NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

Feature tile text 'NBA star Patty Mills makes hoop dreams a reality with the launch of Australia's first Indigenous Community Basketball League', image of Patty Mills taking a shot at the hoop

Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

NBA star, Patty Mills is providing pathways for young Indigenous talent as a way to give back to the game in Australia. Patty Mills hopes the new league he has launched will give more Indigenous children the chance to not only play basketball at high levels but to achieve better educational and health outcomes. Mills said “Basketball as a sport has brought me happiness, joy, education and a real sense of purpose and perspective. It has changed my world and shaped the person I am today. However, not everyone has had the same opportunities as I have, which is why I’m so dedicated to using my platform, my profile and my voice to develop innovative programs like the Indigenous Basketball Association, which will allow my people to really own their story. I have spent over 10 years in the NBA, an organisation that has not only supported and championed me as an athlete, but celebrated my cultural identity as an Australian, an Indigenous man of the land.”

Yesterday NACCHO Chairperson Donnella Mills gave an address at the opening ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League at the Cairns Basketball Stadium. Donnella addressed the teams gathered saying “I don’t know as much about basketball as you all do, but I can share with you a few observations about health and how important sport is in keeping us all fit and healthy. Playing sport is not just good fun. Sport has a huge impact on a person’s daily life and health. Sport improves your heart function; reduces the risk of diabetes; lowers stress; and improves your wellbeing and strength of mind.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people usually fare pretty badly in the statistics and the press tends to focus on what we can’t do rather than what we can do. You are all living-and-breathing examples of what we can achieve and you should all be proud. In fact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do particularly well in sports statistics. Look at the amazing international career of Patty Mills, it speaks for itself.”

To access the article ‘We’re creating history’: Mills making Indigenous hoop dreams a reality click here, to view the NBA endorses Mills’ Indigenous Basketball Association news item click here, and to read Australian Men’s Health‘s glowing endorsement of Patty Mills’ initiative click here.

Far North Queensland teams sitting in rows on basketball court at opening ceremony of Indigenous Community Basketball League

Far North Queensland teams at the Opening Ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) on Sunday 7 February 2021.

Bill passed to decriminalise public drunkenness

The Victorian Lower House has passed a bill  to decriminalise public drunkenness, 30 years after it was first recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Upper House is expected to vote on the bill in coming weeks and if approved being drunk in a public place will no longer be treated as a criminal offence but rather a health issue, with reforms to be implemented over the next two years.

The move was triggered by the death of 55-year-old Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who was asleep on a V/Line train before she was arrested and taken to the Castlemaine Police Station in 2017. Ms Day was left unattended in a holding cell where she fell and hit her head at least five times, causing traumatic brain injuries which later ended her life.

Ms Day’s death was a haunting reminder of a strikingly similar tragedy that could have been prevented if public drunkenness offences were repealed decades earlier. On a winter afternoon in 1987, Gunai man Arthur Moffatt, 51, boarded a regional train from Moe to Morwell in eastern Victoria after spending the day enjoying a few drinks with friends. During his trip, Mr Moffatt suffered a diabetic hypoglycaemic attack (low blood sugar levels), which was a mixed reaction to the alcohol in his system and a lack of food, according to a federal inquiry into his death. He then fell unconscious and missed his stop but was soon carried off the train and taken by officers to Warragul Police Station where he died hours later in a cell.

Tanya Day with small girl on indoor play equipment

Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day. Image source: ABC News website.

App tackles women’s health risk factors

Associate Professor Gillian Gould and her all-women team comprising Aboriginal researchers, non-Indigenous researchers and experts have secured a $50,000 grant to support development of the MAMA-EMPOWER App. The app provides tailored support for women to tackle risk factors affecting their health. The funding from the NSW Government’s Investing in Women funding program allows for further development of the system designed to address the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal women during preconception or pregnancy.

Associate Professor Gould is based in Coffs Harbour, where she has established a University of Newcastle-affiliated research hub. Team member and University of Newcastle based Research Manager for the project, Dr Nicole Ryan said, “This funding will help in incorporating feedback from local women to not only make it culturally appropriate but to include evidence-based guidance for the individual person.”

The app provides tailored support to women to tackle four risk factors impacting their health – smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and low fruit and vegetable intake. It will incorporate behavioural change techniques such as goal setting and reminders and has an interface that is easy to connect with.

To view the Coffs Coast News of the Area article click here.

Associate Professor Gillian Gould standing on tree lined path

Associate Professor Gillian Gould. Image source: The University of Newcastle Australia.

Making diabetes care culturally safe

Gulumerridjin Traditional Custodian and Karrajarri man Christopher Lee is taking action to support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with Diabetes. Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia, Lee was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2014. “I was diagnosed around 2014 out in Toowoomba. I went in for the Deadly Choices check, then they rang me back and said doctor needs to see you. I rock up and he tells me I have Type 2 Diabetes. I had no idea what it was, was it poor lifestyle choice? Was my upbringing wrong?”

Now, seven years on, Lee has a lot more knowledge around Diabetes but has faced ignorance and adversity. “We are genetically predisposed to getting Diabetes,” he said. “I went through four or five different Aboriginal Medical Services in southeast Queensland. In one of them, the doctor said it was my fault, I had made poor lifestyle choices and brought it on myself.”

Researching on the internet and sifting through resources, it wasn’t until Lee got to yarn with a friend did he find confidence. “It wasn’t until I found a brother that we got to sit and yarn. We spoke about his Type 2 Diabetes and what I needed to know,” he said. “A yarning conversation with someone I respected, someone I trusted, and in a language I understood. From that point, I had a basic understanding and through talking with some fantastic health professionals, I’ve built up the trust to ask why this happens.”

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

Diabetes Australia's Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee standing on an oval with large green trees in the background, wearing black yellow and red t-shirt

Diabetes Australia’s Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee. Image source: NITV website.

1,000s of US marines coming to Darwin

The Australian Department of Defence has confirmed that 2,200 US marines, in batches of 200–500, will arrive in Darwin between now and June this year as part of an annual training rotation. Earlier this year, the use of a Darwin CBD hotel as a quarantine facility for international military arrivals was the subject of significant criticism from health groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

Western NSW Local Health District Board vacancies

The NSW Minister for Health is inviting applications from persons interested in becoming a member of the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) Board

There are a number of vacancies opening up on the board due to the retirement of members. WNSWLHD Board Chair Scott Griffiths explained “The Board is responsible for overseeing an effective governance and risk management framework for the district, setting its strategic directions, ensuring high standards of professional and ethical conduct are maintained, involve providers and the community in decisions that affect them, monitoring the service delivery and financial performance of the district against its targets and holding the chief executive accountable for their performance.”

NCSR release Healthcare Provider portal

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) has released a Healthcare Provider portal and is integrating the Register with Clinical Information Systems. This new functionality creates a new channel for users to interaction with the Register online at a time convenient for them.

In collaboration with the Department of Health, the NCSR is providing a Communications Toolkit to increase awareness of the Healthcare Provider Portal and integration with Clinical Information Systems. NCSR have worked closely with Best Practice and MedicalDirector to develop an API which will be shared with more vendors throughout the year with the intent to integrate with as many vendors as possible. The Best Practice integration recently went live and NCSR are working with MedicalDirector to finalise the necessary steps to integrate.

The toolkit provides links to supporting collateral to assist in raising awareness of the new ways to access and submit data to the NCSR. The supporting assets include:

  • A media release
  • Social media creatives
  • Awareness raising animations
  • Key messages
  • A Healthcare Provider Portal demonstration video (split into chapters)
  • A promotional PowerPoint resource

To access an overview of the NCSR Communications Toolkit – Healthcare Provider Portal and Clinical Software Integration click here.

orange background, text 'Australian Government, National Cancer Screening Register, Healthcare Provider Portal Logging in and your acc, vector image of female & male health professionals

AMA comment’s on draft National Workforce Strategy

The AMA recently provided feedback to the Department of Health on the Draft National Medical Workforce Strategy. The AMA was broadly supportive of the five priority areas and most actions outlined by the Draft Strategy. If executed well in concert with other major health reforms already underway, the Strategy should provide a solid platform to ensure that the medical workforce sustainably meets the changing health needs of Australian communities.

Some key points of the AMA’s response included support for the development of functional and reciprocal links between tertiary, regional and rural hospitals, Aboriginal health services, universities, medical colleges, and regional training providers, and the integration of prevocational and vocational training pathways within these networks as a priority. This will ensure trainees undertaking generalist training have adequate access to relevant terms in larger urban hospitals.

To view the article regarding the AMA’s comments on the draft click here.

banner, text National Medical WOrkforce Strategy, collage of photos, doctor with stethoscope, group of nurses, older couple, Aboriginal woman and young girl, male doctor, farmer

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Transitioning to PHC community control

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) play a critical role in providing culturally appropriate, accessible primary healthcare (PHC) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. The success of many ACCHSs has led to increased policy support for their growth and development, including the transition of state government administered PHC services to Aboriginal community control in select communities. However, there is minimal published literature available which evaluates such transitions. A research paper reports on an evaluation of the experience of one ACCHS (Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service) of transitioning local PHC services to community control in Yarrabah, Queensland, with a focus on the processes and strategies which were implemented to achieve successful transition.

Achieving successful transition to community control of PHC for Gurriny entailed a lengthy process of substantial, ongoing organisational growth and development. Gurriny’s experience provides a framework for both governments and the ACCHS sector to inform future transitions of PHC services to Aboriginal community control.

To view the research article in full click here.

outside shot of Gurriny Yealamucka Primary Health Care Service

Image source: Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Diabetes Australia recognises the outstanding contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators for World Diabetes Day

Diabetes Australia recognises the outstanding contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators 

Based on self-reported and measured results, Indigenous Australians are almost three times as likely to have diabetes as their non-Indigenous counterparts.  According to the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey around 64,100 of Indigenous Australians had diabetes

Tomorrow is World Diabetes Day and the NACCHO would like to highlight the disproportionate rates of diabetes amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In 2020, the theme ‘nurses make the difference for diabetes’ focuses on promoting the role of nurses in the prevention and management of diabetes. This is particularly important and necessary with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are at risk or living with diabetes. 

Diabetes Australia marked World Diabetes Day and NAIDOC Week celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurse Diabetes Educators.
The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is Diabetes: nurses make the difference and the theme for NAIDOC week in 2020 is Always Was, Always Will Be. This theme recognises the fact that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent and themselves for over 65,000 years this. An important reminder for health organisations.

Diabetes Australia, CEO Professor Greg Johnson said First Nations nurses are playing a major role in helping to meet the challenges of the diabetes epidemic.

“First Nations Peoples in Australia are four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and much more likely to develop serious diabetes-related complications. The gap in health outcomes for indigenous Australians is greatest in diabetes,” Professor Johnson said.

“Despite the size of the challenge, we should take heart that we have a growing First Nations health work force who are working hard every single day caring for, and supporting, people with diabetes.

“There are approximately 3000 First Nations nurses in Australia, and I take this opportunity today to recognise their contribution and, on behalf of people with diabetes, say thank you.”

Download the Diabetes Australia media release for World Diabetes Day here.

Dr Charles Perkins oration

Speaking at the 20th anniversary of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration and Prize, hosted by the University of Sydney, Aboriginal leader Pat Turner AM said governments must continue to prioritise working in partnership with Indigenous organisations to achieve positive outcomes for First Nations people. Ms Turner used her keynote address to outline a blueprint for how Australia could move towards a future of greater acceptance and equality, saying “We have a shared future — Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, together — and the two sides must come together to deliver lasting equality and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”.

The Dr Charles Perkins Oration provides an esteemed platform for the discussion of race relations in Australia. In 2020, the theme is still relevant with the broader Australian public forced to once again reconcile with uncomfortable truths, just as it did in 1965 when Charles Perkins led a bus tour across NSW, known as the Freedom Rides. Over the past 12 months, issues such as the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, an ineffective Closing the Gap strategy, and examples of blatant disregard for culturally significant Aboriginal sites have laid bare the inequality still experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Ms Turner said. “Lasting change can only come when it is embedded in the culture of organisations and traditionally Australian governments are … slow to adapt,” Ms Turner said. Ms Turner said Dr Perkins had led the fight against racial discrimination and segregation by mobilising the mainstream media and Aboriginal communities in unprecedented ways. “He wanted Aboriginal people, his people, to see that we deserved more, should demand more, and could be more,” she said.

To view a transcript of the Dr Charles Perkins Oration delivered by Patricia Turner AM at the University of Sydney on 12 November 2020 click here.

Pat Turner AM at lectern at The University of Sydney delivering the Dr Charles Perkins Oration 2020

Pat Turner AM, delivering the Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration for 2020. Image source: ABC Sydney.


First Nations health champion

When she was growing up, Ngaree Blow used to read statistics about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and wonder, “does that mean I’m going to die early?” The figures showed First Nations people had, on average, had a significantly lower life expectancy than the rest of the population. They showed increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, renal disease and a host of other health issues. “That’s where my passion led to uncovering what those statistics actually mean, and how that links into our knowledge and understanding of health and wellbeing as Aboriginal people,” Dr Blow said.

To view the full article click here.

photo of Dr Ngaree Blow looking into distance in garden setting

Dr Ngaree Blow, director of First Nations health at the University of Melbourne’s medical school. Image source: ABC News.

Culturally trained female clinicians needed

More culturally trained female clinicians are needed to help reduce cervical cancer rates in remote Indigenous communities, a Mount Isa nurse says. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2019 report found the incidence of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was more than double that of non-Indigenous women.

The age-standardised incident rate for Indigenous women aged 20–69 was 22.3 new cases per 100,000 compared to 8.7 new cases per 100,000 for non-Indigenous women according to data from 2011 to 2015. The report also said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were three times more likely to die from the disease. Clinical nurse consultant Rachel Tipoti said a lack of testing put Indigenous women at higher risk.

To view the full article click here.

portrait shot of Rachel Tipoti against wall with Aboriginal ard

Rachel Tipoti is the only female Indigenous clinician trained in cervical screening, servicing NW Qld remote communities. Image source: ABC News.

Antenatal care links to baby outcomes

This report explores the factors associated with antenatal care use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, and how these may relate to baby outcomes – including how this varies spatially across the Indigenous Regions (IREGs) of Australia. Having no antenatal care was associated with increased odds of pre-term birth and perinatal death and late antenatal care was associated with increased odds of low birthweight and NICU/SCN admission. In 2016–2017 63% of Indigenous mothers attended antenatal care in the first trimester, up from 55% in 2014–2015. IREGs with higher rates of antenatal care were more likely to have lower rates of adverse mother and baby outcomes.

To view the Antenatal care use and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies report click here.

Aboriginal baby in hessian & orange wool in a basket sitting on paperbark

Photo by Aboriginal photographer Bobbi-lee Hille.

Best Practice decision-making

There are thousands of agreements in place between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, covering wide-ranging issues including land use, mining exploration and the provision of health services. But these agreements don’t always work, particularly where parties have little regard for formal agreement provisions, community standards or the spirit of ‘partnership’ with Traditional Owners. Agreement making processes must reflect that Indigenous Australians are more than ‘stakeholders’ and have a special relationship to Country as Traditional Owners. This includes ensuring appropriate representation in negotiations and transparency, as well as effective mechanisms for compliance and review.

The recent National Agreement on Closing the Gap sets out processes for representation, consultation and shared decision making. This demonstrates a commitment to improved partnerships between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people.

Once the relevant groups are identified, it’s essential that resources are invested to ensure that the relevant Indigenous organisations can participate meaningfully in negotiations, and the subsequent implementation of agreements, including acting as a liaison between the parties.

To view the full article click here.

NACCHO COE Pat Turner AM at a Partnership Agreement on CTG meeting

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Nidjalla Waangan Mia celebrates 10 years

The Nidjalla Waangan Mia team only conducted 24 Aboriginal health checks in its first year of operation. However, 10 years on the service completed 312 health checks in the past year and helps 964 active clients. Celebrating the milestone anniversary during NAIDOC Week, Aboriginal community leader George Walley made a speech and played didgeridoo at the event. “Nidjalla Waangan Mia is quite an extraordinary place because it allows us to now work with families and clients to help them manage their own health – we’ve come a long way,” he said.

“Access is a big issue in terms of health and it’s important to break down the barriers that stop people accessing the health services they need,” she said. “So we have a transport service here, we have outreach services, and we do offer rapid appointments – all the eligible people that come here are offered an Aboriginal health check, offered prevention measures and health promotion measures to live the best lives they can. “Nidjalla now has 964 active clients, which is 56 per cent of the Aboriginal community in Peel based on the last census.”

To view the Mandurah Mail article click here.

Elder, client and GP cutting 10 year anniversary cake

Aboriginal community leader George Walley, GP down south chief executive Amanda Poller, and Nidjalla Waangan Mia client Keith Savage celebrating the organisation’s 10 year anniversary. Image source: Mandurah Mail.

Joe Williams promotes mental wellbeing

Focusing on what matters and reflecting on the ‘small victories’ could be the key to lessening the impact of COVID-19 on our mental health, according to former NRL player and mental health advocate, Joe Williams.

Joe has managed his mental wellbeing during the current global pandemic by focusing on some of the positive aspects to emerge from the significant and sudden changes to everyone’s life. He uses the extra time at home to connect more closely with family. 

“It was my sign to slow down,” says Joe. “I don’t want to say it’s been a positive, but the whole experience has taught me the importance of family. Living more closely with each other and spending more time at home means thinking more about our own words, actions and behaviours.”

For further information click here.

portrat shot of Joe Williams navy suit jacket and grey t-shire

Joe Williams. Image source: 33 Creative.

Eliminating Hep C webinar

EC Australia is hosting a webinar from 12.00 pm-1.30 pm (AEDT) on Wednesday 18 November 2020 presenting the latest hepatitis C data from a national sentinal surveillance network of ACCHOs (ATLAS network) and the results of The Goanna Survey 2; a study of knowledge, risk practices and health service access for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Findings from a recent study on the barriers and enablers of hepatitis C treatment among clients of urban Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in SE Queensland and how the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUHI) have translated these research findings into service delivery. The webinar will also showcase micor-elimination approaches from two local ACCHOs based on outer regional and urban settings and one peer-based model of service delivery.

For further information about the webinar and to register click here.

image of hepatitis C cell

Image source: NPS Medicinewise.

Strong Brother Strong Sister partners with Surfing Victoria

Surfing Victoria and the Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program have signed a strategic partnership with Victorian based Indigenous Youth Organisation, Strong Brother Strong Sister. The organisations have been working closely together since Strong Brother, Strong Sister was founded in 2017 by Cormach Evans, and have now formalised the partnership to continue surfing as a key part of their program.

The Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program is the key initiative of Surfing Victoria’s Indigenous Strategic Pillar and is one of the longest running Indigenous engagement programs in the country. Now in its 23rd year, the program uses Surfing as a way to connect Indigenous Victorians with the ocean while learning new skills, water safety knowledge and healthy habits.

Evans notes “Strong Brother Strong Sister and Surfing Victoria’s partnership will allow the two organisations excellence to grow further and thrive, ensuring First Nations children, youth and their families have the opportunities to connect with community, culture and positive health and wellbeing and a love for the ocean through surfing.”

To view the full article click here.

two male adults and two Aboriginal children surfing

Image source: Australasian Leisure Management website.

Birthing in the city redesigned

Murdoch researchers are redesigning health care for Aboriginal people and the results may radically improve life outcomes for many. Healthy mothers, on the whole, give birth to healthy children and healthy mothers are supported physically and mentally by not only their communities, but their health practitioners and the health systems they deliver.

But what happens when the health system, which has been designed as a one size fits all approach, doesn’t fit?

Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Research Center, led by Professor Rhonda Marriott, has been working with Aboriginal communities throughout WA to identify the needs of Aboriginal women giving birth in metropolitan and regional centers. The project, Birthing on Noogar Boodjar, was conceived during a trip Rhonda took to Alice Springs in 2012 to discuss Australian country maternity services for Aboriginal women. The words Noongar Boodjar mean ‘the land that the Noongar people live on,” which is the SW corner of WA.

To view the full article click here.

Minister Wyatt, two researches & two Aboriginal mums and bubs

Image source: Murdoch University.

IAHP Yarnes restart

The Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP) Yarnes (Yarning Action Reflection National Evaluation Systems) Team enacted a decision to pause engagement with potential evaluation partners on 31 March 2020 because of COVID-19 and agreed to restart once pandemic conditions permitted safe engagement. Over the last six months, the team remained in contact with potential partners, and requested advice about when and how it would be appropriate to recommence planning workshops.

Over this period, the IAHP Yarnes team facilitated a series of three evaluation-specific webinars with potential partners. The webinars provided an opportunity for two-way knowledge exchange. They enabled potential partners to engage more in-depth with the evaluation values, scope, proposed approaches and methods, and for the team to better understand the concerns and needs of partners and test different approaches for future engagement. The team is confident that planning workshops, to discuss and reach agreement on partner participation and the implementation of the evaluation in individual sites can be successfully delivered virtually.

For further information about the IAHP Yarnes restart click here.IAHP Yarnes logo

NSW – Sydney – The George Institute for Global Health

PT or FT Research Associate – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program (identified position)
There is a very exciting opportunity for a Research Associate (project Manager) to join The George Institute for Global Health’s ‘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. We maintain 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 information about the position and to apply click here.The George Institute for Global Health logo - white background, name in black font, purple sound waves across bottom

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Feature tile 2.11.20 - young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Cultural approach tackles mental health shame

Small-town living can have its benefits, like knowing your neighbours, but when it comes to accessing help and support, it can be a barrier. Colleen Berry, who lives in the small inland community of Leonora in WA’s Goldfields, said people often felt “shame” in asking for help — and she wanted to do something to change that. So the proud Wongutha woman founded Nyunnga-ku, a community group for the women of Leonora where they can chat, sew, drink cups of tea and speak freely. As more women came to the group, Ms Berry said she realised how many were struggling with mental health and other issues. “Mental health has become something really big in our communities” she said.

To view the full article click here.

Young Aboriginal children Quinton and Jasalia Williams with face, hair, hands & chest paint, cultural day on country

Quinton and Jasalia Williams enjoy a cultrual day on country at the Nyunnga-Ku women’s camp. Image source: ABC News website.

Program aims to improve medication access

Metro North Hospital and Health Service is launching a pharmaceutical program that will allow greater access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients visiting its facilities. The Better Together Medication Access program will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients have access to any medications needed upon discharge from hospital with no out-of-pocket expense.

Redcliffe Hospital Director of Pharmacy Geoffrey Grima said the program would improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients who have an increased susceptibility to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. “First Nations Australians have a disease burden 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, which means they may require more medications to treat more illnesses,” Grima said. “We know medications can be expensive, and when a number of medications are required to treat various illnesses, this can add up quickly, making the process burdensome for patients.

To read the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hand holding different coloured pills

Image source: Australian Pharmacist website.

New support for NSW people impacted by suicide

The NSW Government is investing $4.54 million in post-suicide care to provide a range of practical and psychological services to NSW residents bereaved or impacted by suicide. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the state-wide services will range from one-to-one counselling and family therapy, to supporting grieving loved ones to liaise with police, the coroners and media. “It is estimated that up to 135 people can be impacted by a single suicide,” Mrs Taylor said. “We’re building a specialised workforce that can provide both practical and emotional support – from accessing existing services to explaining a suicide death to young children.” $4.2 million will be invested in StandBy Support After Suicide to enable the leading post-suicide support service to expand its footprint and range of services across NSW.

To view the media release  click here.

Aboriginal flay painted on a wall with shadows of two people holding hands

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Become a SOCKSTAR for kidney health

Kidney disease is a deadly disease and there is currently no cure. 1.7 million Australians are affected by the disease and it can have an enormous impact on people’s physical and mental health, family lives and livelihood. There are currently 25,000 Australians living with kidney failure. Dialysis or kidney transplant are needed for them to stay alive. For those on dialysis, they spend an average of 60 hours a month hooked to this life-saving machine, which cleans their blood of toxins. Dialysis can make them feel cold so blankets and warm socks are a must.

Kidney Health Australia has launched a brand new fundraising campaign – the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal, to take place over the month of November. Participating in the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal is a great way to show people living with kidney disease that you care. Solo or together with friends, everyone’s effort counts. It is easy to get involved – register as an individual or a team, grab some red socks and get going.

For more information about the Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal click here.

Kidney Health Red Socks Appeal banner - picture of red socks against background of pink and blue kidney vectors & words 'I'm wearing a pair to show I care'

ABS health surveys – have your say

Last year, the Australian government announced a new health study called the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). The IHMHS will run over three years from late 2020 to 2023 and comprise surveys of health, nutrition and physical activity, and an optional biomedical survey. Similar to the Australian Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2011–13, the IHMHS will provide an opportunity to measure Australia’s health, including providing a picture of the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The results will be useful in helping to inform policy, services and programs supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to live healthier lives. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) needs your participation to help them shape the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander components of the IHMHS. The ABS want to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to ensure their surveys are done in a culturally appropriate way and reflect the priorities, values and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Sign up here to participate in an upcoming webinars and have your say!

There is also an online survey on the ABS website that can be completed at any time.

The survey closes on Monday 30 November 2020.ABS tile 'help shape the upcoming ATSI Health Survey, two Aboriginal women sitting at outside tableyoutube

Research centre targets regional Victorian health disadvantage

A new research centre at Federation University will work to reduce the health disadvantage of regional and rural residents. The Health Innovation and Transformation Centre, will develop innovative, multidisciplinary solutions for patients and the general community, spearheaded by the digital, genomic and data revolution. It will focus on areas including aged care, cardiovascular health, digital health interventions, workforce development and patient safety, ensuring the right care, in the right place at the right time.

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

entrance to Federation University Australia - sign on sandstone wall and brick university buildings in background

Image source: magiqsoftware website.

Calls for action on NT mental health neglect

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Northern Territory Branch has called on the NT Government to take a cue from Churchill and ‘action this day’ the rescue of NT Mental Health Service funding from decades of neglect.  ‘Northern Territorians have been short-changed on investment in mental health services for decades now and this becomes starkly apparent when we compare NT funding with that of other states and territories,’ said RANZCP NT Branch Chair, Dr David Chapman.

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

Aboriginal hands holding

Image source: St Vincent de Paul Society website.

Cashless Debit Card to be made permanent

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Linda Burney, says the Government decided to make the Cashless Debit Card permanent, despite the Minister for Families and Social Services Senator Anne Ruston admitting at Senate Estimates that she hadn’t read the long-awaited review of the card. The card is currently being trialed in four sites: Ceduna; the Goldfields and East Kimberley; and Bundaberg-Hervey Bay. As well as this, the Government has also revealed it had set up a formal working group with the big banks and Australia Post to work on making the Cashless Debit Card part of mainstream accounts and point of sale technology – revealing their real plan to roll this technology out more broadly.

To view Linda Burney’s media statement in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding the cashless debit card

Image source: The Morning Bulletin.

HealthInfoNet has new sexual health portal

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has added a new sexual health portal to its website. Through engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts in the field, topics for the sexual health portal will focus on the aspects of sexual health that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and their communities. These topics include safe sex, healthy relationships, sexuality, sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses, sexual disorders and reproductive health. Funded by the Australian Department of Health, the portal has information about publications, policies, health promotion and practice resources, organisations and workforce information to provide up-to-date relevant information for those working in this important area. 
PVC Equity and Indigenous at Edith Cowan University Braden Hill, says of this important topic ‘This is a wonderful addition to HealthInfoNet’s already important work in ensuring the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The focus on sexual health is of vital importance and will enable an evidence informed approach to health care in relation to this sometimes complex area of health’. HealthInfoNet Director Neil Drew says, ‘There is a need for trusted evidence based information that is freely accessible in one place and this portal like our others delivers that’.

To access the new sexual health portal click here.

two pairs of legs sticking out from under a doona

Image source: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences – University of Queensland website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: CPR during COVID-19 – Guidelines

feature tile CPR training

CPR during COVID-19 Guidelines

CPR training hands on dummy & National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce logo

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has recently issued guidance on CPR during the pandemic. Healthcare workers and trained first aid responders are being urged not to delay commencing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Taskforce, in partnership with the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG), have published new clinical flowcharts to guide clinicians and first aid responders in delivering potentially lifesaving CPR as safely as possible.

View the new flowcharts and the Australian guidelines for the clinical care of people with COVID-19 here.

NACCHO CEO 2021 Australian of the Year nominee

Pat Turner had been nominated for Australian of the Year in the ACT!

An Arrernte and Gurdanji woman, Patricia Turner AM has successfully negotiated with all levels of government to ensure that the concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are given respectful consideration. As CEO of the NACCHO, and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat has an invaluable record of improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes. Pat’s leadership at NACCHO is creating real, meaningful and lasting change that will strengthen and support community-based Aboriginal health services.

She is the driving force behind a partnership between the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Coalition of Peaks to facilitate shared decision making. One of the key outcomes from this partnership is a new national network funding agreement on Closing the Gap, which will help keep Aboriginal health in the hands of our communities. For her outstanding contribution to public service, Pat has been awarded the Order of Australia.

To read the full article in the Canberra Times click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turne sitting in a chair smiling with woven dog sculptures on a small table behind her & an a colourful Aboriginal painting of a bird

Portrait of Patricia Turner AM in her office in Canberra. Picture by Sean Davey.

SWAMS Mental Health Awards finalist

The South West Aboriginal Medical Service are celebrating being named a finalist for the Even Keel Bipolar Support Association Diversity Award at the 2020 WA Mental Health Awards. The award aims to recognise organisations that make an outstanding contribution to mental health. The medical service’s mental health team, called Kaat Darabiny (What you thinking?) senior prevention worker Lisa Collard said they were excited about the announcement. “We are excited and honored to be finalists for this award and very grateful that we are able to connect with and care for our wonderful local Aboriginal Community,” she said.

The team has also launched a new Tools in Schools Program for at risk children and teens. “The Tools in Schools Program is especially designed to support and engage directly with students who are struggling emotionally or behaviorally,” Ms Collard said. “It is an early intervention program to give these kids tools and skills they need to deal with their emotions. We want to give them a safe place to have a yarn about their issues, feelings and let them know they have somewhere to go and someone to talk to.” “So far, the response from schools and students has been very positive. The way the program is structured and delivered in small groups allows us to really connect with and empower the students,” Ms Collard said.

To see the full article click here.

the Kaat Darabiny team at South West Aboriginal Medical Service

Image source: Bunbury Mail.

Architecture awards for Puntukurnu AMS

Kaunitz Yeung Architecture won four awards at the 2020 International Architecture MasterPrize (AMP) including three awards across Healthcare, Green Building and Best of the Best, for Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services (PAMS) Newman clinic. The Architecture MasterPrize is an international competition that honours designs in the disciplines of architecture, interior design and landscape architecture across the world.

The Newman clinic was commissioned by the Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services (PAMS) and called for a state-of-the-art, regional primary health care facility to be the physical embodiment of the ethos of PAMS – community focused, connected to country, incorporating culture and providing the highest standard of primary health care.

To view the full article click here.

external view of Puntukurnu AMA WA

Image source: Architecture & Design website.

Melioidosis warning for Top End

Residents and visitors to the Top End need to be aware about the increased risk of getting the potentially deadly disease, Melioidosis, following recent wet weather. Dr Vicki Krause Director of the NT Centre for Disease Control said increased rainfall expected this year due to an active La Niña event meant there would be a greater risk of Melioidosis, a disease caused by the bacteria called Burkholderia pseudomallei that lives below the soil’s surface during the dry season. Territorians are urged to take precautions to avoid Melioidosis this wet season, with about 50 cases reported in the Top End between October and May each year. “Melioidosis can lead to severe pneumonia and blood poisoning with 10-15 per cent of infections in past years leading to death, even with the best medical care,” Dr Krause said. “Cuts and sores are the perfect entry point for the bacteria to invade the body, but it can also be inhaled if it gets stirred up by wind.”

To view the Northern Territory Government’s media release in full click here.

muddy legs with rubber sandals walking across muddy grassy wet ground

Image source: Katherine Times.

Intentional self-harm a leading cause of death

New data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that intentional self-harm is the fifth leading cause of death for Indigenous Australians. The data also highlighted the alarming reality that suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indigenous males, with individuals aged between 15–24 years-old over four times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous people in the same age bracket. The data also revealed suicide was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5–17-years-old between 2015–2019.

Leilani Darwin, Head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience at the Black Dog Institute, says Australia needs to put suicide prevention on the agenda as a priority, as well as being a self-identified priority in communities, “Indigenous people are overrepresented in the worst ways.” 

To veiw the full article click here.

Aboriginal arms around child - torsos only set against wooden framed windows

Image source: NITV News website.

Latest COVID-19 update for Mob

The latest COVID-19 and other health updates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities newsletter produced by the Australian Government Department of Health has been released and can be accessed here.

35 year-old Larrakia man Jonathan sitting cross-legged on carpeted floor surrounded by study/work papers

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

PHC worker engagement with screening programs

The University of Melbourne in the Department of General Practice is seeking primary healthcare workers to take part in a qualitative study they are undertaking to evaluate ways to engage with primary healthcare workers about national screening programs (bowel, breast and cervical). The evaluation has been commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Findings thus far from this study have led to the development of communication materials to assist in boosting participation, education and engagement.  

They researchers recognise the importance of the whole clinic in improving cancer screening and would like to invite GPs, practice managers and practice nurses to participate in a focus group discussion (via Zoom) to review and provide feedback on the developed communication materials. The focus group discussions will occur in early December, with all participants receiving a $50 gift card for their time. 

To view the advertisement for the focus group click here.

Aboriginal Health Worker at ATSICHS Brisbane sitting at her desk

Tereina Kimo, Aboriginal Health Worker at ATSICHS Brisbane. Image source: NATSIHWA.

Remote community COVID-19 vulnerability

COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. It can infect and affect anyone, regardless of age, location, socioeconomic status or other health circumstances. Unfortunately though, it can be more devastating for some sections of the community than others. The situation in Victorian aged-care facilities has been a tragic reminder of the way in which this virus affects our most vulnerable in the community. That’s why, when COVID-19 first hit Australia, it was so important — and remains just as important — that strong measures are taken to protect remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people living in remote communities are at greater risk of COVID-19 due to higher rates of other health issues in these communities, difficulties accessing health care, people often being very mobile and travelling often, and in many cases relying more on outreach services. When COVID-19 hit, the message from many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations was clear: protecting these remote communities was of the utmost importance. On 20 March, Pat Turner — CEO of NACCHO told the ABC that it would be “catastrophic” if COVID-19 got into remote Indigenous communities, not only because of the potential loss of life, but also the loss of cultural heritage.

To view the full Hospital and Healthcare article click here.

WA remote community buildings against bald rock hills

Image source: ABC News website.

RACGP and ACRRM GP training collaboration

A joint statement from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) has outlined the cooperative approach they will take ahead of the transition to college-led training. The statement reaffirms that the Federal Government is also committed to reforming the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) model, which will see the colleges become directly responsible for training registrars.
RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said the colleges are committed to making general practice and rural generalist training the ‘career pathway of choice’ for prospective students. ‘The return of general practice training to the RACGP provides a unique opportunity to drive further excellence in general practice training, and align it to workforce-distribution strategies that satisfy the healthcare needs of the diverse communities we serve,’ he said as well as pointing out that ‘This is a complex and multifaceted set of reforms that will require extensive consultation and collaboration with all of our stakeholders.’

To view the GPNews article in full click here and to access the RACGP media release click here.Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine world leaders in rural practice logo, vector of orange snake wound around windmill

New England health unit awarded for CtG Framework

To view the full article in the Newcastle Herald click here.

stethoscope on centre of Aboriginal flag

Image source: PHN Hunter New England and Central Coast website.

2021 GP Fellowship Training

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd (RVTS) is an established training provider with 20 years’ experience delivering GP Fellowship Training across Australia. Its AMS training stream, now in its 7th year, has positions available for doctors to train towards Fellowship qualifications of the RACGP and/or ACRRM. Training with RVTS allows registrars to stay in the one AMS location for the duration of training and offers structured distance education and remote supervision. Registrars receive comprehensive support from a dedicated Cultural Mentor, Medical Educator Mentor, and Training Coordinator throughout the duration of training and have access to Cultural Orientation Resources developed by the RVTS Cultural Educator and Cultural Mentor Team. The RVTS has a high fellowship achievement rate.

To check your eligibility for the AMS stream and to apply click here.

GP Fellowship Training applications are open now until 11 November 2020.

Dr Dharminder Singh who trained with RVTS at Mallee District Aboriginal Services

Dr Dharminder Singh who trained with RVTS at Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) and still works at MDAS.

Indigenous voice critical in government program evaluation

The Productivity Commission today released a proposed Indigenous Evaluation Strategy. The Strategy, which has been delivered to the Government, sets out a new approach to evaluating Australian Government policies and programs. Policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not working as well as they need to. Evaluation can play an important role filling this gap, but regrettably it is often an afterthought and of poor quality, Commissioner Romlie Mokak said. Importantly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are rarely asked about what, or how to evaluate, or what evaluation results mean, Mr Mokak said. The Strategy puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at its centre.

To view the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s media release in full click here.

8 Aboriginal hands around quit smoking badges

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

NSW – Wyong – Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited

Executive Assistant to the CEO

Suicide Prevention Worker

To access the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services website and the job descriptions for these positions click here.

Applications for the EA to the CEO position close at 5.00 pm on Wednesday 11 November 2020 and applications for the Suicide Prevention Worker position close at 5.00 pm on Tuesday 11 November 2020.

Yerin Eleanor Duncan AHS logo

ACT – Canberra – National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA)

NATSIHWA is an association founded on the cultural and spiritual teachings of our past and present leaders, which best serves our members in their important role in achieving physical, social, cultural and emotional wellbeing for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They are currently seeking applications for the following senior level positions within the organisation:

Manager Executive Services

Teacher – Manager Professional Development

Manager – Policy, Projects and Research

For job descriptions click on the title of the job above. Applications for each position must be received by midnight Monday 2 November 2020.NATSIHWA logo

NSW – Sydney- Kirketon Road Centre

Senior Aboriginal Health Project Officer

The Kirketon Road Centre (KRC) is a primary health care facility located in Kings Cross, which is involved in the prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS and other transmissible infections among ‘at-risk’ young people, sex workers and people who inject drugs. Working across KRC’s three clinical sites and extensive outreach program, this position is responsible for addressing the needs of Aboriginal people among KRC’s target populations, including ‘at risk young people, sex workers and people who inject drugs. The position also provides cultural expertise within KRC. 

For more information about the position and to apply click here.

Applications close Sunday 8 November 2020.Kirkton Road Centre logo, white letters KRC against green background

Across Australia – Remote Vocational Training Scheme Targeted Recruitment

General Practitioners – multiple positions

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is assisting the recruitment of doctors to targeted remote communities with high medical workforce need by including the RVTS GP Vocational Training program as a component of the doctor recruitment package. In 2018-20 the RVTS Targeted Recruitment Strategy successfully secured the services of 11 full-time doctors to 13 rural and remote communities across Australia. RVTS Training is a four-year GP training program delivered by Distance Education and Remote Supervision leading to Fellowship of the ACRRM and/or RACGP. RVTS Training is fully funded by the Australian Government.

Tor further information about the Targeted Recruitment positions click here.RVTS logo, vector of white sun rising or setting yellow sky, red earth

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.


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 Research Health News : New @NHMRC project to implement and evaluate 715 annual health checks interventions designed to help Close the Gap

 “The prevalence of most chronic diseases increases with age and affects not only physical health, but also the broader contributors to the well-being of older Aboriginal people, including participation in family, community and cultural leadership roles and connection with community networks.

Aboriginal people often receive a diagnosis at a more advanced stage of chronic disease, which means there’s less opportunity to prevent their condition and health deteriorating “

Professor Sanson-Fisher said chronic diseases continue to be a major contributor to unhealthy ageing among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Timely diagnosis and appropriate management was vital to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. See Website

Consider these facts

  • In 2016-2017 just 27 per cent of Indigenous adults aged 15 to 24 had an annual health assessment.
  • Only 30 per cent of 25-to 54-year-olds, and 41 per cent of Indigenous adults over 55 had one.
  • Around 37 per cent of the burden of disease in Aboriginal people could be prevented by reducing risk factors

Read previous NACCHO 715 Health Check Articles

Download resources to boost the rates of the 715 health check. Information available for patients and health professionals!

An intervention designed to help Close the Gap, by increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who receive an annual health check by their GP, will be implemented and evaluated by a new National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project.

Renowned population health researcher, Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher of the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute, will lead a team of expert Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers in the five-year research project – which was awarded $745,056 following a Targeted Call for Research** for Healthy Ageing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Indigenous people die about eight years earlier than non-Indigenous Australians. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians born in 2015-17, the life expectancy is 71.6 years for men and 75.6 years for women – about 8.6 and 7.8 years less than non-Aboriginal men and women respectively.

Twenty-two mainstream general practice clinics within the central Coast and New England regions will participate in the research project.

The intervention package will comprise strategies such as continuing medical education, recall and reminder systems, and mailed invitations to patients.

The project will also test whether the intervention increases doctors’ adherence to best practice care and improves patient outcomes.

More than 60 per cent of Indigenous people regularly visit mainstream general practice services – a key opportunity to deliver an annual ‘715’ health assessment, which forms an integral part of the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap commitment.

The aim of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Assessment (Medicare Benefits Schedule item 715) is to help ensure Indigenous Australians receive primary health care matched to their needs, by encouraging early detection, diagnosis and intervention for common and treatable conditions that cause morbidity and early death.

The health assessment is an annual service and covers the full age spectrum..

Key contributing chronic conditions include cardiovascular diseases (19 per cent of the chronic disease prevalence gap), mental and substance use disorders (14 per cent), cancer (9 per cent), chronic kidney disease, diabetes, vision loss, hearing loss and respiratory, musculoskeletal, neurological and congenital disorders.

Around 37 per cent of the burden of disease in Aboriginal people could be prevented by reducing risk factors.

The risk factors causing the most burden are tobacco use (12 per cent of the total burden), alcohol use (8 per cent), high body mass (8 per cent), physical inactivity (6 per cent), high blood pressure (5 per cent) and high blood glucose levels (5 per cent).

“Mainstream general practice is a crucial setting to impact on prevention, timely diagnosis and appropriate management of chronic disease for Aboriginal people, which is imperative to help Close the Gap,” Professor Sanson-Fisher said.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NAIDOC2019 News 4 of 5 : New @OzProdCom Productivity Commissioner @RMokak talks about what #NAIDOC #VoiceTreatyTruth means and invites input into a new #Indigenous Evaluation Strategy

” Implementation matters, and considering likely implementation roadblocks – such as capability and culture in agencies and service delivery organisations, data availability, and knowledge translation – will be key considerations for the strategy.

We are also encountering many positive examples from outside government of how evaluation can be used to improve decision making and program implementation.

We have much to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations – such as the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in South East Queensland.

IUIH has been active in commissioning and conducting research and evaluation to build the evidence base on what works, and demonstrate its impact to the community and government.

Last week, we published an issues paper, which outlines some of the key questions we’d like your help to answer.”

Commissioner Romlie Mokak delivered a speech for a NAIDOC event at the Institute of Public Administration Australia in Canberra July 2019

Download 58 page Indigenous Evaluation Strategy issues paper 


Make a submission HERE

Today, I stand here on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. I am deeply grateful for the warmth and the generosity in allowing this country to be home for my family over the past 20 years. I honour your ancestors, your Elders and your young ones yet to come. I honour your sacred places and the wisdom and teachings held and shared in these places.

I aim to speak to two things today – NAIDOC and the Indigenous Evaluation Strategy.

NAIDOC theme — Voice, Treaty, Truth

This year’s NAIDOC brings into focus the theme of Voice, Treaty, Truth: let’s work together for a shared future. The NAIDOC theme, by definition, seeks for all Australians to work together to build our nation’s future. Voice, Treaty, Truth puts forward a proposition to the Australian people – not just to parliament, but to the Australian people — about a shared future.

These three elements from the Uluru Statement from the Heart speak to the call by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a greater say in their lives.

I quote:

When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish.

They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution….we seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard.

NAIDOC week is a time to commemorate, as well as a time to celebrate. It is a time to remember and honour those who have come before.  To honour those who have worked tirelessly and endlessly for our benefit. NAIDOC week is a time to place our — Indigenous — knowledges, our cultures, our science, our strength, our achievements – at the centre.

NAIDOC invites you into this space – beyond raising flags, beyond exhibiting art, beyond consuming native foods. NAIDOC is not just about NAIDOC week. In fact, the spirit of NAIDOC really is about what we do during those remaining weeks of the year.

25 years in policy

This week begins my 12th week at the Productivity Commission – it is still very much early days for me.

My road to the Commission has been travelled via community, state, Commonwealth and Indigenous organisations. From beginnings in the NSW public service 25 years ago as a junior policy officer in ageing and disability. To the Commonwealth Department of Health — working in Indigenous policy and program areas such as health inequality, substance use and financing.

For the past 14 years heading up national black organisations:

  • nine as CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association
  • the last five as head of the Lowitja Institute (Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Research).

The learning over these years – that those who are most invested and most impacted must not be assigned to policy render. They must also be designers, architects, builders and evaluators for impact and change.

Indigenous Evaluation Strategy

The Productivity Commission has been asked to develop a whole-of-government evaluation strategy to be used by all Australian Government agencies, for policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The project will have three main components. The commission has been asked to:

  • establish a principles-based framework for the evaluation of policies and programs
  • identify priorities for evaluation
  • set out its approach for reviewing agencies’ conduct of evaluations against the strategy.

The commission has a broad remit to recommend changes to improve the use and conduct of evaluation in Australian Government agencies. This goes beyond guiding stakeholders during the commissioning and conduct of evaluations.

The evaluation strategy should also make recommendations on how evaluation and evidence-based decision making can be embedded into policy development and program delivery. The problems with existing evaluation practice that have motivated this project are not just that evaluations have been rarely or poorly conducted, but stem from the lack of influence of evaluation practice and results on policymaking.

It is clear that the value of evaluation will be limited in the absence of strong and sustainable mechanisms to feed evaluation findings, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, perspectives and priorities, into the policymaking process.

The evaluation strategy must cover both mainstream and Indigenous-specific policies and programs if it is to properly examine those that have most impact on, or potential benefit for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We will make recommendations on how evaluation efforts should be prioritised, both within agencies and across the Australian Government.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples perspectives on what policies and outcomes matter most will be vital when identifying priorities for evaluation.

Early insights

Our project is in its early stages:

  • we will deliver a draft report in February next year
  • and a final report to government in around 12 months from now.

However early discussions around the country have provided insights into the challenges we may face when developing the strategy, and the areas where the strategy can add the most value. The dearth of evaluation of policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been well-documented. It is clear that evaluation practice in Australian Government agencies varies considerably.

Existing evaluation efforts are often narrowly focused rather than systematic, and many agencies do not publish evaluation reports in a timely manner (if at all). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and voices have been largely absent from evaluation design and conduct. Even where there has been leadership and considerable resources devoted, experience shows that changing the evaluation culture in government agencies is hard.

The then Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (now National Indigenous Australian agency) and the Department of Health are two agencies that have made inroads into better incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and priorities into their evaluation efforts.

Implementation matters, and considering likely implementation roadblocks – such as capability and culture in agencies and service delivery organisations, data availability, and knowledge translation – will be key considerations for the strategy.

We are also encountering many positive examples from outside government of how evaluation can be used to improve decision making and program implementation. We have much to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations – such as the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in South East Queensland.

IUIH has been active in commissioning and conducting research and evaluation to build the evidence base on what works, and demonstrate its impact to the community and government.

Last week, we published an issues paper, which outlines some of the key questions we’d like your help to answer.

These include:

  • How can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, priorities and values be better integrated into policy and program evaluation?
  • What principles should guide Australian Government agencies’ evaluation efforts?
  • What should be the priority policy areas for future Australian Government evaluation efforts?
  • How can evaluation results be better used in policy and program design and implementation?
  • What ongoing role should the Productivity Commission have in monitoring agencies’ implementation of the strategy, and in evaluating policies and programs affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more generally?

Further engagement

We are seeking submissions from interested parties between now and 23 August.

You can send us a written submission, make an oral submission or leave a brief comment on our website:

In the second half of the year we will be engaging widely across Australia to inform the development of the strategy. We will travel to urban, regional and remote areas, to hear from individuals, groups and organisations.

We hope to hold a series of roundtable discussions on topics related to the evaluation strategy. This will be to draw on the experience and expertise of people and organisations who have been involved in evaluation or have insights into how policy making and program implementation can be improved.

In closing

As NAIDOC’s impact must surely go well beyond a single week in July.

So to a future Indigenous Evaluation Strategy must have value in a lasting way.

I invite each and every one of you to be an active part of the discussion, debate and design to make this a reality.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ClosingTheGap @nhmrc and @UniCanberra Project : Commissioning stronger evaluations of Indigenous health and wellbeing programs

 ” Billions of dollars are spent annually on Indigenous programs, services and initiatives yet, despite the need, there is limited evidence on what programs are effective for improving Indigenous health outcomes.

The Productivity Commission has called for ‘more and better’ evaluations of Indigenous programs and commissioning processes that engage Indigenous communities, organisations and leaders.

The commissioning of evaluations plays a significant role in the way program evaluations are carried out. It is through the commissioning process that the budget is set, the evaluators are identified, the aims and objectives of the evaluation are set, and many other aspects of the evaluation are determined.” 

See University of Canberra website 

This National Health and Medical Research Council funded project (GNT1165913) responds to a call from Indigenous leaders for opportunities to influence decision-making processes within the health system and across sectors for the commissioning of health programs to reflect their needs, priorities and views on program design, delivery and evaluation.

This project aims to identify how government (federal, state/ territory) and non-government (not-for-profit, corporate, foundation, philanthropic) commissioning practices can better support Indigenous engagement and leadership in the evaluation of health and wellbeing programs in Australia.

To achieve this aim, this project will address the following objectives:

  1. To characterise the spectrum of commissioning practices of government and non-government organisations in contracting evaluations for health and wellbeing programs particularly the role of Indigenous engagement and leadership during, and resulting from, the commissioning process.
  2. To identify the issues, challenges and opportunities for Indigenous engagement and leadership across the spectrum of commissioning practices from the perspectives of: (a) commissioners/policy makers; (b) service providers; and (c) the Indigenous community.
  3. To translate the findings into resources to support Indigenous engagement and leadership in the commissioning of program evaluations.

The project will be supported by an advisory group, chaired by Professor Tom Calma AO.

The project is funded until October 2022.

Research team


For more information on the project, please contact Margaret Cargo at

NACCHO Aboriginal #AusVotesHealth #VoteACCHO Will preventative health be on the #Election2019 agenda today at the @PressClubAust debate between health ministers @CatherineKingMP and @GregHuntMP? #npc #auspol @_PHAA_ @amapresident @CHFofAustralia @Prevention1stAU

” Labor has vowed to ramp up the Australian government’s efforts to prevent people from becoming unwell if it wins the upcoming federal election.

The pledge comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt will have the opportunity to spruik the coalition’s record on improving people’s health in a debate with Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King.

The pair will go head-to-head at the National Press Club today ;

You can watch the debate from 12.30 pm on ABC TV

See media report Part 1 Below

” The health of Australians is far more likely to be advanced by spending money on preventing disease than it is curing or treating illnesses.

With an aging population and chronic disease snowballing, the current focus on health through the prism of hospitals and drugs is unsustainable.

Many Australians would be shocked to learn that less than 2% of the health budget is spent on prevention. We are calling for that to change.

Most OECD countries commit around 5% of health spending to prevention. On this Australia is lagging behind.”

We have shown what can be done by driving down smoking rates. While more needs to be done on tobacco, there is an urgent and growing need to apply that lesson to obesity, physical activity and alcohol consumption. “

PHAA CEO, Terry Slevin from the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) who recently launched its election manifesto at its Justice Health conference in Sydney in an attempt to pivot the health conversation towards prevention. See Part 2 Below

Download the PHAA Election Priorities Here

PHAA Policy Priorities 2019

“ The AMA is calling on Health Minister, Greg Hunt, and Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King, to use today’s Health Policy Debate at the National Press Club to fill the gaps in their respective overarching visions for the future health system in Australia.

The Australian health system is one of the best in the world, if not the best. But it will take strong leadership, hard work, good policy with long-term strategic vision, and significant well-targeted funding to keep it working efficiently to meet growing community demand.

“The health system has many parts, and they are all linked. Governments cannot concentrate on a few, and neglect the others. Otherwise, patients will be the ultimate losers. Whole patient care cannot be done in silos, in parts, or in isolation.

“Health is the best investment that any government can make. We expect to hear more detail on their intended investment from the major parties at the National Press Club today,”

Dr Tony  Bartone AMA President See Part 3 Below

” We don’t need more reviews. Experience has shown stopgap health policies won’t pay in the long run. The evidence here and internationally tells us that the best overall returns for the health dollar will come from nationally co-ordinated preventive health measures to counter modern malaises of obesity and chronic illness.

Closely linked to the prevention drive should be better resourced primary health services — GP-led team care for the growing number of chronically ill and older patients. People want affordable, convenient and reliable care close to home “


AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that Labor has announced a comprehensive framework to re-energise a coordinated national preventive health strategy to keep Australians fitter and healthier and out of hospital.

Dr Bartone said the broad range of initiatives is welcome, but will ultimately require significantly greater funding to be truly effective for the long term. “Investing in preventive health saves hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs and improves lives,”

See Press Release HERE

AMA Prevention

Leanne Wells is chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia. See Part 4

‘We urge Health Minister Greg Hunt and Shadow Minister Catherine King to outline how they are going to get better bang for the health buck at today’s National Press Club debate’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘The Coalition, Labor, and the Greens are all promising welcome extra health dollars and reduced out-of-pocket costs for electors should they win government—but public commitment to getting better value for those dollars has been muted.

See AHHA Press Release Part 5

NACCHO has developed a set of policy #Election2019 recommendations that if adopted, fully funded and implemented by the incoming Federal Government, will provide a pathway forward for improvements in our health outcomes.

We are calling on all political parties to include these recommendations in their election platforms and make a real commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and help us Close the Gap.

With your action and support of our #VoteACCHO campaign we can make the incoming Federal Government accountable.

See NACCHO Election 2019 Website

NACCHO Recommendation 6.Allocate Indigenous specific health funding to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations

  • Transfer the funding for Indigenous specific programs from Primary Health Networks to ACCHOs.
  • Primary Health Networks assign ACCHOs as preferred providers for other Australian Government funded services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples unless it can be shown that alternative arrangements can produce better outcomes in quality of care and access to services

Part 1 Media Coverage 

Health has been a key battleground for the election campaign so far, with both major parties spending weeks trying to convince Australians they will be best placed to look after them when they’re sick.

Labor has vowed to spend $2.3 billion over four years on improving the coverage of cancer services on Medicare and wants to spend an extra $2.8 billion on public hospitals.

But the coalition says it has funded hospitals at record levels, because its strong economic management has given it the cash to do so.

Mr Hunt has also argued his government has made far more medicines affordable by listing them on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which means they are subsidised by the government.

Improving the mental health of young and indigenous Australians is also in the coalition’s sights, with the party promising an extra $42 million for services that would do as much if it wins the national poll.

Labor has now turned its attention to stopping people from becoming ill in the first place, pledging $115.6 million worth of initiatives to promote health and prevent disease.

The prevention package includes implementing Australia’s first National Obesity Strategy.

That will involve spending $39 million over three years to roll out a national anti-obesity marketing campaign.

Smokers would be targeted by a separate $40 million anti-smoking campaign over four years to reduce cancer rates.

Money would also go toward a sun protection awareness campaign and initiatives to drive up early detection of bowel cancer.

Labor also wants to reduce harmful drinking, vowing $10 million worth of targeted campaigns, delivering warning labels on alcohol packaging and doing more to limit alcohol advertising to children.

Ms King stressed that almost a third of Australia’s burden of disease is preventable.

Every dollar spent on preventing people from becoming sick through lifestyle factors delivers almost $6 in health and productivity benefits, she said.

“Prevention is better than cure – both for our own health and the country’s.”

Part 2 PHAA

Australia invests a meagre 1.7% of the health system spending on preventative health – one of the lowest levels of the OECD economies. says we must match the world’s best practice of 5% to advance the health of Australians.

Download the PHAA Election Priorities Here

PHAA Policy Priorities 2019

The recent launch of the PHAA Immediate Priorities 5-point plan called for:

  • Setting the target of 5% of Australia’s health budget to focus on prevention
  • Protecting kids from marketing of tobacco, alcohol, junk food
  • Investing in sustained and effective community education programs on tobacco, healthy eating, alcohol and being physically active
  • Focusing on improved health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents, and
  • Curbing climate change with clear and effective action to ensure a healthy planet.

This plan was launched at our Justice Health conference to emphasise the importance of focusing on the people of greatest need.

“Those who come in contact with the justice system are often the most vulnerable. People with mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are all overrepresented in our jails. If we aim for a fair go for all Australians, that requires us to focus our attentions on those with the greatest need.”

“If we get this right, we can add at least five more good years to people’s lives so they can enjoy the fruits of their labour, the celebrations and successes of our families and the people we love for longer. Surely this is a goal we all must share and pursue.”

“Health experts have the solutions; parliamentarians simply need to act. ”

Part 3 AMA

The AMA is calling on Health Minister, Greg Hunt, and Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King, to use today’s Health Policy Debate at the National Press Club to fill the gaps in their respective overarching visions for the future health system in Australia.

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that the AMA has welcomed announcements from the major parties of new funding and strategies for public hospitals, cancer care, primary care, dental care for pensioners and seniors, Indigenous health, the lifting of the Medicare rebate freeze, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), among others.

“The AMA will compare and contrast these policies and publicly rate them accordingly before election day,” Dr Bartone said.

“But we need to see the major parties announcing the missing pieces from their health care vision over the next two-and-a-half weeks, starting today.

“As the population ages and more people are living longer with multiple complex and chronic conditions, it is vital that Australia has a robust, connected, and holistic strategy to ensure improved health outcomes for patients throughout life.

“The big gaps include aged care, broad mental health strategies, comprehensive primary care and general practice investment, the private health sector, and prevention.

“The Australian health system is one of the best in the world, if not the best. But it will take strong leadership, hard work, good policy with long-term strategic vision, and significant well-targeted funding to keep it working efficiently to meet growing community demand.

“The health system has many parts, and they are all linked. Governments cannot concentrate on a few, and neglect the others. Otherwise, patients will be the ultimate losers. Whole patient care cannot be done in silos, in parts, or in isolation.

“Health is the best investment that any government can make. We expect to hear more detail on their intended investment from the major parties at the National Press Club today,” Dr Bartone said.

The AMA’s health policy wish list – Key Health Issues for the 2019 Federal Election – is available at

The AMA will issue a health policy scorecard in the final week of the campaign.

Public Release. View in full here.

Part 4 Preventive measures the most effective health policy prescription

Health is once again a target for billions of taxpayer dollars in election promises that may soothe but never heal community concerns.

There has been no shortage of diagnoses about what ails the health system. A feature of Australia’s health policy in the past decade has been the preponderance of probes into various elements of the health sector, ranging from system-wide inquiries to more focused reviews of troubled areas.

The Coalition government, since coming to power in 2013, has instituted a clutch of reviews into key problem zones: primary care for the chronically ill, mental health, private health insurance, out-of-pocket medical costs, regulation and remuneration of pharmacies, and the efficacy of high-cost Medicare benefits.

These reviews produced various ideas for change and improvement, but community unease about health still creates a spike in public opinion surveys.

There were two recurring concerns raised by respondents to a recent survey conducted by the Consumers Health Forum. The issues were cost and uncertainty. These are worry points often reflected in the focus of the health policies announced so far in this federal election campaign.

The out-of-pocket costs dilemma confronting so many patients in Australia also is often connected to a widespread sense of uncertainty about healthcare and its co-ordination — what care is needed, its cost and where to go for appropriate treatment.

Our survey found most people were satisfied with the quality of the healthcare they received. However, a third encountered difficulties at every stage of the healthcare process, such as finding the right place to get care, deciding which provider to see and getting to see the provider they needed.

The unease about care costs and uncertain access to co-ordinated care have prompted a variety of responses from the political parties.

Labor has proposed a plan to reduce out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients; the Coalition is pledging support for streamlined access to integrated care for the over-70s and a new website detailing medical specialists’ fees. And both sides promise more hospital funding and a continuing stream of new drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

But there remains the reality that we are getting piecemeal measures when what is needed is a holistic approach with overarching strategies reflecting all of the modern world’s knowledge about the causes of ill health and our capacity to avoid ill health.

We are proposing that the next federal government give priority to three areas: childhood obesity, public dental services and primary healthcare. We don’t need more reviews. Experience has shown stopgap health policies won’t pay in the long run. The evidence here and internationally tells us that the best overall returns for the health dollar will come from nationally co-ordinated preventive health measures to counter modern malaises of obesity and chronic illness.

Closely linked to the prevention drive should be better resourced primary health services — GP-led team care for the growing number of chronically ill and older patients. People want affordable, convenient and reliable care close to home,

The political default on health is to offer more and bigger hospitals. We need to rebalance the investment to give more focus on comprehensive care in the community that reduces our dependence on hospitals.

Obesity is a dominant factor in chronic illness yet as a nation we have no coherent, effective strategy to counter poor diet and promotion to children of unhealthy food and drink, and to take other more practical measures, such as overcoming urban planning and transport obstacles to routine activities such as walking.

Modern economies and digital technology have brought new levels of consumer control and understanding to most corners of society. Yet health, despite the expertise of its practitioners and reliance on precision record-keeping elsewhere in healthcare, lags behind 21st-century potential when it comes to communications with patients. Instead, we as a wealthy country have hundreds of thousands of people each year putting off having scripts filled, seeing a specialist or living with the misery of toothache because they can’t ­afford a dentist.

Australia’s health system remains less efficient than it should be and federal-state divisions in health funding and the resistance of practitioners to change, or lack of support for practitioners to change, are significant impediments. We have seen in recent years welcome strides towards a more transparent and accountable health system. Consumers must be empowered with more government support for the development of consumer leadership and patient-centred care to improve not only health outcomes but also the working experience of clinicians.

Transforming services by encouraging consumer-influenced health services and patient engagement in healthcare can bring long-term benefits to Australia’s physical and fiscal health.

Leanne Wells is chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia.

Part 5

‘We urge Health Minister Greg Hunt and Shadow Minister Catherine King to outline how they are going to get better bang for the health buck at today’s National Press Club debate’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘The Coalition, Labor, and the Greens are all promising welcome extra health dollars and reduced out-of-pocket costs for electors should they win government—but public commitment to getting better value for those dollars has been muted.

‘For example, do you really need that extra appointment with the doctor to renew a script or have a specialist referral updated? Do you really need to pay a GP to carry out a treatment or give an injection when a trained nurse can do it just as effectively? Why are some treatments still subsidised by Medicare when more effective evidence-based treatments are available? Why get that injury treated in hospital when it could be done just as well at your local primary care clinic for a fraction of the cost?

‘We need to shift the whole system to value-based healthcare—that is, better outcomes for patients relative to costs—or the right care in the right place at the right time by the right provider.

‘This will often involve teams of health professionals providing ongoing care for chronic conditions—this has been proven internationally to be more effective, more timely and better value than traditional care systems.

‘Integrated or “joined up” care driven by results is better for the patient than care driven by number of consultations attended and/or the size of the patient’s wallet.

‘To their credit, during its current term the Government initiated a review of all Medicare item numbers for relevance and effectiveness. Progress has been limited to date, but the review is ongoing.

‘The Government also initiated an inquiry into out-of-pocket costs—but included only one consumer representative in a sea of medical and private health interests. One proposed outcome of the inquiry—compelling specialists to publish their fees on a government website—while laudable, is yet to see the light of day.

‘The Government introduced the Health Care Home model of integrated care, which is a move toward value-based healthcare. But it failed to attract enough ‘buy-in’ from medical practitioners or consumers—in part because of insufficient funding and poor planning. The Coalition’s recently announced policy of rewarding GP practices for people over 70 signing up or registering with the practice for chronic disease care is a renewed step in the right direction. So is the commitment of both major parties to Primary Health Networks tasked with introducing innovative and value-based primary healthcare regimes tailored to local circumstances.

‘The $2.3 billion investment pledged by Labor to address out-of-pocket costs for people with cancer is a much-needed response to the significant and unexpected costs faced by many people with cancer. But, apart from a suggested oncology Medicare item number available only through bulk-billing of patients, there is little detail as yet on how the initiative will ensure real value for patients while sidestepping unnecessary low value care.

‘Labor’s proposed Health Reform Commission, and the Greens’ similar proposed single funding agency are encouraging signs of political will to achieve better value and less waste by ending the “blame game” between various levels of government—but we would like to see more concrete actions detailed in their policies.

‘As a nation we also need to invest in appropriate Australian research into best value care—AHHA has recently launched the Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care to support this work.

‘We call on all parties and candidates to commit to better bang for the health buck—a revamped value-for-money health system focused on what matters to patients’, Ms Verhoeven said.

Visit the Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care here. To follow AHHA commentary throughout the election campaign, visit This release is also available online.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : Download the $33.4 Billion 2017 Indigenous Expenditure Report :

 ” Australia’s failure to meet Closing the Gap targets or to design policies that help improve the lives of Indigenous Australians means that governments need to pick up the slack.

 We are spending more than we would like on reacting to disadvantage (for example, A$4.1 billion on “public order and safety”) compared to activities that reduce disadvantage (for example, only A$1.3 billion on tertiary education or A$411 million on early childhood education).

What we still don’t know (and can’t extrapolate from this report) is whether the money we are spending on Indigenous Australians is having any positive impact whatsoever. This report certainly doesn’t provide the data or the level of policy rigour to answer that much more important question.

More targeted information and higher-quality evaluations are urgently needed. Crucially, Indigenous peoples need to be involved at all stages to provide more meaningful answers.”

From the Conversation

 ” An estimated $33.4 billion of Australian, State and Territory government expenditure was spent on services provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in 2015-16, according to the 2017 Indigenous Expenditure Report.

Around 18 per cent of this expenditure was on targeted programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and the remainder was through non-targeted, or mainstream, services.”

Download the Report HERE and read Commission press release PART 2 below

2017 Indigenous Expenditure Report $33 Billion

Share of funding to Indigenous-run groups falls over past nine years

Australian funding to other organisations earmarked as Indigenous spending has increased by one third

Reports The Guardian

The proportion of funding that goes directly to Indigenous-run organisations has fallen over the past nine years, while funding to other organisations that is earmarked as Indigenous spending has increased by one third.

The social researcher Eva Cox said the decreased portion of targeted Indigenous funding was concerning. “We do know that Indigenous-specific services do tend to deliver on outcomes,” she told Guardian Australia.

Cox said the focus should not be on how much money was spent but on where and how it was spent, and which organisations received the funding.

Indigenous expenditure accounts for 6% of total expenditure, while Indigenous Australians make up 3.2% of the population. That was an understandable and necessary concentration of funding, Cox said, because it addressed an area of higher need.

“It’s obvious if we are going to deal with a population that is isolated and has entrenched levels of disadvantage then it’s going to cost us more,” she said. “And it should cost us more money but it should be well spent.”

She said the implication from successive government reports, including a damning Australian National Audit Office report on the federal government’s flagship Indigenous advancement strategy, was that money had not been well

“Continuing to spend the money does not necessarily mean that the services are well thought out, well-placed, or well-delivered,” she said.

Melbourne University researcher Elise Klein said targeted funding was necessary to address structural disadvantages faced by vulnerable groups.

“Just to direct funds towards Indigenous programs isn’t enough,” Klein said. “It again matters the kinds of programs that are being funded – just because they say they are doing good doesn’t mean they are. It also matters about who is delivering the programs as there has been a dramatic decrease (and in some cases cessation) of funding to Indigenous community organisations.

“For example only 46% of organisations funded under the Indigenous advancement strategy are Indigenous – receiving only 55% of the total funding.”

The Northern Territory had the highest rate of targeted Indigenous funding nationally, with $20,348 of the $65,929 spent per person directed toward Indigenous-specific services. The Territory also had the highest per person spending, because of higher levels of chronic need and the greater cost of delivering services to remote areas.

Of the bigger states, New South Wales and Queensland directed the lowest proportion of funding toward Indigenous-specific services, with 12% and 15% respectively.

However, both states had the highest overall Indigenous expenditure, with NSW spending $9bn, or $38,452 per person, while Queensland spent $8.5bn or $40,350 per person.

Part 2 Productivity Commission Press Release

Since 2008-09 (and after adjusting for inflation), targeted expenditure has remained relatively constant at around $6.0 billion, while expenditure on mainstream services has increased by almost one-third (from $20.9 billion to $27.4 billion).

Per head of total population, expenditure (targeted and mainstream) equated to $44 886 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian, around twice the rate for non- Indigenous Australians ($22 356) and similar to ratios previously reported back to 2008 -09.


Around two-thirds of the higher per person expenditure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is accounted for by greater intensity of service use (reflecting greater need and younger age profile), with the remaining one-third accounted for by the higher cost of providing services (such as in remote locations).

Peter Harris, Chairman of the Productivity Commission and Chair of the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision emphasised the importance of robust, public evaluations to understand the adequacy, effectiveness and efficiency of government spending, something which is outside the scope of this report.

‘Understanding which policies and programs deliver outcomes effectively is vital for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Australians, and all Australians. Without understanding what works and why, we cannot say if money is being well spent’ he said.

The full suite of information on this report, including the report, data tables and a ‘how to’ video for accessing the 2017 report data can be found at:

The report is produced by the Productivity Commission for the Steering Committee

Background Related Productivity report

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2016

The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report measures the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

This comprehensive report card measures where things have improved (or not) against 52 indicators across a range of areas including governance, leadership and culture, early childhood, education, health, home and safe and supportive communities, and includes case studies on things that work to improve outcomes.

The report is produced in consultation with all Australian governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The 2016 report was released on 17 November 2016

This report measures the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and was produced in consultation with governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Around 3 per cent of the Australian population are estimated as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin (based on 2011 Census data).

Outcomes have improved in a number of areas, including some COAG targets. For indicators with new data for this report:

  • Mortality rates for children improved significantly between 1998 and 2014, particular for 0<1 year olds, whose mortality rates more than halved (from 14 to 6 deaths per 1000 live births).
  • Education improvements included increases in the proportion of 20–24 year olds completing year 12 or above (from 2008 to 2014-15) and the proportion of 20–64 year olds with or working towards post-school qualifications (from 2002 to 2014-15).
  • The proportion of adults whose main income was from employment increased from 32 per cent in 2002 to 43 per cent in 2014-15, with household income increasing over this period.
  • The proportion of adults that recognised traditional lands increased from 70 per cent in 2002 to 74 per cent in 2014-15.

However, there has been little or no change for some indicators.

  • Rates of family and community violence were unchanged between 2002 and 2014-15 (around 22 per cent), and risky long-term alcohol use in 2014-15 was similar to 2002 (though lower than 2008).
  • The proportions of people learning and speaking Indigenous languages remains unchanged from 2008 to 2014-15.

Outcomes have worsened in some areas.

  • The proportion of adults reporting high levels of psychological distress increased from 27 per cent in 2004-05 to 33 per cent in 2014-15, and hospitalisations for self-harm increased by 56 per cent over this period.
  • The proportion of adults reporting substance misuse in the previous 12 months increased from 23 per cent in 2002 to 31 per cent in 2014-15.
  • The adult imprisonment rate increased 77 per cent between 2000 and 2015, and whilst the juvenile detention rate has decreased it is still 24 times the rate for non-Indigenous youth.

Change over time cannot be assessed for all the indicators — some indicators have no trend data; some indicators report on service use and change over time might be due to changing access rather than changes in the underlying outcome; and some indicators have related measures that moved in different directions.

Finally, data alone cannot tell the complete story about the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, nor can it fully tell us why outcomes improve (or not) in different areas. To support the indicator reporting, case studies of ‘things that work’ are included in this report. However, the relatively small number of case studies included reflects a lack of rigorously evaluated programs in the Indigenous policy area.