NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

feature tile text 'ACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM receives seond dose of COVID-19 vaccine TODAY' phot of Pat Turner at Winnunga

NACCHO CEO fully vaccinated today

Our NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, the daughter of an Arrente man and a Gurdanji woman, is fully vaccinated today!

Pat received her second dose of her vaccine at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services earlier today and urges all of you to follow up on your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities. The more people have the vaccination the safer we will be.

It doesn’t matter if you already have existing health conditions, don’t use that as an excuse not to have the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact it’s more important that you do have it! Any concerns that you have you must talk to the doctor at our health services.”

photo of Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga with text 'Pat Turner AM CEO, NACCHO' & COVID-19 VACCINATION footer with NACCHO logo

Diabetes Australia partners with ACCHO

Diabetes Australia is partnering with Carbal Medical Services (Carbal), a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Darling Downs. The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of the national eye screening initiative for people with diabetes KeepSight. KeepSight is an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

To help raise awareness of this important program Diabetes Australia has partnered with Indigenous Hall of Fame star and Gamilaroi man Roger Knox. Roger is asking people to register with KeepSight to reduce their risk of diabetes-related blindness.

You can read more about the project here and sign up for KeepSight at here and never lose sight of future eye checks.

You can also access the Diabetes Australia and Carbal Medical Services joint media release herel.

country singer Roger Knox standing in front of Carbal Medical Services sign

Country singer Roger Knox.

Australia’s human rights response disappointing

Amnesty International Australis says the Australian Government’s decision to ignore key recommendations from UN member states aimed at improving its human rights record is extremely disappointing. The recommendations, made at the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Australia earlier this year, found that 31 countries called for the Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility, while 47 wanted Australia to stop offshore processing and mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees.

Amnesty International Australia is deeply disappointed the Australian Government has rejected both these recommendations and calls on it to immediately review its position. National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said: “In 2019–20, 499 children aged between 10 and 13 years were detained by Australia in the youth justice system – 65% of those children detained were First Nations children – even though First Nations children constitute only 5% of the population of that age.

To view Amnesty International’s media release click here.

The Law Council of Australia has also commented on this topic: “Australia’s appearance at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 8 July, in which a formal response to the recommendations received during the third cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be presented, puts a spotlight on Indigenous rights during NAIDOC Week.

The Law Council of Australia believes that it is imperative that First Nations peoples are heard on the issues that affect them, particularly at the federal level, and calls on Australia to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution; take immediate measures to address the overincarceration of First Nations peoples; and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years. The Law Council urges the Australian Government to clearly commit to the constitutional entrenchment of the Voice, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the subsequent recommendations of the Referendum Council.”

To view the Law Council of Australia’s media statement click here.

Image source: Amnesty International.

Hearing Australia unites with First Nations people

This NAIDOC Week Hearing Australia is uniting with First Nations people across Australia to help heal Country and the hearing health of Frist Nations children. Kim Terrell, the Managing Director of Hearing Australia said: “Hearing Australia is dedicated to improving the hearing health of all Australians and preventing avoidable hearing loss in the community.

1 in 3 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are affected by ear disease and hearing loss⁺. With the support of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services across Australia, we’ve helped over 8,000 First Nations children aged 0–6 in 240 communities over the past 12 months. This is a key priority for us given 30% of these children had undiagnosed middle ear infections, while 25% had some form of undiagnosed hearing loss and were placed into specialist referral pathways.

I’d like to thank the amazing ear health workers involved around the country for their support. It’s terrific for us to be able to work so closely with them. Together, we’re seeing great progress in helping more children to listen, learn and talk.”

To view Hearing Australia’s press release click here and to listen to HAPEE Community Engagement Program Officer Denise Newman, who knows from personal experience the importance of checking children’s hearing at an early age and has an important to message to share with the community click on the video link below.

New Indigenous medical scholarships

A $1million gift from generous benefactors to Flinders University will establish an Indigenous student scholarship to increase the numbers of medically qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals working in their communities. The Calthorpe Wong Indigenous Medical Scholarship has been established through the generosity of retired ophthalmologists Mary Calthorpe and George Wong, who previously worked at the Flinders Medical Centre, the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park and the Marion Road Eye Clinic.

The endowed gift donation is expected to provide $80,000 annually to fund up to four scholarships each to the value of up to $20,000 in an academic year (or in future years a mix of new and ongoing scholarships) to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates to study medicine.

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says it’s especially fitting that the scholarship has been made possible during NAIDOC Week: “We’re incredibly grateful to Drs Calthorpe and Wong for their determination to make a difference in this practical and meaningful way. It’s a deeply significant moment to be able to initiate a new scholarship that will be able to support so many Indigenous students simultaneously.”

To view the Flinders University media release here.

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University

Associate Professor Simone Tur, George Wong, Mary Calthorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Flinders University.

CTG PBS Co-payment changes positive

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients registered under the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program will now have easier access to subsidised medicines. Changes that came into effect on 1 July 2021 mean eligible patients will have access regardless of their geographical location, their chronic disease status, or whether their prescriber is enrolled in the Practice Incentive Program.

Professor Peter O’Mara, Wiradjuri man and Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, welcomed the changes as a ‘positive step forward’. ‘Expanding access to Close the Gap scripts for all patients regardless of where they live, where they got the prescription from and their chronic disease status will make a real difference,’ he said. ‘It is much more straightforward and that can only be a good thing.’

A centralised patient registration database has been developed to support the changes. Managed by Services Australia, the database allows for a one-off registration of patients via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) and will cover the patient even if they move to a different clinic.

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara standing at a lectern,

Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Prof Peter O’Mara, Welcomes the fact ‘the process has been made simpler and less centralised’. Image source: newsGP.

First Peoples Health camp for teens

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students experienced a taste of university life and learned about possible allied health careers at Griffith University’s First Peoples Health (FPH) Aspiration to Health Programs Camp. In all, 19 students from grades 10–12 attended the three-day immersive camp, hosted by FPH in partnership with The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

FPH Engagement Lead Chris Levinge said the camp showed students how people from all backgrounds could succeed at university and specifically, in the health sector. “We want to encourage the students to study a health program, as the evidence is already there that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people delivering health services, get better health outcomes for First Peoples,” Mr Levinge said.

“The camp is a really good way to bring the kids in so they can feel comfortable in a university setting and see for themselves that anyone can study here. You just need to work hard and find what you are passionate about learning in the health space.” IUIH academy manager Tracy Hill said the students were already completing a school-based traineeship for a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance.

To view the article in full click here.

National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update

Cancer Australia has released the second Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. In focus for this update are the literature review, mapping of treatment and care against the Optimal Care Pathway, and the analysis of characteristics of people with pancreatic cancer activities.

You can visit and interact with an infographic here.

“NACCHO continues to engage with Cancer Australia and other stakeholders on the Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap. If you have specific feedback or comments you would like to share please contact NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Kate Armstrong here.

banner text 'National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap - have your say about pancreatic cancer' purple footer, yellow, orange, blue, green top half

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Diabetes Week

This National Diabetes Week ‘it’s about time’ we all took the time. That means it’s about time we took the time to learn the 4Ts, the early warning signs of type 1 diabetes. It also means it’s about time we took the time to get checked for type 2 diabetes.

Life is busy. Work, family, friends, chores, a social life. The days fill up quickly. Sometimes we’re so busy running around after everyone else, we don’t take the time to think about our health.

For many Australians, putting themselves at the bottom of their ‘to do list’ puts their health at risk. This could include being diagnosed with diabetes too late. This is true for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Not making time for yourself, or time to learn the early warning signs, can put you at risk of major life-threatening health problems. Both types of diabetes are more common than you think.

Take the time. You’re important, your family is important and it’s really important, we don’t waste any more time. It’s about time.

Did you know diabetes…

  • Is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults?
  • Is a leading cause of kidney failure?
  • Is the leading cause of preventable limb amputations?
  • Increase a person’s risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times?

It’s about time you made ‘me time’, took time out and put you first. There is no time to lose. The earlier type 2 diabetes is detected,  the more lives will be saved.  

For more information on National Diabetes Week click here.

vector image in navy, blue & white of alarm clock & text 'diabetes australia'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert

feature tile test 'First Nations communities on high COVID-19 alert' circle images or Pat Turner & Dawn Casey having covid-19 vaccine, Pat with orange Aboriginal art dot on one edge of circle & Dawn with blue dots

First Nations communities on high COVID alert

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner has an opinion editorial published in today’s The Sydney Morning Herald. The below is an excerpt from Pat Turner’s article.

‘The Granites gold mine COVID outbreak is a reminder that we continue to be one spark away from a COVID-19 wildfire in Australia’s Indigenous communities. We know that COVID hits the elderly and those with underlying health conditions hardest. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are more likely to live with cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or cancer and almost one-quarter have two or more of these chronic conditions.

These COVID risks are compounded by where we live. One in eight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in overcrowded housing, which means COVID-19 could spread rapidly through our communities. And overcrowding poses real challenges for isolating suspected cases. Poor health outcomes and overcrowding are worse in remote settings, making the Granites mine outbreak all the more dangerous.

It has been because of the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and our community controlled health organisations that our peoples have been relatively unscathed by COVID-19 to date, with 153 cases nationally and no deaths. We need governments to step up on the vaccine roll out to keep it this way.’

To view the full opinion editorial click here. Note the 173 cases mentioned in the article should be 153.

clinic setting with man in mask holding cotton ball to arm, health professional in mask to front of photo

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Earlier this morning Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO spoke with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast. Fran Kelly introduced the interview saying “as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to cause a national outbreak, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on high alert, particularly in the NT and north Queensland. Lockdowns in the NT and now parts of Queensland, including the Aboriginal community of Palm Island, have highlighted the vulnerability of First Nations people as vaccination levels remain low.”

Dr Casey responded saying that ACCHOs are very worried however are on high alert and have been since March last year. You can listen to the interview here.

screen shot ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly audio Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO being administered the COVID-19 vaccine at Winnunga ACT

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO. Image source: ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly website.

RACGP calls for nation-wide COVID-19 campaign

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is strengthening its calls for the federal Government to urgently ramp up a campaign to boost vaccine confidence in the community. The RACGP has previously stressed the importance of national targeted messaging and advertising for specific cohorts to clear up mixed messages and encourage more eligible people to get vaccinated. This is particularly important in the context of recent changes to AstraZeneca vaccine eligibility and patient concerns about vaccine safety.

To view the media release click here.

red stop sign, grey background & black chalk font writing 'COVID-19'

Image source: WA City of Swan website.

No-fault vaccine injury compensation

Today during the National Immunisation Conference held by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, confirmed the introduction of a no-fault Vaccine Injury Compensation Scheme (VICS) for COVID-19 vaccines administered in Australia, a move that is strongly welcome to assist in Australia’s COVID vaccine roll out and boost public trust in the program.

A no-fault vaccine injury compensation scheme compensates individuals who have a vaccine injury following the correct administration of a registered vaccine. It is considered a vital component of a strong immunisation program by public health experts. PHAA CEO Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin commented, ‘This is a very welcome announcement.”

To view the media release click here.

medical professional with mask & gloves, in scrubs, drawing COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: Sharp Health News website.

New Minister for Regional Health welcomed

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) warmly welcomes the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP as Minister for Regional Health, and extends its gratitude to the Hon Mark Coulton MP for his service in this portfolio. PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, welcomed Dr Gillespie back to the portfolio and thanked Minister Coulton for his exceptional service to regional Australia.

“PSA congratulates Dr Gillespie on his appointment as Minister for Regional Health. His past experience in the portfolio, and as a clinician, will help drive innovation in the portfolio. PSA looks forward to working with him to improve health care and health outcomes for people in regional Australia.”

To view the PSA’s media release click here.

Dr David Gillespie blue shirt, elbow on wooden fence post in paddock with white black cow in the background

Dr David Gillespie. Image source: Port Macquarie News.

CoP priority reform video animations

The Coalition of Peaks has announced that all four Priority Reforms video animations are complete and available for Coalition of Peaks members use and community engagement. All members are encouraged to use the animations to help build awareness and ownership for the National Agreement and the Priority Reforms. The animations are available on the Coalition of Peaks website under resources or by using the below links.

Priority Reform One – shared decision making partnerships

Priority Reform Two – building community controlled sector

Priority Reform Three – improving mainstream services

Priority Reform Four – ensuring access to relevant data

snapshot from CoP priority 1 shared decision making partnerships animation 6 Aboriginal people, 4 women, 2 men, 2 children (boy & girl; centre Aboriginal woman shaking hands with an offical; top right CoPs logo

Image source: CoPs website, Priority Reform One – shared decision making animation.

$12.9m for PHC research

$12.9 million is to be invested into seven new research projects around Australia to use data to improve health outcomes for Australian patients. Funded through the 2020 Primary Healthcare Research Data Infrastructure grants, a number of research institutions will receive funding to undertake projects that use new and existing data sets to improve access, quality, safety and efficiency of our primary health care (PHC) system.

As part of the program, the South Australian Health Medical Research Institute Ltd will receive around $2 million for its Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) project, which aims to expand the existing platform to understand emerging issues and continue ground-breaking research on key, and currently unknown, residential aged care impacts. ROSA’s efficient model leverages existing information, bringing together diverse datasets collected by different organisations throughout the country, to provide a whole picture of the ageing pathway.

The research will use new data gathered on immunisation, rehabilitation and social welfare to further research and embed ROSA as the only national data solution for policy and practice change in residential aged care.

To view the full article click here.ROSA logo text 'ROSA' in dark blue' Aboriginal dot art 6 circles yellow, aqua, yellow linked to inner circle

Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training

Up to 40% of Indigenous adults in urban areas and 60% in remote communities have some degree of hearing loss. In some specific populations it is higher and in prison inmates over 90%. 79% of those affected are not aware they have hearing loss. Early onset hearing loss means bigger life impacts and unknown hearing loss has more impacts.

Below is a video giving information on Hearing Loss Responsive Communications Training for health professionals:

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live.dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day

SNAICC’s latest campaign National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day will be held on Sunday 4 August 2021.

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.

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

SNAICC has produced and will distribute 15,000 fun Children’s Day bags to communities across Australia to help local communities and organisations celebrate. These bags, containing resources and activities for preschool-age children, are now on sale at the usual price of $6 per bag. Each bag will contain the Children’s Day 2021 Activity Sheet which you can also download.

contents of SNAICC Children's Day 2021 4.8.21 activity bag

Contents of the SNAICC’s Children’s Day 2021 activity bag.

Through SNAICC’s social media, website and email communications, they will also support people with online resources and ideas on how to celebrate and acknowledge this year’s Children’s Day. SNAICC also encourages people to register their events to showcase here.

SNAICC would love you to get involved in their promotions as they build momentum for Children’s Day on 4 August!

poster of National ATSI Children's Day 'Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit - 4 August 2021 - SNAIC logo & Children's Day logo #ProudInCulture, #StrongInSpirit - Aboriginal boy with ceremonial pain & lap lap,& feather headdress standing on sandstone rock against blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mabo Day

Feature tile - Thu 3.6.21 - Mabo Day.

Mabo Day

Today, 3 June is Mabo Day.

Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who believed Australian laws on land ownership were wrong and fought to change them. He was born in 1936 on Mer, which is also known as Murray Island, in the Torres Strait.

In 1982 a legal land ownership case was lodged with the High Court of Australia by a group of Meriam from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, led by Eddie Mabo.

The Mabo decision was a legal case that ran for 10 years. On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia decided that ‘terra nullius’ should not have been applied to Australia.

Sadly, Eddie Mabo passed away in January 1992, just five months before the High Court made its decision.

The Mabo decision was a turning point for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights because it acknowledged their unique connection with the land.

It also led to the Australian Parliament passing the Native Title Act in 1993.

For more information about Mabo Day visit the National Museum of Australia website here.

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan

Eddie Mabo NACCHO graphic. Original photo by: Jim McEwan.

 

Mandatory reporting of influenza vaccinations

The National Immunisation Program (NIP) wants to remind all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services about the importance of checking expiration dates of vaccines, disposing of out of date stock and reporting accurate data to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

It is mandatory under the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015 for all vaccination providers to report all influenza vaccinations administered on or after 1 March 2021 to the AIR.

A recent incident reported by a General Practice, where some 2020 influenza stock was found among 2021
influenza stock, prompted the Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) to investigate a range of circumstances that may have led to this, including checking data reported to AIR.

This investigation concluded that there was no 2020 stock in state and territory vaccine warehouses, however there were a high number of vaccines, with 2020 influenza batch numbers, reported to the AIR as being administered this influenza season (2021).

We ask that you remind all staff to double check expiration dates of vaccines prior to administration, dispose of out of date stock appropriately and that you encourage all staff at your practice to double check the information being reported to the AIR is correct prior to submitting it to AIR.

A letter with a copy of the above information can be downloaded here.

Please download a fact sheet outlining the mandatory reporting obligations for vaccination providers, and helpful tips for reporting to the AIR here.

 

Women living remotely must travel for birth

Heavily pregnant women living in remote and regional areas across Australia are being forced to pack their bags and head to hospital to wait for the birth of their babies, far away from family, culture, community, and connection.

Women’s health experts say this experience is traumatic for expectant parents and expensive for governments, but that the answer is simple: open more culturally safe birthing centres outside of big cities.

Women who live outside of the four major birthing hubs in the NT (Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Nhulunbuy) need to travel to the nearest hospital at 38 weeks to wait for their baby to be born. For most of these women, English is not their first language, and some don’t speak English at all. Most women travel alone and although they are offered a translator in hospital, one is not always available.

Charles Darwin University professor of midwifery Sue Kildea labelled Northern Territory Health’s remote birthing policy as “outrageous”.

“Why do they send women by themselves? We don’t even let them take their kids with them,” she said.

“It’s the one thing that we should be so ashamed of.”

Experts are calling for more regional birthing hubs to fill the gap.

Read full story by ABC News here.

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin'ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

Judy Mununggrruitj lives in Galiwin’ku, a remote community in East Arnhem Land.(ABC News: Emma Vincent).

 

Expanding birth centres to remote NT 5+ years away

Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles says the government is looking at returning birthing facilities to remote and regional locations, and hopes to do so within the next decade.

“It’s a huge step to take forward, but I think it’s an important step,” she said.

Ms Fyles said investing in birthing on country services was a “priority” and NT Health was working toward developing a Territory-specific birthing on country model.

But not everyone’s convinced returning birthing to remote locations is the way forward.

Worimi woman Marilyn Clarke is the chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health Committee.

She said returning low-risk birth to remote communities could “be a bit tricky”, because if there was an unexpected complication, mother and baby were far away from emergency care.

Dr Clarke also said staffing remote hubs would be challenging and the NT had long-running issues recruiting and retaining health workers.

Instead, she said governments should invest in strong, Indigenous-led pre- and post-natal care in remote and regional locations.

You can read more about this story on ABC News here.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Remote NT. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

 

Remote ENT service delivery model

The Rural and Remote Health journal has done a rapid literature review aimed to inform the development of a new sustainable, evidence-based service delivery model for ear, nose and throat (ENT) services across Cape York, Australia. This work seeks to investigate the research question ‘What are the characteristics of successful outreach services which can be applied to remote living Indigenous children?’

A comprehensive search of three major electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL and MEDLINE) and two websites (HealthInfo Net and Google Scholar) was conducted for peer-reviewed and grey literature, to elicit characteristics of ENT and hearing services in rural and remote Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. The search strategy was divided into four sections: outreach services for rural and remote communities; services for Indigenous children and families; telehealth service provision; and remote ear and hearing health service models. A narrative synthesis was used to summarise the key features of the identified service characteristics.

In total, 71 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review, which identified a number of success and sustainability traits, including employment of a dedicated ear and hearing educator; outreach nursing and audiology services; and telehealth access to ENT services. Ideally, outreach organisations should partner with local services that employ local Indigenous health workers to provide ongoing ear health services in community between outreach visits.

The evidence suggests that sound and sustainable ENT outreach models build on existing services; are tailored to local needs; promote cross-agency collaboration; use telehealth; and promote ongoing education of the local workforce.

View the full article here.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

On Duty: Kelvin Kong treats a patient in Broome in 2015. Picture: Simone De Peak.

 

Soft drink ads hit ‘vulnerable’

What keeps consumers hooked on high sugar soft drink? Advertising, of course. But why are some consumers more adept at ignoring these cues than others?

A new study from Flinders University, has found participants with an automatic bias towards soft drinks – or difficulty resisting sweet drinks compared to non-sweetened control beverages (e.g., water) – are more responsive to the advertisements than those without these tendencies.

The Australian study compared the ability of 127 university-age students (18-25 year olds) to withstand or succumb to the urge to reach for a soft drink when viewing television advertisements.

Not only can regular soft drink consumption lead to weight gain and tooth decay, with a typical 375ml can of soft drink contain about 10 teaspoons of sugar, but so can these ’empty’ calories reduce intake of calcium, fibre and other nutrients in a healthy diet.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) research estimated 50-60% of adolescent and young people consume soft drink every day.

“The cognitive vulnerabilities exposed in our study is an important lesson to future possible regulation of television advertising or public health campaigns,” says co-author Amber Tuscharski.

“After all, their exposure to soft drink cues will continue as manufacturers and marketers advertise their products in multiple locations – from TV commercials to in-store, service stations, public transport and billboards.”

Read full article in Science Direct here.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

Lead Researcher Flinders University Professor of Psychology Eva Kemps on fizzy drinks.

 

Ways to support healthy foods in remote stores

Monash University invites you to join in their HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD inaugural event to share remote community stores and takeaway advances through film for improved health. This live online series features stories from remote communities and leaders on ways to support healthy foods in remote community stores.

HEALTHY STORiES = GOOD FOOD addresses the issue of food security and aims to foster critical discussion towards health-enabling stores. It is a celebration and sharing of initiatives, whilst acknowledging barriers and having a focus on a food secure future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander remote communities.

Please share with other remote store owners, community leaders and members, government policy-makers, health workers, academics, and practitioners who have a passion for thriving and healthy community stores. 

You can download the event poster here.

The event themes and scheduled times are:

3 June (11:30am – 12:30pm AEDT) Webinar 1: Remote Stores: Healthy Takeaways I Employment opportunities
15 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 2: Food supply, delivery, local food economies
16 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 3: Food affordability and pricing for healthy food
17 June (12:30 – 1:30pm AEDT) Webinar 4: The 4P’s of marketing for healthy food in stores

Facilitator of the online series:
Ms Nicole Turner, Indigenous Allied Health Australia & NSW Rural Doctors Network

Please submit any questions to coordinator: stacey.holden@monash.edu

FREE registration here.

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist

Food Dreaming by Jarrod Stain, Gamilaroi Artist.

 

BRAMS – May Newsletter

After a busy start to the year, Easter provided Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service’s (BRAMS) staff with the opportunity to take a break and refresh. BRAMS continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to the local community, and more than 150 patients have received the jab so far, with no side effects being reported. We strongly encourage all our patients to come into the clinic to discuss their vaccine, particularly if you have concerns or questions.

We are excited to announce yet another expansion of our disability services, through a supported mobile playgroup program for children aged 0-14.

We have also commenced the recruitment process for our Chronic Disease Program, and we look forward to updating you in our next newsletter on the newest members of the team.

Finally, look out for us on your TV screens – we recently filmed our first television advertisement, and can’t wait to see the final product. A big thank you to all staff and patients who took part in the filming.

Please view the latest edition of the BRAMS newsletter here.

BRAMS_newsletter_May_2021

BRAMS Newsletter – May 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pat Turner addresses First Nations Media conference

feature tile text 'Pat Turner addresses First Nations Media National Conference CONVERGE', image of Pat at lecture at conference with screen in background with words 'Coalition of Peaks Update from Pat Turner'

Pat Turner addresses First Nations Media conference

At the national CONVERGE Conference in Lismore organised by First Nations Media, Pat Turner Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of NACCHO provided an update on the Coalition of Peaks work, and progress on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. You can access a transcript of Pat’s speech here.banner First Nations Media Australia logo map of Australia with Aboriginal painting dots aqua, black, ochre, dark yellow; First Nations Media National Conference CONVERGE Lismore 4 - 7 May in dark aqua, 4 dots orange, ochre, aqua, moss green

NDIS reforms will discriminate against Mob

John Gilroy, ARC Research Fellow in Indigenous Health, Disability and Community Development, University of Sydney says although the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the greatest human services reform in Australia’s history, and holds great promise in improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with disability, the federal government’s proposed “independent assessments” aren’t the way forward for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability.

“I’m a Koori bloke from the Yuin Nation who lives with disability and has a research career spanning nearly 20 years. The biggest problem I have with the proposed framework is that it’s disrespectful and discriminatory towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Rather than designing another layer of bureaucracy, I recommend the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) invests more resources into building and up-skilling the current NDIS planning workforce and the Aboriginal community-controlled services sector.”

To read the full article click here.

wheelchair sitting in a field at sunset

Image source: The Conversation.

Health leaders urge action on climate crisis

Sixty health and medical organisations – including Indigenous health groups, service providers, the Australasian College of Health Service Management, the HESTA Super Fund and the Australian Society for Medical Research – have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister urging climate action for health.

The letter says ‘write to you as a coalition of climate concerned health organisations in Australia that wish to see the threat to health from climate change addressed by the Australian Government. Climate change is described by the World Health Organization as “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.” Yet, climate action could be the greatest public health opportunity to prevent premature deaths, address climate and health inequity, slow down or reverse a decrease in life expectancy, and unlock substantial health and economic co-benefits.’ The letter calls on the Australian government to:

  • Prioritise health in the context of Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement
  • Commit to the decarbonisation of the healthcare sector by 2040, and to the establishment of an Australian Sustainable Healthcare Unit
  •  Implement a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine members march in nipaluna/Hobart in 2019, man is holding a sign with text 'Emergency Doctors diagnose Climate Emergency'

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine has signed the open letter. Here its members march in nipaluna/Hobart in 2019. Photo: Amy Coopes. Image source: Croakey.

New Simon Says ear health booklet

The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) has released Volume 3 of its Simon Says Ear Health series. This publication specifically looks at Swimmers Ear, what it is and how to prevent and treat it.

To view the booklet click here.ront of Aboriginal Health Council of WA Ear Health Simon Says booklet, title 'It's Summer Time!' cartoon drawing of Aboriginal family in a car with dog & roof piled with camping gear

NT budget & youth reforms flawed

AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service have issued a joint media release saying ‘The NT Government’s budget is framed in a way that is detrimental to the best interests of Territorians, hideously expensive and unlikely to be effective. It bolsters resources to allow the policing and surveillance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and reduces funding where it is actually needed, in providing effective solutions when dealing with complex issues, like youth justice. The Government is moving to bring damaging and non-evidenced based youth reforms to parliament.

CEO of Danila Dilba Olga Havnen said “More prisons and jailing more people does not work. Even the USA has moved away from locking people up. It is costly and does not work. It is time for the Government and Opposition to listen to the advice at hand and look at alternative options that work.”

CEO of AMSANT John Patterson agreed “the proposed [NT Government] youth reform changes will likely lead to a surge in reoffending and offer nothing more than a path to jail. The complex health needs of our youth need to be taken into consideration. These reforms are not in the best interests of our youth or in the best interests of the Territory.”

“We call on the Government to reconsider the proposed youth reforms and talk to us. Punitive legislation does not rehabilitate young offenders or keep communities safe. We know the tough-on-crime approach only facilitates more crime and disadvantage for our community. It is time the NT government responded humanely and responsibly by addressing the real causes of youth offending and investing in these evidence-based approaches.”

To view the joint AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service media release click here.

AMSANT and Danila Dilba Health Service also joined CAAC, AMA NT Inc, The Royal Australian & NZ College of Psychiatrists and the AMA in an open letter to the NT Minister for Health, the Minister for Police and Minister for Territory Families and Urban Housing outlining concerns over the NT government’s proposed youth justice reforms.

To view the open letter click here.

The Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) has also condemned the NT Government’s youth justice reforms. NTCOSS CEO, Deborah Di Natale, said incarcerating more children will not reduce crime. “This legislation will reduce access to diversion programs and impose electronic monitoring on young people prior to conviction. It does not break the cycle of crime. It entrenches it.”

To view the NTCOSS media release in full click here.

rear view of 2 Aboriginal children on swings

Image from the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory final report. Image source: Croakey.

Indigenous workforce needs better support

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) is surveying its members on the impact of COVID-19 on their education, training and professional practice. Its findings to date hold important lessons for educators, employers and governments on how they can better support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and, ultimately, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, particularly in times of disruption and public health emergencies.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

Megan McIntosh & Tara Price with (front) Brock Kinchela & Lucy Ridds in one of Armajun Aboriginal Health Service office

Megan McIntosh and Tara Price with (front) Brock Kinchela and Lucy Ridds in one of Armajun Aboriginal Health Service’s offices. Image source: The Inverell Times.

AOD research – treatment, services, prevention

A number of papers and reports relating to alcohol and other drugs have recently been released.

The University of Sydney released a paper Alcohol consumption and dependence is linked to the extent that people experience need satisfaction while drinking alcohol in two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which argues that due to systematic disadvantage and inter-generational trauma, Indigenous Australians may be less likely to have satisfied basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness). When people are need-thwarted, they may engage in compensatory behaviours to feel better in the short-term. Better understanding the functions that alcohol may play for some Indigenous Australian drinkers may aid communities, clinicians, and policy makers in improving programs for reducing drinking-related harms.

To view the paper in full click here.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: key findings, click here, and Patterns of intensive alcohol and other drug treatment service use in Australia 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2019, click here.

The Senate Community Affairs References Committee has also released a report Effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, click here.

Aboriginal man painting at The Glen

The Glen Art program participant. Image source: The Glen website.

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: Care for Elders must draw on culture

feature tile Fri 5.3.21 text 'Australia's aged care system required radical change - care for Elders must draw on culture' photo of elderly Aboriginal man's hand being held

Care for Elders must draw on culture

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety made several recommendations aimed at improving access to culturally safe aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Radical change is needed to provide appropriate aged care which draws on Aboriginal culture, says the National Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care (NAGATSIAC). NAGATSIAC chair and CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Jill Gallagher AO has urged the Federal Government to swiftly adopt all recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report.

“The Royal Commission’s recommendations call for radical change and acknowledge that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and organisations are best placed to serve Aboriginal Elders. Ms Gallagher said the aged care system had “profoundly failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and these long overdue changes would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to access aged care that meets their needs. Elders are the keepers of Culture and the heart of our Communities.”

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

exterior of VACCHO building with mural Aboriginal artwork

Image source: The Conversation.

Video helps improve musculoskeletal health

A new health awareness video has been produced by registered Australian health charity Dragon Claw, with funding from the Federal Government, in response to research showing that our First Australians suffer disproportionately from musculoskeletal conditions. The video was developed in conjunction with the Dubbo and Coonamble Aboriginal Health Services and is focused on raising the awareness in the community of the support and treatment that is available for the debilitating impacts of musculoskeletal conditions in Aboriginal communities across Western NSW.

Unaware that seeking help for what, in many cases are treatable ailments, a significant number of our fellow Australians continue to accept their symptoms as the unavoidable ‘aches and pains’ of life – leading to needless suffering and physical impairment. The video features local Aboriginal people, in their own words, encouraging everyone, irrespective of age, to seek the help of their local healthcare providers and then to follow their treatment plan with the prescribed medications.

To view the video click here.

video slide drone over brown river, green vegetation on banks, photo of Aboriginal man with fishing hook, knee of Aboriginal footballer, Aboriginal woman's arthritic hands, text 'living with joint pain - go and see your doctor, they can help'

Image source: Dragon Claw.

Indigenous aged care must be community controlled

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Report was tabled in Parliament this week. The final report, titled Care, Dignity and Respect, made 148 recommendations following a two-year investigation into the structural issues in governance and funding in the aged care sector. Commissioners Lynelle Briggs and Tony Pagone said the sector needs a significant boost in funding, a levy similar but separate to the Medicare levy and to bolster the role of an independent pricing authority for the sector. The commissioners recommended a new Aged Care Act be put in place by July 2023, recommending a system based on a “universal right to high quality, safe and timely support and care”.

Adrian Carson CEO of Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) said it was clear that the commissioners listened to Indigenous Elders and Indigenous community-controlled providers of aged care services and their experiences. “Our Elders experience challenges attempting to navigate and access their entitlement to aged care,” he said. “The series of significant recommendations reflect what the sector has been saying for some time, the report called the system out on a few big things, including the complete silence around the new national Closing the Gap agreement, it didn’t pay attention to the needs of our Elders, it didn’t set targets or have health commitments for our Elders. It was a huge oversight and I commend the Royal Commission for calling that system out, we’re keen to ensure that not only the recommendations happen, but that the needs of our Elders are reflected in the broader conversation when talking about how we close the gap.”

Matthew Moore General Manager of Aged and Disability Services at the IUIH said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are “underrepresented in a system where they should be overrepresented. Only 17% of Aboriginal eligible Elders that are over 50 access a part of the aged care system compared to the mainstream engagement that sits [at] over 27%.”

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

Germanus Kent House resident Aboriginal Elder Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener, who is leaning over the back of Bertha with her arms around Bertha's shoulders

Germanus Kent House resident Bertha Linty and care worker Victoria Gardener. Image source: Aged Care Guide website.

Vision 2020 Australia welcome Royal Commission recommendations

Vision 2020 Australia has welcomed the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and is strongly supportive of recommendations that would address some of the major issues the sector has raised around current arrangements for older Australians living with blindness and vision loss.

A key recommendation contained in the final report was establishing tailored pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need aged care support, an important part of the broader work done to ensure that all Australians can access culturally safe care and support.

In its recent submission to the 2020–21 Federal Budget Vision 2020 Australia is calling for $37.38 million over 4 years for enhancements to the current aged care system to make it simpler, quicker and more affordable for older Australians who develop or live with permanent vision loss to get the technology and supports they need.

To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release click here and to access their recent submission to the 2020–21 Federal Budget click here.

health professional removing eye bandage from elderly Aboriginal man

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Aboriginal healthy ageing – the Ironbark Project

Would your service like to be part of research that shows how important community programs are for older Aboriginal people?

The Ironbark Project compares the health impacts of two programs: Standing Strong and Tall program (a weekly exercise and yarning circle) and Healthy Community program (a weekly social program) among groups of Aboriginal people aged 45 years and older.

Services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people (45 years and older) are invited to participate in the study. Services will be funded and trained to run one of these programs weekly for 12 months

For more details about the Ironbark Project click here and to view a flyer for the project click here.

Interested NSW services can register for the 30 minute webinar being held from 2:00– 2.30 PM on Thursday 18 March 2021 by clicking here.text 'The Ironbark Project' & painting of tree without leaves covered in Aboriginal dot paintings

Mental health report a template for the nation

The report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System aligns in many ways with the recent report of the Productivity Commission, strengthening the impetus for more effective and equitable care and support Australia-wide, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia says. “The Victorian report shares with the Productivity Commission’s mental health report a blueprint for a fresh standard of support and access to care for mental health. The direction of both reports conquers the habitual barriers that have previously consigned mental health care to second class status compared to what’s routinely available for people with physical illness,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said.

To view the CHF media release click here.

Aboriginal flag with text 'Mental health does not discriminate'

Image source: Dandenong and District Aborigines Co-operative Limited website.

Only 10% of remote NT kids have healthy ears

In remote communities across the NT, only one in 10 Aboriginal children younger than three years have healthy ears, a new report in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) has found. Five have otitis media (OM) with effusion (OME) or ‘glue ear’, and four have suppurative OM – acute OM (AOM) with or without perforation, or chronic suppurative OM (CSOM) ‘The level of ear disease in Aboriginal [and Torres Strait Islander] children is defined by the World Health Organization [WHO] as meeting a public health emergency,’ the study’s lead author Professor Amanda Leach told newsGP.

According to Professor Leach, leader of the Ear Health Research Program at the Child Health Division of Menzies School of Health Research, any rate of OM above 4% is considered a public health emergency. The rate of chronic suppurative OM in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the NT currently sits between 12–15%. ‘We started off here with around 24%, so it’s definitely come down,’ she said. ‘But we’re a long way away from that target.’

NT Minister for Education, Lauren Moss, says the Territory Labor Government is investing $1.65 million in acoustic upgrades in Territory schools to support high-quality and inclusive education for students. “Improving the acoustic quality of the classrooms makes it easier for our children to learn and hear. 75 classrooms across the Territory are set to receive these works. This funding comes in addition to the $5.2 million Building for Inclusion funding announced in January 2020, where 21 urban classrooms were fitted with specialist amplification systems, designed to support students with hearing difficulties and those who need additional support to focus in class.

To view the full article in newsGP click here and to view Minister Moss’ media release about the acoustic infrastructure upgrades for NT schools  click here.

Aboriginal Health Worker examining ear of Aboriginal youth

Image source: newsGP.

Yarning towards life after stroke

Two new studies, focused on speaking and listening from the heart, will seek to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with stroke to self-manage their stroke recovery. Dr Heidi Janssen and Dr Di Marsden from the Hunter New England Local Health District each received $50,000 grants to kick-start their projects as part of the 2021 Stroke Foundation Research Grants round..

Stroke Foundation Research Advisory Committee Chair Professor Amanda Thrift said Dr Janssen and Dr Marsden will partner with the community to gain knowledge and develop new supports to help survivors of stroke live well. “Sadly, too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being affected by stroke,” Professor Thrift said. “Due to recognised disadvantage, the average age of onset of first-ever stroke is 54, 17 years younger than the non-indigenous population and the burden of stroke is 2.3 times as high.

To view the Stroke Foundation article in full click here.

Coral Toomey leaning over her husband Bill Toomey who has had a stroke & in a wheelchair

Coral Toomey cares for her husband Bill Toomey who suffered a stroke. Image source: The Northern Daily Leader.

CARE for Rural Australia comes to Queensland

OzHelp Foundation (OzHelp) with the support of Perpetual Trustees, has partnered with Dr Meg Perceval, Be Health, and the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) through Griffith University to deliver CARE for Rural Australia. With the initial goal of reaching 300 people across Queensland’s rural and farming communities, a total of 18 CARE for Rural Australia workshops are available free of charge, through both face-to-face and online workshops during March.

CARE© is a four-hour evidence-based wellbeing and suicide prevention program that addresses the health needs of people living and working in regional, rural, and remote communities, particularly those working in farming, agribusiness, and other agricultural industries.

To view the OzHelp media release click here.

three Aboriginal men harvesting spinifex grass on outskirts of Camooweal, Qld

Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation employees harvest spinifex grass on the outskirts of Camooweal, Qld. Image source: The University of Queensland website.

COVID-19 vaccine for people affected by cancer

Following from the COVID-19 Vaccines and Cancer virtual roundtable in Mid-February, Cancer Australia has released a new webpage with dedicated information on the COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer. This information will supplement the broader information provided to clinicians and the community as part of the Australian Government’s national COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy.

The new COVID-19 vaccines and cancer page includes links to key resources to inform and support people affected by cancer, including:

The information is available to view here and the FAQs can be viewed here.

Over the coming weeks, Cancer Australia will release, in collaboration with our Indigenous colleagues, tailored information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by cancer. Cancer Australia will also be translating the FAQs into different languages to support culturally and linguistically diverse populations affected by cancer. In order to address the ongoing information needs of people affected by cancer, Cancer Australia will be regularly updating the FAQs as new information emerges about COVID-19 vaccines and cancer. Cancer Australia would also appreciate any further information or feedback you may have on the FAQs.

close up image of Aboriginal woman's hands resting on her knees, floral dress

Image source: The Guardian.

Legal challenge launched over proposed Dan Murphy’s store

Danila Dilba Health Service has launched legal proceedings over the decision to approve a large Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin. In the legal action filed in the NT Supreme Court, the Darwin-based Aboriginal community organisation is asking for the liquor licence approval to be set aside. The court document names the Director of Liquor Licensing and Woolworths Group – which owns Dan Murphy’s – as the defendants to the action. Maurice Blackburn’s Social Justice Practice is running the case. Danila Dilba CEO Olga Havnen said the decision to approve the liquor licence failed to properly weigh up the risks and benefits of the new store.

To view Danila Dilba’s media release here.

Someone else who is opposed to the Dan Murphy’s store is psychologist Dr Damien Howard. Dr Howard has provided counselling services at Bagot Community in Darwin for over 10 years. He has seen the attempts of the dry community to keep thee damaging effects of alcohol out of the community. He has seen the havoc alcohol causes in family life and is dismayed that Woolworths wants to place a Dan Murphy’s alcohol megastore nearby the community, against the strong wishes of the Bagot community. The Dan Murphy grog megastore in Darwin is being pursued by Woolworths and is opposed by local dry Aboriginal communities as it will cause more:

  • Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • vehicle accidents
  • pedestrian accidents
  • multiple diseases
  • alcohol related violence, including family violence

Dr Howard says while espousing reconciliation Woolworth’s actions are carving a place for themselves in corporate infamy.Woolworths logo superimposed over red bloody handprints, text 'Woolworths'

Hearing loss and dementia research

In December 2020, the Hearing Care Industry Association (HCIA) commissioned Mark Laureyns of the Thomas More University College in Antwerp, to write a paper examining the rapidly evolving research linking the treatment of midlife hearing loss and the prevention of dementia in later life. In doing this, Mark had the brief to only utilise research that had appeared in peer reviewed journals over the past 4 years.

Dementia, Hearing Loss and Hearing Care: Saving Australia’s Minds provides compelling, peer-reviewed evidence for early hearing care intervention to prevent dementia. A key finding of the latest research finds that hearing loss in mid-life is the largest modifiable risk factor for age-related dementia.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death amongst Australians and the leading cause of death amongst Australian women. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, whose report was recently released, made 148 recommendations. Of those, 14 related to dementia. With an ageing population and increasing costs of providing aged care, now is the time to seize the opportunity for a preventative hearing health strategy that will address the link between age-related hearing loss and dementia.

To view the paper click here.orange cover of HCIA Dementia, Hearing Loss and Hearing Care: Saving Australia's Minds - The compelling peer-reviewed evidence for early hearing care intervention to prevent dementia - White Paper March 2021'

NSW – Narooma – Katungul Aboriginal Corporation

Chief Executive Officer x 1 FT – Narooma

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation is  seeking a dynamic, forward-thinking CEO to lead the delivery of health and wellbeing services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in southern NSW.

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services works in partnership with local health services to ensure that their clients receive culturally appropriate medical, dental, social and emotional wellbeing services. Their vision is “for Aboriginal people to live healthy lives enriched by a strong living culture, dignity and justice and for Katungul’s work to be recognised as a driving force in achieving this.

The CEO is accountable to the Board and is responsible for the delivery of the objectives outlined in the strategic plan.

You will be responsible for strengthening partnerships with local health providers, expansion of the current operating areas and development of a community engagement strategy to ensure that services on offer remain relevant and in line with their client’s needs.

The CEO has the support of an Executive Officer and leads the four main organisational areas of Community Services, Health Services, Business Services and Governance, and Finance.

The role is based in Narooma, with additional offices and clinics in Bega and Batemans Bay. Katungul covers a wide operational base, and travel throughout the region is essential.

We are looking for a person who is decisive, proactive and results-oriented who likes to achieve excellence, is innovative and can communicate to customers and team members with flair and style.  A natural leader who is enthusiastic and good at seeing the big picture whilst focusing on results.

This is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identified position. Applicants must be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent (pursuant to Section 14 (d) of the Anti-discrimination Act and Confirmation of Aboriginality will be required.

For full details of the requirements of the role and the selection criteria, please refer to the position description attached below or contact Natalie on 0439 626 393 or nataliec@bloomhr.com.au for a confidential discussion.

To view the position description click here. Katungul ACCHO logo black duck flying across curved Aboriginal brown yellow black art, inside ochre circle with golden yellow fill, silhouette of man, woman, girl & boy at bottom of the circle, text 'Health Care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities

NSW – Newcastle – University of Newcastle

Post Doctoral Research Fellow x 1 FT (fixed term for 2 years) – Newcastle

The School of Medicine and Public Health College of Health, Medicine and Wellbeing, The University of Newcastle has a vacancy for a Post Doctoral Research Fellow. In the position you will collaborate with influential Professors and research leaders within Aboriginal health research to lead Aboriginal health ethics projects nationally.

To view the position description click here and to apply click here.

Applications close Wednesday 31 March 2021.external view of the University of Newcastle

NSW – Sydney – University of Sydney

Research Assistant x 1 FT (fixed term) – Sydney – The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

The University of Sydney’s Centre for Kidney Research is seeking a Research Assistant to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to undertake research and develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

To view the position description click here.

Applications close midnight Sunday 14 March 2021.

model of a kidney showing inside of the kidney

Image source: Technology Networks website.

Hearing Awareness Week – 1–7 March

During Hearing Awareness Week, it is important to remember that Aboriginal Australian children have one of the highest rates of chronic otitis media (middle ear infection) in the world. They are three times more likely than non-Aboriginal children to experience permanent hearing loss associated with ear disease.
Children living in regional and remote communities are particularly at risk of long-term hearing problems due to environmental determinants such as poor housing and infrastructure, overcrowding, and exposure to pollutants such as tobacco smoke.

In Australia, some Aboriginal communities report that up to 40% of their children suffer from chronic otitis media. Early diagnosis and management of otitis media, as well as measures aimed at improving environmental health conditions, are key elements in avoiding hearing loss, and the consequent effect on a child’s language, education and psychosocial development.

The Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) model of holistic, comprehensive primary care is best suited to provide this early intervention and to address environmental determinants of poor ear health. ACCHOs are embedded within communities and can provide regular education, screening and treatment for children in a culturally secure, family-oriented environment.

To view the Aboriginal Health Council of WA’s We’re all Ears for Hearing Awareness Week media release click here.AHCWA green banner, text 'We're all Ears for Hearing Awareness Week' AHCWA's blue logo

2021 Close the Gap Campaign report launch

The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.

The Australia Institute is delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report “Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe”, written by the Lowitja Institute. Speakers include:

June Oscar AO
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Karl Briscoe
Co-Chair, Close the Gap Campaign
CEO of National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners

Dr Janine Mohamed
CEO, Lowitja Institute

and special guest

Sir Michael Marmot
Chair, WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health

The report will be launched via webinar, on National Close the Gap Day – Thursday 18 March – hosted by the Australia Institute in support of the Close the Gap Campaign.

Noon AEDT (ACT, VIC, NSW, TAS)

11:30 AM ACDT (SA) / 11 AM AEST (QLD)

10:30 AM ACST (NT) / 9.00 AM AWST (WA)

The webinar is free, but registration is essential – to register click here.flyer text 'National Close the Gap Day 2021 18 March - Leadership and LEgacy through crises: Keeping our MOb safe, bullet points: Get involved, Register an activity, Take the pledge, Join the Report launch' photo of Aboriginal man, partner young girl & baby against red flowering bush

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Hearing Day events and resources support Indigenous ear health

World Hearing Day events and resources support Indigenous ear health

March 3, is World Hearing Day and Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program — Early Ears (HAPEE) program is holding a series of events throughout the week with its spokespeople, singer-songwriter Emma Donovan and Play School presenter and actor Luke Carroll.

The events aim to reach out to communities across the country to raise awareness of the importance of good hearing health for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children starting school for the first time. To coincide with this HAPEE is also releasing a range of resources to support parents and carers and provide primary health and early childhood education workers with the tools for local engagement.

A highlight event will be a live webinar from 11am to 12pm on World Hearing Day for Koori maternity service workers, presented in conjunction with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), and featuring Emma Donovan. Topics to be presented include hearing and speech development in utero and beyond, why it’s important to look after ear/hearing health, the long-term impacts on learning, the main ear issues that impact ear and hearing health, and an overview of some tools that are available to help assess kid’s hearing.

“It’s never too early to get your bub’s hearing checked,” said Emma. “My daughter has had so much help and support for her hearing issues through the HAPEE program. I am proud to be a spokesperson and to help make a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.”

View the full media release by Hearing Australia here.

HAPEE has developed a new community toolkit for organisations, primary health services and early child education workers to provide support, training, and resources to help share key messages and the benefits of the program to parents and carers in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Resources can be downloaded here.

New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available

To mark World Hearing Day (3 March 2021)the Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children have launched the new 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (“2020 OM Guidelines”). You can view the OM Guidelines via the website and mobile app, which is free to download via the Apple App Store or Google Play. These guidelines provide interactive, engaging and culturally appropriate best practice up-to-date information on the prevention, diagnosis and management of otitis media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of otitis media (OM) in the world. If left without appropriate care, OM can cause conductive and/or permanent hearing loss and is associated with language delay, speech problems, high vulnerability on entering school, social isolation, poor school attendance, and low education and employment opportunities. Hearing loss and otitis media rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are well above the level considered a ‘public health crisis’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 2020 OM Guidelines mobile app and website have been designed to build on the Guidelines themselves and act as a multimedia tool for primary health care providers, with:

  • a step-by-step guide to assist with diagnosis
  • user-friendly algorithms to assist with clinical decision making based on diagnosis
  • audio recordings in top end Aboriginal languages to assist with communication
  • educational videos for health workers, families and children
  • otitis media otoscopy image gallery and quizz
  • condensed Otitis Media Guidelines with graded evidence and links to publications.

Support for Anti-Racism Framework

In a report published in February, the Senate inquiry on ‘issues facing diaspora communities’ recommended funding the development of a comprehensive national anti-racism framework and to consider resourcing the Race Discrimination Commissioner to reinvigorate the existing National Anti-Racism Strategy.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan spoke to Nine newspapers about why funding both pieces of work is important.

To read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald click here.

back of man at football with flag in Aboriginal colours, yellow centre with map of Australia & text ' no room for racism'

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving COVID-19 vaccine rollout engagement with diverse communities

A UNSW Sydney-led research team has made recommendations about how to better engage with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The researchers, led by Associate Professor Holly Seale of UNSW Medicine & Health, examined the challenges faced in communicating and engaging with people from CaLD communities, as well as strategies that are needed to enhance the rollout of the vaccine program for these communities.

The team conducted stakeholder interviews with key representatives from government and non-government organisations and released a summary of their findings. The research findings are being presented to state and federal committees to help inform the COVID-19 vaccination program going forward.

Read more about their research, published in The Conversation. A two-page summary of the research can be downloaded here.

gloved hands administering vaccine

Image source: ABC News website.

Key takeaways from the aged care royal commission’s report

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report into aged care has laid out an extensive plan to overhaul Australia’s aged-care system. Among the 148 recommendations, the report calls for a new system underpinned by a rights-based Act, funding based on need, and much stronger regulation and transparency.

Over two years, through more than 10,500 submissions and 600 witnesses, the two commissioners heard extensive evidence of a system in crisis. The top four takeaways from the landmark report include:

1. Australia needs a rights-based aged-care system: In its recommendations, the final report highlights Australia needs a new Aged Care Act to underpin reform. The new Act should set out the rights of older people, including their entitlement to care and support based on their needs and preferences.

2. The system needs stronger governance: Ineffective governance and weak regulation of aged care must end. The final report calls for much stronger governance, regulation of the quality of care, prudential regulation, and an independent mechanism to set prices.

3. We need to improve workforce conditions and capability: The final report makes numerous important recommendations to enhance the capability and work conditions of formal carers. It calls for better wages and a new national registration scheme for all personal care workers, who would be required to have a minimum Certificate III training.

4. A better system will cost more: The final report makes a series of complex recommendations about fees and funding, with the commissioners diverging in view as to the specific arrangements. But essentially, the proposed new funding model would provide universal funding for care services, such as nursing.

Read the full story reported in The Conversation here.

Aboriginal care worker with her arms on the shoulders of an elderly Aboriginal man in a wheelchair.

Image source: UnitingCare Queensland.

Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin releases new publications

The Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin has released a number of new publications:

  • Walking the talk: Evaluating the alignment between Australian governments’ stated principles for working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health contexts and health evaluation practice: Luke JN, Ferdinand AS, Paradies Y, Chamravi D, Kelaher M (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.
  • ‘Strong Men’: Aboriginal community development of a cardiovascular exercise and health education program: Biles B (2020). Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Charles Sturt University: Bathurst, NSW View abstract: ‘Strong Men’: Aboriginal community development of a cardiovascular exercise and health education program. To view the thesis click here.
  • Aboriginal community controlled health organisations address health equity through action on the social determinants of health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia: Pearson O, Schwartzkopff K, Dawson A, Hagger C, Karagi A, Davy C, Brown A, Braunack-Mayer A (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.
  • Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (2020) Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people [webinar] Canberra: This webinar focused on better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC week. During this webinar, participants heard about the latest research from Australia and North America. To read the article click here.
  • Baseline liver function tests and full blood count indices and their association with progression of chronic kidney disease and renal outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the eGFR follow-up study. To view the study click here.
  • Costing the scale-up of a national primary school-based fluoride varnish program for Aboriginal children using dental assistants in Australia: Skinner J, Dimitropoulos Y, Rambaldini B, Calma T, Raymond K, Ummer-Christian R, Orr N, Gwynne K (2020). To view the abstract/article click here.

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – Final Report 

A range of organisations, including Beyond Blue, Mental Health Australia, Suicide Prevention Australia and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) have welcomed the release of The Royal Commission recognises the strength of people living with mental illness or psychological distress, families, carers and supporters, and members of the workforce who have contributed their personal stories and perspectives to this inquiry.

To view the RANZCP media release click here and to access the final report click here.

Inappropriate medical advertising exploits vulnerable people

Advertising that promotes unrealistic body images or depicts normal human conditions and experiences as pathological conditions requiring medical treatment can exploit vulnerable people and lead to mental ill-health, the AMA said today. Releasing the AMA Position Statement on Advertising and Public Endorsement, AMA President Dr Khorshid said doctors should ensure than any advertising they take part in, including via social media, assists informed patient choice and does not undermine it.

“Inappropriate advertising can lead people to use products or services indiscriminately or unnecessarily, potentially resulting in physical, psychological or financial harm,” Dr Khorshid said. “The AMA is troubled by medical advertising practices that promote unrealistic body images, particularly where these concerns relate to common features of the human lifecycle.”

Read the AMA media release here.

shopping trolley medical products, pills, needles, vials, thermometer etc.

Image source: BenefitsPRO.

COVID-19 vaccine recipients report positive experience

Healthy North Coast is working with residential aged care facilities (RACFs) and general practice clinics to help them plan for and deliver COVID-19 vaccines across the North and Mid North Coast region, as part of the Commonwealth’s national rollout. Almost 30,000 Australians have been vaccinated to date, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt, including 8,110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.

In a media release on Monday, Minister Hunt said that both the state and territory teams alongside the aged care in-reach teams are ramping up their operations, with more vaccines being distributed across the country in the next week. Last week, Healthcare Australia’s clinical workforce, who are contracted to deliver the RACF COVID-19 vaccine rollout, started delivering vaccinations in Northern NSW aged care.

To read the media release by Health North Coast and the Australian Government’s PHN Program click here.

two Aboriginal men in an aged-care facility art room, one in a wheelchair painting

Aboriginal painter Neville Niypula Mcarthur. Image source: ABC News website.

Hear! Hear! Look after your Ears!

As a senior audiologist with the Top End Health Service’s Hearing Services Outreach Program Salimon Joseph spends a lot of time visiting remote communities helping Aboriginal Territorians – and he loves it. “I get to see my patients in their comfort zone,” Mr Joseph said of his trips to communities, where he undertakes hearing assessments for all the children who has been referred to the program.

For Hearing Awareness Week (1-7 March 2021) and World Hearing Day (3 March 2021), Mr Joseph wants to pass on to Territorians everywhere to look after their ears and their hearing. Almost half (49%) of childhood hearing loss is preventable, as is over a third (37%) of adult hearing loss. During his remote trips, Mr Joseph and the outreach team share ear disease prevention tips with parents, including ensuring children get their ears checked regularly; wash their face and hands and blow their nose frequently; have a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables; keep vaccinations up to date; avoid smoking around kids and ask parents and carers to teach kids not to stick anything in their ears.

You can have a hearing loss if you often ask people to repeat themselves; turn up the volume of the radio or television; have difficulty following conversations in noisy places; have difficulty in understanding what is said over the phone; have a problem in hearing sounds like an alarm or a telephone ringing and are told by people that you speak loudly or experience tinnitus.

To read the media release by the Northern Territory Government click here.

Aboriginal flag illustration with yellow ear in the centre with a white hearing aid

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke. Image source: The Australian.

Specialised aged care needed for Stolen Generations survivors

The Healing Foundation has welcomed the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report that recognise the specialised aged care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including urgent trauma-aware and healing-informed services and care.

The final report notes that ‘… trauma-informed approaches are particularly important to the care of [survivors] of the Stolen Generations. By 2023, all Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and potentially eligible for aged care services. Their childhood experiences further compromise their ability to seek services and should dictate and inform how such services should be provided’. The recommendation for a new Aged Care Act acknowledges that ‘…Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are entitled to receive support and care that is culturally safe and recognises the importance of their personal connection to community and country’.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

Miranda Campbell-Roberts holding a photo of herself when she was six years old

Miranda Campbell-Roberts holding a photo of herself when she was six years old. Picture: Michael Marschall. Image source: The Stolen Generation blog.

QLD/ACT/NT – Brisbane, Canberra or Darwin – Aboriginal Hostels Limited

General Manager x 2 FT – Brisbane, Canberra or Darwin

Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL) provides a cost effective national network of safe, comfortable, culturally appropriate and affordable accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need to live away from home to access services and economic opportunity. AHL is seeking to fill the following two Senior Executive Service Band 1 positions:

  • General Manager, Business Development & Employment – to lead innovative business transformation and cultural change
  • General Manager, Operations – to lead the AHL hostel service delivery

Both General Managers will be key members of the AHL Executive team, working closely with and supporting the CEO and the Board of Directors.

To view the GM Business Development & Employment position description click here, and to view the GM Operations position description click here.

Applications for both positions close Tuesday 6 April 2021.Aboriginal Hostels Limited logo, house with black roof, yellow circle that takes up half of the black roof & a third of the red body of the building, red body of the building had a semi-circle cut out for the door

Close the Gap Campaign Report Launch Via Webinar

Webinar/report launch on National Close the Gap Day (18 March 2021).

The invite and registration link will follow soon. Please join in the launch and share across your socials.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Same disastrous results from same old, same old

feature tile, text "We can't afford to keep doing the same old, same old and achieve the same disastrous results year in, year out." AMSANT CEO - John Paterson, image of make shift outside bed town camp

Same disastrous results from same old, same old

Indigenous people living in remote NT communities want job opportunities and not welfare, Aboriginal advocates say. Participation in education is increasing but employment rates are falling due to a lack of available jobs, Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT says. Residents are living under immense economic stress – often paying three times the price for food and other essentials than in the city. Inadequate housing and poor health outcomes are also a challenge.

“The need for investment in jobs in remote communities remains large and unaddressed,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson told a federal parliamentary committee on Indigenous employment and business earlier this week. “We can’t afford to keep doing the same old, same old and achieve the same disastrous results year in, year out.” Unemployment has become systemic in many communities with an Aboriginal employment rate of 37% across the Territory.

Creating secure meaningful work leads to better outcomes than struggling to make ends meet on welfare payments, Mr Paterson said. “In the larger remote communities in the NT if every job was taken up by the jobseekers in that community, the employment rate would still be half the national average,” he said. APO NT called on the federal government to spend less on improving welfare programs – such as the cashless debit card – and invest in jobs.

To view the article in full click here.

dog sitting out the front of the Amata store, Amata

Front of Amata store, Amata, NT. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.

Cracks in the ice feedback sought

Researchers from the University of Sydney are seeking feedback on a recently developed Cracks in the Ice resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to give their feedback on the resources and website. If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community.

The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having an option of providing further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a voucher valued at $50. To access the survey, please click here.

close up image of ICE pipe in Aboriginal hand

Crystal methamphetamine pipe. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Alleged attack not just physical

A statement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO: “My heart goes out to the First Nations woman and her daughter who were allegedly  attacked on Saturday by a man displaying white supremacist insignia in Perth. A racially-motivated attack is not only a physical assault, it is an attempt to terrorise people for who they are and an attempt to undermine the shared values that hold our democracy together. The trauma caused by attacks such as that which has been alleged can have acute and long-lasting impacts and I hope that this woman and her daughter are receiving all the support they need to heal and to help them feel safe in their community. It is imperative that urgent and serious attention is given to this issue. The Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has developed a proposed National Anti-Racism Framework and is in discussion with government about it.

To view the Australian Human Rights Commission media statement click here.

back of man at football with flag in Aboriginal colours, yellow centre with map of Australia & text ' no room for racism'

Image source: The Guardian.

Social distancing impacts those with hearing loss

Damien Howard, a consultant psychologist from Darwin, NT says social distancing can do unintentional harm. The many Aboriginal people with hearing loss often cope by using ‘social amplification’. Having family or friends help them understand what others say. It is especially important when talking to new people about unfamiliar topics. This means that social distancing can have a selective impact on them, if it prevents people using their usual communication support strategies. If communication is too stressful those with hearing loss often use avoidance as a way of coping. Increased avoidance of needed communication engagement will be the outcome if Aboriginal people with hearing loss are prevented from using ‘social amplification’ as a coping strategy.

painting of Aboriginal man & text about by social distancing discriminates

Rural health experts on bush vaccine rollout

Rural and Indigenous health experts are meeting regularly to ensure rural communities continue to be central to the phased rollout of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Remote Vaccine Working Group will provide advice to the Federal Government and identify issues as the rollout continues towards Phase 1B and beyond. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to every corner of the country was complex and that was why the Federal Government had a plan and was listening to expert advice from rural health stakeholders. “COVID-19 case numbers in rural and remote areas have been low, but the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine into regional, rural and remote communities is a vital part of the Government’s vaccine strategy to ensure everyone in Australia is protected,” Minister Coulton said.

To view Minster Coulton’s media release click here.

gloved hands administering vaccine

Image source: ABC News website.

Katherine residents dying prematurely

Professor Glover said the association between a lower median age at death, socioeconomic disadvantage and the proportion of the population who are Indigenous is very strong across the NT, “The gap is widening because whatever policies we’re taking aren’t getting through.” Katherine Indigenous advocate and Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King said his own lived experience aligns with Professor Glover’s research. Mr King said these poor health outcomes are an ongoing symptom of colonialism and the gap between First Nation’s people and the rest of the population, and this new research is another reason to push for truth-telling about Australia’s history and Closing the Gap targets to be met by governments.

To view the article in full click here.

Katherine Indigenous advocate & Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King in white t-shirt standing in bushland with head height green grasses, armed folded

Katherine Indigenous advocate & Gurindji man Kamahi-Djordon King, Photo by Tom Robinson. Image source: Katherine Times.

AHW helps QLD Close the Gap

Growing up, visiting the doctors made Dani Beezley uncomfortable. The Wulli Wulli and Wakka Wakka woman was raised in the rural town of Theodore in central Queensland. While the 32-year-old has fond memories of visiting her local GP, she remembers sharing uneasy feelings with family when they had to approach others. “I didn’t really feel that comfortable, and I know that my parents didn’t as well,” she said. “I think that might’ve been because there weren’t as many things put in place to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe and comfortable.”

Perhaps, that’s why Ms Beezley’s career path has led her back to helping her community access better health services. Ms Beezley is one of about 150 qualified Aboriginal Health Practitioners in Queensland. The nationally registered professionals usually work in hospitals or dedicated Aboriginal health services, but Ms Beezley works at a private practice. “[We] are there for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and not a lot even like to go to the doctor at all, and it can be a challenge to get them in,” she said.

To view the ABC News article click here.

AHW Dani Beezley Theodore Medical Centre

Aboriginal Health Worker Dani Beezley. Image source: ABC News website.

Parenting helpline & resources

The Government of South Australia Parenting SA has a helpline and a host of resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with children 0 to 12. Via the Parenting SA website here you can get advice on baby and child health and parenting. There is a 10 Parent Easy Guides for Aboriginal Parents that cover topics such as: being a dad; raising strong children; children living with grandparents and now you are a parent.

young Aboriginal girl with huge smile looking to the camera, wearing blue aqua purple Aboriginal dot painting polo, two Aboriginal women in the background making baskets from raffia

Image source: Meerilinga Children and Family Centres website.

Homeless teen to PhD in medicine

To describe Lisa Jackson Pulver as an “inspiration” seems overly simplistic, a trite and lacklustre attempt at neatly containing her and her many triumphs to a neat box. Some people cannot be so easily contained – and it is difficult to find one word that truly encapsulates all that she is. So here are a few: Resilient domestic abuse survivor. Ambitious nurse. Social justice warrior. Progressive epidemiologist. Committed professor. Resolute activist.

A Jewish and Wiradjuri Koori woman. In fact, Lisa Jackson Pulver is the first known Aboriginal person to have received a PhD in medicine. And with a Member of the Order of Australia in tow, she holds the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services, at the University of Sydney.

To view the full article click here.

portrait of Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM, University of Sydney

Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

World’s first stroke air ambulance

Australia is set to save lives and lead the way internationally with the latest innovation in stroke treatment and care – a stroke air ambulance. Stroke Foundation is thrilled to be a primary partner in The Stroke Golden Hour research project awarded $40 million under Stage Two of the Frontier Health and Medical Research Initiative. The Stroke Golden Hour project is developing lightweight brain scanners that are more portable, meaning they can be put into ambulances on the roads and in the air. This will allow rapid diagnosis and treatment to those who have a stroke, saving lives and reducing disability.

Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan said the project had the potential to revolutionise treatment of stroke nationally and internationally. “For too long Australians living in our regional and rural areas have been denied the high-quality stroke treatment provided to their metropolitan based counterparts.Our country’s broad geography will no longer be a barrier to time-critical stroke treatment.”

Currently regional and rural Australians are overrepresented in stroke statistics. More than 27,000 Australians will experience a stroke for the first time this year. Rural and regional Australians are 17% more likely to have a stroke and are more likely to have a poorer outcome due to limited access to stroke specialists, treatments, and care.

For more information and to view a short video about the stoke air ambulance click here.

Wiradjuri woman Charlotte Porter & her husband James & their 4 children standing in front of their home

Parents of four kids, Wiradjuri woman Charlotte Porter and her husband James have each experienced a stroke. Both are advocates for community education on the signs of stroke and the need for urgent care. Image source: Stroke Foundation website.

World Hearing Day – Wednesday 3 March 2021

Ear disease and associated hearing loss are highly prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Poor ear and hearing health is a serious problem, which can profoundly affect a child’s life.

World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. It marks the launch of the first-ever World Report on Hearing, presenting a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases across the life course. The theme in 2021 is Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate

World Hearing Day coincides with Hearing Awareness Week in Australia (1 to 7 March).

For further information click here.

close up photo of an Aboriginal man's ear

Image source: Ear infections plague 9 in 10 kids article, Katherine Times.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino on the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dr Jason Agostino is a GP and an epidemiologist who has worked mainly in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. He joins 102.7FM, 3RRR Digital – Mission host Daniel James to talk about the plans underway on the vaccine rollout to First Nation communities across the country.

To listen to to the interview click here.

NACCHO Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino

World Hearing Day March 3 2021: New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available

March 3, 2021 is World Hearing Day, and the Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children have launched the new 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children (“2020 OM Guidelines”).

You can view the OM Guidelines via the website and mobile app, which is free to download via the Apple App Store or Google Play. These guidelines provide interactive, engaging and culturally appropriate best practice up to date information on the prevention, diagnosis and management of otitis media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience some of the highest rates of otitis media (OM) in the world. If left without appropriate care, OM can cause conductive and/or permanent hearing loss and is associated with language delay, speech problems, high vulnerability on entering school, social isolation, poor school attendance, and low education and employment opportunities. Hearing loss and otitis media rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are well above the level considered a ‘public health crisis’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 2020 OM Guidelines mobile app and website have been designed to build on the Guidelines themselves and act as a multimedia tool for primary health care providers, with:

  • step by step guide to assist with diagnosis
  • user-friendly algorithms to assist with clinical decision making based on diagnosis
  • audio recordings in top end Aboriginal languages to assist with communication
  • educational videos for health workers, families and children
  • otitis media otoscopy image gallery and quiz
  • condensed Otitis Media Guidelines with graded evidence and links to publications

The Centre of Research Excellence’s mission is to ‘close the gap’ in educational and social disadvantage associated with the high prevalence of OM and conductive hearing loss in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The 2020 OM Guidelines have been prepared by a group of experts in the field of ear and hearing health* and bring up-to-date the Department of Health’s “2010 Recommendations for Clinical Care Guidelines on the Management of Otitis Media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations”.

The release of the 2020 OM Guidelines for World Hearing Day (3 March 2021) will be accompanied by the publication of an article in the Medical Journal of Australia Leach AJ, Morris P, Coates HLC, et al. Otitis media guidelines for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: summary of recommendations.

Please help share the 2020 OM Guidelines as well as putting them into practice.

Use their social media tag #earhealthforlife or tag them on Twitter @cre_ichear or Facebook @CREICHEAR. If you would like more information or to provide us with feedback please contact CRE_ICHEAR@menzies.edu.au or Joanne Howes on 08 89 468 661.

Production and dissemination of the 2020 OM Guidelines is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

health professional checking a small Aboriginal child's ear

Image source: the social photographer website.

Digital tool to dial back COVID-19 Anxiety, Depression and Alcohol Use

With more than a third of Australians now drinking alcohol daily, compared to 6 per cent pre-COVID-19, researchers are developing a digital tool to help communities manage the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

A team of researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been awarded one of 10 NSW Ministry of Health COVID-19 Research Grants, designed to fund research in priority areas to directly support the NSW Health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the mental health consequences of COVID-19 are still emerging, it is estimated depressive and anxious symptoms are two to three times higher than before the pandemic hit, placing more pressure on an already overloaded mental health support system.

Read the full media release here.

both hands over a face

Image source: UNSW Newsroom – UNSW Sydney.

Long-awaited Cashless Debit Card evaluation made public

The National Indigenous Times story featured on the $2.5 million report by the University of Adelaide into the Cashless Debit Card scheme has been released to the public, almost five months after it was made available to the Morrison Government.

The report, commissioned by the Federal Government, was submitted to the Government on October 27.

The report stated that 25 per cent of participants had reported less alcohol consumption and 21 per cent reported less gambling activity.

“These findings are consistent with the more than 10 other evaluations that the CDC leads to people consuming less alcohol, gambling less and feeling safer in their communities,” said Minister for Families and Social Services, Anne Ruston.

“This report will help the Government improve the program and we are already addressing issues such as stigma through our commitment to improving the technology to ensure the CDC works in the exact same way as any other bank card.”

To read the full article click here

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is recruiting over 300 Census remote area team roles across Australia for the 2021 Census. The teams will comprise of Remote Area Management Team Leaders and Remote Area Management Team Members.

Both roles have responsibility for ensuring that people in remote and very remote areas are counted in the Census including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and people in national parks and pastoral stations. Andrew Henderson, Census Executive Director and National Spokesperson said, “remote area teams will manage the collection of Census data in the field by conducting interviews to ensure people from all cultures and communities are included in this important count. ”

To read the full release click here.

Call for Reconciliation Australia to pull Woolworths support over Darwin Dan Murphy’s

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health leaders want Reconciliation Australia to revoke its support for Woolworths over the retail giant’s plans to build one of Australia’s largest alcohol stores in Darwin, near three dry Aboriginal communities.

A letter signed by health, legal, domestic violence and community group leaders draws comparison to Rio Tinto, which was dumped by Reconciliation Australia over the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site in the Pilbara, which said Rio’s actions were a “breathtaking breach of a respectful relationship”.

Read the full story in The Guardian here.

shipping container with spray painted Aboriginal flag heart & word Bagot, superimposed with logos for Woolworths and Dan Murphy's

Image source: BlackBusiness.

Funding support for COVID-19 impacted Aboriginal communities (NSW)

Applications have opened for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to apply for funding to strengthen their support of Aboriginal communities impacted by COVID-19.

Grants of up to $50,000 are available from Aboriginal Affairs NSW for ACCOs to provide culturally appropriate, locally-based support to address community wellbeing, education and employment issues, as well as buy supplies for compliance with COVID-safe guidelines.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Don Harwin, said that the investment would support activity either as a response to the impacts of COVID-19, or provide additional support to enable scheduled events to take place safely. “COVID-19 has impacted life for Aboriginal communities in a range of unpredictable ways, and we want to ensure that Aboriginal community organisations can keep up their support, especially in regional and remote communities,” said Mr Harwin.

Read the full release here.

Two images: Aboriginal flag with stethoscope & Dr Vinka Barunga

Image sources: AMA, ABC News – Dr Vinka Barunga.

Growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GP numbers to continue

In 2020, there were a total of 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students – 121 of whom were first year students – enrolled across Australia’s medical schools.

That represents 2.7% of all domestic students, and is a substantial increase from 265 in 2014, according to findings from the 2020 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor, believes it is the groundwork laid at a secondary education level to build awareness and encouragement that has helped lead to the increase.

Read the full story in the RACGP here.

Mortality and tobacco smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander adults

A study just published internationally has followed the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults for nearly 11 years to see the the impact of smoking and quitting. The results are dramatic and stark.

Guest: Prof Tom Calma, National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking

Host: Dr Norman Swan

To listen to the podcast click here.
two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

RACP welcomes landmark day for Australia’s COVID-19 protection response

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says today is a landmark day for Australia’s successful COVID-19 strategy and that Australians should be confident in the Government’s rollout strategy.

RACP President, Professor John Wilson said “Today marks an incredible achievement in our battle against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Australia is in this position today thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers, State and Federal Governments, and the everyday Australians who have been doing the right thing and following the advice of health experts.

“The vaccines being rolled out have gone through rigorous approval processes by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is one of the best regulators of its kind in the world.

“Australians should be confident in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them according to the Government’s roll-out schedule.

Read the full media release here.

gloved hand holding bottle of vaccine, writing with ungloved hand

Image source: BBC News.

NSW – North Ryde – Macquarie University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Macquarie University (North Ryde)

Macquarie University are seeking an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Postdoctoral Researcher with strong qualitative research skills and a background in health. The Postdoctoral Researcher will contribute to all qualitative aspects of the research, including developing focus group/interview templates, recruit expert stakeholders to focus groups, design and run semi-structured interviews, analyse the findings, develop evidence statements and write up the results for dissemination. They will work with communities to design and implement the focus groups and analyse the resulting data. They will also complete a qualitative evaluation of the new EHC approach at each study site.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here.

Applications close Monday 1 March 2021, at 11.55pm

21st International Symposium on Recent Advances in Otitis Media

Virtual meeting to be held on 11 – 12 June 2021.

Free registration! For more information on the symposium click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Vaccine rollout commences next week

feature tile - get ready vaccine rollout commences next week, image of gloved hand administering vaccine

Vaccine rollout commences next week

Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program will commence from next week. People in priority groups who are most at risk and who need protection the most – will receive a vaccine first. The rollout will begin with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and following the approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) earlier this week, will include the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from early March. The initial priority groups include aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline healthcare workers, and quarantine and border workers. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt reaffirmed that Australia’s vaccine strategy is strong and on schedule, saying “Australia will begin rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccination program from next week.”

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

9 vials of COVID-19 vaccine with syringe on a mirrored surface

Image source: Human Resources Director.

Facebook blocks Indigenous health groups

Indigenous health and media groups fear Facebook’s shutdown of community pages could have a dangerous impact on regional communities during the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Crucial sources of information have been lost as small media outlets, community noticeboards and health services have been caught up in Facebooks’ sweeping shutdown of Australian news. Facebook has blocked the feeds of Australian news companies on its site and is preventing users from sharing Australian news content. The tech giant is pushing back against the federal government’s plans to make it and Google pay for publishing Australian news content — a world-leading initiative the companies have fiercely resisted.

But the effect of Facebook’s ploy has extended well beyond major media companies. Several Aboriginal community-controlled health services have had their posts blocked, including organisations such as the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT), Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and Danila Dilba Health Service. CAAC, a community-controlled primary health care provider, vented its frustration on Twitter at the timing of Facebook’s move, given the impending COVID-19 vaccine rollout to Indigenous communities, “A primary vehicle for health promotion, disabled at a crucial time,” it tweeted.

To view the full ABC News story click here.

screen shot of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Facebook page

CAAC is a community-controlled health organisation for people living in Central Australia. Image source: ABC News website.

Removing information sources is corporate bullying

Tech giant Facebook’s decision to remove official sources of information, including Federal and State Government health pages, is irresponsible corporate bullying during a global pandemic, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said yesterday. Dr Khorshid outlined his concern over Facebook’s actions, “The world is battling the COVID-19 crisis, and Australia is days away from beginning the biggest mass vaccination program in our nation’s history. Yet, to save itself from having to pay a few million dollars to Australian news organisations for the work their journalists do, Facebook has decided to punish all Australians by removing their access to news on its platform. This irresponsible action – taken with no notice – has clearly had unintended consequences, with some health department pages taken down, but not others; with people unable to access the Bureau of Meteorology’s page on a day of bushfire and flood warnings. Facebook play a huge part in the lives of ordinary Australians and the company must take its responsibilities seriously.”

“It is truly ironic that Facebook has allowed health misinformation to be spread via its platform throughout this pandemic, yet today much of this misinformation remains on Facebook while official information sources are blocked. The AMA calls on Facebook to restore public access to official information, and to stop putting the health of Australians at risk in order to bully the Australian Government.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

hand holding piece of ripped carboard with text 'BULLYING' in capitals

Image source: Corporate Bully Facebook page.

Be vaccine ready – link digital government services

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to get ready for their COVID-19 vaccination by linking their digital government services, particularly their myGov and Medicare accounts. The call to link digital services follows the announcement that the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) will be the record for all vaccinations for Australians and that record will form the basis of the vaccination certificate that all Australians will be able to use, including visa holders. The AIR has undergone significant upgrades in preparation for COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Almost 5.5 million immunisation history statements were securely accessed by individuals between October 2019 and August 2020. Your immunisation history statement will record your COVID-19 vaccinations.

To view the media release in full click here.

thumb clicking mobile phone screen with myGov app showing

Image source: The Grenfell Record.

COVID-19 symptoms – get tested

Dr Kelvin Kong has produced a new COVID-19 video clip for the Australian Government Department of Health. He reminds everyone that anytime you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms, get tested immediately for COVID-19 and stay home until you get a negative test result. It is the best way to protect yourself and your community. To access the NSW Government Keep Our Mob Safe webpage click here.

image from COVID-19 DoH video featuring Associate Professor Kelvin Kong in scrubs talking about getting tested if you have COVID-19 system, even if you have previously been tested

Image source: Department of Health Facebook page.

Tailored vaccine information for Mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have been identified as a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out program. This is because of the higher risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to a number of factors. This may include a higher rate of chronic health conditions and in some cases crowded-living conditions, which increases the risk of spreading the infection.

COVID-19 can cause serious health issues. Getting a vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting yourself from getting really sick from COVID-19. Encourage your family, Elders and community to get vaccinated so that they are protected from serious illness from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary, available to everyone in Australia and free.

For more information you can access the Australian Government’s Department of Health’s Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about COVID-19 vaccines webpage here.Department of Health's Stay Informed About COVID-19 Vaccines poster with Aboriginal green blue orange Aboriginal dot painting air border

Free on-line training to keep staff COVID-19 safe

COVID-19 has brought new challenges in the way we work, particularly for people who care for others day-to-day. You want to stay on top of current and relevant information to keep care recipients, staff and visitors safe. That’s why the Australian Government Department of Health has created online COVID-19 infection control training.

This program is free to everyone and especially recommended for people working in the healthcare sectors. People like Rachael Phillips, Manager of Birrelee Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service – a long day care centre in Tamworth, NSW – have already seen results. Biralee’s staff are feeling more confident and able to carry out the centre’s policies to keep everyone safe. For them the reliable nature of the training made it essential. The short length and being able to do it online on a phone made it easy. And the interesting information made it stick.

For further information about the training click here.banner 'COVID-19 infection control training' Australian Government Department of Health, blue green image of COVID-19 cell

Food insecurity post-pandemic

Wide-ranging systemic and structural changes are needed to ensure food and economic security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to University of Queensland academics, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks and Dr Abraham Bradfield. Socioeconomic factors and the affordability of fresh food significantly impact what Indigenous peoples consume and what they are able to access. Dr Megan Ferguson and her colleagues conducted a study comparing the price of food baskets in urban supermarkets in Darwin and Adelaide and remote stores in the NT and SA, finding that products from remote locations cost an average of 60% more. In addition to this, Indigenous peoples earn an average weekly income of $250 less than non-Indigenous Australians. This means that in remote Australia – where employment opportunities are scarce and reliance on welfare a necessity – people must stretch their income just to feed themselves and their family. Purchasing cheaper and often unhealthy processed foods is one way to achieve this.

In the wake of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a situation where Indigenous health – which is often compromised by pre-existing (and preventable) health conditions – is placed at greater risk because the underlying issues informing food insecurity and wider socioeconomic disparities haven’t been addressed. Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), observes this in relation to Outback Stores, a government-owned company servicing 39 food and general stores across remote NT, WA and SA. In an interview for the ABC, Turner spoke of the government’s delayed and reactive response to food security that in some cases contributed to food shortages during the early days of the pandemic: “Given the fact that we have had Outback Stores for a long time and so on, I’m just really disappointed that the pre-planning wasn’t done to ensure ready access to healthy and affordable food. Our people need access to fresh produce and they need, now more than ever, healthy food to keep their immunity system up.”

To view the full Croakey article click here.

 Professor Bronwyn Fredericks & Dr Abraham Bradfield in an office holding a copy of the publication containing their food insecurity essay

Professor Bronwyn Fredericks & Dr Abraham Bradfield. Image source: Griffith Review.

Battle for the Kimberley

The Kimberley is set to be hotly contested at the upcoming March election, with a record number of Aboriginal candidates in the running for the 2.5 million square kilometre seat. The seat has been held by an Aboriginal person since 1980, when Ernie Bridge took the seat from Liberal incumbent Keith Ridge and became the State’s first Aboriginal member of Parliament.

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

map of seat of Kimberley, portrait photos of Divina D'Anna, Millie Hills & Naomi Pigram

Clockwise: map of the seat of Kimberley, WA, Divina D’Anna (Labor), Naomi Pigram (Greens) & Millie Hills (Nationals). Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

1,000+ with cognitive disability detained each year

“Is the justice system being used as a de facto disability service, one that proceeds by punitive rather than therapeutic measures?” That was one of the questions posed by Senior Counsel Assisting Dr Kerri Mellifont at the opening day of two weeks of hearings by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability into the experiences of people with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system.

The focus has been broadly welcomed, however the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) has said that the over-representation of First Nations People with cognitive disability in the criminal justice system – acknowledged by Commission Chair Ronald Sackville in his opening remarks – warrants its own dedicated First Nations hearing. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned with one third reporting a disability, 50%  reporting a history of psychosocial disability, and 25–30% of prisoners having an intellectual disability, said FPDN CEO Damian Griffis in a statement.

To view the full Croakey article click here.

Aboriginal person's hands gripping bars of jail cell

Image source: newmatilda.com.

No shame is asking for an STI test

The Australian Government Department of Health is promoting NACCHO’s work to support and educate communities on practising safe and consensual sex via its website. To view the webpage in full click here.

close up image of pair of white hands & Aboriginal hands holding across a desk

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Cashless debit card a paternalistic response

Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead, Nolan Hunter said: “The cashless debit card was always just another paternalistic response to addressing issues that affect Indigenous people in this country. Approaches that have failed to make significant inroads into addressing intractable issues like poverty and discrimination. The report into the trial, conducted at great expense, found that people involved in the trial of the CDC felt discriminated against and shamed for receiving welfare payments. Shaming people doesn’t improve anyone’s situation, but condemns them to the same discriminatory treatment they’ve experienced for generations.”

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media statement in full click here.

3 Aboriginal woman & two Aboriginal children holding No Cashless Debit Card placards

The cashless debit card trial in Ceduna in 2016 was met with some community resistance. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

SA pilot suicide prevention program

South Australia’s most vulnerable now have better access to support services thanks to a new pilot program to help survivors of attempted suicide. Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said the Way Back Support Service, a Beyondblue initiative delivered in collaboration between AnglicareSA and Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), provides one-on-one support to survivors after they leave hospital. “We are committed to tackling our suicide rate through offering appropriate services to those who need support and ensuring that people at increased risk of suicide don’t fall through the gaps, Minister Wade said. “Suicide is a complex issue, however we know raising awareness, breaking down stigma and encouraging help-seeking behaviours can save lives.”

To view the joint media release from the SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing and the SA Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention and Community Resilience  click here.

photo of Ingrid Cumming's face with body paint, looking into the distance, blurred foliage in the background

Aboriginal campaigner and suicide survivor Ingrid Cumming. Photo credit: Amelia Searson. Image source: Western Independent Stories from Curtin University’s Journalism Program website page.

Aboriginal Ear Health webinar

The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health (ACAH) The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health promotes the health and wellbeing of every newborn, child and young person in order that they may meet their maximum potential.

As part of the ACAH 2021 webinar series Associate Professor Kelvin Kong will deliver via Zoom a FREE special WHO World Hearing Day presentation on Aboriginal ear health from 7:00–8:00 PM (AEDT) Wednesday 3 March 2021. To register click here.

Associate Professor Kong is an amazing Australian and part of Australian medical history as the first Aboriginal surgeon, other than the tens of thousands of years of Ngangkari healers. He is one of Australia’s leading ear health experts as part of the Centre of Research Excellence in Indigenous Children’s Healthy Ears and the Australian delegation to the WHO World Hearing Forum. Join his webinar to hear about his journey, his work and the current innovations in ear health in Australia.

health professional checking a small Aboriginal child's ear

Image source: the social photographer website.

NSW – Wyong – Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited

Family Time / Case Work Support Worker x 1 FT (identified) – Wyong

Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service Ltd. is an Aboriginal Community Controlled organisation, which aims is to deliver holistic, comprehensive and culturally responsive health care, integrated social, emotional and community programs to the Aboriginal community.

Yerin is seeking a suitably qualified Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander individual to join their Ngaliya PSP team. In this role you will support child focused quality contact between a child, young person and their parent/family/kin who are in statutory Permanency Support Program Placements.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 5:00 PM Thursday 4 May 2021.Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited logo, 7 purple & yellow concentric circles surrounded by 14 flower-like petals with purple & yellow Aboriginal dots

Random Acts of Kindness Week – 14–20 February 2021

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a small non-profit organisation that believes all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught. Scientific evidence shows the positive effects of doing kind acts for others as well as receiving or even witnessing kindness. Even the smallest act of kindness can change a life. Seemingly insignificant moments where a stranger helps another stranger can impact the rest of someone’s life. When a person tunes into kindness happening around them, the day seems a little bit brighter. The week seems a little more manageable.

Aboriginal Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts is spreading the word about kindness with his book My Kind. The book’s main purpose is to convey messages about diversity, equality, acceptance, anti-bullying, caring for the environment and, most of all, kindness. You can view Eddie’s website Eddies’ Lil’ Homies spreading kindness & culture here.

In 2021, the foundation in encouraging everyone to Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm. For more information about the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation click here.

Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts reading his book My Kind to twin babies & two young boys

Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts. Image source: The Advertiser.