NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aboriginal-run renal facility celebrates 20 years

The image in the feature tile is of Angus Seela who travelled to Perth for life-saving treatment before dialysis was available in the Kimberley. Photo: Tallulah Bieundurry, ABC Kimberley. Image is from an ABC News article Australia’s first Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20th anniversary in Broome published today.

Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20 years

Australia’s first Indigenous-run facility dedicated to kidney health has hit a key milestone in WA’s far north. The 10-bed Kimberley Renal Services (KRS) unit was established in Broome in 2002, after Aboriginal medical leader Dr Arnold “Puggy” Hunter advocated for Indigenous people to receive treatment on country. Since then, the service has grown to include Kununurra, Fitzroy Crossing and Derby.

Kimberley woman Agnes Seela is the longest-running dialysis patient in Broome. She remembers a time when the life-saving treatment was thousands of kilometres away. “I was in Perth for a long time and it was really hard,” she said. “I didn’t get to come home for my dad’s funeral.” Ms Seela and her husband underwent dialysis together until he received a kidney transplant. She said treatment in the Kimberley had lifted her spirits. “I was really happy to start dialysis in Broome,” she said. “It makes it really easy to travel between Halls Creek, Ringer Soak and Broome.”

Rates of kidney disease in the Kimberley are among the highest in Australia, with the disease particularly prevalent in Aboriginal people. A leading cause for the disease is diabetes, with most people living with it experiencing some level of kidney decline. KRS Medical Director Lorraine Anderson said kidney issues were on the rise in the region.

To view the ABC News article Australia’s first Indigenous-run renal facility celebrates 20th anniversary in Broome in full click here.

Ms Anderson says the 10-bed Broome facility has saved lives. Photo: Tallulah Bieundurry, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

KAMS shares James Memorial Award

Researchers from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) and the Rural Clinical School of WA University of WA are thrilled to win the annual prestigious Ray James Memorial Award. This award is presented for the best article published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia over the last year. The article was chosen by the Journal’s Research, Evaluation and Evidence Translation Committee and is presented for excellence and innovation in health promotion research.

The research explores 10 Aboriginal Australian men’s experiences during their partner’s antenatal period. The study found the participants valued supporting their partners through pregnancy, making positive changes to their own lifestyles, and having access to information on pregnancy. Participants described experiencing multiple stressors during the antenatal period that impacted on their social and emotional wellbeing. This study demonstrated that these Aboriginal men valued engagement with antenatal care services and highlighted strategies to improve Aboriginal paternal involvement with antenatal care services.

Erica Spry, Bardi and Kija woman and researcher discussed how the project grew from an existing project that was exploring maternal and child health in the Kimberley: “I was having a conversation with an Elder, talking about our other research and recruiting participants and this Elder said to me “it takes two to make a baby, you should be talking to the men too’. She was right, so little had been done exploring the role of our Aboriginal dad’s.”

To view The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) media release click here.

Emma Carlin (Research Fellow, RCSWA/ Senior Research Officer KAMS); Erica Spry (Research Fellow, RCSWA/ Research Officer KAMS); Zac Cox (Manager Social and Emotional Wellbeing, KAMS). Image source: CBPATSISP.

Why Keating’s Redfern Speech still matters

30 years after former Labor PM Paul Keating addressed a mostly Indigenous crowd in Sydney’s Redfern, his acknowledgement of genocide, Stolen Generations and ongoing oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remains as relevant as ever. Delivered in Blak heartland in honour of the 1993 International Year Of Indigenous People, the speech saw Keating directly address the Indigenous community and take moral responsibility for the atrocities of colonisation for the first time.

The most resonant words were starkly honest. “It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers,” Keating told the crowd, stunned to appreciative silence.

In a poll of the ‘Most Unforgettable Speech of all Time’, Keating’s address ranked third. It trailed only Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ and the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ from the Bible. The vote illustrated the impact of Keating’s words not only at the time, but in the decades since. Delivered only 6 months after the historic Mabo decision by the High Court, which recognised Native Title and expunged the fallacy of terra nullius from the history books, the Redfern Speech came at a pivotal moment in the fight for First Nations sovereignty.

To read the NITV article Why Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech still matters in full click here.

Criminal age can save lives, inquiry told

A silly mistake at age 10 can have devastating and often permanent consequences for Aboriginal kids but raising the criminal age of responsibility could help save lives, experts say. When Bangerang and Wiradjuri elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson was in year 6, her 10-year-old brother was taken into police custody on suspicion of minor theft.

He would later spend the next two decades in custody before his premature death at 36, a tragic story Ms Atkinson says is all too common in her community. “That’s the story of a child being removed at 10 years of age and then what their life trajectory is. This is what we want to stop,” Ms Atkinson told the Yoorrook Justice Commission as part of an inquiry into Victoria’s criminal justice and child protection systems on Tuesday.

She said raising the age of criminal responsibility in Victoria from 10 to 14 could also stop Aboriginal deaths in custody and lead to better overall community outcomes.

To read the Muswellbrook Chronicle article Criminal age can save lives, inquiry told in full click here.

More needs to be done to ensure Indigenous children aren’t locked up, Aunty Geraldine Atkinson says. Photo: Morgan Hancock/AAP. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Taking the stress out of heatwaves

A pioneering new Heat Stress Scale and accompanying app will be trialed in Western Sydney this summer, designed to reduce the risk of serious health problems brought on by heatwaves. Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the app is being developed by researchers at the University of Sydney through the $52m Disaster Risk Reduction Fund.

“Heatwaves are responsible for more deaths in NSW than any other severe weather event, with the impact greatest on children, the elderly, Indigenous communities and people with pre-existing health conditions,” Ms Cooke said. “The Heat Stress Scale is similar in concept to the UV index and gives users personalised, real-time information on their risk of heat-related health problems based on temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed. This innovation will put a person’s individual risk of health problems in hot conditions in the palm of their hands, and could revolutionise the way we handle the heat.”

Professor Ollie Jay, who is leading the world-first project, said the Heat Stress Scale and app are being developed by a team of multidisciplinary researchers from the University of Sydney’s Heat and Health Research Incubator in collaboration with the Sydney Environment Institute. “This summer Western Sydney residents included in the trial will be able to create a personalised health profile in the app, providing information like age, medical conditions and regular medication,” Professor Jay said.

To view the NSW Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience’s media release Taking the stress out of heatwaves in full click here.

Indigenous leadership key to halt Nature’s destruction

At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) being held in Montreal, Canada from 7–19 December almost 200 countries are reckoning with the world’s extraordinary loss of the variety of life. Climate change, mining, urban development and more are threatening Earth’s biodiversity to an extent never before witnessed in human history.

The conference will see countries negotiate a global 2030 plan, called the Global Biodiversity Framework, to set worldwide targets for a range of issues, from establishing national parks to habitat destruction. But so far, the draft text is lacking a fundamental element: adequate inclusion of language and perspectives from Indigenous peoples and local communities. Without Indigenous and local community leadership, any biodiversity targets will remain out of reach.

Despite comprising less than 5% of the global population, Indigenous peoples protect an estimated 80% of global biodiversity. Yet, the capacity of Indigenous peoples and local communities to continue to exercise this stewardship is being actively eroded across the world. Issues of power and inclusion in the current draft framework must therefore be resolved.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous Leadership Key to Halting Nature’s Destruction in full click here and for more information about COP15 you can access the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) webpage  on the UN Environment Programme website here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

The image in the feature tile is of the U and Me Can Stop HIV banner painted by VACCHO staff for the VACCHO reception area. Image supplied by VACCHO.

U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

On World AIDS Day yesterday VACCHO launched a video U and Me Can Stop HIV video. This video was a result of a collaboration by VACCHO with Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and Thorn Habour Health. Over a period of two days VACCHO made 1,000 awareness red ribbons for World AIDS Day. VACCHO said the ribbon making was a great way to engage people and have a low key yarn about HIV.

Warra could change face of Indigenous leadership

Research tells us that the more diverse management and leadership teams are, the better organisations function. Diversity leads to richer ideas, a more inclusive work culture and better business decisions and outcomes. In fact, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, found in 2020 that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance had strengthened over time.

Despite this, many organisations continue to fall behind the eight ball on diversity, with the statistics especially dismal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who remain vastly underrepresented – or completely excluded – from leadership in the Australian workforce. According to the Minderoo Foundation’s Indigenous Employment Index, Indigenous employees are almost entirely absent from senior management and executive leadership positions. Among the 31 employers who reported the relevant data, Indigenous representation at senior leadership levels was just 0.7%.

It’s a reality that Kamilaroi woman, Carlyn Waters is all too familiar with. Over the past 20 years, Waters has held senior positions in various government roles, often finding herself as one of very few Indigenous people at the same level. Now, Waters is calling time by, spearheading a new sponsorship program called Warra, the first program delivered by Cultivate Indigenous – a majority First Nations owned and operated business. The program seeks to inspire and develop talent at all levels by embedding a culture of sponsorship, and delivering tailored development opportunities to grow, retain and advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

To read the Women’s Agenda article ‘That kind of support can be transformative’: A new, curated sponsorship program could change the face of Indigenous leadership in full click here.

Carlyn Waters. Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Questions must be answered on pharmacy trials

According to a media release from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) state governments have a responsibility to answer questions about why they are determined to move Australians to a second-class health system and put patient safety at risk through pharmacy prescribing trials. AMA President Professor Stephen Robson launched a video today posing six questions to state governments about pharmacy prescribing trials and the decisions that led to their implementation.

Professor Robson said these trials presented a clear risk to patient safety; ignored ethical concerns regarding separating prescribing and dispensing of medicines and could lead to an increase in anti-microbial resistance and the emergence of more superbugs. “Responding to GP shortages with second-class policy solutions that trample over the advice of independent bodies like the Pharmacy Board of Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration and bypass established national processes that exist to protect patient safety isn’t the answer.

“GPs train for 12–15 years to have the expertise to diagnose conditions that are being covered in some of these trials. You can’t replace that training and experience with a few hours of weekly online training without putting patients at risk. GPs are highly skilled and equipped to diagnose the difference between a UTI and other serious and potentially deadly health conditions. They are equipped to take a full medical history of their patients and understand the full range of contraceptive options available to women. A second-tier health system that moves the costs of health services from the government to the patient (except for Victoria which is proposing to cover some of the costs) isn’t the solution.”

To view the AMA media release Questions must be answered on pharmacy prescribing trials in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Exhibition showcases art’s healing power

The healing power of art is reflected in an exhibition of First Nations ceramic works originating from a new collaboration, which co-mingles visual art education and well-being activities for Purple House dialysis patients in Alice Springs. Charles Darwin University (CDU) Academy of Arts has partnered with Indigenous-owned and operated health service Purple House, to present the exhibition that blends and celebrates the cultural diversity of Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

The exhibition’s title, Pana, Tjulpirpa, Pilki combines the words for clay in three different desert languages spoken by the ceramic artists who hail from the region’s Pintupi-Luritja, Pitjantjatjara and Kukaja communities. It showcases the creative talent of First Nations women who are Purple House patients receiving dialysis treatment, while studying visual arts at CDU’s Alice Springs campus.

Purple House is a non-profit health organisation, based in Alice Springs, that aims to improve the lives of First Nations people with renal failure, support families and reduce the impacts of kidney disease in communities. Purple House CEO Sarah Brown said that art has always been integral to Purple House and the lives of its patients. “Art helps keep culture strong in communities, and it’s a powerful way to share knowledge and stories, and an important source of income,” Ms Brown said. “Our patients get so much out of their ceramics classes at CDU each week and this is a fabulous opportunity for them to exhibit their artwork.”

To view the Charles Darwin University Australia News article Exhibition showcases art’s healing power in Alice Springs in full click here.

An exhibition in Alice Springs showcases the ceramic artworks of First Nations women who are receiving dialysis treatment at Purple House, while studying Visual Arts at CDU. Image source: CDU website.

Improving transplantation access for mob

More than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and their carers will travel from across Australia to attend a two-day meeting in Adelaide next week. The meeting aims to improve access to and outcomes from transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to a statement from The National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT), a multidisciplinary national network of clinical, patient, and community advocates.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney transplant recipients, dialysis patients, and their carers and family from the Kimberley, the Torres Strait, central Australia, far north Queensland, regional NSW and Victoria, and the Top End will travel to Adelaide to work together with clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to determine priorities and next steps for the NIKTT.

Organisers say the meeting has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients, non-Indigenous advocates, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to be “a safe, shared, brave space that will allow us to co-design the future of transplantation equity together”.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As new report launches, historic meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and carers to co-design transplantation equity in full click here.

Theatre staff prepare surgical equipment for a kidney transplant operation. Photo: Frances Roberts, Alamy. Image source: The Guardian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December each year. IDPwD is a United Nations observed day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. This includes encouraging individuals, schools, community groups, businesses and organisations to get involved and hold events on, or around, 3 December.

The IDPwD program aligns with key action areas under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–31. This includes improving community awareness by recognising the positive contribution people with disability make to society, and building confidence in the community to work and engage with people with disability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disability at up to twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians and while many receive support for their disability, historically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been up to four times less likely to receive a funded disability service. For more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, including statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare click here.

You can find more information about IDPwD here.

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

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

Disability Royal Commission – have your say

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

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

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

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

Image source: Your Story Disability Legal Support website.

NPS MedicineWise Programs and Services Transition

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

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

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

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

The following programs are transitioning to NACCHO:

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: AMA News website.

Exploring how to transform Indigenous oral health

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

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

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

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

Image source: Parenthub website.

Mental health support for flood affected communities

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

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

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

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

Staggering undersupply of GPs in next 20 years

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

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

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

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

Image source: AMA News website.

New guidelines to tackle chronic kidney disease

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

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

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

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

Medicine shortage – Ozempic and Trulicity

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

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

The image in the feature tile is from 2SER 107.3 website, 14 November 2018.

Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

A new Diabetes Australia (DA) report has revealed the spiralling impact of diabetes and warned that unless urgent action is taken, the condition – and complications like vision loss – will threaten to overwhelm the country’s health system. In the last two decades, the report revealed the disease’s significant burden on the Australian economy, in terms of the cost of direct healthcare (up 289%), hospital costs (up 308%) and medicines (up 282%), while hospitalisations have increased by 149% since 2004.

Looking ahead, Diabetes Australia (DA) is warning that the number of people living with diabetes could climb to more than 3.1m by 2050, resulting in 2.5m hospitalisations per year and costing Australia around $45b per annum. To coincide with World Diabetes Day today – 14 November, the organisation released its report Change the Future: Reducing the impact of the diabetes epidemicwhich it described as “a call-to-arms to combat the diabetes epidemic”.

Diabetes Australia Group CEO Ms Justine Cain said the report looked at the best available evidence to assess the significant burden of diabetes and identified a number of areas of concern. “Diabetes Australia is particularly concerned about the number of people currently living with diabetes, the increase in younger Australians being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the impact of diabetes on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rising numbers of mothers being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and the emergence of a number of recently identified complications,” Cain said.

To view the Insight article New Diabetes Australia report reveals dramatic jump in diabetes costs for economy, including a link to the Change the Future: Reducing the impact of the diabetes epidemic click here.

ACCHO expands into Permanency Support Program

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation is now accredited with the Office of the Children’s Guardian to provide support to Aboriginal children and young people through the Permanency Support Program. The Permanency Support Program offers tailored services to vulnerable children so they can grow up in stable, secure and loving homes.

To support this initiative, Ungooroo has recruited a team of qualified and experienced staff, including caseworkers and carer engagement officers who will work with children, young people and their carers to identify the best permanency goal. Ungooroo CEO Taasha Layer says the program plays a crucial role in providing positive life outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people.

“Our priority is keeping families together safely and achieving permanency for Aboriginal children and young people. We know that vulnerable Aboriginal children and young people are much better off if they are living in a safe and stable home with relatives or kin, in community and on Country,” she said.

To read the Muswellbrook Chronicle article Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation expands into the Permanency Support Program in full click here.

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation is now accredited to provide support to Aboriginal children and young people through the Permanency Support Program. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Want to improve hearing health for our mob?

Do you work in the ear and hearing health space?

Do you want to improve hearing health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Let us know what you think about the big challenges, the gaps, and what we need to be doing more of.

Researchers, service providers, government organisations, universities, peak health bodies, and anyone working in this space, we want to hear from you!

Let us know what you think in this survey here.

Any queries, contact NACCHO using this email link.

Trainers need to understand cultural needs

Trainers will need to understand the cultural needs of local communities if the transition to college-led training is to be successful in the NT, the head of the Territory’s RTO says. “It’s taken 20 years for us to really understand how to do this work in NT communities,” the NTGPE’s Dr Richard Zanner said, following a four-day tour of remote communities during which he hosted RACGP leaders.

“The curriculum, manuals and data – that’s all explicit knowledge or information that we can easily transfer to the colleges. But the real meat, the real essence, of course, lies in the tacit knowledge and that’s a very tricky thing to try and transfer to another organisation – but that’s where the value in our training lies. “If the IT systems don’t work perfectly on day one or day two that would be a shame, but it wouldn’t be a tragedy.”

The tour came less than three months before Australia transitions to training led either by the RACGP or ACRRM, but Dr Zanner is optimistic about these goals being achieved. “After flying around the Top End in and out of communities with [RACGP president-elect Dr Nicole Higgins and vice-president Dr Bruce Willett], I feel a lot more re-assured,” he said. “I’m convinced they recognise the importance of relationships and of that knowledge in the way we’ve gone about our work.”

To view The Medical Republic article Tour reveals secret to NT training success in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Republic.

HEAL 2022 conference next week

Join us at the Healthy Environments and Lives (HEAL) 2022 conference focusing on the latest research and policy priority setting on human health, climate and environmental change solutions in Australia. This two-day event will connect diverse Australian and international stakeholders from academia, policy, practice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and local communities.

This innovative conference has a hybrid multi-node format allowing for interactions online and in-person at eight nodes located across Australia. To learn more about the conference and to register, please visit the HEAL Network website here.

You can also view a flyer about the conference here.

IAHA Conference 28-30 November

You are invited to join the First Nations Allied Health Workforce at the National Convention Centre Canberra, for the 2022 Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) National Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is Celebrating the past, present and future in Allied Health.

Can’t make it to the conference? Come along to our IAHA Markets on Wednesday 30 November at the Convention Centre. Open to the public. Register online by scanning the QR code (available in the flyer here) or visit the IAHA website here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia – 8 December 2022

Save the date!

Inviting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services’ staff to join this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia on Thursday 8 December 2022:

  • 1:00 PM – WA
  • 2:30 PM – NT
  • 3:00 PM – QLD
  • 3:30 PM – SA
  • 4:00 PM – ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC

Each year, ATSIHAW provides an opportunity for conversations in our communities to increase education and awareness about HIV, prevention and treatment, the importance of regular testing and to reduce stigma.

NACCHO are co-hosting the ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia 2022 along with the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

A link to register your team for the virtual trivia will be sent later this week. Sexual health themed costumes and props are highly encouraged – there will be prizes for the best dressed!

If you have any questions please contact NACCHO using this email link.

The U and Me Can Stop HIV campaign was created by University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health in collaboration with the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHRMI). Each year coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is held nationally to refresh the conversations about rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. ATSIHAW was launched in 2014 with support from the Commonwealth Department of Health and has been run annually by Professor James Ward and his team at the University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (and previously SAHMRI). ATSIHAW continues to expand growing bigger and more inclusive of the ACCHO sector running events that raise awareness, educate, inform, and promote testing for HIV in Communities. The theme for ATSIHAW is: ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ further promoting the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health being in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hands!

For more information about the history of ATSIHAW click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health services holding communities together

The image in the feature tile is from an article Kerang residents now urged to leave, Echuca braces for more flooding published in the Bendigo Advertiser on 22 October 2022. Photo: Dareen Howe.

Health services holding communities together

Health services in rural and regional communities have been inundated with increased needs for their services after flooding around the country stretches into a third year. Some health services – including ACCHOs and nursing homes – have found themselves under water while unsafe roads have made it harder for people to reach healthcare. Health workers are contending with new health concerns including illnesses related to contaminated flood waters, mould and mosquitoes as well as high stress levels as people lose their homes, food sources and livelihoods. Growing concerns about Australia’s continued inaction on climate change is also contributing to the distress felt by communities. Some have now experienced successive extreme floods, fires and droughts. Community and primary health services in Victoria, including ACCHOs, have been integral in the flood response.

ACCHOs are the “beating heart” of Aboriginal communities, many of which have been directly affected by recent floods, Abe Ropitini, Executive Director of Population Health at the VACCHO said. VACCHO was quick to respond after floods hit some of its member organisations last month, providing immediate food and housing relief, in part supported by its own appeal.

Many of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations are spread along the Murray River which has experienced extensive flooding. Njernda Aboriginal Corporation in Echuca and Kerang Aboriginal Community Centre have been damaged and are facing operational challenges due to flooding and the Cummeragunja Housing & Development Aboriginal Corp on the banks of the Murray River was entirely evacuated. As Ropitini explained, these organisations provide a range of health services, including housing, contributing to the significant investment needed for rebuilding.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Inundated health services holding communities together in full click here.

Salvation Army Pastor Ronald Stobie handing over sleeping bags and blankets to Njernda CEO Tracey Dillon, Director Corporate Services Robert Nugent and Executive Director Family Services Aunty Hazel Hudson. Image source: Njernda Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page 23 October 2022.

Improving hearing health for children

Combining Indigenous and western research methods, a new Flinders University project is aiming to stop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from falling through the cracks when it comes to their hearing. Recently awarded over $1.1 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the project will provide culturally appropriate pathways to ensure children are not missing out on crucial ear health checks.

“All children have the right to hear well as it is vital for language development,” says project Chief Investigator Dr Jacqueline Stephens, an epidemiologist from Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children this is especially important as language is a key component of their identity and for the passing on of history and knowledge, as well as building relationships with family and Country.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest prevalence of poor hearing health in the world, experiencing earlier, more frequent, more prolonged and more complicated ear disease and consequent hearing loss than other children, despite ongoing efforts to address the issue.

To view the Flinders University article Improving hearing health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in full click here.

Image source: Flinders University News webpage.

What’s best for tackling type 2 diabetes

Australian scientists reviewed seven previous studies that looked at interventions to address type 2 diabetes in Indigenous communities in Australia, NZ, Canada, and the USA, to see which worked and which were less effective. Although these communities are distinct, they also share some similarities, the authors say. This study analysed a decade of research in a field with disproportionate burden of disease and limited research. Indigenous group engagement with chronic disease management, including T2DM, is challenged by the ongoing impacts of colonialism, socioeconomic hardship, and racism. High income economies have relatively large pools of resources for their health systems that need more effective application to reduce barriers preventing healthcare access and use for Indigenous communities, given the ongoing disproportionate burden of disease.

The team identified seven components of effective interventions: reducing barriers to healthcare; a focus on community consultation; adaptable primary care programs; involvement of community-based health workers; empowerment of Indigenous people to help strengthen community ties and self-management; short, intensive programs; and group-based programs. The authors say policymakers should apply these seven components when designing approaches to tackle type 2 Diabetes in Indigenous communities.

To view the SCIMEX article What works best for tackling type 2 diabetes in Indigenous communities? in full click here and a link to the research article Effective primary care management of type 2 diabetes for indigenous populations: A systematic review in full here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Head injury 69 times more likely for First Nations women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 69 times more likely than non-First Nations women to go to hospital with a head injury because of an assault. But not all First Nations women get the support they need. A new study shows how health and support services working in remote areas are not equipped with the tools to identify the potential of a head injury for women who experience violence.

Not only are service workers not asking women about a potential traumatic brain injury, there’s a lack of referral options, and often no diagnosis, limiting women’s access to services and supports for recovery. The study tries to understand the needs and priorities of First Nations women who have experienced a traumatic brain injury due to family violence. Timely and culturally safe care, and support, following such brain injury is vital.

To view The Conversation article First Nations women are 69 times more likely to have a head injury after being assaulted. We show how hard it is to get help in full click here.

First image source: Shutterstock, The Conversation. Second image source: Temet – Getty, The New Yorker.

HESTA Nursing and Midwifery awards

Heading into its 17th year, the HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards ecognise the amazing nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers, and personal care workers for their work, providing exceptional care across Australia. Healthcare workers are heroic. They go above and beyond daily with dedication, compassion and support while keeping our communities safe and delivering care for patients during challenging times. Each exceptional health professional has their own story worth celebrating.

Three winners will receive $10,000 to support their future-shaping work thanks to our long-term sponsor ME Bank. The categories include Nurse of the Year, Midwife of the Year and Outstanding Organisation.

Nominations are open until midnight on Sunday 5 February 2023.

You can read HESTA’s media release here and you can find more information about the awards here.

The 2022 Midwife of the Year winner was Melanie Briggs, as Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation (Waminda) Nowra NSW. Melanie Briggs was recognised for her tireless work to improve First Nations maternal and infant health. A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbayngirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaani, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia.

Renowned for her strong advocacy, Melanie implemented the Waminda Birthing on Country Model, incorporating culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to country for their baby and their families.

Medicine safety depends on working together

The AMA said today that the global #MedSafetyWeek was a timely reminder of the need for medicine safety to remain a key priority for policy makers, including the preservation of the separation of prescribing and dispensing to protect the community. The AMA marked this week’s global #MedSafetyWeek (7-13 November) saying that patients are best served when doctors and pharmacists work together in providing care for the community.

AMA President Professor Stephen Robson said he was concerned poor policy decisions by State governments were undermining the important safeguard for patients, evidenced by the move to over-the-counter urinary tract infection (UTI) prescribing by pharmacists in Queensland and a “dangerous” prescribing experiment approved for North Queensland. “This is a model that promotes pharmacy profits at the cost of patient safety,” he said.

“Pharmacists are experts in medications and medication management and the AMA wants to work with pharmacists to develop models where we can contribute more to the delivery of health care in this country in a safe and collaborative way. “Unfortunately, we are seeing models being pushed that do the opposite. They fragment care and lead to negative health outcomes, as we have seen in Queensland.”

To view the AMA media release Medicine safety depends on doctors and pharmacists working together in full click here.

Image source: Aged Care Insite.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The image in the feature tile is a photo of Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and a colleague taken at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference Welcome Reception last night.

NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The much anticipated annual gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector leaders from across the country at the NACCHO Members’ Conference was opened with a Welcome Reception last night. Preceding the Welcome Reception was the NACCHO Youth Conference attended by over 80 delegates. Today the NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and Annual General Meeting (AGM) are being held with the NACCHO Members’ Conference beginning tomorrow. With over 500 delegates attending this year the conference brings opportunities for attendees to network, learn, influence and celebrate our ongoing drive to self-determination.

For more information about the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference click here.

Dr Aunty Matilda House who gave the Welcome to Country at the Welcome Reception and NACCHO staff member Kelly Edwards.

First evidence-based guidelines for ADHD

Australia’s first evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are out, covering everything from identification of high-risk groups to professional training for those working with children and adults with the condition. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)-endorsed guidelines are the work of the Australia ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) – are long overdue, according to AADPA president and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Mark Bellgrove who said “It’s really important that, for a condition that affects around a million people in Australia, we have a unified bible with respect to diagnosis, treatment and support for folks with ADHD.”

The most evidence-based recommendations in the guidelines are around identification of groups with a higher prevalence of ADHD, which has a strong genetic component. These high-risk groups include people of all ages already diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder and language and learning disorders; those with anxiety, depressive or bipolar and related disorders; those who have been in prison; and those with a close family member with the condition. Children who are in out-of-home care or have been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, or with anxiety disorder, and adults with any mental health disorder, are also considered high-risk.

To view the Medical Republic article First evidence-based guidelines for ADHD, including a link to the NHRMC-endorsed guidelines, in full click here.

Image source: Australian ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) website.

Orthoptic-led diabetic retinopathy screening trial

Orthoptist and Indigenous eye health coordinator in the NT’s top end, Madelaine Moore, says the lack of funding to expand existing services has led to a pilot for orthoptic-led diabetes screening clinics. The ophthalmology department at Palmerston Regional Hospital (PRH), a campus of Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH), is the eye hub for the Top End of the NT, and it caters to a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander demographic.

Diabetes mellitus affects 12% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in rural and remote locations and is among the leading causes of preventable blindness for this population group. Screening plays a critical role in early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and it is recommended that Indigenous patients with diabetes receive an annual eye check. The average diabetes screening rates across remote communities in the Top End are 33%.

The aim of the pilot was to deliver a shorter consult and maximise the volume of patients. The pilot’s main successes include reaching asymptomatic and pre-presbyopic patients who would not self-present to optometry, no need for patients to undergo dilation, capacity building, and the short duration consult with minimal wait times reducing the number of people who ‘do not wait’.

To view the Insight article Orthoptic-led diabetic retinopathy screening in remote communities in full click here.

Image source: Diabetes & Diabetic Retinopathy in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Populations webpage of Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Restoration of bulk billed telehealth psychiatry

The Federal Government’s announcement yesterday that it is restoring bulk billed telehealth psychiatry consultations for Australians living outside metro areas is a promising first step towards improving the accessibility and affordability of mental health services for all Australians, the peak body for psychiatrists in Australia says.

Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, said the Federal Government’s reinstatement of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Item 288, as promised before the election, should be seen as the beginning of wider reform to provide affordable access to psychiatry. “The removal of bulk-billed telehealth compounded existing economic inequities by burdening patients with unaffordable gap-fees and out-of-pocket costs and while affordability is still a major issue across the board, this reinstatement is a step in the right direction,” Associate Professor Lakra said.

To view the RANZCP media release Federal Government commitment to bulk billed telehealth
psychiatry consultations a step forward for rural and regional Australia in full click here.

Image source: The University of Queensland website.

Not enough mental health care workers

National mental health advocacy organisation, Lived Experience Australia (LEA), is extremely concerned by figures released in the National Care Workforce Labour Study. The report, published by the National Skills Commission, shows that there is already a gap in care services (including mental health) against demand, and that this is likely to reach almost 100,000 workers in less than 5 years’ time.

LEA has undertaken research with people with lived experience of mental ill-health, along with their families and carers, who expressed many concerns about the pressures on GPs, the workforce skills gaps, and access problems. In the Missing Middle research one carer stated: “Public [mental health] services were essentially non-existent, as result of wait times which were estimated to be between 8-12 months.”

To view the LEA media release Not enough Mental Health Care Workers for our future in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Worker Jasmine Williams. Image source: The Daily Advertiser.

Pharmacy trial risks poor health, higher costs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is warning that Queensland’s watered down pilot allowing pharmacists to diagnose and treat patients remains a serious risk. It comes after the Queensland Government announced it was pushing ahead with the controversial pilot, which has been widely opposed by medical groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, and NACCHO.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said the pilot will result in poor health outcomes and must be stopped – “Enough is enough, patient safety and wellbeing must come first. We are extremely disappointed that Queensland is pushing ahead with the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Extended Scope of Practice Pilot, despite the opposition and concerns of the medical community. Not to mention the evidence showing a similar Queensland pilot allowing pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections has gone horribly wrong for many Queensland patients who were wrongly diagnosed and had serious conditions go untreated.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article RACGP: Queensland pharmacy trial risks poor health outcomes and higher costs for patients in full click here.

The AMA seconds the concerns of the RACGP issuing a media release on 14 October 2022 New Queensland pharmacy experiment puts lives at risk and does nothing to solve workforce issues available here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Danila Dilba seeking CMO and Deputy CMO

Established in 1991, Danila Dilba Health Service is a community organisation providing comprehensive primary health care to Biluru (Aboriginal) communities in the Yilli Rreung (Greater Darwin) Region of the NT. They aim to improve the physical, mental, spiritual, cultural, and social wellbeing of  clients through innovative comprehensive primary health care programs and services.

If you have ever considered working for an organisation you will be proud to work for come and join an executive team that is passionate about helping close the gap in Indigenous health and wellbeing. Danila Dilba Health Service has two vacancies. In the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) role you will report to and advise the CEO, executive management team and the board on the clinical direction of Danila Dilba Health Service while providing clinical oversight to delivery, quality, and efficiency of our comprehensive primary health care services.

You will also hold accountability for clinical governance and risk and will be driven by a focus on clinical quality and safety. You will be the face of Danila Dilba from a clinical perspective and will need to form and develop strategic alliances to strengthen and influence health policy and practice, relevant to our space.

As the CMO you will have time to focus on the strategy as Danila Dilba Health Service is concurrently hiring a Deputy CMO who will focus on leading and on the ground management of GP’s in our clinics (17 FTE) and be the CMO’s connection to the workforce.  The Deputy CMO role will be 4 days per week in the non-clinical environment and 1 day per week in clinic to maintain your clinical practice and ensure you have a real picture of the context you will be advising on.

You can find the details of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) position here and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer position here.

Applications for both positions close on Monday 24 October 2022.

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Hearing loss, a key health concern

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

ACCHO to manage Warruwi clinic

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

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

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

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

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

Increased life expectancy for NT men

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

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

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

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

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

Growing First Nations pharmacist workforce

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

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

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

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

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

Plan to make dental care culturally safe

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

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

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

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

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Caring for youth with type 2 diabetes

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

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

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

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

Getting eye health back on track

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

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Reducing chronic kidney disease among mob

The image in the feature tile is from an article Newman dialysis clinic: BHP funds purpose-built clinic published in The West Australian on Thursday 28 April 2022.

Reducing CKD among mob

First Nations Peoples have one of the highest rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the world. Diabetes accounts for about 75% of this disease. This rate of diabetic CKD is markedly higher than for non-Indigenous Australians. Kim Morey, an Eastern Arrernte /Anmatyerre person, says First Nations Peoples are ‘deeply concerned’ about the burden of CKD in their communities. A lack of specialist medical services in rural and remote areas contributes to this burden. ‘Elders often have to leave their homes and families to receive medical care, such as kidney dialysis,’ Kim explains.

Kim is Co-Theme Leader of Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). Kim is collaborating with Professor Mark Cooper, Monash University, a world expert in diabetic kidney disease. They lead a research team using advanced multi-omics technology to detect, prevent and manage CKD in First Nations communities. The CKD Study is the result of consultations with First Nations communities across SA. Kim carried these out with Alex Brown, now Program Leader of the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity research unit at SAHMRI. The consultations highlighted the need to overcome the burden of diabetes and its complications to reduce health inequality.

To read The National Tribune article Reducing high rate of chronic kidney disease in First Nations communities in full click here.

Kim Morey. Image source: SAHMRI website.

New DNA database a ‘game-changer’

A new DNA database system designed to improve health outcomes for First Nations Australians has been hailed a game-changer by experts. A supercomputer will crunch the database to improve diagnostic rates for First Nations peoples living with rare genetic disorders and help them seek treatment earlier. The project is being led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in collaboration with the National Centre for Indigenous Genomics, Oxford Nanopore and the National Computational Infrastructure.

Azure Hermes, a Gimuy Walubara Yidinji woman and deputy director at the Australian National University, said the technology was long-overdue. “In Australia, infrastructure around genomic data has always been a little bit fraught,” Ms Hermes said. “It hasn’t been great and I think what NCI is basically developing here is a safe and secure way where it can store data and it can be safe and secure.” Researchers will collect DNA samples from at least 500 First Nations Australians from communities across northern and central Australia. Project lead Hardip Patel said in the past, researchers had not properly engaged First Nations communities. “The systems were never inclusive,” Dr Patel said.

To view the Canberra Times article Push to improve Indigenous health outcomes click here.

Genomic data expert Dr Hardip Patel said researchers had not properly engaged First Nations people. Image source: Herald Sun.

NHMRC Indigenous Virtual Internship Program

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is pleased to invite all eligible applicants to apply to the Indigenous Internship program. NHMRC’s Indigenous internship program provides a wide range of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to gain insight into the work of NHMRC, as well as to enhance their educational experience through practical work experience.

NHMRC is facilitating a limited number of virtual internships of 200 hours or more, in a flexible format developed with your supervisor. To be eligible you must be enrolled in an Undergraduate or Master’s degree in a health or medical research or science related field; able to work independently and as part of a team; and can provide evidence to confirm that you are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. The internship runs for 200 hours or more from mid-November to mid-January (during the summer university break), however there is flexibility around these timeframes.

Applications for the 2022-23 Indigenous Internship Program close 5:00 PM (AEST) Friday 24 October 2022.

You can find more information about the Indigenous Internship program here, including details of eligibility and selection, as well as the terms and conditions of the program. Alternatively you can call Samantha Faulkner, Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advice on 02 6217 9526 or Katie Matthews, Director People, Property and Security on 02 6217 9217.

Emily McDonald, NHMRC Indigenous Intern 2021-2022. Image source: NHMRC website.

ANMC scholarship deadline extended

The Australian Nurses Memorial Centre (ANMC) is proud to offer scholarships for nurses and midwives as part of its mission to act as “a living memorial” by advancing the nursing profession through education. The ANMC provides and administers scholarships for nurses and midwives undertaking postgraduate study by course work or research at an Australian university or other accredited higher education institution. Scholarships applied for in 2022 are for study in 2023.

Founded in 1950 by Vivian Bullwinkel and Betty Jeffrey, outstanding nurses and survivors of WWII Prisoner-of-War Camps, the Australian Nurses Memorial Centre (ANMC) was established to honour Australian nurses who lost their lives in the various theatres of wars or humanitarian operations. As part of its mission to act as “a living memorial” by advancing the nursing profession through education, the ANMC provides and administers scholarships for nurses and midwives undertaking postgraduate study at an Australian university or other accredited higher education institution.

To view a flyer listing the various ANMC scholarships available and how to apply click here. Applications close Friday 30 September 2022 (previously 31 August 2022).

Only 7 NT communities opt-in to alcohol bans

Remote communities have largely ignored new Territory liquor laws requiring them to opt-in to prohibition licenses. Two months after the NT government NT announced its controversial decision to lift alcohol bans in remote communities – a legacy of the NT Intervention – only seven communities have opted-in. A further 12 have indicated their interest, including Peppiminarti, but are yet to finalise paperwork.

A total of 12 remote communities, more than 30 town camps and more than 200 homelands had alcohol reintroduced into their homes in July. Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said “We are transitioning out of the race-based restrictions of the Intervention to a tailored harm minimisation approach which empowers communities.”

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) chief medical officer public health Dr John Boffa said Alice Springs hospital had experienced an increase in hospital presentations in the first six weeks of the ban lifting. “There has been an 18% increase in alcohol related emergency department presentations with an average of about 131 compared with the long term baseline of 111 per week. This is an additional 20 per week,” Dr Boffa said.

The above has been extracted from an Herald Sun article Only seven remote communities opt-in to new liquor laws published on 22 September 2022.

Image source: ABC News.

Trailblazers program applications open

Applications are now open for the ABC’s 2023 Trailblazers program, which showcases the stories of regional Australia’s brightest new leaders. Trailblazers is an opportunity for young innovators, aged 18 – 28, who have started social, educational and economic development projects in their regional communities, to have their work celebrated nationally.

Previous Trailblazers projects have tackled issues including strengthening Indigenous culture, youth mental health, sustainable agriculture, employment, education and supporting remote entrepreneurs.

The ABC’s Director of Regional & Local, Judith Whelan said  “This is a program that has consistently delivered for those who have taken part in past years. It has also delivered substantial benefits to regional communities. Trailblazers is an inspiring and uplifting initiative and the ideas that come from it never fail to impress.”

Daniel Farmer and Adrianna Irvine, young Indigenous Australians living in Karratha, in the Pilbara region of WA are previous previous Trailblazers program winners. Multiple suicides in their community of Roebourne led to the idea to form the Kuruma Marthudunera Aboriginal Corporation’s Youth Council ( KMAC Youth Council ). The project aims to get more young people involved with culture and to promote social and emotional wellbeing and education in their communities.

Individuals and groups of up to three, aged 18-28, who are initiating projects that create positive change in their communities. From young community leaders to social entrepreneurs, advocates to event organisers, ABC Trailblazers are looking for young people with a commitment to strengthening their regional communities.

For more information, including case studies of previous Trailblazers program winners click here. Applications close Thursday 20 October 2022.

To view The National Tribune article ABC Trailblazers program launches 2023 program to showcase young regional leaders in full click here. Below is a short video of a previous ABC Trailblazers winner.

RPHC Manuals Project September update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date as RPHCM moves through the review process. This month’s update advises that the team is working with its IT provider to improve the electronic versions of the manuals on their website to improve accessibility, readability and navigation.

The change report outlining major changes to the manuals is being finalised and will be disseminated in coming weeks. If you would like a copy of the change report or would like to discuss the major changes or the strategies needed to implement the new edition of the manuals in your health service you can email the RPHCM Project Update team here. Meetings for change summary updates are also being finalised with key organisations.

You can view the RPHCM Project Update May 2022 flyer here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Learning from people with lived experience

The image in the feature tile is from the Aboriginal heart health webpage of the Heart Foundation website.

Learning from people with lived experience

Communities and individuals have a right and a duty to participate in the design and delivery of their health care. In tackling the complex global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health conditions, people with lived experience offer powerful expertise and narratives to shape policies, programs and services, and influence and inform those in power. Despite the right of participation, many global health interventions are top–down, one-size-fits-all or donor-driven models.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a short film documentary that sheds light on the experiences of people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions around the world. Nothing for Us, Without Us: listening and learning from people with lived experience highlights six individuals with diverse health conditions, including rheumatic heart disease, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, cancer, bipolar affective disorder and auto-immune disease and includes perspectives from Australia, Brazil, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

These individuals provide powerful expertise and evidence of why including the voices of people with lived experience is critical in the co-design of related policies, programs and health services. In addition to the full-length film, there is also the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the individuals, including the CEO of Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative Limited, LaVerne Bellear, through a series of short films.

Click here to access the WHO’s Nothing for us, without us: new film series on people living with noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions webpage. You can also access the WHO report Nothing for us, without us: opportunities for meaningful engagement of people living with NCDs here.

Addressing health holistically for 25 years

Addressing health holistically can go a long way to improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. On a day-to-day level, it’s services like Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement in Queensland that makes all the difference. The incorporated community not-for-profit organisation has been providing culturally safe and sensitive services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people in Queensland’s Toowoomba and Darling Downs regions, and SW Queensland for 25 years.

Goolburri knows that encompassing the importance of connection to land, culture, ancestry and how these impact on overall wellbeing of the individual and broader community cannot be underestimated. Goolburri supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a range of services to strengthen families and community relationships, while also protecting the vulnerable and those at risk. These services include GPs, dental services, home support, healing and wellbeing services and a family wellbeing service. It also extends to problematic substance abuse, domestic violence, social and emotional wellbeing, safety plans for children and in-home support.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article Strengthening communities by advancing health care options in full click here.

Goolburri employs around 80 team members across 10 offices. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Condo SkyFest supports mental health initiatives

The recent Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) festival washosted by Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC) and Big Skies Collaboration. The festival showcased works from a number of local community organisations and individuals including the:

  • Condo SistaShed, where Sistas meet regularly to enjoy arts and crafts activities;
  • Marathon Health’s Wiradjuri Wellness Project’s Shine group, who meet regularly to paint, sew, yarn and relax. Their artworks celebrate good mental and physical health and positive attitudes;
  • Focus on the Sky: Suicide Prevention Program exhibition, by participants of workshops conducted by Condobolin artist Karen Tooth for the Suicide Prevention Program, an initiative of the Primary Health Network supported by Western Plains Regional Development, Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service and Lachlan Arts Council.

To view the Eastern Advocate article Condo Skyfest Miima Warrabinya (Seeking the Stars) held at the iconic Wiradjuri Study Centre in full click here.

Some of the Sistas at the Condo SistaShed with some of their lantern experiments. From left, Aleesha Goolagong, Zanette Coe, Bev Coe, Charmaine Coe. Photo: Merrill Findlay. Image source: Arts OutWest website.

Scholarships to support health workers

Applications for 400 scholarships for personal care workers and nurses undertaking vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate courses related to aged care, leadership and management have opened. There are also 100 scholarships available for allied health professionals to focus on dementia-related post-graduate qualifications under the three-year commonwealth program, which launched last year. Students are eligible to apply if their course commences or continues in 2023. There is a guaranteed number of scholarships per year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. All scholarship recipients are eligible for a completion bonus on successfully finishing their course.

Chief nursing and midwifery officer Professor Alison McMillan said the priority of the scholarships is to develop skills for aged care nurses in leadership and clinical management, and to improve expertise in areas such as palliative care, dementia care and infection prevention and control. “I’d encourage all nurses and aged care workers working in aged care to look at what courses are available and consider applying for study that will support their career in the long term,” Professor McMillan said in a statement.

“Personal care workers interested in becoming an enrolled nurse should consider applying for a scholarship to complete a Diploma of Nursing. Enrolled nurses can apply for a scholarship to complete a Bachelor of Nursing to become a registered nurse,” she said. For allied health, courses related to aged care including clinical gerontology, behavioural management, dementia, continence and palliative care are eligible in addition to leadership and management courses.

Aged care nurse practitioner Khera said the scholarships changed her life. “The best part about my studies is applying the theories and learnings in the workplace and seeing the positive outcomes.”

For more information you can access the Australian Ageing Agenda article More scholarships for aged care nursing, care, allied health staff in full here.

Image source: VACCHO website.

$2.1m for Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance

With access to health services a big issue for Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, BHP is providing $2.1 million in funding to help establish the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA). BHP’s partnership with PAHA will help transform how Indigenous health services are provided in the Pilbara, by establishing new services and creating a strong voice for Indigenous health care.

The Alliance brings together three member organisations, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Newman), Wirraka Maya Health Service (Port Hedland) and Mawarnkarra Health Service (Roebourne and Karratha). Through their collective expertise and community connections, PAHA has a unique understanding of Indigenous health challenges in the Pilbara. Their goal is to work towards breaking down the barriers and improving the health and resilience of Aboriginal people now and in the future.

Wirraka Maya Health Service CEO, June Councillor, says the funding will make a huge difference in driving real improvements in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in the Pilbara. “It will help us identify, develop and roll out the Indigenous health services that will have the greatest impact on our communities in Newman, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Karratha.”

To view the BHP article Transforming Indigenous healthcare in the Pilbara in full click here.

PAHA logo, PAHA health workers. Image sources: PAHA Facebook, BHP website.

Indigenous Literacy Day

Today, Wednesday 7 September 2022 is Indigenous Literacy Day. This is a yearly initiative by Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Through literacy programs, the organisation seeks to improve the lives and possibilities of Indigenous Australians. Not just any literacy program, but one that puts the knowledge and wisdom of the Indigenous people first.

Australia’s First Peoples have a deep knowledge of community, culture, and land. These are concepts of “literacy” that the western world may not understand. We must redefine what literacy means for different communities and their needs. To create forward-thinking spaces without losing roots. Indigenous Literacy Day advocates people’s right to an education in the languages they speak at home. It celebrates Indigenous freedom of expression and participation in public life just as they are.

For more information about Indigenous Literacy Day click here.

Eating disorders research grants available

Sydney’s first eating disorders research and translation centre offers nationwide grant opportunity to progress prevention, treatments and support in partnership with research, lived experience, clinical and community experts. The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre, led by InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney, has launched the IgnitED Fund to unearth new ideas that have the potential to solve the problem of eating disorders.

Open to anyone living in Australia, IgnitED offers grants of up to $25,000 to develop and test innovative ideas that have potential to improve outcomes for people with eating disorders and their loved ones. It is the Centre’s first funding initiative following the $13m grant awarded in January to establish the new national centre.

According to the Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-Lead, Leilani Darwin, First Nations Australians are believed to experience high rates of eating disorders, disordered eating and food insecurity issues. “The IgnitED Fund facilitates Indigenous innovation,” said Darwin. “For the first time, we are uniquely positioned to elevate the need to better understand the issue of eating disorders and to build the evidence and best practice for our communities.”

For further information you can access The University of Sydney webpage National eating disorders centre ignites research fund for new solutions here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

The image in the feature tile is of the super talented artist 23 year old Dion ‘Cheeky Dog’ Beasley who is profoundly deaf and has Muscular Dystrophy. Image is from ICTVPLAY – Indigenous community videos on demand, 2014.

Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

Some NDIS participants worry if they don’t spend their annual funds, they won’t be offered the same support in their next plan – and it’s harder for some to use what they’ve been allocated. Around 4.5 million Australians live with disability but less than 13% of them are covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Getting into the scheme is one thing. But many NDIS participants find using their funding is yet another.

Research indicates a major issue in terms of the fairness of the scheme is less in the allocation of funding but more about whether people are able to spend their funding. Some groups – particularly people living in regional or remote areas or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – are less able to use their budgets. The research compared plan size and spending for participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and according to where people live, taking into consideration factors such as age to ensure comparisons were “like with like”.

The research found participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people received larger plans than other NDIS participants. But they spent a similar amount, despite having bigger budgets. This resulted in lower levels of utilisation. Modelling showed increasing the use of support coordinators could increase plan utilisation and reduce inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse participants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those with psychosocial disabilities.

The ConversationTo view the UNSW Sydney Newsroom opinion piece ‘Use it or lose it’ – getting NDIS funding is only half the battle for participants by Helen Dickinson, Professor, Public Service Research, UNSW Sydney and George Disney, Research Fellow, Social Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne click here.

Xtremecare Australia founders William and Marjorie Tatipata with their son, Will. Image source: Hireup website.

Ear disease mistaken for misbehaviour

New research from Western Sydney University has revealed living with childhood ear disease and hearing loss can substantially impact the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the symptoms of Otitis Media often difficult to identify and mistaken for misbehaviour. The study focused on the experiences of caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with Otitis Media, revealing the barriers and challenges they face in accessing effective treatment.

Lead author, Letitia Campbell, a community-based Aboriginal Research Officer with Western Sydney University’s School of Medicine, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a high burden of Otitis Media in childhood, and she is determined to improve how families can manage the condition and receive better healthcare. “Living with chronic ear disease and its consequences on hearing, language development, school performance and behaviour is a common reality for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, with the impact of hearing loss in children having long lasting effects on their wellbeing and development,” said Ms Campbell. “Caregivers have described how easy it is to mistake ear disease for misbehaviour in a child, and how distressing this is to the children who feel they are always getting into trouble for ‘not listening’ or talking too loudly when there is a genuine underlying medical reason.”

The view The National Tribune article Symptoms of childhood ear disease and hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour, new study finds in full click here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Kidney replacements more than double

The number of Australians receiving kidney replacement therapy has more than doubled over the past two decades, new data shows. Kidney replacement therapy numbers jumped from 11,700 to 27,700 from 2000 to 2020, showing chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a significant health issue, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. CKD is defined as the presence of impaired or reduced kidney function lasting at least three months, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report. An estimated 1.7 million Australians are living with early signs of kidney disease, however, many are unaware due to its asymptomatic nature.

AIHW data shows that more than half (14,600) of those receiving kidney replacement therapy were on dialysis and the remainder (13,100) had functioning kidney transplants that required ongoing follow up care. Approximately 2,500 Indigenous Australians with kidney failure received kidney replacement therapy in 2020, a rate of 284 per 100,000, with more than 1 in 4 receiving treatment close to home.

After living with diabetes for 20 years, Ina, an Aboriginal artist from Central Australia, was diagnosed with kidney failure and needed dialysis. She was forced to relocate from a remote are to Adelaide for treatment, which has been the most difficult thing about living with kidney disease. “It’s very important and pretty difficult to manage. Some of us, some of our families, lose us on this machine,” she said.

To view the Daily Mail Australia article Kidney replacement therapy on the rise in full click here. You can also view the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) media release Recipients of kidney replacement therapy more than doubles over 20 years here.

Darwin dialysis patient Jacqueline Amagula would like to be waitlisted for a kidney transplant. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Child vax rates falling behind

First Nations people are being urged to get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster by the country’s peak Indigenous health organisation, NACCHO. The rate of people over 16 who have had two vaccine does sits at nearly 82%. However, only 55% have had a third does and just 30% of eligible people have had their fourth shot.

Earlier this morning Medical Adviser for NACCHO, Dr Jason Agostino, spoke on Koori Radio 93.7FM about how children’s vaccination rates are falling behind “in children coverage has been quite poor and only about one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 5 to 11 have received any vaccine and only about one in five are fully vaccinated and that hasn’t changed much in the last four, six months.” NACCHO says mob may be eligible for new antiviral medications and should talk to their doctor.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

PHC lessons from overseas

New federal Health Minister Mark Butler says primary care is “in worse shape than it’s been in the entire Medicare era” and has made it his top health priority. Primary care is any first point of contact with the health system, such as a GP clinic, dentist, or community pharmacy, but the government is likely to focus on GP clinics. A new taskforce will advise the minister on how to spend $750 million to improve access, chronic disease management, and affordability. The taskforce has until Christmas to come up with a plan, which is a big ask given where the system is now. It has been recommended that Australia should take on lessons from what’s worked overseas to reform general practice funding.

Almost half of Australians have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma or depression. More than half of Australians over 65 have two or more. Those proportions have been rising fast in recent decades. To help patients manage these conditions, GPs need ongoing relationships with patients (known as continuity of care), and a team working with them by providing routine care, outreach, coaching, and advice. That lets GPs spend more of their time working with the most complex patients, resulting in better care and outcomes. The National Rural Health Alliance has proposed the sector move towards a model with similarities to Aboriginal-controlled clinics and community health providers.

To view the on-line Viw Magazine article General practices are struggling. Here are 5 lessons from overseas to reform the funding system in full click here.

Image sources: Indigenous Access Program for health professionals webpage Services Australia.

Awabakal regional vax clinic IT lessons

At a time when most IT professionals retreated to isolated workplaces, local experts Smikteck found a unique way to assist others during COVID-19. The Cardiff business hit the road to support Aboriginal health care provider Awabakal at vaccination clinics in regional areas. Now, 12 months on, they are ready to share their lessons learnt with other medical services. Smikteck director Michael Stafford admitted the pandemic changed the way health care was provided and IT was fundamental to that adjustment. “Lots of industries had to pivot how they provided their services,” he said. “Medical and health services were no exception.”

Instead of trying to troubleshoot issues from a help desk, the Smikteck team joined forces with the health professionals and became an integral part of the clinic set up and service delivery. “Awabakal Ltd came to us with a challenge,” Mr Stafford said. “They provide medical services to an Aboriginal community of more than 8,000 patients. So, the solution was to provide pop-up vaccination clinics in local communities throughout the Hunter. But, to do this, they needed to have the same, secure technology available as a normal medical clinic – and system downtime needed to be minimal.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article IT helps build community health in full click here.

Smikteck director Michael Stafford and Awabakal Ltd chief operations officer Scott Adams. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Cultural safety training for optometrists

Last year, Optometry Australia offered 100 members the opportunity to undertake cultural safety education through Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA). Following the incredible interest they received they have purchased access to IAHA’s Cultural Responsiveness Training (Levels 1 and 2), available for free to all members via the Optometry Australia Institute of Excellence. IAHA’s cultural safety training uses an evidence-based Cultural Responsiveness Framework. Levels 1 and 2 are action-oriented and highly interactive, focusing on strength-based outcomes through critical self-reflective practice.

In 2022, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards (except Medical, Nursing and Midwifery and Psychology) released a revised Code of Conduct which took effect on 29 June. The revised Code includes a new section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety, requiring that all optometrists provide culturally safe and sensitive practice for all communities.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training now available for all Optometry Australia members article in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry 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.