NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

feature tile text 'NSW state-wide COVID-19 vaccination blitz for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & image of Aboriginal teenage girl's arm being vaccinated

NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

NSW is having a COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz for Aboriginal people. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can access a priority Pfizer vaccination appointment at the following locations:

  • Hunter New England – Belmont
  • Illawarra Shoalhaven – Dapto and  Nowra
  • Mid North Coast – Galambila AMS
  • Murrumbidgee – Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Young
  • Nepean Blue Mountains – Penrith
  • Northern Sydney – Hornsby and St Leonards
  • South Eastern Sydney – Surry Hills and Sutherland
  • South Western Sydney – Macquarie Fields
  • Southern NSW – Eden
  • Sydney – Redfern
  • Western NSW – Dubbo

For more detailed information the vaccination sites, dates and times click here.

Note: image in feature tile is from the ABC News website.

outdoor pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo, man, woman, pram with toddler, desk, health professionals under white shade

Pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo. Image source: GPNews.

Wuchopperen getting the job of the jabs done

This Saturday (18 September) Wuchopperen Health Service is hosting a second drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Manoora facility. The first in the series of clinics was hosted three weeks ago (Saturday 28 August) when 287 Wuchopperen clients had their first or second Pfizer jab.

“Our first Pfizer vaccine day was a huge success – and great fun,” said Wuchopperen Deputy CEO Rachael Ham. “Before we opened the doors and saw people were lined up at the gates, we knew we were in for a great community day – with a local and global health outcome.

“As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisation, we have the responsibility to provide the information, the access and the protection to our community members to help fight this pandemic. And while our objective with the community vaccine days is to get our community vaccinated, at the same time we want to offer a good day out for families.” Mrs Ham said.

“By offering entertainment and refreshments we’re encouraging people to come together with community and share stories, knowledge and reconnect in general.”

Wuchopperen staff are expecting over 300 community members at this Saturday’s event,  for their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine; and encouraging all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (aged 12 years and over) who would like to receive their jab to join the party.

To view Wuchopperen’s media release in full click here.

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman receiving vaccination

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman has had her jab and said “The COVID jab, keeps me, my family and my community safe and strong.”

Reducing violence against women funding

The Federal Government has announced $13.5 million for nine service providers that deliver community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.

The $13.5 million is a portion of the $35.5 million invested in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific measures in the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2020-2022.

The nine recipients work in “high need communities”, with six being Indigenous organisations. Locations include Kununurra, WA; Port Augusta and Ceduna, SA; Nhulunbuy and surrounds, NT; Darwin and Katherine, NT; and Townsville and Mackay, QLD.

In the last year, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has partnered with these providers to co-design service responses and will continue to do so to support program delivery across the 43 remote and regional areas.

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

Aboriginal mother & daughter

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

$15m for mental health first aid training

The Federal Government is providing $15 million over three years to the National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd to deliver mental health first aid training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. The National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

They will deliver culturally safe and appropriate mental health first aid courses to upskill participants in recognising when to seek assistance and how to assist family and other community members in need of support. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said protection of the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical priority.

To view the media release in full click here.

vector image of black head, blue brain, green bag with white medical cross inside white circle, light blue background

Image source: 3btraining website.

Infectious diseases surveillance expansion

Important research projects at The University of Queensland (UQ) have been awarded more than $50 million from the Australian Government. One of the recipients of funding is the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health which will expand an infectious diseases sentinel surveillance network operating in 32 Aboriginal primary care services.

Professor James Ward said the partnership project would increase the number of sites involved and expand the scope of the network to include surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases. “In doing this, we are now able to move to the next phase of progressing our surveillance network to one that will simultaneously be focused on driving quality improvement within health services as well as participation in ongoing research all bound up with strong community participation,” he said.

To view the full article on the UQ website click here.

Aboriginal dot painting art of hand over Country, blue brown, aqua, cream

Image source: SA Aboriginal STI & BBV Action Plan 2020-2024 cover.

Indigenous oral health research funding

The University of Adelaide has been awarded $10.5 million for seven research projects, one of them in the area of Indigenous oral health.

An amount of $2,598,056 has been awarded to Professor Lisa Jamieson, from Adelaide Dental School, to facilitate best practice oral care models for Indigenous Australians. The goal of the project is to improve Indigenous oral health outcomes, raise standards of oral clinical care through cultural competency workshops, and capacity building of the Indigenous oral health workforce.

The funding is through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2021 Investigator Grant program, which invests in world-leading health and medical research projects to improve lives.

To view the article in full click here.

dentist's model of teeth in gums, jaw

Image source: The University of Adelaide website.

Boost for brain health

The growing burden of dementia among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be addressed by a new research centre that will include researchers from The University of WA (UWA). The Federal Government has announced $3 million funding over five years for the Centre for Research Excellence, to be known as OnTRACK, which will look at developing culturally appropriate and effective ways of promoting brain health among Indigenous people.

Based at the University of Melbourne, OnTRACK hopes to play a crucial role in detecting memory and thinking changes in order to prevent dementia, as well as supporting those living with dementia. The national collaboration is made up of a team of researchers who have already completed landmark research addressing the gaps of dementia prevention and early detection in older Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders..

To view the article in full click here.

older Aboriginal woman looking in direction of smiling Aboriginal teenager (girl)

Image source: The University of WA website.

Digital health’s future – have your say

Today, Australians have access to telehealth, electronic prescriptions, My Health Record and more. What comes next is up to you.

Now’s your chance to influence the future of digital health in Australia by taking part in a short, 15 minute survey.  Your valuable input will help the Australian Government continue to evolve one of the best healthcare services in the world.

For more detail you can access the Australian Digital Health Agency’s website here and to take the survey click 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Patient Safety Day

For World Patient Safety Day, 17 September 2021, WHO urges all stakeholders to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth! with the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”. Approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, around 6,700 newborns die every day, amounting to 47% of all under-5 deaths. Moreover, about 2 million babies are stillborn every year, with over 40% occurring during labour. Considering the significant burden of risks and harm women and newborns are exposed to due to unsafe care, compounded by the disruption of essential health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign is even more important this year.

Fortunately, the majority of stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled health professionals working in supportive environments. This can only be achieved through the engagement of all stakeholders and the adoption of comprehensive health systems and community-based approaches.

World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of health care and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.

For more information about World Patient Safety Day click here. You can also view a media release issued by Consumers Health Forum Australia to mark World Patient Safety Day here.banner - World Patient Sock Day, 17 September 2021

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

feature tile text 'make sure your community is counted in the 2021 census' & vector image of Australia with orange yellow black brown people all over the map

2021 Census – make sure you’re counted

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has started sending instructions on how to complete the Census to more than 10 million Australian households ahead of the Census on Tuesday 10 August 2021. For people in remote communities, there will be Census teams available to help households complete their form. Where possible, they’ll be people from within the community.

Chenile Chandler, a young Wurundjeri woman of the Kulin Nations and Census Community Engagement Officer is helping more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to understand the benefits of completing the Census. Chenile said the ABS has been working closely with communities to make sure people can take part and be counted, “Our ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement staff, and our Census teams, are there to support community, including the local people who choose work on the Census. Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided in communities. For example, knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or mums and bubs health programs. There’s plenty of help for our mob to complete the Census, so that everyone participates.”

“You can start as soon as you get your instructions if you know where you’ll be on Census night. You can complete the Census online, on a mobile device or on paper. This will make it easier for people to complete their Census at a time that suits them. Remember, the Census can help plan for community needs. That’s why it’s important to include everyone who is staying in your home on Census night, such as Elders, babies and visitors. Now more than ever, as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to know the demographics of our communities to help plan programs and services.”

“Your participation in the Census means having the right services for our mob. Make sure you and your family are counted.”

To view the ABS Census media release in full click here and for more information and resources, visit the ABS website here.

banner text 'ABS logo Census on orange strip with Aboriginal art in background

‘Our Story. Our Future.’ was created by proud Wiradjuri, Wotjobaluk, Yuin and Gumbaynggirr artist Luke Penrith and Maluililgal people, Badu Island artist Naseli Tamwoy.

Kimberley communities without drinking water

Throughout WA’s Kimberley region, potentially hundreds of Indigenous residents drink water each day without knowing whether it is harming their health. Those residents live in or regularly visit the 44 remote communities classed as ‘very small’, which are included in the WA Government’s Remote Essential and Municipal Services Program, known as REMS.

In 2019, these communities started receiving annual drinking water testing for only chemical contaminants — four years after a scathing WA Auditor General’s report. Since then, a handful of those very small remote communities have been put on the Department of Communities’ regular water testing schedule. But the vast majority, all of which are in the Kimberley, still do not receive testing for dangerous microbes such as the potentially lethal E. coli bacteria.

That lack of testing was highlighted in this year’s follow-up Auditor General’s report, which found E. coli and uranium contamination still remained an issue in some communities.  Residents in those communities say they, like almost all Australians, deserve to know their drinking water is safe, while experts point to technologies such as mobile testing kits as a potential solution.

To view the full article click here.

two water tanks on a platform, overgrown in bush setting

Successive WA Auditor General reports have highlighted drinking water in remote Indigenous communities as an area of concern. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

Calls to prioritise support to reduce OOHC

One year after all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks signed the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the Productivity Commission has released the first Annual Data Compilation Report. “As a national member of the Peaks, we welcome the report. It will monitor the progress on key outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.

“Our families need urgent support – and the report highlights that systemic transformation is what is required. It calls for governments to change the way they do business with our people to close the gap. This includes continuing to work with our sectors to ensure they are prioritised as the experts in delivering culturally and locally appropriate services to our families. Importantly, this first report also sets baselines to track progress of the Closing the Gap targets and provides building blocks for accountability to the actions that governments make,” Ms Liddle said.

To view the SNAICC media release in full click here.

black & white image of girl holding teddy in one hand and pulling back a curtain with the other hand

Image source: The Guardian.

Oral hygiene promoted

The importance or oral health will be highlighted during Dental Health Week, with children, families and staff at early year services within the Lower Hume (Mitchell and Murrindindi Shires) are getting excited about this year’s theme: Keep your smile for life. Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) supports the Australian Dental Association’s campaign, which runs from August 2 to 8. This year’s theme aims to raise awareness across all ages of the importance of maintaining good oral health to keep a smile for life.

DHSV have also launched Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities this year. These include Wala the Platypus, Dirran the Kangaroo and Dhuna (pronounced thuna) the Koala who promote the Smiles 4 Miles key messages of drink well, clean well and eat well. These characters were created by artist Madison Connors, a proud Yorta Yorta (Wolithica), Dja Dja Wurrung and Kamilaroi woman and mother to two. Wala is the Yorta Yorta word for water, Dirran is the Yorta Yorta word for teeth and Dhuna is the Yorta Yorta word for eat.

The Smiles 4 Miles program is an initiative of DHSV, implemented locally by Lower Hume Primary Care Partnership (PCP) which aims to improve the oral health of preschool aged children and their families by encouraging healthy eating, healthy drinking, good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.

To view the full article in the Riverine Herald click here and for more information on the Smiles 4 Miles program in Lower Hume and resources click here.

Dirran the Kangaroo drawing for Dental Health Week

Aboriginal dental health ambassador’s and resources to help promote oral health to Aboriginal communities have been launched as part of Dental Health Week, including Dirran the Kangaroo.

Gwandalan National Palliative Care Project

BRAMS Newsletter

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) have published the July edition of their newsletter. In this edition topics covered include SOLID Fit, NDIS service delivery, Health Check Month, COVID-19 vaccine staff stories, capacity building funding and a patient profile.

Click here to view the newsletter.

banner text 'BRAMS NEWSLETTER July 2021' blue red grey black white Aboriginal dot painting

Indigenous aged care preferred

The majority of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prefer to access aged care provided by Aboriginal services, a Neuroscience Research Australia study has found. The study, published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, investigated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s preferences for health and aged care services.

It involved 336 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 60 years or older from both regional and urban areas. Most participants reported a preference for care from an Aboriginal community-controlled service (59%) but 10% prefer a mainstream service and almost a third indicate they are comfortable receiving either (31%).

NeuRA Aboriginal Health and Ageing Group lead Dr Kylie Radford said the research highlighted a lack of cultural safety for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in mainstream aged care, “There is a strong preference for accessing services and receiving services through Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations and a lot of people say that they would only receive services through that means. One of the upshots of that is where those services aren’t available or accessible, people may not be receiving any services because mainstream services are not seen as appropriate or culturally safe.”

The study identified racism as the main reason Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people preferred to receive care from Aboriginal services.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal man and woman against blurred green foliage

Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

World Breastfeeding Week

Set every August for the first seven days of the month, World Breastfeeding Week aims to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing outcomes of breastfeeding and the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish.

The event is organised every year by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network that aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding around the world. Along the way, it works with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to get its aid to the right people in the right communities.

Traditionally breastfeeding was common practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. The traditional way was to breastfeed for up to four years, sometimes longer, gradually introducing nutritious bush foods. Today the good news is that most Aboriginal women (83%) begin breastfeeding. You can access the booklet Yarning about breastfeeding: Celebrating our stories booklet produced by VACCHO here.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week 1–7 August 2021 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Link between sexual health and chronic conditions

feature tile text 'poor awareness of links between sexual health and chronic conditions in ATSI males' Aboriginal dot painting from cover of summary report blue, brown, aqua, navy, white, black, taupe

Male sexual health chronic disease link

The latest publication from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, a Review of sexual health issues linked with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, which can be accessed here confirms that although the links between male sexual health and chronic conditions are well established, there is poor knowledge and awareness about these links among both health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

This review outlines the mounting evidence that erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of future cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. This has the potential to motivate males of all ages to seek help if they experience ED, and for health professionals to become skilled in discussing sexual health with patients. This  requires further consideration of cultural factors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and the social and historical context in which their health and wellbeing exists.

You can access the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet media release about the review here, an infographic Summary of the key information contained in the review here, a factsheet here and a short video below.

Feature tile artwork When the freshwater meets the saltwater by Bec Morgan taken from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Summary of sexual health links with chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.

 

The HIV/AIDS story – Forty years on

Forty years ago this month (on July 3, 1981) a story in The New York Times made the paper’s first mention of a disease baffling doctors.

Rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals,” said the headline, atop a story buried on page 20. “The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion.”

The story followed the publication on June 5, 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of an MMRW report of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, California, of whom two had already died. This report later was acknowledged as the first published scientific account of what would become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

In Australia, research from the Kirby Institute shows that the broad availability of the HIV-prevention drug tenofovir with emtricitabine (known as PrEP) reduced HIV transmissions in New South Wales by 40 percent, to an all-time low, in the period 2016 to 2019. However, the researchers warned that the elimination of HIV in Australia will require better adherence to PrEP among young people.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has produced a report that says Australia can end HIV transmission in the country by 2025. You can read the “Agenda 2025” report here.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID

 

Bardi Jawi woman’s diabetes story

This short video aims to raise awareness of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The video features Cecelia Tigan, a Bardi Jawi woman from Djarindjin in the Kimberley region of WA. Cecelia explains how she was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy and how she now lives with type 2 diabetes. Cecelia says her diabetes remained after giving birth to her fourth child. Cecelia explains that she is worried about the young children in her community with the availability of junk foods and how the consumption of sweets and junk food is putting them at risk of diabetes.

 

Ways to strengthen mental health workforce

New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people.

The report, written by Prof Dominic Upton, Assoc Prof Linda Ford, Prof Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, finds that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services.

Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.

Read the article by Charles Darwin University here.

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au

 

Spurring next generation of Indigenous dentists

A new partnership between the Australian Dental Association New South Wales (ADA NSW) and the Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) will explore how to improve oral health outcomes for—and inspire—the next generation of Indigenous dental practitioners.

Only 0.4 per cent of employed dental professionals in Australia are Indigenous, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia report,” ADA NSW president Dr Kathleen Matthews said.

“More than 60 per cent of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair.

“We believe this partnership with ADA NSW is, given our shared values and purpose, another important step towards improving overall health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Read the full story in Bite Magazine here.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.

 

Climate change and food shortages

Surging consumer food prices are a growing global problem, making food staples in many countries unaffordable. An Oxfam report just out says that world hunger rose steeply in 2020, with six times more people living in “famine-like conditions” than in 2019. Oxfam calculates that 11 ­people a minute are likely to be dying from acute hunger, compared to seven people a minute from COVID-19.

A new FAO report on global food security has just been released, estimating that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019. “The high cost of healthy diets and persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people in every region of the world,” it says.

A 2019 UN report outlined how extreme weather as a result of climate change, combined with loss of agricultural land and the mismanagement of water resources, will shrink the global food supply. The potential risk of “multi-breadbasket failure” was seen as a particular threat.

There’s a raft of reports that highlight what climate change means for food production, availability and prices in Australia. In addition, as noted in a 2015 report from the Climate Council, Australia’s food supply chains are vulnerable to extreme weather events.

This week, public health researchers have underscored the urgency of addressing food security issues for children, warning food insecurity should be understood as a form of trauma.

One issue highlighted is that food security is not measured regularly or consistently at a population level. Estimates suggest that between 4 percent and 13 percent of the general population and 22 percent to 32 percent of the Indigenous population are food insecure.

The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Media here.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mabo Day

Feature tile - Thu 3.6.21 - Mabo Day.

Mabo Day

Today, 3 June is Mabo Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan

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

 

Mandatory reporting of influenza vaccinations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Women living remotely must travel for birth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read full story by ABC News here.

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

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

 

Expanding birth centres to remote NT 5+ years away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

 

Remote ENT service delivery model

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

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

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

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

View the full article here.

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

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

 

Soft drink ads hit ‘vulnerable’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read full article in Science Direct here.

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

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

 

Ways to support healthy foods in remote stores

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

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

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

You can download the event poster here.

The event themes and scheduled times are:

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

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

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

FREE registration here.

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist.

 

BRAMS – May Newsletter

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

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

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

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

Please view the latest edition of the BRAMS newsletter here.

BRAMS_newsletter_May_2021

BRAMS Newsletter – May 2021.

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

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

Eye health missing First Nations voice

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

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

Community control success at WAMS

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

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

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

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

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

Eating disorder stereotypes plague treatment

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

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

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

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

Budget opportunity to create a fairer future

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

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

To view the media release click here.

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

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

RHD the silent killer

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

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

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

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

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

United opposition to NT legislation

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

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

view of tower of Don Dale youth detention centre

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

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

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

To view the article click here.

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

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

Impact of racism on oral health

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

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

For further details about the study click here.

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

Image source: Remote Area Health Corps.

Smoking cessation during pregnancy study

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

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

For further details about the study click here.

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

Image source: South Western Sydney Local Health District webpage.

ACT – Canberra – Australian Medical Association

Policy Advisor (Indigenous Health) x 1 FT – Canberra

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: NITV website.

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

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

COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

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

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

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Dr Simon Quilty with stethoscope to Aboriginal woman's chest

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

Your Health 2030 project

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

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

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

To listen to the interview click here.

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

COVID-19 side effects fact sheet

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

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

Miscarriage care reform needed

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

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

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

To view the full article in The Lancet click here.

miniature baby beanie held in a woman's hands

Image source: Time magazine.

Dalang Project supports oral health

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

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

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

Image source: The Conversation.

New 715 Health Check resources

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

You can view the range of resources here.

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

Youth need support, not prison

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

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

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

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

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

World Hand Hygiene Day 2021

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Australians urged to get vaccinated

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

First Australians urged to get vaccinated

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCHO’s first vaccine day incredibly successful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community-based COVID-19 responses among best

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

COVID-19 information for Victoria’s mob

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

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

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

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

Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe. Image source: BBC News.

Updated health check templates survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remote PHC Manuals update

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal-led ways to foster mental health

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

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

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

What ‘healing’ means

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

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

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

Healthier smiles in Loddon Mallee

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

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

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

Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Proposed NT youth justice changes flawed

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

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

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

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

Image source: Change the Record website.

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney

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

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

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

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

vector image of kidneys, one sliced showing kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network.

Purple Day

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

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

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

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

ACCHOs prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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

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

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

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

To listen to the interview click here.

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

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

Truth and justice commission announced

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

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

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

Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk

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

Final Call: COVID-19 in aged care facilities survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Inner Sydney Voice website.

National Preventive Health Strategy coming soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Indigenous kids are losing sleep

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

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

Aboriginal toddler sleeping with head on carer's shoulder

Image source: CRAICCHS website.

Media invalidates Indigenous experience of racism

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

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

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

To view the full IndienousX article click here.

Charmaine Clark

Charmaine Clark. Image source: IndigenousX website.

Institutional racism factor in health gap

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

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

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

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

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

Race conversations program developer recognised

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa Browning holding HESTA Impact Award

Melissa Browning. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Tooth decay rates fall

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

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

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

Aboriginal girl holding blue toothbrush to her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

Shifting Gears Summit

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Qld Q&A

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 kept out of communities came as no surprise

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Guardian.

ACCHO launches new outreach dental clinic

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

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

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

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

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

Rough sleeper numbers are back on the up

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Raymond Ward at Tent City homeless camp in Perth November 2020

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

Youth perspectives on mental health

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

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

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

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

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

Visual impairment in Australia

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

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

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

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

ACCHO CEO furious over rejected prison inquiry

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

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

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

portrait image of Julie Tongs OAM CEO Winnunga ACT

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

Big boost for Victorian health infrastructure

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

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

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

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

Minimum alcohol price curbs problem drinking

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

image of bladder of cask wine

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

Remote training scheme vacancies

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

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

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

NSW bush’s health battles substantial

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

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

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

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

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

NSW – Narooma – Katungul ACRH&CS

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

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

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

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

National Condom Day – Sunday 14 February 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feature Story

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

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

To read the letter published in The Lancet click here.

Wiradjuri man appointed as a Professor

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

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

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

Image source: GP News.

Face masks for our mob

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

To access the editorial click here.

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

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Racial Violence in the Australian health system

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

To read the full article click here.

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

Image sourced Twitter @KevinYowYeh.

Water fluoridation required

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

To view the full article click here.

close up photo of three Aboriginal children smiling

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Torres Strait communities taking back control of own healing

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

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

Wabunau Geth dance group from Kaurareg Nation

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

New tool to manage healthcare trial

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

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

GoShare Healthcare digital platform logo - clip art hand or hand

Image source: Healthily website.