NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest during an interview at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference in Canberra.

Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu), an aspiring deadly pharmacist and a recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship was interviewed at the recent NACCHO Members’ Conference following the Medicines and Pharmacy stream session.

In February 2022, NACCHO announced applications were open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

In April 2022 NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program:

  • Bryony Forrest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, James Cook University
  • James Sowter, RMIT
  • Jason Coleman, University of SA
  • Louis Emery, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Dawn Casey, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, ‘NACCHO was impressed with the calibre and volume of applicants we received, especially in this first year of the scholarship’s implementation. We are proud to provide opportunities that help build leadership and skills amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, who are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession.’

Karen Hood, Sanofi’s Country Lead said, ‘As members of Australia’s healthcare community we know how important it is to listen to, and work in partnership with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes and support meaningful steps toward a more fair, equal and just society. ‘Recognising the crucial role pharmacists play in our health system and the clear need for greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this field of study, we are delighted to be supporting the inaugural NACCHO scholarship as another step toward improving health and economic participation as determined by Australia’s First Peoples.’

Bryony Forrest said ‘I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long-term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practising as a pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

You can find further information about the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship on the NACCHO website here and listen to Bryony Forrest’s interview below.

Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service at AMC

Winnunga has been operating the standalone Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service in the AMC (Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT adult prison) since January 2019, within its own model of care. This is an Australian first and one Winnunga believes will prove to be one of the most significant advances in the care and rehabilitation of Aboriginal detainees. Development of this service required meeting the RACGP Standards for health services in Australian prisons with infrastructure, staffing, equipment and policies. The service provides high quality holistic care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and continuity upon a client’s release from prison.

A client satisfaction survey of the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service was published in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet in February 2022. Participant responses indicated a high quality of care across all five aspects of
care that were evaluated (participation in care; care design; care planning and self management; care coordination; follow up and respectful care). At least three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had received the specified aspects of care ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Always’. The provision of respectful care was rated particularly high, with all respondents indicating that they always had things explained in a way they could understand, had their concerns listened to, and felt that they and their beliefs were respected by Winnunga staff. Clients were also highly satisfied with the care provided to them and their families through Winnunga.

The most common suggestions for improvement in the client survey related to Winnunga not yet having an opioid replacement pharmacotherapy program so some clients could not be transferred to Winnunga care. This has now been addressed and more detainees have access to the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service

The above information about the AMC Health and Wellbeing Service Survey was published the Winnunga News November 2022 edition here. You can read the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article here.

Winnunga Health Clinic at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

HIV and sexual health webinar this WEDNESDAY

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and NACCHO are partnering to deliver a webinar during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2022, to discuss available HIV resources and support that we can offer to the sexual health sector. The purpose of the HIV Toolkit Webinar is to provide ACCHOs and the HIV and Sexual Health Sector with culturally appropriate, evidence informed, and effective training for workers to build the capacity and confidence to support and educate their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients around HIV and sexual health.

The webinar also aims to increase the uptake and utilisation of AFAO’s recently published ‘Healthcare Workforce Toolkit: HIV and Sexual Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tool kit as an ongoing resource with comprehensive information, including to help improve rates of HIV and sexual health testing, and to increase the awareness and uptake of HIV treatment, and prevention tools including condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The webinar is from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (AEST) Wednesday 7 November 2022. To REGISTER click here.

ACCO literacy campaign linked to crime reduction

Researchers from Literacy for Life Foundation, the Lowitja Institute and the University of NSW have authored a report about the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign. The most significant quantitative finding was a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of an adult literacy campaign in reducing the incidence of negative justice system outcomes in rural and remote NSW Indigenous communities with low levels of English literacy. By drawing on linked administrative data to corroborate self-reported and observer reported data, this study has shown that participation in a community-controlled Aboriginal adult literacy campaign correlates with reductions in the average number of total offences, especially those related to traffic and justice procedures.

Of particular note, serious offences were halved in our study group, especially in women and in relation to assault. The analysis of qualitative data indicates that improved literacy may lead to greater degrees of self-control, among other positive impacts. If efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in the criminal justice system are to be successful, further research into and resourcing of adult literacy interventions is urgently required. Such research can assist in moving beyond simplistic law-and-order agendas by acknowledging that ‘building of positive futures for communities relies on building a foundation of well addressed non-criminal needs’.

You can read the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy article Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities in full here.

Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation website.

What’s next for our kids? asks Chris Bin Kali

Deputy Chairperson, Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) Chris Bin Kali has written an opinion piece published in the National Indigenous Times last Friday about Premier Mark McGowan announcement of a $63m plan to address conditions for youth in detention. Bin Kali said while it is clear that additional funding is desperately needed, so is clarity around what is next for our young people in detention.

Bin Kali said a single funding announcement is not enough to make lasting change, ‘We know that in Australia, Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented in youth detention. A large majority of the youth detainees currently at Banksia Hill are Aboriginal.  Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the WA Government has committed to partnerships and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people about issues impacting our lives, and to improving the accountability and responsiveness of government to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“To honour these commitments, the WA Government must listen to Aboriginal people and partner with us to find solutions to these issues. We know that these problems are complex and will require long-term changes across a range of areas. We know how troubled some of our young people are and the healing they need. We don’t pretend these things can be fixed overnight. But we are certain that they won’t be fixed without prioritising Aboriginal voices.”

To view the NIT article What next for our kids, Premier? in full click here.

Chris Bin Kali. Photo supplies by AHCWA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NDIS Ready videos and social media tiles

At the end of 2021 NACCHO delivered over $1.25m in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Some of the funding has been used by NACCHO affiliates to produce the following videos:

AHCWA

AH&MRC

AHCSA (no videos)

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Claims Budget will improve First Nations health

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noonga-Yamatji woman works to close ear health gap

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

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

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

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

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Funding for early childhood partnership

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

Accessibility focused measures include:

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

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

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

Budget fails to recognise GP crisis

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

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

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

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

Image source: Head Topics Ireland.

Addressing health risks of flooding

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community-engaged research improving health

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

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

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

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

Image source: University Press of Kentucky.

National award for student with rural health passion

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

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

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

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How mob view and experience cancer

The image in the feature tile is from the Yarn for Life – It’s OK To Talk About Cancer website, available here.

How mob view and experience cancer  

A new national study has launched to give Australians a better understanding of how First Nations people view and experience cancer. Funded by Cancer Australia, Kulay Kalingka – the first study of this kind in Australia – is led, designed and implemented by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research team at the Australian National University (ANU).

The team will collect data for 22 cancer control indicators in First Nations people. These include their knowledge, attitudes and understanding of cancer, participation in health promotion and cancer screening programs. Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy, says improving cancer outcomes for First Nations people is a national priority for the Government.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release First of its kind study to explore cancer from a First Nations perspective in full here. Below is a video of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talking about their cancer journeys.

Mob lean on each other during floods

An Aboriginal community education centre in Shepparton is working overtime to set up a culturally safe evacuation facility and schedule food and supply drop offs to those who remain stranded. Yorta Yorta woman Leonie Dwyer is the manager of Shepparton’s Academy of Sport, Health and Education (ASHE), a service for young Aboriginal people.

With so many staff, students and families displaced, Ms Dwyer opened the ASHE office and their residential facility as a refuge. While waters are receding in Shepparton, Ms Dwyer said there’s talk that the town may be getting another downpour. “Everyone’s emotionally drained and really a bit traumatised in the sense they don’t know what’s next” she said. People are worried the flood waters will come back up, and that it might be another week until they can get out.

With the future unknown, Ms Dwyer remains staunch – saying whatever happens mob will be ok. “We’re a strong Aboriginal community here in the valley and we’ll stick together. We’re resilient. We know that,” she said. “I think that this is just another something that’s in our way, but we will get through it.”

To view the SBS NITV article Victorian Indigenous communities leaning on one another during severe floods in full click here.

Photo of flooding in Mooroopna, taken by Mooroopna local and Yorta Yorta man Neil Morris. Image source: SBS NITV.

COVID hits some more than others

For lots of Australians, their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of inconvenience, with missed holidays, home haircuts, and social events moved online. But for many others, the physical, mental, emotional, and financial cost was much greater.

A new report Fault lines: An independent review into Australia’s response to COVID-19, available here, has highlighted who was worst-hit by the handling of the pandemic. The report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were already affected by disproportionate rates of physical and mental ill health, along with other disadvantages, but the pandemic made them “particularly vulnerable”.

The report said that for the first 12 to 18 months of the pandemic, COVID-19 was largely kept out of remote communities thanks to the work of ACCHOs. But once the virus reached those communities, poor funding of those organisations, and inadequate health infrastructure and workforce capacity caused significant problems in containing the virus and treating those infected Those issues were compounded when governments under-utilised AACCHOs during the vaccine rollout.

To read the SBS News article Job loss, trauma, isolation: COVID hit some people more than others. Were you among them? in full click here.

Health workers practice remote outbreak response measures at an Aboriginal health clinic in Ramingining, NT, last year. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Washington Post.

Co-designing food sovereignty models

A project to co-design a food sovereignty model with Indigenous communities by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from QUT and University of Southern Queensland and Diabetes Australia has received a $829,628 ARC Discovery Indigenous grant. Wakka Wakka Warumungu woman Associate Professor Debbie Duthie, from QUT School of Public Health and Social Work, said food sovereignty was considered an essential element of health of First Nations people.

“Food sovereignty is a core human right that privileges Indigenous knowledges and methodologies to co-design local strategies for addressing food insecurity,” Professor Duthie said. “We aim to develop place-based food sovereignty models with both rural and urban Indigenous communities to build sustainable food systems. This project’s outcomes will ultimately lead to tailored strategies to foster food sovereignty and develop resources to preserve language and cultural foodways that can be integrated into educational programs.”

To view the QUT article Co-designing food sovereignty models for Indigenous communities in full click here.

Photo: Yurbay 2021. Image source: ACT Historic Places website.

Reducing diabetes – Ngarrindjeri pilot

A new regional diabetes program will be piloted in Ngarrindjeri country – the Coorong and the Murraylands – with the aim to reduce the burden of diabetes in Aboriginal communities. The pilot program has been co-designed with Aboriginal Elders and senior community representatives, with recent funding from the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Using a ketogenic eating program and new point-of-care testing technology will monitor health and wellbeing and aim to motivate change. Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Indigenous Health at Flinders University, Doctor Courtney Ryder said Aboriginal people in Australia are three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and five times more likely to die from it than non-Indigenous Australians.

“This burden impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal patients, families and communities. Targeted, community co-designed intervention programs are needed to stop this ongoing cultural devastation,” Doctor Ryder said.

To view The Murray Valley Standard article Reducing burden of diabetes, starting with Ngarrindjeri pilot in full click here.

Image source: AMA InSight.

Join AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee

Nominations are now open for up to five vacancies on the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee which develops policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing discrimination in the medical profession. The AMA is inviting nominations from its members to fill up to five vacancies on its Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee (EIDC) for 2023–2024.

The role of the EIDC is to develop policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing inequitable and discriminatory practices that exist in the medical profession. It also considers how the AMA can actively promote equity and diversity of representation in the AMA’s own governance structures. Committee members offer in-depth knowledge of, and experience in, a range of equity, inclusion and diversity issues and help to shape our work on equity, inclusion and diversity for our members and the medical workforce. T

Visit here for more information on time commitments. If you would like to get involved in the AMAEIDC please submit a short expression of interest (between 200-400 words) and your CV by email here by 5:00 PM AEDT Friday 28 October 2022.

To view the AMA article Join the AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee in full click here.

Image source: Stanford University website.

Sax Institute Resource Hub

The Sax Institute is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that improves health and wellbeing by driving better use of evidence in policies, programs and services. Their Resource Hub allows you to search for downloadable files such as PDFs, videos and Word files. You can filter your search by publication date, topic keyword, type of product, as well as the Sax program associated with it.

An example of publications available via the Sax Institute Resource Hub include Establishing an enduring co-production platform in Aboriginal health; Outcomes reported in evaluations of programs designed to improve health in Indigenous people; and Murradambirra Dhangaang (make food secure): Aboriginal community and stakeholder perspectives on food insecurity in urban and regional Australia.

To access the Sax Institute Resource Hub click here.

Image source: Sax Institute Resource Hub webpage of Sax Institute website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News: Day 1 NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework artwork in the feature tile was created by Kamilaroi artist, Ethan French. The diagram is a visual representation of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework foundations for community-controlled primary health care. At the centre of the diagram is a meeting place which represents members of the community being the heart of this document. Each ring and section of the diagram represents each component of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework, with culture surrounding the whole diagram and foundations, which is a representation showing that culture is involved in all aspects of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework.

Day 1 NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

On Day 1 of the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2002 NACCHO’s Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey launched a new resource for the sector, the Core Services and Outcomes Framework. Dr Casey explained that in 2019, the NACCHO Board decided it was time for the sector as a whole to communicate their ways of working by producing a Core Services Framework. This proved to be a challenge when attempted by the Department of Health and Aged Care within the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan that commenced in 2013.

When the NACCHO Board instructed NACCHO to address the vacuum NACCHO enlisted expertise from within the sector and obtained extensive feedback from key allies and partner organisations. In its final endorsed form, the Framework shows how the sector integrates community priorities and health care needs in a unique model, combining population health and clinical approaches. The Framework shows how culture wraps around the way community-controlled primary care is directed and the service delivery models used on the ground.

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework is already being used to calculate how to fund the sector to respond to the population it serves, its burden of disease, disadvantage and location.

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework can be accessed via the following:

 

Artwork: Core Services and Outcomes Framework Model

The Core Services and Outcomes Framework artwork was created by Kamilaroi artist, Ethan French.

The diagram is a visual representation of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework foundations for community-controlled primary health care. At the centre of the diagram is a meeting place which represents members of the community being the heart of this document. Each ring and section of the diagram represents each component of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework, with culture surrounding the whole diagram and foundations, which is a representation showing that culture is involved in all aspects of the Core Services and Outcomes Framework.

A new Board with big agenda ahead

Hon Mark Butler, Minister for Health – representing the Prime Minister – opened the NACCHO Members’ Conference yesterday in Canberra.

Over 500 delegates from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are coming together over three days in Canberra. It is the first major gathering for the sector since the pandemic.

They re-elected Donnella Mills as Chairperson of NACCHO. Ms Mills, a Torres Strait Islander woman, is also the Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service in Cairns and works as a Senior Associate at King & Wood Mallesons, an international law firm. She said, ‘I was honoured to be elected for a second term by our deadly ACCHOs across the country for another term.’ She, along with her Broome-based Deputy, Chris Bin Kali, will lead a Board of 16 directors in addressing a big agenda in front of them.

‘We have a challenging agenda ahead. I took the opportunity to say to Minister Butler that, while we understand that the new Government has a thankless task ahead of itself in repairing the Budget and guiding the country through a period of fiscal restraint, we still need to ensure that the health funding gap for First Nations communities does not widen. Our health funding cannot slip further behind.’

‘So, our challenge – when the Budget well is dry – is threefold. First, we must maximise what funding we do have to best effect. Second, we must get a fairer share of existing mainstream funding. Third, we need to implement structural reform in line with the priority reforms of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap’.

NACCHO commissioned Equity Economics earlier this year to estimate the health funding gap. They found in their report that the gap is a staggering $4.4b per year. That is, over $5,000 per year for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in Australia. Ms Mills said, ‘We have the data. The gap is real. Yet dangerous myths prevail that Aboriginal programs are over-funded.’

The next two days will be spent at the NACCHO conference by delegates from most of the major Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. They will hear presentations from experts in the Pilbara, the west coast of SA, and Ballina NSW (on the impact of the floods). There will also be presentations from the Kimberley, the Northern Territory and Yarrabah on efforts against acute rheumatic fever as well as by experts and leaders ranging from Pat Anderson, Fran Baum, Mary Belfrage, Alex Brown, Kelvin Kong, Tamara Mackean, Seth Westhead, and many more. The event is being MC-ed by Dan Bourchier.

To read NACCHO’s media release A new NACCHO board with a big agenda ahead in full click here.

Donnella Mills at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference yesterday.

Health Minister opens NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022

Yesterday, Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler officially opened the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022. Minister Butler’s opening remarks included:

National Convention Centre Canberra, 18 October 2022

  • Good afternoon. Thank you Donnella and Pat for welcoming me here today.
  • I would like to acknowledge we meet today on the land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and pay my respects to the elders, past, present and to our emerging leaders.
  • It is a pleasure to be here on behalf of the Prime Minister who was regrettably unable to attend this event.
  • Many of those emerging First Nations leaders have attended your youth conference here over the past day. I hope they found this opportunity to be beneficial and formed new connections.
  • It is great to see our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth participating in these forums and interacting with each other and sharing their unique cultural learnings and understandings; bringing forward their culture and their identity to be part of a better and informed future.

Picture: Gary Ramage NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills with Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022.

Health Ministers’ Meeting

  • Just over a week ago, it was great to be able to reconvene what we call the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander roundtable for health – bringing together all the Health Ministers from States and Territories and the Commonwealth along with representatives from across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled and health sector leadership.
  • The Roundtable has been unable to meet recently, and it was a priority for this government to convene it as quickly as possible following our election.
  • The Roundtable was important for highlighting the challenges in workforce, in service delivery, in embedding culturally safe practices across the health system.
  • All health ministers have prioritised this work, including the Commonwealth through myself and Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy.

Puggy Hunter

  • One way that the Commonwealth Government can lead in this work is to take real steps to implement the letter and the spirit of the Coalition of Peaks Priority Reforms.
  • Priority Reform 2 emphasises the role of the community-controlled health sector, and the role of governments in building and strengthening the sector.
  • This is a critical area for this government to build and grow. The work of ACCHOs around the country isn’t just a model for First Nations health, it’s a model for the whole health sector.
  • It’s why I have directed the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care to audit all programs delivering services to First Nations communities that are not currently being delivered by First Nations organisations.
  • It’s why I announced last week that the Puggy Hunter Scholarship Scheme – our leading program encouraging entry-level Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students to complete their studies and join the health workforce – needed to be handed over to First Nations control.
  • For me, there couldn’t be a more important first step in this process. Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter was of course an incredible health leader and Chair of NACCHO.
  • Our ambition is to transition more programs to First Nations control over the course of this government.

You can download Minister Butler’s speech in full here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NTRAI extended for two years

The image in the feature tile is of the remote community of Yarralin, west of Katherine, has received 25 new homes since 2016. Photo: Hamish Harty. Image source: ABC News article NT pleads with Canberra to pay for new homes on Aboriginal homelands, plays catch-up on remote housing targets, published on 4 October 2021.

NTRAI extended for two years

The Australian and NT Governments have signed the two-year extension to the National Partnership on NT Remote Aboriginal Investment (NTRAI). The agreement provides an additional $173.2 million for health, education, community safety, Aboriginal interpreter services in remote NT communities and ensures continuity for 400 jobs.

Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APO NT) will contribute to overseeing the extension agreement, reflecting the knowledge, expertise and lived experience of Aboriginal people living in remote parts of the NT to inform future funding options.

During the extension period, the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Department of Health and Aged Care will work in partnership with APO NT and the NT Government to design options for future investment in remote Aboriginal communities, giving life to the priority reforms identified in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

To read Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy’s media release NTRAI extended for two years click here.

Bonnie Camphoo lives in a tent just outside of Tennant Creek. Photo: Jane Bardon, ABC News.

Recommendation to continue MUP on alcohol

Health and community organisations have welcomed  a new report released by the NT Government, which recommends that the minimum unit price (MUP) on alcohol be continued. An MUP on alcohol was implemented across the Territory in 2018, which resulted in a standard drink of alcohol not being sold for under $1.30.

In 2018 the NT Government introduced a comprehensive package of reforms to prevent and reduce alcohol harms. The report: Evaluation of Minimum Unit Price of Alcohol in the NT, released this week by the NT Government, shows that there have been significant reductions of alcohol harms since the introduction of these reforms. This includes:

  • Significant reductions of alcohol-related assaults
  • Declines in the number of alcohol-related emergency department presentations per capita
  • Decreases in alcohol-related road crashes across many parts of the Territory
  • Large declines in child protection substantiations
  • Strong decreases in the wholesale supply of cask wine.

“A comprehensive approach is needed to prevent and reduce the harms caused by alcohol. This report shows the need to stay the course on these reforms as a foundation to prioritising the health and wellbeing of Territorians,” said Dr John Paterson, CEO of The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

To read the joint media release Health and community organisations welcome recommendation to continue minimum unit price in the NT in full click here.

Photo: Jane Gibson. Image source: ABC News.

Mental health tech a gamechanger

Games can power good: that’s the message from this year’s Melbourne International Games Week. Featuring games designed to promote social impact in areas like mental health and community services, the week is a reflection of how games can touch our lives. One of the projects on show was the Biik Bilik (meaning ‘my place’ in Wurundjeri language) an animated game designed to help start conversations on important social issues in Aboriginal communities.

Biik Bilik was born out of a partnership between Dandenong and District Aboriginal Cooperative and social enterprise the Institute of Games, which developed the Streets of My Town social impact game platform. Streets of My Town is designed for young people and educates them about the support services available in their local community. It functions as a platform that can be tailored to different organisations and communities depending on their location and need.

Founder and CEO Steven Dupon, a social worker, wanted to find a way to appeal to young people on sensitive and tricky topics. “We had this idea to give that information as part of the game so young people would have fun while they’re learning about some of those more challenging things that could happen in their life,” he explained.

To read the Pro Bono Australia article Gamechangers: mental health tech on show at games week in full click here.

Image source: Pro Bono Australia.

Orange Door helps families in crisis

After years of campaigning, a centre to help families in crisis has arrived in a regional city where family violence is ranked as the most reported crime. The Orange Door network connects people who need help with child protection, domestic violence, and child wellbeing with service providers in the community.

“We know that Horsham’s most reported crime is family violence and family violence is in the top five most reported crimes in other LGAs around our area such as Yarriambiack, Hindmarsh and Northern Grampians,” Kara Johnson, a team leader at Orange Door Wimmera said. “It just proves that there are people in this area that need that support.”

Ms Johnson said since its doors opened, the centre in Horsham has received one to two walk-in cases a day, compared to most other rural centres which receive one to two walk-ins a week. Most people had been referred to Orange Door from neighbouring hubs and partner agencies like Uniting Wimmera, Grampians Community Health and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative.

To view the ABC News article Long-awaited Orange Door arrives to the Wimmera to help tackle family violence in full click here.

The new centre will reduce the need for Indigenous women fleeing family violence to leave their country. Photo: Alexander Darling, Wimmera ABC.

$6.9m for BBVSTI research

Three major projects, focusing on reducing stigma, community-led models and assessment of people living with chronic hepatitis B, have received funding. UNSW Sydney researchers from the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) and The Kirby Institute have been awarded more than $6.9 million over four years, in grants through the federal government’s Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Research Program.

Director of the CSRH Scientia Professor Carla Treloar has received $3.6 million, Kirby Institute epidemiologist Dr Skye McGregor has been awarded $1.65 million, and UNSW Scientia Fellow and Program Head, Therapeutic Research and Vaccine Program at the Kirby Institute, Professor Gail Matthews has received $1.63 million.

Scientia Professor Vlado Perkovic, Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health congratulated the researchers, and said the grants would lead to better outcomes for patients and more personalised approaches to treatments. “These projects are an exciting development in STI and BBV health policy and practice research and offer hope for people affected by, living with or at risk of blood-borne viruses and STIs in Australia,” he said.

To read the University of NSW article UNSW researchers receive $6.9m for blood borne virus and STI research full click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Supporting recovery from addiction

For Daniel Wilson, support from his family, a sense of connection and community, and the strength of his ancestors were key to leading him out of heroin addiction two decades ago and into his work now at Melbourne’s Odyssey House treatment centre. A senior alcohol and other drugs (AOD) clinician and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural advisor, he told the recent Rethink Addiction national convention about his experience of addiction, of using heroin “nearly up to the point that it killed me”.

Wilson was speaking in a lived experience session of the conference that highlighted the need for better treatment and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with alcohol, other drugs and gambling addictions. Each of the speakers talked about the importance of family, of safe spaces, and the need to connect to culture and community. They also described the role of trauma in addiction, particularly for the Stolen Generations and their descendants, and new generations now being impacted by escalating rates and risks of child removal.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Culture and community: supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in recovery from addiction in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Building back after the floods

Building back smarter from floods is about more than infrastructure. As Australia is finding out, improvements to healthcare are key to the solution. In the aftermath of the devastating floods that hit eastern Australia in early 2022, affected residents were left with serious questions about the country’s resilience to intensifying extreme weather events and the institutions tasked with mopping up afterwards.  It is a matter of when, not if, the next destructive flood hits — and lives depend on strengthening the long-term resilience of health and social services across the country.

The 2022 floods across areas of NSW and SE Queensland brought death, housing and infrastructure damage, and disruptions to healthcare and other important services.  But the visible, immediate effects that make the headlines are only a fraction of the overall health burden of floods. People affected by floods can experience long-lasting mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The problem is even more pronounced for vulnerable groups with existing health inequalities, such as people with disabilities, First Nations people, and socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

To read the article After the flood written by Veronica Matthews, who heads the Centre for Research Excellence, an Indigenous-led collaboration strengthening systems to improve primary health care and the social and cultural determinants of wellbeing, in full click here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Aunty Jill’s bowel cancer journey

The image in the feature tile is of Jill Gallagher AO. Image source: Australian and NZ School of Government (ANZSOG) website.

Aunty Jill’s bowel cancer journey

When Gunditjamara woman Jill Gallagher was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer aged 54, she began self-reflecting on lifestyle choices which led her to this point. The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation CEO lived a busy life and found herself constantly tired and overworked, factors she blamed for her diagnosis. Ms Gallagher had experienced fatigue and persistent diarrhoea but had not associated the benign symptoms with bowel cancer.

After undergoing two major surgeries to remove sections of her bowel, part of her liver and growths on her diaphragm in 2010, Ms Gallagher said the path to recovery was lonely. “I’ve always been a very strong woman and never suffered with depression in my life until then, in the recovery phase, waiting to have chemo, waiting to see if I’m going to survive or die,” she said.

“The hospital took care of my medical needs, but there’s not a lot to take care of your emotional and spiritual needs.” After medication left her feeling unmotivated, Ms Gallagher turned to culture for comfort through the Healesville sanctuary where her son worked.

Ms Gallagher is among one in 15 Australians who will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, it is a cancer which can almost always be treated if detected early. She wants her experience 14 years ago to serve as a warning to others out there to get checked and make use of free screening for those aged 50 to 74.

To read the National Indigenous Times article When Aunty Jill needed guidance while recovering from cancer, Bunjil the creator spirit was there for her in full click here.

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Black Up! national camp for young mob

Blak Up! is a national First Nations event, led by the First Nations Team at Foundation for Youth Australian (FYA) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 16-35 years old. The time is now to build power and create connections for our future – a Blak future. The all Blak line-up will be a 4-day camp, all expenses paid including travel, featuring yarns from Elders and experienced campaigners, practical workshops, art and performances from Blak musicians. Blak Up! will help guide young mob to create connections with each other, strengthening bonds across these lands, and support them to create change in their own communities.

This idea came out of the nation-wide consultation we did for our First Nations Strategy – young mob told us that they wanted more opportunities to gather, connect and learn across communities and generations. The 50 young participants will be selected from applications by a panel of First Nations people. The First Nations team are encouraging and prioritising applications from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16–35 years who have lived experience in the justice system, State care, mental health system, housing precarity and those mob who live remote, rural or regionally.

We want Blak Up to be an inclusive and safe place for young First Nations parents, young people with criminal records, disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ communities. There will not be drugs or alcohol allowed at this event. If you have young people in mind who would love to come but need additional support to attend (such as a person to travel with), please get in touch to discuss.

You can find key information about Black Up! here, a flyer here and an information pack here. Young mob who are interested in this event can apply here by Friday 30 September 2022. If you have any questions, please book in a time to discuss here or call 0478 772 390.

Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale audit results

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) project emerged from the concerns of Kimberley healthcare professionals that the mainstream perinatal depression and anxiety screening tool, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), was inappropriate for Aboriginal women. The first phase of the project involved a community based, participatory research action project with over 100 Kimberley Aboriginal women and 72 healthcare professionals to determine appropriate ways to screen for common perinatal mental health disorders. The resulting KMMS was validated in 2016 through a clinical trial involving 91 Kimberley Aboriginal women.

In 2017 funding was received funds from the National Health and Medical Research Council and WA Department of Health to progress the transferability of the KMMS in other geographic areas and implement the KMMS into routine clinical practice across the Kimberley. During 2017-2022 the KMMS was implemented in the Kimberley.

A recent audit of KMMS implementation demonstrated that it is the primary perinatal depression and anxiety screening tool across the Kimberley Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Central to all phases of this project has been Aboriginal voice, participation and leadership. This has included ongoing consultation with Aboriginal women (end users); a strong team of Aboriginal Investigators; and robust partnerships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

You can access the Implementation of the Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale across Primary Health Care Services in the Kimberley region of Western Australia: a mixed methods assessment research article here as well as a plain language report for community here and a plain language report for clinics here.

Image from KMMS module. Image source: AMSED.

New tool to identify patient sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening time critical condition that can occur when the body is fighting any bacterial, viral or fungal infection. It can be difficult to diagnose sepsis as it can be masked behind minor visible symptoms, and if not treated quickly, can lead to organ failure and death. A new tool is being piloted at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD)’s Westmead Hospital, that will help clinicians assess a patient’s risk of sepsis while they are in the emergency department (ED) waiting room.

The Sepsis Risk Tool Dashboard combines a patient’s age, gender and vitals and calculates a sepsis risk percentage for each patient to support the clinician in assessing if sepsis is a risk or not. This dashboard has been designed to complement the existing Sepsis Kills program which was initiated by the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC). “There are other sepsis detection algorithms, but none focus on the ED waiting room, which is where sepsis is most likely to remain undiscovered,” said Dr Amith Shetty, Senior Staff specialist at Westmead Hospital and Clinical Director of NSW Health. “This is what makes this tool unique; it ensures that patients who are waiting for care are not missed or deteriorate.”

To view The Pulse article Innovative new tool to identify patient sepsis risk in Western Sydney emergency departments in full click here.

Image source: The Pulse.

Know your heart disease risk

When you have a family history of a disease, this means a member of your family has, or had that disease. Generally, if you have a family history of a heart condition, you may have a higher risk of developing a heart condition. Inherited conditions are caused by a fault (or mutation) in one or more of your genes. If one of your parents has a faulty gene, there’s a chance you’ll inherit it. Some common inherited conditions are:

  • Heart muscle diseases
  • Life-threatening heart rhythms
  • Very high cholesterol levels.

Family history is more complex. Rather than just a single faulty gene, it could be a combination of shared genes and environments passed down from one generation to the next, which increases the risk of developing a disease. Let your doctor know if you have a family history of heart disease. A Heart Health Check is recommended from the age of 45 (from 30 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples), but your doctor may want to assess your risk of developing heart disease earlier if you have a family history of heart disease. You may not be able to change your family history or genetics, but you can make positive changes to your lifestyle to lower your risk. Adopting the following healthy lifestyle habits can help lower your chances of developing heart disease:

  • Be smoke free
  • Do regular exercise
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Lower your alcohol intake
  • Look after your mental health
  • Manage high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Manage diabetes.

To view the Heart Foundation webpage Know your risk: Family history and heart disease in full click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation.

NT Health Professional of the Year Award winner

A Pine Creek health practitioner has been named among the NT’s most outstanding primary health care workers that were recognised at the NT Health Professional of the Year Awards. Chris Rankine-Johnson from Top End Health Service in Pine Creek was named the Territory’s AMSANT Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner of the Year.

Over the past 12 months, Mr Rankine-Johnson has worked tirelessly to ensure the Pine Creek community was well engaged with health services, hosting BBQs and community meetings on his days off to discuss the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations. He has provided the community with much needed reassurance, practical assistance, and comfort measures, and also took opportunities to develop and implement other primary and preventative health care initiatives, including a program assisting diabetic patients to effectively manage their medication. The health professional was also recognised for helping raise school attendance in the community and his engagement with local families has led to increased health checks, health literacy and immunisation rates.

To view the Katherine Times article Pine Creek health worker Chris Rankine-Johnson recognised in NT Health Professional of the Year Awards in full click here.

Pine Creek’s Chris Rankine-Johnson among the other winners in this year’s NT Health Professional of the Year Awards. Image source: Katherine Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: This is not about money, profit or turf

The Pixabay image in the feature tile is from the ABC News article Pharmacist prescription trial proposed as possible solution to the GP shortage faces indefinite delays, 23 August 2022.

This is not about money, profit or turf

Dr Jillann Farmer, a Brisbane-based GP and former Medical Director of the United Nations has written an article for the Medical Journal of Australia’s InSight arguing that when something looks simple, it can deceptively create a sense that the work is simple. The ease with which health professionals exercise heuristic skills to rapidly synthesise patient demographic and social circumstances, comorbid conditions, pathology and epidemiology and arrive at a diagnosis and treatment choice make that expertise largely invisible and has likely contributed to an overall perception that most of what GPs do is simple and can be safely and appropriately done by alterative health professionals with significantly less training and experience. Some of the work GPs do absolutely can be done by others. But the health system needs those decisions to be informed by actual expert practitioners.

The North Queensland pharmacy trial, an election promise of the Palaszczuk government, followed on the urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment trial/pilot which allowed patients to present to a pharmacy and be dispensed antibiotics for a UTI. There have been significant concerns expressed about the diagnostic acumen of pharmacists in this space – prescribing based on symptoms alone. GPs do the same if we treat a UTI by telehealth, but for most, that is the exception, not the standard.

The UTI program seems to have emboldened the Queensland Government, and the North Queensland Pharmacy Trial was born. The proposal could cut doctors (not just GPs, but all doctors) out of decisions to diagnose and initiate prescription medicines of some pretty significant diseases. Hypertension and diabetes were on the original list where pharmacists would be able to diagnose and prescribe. The details of the proposals are not public domain, but within current funding frameworks, it seems almost impossible that pharmacists would be able to implement current guidelines for appropriate care to the same standard as doctors.

It is of particular concern that the trial was proposed for a region of Queensland where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a significant proportion of the population. So we target an already disadvantaged population and substitute care that cuts them off from recommended diagnostic and management capabilities. It is no wonder that NACCHO expressed opposition to the trial.

To view the InSight+ article Give GPs problems to solve, not election promises in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP webiste.

What a male midwife learnt in Arnhem Land

It was a dry Thursday afternoon in Arnhem Land, NT, when young mum Tanisha’s [name changed for privacy] waters broke at just 23 weeks of gestation. Approximately 417 kms from the nearest hospital, an aircraft and doctor chaperone were flown in to her remote Aboriginal community within a few hours of the call for medical evacuation. But Tanisha felt anything but relief when her medical retrieval arrived. The doctor disembarking the aircraft was a man, and in her Aboriginal culture it is taboo for men — including medical practitioners — to interact with women about ‘women’s business’.

In an interesting plot twist, however, Tanisha requested for her male midwife Christian Wright to come with her and be present for the birth. Aside from being one of just 448 men to be working in midwifery in Australia (1.6% of the total workforce) Christian is no ordinary practitioner. Recognising the sensitivities around men and women’s interactions in Aboriginal culture, Christian has always thought outside the box about how he can make his patients feel comfortable.

His trust building with Tanisha began early in the antenatal process, when he learnt the local language and used cultural linguistic cues to convey empathy and earn trust. “Speaking to people ‘in language’ is a great way to help them feel culturally safe. In some Aboriginal cultures though, there are other important linguistic considerations,” he said. “For example, when discussing taboo subjects, like women’s health, men should use alternative, almost euphemistic, variations to formal language, to minimise embarrassment.”

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article What I’ve learned as a male midwife in Arnhem Land in full click here.

Midwife Christian Wright. Image source: ABC Conversations Radio National Twitter.

Must be more than a day of checking in

In 2019 WA Coroner Ros Fogliani delivered the results of her inquest into the deaths of 13 children and young people in the Kimberley. The report is incredibly distressing to read and hollows you out with every page you turn. 13 Aboriginal children and young people who died as a result of hanging, with all bar one considered definite suicide (the other being an open finding). The Coroner explained in meticulous detail the cycle of violence, inter-generational trauma, complexities of distance and circumstances which saw the premature death of 13 people aged between 10 and 24 years of age.

What desolate desperation these children and young people must have faced, with hope so lost, that they thought the only solution was suicide. Case 12 was a young man, part of the Wungu community, born in 1994 and he died at age 20. Growing up his health was very poor, at 18 months of age he was presented to Katherine Hospital with anaemia, gastro and abscess so bad it required surgical intervention. At age six, he was referred to a child psychologist where he stated that he wanted to kill himself. Age six. In his mid-teens he witnessed multiple incidents of domestic violence between his parents.

Last Friday was R U OK? Day.If you asked an Indigenous person that question, the chances are that things are pretty tough. In truth we need to move beyond a single day of checking in (which is the real message of RUOK? Day) because if we’re ever going to start making positive change and turning the tide of suicide, it’ll only be a concerted and constant effort of talk the hard truths and face our struggles together.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Things can be tough for Indigenous people. RUOK Day needs to start a conversation for change in full click here.

Photo: Emily Jane Smith. Image source: ABC News.

Milestone contract to deliver GP training

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has signed a milestone contract with the federal Health Department to deliver GP training in Australia from 1 February 2023. It is the largest medical vocational training contract entered into in history by an Australian Government. The signing of the contract comes after the transition of GP training back to Australia’s specialist medical colleges, the RACGP and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), was announced in October 2017 by then federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price welcomed the signing of the contract, “Just as general practice is integral to our health system, GP training is fundamentally important to provide our next generation of GPs, who will care for our communities into the future. We are working to make this a seamless transition, with as little disruption to the delivery of GP training as possible. We are also working closely with numerous stakeholders to make this happen, including the Department of Health, peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or NACCHO, rural workforce agencies and clinical schools, primary health networks, state health organisations, local hospitals and community health services, the list goes on.”

To view the medianet article RACGP welcomes milestone contract to deliver GP training in Australia in full click here.

Dr Tarun Patel trained as a GP in the NT and worked at Wurli Wurlinjan, an Aboriginal Medical Service in Katherine. Image source: ACRRM website.

‘Empathy’ key in dementia care

Nearly 500, 000 Australians are living with dementia. Its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, is set to cost $26.6 billion over the next 20 years. Dementia, a degenerative brain disease, affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks, interfering with a person’s normal social or working life. First nations’ voices have rarely been heard on dementia care and health services have not always been developed with Indigenous people in mind.

Speaking at the two-day International Dementia Conference 2022 in Sydney last week former Olympian and federal senator Nova Peris – the first Aboriginal woman elected to federal parliament – said dementia care for Indigenous Australians needed to draw on best practice overseas and Indigenous consultation. “Don’t try and reinvent the wheel, look to world’s best practice … acknowledging and respecting the work that’s already been done in the first nations space,” Ms Peris said. She urged the aged care sector to have empath front and centre when caring for Indigenous people with dementia. “Empathy having that understanding of that person’s life and the care that you provide for them, makes them happy,” the former federal politician said.

To view the HealthTimes article ‘Empathy’ key in Indigenous dementia care in full click here. You can also read a related AgedCare News article IDC2022: our wrap-up of a conference promising a Brave New World ahead in full here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

Strengh-based approach to kids’ health needed

First Nations children represent the future of the world’s oldest continuing culture. Of the 66,000 Victorians who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the 2021 Census, one-third were aged under 15 years. First Nations children in Victoria are doing well in several health outcomes, a recent Aboriginal Data and Action on Prevention Together (ADAPT) report, available here, has found. This report provides valuable insight into nutrition, physical activity and wellbeing among First Nations children living in regional Victoria.

The survey found more than 300 First Nations primary school children were meeting guidelines for physical activity, healthy eating and screen time. Those who met these guidelines also had higher health-related quality of life. However, the study is rare. Before the report, there was no information available about nutrition and physical activity among primary school-aged First Nations children in Victoria.

To examine First Nations childrens’ health, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers from Deakin University partnered with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), the peak body representing Victoria’s Aboriginal community-controlled health sector. VACCHO’s nutrition team works to improve food security and nutrition outcomes among Aboriginal communities across Victoria.

To view The Conversation article Rather than focusing on the negative, we need a strength-based way to approach First Nations childrens’ health in full click here.

Aboriginal childrens’ health data needs to steer away from negative focuses by balancing the findings with respective community’s progresses. Photo: Dan Peled, AAP. Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous-led research positions

The University of Melbourne Indigenous Studies Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences has two positions available:

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Indigenous Studies

This is an exciting opportunity to become involved in leading Indigenous health research with a passionate and dedicated team. We are seeking a highly motivated Postdoctoral Research Fellow with a research background in qualitative and/or mixed methods research, particularly using action research approaches. As a member of the NHMRC funded ‘Improving understandings of and responses to alcohol-related family violence for Aboriginal people’ team, the successful applicant is expected to contribute to independent and team-based research aiming to develop the evidence base of alcohol misuse and family violence within Indigenous communities using innovative theoretical and methodological approaches, combining theories of medical anthropology, social network analysis (SNA) and Indigenous Studies.

The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the development of high-quality research projects and play a key role in the production of outstanding quality outputs. The successful applicant will also contribute to the supervision of honours, Masters and/or PhD students. Indigenous Australians are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

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

Research Fellow – Indigenous Data Network

The Indigenous Data Network (IDN) is seeking a highly motivated Research Fellow with a background in quantitative and/or mixed methods research, with experience in data linkage. The IDN is a national consortium of organisations and individuals led by the University of Melbourne, within the Indigenous Studies Unit, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population & Global Health. The Research Fellow will be expected to make significant contributions to existing projects and to the development or extension of new, innovative research.

The Research Fellow will work with the IDN leadership team to drive Indigenous data ecosystems transformation, and to develop and undertake ongoing community-led research and national and international engagement. The role will include significant engagement and governance activities with key stakeholders including universities, Federal, State and Local Governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, and private and non-profit organisations.

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

Students from the University of Melbourne Indigenous Knowledge Institute. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

The image in the feature tile is from the Menzies School of Health Research webpage PANDORA – pregnancy and neonatal diabetes outcomes in remote Australia.

Impact of alcohol-free pregnancy campaign

To mark International FASD Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has released data that demonstrates the impact of the Every Moment Matters campaign – Australia’s first, nation-wide public awareness campaign supporting alcohol-free pregnancies and safe breastfeeding practices.

Developed by FARE and endorsed and funded by the Australian Government, Every Moment Matters aims to increase Australians’ awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy, and increase the number of Australian women who intend not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

With the tagline ‘The moment you start trying is the moment to stop drinking’, the campaign features nationally on television, radio, digital and out-of-home channels and runs until July 2024. The results of the ongoing evaluation led by the University of Adelaide demonstrates that Every Moment Matters is overcoming the mixed messages people often receive about alcohol and pregnancy.

As part of the broader program of work, NACCHO has designed a culturally appropriate awareness raising campaign with regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. NACCHO CEO Pat Turner said, “FASD is a whole of community issue. We look forward to launching the Strong Born campaign with ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia next month. The campaign will support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD.”

You can find the joint FARE, NOFASD Australia and NACCHO media release Celebrating 9 months of impact on 9 September: International FASD Awareness Day on the NACCHO website here.

Referendum Working Group announced

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has announced members of the Referendum Working Group which will establish the path to a Voice to Parliament. Speaking at the Centre for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) State of the Nation conference at the National Museum of Australia, Ms Burney outlined a “working group of First Nations leaders” with Senator Pat Dodson and herself as co-chairs.

The Referendum Working Group will collaborate with the government to consider and navigate “the big questions” in the next following months. The minister said getting the groups working is the first step, with building a “broad consensus of community support” and “harnessing the goodwill in the Australian community to take Australia forward” being the following.

“[There are] many more steps to be taken on the road to the referendum and let’s be clear government cannot lead this referendum,” she said. “This will come from the grassroots, from communities, because the Voice is a nation-building project.” Included among the  group of 22 are:

  • Co-chairs of Uluru Dialogue Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson AO
  • Co-chairs of the Indigenous Voice co-design group Professor Marcia Langton AO and Professor Tom Calma AO
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM and former Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.

To view the SBS article Linda Burney outlines next referendum steps including working group with Ken Wyatt in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Dedicated to fighting for mental health

Australians of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly at risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Paul Bird and Alex Speedy of the National Wellbeing Alliance, a First Nations-owned and -operated training provider dedicated to fighting for mental health, are right on the forefront of advocating for “acceptance” of the devastating, hidden conditions plaguing many in the region.

The two spoke to students from Murgon, Proston and Goomeri schools at last month’s careers expo at the Murgon Cherbourg Youth Hub, extending helping hands to those wishing to speak out and start the journey of recovery. “Mental health issues are bad – they’re definitely on the increase,” Mr Bird said. “People are getting younger with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, self-harm – and it’s not just for Indigenous people, it’s through all societies and countries!”

The pair are based out of the Murgon area but hold workshops for ‘mental first-aid’ wherever they are needed most -equipping people to have those all important conversations and to be able to respond in a mental health emergency. “Alex is a community member, born and bred here, and my father was born here, but I was born in NSW,” Mr Bird explained. “Through a turn of events I’ve come back to my father’s country to facilitate and engage with community through workshops and mental health first-aid.”

To read The Burnett Today article Locals join in tackling mental health crisis click here.

National Wellbeing Alliance workers Paul Bird and Alex Speedy are passionate about helping others improve their mental wellbeing. Photo: Julian Lehnert. Image source: Burnett Today.

Number of WA ACCOs to increase

The WA Government has announced a new strategy to strengthen the delivery of services to Aboriginal children, families and communities by increasing opportunities for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCO) to deliver culturally appropriate services. The ACCO strategy is directly aligned to Priority Reform Area Two of the 2020 National Agreement on Closing the Gap, “Building the community-controlled sector.”

The ten-year strategy was developed by representatives from 11 ACCOs across the State, Department of Communities and the Department of Finance. It aligns to several Priority Reform Areas and Socio-Economic targets identified within the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and aims to empower Aboriginal children, families and communities to choose their own futures from the foundations provided by ACCOs.

“Aboriginal people across WA have repeatedly told us that to truly change outcomes, Aboriginal communities must lead the way, and that is achieved through community-based and family-led solutions,” Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said. “ACCOs usually achieve better results, employ a majority of Aboriginal workforce and are the preferred providers by Aboriginal people over mainstream services,” she continued.

To view The Sector’s article WA Gov will boost the number of ACCOs to improve services for First Nations families in full click here.

Image source: The Sector.

Physiotherapist making a difference

As an elite hockey player, Candice Liddy knew her strength was positioning: putting herself in the right place to maximise the team’s opportunity of moving forward and getting a goal. “There were other players who could run all day, but I just knew I had to be in the right spot,” she says.

Candice lives in Darwin, where she was born and raised on Larrakia land. Her grandparents on her dad’s side were part of the Stolen Generations, taken from other parts of the NT as children to live at Garden Point Mission on Melville Island. Her father grew up in Darwin and nearby Howard Springs but was evacuated after cyclone Tracy in 1974 to Brisbane, where he met Candice’s mother, who was born in India, and moved to Australia with her family.

Sporting talent runs in the family and also led Candice to a career in physiotherapy. Playing for many years at State level for the NT, she noticed the team physiotherapists were good at working in the athletes’ best interests while keeping them game-ready, and they also got to travel with the teams. “I wanted those skills and that lifestyle, and I was going to work as hard as I could to get there.”

A later non-clinical role brought her experience in remote communities as a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planner, where she quickly realised that all the planning in the world would be useless if services weren’t available where they were needed. “And that’s when I thought, You know what, there’s a gap. A gap I’m trained to fill.”

To view the Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) article 2022 World Physiotherapy Day in full click here.

Candice Lidday. Image source: IAHA website.

Prostate cancer, know the symptoms

The Cancer Council of WA (CCWA) is urging men to visit their doctor and learn the common symptoms of prostate cancer this month. CCWA Great Southern regional education officer Bruce Beamish said prostate cancer awareness month was the perfect chance for men to learn more about how their bodies might be telling them something is wrong. He said unlike for breast, bowel and cervical cancer which have screening tests to confirm the presence of cancer prior to symptoms presenting, there is no such test for prostate cancer. Therefore, it is “vital” to visit a doctor, Aboriginal health care worker or clinic nurse when unusual symptoms present.

“Common symptoms of prostate cancer include waking a lot at night to pee, a sudden or urgent need to pee, problems starting or stopping peeing, needing to pee more often, a slow or weak flow when peeing, or dribbling at the end of peeing,” he said. “These symptoms can be found in other conditions but if you have had any of these for more than four weeks, or you’ve noticed blood in your pee or semen even just once, tell your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker as soon as possible. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got prostate cancer — often it turns out to be something far less serious and your doctor may be able to help reduce the annoying symptoms.”

To view the Broome Advertiser article Men urged to learn the symptoms during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in full click here.

Image source: Vitalii Abakumou, Getty Images, iStockphotos.

Emergency relief centre for Gippsland mob

A groundbreaking emergency relief centre to support members of East Gippsland’s Aboriginal communities in times of crisis is getting underway thanks to a $2.4 million investment by the Andrews Labor Government. Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes joined Member for Eastern Victoria Tom McIntosh and representatives of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal community to announce the funding and hear about their vision for the new centre.

The Lake Tyers Emergency Relief Centre project will bring together Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust and Lake Tyers community to co-design a supportive, safe and secure space for Aboriginal communities within Lake Tyers during and after a bushfire disaster. The centre will also bring community together for activities and meetings outside of emergencies.

The need for the dedicated relief centre was identified following the devastating 2019-20 Eastern Victorian bushfires, during which over 1,000 known registered Aboriginal heritage places were damaged and hundreds of Aboriginal Victorians were affected.

To read The National Tribune article First Relief Centre For Aboriginal Community In Gippsland in full click here.

Terylene Hood says residents need a place where they can be comfortable during an emergency. Photo: Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Action needed to reduce health inequalities

Image in the feature tile in from the Emerging Minds website.

Action needed to reduce health inequalities

Last month the Australian Health Promotion Association hosted an event titled Putting equity and the social determinants of health at the heart of prevention which included discussions by world renowned epidemiologist Professor Sir Michael Marmot and a panel of Australian health promotion and public health practitioners. Professor Marmot urged Australian colleagues to advocate for healthy public policy, including tackling discrimination. He encouraged colleagues to engage with different avenues of influence like local governments, international audiences, and anyone else who will listen.

Epidemiologist Dr Kalinda Griffiths spoke about the value of data to identify critical areas in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “The way we measure things provides important information on who needs what and where”, she said. “For example, Aboriginal people in NSW are twice as likely to die from lung cancer than non-Aboriginal people. However, Aboriginal people in outer regional and remote areas are eight times more likely to die of lung cancer, but Aboriginal people in metropolitan areas have the same outcomes as non-Aboriginal people. Data like this provides valuable insight for policy making.”

Edwina Macdonald, Co-Deputy CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), presented a report showing income, employment, and socioeconomic status as strong indicators of health. Some key findings include that 50% of people under 65 whose main source of income is government support reported mental health issues compared to 18% of the general population. In addition, 60% of people on higher incomes report good health compared to 32% of people with lower incomes.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Can we build back fairer? Health promotion panel calls for more action to reduce inequalities in full click here.

Young girls play in Titjikala, An Aboriginal community 120km south of Alice Springs. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS News.

Health Care Homes evaluation findings

The findings of a recently published evaluation (available here) of the Health Care Homes (HCH) trial show there is much to learn about how to implement future health reform initiatives and will be useful reading for the Federal Government and its new Strengthening Medicare Taskforce., according to Associate Professor Lesley Russell. HCH are general practices or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) that aim to provide better coordinated and more flexible care for Australians with chronic and complex illnesses.

The report says the initiative did not deliver on any of its promised outcomes due to its failure to faithfully implement the model for HCH as articulated by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG), to low levels of participation by general practitioners (GPs) and patients, and to an implementation timeframe that was too short.

An easy and economically viable implementation of the HCH model are exemplified in the primary care services that are specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 18 ACCHSs, all in the NT, entered the trial and 14 (with 1,025 patients) continued to the end. They saw bundled payments as a more viable, more appropriate payment approach that provided certainty of income and enabled staff to be paid for additional work.  The key enablers were the existing operational structure of the ACCHSs, and the existing relationships between communities, clinical staff and patients. The challenges for these primary care providers included: the transient nature of community populations, sub-optimal communications with other healthcare providers, the availability of staff to follow through on care plans, and that patients were largely unaware of Health Care Homes and the trial.

To view the Croakey Health Media article More than six years after a “revolutionary” health reform was announced, what have we learnt? in full click here. Below is a Health Care Homes introduction video from Jan 2018.

Health leaders call for transformational change

With new Australian PM Anthony Albanese putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights at the top of his Government’s agenda, stating he would implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s agenda in full, health sector advocates have underscored self-determination, truth-telling, cultural safety, and the elimination of racism as a matter of life or death for First Nations peoples.

The National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), a peak body representing the views of 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations working in health and wellbeing across domains including workforce, research, mental health and service delivery, has been advocating for the Uluru Statement and constitutional reform, arguing that this will support self-determination and transformational change across all aspects of government and public policy.

According to the NHLF, strengths-based, Indigenous-led and driven responses to intergenerational trauma must include a reckoning with history, and an acknowledgment that time’s up for a status quo built on racism and discrimination. “We won’t get transformational change across the health sector until we eliminate racism from the health sector,” explained former CEO of Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and NHLF chair Monica Barolits-McCabe, a Kungarakan woman from Darwin. “I think the real progress journey is just starting.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article As a new Government sets to work, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders call for transformational change in full click here.

Image source: Jobs & Skills WA.

Vision for more equitable healthcare

Growing up in a rural hotel as the son of a nurse, a young Kamilaroi boy called Brad Murphy spent his Saturday nights patching up patrons after brawls and tending to weary travellers as they spun him a yarn. In those formative years, he discovered both an aptitude for providing care and a love of stories that would cement his future. “I am a storyteller,” said Murphy, who works as a GP in the regional Queensland city of Bundaberg and is making an historic tilt at the presidency of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). If elected, Murphy will be the first Indigenous person to hold the role and the first Indigenous president of an Australian medical college.

Gunnedah-born Murphy will be the first to admit he took the road less travelled into medicine, a circuitous journey subverted by racism and the tyranny of low expectations, and fuelled by a love for Country and community. He dreamed of being a doctor, but left school in Year 10 after a maths teacher told him he “wouldn’t amount to anything” and should pursue an apprenticeship. He joined the Navy when he was just 15, and after leaving the Navy became an intensive care paramedic. Years later he was one of five Aboriginal students in the first cohort of medical students at the James Cook University. Murphy was among the two that graduated, relishing the course’s focus on rural, remote, Indigenous and tropical health.

“I worked myself into the ground. I was getting by on sort of two to four hours sleep a day, and after three weeks you just couldn’t string a sentence together,” said Murphy of the “terribly unsafe” working conditions, which culminated in him running off the road and narrowly missing a tree. “Small country town medicine, it’s so hard when the system doesn’t support you.” As someone who has lived the challenges of a remote posting, Murphy is passionate about doctors in training who are sent to rural areas to fulfil their clinical obligations.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Profiling Dr Brad Murphy and a vision for more equitable healthcare in full click here.

Dr Brad Murphy. Image source: Bundaberg Now.

Colleges commit to cultural education

Earlier this month senior representatives from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) met in Melbourne with the GP Training Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors Network (CECM Network) Governance group. The meeting was a timely opportunity for both colleges to engage with leaders in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health training and recognises their critical importance to the delivery of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program and the colleges’ long-term commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The ACRRM and the RACGP said the recognise that all community members, in particular our disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, are deserving of care that is culturally appropriate, safe and high quality. Nationally, Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors shape the capability of our next generation of General Practitioners and Rural Generalists to meet those needs through the unique cultural knowledge, experience and skills they share through the AGPT program. To this end, the RACGP and ACRRM have committed to continuing the agreed current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Training Strategic Plan strategies for 2023.

To view the medianet. article Joint college commitment to continue the critical role Cultural Educators and Cultural Mentors play in GP training in full click here.

Clinical Yarning eLearning program

The WA Centre of Rural Health of The University of WA has announced the launch of the Clinical Yarning eLearning program. Effective communication between clinicians and patients is the foundation to high quality health care however unfortunately, ineffective communication is common when there are cultural and language differences between clinicians and patients.

Clinical Yarning is a framework to assist clinicians improve the effectiveness of their communication in Aboriginal health care. The framework looks to improve the quality and cultural security of care for Aboriginal patients and their families. The Clinical Yarning eLearning program was developed as a resource to improve the effectiveness of communication of health care clinicians who work with Aboriginal patients, by using the Clinical Yarning model.

The online course is available to health science students and health care providers and is around two hours long, with the opportunity to stop and start progress throughout the course at your own pace. By completing the survey at the end of the course, it’s possible to download a Course Completion Certificate.

To view The University of WA article Clinical Yarning eLearning program to improve communication in Aboriginal health care in full click here and to access the Clinical Yarning website click here.

Racial discrimination and the right to health

Yesterday the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held a day of general discussion on its proposed general recommendation on racial discrimination and the right to health. The day was comprised of three panel discussions focusing on racial discrimination in health as experienced by individuals and groups; legal obligations regarding the prohibition of racial discrimination and the right to health under international human rights law; and monitoring, accountability and redress for racial discrimination in the right to health.

It was noted that Indigenous peoples were victims of collective trauma and inequitable services since the time of colonialism. Indigenous peoples required greater healthcare services, had worse health, and had greater difficulty accessing quality health services, compared to non-indigenous people. It was vital for disaggregated data on indigenous and ethnic minorities to be collected, to ensure that equal access to healthcare services could be provided, and to eliminate all forms of discrimination. Indigenous peoples had proved to be one of the most marginalised groups during the pandemic. Lack of information in indigenous languages and lack of respect for the culture impacted indigenous peoples from being able to access health services. The vaccination of indigenous peoples was not guaranteed, and was often carried out without consulting the local populations, resulting in their reluctance to be vaccinated. In many countries across the world, business activities had directly impacted the right to health for indigenous peoples.

To read The National Tribune article Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination Holds Day of General Discussion on its Proposed General Recommendation on Racial Discrimination and the Right to Health in full click here.

Image source: RACGP.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

The Lowitja Institute today launched the Indigenous Data Sovereignty Readiness Assessment and Evaluation Toolkit for researchers, governments, and communities, to strengthen community control use and protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and information.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, said the toolkit will play a critical role in efforts to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW who led development of the toolkit said “Data is power. There has always been a push for non-Indigenous people to decide what is done with data relating to Indigenous communities and peoples, and in how data is measured. But this needs to change.”

“Data governance plays a huge role, as well as data capacity building within the community. Once there is improved Indigenous data governance and ownership, we will likely see more timely and accurate data, which can be vital in circumstances like what we now face with COVID-19. These are complex problems and there’s no easy fix. But the needle is beginning to move,” Dr Griffiths said.

“We have a fundamental right to control our data, develop our data, use our data, maintain our data and protect our data if we are to close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.’

To view the Lowitja Institute media release in full click here.

Image source: Research Professional News.

New national suicide prevention approach

$46.7 million has been allocated in the 2022-23 Budget to strengthen suicide prevention at the local level. For the first time, every region in Australia will have a local leader focused on suicide prevention, ensuring early intervention and suicide prevention activities are better coordinated and right for the local area. Suicide Prevention Response Leaders will work within their community to bring together service providers, local councils, emergency services, schools and community groups. They will also have funding to back local approaches and services to reduce suicide.

As part of the Plan, the Government is also investing more than $96 million into mental health and suicide prevention measures for Indigenous Australians whose suicide rate is more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians. This includes funding to establish regional suicide prevention networks in each jurisdiction, implement culturally sensitive, co-designed aftercare services with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations being the preferred service providers, and to create a culturally appropriate 24/7 crisis line that is governed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the media release in full click here.

Isolation not a privilege available to all

The Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) says it is reaching its limit as it battles rising COVID-19 case numbers and overcrowded housing in remote communities across the region. The organisation has also accused the WA government of being “fixated” on vaccination rates while being unprepared to provide “basic primary health care needs” when people do become infected.

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell says access to food, welfare, accommodation and mental health services have been raised as “constant concerns” over the past two years. Ms O’Donnell said KAMS had struggled “every day, every hour and every minute” to maintain services as case numbers grow. “The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have managed COVID-19, in our respective regions, and will continue to, but we are reaching our limit…and we are doing this at our own expense,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said overcrowded accommodation was a “major concern and logistical issue” in providing safe and practical isolation accommodation in remote communities. “The ability to isolate is a privilege and for our people in this state, we need support to facilitate this,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Photo: Jacqui Lynch, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP disappointment over 10 Year Plan 

The RACGP has issued a warning that measures announced in the Federal Budget do not address the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and future challenges of a fatigued health system. Of chief concern to the college is a failure to implement major components of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, much of which remains unfunded.

Responding to the Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “Reform without proper investment is not worth the paper it’s written on.” The lack of focus on funding and implementing the 10-year plan will result in continuing gaps in aged care, mental health, disability, and chronic and complex care.

“There is also a disappointing lack of new investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare,” Dr Price said. “If we are serious about Closing the Gap, then surely giving greater assistance to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other health services to improve health outcomes must be a priority.”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Eating disorders funding welcomed

More than one million Australians are living with an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. And yet less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support.

Anyone can experience an eating disorder, with research showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience eating disorders and body image issues at similar rates to other people in Australia. Discrimination or exposure to traumatic life situations can increase a person’s risk for this illness. Research is needed to understand any cultural or other differences in the types of eating disorders that might be experienced and to develop a culturally-specific diagnostic tool that will help recognise when an eating disorder or body image issue might be a factor for someone.

Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, said the Budget announcement of $23.4 million for  would help to support those with an eating disorder or body image issues, providing better access to critical treatment services, and investing in preventing eating disorders from developing.

To view the Butterfly media release click here, access the Butterfly Foundation website here including their webpage Culturally safe support drastically needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing eating disorders with Garra’s Story below.

Remote mob’s vitamin D deficiency risk

A new Curtin University study has found 95% per cent of Australians have low vitamin D intakes. Lead researcher dietitian and PhD student Eleanor Dunlop, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the study suggests that Australians need data-driven nutrition policy to safely increase their intakes of vitamin D.

“Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of poor bone health. Since nearly one in four adults are vitamin D deficient in Australia, carefully considered food-based strategies may safely increase intakes of vitamin D and improve vitamin D status in the Australian population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency, as well as people born outside of Australia or the main English-speaking countries. People residing in southern states of Australia, and people who are obese or have low physical activity levels, are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.

To view the Curtin University article in full click here.

Image source: Irish Cancer Society website.

Healthy Feet Project

Diabetes and diabetes related foot disease are disproportionately prevalent in the Aboriginal population. In NSW, Aboriginal people experience almost a four-fold amputation rate due to diabetes-related foot disease when compared to non-Aboriginal people. A 2016 literature review recommended an increase in the NSW Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry to provide culturally safe and community focused care for Aboriginal people with diabetes related foot disease.

The NSW Ministry of Health, along with partners, developed the Healthy Deadly Feet (HDF) Project. In line with improving access to High Risk Foot Services in NSW this project aims to increase the Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry and improve diabetes related foot disease outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW.

The project team will work with podiatrists, Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners and Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal allied health assistants in participating local health districts and special health networks in NSW. By increasing the health workforce in NSW, the project aims to see improved access and awareness of culturally safe foot care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leading to an increase in screening and early interventions in NSW.

For further information about the HFP click here.

Cover of NSW Government HDF publication. Artist: Wiradjuri woman Trudy Sloane.

New process for job advertising

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

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