NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO joins pre-election health discussion

Image in feature tile, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 May 2022.

NACCHO joins pre-election health discussion

Yesterday Dr Norman Swan, who hosts the ABC Radio National Health Report, said as it has been a long election campaign with not much on health it had been decided for last Health Report before the election to try and cover health issues that have not been covered in the campaign by the major parties. Dr Norman Swan has hosted the pre-election health discussion with four experts talking about the pressing issues: what are the most pronounced problems, what type of care is the most effective, how should rebates work, and what health questions have not been raised at all.

The discussion begins with Dr Swan asking NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM about the recent study done of the economics of health care in Aboriginal communities. Ms Turner said that NACCHO commissioned Equity Economics to look at the gap in health expenditure in terms of what is paid by the government for all Australians and for Aboriginal people. It was found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people require an additional $5,042 per head of population which equates to a $4.4 billion shortfall in funding Aboriginal health in this country – $2.6 billion from the Commonwealth and $1.8 billion from the states and territories in terms of what they should be inputting.

Ms Turner said the figures had been adjusted for the health status of Aboriginal people, who have, on average, over two times the burden of disease that other Australians with a life expectancy still 8–9 years below that of other Australians. Ms Turner then outlined some horrific statistics: Aboriginal people are 3.7 times more likely to have kidney disease, 3.3 times more likely to have diabetes, 3.2 times more likely to suicide as youth, 2.1 times more likely to die in infancy and youth are 55 times more likely to die from RHD. What is driving this is, Ms Turner said, is the overall lack of equal funding to make up for the health gap, “we can’t close the gap between the life outcomes of our people until we get at least equal funding as other Australians do, on basis of need.”

You can listen to the ABC Radio National episode Considering health issues ahead of an election of the Health Report with Dr Norman Swan here.

Nigel Morton and half of the 500 residents of his town, Ampilatwatja, NT have diabetes. Image source: ABC News website.

Remote communities pay 39% more for food

Residents in remote Aboriginal communities pay the highest average price for food in Australia. Advocates say the next PM must act to ensure affordable, healthy food is available for all Australians. The local supermarket is the heart of Wirrimanu, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in WA’s Kimberley region. It’s the only shop of its size for 300 kms and it’s only open limited hours each day, supplying fresh and dry food, as well as clothing, basic furniture and some white goods.

Plastic curtains hang over the front door to keep dust and flies out, as residents enter to pick up their goods and use the ATM. But what’s really surprising about the store are the prices on the shelves. When SBS News visited the Wirrimanu Community Store, a 380g jar of Vegemite was selling for $13.25; a plain loaf of white bread for $4.99 and a two litre bottle of orange juice was priced at $7.20. A 500g bag of San Remo pasta cost $4.40 while a 250g packet of Arnott’s biscuits cost $5.85.

The National Indigenous Australians Agency estimates that residents of remote communities pay 39 per cent more for supermarket supplies than consumers in capital cities, and the gap could be widening. Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito was browsing the aisles, and told SBS News the community has little option but to pay the prices. “If people are desperate and hungry, they will buy whatever they must,” he said. Ronald has diabetes and said he’s trying to improve his diet, but the availability of fresh, affordable food is a major problem.

To view the SBS News article Remote communities pay 39 per cent more at the supermarket checkout than city shoppers. Here’s why that’s a problem. in full click here.

Wirrimanu resident Ronald Mosquito says the community has few other options but to pay the prices. Image source: SBS News website.

Opportunity to transform Australia’s eye health

One of the most important presentations at this year’s 52nd RANZCO Congress was the launch of the college’s Vision 2030 and Beyond plan to overcome Australia’s long-standing and complex eye health equity issues. One of the presenters Dr Kristen Bell called for an Atlas of healthcare delivery to help address healthcare variance, depending on where people live. In her presentation on service delivery issues, Dr Bell – the Vision 2030 and Beyond clinical lead – said ophthalmology differs from other specialties, with 80% being outpatient care-based and 20% surgical. Chronic sight threatening conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration make up the bulk of ophthalmic service delivery, with acute care often bypassing surgery and emergency to the outpatient setting.

Dr Bell presented maps of Australia showing very few public care areas outside of urban areas. NT and WA fund outreach from Darwin, Alice Springs and Broome, respectively, while Tasmania has recently started funding an additional service in the NW of the state, giving these three jurisdictions the best regional coverage. But across Australia, 30% of entire population and 65% of Indigenous patients have no or limited access to a publicly funded local outpatient service.

To view the Insight article A pivotal opportunity to transform Australia’s eye health in full click here.

Auntie Emily at the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Darwin Photo: Brien Holden Vision Institute. Image source: Optometry Australia.

TIS National Coordinator on new vaping laws

In the below video, National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Professor Tom Calma AO answers questions including:

    • What is vaping?
    • What are the current laws around nicotine vapes?
    • Can nicotine vaping help me stop smoking?

This video forms part of a campaign created by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the National Best Practice Unit for Tackling Indigenous Smoking. You can view other resources, including a brochure and posters, developed for the campaign here.

NPS MedicineWise low literacy consumer resource

NPS MedicineWise has developed a number of low literacy consumer resources, which aims to support conversations between a Health Care provider and patient (or patient representative) regarding medicine choice for treatment of mild COVID illness in people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and are at higher risk of disease progression.

The medicines mentioned in the resources are the two oral antivirals and the monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab. There are also FAQs for prescribers and dispensers working in ACCHOs for these same three medicines. The links below to the low literacy factsheets for use in ACCHOs and remote communities can be found on the NPS MedicinesWise website.

Paxlovid, Lagevrio (Molnupiravir), Sotrovimab (Xevudy). Image sources: FirstWord Pharma+, Medical Update Online, The Guardian, GSK UK Products.

Health services need to cater for the whole person

The University of Melbourne on-line Pursuit magazine has published an article Embracing Queer Indigenous Australia – Health services need to cater to the whole person as a human right, and that includes Indigenous LGBTIQ+ Australians by Todd Fernando, Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities and University of Melbourne.  In the article, Todd Fernando says: I’ve been fortunate in my life to build a strong sense of pride in my identity as a queer Wiradjuri man. Despite this, my intersectionality – the way different identities can marginalise people or expose them to discrimination – is sometimes misunderstood, particularly in health settings.

This experience rings true for many queer Indigenous people, as evidenced in my recently submitted doctoral thesis exploring health equity for queer Indigenous people. The findings of my own and previous research highlight the need for services to understand the importance of catering to the full person. Because as humans, we don’t divide easily. Without further data that truly captures the lived experience of queer Indigenous people, no effective changes to systems can be lobbied for. The belief that heterosexuality is the preferred or ‘normal’ sexual orientation is as much a direct threat to the survival and advancement of queer Indigenous people as racism is.

To view Todd Fernando’s article in full click here.

Image source: 2SER Breakfast radio.

Keep mob healthy this winter with flu vax

The Lung Foundation of Australia are conducting a campaign from mid-May to June to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be vaccinated against respiratory diseases this flu season. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over six months are eligible for a free flue vaccination. You can access the Lung Foundation Australia website for more information 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.

Arthritis Australia National Grants Program

Arthritis Australia has long been a leader in funding nationally and internationally based research programs to find solutions in the management of Arthritis. In the past three years Arthritis Australia has awarded many research projects, fellowships, scholarships, project grants and grant-in-aid projects from an annual donation sum of $7m.  Arthritis Australia’s National Grants Program is currently accepting applications for 2023. This year we are welcoming applications for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship sponsored by Janssen.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellowship is for research to be undertaken in 2023 for a duration of 12 months, in the field of Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Fellowship will be awarded to a researcher who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or who has a team member who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The researcher must be currently undertaking post-doctoral work or following a recently completed Rheumatology Advanced training.

Applications are open until Friday 8 July 2022.

The can access further information about the National Research program here and the Fellowship Application form here. Applications should be forwarded to Arthritis Australia using this email link. If you have any further queries, please email Arthritis Australia using the email address here or call the Arthritis Australia office on 02 9518 4441.

Image source: Merri Health.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $4.4 billion gap in funding for First Nations health

$4.4 billion gap in funding for First Nations health

An Equity Economics report commissioned, and released today, by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has identified a $4.4 billion gap in Commonwealth, State and Territory Government and private health expenditure.

The report’s findings are alarming and highlight some of the obstacles to improving the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Conservative estimates indicate there is a gap of $5,042 in health expenditure per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO, said, ‘It is no wonder that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to live lives 8-9 years shorter than other Australians. It is no wonder that our children are 55 times more likely to die of rheumatic heart disease than non-Aboriginal children.’

The report’s calculations account for the burden of disease being more than twice the rate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population than for the non-Aboriginal population, which translates to at least twice the cost-of-service provision.

Donnella Mills, Chair of NACCHO said, ‘I am disturbed by the findings of this report and how extensive the funding gap is. How can we improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when there is a $4.4 billion funding deficit? Structural reform and substantial funding investment is required and we have shown how this process can commence in our last pre-budget submission.’

Pat Turner said, ‘The Commonwealth has had the opportunity to fix its share of the funding gap in three big-spending budgets focused on stimulus measures during the pandemic. If it had invested in our sector, it could have delivered, at the same time, financial stimulus to the 550 local economies where our services are located.’

‘NACCHO calls upon all governments ahead of the election to close the funding gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

The full report can be accessed on NACCHO’s website here.

NACCHO’s media release can be viewed on the NACCHO website here and two related infographics are available here.

Image of NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM in The OZ article It’s time to close the health gap between Australians. 9 May 2022.

NACCHO CEO contributes to The Policymaker

The James Martin Institute for Public Policy (JMI) has today launched The Policymaker, a new digital publication for policymakers across Australia, profiling policy innovations and new insights on significant and hard policy challenges. From public health to education reform and the circular economy, The Policymaker covers a wide spectrum of contemporary issues. To tackle these challenges, contributing authors present new, practical, insights drawn from their expertise or experience. Launch authors include: Laureate Professor Peter Doherty AC, (Melbourne) Nobel Prize-wining immunologist and pathologist, Professor Ian Hickie AM, (Sydney) Co-Director of the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Veena Sahajwalla (UNSW), 2022 NSW Australian of the Year, and Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

The articles written for the launch of The Policymaker represent the range and ambition of JMI which aim to give policymakers in NSW and across Australia easy access to leading thinkers from a diverse range of disciplines and areas of practice, in order to propel the policy discussion forward.

To view the JMI media release Peter Doherty AC and Pat Turner AM among those contributing ideas to shape the future of Australian Public Policy in full click here.

Doctors struggle to communicate with mob

Doctors at Royal Darwin hospital struggle to communicate with Aboriginal patients, and that shortcoming can sometimes be fatal. A podcast featuring Aboriginal elders answering doctors’ questions aims to help better deliver culturally safe care.

On Health Report with Dr Norman Swan on ABC Radio National How doctors communicate with Indigenous patients hosted by Tegan Taylor with guest Vicki Kerrigan, a  from the Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin.

In the Royal Darwin Hospital there is a well documented divide, the majority of the patients are Aboriginal and the majority of the healthcare provides are not and the culture and language barriers wrapped up in this have real health implications for patients. Vicki Kerrigan, a researcher in intercultural communication at the Menzies School of Health Research has found that doctors really want to deliver good care to Aboriginal people but they aren’t always sure how to, so she and her colleagues have created a podcast that brings together common questions that healthcare workers have and put them to the experts in this case Aboriginal leaders. The podcast is called Ask the Specialist – Larrakia, Tiwi Yolgnu stories to inspire better health care.

You can listen to the ABC Radio National Health Report episode here.

Photo: Johnny Greig, Getty Images. Image source: ABC Rational National website.

PrioritEYES survey closes this FRIDAY!

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. The PrioritEYES eye health and vision care survey is CLOSING THIS FRIDAY!  

A link to complete the survey has been sent from NACCHO to all member services CEOs and Practice Managers via email.   

We need to hear from you to help us determine the priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye care. 

The survey closes on Friday 13 May 2022, have your say!

$6.1m boost for Preventing FASD Project

Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the McGowan Labor Government is expanding WAs successful Preventing FASD Project with a $6.1 million funding boost to be included in the upcoming State Budget. Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes a range of permanent and lifelong conditions caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, including physical, mental and behavioural disabilities. Developed as part of the McGowan Government’s Commitment to Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing in 2020, the Project aims to reduce the incidence of FASD by raising awareness that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause permanent damage to the brain of the developing baby.

To view the WA Government’s media release $6.1 million to boost to Preventing FASD Project to change lives for the better in full click here.

Image source: The Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education website.

Living with COVID-19 resources for mob

A range of COVID-19 resources list below have been developed by the Australian Government Department of Health specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, covering the following topics:

  • I have COVID-19. What should I do?
  • Get tested if you feel unwell
  • COVID-19 can affect everyone in our community
  • I have COVID-19 and feel really sick. When should I call 000?
  • Look after yourself while you’re isolating at home
  • Don’t be shame
  • Easily spread
  • Keep 2 big steps away from people
  • Stay at home. Stop the spread.

You can download all of these resources from the Department of Health’s website here.

Don’t be shame tile from Department of Health website.

National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study

As part of the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians, the Attorney-General’s Department commissioned an extensive empirical examination of elder abuse in Australia, the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. The report notes that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, the understanding of elder abuse is situated within the history of colonisation and its consequences, including dispossession from traditional lands, removal of children and the disruption of cultural norms in relation to respect and care for elders. Research on elder abuse among Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities is scarce but existing sources have drawn attention to cultural norms concerning resource sharing being distorted as a lever for financial abuse. The ‘I never thought it would happen to me’ report concluded that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older people are at ‘greater risk’ of elder abuse and that it may occur at a younger age for these groups.

Further research on elder abuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups outside of WA is also required, including research that takes into account the diverse circumstances of communities in rural, regional and remote areas in keeping with recognition of the need for policy and services to be developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in a culturally safe way such research should be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

You can view the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study: final report on the Australian Institute of Family Studies website here and watch a No More Humbug animation illustrating the negative effects of financial abuse of Aboriginal elders below, from the Kimberley Community Legal Services website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Image in the feature tile is from the Brian Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) website.

Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times more vision loss than non-Indigenous people, creating a concerning gap for vision. Associate Professor Hessom Razavi from The University of WA explains that much of this is due to diabetic macular oedema (DMO).  Macular oedema blurs the central vision, diminishing the ability to recognise people’s faces, to drive and work, and perform other essential tasks. DMO affects around 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with most of them of working age.

The good news is DMO is treatable, with medications known as anti-VEGF agents. A world-first clinical trail has been undertaken to test longer-acting DMO treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people patients find it impractical, for complex and varied reasons, to attend 10–12 appointments a year. There is, therefore, a need for an alternative. Longer-acting medications do exist. One example is a dexamethasone implant, a steroid injected into the eye which only needs to be dosed every three months.

You can view the Longer-acting eye treatment could reduce vision loss for Indigenous Australians article in full here and a short video from The Fred Hollows Foundation website explaining the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Help stop the flu in 2022

Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. This year, it’s even more important to get the influenza vaccine as we are more vulnerable to influenza. This is due to lower recent exposure to the virus and lower uptake of influenza vaccines in 2021. With international borders reopening, it’s likely we will see more influenza in 2022.

Who should get an influenza vaccine – vaccination experts recommend influenza vaccination for all people aged 6 months and over. Under the National Immunisation Program, free influenza vaccines are provided to the following groups who are at higher risk of complications from influenza:

  • children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
  • pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over.

Influenza vaccines are available NOW – FREE influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program became available this month and can be administered by GPs, community health clinics, and eligible pharmacies. To locate a service in your area you can search the National Health Services Directory. Book your appointment to get vaccinated to ensure you have the best protection at the peak of the season (usually June to September). However, it’s never too late to get  vaccinated as influenza can spread all year round.

For further information you can access the Department of Health’s Help stop the flu in 2022 website page here.

Telehealth’s role in modern health care

In recent years teleconsultations have played a growing role in the delivery of healthcare and support services across Australia. Far from a stop-gap measure, these services are set to become one of the standout legacies from the global pandemic. The government has announced it will invest AU$100 million towards making telehealth a permanent option in the healthcare system. This comes on the back of consistent research indicating confidence in the method and a lasting appetite for its convenience. A recent white paper by Deloitte, Curtin University and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia found that seven in 10 Australians are willing and ready to use virtual health services.

The research also found that geographical disparity is one of the biggest causes of inconsistent patient outcomes across the country. With the availability of videoconferencing services, people no longer need to leave their homes to receive care, and providers can ensure those in inaccessible areas aren’t left behind. We saw an example of this in the remote aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, which, during March 2020 and January 2021, faced a shortage of healthcare professionals due to a state border closure with SA. Following the introduction of telehealth services, the 160 residents had reliable access to virtual care for chronic conditions and mental health issues.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article The role of telehealth in modern health care click here.

welcome to Tjuntjuntjara hand painted sign beside outback red sand road

Image source: ExporOZ.

New COVID-19 oral treatment on PBS

From Sunday 1 May 2022 the second, prescription-only, COVID-19 oral treatment will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) is an oral anti-viral medicine which can be used by patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing severe disease. This medicine will help reduce the need for hospital admission.

Adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 – which is confirmed by a PCR or a Rapid Antigen Test and verified by the prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner – and who can start treatment within five days of symptom onset, can be prescribed the oral anti-viral medicines if:

  • they are 65 years of age or older, with two other risk factors for severe disease (as increasing age is a risk factor, patients who are 75 years of age of older only need to have one other risk factor)
  • they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and are 50 years of age or older with two other risk factors for severe disease, or
  • they are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

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

Image source: ABC News.

AIHW releases mental health papers.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released two important publications:

Employment and Indigenous mental health

  • this paper provides an overview of policies and programs that address Indigenous employment and mental health and evaluates the evidence that labour force outcomes can improve Indigenous mental health.

Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention

  • this article provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention. It explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

You can view the Employment and Indigenous mental health paper in full here and the Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention article here.

Aged and dementia care scholarships 

Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships.  Applications for studies in 2022 are open until 5 May 2022 to nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals.

The  Department of Health’s Ageing and Aged Care Sector Newsletter article Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships available here includes comments from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Alison McMillian, Chief Allied Health Officer Dr Anne-marie Boxall, and previous scholarship recipients.

Additional information about the scholarships is available on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

Kurranulla’s Aboriginal aged care and disability worker Larissa McEwen with her client, Aunty Loyla Lotaniu. Photo: John Veage. Image source: St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.

$25m to fix ‘dehumanising’ Banksia Hill conditions

The Banskia Hill juvenile detention centre will receive a $25.1 million upgrade after it was slammed by a Perth Children’s Court judge as a “dehumanising” space. The money will go towards a $7.5 million crisis care unit, improvement to the centre’s intensive supervision unit, in-cell media streaming for education and therapeutic purposes, and a new Aboriginal services unit.

While sentencing a 15-year old boy for a range of offences, in February, Perth Children’s Court President Judge Hylton Quail said “if you wanted to make a monster, this is the way to do it”.

To view the ABC News article Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre gets $25 million to address ‘dehumanising’ conditions, cut incarceration rates in full click here.

parents of children inside Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre protesting

Parents of children inside Banksia Hill have recently spoken out about conditions inside the centre and are considering a class action. Photo supplied by Megan Krakouer. Image source: ABC News.

In a related story Condobolin Health Worker Ellen Doolan says while people have got to feel safe in their own homes, sending more Indigenous kids into juvenile detention is not the solution. Elderly Aboriginal people in Condobolin are just as frightened as elderly whites, she says. Many of the kids ­involved have grown up in ­“extremely tough circumstances” and are being raised by elderly grandmothers. “We’ve already got the highest rate of incarceration of any people in this country and so a lot of the fathers are in jail and now a lot of the mothers are too,” ­Doolan says. To view Ellen Doolan speaking click here.

Condobolin AHW Ellen Doolan

Condobolin health worker Ellen Doolan. Image source: The Australian.

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.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 3:30 PM–4:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 21 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health on the panel this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO selected to drive home care workforce

Image in feature tile from IRT Group article Booraja Home Care Secures Funding Through End of June, 3 February 2020.

NACCHO selected to drive home care workforce

NACCHO is one of six organisations selected by the federal government to drive the growth of the Australia’s home care workforce by 13,000 over the next two years, and support more senior Australians to access Home Care Packages and remain independent at home. More than $91 million under the Home Care Workforce Support Program has been allocated to organisations in each state and territory, and to the NACCHO.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, said all home care providers can work with these organisations to grow and upskill their workforce. “The Home Care Workforce Support Program will help senior Australians to remain at home by growing the personal care workforce. This will allow people to access home care services where and when they need them,” Minister Hunt said.

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

Booraja project manager Bunja Smith helps Veronica Holmes tidy the front yard of her Moruya home. Photo: Rhett Wyman. Image source: SMH.

Dementia rates show racism’s lifelong impact

In his article Dementia Rates of Indigenous Australians show the lifelong impact of racism Nick Keppler argues “The collective trauma of Australia’s Indigenous population may have begat one of the highest dementia rates in the world.” Mr Keppler said “A new study published last month in Neurology, that found the prevalence of dementia in a group of Indigenous Australians living in urban areas was double that of non-Indigenous Australians, echos the findings of a growing body of research.”

Mr Keppler continued “Several health problems and unfortunate life circumstances increase one’s risk of dementia, and many of them are heaped disproportionately onto marginalised and persecuted groups. To look at dementia among Australia’s First Nations population is to look at how the effects of colonialism, racism, and inequity pile up in the brain over a lifetime.”

To view the Inverse article in full click here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia supported by workers L-R Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke. ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News website.

ACCHO model lauded by CHF

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the recommendations in the Community Affairs References Committee’s interim report into the provision of general practitioner and related primary health care services to outer metropolitan, rural and regional Australia. CHF CEO, Leanne Wells said that the report focuses on some of the major issues encountered by regional health consumers, who “have very different experiences accessing primary health care than do people living in cities.”

Ms Wells was disappointed however that the report made no mention of the more systemic reforms to primary care, such as a connected system of primary care, integrating general practice with other health services. “Incorporating new models of care which have already been tested with great success in location-based, or state-based initiatives would be a huge step forward in changing the infrastructure needed to support general practice,” said Ms Wells.

There are existing models of care already demonstrating system reform, such as ACCHOs which operate clinics across Australia delivering holistic community-based is health care services for First Nations people, as well as some state-based models offering community-based medical services.

To view the CHF media release in full click here.

Image source: Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation, NSW website.

Gap widens for children in early years

SNAICC have issued a media release saying it is critical that Governments act now to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children if there is to be progress on closing the gap. For the second time in a week new data shows the gap is widening in critical areas relating to young people. The Australian Early Development Census National Report released yesterday shows there has been a decrease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child development overall across key measures (domains). SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said the declines highlighted the importance of Governments acting on the solutions put forward by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early childhood services.

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

Image source: National Indigenous Australians Agency website.

AKction project transforms kidney health

In 2018, a funding cut put an end to a free shuttle bus that took Aboriginal patients in Adelaide to and from the dialysis treatments. Nari Sinclair, a Ngarrindjeri and Yorta Yorta woman, was furious about the implications, for herself and others. Reliant on a wheelchair because both her legs have been amputated, Nari is unable to drive, catch public transport or take a standard taxi, and face significant inconvenience and costs as a result of the funding cut. She knew of other kidney patients who were also hit hard.

Determined to fight the decision, Nari joined forces with Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Elder Inawinytji (Ina) Williamson, a renowned artist who was forced more than a decade ago to move to Adelaide, away from Country, family and friends, for dialysis treatment that cannot be access in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

They got together for a yarn about how the complex clinical, cultural and social determinants impact Aboriginal people, families and communities affected by chronic kidney disease. Nari and Ina then met with Kidney Health Australia and University Adelaide researcher Dr Janet Kelly, who was working with kidney health professionals on a project to improve the quality and cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s healthcare journeys, particularly for those from remote communities. “And it’s gone from there,” Nari sad of how she, Ina and Janet worked with others to launch what would become the landmark Aboriginal Kidney Care Together – Improving Outcomes Now (AKction) project. It is transforming kidney health research and care.

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

From back L: Amy Graham, Dr Kim O’Donnell, Kelli Owen, Ina Williamson

From back L: Amy Graham, Dr Kim O’Donnell, Kelli Owen, Ina Williamson. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Tom Calma presents Basil Hetzel Oration

A transcript of the 2021 Basil Hetzel Oration delivered by Professor Tom Calma AO was published in the 2022 Online Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health last week. In his oration Professor Calma specifically addressed the crises of COVID-19, racism, mental health and smoking. Below are two extracts for the oration:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at increased risk from COVID-19 given the higher prevalence of health risk factors amongst our populations, implicated with coloniality and systemic racism. However, the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has meant that we have taken the pandemic seriously from the outset. In bringing prevention measures to communities, Indigenous skill and excellence have been highlighted. We must use this momentum to address ongoing issues among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples brought through colonisation, systemic racism and associated health inequalities.”

“We have known for over 60 years that, when used as directed, tobacco will kill you. Colonisation introduced and continues to support tobacco use. Tobacco was often used in first encounters between colonisers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as a gesture of goodwill and to establish and build relationships. It was also used as a form of payment in lieu of wages until the mid to late 1960s. This entrenched smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Colonisation has also actively placed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder – an outcome that has impacted over generations through mechanics of colonisation that have actively excluded us from the education system and the economy. Socioeconomic status is strongly linked to smoking, and other health and wellbeing outcomes, in an unjust, perpetual and predacious cycle.”

To view Tom Calma’s oration in full click here.

Professor Tom Calma AO. Image source: The Guardian.

Nominate for eye health awards

Nominations are invited for the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Awards. The awards – formerly known as the Leaky Pipe Awards – recognise achievements and contributions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health.

Nominations are open in the following categories:

  • Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health by Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHO)
  • Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health (Individual)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership in eye health
  • Allyship in contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health

‘Unsung heroes’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health are particularly sought.

Click here to find out more. Nominations must be received before close of business on Friday 22 April 2022.

Kristopher Rallah-Baker has become Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist

Kristopher Rallah-Baker has become Australia’s first Indigenous ophthalmologist. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Indigenous Eye Health Conference

The 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC22) will take place on Larrakia country in Darwin from 22-24 May 2022. Presented by Indigenous Eye Health (IEH), the NATSIEHC22 conference aims to advance the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector towards the shared goal of improving eye health access and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Key note speakers at this conferences are: Jaki Adams, Thomas Mayor and Nicole Turner. Delegates will include representatives from ACCHOs and other primary care service providers, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

To find out more about the conference and key note speakers click here and/or register to attend here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

feature tile text 'Close the Gap Cmpaign Report 2022 - Transforming power: voices for generational change launches tomorrow' & 1972 photo of Aboriginal protestors

Image in feature tile from the Library & Archives NT is of demonstrators protesting for land rights outside the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, 20 July 1972.

Close the Gap 2022 report launches tomorrow

The Australian Human Rights Commission and Reconciliation Australia are delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2022 Close the Gap Campaign report “Transforming Power; Voices for generational change”, produced by the Lowitja Institute.

The report showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led community initiatives, that recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, provide genuine opportunities for decision making and that strengthen and embed cultures.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see and hear keynote speakers and panel members talk about how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their allies, are working to address health equity and equality.

The report will be launched tomorrow on National Close the Gap Day during the  webinar from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM AEDT Thursday 17 March 2022. To register for the webinar click here. The webinar is FREE, but registration is essential.

ACCHO partners with Diabetes SA

Towards the end of 2021, Moorundi ACCHS contacted Diabetes SA to arrange for an educator to visit their clinic to service the community in Murray Bridge. This partnership has been positive for both parties.

The local catchment area in Murray Bridge, SA, has a significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and the rates of diabetes are high. Being a regional area, timely access to Credentialled Diabetes Educators is limited. Moorundi ACCHS identified this gap and reached out to Diabetes SA for assistance. Moorundi has partnered with Diabetes SA to have a Credentialled Diabetes Educator visit the clinic once a month to provide culturally appropriate consultations and education about diabetes. So far, we have had two successful clinics with a third scheduled for March 2022. Together, the aim is to improve the management of diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Murray Bridge.

To access the Moorundi ACCHS website click here and to access the Diabetes SA website click here.

Moorundi ACCHS staff. Image source: Moorundi ACCHS website.

AMA calls out dumping of PHC 10-year plan

The AMA is calling on the Federal Government to urgently release its Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan, which appears to have been dumped, despite over two years of development and significant input from stakeholders. The Government gave a commitment in October 2019 to develop a national Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan to strengthen and modernise Australia’s primary health care system.

The system has been struggling to cope with an increasing workload as the Australian population ages and people’s health needs become more complex. AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the Government’s failure to deliver the reform and support necessary to equip GPs into the future represented a major policy backflip.

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

Image source: Delivering Better Care for Patients: The AMA 10-Year Framework for Primary Care Reform

Family violence surges after floods

Catastrophic flooding in NSW and SE Queensland has led to lost lives, homes, belongings, pets and livelihoods. As the process of cleaning up after the floods continues, we can expect an often unspoken outcome of natural disasters. Domestic violence rates surge during and after bushfires, pandemics, earthquakes, cyclones and floods.

Fear and uncertainty are common during disasters and people’s reactions to disasters vary. In some, these feelings can trigger domestic and other types of violence. The many associated losses related to disasters – including loss of homes and their contents, cars and livelihoods – often cause financial strain, which may also place added pressure on families and relationships.

Grief, loss and trauma can also leave people feeling overwhelmed and test a person’s coping skills. Experiencing life-threatening situations or those that bring about loss and trauma can also lead to mental health issues, such as PTSD. This too, can complicate family dynamics and change people’s ability to cope. Drug and alcohol use often soars during and after disasters, which may also exacerbate tensions in relationships.

When people are displaced and need to stay with other community members or in shelters, the rates of violence against women also rises. In those cases, women and children tend to experience more violence in general, not just domestic violence.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

A related article looks at the first episode of Taking care for 2022 – a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.

screenshot of Taking care Health practitioners' role in eliminating family violence whooshkaa, 43:12 minutes' & image of two female GPs

Image source: Ahpra & National Boards website.

RANZCO launches vision for eye equity

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has launched its “vision for 2030 and beyond” that aims to deliver equal and sustainable access to eye care for all. The ambitious plan was described at RANZCO Scientific Congress, a virtual event held from 26 February to 1 March 2022.

In his opening address, RANZCO President Professor Nitin Verma highlighted the importance of sight to general well-being and the impact of eye disease and low vision, including increased dementia, falls, car crashes etc. as well as the economic/financial cost. He said “considerable” inequity of access to eye care across Australia is often the single cause of irreversible, unnecessary and preventable vision loss.

The plan has been launched in response to a request in 2021 from the Federal Minister for Health, for a plan that would close the eye health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and ensure equitable eye care for all Australians, with the aim of eliminating avoidable visual impairment and blindness. The evidence-based plan looks at the problems RANZCO currently sees in eye healthcare delivery through six key areas of focus: service delivery, workforce and training, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare, global eye health, preventative healthcare and sustainability.

To view the mivision The Ophthalmic Journal article in full click here. The short film below examines the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Impacts of racism on health and wellbeing

The Australian Government Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner (ONRHC) has issued a Position Statement: impacts of racism on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. The key points of the statement include:

There is strong evidence of the impact of racism and barriers to accessing health services for Indigenous people negatively impacting a range of health outcomes for Indigenous people irrespective of geography
• Racism negatively impacts the attraction, recruitment, retention and leadership opportunities of the Indigenous health workforce.
• Understanding and addressing racism is a key to increasing the uptake of health services and improving health outcomes.
• Transformational change can only be achieved when Indigenous knowledge and cultures are acknowledged and recognised and services are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

The statement says the ONRHC will work towards dismantling racism in the health sector by working closely with Indigenous leaders and peak health organisations to advise Governments, medical institutions, colleges and universities to ensure racism is acknowledged and addressed.

You can access the ONRHC Position Statement in full here.

Image source: New Scientist.

Creating equitable access to hearing healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have among the highest rates of otitis media and hearing loss in the world – and social determinants of health such as hygiene, nutrition and overcrowding of housing are key risk factors for otits media. From the start of their lives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children experience inequity in hearing health – Indigenous children aged up to 14 years are three times as likely to have otitis media as non-Indigenous children, and are twice as likely to have a long-term ear/hearing problem. Hearing loss can have a catastrophic effect on the lives of Aboriginal children and their families, impacting the life trajectory from childhood development to academic outcomes through to over-representation in the criminal justice system.

Early intervention is critical to diagnosing and treating ear disease and improving the quality of children’s lives. However, despite decades of research demonstrating that early detection and timely intervention are key to diagnosing and treating ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, not enough progress has been made in providing culturally safe, accessible and equitable hearing health services.

The interview conducted by the Director of the HEAR Centre at Macquarie University, Professor Catherine McMahon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, Professor Tom Calma, Professor Kelvin Kong and Associate Professor Boe Rambaldini examined the problems and solutions for creating better, culturally appropriate services to meet the needs of communities where hearing health problems are being neglected.

To read a transcript of the interview click here.

Image source: Macquarie University website.

Hidden e-cigarette dangers awareness campaign

Young people are urged to quit vaping and know the facts and dangers of e-cigarettes, which can contain harmful substances found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell have launched Get the Facts – Vaping Toolkit and NSW Health awareness campaign.

The campaign, which is aimed at secondary students, reminds parents, carers, young people and teachers vaping is not safe and can have harmful, long-term effects to the physical and brain development of young people. Minister Hazzard said that research has proven that e-cigarettes are just as addictive and harmful as regular cigarettes. “It makes it pretty obvious as to the harm it can cause to youngsters’ lungs.”

Many vapes contain nicotine, some at extremely high concentrations, even if they are not labelled as such, and evidence suggests they can lead to a lifelong nicotine addiction. NSW Health has worked with the NSW Department of Education to develop the Vaping Toolkit, which contains evidence-based resources and educational materials for parents, carers, young people and schools, to combat the rising number of children and young people who are trying or taking up vaping.

To view The Pulse article in full click here and the NSW Government NSW Health Do you know what you’re vaping? website page here.

Image source: The Guardian.

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.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in the series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for Primary Care, providing the latest information on the vaccine rollout will now be held from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 17 March 2022.

The panel this week will be Australian Government Department of health staff, Professor Michael Kidd AM (Chair), Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Group, Austrlaian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, who will discuss updates on vaccines and the new COVID-19 oral anti-viral medications.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

feature tile text 'First Nations effort making recovery for "ice" a reality & image of ice pipe being smoked

Image in feature tile from SBS News article The fight against ice in Indigenous Australia, 13 December 2017.

Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

Indigenous care worker Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie has spoken to Rolling Stone magazine about her life’s work, providing recovery strategies for First Nations communities in Queensland.

“Ice has had the biggest impact that I’ve seen in 30 years working in the community,” says Aunty Sonetta. Sonetta is referring to the devastating impact crystal methamphetamine—commonly referred to as ice—has made both within her community and beyond.

Certainly, this drug has had a major impact on Australians and First Nations communities. But through her own incredible work in this field, Aunty Sonetta has seen firsthand that help — even in the direst of circumstances — is available and that successful recovery is always possible. This truth is what drives her to best serve her community.

Sonetta manages the Mackay and Region Aboriginal and Islander Development Association, better known as Marabisda—a community-led organisation that works with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander communities based in and around Mackay.

Marabisda launched in 2008 to meet the particular needs of vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families. Aunty Sonetta has been with the organisation for six years, but she’s been serving the community as a nurse and care worker for decades.

“The kids that I weighed as babies when I was working for the Aboriginal Medical Centre are now parents that I work with,” she says. Through her work and engagement, Sonetta is intimately acquainted with the drug’s damaging impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Rolling Stone article in full click here.

Sonetta Fewquandie - Aboriginal AOD worker

Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie. Image source: Marabisda website.

Entirely preventable disease killing mob

An Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) editorial last year highlighted the abject failure in closing the gap for rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Since then, the divide has widened further still. This week’s ABC Four Corners program was particularly hard to watch for Janelle Speed.

It is an illness Ms Speed, an Aboriginal cultural consultant, had address in an editorial written in the AJGP less than a year ago. Since she wrote the editorial for the May 2021 edition of AJGP, the situation has deteriorated.

Despite a Federal Government goal of eliminating RHD by 2030, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show the problem is now even more stark. The editorial highlighted 1776 diagnoses of ARF between 2013–17. For 2015–2019, that total had increased to 2244. Meanwhile, the rate of notifications had increased from 77 per 100,000 in 2015 to 102 per 100,000 four years later.

You can view the newsGP article in full here.

young Aboriginal girl in children's ward with mother

Indigenous Australians in the NT are more than 100 times as likely to have rheumatic heart disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Screenshot/Take Heart – Strep: Group A Streptococcal Infection. Image source: The Conversation.

New First Nations disability advocacy service

A new disability advocacy service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been established in Queensland. Side by Side First Peoples Advocacy works with people with a disability and their families to resolve issues they encounter with support services, community access or disability discrimination.

The service is a new addition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland and has been established and sponsored by Aged and Disability Advocacy. ADA Australia chief executive Geoff Rowe said a dedicated advocacy service would address the additional inequality First Nations people with disability faced when accessing services. “(Advocacy) supports the most vulnerable in our community to have a voice and is the foundation for inclusion and equality,” he said.

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

Connecting foster kids to country

Of all the children in out-of-home (foster) care in Australia, 40% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Many of these children reside in NSW, on Wiradjuri (‘Wir-add-jury’) Country in the centre and west of the state. In a bid to improve these children’s outcomes by helping them maintain cultural and Kinship connections, a University of Sydney researcher and her sister have developed workbooks on Wiradjuri language that can be used by children and their carers, families, and teachers.

They were launched at an event at the University of Sydney earlier this week with an opening address from the NSW Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones.

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

Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks

L-R: Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

New PHC centre for Mapoon

Before Christmas Apunipima Cape York Health Council shared with reader of their newsletter Cape Capers the build progress of their brand-new, state of the art Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Apunipima is now very excited to reveal that the build has progressed much further in recent weeks due to favourable weather and great work from builders, James Construction.

The blockwork has now been completed, the roof is on, and much of the internal framework has been completed. The carport is also nearly complete. With all going well, the clinic is expected to open in late July 2022. Very exciting news for the residents of Mapoon!

This article from Apunipima Cape York Health Council newsletter Cape Capers can be accessed here.

slab for Apunipima's new Mapoon PHC centre

Image from Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s 28 January 2022 Twitter feed showing the concrete slab laid for its new PHC centre in Mapoon.

Optometry Advisory Group EOIs sought

Optometry Australia is inviting members with experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health to express their interest in joining their Advisory Group for a new two-year term, from July 2022 to June 2024.

While the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has reduced over the past decade, there are still too many that experience avoidable vision loss and blindness due to barriers to accessing necessary primary eye health care.

Optometry Australia is strongly committed to supporting improved eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Since 2008, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health Advisory Group has provided invaluable guidance and support in our work within this area.

For more information about the Advisory Group click here. Please submit your expression of interest by COB Sunday 26 June 2022 using this email link.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Michael Amendolia. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Heat compounds chronic disease impact

Groups across the NT have released a scorecard assessing the NT Government’s climate performance against the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the NT ALP Government of Michael Gunner ranked 5/100.

NT Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Dr Brooke Ah Shay, who works in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida, said that we already see higher rates of conditions like chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in the NT, and that these diseases will be compounded by the effects of increased heat from climate change.

To view the Doctors for the Environment Australia media release in full click here.

town camp housing, dirt yard, no awnings

Town camp housing typically lacks simple features to keep cool, such as insulation and wide awnings. Photo: Mike Bowers, The Guardian.

New PhD scholarship opportunities

Onemda, along with the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, are pleased to announce an opportunity for two PhD scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates.

They offer flexible options for study within a supportive, Aboriginal-led team. The positions are based at the University of Melbourne and can commence as soon as possible or when suitable to the applicants. The successful candidates will receive a Research Training Program Scholarship and top-up, totalling approx. $50,000 tax free per year for 3.5 years (full-time).

You are invited to contact Professor Cath Chamberlain to discuss your application first using this email link.

university of melbourne logo & uni Melb PhD graduation bonnet

University of Melbourne PhD graduation bonnet. Image source: George H. Lilley website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: AIDA decry racism in health care system

feature tile text 'Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association decry racism in health care' & vector art of Aboriginal man & woman tending gravesite

Image in feature tile by Nick Wiggins, Four Corners. Image source: ABC website.

AIDA decry racism in health care system

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has responded to the ‘Betty’s Story’ report which outlines how the treatment of Ms Yvette “Betty” Booth by health officials at Doomadgee Hospital’s emergency department led to her untimely death at the age of 18 from rheumatic heart disease (RHD). “This report reveals that Ms Booth’s treatment was woefully inadequate,” Dr Tanya Schramm, President of AIDA said.

“Moreover, it is proof of the lethal consequences of racism in the health care system. We are seeing yet another community in mourning because of a death that was entirely avoidable. We must eliminate racism to stop the needless deaths of our people,” Dr Schramm said.

AIDA is advocating for better training in recognition of RHD and better systems to track patients with the condition as well as comprehensive cultural safety training across all agencies within the health system. Cultural safety training encourages practitioners, nurses and administrative staff to examine their unconscious biases, including racism, and build in strategies ensuring the highest level of health care is provided to every patient.

According to RHD Australia, more than 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are currently living with RHD or acute rheumatic fever (ARF), and while some non-Indigenous Australians are susceptible to the disease, it is one that predominantly plagues Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “RHD in 2022 is a national shame, it is a disease of poverty and overcrowding,” Dr Schramm said.

To view AIDA media release in full click here.

red 3D heart on trace of heartbeat

Image source: AJP

How alcohol companies target youth

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) is partnering with The University of Queensland (UQ) for a three-year study to better understand how young people are targeted by alcohol companies via social media.

This research comes as investigations by Reset Australia found that Facebook tags children as interested in alcohol, approves alcohol advertisements targeted to children, and continues to harvest children’s data to target them with advertising. On average, advertising technology companies collect more than 72 million data points on a child before they reach the age of 13.

UQ, Lead Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Nicholas Carah said “Digital marketing by alcohol companies is rapidly growing, particularly across social media platforms. A lot of this marketing is targeted at people based on their personal data, and we know young people are being exposed to alcohol advertising.”

“Much of this is occurring out of sight, only being seen by those directly targeted and through content that is short-lived, making it extremely difficult to monitor harmful ads and predatory targeting. By revealing what’s behind the curtain and showing the hidden tactics used by alcohol marketers, we hope these insights provide the urgently needed evidence-base for understanding and effectively governing alcohol marketing in the digital age.”

To view FARE’s media release in full click here

hands using iPhone

Photo: PA Archive/PA Images. Image source: Wales Online.

Address racism to improve kidney care 

Today on World Kidney Day – Thursday 10 March 2022, governments and health services are being urged to act on the ways that racism and cultural bias create disparities in kidney care and transplantation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.

Lowitja Institute and the University of Adelaide today released the Cultural Bias and Indigenous Kidney Care and Kidney Transplantation Report, prepared for the National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT). The report details ways to improve kidney transplantation rates and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through addressing key barriers that lead to culturally biased care.

This report centres the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with lived experience of kidney disease, using their knowledge and understandings to guide the recommendations put forward.

“We know that institutional racism and systemic bias are barriers to kidney transplantation and affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the health system,” said Kelli Owen, a proud Kaurna, Narungga, and Ngarrindjeri woman, kidney transplant recipient, and kidney health researcher. “We have the answers to help keep our mob healthy and provide culturally safe kidney care. We just need them to be applied,” Ms Owen said.

To view the media release, which includes a link to the report, click here.

arm of Aboriginal person contacted to dialysis machine

Dialysis involves spending up to five hours hooked up to a machine that artificially cleans a patient’s blood. Photo: Tom Joyner, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News.

Gender equity in pharmacy

In an article ‘Achieving gender equity in the pharmacy profession‘ published in the Australian Pharmacist this week two pharmacists discuss their careers and the biases that must be broken to ensure women can succeed. One of the pharmacists Kate Gill MPS is a consultant pharmacist in Cairns who has been in the profession for 20 years.

“About 12 years ago, I became an accredited pharmacist and branched out into Indigenous healthcare, which included working on the Integrating pharmacists into Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (IPAC) project at Wuchopperen.

Being part of the wider team to ensure patients received the best health outcomes was a career highlight. We had one patient who used a walker and had issues with housing. Instead of referring him to a wellbeing worker, psychologist or social worker in a report, I visited them individually. We set up a case study for the patient, which helped him acquire accommodation and a new walker.

Although Wuchopperen didn’t have the funding to keep me on post-IPAC, we remained in contact and now I provide home medicine reviews (HMRs) for them.”

To view the article in full click here.

Kate Gill MPS

Kate Gill MPS. Image source: Australian Pharmarcist.

Opthalmic organisations list 2022 priorities

Key ophthalmic organisations have revealed their federal election wish lists, drawing attention to issues such as workforce maldistribution and access for rural and remote communities.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) say that funding is required for an adequate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers/liaison officers, to coordinate and facilitate services. Institutionalisation of Indigenous community control into funding schemes and service delivery models is also needed to ensure ACCHOs are part of the decision-making process. It also reiterated the need for funding of scholarships and enrolment in specialist training programs to grow the Indigenous workforce and leadership development.

To view the Ophthalmic sector lays out priorities ahead of 2022 federal election Insight article in full click here.

Aboriginal child having eye text

Image source: University of Melbourne.

Project supports LGBTQIA+ mob

Walkern Katatdjin (Rainbow Knowledge) is a peer-led national research project, seeking to hear from the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+ people with mental health, wellbeing and support. The groundbreaking project will focus on the lives of young people, using interviews and yarning groups and a national survey to lead into co-design with LGBTQIA+ young people and services.

The research will also help provide essential information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives not readily available to lawmakers and service providers seeking to develop meaningful inclusion in mental health service provision.

Research team member Shakara Liddelow-Hunt said “What we’re really looking to do is understand the mental health and social and emotional wellbeing for young Aboriginal LGBTQ+ mob. We started by yarning with young mob here in Perth and we’re now looking to launch a national survey.”

To view the Out in Perth article in full click here.

cartoon drawing of two ATSI adults holding both hands between them

Image source: Out In Perth.

First Nations burden of disease data

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018: Interactive data on disease burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, AIHW, Australian Government report has just been released.

Burden of disease is a measure of the years of healthy life lost from living with, or dying from disease and injury. The report describes the impact of 219 diseases and injuries among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in terms of living with illness (non-fatal burden) and premature death (fatal burden). It finds that: the burden rate fell by 15% between 2003 and 2018, driven by a substantial drop in fatal burden injuries and chronic diseases (such as mental & substance use disorders, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and musculoskeletal conditions) caused most of the burden in 2018.

For further information about the report click here.

adult ATSI hand touching yellow red black bead bracelet of Aboriginal child

Image source: SCIMEX.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO on ABC Four Corners

feature tile text 'four corners investigates RHD - the hidden killer in remote Australian communities' & image of young Aboriginal boy have heart scan

Feature tile image of RHD patient, Trey, receiving a handheld echo scan in Manigrida. Image source: Katherine Times.

NACCHO CEO on ABC Four Corners

Right now, in Australia there are young people dying from an easily preventable medical condition and an appalling lack of healthcare. This should be a national scandal. ABC Four Corners has investigated the shameful and, until now, hidden failure in public health taking place in remote Australian communities in it’s episode Heart Failure: An investigation into the hidden killer in remote Australian communities.

During the episode NACCHO CEO Pat Turner talks about the serious health crisis of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and exposing the many unique issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Heart Failure, reported by Louise Milligan, goes to air on Monday 7 March at 8.30 PM. It is replayed on Tuesday 8 March at 11.00 PM and Wednesday 9 March at 10:00 AM. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.10 PM AEST, ABC iview and here.

You can view the trailer to the Heart Failure episode here.

tile of 4 Corners episode text 'heart failure', image of graves with heart headstones; 4 corners logo

Celebrating the Women of Yarrabah

There’s no mistaking the contribution that women make in our lives and their importance in community. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (GYHS) are publishing and saluting 31 outstanding women from the Yarrabah Community.

The ‘Women of Yarrabah’ project is an important recognition of the incredible contributions to family and community these inspiring women have made over the past 70 years. From CEO’s through to health workers and community elders the ‘Women of Yarrabah’ will shine the spotlight strongly upon a very humble and unassuming section of the Yarrabah Community.

Each day during March GYHS will publish a new ‘Women of Yarrabah’ profile. GYHS CEO, Suzanne Andrews praised the contribution that community members, “We have so many incredible and truly inspiring women in Yarrabah. They are mothers, daughters, grand-mothers first and foremost, but for many they also many of the key workers that keep our community moving forward. Like women everywhere, they are mothers first and workers second. They contribute to the financial security of the family as well as running the family and in many cases, they are the glue the binds the family. We are so proud to bring these stories forward, to give a voice to these silent community champions. As a community we acknowledge the tremendous contribution that our women make.”

To read the GYHS media statement regarding the Women of Yarrabah project click here. The ‘Women of Yarrabah’ profiles can be found of the Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service website here.

From top L–R GYHS staff: Renee Grosso, RN Public Health; Suzanne Andrews, CEO, Tamar Patterson; SEWB Manager; Paula Burns, EN, member of the Community Recall team; Lucresia Willett, Cultural Mentor & Youth Wellbeing Program Manager; and Belita Kynuna, Health Worker.

NACCHO pharmacy scholarship update

Last month NACCHO has announced the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. The Scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

NACCHO would like to thank everyone who has submitted applications for the scholarship and we’re excited to be able to announce the successful applicants in the coming weeks.

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacists and pharmacy students are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession. Building leadership and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals is a critical enabler in supporting cultural safety in the health sector. This financial support combined with mentorship will provide a tangible way to help students to thrive in their professional training and stands to build confident and self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy sector leaders.”

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist said, “Another example of the outstanding leadership of NACCHO and the commitment to the future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy workforce through the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. So delighted to see scholarships supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.”

For more information on the scholarship, visit the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship webpage here.

* If you had hoped to apply, but didn’t get the application in on time, please contact NACCHO as soon as possible on 02 6246 9304 or via email here.

* proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi.

Aged care culture and connections

Wiradjuri and Wongkumara woman, Alynta, considers herself fortunate to have landed her dream job as an aged care worker, caring for older Australians in their homes. Working with clients, Alynta treasures the relationships she gets to build, learning from them, hearing their stories and experiences. “I’ve always wanted to look after Elders, that’s just what you do in an Aboriginal community. Being able to give back to those who’ve cared for others, provide for them, it’s just something I’ve always felt obligated to do,” Alynta said.

With an ingrained drive to care for others it is little wonder Alynta found herself working in aged care. With family from Bourke, far west NSW, Alynta grew up in Condobolin and was raised in a large family of twelve by her Aunty, who she calls Mum. At aged sixteen, Alynta became a young mum herself to a beautiful baby girl. Finishing high school with a newborn was no easy feat, but Alynta was determined to do so. Support from family played a large part in her successfully completing high school and commencing university studies in nursing.

However, Alynta decided that, with a young family, it wasn’t the right time to juggle university and family life. She moved back home to Condobolin where family support and some inspirational Aunties encouraged her to study a Certificate III in Individual Support, starting her career in aged care. “Working in aged care has taught me patience, to be kind and open minded. I feel it has made me a better person in general, but definitely makes me a better mum. Our older people, they impart a lot of knowledge, and because I live so far away from my family, they teach me the things I need to know to approach certain things in life,” Alynta said, reflecting on her role.

“Having more Indigenous people working in the care and support sector motivates the younger generations too. It would be great to have a higher percentage of Indigenous people working in the sector, caring for mob” Alynta said. One thing is certain, working in aged care has provided Alynta with many opportunities for growth and insight into others and herself. In every way it reflects – A Life Changing Life.

You can access the Alynta’s case study in full here.

aged care worker Alynta McKellar, Wiradjuri & Wongkumara woman

Wiradjuri and Wongkumara woman, Alynta McKellar.

CATSINaM marks 25 years of activism

The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) has launched a campaign to celebrate its 25-year anniversary and its powerful history of collective and individual activism. The #CATSINAM25Years campaign was launched this week in a national online webinar with messages of support from founding and current members, former and current board members, the nursing and midwifery union and the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Professor Alison McMillan.

CATSINaM CEO Professor Roianne West, a descendant of the Kalkadoon and Djaku-nde peoples, said Indigenous nurses and midwives drew on the strength of the organisation’s founders to face current challenges. “Our model of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community control that our Elders and ancestors envisaged 25 years ago provides a strong foundation and the words ‘Unity and Strength through Caring’ gifted then have guided us through these turbulent times,” Professor West said in a statement.

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.CATSINaM logo - text 'CATSINaM ltd Congress of ATSI nurses & midwives - unity and strength through caring'

Campaign to tackle smoking rates

Carat Adelaide has launched a new campaign for SA Health – Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) titled “Give Up Smokes”. The challenge faced is that although there has been a decrease in Aboriginal smoking prevalence, tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal people. Smoking-related illnesses cause half of all deaths in Aboriginal people over the age of 45.

This campaign focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal South Australians by reducing the impact of tobacco smoking. The message is ‘live for the moments’, i.e. moments enjoying more quality time with children and family as a key motivator to quit.

Working with creative agency WDM and DASSA, Carat has rolled out a strong multi-channelled campaign using custom DSP targeting in the digital space to convert to site with high impact assets, while balancing the need for broadcast media for awareness in the outdoor space. WDM have overlaid QR codes on street and retail panels in suburbs that have the highest smoking rates in Adelaide, providing quick access to sites for ways to quit, and how to get support while doing so.

Manager of the Tobacco Control Unit in DASSA, Clinton Cenko, said this was a campaign formed from the leadership and vision of Aboriginal community leaders, with guidance from communities. “The campaign’s purpose is to reduce the gap between Aboriginal smoking prevalence and that of the rest of the SAcommunity,” he said. “Smoking is four times more prevalent in Aboriginal communities than in the overall SA population, so this messaging is really important.”

To view the Carat article in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl with arms around father text'quit smoking and live for the moments'

Image source: Carat website.

To Hear for Life: Listen with Care

World Hearing Day held yesterday, had the theme “To Hear for Life: Listen with Care”. The specific focus was on what it feels like to be hearing impaired. In 2021 the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the World Report on Hearing that highlighted the increasing number of people living with and at risk of hearing loss. It found that hearing loss in on the rise, with over 1.5 people worldwide affected by hearing loss. Early detection and intervention programs offer the best outcomes.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is proud to be able to offer a range of audiometry screening services to identify children who may be hearing impaired to allow for early intervention, including the Statewide Infant Screening for Hearing (SWISH) program, whereby all newborn babies born in the MLHD are offered a non-invasive hearing screen. The screening is done very soon after birth so that families and babies can receive early treatment if required.

Audiometry screening is also available at selected Community Health sites including Deniliquin, Wagga Wagga, Young, Cootamundra, West Wyalong & Tumut. GP Referral for Audiometry services is required and received through the Community Care Intake Service (CCIS). MLHD Aboriginal Health Services run the Otitis Media (OM) Screening Program where Aboriginal Health Staff attend schools and preschools to perform Otitis Media screening and education. The screening includes otoscopy, tympanometry and audiogram.

MLHD Director of Clinical Governance, Jill Reyment is using World Hearing Day as a platform to further educate staff about their interactions with co-workers and consumers who may present with deafness. “We are fortunate to have community nurse Anna–Maree Bloomfield working with us. Anna-Maree is deaf and she will be delivering a webinar to staff about communication and sharing her lived experience,” said Ms Reyment.

“Anna-Maree has worked within a variety of roles for NSW Health for over the past 20 years and has to overcome many communication barriers and obstacles around communicating effectively within the workforce. The past two years have posed a significant challenge for Anna-Maree, as she relies on lip-reading to communicate, and mask wearing mandates associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic meant we had to rethink ways to facilitate her ability to communicate with staff and patients.

You can view a video of Anna-Marree below and view the NSW Government Health MLHD article in full click here.

Eye and Ear survey launched

About 5,000 people are expected to participate in Australia’s first national survey combining ear and eye health, launched yesterday to coincide with World Hearing Day. ‘The Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey’ is a national study that will assess the prevalence of eye and ear conditions, as well as risk factors and impacts of vision and hearing loss in the community. It will be the country’s first hearing national survey, and its second vision study building on the National Eye Health Survey in 2016.

Director of Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WMIR) Vision Research Professor Paul Mitchell is leading the study, and inaugural cochlear chair in hearing and health at Macquarie University Hearing, Professor Bamini Gopinath, is leading the ear health component. Gopinath said vision and hearing loss were key health issues in Australia, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and older, more than 11% have a vision impairment or are blind, and up to 82% have some form of hearing loss,” she said.

“Our researchers will be door knocking in eligible communities in city, regional and remote areas to invite people to take part, with the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and older and non-Indigenous Australians aged 50 and older. Participants will have their vision and hearing tested, and will be surveyed to help us build up a picture of what sort of factors are influencing hearing and vision loss, and how these impairments affect people.”

For further information about the survey you can access the full Insight article here.

Aboriginal dark grey, white, orange art with hands ear, eyes & text 'Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey'

Image source: Insight website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March June Oscar, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner is inviting you to listen to and celebrate First Nation’s women by watching and sharing a beautiful animation featuring the real-life voices of First Nations women and celebrating their ongoing contributions to their communities.

  • Watch our animation – Yajilarra Nhingi, Mindija Warrma (From Dreams, Let’s Make it Reality).
  • Share the animation – on social media or by screening it at your workplace or school.
  • Take action to support First Nations gender justice and equality.

“Women are the social fabric of our communities and the glue that holds everything together. We are sovereign women. It is time to listen to our voices now.”  Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) is a ground-breaking report and project, driven by First Nations Women and Girls across the nation. Now in its implementation stage, Wiyi Yani U Thangani is building towards a national summit and framework to advance First Nations gender justice and equality. This International Women’s Day, celebrate the strength of First Nations women. Watch, listen and support women’s voices and Wiyi Yani U Thangani.

tile: vector image of Aboriginal women & text 'International women's day Tuesday 8 March 2022'

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO announces pharmacist scholarship

feature tile text 'applications now open for NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist scholarship' & logo for scholarship

NACCHO announces pharmacist scholarship

NACCHO has announced that applications are now open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The Scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacists and pharmacy students are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession. Building leadership and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals is a critical enabler in supporting cultural safety in the health sector. This financial support combined with mentorship will provide a tangible way to help students to thrive in their professional training and stands to build confident and self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy sector leaders.”

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist said, “Another example of the outstanding leadership of NACCHO and the commitment to the future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy workforce through the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. So delighted to see scholarships supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.”

For more information on this exciting opportunity, visit the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship webpage here.

Associate Professor Faye McMillan

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist.

What ‘living with COVID’ means for mob

According to Jennifer Doggart, who has written an article What ‘living with COVID’ really means for so many people as Australia follows other countries in relaxing COVID public health measures, the needs of many Australians are being ignored. People with disabilities and chronic illnesses, the aged, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk from these policy changes.

A range of factors, including poorer (on average) underlying health status and structural barriers to accessing care, reflecting the ongoing impacts of colonisation place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at increased risk. This plays out in the pandemic having a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with data showing for instance that nine our of 10 COVID-19 patients in hospital in the NT are Indigenous.

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

Aboriginal artist, Greg Muir in wheelchair with Aboriginal painting in the background, paint brushes in hand

Aboriginal artist, Greg Muir lives with cerebral palsy. Image source: Scope.

Homeless, vulnerable and unjabbed

Paige Taylor, Indigenous Affairs Correspondent, WA Bureau Chief has written a story for The Australian about homeless Aboriginal couple Melinda Williams and Timothy Dick who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 more than a year after they were prioritised in the national rollout. It is a story that has played out in towns and cities across Australia. Neither considers themself to be an anti-vaxxer and both are dogged by health problems that make them more likely to get very sick if infected with COVID-19.

Yet no state or territory has had as much time as WA to protect the most vulnerable, or win their trust in order to convince them to protect themselves. Despite the luxury of time and a well-resourced vaccine drive in WA, a survey of 522 rough sleepers in the centre of Perth by Homeless Healthcare found that 32% had not had a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on 21 January. There are an estimated 1,000 rough sleepers in and near the city, 41% of them Indigenous.

Lisa Wood, from Notre Dame University’s Institute of Health Research, said the reasons why homeless people do not get vaccinated defy assumptions that suggest anyone who is not vaccinated by now does not want to be. Some homeless people had been involuntary mental health patients and were, as a result, wary of the health system, she said. Others had a deep distrust of authority because they been removed from their parents by child protection workers, or their children had been removed from them. Professor Wood said this was why vaccinating rough sleepers took time. It was important to build trust, ­answer questions and give people the chance to come back a few times. “There are also practical barriers to getting vaccinated, such as lack of transport, no phone or computer to book appointments, or to receive reminders,” Professor Wood said.

Indigenous woman Melinda Williams

Indigenous woman Melinda Williams sleeps rough on the streets of Perth and has been unable to secure a Covid vaccine. Photo: Tony McDonough. Image source: The Australian.

Yarrabah outbreak peaks

Yarrabah’s increased vaccination level combined with a slowing of transmission through the community has resulted in a sharp decrease in the daily infection rates. Daily infections continue to decrease with only 34 positive cases recorded in the past seven days, compared with 78 the previous week. Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Director of Clinical Services, Dr Jason King is confident the worst has passed for Yarrabah. “With a steady decrease in daily cases, it is obvious we are now moving through the tail of this outbreak. This will be welcome news for our community, but it will allow our teams to ramp up our vaccination drive,” he said.

Vaccination levels in Yarrabah continue to rise and currently are sitting at more than 50% of the 16+ community fully boosted. We have come a long way from the low 20% levels in August last year, to where we are currently with more than 83% of the community double vaccinated. Our focus is now to lift significantly our booster rates. With the change to the waiting time, down to 3 months, it’s critical that we increase our booster rollout and protect our community fully. The current outbreak has ripped through the community with more than 720 cases registered in the community. This figure could have been greater. As a community we were 70% double vaccinated at the start of the outbreak earlier this year.”

To read the GYHS media release in full click here.

Anthony Brown-Sexton and Wendy Stafford with mask, chatting over wire fence

Yarrabah resident Anthony Brown-Sexton and GYHS Care Team member Wendy Stafford.

Ending avoidable blindness by 2025

Professor Hugh Taylor, University of Melbourne, Indigenous Eye Health founder says great progress has been made in establishing regional stakeholder networks nationwide that link ACCHOs with service providers and local hospitals. The government has prioritised and committed to “End avoidable blindness by 2025” for Indigenous Australians. Now it needs to release its implementation plan to build and strengthen the services required. An important component will be improving leadership and ownership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision was released in early 2012. When the government implements its priority to “End avoidable blindness by 2025”, the roadmap will have been essentially completed. The Indigenous Eye Health unit will then recast its role, focussing on technical support and advice to strengthen Indigenous leadership in the ACCHOs, the regions, the states and territories and nationally.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Professor Hugh Taylor

Professor Hugh Taylor. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Fewer young people in aged care

The number of Australians aged under 65 living in permanent residential aged care fell by 20% from almost 4,600 in September 2020 to around 3,700 in September 2021, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The number of Australians aged under 45 living in residential aged care fell by 24%, from 120 to 91 during the same time period. The report, Younger people in residential aged care, shows the number of younger people in permanent residential aged care decreased in every state and territory between 2020 and 2021.

‘The Australian Government has set targets to have no people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022, and under the age of 65 by 2025 (other than in exceptional circumstances), through the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Strategy 2020–25 released in September 2020. The AIHW report tracks progress against these targets over the past year,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.

In September 2021, just over half (53%) of the younger people living in residential aged care were male and 10% were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The majority (59%) of younger people living in residential aged care were aged 60–64. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) were aged 45–59, and 2% were aged 18–44.

To access the Inside Ageing article in full click here.

ATSI carer hands holding ATSI hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

Highest rates of dementia in world

Studies have shown that Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas of the country are disproportionately affected by dementia, with rates approximately double those of non-Indigenous people. A new study shows that Aboriginal Australians living in urban areas also have similar high rates of dementia. The study was published in the 9 February 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Given that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now live in urban areas, these results are critically important,” said study author Louise M. Lavrencic, PhD, of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney. “Aboriginal Australians have among the highest rates of dementia in the world, so we looked at some of the potential risk factors that may be facing this population.”

“While the study was not designed to examine factors such as the ongoing effects of colonisation, systemic racism, and the resulting social and health disparities across Aboriginal Australian communities, these factors are likely to contribute to the higher rates of dementia,” Lavrencic said. “Larger studies are needed to look at these effects and identify culturally appropriate and effective dementia risk reduction strategies.”

To read the Science Daily story in full click here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

New process for job advertising

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

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

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

Mob may miss crucial COVID-19 treatment 

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

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

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

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

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

$24m for temporary Telehealth changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: mivision.

When COVID-19 hits low vax town

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

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

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

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

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

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

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

Calls for patient-centred care investment

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

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

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

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

To read the GPNews article in full click here.

Image source: NT PHN.

‘Looking Deadly’ Eye Health Training

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

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

For further information on the training click here.

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

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

Sickly Sweet soft drink campaign launched

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rural and remote student dentistry grants

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

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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