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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Diabetes Strategy targets priority groups

feature tile text 'Australia's new diabetes strategy aims to reduce impacts on mob' & image of Aboriginal hand finger prick test

Image in feature tile: University of Melbourne website.

Diabetes strategy targets priority groups

The federal government has released a new national diabetes strategy aimed at reducing the incidence and impacts of the disease among priority groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

More than 17,000 Australians died from diabetes-related illness over the past 12 months, as another 120,000 were diagnosed with the nation’s fastest-growing chronic disease. Currently, about 1.9 million Australians suffer from diabetes, with case numbers skyrocketing by 30% over the past eight years.

A new national plan for tackling the crisis was released yesterday, Sunday 14 November 2021. It is hoped the plan will help guide the health response to the “silent pandemic” over the coming decade.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Johnson said 58% of type two diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed and education programs were urgently needed. “Diabetes is particularly devastating for First Nations Australians and communities and it is a major contributor to the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said. “The gap is not closing and we hope the new strategy will guide important steps and stronger action.”

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

Diabetes Australia’s ‘First Nations Storytelling’ artwork

Diabetes Australia’s ‘First Nations Storytelling’ artwork created by Aboriginal graphic designer and artist Keisha Leon. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Academia has a lot to learn from mob

The Yapatjarrathati project team and the local community co-created a culturally-sensitive, structured yet flexible solution to assessing child neurodevelopment in remote Australian communities, using primary care as the home point of coordination.

The team found that when the knowledge, ideas, and ways of First Nations’ communities are excluded from research, we can do harm, and we risk continuing the ongoing imposition of dominant culture on First Nations people . Intentionally or not, researchers and practitioners from the dominant culture have failed to value, and at times, have disregarded First Nations knowledge and health / wellbeing practices. We can show our next generation of researchers how to do things differently.

Co-design with community results in: research that matters; outcomes that are sustained; and truly impactful change. When people are part of the process, they learn, they get excited, they take things in unexpected yet delightful directions. They help to solve problems, and apparent barriers become new directions. Co-design offers unique opportunities for personal learning and growth along with innovation and system re-design.

To find out more about the Yapatjarrathati project, which has been implemented at Gidgee Healing, Mt Isa, click here.

To view the Financial Review article in full click here.

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group in front of Gidgee building

Mt Isa Community Advisory Group.

AMA President on vax misinformation

On Friday 12 November 2021 Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Omar Khorshid was interviewed on Radio 2SM by John Laws about COVID-19 vaccination misinformation.

John Laws opened the interview saying “I’ve got to say that I’m quite astonished at the amount of misinformation people are so readily able to spread – they give themselves a platform and off they go. Absolute rubbish is being spoken by a whole lot of people.” Today “we hear from somebody who is actually an expert, who is qualified to give us correct information, and that’s the person we want to go to, because they’re the only people who are able to give us the information that is 100% correct. One of those people is the President of the AMA, Dr Omar Khorshid.

In response to a question about vaccine safety Dr Khorshid said” All the vaccines we have available in Australia, no matter what they are for, are safe. And they’re safe because they’ve been studied by the scientists, they’ve been, the data has been looked at very skeptically by a panel of experts in Australia. And the government have decided that not only are the vaccines safe, but they’re actually worth spending taxpayers’ money on too.”

“So every single vaccine we’ve got available to us is absolutely safe. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a few side effects. There’s no doubt those do exist, and that’s part of what I think some people struggle to understand.” To read the transcript of the interview in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Tangentyere family violence prevention 

An evaluation of two Tangentyere family violence primary prevention programs has found explicit messaging can assist in changing attitudes towards violence against women. The Safe, Respected and Free from Violence Report is the first formal evaluation of primary prevention projects in the NT. It examined the impact of two projects, Girls Can Boys Can and Old Ways Are Strong.

The evaluation report, named “Rante rante ampe Marle and Urreye” in Arrernte, (roughly translates to girls and boys are equal), was co-authored by The Equality Institute researcher Dr Chay Brown. Dr Brown said the findings of the report provided evidence for funders and policy makers about what works in tackling the high rates of violence against women in the NT. “While a high proportion of the people we spoke to thought violence was sometime justified, especially in cases involving jealousy, we found explicit messaging around gender equity was working to challenge attitudes.”

To view the Tangentyere Council’s media release click here and to access the evaluation report click here.

cartoon drawing of Aboriginal girl and boy against desert landscape

Tales from the Bush Mob children’s stories

After a heartbreaking week of bearing witness to the historic abuse of children in Australia’s institutions, royal commissioner Helen Milroy would get on a plane for the five-hour flight back home to Perth. Her head would be reeling as she settled into her seat, but the trained psychiatrist in her had a way to calm her thoughts. Somewhere mid-flight, she would mentally transport herself into “an alternative world where everything can be good”.

And so Tales from the Bush Mob was born, a series of children’s stories that Milroy wrote and illustrated on her travels using only an iPad and her imagination. “You can’t paint when you’re on a plane every week, so I found a way to use digital platforms,” she explains. First came the cheeky Willy Wagtail, who rallies around the other Bush Mob animals. “She brings everyone together when they are challenged by a bushfire, and she’s the only one who can get them all to safety. She gets burnt and Crow rescues her. So Bush Mob is formed to keep each other safe.”

To view the full article in The Australian click here.

Dr Helen Milroy

Dr Helen Milroy. Image source: The Australian.

Building the community-controlled sector

In a bid to deliver on Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap – building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector, the federal government will provide $1.2m over three years to the Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) to build its strategic policy capability in order to represent and advocate on behalf of the territory’s community-controlled sector.

The investment is part of a $46.5 million Strengthening the Community-Controlled Sector Fund. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the APO NT investment will support new staff, stronger governance, and the production of content for members and the community.

To view the media release click here.

2 Aboriginal men holding cardboard sign black, red with yellow text 'Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs'

Photo: Time Winbourne, Reuters. Image source: The Conversation.

Award for kid’s hearing loss program

St John of God Murdoch Hospital has won the 2021 HESTA Compassion in Action Social Justice Award for a collaborative program that supports young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing hearing loss.

The program is a partnership between the hospital, the Djaalinj Waakinj Aboriginal Ear Health Program, Telethon Kids Institute, Telethon Speech and Hearing, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation, Cockburn Integrated Health and Paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist Mr George Sim. The award, run by Catholic Health Australia and sponsored by HESTA, recognises an individual or team who has shown creativity, commitment, and accomplishment in effecting positive social change.

To view the media release click here.

Val Swift, Telethon Kids, inspecting a young child’s ear. Photo: Robert Duncan. Image source: The West Australian.

Culturally safe cancer care communication

The Australian Government’s Cancer Australia has produced a Tip Sheet about culturally safe communication skills for non-indigenous health professionals. This Tip Sheet provides practical advice for cancer care specialists and other health professionals to optimise culturally safe and responsive communication with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, their families and carers.

You can view the Tip Sheet here and access the Australian Government Cancer Australia website click here.

Aboriginal man having blood test

Image source: GP Synergy 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 Health News: ‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases

National Framework for 'Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases in remote communities.

‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases

Researchers, clinicians and community and government partners have been funded to develop a national framework to scale up point-of-care testing for infectious diseases in rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Announced on Sunday by the Minister for Health the Hon. Greg Hunt, the team, comprising over 20 organisations will receive $9,967,326 over six years from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

“This significant grant from the federal government represents a paradigm shift for managing infectious diseases in remote communities, by bringing the power of diagnostic laboratories into a local community system,” says Prof. Guy, who is the Public Health Theme Director at the Kirby Institute.

“It will allow us to improve clinical practice by better targeting treatment, and thereby reduce the burden of infectious diseases and their complications for Aboriginal communities in rural and remote Australia.”

The research will be governed by an Indigenous advisory committee chaired by NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey. The advisory committee will include members from across all states and territories and will ensure Indigenous ownership of the processes and outcomes of the research.

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

Point of care testing for syphilis

Point of care testing for syphilis at the Maningrida Community Health Centre with staff from the Mala’la Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.

Vaccination gap a big concern

Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with ANU, and Senior Medical Advisor at NACCHO spoke with with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning about how the national double vaccination rate continues to climb, but the figures are much lower in Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander communities.

With the national double vaccination rate at close to 82% of people aged 16 and over, only 55% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Agostino says the vaccination gap is of big concern as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being hit hard by Delta already.

“Over the last three months in NSW, Victoria and the ACT we have seen over 7,500 cases of infection, 750 hospitalisations, close to 90 people in the ICU and 15 deaths.”

“We are really concerned about what will happen when boarders open and more people are exposed,” said Dr Agostino.

In the interview he also talks about why the vaccination rates are so low, what is working to increase those rates and what the focus needs to be moving forward.

You can listen to the full interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccination Gap

 

Orange region passes 95% double vaxxed

After facing the virus head-on throughout July and then again during a lengthy lockdown in August, September and October, the Local Government Areas of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne have rallied.

All three LGAs can boast a first dose of 95 per cent or greater, according to the Australian Government’s LGA vaccination roadmap data, while the double dose rates are equally impressive. Orange and Blayney have both passed the 95 per cent double jab mark too – with the combined 15 and over population of those areas around the 40,000 people mark.

You can read the article in the Central Western Daily here.

Joey getting vaccinated at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS). Image Source: OAMS.

Joey getting vaccinated at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS). Image Source: OAMS.

Rumbalara vaccine rollout boosted by van

A vaccine van has rolled into town to help increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among First Nations people in Shepparton.

“I think the van will be a great asset in that it will complement the hard work our team have been doing at Rumbalara,” said Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Felicia Dean.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Rumbalara jointly launched the dedicated Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) COVID-19 Vaccine Van in Shepparton on Tuesday. The van is staffed by health professionals from Rumbalara,  Star Health and VACCHO.

“The van can go out to homes for those that are struggling and don’t have transport,” Ms Dean said.

The Rumbalara chief executive officer said home visits could be booked via Rumbalara Medical Service, which also offered walk-in vaccinations.

“All we can do is provide as many opportunities for people to come and get vaccinated as possible, be it in Mooroopna or Shepparton, or in the home,” she said.

You can read the article in the Shepparton News here.

Protect mob: Rumbalara staff Shelley Norris and Jannali Fermor, wearing tops designed by Yorta Yorta artists, are part of a collaborative effort to boost vaccination rates among Traditional Owners. Picture: Megan Fisher.

Protect mob: Rumbalara staff Shelley Norris and Jannali Fermor, wearing tops designed by Yorta Yorta artists, are part of a collaborative effort to boost vaccination rates among Traditional Owners. Picture: Megan Fisher.

Requirements for a safe COVID opening up of the NT

In a media release by the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) they outlined key principles and actions required for a safe COVID opening up of the Northern Territory. These were agreed to following the release of the new Doherty modelling for the NT and following a meeting of AMSANT’s Board in Darwin on Tuesday.

“Critical to reopening is the need to achieve a safe threshold of high vaccination rates across NT communities as well as reliable data to tell us when we have reached these thresholds and can safely take the next steps,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“Above all, our urgent priority is to accelerate the vaccination rollout across the NT and particularly in Aboriginal communities, as the best protection we can provide. But to do this we need a close partnership and collaboration between the NT Government and the ACCHSs sector, as well as the Land Councils and other key stakeholders”, Mr Paterson said.

“Finally, before we open up, we need to ensure we have enough staff to deal with COVID outbreaks across primary health care and the hospital sector, that we know will occur when we open up.”

You can view the media release by AMSANT here.

AMSANT - Vaccinate to protect our community

Concerns as COVID care transitions back to community

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt last Friday announced the next stage of care for COVID-19 patients in light of rising vaccination rates and the lower numbers of people expected to require hospitalisation.

“As we open up, we know that there will be more cases that will be treated at home because people will be fully vaccinated. They may not require hospitalisation, and so the balance will shift from hospitalisation to community care,” Hunt said at a press conference.

The move to devolve the care of COVID-19 patients from hospitals and specialised services to general practitioners has alarmed some patients and doctors concerned at the risk of infection in waiting rooms and an inadequate $25 “bonus” Medicare payment.

The Government’s $180 million funding package for primary care to support COVID-19 patients at home and in the community includes:

  • A new, temporary MBS item for $25 for general practices to cover the extra cost of treating COVID-positive patients face-to-face, including infection control measures.
  • GPs supervising COVID patients will receive pulse oximeters from the national medical stockpile to assist in remote monitoring of patients’ oxygen levels at home.
  • The existing GP-led respiratory clinics will be continued until June 2022.
  • Home visits for COVID patients by nurse practitioners and practice nurses organised by Primary Health Networks.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

GP with stethoscope. Image source: AMA website.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the third Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap.

The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer.

In focus for this update are the priority setting process, and the development of Roadmap resources.

You can visit and interact with the infographic here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap

Working together to improve outcomes for people affected by pancreatic cancer.

Seeking submissions on cannabis use or diabetes research

The 42-year-old HealthBulletin has been renamed to the ‘Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. The newly designed journal (with a new logo and website) will facilitate access to evidence-based research and other information to support those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector and is becoming increasingly visible and accessible to researchers and other readers.

To celebrate the launch of the journal’s new name, the journal is encouraging submissions to accompany two Special Editions in 2022. Each year the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet commissions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health topic reviews which are subject to blind peer review and published as Special Editions in the journal. In 2022, the following reviews will be published:

  • a Review of cannabis use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • a Review of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Submissions may cover any evidence-based aspect of either cannabis use or diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and can be full or brief research reports. All manuscripts will be subject to blind peer review.

The closing date for submission is Thursday 23 December 2021.

See the For Contributor’s page for further information and submission preparation guidelines.
View the new website here.

Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet _ Edith Cowan University

 

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: Mob at increased risk as borders open

Image in feature tile from The Guardian.

Mob at increased risk as borders open

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities are at increased risk as Australia opens up, due to dangerously lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates.

As the holiday season approaches and people start moving around the country and mingling more, vaccine coverage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continues to lag behind non-Indigenous populations. While currently 80.6% of all Australians aged 16 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 89.4% have had one dose, that figure sits at 54.5% fully vaccinated and 66.2% one dose for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

Image source: ACCAN website.

AMSANT vax count concerns

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT is calling on federal health authorities to pressure the territory government into changing how it measures the local coronavirus vaccination rollout. The government counts the number of  “jabs in arms” whereas the federal government data uses the Australian Immunisation Register data, which is based on addresses registered with Medicare.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the NT is just days away from reaching the 80% double dosed milestone and that the region will reach 90% by the end of the year. Federal data suggests the double dose rate currently sits at 66.9%.

Medical advisor for Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) John Boffa says the figures the NT government are relying on are inaccurate. “Miscounting vaccine coverage could have dangerous consequences,” Dr Boffa said. “Every other jurisdiction in the nation is using the legitimate way to measure vaccination coverage.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Dr John Boffa

John Boffa says the NT needs to rely on “legitimate data”. Image source: ABC News.

NT vax target ‘not ideal’

Health experts say the NT’s new target to vaccinate 80% of remote residents aged five and older “isn’t ideal” and the goalpost must be shifted closer to 100%. “To have an 80% vaccine callout for [people] over five years, it isn’t ideal,” UNSW epidemiologist and Yawuru woman Kalinda Griffiths said.

“Even with 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of five years vaccinated, the risk of death is still a little over 30 people per 100,000 people in the population,” Dr Griffiths said. “But if the uptake is 95% in those under five years old then the risk of death is near zero.”

The NT’s widespread and remote Aboriginal communities are home to some of Australia’s most vulnerable people. Many battle chronic health conditions and it’s common for a dozen people to live under the same roof. In remote Aboriginal communities managed by NT Health, 55% of residents are fully vaccinated.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Vaccination rates in remote Aboriginal communities lag behind the NT capital. Photo: Hamish Harty, ABC News.

Cervical screening self collection option

The Australian Government has announced that self-collection will be an option for all participants under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) from 1 July 2022.

Offering self-collection to all screeners is a game changer for the NCSP. It provides greater choice in screening options and is expected to increase participation in cervical screening and support better outcomes in under-screened women.

Expanded self-collection has the potential to remove some cultural and personal barriers that may discourage some women from screening, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse women, and gender and sexually diverse people.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Self-collection can offer an alternative pathway to overcome barriers some women experience to having a clinician-collected cervical screening test. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Discovery could help save kid’s hearing

Bacteria found in children’s upper respiratory systems could help fight chronic middle ear infections, the leading cause of preventable hearing loss and deafness in Indigenous communities. The University of Queensland’s Dr Seweryn Bialasiewicz said this discovery helped explain a long-held mystery, while providing hope for potential treatments.

“We’ve been puzzled for years now, trying to work out why some children never develop chronic ear disease, despite being in a high-risk category for contracting it,” Dr Bialasiewicz said. “By focusing on the microbiomes in the upper respiratory tracts of disease-resistant kids, we could investigate the ecological networks of bacterial interactions that seemed to be working together to protect against the condition.

Dr Bialasiewicz said they were hoping to use this information to figure out what the exact mechanism of protection is, and then mimic it in the very young children, as a therapy or a preventative measure.

“Chronic middle ear infections can affect between one third to one half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is far above the 4% threshold that the World Health Organisation considers as a disease needing urgent public health action,” Dr Coleman said.

To view the UQ News article in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Thirrili October Newsletter

The latest Thirrili newsletter has been published. The October issue includes some amazing news from Thirrili advocates, job opportunities and much more.

To view the newsletter click here.

Katherine dialysis services to continue

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles, says Fresenius Medical Care has been awarded a tender to continue to provide dialysis services in the Katherine region for five more years. “This extension of services delivers certainty for staff and current patients that the service will continue to operate as normal.

Fresenius Medical Care is operated through a public-private partnership with the NT Government. The 16-chair clinic provides haemodialysis treatment for a total of 30 patients per day. Over the next five years more than 42,300 treatments are expected to be provided at the Fresenius Medical Care clinic.”

To view Minister Fyles’ media release in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

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.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from: 11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 11 November 2021.

This webinar is part of a series on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout. At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout and the panel will provide key updates and answer participants’ questions. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Antonio Di Dio, GP in Canberra.

When you’re ready to join, use this link, and to catch up on previous webinars click here.

Conquering Cancer virtual screening

A special virtual event screening of Conquering Cancer will be held at 7:00PM AEDT Wednesday 17 November 2021.

By supporting Conquering Cancer, you’ll be joining the global movement to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide. This is a huge moonshot but it is possible – and by doing so, it’s estimated that the lives of 62 million women will be saved. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

For now, all you have to do is grab some popcorn, put your feet up and enjoy the film on November 17 (tissue box optional). So spare yourself from the last minute scramble and secure your spot today.

The screening will be followed by a special Q&A panel with Professor Karen Canfell, Professor Marion Saville, Professor Yin Ling Woo and filmmaker Sue Collins. The panel is being moderated by Cate McGavin.

You can check out the official trailer of Conquering Cancer below, and book your $5USD ticket click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

Image in feature tile: a Torres Strait healthcare worker gets the coronavirus vaccine on Saibai Island. Image source: The Guardian.

Torres Strait leading way in vax numbers

The Torres Strait Islands are beating the national average for Indigenous vaccination, with 67% of over 12’s on the Islands having received a first dose, and 56% fully vaccinated..

Torres Strait Regional Authority Chair, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said clear communication with health authorities has been key for his people to get the jab. Past negative experiences with Government remained a cloud over the rollout for some Torres Strait Islander people, but Stephen said having their questions answered clearly builds trust.

“People in my age group, we’re in the 60s plus, we were still aware of what actually happened to Indigenous people in the past, and the things that are very much in the back of our mind is that whilst we step up to assume our responsibility, the government [has to] step up as well,” he said. “The trust will come when community know that you have given them all information that is available, but also when you actually sit with them and be honest, then they [know they will] make that decision at the end of the day, [and] that you trust them to do the right thing.”

NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said the Torres Strait was identified early on as a priority area for vaccination against COVID-19. “For people, up on those northern islands like Saibai, there used to be really close relationships between the people of PNG, and the people of those islands,” Dr Agostino said.

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

Image source: The Australian.

Adequate health service funding critical

An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General   of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Fellows from across Australia. The report shows promise for the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – but adequate funding for GPs and Aboriginal health services is critical.

This year’s findings show there is strong and growing interest among GPs to work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Professor Peter O’Mara, said “While we cannot ignore the gap in health outcomes between non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this year’s Health of the Nation report offers us hope for the future.”

“On the workforce front, we continue to see growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs, as well as interest in Aboriginal health among GPs in training. This is a positive step forward because we know that more GPs providing high-quality, culturally appropriate and accessible healthcare is key to closing the gap.

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal student medical training, stethoscope to female patient's chest

Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP workforce is a fundamental part of Closing the Gap. Image: James Cook University General Practice Training. Image source: newsGP website.

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes alarming

A new study, Youth-onset type 2 diabetes among First Nations young people in northern Australia: a retrospective cross-sectional study, has found alarming rates of youth-onset type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people across northern Australia. The study uncovered what is arguably the highest reported prevalence in any population of youth internationally within the past 25 years and ten times higher than previously reported in Australia.

Only 14% of young people in the study, defined as before the age of 25 years, had blood glucose levels within recommended targets. For those falling outside of the target, the risk of developing complications such as kidney damage at a young age is significantly increased.

This reflects the reality that the majority of young people in this study are living in poverty with very high levels of educational disadvantage. They are also living with the impacts of intergenerational trauma including exposure to multiple adverse early childhood experiences which we know contributes greatly to the development of chronic disease in later life, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Lack of food security further compounds these issues.

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release in full click here.

table with fruit, water bottle, oats, scales, stethoscope, slate with chalk word 'DIABETES'

Image source: Jammu Links News website.

Lockdown related family violence spike

Aboriginal social workers in the NSW town of Bourke fear that lockdowns have created a spike in rates of domestic and family violence.

Gomeroi man and Manager of Bourke Aboriginal Corporation’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program at their Centre for Excellence and Wellbeing Joseph Clarke said lockdowns are not only keeping victims of domestic and family violence at home with perpetrators, but also making it much harder for them to report the violence. “Domestic and family violence is running rampant,” he said. “COVID is being used as a weapon. Basically, [perpetrators say] ‘you can’t go anywhere, you have to stay home,’ whether that be the male or the female perpetrator, it doesn’t matter.”

Social epidemiologist Dr Vanessa Lee-Ah Mat is from the Yupungathi and Meriam people and sits on the Domestic Violence NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Steering Committee. She said they have found an increase in domestic and family violence in Aboriginal communities that isn’t reflected in reported statistics.

To view the article in full click here.

blurred image man's clenched fist, woman sitting in background

Image source: ABC News.

FASD Hub Australia feedback survey

FASD Hub Australia is currently conducting a feedback survey to evaluate the user experience of the website and seek feedback on its accessibility, content and usefulness, as well as suggestions for improvement. Ethics approval has been received from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

Feedback is important for improving and enhancing the website and is an opportunity to make more informed choices about content. It will also help FASD Hub Australia to meet their mission of being the leading source of high quality, evidence-based content about alcohol and pregnancy and FASD in Australia.

The full version survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and participants can enter a draw to win one of six $50 e-gift cards. The survey closes on Friday 12 November 2021.

FASD Australia logo blue & orange links, image of mum holding sleeping baby to chest

Hunting restrictions during pandemic

Regulations have made it difficult for some Indigenous Australians to carry out cultural hunting and fishing practices, according to two ANU academics.

You can listen to Stewart Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in Indigenous Health, and Amanda Wingett Associate Lecturer in Indigenous Health for On Country discuss the importance of cultural hunting to First Nations communities on the ABC Radio National Overnights with Rod Quinn here.

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot as he wades through a billabong near the 'out station' of Ngangalala, located on the outksirts of the community of Ramingining in East Arnhem Land

Aboriginal hunter Robert Gaykamangu, of the Yolngu people, carries a Magpie Goose he successfully shot. Photo: David Gray, Reuters.

A related article in The Conversation examines the link between restrictions on cultural hunting and food insecurity. Western NSW, for example, has been significantly affected by rising COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal communities, with people becoming increasingly food insecure. Some have limited financial resources to purchase food, which in rural and remote areas, is comparatively overpriced.

People are also having to rely on food donations and this has worsened the longer lockdowns have continued. Earlier in the pandemic, Aboriginal people in Wilcannia had maintained their cultural practice of hunting kangaroo and distributing the butchered meat to families within the township. However, health authorities discouraged residents from hunting and distributing roo meat in August this year.

The author of the article argues Australia’s governments must find a way for public health orders and cultural food practices to work together. To view The Conversation article in full click here. You can also view a video about an initiative to deliver kangaroo meat to mob during the pandemic below.

Quality use of medicine program survey 

NPS MedicineWise is developing a new program aimed at promoting the safe and effective quality use of medicine (QUM) approach to the provision of medicines to residents of remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities under the Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services (RAAHS) program.

As part of this program, NPS MedicineWise is seeking feedback from health professions who are working in rural and remote areas to help inform the program direction and interventions. The feedback is key to delivering a nationally available and sustainable online solution that is accessible to any remote health service that provides medicines to patients/consumers.

You can access the survey here.

multiple coloured pills, capsules, tablets

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy.

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.

Cultural Safety and Well Being Review results

Be among the first to see the results of The First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review and seize the opportunity to give feedback by attending the Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review Stake Holder Feedback Session on Zoom from 1:30-3:00 PM on Thursday 11 November 2021 using this link.

During this session the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW and Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd will provide a summary presentation on the findings of the review and an opportunity to incorporate your feedback.

The session will be recorded. If you do not wish to be recorded please inform us by the Tuesday 9 November 2021 and we will ensure that you have an opportunity to view the presentation and provide feedback.

Participating in the session will be: the Office of the Children’s Guardian, TEI funded services, ACCHOs across NSW as well as academic colleagues and service providers experienced in the field of cultural safety.

Further information about the First Nations Australians, Cultural Safety and Well Being Evidence Review can be found here.

young Aboriginal girl with body paint on face

Image source: SNAICC.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Race to protect communities after borders open

feature tile text 'race to protect ATSI communities after borders open' & image of Aboriginal elderly woman receiving vax Wilcannia

In feature tile Leanne Bulmer, 67, receives the Pfizer vaccine on the verandah of her home from nurse Susie Jarman, watched by Dr Joy Linton. Photo: Brian Cassey. Image source: The Australian.

Race to protect communities after borders open

In his article in The Australian titled Sprint is on to close gap after ‘Covid cyclone’ journalist Tom Dusevic says “As we begin to open up, the race is on to protect Indigenous communities lulled into complacency by lockdowns and vulnerable to bureaucracy and the spread of dangerous ideas.”

Wilcannia became an emblem of COVID-19’s nasty streak, when the Delta strain steamrolled through the remote, mainly Indigenous town in the dust-red NSW far west in August and September. Infections reached 152, or between one-quarter and one-fifth of residents, most of whom were living in overcrowded public housing.

Delta hit Wilcannia like a cyclone, as some locals described the outbreak , but it did not surprise Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO. More than a year earlier, Turner’s organisation told a parliamentary committee Wilcannia was a sitting duck. If COVID-19 hit the town, “it would be impossible to contain due to overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of resources needed to quarantine properly,” NACCHO said in a submission in July last year.

Late last week, Ms Turner, who is also lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks, told the Senate’s COVID-19 committee the “rapid spread of Delta has been entirely predictable. Despite repeated calls for appropriate accommodation, the residents of Wilcannia were left to isolate in tents during the first weeks of the outbreak.”

As Wilcannia’s cases escalated, authorities threw everything they could muster at a response – including the Australian Medical Assistance Team, a crack team of emergency disaster responders, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, state services, and volunteers – while community leaders stepped up to distribute food, persuade family and friends to get vaccinated, and sort out living arrangements.

The good news today is there isn’t a single active case in Wilcannia and there hasn’t been a new infection in 16 days. Thirty motor homes set up on the banks of the mighty Darling in Victory Park for quarantine – only six were eventually occupied – are being moved to Wentworth and Dubbo.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy on the verandah of their home

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy have had many family members test positive to Covid. Photo: Toby Zerna. Image source: The Australian.

National Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Centre

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the National Apology for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, commemorating the childhoods that were stolen and renewing the Government’s commitment and responsibility to protecting Australia’s children.

In honour, the Morrison Government announced that the Blue Knot Foundation, along with its key consortium partners the Australian Childhood Foundation and The Healing Foundation, would establish and deliver the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. PM Scott Morrison said on this day three years ago we confronted our failure to listen, to believe, and to provide justice.

To view the media release in full click here.

art of child's face, shadows by Alex Williamson, red, grey, black, cream

Art by Alex Williamson. Image source: The Economist.

Success in turning around type 2 diabetes

In a new 3-part documentary series, Ray Kelly teams up with world renowned medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley to explain research showing how rapidly the progression of type 2 diabetes can be turned around.

Ray Kelly has developed the ‘Too Deadly for Diabetes’ program to turn around the progression of type 2 diabetes within the Indigenous community. It has been provided through Aboriginal medical services in Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Coonamble and other locations throughout the state. The results have shown that if community are provided with a program they understand and good support, they will achieve great results. In just 11 months the community in Coonamble have lost a combined total of 1,316kg, with many having medications reduced or totally removed. In other towns people have been taken off insulin within weeks, after 15-20 years of giving themselves daily injections.

The programs are led by their local team of GPs, nurses and Aboriginal health workers.

To view the article in IndigenousX in full click here.

Australia’s Health Revolution aired on SBS on October 13 and October 20 at 7:30pm. The last episode will air next Wednesday 27 October 2021. You can also watch on SBS On Demand here.

2 images: Aboriginal & TSI flags blowing in breeze; bowl of fruit, tape measure & blood sugar level monitor

Image source: IndigenousX.

Pleas for transport in face of COVID-19

The head of a Victorian Aboriginal health organisation is pleading for personal transport assistance as her community grapples with its first Delta outbreak. Jacki Turfrey from Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) says she has been asking for help from the Health Department to get infected people to emergency accommodation, testing and vaccinations.

While mobile testing vans and pop-up vaccination clinics have been set up to accommodate people who cannot travel, Ms Turfrey says positive cases are the organisation’s greatest concern.

“The biggest challenge that we’ve had is people who have been contacted by the Department, know that they’re COVID-positive or a close contact and need to be put into emergency accommodation and there is no transport available for those people to safely move from one place to another,” she said. “I’ve been asked personally on a number of occasions to get in a bus, put on some PPE and drive people around, which is just not acceptable.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura standing in front of MDAS van

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura on Monday. Photo: Richard Crabtree, ABC Mildura-Swan Hill. Image source; ABC News.

Liver disease could be next epidemic

A first of its kind study published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) shows liver disease looks to be Australia’s next epidemic affecting at least 36% of regional Victorians. The study looked at rates of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in the Goulburn Valley area and concluded the rate in this regional community was higher than the estimated rate in metropolitan areas.

Based on the Fatty Liver Index which uses pathology data combined with Body Mass Index (BMI) and other measurements, researchers found NAFLD affects 36% of people in the region, and 45% of those aged 60 or more. Lead author, Professor Stuart Roberts, is the Head of Hepatology and a consultant gastroenterologist at The Alfred, he said; “Rates of liver disease have been based on estimates developed from overseas data and little is known of the true prevalence of fatty liver disease in Australia.

To view the Pathology Awareness Australia media release in full click here.

torso of man holding stomach overlaid with image of a liver

Image source: eMediHealth.

Promise for future rural general practice

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General Practice: Health of the Nation report shows promise for the future of rural general practice. An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Health of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of RACGP fellows from across Australia. This year’s survey was undertaken by EY Sweeney during April-May 2021, with 1,386 respondents.

This year’s report highlights strong and growing interest among GPs to work in rural health, offering hope for the future health of rural general practice and communities, including: Almost three in five (59%) GPs in training report an interest in rural practice, compared to two in five (40%) of other specialists in training. While two out of five (44%) GPs in training report that they intend to work in urban areas post-Fellowship, a larger proportion (48%) plan to work in rural or a mix of urban and rural locations.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

yellow road sign with vector of head, shoulders, with stethoscope around neck

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Remote PHC Manuals progress update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

What’s new: almost all (98%) of the Primary Reviews have now been completed! Protocols are now being updated to reflect endorsed changes. Clinicians will be consulted about major content changes prior to Secondary Review.

Protocol groups endorsed: alcohol and other drugs; ante/post natal emergencies; clinical assessment; eyes; women’s health; and wounds.

Coming up: secondary reviews will start early in 2022. If you use the manuals please visit the RPHCM website to see how you can become a Secondary Reviewer.

Protocol groups coming up for endorsements: contraception; diabetes/renal/cardiac; mental health’ scabies; and urinary.

To view the RPHCM October 2021 information flyer 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.

Suicide Prevention Strategy launch

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Extensive consultation with governments, stakeholders and community members over the past 12 months contributed to the renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031.

The virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031, via Zoon Meetings (hosted at the University of WA by GDPSA) originally scheduled for tomorrow, at 3:00pm AEDT, Friday 22 October 2021, has been POSTPONED.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

feature tile text 'protect elders from COVID-19 or risk 'irreplaceable culture loss' & image of elder weaving

Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

Indigenous artists, major arts organisations and Aboriginal health services are calling for a road map to protect Indigenous elders from dying from COVID-19 and the irreplaceable loss of culture and knowledge that would cause.

The organisations are worried that as Australia opens up and travel restrictions ease, the virus could reach more vulnerable remote communities. Lily Roy is a prominent senior weaving artist, traditional owner and also sits on the board of the Arnhem Land Progress Association and she founded the Milingimbi Art and Culture Centre on Milingimbi (Yurrwi) Island.

But Ms Roy, a grandmother to at least 35 children, is very concerned about what could happen to Indigenous people if COVID-19 spreads in remote communities, especially with some vaccine hesitancy still in the community. “[Of] course there’s a danger,” she said. “I’m a bit worried for my family, Indigenous people a bit worried.”

The CEO of the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA), the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal artists and art centres across northern Australia, Christina Balcombe Davidson said there was a serious risk of losing culture, and even the extinction of languages, if elders die from COVID-19 in remote communities, which have little infrastructure, limited health services and overcrowded housing. “We are extremely concerned about safety for Aboriginal people and with them, for the culture that they are the custodians of,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Images in feature tile and above from Maningrida Arts and Culture Annual Report 2019-20.

Summary of Fact-based COVID-19 Communication Resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing fact-based content about COVID-19 vaccines, including ones developed specifically for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The resources are referred to as myth busters because they have been developed to dispel some most common misinformation.

In the suite you will find social media content including images and suggested text, and a fact sheet that could be turned into separate posters/flyers as needed:

  • Facts about COVID-19 vaccines click here
  • Indigenous myth-busting resources click here
  • List of COVID-19 vaccine materials click here
  • List of resources developed for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients click here
  • Suite of communication resources around COVID-19 vaccines download here and available to download as a pack on via Google drive share here.

Below is one of the videos in the suite of resources.

Third vax dose for immunocompromised

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has created a document with recommendation on the use of the third primary dose of COVID-9 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised. To access the document click here.

vax vial, syringe

Image source: The Hill website.

Lowitja’s 20 new research grants

Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, has unveiled a landmark program of 20 new research grants that changes the way Indigenous health research is done in Australia.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the $4.32 million 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Program delivers research that is truly community-led, culturally-safe and self-determined and puts the cultural determinants of health at the heart of each project.

“Last year, Lowitja Institute fulfilled our long-held vision of becoming an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisation, allowing us to throw of the shackles of the old Cooperative Research Centres framework which had always required us to partner only with established research institutions,” Dr Mohamed said. “Being community controlled allows us to privilege our mob when it comes to allocating research funds. It means we can ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drive our research agenda and that we do the research our people want and need.”

The 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Projects range from the world acclaimed Melbourne-based Short Black Opera to a focus on aged care in the Torres Strait and on children by the Marinwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing. Projects will also explore the health impacts of out-of-home care and Indigenous community radio, and map Rainbow Mob cultures, knowledges, and experiences.

To view the media release in full click here.

Simple salt swap could save lives

A landmark study shows a simple salt swap could prevent millions of deaths.

High levels of sodium intake and low levels of potassium intake are widespread, and both are linked to high blood pressure and greater risks of stroke, heart disease and premature death.  Using a salt substitute – where part of the sodium chloride is replaced with potassium chloride – addresses both problems at once.  Salt substitutes are known to lower blood pressure but their effects on heart disease, stroke, and death were unclear, until now.

Lead investigator, Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute for Global Health, said that the scale of the benefit seen in the study could prevent millions of early deaths if salt substitutes were widely adopted. “Almost everyone in the world eats more salt than they should.  Switching to a salt substitute is something that everyone could do if salt substitutes were on the supermarket shelves,’’ he said.

To view the article in full click here.

salt shaker, salt on bench with word salt spelt in salt

Image source: Mary Hare Hearing Services website.

RACGP looks at NT GP challenges

The RACGP are undertaking a tour of key locations in the NT, including Alice Springs and Central Australia, to understand GP workforce concerns. The RACGP said its mission is to learn from stakeholders in health care settings what challenges face the NT’s workforce and local communities.

RACGP vice president Dr Bruce Willett said that the RACGP understood the serious impact that a doctor shortage had on primary care services in the NT. “There are simply not enough GPs in the training and practising across the state, particularly in rural and remote areas,” Willet said. “Everyone deserves access to high-quality general practice care, regardless of their postcode. Without this, we see patients end up in hospital with much worse health issues that could have been managed in general practice.”

As part of a new transition plan, specialists colleges will once again be responsible for delivery of the Australian General Practice Training Program (AGPT). RACGP rural chair Dr Michael Clements said this change would improve the distribution and placements of GPs Australia wide.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

Kidney disease voices sought

Are you or do you know an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person living with kidney disease? Did you know that being of Indigenous descent puts you at higher risk of developing kidney disease? Has you doctor explained these risks to you?

The CARI Guidelines Workshop on the Management of Chronic Kidney Disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is seeking voices of lived experience.

Would you like to share your story to help education others to understand better what it is like living with kidney disease?

To view a flyer explaining how you can get involved click here and/or David Tunnicliffe here for more information.

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.

letters J O B S pinned to a cork board

World Sight Day

World Sight Day is this Thursday 14 October 2021. Given the varied impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions across different parts of the country, Vision 2020 have come up with a more nuanced message than in previous years. Taking a lead form the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) messaging, they are  encouraging Australians to:

Take the pledge to #LoveYourEyes:

  1. Have an eye test as soon as you can.
  2. Don’t ignore changes in your vision.
  3. Maintain your ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.

For more information about World Sight Day, including access to a suite of resources click here.

banner black heart with heart shape & text 'your eyes - 2021 World Sight Day' - background blue, purple, orange

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Historical factors impact healthcare access

feature tile text 'historical factors impact first nations accessing traditional western healthcare' & image of doctor's torso, white lab coat, stethoscope in pocket

Historical factors impact healthcare access

A NSW Upper House committee examining the challenges in accessing medical services outside metropolitan areas has been told Aboriginal people are reluctant to access public healthcare in NSW because they believe they may not survive.

The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council gave evidence at the hearing about why Indigenous residents in rural and regional areas will not attend hospitals even if they are very ill.

“Historical factors impact on Aboriginal people accessing western, traditional healthcare services,” Associate Professor Peter Malouf from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council told the inquiry.  “Aboriginal people have a fear factor of going into the health system because they’ve seen many Aboriginal loved ones and community members passing away.”

The Upper House committee was asked to recommend to the NSW government that the public health system works closely with Aboriginal medical services to improve the quality of care given to Indigenous residents.

Aboriginal youth receiving vax at Walgett AMS

The inquiry heard Indigenous people are fearful of the public health system. Photo supplied by: Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO to build $7m new medical facility

An Aboriginal cooperative in Bendigo is set to receive more than $7 million to build a new mixed-use medical facility. The Bendigo District Aboriginal Co-Operative (BDAC) will use the funding to help expand medical services to meet growing demand.

BDAC’s new building will include 10 consulting rooms and three allied health rooms. BDAC chief executive Raylene Harradine said the new building will be built at the current site and will help expand current medical services to meet growing demand.

Director of BDAC Programs Dallas Widdicombe said when the site opened four years ago, BDAC had around 1,100 active patients. Now, more than 2,000 residents access the Aboriginal corporation’s health services. “Our wait times can be up to a month for a doctor’s appointment, because we can only have three doctors with our limited space,” Mr Widdicombe said.

To view the article in full click here.

 BDAC staff looking at building plans

Raylene Harradine, centre, inspects the plans for the new building with Maree Edwards (left) and Jacinta Allan (right). Photo: BDAC. Image source: ABC News.

Top COVID-19 vax questions

Dr Lucas de Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, has answered the top three COVID-19 questions asked on our social accounts.

Dr de Toca spoke about people 60 years and over getting the vaccine; some of the misinformation about the vaccine and infertility or risks during pregnancy; and how to protect kids from COVID-19 and whether kids can get COVID-19. You can listen to Dr de Toca below.

Mob overrepresented in road trauma statistics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are overrepresented in road trauma statistics is one more reason there needs to be culturally appropriate countermeasures which prioritise self-determination and account for the social determinants of health. There are higher rates of death and serious injury on regional, rural, and remote roads, with fatality rates associated with crashes on very remote roads more than 13 times higher than fatality rates in our major cities.

Local governments, which are responsible for managing most of our road networks, will be critical to addressing road trauma outside of our major cities, and indeed at the national level. The work of state governments will also be crucial to develop integrated, holistic, nationally consistent solutions.

To view the Parliament of Australia media release in full click here.

roadside memorial

Six people have died in the past decade on a small stretch of the highway near Barunga, 300 kms SE of Darwin. Photo: Jano Gibson. Image source: ABC News website.

More needed to tackle Kimberley suicide rate

It has been 18 months since the WA government vowed to improve mental health services and tackle high Indigenous suicide rates in the state’s north, but Aboriginal health advocates say nothing has changed.

The state’s far-north has some of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world and the suicide rate of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley is twice as high as among all Indigenous Australians.

After 13 young people took their own lives in the Kimberley in less than four years, the WA government promised to roll out more culturally appropriate mental health services, boost access to clinical services and engage with local Indigenous people on a pathway forward.

Months on, veteran Indigenous health worker Kathy Watson said she was still extremely concerned about the mental health of young people in the region.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Jacob Smith - social worker Headspace, Kimberleys

Jacob Smith has been working in the Kimberley to combat suicide prevention for four years and works as a social worker at Headspace. Image source: ABC News.

Food security in remote communities

Last year the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities.

Through this Inquiry the Committee highlighted there continues to be significant barriers to addressing food security in remote Indigenous communities. This has been underlined by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of remote Indigenous communities to supply chain interruptions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities in Australia experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and there is clear evidence of the significant detrimental health effects of poor nutrition linking to a range of chronic diseases which affect life expectancy and overall community well-being. Food insecurity has adverse health and social effects from early childhood through all stages of life. The key food security issue for remote Indigenous communities relates to access to affordable, high quality, nutritious food. There are many factors that influence food security which are explored in this submission, however, the high cost of fresh food relative to the low level of incomes in remote communities emerges as a significant factor.

It is clear that market forces alone cannot be relied upon to address food security issues in remote communities, and there is a role for government at the national, state/territory and local level to intervene in the market to ensure both demand and supply side issues are addressed. Finally, locally-based solutions must be the result of outcomes designed and supported by communities in response to specific community circumstances an

To read the submission in full click here.

Aboriginal staff at checkout in Barlmarrk Supermarket

Barlmarrk Supermarket. Image source: Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation website.

Type 2 diabetes glucose management study

The FlashGM study is a national Indigenous multicenter trial that asks: Can Flash Glucose Monitoring (FlashGM) improve glucose management in Indigenous Australians with type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a major contributor to the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and the risk and severity of diabetes complications (CVD, kidney failure, blindness) are far greater in this population than in non-Indigenous Australians.

There is an urgent need for effective and convenient ways of improving glycaemic management in Indigenous Australians. Diabetes Nurse Educator, Donna Rumbiolo, has driven recruitment for the pilot study and is an integral member of the Flash leadership team. She said “The FlashGM study is about giving communities the experience of using leading diabetes technology. Hopefully we can see this improve people’s health and makes life easier for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with diabetes.”

The 5th edition of the Flash Study newsletter includes recent study updates and a spotlight on Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative in Shepparton and Apunipima Cape York Health Service in Cairns.

As the study is expands and continues to recruit, expressions of interest are being sought for recruitment sites across Australia.  You can access the study website here for more information and if you would like to discuss the study further please feel free to contact Mariam Hachem by email here.

Aboriginal line drawing of hand with outstretched finger being pricked for sugar level diabetes check

Image source: University of Melbourne website, FlashGM Study page.

AHCSA Sexual Health and BBV Program

The AHCSA Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus (BBV) Program works with Aboriginal health services and the broader health sector across SA, supporting the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and BBVs.

The Program supports ACCHOs and other services working with young Aboriginal people in the promotion of, and improved access to, opportunistic and voluntary STI screening for people aged between 16 and 35 years.

For more information about the program click here.

Aboriginal art text 'end the cycle stay connected' black, olive, burnt orange, white

Image source: AHCSA 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.

National Carers Week

Carers are people who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental health condition, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged – anyone at any time can become a carer. National Carers Week is an opportunity to raise community awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles.

12.4% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are carers, compared to 10.5% of the non-Indigenous Australian population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers living in regional, rural, and remote areas often experience:

  • language and cultural barriers 
  • geographic barriers in accessing health and welfare services
  • and may face barriers to health literacy.

For more information click here.

text 'national carers week 10-16 October 2021' & image of aged hands being held by younger hands

Vax for people living with kidney disease

On Wednesday, 13 October from 6:30PM – 7:30PM (AEDT) Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Q&A webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine for people living with kidney disease. The webinar is open to kidney disease patients, transplant recipients, parents and carers, and health professionals, and aims to answer your questions and concerns around getting the covid vaccine.

To ensure your questions are answered, make sure to submit your question/s when registering for the webinar. Registrations close on Wednesday 13 October at 5:00PM. Click here for more information about the webinar and to register.

banner Kidney Health Australia Q&A webinar Covid-19 vaccines, image of covid-19 cell

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Record numbers of Maningrida mob show up for jab after community-led campaigns' & Aboriginal hand holding loud speaker out of bus window

Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

Maningrida, NT is home to over 2,300 people, with 77% of those identifying as Aboriginal (Source: 2016 ABS Census). It is estimated the population has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people moving to the region in 2020-21, with the current population estimated to be close to 4,000.

Maningrida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout made national news headlines recently after record numbers showed up to get their Pfizer vaccines.

A total of three COVID-19 Vaccination drives were held from July-September, administering a total of 2,843 vaccine doses to the Maningrida community, representing well over 70% of all eligible community members aged 16 and over receiving their first dose and almost 45% fully vaccinated.

The successful rollout comes after weeks of community-led campaigning by Mala’la Health Service, Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs), Traditional Owners, community leaders and multiple agencies working together to build community confidence about the vaccine.

Mala’la took to dispelling COVID-19 vaccination myths, using their social media platform, local presence and Elders to spread the message. These were both in English and local Aboriginal languages.

The most important thing made clear from the community leaders was the need to ‘talk straight’ and ‘our way’ to the community, stating that mainstream campaigns were confusing and would not work.

  • With the support of local businesses and organisations, Mala’la were able to set up COVID-19 Vaccine info desks at the local supermarket, mobile community info sessions with Orange Sky Laundry van service and hold meetings with local business staff.
  • Local community videos were broadcast in multiple languages online and on large screens, community workers went door to door to talk with families and multiple information sessions were held to address community concerns.
  • When the vaccines arrived, the community leaders were among the first to get the vaccines including, the local Mayor, Traditional Owners and AHWs.
  • Mala’la organised a number of COVID-19 vaccination drives, engaging the support of NT Bush Bus, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and Northern Land Council to support pickup and drop off community members who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Chairman of the Mala’la Health Service, Charlie Gunabarra, was the first in line to get the vaccine to huge cheers. “This is a serious thing all over the world.  We’ve got eight language groups here and we have culture and family to look after. It’s important to get that vaccine to protect our Songlines”, said Gunabarra.

On the vaccination days, campaigning continued non-stop with Traditional Owners on megaphones encouraging the community to get the vaccine. In the second round, Maningrida broke its own previous NT record administering 467 vaccines on a single day – the highest in any single vaccine hub in the Territory at that time.

To support this strong uptake, it took culturally appropriate, community-led approach to engage with community and get the right COVID-19 vaccine messaging across. It took the culmination of engaging local Elders and community leaders, other local organisations getting on board to support Mala’la staff to get the messaging across and the health departments allowing Mala’la to administer these vaccines.

billboard on truck, Elder with loudspeaker, male & female Elders getting vax

Images of Maningrida COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

ACCHO to open new Gympie AMS

The North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH) held a series of community consultation sessions this month seeking feedback for their new Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) delivery. Sessions were held in Gympie, Tin Can Bay, Kilkivan and Gunalda outlining plans for the Aboriginal Medical Centre currently being fitted out at 31 Excelsior Road, Gympie.

The centre will be available to all people who identify as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander and their families (including non-Indigenous partners, children, the whole family unit). The AMS will have an holistic approach and be a ‘one stop shop’ for patients offering comprehensive free health checks and medical services.

The money for the building fit out was raised by a successful grant and directors hope the centre will be finished by mid to late October, with a soft opening later this year and an official launch opening in February 2022.

Chairperson and director of NCACCH Helen Felstead said it was proud of the facility and the work being done to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get the medical help they need in our region. “Prior to now, all patients had to travel to the Sunshine Coast for specialist health care. This is an extension to what we have, nothing will change, it’s just a better service and it’s local. The hospital will still have services as with other practices, we are just making it easier and providing patients with choices.”

To view the story in full click here.

NCACCH building being fitted out for new Gympie AMS

Image source: NCACCH website.

First Nations CVD rate is twice as bad

The rate of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is more than twice that of non-Indigenous people according to a recently released Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, released on today (Wednesday 29 September) to coincide with World Heart Day, looks at a range of data, including Australian Bureau of Statistics health surveys.

It estimates 42,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had heart, stroke and vascular disease in 2018-19, based on self-reported data from the ABS. It equates to a rate of 11.4% of Australia’s adult Indigenous population, more than twice that of non-Indigenous adults (5.4%), the report concluded. The rate of death from heart disease from 2017-19 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1.8 times greater than non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to be exposed to several risk factors. Indigenous Australians aged over 15 were more than three times more likely to smoke daily and were more likely to have high blood pressure in 2017-18 (37 to 29%).

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hands gripping chest - heart

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

SA’s ‘silent’ health epidemic

While the nation focuses on the COVID pandemic, a “silent” epidemic is afflicting SA – with huge implications for individuals and hospitals. The figures are stark.

A concerning 6.4% of South Australians are diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 5.3% nationally – and in some regions it’s above 10% – according to the latest figures from Diabetes Australia. That’s more than 113,000 South Australians – a significant jump from 5.8% of the population diagnosed just six years ago.

Most are afflicted with the largely-preventable, lifestyle-related Type 2 disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of hospitalisation. Over time, high glucose levels damage the body’s blood vessels and nerves, leading to a raft of serious health problems such as heart, kidney and eye disease, and even limb amputations from ulcers.

What frustrates health professionals is it doesn’t have to be this way, yet SA continues to top the nation in its prevalence of the disease. And there are warnings the actual rate – including in those who don’t yet know they have it – is up to twice the recorded level.

Researchers and doctors say younger people are increasingly affected by this chronic condition because of sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. They’re calling for urgent and radical intervention, declaring the issue is much bigger than the already disturbing official figures show.

To read the article in full click here.

person's hands drawing insulin shot

An insulin shot. Photo: John Locher, AP. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide independent news.

Rap message about the vax

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative have produced an awesome jab rap to encourage mob to get vaccinated. You can view the rap below:

Smoker rates surge during pandemic

Smoker numbers have increased across Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, with data released by  SiSU Health showing the greatest percentage jumps in the ACT (up 3.9%) and Queensland.

Increases occurred across all age groups following the arrival of COVID-19, with the rate amongst 65 to 74 year olds nearly doubling since before the pandemic. Smoking levels are markedly higher in regional and remote areas  than in cities, while ATSIC rates are stubbornly high at 3 times the rate of non-indigenous Australians.

SiSU Health Managing Director Dr Noel Duncan said: “Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer,  with heart disease and stroke claiming 18.6 million lives each year. But many of the risk factors, such as tobacco  use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, are within our control to change.”

“We detected a sharp jump in our users’ smoking rates at the very onset of the pandemic. These rates have  tapered only slightly in 2021 and remain more than two percentage points higher than in the period prior to COVID.  The reasons for this upswing are complex, but stress and anxiety associated with lockdowns, often in combination  with more frequent alcohol consumption at home, are likely to be contributing factors.”

To view the article in full click here.

pack of cigarettes, no brand

Image source: SBS News website.

AMA wants easier rural GP hospital access

The AMA is calling for easier pathways for rural doctors to work in their local hospitals and better support remote, regional and rural health in the community. Examining rural workforce shortages, the AMA has found stringent bureaucratic processes by local hospitals or health services prevent some rural GPs and rural generalists from having any connection or involvement whatsoever in their local hospitals.

In a new AMA Position Statement on integrating GPs into rural hospitals, the AMA makes a series of recommendations addressing doctor shortages in rural areas, with benefits to local hospitals, better health care for regional communities and which contribute to a more viable sustainable career for rural GPs.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

road sign with text 'hospital' against rural scene - wheat field, blue sky

Image source: Healthcare IT.

Stronger patient medicine involvement

Consumer involvement in Australia’s medicines choices has been further strengthened under a new strategic agreement Medicines Australia has signed with the Federal Government. The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the acknowledgement in the agreement that the Government and Medicines Australia have a common interest in patients having improved involvement in the decision-making for medicines access, the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today.

“We welcome the statement by Medicines Australia that the agreement heralds a new era by securing stronger patient involvement in critical processes and ensuring Australia keeps pace with access to rapidly transforming medical advancements developed around the world. This agreement also provides for more certainty of Government funding for new drugs. This is vital for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which aims at ensuring all Australians have affordable access to quality medication.

“The agreement means patients will have a role in the first independent review of Australia’s health technology assessment system in nearly 30 years. As well the agreement provides for a new process to incorporate patients’ views and experiences early in the processes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) which recommends to Government what new drugs should be subsidised.”

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

multiple tablet foil blister packs

Image source: Healthline 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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 30 September 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Julie Tonga AOM, CEO, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal and Community Services, Narrabundah, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. 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.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.