature of this definition of cultural safety is its emphasis on the provision of culturally safe health care services as defined by the end users of those services, notably, the Maori people of Aotearoa New Zealand, not by the (non-Maori) providers of care.

The National Collaboration Centre for Indigenous Health in Canada (2013) notes that culturally safe health care systems and environments are established by a continuum of building blocks:

Cultural awareness ⟹ Cultural sensitivity ⟹ Cultural competency ⟹ Cultural safety

The centre states that cultural safety ‘…requires practitioners to be aware of their own cultural values, beliefs, attitudes and outlooks that consciously or unconsciously affect their behaviours. Certain behaviours can intentionally or unintentionally cause clients to feel accepted and safe, or rejected and unsafe. Additionally cultural safety is a systemic outcome that requires organizations to review and reflect on their own policies, procedures, and practices in order to remove barriers to appropriate care.’

In Australia, there has been increasing recognition that improving cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care users can improve access to, and the quality of health care. This means a health system where Indigenous cultural values, strengths and differences are respected; and racism and inequality is addressed.

There are difficulties in both defining and measuring generalised concepts such as cultural respect and cultural safety. They include lack of conceptual clarity and agreement on terms, the qualitative nature of the concepts, and the diversity of Indigenous Australians and their perceptions.

The Australian literature uses various definitions of cultural safety, and related concepts such as cultural respect and cultural competency, and what these mean in relation to the provision of health care.

For the purpose of developing a monitoring framework cultural safety is defined with reference to the experience of the Indigenous health care consumer, of the care they are given, their ability to access services and to raise concerns. Some of the essential features of cultural safety include an understanding of one’s culture; an acknowledgment of difference, and a requirement that caregivers are actively mindful and respectful of this difference. The presence or absence of cultural safety is determined by the experience of the recipient of care and is not defined by the caregiver (AHMAC 2016).

Two important aspects of culturally safe health care across the literature are, how it is provided and how it is experienced, and these form the basis for the monitoring framework (see AHMAC 2016; CATSINAM 2014; AIDA 2014; DHHS 2016; NACCHO 2011; Department of Health 2015).

How health care is provided

  • behaviour, attitude and culture of providers: respects and understands Indigenous culture and people
  • defined with reference to the provision of care, including governance structures, policies and practices

How health care is experienced  by Indigenous people

  • feeling safe, connected to culture and cultural identity is respected
  • can only be defined by those who receive health care

The importance of cultural respect and cultural safety is outlined in Australian government documents such as the Cultural Respect Framework 2016–26 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–23.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQHC) also included six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific actions in the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards to improve care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in mainstream health services.

 Part 2 Summary

The cultural safety monitoring framework covers three domains: the first focusing on how health care services are provided, the second on Indigenous patients’ experience of health care, and the third on measures regarding access to health care.

Data are reported from a wide range of available national and state and territory level sources to provide a picture of cultural safety, though there are significant data gaps. Sources include both national administrative data collections and surveys of Indigenous health care users.

2.Patient experience of health care

The experiences of Indigenous health care users, including having their cultural identity respected, is critical for assessing cultural safety. Aspects of cultural safety include good communication, respectful treatment, empowerment in decision making and the inclusion of family members.

National survey data show that:

  • in 2014–15, an estimated 80% of Indigenous Australians who consulted a doctor/specialist in the last 12 months said that their doctor always/often listened carefully, while an estimated 85% said that their doctor always/often showed respect for what was said.
  • in 2012–13, an estimated 20% of Indigenous Australians reported being treated unfairly by health care staff in the last 12 months.

The differences in rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous hospital patients who choose to leave prior to commencing or completing treatment are frequently used as indirect measures of cultural safety. Among:

  • emergency department presentations in 2015–16, around 8% of Indigenous patients and 5% of non-Indigenous patients took own leave or did not wait
  • hospitalisations in 2013–15, around 3% of Indigenous and 0.5% of non-Indigenous patients left against medical advice or were discharged at their own risk.

3.Access to health care services

Indigenous Australians experience poorer health than non-Indigenous Australians’, but they do not always have the same level of access to health services. This is due to a range of different reasons, including remoteness and affordability. Selected measures of access to health care services for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are used to monitor disparities in access.

  • BreastScreen participation rates for the two year period 2016–2017 for Indigenous women were 27% compared with 34% for non-Indigenous women.
  • Indigenous Australians waited longer to be admitted for elective surgery in 2017–18 than non-Indigenous Australians (median waiting time of 48 days and 40 days, respectively).
  • In 2015, the potentially avoidable mortality rate for Indigenous Australians was over 3 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (345 and 105 per 100,000 respectively).

Data gaps

Monitoring cultural safety and cultural respect in the health system, and the impact it has on access to appropriate health care, are limited by a lack of national and state level data. This is particularly the case in relation to reporting on the policies and practices of mainstream health services, such as hospitals and primary health care services.

There is also limited data on the experiences of Indigenous health care users. Most jurisdictions undertake surveys about patients’ experiences in public hospitals, but there was  not a lot of available data on Indigenous patient experience. A high proportion of Indigenous Australians use mainstream health services, so further data developments in this area are required to allow for more comprehensive reporting across the health sector.