NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Care for Elders must draw on culture

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

Care for Elders must draw on culture

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

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

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

exterior of VACCHO building with mural Aboriginal artwork

Image source: The Conversation.

Video helps improve musculoskeletal health

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

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

To view the video click here.

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

Image source: Dragon Claw.

Indigenous aged care must be community controlled

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vision 2020 Australia welcome Royal Commission recommendations

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

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

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

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

health professional removing eye bandage from elderly Aboriginal man

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Aboriginal healthy ageing – the Ironbark Project

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

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

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

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

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

Mental health report a template for the nation

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

To view the CHF media release click here.

Aboriginal flag with text 'Mental health does not discriminate'

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

Only 10% of remote NT kids have healthy ears

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal Health Worker examining ear of Aboriginal youth

Image source: newsGP.

Yarning towards life after stroke

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

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

To view the Stroke Foundation article in full click here.

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

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

CARE for Rural Australia comes to Queensland

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

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

To view the OzHelp media release click here.

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine for people affected by cancer

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Guardian.

Legal challenge launched over proposed Dan Murphy’s store

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

To view Danila Dilba’s media release here.

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

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

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

Hearing loss and dementia research

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

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

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

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

NSW – Narooma – Katungul Aboriginal Corporation

Chief Executive Officer x 1 FT – Narooma

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

Katungul is seeking a dynamic, forward thinking CEO to lead the delivery of health and wellbeing services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in southern NSW. The CEO will be responsible for strengthening partnerships with local health providers, expansion of the current operating areas and development of a community engagement strategy to ensure that services on offer remain relevant and in line with their client’s needs.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close Friday 19 March 2021.Katungul ACCHO logo black duck flying across curved Aboriginal brown yellow black art, inside ochre circle with golden yellow fill, silhouette of man, woman, girl & boy at bottom of the circle, text 'Health Care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communities

NSW – Newcastle – University of Newcastle

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

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

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

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

NSW – Sydney – University of Sydney

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

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

To view the position description click here.

Applications close midnight Sunday 14 March 2021.

model of a kidney showing inside of the kidney

Image source: Technology Networks website.

Hearing Awareness Week – 1–7 March

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

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

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

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

2021 Close the Gap Campaign report launch

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

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

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

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

Dr Janine Mohamed
CEO, Lowitja Institute

and special guest

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

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


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

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

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


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

World Hearing Day events and resources support Indigenous ear health

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

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

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

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

View the full media release by Hearing Australia here.

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

New 2020 Otitis Media Guidelines available

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

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

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

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

Support for Anti-Racism Framework

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Guardian.

Improving COVID-19 vaccine rollout engagement with diverse communities

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

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

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

gloved hands administering vaccine

Image source: ABC News website.

Key takeaways from the aged care royal commission’s report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full story reported in The Conversation here.

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

Image source: UnitingCare Queensland.

Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin releases new publications

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

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

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

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

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

Inappropriate medical advertising exploits vulnerable people

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

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

Read the AMA media release here.

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

Image source: BenefitsPRO.

COVID-19 vaccine recipients report positive experience

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

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

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

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

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

Hear! Hear! Look after your Ears!

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

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

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

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

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

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke. Image source: The Australian.

Specialised aged care needed for Stolen Generations survivors

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Manager x 2 FT – Brisbane, Canberra or Darwin

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

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

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

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

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

Close the Gap Campaign Report Launch Via Webinar

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Unique funding enables First Nations-led COVID-19 research

feature tile - older Aboriginal man with Aboriginal flag sweatband & ceremonial paint on face waving to camera

First Nations-led COVID-19 research funding

A unique $2 million funding round has privileged First Nations voices and resulted in high-quality COVID-19 research projects that will result in better outcomes for First Nations communities. The 11 projects from across Australia were awarded funding from the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) Centre of Research Excellence, based on a $2 million donation from the Paul Ramsay Foundation to support the development of effective responses to COVID-19 for First Nations communities. Townsville-based APPRISE investigator Professor Adrian Miller of the Jirrbal people of North Queensland and Director of the Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research at CQ University says APPRISE gave the space for a First Nations-led process that began with the creation of the APPRISE First Nations Council to advise on all aspects of  the grant process from research priorities to evaluation criteria.

To view the APPRISE media release click here.

Two Aboriginal women & 3 Aboriginal children walking on Country away from the camera

Image source: Standford News, Standford University website.

Start evaluating for impact

How do you know if your programs are making a difference?

Interplay works with communities to design evaluations that measure the things that communities value. The Interplay Project is designed to bring the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members into research and evaluation with a vision that all people are empowered to experience optimal wellbeing from the safety and strength of their own culture. Interplay work towards this by collaboratively building science around different ways of knowing and being. To view the Interplay Project’s new website click here.

The Interplay Project also recently launched a mobile app, Disability in the Bush on behalf of the NDIS. You can check out the mobile app, available in five different Aboriginal languages by clicking here.

Five Aboriginal women, two Aboriginal children & a terrier dog sitting on bare weathered red rocks

Image source: The Interplay Project website.

WA Connecting to Country grant program

The Connecting to Country grant program supports projects that enable Western Australian Aboriginal people and organisations to undertake on Country trips to renew links between community, Country and culture. Grants up to $25,000 are available for a wide range of activities that foster the transfer of knowledge between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities. Activities may include those that improve understanding of Country, ancestry and kinship and promote positive mental health, wellbeing and resilience through community-led cultural healing projects.

For further information about the Connecting to Country grant program click here. Grant applications close on 10 November 2020.

Aboriginal elder of Nyikina country, John Watson show grandchildren his special lands in WA's Kimberley area

Aboriginal elder of Nyikina country, John Watson show grandchildren his special lands in WA’s Kimberley area. Image source: St Stephen’s School website.

Free palliative care online training program

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has developed a free online training program to help aged and community care workers, carers, volunteers, family members and health professionals who provide palliative care to aged persons in the community. Every person’s needs are unique and sorting your way through the emotional and social stresses faced by a dying person and their family can be difficult. The modules will help those involved in providing end of life care develop skills and confidence in that role.

To find out more about the AHHA palliative care training program and to register click here.

Aboriginal hand held within two other Aboriginal hands

Image source: Aged Care Guide website.

Fierce Girls wellbeing resources

An ABC podcast Fierce Girls tells the stories of Australian girls who dare to do things differently, adventurous girls, girls with guts and spirit. Among the inspiring tales of some of Australia’s most extraordinary women are those of Ash Barty and Nova Peris.

For more information about the ABC Fierce Girls podcast click here.

snapshot of cartoon drawing of Ash Barty from ABC Fierce Girls podcast webpage

Image source: ABC website.

University fee hikes put CtG targets at risk

The Federal Government’s “job-ready” university reforms will dramatically increase the cost of courses in the social sciences, a consistently popular discipline amongst Indigenous students. According to the latest national data, 33 per cent of Indigenous students chose to enrol in social science degrees compared to 19 per cent of the general cohort. Experts are concerned the changes will disproportionately disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, by lumping them with more debt or deterring them from study altogether — scenarios which both stand to jeopardise national higher education targets agreed to just months ago. Wiradjuri man Lachlan McDaniel believes his arts degree was “probably the best thing that ever happened” to him, but fears new laws passed this week will make it much tougher for other Indigenous students to get the same opportunities.

To view the full article click here.

Wiradjuri man Lachlan McDaniel graduating from arts/law degree

Wiradjuri man Lachlan McDaniel graduating from an Arts/Law degree. Image source: ABC website.

NSW – Casino – Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation

FT/PT Practice Nurse

Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation (BNMAC) Richmond Valley is looking for a motivated Practice Nurse to join our team in Casino NSW with part time and full time work options available. The Registered Nurse will take a proactive role to assist clients to address health issues in a holistic way at BNMAC’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. BNAMC endeavors to take a proactive approach working with local communities to raise awareness of health issues and to develop and implement intervention strategies in the treatment of chronic conditions.

To view the job description click here. Applications close Saturday 14 November 2020.Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation logo

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

FT Aboriginal Family Violence Practice Leader

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative has a vacancy for a full-time Aboriginal Family Violence Practice Leader. This is a leadership position co-located in The Orange Door site and will have a significant role to work closely with services to lead high quality, culturally safe and effective responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking support and safety. The Orange Door is a free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children.

To view the position description click here. Applications close 4.00 pm Monday 2 November 2020.Rumbalara clinic & logo

Working from home, any location – Hearing Australia

FT Manager of Aboriginal Engagement and Awareness for HAPEE

Hearing Australia is currently recruiting for a Manager of Aboriginal Engagement and Awareness for the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE). This is a national team of 11 Community Engagement Officers that among many things establish and facilitate free hearing assessments primarily in Aboriginal Medical Services, Childcare Centres and CP clinics nationally. This role is responsible for: ensuring that the Community Engagement Officers can effectively engage with primary health and early education services in their locations; ensuring targets for number of locations that Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE) operates in are met; working with marketing on the development and delivery of culturally appropriate awareness campaigns; expanding HAPEE so that families who use private medical services are aware of and can access the program; providing high quality advice and support to senior management of Australian Hearing.

To view the job description click here. Applications close as as soon as a pool of suitable applicants are identified.Hearing Australia logo - outline of Australia using soundwaves

Across Australia (except Vic & Tas) – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

2021 Census Engagement Manager x 35 (25 in remote areas, 10 in urban/regional locations)

The ABS is recruiting Census Engagement Managers for the 2021 Census. Due to the close working relationship with the community, 35 Census Engagement Manager positions will be only open to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants. Census Engagement Managers are specialised roles requiring a high degree of community interaction. They will be working within communities telling people about the Census and ensuring everyone can take part and get the help they need. Where possible, Census Engagement Managers will be recruited locally. To view a recruitment poster click here.

For further information on the roles and to apply click here.

Applications for Census Engagement Manager roles are open now and close Thursday 5 November 2020. ABS 2021 Census Engagement Manager banner

older Aboriginal man looking directly at camera with Aboriginal male youth in background - image from Diabetes Australia website

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations People should not pay price for Australia’s economic recovery

First Nations people should not pay price for economic recovery

The Edmund Rice Centre today expressed serious concern at the disregard for the needs of First Nations Peoples and Refugees in the 2020–21 Federal Budget. “It has been said that the Federal Budget is statement on the nation’s priorities. Clearly if that is the case, judging by this Budget, First Nations Peoples, refugees and people seeking asylum – some of the most vulnerable people to the pandemic – are very low priorities for this Government”, Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia said. Two months ago the Prime Minister signed a new Closing the Gap Agreement committing Federal and State Governments to a long-term program to finally reduce the huge disparities in life expectancy, health, incarceration, education and employment between First Nations peoples and other Australians. “Prime Minister Morrison’s signing of the new Closing the Gap Agreement just two months ago was a welcome step, but in last night’s Budget the Government provided no resources to make it happen”, Mr Glendenning said. 

To view the Edmund Rice Centre media release click here.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) CEO, Jill Gallagher agreed, saying a lack of Federal Government support towards Closing the Gap targets was a major omission in a Budget that would provide some hip pocket relief and new jobs for young people but delivered “nothing of substance” for Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Gallagher said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg mentioned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders just once in his speech. She described the lack of money for new Closing the Gap measures as “dispiriting”. “There are a number of targets which all levels of Government have committed too but where is the investment?”, she asked.

To view the article about the VACCHO comments click here.

Funding to improve health of First Nations families

A program that is already showing unprecedented success in improving the health and employment outcomes of First Nations families has been awarded $2.5 million in funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Led by the team at Charles Darwin University’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the College of Nursing and Midwifery, the project is focused on providing the Best Start to Life for First Nations women, babies and families and has been awarded a Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) grant. Co-director of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre Associate Professor Yvette Roe said the funding would allow the centre to expand and build on a current program that had resulted in a 50% reduction in preterm birth and 600% increase in First Nations employment.

To read the full article click here.

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea

Women and researchers during the Caring for Mum on Country project, Galiwinku, Northern Territory. (L-R)-Yvette Roe, Dhurruurawuy, wurrpa Maypilama, Sarah Ireland, Wagarr and Sue Kildea. Image source: Katherine Times.

Palawa man heads mainstream health peak body

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has announced the appointment of Palawa man Scott Willis as its 22nd national president, the first Indigenous president of a mainstream health peak body in Australia. Scott, who commences his two year term on 1 January 2021, said “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health remains a priority area for our profession. We’re going to ensure not only that we are a culturally safe, engaged profession by listening to, learning from and working with First Nations peoples, but we’re going to make physio a known, viable and aspirational professional choice for young Aboriginals coming through the education system. I want them to know they can and should aspire to strong and respected leadership roles in the community.”

To view the APA media release click here.

portrait photo of APA President Scott Willis

APA president-elect Scott Willis. Image source: Australian Physiotherapy Association.

Cashless Debit Card expansion opposed

The Aboriginal Peak Organisation of the Northern Territory (APO NT) have called on all members of parliament to strongly oppose the legislation that would make the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) permanent in the current trial sites and expand it to the NT and Cape York, despite there being no proof that compulsory income management works. APO NT spokesperson John Paterson said, “Support for the bill would directly contradict the recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap that was supported by all levels of government including the Commonwealth. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the agreement and its emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination.” Mr Paterson added, ”We did not ask for the card, yet 22,000 of us will be affected if the card is imposed on NT income recipients.”

To view the APO NT’s media release click here.

Aboriginal man under tree holding Cashless Debit Card to camera

Image source: Gove Online.

Restricting high-sugar food promotion helps diet

Restricting the promotion and merchandising of unhealthy foods and beverages leads to a reduction in their sales, presenting an opportunity to improve people’s diets, according to a randomised controlled trial of 20 stores in remote regions of Australia. Julie Brimblecombe, of Monash University, Australia, co-joint first author of the study, said: “Price promotions and marketing tactics, such as where products are placed on shelves, are frequently used to stimulate sales. Our novel study is the first to show that limiting these activities can also have an effect on sales, in particular, of unhealthy food and drinks. This strategy has important health implications and is an opportunity to improve diets and reduce associated non-communicable diseases. It also offers a way for supermarkets to position themselves as responsible retailers, which could potentially strengthen customers loyalty without damaging business performance.” 

To read the full article published in The Lancet click here.

hands of Aboriginal person pushing trolley or health foods in outback store

Image source: Adult Learning Australia website.

New research supports self-care

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is set to launch a new policy blueprint that calls for policy reform to improve population health and reduce health service demand through effective self-care. Released by the Mitchell Institute, the document notes a range of environmental, economic and social factors drive self-care capability. It says governments can play a major role in creating environments that either inhibit or enable self-care. The importance of self-care to good health has also been highlighted by COVID-19, according to the Mitchell Institute’s Professor of Health Policy, Rosemary Calder. “Now is the time for a systematic approach, led by a national agenda to enable shared responsibility between government organisations and health care professionals to tackle health inequity and support self-care for all Australians,” she says.

To view the full article click here.

man's hand holding baby's hand both cradled in woman's hand against blurred grass background

Image source: Emerging Minds, Australia website.

Funding for healthy ageing research

Professor Dawn Bessarab from the University of WA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and her team will lead the Centre for Research Excellence on the Good Spirit Good Life: Better health and wellbeing for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The first Centre for Research Excellence in Australia to explore Indigenous ageing, Professor Bessarab and her team were awarded $2.5 million in NHMRC funding. They will develop their research with and from the perspective of Aboriginal people, to better understand healthy ageing in older Aboriginal people and inform culturally secure and effective service provision.

To view the full article click here.

elderly Aboriginal woman in hospital bed looking up to nurse

Indigenous elder Mildred Numamurdirdi. Image source: The Guardian.

Cost of hygienic products linked to high disease rates

A Senate committee investigating the over-pricing of items in remote Aboriginal communities has heard from Melbourne University Indigenous Eye Health Institute’s senior engagement officer Karl Hampton, who said the price-gouging of items like soap and towels is a key factor to Indigenous youth holding “the heavy burden” of serious trachoma infections.

To view the full Global Citizen article click here.

supermarket shelves showing high cost of soap

Image source: The Guardian Australian edition.

Keeping our sector strong discussion

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is hosting a virtual forum from 12.00–1.00 pm (AEDT) Monday 12 October 2020 with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM, MP, to discuss the changes made by Indigenous businesses adapting to survive and thrive in the current climate.

To find out more and register your attendance click here.

Spaces are limited for this opportunity so be sure to register today!

Learning from each other webinar series

The Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis invites you to join them as they bring together First Nations’ thinkers with psychoanalysts and psychotherapists in a series of six webinars in the spirit of Two Way – working together and learning from each other.

All profits will go to CASSE’s Shields for Living, Tools for Life, a dual cultural and therapeutic program, based in the Alice Springs region for ‘at-risk’ youth, providing an alternative to detention and reducing the likelihood of offending or reoffending.

The Two-Way: Learning from each other webinar series will stream 8.00–9.30 pm AEST each Tuesday from 13 October to 17 November 2020.

Click here for the webinar program and registration.

Queenie McKenzie Dreaming Place - Gija country 1995

Queenie McKenzie, Dreaming Place – Gija Country, 1995.
Image source: Australian Psychoanalytical Society,

Range of health scholarships available

The following scholarship programs, aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander participation in the health workforce and improving access to culturally appropriate health services, are seeking applications.

Indigenous Health Scholarships – Australian Rotary Health administer these scholarships on behalf of the Department of Health, providing a one off grant of $5,000 to assist students with their day to day expenses and provide mentoring support while they undertake a course in a wide range of health related professions. For further information click here.

Nursing Scholarships – the Australian College of Nursing are currently offering nursing scholarship opportunities for study in 2021 with undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships of up to $15,000 per year of full time study being available for eligible courses. Further information is available here. Applications close from 25 October 2020.

Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme – provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students for entry level studies that lead or are a direct pathway to registration or practice as a health professional.  Further information is available here. Applications close on 8 November 2020 for studies in 2021.

portrait of Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine.

Indigenous Health Scholarship 2020 recipient Marlee Paterson, UNSW, Doctor of Medicine. Image source: Australian Rotary Health website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aboriginal Health Worker – Drug & Alcohol/Sexual Health – Identified x 2 (male and female)

Human Resources Officer x 1

Maintenance Officer x 1

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (Biripi ACMC), a community controlled health service providing a wide range of culturally appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the Mid-Northern NSW Region, is looking to fill a number of vacant positions.

To view the job descriptions for each position click on the name of the position above.

Applications for all positions close 5.00 pm Sunday 18 October 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre logo silhouette of two black hand overlapping inside yellow circle inside border top half black, bottom half red with words Our Health In Our Hands

VIC – Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

PT Case Manager (Re-advertised)

FT Cradle to Kinder Worker

FT Family Preservation Worker 

Kinship Care Case Management

FT Practice Manager

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd. has a number of vacancies within its Health & Wellbeing, Engagement & Family and Positive Ageing & Disability services areas.

Applications for the Case Manager position close 4.00 pm Tuesday 13 October 2020.

Applications for the Cradle to Kinder Worker, Family Preservation Worker and Kinship Care Case Manager positions close 4.00 pm Wednesday 14 October 2020.

Applications for the Practice Manager position close 4.00 pm Friday 23 October 2020.

NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health

FT Research Associate (project Manager)

The George Institute for Global Health has a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join its ‘Safe Pathways’ team that will work in partnership with families to focus on developing a discharge planning and delivery model of care that will: address institutionalised racism; facilitate access to ongoing specialist burn care; and enhance communication, coordination and care integration between families, local primary health services and the burns service at Westmead. 

The George Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program cuts across content areas and is conducted within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing, with a focus on social determinants of health, health systems and healthcare delivery, and maintains an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paradigm of health and healing (physical, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual) and a commitment to making impact through translation that influences policy.

For further details about the position click here. Applications close on 30 October 2020 or sooner if a suitable candidate is found.The George Institute for Global Health banner, words and purple tick with dot in shape of flame

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is a global initiative that raises awareness of the need for better evidence to inform healthcare policy, practice and decision making in order to improve health outcomes globally. It is an opportunity to participate in a debate about global trends and challenges, but also to celebrate the impact of individuals and organisations worldwide, recognising the work of dedicated researchers, policymakers and health professionals in improving health outcomes. World Evidence-Based Health Day is on Tuesday 20 October 2020 and has the 2020 theme is ‘Evidence to Impact’. For further information click here.logo with words World Evidinece-Based Healthcare Day 2020 ebhc 20 October 2020 light blue & navy

White Ribbon Day

Together, we really can end men’s violence against women in our communities and in our workplaces. But it starts with us turning awareness into sustained, collaborative action and it needs to start now. This year White Ribbon Day is on Friday 20 November. White Ribbon Australia are asking you to hold an event – online or as a group (following local COVID-safe guidelines) – to bring your community together as a catalyst for ongoing action. Download a Community Action Kit here to access ideas and resources to bring your community together on White Ribbon Day, get involved on social media, and to kick-start a Community Action Group that will continue to create impact long after the event is over.White Ribbon Australia banner - black bacground words White Ribbon Australia & white ribbon icon

Feature Image - Aboriginal boy head in hands

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Survey to review mental health youth services

Mental health youth services survey

If you work or volunteer with an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation or other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisations you are invited to participate in a short headspace online survey and share your views on issues of access, engagement and cultural safety of mental health supports for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All participants go into the draw to win a $100 voucher!

To view a survey flyer click here and to access the survey click here.

Young Aboriginal girl crying

Image source:

NT outreach services improve hearing impairment

Ear and hearing health is vital for overall health and quality of life. Ear disease and associated hearing loss can have long-lasting impacts on education, wellbeing and employment. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely than non-Indigenous children to experience ear and hearing problems.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has shown positive results are being achieved by hearing health outreach services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the NT. The report shows that in 2019, 2,156 audiology; 770 ear, nose and throat teleotology; and 1,119 Clinical Nurse Specialist services were provided. Among children and young people who received treatment, 61% had improved hearing loss and 71% had improved hearing impairment.

To access a more detailed summary of the report click here.

Health professional checking ear of Aboriginal boy

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research website.

National cancer screening health worker engagement project

The University of Melbourne is undertaking a project to understand how the primary healthcare workforce engages with the national cancer screening program (bowel, breast and cervical). Findings from the study will lead to the development of materials and initiatives to assist in boosting cancer screening participation.

During the first phase of the project the researchers are interested in interviewing nurses, GPs and Practice Managers to understand more about their role, their go-to-resources when they need more information about the screening programs and resources they would like to have access to.

Everyone that will be interviewed will be reimbursed with a $50 Gift Card. We intend to carry out interviews during the month of September. The interviews will be recorded with your permission.

For information about how to become involved in the project please contact Ebony Verbunt, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne email or phone 0429 928 039.

Aboriginal male & female cartoon figures with ages for breast, bowel, cervical cancer screening tests

Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

COVID-19 information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities survey

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, it has been extremely important to make sure health information about the virus reaches people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The Australian Government Department of Health has worked with Indigenous communications agencies to produce a range of communications materials to help share information about the virus and inform communities about how they can stay safe.

You can provide feedback on how effective these campaign materials have been in reaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by taking this survey.

7 Keep Our Mob Safe resource images e.g. posters

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Residential aged care risk assessment urgently required

The AMA has warned urgent improvements in aged care and a coordinated response from all levels of government are needed to prevent the pandemic outbreak in Victorian aged care homes spreading into residential aged care nationwide. The AMA has called for every residential aged care home in Australia to be urgently and comprehensively assessed for its ability to safely care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Elders hands in carer's hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

ACT paves way for raising incarceration age

The Australian Capital Territory’s Legislative Assembly has voted to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, paving the way for other jurisdictions to reform an outmoded law which disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To read the related Amnesty International Australia media release click here.

Aboriginal child's hands on jail barred overlaid with Aboriginal flag.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

COVID-19 vaccine will not be compulsory

Health Minister, Greg Hunt has confirmed that although any potential coronavirus vaccine will be strongly encouraged, it will not be made compulsory.

To read a transcript of Minister Hunt’s interview with David Koch on the Sunrise program click here.

QLD – Cairns or ACT – Canberra

PT Cultural Lead x 1 (Identified Position)

CRANAplus, the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia, has a vacancy for a Cultural Lead. This identified position, available to Aboriginal, First Nations, and Torres Strait Island people, will collaborate closely with internal and external stakeholders to develop and drive priorities supporting CRANAplus’ Organisational Strategic Plan.

You can view the CRANAplus website here and find details of the Cultural Lead position here.

CRANAplus logo & image of 4-wheel drive in outback

ACT – Canberra

FT Flexible Education Classroom Teacher  x 1 (Identified Position) – 6 months with the possibility of permanency

The ACT Education Directorate is seeking a reflective practitioner who: is able to create dynamic learning environments and authentically personalised education programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; has a demonstrated understanding of trauma and neuroscience informed education practices; and is passionate about inclusion, social justice, innovation and equity. Flexible Education is a community of schools/settings for students with complex and challenging needs including Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre, Muliyan, Boomanulla, the Hospital School, the education program at The Cottage and Distance Education.

For more details about the position click here.

Aboriginal youth and teacher against graffitied wall

Image source: School News Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research News : New look @HealthInfoNet Community Portal – expanded content and focus better supports Elders and community members working to reduce harms from #AOD use in their communities.

The Community Portal on the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre has recently been updated to better meet the information needs of Elders and community members working to reduce harms from alcohol and other drug (AOD) use in their communities.

The redevelopment of the Community Portal was guided by focus groups in Perth and Adelaide as well as feedback from a national user survey which found that people wanted to see a web resource that was strength-based, easy to use, and had a more visual format.

The portal has refreshed its content with a focus on strength-based resources, information on healing and trauma and up front, factual information on mental health and addiction.

The collection of health promotion resources for each topic has a visual format which is easy to use and navigate.

The refreshed portal also now features the artwork of Aboriginal artist Melanie Robinson with a vibrant piece about families coming together on the land (pictured above).

Family, friends and community members are often the first to respond to people who may be in crisis or distressed. The expanded content on the Community Portal includes more information on events, courses, funding and programs to support community members who may be seeking training, resources, or services to address AOD issues in their community.

short webinar has been recorded to provide an overview of the process and results to update the Community Portal.

It also describes the changes that have been made based on the feedback we received from stakeholders.

This is followed by a tour of the Community Portal, including information on:

  • the new subsections, including Healing
  • how to navigate around the portal
  • the new search and filter features
  • factsheets subsection.

The webinar can be viewed here.The AOD Knowledge Centre would like to acknowledge and thank the community members and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AOD workers from Whadjuk Country (Perth) and Kaurna Country (Adelaide) who participated in the focus groups and those who responded to the user survey for their ideas and advice on the redevelopment of the Community Portal.

Find out more, visit the Community Portal on the AOD Knowledge Centre

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingtheGap : Should the government lower retirement age thresholds for Indigenous Australians, as lower life expectancy means our mob not getting fair access to the pension and super ?

” The Indigenous population is more likely not to reach preservation age, so question whether the system is fit for purpose for this cohort.

This has a significant effect on the relevance of preservation age for these members who are overwhelmingly more likely to take their accrued super under permanent incapacity and other early release provisions than at retirement age.”

Indigenous Australians were much more likely to receive a disability support pension than the age pension but in the total population this was not the case, the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees said, suggesting Indigenous people were more likely to become disabled before retirement.

Read all NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Elder Articles HERE 

Read AIHW Report on disability support for Indigenous Australians 

What is First Nations Foundation?

We are a national Indigenous financial foundation, led by an Indigenous board, striving to achieve economic freedom for First Nations.

​We operate on a national basis and offer programs in financial literacy, research and superannuation outreach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. WEBSITE

Media Coverage

Superannuation funds are agitating for lower retirement age thresholds for Indigenous Australians, warning lower life expectancy means they’re not getting fair access to the pension and super.

Major fund AustralianSuper, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees and the Australian Council of Trade Unions all raised concerns about Indigenous access to funds in retirement as part of submissions to a government review.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population born between 2015 and 2017 the life expectancy for men was 71.6 years and for women was 75.6 years. Non-Indigenous men and women have a life expectancy of 80.2 years and 83.4 years respectively.

Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy (Close the Gap Report, 2019) ANTAR

In the past decade there has been a small narrowing in this life expectancy gap. The federal government has committed $4.1 billion for Indigenous health initiatives for four years from 2019-20.

AustralianSuper’s submission to the retirement income review this week specifically pointed to this gap as a concern for the superannuation system.

The preservation age, which is when someone can access their super, is currently between 55 and 60 depending on date of birth.

The pension age is 66 for those born from 1954 to June 1955, rising to 67 years for those born after 1957.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last year ruled out raising the pension age to 70 as part of the first retirement income review since the 1990s. But reducing the superannuation age for specific groups of people is unlikely to be a popular proposal.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in a 2018 submission to the Banking Royal Commission said current legislation allows the early release of superannuation funds to pay for medical treatment and did not support changing the age requirements as it would run counter to the “universal aspect” of the superannuation system.

The AIST, which is part of the cross-industry Indigenous Superannuation Working Group, said that the retirement system was too often based on assessments about “full-time, male, continuously-employed, higher income earners”.

The ACTU, which has pushed for a raft of changes including increasing the super guarantee for women, wants immediate reform to lower the age pension eligibility and preservation age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait

The submission also recommends superannuation funds and relevant government services are offered in Indigenous languages and a reduction in the paperwork needed to prove ancestry.

Consulting firm PwC also flagged “unique challenges in retirement” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders.

A spokesman for Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said that while the life expectancy gap needed to be considered there were “systemic and structural transformations required to achieve better life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in older age”.

He said a government strategy to close the gap was focused on economic development to help intergenerational change for longer term wellbeing.

NACCHO Aboriginal Healthy Ageing News : The @georgeinstitute is looking to partner with ACCHO services in NSW, WA and SA to deliver a healthy ageing research project, called the #Ironbark project

The George Institute for Global Health is looking to work with Aboriginal communities on a healthy ageing research project, called the Ironbark project.

They are ready to partner with ACCHO services in NSW and SA to deliver either the Ironbark: Standing Strong and Tall program (weekly exercise group and yarning circle), and the Ironbark: Healthy Community program (a weekly social program).

Services are funded and trained to deliver one of the programs for 12 months with groups of Aboriginal men and women 45 years and older.” 

What is the study about?

The Ironbark Study is comparing two different programs aimed at improving health and wellbeing of older Aboriginal people. Both involve an ongoing program delivered weekly by a local person, in a community setting. The Ironbark: Standing Strong program is a weekly exercise and discussion program, and the Ironbark: Healthy Community program is a weekly program that involves discussions and social activities.

Who is conducting the research?

The study is being conducted by researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, The University of NSW, The University of Sydney, Flinders University, Wollongong University and Curtin University.

What does the study involve?

Services participating in the study are randomly assigned to either receiving the Ironbark: Standing Strong program or the Ironbark: Healthy Community program. Both programs aim to improve the health and wellbeing of older Aboriginal people.

At the end of the trial, sites that delivered the Ironbark: Healthy Community program will have the opportunity to deliver the Ironbark: Standing Strong program for a further 6 months, including all resources and equipment needed.

Being a site in the study involves recruiting 10 – 15 eligible Aboriginal people aged 45 years or older to participate in a weekly facilitated meetings at a culturally appropriate and accessible venue.


Participants must be: of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent; aged 45 years or older; living independently; prepared to attend the program weekly.

People cannot participate if: they have not gone outside without physical assistance from another person in the past month; they have been diagnosed with dementia; they have a medical condition precluding exercise (e.g., unstable cardiac disease).

People who do not fit the criteria, including non-Aboriginal family and community, will be able to attend classes but data collected will not be included in the trial.

What data will be collected?

A health assessment will be conducted with all participants by the study research assistants. This includes an interview where they will be asked about health and wellbeing, including questions about medication, sleep, physical activity and diet. Participants will also be asked to do some simple tests to measure their health, including strength and balance, and waist circumference. The interview and tests will take around one hour to complete.

Participants will be asked a few questions each week about their health, sleep, falls and physical activity.

These will take only 1-2 minutes to complete.

Every three months they will be asked some questions about their health, lifestyle and enjoyment of the program, and asked to complete some simple tests to measure strength and balance. These tests and questions will take about 30 minutes to complete.

At the end of the program participants will repeat the health assessment. This will include an interview where they will also be asked about quality of life and physical activity.

Ironbark: Standing Strong program

Sites allocated the Standing Strong program will be supported to deliver a weekly class that runs for around 1.5 hours – about 30 – 45 minutes is exercises, and 30 – 45 minutes will be a yarning circle facilitated by a trained worker. The program will run for the whole year, with additional weekly home exercise recommended.

Participants will be required to provide a form from their doctor indicating they are physically fit enough to do the class.

Ironbark: Healthy Community program

Sites allocated the Healthy Community program will be supported to deliver weekly yarning circles. The yarning circles will include discussions and activities that are important to community wellbeing and possibly social activities. Guest speakers may attend the program on request of the group.

How will the study benefit Aboriginal communities?

Being involved in the study will benefit participants directly by creating additional opportunities for them to meet with family and community, discuss topics important to older Aboriginal people, and have their experiences included in the findings.

The study will also contribute to employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people to participate as site managers and/or program facilitators.

It is also expected that the findings of the study will build on the evidence base around appropriate wellbeing programs for older Aboriginal people, and inform national policy development in this area.

What is needed from participating services?

We plan to recruit 60 Aboriginal community or health services in NSW, Western Australia and South Australia into the Ironbark Trial.

We are ready to work with services in NSW and SA : Services need to;

  • Be well established within their local Aboriginal community, and have existing relationships
  • Be able to offer programs or services specifically for older Aboriginal people, and can recruit 10 – 15 eligible participants. Groups should not already be doing a regular exercise

Ironbark – overview

  • Have existing Aboriginal staff working at the service who are willing to oversee program delivery on a weekly basis over the duration of the trial
  • Utilise a culturally appropriate venue that is accessible to participants
  • Be willing to actively participate in both the program delivery and research components of this

How will our service be supported to participate in the study?

The Study team will provide sites:

  • Funding to employ locally based staff on a casual basis
  • Weekly stipend to cover cost of morning/afternoon tea for group meetings
  • Ironbark: Standing Strong program sites will receive training and ongoing support on delivering the program, the Ironbark: Standing Strong and Tall Manual and handouts, all equipment needed to deliver the exercise program
  • Ironbark: Healthy Community program sites will receive training and ongoing support to deliver the program, resources to facilitate discussions and organise activities.
  • At the end of the trial, sites that delivered the Ironbark: Healthy Community program will have the opportunity to deliver the Ironbark: Standing Strong program, including all resources and equipment needed
  • All sites will receive site specific data from the study, as well as information about the results of the research

What will happen to the results?

All participating sites will receive copies of the findings of the study, in a format that is accessible to staff and community. Sites will also receive site specific information about the findings.

To inform program and policy development, we will also be disseminating the findings through peer review publications, reports to the funding body, presentations and reports to policy makers and to key stakeholders such as peak Aboriginal health and other organisations.

The findings will be presented in a non-identifying way, to maintain confidentiality of sites and individuals involved. Only the site managers will have access to non identifying information on participants, for emergency purposes and for accurate data collection.


Participation in this study is entirely voluntary – sites and services can stop at any time. All participants (sites and individuals), will be required to sign a consent form, prior to participation.

Contact check out their website:

The project is a collaboration between The George Institute for Global Health, University of NSW, Flinders University, University of Wollongong, Curtin University and University of Sydney.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the @HealingOurWay #StolenGeneration : Fact sheets launched by Minister @KenWyattMP have been guided by survivors: they identified the key issues for them with #GPs, #dentists and #agedcare providers, what is helpful and what should be avoided.

“Many Stolen Generations survivors experienced childhood trauma as a result of their forced removal from family, community, culture and language, and sometimes also as a result of abuse and racism experienced after their removal.

Every day events can trigger the original trauma, particularly if a situation brings back the lack of control Stolen Generations survivors experienced when they were taken from their families.”

Interacting with aged care staff, GPs, dentists and other services is often difficult for Stolen Generations survivors said The Healing Foundation’s Chair Professor Steve Larkin

‘General practice is often the first and only point of contact with the healthcare system for many patients. The RACGP has a strong interest in ensuring that general practice services and healthcare in general are safe and responsive to people who experienced the devastating impacts of forced removal,’ he said.

‘This new resource provides essential context and useful tools to assist GPs to identify and understand the impacts of trauma for their patients.

These are principles of good clinical practice, which is beneficial for all patients.’

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, said the factsheet is a vital resource for GPs.




General practitioners, dentists and the aged care sector will be better placed to support Stolen Generations survivors following the launch of new resources at Parliament House .

Download all new resources HERE 

The resources, launched by the Minister for Indigenous Australians The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, were developed by The Healing Foundation in collaboration with Stolen Generations survivors and peak bodies including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Dental Association, Aged & Community Services Australia and the Aged Care Industry Association.

Stolen Generations survivor and member of The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group Geoff Cooper said he hoped the fact sheets would create greater awareness about the best ways to provide services to the Stolen Generations without triggering trauma.

“Little changes can make a big difference to how we feel when we walk in to a service. Things like not making us talk about bad stuff that’s happened to us if we don’t want to, and explaining what you’re going to do before you do it so we aren’t caught off guard.”

The resources are part of The Healing Foundation’s Action Plan for Healing project, funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2017 following the 20th anniversary of the 1997 Bringing them Home report, which highlighted the contemporary needs of the Stolen Generations and their descendants.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare analysis conducted as part of the Action Plan for Healing project found there are over 17,000 Stolen Generations survivors in Australia today, and by 2023 will all be aged over 50 and eligible for aged care.

“The development of the fact sheets has been guided by Stolen Generations survivors: they identified the key issues encountered when dealing with GPs, dentists and aged care providers, what is helpful and what should be avoided,” Professor Larkin said.

“We’ve been delighted with the level of interest the resources are already receiving from the target sectors, and are excited to see the materials taken up at the practice and provider level nationally.”

Australian Dental Association CEO Damian Mitsch said the organisation was proud to have supported the creation of the dental resource.

“This resource will go a long way in providing education and helpful tips to guide dental practitioners in providing effective dental care to Stolen Generations survivors,” Mr Mitsch said.



The CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Patricia Sparrow, said the organisation and its members were pleased to have contributed to the aged care resource.

“We believe the work of The Healing Foundation in providing information about how aged care services acknowledge the needs, and care for Stolen Generations survivors is critical.

“Through these resources, providers of aged care are able to better understand some of the trauma and triggers as well as the diversity of needs for Stolen Generations survivors, which must be considered in delivering the best quality care for all people,” Ms Sparrow said.



Resources will now be developed for hospitals, allied health professionals and disability services.

The fact sheets provide practical tips, tailored for each profession, on how staff and management can improve services to Stolen Generations survivors. The suite of fact sheets can be downloaded here.

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elder Care News : Read or download both NACCHO’s 15 Recommendations and @AMAPresident 42 Recommendations in submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

” Older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being let down by the aged care system.

 They are significantly underrepresented in residential aged care services, at under one per cent, and their uptake of dementia services is very poor.

Yet older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience at least 2.3 times the burden of disease as other Australians and are also 3-5 times more likely to experience dementia.i

 It is a sad indictment of the system that the care needs of our ageing First Peoples are not being met.

The needs of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples require urgent attention by the Australian Government and the health and aged care systems.

NACCHO Submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety 30 September 

Download the full NACCHO Submission HERE

NACCHO submission_Royal Commission Aged Care Quality and Safety_September 2019_FINAL (1)

Read previous NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elder Care articles

 ” The Royal Commission, we know, has been extended to 2020, November 2020.

And they’re having to encounter and deal with an enormous number of submissions, of stories that we see making the front pages of our papers and the headlines on our evening news day after day after day.

They’re stories of neglect, they’re stories of lack of care, of stories of lack of access at the appropriate and necessary time of their life.

The Aged Care Commission will deliver its findings in November 2020 and they need that additional time – it’s just been announced that their findings will be delayed another six months, because they’ve got to deal with all the necessary work and all the submissions they’re receiving.

But the message I want to leave with you today is that we can’t wait for the findings of the Royal Commission to start investing in aged care.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, and ANMF President, Annie Butler, Doorstop, Parliament House, Monday, 30 September 2019 Pictured above :

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in regional, rural and remote Australia experience particular challenges in accessing culturally and linguistically appropriate aged care services and supports.

Ongoing investment into programs such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) is essential in supporting the growth and development of aged care services for Indigenous Australians. ” 

AMA Recommendation 40 of 42 see in full Part 2 below or Download 

As the Commissioners will be aware, the population of First Peoples aged 65 and over is projected to grow by 200 per cent between 2011 -2031.ii

This unprecedented population growth combined with the complex health issues that our people experience as they age presents major challenges for providers of both aged care and primary health care to respond to increased service needs from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders.

We believe it is imperative that the Australian Government commits to resourcing more innovative, efficient and effective solutions that address the barriers to accessing aged care solutions for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NACCHO welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

We wish to acknowledge the comprehensive nature of this inquiry, including the different ways in which members of the public, aged care providers and other interested agencies have been invited to contribute.

The Royal Commission hearings have provided ample evidence of the key components and conditions that make up best practice aged care for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

They have also provided evidence of systemic failures to provide culturally safe, accessible care. It is also evident from the hearings, however, that there is a genuine interest among all participants to better understand the needs of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in order to inform recommendations on how to improve their health and aged care outcomes.

NACCHO’s vision is that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples be able to enjoy quality of life through whole-of-community self-determination and individual spiritual, cultural, physical, social and emotional well-being.

To enable this vision, our people must be granted agency in the development and implementation of policies and programs that impact on their lives, as enshrined in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 (Cth) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007.iii

We believe the next step forward in addressing the needs of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as outlined in this submission, is a genuine commitment from the Australian Government to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives to develop solutions and oversee their implementation in services on the ground.

This submission addresses the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference in relation to the criteria of:

  • Person-centred aged care;
  • Challenges and opportunities for delivering accessible, affordable and high quality aged care services; and
  • How best to deliver aged care services in a sustainable way, including through innovative models of care and investment in the aged care

NACCHO’s response to the Terms of Reference includes feedback received from our member services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), who deliver a range of services in urban, rural and remote communities across Australia.

NACCHO Concluding comments and recommendations

It is imperative that, given the population projections of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the burden of disease they carry, and their underrepresentation in the aged care system, that their needs and preferences are given urgent priority.

NACCHO believes the next step forward is for the Australian Government and providers to deliver on what works, in genuine consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their representatives.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be decision makers on what a culturally safe aged care system looks like.

NACCHO is strongly committed to and interested in being part of the solutions to address the care needs of our people and is confident that, with adequate resourcing, the Aboriginal community controlled health sector has the knowledge and experience to make a positive difference to older First Peoples’ health and aged care outcomes.

The following list of recommendations are based on our consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, including our member services.

NACCHO recommends that:

  1. Cultural safety be embedded across all areas of aged care services, compliant with what is outlined in the Aged Care Diversity Framework and Action xxxvi
  2. Cultural safety be a mandatory part of accreditation
  3. As part of their accreditation requirements, mainstream aged care services commit to work collaboratively with local ACCHOs, including seeking their advice on issues relating to cultural safety and trauma-informed
  4. Aboriginal community controlled organisations be funded to deliver regular cultural competency training, tailored to local protocol, to mainstream aged care
  5. Regular cultural safety training be mandatory for all aged care assessors and call centre staff.
  6. There must be a concerted effort to increase the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who receive higher levels of package care (levels 3 and 4).
  7. That the Australian Government commit to undertaking feasibility studies on the need for additional residential aged care services in remote and very remote locations in close consultation with Aboriginal local communities, including exploring options for:
    1. additional National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Services; and
    2. establishing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific, community-based, small scale hostels with formal ties to local ACCHOs and/or residential aged care services.
  8. Funding for interpreters be available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language speakers as it is for other
  9. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander run aged care services become eligible to access block
  10. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations receive an increase in their baseline funding in recognition of:
    1. the vital roles they play in keeping older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples healthy and well in community and residential aged care settings;
    2. the projected population growth of this age group; and
    3. the significant burden of disease and complex health conditions experienced by older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  11. ACCHOs are designated as preferred providers of aged care navigation services for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through the aged care application and assessment
  12. ACCHOs are designated as preferred providers of primary health care for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents of aged care
  13. The Australian Government increase its investment in integrated primary health and aged care exemplified by
  14. The Australian Government, at a minimum, reinstate aged care workforce funding to the same level prior to the 2015
  15. Aged care services are funded to employ Aboriginal liaison

PART 2 The AMA makes the following recommendations to the Royal Commission and looks forward to further working with the Royal Commission and the Australian Government to further improve the aged and health care systems.

Aged care workforce

Recommendation 1: Retaining and increasing the number of doctors interested in working in the aged care space should be the focus of any future reforms in aged care if appropriate clinical care is to be provided. Investing in primary care particularly for patients in aged care settings will save on public hospital expenditures.

Recommendation 2: Further investigation and research is needed into the demographics and movements of GPs in the aged care sector due to the decreasing trend in GP aged care visits and an ageing medical workforce. The research needs to take into consideration the forward-looking trends of expenditures related to Australia’s ageing population and the projected need for the medical workforce.

Recommendation 3: Medicare rebates need to increase in excess of 50 per cent to begin to adequately compensate for the additional time and complexity involved in comparison to a GP attendance in their own consulting rooms.

Recommendation 4: Introduce an MBS telehealth item for phone calls between the GP, RACF staff and relatives. This may reduce some barriers to accessing medical services after hours. The Government should consider introducing telehealth for RACFs for afterhours consultations as a pilot. Outcomes of such a pilot program will help inform government policy and provide an evidence base for informed decision making.

Recommendation 5: The Royal Commission should investigate the absence of routine roles for geriatricians and psychogeriatricians and how this should be addressed to better support GPs.

Recommendation 6: Further research is needed into improved funding and workforce models for medical care of older people.

Recommendation 7: Aged care providers need to provide basic equipment and facilities to support doctors to carry out their services in aged care settings. This includes access to a consulting room, a computer and appropriate clinical software.

Recommendation 8: Education and training for Doctors in Training and medical students on caring for older people should be increased.

Recommendation 9: Registered nurses should be available on site, 24 hours a day in RACFs to ensure older peoples’ medical needs are adequately met, including the appropriate administration of medicines.

Recommendation 10: There should be a mandatory minimum qualification for personal care attendants that includes basic health care.

Recommendation 11: Government should provide additional funding for specialised training of the aged care workforce, primarily personal care attendants. This should include a professional development leave option for those wanting to further develop their skills.

Recommendation 12: Implement a streamlined process to improve access to respite care for people who have not yet been assessed by an ACAT/RAS or who have not yet entered the aged care system.

Recommendation 13: Minimum mandatory staff-resident ratios should be researched and then introduced in RACFs that reflect the level of care need of older people and ensure 24 hour on site registered nurse availability.

Recommendation 14: The Aged Care Safety and Quality Commission should investigate staff turnover when assessing and auditing aged care providers.

Recommendation 15: The effectiveness of the aged care assessment process should be improve by including the patient’s usual doctor in the assessment arrangements.

Fragmentation between health and aged care systems

Recommendation 16: Communication between doctors, hospitals and aged care providers must be improved through minimum standards and guidelines.

Recommendation 17: Government must make more home care packages available to older people to address their care needs and to prevent the need for more complex care in RACFs and hospitals.

Aged care regulation

Recommendation 18: More specific Aged Care Quality Standards, including a Medical Access Standard should be developed for RACFs that helps to facilitate access to doctor services and high-quality clinical care.

Recommendation 19: Quality Indicator data should be made an integral part of the accreditation/audit reports conducted by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Quality of care in aged care settings

Recommendation 20: Palliative care must be built into any aged care model, by defining the skills and staff requirements and recognising that palliative management is a basic RACF service. The funding model must be flexible enough to account for increased needs at the end of life and be responsive enough to allow for reassessment when required.

Recommendation 21: AMA members support mandating the requirement that all RACFs residents should have a current up to date ACD. AMA members also contend that there should be an MBS item/fee available for GPs to complete ACDs with their patients living in RACFs or their SDMs.

Recommendation 22: Further work is needed to raise awareness among aged care service providers on advance care planning, the role of aged care providers in ensuring the development and implementation of advance care plans, directives and communication around hospital transfers and the person’s usual GP, the need for caring staff to be aware of existence of ACDs, My Health Record and advance care planning, as well as the role of ACDs in clinical care.

Recommendation 23: Expand the Better Access to Mental Health Initiative to ensure older people living in RACFs receive the same access to mental health services as the rest of the population.

Recommendation 24: Improve dementia management and behavioural training for nursing and personal care staff attendants to reduce prescription of antipsychotic medication.

Recommendation 25: Doctors must be able to maintain clinical independence in order to make the best treatment recommendations for patients, based on current evidence, preserving their own clinical judgments regarding treatment recommendations.

Recommendation 26: Medication reviews should occur annually, and when there is a significant change in an older person’s medication and/or medical condition.

Recommendation 27: A National strategy on polypharmacy should be developed, along with evidence-based guidelines for prescribing to the elderly. Having a strategy and guidelines may reduce adverse events, hospitalisation and PBS costs.

Recommendation 28: Develop and implement national nutrition standards for aged care facilities, ensuring menus are varied and food is appealing and palatable.

Recommendation 29: Continuing education on elder abuse and neglect of the profession, including doctors, nursing aged care staff and personal care staff is essential to evaluate and mitigate medical and psychiatric consequences for the victims.

Recommendation 30: Introduce relevant safeguards for whistle-blowers in aged care, along with regulation for urgent mandatory investigations into their revelations.

Recommendation 31: Older people should maintain the choice of their preferred medical practitioner in residential care.

Recommendation 32: Simplify the aged care navigation process and ensure access to more information on aged care provider performance against the Aged Care Quality Standards.

The use of technology in aged care

Recommendation 33: Greater transparency for GPs and patients to be able view the progress of aged care assessments. This will provide GPs with confidence that their patients are being provided with the necessary care in a reasonable timeframe, as well as enable GPs to take action if this is not occurring.

Recommendation 34: More investment in innovation, digital technologies and telehealth in aged care.

Recommendation 35: Use of digital technologies in aged care in the future should be planned now by the Government and in coordination with relevant stakeholders.

Aged care in regional, rural, and remote Australia

Recommendation 36: Government needs to develop comprehensive plans to better support the provision of health and aged care in regional, rural, and remote Australia, and to commit to significant funding increases to bridge the gap between city and country.

Recommendation 37: Multi-purpose model of services for rural and remote communities should be further supported by the Government, particularly with the implementation of new Aged Care Quality Standards and accreditation under those standards for multi-purpose providers.

Young people living in residential aged care facilities

Recommendation 38: Options other than residential aged care facilities should be explored and implemented by the Government for younger people with disabilities who are currently serviced by residential aged care facilities.

Recommendation 39: Better coordination between disability and aged care systems is required to enable seamless transition between different services for people living with disability. Coordination with primary care in the process is crucial as well as other service sectors including allied health.

Aged care for special needs groups

Recommendation 40: The AMA calls for more research into health and aged care needs of special needs groups, including but not limited to CALD, ATSI and LGBTQI. These groups have particular needs around culturally appropriate and culturally safe services, which should be further documented and enable equity in accessing services and service provision.

The need for research on the care of older people

Recommendation 41: More research into care of older people in the future, including appropriate aged care and health care data collection to inform future policy and regulation.

Recommendation 42: Conduct a scientific evaluation of the impact of government policies on the wellbeing of older Australians. This will lead to proper policy adjustments and revisions as needed.

Have your say about Elder Care what is needed to make real change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people #HaveYourSay about #closingthegap

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here: