NACCHO leads PBS listing of medication to improve #eyehealth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people : Download our NACCHO Press Release HERE

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in rates of eye disease and vision problems.

They are amongst the most common long-term health conditions reported by our communities and most of the vision loss associated with these issues is preventable.

“This successful collaboration with experts and industry is important to NACCHO as access to the right medication and the best medical treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, is our top priority.

In order to close the gap in health rates and experiences, more actions like this in the right direction must be made.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO Download Press Release 2 March 2020

Read over 50 Aboriginal Eye Health articles published by NACCHO

Read Aboriginal Health and ACCHO Pharmacies articles published by NACCHO

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is proud to have led a successful submission to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) for an expansion to the listing of Prednefrin Forte on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

This item can now be prescribed on the PBS for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients as of 1 March 2020.

NACCHO worked with a range of experts and stakeholders to seek listing of Prednefrin Forte on the PBS for treatment of post-operative eye-inflammation.

This listing will mean that there is a greater range and better affordability of anti-inflammatory eye drops for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Eye disease is more common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to other Australians; eye health outcomes are poorer and cataracts more prevalent. Prednefrin Forte (prednisolone and phenylephrine eye drops) is a medication used to treat eye inflammation and swelling that is often considered first-line therapy by ophthalmologists after cataract surgery.

It has advantageous properties and pack size when compared to other similar medicines.

Allergan Managing Director, Nathalie McNeil said, “It has been a pleasure for Allergan to collaborate with NACCHO on this PBAC submission. We are excited about Prednefrin Forte’s contribution towards improved health outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people currently experience blindness and low vision at three times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

“As Strong eyes, strong communities: a five-year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision highlights, improving access to timely, culturally sensitive and affordable eye health care is of vital importance.

We welcome this change to current drug scheduling, which will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access a broader and more affordable range of eye medications, when they are needed.”

NACCHO Media-Statement – NACCHO leads PBS listing of medication to improve eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleDownload

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Children’s Health : Download @AusHumanRights Children’s Rights Report 2019 — In Their Own Right : Our kids continue to face significant disadvantage across a range of domains

“ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia continue to face significant disadvantage across a range of domains relevant to their rights and wellbeing, including in relation to health and education outcomes, discrimination, exposure to family violence, and overrepresentation in child protection and youth justice systems.

Most recommendations made throughout this report apply to all children living in Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

However, given the significant disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, this chapter (12 ) contains recommendations which are specific to their circumstances.”

Extract from Australia’s first Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell who today launched her final report – one of the most comprehensive assessments of children’s rights ever produced in Australia.

See Pages 256 to 271 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children or read Health extract below

Download full report 300 + Pages 

childrensrightsreport_2019_ahrc

Read over 380 Aboriginal Children’s Health articles published by NACCHO over the past 8 years

AHRC Press Release 

The report makes clear that the mental health of Australian children is not being cared for sufficiently and that Governments must do more to ensure children’s wellbeing.

Commissioner Mitchell said: “Not only do children require better access to mental health services, but they also need earlier intervention and higher quality care.”

The report calls on the Federal Government to develop a National Plan for Child Wellbeing and to appoint a Cabinet level Minister with responsibility for children’s issues at the national level.

National data shows one in seven children aged four to 17 were diagnosed with mental health disorders in a 12-month period, and rates of suicide and self-harm are increasing.

Suicide was the leading cause of death for children aged five to 17 in 2017, and Indigenous children accounted for almost 20% of all child suicides. There were 35,997 hospital admissions for self-harm in the ten years to 2017.

Other urgent concerns highlighted in the report include that, from 2013 to 2017 there was a 27% increase in reported substantiations of child abuse and neglect. The number of children in out-of- home care has increased by 18% over the last five years. Also, approximately 17% of children under the age of 15 live in poverty.

Commissioner Mitchell said: “The increase in neglect and abuse of children is a particularly worrying trend, as is the increase in children living in out of home care. We must do better.”

The report shows children in vulnerable situations suffer most through a lack of government focus. This includes Indigenous children, children with a disability, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and LGBTI children.

Commissioner Mitchell said: “There is a gap between the rights we have promised vulnerable children and how those rights are implemented. It is vital that we address the gap in order to better protect children’s rights.”

Attorney General Christian Porter tabled the report in Parliament on Thursday, 6 February.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the oldest civilisation on earth, extending back over 65,000 years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are vastly diverse in culture, language and in spiritual beliefs.[i] At the time of colonisation, there were over 500 separate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations, over 250 languages spoken, and 800 dialectical varieties.[ii]

In its Concluding Observations (2019), the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Australian Government to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their communities are meaningfully involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of policies concerning them.[iii]

Health Inequality 

The disparity in health status between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their non-Indigenous counterparts remains a crucial human rights issue within Australia.[iv] This is despite the investment in Closing the Gapa national strategy to reduce health and related inequalities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which has been in place since 2008.

In its Concluding Observations (2019), the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the Australian Government to promptly address the disparities in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.[v]

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported in 2018 that there are major gaps in data on important health issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.[vi] This includes culturally-appropriate data that measures wellbeing, treatment of mental health conditions, sexual health (including use of contraception and sexual health services), and use of primary health care services.[vii]

It pointed out that data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 10–14 years is limited, compared to those aged 15–19 and 20–24, as both the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Health Survey 2012–13 and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2014–15 were more focused on adults.[viii] 

In 2018–19, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) has, for the first time, included up to two child members of each selected household aged 0 to 17.[ix] The results from NATSIHS 2018–19 will be available in late 2019.[x] The inclusion of those aged 0 to 17 is a welcome addition.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) also welcomes Mayi Kuwayu: The National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing and hopes that it will collect data on children aged 0–17.[xi]

Child mortality

Since the Closing the Gap target baseline was set in 2008, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child mortality rates have declined by 10%.[xii]

However, the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children has not narrowed, because the non-Indigenous rate has declined at a faster rate.[xiii] It is for this reason that measuring the gap is not always helpful.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants are three times as likely as non-Indigenous infants to die between one and six months of age, and twice as likely to die for all other age categories except for one day to one week old, where the risks are equivalent.[xiv]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 2.1 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday compared to their non-Indigenous peers.[xv]

Ear disease

Ear disease is a significant health issue facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 are 2.9 times more likely to have long-term ear or hearing problems compared with non-Indigenous children.[xvi]

Limited access to primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can result in delayed diagnosis, treatment and management of health conditions.

Long-term ear or hearing problems are linked to delays in speech and language development.[xvii] These can have lasting impacts on educational and workforce outcomes.

The AIHW pointed out in its report on Australia’s Health 2018 that there is no national statistical profile of ear disease and associated hearing loss for Aboriginal and Torres Strait children based on diagnostic assessment. It argued that, without good-quality surveillance, it is difficult to understand the size and key determinants associated with the hearing problem.[xviii]

Obesity

The most recent data available from the AIHW shows that in 2012–13, 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2–14 were overweight or obese, compared with 25% of their non-Indigenous counterparts.[xix]

One in five (20%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2–14 were overweight and one in ten (10%) were obese. At age 15–17, 35% were overweight or obese. About one in five (21%) were overweight, while about one in seven (14%) were obese.[xx]

Of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys aged 2–14, 18% were overweight and 10% were obese. At age 15–17, 21% were overweight and 17% were obese. Among girls aged 2–14 and those aged 15–17, 21% were overweight and 11% were obese.[xxi]

Children with obesity are more likely to be obese as adults and have an ‘increased risk of developing both short and long-term health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease’.[xxii]

Mental health

The likelihood of probable serious mental illness has been found to be consistently higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children compared to their non-Indigenous peers.[xxiii]

National Coronial Information System data show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–17 accounted for 19.2% of all child deaths due to suicide between 2007–15. [xxiv] Specifically, there were:

  • one to three deaths in the 4–9 year age range
  • one to three deaths in the 10–11 year age range
  • 12 deaths in the 12–13 year age range
  • 45 deaths in the 14–15 year age range
  • 62 deaths in the 16–17 year age range. [xxv]

The AIHW collects hospital data on intentional self-harm. Children who engage in intentional self-harm, with or without suicidal intent, often only experience hospitalisation because they cannot manage their injury without medical intervention. Approximately 8% of hospitalisations for intentional self-harm between 2007–08 and 2016–17 involved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.[xxvi] Of the 2,928 hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, 17 (<1%) were for children aged 3–9, 859 (29%) were for children aged 3–14 and 2,052 (70%) were for children aged 15–17.[xxvii]

In its Concluding Observations (2019), the Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Australian Government to prioritise mental health service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, including addressing the underlying causes of children’s suicide and poor mental health.[xxviii]

Sexual health

The fertility rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teenagers are approximately 5.8 times the rate for non-Indigenous teenagers (52 per 1,000 females compared to nine per 1,000 females).[xxix]

The Committee on the Rights of the Child in its Concluding Observations (2019) specifically called for the Australian Government to strengthen its measures to prevent teenage pregnancies among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, including by providing culturally sensitive and confidential medical advice and services. [xxx]

The levels of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in children, especially those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, are particularly concerning. The rates of infection within these communities are recognised as being the highest of any identifiable population in Australia.[xxxi]

For example, 2016 data from the Northern Territory, shows there were 161 notified cases of chlamydia in Aboriginal children under 16 years compared to three cases in non-Indigenous children; 186 notified cases of gonorrhoea in Aboriginal children under 16 years compared to one case in a non-Indigenous child; 26 notified cases of syphilis in Aboriginal children under 16 years with no notified cases for non-Indigenous children; and 240 notified cases of trichomoniasis in Aboriginal children under 16 years with no notified cases for non-Indigenous children.[xxxii]

Aboriginal Medical Services play a crucial role in providing health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Research has suggested that ‘one of the most productive ways forward with regards to improving knowledge and increasing safe sex practice among young Aboriginal people is through community-controlled organisations’.[xxxiii]

[i] Reconciliation Australia, Share Our Pride, Our shared history (2019) <http://shareourpride.reconciliation.org.au/sections/our-shared-history/&gt;.

[ii] Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Indigenous Australian Languages, 2019 (14 March 2019) <https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/indigenous-australian-languages&gt;.

[iii] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 46(a).

[iv] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Trends in Indigenous Mortality and Life Expectancy 2001–2015 (Report, 1 December 2017) vii.

[v] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 36(a).

[vi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 (Report, 2018) xii.

[vii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 (Report, 2018) xii.

[viii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 (Report, 2018) 6.

[ix] Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (2018) <www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/Survey+Participant+Information+-+National+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+Health+Survey>.

[x] Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (2018) <www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/Survey+Participant+Information+-+National+Aboriginal+and+Torres+Strait+Islander+Health+Survey>.

[xi] Mayi Kuwayu: The National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing (2019) <https://mkstudy.com.au/&gt;.

[xii] Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Closing the Gap Report: Prime Minister’s Report 2019 (Report, 2019) 10 <https://ctgreport.niaa.gov.au/&gt;.

[xiii] Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Closing the Gap Report: Prime Minister’s Report 2019 (2019) 10 <https://ctgreport.niaa.gov.au/&gt;.

[xiv] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 317 <www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/7c42913d-295f-4bc9-9c24-4e44eff4a04a/aihw-aus-221.pdf.aspx?inline=true>.

[xv] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 31 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xvi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 322 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xvii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 321 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xviii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s health 2018 (Report, 2018) 329 <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents>.

[xix] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, A Picture of Overweight and Obesity in Australia 2017 (Report, 2017) 14 <https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/172fba28-785e-4a08-ab37-2da3bbae40b8/aihw-phe-216.pdf.aspx?inline=true&gt;.

[xx] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Overweight and obesity: an interactive insight: A web report (19 July 2019) <www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/overview>.

[xxi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Overweight and obesity: an interactive insight: A web report (19 July 2019) <www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/behaviours-risk-factors/overweight-obesity/overview>.

[xxii] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Children Who are Overweight or Obese (2009) 1 <www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/LookupAttach/4102.0Publication24.09.093/$File/41020_Childhoodobesity.pdf>.

[xxiii] Mission Australia, Youth Survey Report 2017 (2017) 4 <www.missionaustralia.com.au/publications/research/young-people>.

[xxiv] National Coronial Information System. Report prepared for the National Children’s Commissioner on Intentional Self-Harm Fatalities of Persons under 18 in Australia 2007–2015. Report prepared on 07/02/2018.

[xxv] National Coronial Information System. Report prepared for the National Children’s Commissioner on Intentional Self-Harm Fatalities of Persons under 18 in Australia 2007–2015. Report prepared on 07/02/2018.

[xxvi] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Data request Specification on self-harm prepared for the Australian Human Rights Commission 2007-2008 to 2016-17 (2018).

[xxvii] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Data request Specification on self-harm prepared for the Australian Human Rights Commission 2007-2008 to 2016-17 (2018).

[xxviii] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 38(a), (b).

[xxix] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Children’s Headline Indicators: Teenage Births (2018) <www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/childrens-headline-indicators/contents/indicator-14>.

[xxx] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations on the Combined Fifth and Sixth Periodic Reports of Australia, 82nd Sess, UN Doc CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 (30 September 2019) para 39(a).

[xxxi] Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (Final Report, 2017) vol 3b, 82.

[xxxii] Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory (Final Report, 2017) vol 3b, 82.

[xxxiii] The Kirby Institute, Sexual Health and Relationships in Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Results from the first national study assessing knowledge, risk practices and health service use in relation to sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses (Report, 2014) 54.

NACCHO Aboriginal #EyeHealth #RANZCO2019: Download The release of the @IEHU_UniMelb 2019 Annual Update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision reveals that we are on track to #closingthegap for vision for Indigenous Australians by the end of next year

We’re making some really good progress and we’ve seen that what’s been recommended and implemented actually works.

Over the last 10 years, the number of community hotspots for trachoma has reduced from 54 to 13. Trachoma is easily spread between children so ongoing efforts are needed to maintain improvements in hygiene.

As we approach the final year of the steps still need to be taken to guarantee equity by 2020.

We have seen an increase in funding and a three-fold increase in outreach of eye services, but to meet community needs we still have another 25 per cent to go.

The work being done by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and all of our partners in eye health has been instrumental in this progress.

 We cannot over emphasise the importance of linking primary health care with specialist eye health services.

Ongoing support is vital to ensuring the expanded services are firmly embedded in the ACCHOs and other primary care providers to make sure that the changes are sustainable over the long term. It will not be possible to close the gap for vision without additional funding

Nearly eight years since launching his plan to improve the eye health of Indigenous Australians, University of Melbourne ophthalmologist Hugh Taylor said significant advances are also being made to meet the WHO target for the elimination of trachoma – a blinding eye infection that’s only found in Indigenous communities in Australia – by the end of 2020

See Professor Hugh Taylor’s editorial HERE 

Picture above in banner : IEH has developed a ‘toblerone’ (or ‘tent’ shaped) desktop resource and an ‘Asking the Question’ (AtQ) Information Sheet that aims to highlight ways to improve eye care service delivery in mainstream practices and clinics with appropriate identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status. See Part 2 below 

See all Aboriginal Eye Health Articles here

Professor Taylor highlighted Vision 2020 Australia initiatives as priority areas for government.

“Vision 2020 Australia and its members have launched a five-year plan to improve Indigenous eye health,” Professor Taylor said. “The Strong Eyes, Strong Communities plan calls for $85.5 million to empower ACCHOs, build on our work to close the gap for vision and provide a framework and advocacy program until 2024.

Australia is on track to close the gap for vision for Indigenous Australians by the end of next year, but this won’t be achieved without ongoing support for long-term solutions, according to a new report.

 

The 2019 Annual Update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision reveals that : Download HERE

2019-AnnualUpdate

  • 50 per cent of systemic issues identified in Indigenous eyecare have been fixed. Progress is being made on all of the intermediary steps, with almost 80 per cent complete
  • Outreach eye examinations received by Indigenous Australians have almost tripled in the the last six years
  • Cataract surgery rates have increased nearly 5 times since 2008, however a further 2400 cataract surgeries are required each year to meet the population need
  • Indigenous patients still wait 50 per cent longer for cataract surgery in public hospitals, promoting calls for more timely access, resources and case management
  • The number of Indigenous Australians with diabetes receiving annual eye checks for diabetic retinopathy – which causes vision loss and blindness – has more than doubled over the last 10 years. With 155 retinal cameras being provided to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO), these rates will continue to improve

Subsidised schemes are being reviewed and strengthened to improve access to prescription glasses

Doctor Kris Rallah-Baker launch the 2019 update on implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision

The 2019 Annual Update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision was launched today at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists 51th Annual Scientific Congress in Sydney.

Part 2

Indigenous eye health advocates have designed a new tool to help eyecare practices initiate conversations with patients who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health (IEH) unit is now distributing a desktop resource that has been specially developed for mainstream optometry and ophthalmology practices. The group aims to promote cultural safety and ensure Indigenous patients can access appropriate care.

The two-sided, ‘tent-shaped’ resource has been designed in consultation with the Indigenous community and works as a prompt by asking patients: “Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?”. The staff-facing side reminds practice employees to ask the same question to each patient, while remaining sensitive, confident and respectful.

“The prime motivation is to try help the professions of optometry and ophthalmology, and the practices they run, create a setting that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would consider to be a culturally safe place to receive care,” optometrist and IEH deputy director Mr Mitchell Anjou told Insight.

“There’s no resource like this in mainstream eyecare, and we are now hoping to stimulate conversations within practices about improved approaches to service and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people who present at their practices.”

While progress has been made, Indigenous communities continue to experience avoidable vision loss and blindness at three times the rate of the non-Indigenous population.

Anjou said stronger data and evidence could assist in eye service planning and delivery, helping to further reduce Australia’s eye health disparity. Improved identification could also have a positive impact in terms of clinical management.

This includes access to targeted services for Indigenous patients such as subsidised spectacle schemes, prioritisation for cataract surgery, and specific Medicare rebates or funding.

Anjou said other specific service options may be available, including access to Aboriginal hospital liaison officers, Aboriginal health workers and transport support.

“In some cases, clinical guidelines vary between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians, for example the frequency of retinal screening for people with diabetes, which is annual for Aboriginal patients and once every two years for other patients,” Anjou said.

The new resource is supported by Optometry Australia, RANZCO and Vision 2020 Australia.

It can be accessed HERE

NACCHO Aboriginal #EyeHealth : @FredHollows Foundation launches new Five Year Country strategy investing at least $40 million to close the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

While we have made significant progress over the last decade, we still have much more to do to achieve full eye health equity.

Fred was passionate about partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and involving them in health programs that affected them.

This is a huge focus for us over the next five years, to empower Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services by giving them the support and tools they need to provide their own quality eye health services.

Last year, The Fred Hollows Foundation contributed to more than 1,000 cataract surgeries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and doubled the number of cataract surgeries in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory.

We thank the Australian Government and our partners for supporting our work and we ask that they join in our efforts to close the gap on eye health for good.”

Launching the strategy on The Foundation’s 27th Anniversary, Indigenous Australia Program Manager Shaun Tatipata pictured above said Australia’s First Peoples are three times more likely to go blind than other Australians and 12 times more likely to have cataract, the world’s leading cause of blindness

The launch was held at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Sydney’s Redfern, to which Fred donated resources when it was first established.

Read over 50 Aboriginal Eye Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 years

See the Indigenous Australia Program Five Year Country Strategy here: Or Download

Indigenous-Australia-Strategy-2020-2024

The Fred Hollows Foundation pledges its biggest ever investment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health

The Fred Hollows Foundation today committed its biggest ever investment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health with the launch of its new Indigenous Australia Program Five Year Country Strategy.

The strategy will see The Foundation invest at least $40 million over the next five years to closing the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Dignitaries present included Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and Gabi Hollows AO, Founding Director of The Foundation.

The Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart said Fred’s pioneering spirit was very much alive in the new Country Strategy, which seeks to identify and test better ways to address challenges.

“Empowerment is at the heart of what we do, and today is about empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by giving their eye health an ambitious way forward,” Mr Wishart said.

See the Indigenous Australia Program Five Year Country Strategy here: [link]

For more resources, including The Foundation’s Spring Appeal video featuring Sally from Katherine, see: https://www.hollows.org/au/spring-appeal

Highlights of the new Indigenous Australia Program Five Year Country Strategy:

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s new Indigenous Australia Program Five Year Country Strategy is underpinned by five goals and five objectives.

Our initiatives align with the Strong Eyes, Strong Communities plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health, developed by members of Vision 2020 Australia.

Goals

  • Goal 1: Effective cataract treatment is accessible to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
  • Goal 2: Trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, is eliminated from Australia.
  • Goal 3: Effective refractive error prevention and treatment is accessible to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
  • Goal 4: Effective and timely treatment for diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions is accessible to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Objectives

  • Strengthen regional eye health services.
  • Train and strengthen the eye health workforce.
  • Strengthen eye care in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
  • Finally eliminate trachoma.
  • Ensure governments adopt The Strong Eyes, Strong communities

Extra Resources and Save a date Webinar from Healthinfonet

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, in collaboration with The Fred Hollows Foundation, has launched a series of knowledge exchange tools about eye screening and care.

These new resources provide a broad overview of the screening services available for eye health and outline the roles of various professionals such as regional eye health coordinators, optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Each product has been designed as a useful tool for health workers and practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to assist in understanding the eye care journey.

This series of knowledge exchange products includes:

  • fact sheet for a comprehensive summary of eye screening and care (four pages)
  • an in brief fact sheet for quick, easy-to-digest bites of information (one page)
  • a short animated video offering educational information in an audio-visual format.

To complement the release of these eye health resources, the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet and The Fred Hollows Foundation will host a webinar featuring a special guest presenter Dr. Kristopher Rallah-Baker, Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist.

The webinar, titled ‘Eye screening and care: treatment pathways and professional roles along that pathway’, will take place on at 12:00pm AEST on Wednesday 25 September 2019 and will include a Q & A session with Dr Rallah-Baker.

Participants are invited to register their interest prior to the event with the webinar organiser

Webinar Organiser
Tamara Swann
Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet
Ph: (08) 6304 6158
Email: t.swann@ecu.edu.au

NACCHO #VoteACCHO Aboriginal Health #Election2019 @billshortenmp and @SenatorDodson set to unveil a $115 million #Labor plan to tackle the Indigenous health crisis today in Darwin : Including $ for @DeadlyChoices #SuicidePrevention  #MentalHealth #RHD #SexualHealth #EyeHealth

“Labor believes innovative and culturally appropriate health care models are central to improving the health outcomes of First Australians and closing the gap, noting that improving Indigenous health was “critical to our journey towards reconciliation. Labor would be funding programs “co-designed with and led by First Nations peoples – driven by the Aboriginal health workforce “

The Opposition Leader, who is also Labor’s spokesman for Indigenous affairs, will unveil the commitment while on the campaign trail with his assistant spokesman Senator Pat Dodson in the Northern Territory today;

Summary of the Labor Party $115 million commitments against NACCHO #VoteACCHO Recommendations

See all 10 NACCHO #VoteACCHO Recommendations Here

Refer NACCHO Recommendation 4

$29.6 million to improve mental health and prevent youth suicide : to administer the mental health funds through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

See our NACCHO Chair Press Release yesterday

Refer NACCHO Recommendation 6

Sexual health promotion would get a $20 million boost

$13 million would be invested to tackle preventable eye diseases and blindness.

$3 million in seed funding provided to Aboriginal Medical Services to develop health and justice programs addressing the link between incarceration and poor health

Deadly Choices campaign would get $16.5 million for advertising to raise awareness of health and lifestyle choices

Refer NACCHO Recommendation 3

$33 million to address rheumatic heart disease

Media report from

‘Critical to reconciliation’: Labor’s plan to close the gap on Indigenous health

Bill Shorten is set to unveil a $115 million plan to tackle the Indigenous health crisis, as he seeks to position Labor as the only party capable of closing the ten-year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and their non-Indigenous peers.

The package includes $29.6 million to improve mental health and prevent youth suicide, which has rocked communities in remote areas including the Kimberley where a spate of deaths has been linked to intergenerational trauma, violence and poverty.

The Opposition Leader, who is also Labor’s spokesman for Indigenous affairs, will unveil the commitment while on the campaign trail with his assistant spokesman Senator Pat Dodson in the Northern Territory on Thursday.

“Labor believes innovative and culturally appropriate health care models are central to improving the health outcomes of First Australians and closing the gap,” Mr Shorten said, noting that improving Indigenous health was “critical to our journey towards reconciliation”.

Labor’s package is $10 million more than the $19.6 million Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced for Indigenous suicide prevention on Saturday, after the suicide of an 18-year-old girl from the Kimberley last week.

Indigenous health advocates have previously raised concerns that the Coalition’s wider mental health package could be consumed by “mainstream” services like Headspace.

Mr Shorten highlighted Labor would be funding programs “co-designed with and led by First Nations peoples – driven by the Aboriginal health workforce”.

The Labor plan is to administer the mental health funds through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, which employ teams of paediatricians, child psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners in vulnerable communities.

Official statistics show a ten-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, with the rate of preventable hospital admissions and deaths three times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Labor’s Indigenous health plan, which would be delivered over four years, also includes $33 million to address rheumatic heart disease, a preventable cause of heart failure, death and disability which is common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Sexual health promotion would get a $20 million boost, while $13 million would be invested to tackle preventable eye diseases and blindness.

The Deadly Choices campaign would get $16.5 million for advertising to raise awareness of health and lifestyle choices and $3 million in seed funding provided to Aboriginal Medical Services to develop health and justice programs addressing the link between incarceration and poor health.

Mr Shorten said Labor would reinstate the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council, abolished by the Abbott Government in 2014.

Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 224 636 and beyondblue.org.au) Or 1 of 302 ACCHO Clinics 

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health #CloseTheGap : @Vision2020Aus Launches #Strongeyesstrongcommunities – A five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision, 2019-2024 : With 24 recommendations to guide implementation

“ Too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still experience avoidable vision loss and blindness, and those who have lost vision often find it difficult to access the support and services they need.”

Now is the time for all governments and all sides of politics to join together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, their organisations and Vision 2020 Australia members to close the gap for vision.

That commitment, coupled with additional funding of $85.5 million over 5 years, will change the lives of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families and their communities.

We look forward to working together to achieve a world class system that delivers culturally safe eye care to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott:

The Vision 2020 Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee have been advocating for change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision care and should be proud of their work in the formation of the Strong Eyes, Strong Communities report.”

As recommended in the report, embedding eye health and vision care into Aboriginal

Community Controlled Organisations will help ensure the eye needs of Aboriginal and Torres  Strait Islander peoples are met and the gap in vision loss and blindness is closed.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Deputy CEO Dawn Casey:

Read Over 50 NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health articles published in past 7 years

Vision 2020 Australia, the peak body for the eye sector, is calling for action to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have the same access to eye care as other Australians.

The newly released Strong eyes, strong communities – A five year plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision, 2019-2024 sets out a plan to achieve this goal.

Download the 55 Page The Five Year Plan 2019 – 2024 and Summary 24 Recommendations 

CLICK HERE for NACCHO Resources 

Most vision loss can be avoided or prevented through early identification and treatment, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times the rate of blindness and vision loss than non-Indigenous Australians and often wait much longer for treatment.

For example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are currently waiting 63% longer on average for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians.

Strong Eyes, strong communities describes what needs to be done to close this gap for vision and ensure eye problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are prevented wherever possible and treated early if they do develop.

Vision 2020 Australia has made 24 recommendations to implement the plan, which will require new funding of $85.5 million over the coming five years.

This funding will deliver more eye care services and glasses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, support them to access the care they need and support the elimination of trachoma by 2020.

Vision 2020 Australia is also recommending other actions to improve overall planning and local pathways, strengthen the role of local community controlled services and increase access to specialist treatment

Key stats on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s eye health

  • Cataract is the leading cause of blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and is 12 times more common than for non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wait on average 63% longer for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Almost two-thirds of vision impairment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is due to uncorrected refractive error – often treatable with a pair of glasses.
  • One in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults is at risk of Diabetic Retinopathy, which can lead to irreversible vision loss.
  • Australia is the only developed country to still have Trachoma, found predominately in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health and #Housing @2019wihc #CloseTheGap : Co Host John Paterson CEO @AMSANTaus opening speech @IEHU_UniMelb #ClosingtheGap in Vision 2020 #CTGV19 Conference Plus #AliceSprings Declaration @OptometryAus @RANZCOeyedoctor @Vision2020Aus

Regarding the environmental improvements, we know that the NT Aboriginal population has the worst housing in Australia.  

Around 60% of Aboriginal people live in over-crowded housing and one third live in poorly maintained houses. 

This directly impacts on the ability of our people to maintain healthy living practices such as ensuing their kids have clean faces and clean clothes. 

We cannot keep on relying on antibiotics to get rid of trachoma – to be sustainable, there must be major improvements in environmental health and housing.

Improving housing will also lead to improvements in other infectious diseases that are way too common in our people in the NT

John Paterson CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT or AMSANT. See full Speech Part 1 Below

Alice Springs Declaration

At the 2019 Close the Gap in vision 2020 conference, held in Alice springs, delegates heard that improvements in environmental health and housing are essential to eliminate trachoma and to reduce rates of other childhood infections that can lead to serious conditions such as rheumatic heart disease, blindness and deafness.

The conference heard about good progress in reducing trachoma rates but also that there had been some stalling in remote Central Australian communities where trachoma remains endemic and will not be eliminated unless housing is addressed.

Over half of Aboriginal people in the NT live in overcrowded housing and nearly one third live in poorly maintained housing. This is by far the worst result of any jurisdiction in Australia.

The Conference noted that there is currently a political impasse between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments which is preventing the completion of an agreement to enable desperately needed Commonwealth investment in Aboriginal housing to be made available.

The Conference was also concerned at the very slow pace of implementation of the Northern Territory government funded housing program, where only 62 million of 220 million has been spent in the first two years.

The delegates demand that both levels of government urgently work to fix this impasse to ensure that Aboriginal housing investment can be made available to address the critical housing needs in the NT and contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Territorians.

This declaration was unanimously endorsed

Download PDF Copy

CTG19 ALICE SPRINGS DECLARATION

” Supporting and improving the local primary health care service capacity to confidently perform eye assessments should reduce the dependency on visiting eye specialists.

Going forward I see the promotion of these items as a highly effective way of investing in people and communities to have the capacity to manage and improve their own health outcomes.

Building local workforces must be key and I know that’s easier said than done.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision is a standout example of a program that has been successful in its impact towards closing the First Nations health gap.

Remarkable results have been achieved in just under a decade and the Roadmap recommendations are well on the way to being fully implemented.

Progress in Indigenous eye health has long been a challenge, making the success of this collaborative work even more remarkable.

The Hon Warren Snowdon Opposition Spokesperson Indigenous Health Keynote Address #CTG19 see full speech part 2 Below

Good morning everyone. My name is John Paterson and I am the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT or AMSANT. As many of you will know, AMSANT is the peak body for Aboriginal community controlled health services in the Northern Territory.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners, the Arrernte past, present and future, of the land on which we’re meeting: Mbantua – also known as Alice Springs.

To everyone here today, welcome to this important conference that is for the first time being held outside of Melbourne.

It will provide us with a great opportunity to share challenges, learnings and new ideas in a key regional centre for Aboriginal Australians who live in remote and very remote settings.  Aboriginal culture is strong and proud here, as it is across the NT.

Welcome to the many attendees from the NT and right across Australia. Thank you for the work you do in eye health and your interest in improving Aboriginal health outcomes.

I would like to begin by talking a little about the history of our sector in the NT.

It is a story of self-determination.

And it is a story about the passion and dedication in developing essential primary health care services to our people from the ground up.

It is a story about always being a strong advocate for our people.

Our sector provides comprehensive primary health care from Darwin to the most remote areas of the NT.

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress is 45 years old and is the second oldest ACCHS after Redfern. It is also the largest ACCHS in the NT and one of the largest in Australia.

Keynote from Donna Ah Chee CEO Congress calling on the sector to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health in the context of the bigger picture of Indigenous health.

Miwatj is the largest remote ACCHS in Australia and Utopia is the oldest ACCHS based in a very remote region, having also recently turned 40.

We have in total 26 members – 13 of which provide comprehensive primary health care across the NT.

We work in partnership with the Northern Territory Government, who also provide Aboriginal PHC services to the NT. However, ACCHSs are the larger of the two providers and our sector is expanding in line with the Commonwealth and NT Government commitment to transition PHC services to community control.

The theme of this conference – “Strengthen and sustain” – resonates with the foundational principles of our sector including the need to build capacity and self-determination.

The ACCHS sector aims to provide comprehensive primary health care with our larger services providing a broad and expanding range of services that go beyond providing physical health care. Comprehensive primary health care includes Social and Emotional Wellbeing, social support, youth work, health promotion and prevention, with some now extending into aged care and even disability care.

The broad range of services considered to be part of primary health care is in line with the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978, where primary health care leaders from around the world – including leaders from the Aboriginal community controlled sector – set out a vision of primary health care that is now reflected in how our sector operates.

The declaration emphasised the need for communities to have a say and be involved in the running of primary health care, hence the fundamental importance we attach to our sector being community controlled.

Another principle of the Declaration is that comprehensive primary health care should work with government policy makers and other sectors such as employment and housing, to address the conditions that lead to poor health. Our sector strives to do this at every level, from the community to national levels, and even on the international stage.

In the NT, one of the main ways we are achieving this is by working with other Aboriginal peak bodies in an Alliance called the Aboriginal Peak Organisation NT, or APONT. APONT includes AMSANT, along with the Central and Northern Land Councils, who assist traditional owners and native title holders in the management and development of their land, including through Aboriginal ranger groups and increasingly, community development projects.

The Alma Ata declaration also emphasised the need to aim for equity of outcomes in health care provision – noting that across the world including in rich countries such as Australia, there is an unacceptable health gap between the well off and those living in poverty. As you all know, on our own country, this health gap is even larger between Aboriginal Australians and the rest of Australia. Equity is a foundational principle of our sector.

The first national Aboriginal Health Strategy, in 1989, reflected these principles and others including the need to take a holistic view of health care, including the physical, social, spiritual and emotional health of people.

This strategy recognised the inter-relationship between good health and the social determinants of health and the need to partner with sectors outside health. The strategy also emphasised capacity-building of community-controlled organisations and the community itself to support local and regional solutions to improving health.

This was a fine strategy, however, an implementation plan was not properly developed and the strategy was not properly funded. This has been a recurring story in Aboriginal health over the years.

The most recent national Aboriginal health plan is also based on self-determination, including the need for community control and the critical importance of the social and cultural determinants of health.

As I hope most of you know, there are a national set of Close the Gap targets that are soon due to expire, that guide our efforts to improve Aboriginal health.  Sadly only 3 of the 8 target are currently on track – and the health gap is one of those that is not on track.

In fact, despite marked improvement in life expectancy in the NT over the last thirty years, life expectancy in the NT now seems to be stalling which is due to the failure to address social determinants, and the ever-growing chronic disease epidemic in our people.

I believe we would have seen much more progress towards closing the gap if the vision first set out in 1989 in the National Aboriginal Health Strategy had been implemented by both the Federal and State governments, including the critical need to commit to self-determination.

While that precious opportunity has foundered for the last three decades, I believe we are once again at a critical juncture and seeing a shift towards governments working in equal partnership with our people. This trend must continue if we are to see sustainable improvement.

At a national level, I am very heartened to see that the process to refresh the Closing the Gap targets is now developing into an equal partnership between Aboriginal leaders across Australia and Commonwealth, State and Territory governments through the Council of Australian Governments or COAG process.

We now, for the very first time, have a large group of Aboriginal peak bodies working closely with government to set the forward agenda for tackling the health gap. Our national peak organisation, NACCHO, led by an inspiring Aboriginal Alice Springs leader – Pat Turner – is at the vanguard of this work.

Read all 50 plus NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health Articles Here

I represent APONT on this national coalition, ensuring that our leadership in the Northern Territory continues to influence the national agenda. We will be working hard to ensure that the targets reflect the critical issues affecting the health of our people – across the social determinants, and including issues such as housing,  the skyrocketing imprisonment rates and tragically high rates of children in the child protection system.

How does all of this high-level government policy relate to eye care?

We know that our Aboriginal community controlled health services in the NT are under resourced.

Six years ago, a study was done in a small ACCHS in the NT – one of our better funded services. The study looked at how much it cost to carry out all the chronic disease care recommended by the CARPA manual – which is the guideline that all our services use.

It found that the service was under funded to the tune of $1700 per person per year. This funding gap may have increased since then.  The AMA has recently reiterated that there is a large funding gap in Aboriginal primary health care.

We cannot build specialist services, including specialist eye services, on a foundation of an under-resourced primary health care sector.  Our sector must be properly funded.

Trachoma is often described as a disease of poverty, which is one of the reasons why its continued existence in Australia, and almost exclusively in Aboriginal communities, is a national disgrace.

The World Health Organisation has developed the SAFE strategy for eliminating trachoma.

I am sure most of you know that the S stands for surgery, A for antibiotics, F for facial cleanliness and E for Environmental Improvements.

Regarding the environmental improvements, we know that the NT Aboriginal population has the worst housing in Australia.

Around 60% of Aboriginal people live in over-crowded housing and one third live in poorly maintained houses.

This directly impacts on the ability of our people to maintain healthy living practices such as ensuing their kids have clean faces and clean clothes.

We cannot keep on relying on antibiotics to get rid of trachoma – to be sustainable, there must be major improvements in environmental health and housing.

Improving housing will also lead to improvements in other infectious diseases that are way too common in our people in the NT, including skin sores and sore throats – which can both precipitate RHD; and with skin sores also being linked to high rates of renal disease.

A recent data linkage study found that over-crowded housing was by far the biggest reason for children missing school – accounting for over 30 days of missed school a year on average.

We know that poor school attendance is very closely linked to poor school results.  Our children need decent living conditions if they are to thrive both physically but also socially and at school.

What is AMSANT doing about the shocking state of housing in the NT?

AMSANT has worked as part of the APONT alliance in supporting the formation of an Aboriginal Housing committee, AHNT, and is supporting AHNT to become the recognised Aboriginal housing peak body for the NT. Along with AHNT, we are working closely with NT Department of Housing to develop a community led housing strategy, to return Aboriginal housing to community control.

More info Register 

This is a long journey – but it is already bearing some fruit.

However, currently, as many of you will be aware from recent media reports – the NT and Commonwealth are at a stand-off about desperately needed Commonwealth funding for remote Aboriginal housing.

We must have cooperation between the two levels of government to address our housing crisis. We are tired of the excuses and political stand offs, while our communities suffer.

If they would for one moment stop and listen to us, come and talk with us, they would hear our message loud and clear – we want a seat at the decision-making table.

It the Prime Minister and the State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers can agree on an equal partnership with Aboriginal peak bodies on Closing the Gap, then the Commonwealth and NT governments can do the same for Aboriginal housing. We say – make it happen!

And now to eyes.

 

Eye health matters. In Australia, people with even mild vision loss have a risk of dying that is 2.6 times higher than those with good vision.

Vision loss causes 11% of the Indigenous health gap, meaning it accounts for 11% of years of life lost to disability for Indigenous people. It is the third leading cause of the gap behind cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The 2008 National Indigenous Eye Health Strategy demonstrated the huge gap between the eye health of Indigenous and other Australians:

  • Indigenous adults were 6 times more likely to become blind as non-Indigenous, despite 94% of this vision loss being preventable or treatable;
  • Australia was the only developed country in the world to have endemic trachoma in some regions;
  • And yet studies showed that Indigenous children have better eyesight than others.

However, as you know, a lot is happening in the eye space and primary health care is a critical part of that work.

The work done to close the gap for vision has been very successful. The progress made on the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, which comprises action against over 40 recommendations, is substantial and impressive, particularly given the number of stakeholders in many sectors who have contributed to its achievements.

One of the achievements in the NT has been the formation and ongoing success of regional eye health coordination groups, which are collaborations and partnerships involving all the key eye health stakeholders including primary health care, and are an important component of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

The Central Australian and Barkly collaboration has been working effectively for 10 years now, and has been joined in recent years by a Top End collaboration.

AMSANT is involved in both groups and has been funded by the Fred Hollows Foundation to become more involved, including through a position supporting the Central Australian committee.

However, I hope that you have got the message that everyone in health care – including those in eye health care – need to think more broadly about health and not just focus on their part of the gap.

The Aboriginal vision of health is holistic and specialist services need to be built on a strong primary health care foundation.

The international health research has shown that health systems built on a strong primary health care foundation are more equitable affordable and sustainable.

I believe that the eye care gap will not sustainably close – along with the rest of the health gap – if we do not have political commitment to self-determination, and an equitable approach to funding Aboriginal primary health care, based on need.

And we also  need a commitment to fixing the social determinants of health, equitably, based on need and Aboriginal-led.

We must avoid the situation where specialist areas advocate separately to government for their bit of Aboriginal health funding without seeing the bigger picture and the lack of resources on the ground in primary health care.

We need to work together in true partnership if we are to close the gap and that means we MUST be at the decision-making table, not an afterthought.

So thank you for all the work that you do in eye health care- we do appreciate it.

And I hope that you enjoy the two days and go back to your work refreshed, invigorated and inspired.

Thank you.

Part 2 : ADDRESS TO THE CLOSE THE GAP FOR VISION BY 2020

From the outset I want to stress that Federal Labor is acutely aware that Australia remains the only developed country with endemic trachoma, which is only found in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Further, while we acknowledge the scourge of Trachoma, cataract is the leading cause of blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and is 12 times more common than for non-Indigenous Australians. We have seen inroads in the rates of trachoma, many thanks to people in this room.

Trachoma has dropped from 21 per cent in outback children in 2008 to 3.8 per cent in 2018 and is on track to be eliminated by the end of 2020. This is a marvellous achievement and I again want to thank the tireless effort, tenacity and dedication of those in this room over the last decade in ensuring this has remained a front and centre issue for consecutive governments across partisan lines.

Today I want to discuss three things:

  • Where to now and looking beyond 2020
  • How we can build on the success of the Roadmap in other spaces and;
  • What to expect from a Shorten Labor Government

As the incidence of Trachoma lessens and is likely to be completely eliminated come 2020/21, we will face different vision-loss challenges. Blindness and impaired vision among Aboriginal people was six times the national rate in 2008, and it is now down to three times the national rate. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are still most likely to experience permanent vision impairment, with most cases of avoidable blindness resulting from uncorrected refractive error, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.

One in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults is at risk of Diabetic Retinopathy, which we all know can lead to irreversible vision loss. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wait on average 63% longer for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians. Almost two-thirds of vision impairment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is due to uncorrected refractive error- often treatable with a pair of glasses.

And I want to note here, that I welcomed Minister Wyatt’s announcement in August last year to commit $2 million to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses. This was a positive first step.

The case for well-informed advocacy around uncorrected refractive error, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts in the First Nation population must be a priority for this sector come 2020 and beyond. As we edge towards the complete elimination of Trachoma the traction from governments’ and the funding which comes attached I anticipate will lessen. This will be no surprise to people in this room.

Security of funding will decline without ongoing strategic advocacy from the sector. There will need to a be a sustained and coordinated approach as there has been with the Roadmap to ensure this doesn’t curtail the inroads that are being made in other areas of vision loss. For example; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with diabetes have significantly fewer recommended eye checks than the non-indigenous Australian population and this incidence is particularly escalated in remote and regional areas [35% comparted with 64% respectively].

The total indirect cost of blindness as a result of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema, the most frequent manifestations of diabetic retinopathy, is estimated to be more than $28,000 per person. Early investment into coordinated primary healthcare presents a powerful fiscal argument for governments at all levels.

These are the sorts of messages I encourage the sector to advocate for, we are in fiscally uncertain times so governments are constantly looking for costefficient measures.  The fact the up to 98 per cent of diabetes-related blindness can be prevented through annual eye exams and timely treatment in the early stages of disease, is compelling.

Investing in professional development and training to enhance existing clinicians’ skills to perform eye-health assessments can produce significant savings for both the patient and the tax payer. I am a proponent of the MBS 715 item [Aboriginal Health Check] and the annual MBS 12325 item [Diabetic Retinopathy Screening] to be employed in all instances, as both schedule items promote early screening and diagnosis, preventing future complications and the costs associated with vison impairment.

The establishment of diabetic eye screening rates as a key performance indicator for Primary Health Networks is a sensible way to drive MBS revenue and improve eye health outcomes. Further, employing MBS item service delivery models, is a sustainable model of care which does not rely on ongoing or recurrent government funding. Increased information-sharing around the schedule benefits can produce significant preventative health gains to the target communities as well as provide large fiscal returns to service practices.  It’s a no brainer.

Further, supporting and improving the local primary health care service capacity to confidently perform eye assessments should reduce the dependency on visiting eye specialists. Going forward I see the promotion of these items as a highly effective way of investing in people and communities to have the capacity to manage and improve their own health outcomes.

Building local workforces must be key and I know that’s easier said than done.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision is a standout example of a program that has been successful in its impact towards closing the First Nations health gap. Remarkable results have been achieved in just under a decade and the Roadmap recommendations are well on the way to being fully implemented. Progress in Indigenous eye health has long been a challenge, making the success of this collaborative work even more remarkable. This work has undergone rigorous scientific process and has a strong evidence base.

Importantly it has been strongly supported by local communities and organisations, including leading peak bodies and philanthropic organisations.

This disciplined coordination is what I think other sectors can really look towards and aspire to. And I must say this discipline is attributed in major part to the work of Professor Taylor. Stopping trachoma and other infections through the promotion of good hygiene practices and the emphasis on health hardware are pathways to negate further chronic health conditions.

Including: Ear infections and otitis media

  • Respiratory infection
  • Tooth and gum disease
  • Skin infections
  • Kidney disease

And I think most markedly

  • Rheumatic Heart Disease

The Roadmap has been able to achieve comprehensive culturally safe coordination in navigating all levels of care which is critical when managing health conditions, such as avoidable blindness.  Skilled workforce shortage complications in regional areas can ultimately be ameliorated by investing in people and communities to have the capacity to manage and improve their own health outcomes.

I know Diabetic retinopathy cameras and trained operators are being placed in more than 150 Aboriginal health clinics across Australia and this ideally must be the model we aspire for in other complex health areas. This model has been promoted and driven throughout the Roadmap.

To reiterate my major point, Labor is committed to Closing the Gap in eye health. The Roadmap was established under Labor and has since made significant improvements to the eye health of First Australians, as I’ve acknowledged. A Shorten Labor Government is committed to fully implementing the Roadmap to Close the Gap for vision.

A Shorten Labor government appreciates there is still work to be done to close the gap to meet the 2020 deadline. As an outcome of the Roadmap there are many regions of Australia where successful eye care programs have been developed providing high quality eye care for First Australians.

We acknowledge these successes and aim to build on and enhance these existing services. Now is the time to consolidate this good work and finally end avoidable blindness to ensure we meet our World Health Organisation obligations and successfully eliminate Trachoma. As Professor Taylor says, “we can’t afford to take our foot off the accelerator.” Equitable access to specialist and general eye health care services is critical to reducing high rates of preventable blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We’ve seen too many cases of good work in Aboriginal affairs left unevaluated and subsequently dismantled, especially under the Abbott/Turnbull/ Morrison government. The Tackling Indigenous Smoking program is a case in point which we’ve witnessed under this Government.

Guiding all the decisions under a Shorten Labor Government will be evidence- based policy.  The Federal Labor team will certainly have more to say on this and you can expect further announcements in the coming months in the lead up to the election. But I can say that any further investments will be to meet the 2020 Roadmap.

Under a Shorten Labor government we will be prioritising:

  • The national implementation of regional coordinators
  • Population based funding of outreach services
  • Case management and local coordination
  • Prompt housing repair and maintenance to ensure First Australians have access to safe and functioning bathrooms

We’re at the pointy end of finalising our election commitments but I do want to use this opportunity to encourage the experts before me to bring forward any policy proposals you have. If anyone wishes to share any policy ideas, as some have already, by all means I am open to hearing them and sharing them with my Federal Labor team. And for anyone in this room who isn’t aware I have an open-door policy, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch in near future.

I think that’s enough from me.

Thank you for your time this morning.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #COAG Health Ministers Council Communique : Peak bodies welcome Roadmaps to address high priority health issues #RenalHealth  #EyeHealth #RHD #RheumaticHeartDisease #Hearing Health and #Housing

We welcome the COAG Health Council’s commitment to the RHD Roadmap today.

The RHD Roadmap was developed by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) on behalf of END RHD.

We look forward to supporting the AHMAC review of the RHD Roadmap, and ask that the National RHD Steering Committee – which underpins governance of the RHD Roadmap – be convened as a matter of priority to oversee development of the implementation plan. ” 

END RHD Press Release see 2.30 below for full release 

“ The need to close the gap for vision and achieve a world class system of eye health and vision care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critically important objective and rightly belongs on the national agenda.”

The fact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still three times more likely to experience blindness than non-Indigenous Australians illustrates the need for action.

We welcome the leadership shown by Minister Wyatt in bringing this issue to the COAG Health Council, and strongly encourage all governments and all sides of politics to join together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, their organisations and Vision 2020 Australia members to close the gap for vision.”

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott:

The Federal, state and territory Health Ministers met in Adelaide last Friday at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues.

The meeting was chaired by the Hon Roger Cook MLA, Western Australian Minister for Health and Mental Health.

Major items discussed by Health Ministers today included:

1.National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan

2. Roadmaps to address high priority health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

2.1 Renal Health 

2.2 Eye Health 

2.3 Rheumatic Heart Disease 

2.4 Hearing Health

3.Diseases of housing overcrowding and poverty in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

1.National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan 

At the August 2018 Indigenous Roundtable Health Ministers agreed to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Health and Medical Workforce Plan that provides a career path, national scope of practice and attracts more Indigenous people into health professions.

Ministers discussed the approach to develop the Plan noting that the Commonwealth will provide resources to lead its drafting, in full consultation with states and territories and other key stakeholders.

Ministers noted that in the course of developing the Plan, there may be value in engaging with other relevant COAG councils with workforce and skills responsibilities to realise meaningful, sustainable outcomes.

A draft Plan will be submitted to the next CHC Indigenous Roundtable in July 2019.

Roadmaps to address high priority health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

At the July 2018 COAG Health Council meeting, Health Ministers discussed the potentially preventable burden of disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities caused by a number of health conditions. They discussed work to date to address these health conditions and opportunities to build on these efforts within the context of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023.

Today Health Ministers discussed four roadmaps to be a framework to deliver collaborative policies and programs to address this key health challenge. Ministers committed to working jointly to ending rheumatic heart disease and avoidable blindness and deafness.

Ministers referred the roadmaps to the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council for review and reporting back in November 2019.

2.1 Renal Health 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disproportionate burden of renal disease. Research shows non-Indigenous patients are nearly four times more likely to receive kidney transplants, and Indigenous people are nine times as likely to rely on dialysis.

Ministers noted the Renal Health Roadmap, developed by the Commonwealth in conjunction with key stakeholders, as a framework to deliver collaborative policies and programs.

2.2 Eye Health 

The rate of vision impairment and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is three times higher than non-Indigenous Australians. The leading causes of vision loss and blindness in Indigenous adults are uncorrected refractive error, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. Ministers noted the Eye Health Roadmap as a framework to deliver collaborative policies and programs.

Vision 2020 Press Release

Vision 2020 Australia welcomes the leadership shown by the Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt AM, along with his state and territory counterparts, in discussing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and vision at today’s COAG Health Council Meeting.

Too many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still experience avoidable vision loss and blindness, and those who have lost vision often find it difficult to access the support and services they need.

Our members are working hard to improve eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the plan discussed today is a product of their extensive input and expertise.

We encourage all governments, all sides of politics, and the many others involved in this area to work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their organisations to achieve and sustain real improvements in eye health and vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across our nation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s eye health – key facts

  • Cataract is the leading cause of blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and is 12 times more common than for non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wait on average 63% longer for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Almost two-thirds of vision impairment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is due to uncorrected refractive error – often treatable with a pair of glasses.
  • One in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults has Diabetic Retinopathy, which can lead to irreversible vision loss.
  • Australia is the only developed country to still have Trachoma, found predominately in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

2.3 Rheumatic Heart Disease 

Rheumatic heart disease is a disease of disadvantage that affects primarily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It is caused by an episode or recurrent episodes of acute rheumatic fever where the heart valves remain stretched or scarred, interrupting normal bloodflow. The Roadmap has used the best available evidence to identify priority actions for the next 10 years.

RHD Press Release

We welcome the COAG Health Council’s commitment to the RHD Roadmap today. The RHD Roadmap was developed by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) on behalf of END RHD.

We look forward to supporting the AHMAC review of the RHD Roadmap, and ask that the National RHD Steering Committee – which underpins governance of the RHD Roadmap – be convened as a matter of priority to oversee development of the implementation plan.

We look forward to working with the Commonwealth and jurisdictional governments, implementing organisations, and communities, to ensure the RHD Roadmap is implemented in a timely, consultative manner, in line with the COAG Implementation Principles as informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.

We thank Ministers Wyatt and Hunt for commissioning and championing the RHD Roadmap. We thank all our partners who contributed their experience, wisdom, and energies in preliminary consultation.

Our goal is to end rheumatic heart disease in Australia. This RHD Roadmap provides a critical opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to lead the way to achieve that shared vision.

2.4 Hearing Health

Hearing loss is a complex issue that affects millions of Australians. It is often considered a hidden or invisible issue as, despite the high prevalence of hearing loss, there is limited awareness in the broader community. There is a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to ear disease that profoundly affects their life experiences through childhood and into adulthood. This has a significant impact on community engagement, education, employment and engagement with the criminal justice system. The Roadmap sets out the short, medium and long-term actions to address the key hearing health issues that have been identified.

3. Diseases of housing overcrowding and poverty in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Health Ministers discussed the conditions that make up the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are associated with a range of social and environmental determinants. Communicable diseases in particular share the same environmental risk factors of poor cleanliness and hygiene, the impacts of which are exacerbated by overcrowded living conditions. Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) are two examples of diseases resulting from overcrowding and poverty in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Other Issues 

National Health Reform Agreement – Resolving reconciliation and back casting

Health Ministers discussed differing approaches to the application of back casting in the Activity Based Funding model for Commonwealth funding to states and territories under the National Health Reform Agreement.

State and Territory Ministers will develop a joint set of policy principles and directions on a clear methodology for the calculation of hospital funding for use by the national funding bodies, which will be presented to COAG by June 2019.

Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) global nutrition target is to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50 percent by 2025. Low breastfeeding rates and the use of infant formula within the first year of life are linked to obesity and other chronic diseases in later life.

In 2016, Health Ministers agreed to develop an enduring breastfeeding strategy following the conclusion of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015. The latest National Health Survey data shows that only around 25% of babies are exclusively breastfed to around six months.

The Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond seeks to achieve the World Health Organization target of 50% of babies exclusively breastfed to around six months by 2025, including a particular focus on those from priority populations and vulnerable groups. To achieve this objective, actions are proposed across three priority areas: structural enablers; settings that enable breastfeeding; and individual enablers.

Ministers discussed the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond and committed to provide a supportive and enabling environment for breastfeeding mothers, infants and families. Ministers were of the view that investing in breastfeeding is an investment in chronic disease prevention and better health.

The Commonwealth Department of Health will lead national policy coordination, monitoring and evaluation and report annually on implementation progress to the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.

Professional Indemnity Insurance for Privately Practicing Midwives

In 2010, the introduction of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 saw the requirement for registered health practitioners to have appropriate professional indemnity insurance in place. Despite exhaustive national and international investigations, no available or affordable commercial product in Australia covers Privately Practicing Midwives for homebirth.

Health Ministers considered the issue of professional indemnity insurance for privately practicing midwives. Health Ministers emphasised that the safety of mothers and their babies is paramount.

Health Ministers recognised that the availability of a suitable professional indemnity insurance product covering private home births would be preferable, as it would allow privately practicing midwives to remain registered under the National Law without the need for an exemption, continue to provide choice to women and take into account the rights of women and children.

In the absence of a suitable professional indemnity insurance product for privately practicing midwives, Health Ministers requested that AHMAC would complete additional work to inform the decision of Ministers in relation to the way forward by June 2020.

Health Ministers agreed for the current exemption under the National Law to be extended until December 2021 to allow time for options to be explored further.

Update on ageing and aged care matters including the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

All Australian Health Ministers are committed to the highest quality care for older Australians.

The Minister for Indigenous Health and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, provided an update on recent ageing and aged care initiatives, announcements and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The Royal Commission has a broad scope to inquire into all forms of Commonwealth-funded aged care services, regardless of the setting in which those services are delivered. It will look at the aged care sector as a whole, including younger people with disabilities living in residential age care.

Ministers also discussed a range of issues relating to safe and quality care for older Australians, for example, the provision of primary and community care services to aged care consumers, access to acute care and rehabilitation services, timely movement of consumers from hospital to aged care services and engagement on the implementation of effective mechanisms to regulate restraint in aged care.

Update on National Missions under the Medical Research Future Fund 

National Medical Research Future Fund Missions are large programs of work with ambitious objectives to address complex and sizeable health issues that are only possible through significant investment, leadership and collaboration. They bring together key researchers, health professionals, stakeholders, industry partners, patients and governments to tackle significant health challenges, for example brain cancer and dementia.

Today Health Ministers received an update from the Commonwealth Minister for Health on the five national Missions and the Indigenous Health Futures announced to date and increased opportunities for contestable grant rounds to support health and medical research.

The five missions are

  1. Australian Brain Cancer Mission
  2. Genomics Health Futures Mission
  3. Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission
  4. Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Research Mission
  5. Mission for Cardiovascular Health

The research work also includes the Indigenous Health Futures for which $160 million from the MRFF has been committed over ten years for a national research initiative to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Health Ministers supported the work of the research Missions and the Indigenous Health Futures, agreeing to work together towards achieving their aims.

Resolving outstanding National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) implementation issues

Health Ministers acknowledged the significant efforts being made by all jurisdictions to resolve issues that arise from the interface between the NDIS and health systems.

Mental Health Services

States and territories expressed concerns about access to necessary primary care mental health services. States, territories and the Commonwealth will work constructively so that access to primary mental health services is improved particularly for consumers outside the NDIS.

Regulation of misleading public health information

The Queensland Health Minister provided an update on regulation of misleading public health information in relation to misleading or inaccurate information regarding vaccines or vaccination programs.

Ministers welcomed the prompt action and leadership of the Outdoor Media Association to apply the intent of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (No.2) 2018, so that advertising connected to therapeutic goods ‘must not be inconsistent with current public health campaigns.’

Tobacco industry issues

Australia has been a world leader in legislation restricting the promotion and advertising of tobacco-related products through sport, and in taking a precautionary approach to the control of smoke-free products such as e-cigarettes.

The tobacco industry is investing heavily in smoke-free products and has established associated sports sponsorships launched at the start of the 2019 F1 and MotoGP championship seasons, presenting a challenge to tobacco control legislation.

Victoria raised the issue that e-liquids for use in e-cigarettes are not in child safe packaging, do not contain sufficient warnings and may be dangerous or fatal for young children.

Health Ministers today discussed a national approach to the prohibition of smoke-free,  e-cigarette and related sponsorship and advertising in sport, based on existing tobacco control principles and legislation. This approach will have the capacity to respond to emerging products and forms of marketing.

Health Ministers also noted that the Clinical Principal Committee will develop options to better regulate e-cigarettes and related products including consideration of the need to introduce child proof lids and plain packaging, with options to be provided to the COAG Health Council for consideration.

National Medical Workforce Strategy

A National Medical Workforce Strategy is necessary to guide long-term, collaborative medical workforce planning across Australia.

The Strategy will match the supply of general practitioners, medical specialists and consultant physicians to predicted medical service needs and will involve consultation with a range of stakeholders. Health Ministers will fund the development of a National Medical Workforce Strategy. This will include sharing of data across Commonwealth and other jurisdictions to support the strategy.

It is expected that the Strategy will address several system-level issues including:

  • the number and distribution of specialist training positions and how these might be better aligned to community needs
  • access to the full range of medical services, including maternity services, in regional, rural and remote areas
  • the current reliance on overseas trained doctors to fill specific workforce shortages and how Australia can improve self-sufficiency in medical workforce development
  • integration of medical care between settings and professions
  • improving workplace culture and doctor wellbeing
  • the under-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in the medical workforce.

A Steering Committee has been established under the National Medical Training Advisory Network to guide this work.

Options for a nationally consistent approach to the regulation of spinal manipulation on children 

Health Ministers noted community concerns about the unsafe spinal manipulation on children performed by chiropractors and agreed that public protection was paramount in resolving this issue.

Ministers welcomed the advice that Victoria will commission an independent review of the practice of spinal manipulation on children under 12 years, and the findings will be reported to the COAG Health Council, including the need for changes to the National Law.

Ministers supported the examination of an increase in penalties for advertising offences, such as false, misleading or deceptive advertising, under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, to bring these into line with community expectations and penalties for other offences under the National Law. This decision was informed by recent consultation about potential reforms to the National Law in 2018.

Ministers will consider the outcomes of the independent review and determine any further changes needed to protect the public.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research : Ministers @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP announce $160 million funding for Indigenous health research over 10 years targeting three flagship priorities and five key areas

“It is time to come together as a nation to work as partners in bringing equity in health outcomes”

The right research into improved treatments and services has the potential to dramatically accelerate the progress we have seen over the last six years in achieving better health for Indigenous Australians,”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM

The fund is a vital step towards improving the health of our Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander communities. Ultimately, parity in health outcomes is the only acceptable goal, and this fund will help to achieve it.

The research into improving the system is critical, but we are also absolutely committed to delivering real, on-the-ground improvements and frontline services right now “

Health Minister Greg Hunt

” It is a great honour to be asked to co-chair this critical research platform for the future.  Health and social inequity as experienced by Indigenous Australians stands as one of our nations great challenges.  Only through dedicated, collaborative, adequately resourced action, led by community priorities and processes can we hope to make meaningful change. 

Our collective job is to unlock the expertise and capabilities of the Indigenous community, backed the brightest and most gifted scientists and medical researchers and their institutions to make a more equitable future for all Australians.”

Professor Alex Browne : South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute

The Federal Government will provide $160 million for a national research initiative to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Indigenous Health Research Fund will be a 10-year research program funded from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

It will support practical, innovative research into the best approaches to prevention, early intervention, and treatment of health conditions of greatest concern to Indigenous communities.

First three flagship priorities

The funding’s first three flagship priorities, which aim to deliver rapid solutions to some of the biggest preventable health challenges faced by our First Nations peoples, are:

  • Ending avoidable blindness
  • Ending avoidable deafness
  • Ending rheumatic heart disease

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM announced the first project to be funded under the Indigenous Health Research Fund on Sunday – $35 million for the development of a vaccine to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of bacterial infections of the throat and skin. Australia currently has the highest rate of rheumatic heart disease in the world.

Every year, nearly 250 children are diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever and 50 – 150 people die from rheumatic heart disease in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 64 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to develop rheumatic heart disease, and nearly 20 times as likely to die from it.

“Rheumatic heart disease kills young people and devastates families. This funding will save countless lives in Australia and beyond,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Five key areas of Research

The remaining $125 million Indigenous Health Research funding will be focussed on research projects that fall into five key areas – guaranteeing a healthy start to life, improving primary health care, overcoming the origins of inequality in health, reducing the burden of disease, and addressing emerging challenges.

An advisory panel comprising prominent Indigenous research experts and community leaders, cochaired by Prof. Alex Browne (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) and Prof. Misty Jenkins (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research), will guide the Indigenous Health Research Fund investments.

It will be the first national research fund led by Indigenous people, and conducted with close engagement with Indigenous communities.

The Indigenous Health Research Fund will also seek contributions from philanthropic organisations, state governments, industry, and the private sector in order to increase the reach and impact of the fund.

The Indigenous Health Research Fund will provide the knowledge and understanding to make health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people more effective and lead to lasting health improvements.

This is key to closing the gap in health outcomes since, despite considerable investment by the Commonwealth in existing programmes, Indigenous Australians currently have about a 10 year lower life expectancy and 2.3 times the burden of disease compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

The Morrison Government will provide separate funding of $3.8 million over four years to fund the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Eye Health Program. This program aims to improve Indigenous eye health in Australia.

“The research into improving the system is critical, but we are also absolutely committed to delivering real, on-the-ground improvements and frontline services right now,” Minister Hunt said.

Our  Government has a long-standing and important commitment to achieving health equity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Government is investing $3.9 billion in Indigenous-specific health initiatives (from 2018-19 to 2021-22), an ongoing increase of around four per cent per year. This includes investment under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program.

The MRFF is key to the Government’s health and research plans and is delivering significant benefits for Australian researchers, with over $2 billion in disbursements announced to date

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #refreshtheCTGRefresh : Download the @AIHW National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: results for 2017 showing improvements in 16 out of a possible 23 measures

Between June and December 2017, improvements were seen in 16 out of a possible 23 measures for which comparable data for both periods were available (see Table S1 for details). Results for a further indicator remained stable between reporting periods.

The improvements were seen in 12 of the 15 process-of-care measures with comparable data. Improvements were also seen in 4 of the 8 outcome measures, while 1 outcome measure remained stable. The largest improvements (4 or 5 percentage points) were seen in the recording practices for the measuring of:

  • influenza immunisations for clients with type 2 diabetes, which rose from 31% to 36%
  • influenza immunisations for clients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which rose from 32% to 37%
  • influenza immunisations for clients aged 50 and over, which rose from 32% to 36%. ” 

 Extract from good news from AIHW Report

 Download full 158 page report HERE

aihw-ihw-200 (1)

Summary

This is the fifth national report on the Indigenous primary health care national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs) data collection. It presents data on all 24 nKPI indicators for the first time.

Data for this collection are provided to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) by primary health care organisations that receive funding from the Australian Government Department of Health to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some primary health care organisations included in the collection receive additional funding from other sources, including state and territory health departments.

As of the June 2017 data collection, changes have been made to the data extraction method, with the Department of Health introducing a new direct load reporting process. This allowed Communicare, Medical Director, and Primary Care Information System (PCIS) clinical information systems (CISs) to generate nKPI data within their clinical system, and transmit directly to the OCHREStreams portal. Best Practice services were provided with an interim tool while MMEx has always had direct load capability.

61.9 % our ACCHO’s

The new process was introduced to provide a greater level of consistency between CISs, but the change in the extraction method means that data from June 2017 onwards are not comparable with earlier collections.

As the June 2017 collection represents a new baseline for the collection, this report only presents data for June and December 2017.

For 2 indicators (Kidney function tests recorded and Kidney function test results) only December 2017 results are presented due to unresolved data quality issues in June 2017.

See Chapter 2 for more information on the change in extraction method, data quality, and the impact  on the collection, and Appendix E for data improvement projects and the nKPI/Online Service Reporting (OSR) review under way.

Improvements were seen for most indicators between June and December 2017. Although data from these 2 reporting periods are not comparable with earlier reporting periods, an overall pattern of improvement is in keeping with the pattern of improvement previously reported for the period June 2012 to May 2015 (see AIHW 2017). This indicates that health organisations continue to show progress in service provision.

Things to work on

For the 3 process-of-care indicators that did not show improvements—glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) result recorded (6 months), cervical screening, and Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) health assessment for those aged 0–4—the changes were very small (0.5, 0.4, and 0.1 percentage points, respectively).

In the case of cervical screening, this might be due to changes to the cervical screening program, which took effect from 1 December 2017 (see Chapter 4 for details).

Three outcome measures that did not show improvements—HbA1c result of 7% or less, low birthweight, and smoking status of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months—saw changes of between 0.8 and 1.8 percentage points.

Contents

  • 1 Introduction
    • The nKPI collection
    • Structure of this report
  • 2 Data quality
    • Data quality issues
    • Additional considerations for interpreting nKPI data
  • 3 Maternal and child health indicators
    • Why are these indicators important?
    • 3.1 First antenatal visit
    • 3.2 Birthweight recorded
    • 3.3 MBS health assessment (item 715) for children aged 0-4
    • 3.4 Child immunisation
    • 3.5 Birthweight result
    • 3.6 Smoking status of females who gave birth within the previous 12 months
  • 4 Preventative health indicators
    • Why are these important?
    • 4.1 Smoking status recorded
    • 4.2 Alcohol consumption recorded
    • 4.3 MBS health assessment (item 715) for adults aged 25 and over
    • 4.4 Risk factors assessed to enable cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment
    • 4.5 Cervical screening
    • 4.6 Immunised against influenza-Indigenous regular clients aged 50 and over
    • 4.7 Smoking status result
    • 4.8 Body mass index classified as overweight or obese
    • 4.9 AUDIT-C result
    • 4.10 Cardiovascular disease risk assessment result
  • 5 Chronic disease management indicators
    • Why are these important?
    • 5.1 General Practitioner Management Plan-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.2 Team Care Arrangement-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.3 Blood pressure result recorded-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.4 HbA1c result recorded-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.5 Kidney function test recorded-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.6 Kidney function test recorded-clients with cardiovascular disease
    • 5.7 Immunised against influenza-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.8 Immunised against influenza-clients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • 5.9 Blood pressure result-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.10 HbA1c result-clients with type 2 diabetes
    • 5.11 Kidney function test result-clients with type 2 diabetes-eGFR
    • 5.12 Kidney function test result-clients with type 2 diabetes-ACR
    • 5.13 Kidney function test result-clients with cardiovascular disease-eGFR
  • 6 Discussion
    • Data improvements
  • Appendix A: Background to the nKPI collection and indicator technical specifications
  • Appendix B: Data completeness
  • Appendix C: Comparison of nKPI results
  • Appendix D: State and territory and remoteness variation figures
  • Appendix E: Data improvement projects
  • Appendix F: Guide to the figures
  • Glossary
  • References