NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: The Family Matters Report 2022

The Family Matters Report 2022 released by SNAICC

“The statistics in the Family Matters Report 2022 tell a grim story! Our children continue to be over-represented in out-of-home care, and the trend is increasing. But we know what it takes to turn this tide. The evidence is there. Our communities and organisations have the answers. We need the commitments from governments to make it happen,” taken from post on SNAICC’s social media.

Family Matters reports examine what governments are doing to turn the tide on over-representation and the outcomes for our children. They also highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions and call on governments to support and invest in the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead on child wellbeing, development and safety responses for our children.

This year’s Family Matters report is the third to be published following the development of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap (the National Agreement), which was entered into in July 2020. Under the
National Agreement, governments across the country committed to make decisions in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations; to invest in our community-controlled services; to transform government agencies and non-Indigenous services into culturally safe organisations; and to develop data and monitor outcomes in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The National Agreement also committed specifically to reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in out-of-homecare by 45% by the year 2031, a target well aligned to the Family Matters campaign’s call to eliminate overrepresentation by 2040.

Read more details and download the report here.

Four Corners release on dismal failures of youth detention policy

Over 130 pages it spells out the dismal failures of youth detention policy in Australia — a country that continues to lock up primary school-age children in the face of evidence that incarceration only leads to more crime.

Prepared for the Council of Attorneys-General with input from state, territory and Commonwealth justice departments, as well as 93 public submissions, the report was finalised in 2020.

ABC Four Corners, as part of an investigation into ongoing abuses within youth detention, has obtained a report of the Council of Attorneys-General review examining the age of criminal responsibility.

At times the language is academic. At times it’s blunt. The recommendation is clear: no child below the age of 14 should be prosecuted for

“The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years of age, without exception,” the report says — a conclusion supported by the majority of justice departments around the country.

Australia is one of the only developed countries in the world to prosecute and detain children as young as 10. The global average is 14. What’s commonplace in this country, is prohibited by nations including Russia and China.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned Australia’s position.

To read the full story click here.

Photo: Matt Davidson. Image source: WAtoday.

Research finds many Australians ignore Covid-19 warnings despite spike in cases

As a string of new Covid-19 warnings ramp up across the country, a research survey conducted by Pfizer Australia found 60 per cent of Australians believed Covid-19 was a thing of the past.

The data compares community sentiment to how Australians were feeling a year ago when Covid-19 was rampant across the states and territories, borders were shut and many people were in and out of lockdown.

The research also found 61 per cent of people were less concerned about the impact of Covid-19 in their community, while about 46 per cent felt less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness.

Health experts have urged people to work from home where they can.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist and paediatrician Robert Booy said complacency during the current wave was concerning.

“Protection against Covid-19 infection requires several steps, including ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, practising Covid-safe behaviours and ensuring if you do test positive to Covid, you act fast by talking to your GP to learn if antiviral medicines are right for you,” Professor Booy said.

Reconciliation Australia’s barometer report shows greater levels of racism than 2020

Reconciliation Australia has released the biennial Barometer report, which takes the temperature of relationships between First Nations people and the broader community.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine says the report is an important tool to track progress.

“The report has been going since 2008 and we run it every two years, just so we get a picture a snapshot of what’s going on at that moment,” she said.

SUMMARY STATISTICS
  • 93% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (95% in 2020)and 89% of Australians in the general community (91% in 2020) feel our relationship is important.
  • Nearly all Australians (93%) want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in their own affairs,
  • 80% of the general community (86% in 2020) and
  • 86% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (91% in 2020) believe it is important to establish a representative Indigenous Body.
  • Support for a national First Nations representative body remains strong with 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • More Australians than ever before back a Treaty with 72% of non-Indigenous Australians now supporting a treaty – up from 53% in 2020.
  • A majority believe it is important to undertake formal truth-telling processes in relation to Australia’s shared history – 83% general community and 87% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • 63% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples said they trusted non-Indigenous people they have not interacted with, and non-Indigenous people felt the same way.
  • Trust levels rise steeply when people have social contact: 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
  • 80% of the general community support ANZAC Day ceremonies to honour First Nations and non-Indigenous soldiers.
  • 70% of the general community support the establishment of a national day of significance that celebrates First Nations histories and cultures.
  • 60% of First Nations peoples have experienced at least one form of racial prejudice in the past 6 months (52% in 2020, 43% in 2018). This compares with 25% of non-Indigenous people.
“This latest survey provides evidence that support for reconciliation and the Uluru Statement from the Heart remains strong,” said Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine. “As does mutual trust between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians.
“Of particular interest is the steep rise in trust when both groups surveyed by the ARB have a social connection with the other group.
“However, these percentages rise significantly when the respondents were asked the same question about people with whom they had interacted with. Trust levels rose to 86% of non-Indigenous people expressing trust in First Nations people and 79% of First Nations trusting non-Indigenous people.
“These rising levels of trust augur well for change, as we head towards the national referendum on The Voice to Parliament.
“This Barometer continues a long-standing trend of overwhelming support for a national representative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander body and the comprehensive telling (and teaching) of Australia’s true colonial history.”
Voice, Treaty, Truth.”
Read the full story here.

Image source: ABC Kimberley

Hearing Australia’s action plan to halve the rate of hearing loss in First Nations children by 2029

The most recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey found 30 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school-aged children had a measured hearing loss in one or both ears.

Chronic otitis media, a middle ear infection and inflammation, is far more frequent in Indigenous children with one in three experiencing the disease.

The Hearing Australia Action Plan for Improving Ear Health and Hearing Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children is all about activities that prevent hearing loss and collaboration with local Aboriginal communities.

Hearing Australia acting national manager stakeholder relations, First Nations services unit and Wiradjuri woman Sherilee McManus, who is based in Maitland, said the action plan is incredibly important because when kids are starting school and have experienced hearing loss, they haven’t had as much of an opportunity to learn and grow.

Read the full story here.

In another ear health news: Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s new Early Years Strategy as an important step towards prioritising the wellbeing of Australia’s children.

Commissioner Hollonds said: “The Early Years Strategy will be an opportunity for cross-portfolio systems reform, recognising that children and their families do not exist in one policy silo. Rather, their needs stretch across numerous portfolios including health, education, social services, Indigenous affairs, and others.”

Read the full story here.

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

Support for high-risk groups after stillbirth and miscarriage

The Hon Ged Kearney MP

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Australian Government is providing greater support to ease the heartbreak of stillbirth and miscarriage among higher-risk groups.

From today, $5.1 million is available in grants to organisations that can provide high quality, evidence-based bereavement care nationally for women and families who have experienced stillbirth or miscarriage.

Groups that are at higher risk of stillbirth or miscarriage include First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse, refugee and migrant communities, as well as women and families living in rural and remote Australia and women and girls younger than 20 years of age.

Every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn and two die within 28 days of birth, equating to around 3,000 perinatal deaths per year. Up to 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks.

Grants are open to organisations that can develop and deliver holistic and individualised bereavement care for women and families in the target population groups across Australia.

Read the full article here.

Youth yarn about how to get over the shame of STI testing 

This video released by YoungDeadlyFree is for youth with the voices of youth!

Shame is something that can stop us from doing the things we need to do to look after our health. However, shame is something that our mob overcome on a daily basis. This video explores how a range of different young people have overcome shame when it comes to taking charge of their sexual health. Get inspired, get motivated and #gettested 

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report

The Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) has released its first Annual Report, outlining progress in implementing the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement).

Significant progress is being made against commitments in the Coalition of Peaks Implementation Plan, with the first Annual Report showing:

  • progress on establishment of five policy partnerships and five place-based partnerships
  • development of a number of sector-strengthening plans
  • establishment of three Community Data Project sites, and progress on another one
  • Agreement on the Data Development Plan
  • growth in Coalition of Peaks membership
  • case studies highlighting the successful implementation of the National Agreement across the country, leading to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

However, the Annual Report also reveals that progress on Priority Reform Three – transforming mainstream organisations – remains slow, and that more needs to be done.

Scott Wilson, Acting Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, is concerned. “Priority Reform Three is an opportunity to identify, call out, and then address, the institutionalised racism in our mainstream agencies and services”, said Mr Wilson.

Read the full Coalition of Peaks releases first Annual Report – media release.

Great new campaign by VACCHO on early detection and cancer screening

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is calling on the Community to come forward for potentially life-saving cancer screening and health checkups as part of the ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign launch.

Cancer Council Victoria data also indicates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people.

The reduction in the number of people coming forward for cancer screening adds further cause for concern for VACCHO and has led to the development of the Community focused ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ initiative.

The ‘Don’t Miss a Moment’ campaign is narrated by proud Wongutha-Yamatji man, staunch advocate, and award-winning performer, writer, and director Meyne Wyatt.

It is recommended that Mob get a health checkup with their GP or Aboriginal health service each year. Health check-ups help you to manage your health, prevent chronic diseases, make sure you are up to date with cancer screening and help make sure you are there for the moments that matter.
Book your health checkup with your GP or Aboriginal health service today.

Marlamanu on-country diversionary program to tackle youth offending in Kimberley

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan says the McGowan Government’s on-country diversion facility in the Kimberley has reached a major milestone, with Marlamanu Pty Ltd selected to progress delivery of the pilot program for at-risk youth.

A detailed service agreement will now be negotiated with Marlamanu Pty Ltd which will see an Aboriginal-led diversionary program established at the Myroodah cattle station, approximately 112 kilometres south-east of Derby in the West Kimberley. It follows completion of the program design – aimed at providing up to 16 places each year for young men between 14 and 17. Work is underway with agencies – including the Western Australia Police Force and the Department of Communities and Justice – to refine the pathways for referrals to the program, including from the courts.

For more details click here.

Read the full article released by the National Indigenous Times here.

New promising project to tackle hearing loss issues in remote areas 

Newly-graduated Indigenous audiometrists are heading home to the bush, to help tackle a ‘shameful crisis’ of hearing loss. It’s estimated that in some remote communities, up to 90 per cent of children are affected.

Margaret Murray is an Aboriginal Health Worker living in the NSW-Victorian border town of Albury, who knows firsthand about the devastating impacts of hearing infections.

“As a child growing up near Mildura [in northern Victoria] I had a perforated ear,” the Maraura Barkindji woman says.

“Dad had to take me to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne for surgery,” she says.
“I was lucky to be left with scarring but no permanent hearing loss. But a lot of other children with perforated ears grow up to need hearing aids.”

Read the full story released in SBS News here.

Creating safe spaces for conversations to prevent suicide

Introduction by Croakey: Dharawal and Dharug woman Shannay Holmes writes below about the importance of providing young people with culturally safe tools and language to navigate support and discussions around the topic of suicide.

“It’s time our young mob are supported and equipped with the appropriate tools to be able to support themselves and their peers,” Holmes writes. “I imagine if myself and my friends were taught how to talk about suicide and how to better support each other at school, we may not have had to struggle for as long as we did.”

Holmes works on the Heal Our Way campaign, which aims to provide practical resources to community members to equip them with the skills to have safe conversations around suicide.

Led by Cox Inall Ridgeway in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW, health leaders and people who have lived experience of suicide, Heal Our Way is a NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Campaign funded by the NSW Ministry of Health under Towards Zero Suicides (TZS) initiatives.

Read the full story released in Croakey Health Media here

Remote Primary Health Care Manuals

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated and will be launched in February 2023.

For more information click here.

Research Report MJA: Aboriginal people are less likely to survive the year after an ICU admission

Risk of death and 12-month mortality among critically ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit are higher for Indigenous than non-Indigenous people, according to research published today by the Medical Journal of Australia

“Rates of ill-health are higher and  lower for  than for other people in many countries,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Paul Secombe, an intensivist at Alice Springs Hospital and Adjunct Lecturer at Monash University.

“After taking the lower median age of Indigenous ICU patients into account, their mortality outcomes are significantly poorer than for non-Indigenous patients.”

The authors concluded that their findings suggested that  may contribute to earlier death among Indigenous Australians, and “consequently to lower life expectancy.”

Read the full story in the Medical Express here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

The image in the feature tile is from

Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

This morning, Federal Member for Indigenous Affairs, the Honourable Linda Burney MP, was joined by Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Hon Emma McBride MP to officially launch Australia’s first – and only – national Indigenous-led crisis hotline, 13YARN. Funded by the Australian Government (through the Department of Health), the purpose-built, 24/7 national telephone helpline was co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is run with the support of Lifeline.

More than 2,500 calls to 13YARN were answered in October 2022, which is an increase of 500 on the previous month. In the first 10 days of November, the service answered over 1,000 calls and is on track for its biggest month to date. “The more we have gone out into the community, the more trust we have been able to build – by showing mob that we are listening to their needs and yarning about the ways in which we can help them when they are feeling overwhelmed or doing it tough.”

“On average, our First Nations Crisis Supporters are helping keep over 100 people safe a day – and this call volume is growing week on week. We believe there is always hope at the end of a yarn. We know how to listen without judgement or shame, and we believe in the power of storytelling to heal.” Mrs Anderson said that the service filled a gap that had existed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for too long, “This one-of-a-kind service has been designed from day one to be culturally appropriate and is there to make sure any mob who are having difficulty coping have their own place where they can connect and get help from a trained Crisis Supporter who understands what they might be experiencing.”

To view the Mirage article Unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander helpline officially launched in Sydney in full click here.

Image source: 13YARN tweet 28 October 2022.

Plan to cut mob’s hearing loss by half

Hearing Australia has set itself an ambitious target, launching a plan to halve the rate of hearing loss among Indigenous children by 2029. It’s a widespread and chronic problem across Australia, with one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing otitis media, inflammation and infection of the middle ear. Local diagnosis and treatment are not always available. These infections cause temporary hearing loss, making it hard for children to hear, learn, and yarn. The Hearing Australia action plan is an all-out effort to improve ear health and hearing outcomes for Indigenous children. It calls for earlier diagnosis, better access to treatment, and building workforce capabilities in primary health care services across Australia.

One of the people leading the effort is Denise Newman, who was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga on Cape York Peninsula. Early detection of ear infection is vital to prevent hearing loss Denise is a strong advocate for better ear health and hearing, who understands the challenges better than most. “I’m profoundly deaf in one ear, but I’m moderate in the right. I can really feel for the children. I know what it feels like not to hear.”

Otitis media can be a product of socio-economic factors in remote communities like overcrowding, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, poor access to services, and low immunisation rates. Since the introduction of the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE), there has already been a reduction in hearing loss because children are coming in early, and they’re being detected early and being treated early.

To view the Tropic Now article Bold plan to cut Indigenous hearing loss by 50 per cent in full click here.

Hearing Australia’s Denise Newman was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga. Image source: Tropic Now.

Nurse and midwife shortage research

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives. Head of the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences Associate Professor Linda Deravin is a member of the research team led by Professor Karen Adams, Director of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at Monash University.

The $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant was awarded to the team of researchers from Muliyan, a consortium of nurse and midwifery education researchers and hosted by the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) that Associate Professor Deravin is part of.

Associate Professor Deravin said the $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant is the largest-ever funded ARC Indigenous grant and represents approximately 10% of the total Indigenous Discovery grant allocation of $10,688,702. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are only 1.3% of the nursing and midwifery professions in Australia, far below the 3.8% of the nation’s First Nations population (as of June 2021).

To read the Charles Sturt University article $1.1 million grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in full click here.

Image source: Charles Sturt University Latest News webpage.

Centre for Disease Control consultation paper

The Department of Health and Aged Care has released a consultation paper Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection outlining plans for the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), including 28 questions to guide further consultations about the initiative. The document reveals that the CDC is likely to be established from early 2024. The new document is an excellent discussion paper which clearly seeks to walk the tightrope between high aspirations for the new agency, and the pragmatism of working with a government with many competing priorities and resource constraints. We will of course be pushing those aspirations.

The paper provides a Draft Mission Statement and a set of Draft Purposes for the agency. The purposes are that the CDC will Protect, Gather and Analyse, Guide and Communicate, Lead, Cooperate, Prioritise and Develop. Themes highlighted in the consultation paper include climate and health, One Health, the importance of prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, equity, diversity and the wider determinants of health.

To view the Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection consultation paper click here and to read the Croakey Health Media article On the new Centre for Disease Control, here are 28 questions requiring your attention in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Inequities in cancer care can be overcome

Cancer care is suboptimal for some groups in Australia, but according to experts, the disparities can be overcome. While cancer instances went down by 16% between 1998 and 2015 for Australians as a whole, the numbers increased for Indigenous Australians by 26%. Rural Australians were 1.3 times more likely to die from cancer in 2021 and members of the LGBTIQA+ community were also disproportionately affected by certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers.

In addition to the heightened physical challenges, family stress and financial and employment difficulties that come with a cancer diagnosis, patients from rural areas are commonly faced with extensive travel to access medical services unavailable closer to home, she said.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at the University of New South Wales, works on empirically addressing complex health disparities through existing data, particularly by using Indigenous data for research and reporting purposes. Addressing inequity and the needs and aspirations of Indigenous people begins with the application of human rights and the appropriate and effective use of Indigenous data, said Dr Griffiths. She emphasised that supporting Indigenous worldviews, values, understandings and practices within Western structures plays a crucial role in the rights and interests of Indigenous people being met.

To view the Oncology Republic article Inequity in cancer care: instances of change in full click here. In the below video Professor Alex Brown from the Aboriginal Health Research Adelaide Medical School, The University Adelaide talks about the health disparities in Aboriginal communities.

Lowitja Institute funding round CLOSES Monday!

Applications for the Lowitja Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Major Grant Round 2022-23 close on Monday next week.

The purpose of the Major Grants is to support innovative and responsive community research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is for research to influence policy and practice through the rapid translation of community priorities for improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It will also support the capability and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to do their own research, their way.

Applications close on Monday 21 November 2022. More information can be found on the Lowitja Institute website here.

Puzzle piece image from Bond University website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Prematurity Day

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

Preterm birth remains the leading cause of death in children up to 5 years of age. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%). Many of these babies lose their fight for life. For many Aboriginal babies, the news gets worse. In the NT, the preterm birth rate for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is almost double that of the non-Aboriginal population at over 14%.

The biggest discrepancy is in the extremely preterm gestational age. Aboriginal women in the NT are 4 times more likely to lose a baby between 20 and 23 weeks gestational age. That is before the baby even gets a chance to survive. This equates to too many mothers walking out of hospital without their babies in their arms.

For more information about World Prematurity Day visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here. The image below is from a Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook post on World Prematurity Day last year. Accompanying the image is the following information: If Smoking during pregnancy was eliminated among Indigenous women, 1 in 6 preterm births could be prevented. Among babies born to Indigenous Women, 14% were born preterm, which is one of the biggest risk factors to bub dying by 1 month old.

Image source: Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook page – 17 November 2021.

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

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

Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

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

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

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

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

ACCHO expands into Permanency Support Program

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

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

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

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

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

Want to improve hearing health for our mob?

Do you work in the ear and hearing health space?

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

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

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

Let us know what you think in this survey here.

Any queries, contact NACCHO using this email link.

Trainers need to understand cultural needs

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Medical Republic.

HEAL 2022 conference next week

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

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

You can also view a flyer about the conference here.

IAHA Conference 28-30 November

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia – 8 December 2022

Save the date!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the history of ATSIHAW click here.

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

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

Health services holding communities together

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

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

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

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

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

Improving hearing health for children

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

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

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

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

Image source: Flinders University News webpage.

What’s best for tackling type 2 diabetes

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

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

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

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Head injury 69 times more likely for First Nations women

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

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

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

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

HESTA Nursing and Midwifery awards

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

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

Nominations are open until midnight on Sunday 5 February 2023.

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

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

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

Medicine safety depends on working together

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

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

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

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

Image source: Aged Care Insite.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Claims Budget will improve First Nations health

The image in the feature tile is of two health workers from the Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS), Newman, WA. Image source: PAMS website.

Claims Budget will improve First Nations health

Yesterday the Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, issued a media release announcing health measures in the Australian Government’s 2022–23 Budget. Minister Butler said the Albanese Government would take immediate action to support their commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, by making real improvements in health outcomes ($314.5m).

The government will also deliver improved infrastructure, including new and expanded First Nations health clinics in locations with high and growing First Nations populations ($164.3m). The First Nations Health Workers Traineeship Program ($54.3m), led by NACCHO, will train up to 500 First Nations health workers.

The Budget also provides funding to target chronic diseases disproportionally affecting First Nations people, with a increase in funding to combat rheumatic heart disease in high-risk communities ($14.2m). Renal services will be improved with funding ($45 million) for up to 30 four-chair dialysis units in up to 30 sites.

In addition, the government will build a dedicated Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence in NSW to provide culturally safe care and wrap-around support services for First Nations families ($22.5m). We know this is essential to improve long term health and development outcomes for First Nations peoples.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Budget October 2022–23: Strengthening Medicare in full click here.

Photo: Mick Tsikas, AAP photos. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Noonga-Yamatji woman works to close ear health gap

Young Noongar-Yamatji woman who suffered poor ear health as a child is working hard to help Indigenous children in the same situation today. Kassy Hayden, 24, works with medical group Earbus Foundation, coordinating programs for Pilbara east and south central, as well as visits to the Goldfields and Esperance by the Earbus team. “It is important for the kids and for everybody out there,” Ms Hayden said. Earbus works with local Aboriginal Medical Services to deliver comprehensive ear healthcare.

“Yesterday two of my colleagues noticed that one of the children didn’t have a Medicare number, which means they would never have seen a GP and this child is eight years old. But we were able to see them and continue seeing them, which is one example. It is making a difference in remote communities, and there is relationship building as well. For a child who has never seen a GP it would be pretty scary having people looking in your ears for the first time.”

Indigenous children have some of the highest rates of middle ear disease in the world. On average, Aboriginal children suffer from middle ear disease for 32 months on their first five years of life compared to just three months for non-Indigenous children. Indigenous people suffer ear disease and hearing loss at up to ten times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. Ear conditions like Otitis Media (middle ear infection) affect development, social skills and education for children, making the crucial formative years of life far more difficult and putting children at a long term disadvantage.

To view the National Indigenous Times article The young Indigenous woman working to close the gap in children’s ear health in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Funding for early childhood partnership

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers has handed down the 2002–23 Federal Budget in which the Government delivered on its core Plan for Cheaper Child Care promise to improve early education and care (ECEC). “Early childhood education and care will be more affordable for more than 1.2 million eligible Australian families who will benefit from higher subsidies,” Mr Chalmers said. “Cheaper childcare is a game-changing investment in families, our workforce, and our economy. It will increase the paid hours worked by women with young children by up to 1.4 million hours a week in the first year alone. That’s the equivalent of 37,000 extra full-time workers.”

Accessibility focused measures include:

  • $33.7 million over four years from 2022–23 to introduce a base entitlement to 36 hours per fortnight of subsidised Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) for families with First Nations children, regardless of activity hours or income level
  • $10.2 million over three years from 2022–23 to establish the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy Partnership with Coalition of Peaks partners and First Nations representatives to develop policies on First Nations early childhood education and care

To view The Sector article Federal Budget 2022/23 delivers on Plan for Cheaper Child Care but reference to workforce shortages absent in full click here.

Children attending ECEC Indi Kindi in Tennant Creek, NT. Image source: The Sector.

Budget fails to recognise GP crisis

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that although Budget October 2022-23 delivers on key election promises, significant funding for general practice care is urgently needed to address the GP crisis. The Budget includes a re-commitment to $250m per year in GP funding over three years following the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report which is due later this year, as well as $143.3m for rural and remote healthcare, and $229.7m in general practice support grants to build better infrastructure. However, it does not address the immediate challenges facing general practice care, including a lack of funding following years of Medicare freezes and inadequate indexation of patient rebates.

The RACGP holds grave concerns that without major investment into general practice care by the federal Government the current shortage of GPs being felt by communities throughout Australia will intensify, waiting times to see a doctor will increase, and the health and wellbeing of Australians will suffer.

In the college’s October 2022-23 Pre-Budget submission the RACGP called for a series of timely reforms including an increase Medicare rebates for longer consultations, the creation of a new Medicare item for GP consultations longer than 60 minutes, as well as support for longer telehealth phone consultations lasting more than 20 minutes, and increased investment in rural healthcare. RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said that although the Budget delivered on many key promises, major reform was sorely needed to secure the future of high-quality general practice patient care.

To read the RACGP media release RACGP: First Budget delivers on election promises but fails to recognise GP crisis in full click here.

Image source: Head Topics Ireland.

Addressing health risks of flooding

As flood-affected towns across Victoria begin relief and recovery efforts, the Victorian Government is working to minimise the risks floodwaters can cause to human health and investing to support communities to rebuild and recover together. Communities across the state are still experiencing major flooding, with more rain set to risk higher water levels and flash flooding — both of which pose threats to people’s health.

An investment of $6.5 million will deliver important health protection initiatives, with a dedicated monitoring and control system to prevent and control mosquitoes that are drawn to flooded areas, as well as making the vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis Virus — a serious mosquito-borne disease — free in flood-affected areas. This funding will also deploy an Environmental Health and Field workforce to flooded regions to provide communities with advice on waste disposal, septic tank repair and the safest way to clean up homes and businesses, as well as boost resourcing in the worst-affected Local Public Health Units to keep communities safe and healthy.

The floods have affected healthcare staffing levels in the affected areas — with some staff unable to get to work. Pharmacies in flooded areas, many of which have just a single pharmacist, are processing extremely high levels of scripts with many people displaced. Flooded sewers or septic tanks often contaminate floodwater before it inundates properties and clean drinking water sources, while flooded areas are subject to mosquito invasions. As flood clean-up and recovery begins, mould growth can also pose a serious risk to the human respiratory system.

An investment of $2 million will support the health of Aboriginal Victorian communities affected by the floods, many of which have been inundated. The funding will make sure Aboriginal Health Services in Shepparton, Swan Hill, Kerang and Echuca have appropriate GP, nurse and health outreach worker coverage while they are isolated.

To view The Courier Cobram article State government addresses health risks of recent and future flooding in full click here.

Echuca residents sandbagged their properties in anticipation of rising floodwaters. Photo: Sarah Lawrence. Image source: ABC News.

Community-engaged research improving health

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa faculty member has explored ways that community-engaged research and service can improve Indigenous health while honoring the culture and norms of Indigenous communities in a new book.

Kathryn L. Braun, a public health professor in the Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health, along with Linda Burhansstipanov (Cherokee Nation) from Native American Cancer Research, are co-editors of Indigenous Public Health: Improvement through Community-Engaged Interventions, released in August 2022.

“Many reports on Indigenous health focus on the negative. In contrast, this book features 30 stories of success, including initiatives to address racism, reduce diabetes, and increase cancer screening and treatment. Chapters on community-based participatory research and the building of strong public health infrastructures also include examples of success,” said Braun.

To view the University of Hawaii News article Indigenous public health success stories focus of new book in full click here.

Image source: University Press of Kentucky.

National award for student with rural health passion

University of Melbourne final year medical student Jasraaj Singh has received the Rural Doctors Association of Australia’s (RDAA) Medical Student of the Year Award for 2022. The award is given annually to a medical student displaying a passion and strong commitment to Rural Medicine. As a student on the Extended Rural Cohort at the University’s Medical School, Ms Singh has undertaken all her medical training in rural areas since the second year of her medical degree, including placements in Shepparton, Wangaratta, Ballarat and currently Bendigo. Along the way, she has also undertaken additional placements in East Arnhem Land and Cairns. Ms Singh said she loves the variety of work offered in rural medicine, as well as the sense of community.

“I have had the opportunity to meet incredible and inspiring people, undertake hands-on and practical clinical placements, become part of rural and remote communities across Australia, and develop my clinical and life experiences along the way. It has been such a rewarding, eye-opening and exciting adventure – I strongly believe all healthcare students should be undertaking rural placements in some way, shape or form.”

Ms Singh said a placement she undertook in Nhulunbuy, East Arnhem Land, in 2020 gave her a deep appreciation for the “incredible skill set” of generalist doctors working in remote communities. “My placement in East Arnhem Land really changed the trajectory of my life,” she said. “I became hooked on rural and remote medicine and realised that in these settings I got a much deeper understanding of medicine. I aim to challenge the common misconception that all the excitement and ‘real medicine’ happens in the city – because the country is definitely where it’s at.”

To view The University of Melbourne Newsroom article Medical student who found her passion in rural health receives national award in full click here.

RDAA Medical Student of the Year 2022, Jasraaj Singh (left), pictured with fellow student and 2021 awardee, Indira Barrow, at Tennant Creek Hospital, NT. Image source: University of Melbourne Newsroom.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How do GPs practice cultural humility?

The image in the feature tile is of GP Dr Simon Quilty with a patient. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source: ABC News article Specialist on-country healthcare improving outcomes in remote Aboriginal communities, 1 December 2018.

How do GPs practice cultural humility?

Developing professional cultural humility is a ‘key strategy’ to help address health inequalities in Australia, according to researchers from the University of Melbourne. Defined as ‘a shift from the mastering of understanding other cultures, to an approach of personal accountability in advocating against the systemic barriers that impact marginalised groups’, cultural humility is also ‘positively associated’ with improved health outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients.

It is why researchers, including RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price, are asking practitioners to take part in a new project focused on assessing cultural humility in Australian GPs. The research will see GPs participate in a 10–15-minute online survey about their interactions with patients of different cultural backgrounds, experience in cultural humility training and their interest in further training in this area.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, a descendant of the Yankunytjatjara and Narungga Nations people and the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Censor – the first Aboriginal person to be appointed the role, says cultural humility is an ‘essential attribute’ for GPs. ‘For me, cultural humility is about understanding myself, my values, my affinities and biases, my attitudes and behaviours and how these effect the people around me,’ Dr O’Donoghue said.

To read the RACGP newsGP article How do GPs practice cultural humility? in full click here.

Dr Olivia O’Donoghue. Image source: SBS NITV Radio.

Culturally safe birthing for the Cape

Women in western Cape York’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be able to give birth closer to home, thanks to a birthing project led by Weipa rural generalist obstetrician Dr Riley Savage. The Weipa Birthing Unit is set to open soon, with the completion of capital works due this month, September 2022. The unit’s central feature is the Palm Cockatoo Midwifery Group Practice.

‘I’m so incredibly proud of the service we have produced – a women-centred midwifery group practice model of care, focusing on collaboration, community engagement and cultural safety,’ Dr Savage says. ‘Bringing birthing services to Weipa is such important work. It is delivering maternity services to families who would otherwise have to leave their hometown for six weeks or more in order to have their babies, at great financial and psychological cost.’

The 2009 James Cook University (JCU) graduate, who has an advanced skill in obstetrics and gynaecology, was inspired to become a rural generalist while on fifth-year placement on Thursday Island. ‘I was starstruck by the rural generalists there, who were masters of so many disciplines, from critical care in the emergency department to primary care in beautiful island communities,’ Dr Savage says.

To view the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article Culturally safe birthing for Cape in full click here.

NSW government responds to ice inquiry

The NSW Government has finally issued its response to a landmark report on ice addiction more than two years since it was handed down, and less than a month after the state’s peak legal organisations condemned cabinet’s failure to implement urgent reforms. On 21 September, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a half-a-billion-dollar investment to deliver health and justice reforms as part of the Government’s final response to the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice. “Ice can ruin lives and have devastating impacts on families and communities. This funding will provide relief, help and hope for thousands of people across NSW,” Perrottet said.

The Law Society of NSW also pushed for the Government to partner with Aboriginal communities to urgently develop and significantly increase the availability of local specialist drug treatment services that are culturally respectful, culturally competent and culturally safe. “Aboriginal people are a priority population in relation to the investment that the NSW Government is making in a range of new programs and activities to increase the availability of specialist drug treatment,” the Government’s response read.

“Funding will support new treatment services, including withdrawal management, substance use in pregnancy and parenting services, rehabilitation and community-based support. There will also be targeted workforce development activities such as increasing the Aboriginal Health/Nursing Workforce, introducing traineeships, and skills development.”

To view the Law Society Journal Online article NSW Government unveils response to ice inquiry in full click here.

Image source: NSW Crime Stoppers.

Helping dads help their partners

For health professionals working to improve the perinatal mental health of women in rural communities, supporting dads is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, recent research into the antenatal psychosocial risk status of Australian women found that over 95% of respondents in the study said they would seek emotional support from their intimate partner. Reported rates for seeking support from health professionals, including GPs, did not exceed 55%.

Clearly, it would be a lost opportunity not to include fathers in efforts to help women who may experience mental health distress in the perinatal period. SMS4dads is a free service that all health professionals supporting women in the perinatal period should be aware of. SMS4dads helps fathers understand and connect with their baby and partner through free text messages that provide information, tips and encouragement. Dads can join from 12 weeks into a pregnancy and throughout the first year of parenthood.

Once enrolled, dads receive three messages a week to help them understand and connect with their baby and support their partner. The messages are brief and some have links to more information or other services. When enrolling, dads enter the expected date of delivery or bub’s birth date, so the texts are linked to the developmental stage of the baby. Some messages provide tips and encouragement. Others are health-related with information on looking after their baby or being mindful of their own health and ways to support their partner.

To read the National Rural Health Alliance Partyline article Helping dads help their partners full click here.

Revised ITC Program for Western NSW

The new year will bring changes to local Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) in Western NSW following extensive reviews, with a revised Integrated Team Care (ITC) Program designed to improve the capacity of local services. The ITC is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents living with a chronic disease, and has been delivered by Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation since 2016.

Following a 2021 review, the redesigned program will change hands on January 1, changing how Coonamble, Gilgandra, Brewarrina, Walgett, Condobolin and Bourke implement ITC. CEO of Coonamble, Dubbo and Gilgandra AMSs, Phil Naden, has welcomed the funding from Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) for the ITC Program. “I’m looking forward to a strengthened approach in working with WNSW PHN and I’m keen to commence the project in our locations to service Aboriginal Clients in the region.”

To view the Western Plains App article Local AMSs receive funding to broaden services in full click here.

Phillip Naden, CEO of Coonamble and Dubbo AMS. Image source: AH&MRC website.

Advocating for mental health services for youth

Hayley Pymont is using the hundreds of kilometres she is clocking up on the NSW South Coast in preparation for the New York Marathon to build a new purpose for herself and help improve the mental health of others. The 27-year-old Wiradjuri woman, who grew up on Dharawal land is one of the young people selected for the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) for 2022, which was founded by Australian champion runner Robert de Castella.

The program also asks participants to undertake further education and complete a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion. Pymont is putting her energy into building mental health resilience. “I struggled at school with bullying growing up,” she said.” Through the program, Pymont is reaching out to community organisations to urge them to provide more support to young people. “We need organisations out there and services to open their doors for everyone and to let people in regardless of how severe their mental health is,” she said.

To read the ABC News article Hayley Pymont aiming for place in New York Marathon to create positive ‘ripple effect’ for bullying support in full click here.

Hayley Pymont hopes to draw attention to the need for better mental health support services for young people. Photo: Billy Cooper, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

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

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

International Day of Sign Languages

The International Day of Sign Languages is a unique opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. During the 2022 celebration of the International Day of Sign Languages, the world will once again highlight the unity generated by our sign languages. Deaf communities, governments and civil society organisations maintain their collective efforts – hand in hand – in fostering, promoting and recognising national sign languages as part of their countries’ vibrant and diverse linguistic landscapes.

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.

For more information you can access the United Nations webpage International Day of Sign Languages 23 September here. You can also access a related ABC News article Aboriginal sign languages have been used for thousands of years here.

Michael Ganambarr showing the sign for “fruit bat”. Photo: David Hancock. Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Culturally appropriate sepsis resources

The image in the feature tile is from a research article Long term outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians after hospital intensive care published in The Medical Journal of Australia 15 June 2020.

Culturally appropriate sepsis resources

Yesterday Professor Anne Duggan who is the Chief Medical Officer at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) issued the following statement:

World Sepsis Day 2022 – striving for better sepsis care 

Today is World Sepsis Day – an opportunity to unite globally in the fight against sepsis. The Commission actively supports this important initiative to highlight the devastating impact of sepsis, which affects more than 55,000 Australians of all ages every year.

Sepsis Clinical Care Standard

As part of the National Sepsis Program, the Commission released the first national Sepsis Clinical Care Standard in June, in partnership with The George Institute for Global Health. By outlining the best possible care for sepsis patients, the standard supports the work of healthcare services across Australia already striving to improve outcomes for sepsis. It’s clear the standard is a game changer that supports healthcare workers to recognise sepsis as a medical emergency and provide coordinated high-quality care. Refer to our implementation resources and case studies for guidance on integrating into practice.

National awareness resources 

Over the past year, the Commission has released a suite of resources under the theme ‘Could it be sepsis?’, focused on improving consumer awareness and clinician recognition of sepsis. I invite you to continue to spread the word about the signs and symptoms of sepsis using the resources in our communications toolkit. We have created culturally appropriate materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I also encourage you to watch and share our sepsis video series, offering a range of perspectives about why it’s so important to recognise and speak up about sepsis. By simply asking “could it be sepsis?”, we can encourage life-saving treatment that may help to reduce preventable death or disability caused by sepsis. Let’s continue to work together to reduce the burden of sepsis on our community.

Youth Steering Committee applications open

Applications for the Youth Steering Committee have now opened on the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition website here. A stakeholder kit including promotional and social media materials can be found on the Department of Education’s Youth Hub here.

The Youth Steering Committee will support the implementation of the new Youth Engagement Model by engaging in meaningful and ongoing conversation with Government to inform and develop successful youth policies. The committee will work closely with the Minister for Youth to provide advice and feedback on Government engagement with young people and youth programs and policies.

Any young person aged between 12 and 25 can apply. We are seeking a diverse group of people from across the country. No previous experience is required. 15 young people will be appointed to the committee. Committee members will be paid on honorarium to recognise contributions made over the committee term. The first meeting of the committee will occur in Canberra from Monday 21 November to Wednesday,23 November. Applicants must be available for this meeting. Travel and accommodation costs for this meeting will be covered for participants.

Applications are open until Wednesday 5 October 2022.

Please contact the Youth Team using either this email address or this email address if you require more information or support.

CVD and chronic kidney disease webinar

On Thursday 29 September 2022, the Heart Foundation is partnering with the World Heart Federation to bring to you a health professional webinar exploring the latest evidence on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD), including early detection of renal risk factors for CVD. This event will be chaired by Prof Garry Jennings, Chief Medical Advisor of the Heart Foundation, and we will be joined by Professor George Bakris, internationally renowned nephrologist, as well as Australian experts as they discuss the latest evidence and how it can be translated into practical preventative care.

Title: Filtering through the impact of Chronic Kidney Disease on CVD

When and Where: 8:00PM AEST Thursday 29 September 2022 – live and recorded, free Zoom webinar

This webinar has been accredited by RACGP for 2 CPD points. (Activity no. 367709). To REGISTER click here.

Chronic wounds costing lives and limbs

Band-aid solutions to chronic wounds are costing lives and limbs, and a simple solution could not only prevent those losses but cut billions in health system costs, AMA Vice President Dr Danielle McMullen told the Wounds Australia 2022 conference. Dr McMullen said people are dying prematurely and limbs are being amputated because the current system prevents some of the most vulnerable people in the country getting the right treatment at the right time.

“Chronic wound care is a poorly understood and under-funded public health issue, even though it affects around 450,000 Australians and costs $3 billion each year,” Dr McMullen said. “A lack of awareness about the significance of chronic wounds means vulnerable patients — mostly older Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, or patients with other chronic conditions — often suffer in silence and fall through the cracks in our health system.”

“The AMA is proposing a national scheme to fund medical dressings for chronic wounds and new MBS items to cover the unmet costs of providing care for patients suffering chronic wounds. Our analysis shows investing just $23.4 million over four years to deliver best practice wound care for diabetic foot ulcers, arterial leg ulcers, and venous leg ulcers would save the health system more than $203 million. This is a no brainer. I don’t know of many investments where for every $1.00 you spend, the return is $8.36, but this is the case with evidence-based wound care. The government often mentions its inherited trillion-dollar debt, so it should be looking for smart investments which will save the health system money and deliver better health outcomes for patients at the same time.”

To view the AMA’s media release Replacing band-aid wound solutions could save lives and millions in health system costs in full click here.

Wound care training in the Top End, NT. Image source: CRANAplus website.

Disparity in genomic medicine access

Globally there is a robust and growing evidence base that reveals access and outcomes across health systems are different for Indigenous populations. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, research reveals disparities in access to the Australian health system and the clinical services it provides, including diagnostic investigations, procedures, care planning, treatments, as well as service adherence to best practice treatment guidelines. However, to date, access to clinical genetic health services has not been quantified among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

Research investigating disparity in access to Australian clinical genetic health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been conducted as part of the Better Indigenous Genomics (BIG) Health Services Study funded by the Lowitja Institute. It was a university led project conducted in partnership with Australian clinical genetic health services. Formal support for this project was provided by Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), Machado-Joseph Disease Foundation, Bega Garnbirringu Health Service (Kalgoorlie), and the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) (via Ethics support). Extensive stakeholder consultation and engagement took place with 14 Aboriginal Health Organisations to identify research study priorities as part of the wider BIG study.

To view the Nature Communication article Investigating disparity in access to Australian clinical genetic health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in full click here.

Image source: Queensland University of Technology website.

Preventing suicide in vulnerable groups

The Territory Labor Government is investing in infrastructure and community programs to support mental health and suicide prevention initiatives. More than $50 million in funding includes a new 18 bed inpatient unit and Stabilisation and Referral Area in the Top End and the establishment of universal aftercare services, meaning Territorians discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt will receive immediate follow-up care. This week the NT Government has released the fourth Suicide Prevention Progress Report.

The report provides a snapshot of the key achievements of the NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework Implementation Plan 2018-2023. Some of the top achievements in the report include: Community Suicide Prevention Grants: 30 grants totalling $222,750 awarded for activities during 2022-2023. More than $1.22 million has been provided in community grants since 2018.Training for Staff and Community Members Working with Priority Groups: 1,463 Territorians trained in suicide prevention in the past 12 months. Priority groups include men, youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrant and refugee communities, current and former defence force personnel, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Grant recipient, Northern Territory Aids and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC), has run a successful program with Tiwi Islands Sistergirls using imagery that speaks to the lived expertise of the Sistergirls. In its current grants program, NTAHC is developing resources to decrease stigma around sexual health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and LGBTQ+ youth, groups which often have poor mental health outcomes.

To view the Mirage News article Report Card: Preventing suicide in vulnerable groups in full click here.

Image source: NT Independent.

Mum’s house clinic ‘disparity’ an inspiration

Worimi head and neck surgeon Kelvin Kong attributes his chosen career path to his life growing up witnessing firsthand the disparity between himself and his non-Indigenous friends. The University of Newcastle school of Medicine and Public Health doctor and Royal Australasian College of Surgeons fellow has always had interest in giving back and helping. Growing up with a nurse for a mum, Mr Kong often had mob around his house for basic procedures such as wound dressings and cyst removals.

“It wasn’t until we got to high school that we started asking why we weren’t going to hospital,” Mr Kong said. “None of my non-Indigenous friends had the same kinds of concerns – they weren’t going around to people’s houses to get medical care. You start realizing there is this disparity with access to care, particularly medical care.” Mr Kong’s career path appeared laid out before him from an early age, but a school visit from University of Newcastle doctors set his eyes on the prize. The key difference of that visit was the presence of Aboriginal doctors, a career Mr Kong had never previously thought was attainable for him.

“I still remember coming home and saying to my sister, wow you can actually go to university – that’s something we should pursue,” Mr Kong said. These days Mr Kong dedicates his time to rare diseases, in particular, otitis media, which disproportionately affects Aboriginal people. According to Mr Kong, otitis media affects the majority of children in Australia, but access to care is the one of the main reasons it affects Aboriginal kids differently.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Mum’s house clinic ‘disparity’ an inspiration for Worimi surgeon Kelvin Kong in full click here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM. Image source: The Conversation, 10 June 2020.

Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM is one of 143 representatives attending the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 today in Canberra. The two-day event, being led by PM Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, will bring together business, unions, industry and state and territory political leaders for an intensive discussion about the economic challenges within Australia’s labour market.

Earlier last month Pat Turner gave the keynote address at the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) National Conference where she commented on workforce issues with the sector “Demand is outstripping supply of suitably skilled and job ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. We are experiencing workforce shortages across the sector and this shortage is already impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally.”

“Moreover, without an overall increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in the workforce, services will be competing for workers who are a limited resource across all health and care sectors. Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses, midwives and other clinical staff is critical to help ensure culturally safe care for our people. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.”

You can read The Sydney Morning Herald article The snap guide to the jobs and skills summit here.

Jobs and Skills Summit 2022. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: Financial Review.

Hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience ear disease – fluid build ups, perforated eardrums and ear infections that can impair hearing – more frequently than most populations in the world. Rates are 8.5 times as highas for non-Indigenous children in Australia. Early childhood development related to speech, language and learning, relies heavily on being able to hear. The consequences of poor hearing can greatly disadvantage a child in the classroom, in the criminal justice system and cause delays in other medical diagnoses.

Caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have described how ear disease and hearing loss can easily be mistaken for misbehaviour.  Letitia Campbell, Aboriginal Research Officer, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University has found that a strong relationship of respect, collaboration and information-sharing between the caregiver and health professionals is a key component to successfully navigating ear disease.

To view The Conversation article More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have ear and hearing problems – and it’s easy to mistake for bad behaviour in full click here.

Audiologist Arveen Kaur tests the hearing of Jackson Wellington in Nowra. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Politics can’t be separated from health

A new discussion paper, Indigenous Nation Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing, available here, has been published this week by the Lowitja Institute in partnership with Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Led by Professor Daryle Rigney, a citizen of the Ngarrindjeri Nation, the paper demonstrates that self-governance and self-determination through nation building results in improved health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

According to Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Senior Policy Officer Jessica Szwarcbord “Those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector have always known that politics cannot be separated from health. Our peoples have a holistic, collectivist worldview. We understand that individual and collective health and social and emotional wellbeing relates to cultural, social, and political determinants and that health and wellbeing sit within a complex constellation of factors that cannot be separated. There are inextricable links between our collective and individual health and wellbeing, our governance, self-determination and nation building as First Nations Peoples.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Harnessing the power of nation building to strengthen Indigenous health and wellbeing in full click here.

Artwork by Tom Day, citizen of the Gunditjmara people, features on the cover of the new discussion paper, Indigenous National Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing. Published with permission of Lowitja Institute in Croakey Health Media.

First new kidney treatment in 20 years

Lachlan Ross describes his more than a decade-long battle with kidney failure as “very long, and very hard.” The 54-year-old from the NT remote community of Lajamanu has been lucky enough to receive a kidney transplant, meaning he no longer has to receive thrice-weekly dialysis treatments. But, he said chronic kidney disease — which Indigenous residents of remote Central Australia are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from — has no quick fix. “You get [a] transplant doesn’t make you any better you know because you’ve still got the hard work of looking after yourself and the transplant and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand, they think a kidney is a cure, it’s not.”

Mr Ross now works as a mentor for others living with kidney disease at Darwin dialysis centre The Purple House, where Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy announced yesterday that people with the disease would now have more affordable access to a drug which slows its progression. The drug dapagliflozin, also known as Forxiga, is already used to treat diabetes and heart failure, but will now also be available to people with kidney disease under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It would have previously cost renal patients more than $700 a year, with the expansion of the scheme meaning it will now cost $42.50 per script, or $6.80 for people with a concession card.

To view the ABC News article Kidney disease drug dapagliflozin added to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in full click here.

Lachlan Ross says remote Indigenous Territorians need to be educated about kidney disease. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

VACCHO supports Food Fight! Campaign

An Australia Institute poll released this week has found high levels of public support for bans on television advertising of unhealthy products and services, including junk foods, alcohol and gambling.  When Asherly Bradac asks her four young children how they would like to spend their pocket money, they respond with a resounding “slurpee”. When she asks where they want to go on a special outing, they say “McDonalds” or “Hungry Jacks”. These are likely familiar scenarios for many families inundated by advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.

Bradac is a keen supporter of the Food Fight! campaign, led by Cancer Council Victoria, to raise awareness of unhealthy food and drink advertising in places where children spend time.  The campaign is building community support for action to stop harmful advertising on government-owned assets such as public transport and within 500 metres of schools. According to Jane Martin, Executive Manager Obesity Program Cancer Council Victoria the campaign has garnered the support of more than 30 community, public health and other groups and over 10,000 individuals who have signed an online statement.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is one supports the Food Fight! Campaign, and through a bold project called FoodPATH (Food Policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health), has been working to empower Aboriginal communities across Victoria to determine the actions needed to promote good nutrition and healthier food environments in their local communities.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How this campaign is fighting to end unhealthy advertising to children in full click here.

New lease on life after Hep C cure

Debbie Robinson is enjoying a new lease on life after being cured of hepatitis C. Now the proud Worimi woman is urging other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get tested even if they have no symptoms. Ms Robinson completed the 8-12 week treatment program at Gandangara Health Service in Liverpool. “I had a blood test, the doctor told me I had hepatitis C and I felt numb.

“Then the doctor told me I had 10 years to live. I went to Gandangara and they helped me to access treatment right away,’’ Ms Robinson said. “If it wasn’t for Gandangara, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have done anything about it because I felt healthy. “I felt supported every step of the way at Gandangara. “I’m cured and have a long life ahead of me. I’m proud of myself and my family is proud of me too.’’

To view the South West Voice article Health district bid to eliminate hepatitis C in full click here.

Debbie Robinson. Image source: South West Voice.

WA emerging as hub for eye health

WA is rapidly becoming known as‎ a global centre for research excellence in ocular‎ disease, thanks to a ‘trifecta’ collaboration ‎between Lions Eye Institute (LEI), Curtin University,‎ and University of WA (UWA). To encourage more young optometrists to provide primary care in rural WA, where unmet eye care is particularly prevalent, a team led by Professor Garry Fitzpatrick, has developed a placement program that will see third year students spend significant time working in clinics and on research programs from ‘hub and spoke’ health care models in Broome and Geraldton. Students will gain experience working alongside optometrists and ophthalmologists on outreach programs, with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and in other community allied health settings.

Professor Fitzpatrick hopes the placement program will provide students with a “very real experience” that increases their awareness of rural and remote eye care needs. He explained that evidence shows students who are exposed and trained in rural settings are more likely to return to practise in these settings.

To read the mivision article Western Australia: An Emerging Hub for Eye Health in full click here.

Image source: SBS NITV website.

TGA committee applications CLOSE Sunday

Applications for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s statutory advisory committee vacancies will CLOSE at 11:30 PM this Sunday 4 September 2022.

They are seeking applications from professionals with expertise in relevant medical or scientific fields or consumer health issues to support our function as a best practice regulator. Committee members contribute significantly towards the TGA’s regulatory functions by providing independent expert advice relating to the regulation of medicines, devices, vaccines and other products and substances.  The statutory advisory committees are:

  • Advisory Committee on Biologicals
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Vaccines
  • Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Medical Devices
  • Advisory Committee on Chemicals Scheduling
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling

Committee members do not have full-time duties – some committees meet monthly, with others meeting up to three times a year.  Members are remunerated in accordance with the principles and rates set by the Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-time Public Office) Determination.

You can find further information regarding the statutory advisory committees on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here along with the requirements for applying here and a flyer here. Further enquiries can be made by email here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

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

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

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

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

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

Ear disease mistaken for misbehaviour

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

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

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

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

Kidney replacements more than double

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

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

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

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

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

Child vax rates falling behind

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

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

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

PHC lessons from overseas

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

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

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

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

Awabakal regional vax clinic IT lessons

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

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

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

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

Cultural safety training for optometrists

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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