NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Rural and regional health system is broken

Image in feature tile from Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, NSW website.

Rural and regional health system is broken

Dr Rob Phair, GP in Bairnsdale Victoria, and President of the Rural Doctor’s Association of Victoria. Dr Robin Williams, GP in Molong NSW, and Chair of the Western NSW Primary Health Network and Dr Gabreille O’Kane, CEO of the Rural Health Alliance were guests this morning on an episode of ABC Radio National Life Matters hosted by Michael Mackenzie discussing the question ‘Is the medical system in rural and regional Australia still fit for purpose?’

Rural doctors say the death, earlier this month, of a 72-year-old man in Bairnsdale, eastern Victoria, died in an emergency room bathroom after waiting more than three hours for treatment is the latest example of a broken medical system, which, they argue, needs a radical restructure to meet the changing needs of the times.

Dr O’Kane said the ACCHO model of care is appealing to the rural health sector and is proposing a community-led model of care employing a range of healthcare professionals, from GPs and psychologist to nurses and physiotherapists, similar to ACCHOs.

You can listen to the Life Matters interview in full here.

Photo: Ian Waldie, Getty Images. Image source: ABC News RN Life Matters webpage.

Health sector needs ‘whole-of-workforce’ strategy

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) is urging all political parties to recognise the importance of our workforce in establishing a health system that can deliver the care Australians deserve. ‘Matching and forecasting the needs, demands and supply of the health workforce is complex in any context,’ says AHHA Acting Chief Executive Kylie Woolcock. ‘However, ahead of the upcoming Federal Election, urgent action is needed to address workforce issues in Australia’s heath system if it is to continue to provide vital services to the community.’

To view the AHHA media release Whole-of-workforce strategy needed to deliver healthcare that Australians deserve in full click here.

RHD not purely due to remoteness

Lynette Bullio’s son Jalil was just seven years old when he found out he would need painful injections each month until at least his 21st birthday. The Cairns boy was limping around but he and his mother thought it was because he had tripped over at school. When, by the end of the week, Jalil couldn’t even manage a short walk from his mother’s car to the school gate, Ms Bullio knew it was something more serious. Jalil, now 11, was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease(RHD).

He is one of thousands of mostly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across northern Australia with the condition that was largely eradicated in Australia’s urban non-Indigenous population about 60 years ago. “It still is traumatic, I think, when I talk about it and realise how huge this disease is,” Ms Bullio said. “I start getting a lump in my throat.”

Ben Reeves, a paediatric cardiologist at Cairns Hospital, said while the disease was often associated with isolated communities he still saw new cases of rheumatic fever in Cairns children every week. “This is not purely due to remoteness,” Dr Reeves said. “It’s a lack of access to appropriate facilities and it’s a lack of awareness among the community and some health staff and we’re trying very hard to turn this around.”

You can access the ABC Far North News article Rheumatic heart disease strategy launched in Queensland as more people get sick in large centres in full here.

Image source: newsGP.

Major Parties ‘Nowhere on Health’

The AMA is disappointed the federal election campaign is half-way through and ‘nowhere on health’, while calls for politicians to address health policy are getting louder in the community. State Premiers, Health Ministers and State Treasurers have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Federal Health Minister previously to ask for a 50-50 split on hospital funding, and to remove the annual cap on activity, in order to deal with the backlog of care in the community following COVID-19 lockdowns.

“State and Territory Ministers, and even Premiers, have stated their clear, unequivocal support for a 50-50 agreement that removes the cap on funding growth – this is not something an incoming government is going to be able to ignore. So instead, political parties should be outlining how they will fix our hospital system, should they win government,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

To view the AMA’s media release Halfway to Nowhere on Health, AMA says future PM and Government can’t hide from urgent need for new hospital agreement in full click here.

Fears NT bill will open booze floodgates

Three Indigenous bodies are calling on the NT government to immediately shelve legislation which could allow take-away alcohol into more than 430 communities from mid-July this year. The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT), the Northern Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency and Aboriginal Housing NT have proposed the bill be dismissed.

Under the 2007 Federal Intervention, these communities in NT became Alcohol Protected Areas, which continued under the Stronger Futures legislation. AMSANT CEO John Patterson said consultations for the proposed change have not begun. “There has been no proper consultation, and there simply cannot be any in the short time available,” he said. “Aboriginal health organisations and peak bodies did not know about the Bill. This Government has introduced many excellent alcohol reforms, and this sudden and puzzling change is a backward step that has not been explained properly to anyone. Why not move to an opt-out system instead which would ensure all communities make an active decision about what they want to do rather than simply have the current protections taken away.”

North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency executive officer Priscilla Atkins said the mixture of dry and unrestricted communities would be impossible to monitor. “The biggest issue we’ve got is a lot of criminal matters that come before the court are alcohol related,” she said. “You’re going to have alcohol coming into the remote communities there’ll be more violence, more pressure on the courts, more pressure on the police…and it’s disappointing that we’re talking about this now and the legislation expires on the 30th of June.

You can view the National Indigenous Times article Fears NT Govt bill will open booze floodgates in dry communities in full here.

Photo Tim Wimborne, Reuters. Image source: The Guardian.

Agent Orange poisoned WA mob

Premiering from June onwards on both NITV and SBS online platforms, a documentary On Australian Shores, produced and directed by Ngikalikarra Media, will tell the harrowing story of a large number of Aboriginal men and their families, who were knowingly and unwittingly poisoned by government in order to enhance the profits of the agricultural industry. The story of the wanton neglect of the WA Agricultural Protection Board (APB) via a series of interviews with survivors, their family members that have outlived them, and current generations still affected by Agent Orange poisoning.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers has spoken to Ngikalikarra Media co-producer, director and editor Dr Magali McDuffie about how despite numerous inquiries and reports the overwhelming majority of victims remain uncompensated, while the WA government continues to deny any of it ever happened.

You can read the article WA Poisoned First Nations With Agent Orange: An Interview With Ngikalikarra’s Dr Magali McDuffie in full on the Sydney Criminal Lawyers website here.

One of the APB work crews employed to unknowingly spray Agent Orange around the Kimberley. Image source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers website.

NDIS access in the Kimberley region

An article Equity in Access: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Access Program for the Kimberley Region, WA has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The article describes a study exploring the process and early outcomes of work undertaken by a program to increase Aboriginal people’s awareness of, and access to, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Access Program was reported as successful by staff in its aim of connecting eligible people with the NDIS. Vital to this success was program implementation by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Sector. Staff in these organisations held community trust, provided culturally appropriate services, and utilised strengths-based approaches to overcome barriers that have historically hindered Aboriginal people’s engagement with disability services. The results of the study demonstrate the Access Program is a successful start in increasing awareness of, and access to, the NDIS for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region, however much work remains to assist the large number of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region believed to be eligible for NDIS support who are yet to achieve access.

To view the article 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.

Get ready for Heart Week

One Australian is having a heart attack or stroke every 4 minutes.

This Heart Week from Monday 2 -–Sunday 8 May 2022, presents an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of heart health and for GPs, nurses and general practice staff to deliver Heart Health Checks for more at-risk Australians. It is an opportunity for health professionals and the Australian public to start a conversation about heart health and take steps to reduce their risk of heart disease. General practice teams and health professionals have a pivotal role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and have the power to change the one every 4 minute statistic by focusing on simple, routine practices that have a measurable lifesaving impact.

For more information about Heart Week 2022 click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Support for mob to engage with NDIS

Support for mob to engage with NDIS

To increase support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIA) has engaged NACCHO to deliver the Aboriginal Disability Liaison Officer (ADLO) program until 30 November 2022. The program will provide dedicated support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability in urban and rural areas to access the NDIS and use their plans.

Employed locally by ACCHOs, ADLOs work will work at a local level to build understanding of NDIS. ADLOs are generally members of the communities they work in, understand the culture and often speak the local languages. Working in partnership with the NDIA and Partners in the Community, ADLOs are a further cultural link between the Indigenous community and the system of disability related supports offered through the NDIS. The insights of ADLOs will also contribute to NDIA led co-design initiatives to improve the way NDIS works with First Nations Australians and communities.

Further information about the ADLO program, including a list of the 37 ACCHOs (NSW-13; NT-1; QLD-10; SA-5: VIC-6; and WA-2) delivering the program is available on the NDIS website here.

NACCHO CEO at Social Impact Strategy launch

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), Pat Turner AM delivered a speech at the King & Wood Mallesons’ Social Impact Strategy launch earlier today. Ms Turner said “A whole of nation effort is required if we are to close the gap in life outcomes between our peoples and other Australians and I am really pleased to see King & Wood Mallesons stepping up to the task and making its contribution.” Themes in Ms Turner’s speech included the struggle of Closing the Gap; the Coalition of Peaks; the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; and the four priority reforms set out in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

You can read Ms Turner’s speech in full here.

Pat Turner AM

NACCHO CEO, Pat Tuner AM. Image source: The Guardian.

AMSANT CEO awarded honorary doctorate

AMSANT is very proud to recognise the significant achievement of their CEO, John (Patto) Paterson, in being awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Arts by Charles Darwin University (CDU). John, received the honour in recognition of his leadership, commitment, and exemplary work over many decades, particularly in the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector and advocating for Aboriginal Territorians during COVID-19. John’s achievement is especially significant for the ‘AMSANT Family’ that John has led for the past 16 years as their CEO, supporting the personal and professional development of so many staff and strongly advocating for our Aboriginal community controlled health service members.

John is a proud born and bred Territorian with family ties to the Ngalakan people in Ngukurr and has worked in Aboriginal affairs in the public and community sectors since 1979 at a local, Territory and Federal level, focusing on First Nations health, housing and education. Donna Ah Chee, Chair of AMSANT said, “John’s commitment and leadership in Aboriginal Affairs has essentially been life long, and is now being rightly highlighted and formally acknowledged by CDU.”

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

AMSANT CEO John Paterson in red yellow academic gown & black PhD bonnet

AMSANT CEO Dr John Paterson. Image source: AMSANT.

Beyond the Scars – RHD impacts

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) causes permanent damage to heart valves and is a leading cause of death in young Indigenous people in Australia. Currently there is no cure. Young Indigenous people with RHD experience countless encounters with health care providers and multiple hospital admissions. This is traumatic for the young people, their families and communities. Young Indigenous people already carry the scars of intergenerational trauma, a legacy of colonization. The added trauma of RHD and its social and emotional impact can further worsen health outcomes.

A Menzies School of Health Research have received a grant to explore the social and emotional needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (15–25 years) with RHD. The grant will support and build the capacity of an Aboriginal PhD student and community researcher, and build capacity of Aboriginal individuals and communities to advocate for their own needs – beyond the biomedical – that must be addressed to improve health outcomes. For further information about the research project visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Beyond the Scars: Impacts of RHD in young Indigenous peoples here.

In a related story, RHD Australia has developed a range of RHD resources available on their website here, including the video Michael’s Story below:

Grant for syphilis outbreak guide

Among the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Award recipients for grants awarded in 2021 is Dr Simon Graham from the Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne, who received the 2021 NHMRC Sandra Eades Investigator Grant Award (Emerging Leadership). Dr Graham is an epidemiologist and, through his Investigator Grant, he will be developing a community-led coordination and response guide for a syphilis outbreak in Aboriginal communities.

Dr Graham will work in the Global Outbreak Response Network at the World Health Organization in Geneva to examine how the organisation successfully coordinates and deploys specialist teams to investigate and stop an outbreak in different countries. He will also work with a cohort of Aboriginal people to develop an outbreak response and coordination guide to empower Aboriginal communities to stop outbreaks of syphilis infections.

For more information visit the NHMRC website here. You can also view a short video from the Young Deadly Syphilis Free campaign below.

Men’s heart health program trial

Research shows that a 12-week program run in UK soccer clubs (Football Fans in Training) is effective in supporting men to get to a healthier weight and sustain changes 3.5 years later. Associate Professor Quested and team created an Australianised version, Aussie-FIT, and their pilot in WA found it attracts men living with obesity and supports them to make changes to their physical activity, eating behaviour, weight, and well-being. They have also shown Aussie-FIT to appeal to men with cardiovascular disease, for whom it can play an important role in secondary prevention.

Professor Quested has received funding to substantiate the program’s longer term impact on cardiovascular health by undertaking research with a larger sample and longer follow up. The team will also determine how Aussie-FIT deliveries can be sustained in WA; implemented across other States and Territories (Queensland, Northern Territory); scaled to appeal to a wider audience (e.g., via deliveries in rugby); and identify potential adaptations with marginalised populations such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

For more information visit the Heart Foundation’s webpage Kicking Goals for Men’s Heart Health: A Multi-state Trial of the Aussie-FIT Program here.

EOI: Policy Partnerships under NACTG

The Expression of Interest (EOI) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representatives to the next two policy partnerships under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap are now open until COB (AEST) Friday 29 April 2022. Expressions of interest are being sought from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant expertise who wish to join the next two policy partnerships on:

  • Early childhood care and development (including out of home care), and
  • Social and emotional wellbeing (mental health).

These partnerships will be established in August 2022 and represent an historic opportunity to shift the dial in these important policy areas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For more information on the policy partnerships, including how to apply, please visit the ‘Get Involved’ section on the Coalition of Peaks website here.

If you have any questions or require support please reach out to the Coalition of Peaks using this email link.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

feature tile text 'First Nations effort making recovery for "ice" a reality & image of ice pipe being smoked

Image in feature tile from SBS News article The fight against ice in Indigenous Australia, 13 December 2017.

Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

Indigenous care worker Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie has spoken to Rolling Stone magazine about her life’s work, providing recovery strategies for First Nations communities in Queensland.

“Ice has had the biggest impact that I’ve seen in 30 years working in the community,” says Aunty Sonetta. Sonetta is referring to the devastating impact crystal methamphetamine—commonly referred to as ice—has made both within her community and beyond.

Certainly, this drug has had a major impact on Australians and First Nations communities. But through her own incredible work in this field, Aunty Sonetta has seen firsthand that help — even in the direst of circumstances — is available and that successful recovery is always possible. This truth is what drives her to best serve her community.

Sonetta manages the Mackay and Region Aboriginal and Islander Development Association, better known as Marabisda—a community-led organisation that works with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander communities based in and around Mackay.

Marabisda launched in 2008 to meet the particular needs of vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families. Aunty Sonetta has been with the organisation for six years, but she’s been serving the community as a nurse and care worker for decades.

“The kids that I weighed as babies when I was working for the Aboriginal Medical Centre are now parents that I work with,” she says. Through her work and engagement, Sonetta is intimately acquainted with the drug’s damaging impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Rolling Stone article in full click here.

Sonetta Fewquandie - Aboriginal AOD worker

Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie. Image source: Marabisda website.

Entirely preventable disease killing mob

An Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) editorial last year highlighted the abject failure in closing the gap for rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Since then, the divide has widened further still. This week’s ABC Four Corners program was particularly hard to watch for Janelle Speed.

It is an illness Ms Speed, an Aboriginal cultural consultant, had address in an editorial written in the AJGP less than a year ago. Since she wrote the editorial for the May 2021 edition of AJGP, the situation has deteriorated.

Despite a Federal Government goal of eliminating RHD by 2030, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show the problem is now even more stark. The editorial highlighted 1776 diagnoses of ARF between 2013–17. For 2015–2019, that total had increased to 2244. Meanwhile, the rate of notifications had increased from 77 per 100,000 in 2015 to 102 per 100,000 four years later.

You can view the newsGP article in full here.

young Aboriginal girl in children's ward with mother

Indigenous Australians in the NT are more than 100 times as likely to have rheumatic heart disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Screenshot/Take Heart – Strep: Group A Streptococcal Infection. Image source: The Conversation.

New First Nations disability advocacy service

A new disability advocacy service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been established in Queensland. Side by Side First Peoples Advocacy works with people with a disability and their families to resolve issues they encounter with support services, community access or disability discrimination.

The service is a new addition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland and has been established and sponsored by Aged and Disability Advocacy. ADA Australia chief executive Geoff Rowe said a dedicated advocacy service would address the additional inequality First Nations people with disability faced when accessing services. “(Advocacy) supports the most vulnerable in our community to have a voice and is the foundation for inclusion and equality,” he said.

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

Connecting foster kids to country

Of all the children in out-of-home (foster) care in Australia, 40% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Many of these children reside in NSW, on Wiradjuri (‘Wir-add-jury’) Country in the centre and west of the state. In a bid to improve these children’s outcomes by helping them maintain cultural and Kinship connections, a University of Sydney researcher and her sister have developed workbooks on Wiradjuri language that can be used by children and their carers, families, and teachers.

They were launched at an event at the University of Sydney earlier this week with an opening address from the NSW Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones.

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

Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks

L-R: Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

New PHC centre for Mapoon

Before Christmas Apunipima Cape York Health Council shared with reader of their newsletter Cape Capers the build progress of their brand-new, state of the art Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Apunipima is now very excited to reveal that the build has progressed much further in recent weeks due to favourable weather and great work from builders, James Construction.

The blockwork has now been completed, the roof is on, and much of the internal framework has been completed. The carport is also nearly complete. With all going well, the clinic is expected to open in late July 2022. Very exciting news for the residents of Mapoon!

This article from Apunipima Cape York Health Council newsletter Cape Capers can be accessed here.

slab for Apunipima's new Mapoon PHC centre

Image from Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s 28 January 2022 Twitter feed showing the concrete slab laid for its new PHC centre in Mapoon.

Optometry Advisory Group EOIs sought

Optometry Australia is inviting members with experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health to express their interest in joining their Advisory Group for a new two-year term, from July 2022 to June 2024.

While the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has reduced over the past decade, there are still too many that experience avoidable vision loss and blindness due to barriers to accessing necessary primary eye health care.

Optometry Australia is strongly committed to supporting improved eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Since 2008, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health Advisory Group has provided invaluable guidance and support in our work within this area.

For more information about the Advisory Group click here. Please submit your expression of interest by COB Sunday 26 June 2022 using this email link.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Michael Amendolia. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Heat compounds chronic disease impact

Groups across the NT have released a scorecard assessing the NT Government’s climate performance against the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the NT ALP Government of Michael Gunner ranked 5/100.

NT Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Dr Brooke Ah Shay, who works in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida, said that we already see higher rates of conditions like chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in the NT, and that these diseases will be compounded by the effects of increased heat from climate change.

To view the Doctors for the Environment Australia media release in full click here.

town camp housing, dirt yard, no awnings

Town camp housing typically lacks simple features to keep cool, such as insulation and wide awnings. Photo: Mike Bowers, The Guardian.

New PhD scholarship opportunities

Onemda, along with the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, are pleased to announce an opportunity for two PhD scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates.

They offer flexible options for study within a supportive, Aboriginal-led team. The positions are based at the University of Melbourne and can commence as soon as possible or when suitable to the applicants. The successful candidates will receive a Research Training Program Scholarship and top-up, totalling approx. $50,000 tax free per year for 3.5 years (full-time).

You are invited to contact Professor Cath Chamberlain to discuss your application first using this email link.

university of melbourne logo & uni Melb PhD graduation bonnet

University of Melbourne PhD graduation bonnet. Image source: George H. Lilley 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: Community calls to drop proposed beer tax cut

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO one of 80 signatories to open letter asking government to abandon beer tax cut

Calls to dump proposed beer tax cut

More than 80 community leaders and organisations have asked the Government to abandon reported plans for a beer tax cut in the upcoming budget. NACCHO CEO Pat Turner is one of the signatories, and has warned the price reduction would cause serious harm to Indigenous communities. Ms Turner said “Alcohol already has a huge impact on the health of our communities from family violence, injuries, road accidents, to cancer and chronic diseases, and this has been compounded by COVID-19 where we have seen increased use of alcohol among our people. So we are very concerned that making alcohol a lot cheaper and more readily available for people will increase consumption and therefore the ongoing harm that alchol causes our people and we can ill-afford to do that.”

You can view the open letter to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg here and listen to Pat Turner’s nine minute interview on ABC RN Breakfast with Patricia Karvelas here.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) and the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) have joined more than 80 community leaders and organisations in signing an open letter calling on the Morrison Government to abandon its irresponsible plan to make alcohol more accessible.  The letter urges the Government to prioritise the health, wellbeing and safety of families and communities given the significant increase in alcohol sales during the pandemic. Alcohol misuse in Australia costs a staggering $36 billion per year, touching every part of our community, economy, and health system. In 2019-2020, alcohol-induced deaths increased by 8.3 per cent and calls to the national alcohol hotline have doubled since 2019. Alcohol retail sales have grown substantially over the course of the pandemic – with alcohol companies raking in an additional $3.6 billion in 2021, compared to 2019.

To view the ADF’s media release in full click here and the FARE media release here.

How COVID-19 is affecting mob

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable people are in the midst of dealing with a widespread outbreak of COVID-19, as the virus spreads in the Northern Territory. Soon WA, where there are 200 remote Aboriginal communities, will open its border. So, two years since the start of the pandemic, how have Indigenous Australians been impacted? And how are communities coping with Omicron?

Donna Ah Chee, CEO, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist, ANU Medical School, medical advisor to NACCHO spoke with Hilary Harper on ABC On Life Matters earlier this morning. You can listen to the 19 minute interview here.

SAWCAN runs booster campaign

Over the next three months South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) will launch a series of TV adverts to be run across the Eyre and West Coast. Childhood vaccination (5–11 years) adverts (English and Pitjantjatjara versions below) will be running from February to April. Booster adverts will be launched in March and run on local TV until May. Finally, the ‘my why’ campaign showcasing Aboriginal people across communities sharing the reason they chose to get the vaccine will be launched in April and run on local TV until June.

First Nations’ proactive pandemic response

The Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) has published an article with the title Aboriginal communities need to be at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The authors of the article say the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential devastating impact on First Nations people has been extensively contemplated and the potential devastating impacts on First Nations people due to health and social justice issues widely postulated. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health organisations in Australia were proactive in trying to plan for the pandemic and mitigate any adverse outcomes.

The results of this foresight and preparedness were that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were spared any significant impact during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020. A significant reason for the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in warding off the impacts of COVID-19 was that each community and often the ACCHO understood how to effectively communicate health information and health risks to community members in a manner that was meaningful.

To view the full Australian Journal of General Practice click here.

health professional in PPE administering covid-19 vax to Aboriginal man Katherine clinic

A COVID-19 clinic in Katherine, NT. Photo: Katherine Morrow, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Disability research agenda for Australia

Researchers from Ninti One are working with researchers from the University of Sydney to develop a disability research agenda for Australia for the next 10 years. The Ninti One team is seeking the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help Ninti One develop the agenda.

Ninti One is inviting you to participate in a survey which aims to understand your thoughts and priorities in relation to disability research in Australia. Ninti ONe would like to hear from as many people as possible from a very broad range of backgrounds so they can understand the areas that people think are important for research. This research has been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Please share this email with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you know who might be interested in participating. Click here to access the survey and the project participant information sheet.

wheels of wheelchair of Rex Mumumgurr on uneven ground

Rex Munungurr, Garrthalala, East Arnhem Land. The wheels of Rex’s wheelchair are unsuitable for uneven ground. Photo: Tamara Howie. Image source: The Guardian.

RACGP-endorsed otitis media guidelines

Each year, the RACGP approves and endorses a range of clinical resources and guidelines that are produced to National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines standard. Approved resources are regarded as a distinguished mark of approval by the Australian health professional community. These guidelines provide best-practice recommendations for the diagnosis and management of otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

With rates of ear disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children declared a ‘public health emergency’ the guidelines aim to guide prevention of the life-long impacts that undetected otitis media and hearing loss have on these high-risk children. Developed by Menzies Health, the guidelines follow the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Aboriginal girl having ears checked by health professional

Image source: Office of the Auditor General.

Support for parents experiencing trauma

A webinar developed by Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) and Emerging Minds draws on the voices, experiences and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners to explore how services can work through the perinatal period to support the social and emotional wellbeing of infants and their families.

The webinar will support practitioners to:

  • extend their awareness of the historical and contextual factors impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • increase their understanding of intergenerational trauma on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • understand the important role of service providers during the perinatal period for parents experiencing complex trauma
  • outline key principles and practice approaches for fostering safety in perinatal care.

This FREE online webinar being held from 1:00–2:00PM Wednesday 9 March 2022 will be of interest to professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children in health, education, social and community service settings.

For more information about the webinar and to register click here.

Aboriginal mum and toddler sitting in red sand of outback

Image source: Australian Institute of Family Studies website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Experts on closing the gap in health equity

feature tile text 'Expert panel discusses ways of CTG in health equity' & blurred image of health prof hand holding A boriginal hand

Image in feature tile from The George Institute for Global Health.

Experts on closing the gap in health equity

Universal healthcare is built on the principle that every Australian should have equal access to quality healthcare based on medical need, not the size of their wallets, their postcode or their ethnicity. However, it’s estimated that 80% of health outcomes are affected by social, economic, and environmental factors.

Professionals in the medical and healthcare sector have exclusively shared their views on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health equity in Australia. The panel interview covered issues of access, affordability, data, and the collaboration required to close the growing gap.

Although the issue of health equity has existed long before the emergence of COVID-19, the pandemic brought mainstream attention to the problem, amplifying the profound impact that social, economic and environmental factors can have on our health and wellbeing.

One of the panelists, Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners, says the pandemic has brought the systemic racism and inequality that exists within our country back into the spotlight.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have been raising the issue of health and equity, and the need for holistic joined-up approaches to address the social, cultural and environmental determinants of health and wellbeing for many, many decades.”

To view the Medical Director article in full click here and to access the panel interview and transcript click here.

diagram showing 3 vector images running around a race track; first image they all start from the same line - equality; second image they start from different start points - equity

Image source: CQU Australia website, Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research page.

Two outback NT clinics in dire situation

The chief executives of two outback Central Australian clinics say they are in an “absolutely dire” situation as the neighbouring Indigenous communities battle COVID-19 outbreaks with dwindling supplies, skeleton staff, flooded roadways — and no phone service.

Utopia and Ampilatwatja, 350 kms north-east of Alice Springs, have been without road access and a reliable landline or mobile phone service for more than a week following heavy rain. Both communities are managing their first coronavirus outbreaks.

Ampilatwatja Health Centre CEO Riek Luak said the clinic’s job had become “extremely difficult” because of flooded roadways, poor telecommunications and an unusable, flooded air strip.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

A Urapuntja clinic vehicle became bogged while trying to access patients

A Urapuntja clinic vehicle became bogged while trying to access patients. Image source: ABC News website.

Tackling COVID-19 misinformation

The Korin Gamadji Institute, Richmond Football Club’s centre for Indigenous youth, is receiving $80,000 from the Federal Government to help address vaccine hesitancy and ensure factual COVID-19 information reaches Victoria and Tasmania’s young people. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the digital education campaign will engage reliable sources to share evidence-based information and will run until 30 June 2022.

“With the support of the Morrison Government, the Korin Gamadji Institute is stepping up and developing a range of creative messages across various social media platforms to engage and educate young people about the safety and effectiveness of available vaccines.”

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

word 'misinformation' in black font, vector covid-19 virus wrapped around first 3 letters: m, i, s

Image source: The Atlantic.

The Federal Government is also providing $55,000 to Indigenous radio station, 3KND “Kool N Deadly”, to support the development and broadcast of reliable COVID-19 information through to June 2022. Minister Wyatt said the funding will help dispel myths and encourage greater vaccination uptake. “3KND is a stalwart in the Victorian Indigenous community, and with their audience reach, we can combat vaccination hesitancy and misinformation in a culturally safe way,” Minister Wyatt said.

To view Minister Wyatt and Senator Hume’s joint media release in full click here.

Vic 3KND radio station GM Gerry Lyons in studio

Indigenous man from Aotearoa and 3KND General Manager Gerry “G-Man” Lyons . Image source: Community Matters Radio website.

Future-proofing our medical workforce

What number, skills and distribution of doctors are needed in Australia? How can health systems give doctors flexibility to have lives as well as work, and how can more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors be encouraged into medical careers?

An approach to answering these questions has been agreed to by Australian health ministers, and has now been launched as the National Medical Workforce Strategy. The Strategy sets out how organisations that impact on the medical workforce will work together to provide Australians with access to medical services.

Actions will incorporate three overarching themes, including: improving the health care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians by growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce, by working to provide more culturally safe environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical practitioners and patients.

To view the Insight+ article in full click here.

KAMS students in class learning child-health checks

KAMS students in class learning child-health checks. Photo: KAMS. Image source: NIT.

New CDU audiology course

A new Master of Clinical Audiology course is rolling out at Charles Darwin University (CDU) this year to train much-needed audiologists focused on improving Australian First Nations hearing health.

The two-year postgraduate degree at CDU will equip the learner with the essential knowledge and skills to become a qualified audiologist in Australia. The NT has the highest percentage of hearing loss and ear health issues in Australia.

To view the CDU media release in full click here.

rear view of audiologist checking Aboriginal child's ears, image on computer screen

Image source: Remote Area Health Corps.

East Kimberley celebrates PwD

In the same week the nation celebrated wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott being named Australian of the Year, the East Kimberley held its own party to celebrate its community of people living with disability.

Dozens of people gathered at the Kununurra Leisure Centre on Friday for the region’s first International Day of People with Disability event, which aims to challenge the way people think about disability and help grow a more inclusive Australia.

Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAS) support coordinator Tobi Macnamara said the event was building on the region’s growing efforts to provide a more inclusive community, with more consideration for the almost 200 people living with a disability.

While International Day of People with Disability is celebrated on 3 December each year, Kununurra service providers joined to put on their own event on Thursday 28 January after receiving a $1,000 grant to mark the occasion.

To view The West Australian article in full click here.

Ivy, 3, Robyn, & Tarna Waters, 3, at Kununurra’s International Day of People with Disability event

Ivy, 3, Robyn, and Tarna Waters, 3, at Kununurra’s International Day of People with Disability event. Photo: Stephanie Sinclair, The Kimberley Echo.

Dubbo’s first MD student intake

24 ATSI med students standing in a group outside

The first 24 students to begin a full four-year Doctor of Medicine at University of Sydney’s Dubbo campus, began their studies this week. Image source: Daily Liberal News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

feature tile text 'urgent support from Commonwealth Government needed in face of NT COVID-19 crisis' & photo of Aboriginal man being tested in Katherine

Note: the image in the feature tile is of COVID-19 testing in Katherine, NT. Image source: The Canberra Times.

APO NT calls for urgent COVID-19 action

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) has called for urgent Commonwealth Government support in the face of a growing emergency in the COVID-19 response in the NT.

“Despite a lot of hard work and good collaboration on the part of government and Aboriginal community sector organisations, the haste towards living with COVID is pushing the health system, Aboriginal community service organisations and the communities they serve to the brink”, APO NT spokesperson, John Paterson said.

“We need urgent direct support from the Commonwealth Government. The multiple outbreaks we are now seeing in remote communities and in our towns have been fuelled by a critical shortage of workforce, testing and logistical capacity that is overwhelming local health services and exhausted staff, leading to rapid, avoidable spread of the virus”.

“Critical shortages in availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) is leaving Aboriginal health and community service organisations with insufficient capacity to test their own staff, let alone the needs of the community members they serve. The result is that infected individuals are not being identified and are spreading the virus undetected.”

To read the APO NT media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson wearing a covid-19 mask

John Paterson, CEO AMSANT/Chairperson APO NT. Image source: ABC News.

Calls for military help on NT outbreaks

APO NT Spokesman John Paterson said there are not enough health workers on the ground, and local health centre staff are exhausted and at breaking point. NT virus response teams are also struggling to transport and isolate infected people, who are “being left to isolate in overcrowded and inadequate accommodation”.

Mr Paterson said the labour shortage had slowed the remote vaccination rollout in communities with ACCHOs. A surge workforce is urgently needed to deal with the current crisis,” he said while raising concern over “a looming food security crisis” due to supply chain issues. This is the time, when the essential elements of the COVID response are faltering, to enlist the direct support of the Commonwealth and defence force,” he said.

To view The Canberra Times article in full click here.

back of 3 uniformed military staff in PPE walking in remote community

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Useful COVID-19 readiness resources

The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Queensland Government have produced a number of useful COVID-19 readiness resources. Although some of the information contained in the documents below are Queensland-specific, the information is useful across all jurisdictions.

front of QAIHC COVID-19 Readiness Family Plan document - Aboriginal family at table with paper & pens

NDIS COVID-19 vax access support continues

Minister for the NDIS Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC has announced support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants to access the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters will continue into 2022.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has a temporary pricing arrangement in place, for eligible providers to support participants to get their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

This support for the first two doses will be extended to the end of March. An additional $75 payment is now available for eligible providers to support participants to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

The COVID-19 booster support will be backdated to 8 November, and available to 30 June 2022. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and wellbeing of NDIS participants has been our utmost priority, and this extension ensures eligible participants will continue to be supported to get the COVID-19 vaccination,” Minister Reynolds said.

To view the Minister Reynolds’ media release in full click here and for more information, click on the NDIS coronavirus page here.

vax being drawn from vial

Image source: The Guardian.

Pharmacists embedded into ACCHOs

Consideration for the funding of the Integrating Pharmacists in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to Improve Chronic Disease management (IPAC project) goes before the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in March 2022.

The public summary document for IPAC is available here and NACCHO would like to invite you to make a submission on behalf of your ACCHO in support of funding for pharmacists in ACCHOs as per the model proposed in the IPAC project.

Submissions can be made on the provided ‘survey’ form on the above link or by direct email. If you require help to interpret public documents or if you have other questions, please contact the NACCHO IPAC team using this email link.

Aboriginal hand reaching for pharmacy supplies from plastic draw

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service (NT) website.

Tangentyere Youth Development Model

Young people living on Alice Springs Town Camps will be supported through a new multifaceted Youth Development Model designed by Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation.

Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw said Town Campers had identified the need for a program model that supported young people to have safe, healthy lives and make positive choices about their futures. “Culture is key to our youth development model,” Mr Shaw said “We know that practising cultural activities increases the wellness of all Aboriginal people, including young people. Culture is fundamental is each of the four elements of the model and is incorporated into each activity
and program.”

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

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden

NT Minister for Town Camps and Remote Housing Chansey Paech, Tangentyere vice president Benedict Stephens, Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw and Territory Families Minister Kate Worden announcing the Youth Development Model,  Thursday 16 December 2021.

Cervical cancer conference invites abstracts

The NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control is inviting abstract submissions for the Preventing Cervical Cancer 2022 Hybrid Conference (PCC2022), a hybrid face-to-face and virtual event from 23–25 March 2022.

This is a great opportunity to present and discuss your findings with other researchers in the field and contribute towards the elimination of cervical cancer. Abstracts can be submitted for selected presentation as a pre-recorded oral or virtual poster.

The abstract deadline is Friday 28 January 2022 and you can submit an abstract here.

aqua banner text 'preventing cervical cancer 2022 - hybrid conference 23-25 March 2022' photo of 3 women with arms around each other

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

4 Marr Mooditj Training AC students working on a dummy on hospital bed

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

Image in feature tile: Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation students.

Health workforce investment is urgent

Around the world, news of the Omicron variant of concern has created questions about the implications for an already stretched and burdened health workforce. It is not only the clinical workforce that is feeling the pressure, there is an urgent need to invest in expanding and developing the public health workforce.

A virtual symposium, held this week, hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, heard of public health worker burnout, the traumas of dealing with the pandemic, of the value and shortage of epidemiologists, and of a lack of adequate data on the workforce.

NACCHO Medical Director, Dr Megan Campbell, stressed the need for training and leadership opportunities for First Nations peoples and recognition of the role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe. Campbell said the public health workforce had been “absolutely essential’ in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stay safe during the pandemic and improving the cultural safety and quality of government and mainstream organisation responses as well.”

Campbell went on to say, “We absolutely need to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health workforce and that’s going to require substantial commitments.” NACCHO wants to ensure the curriculum is appropriate, includes competencies around Indigenous public health practice – not just knowledge – and its development must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

KAMS students in class learning child health checks. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: National Indigenous News.

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

The CEO of Aboriginal Medical Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) is calling on the NT government to keep the borders closed into the new year. The current plan is to drop the need for any quarantine requirements for double vaccinated travellers from interstate red zones on 20 December 2021.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said he would prefer a mid-January date, “That would allow us time to increase the vaccination rates, particularly in those low vaccinated local government areas throughout the NT. Monday 17 [January 2022] looks like a good day to open up the borders as that would give the low vaccination regions time to boost their rates. We’d probably be getting very close to that 90 to 95% vaccination rate, if we continue the trend that we’re on.”

To view the full ABC News story click here.

outback highway with orange cones funnelling traffic & road sign 'state border visitor information bay'

The current plan is to let interstate visitors heading into the NT from 20 December 2021. Photo: Mitchell Abram, ABC News.

Homeless women with disability research

Homelessness is having a disastrous impact on women with disabilities, according to new research by the UNSEEN Project. UNSEEN is led by social documentarian Belinda Mason (BLUR Projects), in collaboration with the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW, and has been designed with women to tell real stories of some of the State’s 15,000 homeless women. It provides a unique platform for women of all ages to share their true experiences.

Artist and Paralympian, Caitlin [pseudonym used for safety reasons], 44, became homeless in February 2020 when floodwater engulfed her home, badly damaging the property and taking with it much of her prized possessions. She said finding suitable temporary accommodation was near impossible. “My home was no longer habitable.”

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Kate Washington said the Family Matters Report 2021 has revealed sobering data on the the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in out-of-home care. NSW was ranked as poor or very poor across all four building blocks within the report, with the rate of over representation increasing steadily since 2012-13.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW are 9.9 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services than non-Indigenous children. The Report has slammed the lack of transparency and accountability within the NSW child protection system and has called for major investment from the NSW Government in community-led solutions.

To view the joint media release by NSW Shadow Ministers Kate Washington and David Harris in full click here.

rear view of small Aboriginal child looking towards run-down house

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

A new scheme aims to attract more health professionals to rural, regional and remote areas. From January 2022, the federal government will wipe the university debt of doctors or nurse practitioners, under a few conditions.

Regional Health Minister David Gillespie said the incentives were on top of current benefits, such as scholarship programs and additional Medicare benefits. “The more remote you go, the more significant the practice incentive payment or the workforce incentive payment is,” Dr Gillespie said. “It is targeted because there is an acute shortage of general practitioners in the outer, regional and remote areas — more so than anywhere else.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is critical to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, yet efforts over more than 20 years are still to make significant inroads.

However, a small, award-winning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training provider in Perth, Marr Mooditj, is showing the way amid other hopes for change in nursing and midwifery courses and curriculum showcased at the recent Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back To The Fire conference event in WA.

Marr Mooditj’ is one of just three organisations across Australia to provide dedicated healthcare training solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  students. Their unique staff motto “Eat the frog” is about how staff make sure they are providing wrap-around support to students from across WA, in a way that goes beyond the time and focus given by most other training organisations. It means that any staff member who runs into a student who needs help is expected to step up.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

Dr Wong has received a RACGP Rural GP award, recognising he has directly contributed to healthcare improvement and positively impacted the local community. “Parasitic worms may not be a popular topic, but it is a serious health issue in the Kimberley region, and anyone can get it,” he said.

“I recognised part of the problem where I work was a lack of community awareness. There are simple steps people can take in terms of prevention and treatment, so I put together posters to help raise awareness across the region, as well as clear guidelines for managing parasites, which have been really useful for patients.”

To view the Kimberley Clinical Protocol Parasitic Worms that Dr Wong helped update click here and to view the RACGP media release about the Rural GP awards 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 Health News: World AIDS Day 2021 – Us Mob and HIV

feature tile text 'World AIDS day 2021 - Us Mob & HIV updated booklet and new website' artwork from cover of booklet

Feature tile artwork by Arone Raymond Meeks, cover of Us Mob and HIV 4th Edition 2021.

World AIDS Day 2021 – Us Mob and HIV

To tie in with today’s World AIDS Day and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) 2021 which runs from 29 November to 6 December 2021 Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) have launched a short 30-second video to promote their updated Us Mob and HIV booklet and new website. The video will play on TVs in waiting rooms in Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) across Australia over ATSIHAW.

My Health Record securely stores HIV status

When Kalkadoon, Barahda Barna and Wangi man Michael Brown first discovered he was HIV-positive, he was living in Cairns in far north Queensland. He initially suffered some judgement in his interaction with health services and as a result, had limited trust in the health system and care he was receiving.

This changed following a positive interaction with pharmacist in Cairns, a doctor who treated him with dignity and a leap into digital health. Michael is now a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Michael, who now works as a sexual health project officer in the Cherbourg Aboriginal community, said while “Indigenous people are 2.6 times at higher risk of acquiring HIV than any other demographic in Australia, HIV doesn’t have to be a death sentence. People need to know to come and get tested. They need to know they are at risk. I didn’t realise I was at risk. When I started doing my study in Indigenous primary health care, there was no sexual health studies.”

You can listen to Michael Brown’s story below and read the Australian Digital Health Agency’s media release in full click here.

World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), the national federation for the community response to HIV in Australia, has thanked those who attended the World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast earlier today. You can view a recording of the event below.

AFAO welcomed several announcements from the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt during the event, including a $39 million investment to provide HIV treatment for people ineligible for Medicare, $11m for the continued work of peak HIV organisations and reconfirmation of the Government’s commitment to Agenda 2025, a plan developed to end HIV transmission by mid-decade.

You can see the latest HIV data in the AFAO’s HIV in Australia 2022 infographic publication here, access the World AIDS Day Booklet here and read AFAO and National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) joint media release here.

banner text 'world AIDS day' red, white, black

AMSANT urges Omicron caution

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) says that should be paused to protect the territory’s vulnerable Aboriginal population now Omicron has arrived. “The NT should be cautious until we know more about this new variant,” CEO John Paterson said yesterday.

You can read why the World Health Organisation has declared Omicron a variant of concern here and view the Port Macquarie News article about AMSANT urging caution here.

Howard Springs NT quarantine, 2 staff in PPE

Howard Springs, NT quarantine. Image source: SBS News.

NCSP Guidelines feedback reminder

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to the The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

The updates are now open for public consultation. The updates to the affected chapters have been compiled into a single word document for you to consider. To facilitate your review, changes are marked in colour; the majority of the text in chapters (in black) has not changed.

If you wish to submit feedback you can do this in one of two ways;

  1. Insert comments directly into the word document
  2. Alternatively, you can submit feedback simply in the body of an email, replying to this email or direct to Laura Sergeant here.

The deadline for response is 5:00 PM Sunday 5 December 2021.

To view the media release relating to this request for feedback click here.

three women's underpants hanging on a clothesline

Image source: Victorian State Government My Options website.

Cannington headspace opens its doors

headspace Cannington has recently opened its doors to provide young people, their families and friends access to youth friendly support for their mental health and other wellbeing challenges. Arche Health, who have been engaged to establish and run headspace Cannington, have worked closely with local service providers and the community to ensure the centre complements the existing strong local investment in youth support services in the area.

Arche Health CEO, Sujeewe Gamagedera said “headspace Cannington listens to young people’s views on the type of services offered and adapt services where necessary to achieve better outcomes. We will also be encouraging the involvement of family and friends in any recovery process, recognising the immense benefit this support creates.”

To view the media release in full click here.

external image of headspace cannington building, green grey

Better cardiac care measures for mob

The sixth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, has been released with updated data available for 14 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians and mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling although it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

health care worker showing patient model of heart

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Employment, housing prevent recidivism

New research has shown that employment and housing for those leaving prison are key to preventing recidivism and a subsequent return to detention. The research, which focused on former detainees in the ACT, highlighted the importance of reducing barriers to employment for people leaving prison, so that they are better equipped to begin life after detention and stay out of the justice system.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT has one of the highest rates of re-imprisonment in the country. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT experience re-imprisonment at the rate of 94% – the highest rate of any jurisdiction. “The ACT Government has committed to a program of justice reinvestment. However, too many detainees are being released from the ACT’s prison without adequate support and into homelessness, unemployment and economic uncertainty,” said Dr Campbell.

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands on jail bars, overlaid with transparent Aboriginal flag

Image source: Amnesty International.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day that occurs annually on 3 December. The day celebrates and recognises the achievements, contributions and abilities of people with disability as well as aiming to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and promote inclusion.

The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. To find out more about IDPwD and how you can get involved and help break down barriers (both structural and attitudinal) for people with disability click on the IDPwD website here.banner text '3 December - International Day of People with Disability' vector logo of navy person & blue, orange, green swirls either side

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: $1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

$1.25M to deliver culturally safe NDIS services

NACCHO has delivered over $1.25 million in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

“These grants will enable the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Pat Turner.

You can read the media statement by NACCHO here.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Lessons learnt to inform future vaccination efforts

Australians deserve freedom from misleading communications, and to be informed about some of the COVID complexities expected in the months ahead, including the rollout of a third dose and vaccination of young children. It’s also important that lessons are learnt from the first phases of the COVID vaccine roll out, with a particular focus on priority populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Jason Agostino, GP at Gurriny Yealamucka, an Aboriginal community controlled health service in the community of Yarrabah in far north Queensland, and medical advisor at NACCHO said:

“What we’ve learnt from the rollout of COVID vaccination to date is that we should be investing more in the primary healthcare system for the vaccine delivery. We need long term investment in workforce solutions for vaccination efforts going forward. We have this perfect storm coming up of chasing up the latecomers, doing childhood vaccination early next year and doing boosters as well as flu vaccine. This is a long term problem and we are going to need long term workforce solutions to address it. We also need consistency across the jurisdictions so Aboriginal Health Workers can deliver vaccines, they are an essential part of our service.”

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

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

Boosting vaccination rates in WA

A new five-week program, “Keeping Culture Safe and Strong: Vaccination Focus was announced by The Department of Health in Western Australia on 19 November 2021 to provide more opportunities for Aboriginal people to get vaccinated. In a statement, the Department said a range of intensified in-reach programs based on bringing the vaccine directly to communities would be used as part of the vaccination focus.

“The Keeping Culture Safe and Strong vaccination focus will cover the entire State, from urban to regional to remote communities. The focus will be community-led as local leaders such as health staff, the local police, Councils and Shires, and Aboriginal-led organisations will be yarning to community members and helping them to access a vaccination.”

In related news concerns are being raised by First Nations people and advocates about West Australia’s reopening plan, with anxiety rising in communities about the possibility of COVID infections while vaccination rates remain low. As a whole, 49.89 per cent of WA’s Indigenous population has received one dose of any vaccine, and 33.82 per cent have received two. That’s compared to a general population rate of 70.3 per cent double jabbed.

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) CEO Robby Chimbawe said the prospect of the interstate border reopening is helping vaccination rates, but said there is still lots of hesitancy especially among the 30-40 year old age group.

Read about the new vaccination program on The Government of Western Australia Department of Health website.
Keeping Culture Safe and Strong: Vaccination Focus resources can be downloaded from the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) website here.
You can view the article about the reopening of WA borders in the National Indigenous Times here.

 Keeping Culture Safe and Strong; Vaccination Focus Resources, AHCWA.

Mental health app in Pitjantjatjara and Aboriginal English

A new mobile app makes it easier for First Nations people to access information about mental health and wellbeing. The Aboriginal and Islander Mental health initiative (AIMhi) Stay Strong app is a colourful, user-friendly digital mental health tool developed by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) with Australian First Nations people. The app incorporates Pitjantjatjara language and Aboriginal English with plans to include other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

AIMhi Stay Strong supports service providers to have wellbeing conversations with First Nations people in primary care and specialist settings.

You can view the Menzies media release here.
For more information about the AIMhi Stay Strong projects click here.
Download the app for Android devices or for iOS devices.

Elimination of violence against women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On this day each year communities across the world also begin 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, seeking to inspire action to end violence against women and girls around.

ACT Government Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Yvette Berry is calling on the Canberra community to get on board, unite in orange and take action to make our community safe for all.

“Gendered violence is an epidemic, and it takes a whole of community approach from the ground up to create long lasting change. Concerningly, we know that during the pandemic many women experienced violence from their partners for the first time.”

“The next 16 days provide an opportunity for the Canberra community to take a stand and share the message that violence against women in any form is not OK. I encourage Canberrans to start conversations about gender-based violence with your family and friends. Learn more about the facts and what you can do to help. Let’s make gender-based violence a thing of the past.”

You can read the media release by the ACT Government here.

tile text 'Thursday 25 November 2021 - International Day for Elimination of Violence against Woemn' vector image of woman with hands across chest, head to side & back of male in front of her

Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development

Leading economic advisory firm, ACIL Allen has launched a report, which found that Community First Development generates a high return on investment: a return of $3.73 in health, social and economic benefits for every $1.00 of contributions invested. After removing operating costs, ACIL Allen estimates Community First Development delivered an estimated $12.8 million in employment, business, health, justice, welfare and housing benefits in the last financial year, and did this in the challenging operating environment of a pandemic. Improved health outcomes accounted for over half (55 percent) of the total benefits, which alone delivers a benefit estimated to be twice that of the organisation’s total cost.

A significant range of additional qualitative benefits that could not be measured in monetary terms were also identified as part of the ACIL Allen assessment.

For more information and to download the report click here.

The Story of Change

‘The Story of Change’ diagram from the Social and Economic Impact Assessment of Community First Development report.

No two days are the same in the care and support sector

If you are kind, patient and want a rewarding, person-centred job, the care and support sector has lots of opportunities for people just like you. According to disability support worker Lisa, these are the most important qualities needed to be a support worker for people with disability.

For the past six years she has been supporting Greg to achieve his personal goals and lead the life he wants.

Greg, who has cerebral palsy, is a talented artist; his work is featured in the Koorie National Trust and in a number of exhibitions. He has a studio space conveniently located a couple of doors down from his home. Greg is also part of a Melbourne theatre group, plays balloon football, enjoys getting out and about, COVID permitting, and loves to introduce his support workers to his Aboriginal culture.

The care and support sector is a dynamic, growing industry with a wide range of roles and opportunities for people with diverse skills, experiences and backgrounds.

Read the rest of Greg and Lisa’s story and view more stories from the care and support sector here.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

Lisa providing disability support to Greg.

BRAMS Newsletter October 2021

Check out the latest BRAMS newsletter, which includes the CEO Report, New Staff, Employee of the Month, Vax-a-thon #2,  BBAI Carnival 2021, Wellbeing Month, BRAMS Well-Being Day, Family Well-Being Training, Narrative Therapy Training,  Ministerial Visit, NDIS Peer Support Groups.

You can download the newsletter here.

BRAMS COVID VAX-A-THON

 

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.

A Life Changing Life – Webinar

As part of the A Life Changing Life campaign, the Department of Social Services has partnered with SEEK to deliver a series of webinars providing insights and tools for care and support sector employers to better engage with and appeal to today’s candidates.

There are three upcoming webinars in this series. Depending on your role you may wish to register to attend or register interest, or refer one to a colleague. This session is designed for those in your organisation responsible for writing and posting job ads and short-listing candidates.

SESSION 1 – How to write a good job ad
Date: Tuesday 30 November
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm AEDT

RSVP for the webinar and view upcoming webinars in the series here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Uncle Jack Charles tells mob to get the vax

Image in feature tile: Uncle Jack Charles at Victoria Aboriginal Health Service in Fitzroy Melbourne. Photo: Darrian Traynor. Image source: The Age.

Uncle Jack Charles tells mob to get the vax

The Victorian Government, in partnership with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, has launched a new campaign to help further boost vaccination rates among Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Renowned actor and advocate Uncle Jack Charles will front the campaign, which will run for three weeks across social media, NITV and radio.

The new content forms part of an expansion of the ongoing Community, Unity, Immunity campaigna community-led initiative developed by the Department of Health in partnership with VACCHO to help encourage vaccinations and provide information on keeping community safe.

To view the full media release click here.

filling syringe from vial

Image source: The Canberra Times.

Health Minister on NT COVID-19 outbreak

Yesterday, Monday 22 November 2021, Minister Hunt spoke with Katie Woolf from MIX 104.9 Darwin, on Outbreak in the COVID-19 NT.

Ms Woolf said to Minister Hunt “the situation that we’re experiencing in the Northern Territory is one which we’d all hoped wouldn’t happen, COVID in a remote Indigenous community. What support is the Federal Government going to provide at this point?”

In reply Minister Hunt said: So across the Territory, we now have 105 defence personnel who are supporting COVID-19 efforts. That’s 40 in Howard Springs and Bladin Village. And then we’ve now deployed at 40 personnel and vehicles to support NT Health in the Katherine area and that’s- in particular with food and other critical supplies, and another 25 people with vehicles to support transport for isolated personnel from regional communities in and around Katherine with testing and other health issues.

And if more is needed, more will be required. We’re also providing PPE, assisting in the vaccination program. And I have to say, the NT vaccination rate is, is, and has been growing for some weeks now, at the fastest rate in the nation. So it’s now 86% all up, 73.3% second dose. And importantly, the Indigenous rate has increased quite significantly to 76.1%. We want that to go higher, but we’ll continue to work with the NT Government and communities and ACCHOs.

To view the transcript of the interview in full click here.

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

Disability Gateway Stakeholder Kit

Australians living with disability, their families and carers have identified accessing information about policies, programs and support as a key barrier to their independence and community participation. The Department of Social Services (DSS) has developed a way to improve access to this information by creating the Disability Gateway.

The Disability Gateway includes a website, a dedicated phone line (1800 643 787) and social media channels, to assist people with disability, their families and carers, to find and access trusted information and services.
The Disability Gateway is for all Australians with disability, regardless of whether they are a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant or not.

A range of resources are available to download from the Disability Gateway website here.

Specialist resources are also available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Factsheet available for download

Poster available for download

Access an updated accessible Communication Toolkit including Alt Text descriptions of the images here.

Dementia and changed behaviours

Over the past 12 months, the NPS MedicineWise Dementia and changed behaviours: a person-centred approach program has focused on reducing unnecessary use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, as well as improving use of non-pharmacological techniques in supporting people living with dementia. NPS MedicineWise have advised that:

  • As well as our delivering educational visits to GPs in general practice, our educational visitors have visited over 1,000 aged care facilities to provide training to nurses and pharmacists. The workbook and videos to help support this component of the program are available on our website.
  • Following the positive feedback on our webinar focusing on the practical aspect of working as a multidisciplinary team, we also produced a video featuring Theresa Flavin, who is living with dementia. In this short and moving video, Theresa provides a unique insight into what it is like to live with dementia and her experience being prescribed a psychotropic medicine.
  • We also have a range of clinical resources and tools available to support healthcare professionals manage this complex condition. These include a behaviour diary, a tool to facilitate tapering antipsychotic medicines, information on implementing non-pharmacological strategies, and a stepwise approach to managing changed behaviour.
Winnie Coppin holding play list

Winnie Coppin listens to music to trigger her memory when she feels confused. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

Record spend on NSW Indigenous programs

A record $1.1 billion is being invested in Indigenous programs, services and initiatives this financial year, with NSW today becoming the first state to publish its own Interim Indigenous Expenditure Report (IER). The Interim IER maps and tracks the State’s current financial commitment to Indigenous-specific programs and services across government. It will inform future policy decisions and the allocation of funds.

Treasurer Matt Kean said spending on Indigenous initiatives is up 18.9% on the previous financial year, with the NSW Government focused on delivering improved programs and services for First Nations people. “I know we’ve still got a long way to go to close the gap, but the NSW Government is proud to be working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to create better outcomes for communities right across the state,” Mr Kean said.

To view the NSW Treasurer Matt Kean’s media release in full click here.

Image source: visitnsw.com.

Decolonisation in the workplace

A recent article wriiten for IndigenousX begins with a statement from Professor Gregory Phillips, CEO of ABSTARR Consulting: “Black Lives Matter, the impacts of coronavirus and the rise in bushfires and floods are the natural consequence of colonisation… systems set up to privilege white men’s property rights over all others has given rise to a gross imbalance in distribution and sustainability of the globe’s resources – human, cultural, economic, social and natural.

As such the calls for decolonisation have become louder and more unified. Indigenous peoples are leading the calls, but many in ‘mainstream’ sectors are starting to see the wisdom and criticality of Indigenous knowledges to contemporary wicked problems.’–

To view the full article in IndigenousX click here.

vector of orange head, with white oval for the brain & text 'Decolonisation'

Image source: IndigenousX.

Winnunga News October 2021 edition

The first item in the Winnunga News October 2021 is a CEO Update. Julie Tongs says she is extremely pleased with the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the local community who have received their COVID-19 vaccine, and she continues to encourage those yet to be vaccinated to arrange to have the vaccination.

More broadly, Julie Tongs says that the disparity in the numbers of Aboriginal people not yet vaccinated together with the significant over-representation of Aboriginal people in the ACT who have tested positive to COVID-19 is anything other than yet another stark illustration of the depth and extent of the disadvantage which Aboriginal people living in Canberra endure.

You can access the Winnunga News October 2021 edition 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.

Towards hepatitis C elimination webinar

A webinar to showcase efforts towards hepatitis C elimination in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be held from 12:00 PM (AEST) Wednesday 24 November 2021.

The Chairs for the webinar, Troy Combo and Professor Margaret Hellard AM will be joined by guest speakers: Professor Greg Dore (Kirby Institute), Phoebe Schroder and Adam Howie (ASHM), Janet Stajic (IUIH), Esha Lay (QuIHN), Erin Flynn (SCALE – C) and Scott Monaghan (Bulgarr Ngaru MAC).

To more information about the webinar and to register click here.