NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Disability Royal Commission – have your say

The image in the feature tile is NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) and cousin Ted Wanambi (left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photograph: Tamara Howie. Image appeared in The Guardian article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery published on 5 November 2019.

Disability Royal Commission – have your say

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability wants to hear from people with disabilities, carers, families, support workers – anyone with a lived experience that has feedback and a contribution to make. This is a chance to tell your story and help bring about positive changes in the disability space. Don’t be deterred by the word ‘submission’ – there is no set format, it doesn’t have to be detailed or even written, it can be a recording of your story or even a painting.

Some of the common issues being found in submissions to date are discrimination and exclusion, barriers to accessing community services, issues with the NDIS, children being excluded from school, discrimination, and lack of support in the workplace and the disproportional impact of family violence for women with a disability.

Those who are thinking about making a submission are encouraged to contact Your Story Disability Legal Support if they’d like advice and support prior to making a submission. Your Story Disability Legal Support is available in all states and territories offering free independent, confidential support to make submissions to the Disability Royal Commission, which is currently open until Saturday 31 December 2022. It’s not compulsory to contact this service but could be useful if you have concerns about privacy and confidentiality or naming a service provider or other agency that you need to maintain a relationship with, such as a school or an employer. The service can also link people to free counselling and support, interpreting and Auslan services and specific support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

You can access the Your Story Disability Legal Support website here which includes a webpage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here. You can also access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here.

Image source: Your Story Disability Legal Support website.

NPS MedicineWise Programs and Services Transition

NPS MedicineWise will cease all operations on Saturday 31 December 2022. This follows the recent decision by the Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler, to continue with the redesign of the Quality Use of Therapeutics, Diagnostics and Pathology (QUTDP) Program announced in the March 2022 Federal Budget.

Under the redesign, from Sunday 1 January 2023, NPS MedicineWise will no longer receive grant funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care to deliver Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) functions. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) will take on core QUM ‘stewardship’ functions while education programs for health professionals and consumers will move to contestable funding.

Although NPS MedicineWise will no longer operate, a number of NPS MedicineWise programs and services will be transitioning to other organisations. The following programs and services will be transitioning to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC):

  • MedicineInsight
  • MedicineWise App and Doctor’s Bag App
  • Choosing Wisely Australia website here
  • Delivery of the National Medicines Symposium
  • Delivery of MBS and PBS Practice Reviews
  • Value in Prescribing bDMARDs materials
  • NPS MedicineWise website here and online learning platform here (excludes Australian Prescriber journal and Good Medicine Better Health)

The following programs are transitioning to NACCHO:

  • Good Medicine Better Health
  • Resources to support medicines use in remote locations

NPS MedicineWise online programs and resources that support medicines use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will transition to the NACCHO website here from Thursday 1 December 2022. Specific resources being transitioned include:

  • Good Medicines Better Health– learning modules and consumer resources developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners and their communities to improve quality use of medicines and medical tests
  • Resources to support medicines use in remote locations
  • Principles for producing best possible medicines lists for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

If you have any queries regarding these resources, you can contact the NACCHO Medicines team using this email link.

To view the AMA News article NPS MedicineWise Programs and Services Transition in full click here.

Image source: AMA News website.

Exploring how to transform Indigenous oral health

A first-ever conference featuring a wealth of dental experts will explore how to transform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ oral health and attract more Indigenous dental professionals. Inspirational speakers including Australia’s first Indigenous dentist Dr Chris Bourke and several other oral health specialists and professionals will present at the first Indigenous Dental Association of Australia’s (IDAA) National Conference on Monday 28 November 2022.

Only about 0.4% of the approximately 16,000 employed dentists in Australia are Indigenous and Indigenous patients have significantly poorer oral health outcomes than non-Indigenous patients. “More than 60% of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of early-stage gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair,” IDAA president Dr Gari Watson said.

“Indigenous children also have significantly worse oral health outcomes than their non-Indigenous counterparts and suffer higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease. We can only close the gap in health inequalities by improving Indigenous representation in the workforce and spurring the next generation of Indigenous health professionals. With oral health key to overall health and wellbeing, it is also vital we improve current dental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This conference will help generate ideas for addressing unacceptable oral health inequalities and how we can highlight what’s behind every great smile—healthy teeth.”

To view the Bite magazine article Upcoming conference to explore how to transform Indigenous oral heath in full click here.

Image source: Parenthub website.

Mental health support for flood affected communities

Flood-affected residents in the Central West are being encouraged to access a range of expanded mental health support services to help them deal with the devastating floods that have impacted their communities. Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government had increased the number of mental health clinicians and workers deployed in the State’s Central West, to provide support to flood ravaged communities.

“We understand it has been an incredibly stressful and upsetting time for people in our flood affected towns and communities. We are committed to providing whatever support we can to help people who are doing it tough,” Mr Perrottet said. “Today I am also announcing an immediate funding boost for Lifeline Central West to increase its Rapid Response Program currently active on the ground, with six additional crisis counsellors, new vehicles and funding for fuel, and accommodation.”

To view NSW Government’s joint media release Mental health support for flood-affected communities in full click here.

There were 157 flood rescues in Eugowra, Central West NSW during the period 13 to 16 November 2022. Photo: NSW SES. Image source: The Orange App.

Staggering undersupply of GPs in next 20 years

New analysis from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has confirmed Australia is facing a shortage of more than 10,600 GPs by 2031, with the supply of GPs not keeping pace with growing community demand. The AMA’s new report found demand for GP services increased by 58% between 2009 and 2019. The report, The general practice workforce: why the neglect must end is a detailed examination of the scale and causes of the GP workforce shortfall and proposes solutions, as part of the AMA’s Plan to Modernise Medicare campaign.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the AMA’s projections showed no let-up in future demand for GP care. “We are staring at this unimaginable shortage of GPs in our future and our projections show these pressures are just not going to ease up. We simply should not be in this position, but it’s clear the short-sighted policies of successive Commonwealth governments have failed the community.”

“We need long-term solutions to improve access to GP led care for patients, including in rural and remote areas that have been hardest hit by workforce shortages. Right now, we need all levels of government to work together with the health sector to resolve the GP workforce issues. These state-based quick fixes are not the answer. Our report shows the most cost-effective method, with the best outcomes for patients, is GP-led primary care. We want to work together with pharmacists, psychologists, and other allied health as part of a collaborative team for every patient,” Professor Robson said.

To view the AMA’s media release AMA report confirms staggering undersupply of GPs in next two decades in full click here.

Image source: AMA News website.

New guidelines to tackle chronic kidney disease

New guidelines to improve the diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been launched in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest killers. Every day, on average, 63 people with kidney disease die in Australia. While the condition affects one in 10 non-Indigenous Australians, First Nations people are twice as likely to develop kidney disease and nearly four times more likely to die with it.

New guidelines are the results of four years of work from a federally funded project team coordinated by Kidney Health Australia and led by University of Sydney research program Caring for Australians and New Zealanders with Kidney Impairment. with the Recommendations for Culturally Safe Kidney Care for First Nations Australians having now been launched.

To read the National Indigenous Times article New guidelines developed to tackle one of the biggest killers of Indigenous people in full click here.

Image source: Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation’s Renal Dialysis webpage.

Medicine shortage – Ozempic and Trulicity

You may be aware, there is a severe shortage of two diabetic medicines called Ozempic (semaglutide) and Trulicity (dulaglutide) and the shortage has been very challenging for many Australians  To assist consumers and health professionals, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published two web pages, providing practical information and advice about these shortages including a link to new clinical guidelines from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), answers to questions we have received about Ozempic and Trulicity availability and alternative treatments.

Until the end of March 2023, there will be no further supplies of Ozempic available in Australia and access to Trulicity is expected to be very limited. It is recommended that patients who are prescribed Ozempic contact their doctor immediately to have their treatment reassessed. This is especially important as we approach the Christmas holiday period and access to medical services may be limited. This information needs to go out to patients to allow enough time to access alternative treatments.

The TGA will continue to work with Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, pharmaceutical wholesalers and medical professional organisations to reduce the impact of this global shortage on consumers, where possible.

If you have any questions, please contact the Australian Government Department of Health’s Medicine Shortages Section on 02 6289 4646 or by email using this link.

Image sources: Ozempic – AJP.com.au and Trulicity. Photo: Bridget Murphy, Newcastle ABC News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Redesigning maternity services for mob

The image in the feature tile is from the Holistic Care With No Limits – Empowering the Aboriginal Community on Darkinjung Country webpage of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services (Central Coast, Darkinjung Country) website.

Redesigning maternity services for mob

Earlier this week more than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, came together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families.

The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe was co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the NT.

The Charles Darwin Universities’s Co-Director at CDU’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and Indigenous Health Professor Yvette Roe, who is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, WA, who grew up in Darwin, spoke on CAAMA Radio about the challenges faced by first nations mothers, in bringing up strong healthy babies.

“Before colonisation, our babies were born on country, we were raised by our mothers, we were raised by grandmothers, we had cultural ceremony and we had a real connection to community – after 200 years of colonisation, we have babies too early, too small, that are very sick when they’re born, we have mothers that have babies that are very sick, we got a health system that is being designed by a colonised system, a system imposed on our people… and this has really had poor outcomes, especially with our women in very remote communities, but also our women in urban centres.” Professor Yvette Roe said.

To view the CAAMA article Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women, which includes a video of Professor Roe speaking about the aim of the The Best Start to Life national gathering and improving maternity and birthing outcomes for First Nations women across Australia, click here.

Improving tobacco and e-cigarette control

Five ANU researchers have been awarded more than $10.7 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant scheme, to help tackle some of the world’s biggest medical and health challenges. Professor Emily Banks will receive more than $2.9 million to drive improved tobacco and e-cigarette control and provide new insights into cardiovascular disease prevention.

“Smoking remains Australia’s number one cause of premature death and disability,” Professor Banks said. “It is also a major cause of health inequity. Excellent progress by communities means that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t smoke. At the same time, around half of all deaths at age 45 and over in this priority population are due to tobacco smoking.

“Australia is aiming for a tobacco-free future and is up against a predatory industry that is constantly innovating. E-cigarettes, or vaping, also present new challenges. My team and I will use this funding to generate and translate new insights to empower the next generation of tobacco and e-cigarette control and chronic disease prevention,” Professor Banks said.

To view the Canberra Weekly article Major ANU funding win to boost health for all Australians in full click here.

Photo: Mike Mozart, Flickr. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Great oral health habits for kids

Smiles 4 Miles (an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria – DHSV), the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Ballarat Community Health are supporting early childhood services to improve children’s oral health and healthy eating habits. This work is highlighted in a new video case study (below) celebrating how Perridak Burron Early Learning, an Aboriginal community-owned education and care service, embedded these health priorities into their centre.

Tooth decay is largely preventable. However, public dental data shows that approximately one in four children aged five years and under who presented to public dental clinics in 2021–22 have a history of tooth decay and only 6% of Victorian children aged two to 17 eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables per day.

“We hope that Perridak Burron’s holistic, whole-of-service approach to healthy eating and oral health will inspire other early childhood education and care services to also make positive changes,” Smiles 4 Miles coordinator Demelza Diacogiorgis said. “Early childhood is a crucial stage in learning and development. Promoting health messages in simple ways enables children attending early childhood education and care settings to get a healthy start in life.”

To view the Bite magazine article Early childhood service leading the charge for great oral health habits in full click here.

New Deadly pharmacists training course

The new Deadly pharmacists foundation training course, co-designed by PSA and NACCHO, is designed to upskill pharmacists to work in ACCHOs. Lucky Zeniou MPS, Senior Pharmacist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Brisbane thinks the seven-module course, available on the PSA platform, will broaden career pathways for pharmacists.

Mike Stephens MPS, Director, Medicines Policy and Programs at NACCHO, said pharmacists can expect to gain a good understanding of the key concepts that underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including the importance of self-determination and community control. ‘There are so many services ACCHOs can offer their community, and clinical care and pharmacy is just one part of that integrated care model,’ he said.

‘In some ACCHOs a pharmacist may be working alongside tobacco outreach workers, legal services, diabetes educators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers all in the same location.’ For pharmacists interested in working in an ACCHO, Mr Stephens recommends undertaking the course before or as soon as they begin work in this space. ‘This course will be a great enabler for this emerging workforce to grow,’ he said. ‘We know many ACCHOs are looking for suitable pharmacists to employ.’

To view the Australian Pharmacist article Securing a job in an Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Service in full click here.

Image source: PSA Deadly pharmacists foundation training course webpage.

Closing the digital exclusion gap

Tech for good’ organisation Hitnet has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for over 20 years, but its recent move is going further to amplify Indigenous voices. Co-founder and director Julie Gibson has ceded the company, which brings information and services to close the digital exclusion gap in rural and remote communities, to Visual Dreaming, a First Nations technology platform drawing on cultural practices and storytelling to support Indigenous youth.

For Gibson, the business move acts as a symbol for the non-Indigenous community to make room for First Nations organisations in an authentic and meaningful way. “Myself and the other founders strongly believe that Hitnet needed First Nations innovation, knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship to take it to the next level,” said Gibson. “It was actually us that approached Visual Dreaming after a national search of actively looking to transition out.”

“I think the time has well and truly come for businesses that operate in the First Nations space to have management structures to ensure there is solid First Nations representation, which is not tokenism, but genuine ownership and control.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article How ‘yindyamarra’ informed a business acquisition in full, click here.

How to provide better safer care

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health and healthcare in many ways. One important issue is developing a better understanding of its impacts upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of healthcare. An important indicator of the quality and cultural safety of healthcare is whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe to remain in a service to receive healthcare, or whether they leave before healthcare is delivered or completed.

According to data recently reviewed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Healthcare, there are some grounds for concern that the pandemic has been associated with an increase or, at the very least, no improvement in leave events.

Another important question is how the pandemic has affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to care, given widespread reports of service closures, workforce shortages and systems under grave pressure. Dr Julieann Coombes and Keziah Bennett-Brook, researchers from the George Institute who conducted a systematic review informing national policy on leave events, suggest the issue deserves far more attention from policymakers, health services and providers, through efforts to address racism and improve cultural safety at all levels of the system.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How can health services provide safer, better care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? in full click here.

Image source: CommunitySkills WA website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

In Australia trachoma remains a major cause of avoidable blindness and as a prevention, face and hand washing are critically important. Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma, and almost all cases occur in our remote Aboriginal communities. Curtin University in partnership with West Australian Country Health Service, the Directorate of Environmental Health (WA Health) and Indigenous Eye Health (University of Melbourne) have produced a 30 second video, available here, based on Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs!

For more information about Global Handwashing Day 2022 click here.

The University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health webpage.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Our Mob and Cancer website launched

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Riki Salam, an artist and graphic designer and the digital designer of the Our Mob and Cancer website. Born and raised in Cairns on Yidindji land, Riki has connections to Muralag, Kala Lagaw Ya, Meriam Mer, Kuku Yalanji peoples on his father’s side and the Ngai Tahu people in the South Island of NZ on his mother’s side. Image source: Our Mob and Cancer Artworks webpage of the Our Mob and Cancer website.

Our Mob and Cancer website launched

Australia’s first comprehensive cancer website developed by and for Indigenous Australians was officially launched yesterday in a bid to boost health outcomes and care across the country. Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, launched the Our Mob and Cancer website which provides culturally-safe support and information for patients, their families, communities and health professionals. The website includes critical information about how cancer affects Our Mob, ways to protect against cancer, types of cancer, diagnosis, treatment and living with cancer, how cancer spreads and where to get help and support.

In 2015–2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 1.4 times more likely to die from cancer compared to non-Indigenous Australians and they experience higher incidence rates, and lower participation rates in bowel, breast, and cervical cancer population screening programs.

To view Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release Ground-breaking platform launched for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer in full click here.

Health students get a taste of rural life

First year health students have had a taste of what it would be like to work in a rural or remote area during a recent trip to the Atherton Tablelands as part of three Health Workforce Queensland’s GROW Rural Programs, aimed at encouraging them to return and work in the region. The program is focused on ensuring remote, rural, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities have access to highly skilled health professionals when and where they need them, now and into the future.

It is being supported by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) over the next three years. GROW Rural NQ presents first-year medical, nursing, midwifery, dentistry, and allied health students with a unique experience to develop familiarity and a deeper understanding of the potential of a professional and personal life they could have working in rural Queensland.

By cultivating strong connections with the health workforce community and the broader community, the GROW Rural program encourages health students to return to rural communities for their clinical placements and to consider rural practice as a future career opportunity. HWQ Future Workforce team leader Meredith Connor said the 25 students visited Atherton, Ravenshoe, and Mareeba. “Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre welcomed the students with fantastic cultural activities including traditional dance and an art workshop in which the students painted boomerangs and clapsticks,” Ms Connor said.

To view The Express article Health students get a taste of rural life in full click here.

Seven of the GROW Rural students (from left) Savindie Abeynayak, Louis Huynh, Maddy Harris, Elliot Hunt, Caitlin Brims, Karif Hung, and Jessica Lanza on the Tablelands. Image source: The Express.

Indigenous Doctor of the Year 2022

Tennant Creek’s Dr Sarah Goddard has been crowned Australia’s Indigenous Doctor of the Year award for 2022. She won the award at the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association conference after being nominated by her community and practice for going above and beyond and making a difference within healthcare. Dr Goddard said she was shocked, overwhelmed and very honoured to receive the award. Dr Goddard grew up in Tennant Creek. Her mother was very unwell for a time and Dr Goddard said she was inspired by the doctors and medical crew around her mother to go off and study and come back to the Barkley.

You can listen to ABC Radio National Drive presenter Rohan Barwick speaking to Dr Sarah Goddard here.

Dr Sarah Goddard has been named Indigenous Doctor of the Year 2022 by the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association. Image source: ABC News Alice Springs.

Close the Gap September 2022 newsletter

The September edition of the 2022 Close the Gap Quarterly Newsletter has been released. It includes information about the Deadly Physios Podcast show; words from the Close the Gap Campaign Co-Chair Commissioner June Oscar AO; and upcoming events:

  • ANTAR Celebrating 25 Years – ANTAR National Forum, Canberra or online – Wednesday 12 October 2022
  • launch of the Recommendations for Culturally Safe Kidney Care for First Nations Australians – Sunday 16 October 2022
  • CEO forum on how your organisation can support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Sydney – Wednesday 16 November 2022

You can access the Close the Gap Quarterly Newsletter September 2022 edition here.

Benefits of early mental health interventions

Sueanne Gola is a Kamilaroi (Aboriginal) woman and Clinical Psychologist who has worked in mainstream mental health for 15 years says World Mental Health Day (yesterday) was an opportunity to share and showcase First Nations perspectives of Mental Wellness such as the Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Framework. The framework takes into account the complexity and holistic nature of our experiences of mental wellbeing and includes connection to land, culture, and community. SEWB also takes into account the historical, political and societal experiences continuing to impact on our experiences of individual and community mental wellness and mental illness.  

Yesterday, she said, was also an opportunity to talk about infant mental health. Infant mental health is well established worldwide, however across much of Australia is still a relatively unknown and fledgling area of mental health. Ms Gola supports families in the first weeks of an infant’s life as they get to know the unique addition to their family. She gets to work with families to support the social and emotional development of their young children and most importantly support parents to improve the mental wellness of the family unit which aides in the recovery from intergenerational trauma and provides the next generation with a strong foundation of mental wellness.

Ms Gola said that lastly, but no less importantly, yesterday was an opportunity to reflect on Mental Wellness. All too often we talk about mental illnesses and what can be done to reduce a) symptom severity or b) the impact of mental illness symptoms on the individual and/or society. Yesterday was an opportunity to have conversations about Mental Wellness. 

To view the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) article Celebrating 2022 World Mental Health Day with IAHA Member Sueanne Gola, Clinical Psychologist/Infant Mental Health Clinician in full click here.

Image source: myDr.com.au.

ACCHO recipients of oral health grants

While Australia has seen substantial improvements in oral health over recent years, we are beginning to see this positive trend decline in disadvantaged and remote communities. In fact, Australians from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are now almost half as likely to consult a dental professional, and nine times more likely to suffer complete tooth loss. While there are a number of factors at play, barriers such as lower access to dental facilities, financial pressures, and lower health literacy all contribute to Australia’s dental health inequity.

Now in its 11th year, the Mars Wrigley Foundation and Australian Dental Health Foundation (ADHF). Healthier Smiles Community Service Grants program is a well-established initiative supporting dentists and dental students from across Australia who seek to improve oral health outcomes by providing screening, treatment, and education to those most in need. This year, the Mars Wrigley Foundation has awarded approx. AU$111,000 in grant funding to 10 worthy projects. Among the 2022 recipients are:

Cherbourg Volunteer Dental Clinic

Indigenous people of Cherbourg – Australia’s most disadvantaged community – experience many health inequalities, including a lack of access to regular dental services. With the grant funding, the project team will work in conjunction with the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Services to provide volunteer dental screening, treatment, and education. The clinic’s aim is to allow the community of Cherbourg to transition from emergency intervention to preventative dental health through ongoing education and support.

Biripi Aboriginal Medical Corporation

Many Indigenous elders are unable to afford dental care and treatment, resulting in the loss of teeth or poorly fitted dentures that affect their lifestyle and ability to derive proper nutrition. The grant funding will assist the Biripi Aboriginal Medical Corporation in supporting Elders of the Biripi community through the provision of comprehensive dental care, including fillings, extractions and specialised denture services. The project team also aims to create awareness of the importance of maintaining oral health and the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and smoking on the deterioration of oral health.

To view The National Tribune article Recipients announced for 2022 Healthier Smiles Community Service Grants in full click here.

Image source: Australian Dental Health Foundation website.

SWAMS develops syphilis awareness video

The short video (below), developed by South West Aboriginal Medial Service (SWAMS), aims to increase awareness around syphilis in the south-west region of WA, due to an ongoing outbreak. The video briefly discusses:

  • transmission
  • symptoms
  • treatment
    • risk if untreated during pregnancy
  • testing
  • prevention

You can access the SWAMS website here.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hearing loss, a key health concern

The image in the feature tile is from a Microsoft News Centre article Hearing Australia dials up user-led innovation to support the HAPEE program in regional and outback communities published on 14 May 2021. The toddler in the image is a participant in the HAPEE program, which aims to improve the identification of ear and hearing problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Photo: Hearing Australia.

Hearing loss, a key health concern

Imagine if 43% of the children you knew had hearing loss. If children had burst eardrums, continuous glue ear, or repeated infections you would feel angry, annoyed, in despair, take to social media to demand action, and even write or visit your local MP to make it clear that “something must be done”. There would be inquiries, ministers pledging funding to address this huge number, prime ministers and the health minister would be hosting press conferences, elections could be won or lost on the outcomes of the actions.

Sadly, this 43% is the actual figure for Aboriginal children. One in two children, more in rural and remote communities, are affected by this. Neglected, overlooked, and often far from the mind of most Australians, save for small teams of audiologists and ENTs trying to address this real, life-destroying issue.

The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is widening. New data released by the Federal Government has revealed only four of the 17 targets under the national Closing the Gap agreement are on track to be met in the next decade.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said the results were both “disappointing” and “incredibly disturbing”. Child development is one of the targets in the plan, which the figures show are actually worsening — and hearing loss is a key health concern affecting so many Aboriginal children.

To read The West Australian article Jim Hungerford: Australia’s shameful inaction on Indigenous hearing loss in full click here.

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

ACCHO to manage Warruwi clinic

West Arnhem’s Warruwi community has taken control of primary health care in the region. The arrangement will see the Red Lily Health Board assume management of Warruwi Community Health Care, the primary health care clinic in Warruwi. The Red Lily Health board is comprised of representatives from of Warruwi and other First Nations groups, including Minjilang, Gunbalanya, Jabiru and surrounding homelands.

Welcoming the local decision making announcement, Red Lily Health Board chair Reuben Cooper said the structural change to healthcare services in the region was a positive step towards self-determination in West Arnhem. “The transition of Warruwi represents another major step for the people of West Arnhem, in having greater control over their own health and the related services,” he said.

“Red Lily has had great support from the wider ACCHO sector, including from AMSANT, Mala’la, Miwatj and the Katherine West and Sunrise Health Boards.” Mr Cooper said health service reform is necessary throughout other West Arnhem areas. “Work on the transition of the remaining West Arnhem health centres will continue to be a goal for the Board,” he said.

To read the National Indigenous News article Aboriginal healthcare management encourages self-determination in West Arnhem’s Warruwi community in full click here.

Warruwi Community Health Care has become the second West Arnhem healthcare provider to change management, with the Minjilang Primary Health Care Centre also changing to Red Lily management as of July 2021. Photo: Red Lily. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Increased life expectancy for NT men

A recently published article highlights the improved life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the NT over the past 20 years. It reflects consistent and concerted work of countless individuals and organisations that are contributing to the improved health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the NT, despite limited resources to do so.

One example of contributing to the positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health in the NT is the evolution of the Darwin Men’s Inter‐Agency Network (DMIAN). DMIAN is a network of men from across the government and the non‐government organisation sector collaboratively advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in Darwin. DMIAN has enabled men’s health researchers to better understand and act on the wants and needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the community from the perspective that matters most: their own.

There is still a long way to go with improving the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, which sits 15.4 years behind non‐Indigenous men. In addition, as the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men increases, so too does that of non‐Indigenous men. So if we are to close the gap, we cannot afford to lose momentum on targeted action, particularly that relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing.

To view The Medical Journal of Australia article Improved life expectancy for Indigenous and non‐Indigenous people in the Northern Territory, 1999–2018: overall and by underlying cause of death in full click here.

Photo: Emilia Terzon, 105.7 ABC Darwin. Image source: ABC News.

Growing First Nations pharmacist workforce

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are drastically underrepresented in the pharmacy profession, accounting for just 0.3% of the pharmacist workforce. This disparity impacts patients, policy and pharmacists themselves – so what must be done to address it?

For those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are employed in the health sector, data show they are often paid less and in less recognised roles than their non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peers. This imbalance has a direct impact on health outcomes, with studies showing that ‘Indigenous patients have identified the absence of Indigenous workers as a barrier to the availability of care’.

The reasons for the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in pharmacy are manifold, says Paul Gibson, Indigenous Allied Health Australia Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships, the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health professionals. ‘There are several factors which contribute to the underrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the profession, and within the health workforce collectively, including racism, systemic failings and the impacts of the social determinants on education, training and employment outcomes,’ he says.

To view the Australian Pharmacist article How to grow our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce in full click here.

PSA’s 2022 Pharmacist of the Year, Wiradjuri woman Professor Faye McMillan AM MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Plan to make dental care culturally safe

First Nations cultural safety will be given priority under a new plan to overhaul Australia’s dental care curriculum. Led by University of Melbourne dental school professor Julie Satur, the new plan will ensure graduate dentists have the appropriate skills to provide culturally safe oral health care and encourage more Indigenous students into the system.

Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Indigenous health leadership coordinator Josh Cubillo said the new curriculum would challenge students to identify bias, assumptions and racism. “Cultural safety is a spirit of practice taking into account Indigenous peoples’ strong connections to Country,” he said. “Cultural safety leads to cultural respect and a feeling of security for the patient. Acknowledging Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing is the biggest step and this new curriculum is a start.”

Under the new curriculum all Australian dental programs will be designed to meet the specific needs of their local communities. Ms Satur said the new curriculum was overdue. “We know dental care is expensive and oral health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are significant. We also know that poor oral health has multiple effects on other aspects of health,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Dental care overhaul to place cultural safety at forefront of industry in full click here.

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Caring for youth with type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is being seen at younger and younger ages, especially among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Early intervention is essential to avoid serious complications, but a study undertaken in Northern and Central Australia has uncovered critical gaps. Work is underway to bring healthcare providers, patients and their families together to improve models of care.

Reporter Tegan Taylor spoke to Dr Renae Kirkham from the Menzies Institute in Darwin, and Emily who was diagnosed two years ago when she was 14, about some of the issues that come up post-diagnosis.

You can access a recording of the ABC Radio National interview Caring for Indigenous youth with type 2 diabetes and a transcript by clicking here.

Image: Getty Images. Image source: ABC Rational National website.

Getting eye health back on track

While COVID-19 continues to linger in our communities, the initial upheaval caused by its outbreak in In the aftermath of the pandemic, mivision checked in on programs on home soil, to see how they have fared over the last three years, and what plans they have for getting back on track.

When the pandemic began, keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people safe from the spread of COVID-19 became a main priority for Indigenous leaders and those who provide health services to remote parts of Australia. For the Fred Hollows Foundation, this meant the cessation of access to vulnerable communities for extended periods of time. This challenge greatly affected The Foundation’s work in remote communities, where over one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have never had an eye exam.

“In Australia, the pandemic has widened the gap in eye health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, adding to the already-large backlog of surgeries needed,” Ian Wishart, CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation, told mivision. When elective surgery re-commenced, The Foundation’s focus was on ensuring fair representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to ensure they were not at the back of the cataract surgery waitlists.

To read the mivision article Getting Back on Track: Humanitarian Eye Heath Post-Pandemic in full click here.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker assessing a patient. Photo: The Fred Hollows Foundation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Cashless debit card program ends

The image in the feature tile is from an ABC News article Cashless debit card to be abolished, but a new income-management system will take its place for some, Wednesday 28 September 2022. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Cashless debit card program ends

The Albanese Labor Government has delivered on a key election commitment and secured the passage of legislation to abolish the failed cashless debit card program. The Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Repeal of Cashless Debit Card and Other Measures) Bill 2022 will see 17,300 participants start to transition off the cashless debit card program. This aims to deliver certainty and choice for Australians and reduce stigmatisation for the most disadvantaged in our community who have had to endure failed promises relating to the cashless debit card program. Labor is making good on its election commitment to restore dignity and pride to Australians – regardless of where they live or whether they receive a government payment.

To view the government’s joint media release Cashless debit card program to end following passage of legislation here.

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia welcomes the passing of legislation overnight to abolish the Cashless Debit Card and to make income management voluntary. The Society has been a leading voice calling for the abolition of the Cashless Debit Card, which has had significant unintended consequences across communities, including social exclusion and stigmatisation, increased financial hardship, and the erosion of autonomy and human dignity. We believe the best form of assistance is the type that helps people to feel, and recover, their own human dignity, as this empowers them and enables them to forge ahead and change their own destinies and those of their local communities.

To view the St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia media release Abolition of Cashless Debit Card Welcome click here.

In October 2020 NACCHO outlined concerns about the cashless debit card with its submission Continuation of Cashless Welfare Bill 2020 Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, available here.

Image source: Australian National Audit Office.

Finding solutions to inequity

In this country, our First Nations women are being incarcerated at the highest rates, often being victims of violence themselves and often misidentified as perpetrators (it is estimated 95% of Indigenous women in prison are victims of violence, including sexual violence). We can’t talk about justice without talking about equity in housing, the education system, access to health services, land, and the impacts of colonisation. Aboriginal leaders from the Atlantic Fellows from Social Equity and the University of Melbourne recently took up the opportunity to meet with a delegation from NZ Ministry of Justice led by the Hon. Kiritapu (Kiri) Allan.

Connected by many commonalities, the Aboriginal leaders shared with Minister Allan our lived experiences, challenges, and innovative examples of how change could be achieved across the justice sector. Including the importance of embedding culture into the ways of doing, empowering local decision making and self-determined solutions which must be front and centre, as well as amplifying the voices of those with disability to address the intersectional disadvantage and discrimination experienced by people with disability both within and exiting the justice system.

While there remains many challenges ahead, connecting with others who share the same lived experiences of colonisation and systemic disadvantage is one way in which First Nations peoples can share knowledge and self-determined solutions achieved.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article NZ justice minister consults with Aboriginal leaders on solutions to inequity in full click here.

Image source: RUSSH website.

Improving dental outcomes for mob

A new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety curriculum, led by University of Melbourne Professor Julie Satur from the Melbourne Dental School, has been launched. Unveiled at the International Association of Dental Research ANZ meeting held earlier this week, the new curriculum for dental students will contribute to the development of graduate dental practitioners who have the appropriate knowledge, skills and practice to provide culturally safe oral health care.

Commissioned by the Australasian Council of Dental Schools, the new curriculum is based on key areas of culturally safe practice underpinned by the expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The curriculum has the flexibility to meet the different structures and needs of dental programs across Australia, with the deliberate aim of being able to meet the specific needs of local communities.

Professor Satur believes the new curriculum is long overdue. “We know dental care is expensive and oral health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are significant. We also know that poor oral health has multiple effects on other aspects of health,” she said. “It is time we changed our approaches to managing oral health with Indigenous peoples and we believe the new curriculum is a step towards achieving better outcomes.”

To view the Australian Dental Association article Connecting the dots: improving dental outcomes for First Nations people in full click here.

Image source: Australian Dental Association website.

Making health and medical research impactful

One of Australia’s largest gatherings of Indigenous health and medical researchers will take place at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre this week  from Wednesday 28 to Friday 30 September. Organised by the Indigenous Researcher Capacity Building Network (IRNet) of the Australian Health Research Alliance, the IRNet National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Showcase will celebrate the growing number of First Nations people making an impact in health and medical research in Australia.

Professor Alex Brown, IRNet Chair and Professor of Indigenous Genomics at the Australian National University (ANU) and Telethon Kids Institute, said the showcase would focus on the benefits of health and medical research being conducted by First Nations Australians. “The IRNet Showcase will highlight and foster an area of health and medical research on the precipice of change. We’re moving from research being about First Nations Australians to being conducted for, with and by us,” he said.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Strategy and Services, Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver said “The conference will celebrate the pioneering efforts of many of those who came before us. The advocacy of many of the presenters and attendees are the reason we have a growing voice in how research is done in Australia today. One clear example of the activism and advocacy that allows us to be here today is from the earliest days of the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector – specifically the Aboriginal Medical Services Redfern, which is currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Without the Redfern service, and the subsequent community-controlled movement across the country, there would have been fewer opportunities to grow Aboriginal health and medical researchers today.”

To view The University Sydney news article Indigenous health research conference celebrates innovation in full click here.

AMS Redfern, 1980. Image source: National Archives of Australia.

New national network to boost health outcomes

A new national network will be established to advance the benefits from genomic medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, after winning support under the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). WEHI’s Associate Professor Misty Jenkins, Dr Vanessa Bryant and Dr Charlotte Slade, in collaboration with Professor Clara Gaff from the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance, are co-leading the Victorian node of the project, funded under the 2021 Genomics Health Futures Mission.

The five-year project, worth almost $5 million, will see researchers, genetic health services, Indigenous community-controlled health organisations and industry partners unite to empower Indigenous leadership in genomic medicine for the future.

To view the The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) media release National network to boost Indigenous health outcomes in full click here.

L-R: Dr Vanessa Bryant, Associate Professor Misty Jenkins and Dr Charlotte Slade. Image source: WEHI website.

Puggy Hunter scholarship opportunities

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) will close Monday 10 October 2022.

The Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Scholarships and the Mental Health Nursing, Allied Health and Psychology Scholarships have designated places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Scholarships

The Aged Care Scholarships will allow for up to 400 additional scholarships per year for three years, for personal care workers and nurses to complete qualifications. There will be up to 100 allied health scholarships per year for up to three years, which will be for allied health professionals to focus on dementia related qualifications. Applications are open for:

Mental Health Nursing, Allied Health and Psychology Scholarships

The Mental Health Nursing, Allied Health and Psychology Scholarships Program will provide up to 126 postgraduate nursing scholarships for courses related to both mental health and suicide prevention. The program will also support up to 152 allied health practitioners including psychologists working in mental health and suicide prevention, to undertake related tertiary, vocational, continuing professional development courses and clinical placements. 5% of scholarships will be prioritised to Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander applicants. Applications are open for:

You can find more information on the PHMSS webpage here and/or if you have any questions contact by email Lorna Girvan here or Emma O’Keefe here.

Building community research capacity

An experienced researcher and social scientist from The University of WA with a commitment to Indigenous health has been awarded an Early Career Research Fellowship from Healthway to build research capacity in Aboriginal communities. Healthway has awarded the $376,711 Fellowship to Dr Emma Haynes, from UWA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and the School of Population and Global Health, to support her work with regional Aboriginal communities to develop health promotion activities over a three-year period.

Through the Fellowship Dr Haynes will collaborate with Aboriginal medical services in the South West and Goldfields regions of WA to co-design and implement locally relevant health promoting research projects. BothWay learning will support co-design of data collection, analysis and the dissemination of results to determine actions based on the findings. This will give health services a strong evidence base to leverage sustainable health promotion service funding appropriate to the needs of their communities.

At the end of the Fellowship, Dr Haynes will assist in determining the impact of building research capacity and delivering effective Aboriginal-led health promotion projects that support implementing Priority Reform Four (data sovereignty) of the Closing the Gap. The national strategy aims to reduce Indigenous disadvantage with respect to life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, educational achievement and employment outcomes.

To view the University of WA article New Fellowship to build health research capacity in Aboriginal Communities in full click here.

Minitja Marawili and Dr Emma Haynes. Image source: The Indigenous Knowledge Collaborative (TIKC) blog.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Doomadgee launches first ACCO

The image in the feature tile is from the ABC News article Doomadgee Aboriginal organisation spells end of ‘failed, wasted services’, say local leaders, 2 September 2022. The image caption is ‘The only path to success is one that keeps Indigenous culture at the heart of any programs delivered, Goonawoona Jungai leaders say’. Photo: ABC Open Contributor Kane Chenoweth.

Doomadgee launches first ACCO

Over the past 15 years, the quality of life has not improved in the remote Aboriginal community of Doomadgee. That is despite the Queensland budget overview saying hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal funding had been thrown at programs and services for Indigenous people over the years. Now, for the first time in Australia, a group of First Nations people are taking power off the government to end years of “failed, duplicated and wasted services”, said Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council chief executive Troy Fraser. “At the moment, we find a lot of service delivery is very fragmented and duplicated because the government has been at the helm for a long time and one thing they don’t do well is talk to each other,” Mr Fraser said.

The community’s first Aboriginal community-controlled organisation, Goonawoona Jungai Ltd, launched last week. Mr Fraser said Goonawoona Jungai would be made up of First Nations residents, would stop organisations from copying and pasting programs with weak KPIs into the community, and would help foster services that delivered tangible results. “There is a lot of wastage around resources, around funding. Outcomes and objectives and KPIs that don’t fit in with our practices,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Doomadgee Aboriginal organisation spells end of ‘failed, wasted services’, say local leaders in full click here.

The first community-controlled Aboriginal organisation has been launched in Doomadgee. Photo: Larissa Waterson, ABC North West Qld.

Local CT scans for Torres Strait communities

A new computed tomography (CT) scanner will be installed at Thursday Island Hospital early next year, giving Torres Strait residents access to vital medical imaging services closer to home. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath announced the $2.14 million project when they visited the hospital yesterday. “This is an exciting addition to the region’s health services,” the Premier said. “We know how important it is for First Nations communities to receive health care as close to home as possible. Once this machine is installed, people living in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area will no longer have to travel to Cairns for CT scans.”

To view the Joint Statement from Queensland Premier and Minister for the Olympics, the Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, the Hon. Yvette D’Ath Local CT scans soon to be a reality for Torres Strait communities click here.

Photo: Jessica Shapiro. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Women’s health declining

Women are continuing to suffer from the health effects of the pandemic regardless of whether they have contracted COVID-19 or not, a new survey has found. The national survey – conducted by researchers for women’s health organisation Jean Hailes – found there had been a significant decline in women’s physical and mental health since the pandemic began. Nearly half of the 14,000 survey respondents said their physical health had declined, citing weight gain, fitness loss and muscle and joint pain as the most common problems. One in five respondents said their mental health had stopped them engaging in everyday activities and 17% reported a pre-existing mental health condition had worsened.

Researchers had expected there would be a significant recovery in women’s health but the data collected for the survey revealed the opposite, Monash University Global and Women’s Health director Jane Fisher said. “We haven’t seen the bounce back in physical or mental health we were expecting to see by now,” she said. The survey also highlighted major health inequities particularly for women living with a disability, those from non-English speaking backgrounds, and in LGBTIQ and First Nations communities.

Nearly 45% of all women said they could not afford to see a doctor or health professional. But the same problem was reported by 70% of women speaking a language other than English, 62% of those with a disability and nearly half of Indigenous women. More than half of women from a non-English speaking background said they could not find health information in their own language.

To view The Canberra Times article Survey reveals decline of women’s health in full click here.

Photo: NATSIHWA. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance.

 

Bringing equity to adolescent health

Working as a youth mentor in his early career, Seth Westhead developed a strong sense of the health and well-being priorities of young Indigenous Australians. Now as co-lead of the Adolescent Health Group in the SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Research Unit, he’s working with colleagues to collect evidence and create positive change.

“Support for mental health, addressing racism and discrimination, access to education, health services and employment; these were the big issues then and still now,” Seth says. Seth and the Adolescent Health team at Wardliparingga are leading the development of the first national strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent health. “It’s important to focus on this age group so we can provide support to young people before health crisis or chronic disease have a chance to become established,” Seth says. “But marching in and trying to tell them what they should and shouldn’t do won’t work – young people have to be a part of the process.”

The strategy focuses on people aged 10-24. “We’re asking Indigenous youth what they really want and need to support their health and wellbeing,” says Seth. “We find they engage really well using online platforms.” Once the survey work is complete, the evidence gathered will help create better, more accessible health and well-being services for young Indigenous people.

To view The Lead Health & Medical article Wardliparingga is bringing equity to adolescent health in full click here.

Seth Westhead and the Adolescent Health team at Wardliparingga are leading development of the first national strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent health. Image source: ABC News.

Setting a course for change

When she left high school, Dr Talila Milroy thought becoming a journalist was the way for her to advocate for Aboriginal social justice. She certainly never thought she would become a GP. Luckily for her patients, she didn’t enjoy the media and communications course and not long after, decided a switch to medicine, with a strong feeling it would better satisfy her goals around social justice, health care education and research. “I knew there was a huge discrepancy between the health of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people. Medicine seemed like the place where I could make the biggest impact. I chose psychology as my major in my science degree which has worked in well.”

A Yindjibarndi and Palyku woman, Talila grew up in Perth, with family in the Pilbara. When she was 13, her mother got a job in Sydney, so she finished school there.  Talila was the only Indigenous medical graduate in her 2015 class at the University of Sydney. She spent her intern and resident years at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. With a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Sydney, Talila also has a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology. 

She spent her undergraduate years working in the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University, The Garvan Institute and Moreton Consulting. She gained further experience doing her rural general practice medical school placement in Roebourne and medical elective team at the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern.  Earlier this year she was awarded her Fellowship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She lectures at UWA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and is considering a masters and PhD.

To read the Medical Forum article Setting course for change in full click here.

Dr Talila Milroy. Image source: Medical Forum website.

Dental Health Week 2022 wrap-up

For this year’s Dental Health Week (DHW), which ran from 1 to 7 August, Australians were asked to love their teeth, with a campaign concept designed by talented ADA member, Dr Elice Chen. Promoting the importance of dental self-care was a timely one, with some Aussies having let their oral health fall by the wayside during the Covid-19 period, and with a good number only just getting back to the dentist.

In an effort to increase the oral health knowledge of non-dental professionals, the ADA holds webinars for other health associations and organisations. During Dental Health Week, ADA held a webinar for members of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) to provide an oral health update. The webinar was facilitated by Indigenous dental practitioners, Dr Georgia Clarke, and Ms Kirrily Phillips.

To view the Australian Dental Association article Loving their teeth: Dental Health Week 2022 wrap-up in full click here.

Dr Georgia Clarke. Image source: Brookwater Dental Facebook page. Oral Health Therapist Kirrily Phillips. Image source: 2019 QAIHC Youth Health Summit website.

Prison smokes ban will lead to ‘black market’

The ACT’s Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) is preparing to go smoke-free. Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs said the government’s plan to ban smoking at the prison is “ridiculous” and could lead to a black-market in contraband tobacco. “There’s no way it will be a smoke-free jail,” said Tongs. “Tobacco will become another contraband. At the moment it’s about $60 for a pouch of tobacco and if they ban it they’ll be paying $300 or $600 depending on the market. It’s ridiculous.”

To view the CBR City News article Smokes ban will lead to ‘black market’ in prison in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Bumper raise criminal age petition

The image in the feature tile is from a 29 July 2020 Happy Mag article The call to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Australia has been denied.

Bumper raising criminal age petition

More than 200,000 people nationwide have petitioned the Federal Government to take action to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14. Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney met with representatives from Change the Record and other human rights, legal and First Nations-led organisations who handed over the petition on Tuesday this week.

Change the Record co-chair Cheryl Axleby said the petition delivered a clear message from1,000s of Australians who want to see children looked after. “We are calling on every state and territory government to heed the medical, legal and child development experts who have been crystal clear; no child under the age of 14 years old should be arrested, hauled before a court or convicted of a criminal offence.”

A spokesperson for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the Federal government could take leadership on the matter which has traditionally been managed by state governments. “It’s sad fact that a significant number of children held in detention are Indigenous children and we need to invest in programs to tackle the unacceptably high rate of incarceration of Indigenous Australians.”

To read the National Indigenous Times article AG leaves door open to change as bumper criminal age petition handed to Federal Govt in full click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

UN urges child detention overhaul

A leading Indigenous international human rights law expert has urged the Federal Government to ratify a key protocol on children’s rights to assist youth in detention. United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expert member Hannah McGlade said while Australia had ratified the Convention, children still did not have the right to appeal human rights violations effectively with international agencies. “Children and youth are people who don’t have a voice,” she said.

“We particularly need to elevate their voices in terms of human rights issues, access to justice, and access to international human rights law mechanisms.” Ms McGlade said minors recently sent to a maximum security adult prison in WA could use the protocol, if ratified, to lodge a complaint. “We have adults in that position, former Banksia Hill detainees now in adult prison, who are talking about killing themselves,” she said. “Indigenous children and youth are particularly denied a voice, we especially need to advocate their rights through the communications process of this system.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article UN Indigenous experts urge Australia to overhaul child detention shame in full click here.

Image source: The West Australian.

Better support for mob with breast cancer

Indigenous Australians affected by breast cancer will benefit from important revisions to a Cancer Australia guide for health workers. Cancer Australia revised its widely-used Breast Cancer Handbook for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners in consultation with Indigenous health experts and leaders.

The Handbook provides information on breast cancer detection, diagnosis, treatment, and support. Following community and health worker feedback, the revised edition includes advice on supporting social and emotional wellbeing, palliative care, and breast cancer in men, and has been a critical resource for many Indigenous health workers, helping to build their knowledge and skills to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients. It also contains information on breast cancer symptoms and encourages breast cancer screening.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy said “Social support and emotional care for those affected by breast cancer are just as important as physical care during treatment. This evidence-based Handbook gives our dedicated health workers the tools they need to provide culturally appropriate care and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and expertly guide them through their cancer journey.”

The Handbook is available on the Cancer Australia website here.

Artwork by Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba, Mutti Mutti and Wiradjuri artist, Alkina Edwards for use on Aboriginal breast screening shawl. Image source: CancerScreen VIC.

QLD mob to lead CTG initiatives

Doomadgee will lead a state-first “closing the gap” pilot to identify how best to roll-out priority programs like health, housing, and early childhood in First Nations communities in Queensland. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford said the best chance to reach the 17 targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap was through community-led decision making.

He said the pilot program in Doomadgee comes ahead of a history-making Path to Treaty launch by the Palaszczuk Government on16  August 2022. “Our approach now places First Nations people at the centre of decision-making,” Mr Crawford said. “We recognise that a shift in how we develop and implement government policies and programs is needed to ensure significant improvements in life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This represents a new way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – together, in partnership.”

To view the media statement First Nations peoples to lead ‘closing the gap’ initiatives in Queensland released earlier today by QLD Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships the Honorable Craig Crawford, click here.

Photo: Allyson Horn, ABC Brisbane.

AHW Georgie supports Ngarrindjeri mob

Georgie Trevorrow is a pillar in the Murray Bridge Ngarrindjeri community that seeks to support the entire community. Georgie was employed as a Community Cultural Development Officer for the Rural City of Murray Bridge (RCMB) for nearly seven years, until Moorundi received funding. When Moorundi received their funding, Georgie transferred from the RCMB and continued her position with the new ability to spread her wings in an Aboriginal organisation. “

Georgie decided at the young age of 19 that she wanted to make a difference within the community and began studying the Aboriginal Primary Healthcare certificate. Her study had to be put on the backburner as Georgie had two children, but it was when her certificate was complete that she saw doors start to open for her “I became an Aboriginal health worker (AHW), and just worked with my community, and I just loved it,” Georgie said. “My background is in health, but it’s so much broader, it’s not just taking your temperature and your blood pressure and going to the doctors.”

To read the Murray Valley Standard article Georgie Trevorrow, singing and supporting the Ngarrindjeri community in full click here.

Georgie Trevorrow in front of Moorundi Ink’s artwork for a children’s book. Photo: Sam Lowe. Image source: The Murray Valley Standard.

Winnunga Newsletter July 2022

The July 2022 edition of the Winnunga Newsletter is out now and available here.

This edition is jam-packed with articles, updates and information including:

  • Our Booris Our Way Press Release
  • From The Warehouse Of Broken Promises
  • Archie Roach – A Great Australian Taken Away – Again
  • Time For a Progress Report On Raising The Age
  • Minister Apologises For Treaty Consultation ‘Hurt’
  • And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse!

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week (DHW) is the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) major annual oral health campaign. It takes place each year in the first full week of August, this year from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 August. The campaign focuses on the importance of taking steps to care for your teeth and gums to help you to keep your teeth and smile for life. The ADA’s main oral health messages and the four key messages of the DHW campaign: brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste; floss; eat a healthy diet; and have regular dentist visits, aim to reinforce the importance of maintaining good oral heal of the to keep your teeth for life.

According to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience poor oral health such as multiple caries and untreated dental disease, and are less likely to have received preventive dental care. The oral health status of Indigenous Australians, like all Australians, is influenced by many factors but in particular a tendency towards unfavourable dental visiting patterns, broadly associated with accessibility, cost and a lack of cultural awareness by some service providers. To view the AIHW report in full click here.

You can find more information about DHW on the ADA website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Education as important as the Voice

Image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and the co-chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2022.

Education as important at the Voice

A worsening rate of Aboriginal children who are developmentally ready for school shows the federal government should devote the same “vigour and commitment” to challenges such as education as it does to legislating a Voice to parliament, according to Pat Turner. Turner, who is one of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous leaders, said education was failing Indigenous children “across the board” and needed a complete review in partnership with Aboriginal leaders.

“The government needs to pursue the National Agreement [on closing the Gap] with the same vigour and commitment that they gave to the Voice. The Voice is easier to talk about than Closing the Gap. We need to do both.”

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Education as important as Voice to parliament, says Aboriginal leader in full click here.

Dujan Hoosan in Maya Newell’s documentary In My Blood It Runs. Image source: BBC News.

Lowitja O’Donoghue, powerful, unrelenting

The country’s only national First Nations health research centre, the Lowitja Institute, has honoured the enduring the legacy of their patron and namesake by launching the Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation. Announced on the occasion of Dr O’Donoghue’s 90th birthday, the foundation will “acknowledge, recognise and preserve” the extraordinary legacy of the Pitjantjatjara woman’s work.

“Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue has dedicated a lifetime to upholding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to improve outcomes in health, education, political representation, land rights and reconciliation,” said Chair of Lowitja Institute, Selwyn Button. The Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation Scholarships will be awarded to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people interested in study, internship, and a career in nursing and the public service sector.

To view the SBS NITV article ‘Powerful and unrelenting’ Lowitja O’Donoghue’s legacy honoured on 90th birthday in full click here.

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue visiting Off the Walls aboriginal exhibition at the National Museum in Canberra, 27 October 2011. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV.

Closure of health hub devastating

A social enterprise hub providing health and wellbeing services for Indigenous people in Sydney has suddenly closed, one month after the site was divested from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. The decision to shut the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) came after the ILSC failed to reach an agreement with the land council on the Redfern hub’s future, the recently appointed CEO of the NCIE, Jasmine Ryan, said.

“Everyone is being made redundant,” Ryan said. “We have a very large number of First Nations staff here and many of the people grew up in this community, it’s devastating.” The NCIE opened in 2006 and offers sport, fitness, conferences and community classes including tutoring and educational support. It employs approximately 50, mostly Indigenous, people.

“We have so much community coming through the doors that use the centre, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – everyone is welcome,” Ryan said. “It’s a place that people could come and feel safe in what has been just a rapidly changing community of Redfern.”

To read The Guardian article ‘It’s devastating’: Redfern’s National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to close after negotiations fail in full click here.

Image source: National Centre of Indigenous Excellence website.

Crisis in rural healthcare

A crisis in rural healthcare – driven by funding and training models that are no longer fit for purpose and driven to breaking point by a looming exodus of medical professionals amid the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic – will take centre stage this week at the National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane. Some seven million Australians, roughly one-third of the populace, live in rural and remote areas, and they experience higher rates of hospitalisation, injury and early mortality compared to their urban counterparts, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Workforce issues, including what new Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler recently described as a “crisis” in Australian primary care, will feature prominently, as will models of care, with the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) lobbying the new Albanese Labor government to fund a trial of its RACCHO initiative. Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations, or RACCHOs, are inspired by and based on the world-leading and renowned ACCHO model in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and comprise “place-based health and wellbeing networks” owned and controlled by local communities.

“We know that the NACCHO model with wraparound services is a good one, and we know that it is supported by this block funding that allows them to be sustainable over time, and to remain flexible to local need, because no two towns are the same,” explained O’Kane.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Innovation, collaboration and bridge-making: national conference to put a timely focus on rural health in full click here.

Tharawal Dental Clinic, Airds, NSW. Image source: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation website.

Faye McMillan – Pharmacist of the Year

Dr Faye McMillan, Australia’s first registered Indigenous pharmacist, has been named 2022 Australian Pharmacist of the Year. Accepting the accolade, Dr McMillan said it was an “honour to be recognised by my peers as the pharmacist of the year for the work I do. I don’t do it for recognition, but it can offer moments to give you that extra push to keep going.” She also acknowledged those who have been by her side along the way.

Dr McMillan said she was proud to elevate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the strength of the community’s culture and hopes the accolade will help “challenge perceptions of what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community have the potential to be.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) national president Dr Fei Sim praised Dr McMillan’s “remarkable career as a pharmacist,” and her work within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “Faye has had a great impact on the health of Indigenous Australians as well as the pharmacy profession more broadly,” she said. “I cannot think of a pharmacist more deserving of this award.”

To view The Daily Advertiser article Coolamon chemist Faye McMillan named “Pharmacist of the Year” for her “remarkable career” in full click here.

Coolamon pharmacist Dr Faye McMillan has been named Australian Pharmacist of the Year. Photo: Les Smith. Image source: The Daily Advertiser.

Health Minister addresses AMA Conference

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP recently spoke at the Australian Medical Association (AMA) National Conference. Minister Butler said “This week the Closing the Gap Report continued to remind us of the large gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I’m very proud to be a Minister of a Government that is committed to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.”

Minister Butler said the advocacy and advice of the AMA had helped shape Labor policy “which brought about $5.5 billion of new commitments in the health and the aged care portfolio.” Minister Butler went on to speak about the Omicron wave this year and how he wants to bring new energy to some of the elements of the pandemic response, including a really strong public information campaign to lift vaccination rates, expanding the eligibility criteria for antivirals and ensuring the availability of phone consultations for the elderly to obtain antiviral scripts.

To read Minister Butler’s Address to the Australian Medical Association National Conference – 30 July 2022 in full click here.

Image sources: AMA website and Department of Health.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Dental Health Week

Dental Health Week (DHW) is the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) major annual oral health campaign. It takes place each year in the first full week of August. In 2022, DHW runs from 1 to 7 August.

The campaign focuses on the importance of taking steps to care for your teeth and gums to help you to keep your teeth and smile for life, using four key messages which aim to reinforce the importance of good oral health:

A range of specific First Nations oral health resources (including the video below) and articles which feature Indigenous artwork commissioned by the ADA are available here. The resources were developed by Dental Health Services Victoria together with artist Madison Connors, a proud and strong Yorta Yorta (Wolithica),Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman and mother to two boorais.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

Image in feature tile from 2019 NACCHO Members’ Conference.

NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

In just over 100 days NACCHO delegates from 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, guests and presenters from across our sectors will come together to at the NACCHO Members’ Conference in beautiful Canberra to celebrate our successes over the years and discuss all the good work to come.

Please join us:

NACCHO Youth Conference 17 October 2022

NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting and Annual General Meeting 18 October 2022

NACCHO Member’s Conference 19–20 October 2022

Early bird rates available (2-day conference package only).

For more information and to register click here.

NACCHO looks forward to celebrating with you all in October.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the NACCHO Members’ Conference was not held in 2020 or 2021. You can watch a video below with highlights from the 2019 conference below.

AHCWA to deliver $17.6m mental health pilot

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has been awarded $17.6 million to deliver a mental health pilot to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people. The regional Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Model of Service pilot program aims to increase access to social and emotional wellbeing and healthcare services for Aboriginal people of all ages in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West, Goldfields and South-West regions of WA.

Local ACCHOs will run the program in their communities:

  • Bega Garnbirringu Health Service in Kalgoorlie;
  • Derby Aboriginal Health Service in Derby;
  • Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland;
  • Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service in Geraldton; and
  • South West Aboriginal Medical Service in Bunbury.

Through culturally secure prevention and community development, psychosocial support, targeted interventions and coordinated care by multidisciplinary teams, the pilot is expected to improve quality of life for Aboriginal people. The Mental Health Commission will work with AHCWA to support the governance and evaluation of the pilot.

To view the Government of WA Media Statement Mental health pilot to boost Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing in full click here.

Image sources: Wikivoyage, Queensland Government IMHIP webpage.

$1.25m NDIS grants to ACCHOs

NACCHO has delivered over $1.25 million in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM welcomed the funding, “These grants will enable the ACCHO sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability.” CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Rob McPhee, said: “Danila Dilba is committed to helping our Mob with disabilities live the life they want. The IBSF grant will help us further the work we do in supporting our communities in accessing NDIS services. Demand for support and services is much higher than what we can provide alone – but the IBSF grant can assist in strengthening our internal business planning and development and organisational readiness for addressing the unmet need of many in our community with a disability.”

To view The National Tribune article $1.25 million to support community-controlled sector to deliver NDIS services for their communities in full click here.

Kelvina Benny, WA. Image source: NDIS website.

Staying physically and mentally healthy

The Australian Government Department of Health as produced two resources designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with tips on staying physically and mentally healthy. You can download the resources below:

Stay Physically Healthy – Let’s put looking after our physical health on our to do lists in 2022

Stay Mentally Healthy – Let’s put looking after our social and emotional wellbeing on our to do lists in 2022

You can also access the relevant Australian Government Department of Health webpages here and here.

Images from the Department of Health Stay Mentally Healthy and Stay Physically Healthy resources.

Lack of housing bites harder in winter

Djiringanj man Uncle Lewis Campbell has been homeless for seven years, and has been on the list for social housing just as long. In the last two years, his health has deteriorated rapidly and he has suffered multiple bouts of pneumonia due to repeated exposure to the cold. Uncle Lewis has been supported by services in the area to access temporary accommodation through motels, but said he can only access those services for four nights per week. Other nights he stays with friends in the community.

But beds with friends are becoming few and far between.

In early June Uncle Lewis was staying in a spare room with Aunty Kath Jones in her flat in Bega. Ms Jones said she had never seen the housing situation as bad as it had been in her community over the last two years due to multiple natural disasters and the pandemic. “He’s not the only one, I’ve got another homeless girl at the moment, so since she’s been there Uncle Lewis has been staying at the motel to let her have the room because she’s a woman,” Ms Jones said.

The above story is from a Bega District News article Lack of housing and refuges bites even harder in winter with health issues exacerbated for South Coast homeless.

Uncle Lewis Campbell from Bega has been homeless for seven years. His health has suffered immensely as a result, with several bouts of pneumonia in the last few years. He is pleading for more refuges for women and men on the Far South Coast. Photo: Ellouise Bailey. Image source: Bega District News.

LGBTQ+ mob shouting to be heard

For individuals who identify within multiple marginalised groups, their opinions and concerns in a climate of change can often go without consideration. In Pride Month (June) members of the First Nations LGBTQ+ community and leading organisations are shouting for their voice to be heard while creating an environment of support for those left out of the discussions effecting them. Indigenous LGBTQ+ advocacy group BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation founding director and chairman John Leha said recent policies ostracising trans people took an increased toll on First Nations people within the community.

Mr Leha described the recent religious discrimination bill and ban of trans women competing in elite swimming, international rugby league and policy reviews in other sports as a targeted onslaught. “I think the onslaught of this type of anti trans movement or people not having a true understanding of what it looks like and means for the community is the is what is of concern,” Mr Leha said. “Aboriginal trans people are one of the most highest populations that are faced with mental health, suicide rates across the country, and particularly young people.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous LGBTQ+ support body stands up for community caught up in public debate in full click here.

Black Rainbow LGBTIQA+SB 2021 poster. Image source: Black Rainbow website.

Neoliberalism’s impact on oral health

A study examining the detrimental effect of neoliberalism on the oral health of Australian indigenous peoples was presented by Brianna Poirer of the University of Adelaide, Australia during the “Keynote Address; Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network” session yesterday the 100th General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research.

In Australia, Indigenous peoples experience poorer oral health than their non-Indigenous counterparts across nearly every oral health metric. Recently, neoliberalism has been suggested as an overwhelming contributor to Indigenous oral health disparities. The objective of this qualitative research was to generate an understanding of how neoliberal subjectivity exists for Indigenous peoples in the context of oral health in Australia. The authors argue that personal responsibility for health, as a tenet of neoliberal ideologies, furthers Indigenous oral health inequities and that neoliberalism as a societal discourse perpetuates colonial values by benefitting the privileged and further oppressing the disadvantaged.

To view the News Medical Life Sciences article Study examines the impact of neoliberalism on oral health of Australian indigenous peoples in full click here.

Kyleesha Boah receives a dental check-up at Mackay Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services. Image source: NIAA website.

Take Home Naloxone Program update

This year’s Federal Budget included $19.6 million (over 4 years) for a Take Home Naloxone Program (THN) in all Australian states and territories which will commence on 1 July 2022. The THN program aims to provide people who may be at risk of an opioid overdose, or are likely to witness an overdose, access to free naloxone without a prescription from participating settings. Naloxone will be available at no cost and without a prescription to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.

From 1 July 2022, Section 90 (s90) community pharmacies and Section 94 (s94) hospital pharmacies in all States and Territories will be able to register via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) Portal at here to participate in the THN Program. In addition, naloxone will continue to be available at a range of other sites in NSW, SA and WA, including alcohol and other drug treatment centres, custodial release programs and needle and syringe programs. The Department will be working with jurisdictions that did not participate in the Pilot program in the coming months to support access through these non-pharmacy settings.

We do know that awareness around naloxone and its use can be improved. The roll-out of the THN Program at a national level provides an opportunity to start conversations to improve awareness of naloxone and support individuals to identify their personal risk, and where appropriate, access naloxone. The Department’s website will be updated on 1 July 2022 to include further information and resources around naloxone and the THN program. The THN Administrator’s website will also be updated from 1 July 2022 to reflect the new Program Rules and other resources to support the national program.

Your support in promoting the program through your networks is greatly appreciated as we work together to improve the lives of Australians who may overdose on opioids. Providing access to naloxone for free and without prescription will continue to remove barriers to access this important medicine and save lives.

Photo: Bridget Judd, ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

Download this poster that you can put up at your services here and images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to please do share this across all your networks.

200+ years of injustice – is redress likely?

Opinion columnist David Fickling leads a recent article with ‘Talk is easy. Political change is hard. In Australia, it’s more than two centuries overdue.’ He goes on to write: ‘Claiming victory in last month’s election, new PM Anthony Albanese’s first words were a vow to redress the unfinished business from the colonial invasion of 1788. His promise to “commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart” — a set of political demands from Indigenous groups, first outlined in 2017 — puts Australia on the path to the most substantive constitutional change it’s seen in more than half a century. If the resulting referendum succeeds, the country may wind up with a new First Nations elected chamber, an array of treaties with state and federal governments, and a truth and reconciliation commission.

Adopting the Uluru Statement would ensure Indigenous people are “given a seat at the decision-making table where it comes to laws and policies that affect us,” Dani Larkin, a legal lecturer at the University of New South Wales and Bundjalung and Kungarykany woman. Megan Davis, a Cobble Cobble woman and constitutional lawyer instrumental in the drafting of the Uluru Statement, wrote in a 2015 essay on the halting process of reform saying  “Public policy no longer requires the imprimatur of the Aboriginal people; Aboriginal participation in the decisions taken about their lives is negligible.”

To view the The Print article How Australia is likely to redress two centuries of injustice towards indigenous groups in full click here.

Photo: Luas Cosh, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Coonamble ACCHO needs a dentist

The Coonamble Dental Surgery remains without a resident dentist and the Coonamble Aboriginal Health Service (CAHS) says that the hole left by the departure of the last dentist is a problem for the whole community. “The previous dentist left in December for bigger and better things,” said CAHS CEO Phil Naden. “That left us in a challenging position to recruit a permanent dentist and we’ve been relying on locum dentists since before Christmas.”

According to Mr Naden, CAHS have been pulling out all stops to find a new permanent dentist and the package on offer is very competitive, “We’ve tried every avenue we can think off over the last 6 months to make it as attractive as possible in competition with other areas, but we are challenged with recruiting a full time dentist. While it is CAHS’ responsibility to recruit a dentist, ensuring that the service continues, oral health is closely linked to chronic disease and if we can’t have treatment locally the matter is a community issue and we need some longer term solutions.”

To view the Coonamble Times article Dentist vacancy starting to bite article in full click here.

CAHS Executive Assistant Beau Ewers with one of the chairs at Coonamble Dental Surgery in need of an on-site dentist. Image source: The Coonamble Times.

‘Go Rural’ program inspires medical students

The Rural Doctors Network (RDN) recently took 20 medical, nursing and allied health students on a number of immersive excursions to GP clinics, hospitals and multipurpose services. The trip’s western region leg spanned from Dubbo to Nyngan, Cobar, and Wilcannia. Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia showed rural exposure during medical training was key to getting medical students to consider leaving capital cities for the bush after graduation.

A massive part of that effort is educating, familiarising future healthcare workers with the unique healthcare needs Aboriginal people living regionally. RDN Future Workforce Manager Chris Russell said communicating the importance of Aboriginal Medical Services, and the role they played in the whole community, was best done in person. “It allows [students] to get some insight into Aboriginal culture and people and the specific healthcare needs they have,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Rural road trip gives health students a taste of life and work in western NSW amid staff shortage in full click here.

The students toured Dubbo Base Hospital as part of the Rural Doctors Network ‘Go Rural’ program.Photo supplied by the NSW Rural Doctors Network. Image source: ABC News.

Public drunkenness health-based response

The Andrews Labor Government is ensuring the right programs and systems are in place to help people who are drunk in public get the support they need to stay safe. Minister for Health Martin Foley today announced $50 million over two years to continue the trial site operations that will help develop a health-based response to public drunkenness ahead of the state-wide rollout of the reforms.

Four trial sites will begin operating in the City of Yarra, City of Greater Dandenong, City of Greater Shepparton and Castlemaine from mid-year onwards and be managed in partnership with local health services and Aboriginal organisations. These trials will inform how a new public health model will be rolled out across the state. The investment will provide outreach services in all four trial locations and sobering facilities in Yarra, Dandenong and Shepparton – ensuring intoxicated people are transported to a safe place where they can receive appropriate support.

To read the Victorian Health Minister’s media release Delivering a Health-Based Response to Public Drunkenness click here.

Family of Tanya Day – a mother, grandmother and proud Yorta Yorta woman – who died in a holding cell after being arrested for public drunkenness. Photo: Nicole Asher, ABC News.

Nominate a mental health hero

With the pressures of COVID-19 restrictions, followed by the current cost of living crisis, the work of mental health professionals has rarely been so important. Now is the time to put them in the spotlight and recognise the amazing work they do in communities across Australia. On Tuesday 14 June 2022, nominations will open for the Australian Mental Health Prize, which seeks to recognise the important and ground-breaking work that many Australians do in this area.

This year, the prize has expanded to accept nominations in four categories:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: To recognise and celebrate outstanding Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mental health leadership at a national or community level;
  • Lived experience: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership by someone with lived experience of mental health, either personally or as a supporter, at a national level;
  • Professional: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership in the clinical, academic or professional sectors at a national level; and
  • Community hero: To recognise and celebrate outstanding mental health leadership at a state or community level.

Henry Brodaty, Professor of Ageing and Mental Health at UNSW, said “While we will continue to recognise people who have dedicated their lives to improving the mental health of Australians, we specifically wanted to shine a light on the incredible work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health leaders. People with lived experience have so much insight and wisdom to share. We also wanted to recognise our community heroes, as a great deal of innovative work begins at a grass-roots level in local communities.”

You can nominate a deserving Seymour and district-based mental health professional by visiting the UNSW Sydney Australian Mental Health Prize webpage here.

You can view the Kyabram Free Press article Honouring Seymour’s mental health heroes in full here.

Suicide prevention consultation in Balgo community, WA. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: NIT website.

Healing Circle facilitator training program

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, causing shockwaves of isolation and trauma throughout Australia, Kultchafi Managing Director Ara ‘Julga’ Harathunian made a commitment to support the healing of individuals and communities right across the nation. Two years later, an innovative and ground-breaking Healing Circle Work Facilitator Training program has been officially launched. The training will be showcased again at the National Rural Health Alliance’s 16th National Rural Health Conference in August and at the 23rd International Mental Health Conference being held by the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMA) in September.

“My wife, Aboriginal Elder Aunty Cheri ‘Yingaa’ Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, devoted her life to the development of Healing Circle Work right up until her passing in December 2019. We had always committed to share this work for the highest good of others,” says Ara. “Healing Circle Work is not a therapy, but therapeutic outcomes are experienced. It is a healing process based on an ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander methodology. Participants learn to live life in the moment, recognising and understanding their own spirituality, and reaffirming themselves. It is suitable for any trauma, and for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women.”

To view the Partyline article Kultchafi healing training rolls out across Australia in full click here and the Kultchafi website page here.

New process for job advertising

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

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