NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Ancient practice helping Kimberley

The image in the feature tile is of a cultural healer treating a patient’s knee by rubbing in red ochre and singing healing songs. The image appeared in an article ‘The women’s song is so strong’: cultural healing in the Kimberley published in The Guardian yesterday, Monday 14 November 2022. Photo: Richard Wainwright, AAP.

Ancient practice helping the Kimberley

Deep in WA’s outback, in a region haunted by trauma and loss, a group of elderly women carry out an ancient healing practice. Red ochre is rubbed into a patient’s knee as they sing a powerful song, their arthritic hands working in a liquid motion. The healers have seen plenty of pain – both physical and spiritual – among those seeking their help.

“We see their eyes when they come to us. We see the eyes and the eyes tell us that person is sick,” a healer said. “They come to us ladies and we sing that healing song to them. We put the red ochre on them first to protect them, because the women’s song is so strong. And after that, they feel real good. They feel settled and calm and everything.”

Jalngangurru Healing is a trial program connecting patients in the Kimberley with male and female cultural healers. It targets clients in Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and surrounding communities, supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation with federal funding. But the demand for its services is flooding in from across the nation.

“It went active on social media and it just went mad,” said Emama Nguda chief executive Ben Burton. “There were people from all over Australia sending messages trying to access help … people who are just desperate, in pain and suffering from mental health, loss after loss after loss and depression. All the feedback so far from people is it’s just life-changing.”

To view the Australian Associated Press article Ancient practice helping to heal Kimberley in full click here.

Tammy Solonec is helping people access traditional cultural healing in WA’s north. Photo: Richard Wainwright. Image source: AAP.

Repeated breaches of child rights at detention centre

Save the Children is appalled by the footage from WA’s Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre aired by ABC’s Four Corners and condemns the conduct as a gross violation of children’s rights. The video shows a boy being handcuffed, forcibly held down and sat on by guards in a dangerous restraint technique known as ‘folding up’, with reports several other boys have been subjected to similar practices. The ABC footage is further evidence that children’s rights are continuing to be violated at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, highlighting the urgent need for an overhaul of WA’s youth justice system before more irreparable harm is done.

To view the Save the Children media release Repeated breaches of child rights in WA youth detention must end now in full click here.

In a related article Union: ‘Chronic understaffing’ contributing to stress and aggression among Banksia Hill child detainees available here a union representing youth custodial officers say “chronic understaffing” at Banksia Hill Detention Centre is contributing to the heightened stress and aggression among child detainees.

The CPSU/CSA on Monday released a letter its leadership sent to the Department of Justice in May 2021 – 18 months ago – that sounded the alarm on safety concerns at the facility. The letter said dangerously low staffing levels was putting the workforce at risk, denying the children in custody proper rehabilitation and resulting in “rolling lockdowns”.

The 15-year-old boy spent more than 60% of his recent stint in custody, in unlawful solitary confinement. Image source: ABC News.

Flooding makes existing disadvantage worse

Australia is currently experiencing its third consecutive year of a La Niña weather cycle, with more rainfall than average expected over the spring and summer months and a heightened risk of floods, tropical cyclones, prolonged heatwaves and grass fires in southern Australia.  According to the Human Rights Council Report 75-80% of the world’s population will be negatively impacted by climate change. It also states climate change will exacerbate existing poverty and inequality and have the most severe impact on our poor.

Indigenous people in Australia make up just 3.8% of the population. Still, they account for nearly 30% of those living in poverty and up to 50% in remote communities. Many live in poor, overcrowded housing not prepared for natural disasters or the effects of climate change such as persistently hotter temperatures. In addition, there is limited nearby infrastructure or resources to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

All levels of government have been criticised for a lack of action in supporting Indigenous communities during times of crisis. This now needs to be addressed urgently, given the destructive weather is forecast to continue in the coming months. Earlier this year, when floods hit the town of Lismore in NSW, the local Indigenous community was left to fend for themselves, with many people losing their homes and possessions. First Nations communities were among those worst affected, with many people stranded without access to food or clean water.

To read the Mirage article Effects of climate change such as flooding makes existing disadvantages for Indigenous communities so much worse in full click here.

Chelsea Claydon (left) and Izzy Walton (right) have been running the Koori Kitchen in Lismore, which is still providing 100s of meals to flood-affected residents on the Northern Rivers. Photo: Matt Coble. Image source: ABC News.

Workplace racism leaves workers traumatised

Between 2018 and 2020, Ms Jacqueline Stewart worked within the NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) — a unit responsible for helping with the prevention and response to violence, abuse and neglect, including within Indigenous communities. She resigned in 2021 after, she said, her complaints to NSW Health management about racism and bullying were not properly addressed.

There were several incidents, but some of the main ones she made formal complaints about included that a contracted worker in her team painted her face black at a work function and then posted it on the ECAV’s Facebook page at the time. Ms Stewart describes her time at NSW Health as “emotional destruction” and says the impacts of racism and bullying are long lasting. “It’s impacted my family. It’s been a massive impact.”

Research conduct last year by consulting firm MindTribes and the University of Melbourne, found that 76% of respondents either witnessed discrimination, experienced discrimination, or had both witnessed and experienced it, and 69% of respondents felt “low or no confidence” in the reporting process.

The latest data follows a report from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) called Racism at Work, released earlier this year found 88%t of respondents agreed racism was an issue in Australian workplaces and 93% agreed organisations needed to take action to address it. While support for organisations to tackle workplace racism was high, only 27%t of survey respondents said their organisations were proactively preventing workplace racism.

To view the MSN article ‘Isolated and traumatised’ workers subject to racist slurs call for employers to do more to stamp out bullying and harassment in full click here.

Jacqueline Stewart, a former employee of NSW Health, was a victim of racism. Photo: Daniel Irvine, ABC News.

Calls for input on draft Australian Cancer Plan

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, said the Australian Government is calling for stakeholder input on the draft Australian Cancer Plan (ACP) which is designed to provide lasting change and improve outcomes for all people affected by cancer. Australia leads the world in cancer outcomes however, it is still the leading cause of death in this country. This year alone, 50,000 people will lose their lives to cancer.

The draft ACP presents the opportunity for all Australians to comment on a ground-breaking national strategy that sets out strategic objectives, ambitions, goals and priority actions for cancer control. To make a difference we need coordinated system-wide engagement.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Consultation opens on draft Australian Cancer Plan in full click here.

Indigenous Eye Health Unit to launch book

Indigenous Eye Health Unit invite you to the launch of “Minum Barreng: The story of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit” (IEHU). This book documents the work and achievements of the IEHU over the last 15 years.
The launch will be from 10:00 – 11:30AM on Friday 2 December 2022 in the Woodward Centre, Level 10, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton.

Registrations for the launch close on Thursday 24 November 2022.

For more information you can access a flyer about the book launch event here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The image in the feature tile is a photo of Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and a colleague taken at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference Welcome Reception last night.

NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The much anticipated annual gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector leaders from across the country at the NACCHO Members’ Conference was opened with a Welcome Reception last night. Preceding the Welcome Reception was the NACCHO Youth Conference attended by over 80 delegates. Today the NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and Annual General Meeting (AGM) are being held with the NACCHO Members’ Conference beginning tomorrow. With over 500 delegates attending this year the conference brings opportunities for attendees to network, learn, influence and celebrate our ongoing drive to self-determination.

For more information about the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference click here.

Dr Aunty Matilda House who gave the Welcome to Country at the Welcome Reception and NACCHO staff member Kelly Edwards.

First evidence-based guidelines for ADHD

Australia’s first evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are out, covering everything from identification of high-risk groups to professional training for those working with children and adults with the condition. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)-endorsed guidelines are the work of the Australia ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) – are long overdue, according to AADPA president and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Mark Bellgrove who said “It’s really important that, for a condition that affects around a million people in Australia, we have a unified bible with respect to diagnosis, treatment and support for folks with ADHD.”

The most evidence-based recommendations in the guidelines are around identification of groups with a higher prevalence of ADHD, which has a strong genetic component. These high-risk groups include people of all ages already diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder and language and learning disorders; those with anxiety, depressive or bipolar and related disorders; those who have been in prison; and those with a close family member with the condition. Children who are in out-of-home care or have been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, or with anxiety disorder, and adults with any mental health disorder, are also considered high-risk.

To view the Medical Republic article First evidence-based guidelines for ADHD, including a link to the NHRMC-endorsed guidelines, in full click here.

Image source: Australian ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) website.

Orthoptic-led diabetic retinopathy screening trial

Orthoptist and Indigenous eye health coordinator in the NT’s top end, Madelaine Moore, says the lack of funding to expand existing services has led to a pilot for orthoptic-led diabetes screening clinics. The ophthalmology department at Palmerston Regional Hospital (PRH), a campus of Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH), is the eye hub for the Top End of the NT, and it caters to a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander demographic.

Diabetes mellitus affects 12% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in rural and remote locations and is among the leading causes of preventable blindness for this population group. Screening plays a critical role in early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and it is recommended that Indigenous patients with diabetes receive an annual eye check. The average diabetes screening rates across remote communities in the Top End are 33%.

The aim of the pilot was to deliver a shorter consult and maximise the volume of patients. The pilot’s main successes include reaching asymptomatic and pre-presbyopic patients who would not self-present to optometry, no need for patients to undergo dilation, capacity building, and the short duration consult with minimal wait times reducing the number of people who ‘do not wait’.

To view the Insight article Orthoptic-led diabetic retinopathy screening in remote communities in full click here.

Image source: Diabetes & Diabetic Retinopathy in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Populations webpage of Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Restoration of bulk billed telehealth psychiatry

The Federal Government’s announcement yesterday that it is restoring bulk billed telehealth psychiatry consultations for Australians living outside metro areas is a promising first step towards improving the accessibility and affordability of mental health services for all Australians, the peak body for psychiatrists in Australia says.

Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, said the Federal Government’s reinstatement of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Item 288, as promised before the election, should be seen as the beginning of wider reform to provide affordable access to psychiatry. “The removal of bulk-billed telehealth compounded existing economic inequities by burdening patients with unaffordable gap-fees and out-of-pocket costs and while affordability is still a major issue across the board, this reinstatement is a step in the right direction,” Associate Professor Lakra said.

To view the RANZCP media release Federal Government commitment to bulk billed telehealth
psychiatry consultations a step forward for rural and regional Australia in full click here.

Image source: The University of Queensland website.

Not enough mental health care workers

National mental health advocacy organisation, Lived Experience Australia (LEA), is extremely concerned by figures released in the National Care Workforce Labour Study. The report, published by the National Skills Commission, shows that there is already a gap in care services (including mental health) against demand, and that this is likely to reach almost 100,000 workers in less than 5 years’ time.

LEA has undertaken research with people with lived experience of mental ill-health, along with their families and carers, who expressed many concerns about the pressures on GPs, the workforce skills gaps, and access problems. In the Missing Middle research one carer stated: “Public [mental health] services were essentially non-existent, as result of wait times which were estimated to be between 8-12 months.”

To view the LEA media release Not enough Mental Health Care Workers for our future in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Worker Jasmine Williams. Image source: The Daily Advertiser.

Pharmacy trial risks poor health, higher costs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is warning that Queensland’s watered down pilot allowing pharmacists to diagnose and treat patients remains a serious risk. It comes after the Queensland Government announced it was pushing ahead with the controversial pilot, which has been widely opposed by medical groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, and NACCHO.

RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price said the pilot will result in poor health outcomes and must be stopped – “Enough is enough, patient safety and wellbeing must come first. We are extremely disappointed that Queensland is pushing ahead with the North Queensland Community Pharmacy Extended Scope of Practice Pilot, despite the opposition and concerns of the medical community. Not to mention the evidence showing a similar Queensland pilot allowing pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections has gone horribly wrong for many Queensland patients who were wrongly diagnosed and had serious conditions go untreated.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article RACGP: Queensland pharmacy trial risks poor health outcomes and higher costs for patients in full click here.

The AMA seconds the concerns of the RACGP issuing a media release on 14 October 2022 New Queensland pharmacy experiment puts lives at risk and does nothing to solve workforce issues available here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Danila Dilba seeking CMO and Deputy CMO

Established in 1991, Danila Dilba Health Service is a community organisation providing comprehensive primary health care to Biluru (Aboriginal) communities in the Yilli Rreung (Greater Darwin) Region of the NT. They aim to improve the physical, mental, spiritual, cultural, and social wellbeing of  clients through innovative comprehensive primary health care programs and services.

If you have ever considered working for an organisation you will be proud to work for come and join an executive team that is passionate about helping close the gap in Indigenous health and wellbeing. Danila Dilba Health Service has two vacancies. In the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) role you will report to and advise the CEO, executive management team and the board on the clinical direction of Danila Dilba Health Service while providing clinical oversight to delivery, quality, and efficiency of our comprehensive primary health care services.

You will also hold accountability for clinical governance and risk and will be driven by a focus on clinical quality and safety. You will be the face of Danila Dilba from a clinical perspective and will need to form and develop strategic alliances to strengthen and influence health policy and practice, relevant to our space.

As the CMO you will have time to focus on the strategy as Danila Dilba Health Service is concurrently hiring a Deputy CMO who will focus on leading and on the ground management of GP’s in our clinics (17 FTE) and be the CMO’s connection to the workforce.  The Deputy CMO role will be 4 days per week in the non-clinical environment and 1 day per week in clinic to maintain your clinical practice and ensure you have a real picture of the context you will be advising on.

You can find the details of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) position here and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer position here.

Applications for both positions close on Monday 24 October 2022.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Redesigning maternity services for mob

The image in the feature tile is from the Holistic Care With No Limits – Empowering the Aboriginal Community on Darkinjung Country webpage of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services (Central Coast, Darkinjung Country) website.

Redesigning maternity services for mob

Earlier this week more than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, came together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families.

The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe was co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the NT.

The Charles Darwin Universities’s Co-Director at CDU’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and Indigenous Health Professor Yvette Roe, who is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, WA, who grew up in Darwin, spoke on CAAMA Radio about the challenges faced by first nations mothers, in bringing up strong healthy babies.

“Before colonisation, our babies were born on country, we were raised by our mothers, we were raised by grandmothers, we had cultural ceremony and we had a real connection to community – after 200 years of colonisation, we have babies too early, too small, that are very sick when they’re born, we have mothers that have babies that are very sick, we got a health system that is being designed by a colonised system, a system imposed on our people… and this has really had poor outcomes, especially with our women in very remote communities, but also our women in urban centres.” Professor Yvette Roe said.

To view the CAAMA article Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women, which includes a video of Professor Roe speaking about the aim of the The Best Start to Life national gathering and improving maternity and birthing outcomes for First Nations women across Australia, click here.

Improving tobacco and e-cigarette control

Five ANU researchers have been awarded more than $10.7 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant scheme, to help tackle some of the world’s biggest medical and health challenges. Professor Emily Banks will receive more than $2.9 million to drive improved tobacco and e-cigarette control and provide new insights into cardiovascular disease prevention.

“Smoking remains Australia’s number one cause of premature death and disability,” Professor Banks said. “It is also a major cause of health inequity. Excellent progress by communities means that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t smoke. At the same time, around half of all deaths at age 45 and over in this priority population are due to tobacco smoking.

“Australia is aiming for a tobacco-free future and is up against a predatory industry that is constantly innovating. E-cigarettes, or vaping, also present new challenges. My team and I will use this funding to generate and translate new insights to empower the next generation of tobacco and e-cigarette control and chronic disease prevention,” Professor Banks said.

To view the Canberra Weekly article Major ANU funding win to boost health for all Australians in full click here.

Photo: Mike Mozart, Flickr. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Great oral health habits for kids

Smiles 4 Miles (an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria – DHSV), the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Ballarat Community Health are supporting early childhood services to improve children’s oral health and healthy eating habits. This work is highlighted in a new video case study (below) celebrating how Perridak Burron Early Learning, an Aboriginal community-owned education and care service, embedded these health priorities into their centre.

Tooth decay is largely preventable. However, public dental data shows that approximately one in four children aged five years and under who presented to public dental clinics in 2021–22 have a history of tooth decay and only 6% of Victorian children aged two to 17 eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables per day.

“We hope that Perridak Burron’s holistic, whole-of-service approach to healthy eating and oral health will inspire other early childhood education and care services to also make positive changes,” Smiles 4 Miles coordinator Demelza Diacogiorgis said. “Early childhood is a crucial stage in learning and development. Promoting health messages in simple ways enables children attending early childhood education and care settings to get a healthy start in life.”

To view the Bite magazine article Early childhood service leading the charge for great oral health habits in full click here.

New Deadly pharmacists training course

The new Deadly pharmacists foundation training course, co-designed by PSA and NACCHO, is designed to upskill pharmacists to work in ACCHOs. Lucky Zeniou MPS, Senior Pharmacist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Brisbane thinks the seven-module course, available on the PSA platform, will broaden career pathways for pharmacists.

Mike Stephens MPS, Director, Medicines Policy and Programs at NACCHO, said pharmacists can expect to gain a good understanding of the key concepts that underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including the importance of self-determination and community control. ‘There are so many services ACCHOs can offer their community, and clinical care and pharmacy is just one part of that integrated care model,’ he said.

‘In some ACCHOs a pharmacist may be working alongside tobacco outreach workers, legal services, diabetes educators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers all in the same location.’ For pharmacists interested in working in an ACCHO, Mr Stephens recommends undertaking the course before or as soon as they begin work in this space. ‘This course will be a great enabler for this emerging workforce to grow,’ he said. ‘We know many ACCHOs are looking for suitable pharmacists to employ.’

To view the Australian Pharmacist article Securing a job in an Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Service in full click here.

Image source: PSA Deadly pharmacists foundation training course webpage.

Closing the digital exclusion gap

Tech for good’ organisation Hitnet has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for over 20 years, but its recent move is going further to amplify Indigenous voices. Co-founder and director Julie Gibson has ceded the company, which brings information and services to close the digital exclusion gap in rural and remote communities, to Visual Dreaming, a First Nations technology platform drawing on cultural practices and storytelling to support Indigenous youth.

For Gibson, the business move acts as a symbol for the non-Indigenous community to make room for First Nations organisations in an authentic and meaningful way. “Myself and the other founders strongly believe that Hitnet needed First Nations innovation, knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship to take it to the next level,” said Gibson. “It was actually us that approached Visual Dreaming after a national search of actively looking to transition out.”

“I think the time has well and truly come for businesses that operate in the First Nations space to have management structures to ensure there is solid First Nations representation, which is not tokenism, but genuine ownership and control.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article How ‘yindyamarra’ informed a business acquisition in full, click here.

How to provide better safer care

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health and healthcare in many ways. One important issue is developing a better understanding of its impacts upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of healthcare. An important indicator of the quality and cultural safety of healthcare is whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe to remain in a service to receive healthcare, or whether they leave before healthcare is delivered or completed.

According to data recently reviewed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Healthcare, there are some grounds for concern that the pandemic has been associated with an increase or, at the very least, no improvement in leave events.

Another important question is how the pandemic has affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to care, given widespread reports of service closures, workforce shortages and systems under grave pressure. Dr Julieann Coombes and Keziah Bennett-Brook, researchers from the George Institute who conducted a systematic review informing national policy on leave events, suggest the issue deserves far more attention from policymakers, health services and providers, through efforts to address racism and improve cultural safety at all levels of the system.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How can health services provide safer, better care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? in full click here.

Image source: CommunitySkills WA website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

In Australia trachoma remains a major cause of avoidable blindness and as a prevention, face and hand washing are critically important. Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma, and almost all cases occur in our remote Aboriginal communities. Curtin University in partnership with West Australian Country Health Service, the Directorate of Environmental Health (WA Health) and Indigenous Eye Health (University of Melbourne) have produced a 30 second video, available here, based on Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs!

For more information about Global Handwashing Day 2022 click here.

The University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health webpage.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme

We’re just 5 days away from our long awaited NACCHO Members’ Conference, NACCHO Youth Conference, EGM and AGM!

Today we are delighted to announce the theme for this year’s conference – Honour the Past, Prepare for the Future.

NACCHO is proud to have a membership of 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations with over 50 years of cultural expertise, knowledge and capability in the delivery of comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our sector has led the way in responding to the many challenges faced over the last three years and have demonstrated that we are an integral part of the health architecture in Australia. The Conference is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate the resilience and success of our sector. It is a success worth celebrating and honouring as we prepare for the future.

We look forward to seeing you all soon!

NACCHO also wishes to acknowledge the generous support from our wonderful sponsors who helped make #NACCHOConference22 happen!

We can’t wait to network with you all next week at the NACCHO Youth and NACCHO Members’ Conferences on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country (Canberra).

Mob experience higher rates of obesity

Population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse
communities (CALD) experience health inequity and resulting disparities in disease rates. These include higher rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases. A paper in the Sax Institute journal, Public Health Research & Practice brings together three perspectives by researchers in the fields of Indigenous health, disability and CALD health to examine how overweight and obesity impact these populations in Australia and to put forward ways of addressing the problem.

The authors urge investment in research co-designed with people from each of these communities and with lived experience of obesity to build valuable knowledge about what preventive actions and interventions will work to reduce obesity rates. They call for evidence-based, tailored obesity prevention programs to address these historical disparities and improve health outcomes among some of Australia’s disadvantaged populations.

One of the three perspectives examined in the paper is the inequities in the treatment of obesity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The author, Ray Kelly from the University of Melbourne finds:

  • Obesity is increasing in Indigenous people and is now up to 45% of that population
  • There is very little Indigenous input into Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Adopting traditional dietary lifestyle could help Indigenous people lose weight
  • Far more research involving Indigenous people needs to be done in this area.

To view the Public Health Research & Practice (a journal of the Sax Institute) article Inequities in obesity: Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, and disability perspectives in full click here.

Image source: NAAFA website.

Information vacuum around miscarriage

Miscarriage Australia is a first of its kind website that uses medically proven facts to help patients, and it’s been far too long in the making. The information vacuum around miscarriage, combined with the desperation of the grief-stricken, is the perfect breeding ground for misinformation and fertile soil for superstition. And that is why the development and launch of a new website, the first of its kind in Australia dedicated solely to evidence-based, medically-proven information and research, will be an absolute asset for patients in this space. It has been far too long in coming.

The team behind the Miscarriage Australia website comprises academics and clinicians. The site includes information for women, men, LGBTIQ+, friends or family of those affected. You’ll find details on what comprises a miscarriage, why someone miscarries, types of miscarriage and so on. There are referrals to support services. And crucially, there is information and support for medical practitioners working in this space or any other who are likely to come into contact with pregnancy loss patients. The information is fact-checked and the site is managed by the Miscarriage Australia research team, co-led by Bilardi and Temple-Smith, and an expert advisory committee.

You can access the new Miscarriage Australia website here.

To view The Guardian article After my miscarriage, it was hard to find reliable online support for an issue shrouded in silence – that’s about to change in full click here.

Image source: Miscarriage Australia website.

Pathology drones for remote Qld patients

Drones could be used to fly patient pathology samples from Moreton Bay island communities to Brisbane testing labs as early as next year. Yesterday Brisbane’s Mater Hospital announced a partnership program with drone company Swoop Aero that will see a fleet of drones used to shuttle patient pathology samples from areas across Moreton Bay to the hospital’s testing labs at Springfield in Ipswich.

Mater Pathology general manager Deb Hornsby said the initiative was an “Australian first” and would slash waiting times for test results, particularly blood samples and COVID-19 swabs. “It is a game-changer, it will take pathology services to a different level – we’re the first pathology service in Australia to offer this,” Ms Hornsby said. “Right now, we are reliant on ferry terminals and courier pick ups to get samples back to Mater for testing from Stradbroke Island and the other islands. Depending on ferry services, it can take up to six hours. Pathology is a time-sensitive service … turnaround times are really critical to get those results back to GPs and specialists.” She said a 45-minute drive would now become a 15-minute flight.

To read the ABC News article Drones set to transport Mater Hospital pathology samples across south-east Queensland in ‘Australian first’ in full click here.

Swoop Aero pathology drone. Image source: DroneDJ.

Rural GP shortage sees patients turned away

After the departure of a local doctor, a Quirindi aged care will have to turn residents away, threatening the centre’s viability. In a bid to entice a new doctor to urgently fill a vacancy, a NSW town is offering three months free rent, with an ongoing rent cap, in a bid to save its community-run aged acre home, Eloura. The doctor who has left treated a quarter of its aged care residents, and the current medical practices are not taking new patients due to high demand. Without a replacement, the community-built aged care centre will have to turn away new residents, unless they already have access to a GP.

Walhallow Aboriginal Health Corporation, based in Quirindi, has three GPs and two registrars, who are split between the three towns of Coledale, Caroona, and Quirindi. The practice manager, Eileen Goode, said that they did not just need another doctor, they needed “probably another four”. Walhallow has been seeing whoever they can, whenever they can, but still could not keep up with demand. We have a lot of phone calls from non-registered patients saying ‘Can we come and see you? We can’t get into a doctor, our doctor’s not here any more – can you help us?’” Goode said.

“Unfortunately, a lot of those people we’ve actually had to turn away because we’re servicing around 5,000. One of the worst feelings in the world,” Goode says, “is turning someone away, sending them to a hospital who also doesn’t have a doctor.” Goode’s experience means she understands the leap it takes to move to the bush, and that dealing with a backlog of patients in a rural practice meant that GPs could quickly burn out.

To view The Guardian article NSW town offering free rent to attract a GP so aged care home can avoid BYO doctor policy in full click here.

View of Quirindi, NSW. Image source: Aussie Towns website.

WA E-cigarette ban proposal

The WA Cancer Council is leading a push to “revitalise tobacco control” in the state by proposing halving the number of retailers and banning the sale of e-cigarettes, among other measures. The organisation, which is proposing to halve smoking rates in the state by 2030, launched its plan at a two-day symposium of health workers and experts in Perth this week. WA Cancer Council president Ruth Shean said tobacco control in WA had benefited greatly from a strong commitment by the state government.

“However, there are more than 200,000 West Australians still smoking,” Dr Shean said. “Our goal is to halve smoking rates in WA by 2030, but it requires all tiers of government to work together to implement an evidence-based, comprehensive approach.” The WA organisation wants to ban the sale and advertising of e-cigarette devices and components and prohibit vaping in places where cigarette smoking is banned.

Samuel Stubbs, a tackling Indigenous smoking coordinator at the WA Aboriginal Health Council, supported the call to ban e-cigarettes. He said his organisation was seeing a troubling number of young people using the smoking devices. “It’s huge. It’s just taking off,” Mr Stubbs said. “That’s probably the biggest thing we’re facing at the moment, with a lot of questions being asked from community groups, schools — how we can come in and help educate the youth about the effects that e-cigarettes have.”

To view the ABC News article E-cigarette ban proposed as WA Cancer Council aims to halve smoking rates by 2030 in full click here.

WA Aboriginal Health Council’s Samuel Stubbs says vaping has taken off among his community. Photo: Alicia Bridges, ABC Radio Perth.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Sight Day 2022

The aim of World Sight Day 2022 tomorrow Thursday 13 October 2022 is to focus the world’s attention on the importance of eye care.​ The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) has confirmed it will continue the World Sight Day 2021 theme of Love Your Eyes for this year. The theme stresses the need for awareness about our eye health and the need for taking care of our eyesight. For this purpose, we must get our eyes tested and encourage those we know to go for it, as well.

As per data from IAPB people worldwide live with low vision and blindness. Out of these, 39 million are completely blind while 246 others have moderate to severe visual impairment. Most of these people (approx 90%) reside in low-income countries. However, 80% of visual impairment is avoidable, given that they are readily treatable or preventable. However, there is much that needs to be done to provide eye care facilty to each and every person in need of it. Spreading awareness of the eye related problems including blindness and vision impairment can help a lot in making eye care accessible to all. The World Health Organisation has identified eye health as critical to achieving its Sustainable Development Goals.

To find out more about World Sight Day 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hearing loss, a key health concern

The image in the feature tile is from a Microsoft News Centre article Hearing Australia dials up user-led innovation to support the HAPEE program in regional and outback communities published on 14 May 2021. The toddler in the image is a participant in the HAPEE program, which aims to improve the identification of ear and hearing problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Photo: Hearing Australia.

Hearing loss, a key health concern

Imagine if 43% of the children you knew had hearing loss. If children had burst eardrums, continuous glue ear, or repeated infections you would feel angry, annoyed, in despair, take to social media to demand action, and even write or visit your local MP to make it clear that “something must be done”. There would be inquiries, ministers pledging funding to address this huge number, prime ministers and the health minister would be hosting press conferences, elections could be won or lost on the outcomes of the actions.

Sadly, this 43% is the actual figure for Aboriginal children. One in two children, more in rural and remote communities, are affected by this. Neglected, overlooked, and often far from the mind of most Australians, save for small teams of audiologists and ENTs trying to address this real, life-destroying issue.

The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is widening. New data released by the Federal Government has revealed only four of the 17 targets under the national Closing the Gap agreement are on track to be met in the next decade.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said the results were both “disappointing” and “incredibly disturbing”. Child development is one of the targets in the plan, which the figures show are actually worsening — and hearing loss is a key health concern affecting so many Aboriginal children.

To read The West Australian article Jim Hungerford: Australia’s shameful inaction on Indigenous hearing loss in full click here.

Image source: Menzies School of Health Research.

ACCHO to manage Warruwi clinic

West Arnhem’s Warruwi community has taken control of primary health care in the region. The arrangement will see the Red Lily Health Board assume management of Warruwi Community Health Care, the primary health care clinic in Warruwi. The Red Lily Health board is comprised of representatives from of Warruwi and other First Nations groups, including Minjilang, Gunbalanya, Jabiru and surrounding homelands.

Welcoming the local decision making announcement, Red Lily Health Board chair Reuben Cooper said the structural change to healthcare services in the region was a positive step towards self-determination in West Arnhem. “The transition of Warruwi represents another major step for the people of West Arnhem, in having greater control over their own health and the related services,” he said.

“Red Lily has had great support from the wider ACCHO sector, including from AMSANT, Mala’la, Miwatj and the Katherine West and Sunrise Health Boards.” Mr Cooper said health service reform is necessary throughout other West Arnhem areas. “Work on the transition of the remaining West Arnhem health centres will continue to be a goal for the Board,” he said.

To read the National Indigenous News article Aboriginal healthcare management encourages self-determination in West Arnhem’s Warruwi community in full click here.

Warruwi Community Health Care has become the second West Arnhem healthcare provider to change management, with the Minjilang Primary Health Care Centre also changing to Red Lily management as of July 2021. Photo: Red Lily. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Increased life expectancy for NT men

A recently published article highlights the improved life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the NT over the past 20 years. It reflects consistent and concerted work of countless individuals and organisations that are contributing to the improved health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the NT, despite limited resources to do so.

One example of contributing to the positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s health in the NT is the evolution of the Darwin Men’s Inter‐Agency Network (DMIAN). DMIAN is a network of men from across the government and the non‐government organisation sector collaboratively advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in Darwin. DMIAN has enabled men’s health researchers to better understand and act on the wants and needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in the community from the perspective that matters most: their own.

There is still a long way to go with improving the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, which sits 15.4 years behind non‐Indigenous men. In addition, as the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men increases, so too does that of non‐Indigenous men. So if we are to close the gap, we cannot afford to lose momentum on targeted action, particularly that relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male health and wellbeing.

To view The Medical Journal of Australia article Improved life expectancy for Indigenous and non‐Indigenous people in the Northern Territory, 1999–2018: overall and by underlying cause of death in full click here.

Photo: Emilia Terzon, 105.7 ABC Darwin. Image source: ABC News.

Growing First Nations pharmacist workforce

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are drastically underrepresented in the pharmacy profession, accounting for just 0.3% of the pharmacist workforce. This disparity impacts patients, policy and pharmacists themselves – so what must be done to address it?

For those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are employed in the health sector, data show they are often paid less and in less recognised roles than their non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peers. This imbalance has a direct impact on health outcomes, with studies showing that ‘Indigenous patients have identified the absence of Indigenous workers as a barrier to the availability of care’.

The reasons for the lack of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in pharmacy are manifold, says Paul Gibson, Indigenous Allied Health Australia Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships, the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health professionals. ‘There are several factors which contribute to the underrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the profession, and within the health workforce collectively, including racism, systemic failings and the impacts of the social determinants on education, training and employment outcomes,’ he says.

To view the Australian Pharmacist article How to grow our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce in full click here.

PSA’s 2022 Pharmacist of the Year, Wiradjuri woman Professor Faye McMillan AM MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Plan to make dental care culturally safe

First Nations cultural safety will be given priority under a new plan to overhaul Australia’s dental care curriculum. Led by University of Melbourne dental school professor Julie Satur, the new plan will ensure graduate dentists have the appropriate skills to provide culturally safe oral health care and encourage more Indigenous students into the system.

Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health Indigenous health leadership coordinator Josh Cubillo said the new curriculum would challenge students to identify bias, assumptions and racism. “Cultural safety is a spirit of practice taking into account Indigenous peoples’ strong connections to Country,” he said. “Cultural safety leads to cultural respect and a feeling of security for the patient. Acknowledging Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing is the biggest step and this new curriculum is a start.”

Under the new curriculum all Australian dental programs will be designed to meet the specific needs of their local communities. Ms Satur said the new curriculum was overdue. “We know dental care is expensive and oral health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are significant. We also know that poor oral health has multiple effects on other aspects of health,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Dental care overhaul to place cultural safety at forefront of industry in full click here.

Image source: Armajun Aboriginal Health Service website.

Caring for youth with type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is being seen at younger and younger ages, especially among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Early intervention is essential to avoid serious complications, but a study undertaken in Northern and Central Australia has uncovered critical gaps. Work is underway to bring healthcare providers, patients and their families together to improve models of care.

Reporter Tegan Taylor spoke to Dr Renae Kirkham from the Menzies Institute in Darwin, and Emily who was diagnosed two years ago when she was 14, about some of the issues that come up post-diagnosis.

You can access a recording of the ABC Radio National interview Caring for Indigenous youth with type 2 diabetes and a transcript by clicking here.

Image: Getty Images. Image source: ABC Rational National website.

Getting eye health back on track

While COVID-19 continues to linger in our communities, the initial upheaval caused by its outbreak in In the aftermath of the pandemic, mivision checked in on programs on home soil, to see how they have fared over the last three years, and what plans they have for getting back on track.

When the pandemic began, keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people safe from the spread of COVID-19 became a main priority for Indigenous leaders and those who provide health services to remote parts of Australia. For the Fred Hollows Foundation, this meant the cessation of access to vulnerable communities for extended periods of time. This challenge greatly affected The Foundation’s work in remote communities, where over one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have never had an eye exam.

“In Australia, the pandemic has widened the gap in eye health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, adding to the already-large backlog of surgeries needed,” Ian Wishart, CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation, told mivision. When elective surgery re-commenced, The Foundation’s focus was on ensuring fair representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to ensure they were not at the back of the cataract surgery waitlists.

To read the mivision article Getting Back on Track: Humanitarian Eye Heath Post-Pandemic in full click here.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker assessing a patient. Photo: The Fred Hollows Foundation. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Palm Island cemetery one of busiest in nation

The image in the feature tile is of Palm Island cemetery. Image source: ABC News article ‘One of the busiest cemeteries in the nation’ fills up as chronic health complications linger on Palm Island, Wednesday 21 September 2022.

Palm Island cemetery one of busiest in nation

People on Palm Island cannot find room to bury their loved ones as increased deaths from suicide and chronic disease prematurely fill the island’s cemetery. Authorities are concerned people on the remote island in north Queensland missed out on essential care when healthcare workers were diverted to the COVID effort.

Palm Island Mayor Mislam Sam said it led to a rise in preventable deaths in the Indigenous community of roughly 3,000 people. “I have one of the busiest cemeteries in this nation,” he said. “Having at least 50 funerals a year, those kinds of stats are unheard of in communities of a similar size.” Mr Sam said there had been a funeral on the island near Townsville almost every week for the past two years. “When you’re constantly lining up and paying your respects, it’s taking a toll,” he said.

Like many Indigenous communities, residents on Palm Island are more than two-and-a-half times more susceptible to chronic diseases such as kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. NACCHO senior medical advisor Jason Agostino said treatment was made harder due to severe health staff shortages. “If it’s harder to get an appointment and it’s more difficult to see people that know you … then managing your chronic disease becomes more complicated,” Dr Agostino said. “So what we’re concerned about is people won’t have chronic health concerns picked up earlier and they might have them picked up later when they’re already a bit sick.”

To view the ABC News article ‘One of the busiest cemeteries in the nation’ fills up as chronic health complications linger on Palm Island in full click here.

Gavin Congoo says the frequency of funerals on Palm Island is taking a toll on the community. Photo: Jade Toomey. ABC News.

Jalngangurru Healing in Kimberleys

On the banks of the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley’s central desert, a group of women gather. They run their hands over the knee of a patient and sing an ancient song. Their meeting is part of a program called Jalngangurru Healing — a pilot project that works with cultural healers to treat patients in the outback Kimberley. The women’s practices are slow and meditative, and among the people of Fitzroy Crossing are said to be effective.

Jalngangurru Healing was developed in 2019, and was aimed at engaging cultural healers to help patients who were complaining of ailments beyond the reach of other health providers. While some families in the Kimberley have their own private access to traditional healers, Jalngangurru tries to “bridge the gap” for those who don’t. The project was put on pause during the COVID pandemic but has recently returned in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.

Work is also underway to develop a model on how the program can be rolled out across the Kimberley. The pilot is funded by the WA Primary Health Service and is supported by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service as a part of its suicide prevention strategy. It is auspiced by the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre with Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation and is being evaluated by the Nulungu Research Institute to improve access to services like bush medicine, songs, smoking, maternal health, and palliative care.

To view the ABC News article Jalngangurru Healing links cultural healers with patients in outback Kimberley in full click here.

The women tend to aches and pains, as well as mental illlness. Photo: Andrew Seabourne. ABC Kimberley.

Gel to improve chronic would care

The pigment that gives plums, grapes and berries their deep purple hue could be a key to better health care for people living in remote Australia. That’s the focus of University of Southern Queensland student Dinuki Seneviratne’s PhD project, which involves developing gel wound dressings using the anthocyanin pigment. Ms Seneviratne is investigating using anthocyanins as pH indicators, meaning the dressings would change colour to show whether a wound is healing or deteriorating.

She said the project aims to create better chronic wound care for people in remote areas, particularly Indigenous Australians, who may live far from health services. Several Australian studies have shown First Nations people are more likely to have amputations after suffering diabetes-related chronic wounds than those who are non-Indigenous. “Chronic wound care is an area of great concern when it comes to First Nations’ health,” Ms Seneviratne told AAP. “People often can’t achieve the same type of care they would get in a metropolitan area. I want to make a hydrogel dressing that is effective in healing and preventing chronic wounds and is self-applicable, so there’s no worry about coming into a clinic.”

To view the Bendigo Advertiser article Purple patch to help remote health care in full click here.

Uni student Dinuki Seneviratne wants to improve chronic wound care for people in remote areas. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Our Vision in Our Hands

The Indigenous Eye Health Unit at University of Melbourne refreshed its Advistory Board this year to have majority Indigenous membership chaired by the esteemed human rights leader Pat Anderson AO, who is an Alyawarre woman. It is one step in a move towards Indigenous leadership throughout the organisation. Another significant shift saw the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Conference Leadership Group that led the organisation and development of the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference.

This year’s conference saw a significant shift, with the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Conference Leadership Group (CLG). This transition should be seen in the wider context of the long, ongoing journey to expand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and self-determination into eye care. This shift in leadership is strongly reflected in this year’s theme, Our Vision in Our Hands, set by the CLG, which represents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and ownership of eye health.

This year’s theme is significant as it shows in clear and plain terms the centrality of self-determination to any effort to improve eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Moreover, this year’s theme is written from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective for the first time, which also indicates the internal shift in the leadership of the conference, to the all-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CLG.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Our Vision in Our Hands: eye health conference highlights shift to First Nations leadership in full click here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are three times more likely to suffer blindness than the general population. Image source: The Senior.

Mob invited to speak about medicines

NPS MedicineWise are inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to speak about medicines. This will inform the MedicineInsight system and tools that doctors and some ACCHOs can use to improve medicines use.

NPS would like to invite you to help them know what they need for these tools. Once they have made some new tools, they would like to ask you whether they should change them. This will mean online meetings to talk about what they should do. These meetings will happen between September and November.

Your comments will help improve the tools and ensure that they reflect the point of view of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The resources will be used for MedicineInsight and published online.

For attending the meetings NPS can give you a gift voucher of $50 per meeting, up to $200.

To express your interest in taking part in this project contact Shannon Barnes, MedicineInsight Program Governance Officer, using this email link.

You can find out more about MedicineInsight by clicking here and here.

Image source: The Senior.

Scholarships for women in health sector

Women & Leadership Australia is dedicated to supporting women leaders to achieve their leadership potential, and they are pleased to be able to offer scholarships of up to $5,000 for women working in the Health Sector. When it comes to career advancement, for many women, gender inequity is still a barrier. More than 8 in 10 of women leaders surveyed by Women & Leadership Australia were concerned about dealing with gender bias in the workplace, and more than 7 in 10 were concerned about their limited opportunities for promotion.

By supporting more women to step into leadership positions, Women & Leadership Australia hope to improve opportunities for women in the workplace. They have programs designed for women with limited leadership experience through to executive leaders and scholarships are available across four key levels.

You can access more information about the scholarship here and APPLY for a scholarship here.

Participants in Indigenous leadership course ACU. Image source: ACU website.

National Birthing on Country Conference

The Best Start To Life: a national gathering is an initiative of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. First Nations women, community advocates, scholars, researchers, health service providers and clinicians will attend the conference from Monday 10 to Wednesday 12 October 2022 to reflect on the achievements and challenges of returning maternity and childbirth services to First Nations communities.

It follows on from the first Birthing on Country meeting, held in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) 10 years ago, where the Australian Maternity Services Inter-jurisdictional Committee, in collaboration with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), held the first national workshop to progress Australian Government commitment to Birthing on Country.

The conference provides an opportunity for delegates from across Australia to showcase new research and ideas, and to network and invest in a shared vision to address inequities in birthing services for First Nations mothers and babies.

For more information about the conference click here.

Image from the Best Start to Life: a national gathering website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Alzheimer’s Day

Today is World Alzheimer’s day.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that impairs memory and other mental function. It is the most common form of dementia that causes memory loss and loss of cognitive abilities causing difficulties with daily life. Raising awareness for individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families is an important part of the work done by Alzheimer’s charities all over the world.

You can access Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and Dementia: A Review of the Research – A Report for Alzheimer’s Australia, Paper 41 October 2014, by Professor Leon Flicker and Kristen Holdsworth here.

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease click here. and for more information about world Alzheimer’s Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM. Image source: The Conversation, 10 June 2020.

Pat Turner attends Jobs and Skills Summit

NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM is one of 143 representatives attending the Australian Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 today in Canberra. The two-day event, being led by PM Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, will bring together business, unions, industry and state and territory political leaders for an intensive discussion about the economic challenges within Australia’s labour market.

Earlier last month Pat Turner gave the keynote address at the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) National Conference where she commented on workforce issues with the sector “Demand is outstripping supply of suitably skilled and job ready Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees. We are experiencing workforce shortages across the sector and this shortage is already impacting access to culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally.”

“Moreover, without an overall increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in the workforce, services will be competing for workers who are a limited resource across all health and care sectors. Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses, midwives and other clinical staff is critical to help ensure culturally safe care for our people. To effectively support growing demand, we need to leverage the current ACCHO workforce and draw from local communities to build a multi-disciplinary care workforce that includes both cultural and clinical experts.”

You can read The Sydney Morning Herald article The snap guide to the jobs and skills summit here.

Jobs and Skills Summit 2022. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: Financial Review.

Hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experience ear disease – fluid build ups, perforated eardrums and ear infections that can impair hearing – more frequently than most populations in the world. Rates are 8.5 times as highas for non-Indigenous children in Australia. Early childhood development related to speech, language and learning, relies heavily on being able to hear. The consequences of poor hearing can greatly disadvantage a child in the classroom, in the criminal justice system and cause delays in other medical diagnoses.

Caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have described how ear disease and hearing loss can easily be mistaken for misbehaviour.  Letitia Campbell, Aboriginal Research Officer, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University has found that a strong relationship of respect, collaboration and information-sharing between the caregiver and health professionals is a key component to successfully navigating ear disease.

To view The Conversation article More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have ear and hearing problems – and it’s easy to mistake for bad behaviour in full click here.

Audiologist Arveen Kaur tests the hearing of Jackson Wellington in Nowra. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Politics can’t be separated from health

A new discussion paper, Indigenous Nation Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing, available here, has been published this week by the Lowitja Institute in partnership with Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Led by Professor Daryle Rigney, a citizen of the Ngarrindjeri Nation, the paper demonstrates that self-governance and self-determination through nation building results in improved health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

According to Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, and Senior Policy Officer Jessica Szwarcbord “Those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector have always known that politics cannot be separated from health. Our peoples have a holistic, collectivist worldview. We understand that individual and collective health and social and emotional wellbeing relates to cultural, social, and political determinants and that health and wellbeing sit within a complex constellation of factors that cannot be separated. There are inextricable links between our collective and individual health and wellbeing, our governance, self-determination and nation building as First Nations Peoples.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Harnessing the power of nation building to strengthen Indigenous health and wellbeing in full click here.

Artwork by Tom Day, citizen of the Gunditjmara people, features on the cover of the new discussion paper, Indigenous National Building and the Political Determinants of Health and Wellbeing. Published with permission of Lowitja Institute in Croakey Health Media.

First new kidney treatment in 20 years

Lachlan Ross describes his more than a decade-long battle with kidney failure as “very long, and very hard.” The 54-year-old from the NT remote community of Lajamanu has been lucky enough to receive a kidney transplant, meaning he no longer has to receive thrice-weekly dialysis treatments. But, he said chronic kidney disease — which Indigenous residents of remote Central Australia are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from — has no quick fix. “You get [a] transplant doesn’t make you any better you know because you’ve still got the hard work of looking after yourself and the transplant and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand, they think a kidney is a cure, it’s not.”

Mr Ross now works as a mentor for others living with kidney disease at Darwin dialysis centre The Purple House, where Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health Malarndirri McCarthy announced yesterday that people with the disease would now have more affordable access to a drug which slows its progression. The drug dapagliflozin, also known as Forxiga, is already used to treat diabetes and heart failure, but will now also be available to people with kidney disease under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It would have previously cost renal patients more than $700 a year, with the expansion of the scheme meaning it will now cost $42.50 per script, or $6.80 for people with a concession card.

To view the ABC News article Kidney disease drug dapagliflozin added to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in full click here.

Lachlan Ross says remote Indigenous Territorians need to be educated about kidney disease. Photo: Dane Hirst, ABC News.

VACCHO supports Food Fight! Campaign

An Australia Institute poll released this week has found high levels of public support for bans on television advertising of unhealthy products and services, including junk foods, alcohol and gambling.  When Asherly Bradac asks her four young children how they would like to spend their pocket money, they respond with a resounding “slurpee”. When she asks where they want to go on a special outing, they say “McDonalds” or “Hungry Jacks”. These are likely familiar scenarios for many families inundated by advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.

Bradac is a keen supporter of the Food Fight! campaign, led by Cancer Council Victoria, to raise awareness of unhealthy food and drink advertising in places where children spend time.  The campaign is building community support for action to stop harmful advertising on government-owned assets such as public transport and within 500 metres of schools. According to Jane Martin, Executive Manager Obesity Program Cancer Council Victoria the campaign has garnered the support of more than 30 community, public health and other groups and over 10,000 individuals who have signed an online statement.

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) is one supports the Food Fight! Campaign, and through a bold project called FoodPATH (Food Policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health), has been working to empower Aboriginal communities across Victoria to determine the actions needed to promote good nutrition and healthier food environments in their local communities.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How this campaign is fighting to end unhealthy advertising to children in full click here.

New lease on life after Hep C cure

Debbie Robinson is enjoying a new lease on life after being cured of hepatitis C. Now the proud Worimi woman is urging other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get tested even if they have no symptoms. Ms Robinson completed the 8-12 week treatment program at Gandangara Health Service in Liverpool. “I had a blood test, the doctor told me I had hepatitis C and I felt numb.

“Then the doctor told me I had 10 years to live. I went to Gandangara and they helped me to access treatment right away,’’ Ms Robinson said. “If it wasn’t for Gandangara, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have done anything about it because I felt healthy. “I felt supported every step of the way at Gandangara. “I’m cured and have a long life ahead of me. I’m proud of myself and my family is proud of me too.’’

To view the South West Voice article Health district bid to eliminate hepatitis C in full click here.

Debbie Robinson. Image source: South West Voice.

WA emerging as hub for eye health

WA is rapidly becoming known as‎ a global centre for research excellence in ocular‎ disease, thanks to a ‘trifecta’ collaboration ‎between Lions Eye Institute (LEI), Curtin University,‎ and University of WA (UWA). To encourage more young optometrists to provide primary care in rural WA, where unmet eye care is particularly prevalent, a team led by Professor Garry Fitzpatrick, has developed a placement program that will see third year students spend significant time working in clinics and on research programs from ‘hub and spoke’ health care models in Broome and Geraldton. Students will gain experience working alongside optometrists and ophthalmologists on outreach programs, with local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and in other community allied health settings.

Professor Fitzpatrick hopes the placement program will provide students with a “very real experience” that increases their awareness of rural and remote eye care needs. He explained that evidence shows students who are exposed and trained in rural settings are more likely to return to practise in these settings.

To read the mivision article Western Australia: An Emerging Hub for Eye Health in full click here.

Image source: SBS NITV website.

TGA committee applications CLOSE Sunday

Applications for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s statutory advisory committee vacancies will CLOSE at 11:30 PM this Sunday 4 September 2022.

They are seeking applications from professionals with expertise in relevant medical or scientific fields or consumer health issues to support our function as a best practice regulator. Committee members contribute significantly towards the TGA’s regulatory functions by providing independent expert advice relating to the regulation of medicines, devices, vaccines and other products and substances.  The statutory advisory committees are:

  • Advisory Committee on Biologicals
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Vaccines
  • Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines
  • Advisory Committee on Medical Devices
  • Advisory Committee on Chemicals Scheduling
  • Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling

Committee members do not have full-time duties – some committees meet monthly, with others meeting up to three times a year.  Members are remunerated in accordance with the principles and rates set by the Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-time Public Office) Determination.

You can find further information regarding the statutory advisory committees on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website here along with the requirements for applying here and a flyer here. Further enquiries can be made by email here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Joint Council on CTG Co-Chair interviewed

The image in the feature tile is of Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Senator the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP in Adelaide today for the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. Image source: The Coalition of Peaks Facebook page, 26 August 2022.

Joint Council on CTG Co-Chair interviewed

The ALP has made a commitment to Close the Gap, a strategy aimed at closing the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people within a generation. The policy was refreshed under the Coalition government with a Joint Council set up to oversee it. The group is meeting with the responsible minister today, Linda Burney. The Council Co-Chair, Pat Turner, who is also the Lead Convener of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (the Coalition of Peak) and NACCHO CEO spoke with Sabra Lane on ABC Radio AM earlier this morning.

Ms Turner spoke about what needs to be prioritised to meet the CTG targets. Ms Turner said the priorities have to be:

  • shared decision-making partnerships between Aboriginal leadership and Torres Strait Islander leadership with government where they are negotiating for new arrangements, so we have to be at the table and have equal decision-making arrangements in place.
  • build and strengthen the community-controlled service sector to deliver services, because we do it much better than mainstream or anywhere else and we get better outcomes.
  • mainstream organisations like youth detention police services, hospitals etc. they have to become places that are more culturally respectful in their dealings and culturally safe places for Aboriginal and Torres State Islander people

You can listen to Pat Turner’s interview from 7:15 minutes of the recording here.

Earlier today the Coalition of Peaks issued a media release Joint Council on Closing the Gap meets in Adelaide, available here, outlining the ‘hefty agenda’ aimed to progress actions under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Members of Joint Council on Closing the Gap, Adelaide 26 August 2022. Image source: Coalition of Peaks Facebook page.

Voice won’t usurp CTG

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney has dismissed concerns enacting a voice to parliament would come at the expense of closing the gap outcomes. The Joint Council on Closing the Gap is meeting today for the first time since 2021. Ms Burney said closing gaps in key health and education areas between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians remained a top priority for the government. As debate continues on a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in the constitution, she said both were just as important.

“It is wrong to suggest that that agenda (of the voice) will be usurping the agenda of closing the gap. They are part and parcel of the same thing,” she said. “Unless First Nations people are living lives of choice and chance, just like other Australians, then we cannot ever hold our heads high in the space of Indigenous affairs.”

To view The Canberra Times article Voice won’t usurp closing gap: Burney in full click here.

Minister Linda Burney. Photo: Tanja Bruckner. Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Detention of kids in adult prisons must stop

The peak body of psychiatrists in Australia has called on the Federal and state and territory governments to stop the detention of children in adult prisons. In light of the recent events at Banksia Hill Youth Detention Centre (WA), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has staunchly opposed the detention of children in adult facilities and urged governments to prioritise the mental health of children detained in the juvenile system.

RANZCP President Vinay Lakra highlighted that research shows over 75% of young persons in detention have one or more psychiatric disorders that need treatment. “Youth detention is associated with increased risks of suicidality and psychiatric disorders including depression, substance use, and behavioural disorders. Detaining young children and putting their future at risk should be the absolute last resort.”

To view the RANZCP media release Psychiatrists say the detention of children in adult prisons must stop in full click here.

Photo: Matt Davidson. Image source: WAtoday.

500 new First Nations health workers

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said the Australian Government is progressing on a commitment to train 500 new First Nations health workers to fill gaps across the health system, ahead of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap in Adelaide today. National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is working hand-in-hand with the Australian Government to design the program to ensure it meets the needs of First Nations people, and the health services which care for them. The program will support up to 500 First Nations trainees to undertake Certificate III or IV accredited training to enable them to work in various health settings and deliver culturally appropriate care to First Nations peoples.

To view the joint media release from Minister Burney and Senator McCarthy Closing the Gap in Health click here.

Image source: Aboriginal Workforce Development webpage of CommunitySkills WA website.

Australia fails to meet trachoma targets

NT artist Lena Campbell watched her late grandmother go blind from the impacts of trachoma — now she is trying to stop the next generation from going down the same path. She lives in Titjikala, a town more than 100 kms south of Alice Springs that sits among the red sands of the Simpson Desert, and the dust is a normal part of daily life. But dusty conditions are a common contributor to the preventable eye-disease trachoma.

Trachoma is caused by infection with the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, which is spread easily through personal contact, sharing bedding and even from flies that have picked it up. Most days, kids living in Titjikala aged from two to 14 years run around the basketball court — sharing hula hoops and kicking the footy around. Ms Campbell calls the kids to a big watering trough, where they lather up with soap and splash their faces with water. “If the parents are not here, I look after them to stay clean,” she explains. “Especially after school, the kids come out here and play and we usually ask them to wash their hands and faces in case of trachoma, in case of sore eyes.”

Australia is the highest-income country to still have endemic trachoma, according to the World Health Organization. Environmental factors such as housing conditions play a major part in countering this blinding disease. Ms Campbell is considered one of the “stronger ladies” in her community for speaking up for residents. She’s upset that trachoma still exists in Indigenous communities like hers even though cities were able to eradicate the disease 100 years ago.

To read the ABC News article Trachoma still exists in remote Indigenous communities as Australia fails to meet eradication targets in full click here.

Titjikala kids are learning how to keep their eyes – and faces – clean. Photo: Stephanie Boltje, ABC News.

Thrive by Five backs calls for funding guarantee

Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative supports calls made by the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), for the Federal Government to reinstate funding for Indigenous-led child and family centres across Australia. The Childcare Deserts and Oasis Report, recently completed by the Mitchell Institute, highlights that families located in areas defined as inner regional (42.6%), outer regional (62.6 %), remote (87.5%), and outer remote (79.9%) are more likely to be living in a childcare desert compared to families living in major cities. This lack of early learning and care is exacerbated in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which is contributing to poorer outcomes for children.

To view the Minderoo Foundation media release Thrive by Five backs call to guarantee funding for Indigenous-led early learning and childcare click here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Wear it Purple Day

Wear It Purple strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people, with a focus on four key areas:

Awareness – We provide support and resources for Schools, Universities, Gender & Sexuality Alliances (GSA’s) and Youth Organisations to assist them in creating inclusive experiences for rainbow young people. We act as a source of resources to support the effective delivery of Wear It Purple Day in Schools, Universities, Workplaces and the broader community.

Opportunity – We provide meaningful opportunities for rainbow young people to develop their skills, expand their network and contribute to the inclusivity of their communities.

Environment – We provide supportive and safe spaces (digital and physical) and contribute to a world where young rainbow people feel proud of who they are.

Collaboration – We collaborate and unite with other organisations to further the inclusion of rainbow young people. Through partnerships, we support the effective delivery of Wear It Purple Day in Schools, Universities, Workplaces and the broader community.

An Australian Human Rights Commission article Brotherboys, Sistergirls and LGBT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, available here, describes how Brotherboys, Sistergirls and other LGBT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience a number of significant and intersecting points of discrimination and marginalisation in Australia.

For more information about Wear it Purple Day click here.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

The image in the feature tile is of the super talented artist 23 year old Dion ‘Cheeky Dog’ Beasley who is profoundly deaf and has Muscular Dystrophy. Image is from ICTVPLAY – Indigenous community videos on demand, 2014.

Getting NDIS funding only half the battle

Some NDIS participants worry if they don’t spend their annual funds, they won’t be offered the same support in their next plan – and it’s harder for some to use what they’ve been allocated. Around 4.5 million Australians live with disability but less than 13% of them are covered by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Getting into the scheme is one thing. But many NDIS participants find using their funding is yet another.

Research indicates a major issue in terms of the fairness of the scheme is less in the allocation of funding but more about whether people are able to spend their funding. Some groups – particularly people living in regional or remote areas or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – are less able to use their budgets. The research compared plan size and spending for participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and according to where people live, taking into consideration factors such as age to ensure comparisons were “like with like”.

The research found participants from culturally and linguistic diverse backgrounds backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people received larger plans than other NDIS participants. But they spent a similar amount, despite having bigger budgets. This resulted in lower levels of utilisation. Modelling showed increasing the use of support coordinators could increase plan utilisation and reduce inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse participants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those with psychosocial disabilities.

The ConversationTo view the UNSW Sydney Newsroom opinion piece ‘Use it or lose it’ – getting NDIS funding is only half the battle for participants by Helen Dickinson, Professor, Public Service Research, UNSW Sydney and George Disney, Research Fellow, Social Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne click here.

Xtremecare Australia founders William and Marjorie Tatipata with their son, Will. Image source: Hireup website.

Ear disease mistaken for misbehaviour

New research from Western Sydney University has revealed living with childhood ear disease and hearing loss can substantially impact the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, with the symptoms of Otitis Media often difficult to identify and mistaken for misbehaviour. The study focused on the experiences of caregivers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with Otitis Media, revealing the barriers and challenges they face in accessing effective treatment.

Lead author, Letitia Campbell, a community-based Aboriginal Research Officer with Western Sydney University’s School of Medicine, says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a high burden of Otitis Media in childhood, and she is determined to improve how families can manage the condition and receive better healthcare. “Living with chronic ear disease and its consequences on hearing, language development, school performance and behaviour is a common reality for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, with the impact of hearing loss in children having long lasting effects on their wellbeing and development,” said Ms Campbell. “Caregivers have described how easy it is to mistake ear disease for misbehaviour in a child, and how distressing this is to the children who feel they are always getting into trouble for ‘not listening’ or talking too loudly when there is a genuine underlying medical reason.”

The view The National Tribune article Symptoms of childhood ear disease and hearing loss mistaken for misbehaviour, new study finds in full click here.

Dr Kelvin Kong. Photo: Simone De Peak. Image source: RACGP news GP.

Kidney replacements more than double

The number of Australians receiving kidney replacement therapy has more than doubled over the past two decades, new data shows. Kidney replacement therapy numbers jumped from 11,700 to 27,700 from 2000 to 2020, showing chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a significant health issue, particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. CKD is defined as the presence of impaired or reduced kidney function lasting at least three months, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report. An estimated 1.7 million Australians are living with early signs of kidney disease, however, many are unaware due to its asymptomatic nature.

AIHW data shows that more than half (14,600) of those receiving kidney replacement therapy were on dialysis and the remainder (13,100) had functioning kidney transplants that required ongoing follow up care. Approximately 2,500 Indigenous Australians with kidney failure received kidney replacement therapy in 2020, a rate of 284 per 100,000, with more than 1 in 4 receiving treatment close to home.

After living with diabetes for 20 years, Ina, an Aboriginal artist from Central Australia, was diagnosed with kidney failure and needed dialysis. She was forced to relocate from a remote are to Adelaide for treatment, which has been the most difficult thing about living with kidney disease. “It’s very important and pretty difficult to manage. Some of us, some of our families, lose us on this machine,” she said.

To view the Daily Mail Australia article Kidney replacement therapy on the rise in full click here. You can also view the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) media release Recipients of kidney replacement therapy more than doubles over 20 years here.

Darwin dialysis patient Jacqueline Amagula would like to be waitlisted for a kidney transplant. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

Child vax rates falling behind

First Nations people are being urged to get their COVID-19 vaccine and booster by the country’s peak Indigenous health organisation, NACCHO. The rate of people over 16 who have had two vaccine does sits at nearly 82%. However, only 55% have had a third does and just 30% of eligible people have had their fourth shot.

Earlier this morning Medical Adviser for NACCHO, Dr Jason Agostino, spoke on Koori Radio 93.7FM about how children’s vaccination rates are falling behind “in children coverage has been quite poor and only about one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids aged 5 to 11 have received any vaccine and only about one in five are fully vaccinated and that hasn’t changed much in the last four, six months.” NACCHO says mob may be eligible for new antiviral medications and should talk to their doctor.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

PHC lessons from overseas

New federal Health Minister Mark Butler says primary care is “in worse shape than it’s been in the entire Medicare era” and has made it his top health priority. Primary care is any first point of contact with the health system, such as a GP clinic, dentist, or community pharmacy, but the government is likely to focus on GP clinics. A new taskforce will advise the minister on how to spend $750 million to improve access, chronic disease management, and affordability. The taskforce has until Christmas to come up with a plan, which is a big ask given where the system is now. It has been recommended that Australia should take on lessons from what’s worked overseas to reform general practice funding.

Almost half of Australians have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma or depression. More than half of Australians over 65 have two or more. Those proportions have been rising fast in recent decades. To help patients manage these conditions, GPs need ongoing relationships with patients (known as continuity of care), and a team working with them by providing routine care, outreach, coaching, and advice. That lets GPs spend more of their time working with the most complex patients, resulting in better care and outcomes. The National Rural Health Alliance has proposed the sector move towards a model with similarities to Aboriginal-controlled clinics and community health providers.

To view the on-line Viw Magazine article General practices are struggling. Here are 5 lessons from overseas to reform the funding system in full click here.

Image sources: Indigenous Access Program for health professionals webpage Services Australia.

Awabakal regional vax clinic IT lessons

At a time when most IT professionals retreated to isolated workplaces, local experts Smikteck found a unique way to assist others during COVID-19. The Cardiff business hit the road to support Aboriginal health care provider Awabakal at vaccination clinics in regional areas. Now, 12 months on, they are ready to share their lessons learnt with other medical services. Smikteck director Michael Stafford admitted the pandemic changed the way health care was provided and IT was fundamental to that adjustment. “Lots of industries had to pivot how they provided their services,” he said. “Medical and health services were no exception.”

Instead of trying to troubleshoot issues from a help desk, the Smikteck team joined forces with the health professionals and became an integral part of the clinic set up and service delivery. “Awabakal Ltd came to us with a challenge,” Mr Stafford said. “They provide medical services to an Aboriginal community of more than 8,000 patients. So, the solution was to provide pop-up vaccination clinics in local communities throughout the Hunter. But, to do this, they needed to have the same, secure technology available as a normal medical clinic – and system downtime needed to be minimal.”

To view the Newcastle Weekly article IT helps build community health in full click here.

Smikteck director Michael Stafford and Awabakal Ltd chief operations officer Scott Adams. Image source: Newcastle Weekly.

Cultural safety training for optometrists

Last year, Optometry Australia offered 100 members the opportunity to undertake cultural safety education through Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA). Following the incredible interest they received they have purchased access to IAHA’s Cultural Responsiveness Training (Levels 1 and 2), available for free to all members via the Optometry Australia Institute of Excellence. IAHA’s cultural safety training uses an evidence-based Cultural Responsiveness Framework. Levels 1 and 2 are action-oriented and highly interactive, focusing on strength-based outcomes through critical self-reflective practice.

In 2022, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards (except Medical, Nursing and Midwifery and Psychology) released a revised Code of Conduct which took effect on 29 June. The revised Code includes a new section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety, requiring that all optometrists provide culturally safe and sensitive practice for all communities.

To view the Optometry Australia article Cultural responsiveness training now available for all Optometry Australia members article in full click here.

Optometrist Kerryn Hart does an eye examination on Andrew Toby who needed glasses. Andrew, a driver for the Anyinginyi Allied Health Clinic, Tennant Creek, collects patients to bring them to the clinic. Image source: Optometry Australia.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Vanuatu eliminates trachoma

The image in the feature tile if from the World Health Organization’s news release Vanuatu leads the way for Pacific elimination of trachoma – the world’s biggest infectious cause of blindness published on 12 August 2022.

Vanuatu eliminates trachoma

The Fred Hollows Foundation has welcomed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) confirmation that Vanuatu has ended trachoma as a public health problem, making it the first Pacific island nation to eliminate the disease. The foundation, with the support of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, The UK Government’s The Commonwealth Fund and the Australian Government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) funding, has helped drive the final push to eliminate the infectious disease.

It comes as Australian health authorities struggle to stamp out trachoma in Indigenous communities, with a 2020 elimination target pushed out to 2022 due to COVID, and then again to 2025. Australia remains the only developed nation with endemic trachoma. According to Fred Hollows, the disease thrives in areas where drinking water and sanitation is poor. It is easily spread through personal contact and by flies that have been in contact with people’s eyes or noses. It disproportionately affects mothers and children.

Fred Hollows CEO Mr Ian Wishart congratulated Vanuatu for declaring trachoma is no longer a public health problem. It’s the second neglected tropical disease eliminated from the archipelago nation of 83 islands, after lymphatic filariasis in 2016.

To read the Insight News article Vanuatu first Pacific island nation to eliminate trachoma in full click here.

Dr Anasaini Cama, Fred Hollows Pacific trachoma expert, assessing a child’s eye health. PHoto: Shea Flynn, RTI International. Image source: Insight News.

47 years since start of land rights movement

The historically significant gesture of then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pouring a handful of red soil into the hands of senior Gurindji man, Vincent Lingiari on 16 August 1975, symbolised the legal transfer of more than 3,000 square kms of the Wave Hill cattle station back to the Gurindji people. It also meant the Gurindji became the first Aboriginal community to have land returned to them by the Commonwealth Government and would be a turning point – the start of the Aboriginal land rights movement for the rest of Indigenous Australia, that continues even today.

“Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever,” Gough Whitlam said.

Almost 56 years ago on the 23 August, the Gurindji people of the NT made their name across Australia with the 1966 Wave Hill Walk-Off. A landmark event that inspired national change: equal wages for Aboriginal workers, as well as a new Land Rights Act. Many people know a small part of the walk-off story because of the song From Little Things, Big Things Grow about 200 stockmen, house servants and their families who walked off Wave Hill Station on 23 August 1966, in protest at appalling pay and living conditions. But what is not widely known is that the walk-off followed more than 80 years of massacres and killings, stolen children and other abuses by early colonists.

You can read more about the Wave Hill Walk-Off and the transfer of leasehold title to the Gurindji on the National Archives of Australia website here.

Prime Minister Whitlam pouring a handful of earth back into the hand of Gurindji elder and traditional landowner Vincent Lingiari – marking the return of his people’s is traditional lands. Photo: Mervyn Bishop. Image source: Head On Foundation.

$3m to address family violence in Alice Springs

Foot patrols and women’s support services will be among programs funded under a Federal Government deal to address high family and domestic violence rates in Alice Springs. Announced on Wednesday, the $3 million injection of funding to address domestic and family violence hopes to address disproportionately high levels of abuse across the NT. Among organisations to receive funding is the Tangentyere Council Aboriginal Corporation, which will expand patrol activities and increase support services through its Women’s Family Safety Group.

“One woman dies every ten days at the hands of her former or current partner in Australia. This is unacceptable,” Federal Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said. “We know Indigenous women are more likely to experience family and domestic violence – more than 34 times likely. We’re committed as a whole-of-government to reducing this scourge.” The provisions intend to expand the reach of local services, support victims and increase work to prevent reoffending in central Australia. Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation will similarly expand its rollout of women’s support services.

Federal Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney self-determination played a key role in addressing domestic violence “As well as intervention and responding to incidents, (the funding) will empower leaders in the community to address some of the underlying factors that lead to violence and unlawful behaviour, and support women to take a leading role in keeping the community safe,” she said.

To read the National Indigenous Times article Federal cash injection for street patrols, safety services to tackle Alice Springs domestic violence in full click here.

Alice Springs. Photo: Neda Vanovac. Image source: ABC News.

Is vaping a threat to public health?

With their alluring scent and brightly coloured packaging e-cigarettes or vapes have become increasingly popular with young people but their addictive nature and a lack of understanding about what’s really in them continues to spark concern. Megan Varlow, Director Cancer Control Policy at Cancer Council Australia, says e-cigarettes are deliberately made in a way that is attractive, marketed and made in flavours and designs that are interesting and engaging for younger people.

Research show the vast majority of Australians are supportive of action to better regulate the usage of e-cigarettes. Unlawful over the counter availability is threatening to undo decades of public health success in Australia. You can listen to the SBS News – News in Depth podcast Is vaping a threat to public health? in full here.

Image source: News Medical Life Sciences.

Pharmacist of the Year takes on UTS role

Along with winning Pharmacist of the Year at PSA’s Excellence Awards, Faye McMillan MPS was recently appointed Professor of Indigenous Health at Sydney’s University of Technology (UTS). But growing up in remote NSW, Wiradjuri woman Associate Professor Faye McMillan AM MPS never expected a career in pharmacy – let alone becoming the first Aboriginal registered pharmacist. Working as a pharmacy assistant in the local pharmacy in Trangie, about 75 kms from Dubbo in central west NSW, Faye McMillan enjoyed interacting with the local community. ‘People would come in just to talk about how their day was going or if something significant had happened in the town,’ she says. ‘It really was such a wonderful place to be.’

Encouraged by the pharmacist she worked with, A/Prof McMillan became a dispensary technician before deciding to study pharmacy as a mature-aged student at 27.  After graduating in 2001, A/Prof McMillan did her intern year at a community pharmacy in Wagga Wagga. She became fully registered in 2002, unknowingly becoming the first Aboriginal person in Australia to do so. ‘For me personally, I didn’t think about it … But when it was pointed out to me, I felt a sense of obligation as part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to take it on,’ she says.

To read the Australian Pharmacist article New beginnings for PSA’s Pharmacist of the Year in full click here.

Pharmacist of the Year Associate Professor Faye McMillan MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Final chance to win $350 voucher

Australian Indigenous HealthINfoNet is conducting an online survey designed to gather feedback from users of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet as part of its continual improvement. The survey will take about 5-10 minutes to complete. Survey responses will remain anonymous. Choosing to answer the survey questions indicates your informed consent to participate. You can stop the survey at any time by closing the computer window in which the survey appears.

At the end of the survey, you have the option to submit an entry for a prize draw for a $350 Coles Group & Myer gift voucher. The winner’s name will be drawn at random and they will be contacted by phone or email after the survey closes. Your contact details will not be linked to your survey responses. Survey respondents who enter the prize draw within its first week will automatically be entered twice.

For your final chance to win a $350 Coles-Myer voucher, take the HealthInfoNet’s 2022 User Survey by the end of this week. The survey is open until 11.59pm (AWST) Sunday 21 August 2022.

Click here to start the survey.

Extent of WA homelessness revealed

New data shows Aboriginal people remain radically over-represented in WA’s homeless population. The figures also show a sharp rise in the number of people using government-funded homelessness services in the state, particularly in the north. Compiled by the University of WA Centre for Social Impact, the Ending Homelessness in WA 2022 report provides an overview of homelessness in WA, a decade of data held by community agencies, and studies of the initiatives and programs aimed at ending homelessness in the state.

Centre director Paul Flatau said the data showed a significant over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA’s homeless population. “While making up only 3.1% of the general population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders form 29.1% of the homeless population in the Census,” he said. “Aboriginal people make up an even higher proportion of those receiving support form homeless services. The population of people experiencing homelessness in WA is characterised by an over-representation of Aboriginal people who have experienced family or domestic violence, people with mental health issues, young people, and people with substance use issues.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article New report reveals extent of Indigenous WA homelessness crisis in full click here.

The Fremantle Homeless camp is providing a sense of community and security. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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