NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health Journey Mapping tools launched

Image in feature tile is by Ngarrindjeri artist Jordan Lovegrove – Karko Creations from the Lowitja Institute Learning and Development Hub website page.

Health Journey Mapping tools launched

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often experience complex and challenging health care journeys that are culturally unsafe, leading to adverse health outcomes.

Yesterday, Associate Professor Janet Kelly of the University of Adelaide and the Lowitja Institute, launched the Health Journey Mapping tools and resources to improve the quality and cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health care journeys.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, said the tools will help embed culturally safe practices into healthcare through a strengths-based approach, “Like most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, I know the critical importance of good health journeys and the harms caused when we experience, all too often, poor health journeys. I have experienced this as an Aboriginal woman and mother, as a nurse, and through exploring policy and research on cultural safety, or the lack of it, in mainstream health services and systems.”

The package of tools consists of three mapping tools, a handy user guide, some worked examples and introductory videos, such as the one below. You can find out more here.

To view Lowitja Institute’s media release Health Journey Mapping: embedding culturally safe practices into healthcare in full click here.

ACCHO AHW’s career blooms

Wiradjuri woman Kristy Purnell’s entry into the healthcare system amid a global pandemic has been a rewarding experience Employed as an Aboriginal Health Worker at Toowoomba’s Carbal Medical Services since September 2020, Ms Purnell has been administering COVID vaccines alongside her regular roles.

I work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services because I want to help my community and provide health care to people that need it,” she said. “My role entails screening clients, doing annual health checks, going to community events, assisting nurses in the treatment room and promoting various programs that Carbal run.”

Ms Purnell’s passion for her role has seen her undertake a CQUniversity TAFE course in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care. She said with a Certificate III already under her belt, Carbal encouraged her to keep acquiring new skills.

“I started (the Certificate IV) last year and have done some residential schooling, which has reinforced my knowledge of comprehensive screening,” she said. “I feel that I’m learning new things that I’m able to utilise in my role on a daily basis. I enjoy sharing my new knowledge with other team members. “This course is helping me to become a confident health worker. It is giving me the skills I need to continue growing in my position at Carbal.” Ms Purnell said the course was worth pursuing for anyone interested in the field.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Kirsty Purnell’s health career blooms amongst pandemic response click here.

AHW Kirsty Purnell

Aboriginal Health Worker Kirsty Purnell. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Our Vote Our Story – 4 days left to enrol!

Your vote is your voice on the laws and decisions that affect you and your community. To vote you need to be enrolled.

If you are an Australian citizen aged 18 years or older you are required to vote in the 2022 federal election on Saturday 21 May 2022.

You must be correctly enrolled by 8:00PM local time Monday 18 April 2022. You can enrol online here or if you are already enrolled you can update you name or address here.

Exciting nursing scholarship opportunity

In collaboration with HESTA, the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to offer four scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses to complete any of ACN’s nursing Graduate Certificates in the July 2022 intake. Information about all 20 Graduate Certificates available to this scholarship can be accessed online here.

For more information, including eligibility criteria and to apply here.  Applications are closing soon, at 11:59PM AEST Wednesday 20 April 2022.

First Nations leaders call for climate action

Peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations have released a powerful position paper on the climate emergency and health, calling for action to address pervasive racism, the privileging of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges in climate change responses, and support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health workforce.

The need to address climate change and it impact on health and wellbeing is a major concern for members of the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF) which is made up of 13 members including NACCHO. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-31 acknowledges the impact of climate change by including healthy environments, sustainability, and preparedness, however the need for action goes beyond the scope of the Health Plan.

The impacts of climate change and global heating must always be at the forefront of planning and decision making. Accordingly, the HNLF supports the international calls for the establishment of a set of new norms that sees a warning limit goal of 1.5C rather than 2C, raising Australia’s 2030 ambitions, more equitable water management for communities, improvement in residential living standards, transition to renewable energy, and the end of fossil fuels.

The NHLF calls for all Australian governments to collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and adopt a its recommendations and principles for action to bring about systemic change to the way Australia looks after the environment and addresses the impacts of climate change.

To view the Croaky Health Media article Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health leaders call for climate action click here.

Art display paying respects to the needwonnee people in southern lutruwita/Tasmania and their care for Country. Photo: Melissa Sweet. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

‘Dire’ new RHD data

Last month, the ABC Four Corners program shone a light on the ongoing failure to tackle rheumatic heart disease (RHD), calling it a ‘hidden killer’ in remote communities. It recounted the confronting story of several young women in Queensland who died from an illness that is vanishingly rare outside of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

According to new research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the situation is sliding backwards. A report published this week highlighted the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever (ARF), a precursor to serious heart disease, is rising.

At the time the Four Corners program aired, the most recently available five-year figures showed 2244 diagnoses of ARF from 2015–2019, itself a significant increase on the 1776 recorded from 2013–2017. And yet, according to the new AIHW figures, the tally now stands at 2611 diagnoses from 2016–2020, with the NT recording by far the highest prevalence at 344 per 100,000 population.

You can access the newsGP article in full here and view the AIHW’s report published this week here.

Aboriginal mother holding toddler

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever, a precursor to serious heart disease, is rising. Image source: newsGP.

New online diabetes modules

A package of interactive learning modules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to support people with diabetes has been launched via the National Diabetes Services Scheme. The package has been developed by Diabetes Australia to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare workers and practitioners with diabetes information and culturally appropriate resources to support people living with diabetes and their families.

Diabetes Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Manager Deanne Minniecon said the modules included interactive activities and stories, taking the user on an engaging journey as they learn more about diabetes related health complications and management strategies to support people to live well with diabetes.

The modules have been developed in consultation with expert groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clinicians, medical and research doctors, university academics specialising in diabetes and leaders in education. The SA Health & Medical Research Institute also contributed to the review process. The modules are engaging, accessible in bite size pieces, culturally appropriate and address all of the issues associated with managing diabetes, beyond the traditional scope.

You can view the National Indigenous Times article New diabetes online modules offer diabetes support and education in full here.

Diabetes Australia has partnered with Waanyi–Kalkadoon artist Keisha Leon to tell the story of diabetes and its significant impact of First Nations peoples. Image source: Diabetes Australia website.

Indigenous Marathon Project

Canberran Roxanne Jones is one of 12 Indigenous Marathon Project squad members set to run the New York Marathon. Canberra local, Palawa woman and PhD Candidate Roxanne Jones started running in 2017 and after a decline in her health in 2018, Roxanne was forced to adapt her training to include a wheelchair.

Despite her challenges, Roxanne persevered, racing in the world biggest fun run—the Sydney City2Surf in a wheelchair in 2018. She hasn’t stopped since. “I am passionate about sharing my story so that other people with disabilities, mental health or chronic conditions can see themselves represented. Representation and visibility is so important if we are to be a truly inclusive community. I want to demonstrate that [within the running and walking community], all abilities are welcome and valued”, says Roxanne.

Roxanne joins 11 other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia who have been selected to join the 2022 Indigenous Marathon Project Squad to train for the 42.2km New York City Marathon in November.

You can listen to Roxanne and Head Coach Damian Tuck’s interview on ABC Radio Drive here.

New York marathon runners on bridge

New York Marathon. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Mental health response to disasters

feature tile text 'to be effective, mental health response to disasters must be culturally informed' Cabbage Tree Island ATSI residents evacuating homes

Image in feature tile is of Cabbage Tree Island residents preparing to evacuate their homes during flooding. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Mental health response to disasters

Kabi Kabi and Australian and South Sea Islander psychologist, Ms Kelleigh Ryan and other First Nations experts spoke on SBS NITV radio over the weekend about how in order to be effective, the mental health response to disasters must be culturally informed.

Ms Ryan explained that the system that’s currently in place is not set up to provide effective support, resulting in inadequate cultural competency training leading to pervasive and ongoing life-threatening consequences for First Nations peoples, including chronic poor health, high psychological stress and high suicide and incarceration rates.

“These issues are compounded in times of high stress, such as when dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters,” Ms Ryan said. February and March 2022 saw extreme flooding in Queensland and NSW that devastated entire communities, with towns on Bundjalung Country, including Lismore, Coraki and Cabbage Tree Island, some of the hardest hit.

To listen to the SBS NITV interview in full click here.

Kelleigh Ryan - Australian Psychological Association (APS) Fellow

Kelleigh Ryan – Australian Psychological Association (APS) Fellow. Image source: ABC News.

Dr Casey joins HTA reference committee

The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Review Reference Committee announced yesterday, is tasked with driving major reforms to shape the future of Australia’s health system and provide faster access to novel medicines for patients. The Committee includes stakeholders from Government, industry, the health sector and the patient community.

The independently chaired Committee, will undertake the first major review of the HTA system in 30 years. The HTA Review will focus on medicines, biotherapeutics, and vaccines and will also include any related diagnostic tests and medical devices.

In welcoming NACCHO’s Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey PSM as one of two patient advocates appointed to the Committee, Medicines Australia Chair, Dr Anna Lavelle said “The First Nations voice from NACCHO is vital. The outcomes must lead to health system improvement and meet future patient needs and demands,”

To view the Health Industry Hub article Patient advocacy group and Medicines Australia set eyes on bold reform as HTA Review Reference Committee announced in full click here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey PSM. Image Source: AIDA.

Formal representation in aged care

The Federal Government has allocated $14.8 million over three years to ensure aged care organisations can continue supporting and advocating for older people during a period of significant change and reform of the aged care system.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said “we must have a deep understanding of the views, the wishes and the concerns of our diverse communities. It is vital that people with dementia, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTQI+ individuals and communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, gerontologists and associated health professionals continue to be well represented.”

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), acting on behalf of the National Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care (NAGATSIAC) is one of the seven aged care consumer peak bodies being funded from 1 July 2022. Funding will also support the establishment of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council (NATSIACC) to formalise representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in aged care.

To view Senator Richard Colbeck’s media release in full click here.

Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener

Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener. Image source: Aged Care Guide.

Help improve how pharmacists provide services

Have your say – help improve how pharmacists provide services

NACCHO is working to make the guidelines for pharmacists working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples better.

We want to understand from you how pharmacists and pharmacies can be culturally safe and give the best care to you and your community.

Click here to complete the online survey.

Please pass this information on to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who would be interested in completing the survey.

Remote NT drinking water concerns

Laramba is a remote Aboriginal community, roughly 205 kms west of Alice Springs, that is home to about 300 people. Its water comes from a bore, and uranium occurs naturally in the area. Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher is worried that long-term exposure to the community’s drinking water is making people sick.

A 2020 Power and Water report found the community’s water was contaminated with 0.052 milligrams per litre of uranium, more than three times the concentration limit recommended in Australia’s drinking water guidelines.

Professor Paul Lawton, a kidney specialist with the Menzies School of Health Research, is leading a study to determine whether drinking contaminated water is contributing to health issues. “In remote NT communities, there are great concerns about the quality of drinking water right across the Territory,” Professor Lawton said. “Almost all remote communities are reliant on bore water and, as a result, there are concerns that groundwater is being exposed to large amounts of minerals, particularly heavy metals.”

To view the ABC News article Concerns about drinking water quality in ‘almost all’ remote NT communities. What can be done about it? in full click here.

Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher holding baby

Laramba resident Stanley Fletcher tries to avoid drinking water from the tap whenever he can. Photo: Isaac Nowroozi. Image source: ABC News.

Project to detect diabetes in pregnancy 

A ground-breaking project set up to protect the health of Aboriginal mothers and their families in rural communities by optimising the screening and management of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy has received a $3.2 million funding boost from the Medical Research Future Fund.

Professor Julia Marley, a Senior Principal Research Fellow from The University of WA’s Medical School and the Rural Clinical School of WA, is chief investigator of the ORCHID Study – a collaboration between the Rural Clinical School of WA, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and their member services, Diabetes WA and WA Country Health Services. In welcoming the funding, Professor Marley said diabetes disproportionately impacts the lives of Aboriginal people, with predisposition beginning in pregnancy.

To view the University of WA article Major funding boost for detecting diabetes in pregnancy in rural communities in full click here.

From left, Emma Jamieson (Research Associate, RCSWA), Professor Julia Marley (Senior Principal Research Fellow, RCSWA), Janelle Dillon (Midwife and Diabetes educator at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service), Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA and Research Officer, KAMS

From left, Emma Jamieson (Research Associate, RCSWA), Professor Julia Marley (Senior Principal Research Fellow, RCSWA), Janelle Dillon (Midwife and Diabetes educator at Bega Garnbirringu Health Service), Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA and Research Officer, KAMS). Image source: The University of WA website.

RACGP urges action on smoking

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has urged the federal Government to set ambitious goals and act decisively to reduce tobacco use across the nation. It comes following the college’s submission to the Government’s draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022-2030 (“the Strategy”).

Among its recommendations the RACGP is calling for a targeted approach for different populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other high-risk groups, to help achieve lower smoking rates

RACGP President Professor Karen Price said “We need to consider how to best reach those groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are using tobacco at higher rates compared to the rest of the population. I think part of the answer here lies in culturally appropriate resources to really zero in on populations who have been left behind in the general population decline in smoking prevalence. The RACGP also strongly supports funding programs for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, noting that funding appears to have declined where it is needed most.”

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hand on wooden rail holding cigarette

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.

2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference

The 2nd Australasian COVID-19 Conference hosted by the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), is being held in Sydney from Thursday 21 to Friday 22 July 2022 and will showcase researchers from an array of disciplines, specialist clinicians, epidemiologists and community members who have developed new and harnessed existing tools to comprehensively address prevention, treatment and management of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2 and evolving challenges presented.

To support the conference ASHM are extending invitations to submit abstracts. Abstracts can go towards delivering an oral presentation or a poster presentation at the conference and is a great opportunity to share the amazing work your staff/services do, or share innovative models developed in the ACCHO sector, others in mainstream can learn from. For those who submit abstracts and are successful, NACCHO and ASHM can support costs to attend (travel, accommodation etc).

One of the conference themes addresses the social, political, and cultural issues shaping responses to the pandemic responses as well as COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and care, in the Australasian region, and it would be great to share some of the great work that’s happened and continues to happen in the ACCHO space relating to the COVID response.

The deadline to submit abstracts is Sunday 24 April 2022. You can access the abstract guidelines here and an abstract template here. If you have any questions or would like to chat more about submitting an abstract, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Megan Campbell using this email link or Edan Campbell-O’Brien using this email link. NACCHO really would love to showcase our sector in these large mainstream forums, so please forward on to services if they’re interested and let us know if you’d like to set up a follow up discussion to discuss further.

On a related note, ASHM are also hosting the Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference from Sunday 29 May to Tuesday 31 May in Brisbane (QLD). The registration deadline closes on Sunday 1 May 2022please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

The Lowitja Institute today launched the Indigenous Data Sovereignty Readiness Assessment and Evaluation Toolkit for researchers, governments, and communities, to strengthen community control use and protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and information.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, said the toolkit will play a critical role in efforts to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW who led development of the toolkit said “Data is power. There has always been a push for non-Indigenous people to decide what is done with data relating to Indigenous communities and peoples, and in how data is measured. But this needs to change.”

“Data governance plays a huge role, as well as data capacity building within the community. Once there is improved Indigenous data governance and ownership, we will likely see more timely and accurate data, which can be vital in circumstances like what we now face with COVID-19. These are complex problems and there’s no easy fix. But the needle is beginning to move,” Dr Griffiths said.

“We have a fundamental right to control our data, develop our data, use our data, maintain our data and protect our data if we are to close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.’

To view the Lowitja Institute media release in full click here.

Image source: Research Professional News.

New national suicide prevention approach

$46.7 million has been allocated in the 2022-23 Budget to strengthen suicide prevention at the local level. For the first time, every region in Australia will have a local leader focused on suicide prevention, ensuring early intervention and suicide prevention activities are better coordinated and right for the local area. Suicide Prevention Response Leaders will work within their community to bring together service providers, local councils, emergency services, schools and community groups. They will also have funding to back local approaches and services to reduce suicide.

As part of the Plan, the Government is also investing more than $96 million into mental health and suicide prevention measures for Indigenous Australians whose suicide rate is more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians. This includes funding to establish regional suicide prevention networks in each jurisdiction, implement culturally sensitive, co-designed aftercare services with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations being the preferred service providers, and to create a culturally appropriate 24/7 crisis line that is governed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the media release in full click here.

Isolation not a privilege available to all

The Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) says it is reaching its limit as it battles rising COVID-19 case numbers and overcrowded housing in remote communities across the region. The organisation has also accused the WA government of being “fixated” on vaccination rates while being unprepared to provide “basic primary health care needs” when people do become infected.

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell says access to food, welfare, accommodation and mental health services have been raised as “constant concerns” over the past two years. Ms O’Donnell said KAMS had struggled “every day, every hour and every minute” to maintain services as case numbers grow. “The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have managed COVID-19, in our respective regions, and will continue to, but we are reaching our limit…and we are doing this at our own expense,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said overcrowded accommodation was a “major concern and logistical issue” in providing safe and practical isolation accommodation in remote communities. “The ability to isolate is a privilege and for our people in this state, we need support to facilitate this,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Photo: Jacqui Lynch, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP disappointment over 10 Year Plan 

The RACGP has issued a warning that measures announced in the Federal Budget do not address the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and future challenges of a fatigued health system. Of chief concern to the college is a failure to implement major components of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, much of which remains unfunded.

Responding to the Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “Reform without proper investment is not worth the paper it’s written on.” The lack of focus on funding and implementing the 10-year plan will result in continuing gaps in aged care, mental health, disability, and chronic and complex care.

“There is also a disappointing lack of new investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare,” Dr Price said. “If we are serious about Closing the Gap, then surely giving greater assistance to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other health services to improve health outcomes must be a priority.”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Eating disorders funding welcomed

More than one million Australians are living with an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. And yet less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support.

Anyone can experience an eating disorder, with research showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience eating disorders and body image issues at similar rates to other people in Australia. Discrimination or exposure to traumatic life situations can increase a person’s risk for this illness. Research is needed to understand any cultural or other differences in the types of eating disorders that might be experienced and to develop a culturally-specific diagnostic tool that will help recognise when an eating disorder or body image issue might be a factor for someone.

Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, said the Budget announcement of $23.4 million for  would help to support those with an eating disorder or body image issues, providing better access to critical treatment services, and investing in preventing eating disorders from developing.

To view the Butterfly media release click here, access the Butterfly Foundation website here including their webpage Culturally safe support drastically needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing eating disorders with Garra’s Story below.

Remote mob’s vitamin D deficiency risk

A new Curtin University study has found 95% per cent of Australians have low vitamin D intakes. Lead researcher dietitian and PhD student Eleanor Dunlop, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the study suggests that Australians need data-driven nutrition policy to safely increase their intakes of vitamin D.

“Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of poor bone health. Since nearly one in four adults are vitamin D deficient in Australia, carefully considered food-based strategies may safely increase intakes of vitamin D and improve vitamin D status in the Australian population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency, as well as people born outside of Australia or the main English-speaking countries. People residing in southern states of Australia, and people who are obese or have low physical activity levels, are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.

To view the Curtin University article in full click here.

Image source: Irish Cancer Society website.

Healthy Feet Project

Diabetes and diabetes related foot disease are disproportionately prevalent in the Aboriginal population. In NSW, Aboriginal people experience almost a four-fold amputation rate due to diabetes-related foot disease when compared to non-Aboriginal people. A 2016 literature review recommended an increase in the NSW Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry to provide culturally safe and community focused care for Aboriginal people with diabetes related foot disease.

The NSW Ministry of Health, along with partners, developed the Healthy Deadly Feet (HDF) Project. In line with improving access to High Risk Foot Services in NSW this project aims to increase the Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry and improve diabetes related foot disease outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW.

The project team will work with podiatrists, Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners and Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal allied health assistants in participating local health districts and special health networks in NSW. By increasing the health workforce in NSW, the project aims to see improved access and awareness of culturally safe foot care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leading to an increase in screening and early interventions in NSW.

For further information about the HFP click here.

Cover of NSW Government HDF publication. Artist: Wiradjuri woman Trudy Sloane.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Looking beyond the CTG statistics

Image in feature tile from Australian National Audit Office website.

Looking beyond the CTG statistics

Following the release of the 13th annual Close the Gap report, Pro Bono Australia spoke to the CEO of the Lowitja Institute, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, about the need for governments to embrace genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to close the gap in health outcomes.

Produced by the Lowitja Institute, this year’s Close the Gap report centres on the work of community-led organisations and services providing health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. Among its key recommendations are calls for action on gender and climate justice, a national housing framework, and full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Adjunct Professor Mohamed, said that the report showed that community-led work on closing the gap on health outcomes was already happening, but now it needed to be “truly” supported.

“The report is a beautiful and powerful call to action, showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led brilliance at work, in all sorts of settings, paving the way ahead as we have done as peoples over millennia,” Mohamed said. “Now it’s time for governments and mainstream services to step up, and step back, if we are to truly close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.”

You can read the Pro Bono Australia article in full here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia website.

2022 National Immunisation Program

Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Health, Dr Brendan Murphy has provided a 2022 National Immunisation Program influenza program update, with important information about influenza vaccines available under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for the 2022 Influenza season.

Dr Murphy says that the influenza vaccination is particularly important this year. Over the COVID-19 period/reduced circulation of influenza virus and lower levels of influenza vaccine coverage compared with previous years may have resulted in low levels of community immunity. With international borders reopening a resurgence of influenza is expected in 2022, with the Australian community potentially more vulnerable to the virus this year.

You can view Dr Brendan Murphy’s letter in full here.

ATAGI advice on COVID-19 vax winter dose

The Australian Government Operation COVID Shield 25 March 2022 Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin includes the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice on the winter dose of the DOVDI-19 vaccine. The ATAGI recommends an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for winter for selected population groups who are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and who have received their primary vaccination and first booster dose. These groups include:

  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise (as defined in the 11th February 2022 ATAGI statement on the use of a 3rd primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older

ATAGI recommends the rollout of the winter dose for the above groups commence from April 2022 and coinciding with the rollout of the 2022 influenza vaccination program.

You can access the 25 March 2022 Primary Care Vaccine Roll-out Provider Bulletin here; recommendations for key population groups for an additional COVID-19 vaccine winter dose from April 2022 here; and the ATAGI Recommended Dose and Vaccines poster here.

syringe entering arm

Photo: Albert Perez, AAP. Image source: ABC News website.

Health workforce: not normal, not safe

Dr Clare Skinner, President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has written an article Health workforce: Not normal, not safe, but it can be fixed for the Medical Journal of Australia’s online publication, InSight. Dr Skinner writes: There is a Māori proverb in Aotearoa New Zealand that says, “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata he tangata.” It translates as, “What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers across Australia have said, repeatedly, the biggest problem is not the supply of ventilators, or intensive care beds, or personal protective equipment, the problem is people, specifically the supply of skilled workforce. We don’t have enough staff, we don’t have enough staff in the right places, and we don’t have enough staff with expertise in the right areas.

The clinical workforce is unevenly distributed. Health professionals, especially doctors, are highly concentrated in major cities. Health outcomes in rural and remote areas lag behind outcomes in metropolitian areas. There is an urgent need to develop workforce models that improve health care access and equity, especially for Indigenous Australians living in remote communities.

Australia must also train an adequate health workforce to meet its own needs, and the needs of the region, as well as allowing for some international movement of trained clinicians with well designed and responsive re-credentialling processes. In particular, we need urgent and sustained attention to training and supporting Indigenous health professionals.

To view the InSight article in full click here.

Dr Clare Skinner with stethoscope around neck in front of ER sign

Dr Clare Skinner, President Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. Image source: Daily Telegraph.

Diabetes across the Lifecourse

The Menzies School of Health Research has developed a range of health professional resources to improve systems of care and services for people with diabetes and their families in rural and remote Australia, specifically the NT, Far North Queensland and the Kimberley, WA.

You can access the resources here, including Dhalaleena’s Story – Talking about Diabetes video here. This video features Dhalaleena, an Aboriginal Health Practitioner with the Top End Regional Health Services, talking about her journey with diabetes. In the video Dhalaleena discusses the following topics 1) diabetes and glucose 2) the role the pancreas plays in diabetes 3) the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, and 4) the importance of exercise in managing diabetes.

Cognitive function in those with diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) has a subtle deleterious effect on cognition and imposes a higher lifetime risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. A research article Using health check data to investigate cognitive function in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with diabetes in the Torres Strait, Australia published in Volume 5, Issue 1 of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism says the findings of their research suggest that early and subtle decrements in working memory may be a potential complication of diabetes among Indigenous Australians living in the Torres Strait. In this population, which has elevated dementia rates linked to chronic disease, our results highlight the need for more preventative health resourcing. The results of the research suggest that early identification of younger people with diabetes, targeted education and supported glycaemic control could be important for protecting cognitive health.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: ICU Management & Practice website.

Using digital wellbeing tools webinar

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have always adapted to new technologies and are finding creative ways to maintain their health and wellbeing in the digital world. There are a range of websites, apps, videos and other online resources that our health and community workforce can use with their Indigenous clients to help them stay physically and mentally well. A recorded one hour webinar available on demand will introduce you to a new social and emotional wellbeing website called WellMob. The WellMob website is a bank of over 200 Indigenous-specific digital resources to promote a healthy mind, body and culture.

The inspiration for the WellMob website came from our frontline workers who identified the need for a ‘one-stop-shop’ of culturally appropriate wellbeing resources. An all-star panel of Indigenous wellbeing workers will share some online wellbeing resources and yarn about how to use with your clients and community.

You can access further details about the webinar and enrol using this link.

Image source: The Australian & NZ Mental Health Association.

Trauma and pregnancy project research position

The Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health has an exciting position to work with VACCA and La Trobe Regional Hospital in Morwell, supported by the Healing the Past By Nurturing the Future project team:

The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), in partnership with Latrobe Regional Hospital, are looking for a new Community Researcher to work with them on a research project: Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future.  It is an Aboriginal-led project that aims to demonstrate how we can best provide support during pregnancy and after birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who have experienced complex trauma. The Community Researcher will work to engage Aboriginal Community members and use their knowledge of Community, culture and Aboriginal ways of knowing and doing to advise the team.

This position is based at VACCA and Latrobe Regional Hospital, with support from University of Melbourne. This is a fixed term position for up to 4 years, open to full-time or part-time applicants. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply. If you would like more information or to apply, please refer to the Position Description here and/or contact Cath Chamberlain on 0428 921 271 or via email using this link.

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.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) encourages and assists entry-level Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students to complete their studies and join the health workforce. The Australian Government established the Scheme as a tribute to one of Australia’s most outstanding Aboriginal leaders, the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter. Puggy is known for his outstanding contribution to Indigenous Australians’ health and his role and Chair of NACCHO. He devoted the majority of his life to improving Aboriginal health outcomes.

From this year, the Scheme is extending the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals to participate in the PHMSS Mental Health Studies Mentoring Program as a mentor. The program pairs up PHMSS scholarship recipients (within the mental health discipline) with more experienced First Nations practitioners. The aim is to increase the amount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health professionals and retain them. This will be done by supporting the students to complete their studies and transition them successfully into their practice as smoothly as possible.

For more information and to apply visit the Australian College of Nursing website here. No need to register, just click on the link on the day to join. Applications close Monday 11 April 2022.

There will also be an online information session at 1:00PM on Monday 4 April 2022 via Zoom here.

Working with the Nephrologist: Stages 4 & 5

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar from 7:30PM–8:30PM (AEST) Tuesday 12 April 2022. Nephrologist A/Prof Richard Baer will present a case study that addresses symptoms, management and treatment options in stages 4 and 5 of CKD. A suitable management plan to slow the progression of CKD will be discussed along with treatment options in kidney failure and when to refer to a nephrologist.

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 331983 (pending approval).

To register for this webinar, you will require a Zoom Account. If you have a Zoom account you can register here for the webinar.

If you do not have an existing Zoom account sign up here first sign up for Zoom here and then register for the webinar via the link above.

Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

feature tile text 'Close the Gap Cmpaign Report 2022 - Transforming power: voices for generational change launches tomorrow' & 1972 photo of Aboriginal protestors

Image in feature tile from the Library & Archives NT is of demonstrators protesting for land rights outside the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, 20 July 1972.

Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Reconciliation Australia are delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2022 Close the Gap Campaign report “Transforming Power; Voices for generational change”, produced by the Lowitja Institute.

The report showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led community initiatives, that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, provide genuine opportunities for decision making and that strengthen and embed cultures.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see and hear keynote speakers and panel members talk about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their allies, are working to address health equity and equality.

The report will be launched tomorrow on National Close the Gap Day during the  webinar from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM AEDT Thursday 17 March 2022. To register for the webinar click here. The webinar is FREE, but registration is essential.

ACCHO partners with Diabetes SA

Towards the end of 2021, Moorundi ACCHS contacted Diabetes SA to arrange for an educator to visit their clinic to service the community in Murray Bridge. This partnership has been positive for both parties.

The local catchment area in Murray Bridge, SA, has a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and the rates of diabetes are high. Being a regional area, timely access to Credentialled Diabetes Educators is limited. Moorundi ACCHS identified this gap and reached out to Diabetes SA for assistance. Moorundi has partnered with Diabetes SA to have a Credentialled Diabetes Educator visit the clinic once a month to provide culturally appropriate consultations and education about diabetes. So far, we have had two successful clinics with a third scheduled for March 2022. Together, the aim is to improve the management of diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Murray Bridge.

To access the Moorundi ACCHS website click here and to access the Diabetes SA website click here.

Moorundi ACCHS staff. Image source: Moorundi ACCHS website.

AMA calls out dumping of PHC 10-year plan

The AMA is calling on the Federal Government to urgently release its Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan, which appears to have been dumped, despite over two years of development and significant input from stakeholders. The Government gave a commitment in October 2019 to develop a national Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan to strengthen and modernise Australia’s primary health care system.

The system has been struggling to cope with an increasing workload as the Australian population ages and people’s health needs become more complex. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Government’s failure to deliver the reform and support necessary to equip GPs into the future represented a major policy backflip.

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

Image source: Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform

Family violence surges after floods

Catastrophic flooding in NSW and SE Queensland has led to lost lives, homes, belongings, pets and livelihoods. As the process of cleaning up after the floods continues, we can expect an often unspoken outcome of natural disasters. Domestic violence rates surge during and after bushfires, pandemics, earthquakes, cyclones and floods.

Fear and uncertainty are common during disasters and people’s reactions to disasters vary. In some, these feelings can trigger domestic and other types of violence. The many associated losses related to disasters – including loss of homes and their contents, cars and livelihoods – often cause financial strain, which may also place added pressure on families and relationships.

Grief, loss and trauma can also leave people feeling overwhelmed and test a person’s coping skills. Experiencing life-threatening situations or those that bring about loss and trauma can also lead to mental health issues, such as PTSD. This too, can complicate family dynamics and change people’s ability to cope. Drug and alcohol use often soars during and after disasters, which may also exacerbate tensions in relationships.

When people are displaced and need to stay with other community members or in shelters, the rates of violence against women also rises. In those cases, women and children tend to experience more violence in general, not just domestic violence.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

A related article looks at the first episode of Taking care for 2022 – a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.

screenshot of Taking care Health practitioners' role in eliminating family violence whooshkaa, 43:12 minutes' & image of two female GPs

Image source: Ahpra & National Boards website.

RANZCO launches vision for eye equity

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has launched its “vision for 2030 and beyond” that aims to deliver equal and sustainable access to eye care for all. The ambitious plan was described at RANZCO Scientific Congress, a virtual event held from 26 February to 1 March 2022.

In his opening address, RANZCO President Professor Nitin Verma highlighted the importance of sight to general well-being and the impact of eye disease and low vision, including increased dementia, falls, car crashes etc. as well as the economic/financial cost. He said “considerable” inequity of access to eye care across Australia is often the single cause of irreversible, unnecessary and preventable vision loss.

The plan has been launched in response to a request in 2021 from the Federal Minister for Health, for a plan that would close the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and ensure equitable eye care for all Australians, with the aim of eliminating avoidable visual impairment and blindness. The evidence-based plan looks at the problems RANZCO currently sees in eye healthcare delivery through six key areas of focus: service delivery, workforce and training, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare, global eye health, preventative healthcare and sustainability.

To view the mivision The Ophthalmic Journal article in full click here. The short film below examines the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Impacts of racism on health and wellbeing

The Australian Government Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner (ONRHC) has issued a Position Statement: impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. The key points of the statement include:

There is strong evidence of the impact of racism and barriers to accessing health services for Indigenous people negatively impacting a range of health outcomes for Indigenous people irrespective of geography
• Racism negatively impacts the attraction, recruitment, retention and leadership opportunities of the Indigenous health workforce.
• Understanding and addressing racism is a key to increasing the uptake of health services and improving health outcomes.
• Transformational change can only be achieved when Indigenous knowledge and cultures are acknowledged and recognised and services are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

The statement says the ONRHC will work towards dismantling racism in the health sector by working closely with Indigenous leaders and peak health organisations to advise Governments, medical institutions, colleges and universities to ensure racism is acknowledged and addressed.

You can access the ONRHC Position Statement in full here.

Image source: New Scientist.

Creating equitable access to hearing healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have among the highest rates of otitis media and hearing loss in the world – and social determinants of health such as hygiene, nutrition and overcrowding of housing are key risk factors for otits media. From the start of their lives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children experience inequity in hearing health – Indigenous children aged up to 14 years are three times as likely to have otitis media as non-Indigenous children, and are twice as likely to have a long-term ear/hearing problem. Hearing loss can have a catastrophic effect on the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, impacting the life trajectory from childhood development to academic outcomes through to over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Early intervention is critical to diagnosing and treating ear disease and improving the quality of children’s lives. However, despite decades of research demonstrating that early detection and timely intervention are key to diagnosing and treating ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, not enough progress has been made in providing culturally safe, accessible and equitable hearing health services.

The interview conducted by the Director of the HEAR Centre at Macquarie University, Professor Catherine McMahon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, Professor Tom Calma, Professor Kelvin Kong and Associate Professor Boe Rambaldini examined the problems and solutions for creating better, culturally appropriate services to meet the needs of communities where hearing health problems are being neglected.

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

Image source: Macquarie University website.

Hidden e-cigarette dangers awareness campaign

Young people are urged to quit vaping and know the facts and dangers of e-cigarettes, which can contain harmful substances found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell have launched Get the Facts – Vaping Toolkit and NSW Health awareness campaign.

The campaign, which is aimed at secondary students, reminds parents, carers, young people and teachers vaping is not safe and can have harmful, long-term effects to the physical and brain development of young people. Minister Hazzard said that research has proven that e-cigarettes are just as addictive and harmful as regular cigarettes. “It makes it pretty obvious as to the harm it can cause to youngsters’ lungs.”

Many vapes contain nicotine, some at extremely high concentrations, even if they are not labelled as such, and evidence suggests they can lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. NSW Health has worked with the NSW Department of Education to develop the Vaping Toolkit, which contains evidence-based resources and educational materials for parents, carers, young people and schools, to combat the rising number of children and young people who are trying or taking up vaping.

To view The Pulse article in full click here and the NSW Government NSW Health Do you know what you’re vaping? website page here.

Image source: The Guardian.

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.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout will now be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 17 March 2022.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Group, Austrlaian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 14th anniversary of National Apology

14th anniversary of National Apology

Link-Up (Qld) will host a morning tea on Monday 14 February 2022 to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.  Dr (Aunty) Ruth Hegarty, who grew up in the dormitories at Cherbourg, and Aboriginal activist Patricia Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks will deliver keynote speeches on the occasion.

After 14 years, the Apology still holds considerable meaning for Aunty Ruth. “The Apology in 2008 brought up emotions and memories of a lifetime of unresolved hurt and opportunities lost. For my mother and me it was too late,” she said. “The continuing acknowledgement of this day, whilst significantly political, hopefully will move the nation forward in achieving the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders seek in consolidating our status as the First Nations people,” Aunty Ruth said.

Through this annual event, Link-Up (Qld) acknowledges the resilience and strength of the Stolen Generations and their families, recognises the multiple ways that intergenerational trauma can manifest, and draws attention to pathways to justice for First Nations Australians. “You would be hard pressed to find one of our families that have not been impacted by the forceful removal of our children and the ongoing disruption to our family structures, our cultures and way of life. Not only will this take dedicated effort, healing and time to repair, we also need to address the current rates of our children’s removal from our families,” said Patricia Turner AM.

As Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Ms Turner is behind the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in 2019. “The National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a way forward through commitments by governments to shared decision making between our peoples and governments on matters that impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and support for our community-controlled organisations to provide our families and children with the services they need, delivered in a safe way,” she said.

For further information on the Link-Up (Qld)’s Anniversary of the National Apology 2022 morning tea click here.

Image source: State Library NSW website.

Supporting ACCHO access to digital health

The Australian Digital Health Agency is looking forward to hosting webinars to support ACCHOs through the NASH PKI Certificate transition and maintain access to Digital Health tools. Multiple sessions of both webinars listed below will be offered during February–March 2022:

A closer look at the roles of Responsible Officer (RO) and Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO)

In order for healthcare organisations to maintain access to important digital health tools such as electronic prescribing and My Health Record, they need to ensure that a current NASH PKI certificate is installed. NASH PKI certificates may be expiring in March 2022 for many organisations. NASH PKI Certificates need to be renewed by an Responsible Officer (RO) or Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) in your organisation. This session will explain the responsibilities of these individuals and the process of delegating the roles to staff within an organisation. If your organisation has undergone a change of ownership or a change in responsible officer will provide you with guidance on how to complete the steps required to update these details and manage Organisation Maintenance Officers. This will allow your organisation to complete NASH PKI Certificate renewal and installation. You can register for this webinar here.

Renewing a NASH PKI Certificate for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs)

In order for ACCHOs to maintain access to important digital health tools such as electronic prescribing and My Health Record, they need to ensure that a current NASH PKI certificate is installed. NASH PKI certificates may be expiring in March 2022 for many organisations. This session is designed to step you through the process of requesting and renewing a NASH PKI certificate for your ACCHO to ensure you can continue to use these digital health tools. It is recommended staff members acting in the role of Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) in your organisation attend the session as they are responsible for renewing NASH PKI certificates. OMOs are also encouraged to check they can log into PRODA prior to attending, to ensure the demonstrated steps can be easily completed following the session. You can register for this webinar here.

For additional information and resources you can access the Australian Government Digital Health website here.

ACCHO healthcare worker at desk, digitalhealth.gov.au for healthcare providers logo

Ironbark healthy ageing study

NSW services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people (45 years and older) are being invited to participate in the Ironbark study. The study compares the health impacts of two programs: Standing Strong and Tall program and Healthy Community program.

We will fund and train services to run one of these programs weekly for 12 months.

Join an information session from 11 AM – 12 PM Monday 21 February 2022 to find out more.

You can access a flyer for the information session here and obtain the zoom link for the information session by emailing Sallie using this link. For more information about the Ironbark project here.

Chronic Kidney Disease professional webinar

Kidney Health Australia’s first health professional webinar for the year Case Study:  Early Detection & Management of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) 2022 will take place on Tuesday 22 February 2022.

CKD remains an under-recognised condition in Australia, due to the asymptomatic nature of the disease and low awareness among Australians regarding the risk factors for CKD. Join Kidney Health Australia with Nephrologist, Professor Karen Dwyer, as she discusses the importance of early detection, how to detect CKD and current treatment options to delay the progression of this under-diagnosed disease.

This is a Royal Australian College of GPs accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 223614.

To register for this webinar, you will require a Zoom Account. If you do not have an existing Zoom account sign up here here. If you have a Zoom account register here for the webinar.

Mental health care for youth urgent

The following is an extract from the article The reality of mental health care for young people, and the urgent need for solutions article published late last year in The Medical Journal of Australia:

The transition to adulthood is the peak period for the onset of the mental and substance use disorders that have such serious impacts on the productive years of adult life. Mental ill health is by far the principal source of burden of disease for people aged 12–25 years, and at least 50% of young people will experience mental health problems. Further, the mental health of young people has been steadily undermined in recent decades by a cluster of socio‐economic forces. This syndemic trend has accelerated during the COVID‐19 pandemic, with surveys and health department data documenting the wave of distress, mental ill health, and suicidal behaviour flowing into emergency departments and bloating waiting lists.

We saw a 25% global increase in anxiety and depression during 2020. This surge or “shadow pandemic” was predicted by Orygen modelling in May 2020. The under‐resourced mental health system has been overwhelmed in Australia, with general practices and headspaces inundated, emergency departments flooded with demand, and the mental health workforce dwindling and exhausted. While telehealth keeps the channel partially open, care has become detached, dispersed, and diluted. Despite welcome policy and funding announcements, timely access to quality care for young people with mental ill health is more difficult than ever.

To access the article in full click here.

Photo: Greedy Hen. Image source: The Guardian.

Making a difference in Aboriginal health

In the heart of central Australia, Celeste Brand, a young Aboriginal woman and Curtin social work graduate, is improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal mothers and their children. Brand, 28, has Arabana (SA) roots grounded in Eastern Arrernte. She currently lives on Central Arrernt Country, which covers the land occupied by the township of Alice Springs (Mparntwe) and surrounding areas.

Brand is a social worker with the Australian Nursing Family Partnership Program, which provides primary healthcare to Aboriginal mothers and mothers to-be living in and around Mparntwe. As part of her role, Brand helps women to stay healthy during pregnancy and their baby’s formative years. She also helps them connect to services, set goals and foster nurturing family home environments. “We work with pregnant mums right through until the child’s second birthday. I work alongside nurses, midwives and Aboriginal community workers. Some of my work includes advocacy, assessment (safety, risk and psychosocial), referral and liaising with community services,” Brand explains.

With the gap for quality of life and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as wide as ever, Brand says it’s crucial for Indigenous people to have autonomy over their own health practices. “It allows Aboriginal people to be involved in decision-making about us and for us. Control of and access to health care by Indigenous people allows us to make decisions about our health in line with our priorities and our ways of working.”

To view the full article about Celeste Brand on the Curtin University website click here.

Celeste Brand with her 9-month-old daughter, Miranda Stuart, at Alice Springs Hospital

Celeste Brand with her 9-month-old daughter, Miranda Stuart, at Alice Springs Hospital. Photo: Emma Murray. Image source: Curtin University website.

Up to $10,000 for professional development

The Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) provides scholarships and bursaries to help health professionals in rural and remote Australia retain and enhance their skills, capacity and scope of practice. The Program is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health, administered in NSW by NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN).

The HWSP is available to medical, nursing, midwifery, allied health, dental and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals providing primary health care in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) sector, non-government organisations and private practice.

For further information about the HWSP and to apply click here.

tile text 'Health Workforce Scholarship Program Recipient Debbie Hopper' - NSW Rural Doctors Network logo & portrait shot of Debbie Hopper

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.

National Condom Day

National Condom Day is on Monday 14 February 2022, a day to promote healthy sexual relationships and encourage the use of condoms and dams. Condoms and dams are the best forms of prevention of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and condoms can also prevent unintended pregnancy.

With national rates of STIs rising it’s important that people understand the benefits of condoms. Condoms are 98% effective at protecting against most STIs like syphilis, HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea. However, condoms don’t protect you from all STIs such as syphilis, herpes and genital warts. Using condoms correctly will prevent them breaking, leaking or slipping off during sex. Use only water-based or silicone lubricants, not oil-based.

If you’re sexually active you need to get regular STI tests. If you have any symptoms or are worried about your sexual health, then arrange a test straight away with your doctor or sexual health clinic.

For more information about National Condom Day click here and to access the Young Deadly Syphilis Free Campaign website click here.

jeans pocket with 3 condoms sticking out: one in black, one in yellow, one in red foil

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

feature tile text 'Aboriginal orgs write open letter to NT Chief Min re escalating covid-19 outbreak' & image of health professional in PPE administering vax to Aboriginal man

Note: image in feature tile from The Guardian – photo: Katherine Morrow.

Letter to Chief Minister about COVID spread

The Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), AMSANT, the Central Land Council and the CEO of Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation have written an open letter to the NT Chief Minister saying “as Aboriginal organisations representing our communities across the NT, we are writing to you about the rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Central Australia. We have been advocating continuously for firm action to slow the outbreak since it began in the early days of 2022.”

“However, our requests have been ignored, or action taken too late or on too small a scale to make a real difference. There has been a significant failure by government agencies in Central Australia to put into practice the plans agreed with your government before the outbreak. This has directly led to COVID spreading out of control in the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia and beyond.”

To read the media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal people with masks sitting along long bench

Image source: 7 News website.

9 out of 10 NT COVID patients Aboriginal

Nine out of 10 of the patients with COVID-19 in NT hospitals are Aboriginal people, a rate which health experts say is “concerning” but, unfortunately, not surprising. The NT reopened its borders last month and, since then, coronavirus has spread into every region in the territory.

“We predicted this, predicted that the virus would spread like wildfire through our remote communities and this is exactly what we’re seeing now,” Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance (AMSANT) CEO John Paterson said. “This is a jurisdiction where we’ve got high numbers of the most vulnerable population in Australia.

“Aboriginal Territorians are the sickest in this country with all the chronic illnesses and it was just going to be doubly hard for them if they contracted COVID for them to recover. “It’s very alarming, very concerning, we’re disappointed.”

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

portrait of Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman

Kalinda Griffiths, an UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman, said experts had long warned that Aboriginal people were more at risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Image source: ABC News.

CoronaCheck fights misinformation

CoronaCheck is RMIT ABC Fact Check’s weekly email newsletter dedicated to fighting the misinformation infodemic surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

You can read an extract from latest edition below, and subscribe to have the next newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

Welcome to the first edition of CoronaCheck for 2022. As the world enters the third year of the pandemic, we remain committed to helping our readers separate fact from fiction.

This week, we take a look at some of the most pervasive incorrect claims being spread over the summer — from the fake death of a child supposedly following a COVID-19 vaccination to the continued misrepresentation of coronavirus hospitalisation and death statistics.

To view the ABC News item in full click here.

vector image covid-19 cell with text 'Corona Check' red, black, beige colours

Whole-of-organisation approach gets results

New research from the University of WA (UWA) has highlighted the importance of a whole-of-organisation approach in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients.

Putting Policy into Practice: How Three Cancer Services Perform against Indigenous Health and Cancer Frameworks is the first study to compare the performance of tertiary cancer services against two national Australian best practice guidelines.

Lead author, researcher Emma Taylor from UWA’s WA Centre for Rural Health, said with cancer one of the leading causes of death for Indigenous Australians, it’s time to focus attention on how cancer services are best delivered to this section of the population.

“The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework and the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health are key national policy documents that aim to reduce health disparities,” Ms Taylor said.

To view the University of WA article in full click here.

WA Centre for Rural Health researcher Emma Taylor

Researcher Emma Taylor from the WA Centre for Rural Health. Image source: University of WA website.

Tracking BBV and STI strategy progress

The Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society’s reportTracking the progress 2019: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander BBV and STI strategy provides an annual account of progress of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood-borne Virus (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI) Strategy.

Australia’s National BBV and STI Strategies aim to improve testing, treatment and uptake of preventative measures for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, STIs and HIV, and to reduce the incidence, morbidity, mortality,  personal and social impacts they cause.

The report describes the targets, objectives and indicators of the strategy, and the level of progress being made in response.

To view the report click here.

Aboriginal dot art of communicable disease spread, over map of Australia

Image source: ATSIHAW HIV and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities in 2017 booklet.

Planning for end of life

The GroundSwell Project has released a video Yarning our wishes: a film about planning for end of life which aims to provide health professionals and community organisations with key points and learnings, as well as other cultural considerations when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in end-of-life care. 

The GroundSwell Project collaborated with partners, CuriousWorks, South Western Sydney Local Health District Palliative Care, and Aboriginal communities in South Western Sydney, NSW for conversations about what matters and what is missing when it comes to planning and caring for someone when they are dying.

The video below is accompanied by a guide, which also offers additional resources about end-of-life care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can access the guide and resources here.

Kidney health information for mob

Kidney Health Australia has a webpage which provides information about kidney health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It covers the following:

  • the role of the kidneys
  • ways to keep your kidneys healthy and reduce your risk of getting kidney disease
  • information on kidney health checks.

The page has links to further resources on these topics, including:

To view the Kidney Health Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people website page click here.

Aboriginal painting re kidney health

Image source: Kidney Health Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

feature tile text 'understanding covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities key to increase vax rates' & pop art image of vax being drawn from vial

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Photograph in feature tile from Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, The Guardian.

Understanding mob’s vax hesitancy

Understanding COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities is proving vital in the push to increase vaccination rates. As of 1 December 2021, 57.5% f the Aboriginal population in WA had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination and 39.4% had received both doses. This is compared to 86.7% of the general population across the state having had one COVID-19 jab and 76.4% having also had their second.

Yamatji Noongar woman Sharon Wood-Kenney, who has been part of a team holding information sessions with Indigenous people in Perth about vaccinations, said many of the sessions were spent discussing why people did not want to get vaccinated. “We run our sessions to myth-bust, to talk about what’s going on, to answer questions — I’m finding a lot of people not really sure about what the facts are about COVID,” she said.

Ms Wood-Kenney said coming from a family that was affected by the Stolen Generation, she understood hesitancy about trusting the Government, but stressed the advice and information were coming from health experts With restrictions on the State border set to be removed when 90% of West Australians are vaccinated, community transmission of the virus is inevitable, according to modelling done by the WA Health Department.

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

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern QLD, Image source : ABC News.

Why you need a vaccine booster

If it’s been six months since you got the second COVID vaccine dose, it’s time to book in for your booster shot. This will provide additional protection against COVID, including the new Omicron variant. While the evidence is still emerging, preliminary data suggests a Pfizer booster might give the same protection against Omicron as double-dose vaccination did for the original strain.

When you get your first dose of COVID vaccine, your body produces an immune response against a part of the virus called the spike protein. If you’re exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, your immune system can recognise and fight the virus quickly. The immune response to a single dose of COVID vaccine is generally short-lived. So a second dose is needed to have a stronger and longer-lasting response. Over time, the amount of antibodies in your body decreases – this is referred to as waning immunity.

If the immune response wanes below the level needed for protection against COVID – the “protective threshold” – your immune system may not be able to prevent infection when exposed to the virus.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

COVID-19 Dose One vial, Dose Two vial & Booster vial - ticks on first two doses

Image source: NIH Director’s Blog.

Support for First Nations Voice to Parliament

On International Human Rights Day, the Law Council of Australia has restated its unwavering support for a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendations of the Referendum Council. “Constitutional recognition is vital to protect the rights and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Law Council of Australia President, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said.

A First Nations Voice, constitutionally enshrined, is a manifestation of the right to self-determination, which, at a minimum, entails the entitlement of peoples to have control over their destiny and to be treated respectfully. This includes peoples being free to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media release in full click here.

According to research undertaken by the Australian National University support for legal reform on Indigenous issues is not only high, it’s also durable. Public attitudes have shifted to such an extent in the last 40 years, there is little reason to think a constitutionally enshrined Voice wouldn’t pass a referendum if it was held today.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

Image source: The Guardian.

Prof Behrendt wins Human Rights Medal

Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt AO is a Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman and the Director of Research at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Professor Behrendt holds the UTS inaugural Chair in Indigenous Research. Her contribution to Indigenous education and research has been widely recognised.

In 2009 she was named NAIDOC Person of the Year for her advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 2011 she was the NSW State recipient Australian of the Year. This Award noted that Professor Behrendt would “continue to be at the forefront of national discussion for many years”. That prediction has demonstrably come to fruition – whether it be in the fields of Indigenous justice and the law, advocacy, or the visual and performing arts. Her leadership and work have continued to be recognised through many awards. In 2020 Professor Behrendt was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release announcing the three 2021 Human Rights Award winners click here.

Professor Larissa Behrendt

Professor Larissa Behrendt. Image source: Australian of the Year Awards website.

Highest rate of leukaemia virus in world

A new study has found that remote central Australian Aboriginal communities have the highest prevalence of human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) in the world. This devastating virus can cause severe disease, including aggressive adult T-cell lymphoma (ATL), HTLV-1 associated myelopathy, and uveitis, an inflammation of the eyes that can, if left untreated, lead to vision loss.

The study published in the PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases found the prevalence of HTLV-1 in adults in central Australia was 36.8%, the highest reported worldwide. Prevalence increased with age suggesting that sexual contact may be the predominant mode of transmission.

To view the article in full click here.

HTLV-1 cell

Image source: Newsweek.

Type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal girls research

Dr Lisa Nicholas from the Adelaide Medical School has been awarded $150,000 over two years to study why Aboriginal girls are more prone to youth-onset obesity and type 2 diabetes than non-Aboriginal girls. She will examine whether the disparity is exacerbated in children of mothers who developed diabetes during pregnancy.

Knowledge gained from the study will help to identify individuals most at risk of these conditions and provide opportunities for earlier intervention strategies. Dr Nicholas was awarded the funding under the 2021 Women’s Health grant which is a new scheme.

To view the University of Adelaide media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands blood sugar levels finger prick test

Image source: The The Medical Journal of Australia.

Health journal research assistant opportunity

The University of Melbourne are seeking expressions of interest for a short-term casual Level A (Research Assistant) role to support the establishment of a First Nations health and wellbeing journal. Support would include organising stakeholder meetings, taking meeting minutes, following up on actions, coordinating documentation requirements, assisting with referencing, formatting documents, presentations, tables and charts.  The work could be flexible to fit within existing study or work, with an estimate around 7 to 15 hours a week for 6 to 9 months. 

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Indigenous Health Equity can be contacted by phone 0428 921 271 or by email using this link for any enquiries.

young Aboriginal woman & grandparents of toddler

Image source: indigenous.gov.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.

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to ‘Equality’ and Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. Equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others.

For more information about International Human Rights Day click here.

banner text 'International Human Rights Day 10 December 2021' multiple hands reaching up, different skin tones

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Invest in public health before next pandemic

Feature tile - Tue 7.12.21 - Invest in Public Health Workforce now

Invest in Public Health Workforce now, before the next pandemic hits

Chief Health Officers and public health leaders from across Australia will today, 7 December outline their ideas for the future of Australia’s Public Health Workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Kerry Chant PSM (NSW), Prof Brett Sutton (VIC) and Dr James Smith (QLD) among others will focus their attention on ensuring the development of the future public health experts, in a forum organised by the Public Health Association of Australia in partnership with NACCHO and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM).

With the pandemic far from over and the next one around the corner, now is the time to plan for and commit resources to developing the next generation of public health leaders, PHAA CEO, Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said.

“In our efforts in ‘Closing the gap’, it is essential that we strengthen the cultural safety and Aboriginal health expertise of our public health workforce,” Dr Megan Campbell from NACCHO said.

“There must be training and leadership opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and recognition of the important role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe and healthy.”

You can view the media release here.

Aboriginal dot painting of Australia with 4 stick figures' from cover of publication

Image from cover of: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2016–2023.

Closing the Gap National Agreement – a framework for our children’s futures

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered the keynote address this morning at the SNAICC National Conference.

“We have been protecting and caring for our families and our children for more than 60,000 years.”

“Before I am the CEO of any organisation, I am foremost an Aboriginal woman, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman. I am part of a kinship structure where I have many reciprocal obligations and caring responsibilities to my family.”

“I say this as it is important that when we are talking now about supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to thrive and addressing the rates of out of home care of our children, that we always remember the strength that is in our peoples, our culture and our own ways. And that we remember that it is not our culture that is the problem, as our culture is our strength and the way forward.”

“Today, I want to talk to you about the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are saying about the reasons why there are so many of our children in the child protection system and what is needed by governments and non-Indigenous organisations and those working to improve the situation.”

“As part of this, I will talk about how the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap provides a framework to design and implement national and local responses to support our children.”

You can read the keynote address here.

Danila Dilba Health Service celebrates 30 years

On Saturday 4 December 2021, Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Danila Dilba_30 years

Danila Dilba has a wide range of services in and around Darwin, including a special men’s clinic, tackling tobacco and healthy lifestyles, youth support, social and emotional wellbeing, care co-ordination, parenting support, alcohol and other drugs, and advocacy.

The service is an integral part of their local communities regularly organising BBQs, sports carnivals and beach events.

During the pandemic Danila Dilba has been organising meals for isolated elders. They also have a great record in getting services to transient people with about 800 people sleeping rough in the area.

Upon request by Danila Dilba, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM created the below video with a congratulatory message to be played during the anniversary ceremony.

“It is a truly wonderful thing to see the ‘community control’ model that was developed by Aboriginal people at the very first ACCHO in Redfern, fifty years ago, now taken up all over the country. And it’s organisations like Danila Dilba that have been leading the way,” said Ms Turner.

Health and medical experts call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14

Leading health and medical organisations in Australia say they will not stop pushing for the law to reflect medical science, and for governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

In an open letter sent today, a coalition of 30 health and medical organisations has called on all state and territory Premiers, Health Ministers and Attorneys-General to urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years of age.

The letter outlines evidence which shows children under 14 do not possess the capacity to have criminal intent:

  • Medical evidence is clear that children under 14 years of age are undergoing rapid brain development which makes them vulnerable to increased impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour and peer influence.
  • Child development and neuroscience demonstrates that maturity and the capacity for abstract reasoning are still evolving in children aged 10 to 13 years, due to the fact that their frontal cortex is still developing.

The experts say alternative models to incarceration exist, and there is already an evidence-based pathway to raising the age as set out through the independent review headed by Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur.

You can read the media release here.
Read the open letter here.
You can read Emeritus Professor Morag McArthur’s independent review here.

Raise The Age logo

$540 million to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government has invested a further $540 million in response to the COVID 19 pandemic including significant funding to keep Australians safe, and for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on Australians’ way of life and the emergence of the Omicron variant of concern highlights that while we have come a long way, we require robust health measures to continue to underpin our COVID-19 Health Response.

Of this funding, $492 million will be invested into measures to continue support for all Australians, including:

  • The Aged Care Preparedness Support Measures Extension
  • The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC)
  • Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 Program (SACWIC)
  • COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Response Measures
  • The National Incident Centre
  • MBS fee for COVID-19 pathology items
  • COVID-19 pathology testing in aged care
  • Aged Care: RAD Loan Scheme

In addition, $48 million will be invested into COVID-19 medical research to explore multiple aspects of COVID-19, including vaccination, treatment and modelling.

You can read the media release here.

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19-testing. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

First COVID death in the NT

This story contains names and details of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have passed on.

A 78-year-old woman from the remote community of Binjari has become the first person in the Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Her infection was linked to the current viral cluster in the Katherine region. The elderly woman who was not vaccinated died in Royal Darwin Hospital last Thursday night from complications related to COVID-19.

Before now, the Northern Territory was the only jurisdiction in Australia without any deaths from coronavirus.

“It is an awful reminder of the severity of COVID. It is a critical reminder of why we take COVID so seriously,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Binjari woman in her 70s becomes first person in Northern Territory to die from COVID-19. Image source: ABC News.

Connecting primary care, research and policy

Dr Isabel Hanson, a recent recipient of a research scholarship and a RACGP 2021 Academic Post Registrar, wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.

On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.

“I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,” she said.

“I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.”

You can read the story in RACGP newsGP here.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community. Image source: RACGP

Diabetes strategy endorsed

The report found up to 80 per cent of people reported feeling a sense of blame or shame for having the condition, while more than 25 per cent said other people’s attitudes and stereotypes about diabetes negatively impacted their mental health.

52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes said people assume they were overweight or had been in the past, while 37 per cent said people made a judgment on their food choices. 26 per cent of respondents with type 2 diabetes said they had been told they brought it on themselves.

The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, the federal government’s strategy to identify and manage diabetes also found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country. The strategy found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities had recorded increasing rates of diabetes in children, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women, leading to intergenerational patterns of premature disease.

You can read the article in the Examiner here.

Aboriginal person's hands, blood sugar level testing

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: $10m to tackle health impacts of climate change

Bushfires in Australia. Image source: Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty, Grist website.

$10 million to tackle health impacts of climate change

Australians will be better protected against the health impacts of climate change, thanks to a new national research network led by The Australian National University (ANU) with partners from across Australia and $10 million in Federal Government funding.

Announced today by Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, the Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) network brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, sustainable development, environmental epidemiology, and data science and communication to address climate change and its impacts on health.

HEAL will be funded for five years through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Special Initiative in Human Health and Environmental Change and operate across all Australian states and territories.

“We will join forces to address climate change and other environmental challenges, such as bushfires, air pollution, infectious diseases and heatwaves that have a massive burden on our health and ecosystems,” HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU said.

“This is a historic investment in our future. This coordinated group of experts and practitioners will substantially expand the boundaries of Australia’s environmental, climate change and health research community.”

You can view the media release from ANU here.
You can also view the National Health and Medical Research Council‘s media release here and the Department of Health‘s media release here.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

HEAL’s Director, Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from ANU.

Vaccination milestone celebrated in West Sydney

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin has praised the south-west Sydney Indigenous community for coming forward for vaccination to help “protect themselves and their loved ones.” Ms Larkin said 85 per cent of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander people had now received their first dose of the vaccine and 80 per cent of residents were fully vaccinated.

“Vaccination is the best protection we can offer against COVID-19 and I would encourage everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. Please come and get your second dose or booster injection so you receive the best possible protection.”

The District, which supports the vaccination efforts of Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service, Gandangara Health Service and KARI, has a specialised team delivering Pfizer vaccination to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the region. The team is made up of nurses, Aboriginal Health workers and support staff and operates several pop-up clinics at convenient locations for Aboriginal communities.

District Director of Aboriginal Health Nate Jones said outreach clinics provided a culturally safe space where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access the vaccine from trusted clinicians.

You can read the story in the Liverpool City Champion here.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone.

South Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Amanda Larkin, Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service Medical Services manager Tallulah Lett and acting chief executive Lachlan Wright, the Districts COVID-19 Incident Controller Sonia Marshall and Aboriginal Health deputy director Karen Beetson celebrate the vaccination milestone. Image source: Liverpool City Champion.

Lockdown and new mask rules in NT

Northern Territory health officials are trying to get on top of a possible COVID-19 outbreak as the communities of Greater Katherine and Robinson River entered a 72-hour lockdown on Monday after two people tested positive. Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the remote community lockdown was the most serious COVID-19 update he had to give since the beginning of the pandemic.

People living in affected areas will only be able to leave their homes for the five permitted reasons and have been urged to send one person to the supermarket at a time. Alongside the lockdown, health officials have already been deployed to affected areas for a testing and vaccine blitz. They are also working around the clock to prepare a list of exposure sites.

“We have always been concerned for our remote communities, because of their mobility and vulnerability, especially since Delta has emerged,” he said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

In related news, anyone who travels to a Northern Territory remote community that has a first-dose vaccination rate of less than 70 per cent for people aged 16 years and over will have to wear a mask at all times in public for seven days after they arrive. From Friday, the same people will also have to get a rapid antigen test 72 hours before travelling.

The restrictions are in addition to existing requirements imposed by land councils on people who are travelling to remote communities.

You can read more about the new mask rules in the ABC News here.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

The first-dose COVID-19 vaccination rate in the NT remote community of Yarralin is less than 70 per cent, meaning the new mask rules will apply there. Image source: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Ernie Dingo leads ‘Vax the Outback’ campaign

A new campaign to drive Indigenous vaccination rates in remote Western Australia takes off this week with Australian TV personality Ernie Dingo at the wheel. Vax the Outback begins its journey from Perth to the Pilbara on Wednesday, a project delivered by Aboriginal Story Agency BushTV and funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

“Since the start of the vaccination program, we’ve been working with WA’s Department of Health, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and other Indigenous organisations, including Indigenous media, to ensure Indigenous people in the state get vaccinated,” Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said.

“I know that we can beat hesitation around vaccines and needles with this approach – that’s why I’m packing up and heading up North to have a yarn with local influencers and elders in each community,” said Dingo.

“It’s about knowledge, about making our communities feel ready for the vaccine when it comes around.”

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.
You can view the campaign video below.

Gestational diabetes increases risk of developing type 2

New research, led by Darwin’s Menzies School of Health Research, shows that Aboriginal women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, will have a one-in-four chance of developing type 2 diabetes within two and a half years after giving birth.

It means they are at a much higher risk than non-Indigenous women of developing lifelong health complications that require special diets and medication.

Worse still, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased further if they are older than 40, had high sugar levels or used insulin in pregnancy, and had a higher body mass index, the researchers found.

The study’s co-author, Professor Louise Maple-Brown, said the findings — published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal — were a concerning sign of “intergenerational diabetes”.

Researchers say more funding is needed for diabetes prevention programs.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Like many Aboriginal mothers in the Northern Territory, Desiree Weetra was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Image source: ABC News.

Nicotine Vaping Legislative Changes

Since 1 October 2021, all purchases of nicotine vaping products require a prescription from an Australian registered medical practitioner.

The TGA has not approved any nicotine vaping products for supply in Australia, however, there are currently three main pathways that can be used to access these products:

  1. Authorised Prescriber
  2. Special Access Scheme
  3. Personal Importation Scheme

It’s important that evidence-based nicotine and smoking cessation counselling is provided by medical practitioners based on their patients’ needs.

For more info see the RACGP smoking cessation guidelines and visit the TGA website.

You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for clinicians here.
You can download a factsheet and social media tiles for consumers here.

E-cigarettes and Vaping graphics - Clinicians_Twitter

CTG Report 2022: Request for Case Studies

The Lowitja Institute are seeking input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, communities and organisations for potential features to be included in the Close the Gap 2022 Report.

The report will take a strengths-based approach to explore themes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation; Gender Justice: Equality and Equity; and Allyship.

The Lowitja Institute are seeking case studies that demonstrate strengths-based approaches that are either led or in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and/or organisations in the design or delivery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led transformation, Gender Justice: Equality and Equity and Allyship in line with current affairs.

Expressions of interest are due by Friday 19th November.

For more information and how to apply, please 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.

Course in vaccinology and immunisation science

Module 1: A primer in vaccines and immunisation

7pm – 10pm AEDT, 17 November 2021

Presented via Zoom by the The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).

The first ‘Primer’ module in 2021 is FREE.

This practical online course is for people relatively new to the area and for those wanting to broaden and update their understanding of vaccines, vaccine development and the principles underpinning the introduction and running of immunisation programs. This includes, but is not limited to, practitioners, academics and researchers, such as primary healthcare and specialist doctors, community and immunisation nurses, those working in public health, government (all levels) and health policy, pharmaceutical industry, regulators, aged care workers, journalists and ethics committee members.

For more information and to register visit the NCIRS website here.
You can also view the full course schedule here.

A primer in vaccines and immunisation

Improving Outcomes – Interventions, Networks and Pharmacotherapies

2021 NCCRED Symposium
11am – 2pm, 19 November 2021

The 2021 National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED) Symposium will bring into focus three key areas of concern and innovation related to emerging drugs – Interventions, Networks & Pharmacotherapies. The symposium hosts leading national clinical researchers in the AoD field including presentations from recipients of NCCRED’s Round 3 Seed Funding Grants and the current work of the Centre. Areas of exploration in the 2021 symposium include:

  • Interventions to assist early treatment and improved outcomes for methamphetamine dependence
  • Pharmacotherapy trials for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence
  • Developments in drug alerts and national communication networks

NCCRED’s 2021 symposium, in line with the Centre’s aims, is a vital opportunity for the AoD sector to advance its collective response to emerging drugs:

  • Collaborate to build and expand research networks and capacity
  • Generate the best evidence-based knowledge
  • Translate the latest research into best clinical practice

For more information and to register visit the NCCRED website here.

NCCRED Symposium 2021 - banner