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: Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The image in the feature tile is artwork by Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker, who explained the symbolism of her artwork: the gum leaf shape, when upright, can also represent a flame. Inside the leaf is an aerial mapping of the Clarence River, the river is one that connects all people of the Clarence Valley. The dots represent people and the stripes represent the resilience embedded into us as people. The yellow dashes represent the bushfires which have caused havoc in the region, the green represents the replenishing and the new growth of nature. Image source: Monash University article Indigenous knowledge at the heart of planetary health published on the Monash Sustainable Development Institute webpage on 1 July 2022.

Indigenous perspectives of planetary health

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, or COP27, is being held from 6–18 November 2022 as the 27th United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UNs Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the thirty years since, the world has come a long way in the fight against climate change and its negative impacts on our planet; we are now able to better understand the science behind climate change, better assess its impacts, and better develop tools to address its causes and consequences.

Indigenous Peoples have resiliently weathered continued assaults on their sovereignty and rights throughout colonialism and its continuing effects. Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty has been strained by the increasing effects of global environmental change within their territories, including climate change and pollution, and by threats and impositions against their land and water rights.

This continuing strain against sovereignty has prompted a call to action to conceptualise the determinants of planetary health from a perspective that embodies Indigenous-specific methods of knowledge gathering from around the globe. A group of Indigenous scholars, practitioners, land and water defenders, respected Elders, and knowledge-holders came together to define the determinants of planetary health from an Indigenous perspective. Three overarching levels of interconnected determinants, in addition to ten individual-level determinants, were identified as being integral to the health and sustainability of the planet, Mother Earth.

To view The Lancet article The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective in full click here.

Photo: Nicolas Rakotopare. Image source: Threatened Species Recovery Hub website.

SWAMSmob digital health platform wins award

SWAMSmob app, a digital health platform designed specifically for the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) and their patients is the annual Curtinnovation Awards Faculty of Health Sciences winner. The app enables SWAMS patients to access telehealth and health promotion information 24-hours a day. It provides another way for SWAMS to engage and connect with the Aboriginal residents and promote wellbeing, by enabling GPs and Aboriginal healthcare workers to provide individual or group health consultations.

The app is novel in that it has been programmed for Aboriginal identity and cultural practices as well as health features. For example, the app accommodates ‘men only’ and ‘women only’ spaces. Importantly, the app will also help to increase digital literacy and technology education among Aboriginal users. Overall, the technology helps SWAMS to transform be more prepared for health challenges and to help Close the Gap.

To view the Curtin University article Alzheimer’s discovery crowned overall Curtinnovation winner in full click here.

Ieramaguadu woman uses FASD diagnosis to help mob

For 43-year-old Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson, her diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) opened the door to work and putting smiles on the faces of mob in the Pilbara. After accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) via Mawarnkarra Health Service, Ms Sampson took on the role of an NDIS community connector.

FASD can cause a range of complications to those exposed to alcohol in the womb. For Ms Sampson, difficulties concentrating and being easily distracted have been a factor in life. Now difficulties once endured to find work have shifted to a new confidence in her knack for brightening others’ days, travelling around Ieramagadu, Wickham and Karratha to assist people living with disabilities with their everyday needs and tasks. “I feel very proud of it,” Ms Sampson said. “I really feel that I’ve found my purpose to help others. It was nerve-wracking when I first started, but with love and support, with these guys I found my confidence.

To view the National Indigenous Times article The Roebourne foetal alcohol disorder sufferer turning disability into opportunity for local mob in full click here.

Ieramagadu (Roebourne) woman Rachel Sampson. Image supplied by: Regen Strategic. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Non-Indigenous world views still inform health research

While Indigenous health research is often following guidelines aimed at ensuring Indigenous participation and governance, much of the research is still largely based on non-Indigenous world views, according to Australian researchers. Researchers conducted a survey of about 250 people involved in Indigenous research,to find out how frequently the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ethics guidelines for Indigenous health and medical research were being followed. They say while the non-compulsory guidelines were seeing widespread use, Indigenous health research is still largely informed by non-Indigenous world views, led by non-Indigenous people, and undertaken in non-Indigenous organisations.

According to the researchers the fundamental question raised by the survey was “how can Indigenous health research benefit Indigenous people without meaningful oversight and participation by Indigenous people?” The survey findings suggest that barriers to translating the NHMRC guidelines into research practice remain,” they wrote. “These include inadequate levels of education about applying the guidelines, the history of Indigenous health research in Australia, and Indigenous governance and data sovereignty. Most importantly, we found that Indigenous governance and participation was inadequate at each stage of research. Re-orientation and investment are needed to give control of the framing, design, and conduct of Indigenous health research to Indigenous people.”

To view the Medical Journal of Australia media release Indigenous Health Research: governance by Indigenous organisations vital in full click here.

Aboriginal doctor and researcher Professor Alex Brown is leading a five-year $5m project to advance the benefits from Genomic Medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source: John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU.

Kimberley urgently needs youth suicide action

A suicide in Fitzroy Crossing has sparked renewed calls for urgent action to address mental health needs among young people in the Kimberley. The recent death came two weeks after an attempted suicide by another young person. Local businessman Patrick Green said the blackout occurred after a young boy who had repeatedly sought medical attention attempted to take his own life.

WA Mental Health Commission’s operations acting deputy commissioner Ann Marie Cunniffe said Fitzroy Crossing Hospital provided 24/7 access to mental health support through drug and alcohol teams, psychiatrists and telehealth services. “Nurses and doctors at Fitzroy Crossing Hospital also work with Aboriginal liaison officers to provide cultural support and ensure care is culturally appropriate,” she said. Ms Cunniffe said the Kimberley Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing Steering Committee has been established to support Aboriginal community-led solutions to improve Aboriginal youth wellbeing.

The Committee facilitates implementation of the 86 recommendations identified in the State Coroner’s 2019 Inquest, among other measures. Ms Cunniffe said Aboriginal-led solutions and cultural understanding and respect were guiding principles of the approach. “The Commission funds regional Community Liaison Officers across the State, including the Kimberley,” she said. “These positions are employed by ACCHOs as they have the strongest understanding of their region, knowledge of appropriate cultural considerations and local issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Youth suicide sparks renewed call for urgent action in the Kimberley in full click here.

Patrick Green, Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Chlamydia prevention and management

14 years on from a call for innovative chlamydia screening programs to reduce the high rates of notifications in Australia at the time, chlamydia remains as the country’s most notified bacterial sexually transmissible infection (STI). Most new chlamydia infections are occurring among young people aged 15–29 years. An important exception is that notification rates appear to be falling in women under 25 years old, for whom chlamydia testing rates have plateaued and positivity among those tested is declining.

In addition to people with female reproductive organs and young people aged 15–29 years, chlamydia is also disproportionately high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in remote and very remote areas, those with greater socio‐economic disadvantage, and among gay and bisexual men. People who are pregnant are also a priority population, where chlamydia infection is associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, and postpartum infections in the mother and/or newborn. Once treated, an individual may become reinfected, contributing to further potential transmission and increasing the risk of morbidity in the form of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. Chlamydia remains a significant public health issue in Australia, with the search for novel prevention and management strategies ongoing.

To reduce the burden of disease from chlamydia in Australia, comprehensive follow‐up of cases and contacts to reduce the risk of complications is required. When chlamydia is detected, retesting at 3 months for reinfection and performing thorough partner tracing and management can help interrupt transmission and reduce the risk of reinfection and reproductive complications. Further studies investigating the timing of testing and treatment of chlamydia infections on the progression to reproductive complications will help guide public health strategies to further reduce the burden of chlamydia in Australia.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia article Chlamydia prevention and management in Australia: reducing the burden of disease in full click here.

Chlamydia bacteria. Image source: Medicine Plus website.

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 CEO reflects on successful conference

The image in the feature tile is of Jadlyn David De Bush and Daniel Rosedal presenting feedback from the 76 delegates at the NACCHO Youth Conference 2022 to the 500 delegates at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022. Image source: NACCHO Australia Twitter post, 20 October 2022.

NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

In closing the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM said it had been a wonderful event, with it being “great to be able connect to people face-to-face rather than the virtual connections we’ve had over the last 3 years with COVID-19 preventing us from being able to get together like this.”

Ms Turner said the NACCHO Members’ Conference is not only an opportunity to strengthen our network and get to know each other better but to hear about the amazing work that is being done right around the country, saying it was a testimony to the strength of the sector to come together, noting it was a long way for many and expensive.

Ms Turner said she hoped attendees at the conference had been inspired to pick up on good ideas and best practice shared at the conference and that they would be used to continue to strengthen the delivery of health services to our people. Ms Turner said we have got to be able to get the governments to understand the importance of the environments our people live in and what a negative effect overcrowded housing and unhealthy environments have on our people’s health, “as part of the comprehensive primary health care model its our job at every level to advocate for our communities in those areas as well.”

Housing shortage potentially “life-threatening”

Preston Mapuyu is on a public housing waitlist that on average takes more than half a decade to see any movement – but due to a chronic lung condition, he may not have that long to wait. Nurses in remote north-east Arnhem Land say a housing shortage has become potentially “life-threatening for patients” such as Mr Mapuyu, and is simultaneously burdening the health system.

Mr Mapuyu’s inability to access public housing has meant he’s been forced to rely on the kindness of relatives for accommodation, often overcrowded and unsuitable for someone with his condition. He and his wife, Serena Munyarryun, were living on a remote homeland 100km from the nearest hospital, where access via dirt road is seasonal and emergency planes can only land during the day. “If we call emergency for ambulance to get here, sometimes it takes them three to four hours to get here,” Ms Munyarryun said.

The pair has applied to access public housing in the nearest township of Nhulunbuy but, given a Territory-wide public housing shortage, they’re up against it. NT government data shows there is an average wait of six to eight years for applicants in Nhulunbuy. That stretches up to a decade for those seeking housing in hubs like Alice Springs. Across the NT there are nearly 6,000 applications for housing, but only 162 homes listed as vacant.

To view the ABC News article NT government’s years-long public housing waitlist putting a strain on remote health system in full click here.

Serena Munyarryun and Preston Mapuyu could be forced to wait years for public housing. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

RHD landmark study makes inroads

An entirely preventable “killer” disease plaguing remote communities in the NT will never end unless Aboriginal workers become the backbone of prevention, an Indigenous health organisation warns. Sunrise Health chairperson Anne-Marie Lee is the co-author of a four-year, landmark study – published in the International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health – which was conducted in three Aboriginal communities where it is not uncommon to see children under 10 bearing the vertical, long scars of open-heart surgery.

“Nothing can work in Indigenous communities unless you employ local people,” Ms Lee said. “Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a killer. It’s a killer, and it’s killing a lot of my young ones.” RHD is mostly eradicated in first world countries and is only found in the most disadvantaged areas of developing countries. But in Australia, rates in remote Aboriginal communities beset by social disadvantage are among the highest in the world.

Studies to date have largely focused on secondary and tertiary prevention once somebody’s already been diagnosed, instead of the root causes, such as addressing severe overcrowding in houses and a lack of effective education. Ms Lee said in her community of Barunga, about an hour’s drive from Katherine, there was not enough suitable information about the disease for families. She lamented the notion that short-term fly-in-fly-out health workers could make meaningful inroads. “We need more of me … because they trust us,” Ms Lee said.

To view the ABC News article Rheumatic heart disease still killing Australian children but a landmark study makes inroads in full click here.

Anne-Marie Lee [L] says rates of RHD fell in her community during the study. Photo: Menzies School of Health. Image source: ABC News.

Improving health for people with intellectual disability

The Australian Government is investing more than $5 million in four research projects to improve the long-term health outcomes of people with intellectual disability. Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the research will develop the evidence base for future policies, interventions and other initiatives to improve the quality of life of people with an intellectual disability. A key factor in each of the projects is the involvement of people with intellectual disability, their families and carers in the design of the research and implementation.

Professor Sandra Eades from the University of Melbourne has received $792,020 to undertake a research project: Equitable access to health and disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with intellectual disability.

This project will improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children with intellectual disability by recommending effective models of care to ensure appropriate, timely diagnoses and access to high-quality health and disability services. National Disability Insurance Scheme data and interviews with families, adolescents with intellectual disability, and healthcare and disability services will be analysed to identify barriers and facilitators to meeting the healthcare needs of Indigenous children with intellectual disability.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Improving long-term health outcomes for people with intellectual disability in full click here.

Image source: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families of children with disabilities webpage of Community Early Learning Australia website.

Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success

Remote residents of Urapunga in the NT have reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 43% in the past year, due to a range of sugar-reduction measures implemented at their local grocery store. Urapunga Store, operated by the Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation and serviced by Outback Stores, has restricted the size of soft drinks sold, and implemented “Sugar-Free Wednesdays” – a day in which no full-sugar soft drinks are available for purchase.

“We knew the community was drinking too much sugar, so we came up with a plan to start changing that,” said Antonella Pascoe, board member of Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation. “As directors of the store, we felt like we could make a positive change.”

In the first six months, the proportion of sugary drinks sold has fallen by 4.7% which equates to 1,921 litres, or twelve bathtubs less of full-sugar soft drink consumed in the community. “We know that the community is now drinking less sugar,” says Ms Pascoe. “One of the best things is the way it has made the community think about what they are drinking, even on days when they can buy sugary drinks.

To view the Retail World article Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success in full click here.

Photo: Isabella Higgins, ABC News.

Sax Institute, a community-led research pioneer

The Sax Institute are pioneers of the community-led research model and have been building strong relationships with Aboriginal health organisations since 2003. These partnerships have been critical to enabling the design and conduct of health research that is most likely to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities and policy makers. The Sax Institute says these partnerships are an essential part of how they work and central to their success.

In 2003, Sax Institute formed a partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) to set up the Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health (CRIAH) as a vehicle for bringing together Aboriginal communities and leading research expertise to support better health outcomes.

Over the past 15 years, the Sax Institute has worked with a number of ACCHOs across NSW to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Through these partnerships, ACCHOs nominate their research priorities, control how the research is conducted and take the lead in determining what works for them and their communities.

Four ACCHOs – Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation, Awabakal and Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service – have been cornerstone partners with the Institute in developing the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH), Australia’s largest long-term study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal children.

You can find more information on the Partnerships – How we work webpage of the Sax Institute website here.

Image source: Sax Institute website.

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.

Children’s Week 2022

Saturday marked the beginning of Children’s Week 2022 (22-30 October). Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. A diverse range of events and activities at national, state and local levels focus the attention of the wider community on children, their rights and achievements. Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood.

Children’s Week promotes the Rights of the Child as proclaimed by the United Nations in 1954. It also exists to remind us of our responsibility to advocate for children as citizens and their right to a positive childhood.

The 2022 Children’s Week theme All Children have the right to a standard of living that supports their wellbeing and healthy development aligns with Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more information about Children’s Week click here.

Logo: ClipartMax. Photo: The North West Star. Image source: The Pulse.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Including and sharing with mob essential

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM. Image source: Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Facebook page, 1 April 2021.

Including and sharing with mob essential

Earlier this week NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM delivered a keynote address – Including and Sharing with Us: The only way forward – at the Voices for the Bush Conference 2022. Ms Turner shared some reflections on key policy opportunities and ideas about ways of working together for the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, saying “As specified in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, responsible decisions at every level must be made in partnership. At this conference, I encourage you to glean best practice and commit to change. Expand your discussions with a positive acknowledgement of community control, and the rights we have as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to shape our own destiny, to partner with you as equals in innovation, technology and service delivery.”

“In the twenty-first century, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are not asking for anything more than what mainstream Australians already take for granted. We seek re-entry into knowledge from which we have been structurally excluded. We deserve to make decisions in partnership about policies and programs directly affecting us. We don’t need rescuing. We don’t need another thought bubble dreamt up by people who don’t know us and who don’t partner with us.”

“We WILL get better health by improving housing, water quality, water quantity and environmental health programs. BUT these improvements require a significant shift in how decisions are made, how policies are funded and how programs are designed. Australia’s Gross Domestic Product puts us in the top 10% of all the world’s countries. We have the economic and financial resources to do this. We can close this gap.”

You can read Pat Turner’s keynote address Including and Sharing with Us: The only way forward in full here.

Image source: Australian Communications Consumer Action Network website.

Systemic racism in prisoner healthcare

The death of a 19-year-old Aboriginal man in a West Kimberley prison has been labelled “preventable” by the West Australian Coroner. Miriuwung and Gajerrong man Mr Yeeda died from a heart attack at Derby Regional Prison on 3 May 3 2018. Mr Yeeda had rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and was overdue to see a cardiologist for assessment prior to his sentence beginning in 2017. However, the referral from the Prison Medical Officer didn’t progress to an appointment. If Mr Yeeda had seen a cardiologist, it’s believed he would have received urgent cardiac surgery to replace his aortic valve, a surgery the coroner found could have been lifesaving.

The Principal Solicitor and Director of the National Justice Project George Newhouse, who is representing the family of Mr Yeeda, said the coroner had failed to address the contribution of systemic racism in his death. “The coroner has failed to address the systemic racism in WA’s justice and healthcare systems which led to Mr Yeeda’s death,” he said. “Unless culturally-appropriate healthcare delivered by Aboriginal medical services is provided to prisoners, we will see more needless deaths like that of Mr Yeeda.”

To read the SBS NITV article WA Coroner finds Mr Yeeda’s death in custody ‘preventable’ in full click here.

Miriuwung and Gajerrong man, Mr Yeeda. (Photo approved and supplied by Mr Yeeda’s family.)
Image source: SBS NITV website.

Mob with disability face racial-ableism

In an article published in The Conversation earlier this week, John Gilroy, an ARC Research Fellow in Indigenous Health, Disability and Community Development at the University of Sydney said, “the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has not properly focused on the ideological foundations of the NDIS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities. Instead, government has been heavily focused on actuarial studies of the “market” to ascertain where disability service gaps exist in these regions.”

“The NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme] is a model that attempts to blend the “for profit” values of the business sector with the “not for profit” values of the charity sector. Business profits are only achieved where there exists a “supply” and “demand”. Reports have repeatedly shown the NDIS has not yet fairly benefited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote, rural, and regional communities because the absence of local services. This is because there is no “business market” compared to the metropolitan regions and can be seen in provider shrinkage in areas such as East Arnhem land. This is geographic discrimination and racial-ablism.”

“All of the money spent on the Royal Commission should have been spent on grounded community initiatives under the NDIS in regional, rural, and remote communities. These could have included advocacy programs, secondary and tertiary education programs, long-term government service funding agreements, training of NDIA and allied health staff, Aboriginal employment in the NDIA, and Aboriginal-owned and operated disability support programs. It is not time for another inquiry and another report. It’s time for action.”

To view The Conversation article Indigenous people with disabilities face racism and ableism. What’s needed is action not another report (which includes the video below) in full click here.

Palliative care kits for on Country care

Culturally-appropriate palliative care kits will be rolled out across Australia to help Indigenous families care for their dying loved ones on Country. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from remote, rural and urban areas will be more able to die at home while maintaining a connection to their community. “First Nations people’s culture involves complex social structures with strong links to their homeland,” Professor Liz Reymond, director of Caring@home, said yesterday.

“Most Indigenous Australians tell us they would prefer to finish up on Country in their local culture with those they love. This kit will help them realise this outcome with more access to symptom control.” Reymond said it would also allow dying people to be with their mourning families during end-of-life care, instead of in a hospital, often 100s of kms away.  The Palliative Care Clinic Box contains information packs for medical professionals, and a training video to teach carers how to safely give pain relief medicines.

To read the Aged Care News article Indigenous palliative care kits to be distributed for on Country care in full click here.

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

Increased stroke awareness needed

The Stroke Foundation is calling for increased stroke awareness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to bridge the divide in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. As part of National Stroke Week (8–14 August 2022), Stroke Foundation is highlighting the inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples who are impacted by stroke. Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are twice as likely to be hospitalised from stroke and 1.3 times more likely to die.

“The statistics are quite shocking when it comes to stroke in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and that’s why we need to share them in order to make a change,” Ms McGowan said. “Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Indigenous Australia, and the burden of disease for stroke is 2.3 times as high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. One-third to a half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are at high risk of stroke, that’s despite 80% of strokes being preventable through managing your blood pressure and adopting a healthy lifestyle.”

To view The National Tribune article Shining spotlight on Indigenous Australians health outcomes during National Stroke Week click here. You can also access the Stroke Foundation’s Our Stroke Journey – Helping our mob after stroke booklet here.

Raise the Age petition – add your voice

Across Australia, children as young as 10 can be arrested by police, charged with an offence, brought before a court and locked away in a prison. Every day a child spends in prison can cause lifelong harm to that child’s health, growth and development. First Nations children are even more at risk.

Children belong in schools, playgrounds and with their families, not behind bars.

The Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) is a member of the Raise the Age alliance. Alongside 120 other member organisations, they support raising the minimum of age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years.

It’s been two years since the launch of a national campaign to raise the age and calls on state and territory leaders to act continue. Make a difference and sign the Raise The Age petition here.

Enhancing digital health tools for NT mob

A new project led by NT Health and the ​Menzies School of Health Research aims to develop virtual care models that meet the specific needs of Indigenous communities in the NT. The three-year project under the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) will evaluate how existing and emerging technologies could be best deployed in remote Indigenous communities.

It will identify the preferences of consumers and healthcare providers regarding virtual care, as well as address the lack of knowledge in deploying digital tools. “Recommendations will be based on needs and preferences identified by both consumers and health professionals, with a particular focus on integrating multiple professional groups working in remote [primary healthcare service],” explained Menzies professor John Wakerman.

To read the Healthcare IT News article Northern Territory project to enhance digital health tools deployment in indigenous communities in full click here.

An example of a digital health tool is iBobbly, a social and emotional wellbeing self-help app for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and over. Image source: Black Dog Institute website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: PM’s Voice to Parliament proposal

Image in the feature tile is PM Anthony Albanese with Yothu Yindi Foundation chair Galarrwuy Yunupingu at the Garma festival in the NT. Photo: Carly Earl. Image source: The Guardian, 30 July 2022.

PM’s Voice to Parliament

The PM, Anthony Albanese, acknowledged we have been here before as a nation: at a crossroads, about to decide a path that will affect the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people for generations to come. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this time the stakes are so much higher, because the past is littered with the broken promises of politicians.

The PM said as much in his stirring speech at the Garma festival in Arnhem Land on Saturday. Anthony Albanese spoke of “over 200 years of broken promises and betrayals, failures and false starts”. “So many times, the gap between the words of balanda [whitefella] speeches and the deeds of governments has been as wide as this continent,” Albanese told a packed crowd.

In response to comments about addressing urgent, critical matters before any referendum, the lead convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations, Pat Turner, said it was possible to do more than one thing at a time. Turner said the voice and improving the lives of Aboriginal and Islander people was “not an either-or prospect”. “Our members undertake service delivery across Australia to some 500,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait people,” Turner said. “Our members are on country, working in and for our communities, to make a difference in our people’s lives.”

To view The Guardian article Indigenous voice campaigners say ample detail already available in wake of PM’s stirring speech in full click here. You can also view a transcript of PM Anthony Albanese’s speech at Garma on The Voice published in WAtoday here.

Goodbye Archie, who gave voice to many

Songman Archie Roach has been remembered as the voice of generations and a truth-teller whose death is a loss to his community and the world. The Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller died at the age of 66 after a long illness. His sons said Uncle Archie died surrounded by his family and loved ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria. His family has granted permission for his name and image to be used so that his legacy will continue to inspire.

Gunditjmara woman Jill Gallagher, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), said it felt like “a little bit of hope has gone”. “Uncle Archie, through his music, brought that hope, because he told the world … Australia does have a dark history,” she told the ABC. “And he showed the world that Aboriginal people are still here. And we have a story to tell.”

To view the ABC News article Archie Roach remembered as a truth-teller and activist who gave voice to many click here.

Pharmacist guideline for supporting mob

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched guidelines for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with medicines management, as part of PSA22. The principles included in the guideline are relevant to all current and future pharmacists, from those just starting their professional journey to those with years of experience working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said that the guidelines were a vital part of the pharmacy profession’s effort to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians. “PSA is proud to have worked with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to develop these guidelines, which will help pharmacists around Australia, in all practice settings, deliver the best care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients,” she said.

Deputy CEO of NACCHO, Dr Dawn Casey, says that the guidelines offer practical and detailed information, as well as some challenging ideas. “All pharmacists have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients as well as colleagues, business partners or family who we interact with, know and work alongside,” she said.

To view The National Tribune article Guideline for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples launched at PSA22 click here and to view the Guideline for Pharmacists Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with Medicines Management click here.

Image source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia website.

Ideally placed to help family violence victims

Health systems play a key role in addressing gender-based violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence, but have not been given adequate resources to respond in a way that benefits victims/survivors and children, according to the authors of a Narrative Review published today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Gender-based violence includes physical, psychological, sexual or economic behaviour causing harm for reasons associated with people’s gender. Women are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, with Indigenous women and girls facing particularly high risk.

Victims/survivors are more likely to access health services (eg, general practice, sexual health, mental health, emergency care, Aboriginal community-controlled health services and maternity services) than any other professional help. Health practitioners are ideally placed to identify domestic and sexual violence, provide a first line response, and refer on to support services. However, domestic and sexual violence continue to be under-recognised and poorly addressed by health practitioners. It is essential for practitioners to have the skills to ask and respond to domestic and sexual violence, given that victims/survivors who receive positive reactions are more likely to accept help.

To view the Medical Journal of Australia’s media release Transforming health settings to address gender‐based violence in Australia in full click here.

Image source: MamaMia article ‘Indigenous women are the unheard victims of domestic violence. It’s time to break the silence.’ – 26 January 2022.

Mob with disability a double disadvantage

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began a full national rollout in July 2016 with a fundamental objective to give those with a disability choice and control over their daily lives. Participants can use funds to purchase services that reflect their lifestyle and aspirations. People with disability living in remote communities may receive money for supports, but that doesn’t mean there’s anywhere to purchase them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with severe disability face many barriers to fully accessing the support offered by the NDIS. This group of people has already experienced long-standing isolation and are particularly vulnerable to being left behind, again. The prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is twice that experienced by other Australians. It is more complex in terms of more than one disability or health issue occurring together, and it is compressed within a shorter life expectancy.

The latest NDIS quarterly states 9,255 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are participating in the NDIS (roughly 5.4% of the total). Though, being a “participant” means they have been signed up to an insurance policy. It doesn’t necessarily mean the policy has been paid out. And many others aren’t on the scheme at all.

To view the NewsServices.com article Indigenous people with disability have a double disadvantage and the NDIS can’t handle that in full click here. A related article Making everyone count: it is time to improve the visibility of people with disabilitiy in primary care published in the Medical Journal of Australia today is available here.

Willie Prince, a founding member of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland. Image source: Queenslanders with Disability Network.

Complexity of GP role needs respect

General practice is at a tipping point, and besides root-and-branch reform of models of funding, experts say attitudes to general practice need to change, and change now. With rising costs of providing care, increasing burnout rates of doctors and low number pursuing GP training, there are repeated calls across the industry to dump universal bulk billing and fund primary care in a different way. But it’s not just about the money. GPs want wide-ranging changes for the sustainability of their profession.

Dr David King, Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the University of Queensland said “We need to be included in decisions that involve health care, and the nation needs to realise that we’re the foundation of health care in Australia, particularly primary health care.”

Dr Karen Price, President of the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) went further saying there needs to be a funding model that integrates other services. “We need to look at different models like the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) have done. They’ve got a great model for Aboriginal medical services. We need to look at centres like that in some of the lower socio-economic areas where they can’t afford a gap. We need to look at how that might work with access to physiotherapy and social work and occupational therapy and psychologists in a way that is equitable and supported.

To view the InSight article GPs at “top of the medical hierarchy” crying out for respect in full click here.

Image source: General Practice Training Queensland.

Healing power of the arts

A young woman dying of cancer wanted music to soothe her in the final moments of life. So a harpist went to her bedside at a Brisbane hospital, where she and her family were preparing for the end. “She wanted to be played to the other side,” said Peter Breen who curates the Stairwell Project, a Queensland charity that organises musical performances in hospitals to calm and distract patients and staff.

Stairwell Project is one of many arts organisations featured at this week’s National Rural Health Conference in Brisbane, where hundreds of professionals will gather for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Deadly Weavers founder Felicity Chapman, a Wiradjuri businesswoman who used traditional craft to rehabilitate after a brain aneurysm, will also feature alongside other Indigenous artists.

To view the Health Times article ‘Like Narnia’: the healing power of music in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pleas for governments to ‘listen’

Image in feature tile is from The Guardian article NT intervention a ‘debacle’ and second attempt should be made, commission told, 22 June 2017. Photo: David McLain, Getty Images, Aurora Creative.

Please for governments to ‘listen’

The intervention rolled into the NT like an unseasonal storm. That’s how some Territorians who lived through the policy – formally named the emergency response – remember its arrival, 15 years ago. John Daly, a remote community resident from Nauiyu, was the Northern Land Council’s chairman at the time, says “I think it was done in a way that was so hurtful. When you look at the intervention, it was based on a report – this wasn’t the response [the authors] wanted from their report. Ten years after allegations of abuse and violence in the Indigenous community of Mutitjulu sparked the NT intervention, locals say very little has been achieved.

“Why basically ride in there and take away the rights of every traditional owner and Aboriginal person?” In north-east Arnhem Land, Djambarrpuyngu clan cultural leader Lapulung Dhamarrandji remembers residents from Milingimbi fleeing to neighbouring homelands and communities out of fear. “To us, it was like there wasn’t any blue skies around us, it was covered with thick grey clouds – when the intervention came, it was like that,” he said. “The fear inside us all, I mean we are parents just like you people you know.”

To view the ABC News article Residents who lived through the NT intervention plead for governments to ‘listen’, 15 years on in full click here.

Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann said there was a failure to listen deeply and hear residents’ solutions. Photo: Felicity James, ABC News.

PAMS Healthcare Hub built for the desert

Through a series of projects in the arid environment of WA predominantly built for Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung Architecture has proposed a different approach to working with the beautiful, yet harsh, desert environment. Designing with, not for, remote Aboriginal communities, Kaunitz and Yeung are changing the narrative of remote regional architecture – creating a new vernacular for Australian desert architecture.

While one of their most recent projects, the award winning Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) Healthcare Hub, may be the most prominent of Kaunitz and Yeung’s work, some of their earlier Western Desert projects were fundamental in breaking the architectural tradition already present in Australia’s desert areas. The work of Kaunitz and Yeung has been iterative. Starting with the Wanarn Health Clinic in 2015 which, in David Kaunitz’s words, “smashed the mould of verandah buildings” then the Punmu and Parnngurr clinics in 2018, each project has learned from the previous and the design has evolved.

To view The Property Tribune article Creating architecture for the Australian desert in full click here.

The new PAMS building has been constructed around an internal courtyard which provide shad in summer and shelter from the harsh sun. Image source: The Property Tribune.

Pharmacy trial puts patients in danger

A small Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, the town has in effect been selected as one of the sites for a radical and potentially dangerous experiment in patient care. That experiment is the Queensland Government’s plan to allow pharmacists to diagnose, prescribe and dispense up to 150 different S4 drugs across 23 medical conditions.

Dr King, a Yued/Whadjuk Noongar man, explains why he fears the worst. I first learnt that Yarrabah would be a site for the North Queensland pharmacy trial back in March. I found out because a journalist sent me those secret, confidential documents that had originally been leaked to Australian Doctor earlier this year. I did not find out because the community was consulted about what was coming— the local council, the ED next door to us, both knew nothing. I was confused, and I was angry.

The government says this trial will allow pharmacists to compensate for GP workforce shortages in North Queensland. If Yarrabah is on the list, then that is nonsense. We have seven FTE GPs, and even in the most difficult parts of the pandemic, we haven’t had shortages. To slap us with this trial with no consultation about what is happening is ludicrous and offensive. It also shows a deep level of ignorance at the highest level of Queensland Health for what actually goes on within communities from a primary health perspective and the vulnerabilities of our patients.

To view the Australian Doctor article Pharmacy prescribing trial: ‘The lives of my patients are in real danger’ in full click here.

Dr Jason King, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, Yarrabah, QLD. Image source: Australian Doctor.

Use the NDIS? We want your story

Do you or your family use the NDIS??

We’d like to film your story?!

People from all locations welcome.

Your time will be paid $$.

Please contact Chris Lee by email here or by phoning 02 6246 9352.

Urgent need for more mental health services

More than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2020–21 more than 3.4 million Australians sought help from a health care professional for their mental health. These sobering statistics are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, with in-depth data from more than 5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years old. The study found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.4% of Australians had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months, with anxiety the most common disorder. Almost half (47.1%) of those who had a mental health disorder in 2020–21 sought support, an increase since the last study in 2007.

Across their entire lifetime around one in six (16.7%) Australians reported having had suicidal thoughts or behaviour, with females (18.7%) having a higher rate than males (14.5%). 38% of Australians were close to someone who has attempted or died by suicide, a tragedy which impacts family, friends and communities.

You can read the media release Major Mental Health Study Released issued by Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP and the Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, Emma McBride MP in full here.

Other organisations also issued media releases in response to the ABC data:

Image source: High Street Medical Clinic.

Change starting for VIC LGBTQI community

From growing up with his ‘foot in two camps’ – queer and Indigenous, to being the voice of the LGBTQI community in Victoria, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando says it’s been an exciting journey. Todd Fernando is the first out queer, Indigenous person to be appointed a commissioner in Australia. For this descendant of Kalarie people from the Wiradjuri nation, growing up with his “foot in two camps” was not an easy task.

“Being a young Wiradjuri person, we were fighting for the recognition of our culture. I had to put my queerness on the back burner and, and really not allow it to overshadow what we were trying to do within the Wiradjuri space,” Fernando said. Fernando grew up in the regional rural town of Condobolin, located on the Lachlan River in central-western NSW. “I was very fortunate to grow up on country and to learn about my culture in a variety of ways with my family. One of the things that I did miss out on was connecting to my culture through my queerness.”

To view the Star Observer article We’re starting to see change, says Todd Fernando Victorian Commissioner for LGBT communities in full click here.

Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities at the opening of the Victorian Pride Centre in July 2021. Photo: Gabriel Jia. Image source: Star Observer.

Better anti-racism training needed

Monash researchers have found medical practitioners are promoting ill health through racist practices with Aboriginal health consumers. Monash academic Petah Atkinson published the findings from her PhD research Aboriginal Health Consumers Experiences of an Aboriginal Health Curriculum Framework in The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Journal with co-authors Professor Karen Adams and Professor Marilyn Baird.

The study found unwanted care included three racism themes: 1) The practitioner perpetuating and being unresponsive to racism; 2) Assimilation; and 3) An inability to consider the impacts of settler colonialism. Desired care included four anti-racist themes: 1) Responsiveness to racism and settler colonialism; 2) Advocating within the settler colonial health system; 3) Engaging with the diversity of Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing; 4) Lifelong learning and reflection.

In settler colonised countries, medical education is situated in colonist informed health systems. This form of colonisation is characterised by overt racism and contributes to the significant health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples. Curriculum in these countries includes content relating to Indigenous peoples but doesn’t recognise Aboriginal knowledge as valuable nor consider the Indigenous health consumer’s nuanced lived experience of the delivery of medical care.

To view the Monash University article Better anti-racism training needed for medical practitioners in full click here.

Image source: INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Broaden your horizons with AGPT program

General practice is the perfect career choice for any doctor who enjoys diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions and building long term relationships with their patients. With GPs at the frontline of primary healthcare during this recent pandemic, there are more opportunities than ever for a rewarding career in general practice – particularly those who choose to train in rural and remote Australia.

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program

Expressions of interest are open for the 2023 Australian General Practice Training (AG{T) Program (AGPT). The AGPT trains medical registrars in general practice. Registrars who achieve their fellowship through the program can work as GPs anywhere in Australia. Explore our pathway to Fellowship for a visual representation of the suggested steps for your journey.

By expressing interest, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will support you will valuable information through the application process.

You can express your interest by visiting the RACGP website here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

16th National Rural Health Conference

In the lead up to the recent Federal election, the crisis in rural health received considerable media attention. It is well understood that the lack of sufficient health professionals and limited access to healthcare, result in lower life expectancy and higher levels of disease and injury in rural, regional and remote communities compared to metropolitan populations.

“If we are going to make significant inroads into improving access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, we need to bring together the whole rural health sector to learn from others about effective, innovative and tailored, place-based solutions for our rural communities,” said Dr. Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance). To this end, the Alliance will host the 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2-4 August 2022 in Brisbane, Queensland.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance media release 16th National Rural Health Conference from 2–4 August 2022 ‘Bridging social distance; rural health innovating and collaborating’ in full click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Remote mob with disability in desperate situations

Image in feature tile is of Emily Sherwood who has to share Tennant Creek’s main street with trucks because her scooter does not cope on non-sealed terrain. Photo: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Image source: ABC News.

Remote mob with disability in desperate situations

A mother resorted to rummaging through a rubbish tip to find spare parts for her daughter’s wheelchair, the disability royal commission was told last week. The First Nations woman was among many in remote communities who spoke of trying to navigate a system with no “cultural competence”. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was also told the “one size fits all” approach of the NDIS wasn’t working and showed “a complete lack of understanding” of the lives of First Nations people with disability.

The royal commission travelled to Alice Springs to hear firsthand from First Nations people with disability about the barriers they faced to get the appropriate supports from the NDIS. Approximately 66,000 First Nations people live with severe disability. About 38,500 are NDIS participants and 10% of those live in remote and very remote communities. 28 witnesses, including 13 with lived experience, gave evidence about their lives in West Arnhem Land, Thursday Island, Fitzroy Crossing, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.

Pat Turner, the CEO of peak body the NACCHO, said the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not taken into account when developing the NDIS. She said it had resulted in a system that had “created accessibility and gaps at best, and exploitation at worst.” Ms Turner said the NDIS assessment process was open to “unconscious bias” because of a lack of “cultural competency” in the organisation and scheme. “If you don’t have that cultural respect and understanding throughout the organisation you are not going to have the returns on the investment.” Ms Turner said improvements for the lives of First Nations people with disability were being made through the Remote Community Connectors Program (RCCP).

To view the ABC News article ‘Desperate situations’ of First Nations people with disability living in remote communities laid bare at royal commission in full click here.

‘Daisy’ said her wheelchair had been damaged for “a long time”. Photo: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Image source: ABC News.

APPLY NOW for the Antimicrobial Academy

CPD Accredited

Amazing opportunity for any health worker or health professional working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector to gain valuable skills to address antibiotics use and resistance in your community.

• 5-month program August – December 2022
• Fortnightly Zoom sessions
• Certificate upon completion

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation. Fostering colleagues with these skillsets will be critical for safe prescribing, improved stewardship and advocacy to ensure that remote living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are included in national efforts to address antimicrobial use and resistance.

For more information on how you can join this program click here.

Applications close midnight Sunday 24 July 2022.

Mob lived with more anxiety about COVID-19

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government’s pandemic response struggled to include the country’s most minoritised groups, including First Nations people. Daily press conferences were broadcast, but the messages were not delivered or received equally across the country. Trust in the people delivering the messages and ability to follow health advice varies according to personal, social and cultural experiences..

A study has found First Nations people in rural NSW experienced significantly more anxiety and fear about COVID-19 than non-First Nations Australians. At the beginning of the pandemic Australia’s strategy resulted in low numbers of infected people until the Delta variant emerged. Then First Nations rural and remote communities were essentially left to fend for themselves. Even though First Nations people were found to be at greater risk of death and illness during past influenza pandemics.

The Aboriginal community-controlled health sector’s strengths based communication strategy led to culturally appropriate responses including the creation of pandemic tool kits and infection control advice. In some places this included closing remote communities and developing localised social media campaigns for these sites.

To view The Conversation article First Nations people in rural NSW lived with more anxiety and fear about COVID-19 than non-First Nations people in full click here.

At the beginning of the vaccine rollout, First Nations people were identified as a high priority list. Despite this, access to the vaccine for First Nations communities was quite limited. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Addressing NT GP shortage critical

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) leaders are visiting Alice Springs to meet with local GPs today (Monday 18 July 2022) and discuss how to address the Territory’s GP shortage and improve patient health outcomes. RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said “The GP shortage is an issue right across Australia, and it’s particularly bad for many rural and remote communities in the Northern Territory. Lack of access to general practice care has a very negative impact on people’s lives. Those living in rural and remote communities often have poorer health outcomes compared to people living in cities, including higher rates of chronic disease and more complex health needs. For example, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows people living outside major cities have higher rates of diabetes, asthma and arthritis.”

Adj. Professor Price continued “More support for culturally safe healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people is also critical to close the gap and achieve health equality. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disease burden 2.3 times that of non-Indigenous people – this is shameful. And we know that culturally inappropriate services and the experience of racism is a key barrier to care for communities, which is why cultural competency training for health practitioners and services is so important. We are also urging the Government to invest in longer consultations for complex cases – which would make a real difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, because we know they are more likely to need these consultations due to higher rates of chronic health issues, and multimorbidity which requires more time to care.”

To view The National Tribune article RACGP Leaders meeting GPs in Alice Springs to tackle workforce concerns in full click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, Maningrida, Arnhem Land NT. Image source: ABC News.

Community-based smoking cessation research

A ground-breaking Newcastle-based study is set to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women quit smoking. The ‘Which Way?’ findings, published today (Monday 18 July 2022) in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), is the first Indigenous-led study developed for, and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to develop ways to quit smoking. The project found that resources and funding is urgently needed to improve culturally safe and effective support for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are trying to quit smoking.

University of Newcastle research fellow Michelle Kennedy led the three-year study to find culturally effective quitting methods. “A lot of evidence that we use when we are developing or implementing services to quit smoking are drawn from the general population or even overseas and implemented in an Aboriginal community and what we find is that they are usually not successful,” said Dr Kennedy. “The project specifically looked at what is of interest to women of reproductive age to try and stop them from smoking before or during their first pregnancy, or ahead of subsequent pregnancies. Smoking and pregnancy is a key target for the ‘Closing the Gap’ campaign and it has been ever since it was established,” said Dr Kennedy. “We know that it impacts our low birth weight babies which is a real concern because that hasn’t changed much over the years of the campaign but we have never found that thing that is going to help empower Aboriginal women to quit smoking in pregnancy.”

To view the Newcastle Herald article Newcastle based study finds ways to help Aboriginal women quit smoking in full click here. You can also MJA article Doing “deadly” community‐based research during COVID‐19: the Which Way? study in full click here. Below is a short video of Dr Kennedy explaining the Which Way? study.

Trauma leaves a mark on our genes

Freud once famously said that the child is the father of the man. However, even the good doctor probably never imagined just how true this statement would prove. Indeed, science is increasingly demonstrating that the child of trauma often bears many sons and daughters. Traumatic experiences, the evidence suggests, don’t just change us for a time. Rather, they can leave seemingly indelible marks that endure across multiple generations. The stigmata of trauma are neither figurative nor behavioural, though. Instead, the alterations induced by trauma occur from the inside out, marking us on the genetic level even as they change us on the psychological and behavioural levels.

The article covers: 1) the Genetic Basis of PTSD and Other Mental Illnesses 2) Traumatic Childhood Experiences and Gene Expression, and 3) Generational Trauma and PSTD.

Traumatic experience of poverty, intergenerational racism has been linked to higher rates of physical and mental health conditions among Indigenous groups in Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Once again, this can be connected not only to the deleterious effects of economic and healthcare inequities, but also to the generational impacts of chronic stress, fear, and anxiety in the face of racial trauma. Trauma can inflict pain that lasts not only for a lifetime but for generations. Indeed, traumatic experiences, especially those occurring in childhood, can produce heritable genetic alterations that may leave one’s descendants at elevated risk for mental illnesses, such as PTSD.

To view the Open Forum article Trauma leaves a mark on our genes in full click here. Below is a short video about intergenerational trauma produced by The Healing Foundation.

Excellence in Health Care Medal winner

The AMA Queensland Excellence in Health Care Medal has been awarded to Professor Cindy Shannon AM, a First Nations woman and Emeritus Professor who has led major reforms in Indigenous health. Prof Shannon is a descendant of the Ngugi people from Moreton Bay and is one of Australia’s foremost higher education Indigenous leaders. She is the first Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) at Griffith University, where she works alongside colleagues to enable all aspects of the university’s First Nations engagement. Prof Shannon led the development and implementation of Australia’s first degree level program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.

She also played a key role in supporting the establishment of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, which improves the health of First Nations people across South-East Queensland. She was recognised as a Queensland Great in 2017 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2020 for her contributions to Indigenous health and medical education. “Prof Shannon has made a massive contribution and lasting legacy to Indigenous health in Queensland and we are very proud to award her with the Excellence in Health Care medal,” Dr Boulton said.

To view the AMA Queensland article Top doctors win AMA Qld awards in full click here.

Professor Cindy Shannon. Photo: Glenn Hunt. Image source: Brisbane Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Image in feature tile is of Rex Munungurr’s wheelchair, which isn’t suitable for uneven ground. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian, 5 November 2019 article The land the NDIS forgot: the remote Indigenous communities losing the postcode lottery.

NACCHO CEO at Disability Royal Commission

Yesterday NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peaks organisations Pat Turner gave evidence on Day 4 of the Disability Royal Commission Public hearing 25 – The Operation of the NDIS for First Nations people with disability in remote and very remote communities. Ms Turner gave a brief overview of NACCHO’s work, the types of services provided by ACCHOs and how many ACCHOs are expanding into disability and aged care service delivery. Ms Turner noted that a third of ACCHOs are in remote or very remote locations and those ACCHOs deliver over one million episodes of care each year.

You can access the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website here for more detail about hearing 25 and you can access a transcript of Day 4 of the hearing here.

Remote First Nations parents fear losing kids

Indigenous parents caring for children with a disability in remote communities aren’t seeking assistance from services due to fears their kids will be taken away, an inquiry has been told. This week the Disability Royal Commission has been examining the experiences of thousands of First Nations people with disabilities in isolated communities.

Deputy CEO of the First Persons Disability Network, June Riemer, said she was aware of nine families in Utopia, about three hours’ drive from Alice Springs, with children with severe disabilities who never left the house. “For our vulnerable families who may have children with severe disabilities, they’re afraid they’ll be taken rather than supported,” she told the inquiry yesterday. “They were hidden from the community because there was a fear that the children would be be taken. There is that fear across Australia.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, said data showed there were significant underspends in NDIS plans for Indigenous people. (This) demonstrates that even though our people are becoming NDIS participants, they can’t access the services they need,” she said. “This is compounded in remote and very remote areas. Many services are not available, or those that are may not be culturally safe.”

To view The Canberra Times article Remote Indigenous parents fear losing children click here.

NDIS participant Rex Munungurr (middle) with brothers Djayak (left) and Mithili (right) and cousin Ted Wanambi (second from left) out the front of their homes in the East Arnhem Land community of Garrthalala. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian.

Climate change is white colonisation

‘Climate change is racist’. So reads the title of a recent book by British journalist Jeremy Williams. While this title might seem provocative, it’s long been recognised that people of colour suffer disproportionate harms under climate change – and this is likely to worsen in the coming decades. However, most rich white countries, including Australia, are doing precious little to properly address this inequity. For the most part, they refuse to accept the climate debt they owe to poorer countries and communities.

The Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, says climate change: disrupts cultural and spiritual connections to Country that are central to health and wellbeing. Health services are struggling to operate in extreme weather with increasing demands and a reduced workforce. All these forces combine to exacerbate already unacceptable levels of ill-health within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

To read the Daily Bulletin article Climate change is white colonisation of the atmosphere. It’s time to tackle this entrenched racism in full click here.

Members of Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network. Image source: Seed website.

Managing diabetes needs comprehensive approach

The RACGP, along with the NACCHO, is also calling for a more integrated, comprehensive approach to managing diabetes in primary care. RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price said the college wanted to see the introduction of a rebate for GP consults that last 60 minutes. “Greater support for longer consultations and GP-led team care will make a huge difference for people with chronic conditions,” she said. Additional investment in the Workforce Incentive Program, Professor Price said, could also help boost multidisciplinary care for people with diabetes.

NACCHO called for continued funding for the Integrating Pharmacists within ACCHOs to Improve Chronic Disease Management, better known as the IPAC project. It has recently been described by the Medical Services Advisory Committee as an “excellent example of an integrated, collaborative, patient-centred approach to primary care”.

People with diabetes were one of the cohorts which had benefitted from the project so far, according to NACCHO medicines policy and programs director Mike Stephens. “Given the project’s demonstrable acceptability and effectiveness, it is time for government to provide a sustained investment in integrating pharmacists into team-based primary care settings, including ACCHOs,” he said.

You can view The Medical Republic article Why can’t GPs approve glucose monitors? in full here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Healthy diets can drain half of regional incomes

Research by Deakin University has found that healthy diets can cost as much as 50% of the disposable income of Australians living in rural and remote areas (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups) because of rampant inflation. The study by Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthy diets cost a low-income family of four about one-quarter to one-third of their income (after tax).

One in four Australians indicated that grocery shopping had a big financial impact on their household budgets. The increased costs were due to global economic factors, supply chain and global shipping issues, the war in Ukraine, labour shortages, and severe weather events. The researchers found the prices of vegetables, particularly lettuce, broccoli and tomato have soared over the past few years.

To view The Canberra Times article Deakin researchers find healthy diets can drain as much as half of rural and remote community incomes in full click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the prices. Image source: SBS News.

What VTP will mean for First Nations health

Dean Parkin will join the AMA National Conference live from the Garma festival in remote Arnhem Land. The From the Heart Director will speak to doctors about what a voice to parliament (VTP) will mean for Indigenous health and take questions from attendees. Mr Parkin is from the Quandamooka peoples of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland and was closely involved in the process that resulted in the historic Uluru Statement From The Heart. The Voice to Parliament was proposed in the From the Heart statement and endorsed by the AMA in 2018.

The Federal Government has committed to a referendum to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in its first term. In his role Mr Parkin continues to advocate for constitutional and structural reform to enable that establishment. He will join the AMA National Conference via video link from the annual celebration of Yolngu culture to discuss what a Voice to Parliament requires and the contribution it can make to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To read the Mirage article From Heart director to address national conference in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

VIC regional child and family program launch

Victoria’s peak child and family services body launched a travelling regional program this week, aiming to link like minded organisations within the sector, and share knowledge. The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s Connecting Communities Regional Tour is designed to strengthen their members’ and partners’ grasp on the unique challenges country Victorian families, children and young people experience. It’s also a chance for the Centre to hear from those working in the child and family services sector, to share ideas, start conversations, and strive to problem-solve.

Ballarat was the first stop, with local expert panellists including Child and Family Services Ballarat CEO Wendy Sturgess, Grampians Public Health Unit medical director Rosemary Aldrich, and Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative CEO Karen Heap. “This forum demonstrates a genuine commitment by the Victorian Government to listen to the community about the issues that affect our sector,” Ms Sturgess said. “We would be encouraging anyone who has an interest or works in the child and family services sector to take this opportunity to amplify the voice of regional Victoria directly to the key decision makers at a State level.”

To read the Ballarat Times article Children and families focus for tour in full click here.

Image source: Law Society of NSW Journal Online.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Life tougher under NDIS

Image in feature tile is from Croakey Health Media article NDIS must promote and support community-based programs to meet Indigenous people’s needs,15 March 2017. Photo: John Gilroy.

Life tougher under NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has failed in remote Indigenous communities across northern Australia, the Disability Royal Commission has been told. The market-based model relies on funding for disabled people’s care driving the growth of service provision, NT Public Guardian Beth Walker told the disability inquiry earlier this week.

“The market has not responded and so people’s needs are not being fully met because of the lack of availability of services,” she said at the hearing in Alice Springs on Tuesday. “It is difficult for service providers given remote distances and there is market failure.” Ms Walker said the choice between providers that delivered basic services in remote and very remote communities was marginal or non-existent. Communicating with the scheme was also difficult. “The scheme is very transactional and very bureaucratic and can be very difficult to navigate,” she said.

To view the Roberon Review article NDIS failed in remote areas, inquiry told in full click here.

You can also watch a short ABC video Disability Royal Commission investigating issues face by First Nations people here.

Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO conference early bird rates close tomorrow!

REGISTER NOW for the NACCHO Members’ Conference

Early bird rates closing tomorrow!

Register for the NACCHO Members’ Conference before midnight tomorrow and receive our early bird rate saving you $100 when selecting the 2-day package.

Join us at the Convention Centre in Canberra for:

  • NACCHO Youth Conference: 17 October 2022
  • NACCHO Annual General Meeting: 18 October 2022
  • NACCHO Members’ Conference: 19-20 October 2022

Early bird rates close midnight Friday 15 July 2022. To REGISTER click here.

Aboriginal interpreters a valuable tool

In 2010 the Equal Opportunity Commission released its Indigenous Interpreting Services Is there a need? report which included accounts from health workers who stated the need for Aboriginal interpreters was ‘overwhelming’ with Aboriginal post-surgery patients not aware of the nature of the surgical procedure they had undergone.

The Commission made recommendations in the report based on the NT’s Aboriginal Interpreting Service model and funding and in 2017 what was once the Kimberley Interpreting Service expanded to become Aboriginal Interpreting WA (AIWA). Today it has registered and trained interpreters across the state in over 40 WA Aboriginal languages who work in health, justice, governance, native title, social work, community affairs, business, mining, education and tourism.

But are they being used? CEO of AIWA Deanne Lightfoot said there had been a steady increase around the use of Aboriginal language interpreters as part of the State Government’s obligations under its language services policy. “There has been a steady increase in engagement with our services and certainly Covid spiked awareness of the need accurate interpretation,” she said.

From the Commissioner – The importance of interpreters must not be underestimated in full click here.

Shekiera Mununggur says learning medical terms in Yolngu Matha has been the hardest aspect of her interpreter job. Photo: NT Government. Image source: ABC News.

Telehealth cuts leave regional areas behind

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has once again urged the federal Government to make Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth scheme so that patients living outside of major cities can get the care they need when they need it.

It comes following reports of a study released by technology company Phillips, which found that 40% of people living in rural and remote areas had internet speeds that were less than 28 kilobits per second. This makes conducting telehealth video consultations challenging, if not impossible, given that the minimum recommended speed for video calls is 600 kilobits per second. In addition, other people are not confident using the technology or find the cost of purchasing a smart phone or laptop prohibitive.

To view the RACGP media release Rural and remote patients left behind by telehealth cuts full click here.

Image source: St John of God Midland Public Hospital telehealth webpage.

Innovative culturally safe patient care project

Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) graduate nurse, Tammy Quinn has developed an innovation project titled ‘Providing culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients’ which not only stole the show at the 2021 graduate nurse ceremony, but is being introduced into wards across PAH as a tool for patient safety.

Tammy said her inspiration for developing the project was prompted by a desire to make sure her family, and therefore her people, were looked after appropriately and safely. “Research in my own ward of 4E indicated that 50% of staff either weren’t confident or comfortable providing care that they could confirm was culturally safe,” Tammy said.

Tammy’s in-service for the team about the cultural nuances of communicating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients soon led to the development of a video education package which is hosted online and used as an orientation program for nurses on a growing number of wards across the hospital. “Health literacy within many multicultural groups, and particularly Indigenous people, is low so making sure they understand what they have been told is an essential step.”

To read the Queensland Government Metro South Health article Providing culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in full click here.

Image source: Central Adelaide Local Health Network website.

Rush to suppress WA syphilis outbreak

Health authorities say they have ramped up their work to control a syphilis outbreak that started in northern Australia after reports the infection is creeping towards metropolitan Perth. A bacterial infection spread by sexual contact, syphilis cases were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014. While case numbers steadily rose around northern Australia in the years following, health services say the focus on COVID-19 messaging and health promotion has overtaken concerns around the infection.

But figures revealing a serious upward trend between 2020 and 2021 and a jump in cases recorded year-to-date have prompted services to renew their health messaging around the infection. As syphilis cases continue to surge in Western Australia contact tracers say they are overwhelmed especially in remote areas with high Indigenous populations.

The Kimberley has already recorded 54 cases so far this year, followed by the Pilbara with 46, and rising numbers have also been recorded in the Goldfields and in the Mid West. Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) medical director Lorraine Anderson said it was time to renew their focus. “It’s getting worse because we have spent all of our time and energy on COVID-19,” Dr Anderson said.

To read the ABC News article Health authorities push to suppress WA syphilis outbreak as disease heads south in full click here.

A related InSight article Syphilis on the rise: dial up screening and “test it away” available here says between COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, GPs now have to keep a weather eye on their at-risk patients as syphilis numbers continue to rise in vulnerable communities, leading to calls for increased screening in those groups.

According to the National Communicable Disease Surveillance Report for 30 May to 12 June 2022, there is an “ongoing outbreak” occurring in men who have sex with men (MSM), predominantly 20–39 years of age, in urban areas, in women aged 20–39 years (both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous) in urban areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in northern and central Australia. “This is a very significant rise. Syphilis is a serious infection and we need to take it very seriously,” said Professor Christopher Fairley, Director of the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Professor of Public Health at Monash University.

You can also access the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpage National strategies for bloodborne viruses and sexually transmissible infections here.

Dr Lorraine Anderson says they are getting back on track in terms of testing and treating syphilis. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

New national anti-racism campaign

A new national anti-racism campaign is calling on Australians who do not have lived experience of racism to reflect on its causes and impacts and do more to address it. The multiplatform ad campaign will build awareness of how racism operates at both a structural and interpersonal level and give people tools to recognise and address it.

It will feature well known ambassadors who appear in a community service announcement where a group of Australians talk about their own experiences of racism and inequality. Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said the campaign, which modernises the Racism. It Stops With Me initiative that launched in 2012, responds to recent events and will address major challenges to realising racial equity in Australia.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media release National Campaign Urges Australians to Reflect and Act on Racism click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

The image in the feature tile is of Professor Louise Maple-Brown (with a patient) who was a Chief Investigator leading a qualitative study, supported by Central Australia Academic Health Science Network (CAASHN) with a Medical Research Future Fund grant to better understand the experiences of Aboriginal youth in Central Australia living with type 2 diabetes. Image source: Australian Health Research Alliance, 16 December 2021.

National Diabetes Week 10-16 July

National Diabetes Week 2022 is on from Sunday 10 July to Saturday 16 July. This year’s awareness week will focus on the emotional health and wellbeing of people living with diabetes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Improving the lives of people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a priority for Diabetes Australia. You can view the Diabetes Australia webpage specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

You can also access online e-Learning diabetes modules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners on the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) website here.

SWAMS to extend programs and services

The City of Busselton has announced the South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS), an ACCHO that provides holistic wrap around services to the Indigenous community in the South West, as the new lease holder for a campsite at Locke Estate in Siesta Park. SWAMS have demonstrated experience in setting up new clinical services, drive, passion and professionalism, across the South West region and across their 35,000sq km footprint.

SWAMS has exciting plans for the campsite and proposes to develop a community hub with family units, dorm buildings, common areas, a caretaker’s residence and a fire pit. SWAMS CEO Lesley Nelson said it proposed to use the campsite as a culturally safe place to deliver social, emotional and physical health programs. “We’re excited for what’s to come, intending to offer a diverse range of services, including youth camps, Elders groups, men’s and women’s groups, cultural immersion and health related programs,” she said.

You can read the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail article City of Busselton partner with South West Aboriginal Medical Service with a lease on Locke Estate in full here.

Representatives from SWAMS Board, CEO Lesley Nelson, SWAMS team and community; along with Busselton City Councillor Anne Ryan, Acting CEO Tony Nottle and City Officers. Image source: Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.

Hearing on NDIS in remote communities

A Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in remote communities began yesterday at the Mparntwe (Alice Springs) Convention Centre. The hearing will explore barriers to accessing the NDIS and disability services faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in remote and very remote communities.

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey determined that more than one in ten of the 66,000 First Nations people with profound or severe disability live in remote or very remote locations. The hearing will examine to what extent inaccessibility to services cause or contribute to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of Indigenous people with disability. During a previous public hearing, Dr Scott Avery gave evidence that disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was twice as prevalent, more complex and “compressed within a shorter life expectancy” compared to other Australians.

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks will be speaking at the public hearing this Thursday alongside representatives from the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) and other community-controlled organisations on specific barriers they’ve seen getting in people’s way over and over again when they try to get NDIS disability support.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Disability Royal Commission turns spotlight on Indigenous people in remote communities in full click here.

Disability Royal Commission five-day public hearing on the operation of the NDIS in remote communities. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Minister Burney on First Nations suicide

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, has described the Labor Government’s suicide prevention approach, saying it would focus on, “self-determination, respect for First Nations knowledge systems, restoration of culture and First Nations leadership of programs and services.”

In her first major speech about suicide as Minister, Ms Burney told a national webinar audience of mental health leaders, convened by the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP), that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide rate, “hurts me every time I see it. It hurts all of us. These statistics hurt because they represent people in pain, people we know, families who need to put the pieces of their lives back together.” Indigenous adults die by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, while for children and teenagers the rate is four times as high.

Ms Burney, a Wiradjuri woman who represents the electorate of Barton in southern Sydney, described her own 2017 loss of her son to suicide, saying he was, “in his 30s and a beautiful young man who found this earth a very difficult and cruel place.” She said suicides were connected to the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives. “Too many experience poverty, trauma, marginalisation and discrimination,” she said. “We know we must make progress on all these fronts if we want to see the future First Nations people deserve.”

To view Minister Burney’s media release Minister Burney speaks out about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide in full click here.

How dietitians can make a stronger impact

Diet, nutrition, exercise advice and community programs are as important in rural and metropolitan settings as regional and remote areas, and peer support for health professionals can help deliver better results particularly if resources are limited. A new study from Monash University and Flinders University academics has identified what Australian dietitians and nutritionists need to do to make a stronger impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in the communities they serve.

The study of Australian health workers, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Association of UK Dietitians), looks at how a peer mentoring process, or ‘community of practice’, can support dietitians to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The majority of dietitians in Australia are non-Aboriginal people, with only 32 individuals of more than 7,500 full members and students self-identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in 2020, according to Dietitians Australia’s annual report.

To view the Flinders University media release Building peer support for dietitians published yesterday in SCIMEX in full click here.

Nicole Turner, one of only five qualified Aboriginal community nutritionists speaking at the Food Governance Conference 2019, University of Sydney. Image source: Twitter.

UQ academic on incarceration of youth

Lorelle Holland describes herself as a disruptor. The proud Mandandanji woman and University of Queensland (UQ) PhD candidate is relatively new to academia but is already making her mark. Last month, prestigious medical journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health published a commentary piece written by Mrs Holland and her PhD supervisory team from the UQ school of Public Health on the incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

It is a topic Mrs Holland cannot discuss without getting emotional. “It’s a national crisis,” Mrs Holland said. “These vulnerable, marginalised children are in youth detention at a rate 17 times higher than all other ethnicities combined – during a critical period of child development. How people cannot be outraged by this escapes me.”

Her paper called for a community-led response to the issue and for Australian policy to conform to UN guidelines to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14 years.

You can read the University of Queensland UQ News article From nurse to UQ academic: A journey to create change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in full here.

Lorelle Holland, above right, in the NT with colleague Antonella Martin. Image source: UQ News.

Deadly Vision Centre CTG on eye health

Shaun Tatipata, the founding Director of Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned optical and eye care provider, Deadly Vision Centre, has a strong vision for the future of Indigenous eye health. The goal of the business is to contribute to closing the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by providing access to culturally safe and socially responsive eye care.

Mr Tatipata, who is of Wuthathi and Ngarrindjeri descent, has gained extensive experience in delivering primary health care and designing and implementing outreach programs in Indigenous communities. He is passionate about ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are able to access eye care services that are delivered to them by their community.

You can read the mivison (The Ophthalmic Journal) article Celebrating Founder of Deadly Vision Centre in full here and listen to an Shaun Tatipata in conversation with Karl Briscoe about Indigenous eye health below.

First Nations member sought for AMC

The Australian Medical Council Ltd (AMC) is currently seeking applications for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, who has experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues, position on Council.

You can view the EOI notice, providing additional information on the selection process here. Further information and the nomination form are available through the AMC website here.

The application deadline is Friday 19 August 2022.

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.