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.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Must know shape The Voice will take

Image in feature tile from The Conversation.

Must know shape The Voice will take

Last night NACCHO CEO, Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner AM spoke to Narelda Jacobs and John Paul Janke on NITV The Point. The presenters  introduced the interview saying that while the while Uluru Statement from the Heart with its enshrined Voice to Parliament was one a big agenda item for the new federal government and the PM had this week renewed his vow to push ahead with the Voice to Parliament without or without the Coalition’s support, questions remain on how to move forward.

Ms Turner, who has a long history of being involved in constitutional conventions, including being a Board member of the Constitutional Centenary Foundation, said she always imagined that when it cam time to amend the constitution there would be a clear understanding of what shape the amendment would take.

You can view Episode 20 The Point, Season 2022 including Pat Turner’s interview from 1:50-6:51 minutes  here.

APO NT welcome NT Treaty Commission report

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) is proud to recognise the significant achievement of the NT’s Treaty Commission on the public release of its Final Report. “First Nations across the NT can boast a long and proud history of calling for recognition, truth, justice and self-determination for our people,” said AMSANT CEO, John Paterson.

“From Gwalwa Daraniki, to the Yirrkala Bark Petitions, to the Barunga Statement, to the Wave Hill walk off- all our calls for control of our own affairs are at the heart of our work here at APO NT. Treaty is the obvious next step. We call on Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, Minster for Treaty, Selena Uibo, and the whole NT Government to support the recommendations in the report.”

To view the APO NT media release APO NT celebrates the public release of the NT Treaty Commission’s Final Report, and support its calls for Truth and Treaty in full click here.

Hon Selena Uibo, NT Minister for Treaty and Local Decision-Making with the Treaty Commission Final Report. Image source: Katherine Times.

National report on ear and hearing health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released an inaugural national report on the ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults. Indigenous Australians experience excessive rates of ear and hearing problems which can have profound impacts on overall health and quality of life. The AIHW report brings together information on the prevalence of ear and hearing problems among Indigenous Australians along with insights on key protective and risk factors.

To view the AIHW citation for the Ear and hearing health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report released on 29 June 2022 in full click here.

Image source: NHMRC website.

Stan Grant on building Aboriginal workforce

Esteemed Journalist Stan Grant has supported discussions around how to bolster the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD). Amid a panel chat facilitated by Stan at Blacktown Hospital, the WSLHD launched its Aboriginal Workforce Plan on 27 June 2022.

Stan said discussions like these are critical because “if you don’t hear the voices, if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you can’t possibly devise a strategy to meet their needs. It’s about building an overall relationship with the communities and creating opportunities for people to enter into the workforce, stay in the organisations and to have those pathways to feel integrated.”

To view The Pulse article Stan Grant on strengthening Aboriginal workforces in western Sydney in full click here.

Stan Grant. Image source: Griffith News, Griffith University.

Near-miss Award for hepatitis C research

Implementation Science Group Co-Head, and Coordinator of EC Australia, Dr Alisa Pedrana is one of 11 recipients of an exciting new award, The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot. The award aims to support the retention and development of outstanding emerging researchers and future leaders from groups facing systematic barriers to success, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Victorian Near-miss Award Pilot addresses disadvantage by supporting the best eligible but unfunded Victorian applicants from these groups at the 2021 NHMRC Emerging Leader level 2 scheme.

Each award is valued at $74,000 and is matched with a cash contribution of the same value from the recipient’s primary employer. Dr Pedrana said the award would support her work on two projects focused on the elimination of hepatitis C in Australia – a partnership with Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Coroporation (BNMAC) in northern NSW to develop campaigns for hepatitis C testing; and the evaluation of a same-day hepatitis C test-and-treat model in Cairns.

You can access the Burnet Institute article Near-miss boost for hepatitis research in full click here and a related article ACCHO Leads Hepatitis C Elimination Effort on the BNMAC website here.

BNMAC hep c testing. Image source BNMAC website. Dr Alisa Pedrana. Image source; Burnet Institute website.

Funding needed for bush health access

Dr Ross Maxwell, Chair of Health Workforce Queensland says the government needs to commit real funding to help remote and rural communities with access to doctors and health workforce when and where they need them, both now and into the future.

“There is currently too much stress on existing GP, allied health and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Many services are considered to be unsustainable from financial and workforce perspectives. Solutions will involve additional workforce and innovative service delivery models fully supported by enhanced funding. It is a time for genuine partnership in remote and rural communities and it has never been more important to work collaboratively at the local, state and federal levels to address these health workforce and health service challenges”.

To view the Mirage article Funding Reform Required for GP & Allied Health Practices in full click here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Noongar elders’ fight for recognition

In 2015, an Indigenous-led protest against state government plans to shut down a number of remote Aboriginal communities in WA spawned a tent embassy and “refugee camp” on an island in Perth’s Swan River. After weeks of tension, police and council rangers moved in to forcibly shut down the Heirisson Island (Matagarup) camp and remove the protesters  from the island.

But in the wake of the closure, the City of Perth Council realised it needed to apologise and embark on a process of reconciliation to make Noongar people feel safe and welcome in the city. So it hosted a series of meetings. The meetings have led to an unexpected legacy project documenting the stories of the Noongar people’s fight for recognition. A short film, podcast and book have been published that tells the journey of the Noongar through first-hand stories.

To view the ABC News article Noongar Aboriginal elders’ fight for recognition documented in podcast, short film and book in full click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations population continues to grow

Image in feature tile is of Census remote team member using tablet. Image source: ABS image library.

First Nations population continues to grow

The 2021 Census provides an updated snapshot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said today. The Census found that 812,728 people (3.2% of the population) identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, an increase of over 25% (25.2%) since 2016. Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people counted, 91.4% identified as Aboriginal, 4.2% identified as Torres Strait Islander, and 4.4% identified as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

The Census also revealed growing numbers of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with over 47,000 (47,677) aged 65 years and over in 2021, up from 31,000 in 2016 and 21,000 in 2011. The median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increased slightly to 24 years in 2021, up from 23 years in 2016 and 21 years in 2011.

To view the ABS media release 2021 Census finds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older population continues to grow in full click here.

Apunipima Men’s Health Summit success

From Monday 13 to Friday 17 June, males from all over the Cape descended on Elim Beach Camp Ground near Hope Vale for a Men’s Health Summit hosted by Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Social & Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) team. The event focused squarely on men’s health, with four nights of camping giving the men an opportunity to relax and connect with other men from across the Cape in a remote location free of many of the distractions of regular daily life.

The Summit was attended by men from Mapoon, Napranum, Aurukun, Mossman Gorge and Wujal Wujal. The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘Growing Together as Fathers, Providers and Protectors,’ with guest speakers, discussions and activities centred around men’s business and how to be the best men they can be for their families and for their communities.

The program was structured to present different topics to the men daily to promote conversation throughout the day and into the night. Some of the key themes to come out of the week were, looking after yourself, providing a safe place for men in community, talking about and sharing your problems and being good male role models for both your own kids and others in community.

MC for the week was one of FNQ’s funniest comedians, Sean Choolburra who kept everyone laughing throughout the week. Also speaking throughout the summit was BBM Cairns’ National TalkBlack radio host Trevor Tim, former NRL players Davin Crompton and Brenton Bowen and others including academics, motivational speakers and health industry professionals.

“Men’s health is a topic that often doesn’t get discussed, or gets pushed down the priorities list. We want to change that and hopefully some of the discussions that we’ve had this week will be the foundation for further progress in the men’s health space back in community,” said Summit Project Officer and local Traditional Owner Kurtis Gibson.

To view the Apunipima media release “Growing Together as Fathers, Providers & Protectors” – Apunipima Men’s Health Summit in full click here.

Apunipima Men’s Health Summit team and speakers.

Save money on medicines, register for CTG scripts

As of 1 July 2022, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be registered correctly with Services Australia Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to continue to claim benefits for their medicine scripts, through the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmacy Benefits Scheme (PBS) program.

Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG prescriptions were transferred to the new database, resulting in some people paying more for their medicines.

Check with your local doctor or health service today, to help register you as soon as possible to avoid paying full price for medicines from 1 July.

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO said, “We welcome the reforms to the CTG PBS database but are concerned not all eligible patients have been correctly registered. Potentially thousands of patients may have to pay more for medicines on 1st of July, so please check your registration with your pharmacy and doctor now.”

For further information about the CTG PBS program click here.

The Department of Health reminder letter regarding the CTG PBS program can be found here.

Download this poster that you can put up at your services here and images for Facebook/Twitter here and Instagram here.

We urge you to share this information across all your networks.

Get2it bowel cancer campaign launched

The Cancer Council, leaders in cancer prevention and social marketing, has launched the Get2it campaign calling Aussies to screen their number 2s. The Get2it campaign is an integrated mass media drive in partnership with the Australian Government, encouraging all Australians aged 50-74 to Get2it and participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) when they receive their free test in the mail.

The Get2it campaign, which is funded by the Australian Government, has been informed by extensive research undertaken by Cancer Council’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) which was designed to uncover why only four in ten (43.5%) Australians undertake the bowel screening test every two years. The mass media campaign includes a national media buy across TV, radio, digital and OOH, as well as PR.

In addition, the campaign will also target communities with increased risk of developing bowel cancer and increased barriers to participating in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. These include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitie, and health care professionals including GPs.

To view the Mumbrella article Cancer Council launches Get2it bowel cancer campaign calling Aussies to screen their number 2s in full click here.

Cherbourg rents frozen for 12 months

Renters in Queensland’s largest Indigenous shire have had their rates frozen for a year as the council helps locals cope with the rising cost of living. The Aboriginal Shire of Cherbourg, a three-hour drive from Brisbane, is also facing a mass influx of former residents returning home in search of affordable and culturally-appropriate housing.

It is contributing to the housing crisis, with 200 people on a waiting list for a home in the town of about 1,200, according to the Cherbourg Aboriginal Council. Elder and past mayor Arnold Murray said there was a growing trend of young people wishing to return to the Cherbourg community from other south-east Queensland regions, including Ipswich, Brisbane and Logan. “They want to come home. This is their home and it’s too expensive out there,” he said.

To view the ABC News article Cherbourg Aboriginal Council freezes rents for 12 months to combat cost of living pressures in full click here.

Former Cherbourg mayor Arnold Murray says many people want to return to the town. Photo: Jenae Jenkins, ABC Wide Bay.

Digital health helps youth with ear disease

Thanks to funding from the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, Ear Science Institute Australia, in collaboration with Curtin University, will address child and youth mental health in WA.bThe partnership will leverage existing digital health technologies to target Aboriginal young people with ear disease and hearing loss to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Lead investigator, Professor Christopher Lawrence, Dean of Indigenous Engagement, Faculty of Science and Engineering at Curtin University, and proud Nyungar (Whadjuk and Ballardong) person, developed the mobile app #thismymob in 2016 when he was based at the University of Technology Sydney. This social and emotional digital health platform allows local communities to discuss and share information relevant to their mob. It is a local resource for important health information and advice.

To view the Curtin University article Digital health technologies to help Aboriginal young people with ear disease in full click here. The below NITV video dates from the first release of the This My Mob app in July 2018,

Indigenous EMCR Award date extended

The Women’s Health Research and Translation Network Indigenous (WHRTN) offers one-off financial support to facilitate career advancement and development for women working in women’s health research and translation.

The 2022 Indigenous Early and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Award is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the early and mid-career stages of their careers in women’s health research. This Award aims to bolster the career development of women working across the breadth of women’s health research.

You can access further information and an application form here or on the WHRTN website here. You can also email Monash University directly using this email link.

EMCR Awards have been extended to Monday 18 July 2022.

AACAP – 25 years of supporting mob

This year the Australian Army is marking its 25th year of providing support to remote First Nations communities through the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme (AACAP). AACAP is a joint initiative between Army and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) which sees Army personnel deployed to a different remote community each year to work on projects that improve health, living and economic conditions specific to that community.

This year, AACAP will be hosted in Gapuwiyak and Baniyala in East Arnhem Land. Army personnel will live and work alongside the community for a five month period to deliver upgrades to infrastructure and services and provide health programs, vocational training and community-based engagement activities.

Among the community-requested projects, the Gapuwiyak community will benefit from a new culture and arts centre co-funded by the NT Government. Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, said Gapuwiyak and Baniyala will be the 48th and 49th communities to benefit from the program since it commenced in Bulla, NT, in 1997. AACAP capitalises on Army’s ability to deliver a range of services that would not normally be available in a single project.

To view the Australian Defence Magazine article AACAP begins 25th year in full click here.

Australian Army and community of Jigalong, WA welcome CO PNGDF Engineer Battalion and team to AACAP 2019. Image source: AACAP Twitter 26 July 2019.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Sister Scrubs could improve baby outcomes

Image in feature tile is of midwife Mel Briggs, wearing the “Sister Scrubs” to identify herself as Indigenous, Yuin woman Hayley Williams and baby Jaari. Photo: Janie Barrett. Image source: ABC News.

Sister Scrubs could improve baby outcomes

Jaari was Hayley Williams’ third baby, but her first experience working with an Indigenous midwife. Yuin woman Williams, 28, gave birth in Shoalhaven Hospital in Nowra a month ago with the support of midwife Mel Briggs from the Waminda South Coast Women’s Health Clinic. Williams said having an Indigenous midwife meant she felt “relaxed and receptive” to the information being provided, allowing for better communication about issues such as her diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

“I feel like another midwife would be able to build that rapport but with Mel being Indigenous, it was almost instant,” Williams said. “It takes away the formalities – the relationship felt very casual, and I felt very comfortable that she had my best interests at heart.” An initiative called “Huggies Sister Scrubs” will make it easier for mothers to know when they are being cared for by an Indigenous midwife, with the aim to improve better outcomes for Indigenous mothers and babies.

The Sister Scrubs, an initiative of the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund supported by Huggies, is a special uniform for Indigenous midwives to visually identify themselves, helping engender trust and better communication. Nationwide, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies are twice as likely to die in the first year of their life, according to the Closing the Gap Report 2020. In NSW, the perinatal mortality rate among babies born to First Nations mothers is 47% higher than the rest of the population, based on the Mothers and Babies Report 2020. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has also found First Nations women were three times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth, compared with other women, between 2012 and 2019.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald article ‘Sister Scrubs’: How new uniform could improve outcomes for Indigenous babies in full click here.

Melanie Briggs (left) was the first endorsed Aboriginal midwife in NSW, pictured here with Kady Colman. Image source: Bounty Parents.

Calls for cultural reform in health sector

Growing up in Milingimbi in NE Arnhem Land, Yolngu man Dr Mangatjay McGregor was always drawn to a career in medicine. “From a young age, I felt really in tune with the way people felt and [that] naturally progressed into medicine,” he said. Dr McGregor is a mental health registrar in Melbourne and is believed to be the first Yolngu doctor from the NT.

While the 29-year-old has made great strides in his career, his journey has not come without its challenges. During his time as a junior doctor, he said he experienced bullying and discrimination by senior staff in the workplace. “There are times where [the discrimination] is more overt and in your face, then there are times where it’s a little bit more insidious,” he said. “Often it’s coming from consultants, so they’re specialists or registrars [who] are quite senior — there is that power imbalance.”

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has described the disproportionately high rates of workplace bullying and discrimination as “unacceptable” and raised concerns that it could drive First Nations trainees out of the profession. “It’s something that most of us have faced when we’ve gone through our own training,” AIDA Vice President Dr Simone Raye said. “We had hoped that things would improve for the future generation.” “It’s very concerning because senior staff can actually set the tone for the culture of the organisation that they’re working within.

To view the ABC News article Indigenous doctors call for cultural reform in health sector to address workplace discrimination in full click here and to watch a short video of Dr Mangatjay McGregor speaking about how he faced bullying and discrimination by senior staff during his time as a trainee doctor click here.

Dr Mangatjay McGregor. Photo supplied by: Peter Healy. Image source: ABC News.

Improved social determinants data needed

An article published in The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) today looks at why Australia needs better data on health inequities. The article says the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic shone a light on longstanding inequities in societies. Yet, too often, these inequities are effectively invisible, and we can only know if we are tackling them if we can measure them. A lack of appropriate data is an important reason why research that has helped our understanding of health inequities is unevenly distributed internationally, with much concentrated in Europe and North America. Although Australia has some leading global centres for population health research, a lack of appropriate data creates a barrier to undertaking such research here. However, the available evidence indicates that socio‐economic health inequities have increased since the 1980s.

A better understanding of what is happening is important for many reasons, not least the law of unintended consequences; policies designed to improve overall health can inadvertently widen health inequities. It is only by understanding the scale and nature of existing inequities and differential impacts of responses to them that we can assess the effect of policies and monitor progress. Improved data collection and analysis is the first essential step to building back fairer from the impacts of COVID‐19.

To view MJA article The need for improved Australian data on social determinants of health inequities in full click here.

Social determinants of health. Image source: PWC.

Major parties lack rural health commitment

The National Rural Health Alliance (the Alliance) have issue a media release pointing out that recent media reports have focused on the major parties’ lack of serious commitment to addressing the rural health crisis. The reports have highlighted the real-life implications for people struggling to access health care and the devastating consequences for communities. The Alliance emphasised that rural Australians are still waiting for any major party to address the glaring gap in election commitments to date and is calling on all political parties to commit to bold and immediate initiatives to address the rural health crisis now.

The Alliance is calling on political parties to recognise the critical needs of rural Australians and commit to addressing the rural health crisis immediately. The Alliance is promoting a model of rural primary care called RACCHOs (Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations) modelled on and complementing the successful and long-standing ACCHO (Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) model of primary care delivery.

You can view the Alliance’s media release Rural Australia can’t wait any longer for action on health care in full here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

A related ABC News article Doctor availability in regional Australia limited by declining workforce describes how Mount Gambier residents are waiting two or three weeks to visit their regular GP as a result of a shortfall that has failed to gain traction in federal election campaigning. It is an ongoing issue regional and rural Australians have been facing for more than a decade, with COVID placing additional pressures on an already overstretched workforce.

Despite this, Rural Doctors Association of Australia president Megan Belot said there had been almost “total silence” on rural health issues throughout the federal election campaign. “So far this election we have seen the Coalition budget initiative of more rural medical students and Labor promise more money for psychiatric telehealth appointments,” she said. “I’m sorry but that is just not enough. We need initiatives that will deliver doctors on the ground in the near future in addition to rural doctor training pathways and positions after they complete their university studies.”

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Health Times.

Portable ultrasounds for more equitable health

Imagine if family doctors, nurses, technicians could use handheld ultrasound devices to screen for everything from hip dysplasia to wrist fractures to heart disease from anywhere. A new approach to scans developed at the University of Alberta pairs the accessibility of portable ultrasound with an artificial intelligence app that can analyse thousands of previous results and provide remote diagnostic support within seconds. The goal is to make access to health care more equitable and improve outcomes for patients, said project lead Jacob Jaremko, a radiologist, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Artificial Intelligence (CIFAR) Chair at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute. “It really is a whole different model of care,” Jaremko said. “You’re taking expertise learned from the experts in the hospital and delivering it to the patients, rather than having the patients come to the hospital.”

It will help improve access to timely medical diagnoses and care, particularly for those living in remote and Indigenous communities. With Jaremko’s system, a non-expert can learn with brief training how to use a portable ultrasound device to scan for thyroid cancer, hip dysplasia in infants, breast cancer, heart and lung problems, and arm fractures. The images are uploaded and the AI app compares them with the results of many previous tests to determine whether there is an abnormality. In the video below Jacob Jaremko explains how his AI-based ultrasound system works and why it could increase access to vital diagnostic support for conditions like hip dysplasia.

To view the University of Alberta article Making health care more equitable one ultrasound image at a time – AI-powered portable ultrasound system makes scans and diagnoses accessible from anywhere in full, click here.

First Nations uni students paving the way

In Australia, only 1.9% of university students enrolled in 2018 identified as Indigenous, according to the most recent figures from Universities Australia. And of them, only 47% complete their degrees, compared to 74% of non-Indigenous students. Those figures are improving every year, but it’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure First Nations Australians are given every possible opportunity to go to uni, and to obtain their qualification. There are a multitude of hurdles that First Nations people face when going to university from language barriers, to discrimination to cultural differences obligations.

But, in the NT, where around 30% of the population is Indigenous, Charles Darwin University is on a mission to change the status quo, with a goal of becoming the most recognised university for Australian First Nations training, education and research. Deputy Vice-Chancellor for First Nations Leadership and Yuin/Wandandian and Ngarigo man, Professor Reuben Bolt, said there are a range of fundamental challenges potential Indigenous uni students face.

To view the Northern Beaches Review article Meet the First Nations university students paving the way to a more equal future in full click here.

Nyikina woman Hayley Shields

Nyikina woman Hayley Shields started a Bachelor of Environmental Science last year. Photo: Sarah Matthews. Image source: Northern Beaches Review.

Healthy Ears Clinic marks 10 year milestone

A landmark Victorian health partnership is heralding 10 years of work supporting the health of Indigenous populations. April marked one decade since the union between Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, and the launch of the Healthy Ears Clinic for Indigenous Children. Since 2012, the Ear and Eye Hospital has provided more than 220 ear, nose and throat surgeries, while the Healthy Ears Clinic has care for more than 1500 youths.

Eye and Ear hospital surgeon Stephen O’Leary said the partnership was born from a desire to improve health among Indigenous youth. Since the programs’ launch self-reported hearing problems in Indigenous children have reduced from 11% in 2001 to 6.9% in 2018-19. That rate is, however, still more than twice the rate for non-indigenous children.

Wormi man Kelvin Kong, Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, said an underlying barriers for Indigenous people to access healthcare remained an issue. “The system is designed poorly – it is unfriendly,” he said. “The system also doesn’t allow us to get the access we need.” Mr Kong said generationally disproportionate health problems could not be solved through biomedical intervention alone, adding structural change was needed. “We need to develop the pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a meaningful and real contribution,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Victorian Indigenous health services mark 10-year partnership milestone in full click here.

Image source: Macquarie University website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Asthma Day

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways, causing them to become inflamed, narrowed, swollen and sometimes blocked by mucus, making it hard to breathe. Common symptoms may include wheezing, felling short of breath, tightness in the chest and coughing. The exact cause of asthma are unknown, however, factors thought to contribute to it occurring include: genetics; exposure to tobacco smoke in the womb, or as a baby or child; air pollution; mouldy houses; being born premature (with a low birth weight) and prolonged intense exercise (occurring over several years).

Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory condition among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a major cause of morbidity. This may be due to risks such as smoking, as well as a lack of access to culturally appropriate health services and other social and environmental factors.

World Asthma Day (WAD) Tuesday 3 May 2022 is organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma, (GINA), a World Health Organization collaborative organisation founded in 1993.  WAD is held each May to raise awareness of Asthma worldwide. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma to reduce and prevent asthma attacks.

GINA has chosen ‘Closing Gaps in Asthma Care’ as the theme for the 2022 World Asthma Day. There are a number of gaps in asthma care, including access to diagnosis and treatment, which require intervention in order to reduce preventable suffering as well as the costs incurred by treating uncontrolled asthma.

For more information on World Asthma Day click here.

banner text 'closing gaps in asthma care World Asthma Day May 3, 2022

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

feature tile text 'Close the Gap Cmpaign Report 2022 - Transforming power: voices for generational change launches tomorrow' & 1972 photo of Aboriginal protestors

Image in feature tile from the Library & Archives NT is of demonstrators protesting for land rights outside the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, 20 July 1972.

Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Reconciliation Australia are delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2022 Close the Gap Campaign report “Transforming Power; Voices for generational change”, produced by the Lowitja Institute.

The report showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led community initiatives, that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, provide genuine opportunities for decision making and that strengthen and embed cultures.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see and hear keynote speakers and panel members talk about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their allies, are working to address health equity and equality.

The report will be launched tomorrow on National Close the Gap Day during the  webinar from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM AEDT Thursday 17 March 2022. To register for the webinar click here. The webinar is FREE, but registration is essential.

ACCHO partners with Diabetes SA

Towards the end of 2021, Moorundi ACCHS contacted Diabetes SA to arrange for an educator to visit their clinic to service the community in Murray Bridge. This partnership has been positive for both parties.

The local catchment area in Murray Bridge, SA, has a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and the rates of diabetes are high. Being a regional area, timely access to Credentialled Diabetes Educators is limited. Moorundi ACCHS identified this gap and reached out to Diabetes SA for assistance. Moorundi has partnered with Diabetes SA to have a Credentialled Diabetes Educator visit the clinic once a month to provide culturally appropriate consultations and education about diabetes. So far, we have had two successful clinics with a third scheduled for March 2022. Together, the aim is to improve the management of diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Murray Bridge.

To access the Moorundi ACCHS website click here and to access the Diabetes SA website click here.

Moorundi ACCHS staff. Image source: Moorundi ACCHS website.

AMA calls out dumping of PHC 10-year plan

The AMA is calling on the Federal Government to urgently release its Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan, which appears to have been dumped, despite over two years of development and significant input from stakeholders. The Government gave a commitment in October 2019 to develop a national Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan to strengthen and modernise Australia’s primary health care system.

The system has been struggling to cope with an increasing workload as the Australian population ages and people’s health needs become more complex. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Government’s failure to deliver the reform and support necessary to equip GPs into the future represented a major policy backflip.

To view the AMA’s media release in full click here.

Image source: Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform

Family violence surges after floods

Catastrophic flooding in NSW and SE Queensland has led to lost lives, homes, belongings, pets and livelihoods. As the process of cleaning up after the floods continues, we can expect an often unspoken outcome of natural disasters. Domestic violence rates surge during and after bushfires, pandemics, earthquakes, cyclones and floods.

Fear and uncertainty are common during disasters and people’s reactions to disasters vary. In some, these feelings can trigger domestic and other types of violence. The many associated losses related to disasters – including loss of homes and their contents, cars and livelihoods – often cause financial strain, which may also place added pressure on families and relationships.

Grief, loss and trauma can also leave people feeling overwhelmed and test a person’s coping skills. Experiencing life-threatening situations or those that bring about loss and trauma can also lead to mental health issues, such as PTSD. This too, can complicate family dynamics and change people’s ability to cope. Drug and alcohol use often soars during and after disasters, which may also exacerbate tensions in relationships.

When people are displaced and need to stay with other community members or in shelters, the rates of violence against women also rises. In those cases, women and children tend to experience more violence in general, not just domestic violence.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

A related article looks at the first episode of Taking care for 2022 – a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.

screenshot of Taking care Health practitioners' role in eliminating family violence whooshkaa, 43:12 minutes' & image of two female GPs

Image source: Ahpra & National Boards website.

RANZCO launches vision for eye equity

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has launched its “vision for 2030 and beyond” that aims to deliver equal and sustainable access to eye care for all. The ambitious plan was described at RANZCO Scientific Congress, a virtual event held from 26 February to 1 March 2022.

In his opening address, RANZCO President Professor Nitin Verma highlighted the importance of sight to general well-being and the impact of eye disease and low vision, including increased dementia, falls, car crashes etc. as well as the economic/financial cost. He said “considerable” inequity of access to eye care across Australia is often the single cause of irreversible, unnecessary and preventable vision loss.

The plan has been launched in response to a request in 2021 from the Federal Minister for Health, for a plan that would close the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and ensure equitable eye care for all Australians, with the aim of eliminating avoidable visual impairment and blindness. The evidence-based plan looks at the problems RANZCO currently sees in eye healthcare delivery through six key areas of focus: service delivery, workforce and training, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare, global eye health, preventative healthcare and sustainability.

To view the mivision The Ophthalmic Journal article in full click here. The short film below examines the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Impacts of racism on health and wellbeing

The Australian Government Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner (ONRHC) has issued a Position Statement: impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. The key points of the statement include:

There is strong evidence of the impact of racism and barriers to accessing health services for Indigenous people negatively impacting a range of health outcomes for Indigenous people irrespective of geography
• Racism negatively impacts the attraction, recruitment, retention and leadership opportunities of the Indigenous health workforce.
• Understanding and addressing racism is a key to increasing the uptake of health services and improving health outcomes.
• Transformational change can only be achieved when Indigenous knowledge and cultures are acknowledged and recognised and services are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

The statement says the ONRHC will work towards dismantling racism in the health sector by working closely with Indigenous leaders and peak health organisations to advise Governments, medical institutions, colleges and universities to ensure racism is acknowledged and addressed.

You can access the ONRHC Position Statement in full here.

Image source: New Scientist.

Creating equitable access to hearing healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have among the highest rates of otitis media and hearing loss in the world – and social determinants of health such as hygiene, nutrition and overcrowding of housing are key risk factors for otits media. From the start of their lives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children experience inequity in hearing health – Indigenous children aged up to 14 years are three times as likely to have otitis media as non-Indigenous children, and are twice as likely to have a long-term ear/hearing problem. Hearing loss can have a catastrophic effect on the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, impacting the life trajectory from childhood development to academic outcomes through to over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Early intervention is critical to diagnosing and treating ear disease and improving the quality of children’s lives. However, despite decades of research demonstrating that early detection and timely intervention are key to diagnosing and treating ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, not enough progress has been made in providing culturally safe, accessible and equitable hearing health services.

The interview conducted by the Director of the HEAR Centre at Macquarie University, Professor Catherine McMahon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, Professor Tom Calma, Professor Kelvin Kong and Associate Professor Boe Rambaldini examined the problems and solutions for creating better, culturally appropriate services to meet the needs of communities where hearing health problems are being neglected.

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

Image source: Macquarie University website.

Hidden e-cigarette dangers awareness campaign

Young people are urged to quit vaping and know the facts and dangers of e-cigarettes, which can contain harmful substances found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell have launched Get the Facts – Vaping Toolkit and NSW Health awareness campaign.

The campaign, which is aimed at secondary students, reminds parents, carers, young people and teachers vaping is not safe and can have harmful, long-term effects to the physical and brain development of young people. Minister Hazzard said that research has proven that e-cigarettes are just as addictive and harmful as regular cigarettes. “It makes it pretty obvious as to the harm it can cause to youngsters’ lungs.”

Many vapes contain nicotine, some at extremely high concentrations, even if they are not labelled as such, and evidence suggests they can lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. NSW Health has worked with the NSW Department of Education to develop the Vaping Toolkit, which contains evidence-based resources and educational materials for parents, carers, young people and schools, to combat the rising number of children and young people who are trying or taking up vaping.

To view The Pulse article in full click here and the NSW Government NSW Health Do you know what you’re vaping? website page here.

Image source: The Guardian.

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.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout will now be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 17 March 2022.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Group, Austrlaian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC Four Corners

feature tile text 'four corners investigates RHD - the hidden killer in remote Australian communities' & image of young Aboriginal boy have heart scan

Feature tile image of RHD patient, Trey, receiving a handheld echo scan in Manigrida. Image source: Katherine Times.

NACCHO CEO on ABC Four Corners

Right now, in Australia there are young people dying from an easily preventable medical condition and an appalling lack of healthcare. This should be a national scandal. ABC Four Corners has investigated the shameful and, until now, hidden failure in public health taking place in remote Australian communities in it’s episode Heart Failure: An investigation into the hidden killer in remote Australian communities.

During the episode NACCHO CEO Pat Turner talks about the serious health crisis of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and exposing the many unique issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Heart Failure, reported by Louise Milligan, goes to air on Monday 7 March at 8.30 PM. It is replayed on Tuesday 8 March at 11.00 PM and Wednesday 9 March at 10:00 AM. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10 PM AEST, ABC iview and here.

You can view the trailer to the Heart Failure episode here.

tile of 4 Corners episode text 'heart failure', image of graves with heart headstones; 4 corners logo

Celebrating the Women of Yarrabah

There’s no mistaking the contribution that women make in our lives and their importance in community. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (GYHS) are publishing and saluting 31 outstanding women from the Yarrabah Community.

The ‘Women of Yarrabah’ project is an important recognition of the incredible contributions to family and community these inspiring women have made over the past 70 years. From CEO’s through to health workers and community elders the ‘Women of Yarrabah’ will shine the spotlight strongly upon a very humble and unassuming section of the Yarrabah Community.

Each day during March GYHS will publish a new ‘Women of Yarrabah’ profile. GYHS CEO, Suzanne Andrews praised the contribution that community members, “We have so many incredible and truly inspiring women in Yarrabah. They are mothers, daughters, grand-mothers first and foremost, but for many they also many of the key workers that keep our community moving forward. Like women everywhere, they are mothers first and workers second. They contribute to the financial security of the family as well as running the family and in many cases, they are the glue the binds the family. We are so proud to bring these stories forward, to give a voice to these silent community champions. As a community we acknowledge the tremendous contribution that our women make.”

To read the GYHS media statement regarding the Women of Yarrabah project click here. The ‘Women of Yarrabah’ profiles can be found of the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service website here.

From top L–R GYHS staff: Renee Grosso, RN Public Health; Suzanne Andrews, CEO, Tamar Patterson; SEWB Manager; Paula Burns, EN, member of the Community Recall team; Lucresia Willett, Cultural Mentor & Youth Wellbeing Program Manager; and Belita Kynuna, Health Worker.

NACCHO pharmacy scholarship update

Last month NACCHO has announced the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. The Scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO would like to thank everyone who has submitted applications for the scholarship and we’re excited to be able to announce the successful applicants in the coming weeks.

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacists and pharmacy students are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession. Building leadership and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals is a critical enabler in supporting cultural safety in the health sector. This financial support combined with mentorship will provide a tangible way to help students to thrive in their professional training and stands to build confident and self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy sector leaders.”

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist said, “Another example of the outstanding leadership of NACCHO and the commitment to the future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy workforce through the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. So delighted to see scholarships supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.”

For more information on the scholarship, visit the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship webpage here.

* If you had hoped to apply, but didn’t get the application in on time, please contact NACCHO as soon as possible on 02 6246 9304 or via email here.

* proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi.

Aged care culture and connections

Wiradjuri and Wongkumara woman, Alynta, considers herself fortunate to have landed her dream job as an aged care worker, caring for older Australians in their homes. Working with clients, Alynta treasures the relationships she gets to build, learning from them, hearing their stories and experiences. “I’ve always wanted to look after Elders, that’s just what you do in an Aboriginal community. Being able to give back to those who’ve cared for others, provide for them, it’s just something I’ve always felt obligated to do,” Alynta said.

With an ingrained drive to care for others it is little wonder Alynta found herself working in aged care. With family from Bourke, far west NSW, Alynta grew up in Condobolin and was raised in a large family of twelve by her Aunty, who she calls Mum. At aged sixteen, Alynta became a young mum herself to a beautiful baby girl. Finishing high school with a newborn was no easy feat, but Alynta was determined to do so. Support from family played a large part in her successfully completing high school and commencing university studies in nursing.

However, Alynta decided that, with a young family, it wasn’t the right time to juggle university and family life. She moved back home to Condobolin where family support and some inspirational Aunties encouraged her to study a Certificate III in Individual Support, starting her career in aged care. “Working in aged care has taught me patience, to be kind and open minded. I feel it has made me a better person in general, but definitely makes me a better mum. Our older people, they impart a lot of knowledge, and because I live so far away from my family, they teach me the things I need to know to approach certain things in life,” Alynta said, reflecting on her role.

“Having more Indigenous people working in the care and support sector motivates the younger generations too. It would be great to have a higher percentage of Indigenous people working in the sector, caring for mob” Alynta said. One thing is certain, working in aged care has provided Alynta with many opportunities for growth and insight into others and herself. In every way it reflects – A Life Changing Life.

You can access the Alynta’s case study in full here.

aged care worker Alynta McKellar, Wiradjuri & Wongkumara woman

Wiradjuri and Wongkumara woman, Alynta McKellar.

CATSINaM marks 25 years of activism

The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) has launched a campaign to celebrate its 25-year anniversary and its powerful history of collective and individual activism. The #CATSINAM25Years campaign was launched this week in a national online webinar with messages of support from founding and current members, former and current board members, the nursing and midwifery union and the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Professor Alison McMillan.

CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djaku-nde peoples, said Indigenous nurses and midwives drew on the strength of the organisation’s founders to face current challenges. “Our model of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control that our Elders and ancestors envisaged 25 years ago provides a strong foundation and the words ‘Unity and Strength through Caring’ gifted then have guided us through these turbulent times,” Professor West said in a statement.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.CATSINaM logo - text 'CATSINaM ltd Congress of ATSI nurses & midwives - unity and strength through caring'

Campaign to tackle smoking rates

Carat Adelaide has launched a new campaign for SA Health – Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) titled “Give Up Smokes”. The challenge faced is that although there has been a decrease in Aboriginal smoking prevalence, tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal people. Smoking-related illnesses cause half of all deaths in Aboriginal people over the age of 45.

This campaign focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal South Australians by reducing the impact of tobacco smoking. The message is ‘live for the moments’, i.e. moments enjoying more quality time with children and family as a key motivator to quit.

Working with creative agency WDM and DASSA, Carat has rolled out a strong multi-channelled campaign using custom DSP targeting in the digital space to convert to site with high impact assets, while balancing the need for broadcast media for awareness in the outdoor space. WDM have overlaid QR codes on street and retail panels in suburbs that have the highest smoking rates in Adelaide, providing quick access to sites for ways to quit, and how to get support while doing so.

Manager of the Tobacco Control Unit in DASSA, Clinton Cenko, said this was a campaign formed from the leadership and vision of Aboriginal community leaders, with guidance from communities. “The campaign’s purpose is to reduce the gap between Aboriginal smoking prevalence and that of the rest of the SAcommunity,” he said. “Smoking is four times more prevalent in Aboriginal communities than in the overall SA population, so this messaging is really important.”

To view the Carat article in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl with arms around father text'quit smoking and live for the moments'

Image source: Carat website.

To Hear for Life: Listen with Care

World Hearing Day held yesterday, had the theme “To Hear for Life: Listen with Care”. The specific focus was on what it feels like to be hearing impaired. In 2021 the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the World Report on Hearing that highlighted the increasing number of people living with and at risk of hearing loss. It found that hearing loss in on the rise, with over 1.5 people worldwide affected by hearing loss. Early detection and intervention programs offer the best outcomes.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is proud to be able to offer a range of audiometry screening services to identify children who may be hearing impaired to allow for early intervention, including the Statewide Infant Screening for Hearing (SWISH) program, whereby all newborn babies born in the MLHD are offered a non-invasive hearing screen. The screening is done very soon after birth so that families and babies can receive early treatment if required.

Audiometry screening is also available at selected Community Health sites including Deniliquin, Wagga Wagga, Young, Cootamundra, West Wyalong & Tumut. GP Referral for Audiometry services is required and received through the Community Care Intake Service (CCIS). MLHD Aboriginal Health Services run the Otitis Media (OM) Screening Program where Aboriginal Health Staff attend schools and preschools to perform Otitis Media screening and education. The screening includes otoscopy, tympanometry and audiogram.

MLHD Director of Clinical Governance, Jill Reyment is using World Hearing Day as a platform to further educate staff about their interactions with co-workers and consumers who may present with deafness. “We are fortunate to have community nurse Anna–Maree Bloomfield working with us. Anna-Maree is deaf and she will be delivering a webinar to staff about communication and sharing her lived experience,” said Ms Reyment.

“Anna-Maree has worked within a variety of roles for NSW Health for over the past 20 years and has to overcome many communication barriers and obstacles around communicating effectively within the workforce. The past two years have posed a significant challenge for Anna-Maree, as she relies on lip-reading to communicate, and mask wearing mandates associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic meant we had to rethink ways to facilitate her ability to communicate with staff and patients.

You can view a video of Anna-Marree below and view the NSW Government Health MLHD article in full click here.

Eye and Ear survey launched

About 5,000 people are expected to participate in Australia’s first national survey combining ear and eye health, launched yesterday to coincide with World Hearing Day. ‘The Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey’ is a national study that will assess the prevalence of eye and ear conditions, as well as risk factors and impacts of vision and hearing loss in the community. It will be the country’s first hearing national survey, and its second vision study building on the National Eye Health Survey in 2016.

Director of Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WMIR) Vision Research Professor Paul Mitchell is leading the study, and inaugural cochlear chair in hearing and health at Macquarie University Hearing, Professor Bamini Gopinath, is leading the ear health component. Gopinath said vision and hearing loss were key health issues in Australia, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and older, more than 11% have a vision impairment or are blind, and up to 82% have some form of hearing loss,” she said.

“Our researchers will be door knocking in eligible communities in city, regional and remote areas to invite people to take part, with the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and older and non-Indigenous Australians aged 50 and older. Participants will have their vision and hearing tested, and will be surveyed to help us build up a picture of what sort of factors are influencing hearing and vision loss, and how these impairments affect people.”

For further information about the survey you can access the full Insight article here.

Aboriginal dark grey, white, orange art with hands ear, eyes & text 'Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey'

Image source: Insight website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March June Oscar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner is inviting you to listen to and celebrate First Nation’s women by watching and sharing a beautiful animation featuring the real-life voices of First Nations women and celebrating their ongoing contributions to their communities.

  • Watch our animation – Yajilarra Nhingi, Mindija Warrma (From Dreams, Let’s Make it Reality).
  • Share the animation – on social media or by screening it at your workplace or school.
  • Take action to support First Nations gender justice and equality.

“Women are the social fabric of our communities and the glue that holds everything together. We are sovereign women. It is time to listen to our voices now.”  Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) is a ground-breaking report and project, driven by First Nations Women and Girls across the nation. Now in its implementation stage, Wiyi Yani U Thangani is building towards a national summit and framework to advance First Nations gender justice and equality. This International Women’s Day, celebrate the strength of First Nations women. Watch, listen and support women’s voices and Wiyi Yani U Thangani.

tile: vector image of Aboriginal women & text 'International women's day Tuesday 8 March 2022'

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Anti-viral treatments an important tool

feature tile text 'NACCHO MA says new oral covid-19 treatments important for immunocompromised' & photo of white red capsule

Anti-viral treatments an important tool

North Queensland will be first in line to receive two new oral COVID-19 treatments made available in Australian this week. The drugs, Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) are an additional treatment for vulnerable Australians who contract COVID-19. NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agostino spoke on ABC North Queensland Local News this morning, saying the drugs will be an important tool for immunocompromised patients in addition to already approved intravenous medicine. “Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have risk factors that mean they are more likely to get severe COVID-19, things like kidney disease, heart disease and lung disease,” Dr Agostino said. You can listen to the ABC North Queensland Local News segment here.

First Nations children’s hearing health

Hearing Australia’s Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) is collaborating with First Nations communities across Australia to raise awareness of the importance of ear and hearing health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the launch of a new storybook and series of events centred around the ‘Spirit of Sound’.

The new children’s book the ‘Spirit of Sound’, is a collaboration with artist Davinder Hart, of the Noongar nation and will be made free to organisations who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children across the country in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of regular hearing checks early in life.

“I’m very proud to work with Hearing Australia to highlight the importance of sound to myself and to Indigenous people,” said Davinder. “When we hear sound it travels through our ears into our bodies and wakes up our feelings. In this book you can see the spirits of sound and how it moves around like a message being sent. When we start to listen, we can start to learn.”

To coincide with World Hearing Day today, the Spirit of Sound will be released as an eBook on the Hearing Australia website, along with a suite of new resources and a Q&A for parents and community with Worimi man and ear, nose and throat surgeon Professor Kelvin Kong.

Professor Kong is joined by First Nations HAPEE spokespeople from across the country, Wiradjuri man and father Luke Carroll, Gumbaynggirr, Dhungatti, Torres Strait Islander mother Elsie Seriat, and Noongar mother and grandmother Daniella Borg. Professor Kelvin Kong says the issue is close to his heart. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and our mob are more likely to get affected by hearing issues and their effects,” said Kelvin. “The problem with that is that it means our language, our development, our speech, and our progression through life can be hampered. I encourage all our community to take that first step, book in and get your kids, your nieces, nephews or grandkids a hearing check so they can be ready to listen and learn.”

For further information about the HAPEE Ears For Early Years Hearing Assessment Program click here.

Aboriginal artist & storybook illustrator Davinder Hart holding up two copies of The Spirit of Sound storybook

Aboriginal artist and storybook illustrator Davinder Hart. Image source: Hearing Australia.

Connecting culture to cancer care

Family, culture, strength and support are at the heart of a new artwork welcoming Aboriginal people to the Nepean Cancer and Wellness Centre. Titled ‘Battle Against Cancer’, the art is the creation of 19-year-old local artist, Aiesha Pettit-Young, a proud Wiradjuri and Wongaibon descendant. The artwork is a particularly personal creation for Ms Pettit-Young, who says, “Cancer has affected my family these past three years. This artwork is for my family and others who are experiencing this too.”

“I hope my art encourages Aboriginal patients to keep fighting and stay strong. To know they’ve got a thousand ancestors walking behind them and they can come in here and feel comfortable culturally,” Ms Pettit-Young says. Ms Pettit-Young created her artwork in response to an invitation from the Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre, who sought submissions from local Aboriginal artists to help create a more positive, welcoming and culturally appropriate environment for patients, carers and visitors.

As the winning artwork, elements of Ms Pettit-Young’s piece have also been incorporated into the facility’s wayfinding features that help guide patients to their appointments. Inclusive initiatives such as this can help make a difference to the experience of Aboriginal people accessing health services, the young artist says.

You can view the full story and watch a video featuring Aiesha Pettit-Young talking about her artwork click here.

Nepean Cancer & Wellness Centre staff (3 women) with Aboriginal artist Aiesha Pettit-Young holding artwork

Victorian Stolen Generations redress scheme

The Andrews Labor Government has today unveiled its landmark Stolen Generations Reparations Package, recognising the lasting suffering caused by the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Members of the Stolen Generations will be able to access financial reparations, an apology from the state and healing support, with applications opening on Thursday 31 March 2022.

The package has been designed by and for Aboriginal people, backed by an investment of $155 million from the Labor Government. The Stolen Generations Reparations Steering Committee engaged with more than 400 members of Victoria’s Stolen Generations and their families during the consultation process in 2021. Those who are eligible can apply to receive financial reparations of $100,000, as well as a personal apology from the Government, access to healing and reconnection to Country programs, and an opportunity to share their story.

To view Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ media release in full click here.

Kutcha Edwards hugging tearful Eva Jo Edwards & Mick Edwards

A tearful Kutcha Edwards, Eva Jo Edwards and Mick Edwards said the redress scheme was about righting past wrongs. Photo: Simon Schulter. Image source: The Age.

Midland mental health centre opens

A new Midland Head to Health adult mental health centre has opened its doors for the first time this week to people seeking support for mild to moderate mental health concerns, including stress and anxiety, in Perth’s eastern suburbs. It provides a new approach in the mental health system and removes some of the traditional barriers for people seeking support for mental health concerns by offering a free, community-based walk-in service available from 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM every day of the year.

Midland Head to Health is part of an Australian Government initiative to trial a number of adult mental health centres nationally, to improve access to mental health services for people experiencing distress and who condition may be too complex for many existing primary care services, but don’t meet the criteria for acute services.

With input from members of the community with lived experience, it has been co-designed to feel welcoming and safe for everyone who visits, including LGBTIQ+ people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

To view the PHN Perth North Midland Head to Health media release in full click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt &* Senior Whadjuk man Vaughn McGuire in front of mental bin with smoking gum leaves

Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP and Senior Whadjuk man Vaughn McGuire at opening of Midland Head to Health.

$10.7m for NT FV services

Funding under the National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence responses will be tripled to boost frontline services in the NT in response to the chronic rates of violence and to work towards our Closing the Gap commitments. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston has announced an additional $10.7 million on top of the funding being provided under the $260 million National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses. “The rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children in the NT are devastating and must be urgently addressed,” Minister Ruston said.

To view Senator Ruston’s media release in full click here.

card with cartoon drawing of Aboriginal man punching woman, kids crying

Image source: ABC News.

Solutions to accessing rural health care

A specialised roundtable discussion with rural health consumers has resulted in recommendations to help address gaps in accessing health services in rural, regional and remote Australia. The recommendations contained in a report published this week were made by participants of the Rural, Regional and Remote Roundtable on Health Service Access. The roundtable was facilitated by Consumers Health Forum (CHF) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) in December 2021.

The roundtable brought together rural consumers and experts across a range of medical and allied health disciplines to discuss issues that impact the most significant health challenge facing rural and remote communities – the equity of access to affordable, quality treatment and services. CHF and NRHA are leading advocates for improving rural health services and consumer health outcomes and say it is unacceptable that between city and rural there is a great divide in health service availability, choice, access and affordability.

Ten recommendations came out of the roundtable discussions, including changing Medicare to allow rebates for more than one health consultation or medical procedure per day and increasing the rebate for mental health care; funding local community groups to improve digital health literacy; developing a vocational (VET) training course for a health care coordinator role focusing entirely on patient navigation of the healthcare system; and advocating for the Rural Area Community Controlled Health Organisations  (RACCHO) model of primary health care services.

To view the NRHA and CHF media release in full click here.

highway road sign Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Wyndham

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Hearing Day

World Hearing Day in Australia is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss, and to promote better ear protection and health across the world. The global theme of this year’s World Hearing Day is ‘To hear for life, listen with care’.

Hearing loss costs the Australian economy more than $15 billion a year. Then there’s the personal cost that we can’t put a dollar figure on. Hearing is vital for people’s communication abilities, quality of life, social participation, and health.

For more information on World Hearing Day 2022 visit the WHO website here.

tile text 'world hearing day 3 March' & outline of ear, sound waves & globe with Australia visible at top of the ear