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

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

Feature Story

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

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

To read the letter published in The Lancet click here.

Wiradjuri man appointed as a Professor

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

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

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

Image source: GP News.

Face masks for our mob

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

To access the editorial click here.

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

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Racial Violence in the Australian health system

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

To read the full article click here.

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

Image sourced Twitter @KevinYowYeh.

Water fluoridation required

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

To view the full article click here.

close up photo of three Aboriginal children smiling

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Torres Strait communities taking back control of own healing

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

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

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation

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

New tool to manage healthcare trial

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

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

GoShare Healthcare digital platform logo - clip art hand or hand

Image source: Healthily website.

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

 

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

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

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

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

Read the full media release here.

Draft Prescribing Competencies Framework input request

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

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

The revised Prescribing Competencies Framework can be viewed here.

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

Photo of Aboriginal hands holding pills

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

NT diabetes in pregnancy rates rise

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

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

The full study can be found here.

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

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

Community collaboration delivers better oral health

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

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

Aboriginal girl with toothbrush in her mouth

Image Source: The Conversation.

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

Job Alerts

FT Suicide Prevention Officers x 2

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

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

For further information about these positions click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original published here 

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

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

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

Yet tooth decay is both preventable and treatable.

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

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

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

Oral health among Aboriginal children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we found

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

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

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

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

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

Collaborating with communities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the key facts

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

Key facts

Population

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

Births and pregnancy outcomes

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

Mortality

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

Hospitalisation

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

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

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

Cancer

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

Diabetes

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

Social and emotional wellbeing

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

Kidney health

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

Injury, including family violence

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

Respiratory health

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

Eye health

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

Ear health and hearing

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

Oral health

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

Disability

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

Communicable diseases

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Dental Health and Workforce : @IAHA_National Indigenous health professionals welcome three new female Aboriginal dentists graduates : Increasing to 51 the number of Indigenous dentists practising around Australia.

This is a really significant day. We absolutely need more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people becoming dental and other health professionals.

It makes a big difference in how people interact with and access care if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are involved in delivering it.

In September 2018 there were 48 Indigenous dentists across the whole of Australia: about 0.3 per cent of dentists, whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up about 3 per cent of the population.

Having three Aboriginal women graduate as dentists on one day from one university is something we’d like to see a lot more of.”

Gari Watson, President of IDAA. See Interviews with graduates Part 2 Below

Picture above caption (L-R): Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence.

Watch 2017 NACCHO TV  Interview with Gari Watson

“They are such great role models for Indigenous people and will be working to improve oral health, particularly in regional and remote areas of our state,”

Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Education Professor Jill Milroy said it was wonderful to see three Indigenous women graduate from a highly demanding course.

Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence were awarded a Doctor of Dental Medicine, boosting the number of Australia’s Indigenous dentists.

We are delighted for the graduates themselves and their achievement. We’re also excited about what it means in terms of increasing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

There is a huge need for accessible, affordable, culturally safe and holistic health care services, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who often face major challenges getting the comprehensive care they need.”

IAHA CEO, Donna Murray  : 

Part 1 Three Aboriginal women recently graduated as dentists from the University of Western Australia.

Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) and Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) join in congratulating them on their achievement and welcome them in joining a growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are succeeding to become and practice as highly skilled practitioners.

Dr Tony Bartone, President of the AMA described the situation on the AMAs 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can be largely attributed to the social determinants of health. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need”.

We expect this is also good news for the Western Australian Government, as improving the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people is a priority in the Western Australian Government’s State Oral Health Plan 2016-2020. The Plan notes and seeks to address the situation where Aboriginal people are less likely to receive treatment they need.

The WA Health Aboriginal Workforce Strategy 2014-24 also recognises the importance of addressing service capacity and workforce, stating “More Aboriginal staff are needed to help
address the significant health issues faced by Aboriginal people”.

As with the dental graduates today, we hope to be congratulating many more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners in the future. Aboriginal and Torres strait islander
communities need better access to comprehensive healthcare. Good oral health is an essential element of health and well being.

Part 2

Three Indigenous women were among 232 students to graduate at a ceremony last week in The University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall.

Hira Rind, Patricia Elder and Ashlee Bence were awarded a Doctor of Dental Medicine, boosting the number of Australia’s Indigenous dentists by more than six per cent. Indigenous Allied Health Australia data shows there are currently 48 Indigenous dentists practising around Australia.

Dr Rind, a 29-year-old Yamatji woman originally from Mt Magnet but raised in Perth, began her studies at UWA in the Aboriginal Orientation course in 2008 and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science in 2013. She went on to work in health and study oral health before enrolling in Dental Medicine.

“I’m planning to work in the North West of WA as part of the rural and remote program,” Dr Rind said.

Originally from Northampton, Dr Elder (29) is a Yindjbardni/Yamatji woman who obtained a Bachelor of Nursing from ECU in 2011 and worked as a registered nurse before commencing dentistry at UWA.

“I’m going to work for the State Government’s Dental Health Service as part of the rural and remote program in Kununurra,” she said.

Dr Bence (30) also worked as an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse in Melbourne before moving to Perth to study dentistry at UWA.

She’s working for Derbarl Yerrigan Aboriginal Service in Perth as well as in private practice.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the @HealingOurWay #StolenGeneration : Fact sheets launched by Minister @KenWyattMP have been guided by survivors: they identified the key issues for them with #GPs, #dentists and #agedcare providers, what is helpful and what should be avoided.

“Many Stolen Generations survivors experienced childhood trauma as a result of their forced removal from family, community, culture and language, and sometimes also as a result of abuse and racism experienced after their removal.

Every day events can trigger the original trauma, particularly if a situation brings back the lack of control Stolen Generations survivors experienced when they were taken from their families.”

Interacting with aged care staff, GPs, dentists and other services is often difficult for Stolen Generations survivors said The Healing Foundation’s Chair Professor Steve Larkin

‘General practice is often the first and only point of contact with the healthcare system for many patients. The RACGP has a strong interest in ensuring that general practice services and healthcare in general are safe and responsive to people who experienced the devastating impacts of forced removal,’ he said.

‘This new resource provides essential context and useful tools to assist GPs to identify and understand the impacts of trauma for their patients.

These are principles of good clinical practice, which is beneficial for all patients.’

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, said the factsheet is a vital resource for GPs.

Download 

Working-with-Stolen-Generations-GP-fact-sheet

Working-with-Stolen-Generations-GP-snapshot

General practitioners, dentists and the aged care sector will be better placed to support Stolen Generations survivors following the launch of new resources at Parliament House .

Download all new resources HERE 

The resources, launched by the Minister for Indigenous Australians The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, were developed by The Healing Foundation in collaboration with Stolen Generations survivors and peak bodies including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Dental Association, Aged & Community Services Australia and the Aged Care Industry Association.

Stolen Generations survivor and member of The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group Geoff Cooper said he hoped the fact sheets would create greater awareness about the best ways to provide services to the Stolen Generations without triggering trauma.

“Little changes can make a big difference to how we feel when we walk in to a service. Things like not making us talk about bad stuff that’s happened to us if we don’t want to, and explaining what you’re going to do before you do it so we aren’t caught off guard.”

The resources are part of The Healing Foundation’s Action Plan for Healing project, funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2017 following the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Bringing them Home report, which highlighted the contemporary needs of the Stolen Generations and their descendants.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analysis conducted as part of the Action Plan for Healing project found there are over 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors in Australia today, and by 2023 will all be aged over 50 and eligible for aged care.

“The development of the fact sheets has been guided by Stolen Generations survivors: they identified the key issues encountered when dealing with GPs, dentists and aged care providers, what is helpful and what should be avoided,” Professor Larkin said.

“We’ve been delighted with the level of interest the resources are already receiving from the target sectors, and are excited to see the materials taken up at the practice and provider level nationally.”

Australian Dental Association CEO Damian Mitsch said the organisation was proud to have supported the creation of the dental resource.

“This resource will go a long way in providing education and helpful tips to guide dental practitioners in providing effective dental care to Stolen Generations survivors,” Mr Mitsch said.

Download 

Working-with-Stolen-Generations-Dental-fact-sheet

The CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Patricia Sparrow, said the organisation and its members were pleased to have contributed to the aged care resource.

“We believe the work of The Healing Foundation in providing information about how aged care services acknowledge the needs, and care for Stolen Generations survivors is critical.

“Through these resources, providers of aged care are able to better understand some of the trauma and triggers as well as the diversity of needs for Stolen Generations survivors, which must be considered in delivering the best quality care for all people,” Ms Sparrow said.

Download

Working-with-Stolen-Generations-Aged-Care-fact-sheet

Resources will now be developed for hospitals, allied health professionals and disability services.

The fact sheets provide practical tips, tailored for each profession, on how staff and management can improve services to Stolen Generations survivors. The suite of fact sheets can be downloaded here.

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News / Download : The AMA 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health launched at @DanilaDilba ACCHO #Darwin by @amapresident that focusses on the oral health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia

” Good oral health is fundamental to our overall health and wellbeing. It allows us to eat and speak without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease that their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can largely be attributed to the social determinants of health.

Indigenous Australians are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need.” 

The 2019 Report Card on Indigenous Health focusses on the oral health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia was launched in Darwin last week 

Download the 36 Page Report HERE

2019 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health

Pictured above : Warren Snowdon MHR Member for Lingiari ,Tony Bartone, President of the Australian Medical Association. Shannon Daly. Deputy Chairperson of Danila Dilba, NT Minister for Health Natasha Fyles: Member for Nightcliff .

Good oral health is fundamental to our overall health and wellbeing. It allows us to eat and speak without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have much higher rates of dental disease that their non-Indigenous counterparts across Australia, which can largely be attributed to the social determinants of health. Indigenous Australians are also less likely to receive the dental care that they need.

Opportunities exist for political leaders at all levels of government to implement solutions to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. This includes increasing fluoridation of Australia’s water supplies, enhancing oral health promotion, growing the Indigenous dental workforce and strengthening data collection to monitor and evaluate the oral health status and the performance of oral health care services.

Fundamentally, governments must ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to affordable, culturally appropriate oral health care programs.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rely on public oral health services, where they exist.

However, the availability of these services depends on government funding, which is often short-term. Consequently, a significant proportion of the Indigenous population live without regular dental care, which has adverse health outcomes.

Oral health care is an important part of primary health care.

We urge governments to note the recommendations contained in this Report Card and put them into action to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

Related document (Public): 

2019 AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health.pdf

Related AMA content (Internal page): 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Report Cards

Oral health is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing. Good oral health allows people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

Five action areas present opportunities for governments to improve the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. They are:

  • Fluoridated water supplies, especially in
  • Oral health promotion that works with fluoride varnish programs and a tax on sugar-sweetened
  • An effective dental workforce with greater participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Better coordination and reduced institutional racism in oral health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Data to know that the work being done is making a

Government action is needed because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults have dental disease at two to three times the rates of their non-Indigenous counterparts in urban, rural, and remote communities across Australia. They are also much less likely to get needed dental care.

The social determinants of health, such as poverty, racism, and colonialism contribute to a large proportion of the oral health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their non-Indigenous peers.

As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-school and primary-school-aged children are much more likely to be hospitalised for dental problems.

Community water fluoridation is a safe, effective, and equitable way to reduce dental decay. In Australia, access to fluoridated water varies due to the lack of a national approach.

This disadvantages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with non-Indigenous Australians because a greater proportion livein rural and regional areas, where water fluoridation is less common.

The situation is particularly concerning in Queensland where nearly half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population does not have water fluoridation. Australian Government funding for State and Territory dental services is a lever to push for more water fluoridation.

Fluoride varnish programs also help in preventing dental decay, with proven effect in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The application is simple and requires minimal training. Australian Government leadership is needed to identify and remove the regulatory, administrative and program barriers to effective fluoride varnish programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults.

Sugary drinks are a major source of sugar that fuels tooth decay. A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce consumption and tooth decay, as well as the incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Nearly 70 per cent of Australians are in favour of taxes on soft drinks.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are nearly twice as likely to suffer from dental pain as non- Indigenous Australians, and five times as likely to have missing teeth. Pain from dental disease, and damage to teeth, can be effectively managed by dental practitioners.

Governments need to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with culturally safe dental care programs that are planned and implemented through collaborative and equal partnerships between communities and providers.

It is also well understood that health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are improved when they are treated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are grossly under-represented in the oral health workforce. The goal of 780 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dental practitioners by 2040 should be set as a target to promote employment parity in the dental workforce.

Finally, more comprehensive, consistent and coordinated oral health data are needed to better monitor and evaluate oral health status, as well as the performance of oral health care services across Australia. This in turn will lead to improvements in the oral health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The two major dental diseases are tooth decay (caries) and gum disease (periodontal disease). Both diseases can cause pain, loss of function, and disfigurement.

Tooth decay is a chronic disease caused by dietary sugar. Oral bacteria ferment sugar to produce acids that demineralise, and ultimately destroy, the teeth. Tooth decay progresses with age, creating a lifelong burden.1 Gum disease damages the bone and gum supporting the teeth, and its progress is insidious, with symptoms of pain and loose teeth in the advanced stages

Gum disease susceptibilit varies between individuals, with a genetic component, and is exacerbated by smoking and diabetes.2,

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Dental Health #AusVotesHealth #VoteACCHO : Professor @MarcTennant supports our #Electio2019 Recommendation 9 of 10 for more ACCHOs to deliver culturally safe dental services for our mob

” A big focus of our effort is Aboriginal health. We are one of the early teams to work on addressing issues of rural and remote dental health care access for Aboriginal people.

A crazy (in today’s thinking) simple model of fly-in-fly-out support to locally owned and run Aboriginal Medical Service based dental clinics. The gold standard today.

Aboriginal Medical Services can have, run and look after fantastic dental services, it’s right. Proven over decades.

Just do it today! I want to see every 145 ACCHO in Australia with a dental service!

EVERY SINGLE ONE!

Professor Marc Tennant, UWA Orginally published in Croakey 

NACCHO Recommendation 9

The incoming Federal Government fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations deliver dental services.

  • Establish a fund to support ACCHOs deliver culturally safe dental services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Allocate Indigenous dental health funding to cover costs associated with staffing and infrastructure requirements.

More info https://www.naccho.org.au/media/voteaccho/

Read over 30 NACCHO Aboriginal Dental Health articles like this HERE

I have spent three decades working in and around dental health/public health and innovation in Australia and other places.

We are a team of many, many people from all over earth – there is more than 100 people working on things with us; from Jeddah to Utah and everywhere in-between.

We have graduate students focused on addressing inequality and building systems to reform health care in Australia and across the world.

Poor dental health has become a condition of poverty and marginalisation over the last five decades.

Today the “average” (actually does NOT exist) Aussie kid has less than one decayed tooth. In fact, over half of kids have NO decay.

But, a small minority of kids have LOTS of decay and suffer a lot. These are more often than not those for poor areas or are at the edge of society.

Why has decay dropped to such a low prevalence in society? Not actually a simple, clean one-line answer. Brushing, eating better, fluoride, toothpaste…. the list goes on.

Amazing turnaround!!! In 1960’s, a 12-year-old had 12 holes in their teeth – today less than ONE! AMAZING.

This started in the late 1960’s so many adults today have low decay levels too. BUT, there are pockets of trouble too!

This trend is now in adults too – the poor suffer far more than the rich with dental disease.

Why? The risk factors are higher for the marginalised, it’s harder to access good preventive care and more risk-taking activity.

Australia has two dental systems ­– private dental care, that are small independent businesses on the whole and are free to charge as they like. This is more than 85 percent of dental care.

AND, a small public system for those on health care cards or similar. Also, here we have Aboriginal Medical Service based dental services too.

PS We also have dental care in some tertiary hospitals for tough problems, cleft lip and palate, oral cancer, jaw fractures and more.

The public dental system is small, often under-resourced, especially as dental disease is now a condition of poverty. It’s the wrong way round now (private: public ratio)

Remember, the public dental systems are run by STATE governments – the federal government does not really have a role in dental (although there are some growing bits of funding now).

Where do we need to go in dental health in Australia?

Everyone says dental should be part of Medicare. If I said the bill for that could be as large as the NDIS as a cost, you can see the problem.

And remember that most dental care is provided by small businesses where the government cannot control prices – there would be payment gaps!

Read more on Medicare Dental at https://croakey.org/a-new-publication-on-oral-health-catch-up-with-some-talkingteeth/ … It will explain in detail why that’s probably not achievable nor actually what would help Australians.

There are alternatives… We have seen some ­– targeted care for those in need subsidised by the government.

There are some efforts around to be targeted and maximising bang for buck. The most efficient models of providing good dental care are actually part of State government care systems.

State government dental care systems across Australia are run down, and the real opportunity now is to re-enforce them and grow them. Get some balance back into the nation

We now have dental workforce to do it!

In 2000, we were at a workforce crisis with a lack of dentists. Today, 20 years later, we have sufficient workforce coming though… In some places there are too many (Sydney and Melbourne) but as a nation we are now safe.

We need to get more dental workforce out of Nedlands, Double Bay and Toorak and into the rest of Australia – that’s the big effort for the next decade.

We need our dental focus to start with those in most need, the poor and marginalised (economically and geographically). This is where dental troubles are. They are not in Toorak or Double Bay.

And people in Toorak or Double Bay have access to care – some of the highest densities of dentists in the world are around those suburbs!!! True.

It is interesting that the Labor Party policy released last week has focused on the elderly. Demographic shift.

As I am explaining, dental disease is reducing in adults and those born from mid 1960’s forward are on the whole dental far better than their elders.

Focus on elder dental health is good! Australia is growing old and we still have dental troubles for people.

The maximisation of bang-for-buck from what I can see is for people to take their “voucher” (if Labor wins) and spend it in the public dental service. Help grow the safety net for others in need.

Obviously, where there is no public system, do use the local private practice but I just wish people would try their darndest to support their fellow Australians by helping grow the public system.

I should say, I am not employed either as a private or public dentist and take no money in sponsorship. I am an academic. (In addition, I do not have a share portfolio!)

And new things to think about. Telehealth is coming to dental. Yes, imagine screening teeth from images you take in your own bathroom.

Telehealth really going to be important in closing geographic gaps. Imagine screening kids to prioritise them for the dental team when they come to town.

There is a digital future in dentistry (I have seen experimental robots doing dental care! – it’s coming)’

An important initiative in dental will be big data and prediction. Well protected (privacy) coupled with good analysis is going to give us great tools to predict risk and predict where needs are.

We do need to see support going into the R&D of these big-data solutions in health. They will squeeze every bit of value from every dollar we spend on dental care. A digital future is coming to public health and dentistry.

NACCHO #ClosetheGap in Aboriginal Dental /Oral Health @AIHW Report #WOHD19 #rethinksugarydrink : It’s #WorldOralHealthDay @Live_Lighter Sugary drinks are the leading cause of tooth decay : We’re urging our mob to use this info as motivation to cut back on sugary drinks

” Indigenous Australians are more likely than other Australians to have multiple caries and untreated dental disease, and less likely to have received preventive dental care (AHMAC 2017). The oral health status of Indigenous Australians, like all Australians, is influenced by many factors (see What contributes to poor oral health?) and a tendency towards unfavourable dental visiting patterns, broadly associated with accessibility, cost and a lack of cultural awareness by some service providers (COAG 2015; NACDH 2012).” 

See Part 1 below AIHW Report

See full AIHW Web Report HERE 

Read over 35 NACCHO Aboriginal Oral Dental Health articles HERE 

” With new figures revealing almost half of Australian children aged 5-10 experience tooth decay in their baby teeth [1], the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance is urging Aussies to give their teeth a break from sugary drinks and make the switch to water in a bid to protect their oral health.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures released today also reveal this trend continues into adulthood with Australians aged 15 and over having an average of nearly 13 decayed, missing or filled teeth.

Sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, are a major contributor of added sugar in Australian children’s diets and the leading cause of tooth decay.’ ,

From Re Think Sugary Drinks Website See in Full Part 2 Below

Part 1 AIHW Report Oral health and dental care in Australia

Good oral health is fundamental to overall health and wellbeing (COAG 2015). Without it, a person’s general quality of life and the ability to eat, speak and socialise is compromised, resulting in pain, discomfort and embarrassment.

Oral health refers to the condition of a person’s teeth and gums, as well as the health of the muscles and bones in their mouth (AHMAC 2017). Poor oral health—mainly tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss—affects many Australian children and adults, and contributed 4.4% of all the burden that non-fatal burden diseases placed on the community in 2011. Oral health generally deteriorates over a person’s lifetime

What contributes to poor oral health?

Many factors contribute to poor oral health (NACDH 2012), including:

  • consumption of sugar, tobacco and alcohol
  • a lack of good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups
  • a lack of fluoridation in some water supplies
  • access and availability of services, including:
    • affordability of private dental care
    • long waiting periods for public dental care.

What is the impact of poor oral health?

The most common oral diseases affect the teeth (tooth decay, called ‘caries’) and gums (periodontal disease). Oral disease can destroy the tissues in the mouth, leading to lasting physical and psychological disability (NACDH 2012). Tooth loss can reduce the functionality of the mouth, making chewing and swallowing more challenging, which in turn can compromise nutrition. Poor nutrition can impair general health and exacerbate existing health conditions (NACDH 2012). Poor oral health is also associated with a number of chronic diseases, including stroke and cardiovascular disease (DHSV 2011) (Figure 1).

Figure 1 demonstrates the links between poor oral health and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, lung conditions, oral cancers, adverse pregnancy outcomes, stroke and diabetes.

Poor oral health can also affect a person’s wellbeing. Dental disease can impair a person’s appearance and speech, eroding their self-esteem, which in turn can lead to restricted participation at school, the workplace, home and other social settings (NACDH 2012).

Some groups are at greater risk of poor oral health

The National Oral Health Plan identifies four priority population groups that have poorer oral health than the general population and also experience barriers to accessing oral health care—either in the private or public sector. State and territory governments are the current providers of most public dental services, and access is largely targeted towards people on low incomes or holders of concession cards. Eligibility requirements can vary between states and territories (AIHW 2018).

The four priority population groups identified in the plan are:

People who are socially disadvantaged or on low incomes: This group has historically been identified as those on a low income and/or receiving some form of government income assistance, but now extends to include people experiencing other forms of disadvantage including refugees, homeless people, some people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people in institutions or correctional facilities (COAG 2015). Poorer oral health results from infrequent dental care. Barriers include cost, appropriateness of service delivery and lower levels of health literacy, including oral health (COAG 2015).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AustraliansIndigenous Australians are more likely than other Australians to have multiple caries and untreated dental disease, and less likely to have received preventive dental care (AHMAC 2017). The oral health status of Indigenous Australians, like all Australians, is influenced by many factors (see What contributes to poor oral health?) and a tendency towards unfavourable dental visiting patterns, broadly associated with accessibility, cost and a lack of cultural awareness by some service providers (COAG 2015; NACDH 2012).

People living in regional and remote areasOverall, this group has poorer oral health than those in Major cities (COAG 2015), and oral health status generally declines as remoteness increases. Rural Australians have access to fewer dental practitioners than their city counterparts, which, coupled with longer travel times and limited transport options to services, affects the oral health care that they can receive (COAG 2015; Bishop & Laverty 2015). People living in Remote and Very remote areas are also more likely to smoke and drink at risky levels. They have reduced access to fluoridated drinking water and face increased costs of healthy food choices and oral hygiene products. These risk factors contribute to this population’s overall poorer oral health (COAG 2015).

People with additional and/or specialised health care needsThis group includes people living with mental illness, people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities, people with complex medical needs and frail older people. These people can be vulnerable to oral disease; for example, some medications for chronic diseases can cause a dry mouth, which increases the risk of tooth decay (Queensland Health 2008). A number of factors make accessing dental care more difficult for this group, including:

  • a shortage of dental health professionals with skills in special-needs dentistry
  • difficulties in physically accessing appropriate dental treatment facilities
  • the cost of treatment. People with additional and/or specialised health care needs often have their earning capacity eroded by ill health (COAG 2015).

Why does oral health vary across Australia?

People in some states and territories have generally poorer oral health than others. For example, the National Child Oral Health Study found that the prevalence of caries in the deciduous teeth of children was significantly higher in Northern Territory and Queensland than in all other states and territories (Do & Spencer 2016). Oral health status is influenced by a complex interaction of factors, as outlined above. These factors should be considered when looking at results by state and territory. For example:

  • all people living in the Northern Territory were located in Outer regionalRemote or Very remote areas, whereas the majority of the Victorian population were located in Major cities in 2016 (ABS 2018a)
  • the Northern Territory has Australia’s highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (26% of its population) which is much higher than the next highest state, Tasmania (4.6% of its population) (ABS 2017)
  • Tasmania has the highest proportion of people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas (37%) (refer to Technical notes for explanation of SEIFA) (ABS 2018b).

The variations observed in oral health status between state and territory populations may also be partly explained by differences in individual state and territory oral health care funding, service models and eligibility requirements, which can result in varied patterns of dental visiting among residents (AIHW 2018). Oral health campaigns and policies can also make an impact. For example, water fluoridation coverage in Queensland has reduced since the Queensland Government transferred the decision whether to fluoridate water supplies from state to local governments in 2008, despite evidence that access to fluoridated drinking water has been shown to reduce tooth decay (Queensland Health 2015; NHMRC 2017).

Part 2 Australians’ love affair with sugary drinks rots the smiles of children as young as five

Leading health bodies call for people to rethink sugary drink this World Oral Health Day.

With new figures revealing almost half of Australian children aged 5-10 experience tooth decay in their baby teeth [1], the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance is urging Aussies to give their teeth a break from sugary drinks and make the switch to water in a bid to protect their oral health.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures released today also reveal this trend continues into adulthood with Australians aged 15 and over having an average of nearly 13 decayed, missing or filled teeth.

Sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, are a major contributor of added sugar in Australian children’s diets and the leading cause of tooth decay.

On World Oral Health Day today, Craig Sinclair, Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, is urging Australians to see this information as motivation to cut back on sugary drinks.

While regular sugary drink consumption leaves a lasting effect on Australians’ oral health, Mr Sinclair said the risks extend beyond just teeth.

“These super sugary drinks don’t stop at ruining Aussie smiles. In the long run they can lead to unhealthy weight gain, increasing the risk of serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke and 13 types of cancer.”

“It’s sadly no surprise that tooth decay is hitting Australian kids hard, given the overwhelming availability of sugary drinks. Not only are there significantly more sugary drink choices available today, they are everywhere our kids look. Ironically they’re even in venues designed to help our kids be healthy, such as sports centres, sporting clubs, as well as places they visit regularly like train stations, festivals and events,” Mr Sinclair said.

“Big beverage brands don’t just stop there – they also sweet talk our kids into guzzling high-sugar drinks through social media, and outdoor and online advertising. We need government to invest in public education campaigns to cut through the marketing spin and expose the health impacts of sugary drinks.”

A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch, a Rethink Sugary Drink partner, has seen the devastating impact sugary drinks has on children’s teeth and wants Australians to consider the consequences of drinking too many.

“I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact tooth decay has on the health, nutrition, social and emotional wellbeing of these kids and their families. There are extreme cases where dentists are extracting all 20 baby teeth from kids as young as 3 – it’s not pretty.” A/Prof Hopcraft said.

“Some people may not realise every time they take a sip from a sugary drink they expose their teeth to an acid attack, dissolving the outer surface of our tooth enamel. This regular loss of enamel can lead to cavities and exposure of the inner layers of the tooth that may leave them feeling very sensitive and painful.

“Healthy teeth are an integral part of good oral health, enabling us to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment. It’s disheartening to know 27% of Aussie kids feel uncomfortable about the appearance of their teeth. No kid should look back on their childhood and remember the distress and pain that came as a result of drinking too many sugary drinks.”

A/Prof Hopcraft said World Oral Health Day serves the perfect chance for Australians to rethink their choice of drink.

“We know less than 10 per cent of Australian adults have managed to avoid tooth decay. There is no reason why we can’t turn these numbers around. If Australians can simply cut back on sugary drinks or remove them entirely from their diet, their teeth will be much stronger and healthier for it,” A/Prof Hopcraft said

“We recommend taking a look at how much sugar is in these drinks – people may be shocked to know some have as many as 16 teaspoons of sugar. Water is always the best choice and your teeth will thank you in the long run.”

In support of World Oral Health Day the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance are calling for the following actions in addition to the restriction of unhealthy drink marketing to address the issue of sugary drink overconsumption:

A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary


[1] AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2019. Oral health and dental care in Australia, 2014-15 and 2016-17


About Rethink Sugary Drink: Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between the Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Australian Dental Association, Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Health Services Victoria, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia, Diabetes Australia, Healthier Workplace WA, Kidney Health Australia, LiveLighter, The Mai Wiru Sugar Challenge Foundation, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, Stroke Foundation, Parents’ Voice, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the YMCA to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption.

Visit  http://www.rethinksugarydrink.org.auu for more information.

NACCHO Aboriginal Children’s Health #Nutrition #Obesity : @IndigenousPHAA The #AFL ladder of sponsorships such as soft drinks @CocaColaAU and junk food @McDonalds_AU endangers the health of our children

 “Aboriginal and Non- Aboriginal kids are being inundated with the advertising of alcohol, junk food and gambling through AFL sponsorship deals according to a new study.

With obesity and excessive drinking remaining a significant problem in our communities, it’s time for the AFL ladder of unhealthy sponsorship (see below) to end,

Children under the age of eight are particularly vulnerable to advertising because they lack the maturity and mental skills to evaluate the messages. Therefore, in the case of the AFL, they begin to associate unhealthy products with their favourite sport and players

We need to ask ourselves why Australia’s most popular winter sport is serving as a major advertising platform for soft drink, beer, wine, burgers and meat pies. It’s sending the wrong message to Australians that somehow these unhealthy foods and drinks are linked to the healthy activity of sport,”

Says the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

Read all NACCHO Aboriginal Health Nutrition / Obestity articles over 6 years HERE 

In the study published this week in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Australian researchers looked at the prevalence of sponsorship by alcohol, junk food and gambling companies on AFL club websites and on AFL player uniforms.

The findings were used to make an ‘AFL Sponsorship Ladder’, a ranking of AFL clubs in terms of their level of unhealthy sponsorships, with those at the top of the ladder having the highest level of unhealthy sponsors.

The study clearly demonstrated that Australia’s most popular spectator sport is saturated with unhealthy advertising.

Download PDF Copy of report NACCHO Unhealthy sponsors of sport

Ainslie Sartori, one of the authors involved in the research confirmed, “After reviewing the sponsorship deals of AFL clubs, we found that 88% of clubs are sponsored by unhealthy food and beverage companies. A third of AFL clubs are also involved in business partnerships with gambling companies.”

Recommendation 

Sponsorship offers companies an avenue to expose children and young people to their brand, encouraging a connection with that brand.

The AFL could reinforce healthy lifestyle choices by shifting the focus away from the visual presence of unhealthy sponsorship, while taking steps to ensure that clubs remain commercially viable.

Policy makers are encouraged to consider innovative health promotion strategies and work
with sporting clubs and codes to ensure healthy messages are prominent

 

The study noted that children are often the targets of AFL advertising. This is despite World Health Organization recommendations that children’s settings should be free of unhealthy food promotions and branding (including through sport) due to the known risk it poses to their diet and chances of developing obesity.

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin commented, “When Australian kids see their sports heroes wearing a uniform plastered with certain brands, they inevitably start to associate these brands with the player they look up to and with the positive and healthy experience of the sport.”

He added, “The AFL is in a unique position to positively influence the health of Australian kids through banning sponsorship by alcohol, junk food and gambling companies. It could instead reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle for them.”

“Australian health policy makers need to consider innovative health promotion strategies and work together with sport clubs and codes to ensure that unhealthy advertising is not a feature. We successfully removed tobacco advertising from sport and we can do it with junk food and gambling too,” Mr Slevin said.

The recently released Sport 2030 plan rightly identifies sport as a positive vehicle to promote good health. But elite “corporate sport” plays a role of bypassing restrictions aimed at reducing exposure of children to unhealthy product marketing.

“The evidence is clear – it’s time for Australia to phase out all unhealthy sponsorship of sport,” Mr Slevin conclude