NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mabo Day

Feature tile - Thu 3.6.21 - Mabo Day.

Mabo Day

Today, 3 June is Mabo Day.

Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who believed Australian laws on land ownership were wrong and fought to change them. He was born in 1936 on Mer, which is also known as Murray Island, in the Torres Strait.

In 1982 a legal land ownership case was lodged with the High Court of Australia by a group of Meriam from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, led by Eddie Mabo.

The Mabo decision was a legal case that ran for 10 years. On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia decided that ‘terra nullius’ should not have been applied to Australia.

Sadly, Eddie Mabo passed away in January 1992, just five months before the High Court made its decision.

The Mabo decision was a turning point for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights because it acknowledged their unique connection with the land.

It also led to the Australian Parliament passing the Native Title Act in 1993.

For more information about Mabo Day visit the National Museum of Australia website here.

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan.

 

Mandatory reporting of influenza vaccinations

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) wants to remind all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services about the importance of checking expiration dates of vaccines, disposing of out of date stock and reporting accurate data to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

It is mandatory under the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 for all vaccination providers to report all influenza vaccinations administered on or after 1 March 2021 to the AIR.

A recent incident reported by a General Practice, where some 2020 influenza stock was found among 2021
influenza stock, prompted the Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) to investigate a range of circumstances that may have led to this, including checking data reported to AIR.

This investigation concluded that there was no 2020 stock in state and territory vaccine warehouses, however there were a high number of vaccines, with 2020 influenza batch numbers, reported to the AIR as being administered this influenza season (2021).

We ask that you remind all staff to double check expiration dates of vaccines prior to administration, dispose of out of date stock appropriately and that you encourage all staff at your practice to double check the information being reported to the AIR is correct prior to submitting it to AIR.

A letter with a copy of the above information can be downloaded here.

Please download a fact sheet outlining the mandatory reporting obligations for vaccination providers, and helpful tips for reporting to the AIR here.

 

Women living remotely must travel for birth

Heavily pregnant women living in remote and regional areas across Australia are being forced to pack their bags and head to hospital to wait for the birth of their babies, far away from family, culture, community, and connection.

Women’s health experts say this experience is traumatic for expectant parents and expensive for governments, but that the answer is simple: open more culturally safe birthing centres outside of big cities.

Women who live outside of the four major birthing hubs in the NT (Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Nhulunbuy) need to travel to the nearest hospital at 38 weeks to wait for their baby to be born. For most of these women, English is not their first language, and some don’t speak English at all. Most women travel alone and although they are offered a translator in hospital, one is not always available.

Charles Darwin University professor of midwifery Sue Kildea labelled Northern Territory Health’s remote birthing policy as “outrageous”.

“Why do they send women by themselves? We don’t even let them take their kids with them,” she said.

“It’s the one thing that we should be so ashamed of.”

Experts are calling for more regional birthing hubs to fill the gap.

Read full story by ABC News here.

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin'ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin’ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

 

Expanding birth centres to remote NT 5+ years away

Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles says the government is looking at returning birthing facilities to remote and regional locations, and hopes to do so within the next decade.

“It’s a huge step to take forward, but I think it’s an important step,” she said.

Ms Fyles said investing in birthing on country services was a “priority” and NT Health was working toward developing a Territory-specific birthing on country model.

But not everyone’s convinced returning birthing to remote locations is the way forward.

Worimi woman Marilyn Clarke is the chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health Committee.

She said returning low-risk birth to remote communities could “be a bit tricky”, because if there was an unexpected complication, mother and baby were far away from emergency care.

Dr Clarke also said staffing remote hubs would be challenging and the NT had long-running issues recruiting and retaining health workers.

Instead, she said governments should invest in strong, Indigenous-led pre- and post-natal care in remote and regional locations.

You can read more about this story on ABC News here.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

 

Remote ENT service delivery model

The Rural and Remote Health journal has done a rapid literature review aimed to inform the development of a new sustainable, evidence-based service delivery model for ear, nose and throat (ENT) services across Cape York, Australia. This work seeks to investigate the research question ‘What are the characteristics of successful outreach services which can be applied to remote living Indigenous children?’

A comprehensive search of three major electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL and MEDLINE) and two websites (HealthInfo Net and Google Scholar) was conducted for peer-reviewed and grey literature, to elicit characteristics of ENT and hearing services in rural and remote Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. The search strategy was divided into four sections: outreach services for rural and remote communities; services for Indigenous children and families; telehealth service provision; and remote ear and hearing health service models. A narrative synthesis was used to summarise the key features of the identified service characteristics.

In total, 71 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review, which identified a number of success and sustainability traits, including employment of a dedicated ear and hearing educator; outreach nursing and audiology services; and telehealth access to ENT services. Ideally, outreach organisations should partner with local services that employ local Indigenous health workers to provide ongoing ear health services in community between outreach visits.

The evidence suggests that sound and sustainable ENT outreach models build on existing services; are tailored to local needs; promote cross-agency collaboration; use telehealth; and promote ongoing education of the local workforce.

View the full article here.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

 

Soft drink ads hit ‘vulnerable’

What keeps consumers hooked on high sugar soft drink? Advertising, of course. But why are some consumers more adept at ignoring these cues than others?

A new study from Flinders University, has found participants with an automatic bias towards soft drinks – or difficulty resisting sweet drinks compared to non-sweetened control beverages (e.g., water) – are more responsive to the advertisements than those without these tendencies.

The Australian study compared the ability of 127 university-age students (18-25 year olds) to withstand or succumb to the urge to reach for a soft drink when viewing television advertisements.

Not only can regular soft drink consumption lead to weight gain and tooth decay, with a typical 375ml can of soft drink contain about 10 teaspoons of sugar, but so can these ’empty’ calories reduce intake of calcium, fibre and other nutrients in a healthy diet.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) research estimated 50-60% of adolescent and young people consume soft drink every day.

“The cognitive vulnerabilities exposed in our study is an important lesson to future possible regulation of television advertising or public health campaigns,” says co-author Amber Tuscharski.

“After all, their exposure to soft drink cues will continue as manufacturers and marketers advertise their products in multiple locations – from TV commercials to in-store, service stations, public transport and billboards.”

Read full article in Science Direct here.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

 

Ways to support healthy foods in remote stores

Monash University invites you to join in their HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD inaugural event to share remote community stores and takeaway advances through film for improved health. This live online series features stories from remote communities and leaders on ways to support healthy foods in remote community stores.

HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD addresses the issue of food security and aims to foster critical discussion towards health-enabling stores. It is a celebration and sharing of initiatives, whilst acknowledging barriers and having a focus on a food secure future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities.

Please share with other remote store owners, community leaders and members, government policy-makers, health workers, academics, and practitioners who have a passion for thriving and healthy community stores. 

You can download the event poster here.

The event themes and scheduled times are:

3 June (11:30am – 12:30pm AEDT) Webinar 1: Remote Stores: Healthy Takeaways I Employment opportunities
15 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 2: Food supply, delivery, local food economies
16 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 3: Food affordability and pricing for healthy food
17 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 4: The 4P’s of marketing for healthy food in stores

Facilitator of the online series:
Ms Nicole Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia & NSW Rural Doctors Network

Please submit any questions to coordinator: stacey.holden@monash.edu

FREE registration here.

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist.

 

BRAMS – May Newsletter

After a busy start to the year, Easter provided Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service’s (BRAMS) staff with the opportunity to take a break and refresh. BRAMS continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to the local community, and more than 150 patients have received the jab so far, with no side effects being reported. We strongly encourage all our patients to come into the clinic to discuss their vaccine, particularly if you have concerns or questions.

We are excited to announce yet another expansion of our disability services, through a supported mobile playgroup program for children aged 0-14.

We have also commenced the recruitment process for our Chronic Disease Program, and we look forward to updating you in our next newsletter on the newest members of the team.

Finally, look out for us on your TV screens – we recently filmed our first television advertisement, and can’t wait to see the final product. A big thank you to all staff and patients who took part in the filming.

Please view the latest edition of the BRAMS newsletter here.

BRAMS_newsletter_May_2021

BRAMS Newsletter – May 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Eye health sector missing First Nations voice

feature tile text ' Australia's world class eye health sector is missing the voice of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples' image side view of Aboriginal youth's face looking through eye testing equipment

Eye health missing First Nations voice

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC) 2021 — The Gap and Beyond, had a welcome and critical focus on community-led eye care, according to Simone Kenmore, the newly appointed Country Manager of the Indigenous Australia Program at The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Kenmore emphasised the importance of listening to family and community leaders to drive two-way learning approaches in eye care and the urgent need to grow an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health workforce, as well as to invest in Aboriginal community controlled health services, saying “the eye health sector in Australia has a role and responsibility to strengthen the eye health knowledge of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The clinical expertise in the eye health sector in Australia is world class, but critically we are missing the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.”

To view the article in full click here.

Simone Kenmore & 3 of her Aunties in Alice Springs standing together against rendered wall

Simone Kenmore with her Aunties in Alice Springs. Image source: Croakey. Image in feature tile from ANZSOG.

Community control success at WAMS

Reducing the COVID-19 risk to community members was a big focus through the pandemic for the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS), which also stepped up to address a range of related challenges, including big concerns about food security for the NSW community.

WAMS CEO Christine Corby OAM said her service took many approaches to reduce the risk of local people getting COVID-19, especially vulnerable Elders and people with multiple health issues. Initiatives included a hand washing song which was taught in schools and used in the mobile children’s service; addressing complicated food supply issues; accessing personal protective equipment, developing and distributing care packs; and delivering scripts.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

desk with contents of a WAMS cCOVID-19 are package, information brochures, hat, shampoo, colouring books, stress balls, water bottle, rope

Items from the WAMS care package distributed to community members during the pandemic. Image source: Croakey.

Eating disorder stereotypes plague treatment

Indigenous Australians are just as likely to experience eating disorders as others within the wider community but a perception the illness is only prevalent among white girls is hampering diagnosis and treatment. The Butterfly Foundation, the national charity for eating disorders, has found one in 10 Indigenous Australians will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime and 30% of Indigenous young people are concerned about body image. These figures mirror the trends of non-Indigenous Australians.

Butterfly Foundation marketing coordinator Camilla Becket said its EveryBODY is Deadly campaign was trying to raise awareness about eating disorders among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “We wanted to address this pervasive stigma that eating disorders only affect privileged young white women,” Ms Becket said. To view the article in full click here.

Garra Mundine with black boots, white dress & 3/4 length light brown coat leaning against a tree trunk in native woodland

Garra Mundine said no one recognised that she had an eating disorder because of the perception it was for “privileged white girls”. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Budget opportunity to create a fairer future

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today called on the Morrison Government to use tomorrow’s Budget as an opportunity to create a fairer future by supporting priorities outlined by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “This Federal Budget provides an opportunity for investment that not only drives economic recovery but also reduces disadvantage and inequality. ACTCOSS calls on the Australian Government to prioritise investment that will create a fairer future for all Australians.”

ACTCOSS’s top three priorities for the ACT in the Federal Budget are: investment in the community service sector to generate jobs while supporting those facing disadvantage; significantly increased investment in social housing; and better support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve self-determination.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal man sitting inside corrugated iron humpy in Utopia, no facial features visible as face is in shade

Scene from John Pilger documentary, Utopia. Image source: newmatilda.com.

RHD the silent killer

Katherine’s Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Chair Anne Marie Less claims the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health will never be closed until the deadliest of diseases is approached differently. “I have been a Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner for over 14 years and I am acutely aware of the impact of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) on our communities in the NT. Under the guidance of NT Cardiac, Menzies School of Health and Top End Health Service I have been learning to perform echocardiograms on young people in remote communities across the Top End and sadly in every community we detect 5-10% of the young population with previously undiagnosed RHD – some with the damage to their heart valves so advanced that it requires immediate surgery.

“Mostly it goes undetected and the only way we find out that someone has had rheumatic heart disease is when they drop dead on the playing field from a heart attack or die when they are pregnant. For most, they and their families never knew they had RHD. “Sadly, the only way to detect the presence of RHD is to listen for a heart murmur caused by leaking heart valves. The common practice is to listen for this using a stethoscope which unfortunately misses 40% or more of cases. The only true way to detect RHD is through an echocardiogram which uses a device no larger than a shaver to perform an ultrasound on the heart and clearly shows whether a heart valve is leaking or not.”

To view Sunrise Health Service’s media release in full click here.

RHD patient, Trey (young Aboriginal boy) lying on examination bed receives a handheld echo scan

Rheumatic Heart Disease patient, Trey, receives a handheld echo scan in Manigrida. Image source: Katherine Times.

United opposition to NT legislation

All 14 Australian and NZ Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ANZCCG) have united in opposing new legislation introduced by the NT Government, which proposes to alter the NT’s Youth Justice Act and Bail Act. The commissioners and guardians wrote to NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner in March expressing their concerns about the legislation and asking him to reconsider his approach. Their letter said the proposed changes are “regressive” and “signal a shift away from evidence-based policy approaches and directly unwind the implementation of key recommendations from the 2017 Royal Commission”. National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said, “All the evidence tells us the best way to prevent youth offending is to divert young people away from the justice system and into alternative programs that offer the support they need.

To view the ANZCCG and Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.

view of tower of Don Dale youth detention centre

Don Dale youth detention centre. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News website.

Federal Senator Malarndirri McCarthy has also voiced concern about controversial changes to the NT’s youth bail laws, calling on her local Labor colleagues to rethink the plan to fast-track the reforms. The government wants its changes passed through NT Parliament less than a week after the bill was made public and despite questions from legal groups about apparent problems with the draft legislation.

Labor has the backing of NT Police and the police union for measures it says will cut youth crime, but has faced widespread criticism for reversing changes made after the youth detention royal commission. On Monday, Ms McCarthy told ABC Alice Springs she had requested a briefing and raised concerns with the NT government. “I do think the issues being raised by stakeholders in the Northern Territory and indeed nationally about being careful about the incarceration of children and in particular First Nations children is something that the government needs to look closely at,” she said.

To view the article click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy torso in red dress standing against moreton bay fig

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy says she has raised her concerns with the NT government.
Photo: Mitch Woolnough. Image source: ABC News website.

Impact of racism on oral health

Interpersonal racism has had a profound impact on Indigenous populations globally, manifesting as negative experiences and discrimination at an individual, institutional and systemic level. Interpersonal racism has been shown to negatively influence a range of health outcomes but has received limited attention in the context of oral health.

A recent study has examined the effects of experiences of interpersonal racism on oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) among Indigenous South Australians. Identifying this link adds weight to the importance of addressing OHRQoL among South Australian’s Indigenous population by implementing culturally-sensitive strategies to address interpersonal racism.

For further details about the study click here.

teenage Aboriginal girl in dental chair with mouth open smiling, gloves hands with instruments, masked dental professional, yellow tones

Image source: Remote Area Health Corps.

Smoking cessation during pregnancy study

Strong and healthy futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people requires engagement in meaningful decision making which is supported by evidence-based approaches. While a significant number of research publications state the research is co-designed, few describe the research process in relation to Indigenous ethical values. Improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies is crucial to the continuation of the oldest living culture in the world.

Developing meaningful supports to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers to quit smoking during pregnancy is paramount to addressing a range of health and wellbeing outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have called for non-pharmacological approaches to smoking cessation during pregnancy. A recent project Building an Indigenous-Led Evidence Base for Smoking Cessation Care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women during Pregnancy and Beyond: Research Protocol for the Which Way? has used a culturally responsive research protocol, co-designed by and co-owned with urban and regional Aboriginal communities in NSW.

For further details about the study click here.

Aboriginal painting of silhouette of pregnant Aboriginal woman throwing away cigarettes, baby visible in womb, & sign Quit for New Life

Image source: South Western Sydney Local Health District webpage.

ACT – Canberra – Australian Medical Association

Policy Advisor (Indigenous Health) x 1 FT – Canberra

Advance your career with the AMA and be part of the team advocating improvements to Australia’s health system and achieving positive change on behalf of its member doctors and the wider community.

Based in Canberra, the Policy Adviser will be a member of the Public Health team and:

  • manage the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health portfolio and support AMA’s ongoing advocacy towards Closing the Gap and ensuring better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • provide Secretariat leadership to the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health, as well as in campaigns advocating related improvements to the health care system
  • provide support in AMA’s policy and advocacy work to improve Australia’s mental health system, including reviewing reports, government engagement, and providing support to the AMA Mental Health Committee
  • draft accurate and well-written policy positions, statements, submissions media responses and campaign material
  • oversee the management of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship and coordination of support for scholarship recipients

To view the position description and to apply click here. You should submit your application within the next couple of weeks.

AMA logo, Aboriginal hands holding torso of Aboriginal baby no clothes

Image source: NITV website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

feature tile text 'AMA calls for measures to ensure health systems are resilient & effective - COVID-19 pandemic lessons must not be lost' image of Aboriginal youth with cardboard face mask painted with Aboriginal flag, blurred image of another Aboriginal person in the background wearing same mask

COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

As Australia finds its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learned about our health systems must not be lost. The Australian Government must use next week’s Federal Budget to commit to measures that ensure our health systems are resilient and effective now and beyond COVID-19. “We know areas of our health system are failing Australians, and we cannot continue the business as usual approach to funding,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“There continues to be unmet need for health services in the community, and the ongoing need for further investment in our health care system to ensure services are accessible and affordable for patients is only going to increase.” The AMA has identified key areas that need immediate funding commitments in the upcoming Budget – permanent telehealth; public hospitals; aged care; general practice; private health insurance; and Indigenous health. Dr Khorshid continued, “The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how crucial our front line health workers and health services are, and how vital it is for them to be properly resourced and supported.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Dr Simon Quilty with stethoscope to Aboriginal woman's chest

Dr Simon Quilty has specialist skills in a range of fields so he can treat patients with complex conditions. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source ABC News.

Your Health 2030 project

What would need to happen for all Australians to enjoy good health by 2030?

A team of public health experts across the country have put together a project answering this question, in collaboration with VicHealth, and they have published the results in a supplement in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Ray Lovett, Aboriginal epidemiologist at ANU and director of the Mayi Kuwayu Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing spoke with Hilary Harper on ABC Radio National Life Matters about how culture is key in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To listen to the interview click here.

photo of Ray Lovett in grey suit blue shirt no tie standing against large tiled wall & black handrail, overlaid with text 'ABC Health Report' & ABC RN logo 'ABC symbol RN' superimposed on pink orange voice bubble

COVID-19 side effects fact sheet

The Australian Government Department of Health has released a COVID-19 vaccination – Fact sheet – Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). This easy-to-read fact sheet outlines the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and what to do if you feel them.

You can download the Fact sheet here.  front page of Aust Govt COVID-19 vaccine side effects fact sheet

Miscarriage care reform needed

Globally, an estimated 23 million miscarriages occur every year. Despite the personal toll involved, many miscarriages are managed in relative isolation. Private grief and misconceptions can lead to women and their partners feeling at fault or managing alone.

Similarly, in the health-care system and broader society, the continuing conviction that miscarriages are unavoidable and the requirement, enshrined in many national guidelines, that women must have recurrent miscarriages before they are eligible for investigation or intervention has created a pervasive attitude of acceptance of miscarriage, urging women to “just try again”.

For too long miscarriage has been minimised and often dismissed. The lack of medical progress should be shocking. Instead, there is a pervasive acceptance. Not all miscarriages could be avoided, but the insidious implication that miscarriage, like other women’s reproductive health issues, including menstrual pain and menopause, should be managed with minimal medical intervention is ideological, not evidence based. Miscarriage should be a major focus for the medical research community, for service providers, and for policy makers. The era of telling women to “just try again” is over.

To view the full article in The Lancet click here.

miniature baby beanie held in a woman's hands

Image source: Time magazine.

Dalang Project supports oral health

The early closure of the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program and the Oral Health Therapy Graduate Year Program by the Australian Government adversely impacted NSW Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). This led to the co-design of a small-scale oral health therapy graduate year program for ACCHOs known as the Dalang Project. This project has enabled oral health therapists to engage with local Aboriginal communities and implement culturally competent, practical and evidence-based oral health promotion activities.

For an overview of the Dalang Project and its evaluation click here.

close up shot of face of young Aboriginal girl with a blue toothbrush in her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

New 715 Health Check resources

A range of community resources, including flyers, posters, animation, podcasts, social tiles, video stories, templates and more have been developed to support organisation promoting 715 Health Checks.

You can view the range of resources here.

slide from 715 Health Check - Awabakal Case Study YouTube video, purple Aboriginal art overlaid with text 'Your Health is in Your Hands. Have you had your 715 health check?'

Youth need support, not prison

Amnesty International Australia and Balunu Healing Foundation have called on the NT government to give kids a chance at breaking the cycle of disadvantage and crime by diverting them into culturally appropriate programs that address the underlying intergenerational trauma which too often leads to crime, instead of condemning them to the quicksand of the youth justice system.

Amendments to the youth justice act due to be debated this week in Parliament will prevent kids from accessing Indigenous-led diversion programs which are highly effective in addressing recidivism. The NT’s own statistics show that more than 70% of children who complete a diversion program do not reoffend within 12 months of completion.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release in full click here.

8 male youths playing basketball in Don Dale prison Darwin faces blurred

Children in the Don Dale juvenile detention centre in Darwin. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

World Hand Hygiene Day 2021

ThemSAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global campaign was launched in 2009 and is celebrated annually on 5 May (World Hand Hygiene Day). The campaign aims to maintain global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world.

For World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, WHO calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care. The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings.

To be effective and prevent transmission of infectious microorganisms during health care delivery, hand hygiene should be performed when it is needed (at 5 specific moments) and in the most effective way (by using the right technique with readily available products) at the point of care. This can be achieved by using the WHO multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy. banner for World Hand Hygiene Day,text seconds save lives clean your hands!' vector of tap attached to stopwatch overlay with hands washing

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Australians urged to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'First Australians urged to protect themselves, family & community by getting vaccinated' - image of COVID-19 vaccine vials

First Australians urged to get vaccinated

This week marks the second phase of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout which is targeting over six million higher-risk Australians. NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner say last week on ABC The Drum that “While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP and Professor Tom Calma AO made time this morning to attend Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Minister Wyatt said “We have done a remarkable job so far in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, we cannot now become complacent. Vaccines are an important tool in our strategy and I urge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to come forward and get vaccinated when they are able to. It will help protect themselves, their family and their community.”

To view the Minister Ken Wyatt’s media release click here and to read a transcript of Linda Burney’s doorstop interview click here.

Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney & Tom Calma in waiting room at WNAHS ACT to receive vaccine 24.3.21

Ken Wyatt, Linda Burney and Tom Calma were among Indigenous leaders to receive their first vaccine dose in Canberra this morning at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.

ACCHO’s first vaccine day incredibly successful

The first words from the first Aboriginal elder in Campbelltown to get his COVID-19 vaccine on Monday this week were those of love and gratitude for his people and those who kept them safe during the pandemic. “I love you, I love the work you do, and the people you serve,” elder Uncle Ivan Wellington told Darryl Wright, the chief executive of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and the staff of its Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) after he got the jab.

During the pandemic, the first priority at Tharawal was protecting elders. Tharawal health workers visited homes to deliver flu shots and do health checks, telephoned frequently and arranged for deliveries of food and vegetables. “If we lose our elders, we lose our entire library [of knowledge],” said Leonie Murdoch, 62, who was also vaccinated on Monday.

Dr Heather McKenzie, who is coordinating the vaccine roll-out at Tharawal, was excited about getting her injection because it would protect the community she serves. To prepare people before today’s injections Dr McKenzie had run a Q and A session about what to expect. Despite that, some were nervous, including Uncle Ivan who had heard about the rare blood clots experienced by some people. But Ms Murdoch reassured him, “They can treat that [blood clots], but they can’t treat COVID.”

When the medical service texted the community offering the first round of vaccinations on Monday, it was inundated. Every appointment was taken within 10 minutes, Mr Wright said. Dr Tim Senior, a doctor with Tharawal’s AMS, said nearly all the service’s 5,000 patients would qualify to be vaccinated during this phase because of problems with chronic disease and other health issues. “It would be a struggle to find people who aren’t eligible under 1B,” he said.

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

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie

Tharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington receives his first AstraZeneca vaccine from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation GP Heather MacKenzie. Photograph: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Guardian.

The Guardian also reported on the second phase of Australia’s vaccine rollout. It said Aboriginal community health services across Australia have overcome major challenges including floods and wild weather to deliver their first Covid-19 vaccines to Aboriginal elders. “Our elders are our leaders and during the pandemic they continue to show us the way forward by proudly getting vaccinated first,” Dr Heather Mackenzie, from Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the highest rate of immunisation among the Australian population, according to NACCHO medical advisor, Dr Jason Agostino, who said “The Aboriginal health sector is extremely equipped in delivering large-scale immunisation programs and has been working hard to support communities during the pandemic.”

To view The Guardian’s article Aboriginal health sector overcoming major challenges to deliver first Covid vaccine jabs click here.

photo of Cecil Phillips, 63, receiving AstaZeneca vaccine by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan at AMS Redfern

‘I didn’t even feel it,’ says Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccination by registered nurse, Sam Parimalanathan, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photograph: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

Community-based COVID-19 responses among best

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the start of the 1b phase of the COVID vaccination rollout to older people and other vulnerable groups, urging the importance of the need for community patience and two-way communication between health authorities and consumers. The success of Australia’s response so far in keeping the spread of COVID to relatively low levels should not make us complacent about the priority of prompt vaccination of all Australians in the interests of our health and of the economy.

It is vital that people get the facts about the vaccine and the rollout from authoritative and readily accessible sources, including government websites and their GPs who, from this week, will be scaling up vaccination availability. The CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said “A convincing example of just how effective community-based responses can be, has been the success in countering pandemic infections achieved by the member groups of NACCHO. The 107 NACCHO groups achieved among the best results in preventing COVID compared to similar entities anywhere in the world and that was because of the strong community engagement and leadership.”

To view the CHF’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal flag with COVID-19 virus cell shooting across image with flames coming from it

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

COVID-19 information for Victoria’s mob

The Victorian Government has developed a very useful COVID-19 information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities webpage.

The site says there are a couple of reasons why, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher and it can cause more severe symptoms. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 years, or who have a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung conditions, or immune problems, are at higher risk of developing a severe illness associated with COVID-19. Younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can also get COVID-19 and infect family, friends and elders. As a lot of mob often live under the same roof, it’s also harder to practise physical distancing and isolation, which increases the risk of spreading the disease within the community.

The webpage says that in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Victoria, we must all do our part. We know it’s tough, but together we can keep our families, mob and ourselves safe, strong and well. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector partners are working closely with government to coordinate response plans and ensure communities have the necessary information, resources and support they need.

close up photo of face of Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe wearing cap with the word 'Deadly' & black face mask, blurred image of crowd in the background

Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe. Image source: BBC News.

Updated health check templates survey

The Commonwealth Department of Health has endorsed recently updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health check templates developed in a partnership between NACCHO and the RACGP.

The NACCHO-RACGP Partnership Project Team is keen to hear your feedback on the templates by:

  • participating in this 10 minute survey open until 1 April 2021
  • expressing interest to be one of 10 primary healthcare teams testing the templates between 12 April and 11 June 2021 by contacting the Team at aboriginalhealth@racgp.org.au

Your feedback will support the team to understand what it takes to get these health check templates into practice and what other innovations can support quality health checks and primary healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal Health Worker smiling at Aboriginal man lying on examination bed in a clinic

Image source: NT PHN & Rural Workforce Agency NT webpage.

Remote PHC Manuals update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals review process in underway. Monthly updates will be available to health services and other organisations to provide updates on the review process.

What’s new: new Acute Assessment Protocols are being developed to guide practitioners to assess emergencies and guide differential diagnoses.

Coming up next: Expert Advisory Groups have been working to update protocols.

This flyer provides further information about the RPHCM project, including what you need to do to become a reviewer or provide feedback on the new manuals.Remote Primary Health Care Manaulas (RPHCM) logo - Aboriginal painting, path, footprints, blue green pink purple petal flower and horseshoe shapes x 5

Aboriginal-led ways to foster mental health

A report Balit Durn Durn – strong brain, mind, intellect and sense of self: report to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VAACHO) to support the final report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s (Vic) Mental Health System. The report outlines five Aboriginal-led ways to build strength, resilience, connectedness and identity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to create essential pathways for fostering positive mental health and wellbeing.

The report aims to provide an overview of Aboriginal communities’ experience with the current mental health system and offers innovative solutions that have the potential to dramatically transform the Victorian mental health system to better meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.

To view the report click here.cover of VACCHO Balit Durn Durn Storng brain, mind, intellect & sense of self Report to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System report

What ‘healing’ means

The Healing Foundation has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland to co-design and develop the state’s first healing strategy. The Dreaming big process identified community issues and themes by the number of times keywords were mentioned in surveys and yarning circles.

The report outlines what over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 80 different cultural groups in over 50 locations in Queensland, said when asked what healing means and what happy and strong feels like. The aim being to help transcend the divide between deficit-based solutions and strength-based outcomes.

To view the report Dreaming big – voices we heard: informing the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing strategy click here.cover of Healing Foundation Dreaming big Voices we hear informaing the Qld A&TSI Healing Strategy October 2020

Healthier smiles in Loddon Mallee

Minister for Health Martin Foley says the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring Aboriginal children in the Loddon Mallee region have strong and healthy teeth. “The $360,000 Loddon Mallee Fluoride Varnish program will help protect 600 Aboriginal children in schools, Aboriginal-specific early years services and Aboriginal childcare organisations at heightened risk of tooth decay. Fluoride varnish applications reduce tooth decay in young children by 37% by providing a protective covering. The varnish also prevents an existing tooth decay from progressing further. The preventive oral health program provides including twice-yearly fluoride varnish applications, oral health promotion and free tooth packs to Aboriginal children across the Loddon Mallee region. The expanded program builds on a successful pilot in 2018/20, which reached 200 Aboriginal children aged up to 18 across the region.”

To view the Victoria State Government media release click here and to view a related article Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative to deliver Fluoride Varnish program click here.

close up photo of gloved dentist's hands inspecting teeth of an open mouth

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Proposed NT youth justice changes flawed

Australia’s only national First Nations-led justice coalition has warned that the NT Gunner Government’s proposed youth justice reforms will see the number of Aboriginal children behind bars skyrocket. The reforms are highly punitive and will disproportionately drive Aboriginal kids into police and prison cells. Change the Record has highlighted that the proposed law changes fly in the face of the Royal Commission recommendations to invest in supporting children outside of the criminal justice system and move away from the ‘tough on crime’ policies that have been proven to fail. Change the Record, Co-Chair Cheryl Axleby said “If the NT Government goes ahead with these youth justice reforms it will take the Northern Territory back to the dark days before the Royal Commission when Don Dale was full of Aboriginal children being subjected to the most  horrendous abuse.”

The NT Council of Social Service and Amnesty International Australia have also expressed concerns about the proposed changes to the NT’s youth justice system. “This is a callous, racist legislative crackdown in search of a problem,” Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Advocate, Rodney Dillon, said. “Chief Minister Gunner has picked up the Royal Commission report and thrown it in the bin. Let’s be clear: no one wants youth crime. But cracking down on Indigenous kids – because all the kids in the NT justice system are Indigenous – who have complex needs, by throwing them in jail fixes nothing. What it does is condemn young kids to the quicksand of the youth justice system, and it entrenches recidivism, which is what all the politicians say they want to address,” Dillon said.

You can view the Change the Record media release here, the NTCOSS media release here and the Amnesty International Australia media release here.

painting of 7 Aboriginal youth with text 'free our future'

Image source: Change the Record website.

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney

Research Assistant (Identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney

The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close midnight Monday 5 April 2021.

vector image of kidneys, one sliced showing kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network.

Purple Day

Purple Day (Friday 26 March 2021) is a global initiative dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness. Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy started Purple Day to get people talking about the condition and to let those impacted by seizures know that they are not alone. She named the day, Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.

Purple Day has grown into a well-known and supported national awareness day with thousands of people across Australia gathering within their community, education and corporate sectors to raise much needed awareness and funds for those affected by epilepsy. You can access epilepsy information for Indigenous communities here.World epilepsy day. Purple ribbon on bright dark violet background. Epilepsy solidarity symbol. Vector illustration

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

feature tile text 'ACCHOs prepare for imminent COVID-19 vaccine rollout' photo of COVID-19 vaccine vialst

ACCHOs prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

This morning NACCHO CEO Pat Turner joined a panel on ABC Radio National Breakfast to discuss how preparations are ramping up in earnest for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Many will get the jab as part of Phase 1B which begins on Monday 22 March 2021. At the coalface, health organisations are also busy tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.

To listen to the episode click here.ABC RN banner text 'COVID-19 vaccines OurJobToProtectOurMOb NACCHO CEO Patricia Turner Fri 12 March 6–9am, photo of Pat Turner smiling

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey also spoke on ABC radio about COVID-19. Along with human rights advocate and lawyer Teela Reid and public health expert Professor Fiona Stanley, Dr Casey spoke with Richard Glover on ABC Radio Sydney program Drive about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reference was made to how programs run by Indigenous people work, but programs imposed on communities don’t. Professor Fiona Stanley said there is lots of evidence to show better outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal people control programs, saying “when you give First Nations’ people this power it works every time”.

In terms of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were kept safe from COVID-19, Professor Stanley said local services understand the context in which their people are living, they know who and where their Elders are and are immediately able to implement the best preventative strategies for them. Only 0.1 per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia have contracted COVID-19 compared to 1.1 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous Australians.

To listen to the interview click here.

portrait photos Dr Dawn Casey, Teela Reid, Professor Fiona Stanley

L-R: Dr Dawn Casey (NITV website), Teela Reid (National Indigenous Times), Professor Fiona Stanley (ABC News website).

Truth and justice commission announced

Victoria’s ‘truth-telling’ commission (launched earlier this week) has been owed for 233 years according to Victoria’s Deputy Premier, James Merlino who said “233 years of violence, dispossession and deprivation. 233 years of deliberate silence. We commit to telling the truth. We do so for the kids who never came home – and those who are still finding their way back. For those who were told they were not allowed to speak their own language, practice their own culture, know their own identity. For the families who lost loved ones in the massacres. For those who were made to feel like they didn’t belong to their own country. And for those who still feel this way. Today we commit to telling their truth.”

The Truth and Justice Commission is a shared commitment between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the state’s first and only democratically-elected body for Aboriginal people. Named after the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba word for ‘truth’, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will formally begin its work in the coming months. Held independently from Government, and afforded the full power of a Royal Commission, it will mark the beginning of a conversation long overdue, and a commitment to change.‌ It will compel us to confront what’s come before. To acknowledge that the pain in our past lives on in our present.

To view the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Victoria State Government joint statement click here and to view a related article in The Age click here.

Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk

Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk for the announcement of the commission. Image source: The Age.

Final Call: COVID-19 in aged care facilities survey

Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly have been commissioned by the Department of Health to undertake a national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs). RACF managers (or equivalent) are invited to complete a short online survey about the facility’s preparation for and, if an outbreak occurred, management of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The data will be collected and analysed by the University of Sydney. Survey responses will remain anonymous and no individual RACF will be identifiable. The feedback and analysis will be an invaluable contribution to the report and recommendations to the Department of Health.

The survey will be closing on 5:00 PM Wednesday 17 March 2021.

If you haven’t completed the survey, please do take the time to share your thoughts and experiences with the review. It only takes 10-15 minutes. and can be accessed by clicking on this link.

Your input is critical to continuous improvement in the management of potential COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care.

elderly Aboriginal man and Aboriginal woman wearing paper party hats sitting at table looking at a mobile phone screen

Image source: Inner Sydney Voice website.

National Preventive Health Strategy coming soon

You have until 19 April 2021 to make submissions on the draft National Preventive Health Strategy. The final document is expected to be launched mid-year.

Croakey journalist Melissa Sweet has written an overview of some of the key issues, including concerns that without proper funding and implementation commitments, the strategy will be “another worthy document which does not advance the health of Australians one iota”. Below is an excerpt from Melissa’s overview:

“OMG. The Federal Health Department has released a publication that finally utters the words so many have been waiting SO long to hear. The draft National Preventive Health Strategy cites a contributor saying that “climate change is likely to be the biggest challenge to health, wellbeing and economic prosperity”. The document goes on to note that human health is dependent on planetary health, and that environmental issues, such as extreme weather events and significant changes in climate systems, have had, and will continue to have, an impact on the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

“This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have close cultural, spiritual and social connections to the land. In order to prepare for future challenges and address the health of the planet, the impacts of climate change on physical and mental health need to be understood, especially through a health equity lens,” it says. But don’t get too excited. These words don’t come until page 40 and although climate change is mentioned a number of times throughout the document, the draft strategy does not convey a strong sense of urgency about the climate crisis and how it will undermine all other efforts in health prevention without urgent action.

To view overview in full click here and for further information about the National Preventive Health Strategy and how to make a submission click here.

banner with text National Preventive Health Strategy' vector images of city, wind farm, clouds, park, city, road

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Indigenous kids are losing sleep

New analysis has found that Indigenous Australian children suffer from sleep problems at higher rates than non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal children reported insomnia, severe daytime sleepiness and breathing difficulties while sleeping, researchers say. “Poor sleep can lead to health problems and lower levels of academic achievement,” according to Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University Yaqoot Fatima. “Indigenous children suffer from at higher rates of obesity, diabetes and respiratory problems than non-Indigenous children.” School attendance rates among Indigenous children are 10 per cent lower than non-Indigenous children, she said. “Understanding sleep health is very important,” Dr Fatima said.

To view the article 7 News article in full click here and to view a related article in The Conversation click here.

Aboriginal toddler sleeping with head on carer's shoulder

Image source: CRAICCHS website.

Media invalidates Indigenous experience of racism

Gunditjamara Elder Charmaine Clark has commented on the response by national mainstream media to a report tabled last week by the Victorian anti-vilification protections inquiry. She said “the media completely missed the point and instead we saw sensational headlines of Nazi Swastika banned or Nazi flags banned.” In the course of the Inquiry, Charmaine gave her personal testimony, representing the Victorian Indigenous community. Supported by organisations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Victorian Legal Aid Charmaine’s case mirrored other experiences of racial abuse and indifference that many Indigenous people experience throughout their lifetime.

Charmain said “One of the most persistent aspects of today’s discourse regarding racism in Australia, Charmaine said, is the very denial of its existence. Out of all the most sustained political campaigns operating in Australia, the political project of controlling and diminishing Indigenous human rights and dignity is by far the longest. It has cost us much, in lives and loss of access to country, high incarceration rates and alarming mental health and health statistics.”

“Our media choose to personify racists as those Nazi’s or Proud Boys, with the effect that all other forms of racial vilification are at best of lower importance and at worst – invalidated in the eyes of the public consuming this media. It highlights the systemic nature of how perceptions of racism are controlled, perceived and presented to the general public. This narrow definition of ‘racist’ paints a picture to the public and reduces the impact of our calls for action to address racism we uniquely experience.”

To view the full IndienousX article click here.

Charmaine Clark

Charmaine Clark. Image source: IndigenousX website.

Institutional racism factor in health gap

A new report from the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health has found institutional racism leads to a silencing of Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and cultural practices which are crucial to closing the gap in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Published in Public Health Research and Practice, a peer-reviewed journal of the Sax Institute, the report was authored by several Indigenous leaders and noted the reluctance in health care structures to address systemic and institutional racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Lead author Dr Carmen Parter is a proud descendent of the Darumbal and Juru clans of the Birra Gubba Nation of Queensland. She also has South Sea Islander heritage and is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. “Our paper gives voice to Indigenous communities who have consistently said that racism is a critical issue in the provision of health care, as is the incorporation of culture into the design of health care services,” said Dr Parter. “When an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person accesses a health care service, there is always a level of mistrust and fear. A lot of people forget that our health system was one of the many institutions involved in the Stolen Generations that took children from their families and communities — which still happens today. Those stories resonate through our communities.” Dr Parter highlights the importance for health care providers in discussing and addressing racism.

To view the Indigenous National Times article in full click here and to view the related SaxInstitute media release Indigenous leaders call for an end to racism in the health system click here.

Dr Carmen Parter Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing

Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing website.

Race conversations program developer recognised

Bundjalung and Kullilli woman Melissa Browning has been recognised at the national HESTA Impact Awards for her contribution to improving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The awards are a national celebration of health and community services professionals working to protect the future of the planet and its people.

Browning was a joint winner of the Individual Distinction Award for her work developing and implementing the Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) program at the Fold Coast Hospital and Health Service (GCHHS). Having a career in health spanning just short of two decades, Browning is one of the only Aboriginal women at GCHHS who sits in a senior role. She is the current Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and has held that position for over a decade. Working in the health sector as long as she has, Browning has faced her fair share of adversity.

“I have often been called challenging. I like to reframe that and step away from the angry Blak woman trope,” she said. “I’m not angry, I’m passionate. I do get framed as the challenging Blak woman because I do want to make that change, make that difference for my people.  Aboriginal women are constantly taking the brunt for our community, there are so many inspiring women that have gone before me that have inspired me to keep going in doing what I do. The reason I am doing this is for my people, for the future generations — that is what holds me.”

Browning’s CCAR program originates from the Us but she has worked to contextualise it to an Australian audience. The program aims to talk about racism in a safe space. “Talking about race and racism is always very hard, but I think … to move forward we can’t not have those conversations,” she said.

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here.

Melissa Browning holding HESTA Impact Award

Melissa Browning. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Tooth decay rates fall

A trial of a children’s dental health program in a remote Queensland Indigenous community showed the value of simple health interventions in promoting overall health in Indigenous communities, researchers said. Dental health is a serious problem for some Indigenous communities, with Indigenous children in rural Australia recording up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared with other Australian children. Associate Professor Ratilal Lalloo from the University of Queensland School of Dentistry led the study to find out what effect a simple intervention could have.

“We wanted to test an intervention to reduce that burden – the idea was to take what we considered the main preventative strategies against tooth decay and see what effect that had on ongoing dental health,” he said. “Primary health care workers such as community nurses and Aboriginal health workers can be trained to do these treatments, making them even more cost-effective.” Dr Lalloo said researchers hoped the findings would lead to evidence-based policies and practices in preventing tooth decay in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

To view the article in the Brisbane Times click here and to view a more detailed article about the research in UQ News click here.

Aboriginal girl holding blue toothbrush to her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

Shifting Gears Summit

What would our health systems look like if consumers were in the driving seat – if consumer experiences and leadership were enabled to seamlessly transform health and social care to better serve their needs? In Australia we do have successful models that have arisen from genuine consumer co-design, such as the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

A summit hosted by the Consumer’s Health Forum of Australia next week (17–19 March) starts off by asking speakers and participants why such reform is needed, and goes on to showcase success, and provide inspiration for future efforts. This is a virtual event with an international cast of speakers and participants.

It’s not too late to register for the Summit (and/or one of the two pre-summit masterclasses).

To join the event, register here, banner text 'CHF Summit 2021 Shifting Gears 18–19 March 2021', orange and purple for cogs with vector medical images

COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Qld Q&A

Health Consumers Qld is hosting a panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, including Ms Haylene Grogan, Dr Mark Wenitong, Associate Professor James Ward and Associate Professor Margie Danchin to answer questions from the community about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers from across Queensland are invited to attend another Q&A session.

The Q&A session will take place from 9:30–11:00 AM on Monday 29 March 2021 by Zoom videoconference and “watch parties”. We hope that groups of people may come together to join the on-line session so those without internet access and those who would prefer to be in a group, can come together for a “watch party” .

To register click here.banner text 'COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Queensland Your Questions Answered for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander People Session 2 - Health Consumers Queensland, Queensland Government'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 kept out of communities came as no surprise

feature tile text 'success of ACCHOs in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities a welcome shockfeature tile text 'success of ACCHOs in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities came as no surprise' Stay Home, Stay Safe, two Aboriginal figures holding a stop sign all painted on a car bonnet

COVID-19 kept out of communities came as no surprise

The latest issue of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) The Health Advocate magazine includes NACCHO CEO Pat Turner’s oration at the 2020 Sidney Sax Award ceremony. Pat Turner said “the success of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has come as a welcome shock to most. Less than 150 Aboriginal people have contracted COVID-19 Australia-wide. Our share of the COVID-19 caseload was 0.5% when our share of the national population is 3.3%. This has been a wonderful achievement.”

“But pandemics are best defeated by community based action and the very ACCHO model itself is fundamentally about community control. It was no surprise to us. And there was too much at stake for us to fail. Look at what happened to the Navajo. They have the highest death rate of any ethnic group in the USA. If the virus had got into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the consequences would have been catastrophic with our levels of comorbidity and social disadvantage. While the press has been calling the pandemic and the measures to combat it ‘unprecedented’, the virus for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is, sadly, a familiar tale. Aboriginal people have been battling pandemics since 1788. The success of the measures put in place by our ACCHOs is well documented.”

To view Pat Turner’s speech published in The Health Advocate February 2021 in full click here.

Ltyentye Apurte No Visitors COVID-19 Community Protection Policy sign on outback dusty road

Image source: The Guardian.

ACCHO launches new outreach dental clinic

A new outreach dental clinic aimed at providing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is set to open in Woy Woy following an increase in community demand. Local Aboriginal health service provider, Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services, will expand its dental program with the launch of the new clinic on Friday, March 5. The Gulgul Yirra Outreach Dental Clinic will be located in Woy Woy Public Hospital and will operate every second Friday.

Yerin CEO, Belinda Field, said the new clinic is the provider’s second on the Coast, following the opening of a flagship dental clinic in Wyong in 2018. “Since opening our first dental clinic in 2018, we’ve seen firsthand the need and demand for culturally appropriate dental services,” Field said. “Our Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong has grown exponentially and is now open five days per week, supporting almost 2,000 patients and delivering over 15,000 treatments annually. We’re thrilled to be able to expand and offer these services in a new location on the southern end of the Central Coast, making them accessible to even more of our community.”

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

5 staff in purple uniforms standing at front of reception desk at Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong

Staff at the Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong. Image source: Coast Community News.

Rough sleeper numbers are back on the up

Australian governments acted to protect homeless people from COVID-19 in 2020 on an even larger scale than previously thought. In the first six months of the pandemic, the four states that launched emergency programs housed more than 40,000 rough sleepers and others. The states were anxious about rough sleepers’ extreme vulnerability to virus infection and the resulting public health risk to the wider community. NSW, Victoria, Queensland and SA acted fast to provide safe temporary housing, mainly in otherwise empty hotels.

To a great extent Australia’s homeless compared to other countries such as England reflects the country’s growing social housing deficit, as well as inadequate rent assistance and other social security benefits. All of these factors are barriers to helping low-income Australians into stable long-term housing. The fundamental flaws in Australia’s housing system have become glaringly exposed by the public health crisis of the pandemic.

To view the article in full click here.

Raymond Ward at Tent City homeless camp in Perth November 2020

Raymond Ward at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. On any given night the homeless camp has been hosting up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people such at Raymond Ward. Image source: Daily Mail Australia.

Youth perspectives on mental health

Indigenous researcher Cammi Murrup-Stewart has completed a PhD thesis investigating the links between Indigenous culture and Indigenous health. “Within the Aboriginal community, concepts such as mental health are more holistic,” she says. “We have this idea that everything is connected, and to be a well person, you need to have these positive connections with your family and community, with your physical body, and also with the land around you, which I think the Australian community is starting to understand a little bit better.”

“A lot of the research comes from a white perspective, and there’s not that much scientific evidence that has been verified by the scientific community that is based on an Aboriginal perspective,” Murrup-Stewart says. Generally speaking, the research she reviewed “definitely devalued the Aboriginal perspectives, and so missed a lot of important findings, or prioritised things that have not resulted in any positive change”.

To view the full article, Mental health and wellbeing: Listening to young Indigenous people in Narrm, published in the Monash University LENS click here.

8 Aboriginal students sitting around an outdoor table with books & water bottles

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

Visual impairment in Australia

Visual impairment is the partial or full loss of sight in one or both eyes. Visual impairment may be the result of disease or injury, may progress over time, and may be permanent or corrected with visual aids (such as glasses) or with surgery. According to self-reported data from the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), the prevalence of self-reported eye or sight problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 38%, affecting about 307,000 people—including about 44,100 who live in Remote areas (30% of the remote Indigenous population). According to the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), an estimated 15,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and over experienced vision impairment and blindness in 2016. The leading causes of vision impairment were uncorrected refractive error (61%), cataract (20%) and diabetic retinopathy (5.2%).

To view the Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Eye health web report click here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

ACCHO CEO furious over rejected prison inquiry

Indigenous and social service advocates are angry and disappointed that a proposed investigation into systemic racism at the Canberra Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) will not take place. Instead, Minister for Corrections Mick Gentleman replaced the Canberra Liberals motion – made on behalf of Indigenous Canberrans – with an amendment to continue a review into the ACT’s high Indigenous incarceration rates.

“I’m furious, to be quite honest,” Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service, said. “But I’m not surprised that the motion was watered down. This Labor-Green Government are progressive on selective issues. Unfortunately, Aboriginal disadvantage isn’t one of them. It reinforces the belief across the Aboriginal community that their issues and concerns are not a priority with this so-called progressive government.” Ms Tongs called the amendment “a cover-up”, and called for Mr Gentleman to resign.

To access the article in full click here and to view a previous Canberra Weekly article regarding the proposed investigation into racism at AMC click here.

portrait image of Julie Tongs OAM CEO Winnunga ACT

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Image source: ABC News website.

Big boost for Victorian health infrastructure

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Victorian hospitals, community health services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) with $320 million in funding to upgrade vital health infrastructure. Minister for Health Martin Foley has announced submissions for the new $200 million Metropolitan Health Infrastructure Fund (MHIF) and the fifth round of the $120 million Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) have opened, ensuring health services across the state can continue to provide world-class healthcare for all Victorians. Established as part of the Victorian Budget 2020–2021, the MHIF will fund construction, remodelling and refurbishment projects, equipment, information and communication technology and other vital upgrade works to meet service demand, and improve safety and infection prevention and control measures at Melbourne’s busiest hospitals and community health services.

To view the Victorian Minister for Health’s media release click here.

: Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Victorian Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), which proclaims its mission of Strong Culture, Thriving Communities.

Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Victorian Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), which proclaims its mission of Strong Culture, Thriving Communities. Image source: Croakey.

Minimum alcohol price curbs problem drinking

The “floor price” for alcohol introduced by the NT in 2018 reduced the consumption of cask wine by half, without significantly impacting sales of other types of alcohol, according to a new analysis of the policy’s effectiveness. On October 1, 2018, the NT introduced a minimum price of A$1.30 per unit (equivalent to 10 grams of pure alcohol or one “standard drink”) on alcohol, in a bid to tackle problem drinking. The price was chosen to target cheap wines that have historically been an issue throughout the NT, while not influencing other liquor types.

Alcohol has been ranked as the most harmful drug in Australian communities, and the greatest harm of all comes from heavy drinking. In Australia an estimated three-quarters of all alcohol is consumed by the top 20% of its heaviest drinkers, a group that the alcohol industry depends on and actively targets, labelling them as super consumers. Nowhere in Australia are the harms of alcohol more stark than in the  NT where alcohol-attributable harm costs the community an estimated A$1.4 billion a year. Alcohol-related deaths in the territory are 2–10 times higher than the national average.

Considering the effectiveness with which this policy has reduced consumption of cask wine in the NT, it is time for other state and territory governments to consider following suit.

To view the article in full click here.

image of bladder of cask wine

Cask wine consumption decreased by half in the year following the NT’s introduction of minimum pricing. Image source: Croakey.

Remote training scheme vacancies

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is a unique Commonwealth-funded Fellowship program offering distance education and training to allow registrars to stay in their rural or remote community and continue to provide vital healthcare services while progressing to Fellowship. It’s not too late to secure a training position with the RVTS for the 2021 intake.  Round 4 Applications are now open, with training to commence in April 2021.

Positions are available nationally, for training in the AMS and Remote training streams. In addition, there are Targeted Recruitment positions available in selected areas of high workforce need across Australia, offering exciting opportunities for GP training and employment.

For more information about the RVTS and to check your eligibility and apply click here. Applications close Sunday 21 February 2021.RVTS Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd logo sun rising on horizon red yellow Aboriginal art vector image

NSW bush’s health battles substantial

A parliamentary inquiry into regional and rural healthcare has received over 700 submissions, highlighting issues such as chronic doctor shortages, a lack of resources and a system that is overstretched. The submissions have revealed harrowing stories, such as a hospital requesting patients bring their own bandages and doctors allegedly trying to mend broken bones over videolink. Wee Waa Chamber of Commerce wrote that a lack of healthcare is “literally killing the town”, and Gunnedah Shire Council said doctors are so overstretched they are essentially “running a crisis medical service.”

A submission by the Riverina Murray Regional Alliance (RMRA), which incorporates the communities of Tumut and Wagga Wagga among others, said it was founded in 2015 in response to the reduction of government services in the area. RMRA held a Healing Forum in 2017 which identified intergenerational trauma as a key issue, with one impact of this being drug and alcohol addiction and its effect on local communities, such as poor physical and mental health, family violence and poor education outcomes. “A need was identified for services to be provided by Aboriginal people to Aboriginal people, to ensure that our communities are connected to them,” the submission reads. “This includes the involvement in Aboriginal people in the design and delivery of services they received.”

To view the full article in the Tumut and Adelong Times click here.

map of Riverina Murray Regional Alliance area & RMRA logo Aboriginal painting of a blue snake against yellow background

Riverina Murray Regional Alliance made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into regional and rural health care.

NSW – Narooma – Katungul ACRH&CS

Dentist x 1 FT or PT – Narooma – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services (KACRHCS) is seeking applications for the role of Dentist to work either Part Time or Full Time. KACRHCS is a not for profit organisation providing culturally attuned, integrated health and community services on the Far South Coast of NSW. Katungul is managed by a CEO reporting to an elected Board of Directors.

The Dentist performs preventative and restorative oral procedures to ensure the highest standards of dental health and dental care for Aboriginal clients. This role includes the provision of culturally appropriate clinical dental care, oversight of laboratory conditions and requirements, and community health promotion and health education activities to improve oral health status.

You can view the job advert here and access the position description here. Applications close 5:00 PM Monday 1 March 2021.Katungul logo black duck flying in front of boomerang shape with orange & yellow Aboriginal dot art, silhouette of man, woman & two chilren, text 'Koori Health In Koori Hands', at bottom of the circle with the duck & 'Katungul' at the top of the circle

National Condom Day – Sunday 14 February 2021

A day that began with an American AIDS support group in the late 1980s, as a way of promoting condom use and safer sex practices, National Condom Day has now become an annual highlight on the Australian sexual health calendar. National Condom Day is an Australia state-wide event and takes place on the 14 February ‘Valentine’s Day’ each year.

It’s is a day where we are reminded that condoms are still the best way to stop the transmission of STI’s and HIV, and also help prevent unplanned pregnancy.

If you’re going to get it on, get it on.

red cardboard with cut out raised hearts bottom half rectangle, black top half of rectangle & image of yellow condom packet in the middle

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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Queensland contributes $10 million to Closing the Gap

 

Queensland to contribute nearly $10 million towards Closing the Gap agreement

The Palaszczuk Government will support the implementation of the new national Closing the Gap agreement, with $9.3 million as part of a national joint funding effort with the federal government and other states and territories.

The Federal Government today announced that it would provide $46.5 million over four years to building the capacity of the Indigenous community-controlled sector, to be matched by the state and territory jurisdictions, based on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said that investment in building an effective community-controlled sector will be critical to improving life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read the full media release here.

Draft Prescribing Competencies Framework input request

NPS MedicineWise, as the stewards of Quality Use of Medicine in Australia, has undertaken a review of the Prescribing Competencies Framework, to ensure the Framework remains relevant and continues to support safe and quality prescribing for all prescribers.

Feedback is being sought from practitioners and stakeholders on the new draft framework by COB Friday 4 September 2020. The feedback will be used to finalise the revised framework document for publication.

The revised Prescribing Competencies Framework can be viewed here.

To access the questionnaire relating to this revised Framework click here.

Photo of Aboriginal hands holding pills

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

NT diabetes in pregnancy rates rise

The burden of diabetes in pregnancy has grown substantially in the NT over the last three decades and is contributing to more babies being born at higher than expected birth-weights according to a new study undertaken by the Menzies School of Health Research.

The study, Diabetes during pregnancy and birth-weight treads among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory of Australia over 30 years, was recently published in the inaugural edition of The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific.

The full study can be found here.

Aboriginal woman's hands on her pregnant belly painted with red, white, black and yellow dotted concentric circles

Image source: Bobby-Lee Hille, the Milyali Art project.

Community collaboration delivers better oral health

Aboriginal children in rural Australia have up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared to other Australian children. Recently published research demonstrates the benefits of working alongside communities to establish the most effective ways to implement evidence-based strategies, and sustain them.

Co-design is about sharing knowledge to enable long-term, positive change to complex problems and enables much needed health-care services to be delivered in ways that strengthen communities, respect culture and build capacity.

Aboriginal girl with toothbrush in her mouth

Image Source: The Conversation.

To read more about the research Outcomes of a co-designed, community-led oral health promotion program for Aboriginal children in rural and remote communities in New South Wales, Australia click here.

Job Alerts

FT Suicide Prevention Officers x 2

PT Aboriginal Dental / Allied Health Administration Officer x 1 – 3 days/week

Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited are looking for highly motivated Aboriginal people to undertake the above roles at their modern new clinic in Wyong, NSW.

For further information about these positions click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dental Health : #ClosingtheGap : Co-design with ACCHO’s enables much needed health-care services to be delivered in ways that strengthen communities, respect culture and build capacity.

“We’ve now moved through all phases of implementing our co-designed programs, and are focusing on maintaining them with the support of school staff and the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

Our research shows engaging communities to design and deliver oral health services was associated with reduced tooth decay and increased healthy behaviours.

The following elements of co-design in our project could readily be incorporated into the design and delivery of health-care services for Aboriginal Australians:

  1. improved cultural safety— Aboriginal people feel safe and welcome
  2. co-design and shared ownership— local Aboriginal people shape the service model
  3. local employment— Aboriginal people work in the service and lead local delivery
  4. skills development— Aboriginal people complete qualifications that are nationally recognised
  5. long-term commitment— programs are designed and delivered with sustainable and reliable funding.

The gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians remains stubbornly wide.

Co-design enables much needed health-care services to be delivered in ways that strengthen communities, respect culture and build capacity.

Original published here 

Read over 40 Aboriginal Dental Health articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years

Aboriginal children in rural Australia have up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared to other Australian children.

Tooth decay can affect a person’s overall health and nutrition because it can affect how they chew and swallow. Tooth decay can also reduce self esteem because of its effect on appearance and breath. And importantly, poor oral health increases the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease.

Yet tooth decay is both preventable and treatable.

Broadly speaking, improving oral health is critical to closing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and Australians overall. Tackling this gap requires customised, community-led solutions.

Our research demonstrates co-design — that is, engaging communities to design and deliver services for their own communities — is associated with significantly improved oral health among Aboriginal primary school children.

This approach may also hold the answer for closing the gap in other areas of health care.

Oral health among Aboriginal children

In the middle of last century, Aboriginal children actually had significantly better oral health than other Australian children. But today, Aboriginal children have roughly double the rate of tooth decay compared to other Australian children.

A range of factors have contributed to this recent problem, starting with colonisation — the effects of which have been compounded over time — and the shift to a highly processed Westernised diet.

Where interventions to prevent common oral diseases like tooth decay have become available to most Australian children in recent decades, Aboriginal children in rural Australia have historically had limited access to public dental services.

The disparity is compounded by the cost of basic supplies like toothpaste and toothbrushes, which may be unattainable for some families, and poor availability of cool filtered drinking water in remote communities.

We sought to reduce consumption of sugary drinks by installing refrigerated and filtered water fountains in schools and communities. We also engaged teachers to encourage students to fill up their water bottles and drink from them throughout the school day.

As well as this, we sought to increase fluoride intake (a naturally occurring mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay) by establishing daily in-school tooth brushing programs, supplying toothbrushes and toothpaste for school and home, and applying fluoride varnish to the children’s teeth once each term.

We also provided treatment for existing tooth decay and gum disease.

In 2018, we looked at the oral health and oral hygiene behaviours of children from the participating schools. Our findings have recently been published and show the project is working well.

What we found

In just four years we found a reduction in tooth decay, plaque and gingivitis (gum disease).

The average number of teeth with tooth decay per child in 2018 was 4.13, compared to 5.31 in 2014. Notably, the proportion of children with no tooth decay increased from 12.5% in 2014 to 20.3% in 2018.

There was also a dramatic reduction in the proportion of children with severe gingivitis from 43% in 2014 to 3% in 2018.

We also saw an increase in positive oral hygiene behaviour including tooth brushing, consumption of drinking water and reduced consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

In 2014, 13% of children reported brushing their teeth on the morning they took the survey. This increased to 36% in 2018.

Collaborating with communities

Co-design means working alongside communities to establish the most effective ways to implement evidence-based strategies, and sustain these. It’s about sharing knowledge to enable long-term, positive change to complex problems.

In our project, the co-design process has been central to these outcomes:

  • local Aboriginal staff coordinate the programs and dental treatment services
  • clinical staff live and worklocally
  • we’ve established scholarships for localsto obtain qualifications as dental assistants, allied health assistants and oral health therapists
  • we’ve implemented daily in-school tooth brushing, regular fluoride varnish application and drinking water programs
  • the community decided on the location and installation of water fountains
  • we’ve set up highly cost-effectiveoral health services for the communities.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).