NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

In an article in the ABC News, outback doctors warn that the COVID-19 Delta variant makes a regional outbreak even more dangerous. They said they do not have enough staff, let alone ventilators, to cope with a Delta outbreak.

NACCHO medical adviser, Dr Jason Agostino, said to ABC News that talk of abandoning any attempt to control COVID-19 would be dangerous.

“In remote Australia and across all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, we only have around 22 per cent of people [who] have received a first dose of any vaccine, and that’s much lower than in the non-Indigenous population.

“We know that COVID-19 causes more serious disease in people with chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes and heart disease and [that] it spreads easily among crowded houses.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have these chronic diseases from younger ages and also live in crowded houses.

Dr Agostino agreed it was important for Australia to find vaccines that were safe for Indigenous children and said that, until a much higher rate of vaccination had been achieved, “lockdowns are going to be a way of life”.

You can view the article in ABC News here.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times. Feature tile image credit of University of Queensland website.

 

Successful place-based pandemic approach

Pandemics such as COVID-19 are a serious public health risk for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet primary healthcare systems are not well resourced to respond to such urgent events. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal government advisory group recommended a rapid, tailored Indigenous response to prevent predicted high morbidity and mortality rates. This paper examines the efforts of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny), which in the absence of dedicated funding, pivoted its operations in response to COVID-19.

Gurriny is the only primary healthcare service in the discrete Indigenous community of Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. They responded to COVID-19 by leading with local solutions to keep Yarrabah safe. Four key strategies were implemented: managing the health service operations, realigning services, educating and supporting community, and working across agencies.

The success of the locally led, holistic, comprehensive and culturally safe response of Gurriny suggests that such tailored place-based approaches to pandemics (and other health issues) are appropriate, but require dedicated resourcing.

You can read the paper in the DocWire News here.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service.

 

Eye health inequity

A recent study published on Science Direct provides a critical realist analysis of eye health inequity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The prevalence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is three times greater than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to a greater risk of blindness from treatable and preventable ocular conditions, most prominently cataract and diabetic retinopathy. In rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, blindness prevalence is higher, and ocular treatment coverage and uptake are lower. In collaboration with Aboriginal Community Based Researchers, this study explored complex contingent factors that shape access to eye health services among rural and remote Aboriginal Australians living with diabetes.

The paper highlighted that:

  • Sociocultural contingencies shape eye health outcomes among Aboriginal Australians.
  • Linguistic, economic, and cultural marginalisation underpin eye health inequity.
  • Differences between Western biomedical and Aboriginal cultural norms form tensions.
  • Supporting linguistic and cultural sovereignty in clinical spaces is needed.
  • Cultural responsivity training and an expanded Aboriginal health workforce are key.

Read the full study in Science Direct here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

 

Bridging the Gap in homeownership

Owning your own home has long been part of the Aussie dream, however for some indigenous Australians this pursuit is difficult to achieve for a number of economic, social and cultural reasons.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 38 per cent of indigenous people owned their own home compared to two-thirds of non-indigenous Australians.

According to AIHW, “not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation – all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage”.

Acknowledging this fact, Nicheliving has established a new division called Kambarang, created to bridge the gap for indigenous people and their communities, providing access to affordable housing opportunities to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

“The unit’s main goal is to support homeownership through providing open discussions, cultural support, credit assistance, communication and process support, affordable housing options, loan support and an end-to-end experience, including settlement,” said Nicheliving Managing Director Ronnie Michel-Elhaj.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Nicheliving - Willetton

Nicheliving – Willetton. Image credit: Julius Pang via The West Australian.

 

NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap

The NSW 2021-2022 Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap is focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The starting point in 2021-22 is to focus on the five Priority Reform areas as they know that transforming the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is key to creating positive change. They have also identified a few focus areas under each Priority Reform.

They are working in partnership to bring together expertise from across Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to develop further detailed and ambitious actions. To do this, they need your voice. Get involved and tell them what will make the biggest difference to you and your communities here.

You can view the 2021-22 NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap here.
Visit the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website for more information here.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

Winnunga Newsletter

The Winnunga Newsletter June – July 2021 edition is now available here.

Winnunga News June-July 2021 banner

Red socks for kidney support

Kidney Health Australia’s Red Socks Appeal is back and better than ever. Grab your friends, family, your work buddies, even your beloved pooch and either join Kidney Health Australia on one of their Red Socks Walks, set yourself a challenge or buy yourself a pair of red socks to show people living with kidney disease you care.

Wondering what Red Socks have to do with kidney disease? People on dialysis are strapped to a machine for 60 hours a month on average while it cleans their blood. While having dialysis treatment they often get cold, especially their feet. This is why Kidney Health Australia is asking you to go bold this October and wear Red Socks to show people living with kidney disease that you care.

Read more about the appeal and how you can show your support here.

Kidney Health Australia Red Sock Appeal

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Save the Date

Connecting to Country grants program now open

The Connecting to Country grants program is now open, providing support to culture and arts projects and initiatives that renew links between community, Country and culture.

Aboriginal people and organisations can apply for up to $25,000 for activities on-Country that encourage sharing of cultural knowledge and skills between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities.

Applications close: 26 August 2021.
For more information visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website here.

Connecting to Country program image.

Connecting to Country program image.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob urged to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'ATSI health experts urge mob to get vaccinated' photo of Aboriginal man getting the vaccine

Mob urged to get vaccinated

With Sydney’s eastern suburbs outbreak numbers growing by the day and new cases confirmed in Victoria, Aboriginal leaders are encouraging communities to get vaccinated. As of 11am this morning (Wednesday 14 July 2021), the NSW Government confirmed a total of 99 new cases within 24 hours, with the source of 36 cases currently unknown. In response to rising numbers, the NSW Government has extended the current greater Sydney lockdown until 30 July 2021.

There have been 825 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state since 17 June 2021, when the first case of the cluster was detected in Bondi. On 4 June 2021, the Morrison Government expanded COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to include all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged over 16 years.

Aboriginal health experts say that it’s critical that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. “Please get your COVID-19 shots! It’s not just important for us as individuals but it’s important for all members of our families and our communities,” said Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. “The more people [that] have the vaccination, the safer we will be.”

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

Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Dr Dawn Casey Deputy CEO NACCHO receiving COVID-19 vaccine. Feature tile image Cecil Phillips, 62, receiving his AstraZeneca vaccine, at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

New Indigenous mental health website

A new website has been set up to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health, with information on social and emotional wellbeing, country, spirituality and homelessness. The Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse will also house scientific research about connection to family and kinship, the criminal justice system, child protection, nutrition and mental health services.

This will help service providers develop culturally safe holistic programs about physical, social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing for individuals and communities. “Indigenous adults experience higher rates of psychological distress and suicide than other Australians,” Indigenous health expert Fadwa Al-Yaman said. “It’s vital to improve the evidence base available on Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention.”

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare portal was developed with Indigenous mental health experts and policymakers in response to the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. “Our communities continue to experience high rates of suicide,” Bardi woman, psychologist and Indigenous suicide prevention expert Pat Dudgeon said. “The Clearinghouse will contribute to an evidence base to ensure information that is current, safe, and relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is accessible.”

To view the Magnet News article in full click here and to access the AIHW Indigenous Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse click here.

Aboriginal dot painting by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi) - on AIHW Indigenous Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Clearinghouse, circle with wedges mustard, light brown, white, black, surrounded by white footprints & border with spaced circles made up of 3 concentric circles

The Journey toward Healing by Linda Huddleston (Nungingi). Image source: AIHW website.

Identifying large baby risk

WA diabetes researchers aiming to simplify gestational diabetes screening have discovered that a blood test early in pregnancy can help identify Aboriginal women at risk of having large babies. Research leader Associate Professor Julia Marley, from the Rural Clinical School of WA, said the discovery was made through the ORCHID Study, which aims to simplify screening for high blood glucose levels in pregnancy.

“Our recently-published research shows the risk of having a large baby is twice as high in women with an early HbA1c above the normal range compared to women who were in the normal range and did not develop gestational diabetes later in pregnancy. These mums with high HbA1c results likely had prediabetes going into pregnancy,” said Associate Professor Marley. “Almost 3 in 4 of them went on to have a positive Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – also known as the sugar drink test – which is the current standard way to test for gestational diabetes, later in pregnancy. Having a large baby can cause birth complications for mum and these larger infants are more likely to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes in later life, so if we can detect high blood sugar levels using an early pregnancy HbA1c test, we have a chance of reducing that risk.”

For further information head to the Diabetes Research WA website here and to access the media release click here.banner text 'Diabetes Research WA' - blue vector bird with long green tail between words Diabetes Research & WA

Perinatal mental health project

Western Sydney University, in partnership with Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Perinatal Child Youth Mental Health Service, has been awarded $650,000 from the Australian Government’s Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program to develop a national resource to support young mother’s mental health.

The project will address perinatal mental health by creating an online and interactive learning resource that focuses on young mothers, particularly those at higher risk of mental health conditions, such as Indigenous, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, young women who have been in out-of-home-care and those experiencing poor mental health in adolescence.

Project lead Dr Arianne Reis, from the University’s School of Health Sciences and Translational Health Research Institute, said the project importantly represents a collaborative and tailored approach to improving the mental health of mothers, including those most vulnerable in our communities. “We’re very pleased about the opportunity to gather together expertise from researchers, online teaching and technology specialists, clinicians, community practitioners, and young mothers from all walks of life to develop a resource that truly speaks to their needs and wants,” said Dr Reis.

To view the Western Sydney University media release in full click here.

Aboriginal baby sitting on chest of mother lying down smiling at baby

Image source: COPE Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.

Caring for Spirit dementia training

Growing old well is something we all want for our communities. What we know, is that growing old well is influenced by many things that happen throughout our lives. Getting dementia can have an effect on our mind, body and spirit.

The Aboriginal Health and Ageing Program at NeuRA are excited to let you know that the Caring for Spirit online dementia education and training resources are now live and available. Caring for Spirit has been co-designed with the Koori Growing Old Well Study, partners and wider networks, with funding support from the Department of Health Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund.

The learning modules, designed to make learning fun, are now available to be accessed via the Caring for Spirit website here.

For those who missed the launch and are interested in watching the presentations, you can access a link to a recording of the launch here.banner text 'caring for spirit ATSI online dementia education' & circle containing Aboriginal dot painting of circle green, black, blue, red - 4 concentric circles with lines going either side as like water flowing passed the circle

On Country medical treatment

A new $19.1 million regional WA residential care facility will carry state-of-the-art technology and allow people to stay on Country for medical treatment. The new centre has been named Gnullingoo Mia from the Inggarda words translating together to ‘our home’,

A spokesperson for the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) said their Midwest team consulted with senior Inggarda Elders and the Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre to pick the facility’s name. WACHS Regional Director Karen Street said the name highlights the close connection the community feels to the land and the region.

The 38-bed facility is located at the Carnarvon Health Campus and is slated for completion in late 2021. It will allow local people with greater care needs to stay on Country in residential accommodation and will cater to a wide range of people who require permanent and respite care and are unable to live independently at home. The beds at Gnullingoo Mia will meet a rising demand for aged and palliative care services in the Gascoyne area and are designed to facilitate telehealth initiatives to give residents greater access to specialists in Perth.

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

aerial view of new Carnarvon residential care facility being built

The new Carnarvon residential care facility aims to be culturally welcoming. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

WA Trachoma Storybook

The Western Australian trachoma storybook showcases the health promotion and environmental health projects in remote communities to prevent and reduce trachoma. It is an output of the Environmental Health Trachoma Project. which aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote WA. Australia is the only developed country that has endemic trachoma. Almost all cases of trachoma are detected in remote Aboriginal communities. This first edition of the Western Australian trachoma storybook was funded by the WA Country Health Service and launched in Geraldton, WA.

To access The West Australian Storybook – Celebrating & Sharing Good News Stories click here.close up photo of Aboriginal man's mouth, nose & bloodshot eyes - text 'The WA Trachoma Storybook - Celebrating & Sharing Good News Stories'

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

National Pyjama Day

The Pyjama Foundation was founded in 2004 to give children in foster care the opportunity to change the direction of their lives with learning, life skills, and confidence. Alarmed at the statistics highlighting poor literacy and numeracy levels of children in care, and how this contributes to a lifetime of disadvantage, founder Bronwyn Sheehan made the decision to offer hope and a more positive outlook for these children.

Through a simple program known as the Love of Learning Program, volunteers called Pyjama Angels are matched with a child in care, and spend just one hour a week focusing on learning based activities.

National Pyjama Day is all about wearing your favourite pyjamas to work or school (and everywhere in-between!) to help raise funds and awareness for children in foster care. This year, National Pyjama Day falls on Friday 23 July 2021 but you are welcome to host your day anytime throughout July-September. The aim of the day is to raise as much funds as possible for The Pyjama Foundation’s Love of Learning Program which is offered to children in foster care – Australia’s lowest performing educational group.

When you register your organisation for Pyjama Day, you will receive a FREE host kit – including: posters, balloons, bunting, stickers and so much more! It doesn’t cost a cent to register; we just ask that all organisations raise funds (every cent counts!).

For more information about National Pyjama Day click here. You can view a short video featuring a participant of Love of Learning Program below.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

feature tile text "Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Care for Family" - 'Northern Land Council' - skyview of Santa Teresa NT

Protecting remote NT communities from COVID-19

Over the weekend the NT Government declared that Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield local government areas would enter a full lockdown for 48 hours effective from 1pm on Sunday 27 June 2021. Travel into remote Aboriginal communities on Aboriginal land – or travel to communities that involves crossing Aboriginal land – will be restricted to NT Government essential services staff and functions only.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the NLC considers this the right thing to do and urged Aboriginal Territorians to look after each other: “The message is the same as last year: ‘Stay Safe, Stay on Country and Care for Family’.” Mr Bush-Blanasi also urged people not to respond to or be guided by what NT Police Commissioner Chalker called ‘rumour and innuendo’ being spread on social media. “People shouldn’t listen to gossip being spread on Facebook and other social media sites – particularly about something as serious as this. The best information is available at the NT Government website or on reliable media outlets like the NT News or the ABC,” said Mr Bush-Blanasi.

Referring to the reported case of COVID-19 in a worker in a mining site in the Tanami Desert in Central Australia, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Kidd has said “We are taking this very seriously – right from the start of the pandemic we’ve had plans in place to work with local Aboriginal communities to respond to outbreaks in remote areas in Australia. The Commonwealth is working with the NT government and the Aboriginal community controlled health services in the affected area to provide whatever support is needed.”

To view the NLC’s media release click here and to view the news article with Professor Kidd’s comments click here.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaks to SBS News:

New PHC nKPIs? – have your say

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) is inviting you to participate in the consultation process for Potential new National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary health care (nKPIs).

In May 2018, the Department commissioned the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to undertake a comprehensive review of the nKPI collection (the Review). The final report was endorsed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Data Advisory Group (HS DAG) in December 2019 and published in February 2020. 

In order to implement the recommendations from the Review, DoH commissioned KPMG to develop an Implementation Roadmap and set up a Clinical and Technical Working Group for the HS DAG. The Working Group met in April this year to discuss potential new indicators. After four meetings the Working Group recommended development of three new indicators: sexual health/STI, mental health, and ear health.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholder and community feedback on the three proposed new nKPIs. The diverse perspectives, experience and knowledge of all stakeholders and interested members of the community are valued and will contribute to the final recommendations regarding the new nKPIs.

Feedback from the public consultation will be provided to the HS DAG who will provide final endorsement (or not) of the indicators. It is planned that any new nKPIs that receive HS DAG approval will first be piloted with selected health services prior to full rollout to all health services and public data reporting.

You can access the Consultation Hub and provide feedback here.

The consultation will be open for five (5) weeks and will close on Thursday 29 July 2021.

5 Aboriginal women sitting cross-legged in colourful tropical skirts, elder at front is holding a sign with words 'Please support my hope for health', tropical green foliage in background

Image source: University of Wollongong Australia website.

PM hosts second roundtable with CoPs

On25 June 2021 the Prime Minister hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the Coalition of Peaks (CoPs), a representative body made up of more than 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations. The Prime Minister noted the joint success of the Australian Government’s and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations led by NACCHO in supporting their communities through the COVID pandemic.

Continuing leadership in the roll-out of the vaccination strategy is critical and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership is appreciated and recognised by all government members. The Morrison Government and CoPs are working together, with the states and territories and Australian Local Government Association, to implement the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, signed by all Australian governments in July 2020.

To view the media release click here.

multiple people at large oval desk in Parliament House for second roundtable of senior Ministers & the CoPs

PM Scott Morrison hosted the second roundtable of senior Ministers and the CoPs to advance the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Image source: CoPs Twitter.

Consider Indigenous business for medical supplies

Why ACCHO members should consider a 100% Indigenous owned business for medical supplies?

Indigenous Medical Supplies (IMS) is a Supply Nation registered, 100% Indigenous-owned supplier of medical device, hand & hygiene, PPE & covid-19 to ACCHOs or AMSs, other medical centres, day hospitals and workplaces. Their product range includes surgical masks, a wide range of hand & hygiene stock, alcohol wipes, surgical gowns, medical gloves, face shields, protective eyewear, AED defibrillators and temperature devices at very competitive prices. You can view the IMS range on the IMS website here.

Awabakal Ltd CEO Raylene Gordon recommends IMS to CEOs, Practice Managers and management of other ACCHOs “The service from this company is reliable, honest and great quality. This was particularly important to us during COVID-19 and now into the future. Please join Awabakal in supporting this business.”

For further information contact IMS Managing Director Merv Fernando by email here or mobile phone: 0411 290 755.

health worker from Wuchopperen Health Service Limited (QLD) holding a selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products e.g. PPE; Awabakal Ltd NSW CEO & Board

Wuchoperren Health Service (QLD) employee holding selection of Indigenous Medical Supplies Pty Ltd products and Awabakal Ltd (NSW) CEO and Board members.

Indigenous bowel cancer screening resources

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) have publications on different health topics including bowel cancer. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program collection, contains of a range of resources specifically tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including:

yellow tile with text 'don't delay do a bowel test today' - header & footer Aboriginal dot art in blue, brown, purple, green, orange

Australian Government Department of Health Indigenous bowel screening postcard.

RVTS Targeted Recruitment 2022 placements

Be part of something special…AND complete your specialist GP training!

Picture yourself working as a doctor in an iconic rural or remote community, while also undertaking your specialist GP training?

Apply now via our Targeted Recruitment to train with Remote Vocational Training (RVTS) in 2022. Through its Targeted Recruitment Strategy, RVTS partners with rural and remote communities of high medical workforce need to offer RVTS training as part of a package to recruit doctors to these communities. RVTS is offering specialist GP training positions in the following Targeted Recruitment locations in 2022, including five Aboriginal Medical Services, (multiple positions are offered in some locations; * denotes Aboriginal Medical Service):

  • NT – Tennant Creek* and Santa Teresa*
  • QLD – Clermont
  • VIC – Portland*
  • WA – Halls Creek, Kununurra* and South Hedland*
  • NSW – Lake Cargelligo
  • TAS – Smithton
  • SA – Mid Eyre Peninsula (Cleve, Cowell, Kimba) and Streaky Bay

Find more details (and contact officers) for each of these positions by clicking here.

Targeted Recruitment is not the only entry pathway to RVTS training. Training is also available to doctors already working in eligible rural, remote and First Nation communities across Australia! Further information about our AMS Stream for doctors in Aboriginal Medical Services in MMM2-7 locations and the Remote Stream for doctors in MMM 4-7 locations can be found here.

Don’t miss outRound 1 of the 2022 intake (all streams) is open for applications until 4 July 2021.

Doctors interested in applying for Targeted Recruitment Stream positions after this date are encouraged to contact us, as deadlines may be extended for some Targeted Recruitment locations.

text 'RVTS Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd - GP Training for Doctors In Aboriginal Medical Services, Rural and Remote Communities'; RVTS logo line drawing of white sun against orange sky sinking into red ground/sea; image of young man & older man wearing polo with Aboriginal art & text 'cultural mentor'

New AOD service in Wyndham

WA Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson has launched a new culturally secure alcohol and drug and mental health support service at the Ngnowar-Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation (NAAC) in Wyndham. NAAC, together with the Mental Health Commission, co-designed the service which will provide a 16-bed sobering up service as well as outpatient counselling, prevention and diversion services.

Local planning workshops and meetings ensured a culturally secure process and the local community had an opportunity to contribute to the development of the service model. The new principles of the service include whole-of-family approaches, holistic consideration of social factors and adverse life experiences; increasing Aboriginal staff participation; developing local employment pathways; and more community awareness and education.

The new program will be delivered through a partnership between NAAC and Anglicare WA. It will also contribute to developing the capacity of the Wyndham community to respond to mental health, alcohol and drug issues and lead responses from within the community.

To view Minister Dawson’s media statement in full click here and for an overview of NAAC watch the YouTube video below.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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 to the NACCHO website and once approved it will go live. dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

JulEYE

JulEYE is national eye health awareness month. 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early enough, yet every 65 minutes an Australian loses part or all their vision.

This JulEYE, the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF) (the fundraising arm of The Royal Australian and NZ College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)) will be campaigning to increase the public’s awareness of eye health issues. JulEYE has three core aims:

  • to raise community awareness of eye health issues.
  • to raise funding for research projects into the causes and cures of vision impairment and blindness.
  • to support international development projects whose goals are aligned with those of The Foundation.

For more information about JulEYE click here.

tile text 'look out for your eyes this JulEYE' 'wyes & July are in white font, rest is in yellow font, medium blue background

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Feature tile - Fri 4.6.21 - ACCHO to reduce vision loss in mob

ACCHO to reduce diabetes-related vision loss in mob

Diabetes Australia has launched a new partnership with Carbal Medical Services, a Toowoomba and Warwick based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisation, to reduce diabetes-related vision loss and blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Diabetes is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness but only about 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes are having their eyes checked within recommended timeframes.

The Diabetes Australia – Carbal partnership involves the promotion of KeepSight, an eye check reminder program run by Diabetes Australia which encourages people with diabetes to have regular eye checks. The program will use locally developed, culturally appropriate resources and information.

KeepSight is free and registration only takes a minute. People then receive regular reminders when their eye checks are due.

You can read more about the partnership in Mirage News here.

KeepSight - Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

KeepSight – Look after your eyes, look after your mob image.

Cancer patients encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccine

A new Cancer Australia initiative is encouraging Aboriginal people who have been impacted by cancer to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Facts on the Vax campaign is being rolled out to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal healthcare workers, across social media, and on the Cancer Australia website. The campaign includes a short, animated video and easy-to-understand factsheets about vaccination for Aboriginal people with cancer, their loved ones and health workers working with Aboriginal people.

Cancer Australia chief executive Professor Dorothy Keefe said the campaign hopes to cut through misinformation and answer frequently asked questions about the vaccine.

“The evidence is really strong that having the vaccine is a good thing,” Professor Keefe told NIT.

Every year approximately 1,400 Indigenous Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and as part of the COVID-19 roll out, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr Jason Agostino from NACCHO says Aboriginal people impacted by cancer are very vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s really important that we give them all the protection we can and vaccines are a part of that,” said Dr Agostino.

You can read the full story in the National Indigenous Times here.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

The Facts on the Vax campaign by Cancer Australia.

Extra support for SA patients

Aboriginal patients travelling long distances for specialist medical treatment will be entitled to advanced subsidies and automatically have travel partners approved for reimbursements, as part of a range of improvements being introduced to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

Announcing the changes on National Reconciliation Week, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes are part of a new PATS Aboriginal Engagement Strategy which has been developed to engage more Aboriginal patients in the scheme.

“A review found that despite Aboriginal South Australians in regional areas having relatively low health status, only one percent of Aboriginal patients applied for subsidies through PATS, which clearly shows we are missing opportunities to reimburse patients,” said Minister Wade.

“The strategy has identified key areas to ensure the scheme is more accessible, more flexible, easier to understand and provides better support for Aboriginal patients travelling for medical treatment.

You can read the media release here.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

Patient transport by MAF Australia.

AMA calls for reform to public hospital funding

With ambulance ramping occurring in our public hospitals because of a lack of doctors, nurses and beds, the AMA is calling on National Cabinet to urgently address public hospital funding to pull hospitals ‘back from the brink’.

Record-breaking ambulance ramping in Perth, a delay in elective surgeries in WA due to overwhelming demand, disturbing incidences of hospitals unable to cope across the country, questions raised in this week’s Senate estimates, and stories coming from NSW Parliament’s inquiry into hospital services in rural and regional areas, has forced the issue on to the national agenda.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

The AMA says the National Cabinet must urgently move to shared 50 – 50 Commonwealth–State funding for public hospitals, and remove the artificial cap that stops our system meeting community demand.

Read AMA’s media release here.

“Our public hospitals are at breaking point and patients are suffering as a consequence,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

Aboriginal child is sedated while leaving surgery, at Katherine Hospital.

Share your vaccine story

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed this easy-to-use template for social media tiles showcasing a photo and story of why you want to get or have been vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a PowerPoint template that includes a square tile for use on Instagram and Facebook and a landscape tile to be used on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The aim is to share as many stories as possible on social media showcasing everyday people and their reasons for wanting to get the vaccine.

You can download the template here.

Alternatively, you can email: nacchonews@naccho.org.au with your photo and brief story together with your first name(s) and if you chose to, your identification(s) (example of identification: grandmother and granddaughter of the Yuin Walganga people, Mogo NSW) and we can share your story on NACCHO’s social media channels.

COVID-19 Vaccination - Image frame.

COVID-19 Vaccination – Image frame.

More doctors recruited to rural and remote communities

A unique national GP training program that enables doctors to gain their specialist qualification in General Practice – while living and working as a doctor in a First Nations, rural or remote community – has assisted the recruitment of an additional much-needed doctor for St George in Queensland.

Dr Gary Wood is among 32 doctors who will be training with the Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) this year. He was recruited under a collaborative approach by RVTS (through its Targeted Recruitment strategy), Health Workforce Queensland and Goondir Health Services.

He will be working at Goondir Health Services – a health service for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – while continuing his specialist GP training in the RVTS program.

The appointment is a major win for the St George community, as Dr Wood will work there for the duration of his specialist GP training, and hopefully for many years beyond.

“For their community, this means continuity of medical services and patient care. It really is a win-win situation for the doctors and their communities,” said RVTS CEO, Dr Pat Giddings.

Dr Wood said the benefits of working and training as a doctor under the RVTS training model were significant.

You can read the media release here.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

Dr Gary Wood and Floyd Leedie CEO Goondir Health Services.

RVTS Round 1 applications now open

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is currently promoting their first round of applications for the 2022 intake. Round 1 Applications are now open – until Sunday 4 July 2021, for training to commence in February 2022, with positions available in both AMS and Remote training streams.

In addition to the AMS stream MMM2-7 location eligibility, RVTS is also offering Targeted Recruitment locations for 2022 (there are currently 5 Aboriginal Medical Services as approved Targeted Recruitment locations) as listed on the RVTS website.

For more application information click here.
For more information about targeted recruitment locations click here.

RVTS - Targeted Training Locations.

RVTS – Targeted Training Locations.

Webinar: Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW

The AH&MRC is hosting a maternal health webinar. We will hear from the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) sector as well as the Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Strategy (AMIHS) on programs running in communities to support women birthing Aboriginal babies in NSW.

Hear from:

  • Waminda – Melanie Briggs and Hayley Longbottom
  • NSW Ministry of Health – Elizabeth Best
  • Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation – Kristy Williams, Annika Honeysett, Rachel Fikkers and Megan Elliot-Rudder

We are inviting people working in the maternal and child health space as well as women in communities across New South Wales.

Date & time: 10:00am until 11:30am, 16 June 2021.
For more information about the event and how to register click here.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW - event image.

Supporting the journey of women birthing Aboriginal Babies in NSW – event image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health will improve when housing improves

feature tile text 'Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health will only improve if we improve housing', image of a boarded house near Alice Springs

Health will improve when housing improves

University of Melbourne academics Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Senior Research Fellow Mitchell D Anjou AM and Research Fellow Emma Stanford have written an article To Improve Indigenous Health, We Must Improve Indigenous Housing. In the article they say the recommendation of the recent Senate report to re-establish the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing is to be applauded, but more importantly, it should be implemented as a matter of urgency.

Trachoma is blinding eye disease spread repeatedly between young children which causes scarring in the eyes, leading to blindness in adults. Sometimes called “Sandy Blight”, Trachoma disappeared from mainstream Australia more than a century ago. But actually, Australia remains the only developed country to still have trachoma, along with some 44 low-income countries.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Gambia to be the latest country to eliminated trachoma. Australia had made a declaration in 2009 to eliminate trachoma by 2020 – a target the country missed.

Trachoma is spread by the frequent exchange of infected eye and nose secretions from one child to another. The key to stopping this terrible blinding disease is to stop the spread of infected secretions by keeping the children’s faces clean. In order to do this, they must have access to safe and functional bathrooms. Although some good progress has been made, the process has stalled for lack of safe and functional housing. Inadequate housing has a critical impact on health, including Indigenous health.

To view the article click here.

Aboriginal adults hands holding arms of young Aboriginal child. guiding soapy child's hands under a tap of running water

Photo: Indigenous Eye Health. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Perinatal healthcare gap a priority

Health researchers across the globe are pushing for better Indigenous perinatal care with a focus on Indigenous-led, community-based solutions.

Yvette Roe is a Njikena Jawuru woman and an Indigenous health researcher at Charles Darwin University is one of about 50 names from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States on a recently published paper in Women and Birth, the official journal of the Australian College of Midwives. They are all demanding better perinatal care for First Nations women to better support mothers from the start of their pregnancies through their infants’ first 12 months of life.

Dr Roe said the mainstream health system routinely failed Indigenous mothers, “What we know is the current system of maternity services is not working for our people,” she said. According to Dr Roe, when compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Aboriginal women were more likely to have pre-term births, more likely to die during childbirth, and more likely to have their babies die during their first year of life.

For Dr Roe and her peers, Indigenous-led, community-based solutions are paramount to closing the perinatal healthcare gap, “Each community comes with its own historical context,” she said. “[The key is] local people being engaged with local solutions.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal hands holding baby's hands against baby's chest, baby is lying in a coolamon on a cloth, leaves bark seed pods surround coolamon

Photo: Bobbi Lockyer. Image source: ABC News.

Establishing national First Nations researcher network

A team of 91 researchers, led by four experienced First Nations Australian leaders have come together to establish the National Network for First Nations Researchers. This represents the largest cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers (97%) ever assembled with a single goal of growing the next generation of research leaders. This initiative is a critical part of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) framework for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through research.

One of the researchers who will lead this innovative project, Chairperson of the Lowitja Institute, Dr Pat Anderson AO, says “The National Network’s vision is embedded in the principles of self-determination with activities led by First Nations Peoples for First Nations. It will build on the extensive legacy and ground-breaking work led by the Lowitja Institute over the last 23 years. Our lead investigators will spearhead the establishment of strong and dynamic governance structures that will ensure an inclusive, transparent, equitable and collaborative approach to achieve our commitment to building Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national research network.”

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release click here.

portrait shots top L clockwise Dr Pat Anderson AO, Professor Gail Garvey, Professor Sandra Eades & Professor Alex Brown

Researchers leading the National Network for First Nations Researchers project, clockwise from top left: Dr Pat Anderson AO, Professor Gail Garvey, Professor Sandra Eades & Professor Alex Brown. Image sources: National Indigenous Times, Bupa, Burnet Institute, and NHMRC CREATE.

Resilient NSW First Nations people

Indigenous supporters of reconciliation came together last week to take part in a Q+A panel discussing the resilience of First Nations People in NSW with Members of Parliament. In its 12th year, Reconciliation in Parliament is a program of events hosted by Reconciliation NSW to continue the bi-partisan commitment of the NSW Parliament to Reconciliation. This year’s theme, ‘A case of resilience for the First Nations People of NSW’ highlighted Aboriginal communities’ successful responses to COVID-19 global pandemic.

Panellists praised the actions of ACCHOs in communicating clear information about the global pandemic very early to Aboriginal communities to keep them safe. Comments made included:

  • ACCHOs were prepared earlier than much of mainstream Australia, and because of the need to protect culture, understood the risk and took steps to mitigate any risk by closing off communities.
  • Communities worked together embracing covid measures – not complaining or resisting the limitations of the COVID Guidelines promoted by ACCHOs…and provided practical help to each other, networking and sharing what was working.
  • One of the key strengths is our culture of connectivity which served us during the pandemic as we were all communicating / connected / informed.

The panel also warned of new health epidemics looming – even higher trends of intergenerational trauma, overrepresentation of kids in out of home care and juvenile justice.

To view the full article click here.

blurred background of green hill & people, clear image Aboriginal man with Aboriginal flag mask, ochre beanie, denim jacket, strap of black backpack looking serious

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Vaccinating 3,500 across 75,000 sq kms

Five hours’ drive from Darwin, Barunga laundromat manager Frederick Scrubby, 55, is not convinced that he should get the COVID-19 vaccination. Mr Scrubby, a community leader, said COVID-19 affected people far away, in Sydney and Melbourne. “None of my mob is infected,” he told Aboriginal health practitioner Raelene Brunette. She is going door to door in Barunga and nearby Beswick to address fears and explain how important the vaccine was to keeping elders — and their culture — alive. Sitting on a chair in the red dirt outside his laundromat, Mr Scrubby said he would have the jab if Ms Brunette had it first. Agreed, she said.

With a total of 149 cases and no deaths, Indigenous Australians have done so well at keeping COVID-19 at bay — many remote communities closed the gates to outsiders last year — that many people think it is no longer a threat. Some Aboriginal people have told Ms Brunette they’d rather go bush and hide instead of risking a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Therapeutic Goods Association has reported 18 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, including one death, from the first 1.8 million doses of AstraZeneca given in Australia.

Senior Indigenous health leaders meeting in Katherine expressed serious concerns about increasing resistance to getting vaccinated. John Paterson, the chief executive of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT), said members were reporting community hesitance “because of the media around blood clotting [associated with AstraZeneca vaccine]“. AMSANT represents 26 Aboriginal-controlled medical services.

To view The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 (red black white grey polo shirt, long grey beard & hair on balding head) get's covid-19 vaccine at Katherine's Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, looks worriedly to the side as the vaccine is injected

Binjari man Christopher Frith, 62 gets the shot at Katherine’s Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service, Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: Brisbane Times.

Family violence supports discriminate

The fact that many Australians recognise the names of people like Hannah Clarke and Rosie Batty and little Kobi Shepherdson, the fact that strangers march in the streets calling for justice on their behalf, is a reflection of the increasing consciousness of domestic and family violence in this country. But for all the hard-fought gains in putting this issue on the national agenda, a stunning lack of attention has been dedicated to one of the most critically impacted groups: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Have you heard of Tamica Mullaley and her son, Charlie, for example? What about Jody Gore? They have endured family violence so shocking you’d imagine their names dominating front pages and news bulletins. But, no. Their names are barely spoken, their stories little told. There are no nationwide vigils or street-filling marches.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman with hand out-stretched in front of face with the word enough written palm of hand

Image source: SBS NITV website.

What GPs can expect from the Budget

Responding to the 2021–22 Federal Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said additional funding for primary care, aged care and mental health is welcome, but the finer details ‘make all the difference’. RACGP newsGP have prepared a summary of the major measures affecting GPs, under the headings: primary care, COVID-19 response, Medicare, aged care, rural health, mental health, and disability.

To view the article click here.

copies of cover of 3 Budget 2021–22 budget paper

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Kidney Disease Webinar TOMORROW

Kidney Health Australia is hosting a Health Professional Webinar Chronic Kidney Disease & Acute Kidney Injury presented by Professor Karen Dwyer tomorrow evening Tuesday 18 May at 7:30 PM AEST. You can view a flyer here.

If you have not registered and are interested in attending, you can register up until the day here.

Kidney Health Australia logo large letter 'K' with elongated half circles in white either side of the join of the 'K', blurred image of Aboriginal man in the background & blood flowing through dialysis machine

Image of dialysis patient from SBS NITV website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Eye health sector missing First Nations voice

feature tile text ' Australia's world class eye health sector is missing the voice of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples' image side view of Aboriginal youth's face looking through eye testing equipment

Eye health missing First Nations voice

The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC) 2021 — The Gap and Beyond, had a welcome and critical focus on community-led eye care, according to Simone Kenmore, the newly appointed Country Manager of the Indigenous Australia Program at The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Kenmore emphasised the importance of listening to family and community leaders to drive two-way learning approaches in eye care and the urgent need to grow an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health workforce, as well as to invest in Aboriginal community controlled health services, saying “the eye health sector in Australia has a role and responsibility to strengthen the eye health knowledge of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The clinical expertise in the eye health sector in Australia is world class, but critically we are missing the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.”

To view the article in full click here.

Simone Kenmore & 3 of her Aunties in Alice Springs standing together against rendered wall

Simone Kenmore with her Aunties in Alice Springs. Image source: Croakey. Image in feature tile from ANZSOG.

Community control success at WAMS

Reducing the COVID-19 risk to community members was a big focus through the pandemic for the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS), which also stepped up to address a range of related challenges, including big concerns about food security for the NSW community.

WAMS CEO Christine Corby OAM said her service took many approaches to reduce the risk of local people getting COVID-19, especially vulnerable Elders and people with multiple health issues. Initiatives included a hand washing song which was taught in schools and used in the mobile children’s service; addressing complicated food supply issues; accessing personal protective equipment, developing and distributing care packs; and delivering scripts.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

desk with contents of a WAMS cCOVID-19 are package, information brochures, hat, shampoo, colouring books, stress balls, water bottle, rope

Items from the WAMS care package distributed to community members during the pandemic. Image source: Croakey.

Eating disorder stereotypes plague treatment

Indigenous Australians are just as likely to experience eating disorders as others within the wider community but a perception the illness is only prevalent among white girls is hampering diagnosis and treatment. The Butterfly Foundation, the national charity for eating disorders, has found one in 10 Indigenous Australians will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime and 30% of Indigenous young people are concerned about body image. These figures mirror the trends of non-Indigenous Australians.

Butterfly Foundation marketing coordinator Camilla Becket said its EveryBODY is Deadly campaign was trying to raise awareness about eating disorders among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “We wanted to address this pervasive stigma that eating disorders only affect privileged young white women,” Ms Becket said. To view the article in full click here.

Garra Mundine with black boots, white dress & 3/4 length light brown coat leaning against a tree trunk in native woodland

Garra Mundine said no one recognised that she had an eating disorder because of the perception it was for “privileged white girls”. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Budget opportunity to create a fairer future

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today called on the Morrison Government to use tomorrow’s Budget as an opportunity to create a fairer future by supporting priorities outlined by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “This Federal Budget provides an opportunity for investment that not only drives economic recovery but also reduces disadvantage and inequality. ACTCOSS calls on the Australian Government to prioritise investment that will create a fairer future for all Australians.”

ACTCOSS’s top three priorities for the ACT in the Federal Budget are: investment in the community service sector to generate jobs while supporting those facing disadvantage; significantly increased investment in social housing; and better support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve self-determination.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal man sitting inside corrugated iron humpy in Utopia, no facial features visible as face is in shade

Scene from John Pilger documentary, Utopia. Image source: newmatilda.com.

RHD the silent killer

Katherine’s Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Chair Anne Marie Less claims the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health will never be closed until the deadliest of diseases is approached differently. “I have been a Senior Aboriginal Health Practitioner for over 14 years and I am acutely aware of the impact of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) on our communities in the NT. Under the guidance of NT Cardiac, Menzies School of Health and Top End Health Service I have been learning to perform echocardiograms on young people in remote communities across the Top End and sadly in every community we detect 5-10% of the young population with previously undiagnosed RHD – some with the damage to their heart valves so advanced that it requires immediate surgery.

“Mostly it goes undetected and the only way we find out that someone has had rheumatic heart disease is when they drop dead on the playing field from a heart attack or die when they are pregnant. For most, they and their families never knew they had RHD. “Sadly, the only way to detect the presence of RHD is to listen for a heart murmur caused by leaking heart valves. The common practice is to listen for this using a stethoscope which unfortunately misses 40% or more of cases. The only true way to detect RHD is through an echocardiogram which uses a device no larger than a shaver to perform an ultrasound on the heart and clearly shows whether a heart valve is leaking or not.”

To view Sunrise Health Service’s media release in full click here.

RHD patient, Trey (young Aboriginal boy) lying on examination bed receives a handheld echo scan

Rheumatic Heart Disease patient, Trey, receives a handheld echo scan in Manigrida. Image source: Katherine Times.

United opposition to NT legislation

All 14 Australian and NZ Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (ANZCCG) have united in opposing new legislation introduced by the NT Government, which proposes to alter the NT’s Youth Justice Act and Bail Act. The commissioners and guardians wrote to NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner in March expressing their concerns about the legislation and asking him to reconsider his approach. Their letter said the proposed changes are “regressive” and “signal a shift away from evidence-based policy approaches and directly unwind the implementation of key recommendations from the 2017 Royal Commission”. National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said, “All the evidence tells us the best way to prevent youth offending is to divert young people away from the justice system and into alternative programs that offer the support they need.

To view the ANZCCG and Australian Human Rights Commission media release in full click here.

view of tower of Don Dale youth detention centre

Don Dale youth detention centre. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News website.

Federal Senator Malarndirri McCarthy has also voiced concern about controversial changes to the NT’s youth bail laws, calling on her local Labor colleagues to rethink the plan to fast-track the reforms. The government wants its changes passed through NT Parliament less than a week after the bill was made public and despite questions from legal groups about apparent problems with the draft legislation.

Labor has the backing of NT Police and the police union for measures it says will cut youth crime, but has faced widespread criticism for reversing changes made after the youth detention royal commission. On Monday, Ms McCarthy told ABC Alice Springs she had requested a briefing and raised concerns with the NT government. “I do think the issues being raised by stakeholders in the Northern Territory and indeed nationally about being careful about the incarceration of children and in particular First Nations children is something that the government needs to look closely at,” she said.

To view the article click here.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy torso in red dress standing against moreton bay fig

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy says she has raised her concerns with the NT government.
Photo: Mitch Woolnough. Image source: ABC News website.

Impact of racism on oral health

Interpersonal racism has had a profound impact on Indigenous populations globally, manifesting as negative experiences and discrimination at an individual, institutional and systemic level. Interpersonal racism has been shown to negatively influence a range of health outcomes but has received limited attention in the context of oral health.

A recent study has examined the effects of experiences of interpersonal racism on oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) among Indigenous South Australians. Identifying this link adds weight to the importance of addressing OHRQoL among South Australian’s Indigenous population by implementing culturally-sensitive strategies to address interpersonal racism.

For further details about the study click here.

teenage Aboriginal girl in dental chair with mouth open smiling, gloves hands with instruments, masked dental professional, yellow tones

Image source: Remote Area Health Corps.

Smoking cessation during pregnancy study

Strong and healthy futures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people requires engagement in meaningful decision making which is supported by evidence-based approaches. While a significant number of research publications state the research is co-designed, few describe the research process in relation to Indigenous ethical values. Improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies is crucial to the continuation of the oldest living culture in the world.

Developing meaningful supports to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers to quit smoking during pregnancy is paramount to addressing a range of health and wellbeing outcomes. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have called for non-pharmacological approaches to smoking cessation during pregnancy. A recent project Building an Indigenous-Led Evidence Base for Smoking Cessation Care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women during Pregnancy and Beyond: Research Protocol for the Which Way? has used a culturally responsive research protocol, co-designed by and co-owned with urban and regional Aboriginal communities in NSW.

For further details about the study click here.

Aboriginal painting of silhouette of pregnant Aboriginal woman throwing away cigarettes, baby visible in womb, & sign Quit for New Life

Image source: South Western Sydney Local Health District webpage.

ACT – Canberra – Australian Medical Association

Policy Advisor (Indigenous Health) x 1 FT – Canberra

Advance your career with the AMA and be part of the team advocating improvements to Australia’s health system and achieving positive change on behalf of its member doctors and the wider community.

Based in Canberra, the Policy Adviser will be a member of the Public Health team and:

  • manage the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health portfolio and support AMA’s ongoing advocacy towards Closing the Gap and ensuring better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • provide Secretariat leadership to the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health, as well as in campaigns advocating related improvements to the health care system
  • provide support in AMA’s policy and advocacy work to improve Australia’s mental health system, including reviewing reports, government engagement, and providing support to the AMA Mental Health Committee
  • draft accurate and well-written policy positions, statements, submissions media responses and campaign material
  • oversee the management of the AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship and coordination of support for scholarship recipients

To view the position description and to apply click here. You should submit your application within the next couple of weeks.

AMA logo, Aboriginal hands holding torso of Aboriginal baby no clothes

Image source: NITV website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: RHDAustralia optimistic despite AIHW report

feature tile text 'RHDAustralia remains optimistic despite worrying new AIHW report', image of health professional with stethoscope to small Aboriginal child's chest

RHDAustralia optimistic despite AIHW report

To view the AIHW report Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in Australia click here.

health professional with stethoscope to small Aboriginal child's chest

Image source: SBS NITV website.

Vaccinations more important than ever

Viruses like influenza (the flu), COVID-19 and pneumococcal pneumonia can be dangerous, but there are ways to protect yourself and your mob. After more than a year of social distancing and isolating, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself against vaccine preventable diseases this winter. Getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene and staying home if you’re unwell will help keep you and your family strong and healthy this winter. Download The Lung Foundation Australia’s Vaccination Tracker and talk to your doctor or community healthcare worker about getting vaccinated to protect yourself and your mob. To view the Lung Foundation Australia’s Protect your mob website page click here.

Aboriginal man with black hoodie sitting at desk with Aboriginal dot paintings, logo superimposed text 'Lung Foundation Australia' with two green leaves with veins representing lungs

Image source: Lung Foundation Australia.

Child eye health messages for parents

In a partnership between the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Vision Initiative, we have co-developed a series of social media messages for parents, giving a number of tips to help care for children’s eyes. The messages that accompany the tiles were developed in consultation with members of the Aboriginal community in Victoria, facilitated by VACCHO.

The colourful social media tiles, featuring artwork by Tamara Murray, are accompanied by culturally appropriate messages, each with a unique focus, and a call to action: that if your child has any problems with their vision, speak to someone at the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation. You are invited to download the tiles here and share them with your community.

collage of part of 3 social media tiles for parents re child eye health, text 'Be sure your eyes are looking good!', 'sleep well, see well!', 'Shades are deadly!' - all tiles have Aboriginal dot painting art of an eye, plus drawing of sunglasses on one, one 'Zzzz's' for sleep

Extracts from VISION 2020 Australia’s social media tiles developed in a partnership between VACCHO and the Vision Initiative.

Time for cultural determinants health approach

In an Croakey article titled On the Federal Budget, it’s time for a reframe Melissa Sweet examines ways in which budget measures as a whole could contribute to better health for all over time. Among the recommendations is to embed a cultural determinants of health approach into policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with flexible implementation to enable responses tailored to individual communities, and governments should resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to effectively develop and implement cultural determinants of health programs that meet the needs of their communities.

To view the article in full click here.

Illawarra Aboriginal health worker Dale Wright wearing shirt with Aboriginal art, against cement wall looking at camera with hands outstretched

Illawarra Aboriginal health worker Dale Wright. Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Hopes for increased healing commitments

The Healing Foundation will be looking for strong evidence of the Government’s commitment to greater healing efforts for First Nations peoples, especially for Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, in Tuesday’s Federal Budget announcements.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth said the Government had engaged strongly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during special events like the Anniversary of the Apology and would like to see this goodwill and support continue into the long term with strong policies and partnerships and major reforms.

In its ‘Healing the Nation’ Pre-Budget Submission 2021–22, The Healing Foundation detailed the need for new funding for a range of initiatives to progress healing for Stolen Generations survivors – including reparations, tailored trauma-aware and healing-informed support for ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors, and better access to historical records for survivors; and a National Healing Strategy to address the impacts of intergenerational trauma.

To view the Healing Foundation’s media release click here.

4 Aboriginal hands holding another Aboriginal hand

Image source: ORIC website.

EOIs sought for Justice Policy Partnership

The Coalition of Peaks are looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with relevant experience and expertise who may be interested in joining the Justice Policy Partnership under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

If you have professional experience in the justice sector, on-the-ground knowledge of justice in the community, academic qualifications, lived experience of the justice system, or family experience of the justice system or deaths in custody, and want to be part of an historic opportunity to work in partnership with governments to improve outcomes for our people, please submit an EOI by 17 May 2021.

More details are available on to Coalition of Peaks website. Applications close Monday 18 May 2021.logo - dark orange circle like cog with text ' Expressions of Interest Justice Policy Partnership represenetatives Coalition of Peaks' & CoP logo

National Families Week

National Families Week is held every year between 15 and 21 May, coinciding with the United Nations International Day of Families on 15 May. This day is observed by the United Nations to mark the importance that the international community places on families as the most fundamental units of society, as well as to show concern about their situation in many parts of the world.

All Australians, including community organisations, schools, councils, companies and individuals are invited to participate in National Families Week each year. The enduring theme is ‘Stronger Families, Stronger Communities’.

This theme continues to highlight the important role families play as the central building block of our communities and deliver the message that community wellbeing is enhanced by family wellbeing. For more information click here.

tile text 'Stronger families Stronger communities national families week 15-21 may 2021 www.nfw.org.au' watercolour art houses, trees circle, arch, road

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

feature tile text 'Joint Council agrees to accelerate collective efforts to reduce overincarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & photo of an Aboriginal man's hands through prison bars

Acceleration of efforts to reduce overincarceration

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap met today and acknowledged the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and agreed that joined up work between all governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives is critical to reducing the rate at which Indigenous people are incarcerated, and thereby reduce deaths in custody. Given the urgency and enduring nature of this issue Joint Council agreed to the high priority of accelerating the critical work to establish a Policy Partnership on Justice with the aim of reducing youth and adult incarceration.

Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks said “It’s vital that governments, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, are taking urgent and decisive steps to address the overincarceration of our peoples. For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives will be at the table with Ministers, Attorneys’-General, government officials, corrections, policing, housing and health under a formal shared decision making arrangement.”

To view the Coalition of Peaks media release click here.

protest march with placard of Aboriginal flag overlaid with text 'most incarcerated people on earth'

Photo: Getty. Image source: BBC News website.

Aboriginal people still dying in custody

Aboriginal man David Dungay Jr died in a Sydney prison cell in 2015 after officers restrained him to stop him eating biscuits. During the struggle, he was pinned face-down by guards and jabbed with a sedative. Video later shown at his inquest captured his final moments: his laboured breathing and muffled screams under the pack of guards. “I can’t breathe,” he yelled repeatedly.

His case has parallels to that of African-American man George Floyd, whose death triggered global protests against racism and policing in the US. The Black Lives Matter movement also threw a spotlight on Australia’s own incarceration of indigenous people and their deaths in custody.

This week marks 30 years since a landmark inquiry into Aboriginal deaths in custody. The royal commission made hundreds of recommendations to address the crisis. But three decades on, the situation has worsened. Central to the problem is overrepresentation. Indigenous people are about 12 times more likely to be in custody than non-indigenous Australians.

That reality, a product of systemic problems and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people, has prompted fresh anger over a lack of action. “The system is continuing to kill us and no one’s doing anything about it,” Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr, said at a rally this week.

To view the BBC article in full click here.

2 young Aboriginal women BLM protestors, one with t-shirt Always Was Always Will Be holding up hands covered in red paint to indicate blood, other woman holding Aboriginal flag behind her with raised arms, t-shirt with text black' and Aboriginal flag broken into 4 horizontal rectangular segments

Photo: Getty: Image source: BBC News website.

Deaths in custody & intergenerational healing

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Cornforth spoke with Dan Bourchier, ABC Radio 666 Canberra ‘Afternoons’ yesterday about the 30-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and intergenerational healing.

Fiona Cornforth said “it is an important time to do that reflecting. Though it’s something we carry every day, I think, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where we’ve lost hope in recommendations being fully implemented, despite all our voices being in these reports over time and people being generous and courageous to put forward their stories, time and time again. Where the solutions are in community, the solutions are given up as important by those with lived experience. But the powers that be and the complex system, the incarceration system, and all the service providers, the big web just can’t seem to get these recommendations out of the too hard basket.”

You can view a transcript of the interview here.

Aboriginal adult hand with small Aboriginal child's hand holding one of the fingers

Image source: Parks Australia website.

NDIS independent assessments on hold

The Morrison government has decided to delay introducing mandatory independent assessments (IAs) for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), in a move strongly welcomed by disability groups.

New NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said earlier this week that she would not be making any decisions around in IAs legislation until an IA trial was finished and the government could examine the feedback. While people currently need to get reports from multiple health providers of their choosing to assess their NDIS eligibility, the new mandatory assessments will be conducted by NDIS-appointed healthcare professionals using standardised tools.

The decision to introduce IAs has been met with overwhelming opposition from disability advocates, who say the process does not adequately capture the complexity of a person’s support needs and will lead to unfair outcomes for people with disability. Reynolds acknowledged the “significant feedback” IAs have already received, and said she would be consulting across the country with as many stakeholders as she could. Disability groups – who feared people would disengage from the scheme entirely because of their unwillingness to engage with IAs – strongly welcomed the minister’s comments.

To view the Pro Bono Australia article in full click here.

rear view of seat and wheel of a wheelchai

Image source: Pro Bono Australia News website.

The more that have the vaccine, the safer we’ll be

NACCHO CEO and lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner and NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey received their first AstraZeneca vaccines at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services last week. “The more people have the vaccinations, the safer we will be,” said Pat. “We’ve managed to keep our community free of any deaths from COVID-19 to date and we want to continue that outstanding record.”

Contact your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation or GP to find out when you can receive your vaccine and to ask any questions you may have. To view the  Pat Turner’s video click here.

photo of Pat Turner receiving vaccine, text 'NACCHO CEO & Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks PAT TURNER'

Review of kidney transplant wait-listing

Research has confirmed poor access to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the NT. The study found causes of delays to wait-listing included: failure to attend appointments due to competing priorities and communication barriers, access and navigating complex pathways to specialist services, transport, co-morbidities requiring multiple tests and multiple specialty services, and pressures on dialysis and hospital bed capacity.

The study concluded that barriers to wait-listing for kidney transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are complex and can be addressed by redesigning healthcare provision, including increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to provide education and patient navigation of the healthcare system and improve communication, streamlining investigations and coordinating specialist services.

To view the full research paper here.

health professional in green gown, green rubber gloves holding white box with red text ' HUMAN ORGAN FOR TRANSPLANT' against surgical theatre background

Image source: Renal and Urology News.

Lessons from subsidised spectacles scheme

A study has been undertaken to determine what lessons can be learned from the Victorian Aboriginal Spectacles Subsidy Scheme (VASSS). The VASSS, which started in July 2010 and has operated continually since, aims to improve access to visual aids and eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians.

An estimated 10,853 VASSS cofunded visual aids were delivered over the first 6 years of the scheme. During that time the mean annual number of comprehensive eye examinations provided within services using VASSS grew 4.6-fold faster compared with the 4 years preceding the VASSS. VASSS achievements were attained through collaborations, flexibility, trust and communication between organisations, all facilitated by funding resulting from evidence-based advocacy.

Access to visual aids and eye examinations by Aboriginal Victorians has improved during the operation of the VASSS, with associated direct and indirect benefits to Aboriginal health, productivity and quality of life. The success of the VASSS may be replicable in other jurisdictions and provides lessons that may be applicable in other fields.

To view the full research paper click here.

Aboriginal man wearing eye test equipment spectacles

Image source: Optometry Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant applications OPEN!

Attention NACCHO members! NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant applications are NOW OPEN!

IBSF offers funding to eligible Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS

Grants of $20,000 are available for up to 100 member ACCHOS.

ACCHOs have been contacted via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

Applications close on the 14 May 2021. Please contact the NDIS Ready team at ndisready@naccho.org.au if you have any questions.

Australia made a plan to protect Indigenous elders from COVID-19. It worked

Washington Post story is all praise for us on how effectively we have managed to keep COVID-19 out of our communities!

From Alaska to the Amazon, Indigenous people are more likely to get sick with or die of covid-19, as the pandemic magnifies deep-rooted health and socioeconomic inequities.
Not only have Indigenous Australians recorded far fewer infections per capita than their global counterparts, they are six times less likely than the wider Australian population to contract the coronavirus, government data shows.
There have been no cases in remote communities, and not a single Aboriginal elder has died. Of the 149 cases involving Indigenous people since the start of the pandemic nationwide, few were serious enough to require hospitalization. By contrast, covid-19 is killing Native Americans at a faster rate than any other group in the United States.
Dawn Casey, who co-chairs a government task force established to develop a virus plan for Indigenous communities, said Aboriginal doctors expressed alarm during weekly meetings at the number of flights arriving from countries where the virus had taken hold. “We could see what was happening overseas,” she said. “If it got into remote communities, it would wipe them out.”
Pat Turner, chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization, wrote to state and federal leaders in March 2020, asking them to use their powers to order the closure of remote communities to stop visitors from entering. Accordingly, the communities were sealed off.
“I think increasingly the Australian government is looking at the Aboriginal-controlled model and seeing they can be really effective,” said Jason Agostino, an epidemiologist and medical adviser on Aboriginal health.
To read the full story in the Washington Post click here.

Join Dementia Australia in calling on Governments to commit to action

Dementia Australia is calling on the Australian Federal Government to act with urgency in response to the Final Report, Care, Dignity and Respect of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

An estimated 472,000 Australians live with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this is expected to increase to almost 1.1 million in 2058. I want dementia to be core business for government #dementia #auspol

Dementia is one of the largest health and social challenges facing Australia and the world. As well as being the chronic condition of the 21st century it is a debilitating, progressive and ultimately terminal disease and the second leading cause of death of Australians annually and the leading cause of death of women. Many Australians living with dementia require care, whether this is in their own home, or in an aged care setting – 68 per cent of people living in care have dementia. This of course includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians.

Since September 2018 people living with dementia, their families and carers have entrusted the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety with their views, personal experiences and often traumatic stories. The Royal Commission’s Final Report captures the essence of those issues and demonstrates that the Commissioners have listened.

Dementia Australia’s Roadmap for Quality Dementia Care has been shared with all sides of government in the lead up to the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report and the 2021-22 Federal Budget.

The Roadmap is the product of extensive consultations with people living with dementia and reflects all of the recommendations in relation to dementia made in the Royal Commission’s final report.

We encourage you all to join this plea to the Federal Government to implement this much required Roadmap.

For any of your stakeholders that may need guidance on how to call on the Government to implement the Roadmap, please refer them to Dementia Australia’s webpage, Engaging your local Member of Parliament, Senator or political candidate.

The page features draft social media posts and tiles, letter and email templates, scripts and guides for calls and meetings and many more resources.

Thank you in advance for any support you can provide and should you have any questions please contact Alex Shaw – 03 9816 5731 or Alex.Shaw@dementia.org.au 

Joint Council on Closing the Gap will discuss progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet Friday 16 April to discuss the progress and implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that came into effect in July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss:

  • the impact of COVID-19 on all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the success of the partnership approach between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations and governments in responding to the pandemic.
  • the release of the Joint Council’s response to the first annual Partnership Health Check report of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap assessing the successes and challenges faced by the Partnership since it came into effect in 2019. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time, including revisions to the Joint Council Terms of Reference and development of a risk register.
  • the release of its Joint Communications Strategy to ensure engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to build their awareness and ownership of the National Agreement and to assist them to talk to governments about how to apply the commitments to communities and organisations across the country.
  • the next stages of the Strategic Plan for Funding the Development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Sector (Strategic Plan) to guide investment from the joint funding pool committed by governments to support Priority Reform Two of the National Agreement, investment priorities for the Health and Disability Sectors.
  • revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect.
  • allowing more time for the development of Sector Strengthening Plans and Place-Based Partnerships to facilitate community and organisation engagement.

Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Australasian Society for HIV Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (2020) Australian consensus STI testing guideline for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Sydney: This national consensus testing guideline for sexually transmitted infections, is for use by primary care clinicians working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read more click here.

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service Newsletter for March 2021

To read the BRAMS March newsletter click here.

Delivering more Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the NT

The Australian Government is investing $8.75 million over four years to provide additional health services in the Northern Territory as part of its commitment to strengthen Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Delivered through the Northern Territory Pathways to Community Control program (NT P2CC), the funding will provide First Nations people with access to effective, high quality, comprehensive and culturally appropriate primary health care services.

This investment builds on the $4 million already committed for transition activities occurring in West Arnhem, demonstrating the strong partnerships that exist between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government and other key members of the NT Aboriginal Health Forum, including the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT). Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said community driven approache  s to delivering health services were delivering major benefits for First Nations people.

Read the full media release here.

Have Your Say – Participate in Survey to Contribute to National Evaluation

Indigenous Eye Health at The University of Melbourne is asking people who work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector to participate in an anonymous survey as part of a national evaluation.

The survey asks questions about your experience working in the sector, what kinds of activities you’ve seen or been involved with at a regional level, what changes have happened over time, what has supported this work and what more is needed to improve eye care and eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It takes around 20 minutes to complete the survey.

Those who complete the survey can go into the draw for a ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’ Diabetes Eye Care T-Shirt or a pair of Deadly Eyewear Sunglasses (there are 20 of each to be won!).

The survey is being run by independent evaluators from ARTD Consultants. If you would prefer to complete the survey over the telephone you can do this by contacting Rachel Aston from ARTD at rachel.aston@artd.com.au

To complete the survey click here.

Deaths in custody: Canberra Aboriginal health leader calls for justice system overhaul on royal commission anniversary

A new royal commission is needed into Canberra’s jail, the Alexander Maconochie Centre, to reset the entire system, says Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs.

“I’m always concerned there’s going to be another death in custody.”

Read the full story released in the Canberra Times here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah chief executive Julie Tongs is fearful another Indigenous life will be lost in custody. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

AMA Media statement: Time for Calm and Clear Information on Vaccine Rollout

Australians should trust the advice of the experts when deciding on their COVID-19 vaccination, AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“The AMA has supported the decisions made by independent scientific experts – the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) – to keep Australians safe throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Khorshid said.

“The Federal Government has also accepted this advice. While the changed advice about the AstraZeneca vaccine may seem confusing, and further delays to the rollout are frustrating, Australia is in the very fortunate position of being able to watch and learn from the experiences overseas.

“Communicating in this rapidly changing environment has been a challenge for the Government but it is critical for Australia’s future that public confidence in the vaccine program is maintained.

“The patient-GP relationship is one of the most trusted and important relationships in every person’s life.

“Your GP will give you the best advice about any medicine or vaccine. They will offer you what they believe to be of medical benefit to you and explain any risks and benefits of having or not having the treatment.

“They will ask you if you need any clarification and answer your questions. You can then decide whether you want the treatment.

“This is the same as for any treatment whether it is an antibiotic, surgery or a vaccine.

“GPs are guided by Government advice about AstraZeneca, and the risks for the under-50 cohort – most of whom would not be eligible for the vaccine until later this year anyway.
“The advice around the incredibly rare but serious thrombotic events associated with AZ vaccination has made decision making more difficult for those under 50 who are currently eligible for the vaccine. The AZ vaccine remains very safe and effective, and access to the alternative, preferred Pfizer vaccine is likely to be delayed.

“Our advice for Australians with questions is to make an appointment with their GP for a full discussion about the possible risks and benefits of having the vaccine, or of not having it, taking into account of their own specific circumstances.

“There has been some talk about doctors being concerned about potential litigation from side-effects of any vaccines. Please be assured that all registered doctors are fully covered – your GP is more concerned with your health.”

Do you think the state of epilepsy care in Australia could be improved?

Do you believe there is enough support, resources and information available?

Epilepsy Smart Australia invites you to participate in an online survey to better understand your needs and the gaps that exist in epilepsy services and supports in Australia.  The survey is open from April 1st to May 31st and should only take you 20 minutes.

This research is being conducted as part of the Epilepsy Smart Australia Program Pilot and will be managed in conjunction with independent consultant KPMG. Your responses will remain anonymous.

Tap this link to access the survey and have your say today!

If you would like more information about how to get involved on a deeper level, please contact Mohana Ryan on 0436 404 895 or mryan@epilepsyfoundation.org.au.

Alternatively, you can email au-fm-EpilepsySmart@kpmg.com.au.

Elephant in the Room! – Kununurra

A training program designed for professionals working in community services, health and education who provide services to children, youth, adults and families who have experienced trauma by Complex Trauma Training WA.

The ‘8 principles of trauma-informed practice’ will be discussed and practical strategies to implement these in various contexts will be explored.

Learning outcomes for this course:

  • Define complex trauma.
  • Discuss the immediate and long term impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s).
  • Identify the impact of trauma on: brain development, attachment and memory.
  • Define Trauma-Informed care.
  • Discuss 8 Principles of trauma-informed care.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to create safe environments and build strong relationships with children, youth, adults and families you work with.
  • Apply an understanding of trauma-informed care to support workers, including self-care strategies to manage secondary traumatic stress (vicarious trauma).
  • Identify resources & further professional development to implement trauma-informed practices in your workplace.

To know more about the training and to register click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

feature tile text 'St Vincent's Hospital transforms delivery of care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people'; image of a empty gurney being pulled through hospital emergency foyer

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.

‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.

You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.

St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley sitting at hospital bed of 49-year-old Aboriginal male patient

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files.  We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.

To view the media release click here.logo 'Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation' circle fish, goanna, blue ochre

Building a more robust medicine supply

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedback on proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.

Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:

  • prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
  • encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
  • support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.

The TGA’s Consultation paper – Building a more robust medicine supply gives further details about proposed mechanisms to prevent and mitigate medicine shortages. For further details about the public consultation and to access the online survey click here.

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

multiple coloured pills in a pile on grey glass surface & plastic pill bottle on side with yellow tablets spilling out

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).

“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.

“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”

To view FPDN’s media release click here and to download FPDN’s resources click here.text 'Get the COVID Jab and help keep our mob safe First Peoples Disability Network Australia' drawing of syringe, 9 virsus cells & one large circles with Aboriginal art in orange with meeting symbols

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.

The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.

To read the full article click here.

photo of Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas standing either side of Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation banner

Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas. Image source: Partyline website.

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.

A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.

It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.

To view the story in full click here.

vector of brain wrapped in yellow tape with text 'UNDER CONSTRUCTION'

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

 Indigenous Pride Heart Studs Flag: Aboriginal Torres Strait Island One of each Flag

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges.  There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified.  Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.

Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”

Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.

The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.

To view the full article click here.

person dressed as Milp the trachoma goanna at AFL game in Alice Springs surrounded by Aboriginal children

Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.Uni of WA & Rural Clinical School of WA logos

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.

For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.

banner text 'World Health Day April 7, pink wooden wall with stethoscope around plasticine world in blue & green