NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting care sector jobs for mob

Feature tile - Thu 30.9.21 - A Life Changing Life

Boosting care sector jobs for mob

The Morrison Government has launched A Life Changing Life, a new campaign to encourage Indigenous Australians to start a career in the care and support sector. The sector, which includes aged care, disability and veterans’ support is one of the fastest-growing in Australia.

Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP said it was important to highlight the breadth of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the sector.

“Caring for mob is a part of our culture – it’s who we are. It makes sense we support Indigenous Australians to consider a future in the sector, so they can deliver the culturally appropriate services our vulnerable people need,” Minister Wyatt said.

“What many people might not know is that this is a sector full of job opportunities, and meaningful careers.

“In many cases, these are jobs you can do without leaving your community and can learn on the job, to start a life-changing career.”

You can read the media release by the Morrison Government here.
You can find out more about the care and support sector, and learn about the meaningful work that makes a difference for mob here.
You can view campaign resources here.

A Life Changing Life

Encouraging others to get the jab

Aboriginal health promotion worker Brittany Wright was asked by Albury Council to contribute to their vaccination messaging on social media.

“They just wanted some young people that have had the vaccination to encourage other people to come and get theirs,” she said.

“I was happy to spread the message, and working at an Aboriginal Health Service, we want to try and get as many Aboriginal people vaccinated as we can.”

AWAHS clinic manager Lauren Blatchford said demand for their program delivering AstraZeneca and Pfizer had increased recently.

“With the COVID cases on both sides of the border, a lot more people are wanting to be vaccinated,” she said.

“We’ve also got some outreach vaccine clinics going around community and that’s really targeting the vulnerable community members who can’t come to the service to be vaccinated, for example,” she said.

“It’s so good to have people like Britt sharing messages – they know who she is and that really encourages other people.

You can read the story in The Border Mail here.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

New vaping laws come into effect tomorrow

The Australian Medial Association (AMA) believes new nicotine vaping laws which come into effect this Friday October 1, are timely, with the prevalence of harmful vaping rapidly increasing in the community. The new laws close a loophole in federal legislation which has enabled the unregulated importation and illegal sale of nicotine containing vaping products, or “e-cigarettes”, in each State and Territory.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said under the new rules, nicotine containing vaping products will only be able to be accessed via a prescription from a doctor. He said the changes have a stated aim of protecting the non-smoking public, especially younger people and children, from the clear harms of nicotine poisoning and addiction.

“Vaping is not the risk-free version of smoking that some would have us believe. It is addictive, is associated with proven harms and we know that if nicotine gets into the hands of young children and is ingested, it is highly toxic and can be fatal in very small amounts,” Dr Khorshid said.

The new regulations aim to make nicotine containing vaping products less accessible and aim to prevent the terrible exponential increase in use that is being seen overseas, such as in the US, where around one quarter of all high school students have admitted to current or recent use of mainly high concentration products.

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Keeping a focus on First Nations’ eye health

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report includes data from the 2019-20 year, which included the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Despite the pandemic’s impact, the report highlights that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow,

However, the report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need.

You can read the article in ANZSOG here.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

‘Australians can beat anything’ vax campaign

A powerful new public service campaign that heroes the country’s ingenuity, inventiveness and resilience to overcoming challenges is being released nationally in a bid to boost Australia’s double vaccination rate to 80% or more as quickly as possible. The ‘Australians Can Beat Anything’ campaign – a collaboration between Australia’s advertising, media and consulting industries – hit TV screens, online sites and social media from September 27, rallying Australians to get vaccinated by demonstrating our proven ability to overcome the most difficult of challenges and crises.

Professor Fred Hollows is one of several iconic Australians fronting the campaign.

“Fred was a staunch advocate of modern medicine and improving people’s living standards. We know he would have been encouraging Australians to get vaccinated,” said The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart.

You can view the advertisement below.

Ideas for looking after your mental health this October

Mental Health Australia has launched its October 2021 calendars for Mental Health Month ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, including daily ideas for all Australians to look after their mental health in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Mental Health Australia’s downloadable and printable calendars are tailored with some great tips for different audiences, including: the general public, young adults, families, older Australians, and workplaces.

Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating an overwhelming situation for many Australians and these daily ideas will help reduce stigma, encourage help seeking and connect communities.

“The calendars provide reminders of something small and tangible we can all do each day to look after our own mental health, as well as improve the wellbeing of others in our families and broader communities,” said Dr Beagley.

This matters to everyone. And we can all benefit from looking after our own mental health and the mental health of our families and communities.

View the media release by Mental Health Australia here.
You can download the calendars here.
To find out more about World Mental Health Day activity this year use the hashtag #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia or visit the website here.

Registration for CTG PBS Co-Payment program extended

Criteria for the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program was expanded in July, allowing registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients more streamlined access to subsidised medications.

A grace period to ensure all eligible patients are registered for the program has now been extended to January 2022, with the Department of Health attributing the need for an extension to the ‘significant number’ of eligible patients who are not yet ‘correctly registered’.

This period will prevent CTG PBS Co-payment prescriptions being rejected at the time of dispensing if the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is not formally registered for the program through Services Australia.

PBS prescribers can ensure their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are registered for the program via Services Australia’s Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). If the patient is not registered, their status will be indicated as ‘inactive’ in HPOS.

You can read more about the extension in RACGP newsGP here.

Get the treatment you need

The co-payment initiative aims to support better access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source RACGP.

Big Red Kidney Bus flips from vacations to vaccinations

The NSW Big Red Kidney Bus has been repurposed to serve as a mobile vaccination clinic while holidaying is not possible. The Bus is operating as a pop-up clinic in Western Sydney, providing easy access to vaccines for COVID-19.

You can read more in the Norther Sydney Local health District September newsletter here.

Big Red Kidney Bus

Big Red Kidney Bus. Image source: busnews.com.au.

 

Australian Digital Health Agency – identified positions

Partnership Manager
EL1 ($122,716 – $139,959)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

Partnership Lead
APS6 ($99,860 – $112,659)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role 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.


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Feature tile - Tue 21.9.21 - Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Although First Nations children comprise a relatively small proportion of the general child population, they represent more than 30 per cent of the Indigenous population.

And as state governments edge closer to easing restrictions at the 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination targets – targets that do not include under 16s – health and data experts are concerned it will be at the expense of First Nations people.

As children as young as 12 are faced with the choice to be vaccinated, mental health experts are urging support services and structures to be at the ready. Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association board director Tanja Hirvonen said the decision could weigh heavily on the shoulders of young Indigenous people.

“What can help to alleviate that pressure is support from family and friends and the health sector, and getting the information from the qualified professionals,” Dr Hirvonen said.

“Everyone has different circumstances, different health needs, are in different communities, so they can make the best decision for them and their families.”

Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Kane Ellis was concerned First Nations kids had been left behind in the vaccination rollout.

“Our young ones are getting missed in the conversation because they think they don’t have [health] issues, which is not the case for our young ones,” he said.

“We want to make sure we look after our young ones as much as our elders because they’re the future for us.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

90-95% First Nations vax rates needed to protect mob

While some Australians are awaiting the nation reopening after lockdowns with hope and optimism, others are approaching it with dread. This is because a blanket lifting of restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 70% will have devastating effects on Indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

At present, vaccination rates in Indigenous populations are very low. Once restrictions are lifted everyone unvaccinated will be exposed to the virus.

Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO, the Aboriginal Medical Services of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have called on state and federal governments to delay any substantial easing of restrictions until vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations aged 12 years and older reach 90-95%.

A 90-95% vaccination rate gives about the same level of population coverage for all ages as the 80% target for the entire population. That’s because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are younger than the wider population.

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

A Northern Territory Indigenous teenager with disability has been intermittently imprisoned in the Don Dale detention centre since the age of 10, an inquiry has been told. The 17-year-old told the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability that some of the charges related to breaching bail when he fled abusive foster homes.

The young man, who gave evidence under the pseudonym IL, said he’d been placed in 20 Darwin foster homes in his life but had never had an Aboriginal carer or caseworker.

“I’ve never really had anybody to teach me right and wrong, you know,” he told the inquiry in a pre-recorded interview.

You can read the story in 7 News here.

Aboriginal health services are among those expected to give evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability when the latest hearing resumes. The 16th hearing of the royal commission will on Monday examine the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care.

Representatives from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service are expected to give evidence, along with a disabled Indigenous child and her carer.

The six-day inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. It aims to provide an insight into the life course for Indigenous children with disability and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

The community of Cherbourg has lost more than 10 people, mostly young men, to suicide in the past year. Local leaders say treatment models need a major shakeup to make them more culturally appropriate. Young men account for most of the deaths. Alex Speedy, 35, has stepped forward as a champion for mental health in the community.

“It’s important coming out the other side and talking about it,” he said.

Mr Speedy’s aunt, Dolly Davidson, has lost two sons to suicide in the past few years. She said she reached out to multiple services for help for her younger son, but they were not approachable and did not understand what he was experiencing. He passed when he was 17.

“There were nine other young men [who have died] … who used to attend school with my sons. You’re talking about 11 kids from one school and that’s a lot — 11 kids out of 20,” said Davidson.

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

“What’s not being addressed is the underlying stuff that’s happening to our families, the amount of grief and loss we’ve been going through,” she said.

“It’s like a dark cloud over our community.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn't weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn’t weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) is a validated perinatal depression screening tool. It was developed in partnership between Aboriginal women and healthcare professionals in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in response to challenges with the mainstream screening tool the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

The KMMS is a two part screening tool. Part one of the KMMS is an adapted version of the EPDS using language and graphics as determined through the community co-design process. KMMS part two is a ‘yarning’ or narrative based assessment focusing on a woman’s risks and protective factors across seven psychosocial domains.

The training takes approximately one hour and will enable healthcare professionals to confidently and appropriately use the KMMS with patients.

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

Please contact the KMMS project team if you have any further queries:
Emma Carlin on emma.carlin@rcswa.edu.au or
Kat Ferrari kmmsprojectofficer@kamsc.org.au.

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

The Morrison government is investing $10 million in research projects that use the latest digital and mobile technology to improve primary healthcare delivery.

Australian researchers can now apply for grants to undertake critical research through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which is designed to help develop ideas, make projects viable and improve medical care.

Two areas of primary healthcare research will be funded – testing and implementing new applications of existing wearable electronic devices, and examining new ways of delivering point-of-care testing, particularly for people in rural areas.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said research was the key to better healthcare and treatments, and continued advances in technology could unlock more improvements in medical care, including helping people in rural and remote areas.

The $10 million in grants flagged on Wednesday will be managed through the National Health and Medical Research Council and is funded over two years though to 2023.

You can read the article in The Australian Financial Review here.

 Ambra Health DrHIT: Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age - Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age – Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

New online MBS tool

A new interactive tool is now available to help GPs calculate out-of-pocket expenses when delivering care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The resources have been developed as part of the RACGP’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online tool.

There are now two easy-to-access interactive guides, including one for GPs providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These list frequently used items such as face-to-face and telehealth MBS numbers. A complementary tool is available for other medical practitioners (OMPs). This includes items that are often employed by allied health providers and nurse practitioners, for example.

The tool allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Hard copies can also be printed.

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the COSS Network, supported by Bendigo Bank, have opened the 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey.

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the longest running survey of the community sector – by the community sector – for the community sector and communities we serve. This 2021 Survey is a vital opportunity for us to compare changes in the community sector between 2019 and now. The Survey covers the impacts of changes to funding structures, demand on services, emerging needs and pressures and sector priorities.

ACOSS and the COSS Network thank you for your help with the Survey. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email Penny Dorsch at penny@acoss.org.au for details.

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

This International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and NOFASD are calling on Australians to contribute to the prevention of FASD – a range of neurodevelopmental impairments caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that a new polling snapshot by FARE has identified that many Australians are not aware that alcohol is harmful to health during pregnancy.

“Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASD and almost one in four aren’t aware that alcohol should be avoided altogether in pregnancy,” Ms Giorgi said.

You can also join the Red Shoes Rock campaign, which was started by RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD. He decided to wear RED SHOES to stand out, be noticed and have some fun starting FASD conversations with strangers. With strong supports and increased awareness FASD can be prevented. Wear red shoes proudly to raise awareness about FASD.
#RedShoesRock #FASDawareness

You can view the media release by FARE and NOFASD here.
You can also download a Polling Snapshot for Alcohol use, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder here.
For more information about International FASD Awareness Day click here.

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.

 

‘Living with COVID’ – what front-line health workers are facing

With the Delta variant raging across New South Wales and Victoria, health services are stretched and strained. In the next few months, the health workforce will care for many more patients with COVID-19, with case numbers in NSW expected to peak over the next two weeks.

The nation is focused on plans to reopen borders and increase freedoms as soon as there are sufficiently high rates of vaccination. But what does ‘living with’ COVID-19 look like for health professionals?

In 2020, The Conversation surveyed front-line health-care workers across Australia and found the pandemic had taken a considerable toll on their mental health. Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have also been disproportionately infected – often through exposure to the virus at work.

If we are to live with COVID-19, we need a health-care system that can cope with the ‘normal’ pressures of providing health care for 25 million people, intermittent crises, plus respond to both the short and long-term needs of people with COVID-19. Preparing the health-care system to respond to crises such as pandemics, must include supporting health-care workers and protecting them from burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. We risk losing our most valuable asset in the health-care system if we fail to urgently respond to these issues.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: "How it started. How it's going." in November 2020.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: “How it started. How it’s going.” in November 2020.

 

Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

Last week, as case numbers in the COVID-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email. It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of COVID and prevent them from contracting it again”. The drug was ivermectin and the email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley.

In Wilcannia, where COVID cases reached 109 on Wednesday, or 14.5% of the population, the appearance of individuals pushing the use of ivermectin prompted an outburst of anger from Adams, who accused the sender of taking advantage of a community where people were already sick, confused and scared.

“This isn’t just happening in Wilcannia. We’re hearing this is happening in communities all over the far west. The information they’re pushing is not reliable, it’s not resourceful. We need them to stop and leave our communities alone. We’ve got enough to deal with at the moment,” he told the Guardian.

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

 

More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

Australia borrows Pfizer jabs, while it waits for purchases to arrive. But when might mRNA vaccines be made onshore? Also there’s anger among Aboriginal leaders about anti-vax propaganda targeted at vulnerable communities. And consumer shortages and delays as a cascade of problems hits global shipping.

Listen to:

  • Associate Professor Archa Fox, RNA biologist, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), GP and epidemiologist.
  • Rachel Premack, senior investigative reporter, Business Insider

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

Tune in to listen to This Week, 4 September 2021 on ABC Radio here.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

 

What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

The World Congress of Epidemiology opened on 4 September with a short silence to remember more than 4.5 million people who have died from COVID-19 to date, with particular mention of epidemiologists and public health workers. Hosted by the Australasian Epidemiological Association, the Congress this year is a virtual event, and began with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr.

Also at the opening ceremony, President of the International Epidemiology Association, Professor Henrique Barros, reflected on how COVID-19 had provided a “critical moment” for epidemiology. He contrasted the epidemiological tools used to combat the spread of COVID with approaches taken century ago when the 1918 influenza pandemic posed a similar threat to global health.

Clear messages from other keynotes and presentations included the need to celebrate the positive contribution epidemiology has played in worldwide efforts to combat COVID, while also applying a critical lens and learning from past mistakes to meet the challenges of COVID and other public health threats in the future.

Another strong theme was the need for epidemiology to be more effective in addressing health inequities, especially for First Nations people.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

 

Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

Consumers can now get their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. The digital certificate will become available once their vaccination provider has reported all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Consumers can already get an immunisation history statement from their record to show proof of all vaccinations recorded on the AIR, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

These documents are also available for non-Medicare eligible consumers who have a My Health Record.

Second dose alert date range
The COVID-19 vaccine second dose due date alert now displays a date range on the Record Home page. The dates are calculated based on the minimum and maximum recommended interval for the second dose of the vaccine brand. For example, if someone has one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose would be due between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

For more information, see Getting proof of vaccination from My Health Record.
You can also find answers to common consumer questions here.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

 

Are they really OK? Ask them today!

This year’s R U OK? Day theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’. R U OK?

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health this R U OK? Day. This year it is more important than ever before as we all continue to face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health.

Research has shown that around 22% of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help. However, a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

In another media release by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Dr Di Stow, President of the PACFA says you should be prepared for the answer to be ‘No’ when asking a friend, family member or colleague R U OK?

It’s being reported that in lockdown, pre-existing trauma is rising to the surface and cracks in families that were previously covered over with activity are being laid bare. People are seeking help for anxiety, depression and anger arising from the uncertainty and lack of control related to lockdown. Counsellors and psychotherapists are increasingly frustrated at the current situation where Australians struggling with their mental health will seek support on R U OK Day but be turned away by psychologists after referrals from GPs. GPs, particularly in locked-down states, report they cannot find help for their patients through the Better Access initiative because psychologists have waiting lists of 3-6 months, or have closed their books completely.

In the meantime, over 60% of PACFA members responding to a survey said they could take on a new client within a fortnight; 23% said they could take on a new client within 48 hours.

PACFA is advocating for the Federal Government to open up the Better Access initiative beyond psychologists, to counsellors and psychotherapists who are highly-trained, highly experienced mental health professionals.

You can read the media release here.

Click here for more information and resources around R U OK? Day.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Nominations open: the Dennis McDermott Memorial Award For Excellence In Cultural Safety

This award is named in honour of the late Professor Dennis McDermott. From Gomereoi country (north-western New South Wales), with connections to Gadigal country (inner Sydney), he was a psychologist, academic and poet, and was La Trobe University’s inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous). Dennis worked as an Indigenous health academic for many years. As a respected member of the LIME Network and Reference Group he contributed to the pedagogy of Indigenous cultural safety for future health professionals.

The award, a prize of $1000, will recognise outstanding work by a health practitioner, community organisation or educator in enhancing cultural safety in Australian health contexts, understood broadly. It is intended to recognise both existing good practice and innovations in the field.

Submission must be received by 5pm (AEST), 25 September 2021.

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham: lime-network@unimelb.edu.au.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

This is a webinar for health professionals run by Kidney Health Australia. It will be presented by Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason, Nephrologist.

7:30pm AEST, Wednesday 22 September 2021.
You can register your interest here.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Proud in culture, strong in spirit

Feature tile - Wed.4.8.21 - Proud in culture, strong in spirit - Children's Day

Proud in culture, strong in spirit

Today we celebrate the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2021 with the theme ‘Proud in culture, strong in spirit’.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the right to experience and be proud of their history, cultural beliefs and practices.

The Children’s Day 2021 theme highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help our children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.

Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. It is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.

Visit the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2021 website to find out more and view available resources.

@SNAICC #ProudInCulture #StrongInSpirit #NATSIChildrensDay

 

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills fully vaccinated – urging mob to follow

Donnella Mills, a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir, Chair of NACCHO and Deputy Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service, gets her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Wuchopperen in Cairns. She urges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to follow up and get your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“I’m just thrilled that I have been able to get my second dose here at home,” said Ms Mills.

She gave a massive shout-out to all the staff across our 143 ACCHOs thanking them for being so dedicated and so committed in protecting our mob.

“Get Vaccinated,” said Ms Mills. “Have a yarn with your health worker, your doctor or your nurse. Get the answers that you need to feel safe. Get yourself vaccinated so that you can protect yourself, protect each other and protect our communities.

Visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can view the video featuring Ms Mills below.
#FullyVaccinated

 

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

11:30am–12:00pm this Thursday 5 August 2021.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Frances Rice, Senior Nurse Advisor, Department of Health.

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

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

tile light blue background text in navy 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for GPs' pink vector virus cells

 

WellMob launch new e-newsletter

HealthInfoNet‘s WellMob are excited to announce that the first edition of their e-newsletter has arrived!

The newsletter will highlight some useful online resources on the WellMob website, including the Dadirri the deep inner spring inside us video below, along with some tips for the health and wellbeing workforce on how to use these resources with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

Check out the new e-newsletter here.

vector open envelope with piece of paper coming out text 'WellMob Healing Our Way' & WellMob logo; background teal with Aboriginal dot painting circles

 

Improving rare cancer survival

Improving survival rates for cancers of unknown primary (CUP) and reducing the proportion of Indigenous Australians diagnosed with CUP will be the focus of a new Flinders University-led project, which recently received a $2.4 million grant from the federal government.

Cancers of unknown primary are those that, despite a myriad of tests, doctors cannot determine where in the body the cancer started. As the primary site is unknown, site-specific treatment cannot be initiated, reducing the chance of survival. While CUP only accounts for 1.6% of cases in Australia, among Indigenous Australians that incident is 2.1 times higher, with a 5-year survival rate of only 9% – almost half that of the non-Indigenous population.

Professor Chris Karapetis from the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute will lead the project and says despite the availability of guidelines, or an ‘optimal care pathway’, for treating CUP they are yet to be universally implemented, impacting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. “What we are currently seeing is people with suspected CUP may experience inappropriate or excessive tests, or the recommended tests aren’t being used enough. This can lead to delayed or inaccurate diagnosis, or a missed opportunity to identify a primary site, which then results in poorer outcomes. Our project aims to evaluate what impact adhering to the optimal care pathway has on patients diagnosed with CUP in SA and the NT.”

To view the article Improving survival of rare caner for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

dark blue image of cells

Photo: Getty. Image source: Flinders University website.

 

Lived experiences of Aboriginal/LGBTIQ+ people

A first of its kind study by Edith Cowan University has revealed the significant impact of racism, queerphobia and social exclusion on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ people.

As part of the study, two recently published reports provide important insights and recommendations for the health, education and community services sectors to support those living at this unique intersection. You can access the two Breaking the silence reports using the links below:

vector drawing of Aboriginal person with rainbow colour earings, orange t-shirt

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

 

Digital health tools a game changer

Digital health tools are changing how healthcare is delivered in Australia. Access to My Health Record and telehealth consultations is transforming health service delivery, not only in remote Aboriginal communities but across the country.

Please join the Australian Digital Health Agency, WA Primary Health Alliance, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, and special guest panel members from Aboriginal Medical Services across WA, to hear how digital health has been a game changer for them.

Healthcare professionals from across all sectors are encouraged to attend, hear these success stories and be inspired to start using digital health. There will also be the opportunity for participants to ask questions.

The webinar will be held from 5:30 – 6:30pm AWST (7:30 – 8:30pm AEST) on Tuesday 31 August 2021. To register click here.

wooden surface with iPad (showing text results), pen, safety glasses, mask, stethoscope, x-ray, notepad and EDG printout

Image source: Majorel website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

 

Homelessness Week 1–7 August

In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have historically been over-represented among clients seeking homelessness and social housing services. More than 23,000 (1 in 28) Indigenous Australians were homeless on Census night 2016. Despite making up less than 3% of the Australian population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders account for 20% of the homeless population.

Homelessness Week 2021 which runs from Sunday 1 August to Saturday 7 August aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.

Access an ABC article Without a Home here to find out more about homelessness in Australia and for more information about Homelessness Week 2021 visit the Homelessness Australia website here.

tile text 'homelessness week 2021 1–7 "Everybody needs a home" - Homelessness Australia" Homelessness Australia logo, palms of hands with key; navy background, lime green font

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Grants to support mental health of new parents

Feature tile - Mon 7.6.21 - Grants to support mental health of new parents

Grants to support mental health of new parents

The Morrison government is providing $16.6 million in grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents through nine new projects.

It is estimated that up to 10% of women experience depression while pregnant, and one in seven women in the year after birth. Men can also experience perinatal mental illness, with approximately one in 10 expectant and new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional distress in the perinatal period.

Some of the grants under the mental health initiative include:

  • $2.59 million for the University of Newcastle to deliver the SMS4dads digital prevention and early intervention service for fathers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, living in rural and remote regions.
  • $750,000 for Possums for Mothers and Babies to deliver training and professional peer support for health professionals and new parents in rural communities.
  • $250,000 for the Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity to produce health practitioner training materials and develop a mobile phone-based app version of the Baby Coming You Ready assessment and screening program for Aboriginal women.

You can read the full story and find out more about the other grants here.

Man pushing pram through park. Image source AAP.

Image source: AAP.

Yolngu Elders kick off COVID-19 vaccinations across Arnhem Land

Miwatj Health are gearing up for a COVID-19 vaccination blitz across the remote northern region of Arnhem Land.

Terry Yumbulul, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation’s Chief Culture Advisor and Head of Regionalisation, and CEO Eddie Mulholland, had their Pfizer vaccine in Gove last week.

They were joined by 10 Board Members of Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and other local leaders who received their vaccine in an effort to encourage others in the community.

ABC Radio Darwin’s Jo Laverty spoke with Terry Yumbulul about his experience and whether other Yolngu people would follow suit.

You can listen to the ABC Radio Darwin On Breakfast broadcast with Jolene Laverty here.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.

Healing the past project seeking participants

Becoming a parent is exciting but it can be hard. Particularly for parents who have experienced difficulties in their own childhood, which can have long lasting effects on physical, social and emotional wellbeing. This can make the transition to parenthood difficult, causing distress and challenges to creating a nurturing environment for a new baby. On the flip side, growing research shows that becoming a parent offers a unique life-time opportunity to heal from this childhood hurt.  

‘Healing the past by nurturing the future’ (video) is a community-based participatory research project which is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents to develop awareness and support strategies that could be offered during the perinatal period to support Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma.  

The team are looking for participants for this important research project who are:  

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people  
  • living in the NT, SA or Victoria, and  
  • are pregnant, have a partner who is pregnant or have a child (under 5 years in SA; or any age in NT or Vic).  

To learn more about the project, please contact Cindy from the research team on 0492 850 298, or email hpnf@latrobe.edu.au, or visit the website here.

Healing the Past - Image 1

Healing the Past – Illustration.

Cultural connectedness can reduce suicide rates

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia ‘Suicide rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the influence of community level cultural connectedness’ examines associations between community cultural connectedness indicators and suicide mortality rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This retrospective mortality study looks at suicide deaths of people aged 10‒19 years recorded by the Queensland Suicide Register between 2001‒2015.

The age‐specific suicide rate was 21.1 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for First Nations young people and 5.0 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for non‐Indigenous young people. The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was higher in areas with low levels of cultural social capital (greater participation of community members in cultural events, ceremonies, organisations, and community activities) than in areas classified as having high levels, and also in communities with high levels of reported discrimination. Associations with proportions of Indigenous language speakers and area level socio‐economic resource levels were not statistically significant.

The study found that suicide mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Queensland were influenced by community level culturally specific risk and protective factors. The findings suggest that strategies for increasing community cultural connectedness at the community level and reducing institutional and personal discrimination could reduce suicide rates.

You can read the full article here.

Aboriginal youth sitting, resting his head in his hand

Image source: ABC News.

NDIS personalised budgets

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) has released new papers on Personalised Budgets to give more information on the way they propose to build participant budgets in the future.

In 2020 they released a paper on proposed changes to the planning policy for Personalised Budgets and plan flexibility, and encouraged participants, families, carers and the wider sector to respond. The feedback was that people want fairer decisions. People also wanted the NDIS to be more transparent about how they worked out the funds in participants’ plans.

The Personalised Budgets papers give you more information on how the NDIS are developing the new budget model and how they propose budgets will be built.

There are three versions of the Personalised Budgets paper available for increased accessibility. They include:

  1. Personalised Budgets – technical information paper
  2. Personalised Budgets – information paper for participants, their families and carers
  3. Easy Read Guide – A new way to work out how much funding you receive in your NDIS plan

You can read more about the Personalised Budget paper on the NDIS website here.

NDIS - Personalised Budgets

Health Check 2020

‘Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap – Health Check 2020’

In 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to develop the Closing the Gap strategy for the next decade. Governments acknowledged the need for a respectful, collaborative approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to achieve productive and sustainable outcomes.

To give effect to that commitment, the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029 (Partnership Agreement) was negotiated and agreed to by the Coalition of Peaks and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March 2019. The Partnership Agreement provides an historic opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to be heard and incorporated into policy and program dimensions across all levels of government. The Partnership Parties committed to an annual Health Check of the Partnership Agreement and agreed to the development and subsequent annual review of a Partnership Risk Register. The objective of the Health Check is to review the state of the Partnership Agreement against success indicators agreed by the Parties. This report gives an account of the first Health Check and includes a draft Risk Register.

This Health Check has found that the Partnership Agreement has been successful in achieving the coming together of the Coalition of Peaks and Governments in partnership to support the Parties’ decision to negotiate a new National Agreement.

You can view the full report here.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Digital mental health resources

In honour of National Reconciliation Week, the eMHPrac E-Mental Health in Practice website has decided to explore the Digital Mental Health Resources developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in mind. These resources include culturally relevant and evidence-based information, advice, stories, support, and counselling.

There are a range of digital mental health resources available to support individuals, families, friends, and communities including:

  • WellMob
  • Beyond Blue
  • MindSpot Clinic
  • Stay Strong
  • iBobbly
  • Deadly Tots App
  • headspace Yarn Safe
  • eheadspace
  • HitNet Community Hub
  • iTalk Studios
  • Kurdiji
  • Positive Choices
  • Proppa Deadly
  • Yarning SafeNStrong

For more information on these resources, you can:

  • download a digital brochure here;
  • order a hardcopy brochure here; or
  • visit the website here.

emhprac Brochure - Digital Mental Health Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Technology brings better health care to Tjuntjuntjara

Feature tile - Tues 25.5.21 - telehealth & remote communities

Technology brings better health care to Tjuntjuntjara

In one of the most remote communities in the world, the Aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, telehealth and the use of My Health Record have transformed health care delivery.

Tjuntjuntjara is 650km north east of Kalgoorlie in the Great Victoria Desert in WA. There are about 160 people living at Tjuntjuntjara – they speak a southern variety of the Pitjantjatjara language and identify as belonging to a group of people known as Pilanguṟu, meaning ‘from the spinifex plains’.

For the last 10 years, the Aboriginal community-controlled Spinifex Health Service in Tjuntjuntjara has had a fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) GP and other health professionals through the Adelaide-based Kakarrara Wilurrara Health Alliance (KWHA).

With the advent of COVID-19 and the closure of the WA border to the KWHA planes and health professionals from SA, there were no doctors or allied health outreach professionals able to go to Tjuntjuntjara for more than ten months from March 2020 to January 2021.

This is when digital health provided the answer. With telehealth the clinic was able to continue to have a high level of health care for chronic conditions, preventive activities and mental health issues.

“Our organisation is committed to working in deep partnership with the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector to foster and earn their trust and respect in our joint pursuit to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole.

Over the last six months, the Agency has established eight delivery partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations to support the co-design and uptake of digital health, implemented a cultural competency training program for agency staff, implemented procurement protocols to support local Indigenous businesses, and commenced implementation of a My Health Record and digital health eLearning module with CPD accreditation for Aboriginal Health Practitioners.

Read the full media release here.

Tjuntjuntjara from the air

Tjuntjuntjara from the air. Image source: Australian Digital Health Agency website.

New partnership enhances health and wellbeing support

Three national Indigenous-led and controlled services have signed a foundational partnership agreement to collaborate in delivering high quality, culturally informed and responsive programs to Indigenous communities affected by suicide and other social and emotional wellbeing trauma across Australia.

Indigenous Consulting Group and Corporate Culcha, as partners in the National Wellbeing Alliance, have partnered with Thirrili Ltd, who deliver the National Indigenous Postvention Service, to expand and enhance the work of all three organisations in supporting Indigenous families and communities.

“This partnership will ensure our organisations collaborate on the critical work we each do with families and communities, to assist in restoring capacity for Indigenous Australians to improve their social, emotional and cultural wellbeing and to stem the high rates of suicide,” said Thirrili Chief Executive Officer, Jacqueline McGowan-Jones.

This partnership will see enhanced capability of the partners to collaborate in their work to support communities to co-design and deliver supports at the local and regional level.

Read full story by Medianet here.

National Indigenous Postvention Services

Image Credit: thirrili.com.au.

Improved record access for Stolen Generations survivors

The Healing Foundation, in collaboration with the Australian Society of Archivists, has developed an online education package to highlight the vital importance of records access for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants who have been affected by forced removal policies.

The Better Access to Stolen Generations Records learning module has been designed to assist archivists, information and support workers, new and existing professionals, and students seeking to build specialised skills to support survivors and their families.

The resources will help the sector describe the historical background of the Stolen Generations, including information relating to government policies around child removal and highlight the ongoing impacts of these policies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today, including the recognition of intergenerational trauma.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the training module provides a range of resources on key historical and social matters relating to the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their communities.

To view the training package visit the Australian Society of Archivists website.

Read the full media release here.

Intergenerational Trauma video

Intergenerational Trauma video by Healing Foundation.

International grant for zero new HIV infections in Australia

The first Australian Grant recipient is a new project by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) in partnership with the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) to develop, a new program of HIV health promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and workforce capacity building materials for health workers engaged with Indigenous people.

Rates of HIV and STIs among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain disproportionately high when compared with non‑Indigenous people, with the rate of HIV diagnoses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now over two times the diagnosis rate in Australian born non-Indigenous people.

The AFAO and ANA program will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health workers with resources, knowledge, strategies and skills to help respond to these disproportionate rates of HIV and STIs experienced among this population.

“While Australia’s HIV treatment and prevention effort is world-leading, we have not made enough progress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The most powerful HIV responses are grounded in the values and practices of the communities they serve. These resources
will strengthen the HIV response for Australia’s First Peoples,” said Darryl O’Donnell, CEO at AFAO.

“Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit greatly from HIV programs crafted specifically for them and by them. This is an important initiative that we warmly welcome,” said Colin Ross, Chair of Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA).

“We are committed to working in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health sector and AFAO to fulfil this innovative work. This funding from Gilead will assist in strengthening our work and resolve in ‘Getting to Zero’ across our community for HIV and STIs,” concluded Mr Ross.

Read the full story here.HIV image

Opportunities available with this year’s Census

The Census counts every person and home in Australia. It helps plan for community needs and is used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, housing, aged care, jobs, roads, language centres and community programs. That’s why it’s important that we count all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Census is happening this August and the Australian Bureau of Statistics has a growing network of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and wishes to share some key information on job opportunities and resources available.

Key information about the Census

  • The Census is on Tuesday 10 August 2021.
  • The Census is a national count of every person and home in Australia. It asks questions about our communities, who we are, where we live and about people living and staying with us.
  • The Census helps to tell the story of communities over time. It can show community strengths and what’s needed to help them continue to grow.
  • The Census is used to make decisions about schools and early learning, health clinics, housing, aged care, jobs, roads, language centres and community programs.
  • Having the right numbers means the right services can be provided for communities. For example, knowing the number of babies in a region can help plan funding for preschools or mums and bubs’ health programs.
  • People living in cities and regional areas will either get a letter with instructions on how to complete online, or a paper form. You can start as soon as you get instructions if you know who’ll be home on Census night, Tuesday 10 August.
  • Census staff will be in remote communities and will do face to face interviews with people living and staying there in July and August 2021.
  • We are hiring. Visit here for more information about paid jobs. For many roles, we’re looking for people who have local knowledge and connections in their community.
  • Your personal information is protected by law and isn’t shared with anyone. This includes other government agencies.

Visit here for more information.

Going home to Dreamtime

A Queensland Program of Experience in the Palliative Approach has created a culturally appropriate flyer that aims to provide Aboriginal people in the South West region of WA with information about palliative care and the services available.

The plain language resource explains what palliative care is and provides examples of the support and services available for Aboriginal people and their families throughout the palliative journey, such as:

  • symptom management
  • access to home equipment
  • yarning groups
  • respite support
  • Aboriginal Health Workers.

The flyer also contains a map of palliative care service hub locations in WA’s South West.

  • View the Going Home to Dreamtime resource here.
  • View the Program of Experience in Palliative Approach here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

feature tile text 'St Vincent's Hospital transforms delivery of care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people'; image of a empty gurney being pulled through hospital emergency foyer

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.

‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.

You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.

St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley sitting at hospital bed of 49-year-old Aboriginal male patient

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files.  We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.

To view the media release click here.logo 'Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation' circle fish, goanna, blue ochre

Building a more robust medicine supply

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedback on proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.

Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:

  • prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
  • encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
  • support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.

The TGA’s Consultation paper – Building a more robust medicine supply gives further details about proposed mechanisms to prevent and mitigate medicine shortages. For further details about the public consultation and to access the online survey click here.

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

multiple coloured pills in a pile on grey glass surface & plastic pill bottle on side with yellow tablets spilling out

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).

“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.

“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”

To view FPDN’s media release click here and to download FPDN’s resources click here.text 'Get the COVID Jab and help keep our mob safe First Peoples Disability Network Australia' drawing of syringe, 9 virsus cells & one large circles with Aboriginal art in orange with meeting symbols

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.

The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.

To read the full article click here.

photo of Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas standing either side of Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation banner

Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas. Image source: Partyline website.

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.

A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.

It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.

To view the story in full click here.

vector of brain wrapped in yellow tape with text 'UNDER CONSTRUCTION'

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

 Indigenous Pride Heart Studs Flag: Aboriginal Torres Strait Island One of each Flag

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges.  There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified.  Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.

Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”

Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.

The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.

To view the full article click here.

person dressed as Milp the trachoma goanna at AFL game in Alice Springs surrounded by Aboriginal children

Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.Uni of WA & Rural Clinical School of WA logos

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.

For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.

banner text 'World Health Day April 7, pink wooden wall with stethoscope around plasticine world in blue & green

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine crucial to protect family, community and culture

feature tile text 'COVID-19 vaccine crucial in protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, communities & culture' image of syringe needle suspended above vaccine vial, against orange blurred circles

Vaccine crucial to protect family, community & culture

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians received his vaccine earlier this week at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service. “The vaccine program plays a significant role in protecting Indigenous Australians”, said Minister Wyatt.

“Please get the vaccine. It is important to protect our communities, our families and our culture”, highlighted Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, who has also received her first dose yesterday.

More than 6 million people are eligible to receive their first doses after Phase 1B of Australia’s coronavirus vaccination program began on Monday this week. Phase 1B includes Australians aged 70 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 55 and over or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples click here and to view a video of Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney speaking click here.

Ken Wyatt MP & Linda Burney in front of COVID-19 Vaccination sign after getting vaccine at Winnunga

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians and the Hon Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Voice to Parliament to include regional voices

Local Aboriginal groups will form an important part of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament under the federal government’s plan for the project. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Ken Wyatt, appointed Aboriginal leaders Marcia Langton and Tom Calma to lead a group aimed at putting forward design options for an Indigenous advisory board. That plan is different from another voice to Parliament that was part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and includes calls for a treaty. “They’re proposing to go to a referendum first and if it gets voted up, then we’ll determine what it looks like,” Professor Calma said. “Whereas what the government’s doing is constructing it first and then working out whether they want to establish it through legislation or a referendum. If the government chooses to go by legislation, it gets something established, it gets tested and if it’s working then it can go to a referendum.”

The Indigenous Voice co-design board has been visiting regional communities across Australia getting feedback on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want from the process. Professor Calma said regional and local groups would be created under the plan to address issues on the ground. “We need to have a mechanism where a local voice could influence the state voice,” he said. “You’d break up Australia into between 25 to 35 regions, and within each region there’d be a little infrastructure to support people to express a view and pass it up to the state level.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

A lady with a purple shirt speaks to a large room with people listening at tables. Zell Dodd speaks with participants at the Port Lincoln local Indigenous Voice session

CEO of Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation (Koonibba SA) Zell Dodd speaks with participants at the Port Lincoln local Indigenous Voice session. Image source: ABC News.

Qld Health Equity Discussion Paper – have your say

Following the passing of the Health Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (the Act) in August 2020, amendments were made to the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 requiring Hospital and Health Services (HHSs) to develop and implement Health Equity Strategies. A subsequent piece of legislation, the Hospital and Health Boards (Health Equity Strategies) Amendment Regulation 2021 (the Regulation) is due to be considered soon. According to the Act, the Regulation will define who must be involved in the development and implementation of a Health Equity Strategy (prescribed persons), and the way in which they must be consulted.

Over the coming months, Queensland Health, in partnership with QAIHC, will be hosting several consultation workshops on health equity design principles. The aim of these workshops will be to understand the types of support required for Health Equity Strategies (HES) to be successful. The vision is that HHSs will co-design, co-own and co-implement HESs with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisation (ATISCCHO) and other partners. What the journey looks like in practice will be influenced by these consultations and the legal requirements that will be outlined in the Regulation.

To understand the cause and effect of these changes, QAIHC and Queensland Health have co-designed a series of documents, which can be accessed here, for the consultation workshops and seek your feedback about the principles put forward.

You are encouraged to submit your feedback here regarding this discussion paper. All feedback is due by 30 April 2021. extract from cover of Making Tracks discussion paper cover - photos of Aboriginal mother & baby, AHW, Aboriginal Elder female & two young Aboriginal men

CSIRO helping develop e-Health solutions  

The CSIRO has partnered with Indigenous organisations and communities to co-design and co-develop potential e-Health solutions to complement existing successful models of care for some of the most significant health issues in their communities., including aged-related conditions and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

An increasing proportion of all Australians are aged 65 years and older and as people live longer, many experience chronic conditions. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, ageing-related conditions are experienced at earlier ages than non-Indigenous Australians. Historical and contemporary experiences of colonialist policies and racism (direct and indirect) have contributed to this gap and have severely disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including those in urban areas. Difficulties accessing culturally safe health and aged care compound the challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Solutions to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait people to live with autonomy and safety on Country are needed.

The CSIRO’s At home in Quandamooka project is scoping the feasibility of Smarter Safer Homes technology and its cultural appropriateness for urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older people.

Another CSIRO project is the Hypertension Scoping Study which is investigating the use of a mobile health platform to support people in Indigenous communities either with or at risk of CVD. CVD refers to a host of life-threatening conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, heart failure, congenital heart disease and stroke and has long been a significant health problem among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Statistics show that the condition remains the leading cause of death for the population, and that Indigenous adults are almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous adults to be hospitalised with CVD. Improved access to culturally appropriate primary healthcare is needed to support patients with and reduce the prevalence of CVD in remote and Indigenous communities.

Further information about both CSIRO projects can be found here.

collage of Aboriginal painting of silhouette of elderly Aboriginal man & woman against sunset colours, CSIRO logo - blue circle with text ;CSIRO' & vector map of Australia made up of 6 thick vertical lines & white dot & torso of Aboriginal man clutching his chest

Image sources: NITV website.

Health Partnership Forums update

The Australian Government Department of Health has issued the March 2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Partnership Forums update covering a wide range of topics including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, the Refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, Indigenous interpreting service and translated resources available via My Aged Care, the Renewal of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy and the Draft National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031 (National Workforce Plan).

You can view the March 2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Partnership Forums update here.

Aboriginal dot art of 8 palms each with dot flowing to central circle of concentric circles, yellow, grey, red

Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne (acrylic on canvas) community / language group – unknown. Image: Chris Thorne. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

2021 Close the Gap Report webinar

The 2021 Close the Gap Report, released on Thursday 18 March 2021 to mark National Close the Gap Day, says it’s time for that lesson to be learnt and applied to so many issues that continue to drive health inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including racism, climate change, over-incarceration, youth detention, housing, food and income insecurity, health workforce shortages and stresses, and cultural destruction.

The launch of the Close the Gap Campaign report Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe written by the Lowitja Institute was hosted by the Australia Institute on National Close the Gap Day via a public webinar. The webinar features Ken Wyatt AM MP, June Oscar AO, Karl Briscoe, Dr Janine Mohamed and special Guest Sir Michael Marmot and can be viewed here.ANTaR CTG banner text 'our health our voice our choice close the gap' Aboriginal middle-aged man holding young Aboriginal child

First-ever stand-alone SA Aboriginal Housing strategy

A new Head of Aboriginal Housing to lead the rollout of SA’s first-ever stand-alone Aboriginal Housing strategy, with the aim of improving outcomes for Aboriginal people. Kuyani-Arrernte woman Erin Woolford was appointed to the head role in the SA Housing Authority to spearhead the development and implementation of a new Aboriginal Housing Strategy. The new strategy will address the specific housing needs of Aboriginal people and is expected to be released in mid-2021. Minister for Human Services, Michelle Lensink, said Erin has a wealth of experience working with regional and remote South Australian communities. “Erin is an accomplished leader in Aboriginal Affairs and policy development, and as Head of Aboriginal Housing she will play a vital role in improving housing for Aboriginal people across our state,” said Minister Lensink.

You can view Minister Michelle Lensink’s media release click here and a related article in InDaily click here.

two houses in community of Mimili APY Lands, red dust, no grass, few trees

The community of Mimili in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, an Aboriginal local government area in NW SA. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen. Image source: The Australian

NSW – Wyong – Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre

Team Leader Yadhaba, Buridjga, Ma-Guway Programs x 1 FT – location

Yerin is looking for a suitably qualified Aboriginal Yadhaba, Buridjga, Ma-Guwag Team Leader. The Team Leader will provide high quality supervision and mentorship to Yerin’s Yadhaba, Buridjga and Ma-Guwag program staff and ensure the programs meet objectives and set key performance indicators.
You will work collaboratively with patients, GPs, practice staff and other relevant health service providers, to provide appropriate patient and family centred, multidisciplinary care services for Aboriginal people affected by Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol, and other social issues.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Team Leader Housing Support Worker x 1 FT – location

Yerin is looking for a suitably qualified Aboriginal Housing Support Team Leader. The Aboriginal Housing Support Team Leader will provide high quality on the ground support and professional guidance and development whilst providing intensive Case management (small caseload), as well as deliver and coordinate intensive support from other agencies. You will support and lead a team of two whilst working with Aboriginal people who are sleeping rough into stable accommodation linked to wraparound intensive supports, some clients’ needs may be outside of office hours.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Housing Support Workers x 2 FT – location

Yerin is looking for a suitably qualified Aboriginal Housing Support Worker. to provide high quality intensive case management as well as deliver and coordinate intensive support from other agencies. You will support Aboriginal people who are sleeping rough into stable accommodation linked to wrap-around intensive supports, some clients’ needs may be outside of office hours.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications for all positions close Wednesday 7 April 2021.Yerin logo text 'Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre' Celebrating 25 years' & Aboriginal art 3 concentric yellow & purple circles surrounded by a concertina circle

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines – Pat Turner

107 ACCHOs have signed up to deliver COVID-19 vaccines: Pat Turner on ABC The Drum

Pat Turner AM, CEO NACCHO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks was on the panel of speakers for the ABC The Drum last evening and spoke on a couple of topics including the First Nation’s success with COVID-19 and the vaccines rollout, COVID-19’s northern exposure to PNG outbreak, the Federal Government launching a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in Canberra today encouraging people to move to regional Australia and the Closing the Gap update amongst others.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Pat said, “Experience from other First Nations in US and Canada shows high vaccine uptake occurs when the rollout is led by First Nations peoples and there is community control. Due to our success in controlling the outbreak we’re in a position which allows our services to have a flexible approach to the vaccine rollout.

“Just as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were on the front foot with controlling COVID-19, we are on the front foot with the vaccine. We have advocated to ensure our communities are among the first to be offered the vaccine. We know the devastation COVID-19 can cause due to the high number of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and the potential rapid spread in crowded housing.

“We have 107 ACCHOs who will participate in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout from 1b in late March. This includes many rural and remote ACCHOs, ensuring all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to the vaccine if they choose to, regardless of location.

“We need flexibility in the way the vaccine is delivered in communities, especially in remote and very remote setting. NACCHO has been working with the Australian Government to ensure that, where appropriate, this flexibility exists. While the focus remains on those at highest risk – people over 55 or with chronic medical conditions – ACCHOs can also vaccinate family members and household members of those at high risk. A remote vaccine working group is considering a whole of community strategy – including all non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the community.

“ACCHOs are highly experienced at vaccine roll-out. Five year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest coverage of vaccine uptake in the country and in 2020, almost 80% of people over 65 had the Fluvax.

“We have ensured there is targeted monitoring of safety of the vaccine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the AusVaxSafety program.

“The Australian Government has announced over $14 million in funding to support the roll-out of the vaccine in ACCHO. However, services are yet to receive this funding.

“We know that the best information comes from locally developed communication materials from the ACCHO sector. This was key to the success of the COVID-19 response.

“The communication materials developed by the Government are a good source of factual and up to date information, but we need to support our services to adapt these to local communities needs.

“NACCHO has worked closely with the Government, including the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) to ensure that restrictions on medicine advertising do not stop our sector from doing what they do best – developing and distributing effective health promotion and engagement campaigns for their communities.”

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.

National Close the Gap Day 2021

“It will be two years since the historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect and we are seeing a radical change across the country.

“The new formal partnership agreements between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled representatives are being strengthened or set up in every state and territory to share decision making on Closing the Gap.

“The Priority Reforms in the National Agreement need to be embedded into the way governments work – in their policy development, program and funding guidelines and decision making. Our purpose together is to share decisions on how to improve the life outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

To watch the full episode of ABC The Drum click here.

General Practices join the Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More than 1,000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week further strengthening the Commonwealths capacity, and ensuring an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country.

Services will come online from 22 March and progressively increase in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April – as part of Phase 1B of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.
This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.

Over 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led Respiratory Clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.

This rollout for Phase 1B complements the significant vaccination program underway to protect our most vulnerable citizens in Phase 1A, with approximately 200,000 vaccinated by the end of Tuesday.

Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.

This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing General Practice Respiratory Clinic vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.

To read the full media release by the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health and Aged Care click here.

ATAGI statement in response to European decisions about the Astra Zeneca vaccine

Australia’s regulatory body for vaccines Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued a statement to not suspend Astra Zeneca vaccine yesterday.

The benefits far outweigh any unfounded links.

Read the ATAGI statement here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Could we mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?

The COVID vaccine rollout is now underway in Australia and around the world. It’s incredible we’ve been able to develop and produce safe and effective vaccines so quickly — but the current crop of vaccines might not protect us forever. Fortunately, researchers are already developing and testing booster shots. So what are booster shots, and when might we need them?

The first time you give someone a dose of vaccine against a particular infection, it’s called a prime. You’re getting your immune response ready to roll.

Each time you give another dose against that same infection, it’s called a boost. You’re building on immunity you already have from the first dose.

To read the full article in the Conversation click here.

Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities

Interesting research paper released in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin: Facebook-based social marketing to reduce smoking in Australia’s First Nations communities: an analysis of reach, shares, and likes. By Hefler M, Kerrigan V, Grunseit A, Freeman B, Kite J, Thomas DP (2020).

To view the journal articles click here.

Therapeutic Goods adverse events following immunisation

This instrument specifies certain therapeutic goods information relating to adverse events following immunisation that may be released to specified bodies and persons for the purpose of ensuring meaningful and effective participation in meetings on vaccine safety to support the safety, quality and safe use of vaccines in Australia.

To view the information click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

National Anti-Racism Framework plan launched

Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has launched a plan to establish a National Anti-Racism Framework and has called on the Federal Government to support and implement it. Commissioner Tan released a concept paper detailing key components that need to be included in the Framework and will soon commence a series of roundtables with peak anti-racism organisations to progress the plan.

The plan was launched ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also known in Australia as Harmony Day, which occurs this Sunday. Commissioner Tan said: “Racism is an economic, social and national security threat to Australia, and we need to treat it as such. Too many Australians are regularly the targets of racism. “It is time we dealt with the scourge of racism in the same way we deal with the scourge of domestic violence, or the scourge of child abuse. On those issues we have longstanding national frameworks, signed onto by all governments with three-year action plans.

To read the media release by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Concept Paper for a National Anti-Racism Framework click here.

Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021: Policy Brief

Since 2010, the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee has developed an annual report on action that needs to be taken to achieve health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We often repeat our recommendations, and we remain steadfast and persistent in the expectation that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood. The time for governments to deliver has long passed.

The Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping our Mob safe report presents solutions and showcases the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, youth and organisations throughout critical health crises in 2020.

The report features strengths-based examples in addressing the most complex of challenges. These include climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing need for social and emotional wellbeing services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a result of these events, and pre-existing effects of colonisation and inter-generational trauma.

Read the Close the Gap policy brief here.

Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an entirely preventable permanent disability. FASD includes a range of physical and neurological impairments, occurring due to brain damage caused by exposing a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy. As a spectrum disorder, FASD manifests in a range of ways, and conditions can range from very mild to severe.

Senate Community Affairs References Committee report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Tabled 17 March 2021.

The committee received a wealth of information and evidence throughout the inquiry and thanks all those who participated, especially those with lived experience who had the courage to share their experiences and knowledge with the committee. As a result, the committee has made 32 recommendations, which aim at significantly improving the prevention, diagnosis, and management of FASD.

Effective approaches to prevention and diagnosis of FASD, strategies for optimising life outcomes for people with FASD and supporting carers, and the prevalence and management of FASD, including in vulnerable populations, in the education system, and in the criminal justice system.

To read the full report released by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, click here.

Aboriginal woman holding pregnant belly with hand on top and hand below

Image source: UNSW Sydney National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.

Hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Identifying hearing loss and treating middle-ear infections in Indigenous children in their first four years would change lives forever, says Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong.

Describing himself as a proud Worimi man, Dr Kong said early intervention – such as checking children’s ears at every opportunity – would contribute to closing the gap in education, employment and health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

Read the full article here.

Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong

COVID-19 crisis in PNG amid vaccine rollout concerns in Australia

Australia has announced emergency COVID-19 support for Papua New Guinea (PNG) in response to fears of a “looming catastrophe” that could devastate the nation and its healthcare system and that also threatens communities in the Torres Strait and Far North Queensland.

Amid dire warnings from PNG and Australian health experts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would urgently supply 8,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from Australia’s stock to start vaccinating PNG’s essential health workforce.

Torres Strait Regional Council Mayor Philemon Mosby told ABC radio today that it could be “catastrophic” for local communities if the emergency wasn’t handled properly; however, others are hopeful the crisis can be averted, including National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) CEO Pat Turner.

“Our people are very much aware in the Torres Strait about the dangers of COVID and they’ll be taking every precaution,” Turner told ABC TV’s The Drum, saying she had “every confidence that Queensland Health will be able to manage this and control the movement of people, with the cooperation of the Torres Strait Island leadership”.

Read the full story released in Croakey here.

safe effective free vaccines Department of Health banner orange tick in white circle, blue background, circles with vector image of different people's heads, text ' safe effective free

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Do you work with or employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers or Practitioners?

Diabetes is a significant health issue facing Indigenous Australians.  The delivery of culturally safe health services, including by appropriately skilled Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, is vital to efforts to reduce the present and future burden of diabetes.

Marathon Health are currently looking at diabetes-specific educational opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners.  We want to know where they get the information they need to enable them to provide diabetes care.

Your participation in this brief survey is entirely voluntary and your time is greatly appreciated.  The results will be used to inform current availability of diabetes-related education and to identify opportunities in this area.

Please click the link to the survey to get started here.

 

Community-led action – the key to Close the Gap – AHHA 

The 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report, released today, highlights the importance of strength- based, community-led approaches to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to show resilience in the face of poorer health outcomes, the effectiveness of strength-based, community-led action could not be clearer,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association spokesperson, Dr Chris Bourke.

‘The case studies in this year’s report showcase the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations throughout some of the biggest challenges of 2020, from bushfires to pandemics.

‘Community Controlled Organisations and Health Services successfully kept Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rate of COVID-19 cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was six times lower than the rest of the population. These community-led organisations will have a significant role to play in rolling out the COVID vaccine this year.

‘In July 2020, the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments and the Coalition of Peaks, signified a new way forward with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in control at the decision-making table for the first time.

‘The recommendations in this year’s report call for structural reform, self-determination and ongoing investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-led initiatives.
‘This year’s report solidifies the importance of the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, to deliver culturally safe care and localised solutions,’ says Dr Bourke.

AHHA is a member of the Close the Gap campaign, an Indigenous-led movement calling for action on health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Close the Gap Campaign report is available online.

Aboriginal painting by Adam Hill white hand reaching down to middle of page with words Close the Gap and black hand reaching up to the words

Close the Gap campaign poster by Adam Hill. Image source: ResearchGate.

First Nations women left behind in cervical cancer elimination

Australia is tracking to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women will miss out unless we act urgently to change this, according to a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) and Cancer Council New South Wales (CCNSW). Lead researchers, Associate Professor Lisa Whop (ANU) and Dr Megan Smith (CCNSW) and colleagues are calling for inequities to be addressed.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and 90 per cent of anal cancers and genital warts. To reach elimination, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a strategy with three targets to be met by every country by 2030.

Read the full media release by Australian National University here.

vector image of microscope over female reproductive organs

Image source: MedPage Today website.

Closing the Gap vital to ensure health equity – AMA

The disparities between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians continue to fall by the wayside and closing the gap is vital to
ensure health equity in this country, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today.

On National Close the Gap Day, the AMA encourages all Australians to take meaningful action in support of achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
by 2032.

The AMA has actively called on the Government to address health inequities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that stem from the social and cultural
determinants of health.

“Closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people is everyone’s business: it is a national issue in which every individual,
organisation and group in Australia can play a role,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Every person’s health is shaped by the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions in which they live.

“Addressing the social and cultural determinants of health is vital if we want to see vast improvements in the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is a national priority.

Read the AMA media release here.

Images: mivision The Opthalmic Journal website and AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Game changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.

The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.

image of arms of Aboriginal person in running gear bending to tie shoelaces along bush trail

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.

To view the Government of Western Australia’s media release click here.

portrait photo of Vicki O'Donnell, KAMS CEO in office

Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.

The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.

To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.

This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.

To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020

For more information about the event and to register click here.image of Dameyon bonson and Indigenous LGBTIQSB Suicide Prevention - An Introduction course banner

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.

Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010.  Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:

  • evidence-based — so they are effective, and
  • measurable — so we can tell that they work.