NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob may miss crucial COVID-19 treatment

Mob may miss crucial COVID-19 treatment 

A health expert warns Indigenous people infected with COVID-19 may be missing out on crucial treatment, as reporting systems struggle to keep up with soaring case numbers.

Jason Agostino, medical adviser to NACCHO, said First Nations people had been more likely to be infected, and more likely to develop a severe illness, throughout the pandemic.

“If we look at infections in NSW and the ACT, almost one in 10 people who were infected through Delta were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. When we look at severity in each age group, Aboriginal people were more likely to be hospitalised or end up in ICU.”

But Dr Agostino said since Omicron has taken hold, health authorities no longer had a clear picture of how Indigenous people were being impacted.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Floralita Billy-Whap gets vaccinated on the island of Poruma in the Torres Strait

Floralita Billy-Whap gets vaccinated on the island of Poruma in the Torres Strait. Photo supplied by: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service. Image source: ABC News.

$24m for temporary Telehealth changes

Following a meeting with senior representatives of the five peak general practice organisations, including NACCHO, the Australian Government has committed an additional $24 million to make temporary changes to Telehealth to give GPs and specialists additional flexibility to support their patients safely, including the continued supply of PPE and online support.

Telehealth has been a vital support during the pandemic providing greater flexibility in healthcare delivery at the most critical time and it continues to be a fundamental part of the pandemic response.

The Government will introduce temporary specialist inpatient telehealth MBS items (video and phone) and initial and complex specialist telephone consultation items, and longer telephone consultations for GP’s (level C) until 30 June 2022.

These services will be made available nationally rather than targeted to Commonwealth-declared hotspots as they were previously, recognising the high infection rate and need to provide healthcare support across the community.

Enabling specialist medical practitioners to provide telehealth consultations to hospital in-patients as a temporary measure will support continuity of care for patients when their doctor cannot attend the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Image source: mivision.

When COVID-19 hits low vax town

The Indigenous community of Cherbourg in Queensland kept COVID-19 at bay for nearly two years. But in just two weeks, one in 10 people contracted the virus. SBS News travelled to the town to see how the outbreak is being managed in a vulnerable community.

On the outskirts of Cherbourg cemetery sits an unmarked mass grave. It is said to be the resting place of around 90 Indigenous residents who died during the Spanish flu outbreak just over a century ago.

The small regional town – formerly known as Barambah – was hit disproportionately hard in 1919 when the virus made its way into the community. Within three weeks, one-sixth of the population would die.

100 years on and the existence of the mass burial site acts as a stark warning for the approximately 1,500 residents as the town battles an eerily similar threat: COVID-19.

“We don’t want history to repeat itself and that’s why we’re working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” mayor Elvie Sandow says.

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

Cherbourg is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. Image source: SBS News.

Calls for patient-centred care investment

The RACGP has called on the federal investment to improve patient-centred care The college has put forward a series of reforms to ensure general practice can continue to meet patients’ needs and offer quality care, while saving the healthcare system at least $1 billion each year.

As COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise in Australia, health systems across the country are buckling under the pressure, with thousands of people being admitted to hospital and hundreds of thousands more being managed in the community.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said the pandemic has both exacerbated and highlighted the cracks in Australia’s health system, and that GPs should be adequately remunerated for managing a growing number of complex presentations.

‘General practice is at the forefront of prevention and chronic disease management, [but] more Commonwealth investment is needed to deliver on this vital role,’ Dr Price said. ‘We want time to care for our patients [and] we want longer consults rewarded at the same value as shorter consults.

To read the GPNews article in full click here.

Image source: NT PHN.

‘Looking Deadly’ Eye Health Training

An eye health training program for primary health care personnel, especially Aboriginal health practitioners, has been launched by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Vision Initiative (Victoria’s eye health promotion program).

‘Looking Deadly’ is a self-paced, online module that covers some elements of the VET accredited unit HLTAHW030 – Provide information and strategies in eye health (Release 2). The content has been specially designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in mind.

For further information on the training click here.

Artwork Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs - features Aboriginal hands & eye

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne.

Sickly Sweet soft drink campaign launched

A new social media campaign to educate Australians about the health risks of drinking sugar-laden drinks has been launched.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the #SicklySweet campaign is a creative, highly visual campaign which turns the tables on sophisticated soft drink ads, directed at young people each summer. “The campaign asks us to think about how much sugar we consume,” he said.

“It may come as a surprise to many Australians that there are eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar in an average 375ml can of soft drink. It is, however, no surprise these drinks are contributing to obesity and preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.”

Dr Khorshid said Australian’s drink at least 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks every year, with young males the biggest consumers. It’s a staggering figure, and we think Aussies need to know what they are consuming and the impact it can have on their long-term health,” he said.

“Sugary drinks used to be a special treat, but they’re now an every-day product, bringing addiction, and major health problems.” Dr Khorshid said with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing it was important not to overlook other major health issues facing the nation.

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

banner text 'Sickly Sweet - sugary drinks are making us sick. It's time that we do something about it' & soft drink bottle, black liquid, red label with white font words Sickly Sweet' yellow background

Rural and remote student dentistry grants

Two critical issues in Australian dentistry include the prevalence of oral disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and the challenge of delivering viable dental care outside of major population centres. Coupled with the recent challenges of COVID-19 and its associated financial hardships, many dental students particularly in rural and remote areas are struggling.

The Australian Dental Association recognises this and has two grants to assist students who are studying to become registered dentists.

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

Bachelor of Oral Health student Caitlin Wilkie checks a young boy’s teeth. Image source: University of Melbourne.

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 Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

feature tile text ' SNAICC welcomes launch of ATSI early childhood strategy' & image of Aboriginal child's hand in dirt from cover of the strategy

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

SNAICC welcomes early childhood strategy

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the national peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, is pleased to announce the release of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy in partnership with the Australian Government.

Launched today at the 9th SNAICC National Conference, the development of the Strategy was guided by conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families; and Aboriginal-led organisations and services in the early childhood, care and development sectors. “Our people know best, and this framework recognises and builds on Aboriginal-led solutions for us to continue to improve the early years experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” SNAICC Chairperson Muriel Bamblett said.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the Strategy responds to calls for a more joined up approach between jurisdictions and service providers. “The new way of working under Closing the Gap offers a framework to have a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to a child’s development.”

To read SNAICC’s media release in full here and Minister Wyatt’s media release here.

cover of the National ATSI early childhood strategy

Cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy.

Miwatj Health’s vax rollout successes

In recent months, COVID vaccination rates have significantly increased in the Miwatj Health region in NE Arnhem Land, where the vaccination rollout began well before the recent NT outbreak. While uptake of the COVID vaccine was initially slow, with many community members feeling hesitant at first, further complicated by the spread of misinformation, more than 6,500 doses have been administered across the Miwatj Health service region.  

For Brando Yambalpal a Yolngu Community Worker, the key to helping people understand the importance of the vaccine was to deliver the COVID-19 story in-language, which, in his community of Galiwin’ku, is Yolngu Matha. “Yolngu people understand their language,” he said.  

Across the region, Miwatj vaccine teams have found the most successful way to boost vaccination uptake was via a house-to-house outreach strategy, visiting people at their homes to spend time telling the COVID story in their own language.  

Galiwin’ku Aboriginal Health Practitioner Wanamula Gondarra said the turnaround in attitude towards the vaccine, driven by the work of she and her colleagues, has been a total relief. “It’s amazing what’s been happening. Our people are really wanting to get the vaccine now, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for, working for months,” she said. “But she said there is still more work to be done, to make sure everyone comes back for their second dose and to convince those people who still haven’t decided.” 

The utilisation of role models including local Elders and members of the Miwatj Board, has also been instrumental in changing attitudes about the vaccine. Sharing consistent messages about COVID and the COVID vaccine in Yolngu Matha on community loudspeakers and on local radio to spread the education and importance of vaccination to their communities. 

Vaccination rates are now encouragingly high region — 83% of the population across the Miwatj region aged 12+ has now received at least one dose, outpacing the Indigenous vaccination rate nationally, which is at 74% first dose for those over 16.

collage of 3 photos top L-R Miwatj vax team Milingimbi, Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin'ku & outreach planning session Milingimbi

Clockwise: Miwatj vaccination team Milingimbi; Miwatj public health outreach team, Galiwin’ku; outreach planning session Milingimbi.

Climate change biggest threat to health

RANZCO has formed a united front with other Australasian medical colleges calling for the Federal Government to devise an urgent plan to protect Australians and the healthcare system from the impacts of climate change.

The call comes as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a report it commissioned, prepared by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Endorsed by RANZCO and nine other medical colleges, it paints a dire picture of the future of the Australian healthcare system under the unmitigated impacts of climate change.

Among the report’s recommendations is the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership in all climate change policy and action.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman walking ahead of controlled grass burn

Image source: Country Needs People website.

Aboriginal-led youth mentoring programs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal young people to achieve their goals through personalised mentoring programs promoting wellbeing, connection to culture, education and employment. Minister for Youth Ros Spence has announced that five Aboriginal organisations will receive $180,000 each, sharing in $900,000 through the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program.

Programs will be delivered across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. The Aboriginal Wellness Foundation will provide mentoring and on-country cultural retreats for young Aboriginal men in the Wyndham area, while in the Glenelg and Southern Grampians regions Winda-Mara will support specialised cultural camps and programs with Aboriginal Elders.

To view the media release in full click here.

rear view of man and youth in bush setting

Image source: Strong Brother, Strong Sister website.

SA rural Aboriginal health workforce plan

A plan to strengthen and grow the Aboriginal health workforce in regional areas has been released, as part of the SA Government’s Rural Health Workforce Strategy. SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the Rural Aboriginal Health Workforce Plan aims to help ensure we attract, recruit and strengthen the regional Aboriginal health workforce, while continuing to deliver world-class care in the regions.

“Growing the Aboriginal health workforce in rural SA is vital for delivering culturally responsive health services and improving the health and wellbeing of our Aboriginal communities,” said Minister Wade. “The development of the plan has involved extensive consultation with the Aboriginal workforce, consumers and communities and the non-Aboriginal workforce from all disciplines, with a focus on providing services that are culturally safe and respectful.”

Rural Health Workforce Strategy Aboriginal Health Working Group Chair, Sharon Perkins, said the plan aims to utilise the important skills and cultural expertise of Aboriginal people in providing health services to regional SA communities.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: RACGP GPNews.

Vision oration by Aboriginal ophthalmologist

The second annual Barry Jones Vision Oration will be delivered by Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker, Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist. Due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, the oration will be released as a pre-recorded video on Wednesday 8 December 2021 on the Vision 2020 Australia website.

A proud Yuggera and Biri-Gubba man, Associate Professor Rallah-Baker is a highly respected ophthalmologist and is one of the founding members of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, a Board Director of the Royal Flying Doctors Service, technical advisor to the Fred Hollows Foundation and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.

To view the Vision 2020 Australia media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker

Associate Professor Kristopher Rallah-Baker. Image source: ABC News.

Job Trainer free, low-cost courses

Gaining qualifications can help people find rewarding work in a wide range of jobs and industries. The Australian Government has extended the JobTrainer Fund to offer low and fee-free courses for eligible people from 16 years of age.

JobTrainer is a great way for eligible people to learn new skills, upgrade their skills and expand their job options. JobTrainer supports free and low-fee courses for jobs in demand in a range of industries like health, aged care and disability support, IT and trades. A range of course types are available, including accredited diplomas, certificates or short courses.

For additional information about JobTrainer click here.

Aust Govt tile text 'job trainer - what you need to know' Aboriginal male youth & woman

Indigenous aged care facility considerations

Indigenous people are highly under-represented in the Australian aged care system – a result of a lack of cultural understanding, appropriate spaces and safety. Yim Eng Ng’s study of four facilities in Queensland suggests several practical responses that would enhance aged care environments for this sector.

In Australia, the average life expectancy of Indigenous people is estimated to be eight years lower than that of non-Indigenous people. As a result of years of health disparity, Indigenous people access aged care at a much younger age than non-Indigenous people. This is acknowledged by federal government policy that enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 years and over to access aged care services, 10 years earlier than their non- Indigenous counterparts. A submission to the 2018 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by NACCHO highlighted the under-representation of Indigenous people in residential aged care services and the lack of culturally appropriate facilities.

To view the ArchitectureAU article in full click here.

2 Aboriginal men painting in aged care facility

Kungkarrangkalpa (Seven Sisters) Aged Care facility, WA. Photo: Nathan Morris, ABC Goldfields Esperance.

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 Health News: Community-led COVID-19 plan success

feature tile text 'Community-led COVID-19 lockdown plan implemented successfully'

Community-led COVID-19 plan successful

One of the world’s toughest lockdowns has just ended for the small community of Binjari in the NT. People haven’t been able to leave home — for even groceries or exercise — as the territory fights its first significant outbreak.

An ABC News report by Dan Conifer says this action has all been aimed at preventing Indigenous deaths. For months, Indigenous health experts have been preparing for a lockdown like this, fearing the virus could spread quickly in populations with high levels of existing health conditions. NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said “The state of housing is so poor and the level of crowding so high , that to leave someone who has COVID-19 in their home is to condemn the rest of the household to also get it.” Dr Jason Agostino helped develop the Binjari’s lockdown plan that’s guided the response to COVID-19 cases, including hard lockdowns and removing people from hotspots.

“It’s great to see that a plan that was led by the community has been implemented successfully and at the moment we are seeing good results” Dr Agostino said.

To watch the ABC 7.30 Report with Leigh Sales episode, including a transcript click here.

ABC 7.30 report with Leigh Sales, Welcome to Binjari Community photo

Kids should not be brought up in prison

Demonstrators gathered outside Banksia Hill Detention Centre earlier this week to call for an end to child imprisonment, and to support the prospective class action being organised on behalf of current and former detainees of the child prison.

Ramon Vida, 23, did two stints in Banksia Hill at age 16 and 17. He told the rally that it was “terrible to see young fellas, little fellas coming in. They get mistreated, they get locked down. I saw fights. It was pretty violent in there… Too many lockdowns, not much activities. The only help they gave us was the school they built.”

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

Banksia Hill protest

Banksia Hill protest. Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Lowitja Institute Chair steps down 

Lowitja Institute has today paid tribute to internationally respected Aboriginal health leader Pat Anderson AO as she steps down as Lowitja Institute Chair after nearly 20 years. Ms Anderson was instrumental in the organisation’s establishment and its development as Australia’s renowned national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health research institute.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said Ms Anderson played a key role in the first efforts nearly three decades ago in Darwin to advance research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “This involved challenging and disrupting Western models of research that was done on and about us, not by and for us — and that was not an easy task,” Dr Mohamed said.

“Pat has been a fearless advocate for justice and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for decades and an outstanding mentor and strong moral compass. She is a trailblazer and ceiling breaker for all women. Like our founding patron and namesake Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, Pat is a guiding light for all of us at Lowitja Institute, and we are so grateful she will continue to be involved with us as a patron.”

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

Patricia Anderson AO

Patricia Anderson AO. Image source: Australian of the Year 2021 website.

National recognition for NT POC testing

Flinders University’s NT Point-of-Care Testing program which has been delivering rapid on-site pathology testing across 90 remote communities since 2008, has been recognised for its efforts in being a joint winner of the Outstanding Engagement for Research Impact award at this year’s Engagement Australia Excellence Awards.

Delivered in collaboration with NT Health and AMSANT, with funding from NT Health, the program performs more than 3,000 pathology tests each month, with the point-of-care testing devices delivering results within 2-10 minutes to guide patient triage, clinical management and diagnose a variety of illnesses, including sepsis and heart attack.

To view the Flinders University News article in full click here.

Taking the cap off soft drink consumption

In spite of health warnings about high consumption of carbonated soft drinks, global consumption has been rising rapidly for more than 50 years. Flinders University psychology researchers are looking to arrest this trend by investigating potential individual responses and ‘mechanisms’ for this increase in soft drink consumption.

One contributing factor is believed to be how people respond differently to daily exposure to soft drink ‘cues’, with soft drinks available around-the-clock 24/7 from supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines and petrol stations. Young adults in this age group are the core consumers of soft drinks, now a major public health problem with 40-50% of adults in Australia consuming at least one soft drink a week.

The Flinders University research will expand in 2022 to investigate targeted interventions to reduce soft drink consumption. With weight gain, tooth decay, risk of diabetes and even lower academic performance among the pitfalls of excessive soft drink consumption, awareness campaigns and medical interventions are in the pipeline in both developing and advanced economies.

You can view the report The predictive value of evaluative bias, attentional bias, approach bias, and self-regulatory control in soft drink consumption here.

soft drink cans & bottles in a supermarket fridge

Image source: ABC News AM with Sabra Lane.

Far West hospitals under enormous pressure

Walgett Hospital may have to close its beds in February 2022 because it does not have enough staff to manage them. Elderly people are being forced to travel 5,000 kms a month to access dialysis and up to 40 staff have left Broken Hill Hospital in the past two years.

Elizabeth “Betty” Kennedy, a 42-year stalwart of Walgett Hospital’s nursing staff said early in her career there was a suitable ratio of staff to patients, but it had gradually deteriorated to the point where staff routinely work 60-hour weeks or longer. Some women giving birth in Walgett are doing so without a midwife present because they are reluctant to travel to larger facilities and leave their young families behind.

To view the WAtoday article in full click here.

road sign text 'hospital, Kamilaroi Hwy, B76 Walgett'

Image source: The Conversation.

Melbourne Uni teaching coordinator sought

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health is keen to recruit an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to a teaching coordinator position within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

This well-supported role is suitable for someone who is interested in developing and coordinating an innovative teaching and learning program that helps to build the next generation of public health professionals to improve Indigenous Health and Health Equity, in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

This will be integrated with outstanding research/knowledge generation projects and translation into policy and practice to form a coherent program to drive authentic positive health improvements so communities can once again live happy full lives in this abundant land.

You can access a full position description here and for more information you can contact Professor Indigenous Health, Cath Chamberlain by email here or 0428 921 271.

Melbourne Uni log, text 'Melbourne School of Population and Global Health' image of Professor Catherine Chamberlain.

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Head of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit, University of Melbourne.

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.

Eye Conference Early Bird Rego open

Indigenous Eye Health (IEH) at the University of Melbourne are pleased to announce the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference, which will take place on Larrakia country in Darwin on Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 May 2022.

The conference aims to advance the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector towards the shared goal of improving eye health access and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Delegates will include representatives from ACCHOs and other primary care service providers, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

Early bird registration is now open – register here. To receive conference updates and other IEH news, join can also join their mailing list here.

tile text '2022 National ATSI Eye Health Conference 24-26 May 2022, Darwin, NT'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

feature tile text 'NACCHO CEO nervous as borders reopen but vax rates lag in some communities' & image of sign to community of Mutitjulu, NT

Image in feature tile from Angus Knight. Mutitjulu was listed on the NTG Coronavirus (COVID-19) website on 19 November 2021 as a low vaccinated community.

NACCHO CEO nervous about vax gap

The head of the umbrella organisation for Australia’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO) says she’s nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities.

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO, believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

To listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast in full click here.

Pat Turner with Minister Wyatt in the background

ACCHOs business innovation award winners

The winners of the SA Regional Showcase Awards were announced last Friday evening, 19 November 2021. Two SA ACCHOs, Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation (Yadu Health), Ceduna and Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Incorporated (Nunyara Health), Whyalla won an NBN Business Innovations award for their work with New Future IT and their trainees.

Yadu Health and Nunyara Health chose New Future IT from Darwin to train Indigenous workers to cover their internal IT needs. New Future IT is an Aboriginal-owned and operated company that actively trains and employs young Aboriginal people who are looking for opportunities to work within the field of IT and have tailored their new training pathway specifically for Aboriginal health services.

Chief Technical Officer of Yadu Health and Nunyara Health said the award is amazing recognition of  the great collaboration between the two ACCHOs as well as industry validation that the work that have done holds significant value.

You can view the full InDaily news article here.

photo of Nunyara & Yadu finalist & winner awards

Image supplied by: Nunyara Aboriginal Health Service Inc.

AMSANT, ALCs urgent COVID-19 meeting

On Sunday 21 November the Chairmen and CEOs of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Land Councils and AMSANT held an urgent meeting in Darwin to send a strong message about the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the Katherine region, particularly at the Robinson River community in the Gulf and the Binjari and Rockhole communities near Katherine.

Yesterday’s meeting authorised the following statement for attribution to AMSANT and the three Top End Land Councils: “The Land Councils and AMSANT are confident that the NT government is taking all appropriate steps to protect the community members at the Binjari and Rockhole communities and they are satisfied with the earlier responses at Robinson River and Katherine township. The broader community in the Katherine region and beyond should take appropriate steps to make sure that COVID-19 does not spread to any other Aboriginal communities in the Katherine region and beyond. This virus is coming for us Aboriginal people so we need to do the right things to stop it spreading.”

To view the media release in full click here.

poster painting of Aboriginal hand thumbs up sign, top half of image black background, bottom half red, text 'STAY SAFE' at top & 'stay on country, care for family' text at bottom

Image source: NLC website.

Fears for chronic illness epidemic

Health groups have expressed fears the COVID-19 pandemic will move to an epidemic of chronic illness among NSW’s regional Indigenous population. Regular GP appointments were down more than half in some communities during lockdown.

The Rural and Remote Medical Services (RRMS) said 53% of its 5,000 Indigenous clients failed to see a GP face-to-face from September 2020 to September 2021. RRMS CEO Mark Burdack said the decline is entirely due to COVID-19, adding Aboriginal people in smaller remote towns avoided travelling to larger towns because of the risk of infection. “As a result, we project that a significantly larger percentage of Aboriginal people didn’t maintain their chronic disease appointments which is a serious concern,” Mr Burdack said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman at desk in clinic

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman says it will take about six months to see the real impact of COVID-19. Photo: Arianna Levy, ABC News Central West.

Eye health progress but gaps remain

Significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain, according to the 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

As a result of the work to Close the Gap64 regional stakeholder groups and seven groups at jurisdictional level have been established. ACCHOs, Aboriginal and Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

Eye examinations have increased with a steady increase in the number of cataract surgeries. But while cataract services and eye checks for diabetes have improved, there is still inequity with longer cataract surgery waiting lists for Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people, with waits of up to 50% longer.

To view The University of Melbourne’s article in full click here.

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne website.

NCSP guidelines public consultation

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

This update is exclusively focused on the changes associated with providing universal access to self-collection, and as such, changes are only proposed for some sections of the guidelines. These updates are detailed in this public consultation document.

We are now seeking feedback on the update and are open for public consultation from 22 November 2021 to 5 December 2021. Comments  are required no later than 11.59PM (AESDT) Sunday 5 December 2021.

To access the document and provide comment click here.

blue plastic circle with cervix shape & test swab

Image source: Moffitt Cancer Center website.

The power of Indigenous data

Indigenous Postdoctural Fellow, Karyn Ferguson has been researching the health of Yorta Yorta ganas (mothers) and their burrais (children). Ms Ferguson has found health data wasn’t stored in one place, instead, it was spread across numerous organisations at local, state and federal levels. Siloed by different bureaucracies, Ms Ferguson said “it was difficult – to say the least ­– to easily identify and understand population health trends specific to Yorta Yorta people.”

The task of linking together all this data on maternal health and birth outcomes became Ms Ferguson’s PhD research – Gana Burrai, which means ‘mother baby’. A major finding of this research has been the power of the linkage of mother-birth records across the sites. Data linkage has enabled a more accurate understanding of Aboriginal identification in administrative records and uncovered a significant undercount of Aboriginal births in this specific population between the years 2008-2017 inclusive.

To view the University of Melbourne Pursuit article in full click here.

Linking data across different data sets produces a more comprehensive picture of health across Aboriginal communities. Photo: Getty Images. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

RPHCM project November update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health services and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

Protocols endorsed by the Editorial Committee since the last RPHCM monthly update include:

  • Infant feeding guidelines
  • Anaemia in pregnancy
  • Ear examination
  • Water-related skin infections
  • Joint problems

Secondary reviews will start early in 2022 and RPHCM are seeking secondary reviewers, especially doctors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who are users of the manual to check protocols are easy to read and applicable to practice. If you are interested please view the RPHCM website here.

To view the RPHCM November 2021 update click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Stillbirth prevention for mob webcast

Stillbirth can have a profound and long-lasting impact for parents, families, communities and care providers. Despite Australia being one of the safest places globally to have a baby, according to Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence, 2021 for every 1,000 babies born, there are sadly six babies who will be born still. For Aboriginal mob stillbirth occurrences continue to remain disproportionately high.

A webcast is being held from 1:00PM-2:00PM Wednesday 24 November 2021 to introduce the Safer Baby Bundle developed by the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence (CEC). The CEC panel will explore the importance of the Aboriginal health worker/practitioner role in preventing stillbirth and how to incorporate culturally safe and responsive care into midwifery, child and family health care and beyond.

To view a flyer for the event click here and to register for the webinar here.

grey rocks, with heart shaped rock with Aboriginal dot painting on top

Image source: The Hippocratic Post.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

feature tile text 'Minister vows to reduce suicide rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' & image of Minister Wyatt in Parliament

Minister vows to reduce suicide rate

In pointing out that Indigenous people are dying by suicide at twice the rate of other Australians, Minister for Indigenous Australians, Key Wyatt,  vowed to use ‘every tool at our disposal to have a substantial impact’ on reducing the Indigenous suicide rate.

Minister Wyatt said “We know that there is a need to reach people in distress earlier to prevent the onset of suicidal behaviour. A focus on prevention and early intervention with a more integrated and compassionate mental health system is key.”

The minister added that the National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by governments last year created, for the first time, shared accountability, greater transparency and embedding working in partnership across all levels of government and the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations. A commitment under target 14 of the agreement would lead to annual reporting from all jurisdictions on their progress to achieving eliminating the suicide rate among the Indigenous population all together, he said.

To view The Mandarin article in full click here.

$9m+ research funding for CAAC

The Australian Government is supporting nine Australian researchers with almost $62 million to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians by accelerating research knowledge and outcomes into health care and practice. Funded through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the 2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) Grant Opportunity is investing $216 million over 10 years and focuses on turning research findings into real health benefits that help Australian patients.

The University of NSW has been granted $9,967,326 for scaling up infection disease point-of-care testing for Indigenous people; The George Institute for Global Health has $2,410,958 for Implementing holistic burn care through a culturally safe integrated model; and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation has received $9,760,245 for a research projected with the title Aboriginal prosperity through community driven translational research.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on mob

New data shows Aboriginal people in NSW and the ACT have been heavily and disproportionately affected by COVID-19, amid concerns that even after two months of “surge” efforts in 30 Indigenous communities, vaccination rates will not be high enough to withstand further outbreaks.

10% of all COVID-19 cases in NSW and the ACT are Aboriginal and Islander people, meaning they have been affected at twice the rate of other Australians. In the past three months, there have been 7,000 cases, 700 hospitalisations, 80 people in ICU and 14 deaths among Aboriginal people, according to data from NACCHO.

To view the The Guardian article in full  click here.

Door-to-door work by trusted local health workers to answer questions and counter vaccine hesitancy has been effective in raising rates. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: The Guardian.

Mary G asks KAMS CEO about COVID-19

Mary G has spoken with Vicki O’Donnell, Chair of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia and CEO of Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS), asking the hard-hitting questions about COVID-19 and vaccination.

You can listen to the interview and read the interview transcript here.

Mary G

Mary G. Image source: Mary G Foundation website.

Rising syphilis rates in remote WA

As syphilis cases continue to surge in WA, contact tracers say they are overwhelmed, with remote areas with high Indigenous populations of particular concern. Increased notifications associated with the outbreak of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were first reported in the Kimberley region in 2014 and have spread throughout WA.

Health experts say while attention remains on COVID-19, syphilis rates are climbing without enough public awareness, especially among Indigenous populations where social stigma discourages people from getting tested. In the Kimberley, contact tracers are struggling to reach long lists of people who may have caught the STI. The infection can cause serious life-long health complications.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

Anne Clarke & Rosie Jack, Kununurra

Anne Clarke and Rosie Jack have been spreading the word throughout Kununurra that there’s no shame in getting tested. Photo: Ted O’Connor, ABC News.

Close the Gap for Vision events

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health is hosting the following two events over the next few weeks:

2021 Annual Update on the Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision report launch by Pat Anderson AO
with Professor Hugh Taylor AC – 11.00AM–11.45AM (AEDT) – Tuesday 16 November 2021. To register click here.

Sharing our Findings: Evaluating Regional Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision by Indigenous Eye Health –  12:00PM–1:00PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 24 November 2021. To register click here.

Aboriginal man having an eye test

Image source: SBS News.

Benefits of community development

Leading economics firm, ACIL Allen, has undertaken a social and economic Impact Assessment of a national community development organisation delivering projects in First Nations’ communities. It found the model has potential to deliver positive health, social and economic impacts for First Nations’ people and significant cost savings for government.

ACIL Allen stated, “Community development activities have the potential to generate large amounts of cost savings for government, by reducing the reliance on government support, services and safeguards. This cost saving is significant, considering the cost of service provision for Indigenous Australians has historically been higher than non-Indigenous Australians.”

The complete ACIL Allen impact statement on Community First Development can be found here and you can view the related media release here.

Economic security boost for two ACCHOs

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting self-determination and increasing financial autonomy for Aboriginal organisations by releasing full ownership of five more properties back to the community.  Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams has announced that the latest group of properties owned by Aboriginal organisations have had their first mortgages removed as part of the First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure Program.

These properties include Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative’s main office, which includes their health service, in North Geelong; and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s office plus two other properties housing their services in Heywood. The removal of these mortgages gives Aboriginal communities rightful control of their assets and brings the total number of properties with mortgages lifted under the program to 30.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: City of Greater Geelong website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Perinatal Mental Health Week

This year between the Monday 7 and Saturday 13 November, Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) is celebrating Perinatal Mental Health week. Since 2005 PANDA has been leading the perinatal mental health sector in promoting the week to help our community better understand perinatal mental illness, including signs to look for and where to go to seek support.

The theme for this year is “breaking down barriers”. In the last 12 months, PANDA has seen:

  • 51% increase in callers to PANDA’s Helpline.
  • 57% of callers are citing stressful life events as their reason for reaching out for help.
  • More pregnant callers reaching out for help – 75% are either pregnant with their second or third child.
  • Significant increase in the number of callers with babies under 1 month of age (12% in 2019-20 to 26% in 2020-21).

Many may think the statistics are alarming, PANDA sees the increase in demand as positive progress, as it means more families in Australia are no longer trying to manage alone. These families are breaking down barriers created by the stigma that surrounds perinatal mental illness to get the support they need. PANDA is incredibly proud of all the people who have reached out to us.

For more information click here.

tile text 'perinatal mental health week - breaking DOWN barriers - panda.org.au - 7-13 November 2021' & cartoon of max & woman sitting, woman holding baby

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

feature tile text 'protect elders from COVID-19 or risk 'irreplaceable culture loss' & image of elder weaving

Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

Indigenous artists, major arts organisations and Aboriginal health services are calling for a road map to protect Indigenous elders from dying from COVID-19 and the irreplaceable loss of culture and knowledge that would cause.

The organisations are worried that as Australia opens up and travel restrictions ease, the virus could reach more vulnerable remote communities. Lily Roy is a prominent senior weaving artist, traditional owner and also sits on the board of the Arnhem Land Progress Association and she founded the Milingimbi Art and Culture Centre on Milingimbi (Yurrwi) Island.

But Ms Roy, a grandmother to at least 35 children, is very concerned about what could happen to Indigenous people if COVID-19 spreads in remote communities, especially with some vaccine hesitancy still in the community. “[Of] course there’s a danger,” she said. “I’m a bit worried for my family, Indigenous people a bit worried.”

The CEO of the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA), the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal artists and art centres across northern Australia, Christina Balcombe Davidson said there was a serious risk of losing culture, and even the extinction of languages, if elders die from COVID-19 in remote communities, which have little infrastructure, limited health services and overcrowded housing. “We are extremely concerned about safety for Aboriginal people and with them, for the culture that they are the custodians of,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Images in feature tile and above from Maningrida Arts and Culture Annual Report 2019-20.

Summary of Fact-based COVID-19 Communication Resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing fact-based content about COVID-19 vaccines, including ones developed specifically for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

The resources are referred to as myth busters because they have been developed to dispel some most common misinformation.

In the suite you will find social media content including images and suggested text, and a fact sheet that could be turned into separate posters/flyers as needed:

  • Facts about COVID-19 vaccines click here
  • Indigenous myth-busting resources click here
  • List of COVID-19 vaccine materials click here
  • List of resources developed for vaccine providers that work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients click here
  • Suite of communication resources around COVID-19 vaccines download here and available to download as a pack on via Google drive share here.

Below is one of the videos in the suite of resources.

Third vax dose for immunocompromised

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has created a document with recommendation on the use of the third primary dose of COVID-9 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised. To access the document click here.

vax vial, syringe

Image source: The Hill website.

Lowitja’s 20 new research grants

Lowitja Institute, Australia’s national institute for community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research, has unveiled a landmark program of 20 new research grants that changes the way Indigenous health research is done in Australia.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said the $4.32 million 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Program delivers research that is truly community-led, culturally-safe and self-determined and puts the cultural determinants of health at the heart of each project.

“Last year, Lowitja Institute fulfilled our long-held vision of becoming an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisation, allowing us to throw of the shackles of the old Cooperative Research Centres framework which had always required us to partner only with established research institutions,” Dr Mohamed said. “Being community controlled allows us to privilege our mob when it comes to allocating research funds. It means we can ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drive our research agenda and that we do the research our people want and need.”

The 2021-2024 Lowitja Institute Research Projects range from the world acclaimed Melbourne-based Short Black Opera to a focus on aged care in the Torres Strait and on children by the Marinwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing. Projects will also explore the health impacts of out-of-home care and Indigenous community radio, and map Rainbow Mob cultures, knowledges, and experiences.

To view the media release in full click here.

Simple salt swap could save lives

A landmark study shows a simple salt swap could prevent millions of deaths.

High levels of sodium intake and low levels of potassium intake are widespread, and both are linked to high blood pressure and greater risks of stroke, heart disease and premature death.  Using a salt substitute – where part of the sodium chloride is replaced with potassium chloride – addresses both problems at once.  Salt substitutes are known to lower blood pressure but their effects on heart disease, stroke, and death were unclear, until now.

Lead investigator, Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute for Global Health, said that the scale of the benefit seen in the study could prevent millions of early deaths if salt substitutes were widely adopted. “Almost everyone in the world eats more salt than they should.  Switching to a salt substitute is something that everyone could do if salt substitutes were on the supermarket shelves,’’ he said.

To view the article in full click here.

salt shaker, salt on bench with word salt spelt in salt

Image source: Mary Hare Hearing Services website.

RACGP looks at NT GP challenges

The RACGP are undertaking a tour of key locations in the NT, including Alice Springs and Central Australia, to understand GP workforce concerns. The RACGP said its mission is to learn from stakeholders in health care settings what challenges face the NT’s workforce and local communities.

RACGP vice president Dr Bruce Willett said that the RACGP understood the serious impact that a doctor shortage had on primary care services in the NT. “There are simply not enough GPs in the training and practising across the state, particularly in rural and remote areas,” Willet said. “Everyone deserves access to high-quality general practice care, regardless of their postcode. Without this, we see patients end up in hospital with much worse health issues that could have been managed in general practice.”

As part of a new transition plan, specialists colleges will once again be responsible for delivery of the Australian General Practice Training Program (AGPT). RACGP rural chair Dr Michael Clements said this change would improve the distribution and placements of GPs Australia wide.

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

Kidney disease voices sought

Are you or do you know an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person living with kidney disease? Did you know that being of Indigenous descent puts you at higher risk of developing kidney disease? Has you doctor explained these risks to you?

The CARI Guidelines Workshop on the Management of Chronic Kidney Disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is seeking voices of lived experience.

Would you like to share your story to help education others to understand better what it is like living with kidney disease?

To view a flyer explaining how you can get involved click here and/or David Tunnicliffe here for more information.

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.

letters J O B S pinned to a cork board

World Sight Day

World Sight Day is this Thursday 14 October 2021. Given the varied impacts of the COVID-19 restrictions across different parts of the country, Vision 2020 have come up with a more nuanced message than in previous years. Taking a lead form the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) messaging, they are  encouraging Australians to:

Take the pledge to #LoveYourEyes:

  1. Have an eye test as soon as you can.
  2. Don’t ignore changes in your vision.
  3. Maintain your ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.

For more information about World Sight Day, including access to a suite of resources click here.

banner black heart with heart shape & text 'your eyes - 2021 World Sight Day' - background blue, purple, orange

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting care sector jobs for mob

Feature tile - Thu 30.9.21 - A Life Changing Life

Boosting care sector jobs for mob

The Morrison Government has launched A Life Changing Life, a new campaign to encourage Indigenous Australians to start a career in the care and support sector. The sector, which includes aged care, disability and veterans’ support is one of the fastest-growing in Australia.

Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP said it was important to highlight the breadth of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the sector.

“Caring for mob is a part of our culture – it’s who we are. It makes sense we support Indigenous Australians to consider a future in the sector, so they can deliver the culturally appropriate services our vulnerable people need,” Minister Wyatt said.

“What many people might not know is that this is a sector full of job opportunities, and meaningful careers.

“In many cases, these are jobs you can do without leaving your community and can learn on the job, to start a life-changing career.”

You can read the media release by the Morrison Government here.
You can find out more about the care and support sector, and learn about the meaningful work that makes a difference for mob here.
You can view campaign resources here.

A Life Changing Life

Encouraging others to get the jab

Aboriginal health promotion worker Brittany Wright was asked by Albury Council to contribute to their vaccination messaging on social media.

“They just wanted some young people that have had the vaccination to encourage other people to come and get theirs,” she said.

“I was happy to spread the message, and working at an Aboriginal Health Service, we want to try and get as many Aboriginal people vaccinated as we can.”

AWAHS clinic manager Lauren Blatchford said demand for their program delivering AstraZeneca and Pfizer had increased recently.

“With the COVID cases on both sides of the border, a lot more people are wanting to be vaccinated,” she said.

“We’ve also got some outreach vaccine clinics going around community and that’s really targeting the vulnerable community members who can’t come to the service to be vaccinated, for example,” she said.

“It’s so good to have people like Britt sharing messages – they know who she is and that really encourages other people.

You can read the story in The Border Mail here.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service is seeing more Indigenous community members come forward for vaccination, with the support of Brittany Wright and Lauren Blatchford. Image credit: James Wiltshire.

New vaping laws come into effect tomorrow

The Australian Medial Association (AMA) believes new nicotine vaping laws which come into effect this Friday October 1, are timely, with the prevalence of harmful vaping rapidly increasing in the community. The new laws close a loophole in federal legislation which has enabled the unregulated importation and illegal sale of nicotine containing vaping products, or “e-cigarettes”, in each State and Territory.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said under the new rules, nicotine containing vaping products will only be able to be accessed via a prescription from a doctor. He said the changes have a stated aim of protecting the non-smoking public, especially younger people and children, from the clear harms of nicotine poisoning and addiction.

“Vaping is not the risk-free version of smoking that some would have us believe. It is addictive, is associated with proven harms and we know that if nicotine gets into the hands of young children and is ingested, it is highly toxic and can be fatal in very small amounts,” Dr Khorshid said.

The new regulations aim to make nicotine containing vaping products less accessible and aim to prevent the terrible exponential increase in use that is being seen overseas, such as in the US, where around one quarter of all high school students have admitted to current or recent use of mainly high concentration products.

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Keeping a focus on First Nations’ eye health

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) has launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The report includes data from the 2019-20 year, which included the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Despite the pandemic’s impact, the report highlights that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow,

However, the report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need.

You can read the article in ANZSOG here.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

ANZSOG Overturning a blind eye: How coordinated action is on track to eliminate trachoma in Australia Image source: ANZSOG.

‘Australians can beat anything’ vax campaign

A powerful new public service campaign that heroes the country’s ingenuity, inventiveness and resilience to overcoming challenges is being released nationally in a bid to boost Australia’s double vaccination rate to 80% or more as quickly as possible. The ‘Australians Can Beat Anything’ campaign – a collaboration between Australia’s advertising, media and consulting industries – hit TV screens, online sites and social media from September 27, rallying Australians to get vaccinated by demonstrating our proven ability to overcome the most difficult of challenges and crises.

Professor Fred Hollows is one of several iconic Australians fronting the campaign.

“Fred was a staunch advocate of modern medicine and improving people’s living standards. We know he would have been encouraging Australians to get vaccinated,” said The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart.

You can view the advertisement below.

Ideas for looking after your mental health this October

Mental Health Australia has launched its October 2021 calendars for Mental Health Month ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, including daily ideas for all Australians to look after their mental health in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Mental Health Australia’s downloadable and printable calendars are tailored with some great tips for different audiences, including: the general public, young adults, families, older Australians, and workplaces.

Mental Health Australia CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating an overwhelming situation for many Australians and these daily ideas will help reduce stigma, encourage help seeking and connect communities.

“The calendars provide reminders of something small and tangible we can all do each day to look after our own mental health, as well as improve the wellbeing of others in our families and broader communities,” said Dr Beagley.

This matters to everyone. And we can all benefit from looking after our own mental health and the mental health of our families and communities.

View the media release by Mental Health Australia here.
You can download the calendars here.
To find out more about World Mental Health Day activity this year use the hashtag #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia or visit the website here.

Registration for CTG PBS Co-Payment program extended

Criteria for the Close the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment program was expanded in July, allowing registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients more streamlined access to subsidised medications.

A grace period to ensure all eligible patients are registered for the program has now been extended to January 2022, with the Department of Health attributing the need for an extension to the ‘significant number’ of eligible patients who are not yet ‘correctly registered’.

This period will prevent CTG PBS Co-payment prescriptions being rejected at the time of dispensing if the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is not formally registered for the program through Services Australia.

PBS prescribers can ensure their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are registered for the program via Services Australia’s Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). If the patient is not registered, their status will be indicated as ‘inactive’ in HPOS.

You can read more about the extension in RACGP newsGP here.

Get the treatment you need

The co-payment initiative aims to support better access to medications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Image source RACGP.

Big Red Kidney Bus flips from vacations to vaccinations

The NSW Big Red Kidney Bus has been repurposed to serve as a mobile vaccination clinic while holidaying is not possible. The Bus is operating as a pop-up clinic in Western Sydney, providing easy access to vaccines for COVID-19.

You can read more in the Norther Sydney Local health District September newsletter here.

Big Red Kidney Bus

Big Red Kidney Bus. Image source: busnews.com.au.

 

Australian Digital Health Agency – identified positions

Partnership Manager
EL1 ($122,716 – $139,959)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

Partnership Lead
APS6 ($99,860 – $112,659)
Digital Programs and Engagement Division > Communications
Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney

Applications close: 11 October 2021
You can view more information and apply for the role here.

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting COVID-19 Vaccination Support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

 

Boosting COVID-19 vaccination support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Australian Government is further boosting the vaccination program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across 30 priority areas to ensure all Australians can access a COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the start of the vaccination program the Government has been working closely with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), states and territories and other Indigenous organisations to ensure every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person has the opportunity to get vaccinated. Now with increased supplies and in response to current outbreak situations the Government is significantly boosting efforts to expedite vaccination uptake.

In partnership with NACCHO, states and territories, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and other Indigenous stakeholders, the Australian Government will immediately accelerate the vaccination program in 30 priority areas including:

  • Western Australia– Greater Geraldton, Swan, Gosnells, Derby – West Kimberley, Port Hedland – South Hedland, Kalgoorlie – Boulder, Goldfields Esperance Region.
  • Queensland – Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Fraser Coast, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Mackay, Mareeba, Mission River, Moreton Bay, Normanton, Palm Island, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville
  • New South Wales– Central Coast and Wollongong areas
  • Northern Territory – Greater Darwin, North-East Arnhem Land and Barkly
  • South Australia– Port Lincoln

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said this builds on work done to date in partnership with NACCHO, the ACCHS, and the Royal Flying Doctors Service to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a culturally safe and appropriate way.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been a priority for vaccination since the beginning stages of the national vaccination program, considerable effort has been taken to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are readily and widely available for communities,” Minister Hunt said.

“We are absolutely committed to seeing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccination rates meet, if not exceed, the national target.”

Minister Wyatt said there has been significant work done to date to work with communities to tackle their individual needs and concerns, including countering vaccine hesitancy, in order to boost vaccination uptake.

The Government will immediately provide an additional $7.7 million to NACCHO to amplify efforts to reduce the vaccination gap by working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ACCHS and other organisations supporting the vaccination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This will include:

  • Additional vaccine liaison officers employed to work directly with remote and very remote communities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in discrete communities in other areas.
  • Boosting work alongside vaccine providers to support community engagement activities and providing culturally safe messaging, address vaccine hesitancy, facilitate informed consent and conduct health promotion activities.

This is in addition to $19 million provided to NACCHO to date, to support the crucial role of ACCHS in the pandemic response.

Chief Executive of NACCHO, Pat Turner AM, said working with communities was critical to ensuring a successful vaccine rollout for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and welcomes the Australian Government’s ongoing partnership with NACCHO and our sector.

“The recent outbreaks have demonstrated the need to accelerate the vaccine rollout for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. NACCHO continues to play a critical role in addressing hesitancy and ensuring timely and culturally appropriate information is provided to communities to encourage vaccinations,” Ms Turner said.

“This additional funding will further bolster our work in supporting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access a vaccine by the end of this year.”

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has worked in partnership with First Nations communication companies to develop editorial, social and advertising to reach the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience.

To further boost these efforts, the Government will also fund First Nations Media Australia, the national peak body for the First Nations media and communications industry, to produce and distribute a package of culturally appropriate public relations content to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout.

The partnership includes a range of activities that are planned to support the vaccine rollout, aiming to broaden the conversation around vaccinations, address misinformation and build positive sentiment and intention toward vaccination by using local and trusted voices and sharing positive stories.

The work will be undertaken by a number of local Indigenous media organisations across the country, with a particular emphasis on the areas that are included in the acceleration plan.

Read the full joint media release by Minister Hunt, Minister Wyatt and NACCHO here.

Getting vaccinated is an act of love

Uncle Paster Ray Minniecon was a guest on the ABC’s The Drum on Monday (13 September 2021) talking about how misinformation has contributed to vaccine hesitancy among First Nations communities.

The segment on The Drum about vaccine hesitancy commences at 14:05 minutes, including Paster Minniecon speaking from 17:00 minutes.

Note: image source in feature tile – ABC Nightlife.

Surviving COVID-19 a tough road

When Joanne Bostock was admitted to Royal Prince Alfred hospital last month for a kidney infection, she was given antibiotics and discharged. But later that night she received a phone call from the hospital advising she had tested positive to COVID-19.

“I thought I just have a cold, I can deal with this. But the next morning when I woke up I couldn’t breathe,” she said. An ambulance was called and Ms Bostock was taken to the emergency department. Eventually, she had to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) where her condition would deteriorate over the next few days. Doctors told her family to expect the worst and the dire news was especially tough on her seven children and five grandchildren.

She described her time in the ICU’s pressurised room “like you’re in a sauna or a shower and you’ve got a plastic bag over your head and at the same time someone is sitting on your chest”. The 55-year-old avoided having to be placed in an induced coma and her vitals started to normalise.

Ms Bostock is still in a general ward almost a month later and she is still a long way from recovery. She said she hoped her experience would encourage others to take the virus more seriously. “I was one of those people who were like, ‘Oh, COVID, like this is a little cold’ … but that’s not what happens,” she said. “Be diligent, be safe because I don’t know where I got it.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

pop-up vaccination clinic at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern

The pop-up vaccination clinic at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern. Photo: Dan Himbrechts, AAP. Image source: ABC News.

VIC vaccination rate for mob

The vaccination rate for Indigenous people in Victoria remains on track to have more than 80% of people receiving one dose by the end of next month, despite being revealed as less “outstanding” than previously thought.

Victoria was thought to be leading other states and territories in terms of Indigenous vaccination, but the adjusted data released by the Australian Immunisation Register reduced the figure for a single dose to 45%. The figure for fully vaccinated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria went from 30,951 to 12,209, a drop of more than 30%.

NACCHO medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino confirmed the error was due to a bug in a software program used by some GPs in regional Victoria. Dr Agostino said the problem was identified around late May when the numbers recorded in Victoria were higher than the Commonwealth and NACCHO expected, “It took a bit of detective work to figure out what was happening with this medical software and then to correct the records.”

“This is software that is not used much in Australia. It’s not one of the big ones that we use and particularly it is not used in our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. When it’s uploaded information to the immunisation register, if somebody hasn’t entered the recipient’s Indigenous status it just automatically changed it to ‘yes’.”

To read the full article in The Age click here.

Maria Galea being vaccinated by the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service

Maria Galea was vaccinated last month by the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Orange’s vax rates skyrocket

Western NSW Local Health District (WNLHD) is calling the region’s vaccination rates the most-improved in the state across the last four weeks. Chief Executive Scott McLachlan said vaccination rates across the District have skyrocketed in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, “I’m really proud of our communities. They’ve heard the message that vaccination is the best way to tackle COVID-19 and they’ve stepped up.”

“We’ve seen the first-dose rate of COVID-19 vaccinations go from 17% to 56% for Aboriginal people and from 41% to 82% for non-Aboriginal people. The second-dose rate for Aboriginal people has gone from around 7% to almost 22%, and from 20% to more than 41% for non-Aboriginal people. While we’ve still got a long way to go to reach that 80% goal, the number of people with first doses on board puts us in a really good position.”

“I can’t stress this enough though – we can’t afford to think we’ve done enough.”

Orange is among seven local government areas in the District to have first dose rates at over 80%. The other six include Weddin, Dubbo, Coonamble, Parkes, Narromine and Mid-Western Regional Council.

To view The Central Western Daily article in full click here.

tile text 'I got my COCID-19 vaccine!' Orange City Council, vector of band aid folded in half, heart shape

Culturally appropriate mental healthcare vital

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has recorded a 31% increase in psychological distress for Indigenous adults. At the same time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth aged between 15 and 24 are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous people of the same age.

Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones says that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Our First Nations people have historically experienced unacceptable levels of inequitable access to these services,” she said, describing the current options as an ‘invisible inequity’. “There is a lack, and significant lag time of young people having access to culturally appropriate health care services in Australia — in every state and territory”.

To view the full article in The Junkee click here.

Image source: Sharp Health News.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 16 September 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health, Department of Health.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

Vision impaired mob sought

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) would like to connect with people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who are blind or vision impaired and are happy to speak about issues important to them to assist BCA to find ways to connect with them and deliver information which is both relevant and important.

BCA holds regular forums to be more inclusive for our mob, and improve their connections. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may be vision impaired are being invited to join an Aboriginal Blind Peoples Forum (ABPF) to have their story heard and understand how BCA can support them. The ABPF forum will be held from:

1:30 PM (AEST) Thursday 23 September 2020.

You can join the ABPF discussion meeting via this zoom link.

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Week of Deaf People

The National Week of Deaf People (NWDP) is a week-long national celebration of Deaf individuals and the Australian Deaf community, which includes celebrating the International Week of Deaf People (IWDP) and International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) which are initiatives of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD).

These two events are traditionally held during September and are based on the founding date of the WFD (23 September 1951). The week is an opportunity for Deaf people to celebrate their communities, language, culture and history; make the public aware of their local, state and national Deaf communities; and to recognise their achievements.

Deaf Australia has chosen the same theme as the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) International Week of Deaf People for 2021: ‘Celebrating thriving Deaf Communities’

For more information visit the Deaf Australia website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health problems dire long before COVID-19

feature tile text 'ATSI health problems dire long before COVID-19 hit' & image of Aboriginal man on dialysis Purple House

Health problems dire long before COVID-19

According to Brewarrina GP Dr Sonia Henry the recent headlines about the northwest of NSW have been clear in their message. Here are two: “Australia’s failure to vaccinate Indigenous Australians” and “Funeral in Wilcannia leads to COVID-19 spread”. Anyone who has lived or worked in remote Australia with Indigenous populations knows the real headline should be: “Australia’s failure of its Indigenous people – full stop”.

The reason Indigenous populations are so “vulnerable”, as we say, is that we effectively have created a two-tiered health system where this is inevitable, long before COVID-19 and long after.

Dr Henry says Brewarrina shares many similarities to Wilcannia (about 500 kms away), where COVID-19 is spreading through the Indigenous population. We all know if COVID-19 were to explode here, not only would issues such as overcrowding and food be problematic (we have two tiny shops, both of which would be forced to close if there were a big outbreak), but also what is always an issue – how to get decent medical care.

To view the article in full click here.

mural on Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA

A mural on the Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA. Photo: Coorong Council. Image source: The Australian. Image in feature tile: NITV news website.

ACCHO trying to meet high vaccine demand

Awabakal Ltd, which runs an Aboriginal medical service in the Hunter, has been running regular vaccination clinics to try and meet the high demand. They have been inundated with requests for appointments and are doing what they can to progress their waiting lists as quickly as possible, although demand far outweighs current supply.

Awabakal is considering mobile vaccination services. “We are in the process of assessing suitable locations and will actively seek to provide outreach services in the coming weeks,” it said.

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith said Aboriginal people often relied on organisations like Awabakal for health care, rather than GPs. “We don’t necessarily participate in the mainstream health sector like everyday Australians do. Generally we don’t get any help until it’s almost the 11th hour. Wilcannia and other communities are a clear example of where we are continuously being left behind and put in the too-hard basket.”

To view the article in full click here.

Worimi Local ALC Andrew Smith receiving first jab

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith receiving first Pfizer vaccination. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Community-led programs to reduce family violence

Nine service providers across Australia have received a share of $13.5 million for targeted community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. This funding is part of $35.3 million for Indigenous-specific measures under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said each of these measures were driven by the experiences and expertise of local Indigenous communities. “Breaking the cycle of violence requires community-driven approaches that prioritise cultural healing and family restoration,” Minister Wyatt said. “Putting Indigenous experience at the heart of our efforts is absolutely crucial to reducing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.”

To view the media release in full click here.

rear shot of three Aboriginal women in dim light, dusk

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021

On Monday this week (1 September 2021) the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Despite the pandemic’s impact, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow, reaching 104,300 in 2019-20 (compared to 100,700 in 2018-19).

The report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need, such a wait times substantially longer for cataract surgery (a median number of 124 days) than for other Australians (82 days).

Vision 2020 Australia says investing in public provision of priority treatments (such as cataract surgery and treatments for diabetic eye disease), supporting development of community led models and building local case management that can help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people connect to, and remain engaged with, treatment are all critical.

Vision 2020 Australia continues to call for Australian Government investment in these and other priority areas so that we can achieve the goal of ending avoidable blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by 2025.

You can read Vision 2020 Australia’s media release in full here and access the AIHW Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021 report here.cover of AIHW Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report

Old homelessness interventions don’t work

A government taskforce looking at Adelaide’s Aboriginal homelessness population has found COVID-19 lockdown shelters which permitted alcohol consumption and yarning circles led by Indigenous translators and leaders were more successful than traditional responses.

The taskforce’s report found that unless changes occur to understand and help the “constantly changing groups of people” who gather in the City of Adelaide and Adelaide Parklands, there will continue to be “severe” health and safety consequences of Aboriginal people. “Tragically, this includes a significant but unknown number of Aboriginal people dying prematurely in the heart of the City of Adelaide,” the report says.

Some of the 30 recommendations include decriminalising public drunkenness, funding more Aboriginal health workers, and pursuing tenancy reform to support more culturally appropriate housing.

To view the article in full click here.

homeless person lying on ground covered entirely with blanket, next to shopping trolley

Image source: CityMag website.

First Nations’ community development framework

Community First Development’s (CFD) latest publication A First Nations’ Approach to Community Development: our community development framework results from over 20 years of experience and practice working alongside First Nations’ communities.

Alyawarre woman, Ms Pat Anderson AO, known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples, said, “It is my view that  Community First Development’s Community Development Framework is an essential guide in the field of community development, both in Australia and internationally. This practical and ethical guide is the culmination of conversations shared, relationships nurtured, and activities facilitated. I encourage you to read and reflect on this guide and consider how your initiatives can respect, promote, and fulfil the right to self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

To learn more, join a webinar with special guests Ms Pat Anderson AO, Stephanie Harvey, CEO regional staff and representatives from two communities from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Wednesday 8 September. To register click here.

cover of 'A first nations' Approach to Community Development', image of two Aboriginal boys sitting on back of a ute

Overdose deaths remain stubbornly high

International Overdose Awareness Day, marked on Tuesday this week (31 August 2021) is proclaimed as the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

It also comes with an urgent demand for action on a number of fronts according to Professor Dan Lubman and Associate Professor Suzanne Nielsen, from Turning Point and the Monash Addiction Research Centre who have written:

‘Unfortunately, the number of Australian deaths from unintentional overdose remains higher than the national road toll, and deaths involving heroin and climbing. We build safety barriers on our roads to reduce fatalities, but too often our response to drug use is just to park the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. As heroin harms increase, we need to rapidly upscale a broader range of treatment options, and remove as many barriers to care as possible.’

‘Pilots and trials are welcome, but we’ve had evidence-based solutions to the problem of overdose for a long time. They should be implemented everywhere and without further delay. As we’ve seen with other public health responses, small, slow steps in the right direction are not enough in the race to save lives.’

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

purple ribbon, black background, text in chalk font 'Drug Overdose Awareness'

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.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Women’s Health Week

In 2013, realising there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the very first national Women’s Health Week. Women’s Health Week held from Monday 6 to Friday 10 September 2021 is a nation-wide campaign of events and online activities – all centred on improving women’s health and helping women to make healthier choices. For more information click here.

During Women’s Health Week the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention will hold its final public hearing with a focus on the mental health concerns and systems that impact women.

Chair, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The Committee commends the work of Jean Hailes in continuing Women’s Health Week. When we support women in accessing mental health care, as and when they need it, we improve women’s overall health, boost women’s participation in the workforce, and support Australian families.’ To view the Parliament of Australia’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother & two young children, girl, boy

Image source: Jean Hailes for women’s health website.