NACCHO Aboriginal #RefreshtheCTGRfresh and #FASD2018 @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP unveil a new National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Strategic Action Plan 2018- 2028 and more than $7 million in new funding.

“Success is underpinned by a team effort, with collaboration between families, communities, service providers and governments.

FASD requires a national approach, linking in closely with local solutions. We are acknowledging the scale of the issue in Australia and intensifying efforts to address it.”

The Minister for Indigenous Health and Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, said the Government’s approach to FASD was to invest in activities which have been shown to be effective.

“This plan will show us the way forward to tackle the tragic problem of FASD – guiding future actions for governments, service providers and communities in the priority areas of prevention, screening and diagnosis, support and management, and tailoring needs to communities.

Alongside the plan’s release, I am pleased to announce a new investment of $7.2 million to support activities that align with these priority areas.

This funding will enable work to start immediately and help protect future generations and give children the best start possible.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Government is committed to reducing the impact of FASD on individuals, families and communities.

Download a PDF copy of Plan 

National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan 2018-2028

The forum delegates agreed that there was an urgent need for action to prevent FASD in our Top End communities, and across the Northern Territory.

It is essential that our responses do not stigmatise women or Aboriginal people.

It is important that we don’t lay blame, but instead work together, to support our women and young girls.

Everyone is at risk of FASD, so everyone must be informed the harmful effects of drinking while pregnant.

Our men also need to step up and support our mothers, sisters, nieces and partners, to ensure that we give every child the best chance in life.”

A landmark Top End Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) forum* was held in Darwin on 30-31 May 2018

Read over 25 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and FASD articles published over 6 years

The Federal Government is stepping up its fight against Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) today by unveiling a new national action plan and more than $7 million in new funding.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the term used to describe the lifelong physical and neurodevelopmental impairments that can result from fetal alcohol exposure.

FASD is a condition that is an outcome of parents either not being aware of the dangers of alcohol use when pregnant or planning a pregnancy, or not being supported to stay healthy and strong during pregnancy.

This funding will enable new work to get underway and build on proven programs – to help protect future generations and give children the best possible start in life.

Key Points of action plan

FASD will be tackled across a range of fronts – including prevention, screening and diagnosis, support and management, and priority populations at increased risk of harm.

PREVENTION: $1.47 million including new consumer resources and general awareness activities – including national FASD Awareness Day, translation of awareness materials into a variety of First Nations languages, and promotion of alcohol consumption guidelines, and bottle shop point of sale warnings.

SCREENING: $1.2 million to support new screening and diagnosis activities, which will include reviewing existing tools and developing new systems and referral pathways, to assist professionals in community settings.

MANAGEMENT: $1.2 million goes to management and support activities, including tailored resources for people working in the education, justice and police sectors.

LOCAL TARGETING: $1.27 million to develop targeted resources, to meet local cultural and community needs.

BUILDING ON SUCCESS: $1.55 million to continue proven activities – with support for Australia’s FASD Hub, a one-stop shop containing the FASD Register and public awareness campaigns.

The Strategic Action Plan also establishes an expert FASD Advisory Group – which will report to the National Drug Strategy Committee on the progress being made, while promoting successful models and highlighting emerging issues and evidence.

From the FASD Workshop in Perth this week 

The plan is committed to breaking FASD’s impact on

  • Encounters with the law
  • Family breakdowns
  • Deaths in custody
  • Suicides and chronic health conditions

FASD requires a national approach, linking in closely with local solutions.

We are acknowledging the scale of the issue in Australia and intensifying efforts to address it.

The activities and actions outlined in the priority areas of the Plan are intended to guide future action – they are not compulsory and can be adopted as needed, along with other interventions and programs, based on local needs.

Activities should be evidence informed and based on best available research and data – actions should be tailored to individual communities and regions.

Since 2014, the Liberal National Government has provided almost $20 million in direct funding to tackle

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NACCHOagm2018 Report 4 of 5 : Minister @KenWyattMP full text keynote speech launching @AIHW  report report solely focusing on the health and wellbeing of young Indigenous people aged 10–24

” Culturally-appropriate care and safety has a vast role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of our people. In this respect, I want to make special mention of the proven record of the Aboriginal Community Health Organisations in increasing the health and wellbeing of First Peoples by delivering culturally competent care.

I’m pleased to be here at this conference, which aims to make a difference with a simple but sentinel theme of investing in what works, surely a guiding principle for all that we do

Providing strong pointers for this is a new youth report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Equipped with this information, we can connect the dots – what is working well and where we need to focus our energies, invest our expertise, so our young people can reap the benefits of better health and wellbeing “

Minister Ken Wyatt launching AIHW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adolescent and Youth Health and Wellbeing 2018 report at NACCHO Conference 31 October attended by over 500 ACCHO delegates 

In Noongar language I say, kaya wangju. I acknowledge the traditional custodians on the land on which we meet and join together in acknowledging this fellowship and sharing of ideas.

I acknowledge Elders, past and present and I also want to acknowledge some individuals who have done an outstanding job in the work that you all do and I thank you for the impact that you have at the local community level: John Singer, chair of NACCHO; Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO; Donnella Mills; Dr Dawn Casey; Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman; Professor Sandra Eades; Donna Ah Chee; LaVerne Bellear; Chris Bin Kali; Adrian Carson – and I’m sorry to hear that Adrian’s not with us because of a family loss – Kieran Chilcott; Raylene Foster; Rod Jackson; Vicki Holmes; John Mitchell; Scott Monaghan; Lesley Nelson; Julie Tongs; Olga Havnen.

All of you I have known over a long period of time and the work and commitment that you have made to the pathways that you have taken has been outstanding. I’d also like to acknowledge Dr Tim Howle, Prajali Dangol, and Helen Johnstone, the report authors.

I’m pleased to be here at this conference, which aims to make a difference with a simple but sentinel theme of investing in what works, surely a guiding principle for all that we do.

Providing strong pointers for this is a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

I understand this is the very first study by the Institute that focuses solely on First Nations people aged 10 to 24.

Download a copy of report aihw-ihw-198

As such, it is a critical document.

Firstly because it puts at your fingertips high quality, targeted research about our young people.

Secondly, it gives us a clear understanding of where they are doing well, but also the challenges young people still face.

And thirdly, equipped with this information, we can connect the dots – what is working well and where we need to focus our energies, invest our expertise, so our young people can reap the benefits of better health and wellbeing.

I’m always passionate about all young people having the best start in life and marshalling the human resources necessary so that this care extends right through to early adulthood, laying strong foundations for the rest of their lives.

I want to run through some of the key findings of this report and then talk about Closing the Gap Refresh in our Government’s commitment to and support for our young people. I’m pleased some real positives have been identified.

The report found a majority of the 242,000 young First Australians, or 63 per cent, assessed their health as either excellent or very good. Further, 61 per cent of young people had a connection to country and 69 per cent were involved in cultural events in the previous 12 months.

As the oldest continuous culture, we know that maintaining our connections to country and our cultural traditions is a key to our health and wellbeing. Education is another important factor in our ability to live well and reach our full potential.

In the 20 to 24 age group, the number of young people who have completed Year 12 or the equivalent has increased from 47 per cent in 2006 to 65 per cent in 2016. Smoking rates have declined and there is also an increase in the number of young people who have never taken up smoking in the first place.

Eighty-three per cent of respondents reported they had access to a GP and between 2010 and 2016, the proportion of young people aged 15 to 24 who had an Indigenous health check – that’s the MBS Item 715 – almost quadrupled from 6 per cent to 22 per cent. These are some of the encouraging results, but challenges remain.

In 2016, 42 per cent of young First Australians were not engaged in education, employment or training. Although there has been a decline in smoking rates for young people, one in three aged between 15 and 24 was still smoking daily.

Sixty-two per cent of our young people aged 10 to 24 had a longer-term health challenge such as respiratory disease, eye and vision problems, or mental health conditions. These statistics inform us, and, critically in the work we are doing, point to an evidence-based pathway forward.

I know you’ll be interested to know that the Prime Minister has now confirmed the refresh of the Closing the Gap will be considered at the next COAG meeting on 12 December.

Closing the Gap requires us to raise our sights from a focus on problems and deficits to actively supporting the full participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the social and economic life of the nation. There is a need to focus on the long term and on future generations to strengthen prevention and early intervention initiatives that help build strong families and communities.

The Government has hosted 29 national roundtables from November 2017 to August 2018 in each state and territory capital city and major regional centres. We’ve also met with a significant number of stakeholders. In total, we reached more than 1200 participants. More than 170 written submissions were also received on the public discussion paper about Refresh.

The Refresh is expected to settle on 10 to 15 targets. These targets are aimed at building our strengths and successes to support intergenerational change. Existing targets on life expectancy, Year 12 enrolment, and early childhood will continue.

Action plans will set out the concrete steps each government will take to achieve the new Closing the Gap targets, and we have to hold state and territory governments to account. The plans to be developed in the first half of 2019 will be informed by the lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, community leaders, service providers, and peak bodies.

Dedicated and continuous dialogue along with meaningful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities is fundamental to ensuring the refreshed agenda and revised targets meets the expectations and aspirations of First Australians and the nation as a whole.

These actions will be backed by positive policy changes in both prevention and treatment, such as the introduction from tomorrow of the new Medicare Benefits Schedule item to fund delivery of remote kidney dialysis by nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners, further improving access to dialysis on country.

The COAG health ministers in Alice Springs just recently on 3 August met with Indigenous leaders and asked for their views on a range of issues, and all of the leaders in attendance had an incredible impact on each state and territory Minister.

I know that because I attended the Ministers’ dinner later in which the discussion came to the very issues that were raised by our leaders from all over the nation.

And COAG, the next morning, made the decision that Aboriginal health will be a priority on the COAG agenda for all future meetings, and that whoever the Minister for Indigenous Health is will be ex officio on the Health Ministers’ Forum to inform and to engage in a dialogue around the key issues that were identified, not only by the leadership, but by the evidence of the work that we do; and there are six national priorities now that COAG will turn its mind to, the COAG health ministers.

Over the next decade, the Australian Government has committed $10 billion to improve the health of First Australians.

This is a substantial sum of money, but we are only going to achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes if we work and walk together. We have to build mutual trust and respect in all that we do, and I include in this every state and territory system.

We have to increase cultural capability and responsibility in all health settings and services. We must support and encourage the development of local and family-based approaches for health. As I’ve said before, we need every one of our men and women to take the lead and perpetuate our proud traditions that have kept us healthy for 65,000 years.

Culturally-appropriate care and safety has a vast role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of our people. In this respect, I want to make special mention of the proven record of the Aboriginal Community Health Organisations in increasing the health and wellbeing of First Peoples by delivering culturally competent care.

And while they’re widely canvassing the importance of supporting the growth and potential of children and young adults, I would like to make special mention of the support required for our senior people as well, our Elders.

We must ensure that all older First Nations Australians who are eligible for age or disability support can access the care they deserve; either through the My Aged Care System or the National Disability Insurance Scheme. With a holistic grassroots approach of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, I believe ACCHOs should work to ensure that our older, Indigenous leaders receive assessments and support options that are available.

In August, as I indicated, I met with Indigenous leaders as part of the COAG Health Council Roundtable. Coming out of this was not only a resolution to make First Peoples health a continuing council priority, but a commitment to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce plan. I see this as being more about Aboriginal doctors, nurses and health workers working on country and in our towns and cities. It’s also about building capacity of health professionals across the entire health system to provide culturally safe services.

I was talking with Shelly Strickland some time ago, and she asked me a couple of questions, and I said to her: watch the movie Hidden Figures.

And at the time, I know she left me thinking what the hell is he talking about and why would you recommend a movie? When you look at that movie, it was about Afro-American women who put man on the moon.

The movie is based on the work of the women who gave the scientists the solutions to putting a rocket into space, landing man on the moon, and bringing them back; it was an untold story. And there are multiple layers when you look at that movie of overt racism. They were not allowed to use the same toilets as their white counterparts, they had to run two car parks away in any condition to use a toilet.

When something went wrong, people looked at them and saw them as the fault. But what they did very superbly was take their knowledge, apply science, apply the thinking that was needed, and demonstrated mathematically that man could land on the moon.

Not one NASA, non-Indigenous or non-American Afro-American had reached that solution. Those four women – I think it was four – provided the solution, but their story was never told. And they were the true leaders of space adventure and discovery. If they had not done the thinking and the tackling of the issue, then the solution would never have been reached. There are parallels in Aboriginal health.

We think of GP super clinics – they were modelled on our AMSs, about a holistic approach. There are other elements of what you do, and what we as a people do, that health systems have taken note of. But what we have to be better at is sharing where we have leadership.

I look at the work that Donna Murray is doing with Allied Health Staff – the outcomes that she achieves, they are stunning.

The work which she puts into helping make the journey a positive journey achieves outcomes that are disproportional to the work that we do as a government in many other areas in mainstream.

And we do lead – and if you haven’t seen that movie, you have to look at it and think of the parallels that our people went through. But, I think the other most salient point is, is that it was the Afro-American women who were the backbone of the space and science discovery program of America.

And I would like to acknowledge our women as well. I think the NAIDOC theme is one of the best themes I have seen in a long time; and I’ve been around a while. And I see it in health where our women play a very pivotal role and are the backbone of the frontline services that are delivered. Men always gravitate to the top; we tend to do that.

But, I do see that the actual hands-on work is done by our women, and so I thank you for that, because the progress we’ve made is because of the way in which you, like those Afro-American women, have helped shape the destiny and future. And I think of some of the people that I’ve known over the years who would be in a similar category.

And certainly, I’ll single out one because she was a great friend and taught me a lot, was Naomi Myers, whose leadership and dedication was parallel to that of the women in that movie Hidden Figures.

While the Medical Health Workforce Plan will be positive for Aboriginal Torres Islander jobs across Australia, it has particular potential for tackling chronic disease and improving the lives of our people in remote communities.

We are all well aware of the importance of health and wellbeing of our young children. There is ample evidence that investment in child and family health supports the health and development of children in the first five years; setting strong foundations for life.

And Kerry Arabena’s work certainly epitomises that along with many others. Good health and learning behaviours set in the early years continue throughout a young person’s life. Young people are more likely to remain engaged in education and make healthy choices when they’re happy, healthy and resilient, and supported by strong families and communities that have access to services and support their needs.

Connected Beginnings program is using a collective impact placed based approach to prepare children for the transition to school so they are able to learn and thrive. The program is providing children and their families with access to cohesive and coordinated support and services in their communities.

The Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program targets mothers from early pregnancy through to the child’s second birthday, and aims to improve pregnancy outcomes by helping women engage in good preventive health practices, supporting parents to improve their child’s health and development, and helping parents develop a vision for their own child’s future; including continuing education and work. Increasingly, research is also highlighting the long term value of investing in youth.

This investment benefits young people now as they become adults, and as they then have children of their own.

So I want to focus on some of the things that we are doing that is important, the take up of MBS 175, access to MBS items.

We’re improving the Practice Incentives Program, Indigenous Health Incentive which promotes best practice and culturally safe chronic disease care. We are reducing preventable chronic disease caused by poor nutrition through the EON Thriving Community programs in remote communities.

We’re tackling smoking rates through the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program; and encouragingly, youth had the biggest drop. And we’re prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health in the first round of funding under the Million Minds Research Mission.

More broadly, for our First Australians and the wider population, we are investing in services for the one in four who experience mental illness each year.

And this also includes through Minister Hunt funding to headspace Centres, Orygen, beyondblue’s new school-based initiative BU, Digital Mental Health child, and youth mental health research and working alongside Greg has been a tremendous opportunity, because I’ve been able to get into his ear about the need for him also to consider our people in key initiatives that he launches, and he’s been a great ally.

And our work on the 10-year National Action Plan for Children’s Health continues. I want to continue setting strong foundations for making sure our people have access to culturally safe and appropriate health services.

Let me also just go quickly to the report. I had a look at the report online, and I was impressed with the way in which the writers – and FAD were in AIHW and have pulled together this one and have taken elements out of the two major better health reports.

And it was great to see our profiling, in some cases being better, in some cases being challenging. But this is a good guide for all of us to use and I commend everybody who’s been involved, and it gives me great pleasure to launch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adolescent and Youth Health and Wellbeing 2018 report.

So, congratulations to all of those involved and congratulations to each and every one of you who have contributed to this report in the data that you provide, the work that you do but your commitment to our people. Thank you.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ElderCare funding up to $46 million : Applications close on 26 Nov 2018: Donna Ah Chee CEO @CAACongress welcomes @KenWyattMP announcement of increased funding to assist Aboriginal people growing old with their families in their own communities


Improvements in Aboriginal health have more of our people living into old age than there were even a decade ago and necessitates a need to meet the increasing demand for these types of services.

Being on country as you grow old is a very strong cultural obligation for Aboriginal people and for too long our people have had to move into population centres to access services.

We now have two major recent initiatives that will help our older people stay on country. Firstly, the announcement of the new Medicare item for nurse assisted dialysis on country and now this announcement from Minister Wyatt.

This continuing connection to country is vital for the spiritual foundation and quality of life of Aboriginal people.

It is a key part of keeping our older people healthy and happy.

Our people have a very strong desire to be on country when they die and announcements like this will help to make sure that people grow old and die on country and with family. We know that social isolation is very damaging to older people’s health and this will ensure people remain socially and culturally connected.

While keeping people at home with aged care packages is a key goal there are some very successful aged care facilities on country at places like Mutitjulu. This also is important for people who need this level of care

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee, welcomes the announcement of increased funding to assist Aboriginal people growing old in a well-supported way, with their families in their own communities

Originally published Talking Aged Care 

Photos above Ken Wyatt meeting with the elders from the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation in Roebourne WA 2017

Read NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Elder Care Articles HERE

Ageing First Australians living remotely will now have increased access to residential and home aged care services close to family, home or country following an announcement by Federal Government to expand their Budget initiative – the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) program

The $105.7 million Government commitment, which will benefit more than 900 additional First Australians, is set to be expanded progressively over the next four years.

Federal Minister for Senior Australians, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt announced the first round of expansion funding under the program – up to $46 million – to increase the number of home care places delivered through NATSIFAC program in remote and very remote areas.

“Aged care providers are invited to apply for funding under the expanded NATSIFAC program’s first grants round, which is designed to improve access to culturally-safe aged services in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” the Minister explains.

“The program funds service providers to provide flexible, culturally-appropriate aged care to older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people close to home and community.

“Service providers can deliver a mix of residential and home care services in accordance with the needs of the community.”

Minister Wyatt reiterates the importance of home care in enabling senior Australians to receive aged care to live independently in their own homes and familiar surroundings for as long as possible, and says the initiative is all about “flexibility and stability”.

“It is improving access to aged care for older people living in remote and very remote locations, and enables more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to receive culturally-safe aged  care services close to family, home or country, rather than having to relocate hundreds of kilometres away,” he says.

“At the same time, it helps build the viability of remote aged care providers through funding certainty.”

Applicants can apply for new or additional home care places under the NATSIFAC program or approved providers can apply to convert their existing Home Care Packages, administered under the Aged Care Act 1997, to home care places under the NATSIFAC program.

Applications close on 26 November 2018 with more details about the expansion round available online.

GO ID: GO1606
Agency:Department of Health

Close Date & Time:

26-Nov-2018 2:00 pm (ACT Local Time)
Primary Category:
101001 – Aged Care

Publish Date:

4-Oct-2018

Location:

ACT, NSW, VIC, SA, WA, QLD, NT, TAS

Selection Process:

Targeted or Restricted Competitive

Description:

This Grant Opportunity is to increase the number of home care places under the NATSIFAC Program in remote and very remote Australia (geographical locations defined as Modified Monash Model (MMM) 6 and 7).

Eligibility:

To be eligible you must be one of the following:

Type A:

Existing NATSIFAC Program providers delivering services in geographical locations MMM 6-7

Type B:

Approved providers currently delivering Commonwealth funded home care services (administered under the Aged Care Act 1997) to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in geographical locations MMM 6-7, with up to 50 home care recipients per service, for conversion to the NATSIFAC Program

Type C:

Organisations not currently delivering aged care services in geographical locations MMM 6-7, however but existing infrastructure and the capability to deliver aged care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Total Amount Available (AUD):

$46,000,000.00

Instructions for Lodgement:

Applications must be submitted to the Department of Health by the closing date and time.

Other Instructions:

$46 million (GST exclusive) over 4 years, 2018-2022.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Workforce and Training News : Our peak bodies @KenWyattMP and @CPMC_Aust Building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and strengthening alliances to address the health priorities of Indigenous Australians.

 

” NACCHO stresses the importance of continuing to grow the depth and number of Indigenous people in the health sector.

Improving the health of our people can only occur through partnership, and integrating health care providers with community controlled services is the key.

Ms Patricia Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)

 “Background :  On 31 May 2017 the Australian Government joined with the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges, the Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation as partners to improve the good health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Focussing on Tier Three of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, partners are working in collaboration to improve system performance by focussing on two key comprehensive areas for collective strategic action: increase the health workforce and embed cultural safety and competency in the system

Download a full copy of the signed agreement 

Signed Agreement

Australia’s peak bodies for Indigenous health and specialist medicine have reaffirmed their commitment to working with the Australian Government as partners in reducing the current gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians under the Closing the Gap strategy.

Introducing the forum held on Wednesday 12th September at Parliament House, Minister Ken Wyatt AM, welcomed the opportunity to continue discussions under the National Partnership, highlighting the Australian Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap as the platform for improving the health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The decision by Australian Health Ministers through the Council of Australian Governments Health Council to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Plan by 2019 was welcomed by the collaborative partners.

Discussing the key areas of the partnership, cultural safety and access to services remain top priorities.

The Chair of the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC) Dr Philip Truskett AM reported that the key focus area of increasing the Indigenous specialist medical workforce by focussing on support, mentoring, role modelling was core business for Australia’s specialist Medical Colleges.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM said the collaborative group was ideally placed to play an essential role in the COAG Health Council resolution to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan – to ensure more Aboriginal doctors, nurses and health workers on country and in our towns and cities, local warriors for health among our families and communities.

Dr Kali Hayward, President Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association (AIDA) reflected on building culturally appropriate health workforce and the need to discover champions in the system to support training.

Ms Janine Mohammed, CEO Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) highlighted the merit in greater coordination of services to deliver improvements in health outcomes.

Mr Karl Briscoe, CEO, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers Association (NATSIHWA) highlighted the importance of building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and strengthening alliances to address the health priorities of Indigenous Australians.

All partners acknowledged a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Plan will form the framework for furthering collective action to increase the Indigenous health workforce and embed a cultural safety capability in Australia’s health system.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : Federal Indigenous Affairs Department latest shakeup brings in a former Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Ray Griggs

I am honoured and excited to be asked to lead a dedicated, talented and committed team of people working issues of such importance to our community.

I am very much looking forward to starting in the role and being able to bring my range of leadership and organisational skills to complement the team.

Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Ray Griggs has been called back by the government from his barely two-month-long retirement to take over from Andrew Tongue and will commence as the new Indigenous Affairs boss in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on October 2.

” We have done a lot of work to integrate the program management and delivery functions of Indigenous Affairs into PM&C. Many people at the most basic level of our corporate services have done placements out on the ground to understand the nature of what it is like to be a government business manager or an Indigenous engagement officer out in remote Australia.

Some people working in back function actually used to work in Indigenous Affairs, so we have moved some people around.

At the level of policy, we are participating in deliberations of policymaking across government. We have a standing item with the heads of department — the secretaries have a standing item on Indigenous Affairs, so we have the opportunity to interact with all the agencies.

As far as skills go, we inherited all the people working on Indigenous-specific work in all of the departments. Those people maintain their links to those departments, and we encourage that as part of our work.”

Andrew Tongue, who has been Associate Secretary, Indigenous Affairs since 2015 has from this month begun an extended sabbatical from the public service. He is expected to take up a new role on his return in 2020.

As reported by the Mandarin

A shakeup inside Australia’s federal Indigenous Affairs bureaucracy will see its top official, Andrew Tongue, replaced with the recently retired Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Ray Griggs.

The appointment follows a Royal Australian Navy career that has spanned 40 years, the last seven of which on Australia’s Defence Committee as Chief of Navy and most recently Vice Chief of the Defence Force until his retirement in July.

Griggs, whose VCDF portfolio included Indigenous employment and outreach, told The Mandarin he was “honoured and excited to be asked to lead a dedicated, talented and committed team of people working issues of such importance to our community.

While former service chiefs typically remain as government advisors long after their active service, it is rare for the government to appoint a former chief to a full time non-ceremonial role. Liz Cosson, Secretary Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Duncan Lewis, former Secretary of the Department of Defence, both reached the rank of Major General (one rank below the service chiefs) in the Australian Army before joining the Australian Public Service full time.

From ‘dysfunctional’ to ’empowering communities’

Today’s Indigenous Affairs Group is unrecognisable from when Tongue took over from Liza Carroll, the first Associate Secretary following then self-styled ‘Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs’ Tony Abbott’s restructure that brought several line agency functions into PM&C. The restructure quadruped its staff footprint overnight.

The group has seen an 80% turnover of its management layer in the last three years — those that stayed were largely the executives who started at or have spent time in regional offices.

Researchers who studied the then newly amalgamated departmentfound it had resorted to “dysfunctional” practices while it attempted to reconcile contradictory functions and establishing multiple sources of advice to Cabinet from within a single department.

Such blurring of lines, while detrimental at the time to Indigenous policy, did lead to much stronger understanding of the role of boundary spanners in government, and improved practices.

Tongue later addressed how they turned it around, declaring “PM&C capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time”:

The group also brought in more senior leaders who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, including its Deputy Secretary, Professor Ian Anderson — a Palawa man, who wears an earring, ran an Aboriginal health service, and had a long successful career as an academic with the University of Melbourne.

Education, businesses key to empowerment strategy

A substantial shift in approach followed. Closing the Gap, with a rhetoric of deficit, failure and poverty, was replaced with Closing the Gap (revamped edition), with a rhetoric of strength, success and economic empowerment.

Dr Martin Parkinson, Secretary of PM&C, argued last year, on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum that led to the establishment of Commonwealth Indigenous Affairs, that they had reached an “inflection point”.

In the span of one generation, healthcare went from nowhere to expected as a basic right, Indigenous infant mortality rate has more than halved, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are enrolling in university than ever before, and for university graduates from an Indigenous background, the employment gap has closed.

The challenges that remain, Parkinson argued, appear to related not to indigeneity but simple poverty and remoteness — if so, the “may require different interventions than those which we have historically directed towards Indigenous Australia, particularly remote Australia.”

“So the task for the APS, and my Department in particular, is to differentiate between the sources of challenge and disadvantage, and to recognise the diversity in both aspiration and need across the country.

“We cannot do that with a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why working with empowered communities on place-based solutions has to be a key part of our approach.”

Beyond progress on closing the employment gap via education, the other significant success has been the Indigenous Procurement Policy. The Commonwealth now spends approximately $300 million a year on Indigenous businesses, having snowballed from $60 million some four years ago and just $6.2 million in 2012-13.

Public servants in the regional network, however, are still often occupied less by a burgeoning bourgeois, and more by how to address basic deficiencies, for example menstrual products in remote schools and communities.

The 10-year remote housing agreement has also expired, along with funding, so a stop-gap measure was introduced in the last budget to support the 21% of the Indigenous population in the Northern Territory that, due to such severely overcrowded houses in remote communities, are considered homeless.

Abbott sets his own targets

NACCHO Image library Abbott and Griggs 2014

The political climate around the government’s response to the Uluru Statement, the Referendum Council and managing former prime ministers, well… one former prime minister, might be more challenging for the Indigenous Affairs group’s new boss.

Griggs will seemingly be reporting to one current Prime Minister, a Minister for Indigenous Affairs also in Cabinet, several junior ministers with overlapping jurisdiction, notably the Minister for Indigenous Health, and now the Special Envoy for Indigenous Affairs.

Tony Abbott has decided to tackle poor school attendance rates in remote communities as part of his Special Envoy role, after reportedly being given “free rein” by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He aims to deliver his first report on progress before the end of the year. There are only five more sitting weeks before the end of the parliamentary year.

Indigenous Affairs minister Nigel Scullion did not respond to an invitation to discuss the shakeup in the portfolio.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health joins other health peak bodies @AMAPresident @RACGP @RuralDoctorsAus @NRHAlliance welcoming the reappointment of the health ministry team but #ruralhealth no longer a distinct portfolio

 ” The Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) John Singer today joined other peak health bodies welcoming the election of Scott Morrison MP as the 30th Prime Minister of Australia and reappointments of Greg Hunt MP as the Federal Minister for Health, Ken Wyatt AM MP as the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, and Senator Bridget McKenzie as the Federal Minister for Regional Services. “

See Part 1 NACCHO Media 

“With an election due in the first half of 2019, new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made the right call in leaving Health in the safe hands of Greg Hunt.

A fourth Health Minister in five years would have undermined the priority that Australians place on good health policy,”

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone see in full part 2 Below

‘Health is an integral part of any Governments agenda and I look forward to working with Minister Hunt on the future direction of healthcare in Australia,’ 

Minister Hunt has worked closely with the RACGP over the past two years, achieving positive results, including investment into general practice research, the removal of the Medicare freeze and the return of general practice training to the RACGP.’

Dr Nespolon told newsGP see in full Part 3 Below

It was only on Friday last week that rural health sector stakeholders met in Canberra, for a meeting convened by the (former) Minister for Rural Health, to discuss the issues and solutions for achieving better health outcomes for rural Australia’, 

The key message of the Roundtable meeting was very clear. The health and wellbeing issues faced by rural and remote Australia cannot be addressed using market-driven solutions that work in the cities.’

We need a genuine, high level commitment from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to deliver a new National Rural Health Strategy that will address the unacceptable gap in health outcomes for rural Australians. This is not the time to be relegating Rural Health to the back burner’.

National Rural Health Alliance Chair, Tanya Lehmann see in full Part 4 below

With Minister McKenzie receiving an expanded set of other portfolio responsibilities, we are worried that the significant level of focus she has given to Rural Health to-date will, due to her increased workload in other

There has never been a more important time for Rural Health to retain a distinct portfolio.

As a sector, Rural Health continues to face significant challenges, but also significant opportunities.

Rural Australians continue to have poorer health outcomes than their city counterparts, and poorer access to healthcare services.

There continues to be an urgent need to deliver more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to rural and remote communities, with the advanced training required to meet the healthcare needs of those communities.”

Rural Doctors President, Dr Adam Coltzau see Part 5 below in full 

Part 1 NACCHO

I was very pleased to hear Mr Morrison’s at his first media conference after winning the leadership say that chronic disease was one of his top three priorities as he  ” was distressed by the challenge of chronic illness in this country, and those who suffer from it ” Mr Singer said from Hobart where he was hosting Ochre Day a National Aboriginal Men’s Health Conference opened by the Minister Ken Wyatt

“ Chronic disease is responsible for a major part of the life expectancy gap and  accounts for some two thirds of the premature deaths among our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

A large part of the burden of disease is due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease. With the Prime Ministers increased support our 302 ACCHO clinics can be reduce by earlier identification, and management of risk factors and the disease itself.

Recently I attended the Council of Australian Governments Health Council meeting in Alice Springs, when it made two critical decisions to advance First Nations health. Firstly, it has made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health a national priority, including by inviting the Indigenous Health Minister to all future meetings.

The Council also resolved to create a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan, to focus on significantly increasing the number of First Nations doctors, nurses and health professionals.

However, NACCHO would also share our disappointment with Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) that Rural Health, while still being an area of responsibility for Minister McKenzie, will no longer have its own distinct portfolio under the revamped Coalition Government . ”

Minister Ken Wyatt Statement

I am honoured to be appointed as the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health in the Morrison Government. My focus will be building on the strong foundations we have in place through the 2018–19 Budget to deliver better outcomes for senior Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

We are investing an additional $5 billion in aged care over the next five years — a record amount — and our investments in the health of First Australians will be more targeted and based on what we know works. Our senior Australians are among our country’s greatest treasures.

They have earned the right to be cared for with dignity through our aged care system and this is something the Morrison Government is absolutely committed to delivering.

The aged care reform agenda we are implementing has already delivered senior Australians greater choice in the care they receive, and greater scrutiny of the sector — something that will be reinforced by the new independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission that will open its doors on 1 January 2019.

My administrative responsibilities will not change in the Morrison Government. However, the change to the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care reflects my focus on taking a broader, whole-of-government approach to advancing the interests of senior Australians.

Part 2 AMA 

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that the AMA is pleased that Greg Hunt has been re-appointed Minister for Health.

Dr Bartone said that the health portfolio is broad and complex, and it takes time for Ministers to get fully across all the issues and get acquainted with all the stakeholders.

“Greg Hunt has been a very consultative Minister who has displayed great knowledge and understanding of health policy and the core elements of the health system,” Dr Bartone said.

“In his time as Minister, he has presided over the gradual lifting of the Medicare freeze and the major reviews of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the private health insurance (PHI).

“And he has acknowledged that major reform and investment is needed in general practice.

“These are all complex matters that would have been challenging for a new Minister.

“It takes months for new Ministers to gain command of the depth and breadth of the Health portfolio.

“With an election due in the first half of 2019, new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made the right call in leaving Health in the safe hands of Greg Hunt.

“A fourth Health Minister in five years would have undermined the priority that Australians place on good health policy,” Dr Bartone said.

Dr Bartone said that the AMA looked forward to continuing its strong working relationship with the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, who is also Minister for Indigenous Health.

The AMA has been advised that Senator Bridget McKenzie will retain Rural Health as part of her Regional Services, Sport, Local Government, and Decentralisation portfolio.

Part 3 RACGP 

Dr Nespolon believes Minster Hunt understands the fundamental role primary care plays in the wellbeing of all Australians and will continue to make general practice a focal point of Government health policies.

‘Health is an integral part of any Governments agenda and I look forward to working with Minister Hunt on the future direction of healthcare in Australia,’ Dr Nespolon told newsGP.

‘Minister Hunt has worked closely with the RACGP over the past two years, achieving positive results, including investment into general practice research, the removal of the Medicare freeze and the return of general practice training to the RACGP.’

Dr Nespolon said he is particularly keen to discuss matters that lie at the heart of general practice.

‘The RACGP will continue to work with Minister Hunt on our core patient priority areas, including preventive health and chronic disease management,’ Dr Nespolon said.

Minister Hunt was re-appointed to his position on the frontbench following a cabinet reshuffle that took place in the wake of last week’s Liberal Party leadership challenge. Ken Wyatt was also re-appointed as the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and for Aged Care.

Part 3 National Rural Health Alliance 

The Ministerial line-up announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a glaring omission.

At a time when great swathes of rural and remote Australia are experiencing the impact of devastating drought conditions, including significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of our communities, the key portfolio of Rural Health is nowhere in sight.

The new Morrison Ministry does not include a Minister for Rural Health. That key responsibility was on Friday held by the Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Senator Bridget McKenzie. By Sunday it was gone.

‘It was only on Friday last week that rural health sector stakeholders met in Canberra, for a meeting convened by the (former) Minister for Rural Health, to discuss the issues and solutions for achieving better health outcomes for rural Australia’, National Rural Health Alliance Chair, Tanya Lehmann said.

‘The key message of the Roundtable meeting was very clear. The health and wellbeing issues faced by rural and remote Australia cannot be addressed using market-driven solutions that work in the cities.’

‘We need a genuine, high level commitment from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to deliver a new National Rural Health Strategy that will address the unacceptable gap in health outcomes for rural Australians. This is not the time to be relegating Rural Health to the back burner’.

‘We call upon the Morrison Government to demonstrate it is fair dinkum about improving the health and wellbeing of rural Australians by reinstating Rural Health as a Ministerial portfolio and committing to the development of a National Rural Health Strategy’, Ms Lehmann said.

The Alliance welcomes the re-appointment of the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for Health and the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, and acknowledges their continuing contribution to addressing the health and aged care needs of all Australians. We also welcome Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie’s contribution to regional services, sport, Local Government and decentralisation, however we remain concerned that rural health, as a separate Ministerial portfolio has been overlooked.

‘While we understand Minister McKenzie will continue to be responsible for Rural Health — and we very much look forward to continuing to work with her — we are concerned that this critical area will no longer have its own dedicated portfolio’, Ms Lehmann said.

Background:

The National Rural Health Alliance is the peak body for rural, regional and remote health. The Alliance has 35-member organisations representing the peak health professional disciplines (eg doctors, nurses and midwives, allied health professionals, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, paramedics, health students, chiropractors and health service managers), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak organisations, hospital sector peak organisations, national rurally focused health service providers, consumers and carers.

Some of the worst health outcomes are experienced by those living in very remote areas. Those people are:

  • 1.4 times more likely to die than those in major cities
  • More likely to be a daily smoker, obese and drink at risky levels
  • Up to four times as likely to be hospitalised

Part 5 Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) 

Ministerial reappointments welcomed, loss of Rural Health portfolio not

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has welcomed the reappointment of Greg Hunt MP as the Federal Minister for Health, Ken Wyatt AM MP as the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, and Senator Bridget McKenzie as the Federal Minister for Regional Services.

However, the Association is disappointed that Rural Health, while still being an area of responsibility for Minister McKenzie, will no longer have its own distinct portfolio under the revamped Coalition Government.

“We strongly welcome the continuation of the federal health leadership team under the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison” RDAA President, Dr Adam Coltzau, said.

“The Coalition has been making significant progress on important health policy issues, and looking forward there remain big reform agendas to be delivered in the health policy space, so it makes sense to have continued stable leadership here

“While we understand Minister McKenzie will continue to be responsible for Rural Health — and we very much look forward to continuing to work with her — we are concerned that this critical area will no longer have its own dedicated portfolio.

“With Minister McKenzie receiving an expanded set of other portfolio responsibilities, we are worried that the significant level of focus she has given to Rural Health to-date will, due to her increased workload in other

“There has never been a more important time for Rural Health to retain a distinct portfolio.

“As a sector, Rural Health continues to face significant challenges, but also significant opportunities.

“Rural Australians continue to have poorer health outcomes than their city counterparts, and poorer access to healthcare services.

“There continues to be an urgent need to deliver more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to rural and remote communities, with the advanced training required to meet the healthcare needs of those communities.

“Retaining Rural Health as a distinct portfolio would assist in progressing solutions in this area.

“For example, the development of a National Rural Generalist Pathway — to deliver more of the next generation of doctors to the bush with the advanced skills needed in rural settings — would benefit greatly from continuing to receive the strong political focus of a dedicated Rural Health portfolio.

“There also continues to be an urgent need to make the most of new technologies like telehealth, to broaden access to healthcare for rural and remote Australians, in particular with their own GP.

“We strongly urge Prime Minister Morrison to consider retaining Rural Health as a dedicated portfolio under Minister McKenzie’s stewardship, to ensure the focus can remain firmly on delivering the best healthcare outcomes for rural and remote Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Male Health : Opening video #OchreDay2018 Minister @KenWyattPM urges Aboriginal men to be warriors for health and for our children’s welfare and future, every day.

  ” In the context of NACCHO Ochre Day — with its focus on men’s health — we need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to continue stepping up across the board and being the warriors they have been for 65,000 years.

If we are to truly transform the health status of our First Australians, we need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility and be proud of themselves and their heritage — proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy, from the very beginning.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture must also be front and centre of the early years of our children’s lives. 

It must be an integral part of our children’s early learning and quest for knowledge.

And our fathers, grandfathers and uncles — as well as our mothers, aunties and grandmothers — must play a key role in protecting our children.

Our men, in particular, must be warriors for our children’s welfare and future, every day.

Ken Wyatt AM, MP Minister for Indigenous Health opening speech Via Video : See Full Text part 2 

View Video HERE 

Today 200 + delegates at the Ochre Day Conference –Men’s Health, Our Way. Let’s Own It heard an address from The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health.

The Minister highlighted that “This Day shines a light on the issues that affect the social and emotional health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

He asks them to become “home-based heroes — modern-day warriors for health and wellbeing — who are crucial in Closing the Gap in the health outcomes experienced by our First Peoples.

Wyatt believes and NACCHO Chairperson John Singer agrees “that we need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility and be proud of themselves and their heritage — proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy, from the very beginning.”

Recently John Singer attended the Council of Australian Governments Health Council meeting in Alice Springs, when it made two critical decisions to advance First Nations health. Firstly, it has made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health a national priority, including by inviting the Indigenous Health Minister to all future meetings.

The Council also resolved to create a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan, to focus on significantly increasing the number of First Nations doctors, nurses and health professionals.

John Singer was also grateful that the former Turnbull Government has just committed $3.4 million over the next three years, to develop the Aboriginal Health TV network. It is an anticipated that this will deliver health and wellbeing messages through television screens in 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, reaching up to 1.2 million people each month.

Local community TV production will be fostered and encouraged, to ensure that the broadcasts are relevant and engaging for their audiences. Health messages will be delivered on issues such as smoking, eye and ear checks, skin conditions, diet, immunisation, sexual health, diabetes and drug and alcohol treatment services.

Ochre Day is an important Aboriginal male health initiative to help raise awareness as well as provide an opportunity to draw national public awareness to Aboriginal male health and social and emotional wellbeing.

https://nacchocommunique.com/category/aboriginal-malemens-health/

Part 2 Minister Ken Wyatt Transcript 

Good morning. In West Australian Noongar language, I say “kaya wangju” – hello and welcome.

I acknowledge the Muwinina people, on whose land you are gathered today, and pay my respect to Elders past and present.

Apologies that I am unable to join you in person — but I am grateful for the opportunity to address you about the critical importance of men’s health.

I congratulate the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation for the leadership it has shown in raising awareness of the importance of the health of First Nations men, through the creation of Ochre Day.

This Day shines a light on the issues that affect the social and emotional health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

This summit provides a welcome opportunity for all of you to hear the latest health and medical developments, share ideas — and learn more about how, together, we can improve the health of our men.

I believe that the word “ochre” perfectly encapsulates the way forward, to secure lasting change.

For thousands of years – and still today – ochre has been a marker of tradition and respect.

It has been dug up and used from time immemorial, to help tell our stories through decoration, dance and painting.

Like ochre, respect for culture will, I believe, play a vital role in improving the health of our First Nations people.

For at least 65,000 years, our societies have been family oriented, with responsibilities shared between men and women.

Women playing their key roles as mothers and protectors.

But equally, men, playing their parts as father figures and family shields.

Why am I saying this?

Because I believe that home-based heroes — modern- day warriors for health and wellbeing — are crucial in Closing the Gap in the health outcomes experienced by our First Peoples.

And in the context of Ochre Day — with its focus on men’s health — we need Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to continue stepping up across the board and being the warriors they have been for 65,000 years.

If we are to truly transform the health status of our First Australians, we need every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man to take responsibility and be proud of themselves and their heritage — proud of the oldest continuous culture on Earth, and the traditions that kept us healthy, from the very beginning.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture must also be front and centre of the early years of our children’s lives.

It must be an integral part of our children’s early learning and quest for knowledge.

And our fathers, grandfathers and uncles — as well as our mothers, aunties and grandmothers — must play a key role in protecting our children.

Our men, in particular, must be warriors for our children’s welfare and future, every day.

In a targeted manner, the development of local warriors has taken a significant step forward this month, with the new Hearing for Learning initiative, launched in the Northern Territory.

As you know, the alarmingly high rates of childhood ear infection in both regional and urban communities can hinder our children’s development and limit their opportunities as adults.

First Nations children suffer an average of 32 months of hearing loss compared with three months for other Australian children, as well as unacceptably high levels of otitis media.

A healthy ear one day may show signs of infection the next.

While doctors and specialists attend many communities and work hard with families to protect hearing, we need local people to continuously monitor our children’s ears and maintain strong messages about the importance of ear health.

With almost $8 million from the Turnbull and Northern Territory Governments, and the Balnaves Foundation, the Hearing for Learning initiative will develop a network of up to 40 ear health warriors, to do just that across 20 communities.

They will be local people, speaking their local languages, and living with and communicating directly with local parents and families.

They will strengthen and complement the work of fly-in fly-out ear specialists and protect the hearing of up to 5,000 children from birth to 16 years old.

Hearing for Learning aims to dramatically lift the capacity of families and communities to identify ear disease within the first few months of life and then maintain vigilance.

These ear health warriors will integrate with existing primary care services, assisting health professionals to diagnose and manage ear disease and where necessary, to refer children for specialist treatment.

I hold considerable hope for this project, and I believe there is potential for it to be replicated across other states and territories, once the implementation has been proven.

Building on this local warriors theme, I attended the Council Of Australian Governments Health Council meeting in Alice Springs earlier this month, when it made two critical decisions to advance First Nations health.

Firstly, it has made Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health a national priority, including by inviting the Indigenous Health Minister to all future meetings.

Secondly, the Council resolved to create a national Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan, to focus on significantly increasing the number of First Nations doctors, nurses and health professionals.

This is about more Aboriginal doctors, nurses and health workers on country and in our towns and cities.

While it will be positive for creating First Nations jobs across Australia, it has particular potential for tackling chronic disease and improving the lives of people in remote communities.

This plan is a high priority and we can expect further announcements to bolster the local Aboriginal health workforce in coming months.

I would also like to highlight another national project which I believe has great potential to help improve men’s health awareness.

The Turnbull Government has just committed $3.4 million over the next three years, to develop the Aboriginal Health TV network.

This will deliver health and wellbeing messages through television screens in hundreds of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, reaching up to 1.2 million people each month.

Local community production will be fostered and encouraged, to ensure that the broadcasts are relevant and engaging for their audiences.

Health messages will be delivered on issues such as smoking, eye and ear checks, skin conditions, diet, immunisation, sexual health, diabetes and drug and alcohol treatment services.

Content will be developed by the Aboriginal Health TV Network in partnership with local Aboriginal health services, to ensure it is culturally appropriate and relevant.

The new network will also use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to extend its reach and engagement.

Its potential is vast, and I encourage everyone to consider how the network could be used to engage local men and help them understand how they can improve their health.

The Turnbull Government’s commitment to working and walking together for better First Nations health is absolute.

The Government has also initiated development of a National Male Health Strategy for the period 2020-2030.

Building on the 2010 National Male Health Policy, a key consideration of the new Strategy will be addressing the specific health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys.

I look forward to hearing how your work during this two-day summit can inform the strategy.

Like every one of you here today, I am deeply committed to Closing the Gap.

Fundamental to this is the continuous improvement of the health of our First Nations men.

For now – and for the future – let’s join together with local men across the nation and support and encourage them to go forward as warriors for health.

Thank you.

 NACCHO Aboriginal Hearing Health : #OMOZ2018 Ear Health Project Officers will spearhead a new $7.9 million #HearingforLearning program to fight hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander childre

Hearing for Learning aims to dramatically lift the capacity for communities to identify ear disease within the first few months of life.

Infants rarely show signs of ear pain, so infections are not detected and diseases like otitis media persist and progress.

By 12 months of age, only five per cent of First Nations children in remote communities have bilateral normal hearing, compared with over 80 per cent of children in the rest of Australia.

Children with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to fall behind at school due to delayed speech and language development.

This can have a huge impact on their early years, future employment opportunities and their chance of a happy and successful life.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM

The Territory Labor Government promised to put children at the centre of our decision-making, because we want a brighter future for our kids – a future filled with opportunity.

When we focus on the first 1000 days of a child’s life, we know we get better outcomes for their future, and that’s what this partnership aims to do.

Hearing health has an enormous impact on a child’s development, and by addressing this at a community level, the entire community will benefit.” 

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner

Watch video 

 

Read over 40 Aboriginal Ear and Hearing articles published by NACCHO over last 6 years

Hearing is essential for strong early childhood development and chronic hearing problems in children cause education difficulties leading to entrenched disadvantage.

The Hearing for Learning Initiative is a ground-breaking 5-year investment combining public and private funding to solve this serious health and education problem “

Professor Alan Cass Director Menzies School of Health Research

When we learned about the chronic nature of ear disease in children living in remote communities in the Northern Territory, we could not ignore the fact that this likely leads to profound disadvantage in health, education and employment outcomes.

We believe more must be done and the next step is to support the community to deliver a solution.

Philanthropy plays a unique role in recognising and piloting new approaches, however, it requires partnership with government to deliver these approaches at scale.

The Government is to be applauded for putting this unique partnership together to solve what has now become a serious epidemic.

Neil Balnaves AO, Founder, The Balnaves Foundation and Chancellor, Charles Darwin University

Dozens of local Ear Health Project Officers will spearhead a new $7.9 million program to fight hearing loss among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Northern Territory.

The Hearing for Learning initiative will be established in 20 urban, rural and remote sites, where up to 40 local people will strengthen and complement the work of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) ear specialists.

“This is an exciting new opportunity to remove the preventable blight of hearing loss from current and future generations,” said Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM.

“These local ear health warriors will integrate with existing primary care services, to help protect the hearing of up to 5,000 children from birth to 16 years old.

“Lifting the capacity of local families to recognise, report and treat ear problems early promises to help our children reach their full potential.”

The initiative will be implemented by the Menzies School of Health Research and co-led by Professor Amanda Leach and Associate Professor Kelvin Kong.

The Hearing for Learning is a ground-breaking 5-year initiative by the Northern Territory Government, founded on scientific research by Northern Territory scientists at Menzies School of Health Research, combining public and private funding to solve this serious health and education problem.

$2.4 million from NT Government

$2.5 million from The Balnaves Foundation

$3 million from the Federal Government

Hearing for Learning aims to dramatically lift the capacity for communities to identify ear disease within the first few months of life,” said Minister Wyatt.

“Infants rarely show signs of ear pain, so infections are not detected and diseases like otitis media persist and progress.

“By 12 months of age, only five per cent of First Nations children in remote communities have bilateral normal hearing, compared with over 80 per cent of children in the rest of Australia.”

“Children with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to fall behind at school due to delayed speech and language development,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This can have a huge impact on their early years, future employment opportunities and their chance of a happy and successful life.”

The Menzies School of Health Research aims to make Hearing for Learning a care model that can be replicated across the nation.

Hearing for Learning will complement the Government’s existing ear health programs, including Healthy Ears, which together will receive funding of $81.8 million over four years from 2018–19.

This includes $30 million for a new outreach program to provide annual hearing assessment, referral and follow-up treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children before they start school.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #COAG Alice Springs 5 of 5 Posts : 1. Download or Read COAG Communique includes #Indigenous Health Roundtable #MyHealthRecord #Cancer #Hearing #Dental funding #Obesity #MentalHealth #Womens #Mens Health Strategies 2020 -2030 2.Download or Read Press Conference Transcript Ministers @GregHuntMP @KenWyattMP

 ” The Federal, State and Territory Health Ministers met in Alice Springs yesterday (2 August ) at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues. 

The meeting was hosted by the Hon Natasha Fyles, the Northern Territory Minister for Health. The meeting was chaired by the Ms Meegan Fitzharris MLA, Australian Capital Territory Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

On Wednesday 1 August Health Ministers held a Roundtable with Indigenous leaders to listen to what is important to Indigenous people and to talk about how we can work together to improve health and healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve equity in health outcomes.

A separate communique has been prepared for the Indigenous Roundtable.

Following the meeting the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care launched the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards – User Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

See full COAG Health Miinisters Communique Part 1 Below or Download HERE 

CHC Communique 020818_1

On Wednesday 1 August, COAG Health Council (CHC) members met with Indigenous health leaders for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Roundtable.

All Ministers welcomed and valued this momentous opportunity to hear collectively from Indigenous health leaders. 

The COAG Health Council welcomed Minister Ken Wyatt, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Health to the meeting and expressed its deepest thanks to those Indigenous Leaders from across Australia who participated.” 

See full COAG Health Miinisters Indigenous Health Rundtable Communique Part 1 Below or Download HERE

CHC Indigenous Roundtable Communique_010818

 ” So there’s work that we’ve centred our attention on, working very closely with the community-controlled health sector across the nation, because these are two very significant illnesses that prevail within Aboriginal communities – avoidable blindness, avoidable deafness.

But we also want to look at some of those other underlying issues that impact on a child in their early years – crusted on scabies, we’ve just committed a substantial piece of work around to tackle that issue and look at solutions.

But the underlying social determinants are absolutely critical. But with the state and territory health ministers meeting here in Alice Springs, it means we will have a very serious discussion around the way in which the Commonwealth and state and territories work in partnership with Aboriginal people, not for us to deliver programs to them.

Because often change will only come when families have the ownership, when communities are those who determine the priorities that are needed, that then are given the level of support and resourcing that is important in the way that we’ve done with Purple House.

Ken Wyatt Greg Hunt Press Conference Alice Springs see Part 2 Below or Download Transcripts of both 

Before meeting

Press Conference 1 . pdf

 ” The best health comes from the community.

The best health comes when Indigenous communities and Indigenous leaders are able to take control, and that’s what they want to do.

They are saying – particularly through the ACCHOs – that we are able to help our own people if you give us the support and the tools, and that’s why the workforce plan is fundamental, coupled with additional support for research by and into Indigenous health.” 

Minister Greg Hunt after the COAG meeting

Greg Hunt Ken Wyatt Alice Springs Indigenous Health Press Conference

NACCHO COVERAGE THIS WEEK

1 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health : Download @GrattanInst #MappingPrimaryCare ‏Report : Reform primary care to improve health care for all Australians says @stephenjduckett

2 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG meeting Alice Springs : Time for COAG Health Council to address the Indigenous funding myth & ‘market failure’ says Ian Ring

3 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG : Indigenous Health Leadership , Ministers @GregHuntMP @KenWyattMP and Australia’s Health Ministers gather in #AliceSprings to shine a spotlight on #Indigenous health

4 of 5 NACCHO Aboriginal Health #ACCHO Deadly Good News stories : Features #NT @DanilaDilba @EvonneGoolagong @DeadlyChoices #QLD @IUIH_ #SA @Nganampa_Health #WA @TheAHCWA #VIC @VAHS1972

 

Major items discussed by COAG Health Ministers today included:

1.National collaboration to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians 

Health Ministers held a strategic discussion on national collaboration to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The wide-ranging discussion covered the impacts of potentially preventable rates of eye disease, ear disease, kidney disease, crusted scabies, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) and mental health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Ministers identified opportunities for collaborative action to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes that builds on the work already underway across Australia.

Roundtable Report

Ministers acknowledged the breadth and depth of Indigenous health knowledge, experience and leadership represented at the Roundtable, as well as the proven record of Aboriginal controlled health organisations in improving the health and wellbeing of indigenous Australians.

Indigenous leaders spoke of the importance of mutual trust and respect, the need to increase cultural capability and eliminate racism in all health settings and services, and the importance of cultural safety in improving the health and wellbeing of indigenous Australians.

Ministers welcomed this message and agreed that cultural safety in providing healthcare to indigenous Australians was essential.

Ministers agreed to progress cultural safety training within their own jurisdiction and committed to explore the requirement for cultural safety training in health professionals registration.

Ministers agreed to progress initiatives to implement a Safe Patient Journey through the health care system within their own jurisdiction and committed to explore the requirement for cultural safety training in health professionals and tasked the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to develop options  for the next CHC meeting in consultation with national bodies and indigenous health workforce representatives.

Indigenous leaders clearly outlined the importance of a workforce plan to guide action and inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to a successful career in health.

Ministers agreed to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Plan with a first draft to be considered at the CHC’s next meeting, to be followed by consultation.

Ministers agreed to work with Indigenous leaders to develop a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan.

Ministers acknowledged the many successes and achievements in Indigenous health outlined during the Roundtable and welcomed the expressions of hope for the future. Equally, Ministers acknowledged the challenges faced by indigenous people across urban, rural and remote communities.

Ministers acknowledged the experience of Indigenous people in health settings and noted the importance of a safe clinical and cultural health journey for Indigenous people.

Recognising the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  health and medical research and researchers, Commonwealth, states and territory Health Ministers commit to working together to strengthen Indigenous led health and medical research. This should include an enhanced focus on specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and medical research to improve outcomes for the community.

In recognition of the significant value of continuing to build mutual trust, respect and understanding, Ministers committed to an annual dialogue with Indigenous health leaders with the next Roundtable to occur in 12 months’ time. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health has been established as a standing item on every COAG Health Council meeting.

Ministers further strengthened the accountability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by agreeing to invite the Commonwealth Minister for Indigenous Health to every COAG Health Council meeting thus embedding consideration of these matters in all health discussions.

Ministers acknowledged the strong contribution by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in advancing improvements in Indigenous Health and the achievements of the Commonwealth, states and territories.

Ministers concluded a strategic discussion in the CHC meeting on Thursday 2 August by reaffirming their commitment to addressing gaps in Indigenous health outcomes.

The summary themes from the discussion are listed below:

  • Develop a National Indigenous Health and Medical Workforce Plan that provides a career path, national scope of practice and builds more balance of indigenous and non-indigenous people across all health professions, make health an aspirational career for Aboriginal people. This should include a specific focus on a national scope of practice for Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners.
  • Trust, hope, faith and strong relationships important to ensure services meet needs.
  • Need for deep listening at all levels.
  • Important to recognise and share the good things that are already happening and some of the recent positive announcements.
  • Tap into the centres of excellence that are already operating and build on success.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are invested in success and seek same investment from non-indigenous partners.
  • Need to have different approaches for urban, regional and remote communities to reflect the diversity of local needs, resources and capability across all settings.
  • Primary health care services critical to wellbeing to prevent the need for subsequent acute services, tackling chronic disease essential.
  • Make sure cultural capability and cultural safety are within legislation and policy frameworks.
  • It is important that there is collaborative, needs based planning and implementation rather than vertical disconnected programs, and funding needs to be long term to support sustainability.
  • Need a range of measures: personal health interventions as well as community strategies such as supply reduction of hazards.
  • It is important that other determinants such as housing, electricity and water are addressed.
  • In recognition of the importance of connection to country, services should also be on country where safe and appropriate.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait community leadership is critical to success

2.Mandatory reporting requirements by treating practitioners

Health Ministers approved a targeted consultation process for amendments to mandatory reporting requirements by treating practitioners. The targeted consultation process will seek feedback on proposed legislation that strikes a balance between ensuring health practitioners can seek help when needed, while also protecting the public from harm. The consultation process will involve professional bodies representing each registered health profession, consumer groups, National Boards and professional indemnity insurers. The

results of the targeted consultation process will inform a Bill to be presented to the Queensland Parliament as soon as possible.

Western Australia is not included in this process as its current arrangements will continue.

3.Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Health Ministers welcomed advice that all 15 health practitioner National Boards, their Accreditation Councils and AHPRA have partnered with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector leaders and organisations to sign a National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Statement of Intent to achieve equity in health outcomes.

This joint commitment aims to ensure a culturally safe health workforce, increasing participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the registered health professions along with greater access to culturally safe health services.

This work will reach over 700,000 registered health practitioners, over 150,000 registered students and the 740 plus programs of study accredited through the National Scheme. The launch was held on traditional lands of the Wurundjeri Peoples of the Kulin Nation in Melbourne, Victoria with a Welcome to Country and a traditional smoking ceremony.

4.Update on 2016-17 determination of national health reform funding

Health Ministers received an update from the Commonwealth Health Minister on the process and timing of the 2016-17 determination, and of the importance of rapidly setting the 2016-17 determination of the national health reform funding to provide certainty for hospital services into the future. Health Ministers also noted the work on improvements to the reconciliation process for inclusion in the next National Health Reform Agreement.

Ministers welcomed the appointment of Michael Lambert as the Administrator of the National Health Funding Pool.

5.Private patients in public hospitals.

Ministers agreed to commission an independent review of a range of factors regarding utilisation of private health insurance in public hospitals to report as soon as possible but no later than 31 December 2018.

6.Progress update on the National Health Reform Agreement

The Commonwealth Minister for Health provided an update on drafting of the National Health Reform Agreement. The Council noted the importance of a dispute resolution process.

7.National approach to hearing health

Minsters recognised that 3.6 million Australians currently experience hearing loss and that the prevalence of hearing loss is expected to more than double by 2060. Ministers discussed the economic, social and health impacts of hearing loss, particularly for the 90 per cent of

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in some remote communities who experience otitis media infections at any time. Ministers agreed to further consider a national approach to hearing health, following the Commonwealth’s response to the House of Representatives Inquiry Report ‘Still Waiting to be Heard’ expected later this year.

8.Public dental funding arrangements 

Ministers noted that the current National Partnership Agreement on Public Dental Services for Adults will end on 30 June 2019, and that the State and Territory public provider access to the Child Dental Benefits Schedule will end on 31 December 2019.

Ministers agreed that securing sustainable and fair future funding arrangements is critical to providing timely access to public dental care. Ministers agreed to commence formal negotiations to achieve fair, long-term public dental funding arrangements, including extension of access to the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

9.Mutual recognition of mental health orders 

Ministers discussed the important issue of ensuring continuity of care for mental health consumers moving between jurisdictions with different legislation. Ministers agreed that work to ensure interoperability of mental health legislation between states and territories, as part of the 5th National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan is prioritised.

10.Recognising Continuity of Care for Consumers of Mental Health Services

The Council discussed and agreed to South Australia’s proposal that the COAG Health Council monitor the ongoing transition to the NDIS of mental health clients and to identify any emerging services gaps that need to be addressed in order to ensure continuity of support.

Ministers agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council work with the Disability Reform Council Senior Officials Working Group and provide advice at the next COAG Health Council on actions to resolve interface issues between health and disability services.

11.Obesity – limiting the impact of unhealthy food and drinks on children

The Queensland Minister led a discussion on a suite of actions to improve children’s diets and prevent child obesity with a focus on health care settings, schools, children’s sport and recreation, food promotion and food regulation.

The development of cross-sectoral initiatives with education and sport and recreation sectors was noted. Health departments were tasked with developing national minimum nutrition standards for food and drink supply in public health care facilities. The Queensland Minister presented a national interim guide for reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing. This guide was endorsed by Ministers, noting that the guide is for voluntary use by governments.

Health Ministers noted the voluntary pledge made by the Australian Beverages Council Limited to reduce sugar across their portfolio of products by 20% on average by 2025.

12. Implementation of National Cancer Work Plan – Additional Optimal Cancer Care Pathway

Health Ministers endorsed the Optimal Cancer Care Pathway (OCP) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which is the first OCP under the National Cancer Work Plan that specifically addresses the needs of a cultural group. It is critical that cancer service systems are culturally responsive and competent to address the current and growing disparities in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians relative to non-Indigenous Australians. This OCP is designed to provide culturally safe and responsive healthcare, including acknowledging how social determinants can impact health outcomes. This OCP is to be used in conjunction with the 15 tumour-specific OCPs.

The OCP for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was developed collaboratively by Cancer Australia in partnership with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and Cancer Council Victoria. Ministers also gratefully acknowledge Aboriginal leadership in development of this pathway with input from an Expert Working Group and from Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control, as well as feedback from many Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations and peak groups during the public consultation phase.

13. Public disclosure to support hospital and clinical comparisons

Ministers agreed to commit to create a data and reporting environment that increases patient choice through greater public disclosure of hospital and clinician performance and information.

Ministers noted it is the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) role to facilitate consistent and timely reporting of health and welfare statistics and performance information, including the publication of the MyHospitals and MyHealthy Communities websites following the cessation of the National Health Performance Authority.

All jurisdictions agreed to work with the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer in his investigation of the issue around a number of women being diagnosed with cancer, which may be linked to breast implants. This includes the role all jurisdictions play in reporting information to track the use of implants.

14.National Action Plan for Endometriosis

Ministers noted that the National Action Plan for Endometriosis has been finalised and was launched on 26 July 2018. All states and territories will be working with the Commonwealth toward implementation of the plan.

15.National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030 and National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-2030

Ministers noted that the Commonwealth is developing a National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030 and a National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-2030. Both Strategies are expected to be finalised and launched in early 2019.

16. Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs

Ministers noted the work being undertaken by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs. It was agreed that the Commonwealth release a detailed report of the activity of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs including specific fee transparency options before the next COAG Health Council meeting so that decisive actions can be agreed.

17. Digital health

Jurisdictions reaffirmed their support of a national opt out approach to the My Health Record. Jurisdictions noted clinical advice about the benefits of My Health Record and expressed their strong support for My Health Record to support patient’s health.

Ministers acknowledged some concerns in the community and noted actions proposed to provide community confidence, including strengthening privacy and security provisions of My Health Record.

Part 2Press Conference Alice Springs

GREG HUNT: 
It’s a real honour to be here at Purple House with Ken Wyatt, Indigenous Health Minister, but of course the first Indigenous Minister in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia.

And then Sarah and her team, all of the members of Purple House. Purple House is about saving lives and protecting lives.

It’s about closing the gap so as in Indigenous Australians have a better shot at better kidney health. As the Chief Medical Officer was just explaining, dialysis means that the machines do the work of the kidneys where the kidneys have been damaged, and that means that people can help expel the toxins, can have a healthier life and deal with some of the challenges and they can be on dialysis and manage their lives for literally two decades or more in some cases, as Brendan was setting out.

Today, I am delighted to announce that the Australian Government will under the National Health and Medical Research Council. These projects will cover things such as lung function, reducing smoking during pregnancy, improving the health of blood and Ken will talk to you in particular about point-of-care testing in dialysis.

It’s about ensuring that whilst we clearly have not closed the gap yet, which is why we asked together – the Council of Australian Governments – to come to Alice Springs and to focus on Indigenous Australia. Whilst we haven’t closed that gap, we are making progress, important steps, but a whole lot more to go.

This funding builds on what we’ve done in supporting Purple House and builds on what we’ve done in supporting additional remote dialysis. I’ll ask Ken to talk about those, but today is a critically important day for investment in Indigenous health, research and training and improved outcomes. Each one of these projects, each one of these 28 projects has the potential to save lives and improve lives. Ken?

KEN WYATT:

It’s great to be here. I was in Darwin and I heard an elder from Tiwi Island talk about living life and enjoying it fully, until he had to go to Darwin, and he said when he went to a Royal Darwin Hospital he thought he was going for a prescription and tablets that would allow him to go home.

He said he never realised he would be married to a machine and never return to country. And what’s great is Purple House now provides that opportunity for elders and senior people within the community and younger ones who experience renal failure to go back to the point of where they grew up. Point-of-care testing makes it easier now to identify where we have renal problems and start to address the needs of individuals.

The $23 million that the Australian Government, the Turnbull Government have provided to Purple House means that the purple bus will reach further out into remote and isolated communities, but more importantly an increase in the number of dialysis point of access that enables both the use of chairs and other support programs that are important.

Over a period of time we’ve seen senior Aboriginal people make a decision to disengage from dialysis in regional hospitals, go back to country and die on country. This now changes that. This gives an incredible opportunity for people to spend time with their family, for culture and law to be passed on through those who have that task.

But more importantly, to keep families together and I think that the combination of the work that the Turnbull Government, and in particular Minister Hunt in his strong commitment to looking at the research that is required to close those gaps, has made an incredible difference. And it’s great having you here as well because you have also been an advocate and I’d like to invite you to make a couple of comments as well.

GREG HUNT:
Okay. We’re happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: 
Well, if I may kick it off. Minister Hunt, we’ve heard a lot of concerns about privacy issues regarding My Health. What benefits though are there in digitising health records?

GREG HUNT: 
Well, enormous benefits, and I have to say that the Northern Territory is one of the nation’s leaders on that front and I’ve been discussing this with the Northern Territory Minister, who’s been a great advocate and it crosses party lines.

But when you have a mobile population and they may not have their own records as most people don’t, they don’t carry their records with them, if they’re a mobile population, or if the medical community is moving, then what this does is it marries up your history and your chronic conditions and your medicines across the different points of care.

So this gives every Australian the capacity to have their health care system with them, if they want it. And in Indigenous Australia, and in particular in the Northern Territory, we see that this area is leading the nation in terms of engagement with the population on digital health. So for Indigenous Australia it’s going to be a real game-changer.

JOURNALIST:
Are you confident, Minister, that the changes you’ve made address the privacy concerns?

GREG HUNT: 
Yes, these are changes which come directly from the advice, request and sensible proposals put forward by the AMA and the College of GPs and really we’re doing two things, one, we are lifting Labor’s 2012 legislation to the same level as the practise of the last six years, which is an ironclad legislative guarantee that no health records will be released without a court order.

Secondly, once somebody seeks to have their record deleted, it will now be cancelled and fully deleted forever from the record so. If you seek to have it cancelled, if you seek to opt-out after a record’s been created, it’s gone forever, rather than the 130 years which was put in under Labor’s legislation.

JOURNALIST: 
Labor says the opt-out period should be put on hold. Will you do that?

GREG HUNT: 
That’s not the advice of the medical authorities who are very clear that they want this done this year, so we’ve extended by a month and we’ve worked with the medical authorities. I understand that Labor at the moment is being, shall we say, a little bit curious because only a few weeks ago they were welcoming this as a long-overdue step and when the legislation went through, unanimously, through the Parliament they praised this as an important and vital step forward.

JOURNALIST:
The Women’s Legal Service in Queensland says you haven’t done enough to address new concerns around My Health Record and that it may risk the safety of women fleeing abusing partners. Have you heard of those concerns and are you doing anything on that front?

GREG HUNT:
Yes, I’ve asked the head of the Digital Health Agency to talk with them and meet with them as a matter of priority. The advice I have is that there are very, very strong protections, but we’re always working with different groups and these have been raised and so the head of the Digital Health Agency will meet with and talk with those groups and take their concerns very, very seriously.

JOURNALIST:
Minister, what else is the federal government doing to help ensure that Indigenous people can live a healthy life in remote communities?

GREG HUNT:
Well, there’s a comprehensive program and I’ll ask Ken to address this in more detail. But you have of course the health treatment, and these 28 new projects are each about improving health in different areas, whether, as I say, it’s in relation to smoking rates for pregnant women, point of care for dialysis, whether it’s improving outcomes in relation to lung function.

But we’re also working through the education system on activity, on diet, and then of course there’s economic development, because you cannot escape the social determinants of health, they are a reality. That’s why Indigenous Australia has worse outcomes, because there are challenges that are unique to that community and we have to have a comprehensive program.

Now, Ken has, as much as any person in Australian history, helped drive that forward and he’s being supported on the ground. I have to say, Jacinta was one of the motivating sources for the COAG meeting to be here in Alice Springs. Ken?

KEN WYATT:
Some of the priorities that we’re working on are premised on rheumatic heart disease and the impact that that has from birth through to later adult life. The increasing number of people living with renal failure and certainly our research is showing that the onset might be as early as 19 years in males.

So there’s work that we’ve centred our attention on, working very closely with the community-controlled health sector across the nation, because these are two very significant illnesses that prevail within Aboriginal communities – avoidable blindness, avoidable deafness. But we also want to look at some of those other underlying issues that impact on a child in their early years – crusted on scabies, we’ve just committed a substantial piece of work around to tackle that issue and look at solutions.

But the underlying social determinants are absolutely critical. But with the state and territory health ministers meeting here in Alice Springs, it means we will have a very serious discussion around the way in which the Commonwealth and state and territories work in partnership with Aboriginal people, not for us to deliver programs to them. Because often change will only come when families have the ownership, when communities are those who determine the priorities that are needed, that then are given the level of support and resourcing that is important in the way that we’ve done with Purple House.

On the ground approaches work far better than if we try and tackle them from capital cities, and so this whole focus means that we bring health and health thinking and design and planning much closer. Our roundtable this afternoon with the Indigenous leaders is a reflection of us seeking their advice to look at what are the directions that we need to seriously consider, given the geographic diversity of our nation.

JOURNALIST:
Minister Wyatt, do you think there’s been enough done to explain, I guess, My Health? I mean, you’re here at Purple House where many languages are spoken other than English. Are you confident that the message is getting out there to those regional communities where English is perhaps third or fourth languages?

KEN WYATT:
Look, I think our Aboriginal health workers who are employed by many organisations, including state and territory health systems, provide that front line interaction. Because I once made a comment to a group of Aboriginal health workers in New South Wales that power doesn’t sit with the director or with the minister, the power of change and impact sits with the Aboriginal health workers who understand the families, understand the communities, that can speak language and understand the nuances of the relationships within a community. I think that’s where our best opportunity lies.

JOURNALIST:
Minister Wyatt, I think everybody would agree the syphilis epidemic is very high, too high, in Indigenous populations. What’s your plan to bring down those numbers?

KEN WYATT:
Well when that was first raised with us there were two steps we took. One is the Chief Medical Officer undertook a piece of work with the Australian Health Minsters’ Council because the predominance of that work in terms of surveillance, treatment, and the provision of treatment, really reside with state and territories. But also, Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations play a key role. James Ward has also developed community awareness materials that are pragmatic and practical and kids can relate to the messages in the materials that he has produced.

But also having the community-controlled health services now turn their attention to point of care testing, but more importantly around some of the messages of why it’s important to practice safe sex. The other avenue we use which is a great one is through some of the big sporting events – Adrian Carson in Brisbane will be holding a rugby knock out carnival in Townsville. Now, at that they’re anticipating somewhere between 10,000 and 16,000 people will turn up along with all of those playing, so it gives a great opportunity for the community-controlled health sector to get some of those messages into the community.

But our strategic approach is working with the jurisdictions and with the Aboriginal communities in making sure that we entrench a practice of identification of STIs, including HIV and blood-borne viruses where they may prevail, but then providing the level of treatment that is important in eradicating the challenge that we’ve had. We’ve seen this outbreak across the top end of Australia and certainly the level of commitment that we’ve had from states and territories has been tremendous.

JOURNALIST:
Is that going to be a similar approach for HLTV-1 virus?

KEN WYATT:
Yes, we’ve set aside through the AHMAC process $8 million, which will be part of a process of a round of discussions involving Aboriginal community-controlled health services, key researchers, but also the jurisdictions in identifying the priorities. We have to ascertain the extent of the spread of the virus and not only consider that, but consider research that’s been done overseas.

I’ve certainly read some of the research out of Japan in terms of transmission points, but we need to have a look at what is the challenge here in Australia. I know it was something that was identified in the Fitzroy Valley in the 80s and 90s and certainly I want to compliment my own department and Minister Hunt’s department on the work that they’ve been doing with our state and territory colleagues and the community-controlled health sector.

GREG HUNT:
Thank you very much.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #COAG meeting Alice Springs : Time for COAG Health Council to address the Indigenous funding myth & ‘market failure’ says Ian Ring

 ” COAG Health Ministers will discuss Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health at their meeting in Alice Springs this week.

There is much to discuss. Ten years on from the start of Closing the Gap, progress is mixed, limited and disappointing, and the life expectancy gap is widening.

This is hardly surprising.

The National Partnership Agreements on Indigenous health, which spelt out the roles, responsibilities and funding of the Commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictions, have not yet been replaced by bilateral agreements.

Formal regional structures and agreements to bring together Aboriginal community controlled health and mainstream services have yet to be formalised nationally. On the broader front, culture, racism and social, political and economic issues cry out for attention.

The way forward is within the reach of the COAG Health Council.

If there is to be a point in retaining the goal to close the life expectancy gap, the hope is that COAG will now grasp that opportunity.”

Ian Ring AO Honorary Professorial Fellow Research and Innovation Division
University of Wollongong

Originally published in Croakey 

Much remains to be done in housing, the justice system is a debacle, and the question of an Aboriginal voice, one of the main priorities of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, remains unresolved.

Critically, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Health Implementation Plan, which was supposed to be the game changer for health, has become an unfunded plan of words not action and, after almost three years, basic core tasks such as defining service models and filling service gaps remain unfulfilled.

Misleading money myths

While money isn’t the only factor, money myths are playing an important role in the failure to close the gap.

A recent Productivity Commission report found that per capita government spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was twice as high as for the rest of the population.

The view that enormous amounts of money have been spent on Indigenous Affairs has led many to conclude a different focus is required and that money is not the answer.

But higher spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should hardly be a surprise.

We are not surprised, for example, to find that per capita health spending on the elderly is higher than on the healthier young because the elderly have higher levels of illness.

Nor is it a surprise that welfare spending is higher for Indigenous people who lag considerably in education, employment and income. There would be something very wrong with the system if it were otherwise.

The key question in understanding the relativities of expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is equity of total expenditure, both public and private, in relation to need, but the Productivity Commission’s brief is simply to report on public expenditure, and that can be misleading.

Massive market failure

For health services, while state and territory governments spend on average $2 per capita on Indigenous people for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, the Commonwealth spends $1.20 for every $1 spent on the rest of the population, notwithstanding that the burden of disease and illness for Indigenous Australians is 2.3 times the rate of the rest of the population. And total government expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is only about 60 per cent of the needs based requirements.

This is massive market failure.

The health system serves the needs of the bulk of the population very well but the health system has failed to meet the needs of the Indigenous population.

Mortality for the Indigenous population has flatlined since 2008 and the inevitable result is that the life expectancy gap is widening rather than closing.

This is not surprising since the Federal Government’s own reports clearly show that preventable admissions for Indigenous people, funded by the states and territories, are three times as high as for the rest of the population (see graphs below, and sources at the bottom of the post) yet use of the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), funded by the Commonwealth, appears at best to be a half and a third respectively of the needs based requirements for Indigenous people.

It is simply impossible for the mortality gaps to close under these conditions.

It is not that the Commonwealth is deliberately underfunding health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. However there are decades of experience establishing beyond all doubt that demand driven services designed to meet the needs of the bulk of the population will not adequately meet the needs of a very small minority of the population with very special needs.

In recognition of that, for over 40 years, the Commonwealth has been funding Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), which evidence shows better meet those needs, but the coverage of those services is patchy and needs to be expanded.

It has been shown that the nonviolent death rate for at risk Aboriginal people can be halved in just over three years by systematic application of knowledge we already have. It really is within the grasp of the current government to turn things around and now is the time to do it.

Priorities to address

A key requirement is to address the shortfall in Commonwealth funding for out of hospital services, which is contributing to excessive preventable admissions funded by the states and territories, and to avoidable deaths.

A vital priority is seed funding for the provision of satellite and outreach ACCHSs that Indigenous people will access, and which provide the comprehensive services needed to fill the service gaps, to boost the use of MBS and PBS services to more equitable levels, and to reduce preventable admissions and deaths.

Additional funding is also required for mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services which are neglected in the Closing the Gap initiative.

And much more attention needs to be paid to the quality of services, with much needed investment in the training of clinicians, managers and public servants for the difficult and complex roles they have to play.

The ‘Refresh’: resource-free targets

The danger is that action will be put on hold in the belief that somehow the Closing the Gap ‘Refresh’ is going to solve everything!

The fear is that we have entered the world of magical targets – the kind where you just say what you would like to happen and that’s it, it just magically comes to pass without actually specifying, let alone actually doing all the things that are required to achieve the targets. It’s a bit like painting pictures in the sky: let’s put an end to war and famine without any thought or action about what would need to be done for those desirable things to come to pass.

With the Refresh target setting process, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on data issues while more or less completely overlooking consideration of the investment or services required to achieve the targets.

In an orthodox sensible planning process, target setting is an important element. Targets need to be directly related to overarching goals, and need to relate directly to the services, actions and investments that will be made to achieve the targets.

Timeframes setting out what is to be achieved in say 1 year, 5 years, 10 years etc are crucial, and both process and outcome targets need to be set. In the absence of this kind of process a belief that the Refresh will somehow turn things around may well be illusory.

It is extraordinary that the only response to the finding on the life expectancy target – that it not only won’t be met but is going backwards – is an apparent intent to freeze Commonwealth funding for Indigenous health services!

There is little point in having mortality goals which are clearly in jeopardy – and when the causes are not hard to define and the remedies clear – if there is insufficient action taken to actually achieve them.

The funds required for satellite and outreach ACCHS services to fill the service gaps, together with the other priorities described above, spread over a carefully prepared five year plan, are likely to be modest and would make a real and substantial improvement to the health of Indigenous people.

There is no call for some kind of special deal, but simply the same level of expenditure from both Commonwealth and state and territory governments for Australia’s Indigenous peoples that anyone else in the population with equivalent need would receive.

The way forward is within the reach of the COAG Health Council.

If there is to be a point in retaining the goal to close the life expectancy gap, the hope is that COAG will now grasp that opportunity.

Sources: