NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

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

Concerns for irreplaceable knowledge loss

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

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

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

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

Summary of Fact-based COVID-19 Communication Resources

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

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

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

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

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

Third vax dose for immunocompromised

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

vax vial, syringe

Image source: The Hill website.

Lowitja’s 20 new research grants

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

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

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

Simple salt swap could save lives

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

Image source: Mary Hare Hearing Services website.

RACGP looks at NT GP challenges

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Image source: Katherine Times.

Kidney disease voices sought

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

letters J O B S pinned to a cork board

World Sight Day

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

Take the pledge to #LoveYourEyes:

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

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Boosting care sector jobs for mob

Feature tile - Thu 30.9.21 - A Life Changing Life

Boosting care sector jobs for mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Life Changing Life

Encouraging others to get the jab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the story in The Border Mail here.

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

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

New vaping laws come into effect tomorrow

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

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

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

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

You can read the media release by the AMA here.

hand holding a vap, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

Keeping a focus on First Nations’ eye health

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

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

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

You can read the article in ANZSOG here.

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

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

‘Australians can beat anything’ vax campaign

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

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

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

You can view the advertisement below.

Ideas for looking after your mental health this October

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

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

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

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

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

Registration for CTG PBS Co-Payment program extended

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

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

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

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

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

Get the treatment you need

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

Big Red Kidney Bus flips from vacations to vaccinations

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

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

Big Red Kidney Bus

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

 

Australian Digital Health Agency – identified positions

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting vaccinated is an act of love

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

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

Note: image source in feature tile – ABC Nightlife.

Surviving COVID-19 a tough road

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

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

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

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

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

VIC vaccination rate for mob

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

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

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

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

To read the full article in The Age click here.

Maria Galea being vaccinated by the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service

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

Orange’s vax rates skyrocket

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culturally appropriate mental healthcare vital

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

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

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

To view the full article in The Junkee click here.

Image source: Sharp Health News.

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vision impaired mob sought

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

National Week of Deaf People

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

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

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

For more information visit the Deaf Australia website here.

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

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

Health problems dire long before COVID-19

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

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

ACCHO trying to meet high vaccine demand

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Worimi Local ALC Andrew Smith receiving first jab

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

Community-led programs to reduce family violence

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

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

To view the media release in full click here.

rear shot of three Aboriginal women in dim light, dusk

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old homelessness interventions don’t work

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

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

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

Image source: CityMag website.

First Nations’ community development framework

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

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

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

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

Overdose deaths remain stubbornly high

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

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

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

Women’s Health Week

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

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

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

Aboriginal mother & two young children, girl, boy

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Pandemic’s huge impact on eye health care

feature tile text 'pandemic's huge impact on eye health care - 500,000+ less eye tests

Image in feature tile from EACH website.

Pandemic’s big impact on eye health care

Analysis of the latest Medicare data shows the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on eye health care. Between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2021, there were 516,906 less eye tests conducted nationally than in the previous 18-month period. This means that there are more than half a million Australians at greater risk of developing an eye condition or losing sight than before the pandemic.

Today, Thursday 14 October 2021 is World Sight Day, and Vision 2020 Australia is calling on all Australians to take the pledge to love their eyes in 2021. With around 90% of blindness and vision impairment preventable or treatable if detected early enough, now is the perfect time for you to show your eyes some love, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vision 2020 is asking all Australians to take the pledge to love their eyes, and:
1. Have an eye test as soon as you can.
2. Don’t ignore changes in your vision.
3. Maintain your ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.

Optometrists nationally are permitted to provide urgent care even during the lockdown so don’t delay seeking treatment if you notice a change in your vision.

To view Vision2020’s media release in full click here.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Additional funds for Kimberley vaxathons

The Morrison Government is providing an additional $150,000 to help local health services deliver additional vaxathons in the Kimberley region. Funds are being administered through the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s Local Investment Fund and will ensure a number of remote communities are targeted by the vaccination drives.

“There is unprecedented collaboration across all levels of Government, health and community support sectors to boost Indigenous vaccination rates – our approaches need to be tailored, varied and culturally appropriate,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, said. “Vaxathons, where communities can host a number of activities in addition to pop-up clinics, are proving to be one of the best opportunities for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to learn more about the vaccines and get vaccinated.”

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

Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vax

Image source: WA Country Health Service.

New cancer website needs reviewers

Cancer Australia needs help to review its new website aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They are looking for 6-8 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have:

  • had some experience with cancer, whether themselves or through a friend or family member; and
  • a computer, tablet or smartphone with a camera and microphone, and a decent internet connection.

Sessions will be:

  • be done by video call which may take up to an hour
  • conducted in late October and over early November

Participants will receive a $50 gift card for their time.

Contact Cancer Australia here before Monday 1 November 2021 with your name and phone number if you are interested in participating, or for more information.

banner text 'helpl to review a new website for Cancer Australia' $50 payment

NLC recommends cautious travel restrictions 

The Northern Land Council – and other NT land councils and Aboriginal health peak bodies like AMSANT and NACCHO – has worked closely with the NT and Federal governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable populations, particularly Aboriginal Territorians living in remote communities and homelands.

The NLC has always been guided by one over-riding principle – to do everything possible to keep our communities safe. So far, so good. Through close and careful cooperation between land councils, the Aboriginal health sector and governments at all levels we have dodged more than a few of the bullets that this terrible virus has thrown at us. Recent events in western NSW illustrate the devastating consequences that poorly-informed and rash decisions can have on Aboriginal communities.

NLC Chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said “The NLC recommends the NT government adopt the very cautious and sensible approach taken by some state governments to restrict travel to those with at least one vaccination dose and preferably two. Only people with double doses of COVID-19 vaccine should be allowed to enter the NT,” said Mr Bush Blanasi.

To view the media release in full click here.

NTG road sign re border restrictions due to COVID-19

Image source: ABC News.

Overrepresentation in jails a ‘source of shame’

Reducing the number of Aboriginal people in prison and improving the health and safety of people in custody are the focus of a renewed commitment by the NSW Government.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin said the Government’s response to the high level of First Nations people in custody and oversight and review of deaths in custody report demonstrates its holistic, statewide approach to improving outcomes for Aboriginal people. “The overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice system remains a true source of shame for this country. Every death that occurs when a person is in custody is a tragedy for loved ones left behind,” Mr Harwin said.

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

hands gripping jail cell bars, overlaid with transparent Aboriginal flag

Image source: Amnesty International Australia website.

Connection to culture linked to HSC success

A new report has identified the successful ways schools are using cultural activities to drive improvements in Aboriginal high school completions. The in-depth study, published by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, analysed the data of almost 40,000 secondary students across the state, including 3,686 who were Aboriginal.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the findings showed that connection to culture, language and heritage was a key driver behind Aboriginal students’ successful HSC attainment.

To view the media release in full click here.

hand of HSC student writing on exam paper

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

$100m+ for Victoria hospital upgrades

In a bid to ensure people living in rural and regional areas have access to the world-class care they deserve close to home, the Victorian Government is spending more than $100 million in vital hospital upgrades across the state. Nearly 80 rural and regional hospitals, community health services and ACCHOs will share in $120 million from the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF).

The program will deliver a variety of 105 projects across 40 rural regional Victoria council areas including operating theatre refurbishments, new waiting rooms and hospital beds, accessible paths and ramps, additional consulting rooms, expansions projects and equipment upgrades.

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

arm of hospital patient lying in bed with canula in hand

Image source: The Conversation.

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.

50 years of Census inclusion

The 1967 Referendum saw Australians overwhelmingly vote “Yes” to support the amendment of the Constitution to mandate this inclusion. To acknowledge the occasion, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is inviting you to join this opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share their stories about the Referendum and 50 years acknowledgment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Census.

The event is being held from 6-7 PM Tuesday 19 October 2021 at the National Museum of Australia and will include an interactive panel discussion with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander panel members including:

  • Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, Tagalaka traditional owner and Deputy CEO, NACCHO
  • Professor Peter Yu AM, Yawuru man and Vice-President First Nations at the ANU
  • Romlie Mokak, Djugun man, member of the Yawuru people and Commissioner, Productivity Commission
  • Fiona Cornforth, Wuthathi descendant of the far northeast cape of Queensland with family roots also in the Torres Strait Islands, CEO Healing Foundation

This event will be livestreamed. To register click here.

banner text 'you are invited to 50 year acknowledgement of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census' & old black & white photo of census officer & Aboriginal mum & baby

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 impact on young mob

COVID-19 impact on young mob

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke with Dan Bourchier on ABC News about the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW and the vaccination roll-out and uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Ms Turner said that it was very concerning to see the average age of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who contracted COVID-19 in NSW in the last day was 24 years old.

“I am really concerned about the impact it’s having on our young people and I implore you all to please stay at home,” said Ms Turner.

She also said she was very pleased to see that daily increases of the Pfizer vaccine is being rolled out in Western NSW.

“We really need all of the state health authorities to be working in partnership and collaborating with our community controlled health sector and making sure they have a constant supply,” she said.

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

Lieutenant General John Frewen, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and CEO of NACCHO Pat Turner have co-signed a letter addressing COVID-19 vaccinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The letter that will be sent to Australian COVID-19 vaccine delivery partners states that we all have an important role to play in providing culturally safe vaccination services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“For all Indigenous Australians to be vaccinated and bridge the current gap, we are asking the whole primary care sector to work together and ensure there is equitable COVID-19 vaccine uptake across Australia.”

You can download the letter here.

An article by Croakey Health Media addresses the same issue: Rushed efforts to halt the alarming spread of COVID-19 in Aboriginal communities in western NSW will fail if they do not have cultural safety at their core. That’s the warning from national, state and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders. Responses that are not culturally safe will risk adding to vaccine hesitancy and disengagement with public health orders and add to the trauma experienced by Aboriginal people amid a public health emergency.

Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), said there are “huge risks” in “shipping out” mainstream health teams that have not worked before in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities or done cultural safety training. Failure to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of “knowing, being and doing” often ends up in non-Indigenous people and services making uninformed judgements or blaming communities “and then that turns people off being vaccinated”, she said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service's Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service’s Belinda Woodham, Scott Porter & Katrina Ward joined by volunteers from @Uni_Newcastle School Nursing & Midwifery Professors Amanda Johnson, Rhonda Wilson, Donna Hartz with Managers Sally Loughnan & Tabitha Jones of Royal Flying Doctor Service. Photo courtesy of Dharriwaa Elders Group, Croakey Health Media.

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

The Army has been called into western NSW, and drive-through clinics are being set up in Dubbo, in a race to vaccinate the community as the COVID outbreak worsens. The outback town of Bourke had its first case confirmed earlier this week, along with further cases in Dubbo, Walgett and Mudgee.

“Nearly 40 per cent are kids between the ages of 10 and 19,” Western NSW Health’s Mr McLachlan said.

“This is a really serious warning for parents of kids running around everywhere at the moment. Please stay home.”

Mr McLachlan said there were low rates of vaccination among Aboriginal children and called on people to get vaccinated, and stressed that Pfizer is available. He urged residents to reach out to local Aboriginal Medical Centres, GP’s, vaccination hubs, respiratory clinics and prompted use of the Health Direct website.

You can read the article online at the NITV website.
To check where you can get your vaccine, visit the Health Direct website here.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

Sign for Bourke Aboriginal Health Service. Image source: NITV website.

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

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

Connecting to Country grants program 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.

Supporting women birthing Aboriginal babies webinar

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.