NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency

feature tile text 'Territorians warned against COVID-19 complacency' Granites Tanamai gold mine site with vector images of covid-19 virus

Territorians warned against complacency

NT medical authorities are urging residents to avoid complacency after the outbreak of coronavirus at a Central Australian mine site. On Saturday morning (27 June 2021), a FIFO worker at the Granites Mine site, 540 kms NW of Alice Springs, tested positive for Coronavirus. 24 close contacts of the worker, including a town camp resident, travelled to Alice Springs last week.

Head of Public Health at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), John Boffa, said by Saturday night all had been contacted and were in isolation. By Sunday afternoon all 24 had returned negative test results. He said another 19 close contacts of the man transited through the Alice Springs airport and were being managed in other states. “We’re not totally out of the woods yet, you know, day three some of those people might become positive. But with the Delta variant it does look like the incubation period is very short, so it’s very encouraging. We’re quietly confident that perhaps we’ve dodged a bullet.” said Dr Boffa.

Dr Boffa said that vaccination rates among Indigenous residents of Central Australia remained low and that this near miss should be heeded as a wake-up call. Dr John Boffa said he hoped this near miss showed the Alice Springs community the importance of getting vaccinated. “We’ve been living as if COVID doesn’t exist – well it does exist, its real. We hope now with this scare that people will really jump in and get vaccinated.”

To view the full ABC News article click here.

CAAC female health worker being given the COVID-19 vaccine

Image source: ABC News, Samantha Jonscher. Feature tile image of Granites Tanamai gold mine site. Image source: NT Independent.

In another article in The Guardian: Low rate of Indigenous vaccination a worry, says minister, as NT Covid cases rise to seven

“I don’t want to see any deaths,” says Ken Wyatt, pointing to significant vaccine hesitancy in some communities.

“Our population is very young, the bulk of our people are under 50 so we need a good supply of Pfizer on a regular basis, especially now there’s a real risk to remote communities,” said CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, John Paterson.

Minister Ken Wyatt says he is ‘worried’ that the current Covid outbreak poses a significant risk to Indigenous communities. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Focus on remote vulnerable NT communities

In an interview on Saturday 27 June 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt MP said the NT has taken strong actions early to ensure that their Territory and their Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous communities are protected and that these actions were appropriate and timely.

Minister Hunt outlined the 10 principal actions that make up the Commonwealth’s response, “Firstly, we have set up a National Incident Management Team to support the NT response, and that’s hosted in the National Incident Centre and includes representatives from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. We’ve ensured that the current stock of point of care testing is focused in the NT. More than 4,000 cartridges for testing all of those who maybe need it in remote or otherwise difficult-to-reach communities.”

“Thirdly, asymptomatic testing has been activated in the NT. Fourthly, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has been put into a position to assist with rapid deployment. Fifthly, Aspen is available for additional workforce support to the Aboriginal community-controlled health services. Then we have Purple House, where we are working to ensure that dialysis for patients continues safely. The seventh action is that all aged care facilities have had first and second dose visits and that we are assisting the NT Health in terms of their joint aged care response centre.”

“And we have convened a joint briefing with the Aboriginal health sector along with the NT and are working closely with them. Our focus is in particular on the remote and vulnerable Indigenous communities. Then, finally, flight manifests have been provided to all states and territories with regards to the workers who have left the Granites Gold Mine near Yuendumu. And then finally, we’ve offered any and all support to the NT Government for contact tracing.”

To view a transcript of Minister Greg Hunt MP’s interview click here.

The granites gold mine, Tanami Desert NT view from the sky

The Granites gold mine, Tanami Desert, NT. Photo: Caddie Brain. Image source: ABC News.

AMSANT and Land Council message to Mob 

In a joint media release the CEOs and Chairpersons of the Northern, Tiwi and Anindilyakwa Aboriginal Land Councils and the Aboriginal Medical Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible and provided the following message for Aboriginal people living in their areas: “If you are in the Greater Darwin lockdown area you must stay there. If you are outside the lockdown area you should stay in your community. That is the safest place for you and your family. Stay Safe, Stay on Country, Look after Family.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal man & woman at the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, the woman is receiving the covid-19 vaccine by a health worker

The vaccine rollout in East Arnhem Land started in early April 2021. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News website.

Culturally sensitive service boosts jab rate

An Aboriginal Health Service in South Australia is operating dedicated vaccination cubicles for Indigenous people. All Indigenous Australians above the age of 16 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. To listen to the SBS News audio describing a program run by the Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health Clinic in Adelaide offering culturally safe primary health care including COVID-19 vaccination click here.

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine

An Aboriginal Primary Health physician from Watto Purrunna talking to a client before administering a COVID-19 vaccine. Image source: SBS News website.

Calls to turn tide on unsafe medicine use

A consortium of Australia’s leading medicine safety experts has endorsed calls to turn the tide on unsafe medicine use and to better protect Australians against preventable harm caused by medicines. In a new report released yesterday, the consortium made consensus recommendations which will help shape Australia’s response to the declaration of medicine safety and quality use of medicines as Australia’s 10th National Health Priority Area.

With the long-awaited review of the National Medicines Policy starting next month, there is no better time to ensure medicines safety is front and centre of Australia’s National Medicines Policy. The recommendations come off the back of last month’s NPS MedicineWise Symposium, hosted by NPS MedicineWise, where health and government leaders lamented the lack of good data on medicine errors and data on the patient impacts of those errors.

To view the media release click here.

hand palm up on wooden table, blister pack of tablets - 3 remaining, 6 tablets on table & a syringe

Image source: Business Daily website.

Indigenous LGBTQIA+ discrimination research

New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found 73% of Indigenous LGBTQIA+ participants have experienced discrimination, in a first-of-its-kind study that addresses the impacts of racism, social exclusion and queer-phobia on Indigenous LGBTQIA+ people in WA. The study, Breaking the Silence, was led by Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Braden Hill, a Nyungar Wardandi man and head of Kurongkurl Katitjin, ECU’s Centre for Indigenous Australian Education and Research. The research was also supported by Indigenous LGBTQIA+ researchers from Kurongkurl Katitjin and funded by government health promotion organisation Healthway.

The study also found over 40%of participants decided not to disclose their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage on dating apps for fear of racism. Almost 13% had experienced homelessness or housing insecurity, one third felt ‘invisible’ within their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and about 45% felt a sense of belonging to the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Over 60%of participants had listed GPs and psychologists as a source of significant support.

Breaking the Silence centres on the findings from a survey of 63 Indigenous LGBTQIA+ community members, 206 health care professionals and 49 focus group sessions. “For many of the participants there was a great sense of pride in being Indigenous and LGBTIQ+, however, the experience of discrimination, particularly racism, was a major concern,” said Professor Hill. Participants noted discrimination in the forms of being ignored, teased, maliciously outed, followed in public or being “victims of physical violence or other crimes”.

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

Professor Braden Hill in navy suit, purple shirt & tie standing outside university building with wooden totem poles

Professor Braden Hill. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Diabetes remission diet

It wasn’t too long ago that researchers in the UK challenged the convention that type 2 diabetes – diabetes that comes on in adulthood – is a lifelong condition that’s irreversible. Using a weight management program, they showed for some, that the diagnosis can be shelved.

Now those researchers have found more encouraging signs. The high blood pressure that often goes along with type 2 diabetes may be helped as well, with some people no longer needing medication. Here in Australia, experts have taken notice, with the very low calorie program now being used in Sydney as well as in remote communities where people are at greater risk.

To listen to the ABC Health Report with Norman Swan episode Diabetes remission diet also found to reduce high blood pressure click here.hot pink background with stethoscope, blood pressure gauge, pills, syringe and board with the word Diabetes

New process for job advertising

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

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

Group B Strep Awareness Month

July is Group B Strep Awareness Month, an annual campaign to highlight the importance of group B Strep awareness, education and research.

  • Group B streptococcal bacteria can cause a wide range of illnesses.
  • Between one and four out of every 1,000 newborns contract group B streptococcal disease (GBS disease) from their mothers during birth.
  • Some of the life-threatening complications of GBS infection in newborns include bacterial infection of the bloodstream (septicaemia), pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Many Australian maternity hospitals screen pregnant women for GBS infection to reduce the risk of GBS infection in newborn infants.

Tragically, many families first hear about group B Strep after their baby is seriously ill with GBS meningitis, sepsis or pneumonia.

It is important more families hear about group B Strep so they can take action to protect their newborn baby.

For more information click here.pink vector paper with tape at top & text 'July is International GBS Awareness Month! GROUP B STREP INTERNATIONL' pink, white & blue awareness ribbons

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Free MedicineWise App

Feature tile - Wed 9.6.21 - MedicineWise App

Free MedicineWise app

Do you sometimes mix up your medicines, or forget to take your doses? Or maybe you want to store all your medicines and health information in one place?

NPS MedicineWise has a free tool — the MedicineWise app — which can help you and your loved ones manage your medicines and your health.

The MedicineWise app can:

  • keep track of your medicines and remind you when your medicine doses and appointments are due
  • store your information such as your health conditions and allergies
  • allow you to share your health information with your health professionals and people who may be caring for you
  • provide you with trusted, relevant and up-to-date information relating to your medicines and your health conditions

The MedicineWise app can also deliver information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. Download the MedicineWise app and opt in:

  1. Tap on your profile.
  2. Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
  3. Scroll down to switch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toggles on.

Talk to your health professional or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) for specific health needs or advice.

MedicineWise App

MedicineWise App by NPS MedicineWise.

You can download the app via one of the buttons below.

App_Store - Download buttonGoogle_Play - Download button

 

 

Enhancing viral hepatitis care

Last week, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

She spoke about Viral Hepatitis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and pointed out some key statistics:

  • They account for 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses.
  • Hepatitis C diagnosis continues to increase among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • The diagnosis rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged less than 25 years are around 8 times higher than non-Indigenous people of the same age.
  • Vaccination coverage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at 24 months of age is higher than the non-Indigenous population (97.5% compared to 96.4% respectively).
  • The prevalence of Hepatitis B among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers has decreased by 80% since the introduction of vaccination.

“In order to enhance viral hepatitis care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we need to improve health care access through innovation, expansion, and increased appropriateness of existing healthcare services, which can reduce the multiple barriers to accessing health care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.”

“We must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model of integrated primary health care,” said Dr Casey.

The principles incorporated in this model ensure the following factors are addressed:

  • Sustained funding
  • Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Improved data and surveillance
  • Innovative recall systems
  • Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
  • Community engagement and education
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Access and effective integration of the PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing

You can view Dr Casey’s full keynote address here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

Hepatitis QLD has created ‘Find the Liver Hero inside you‘ – a video about one of the hardest working organs in the body and how we can’t live without it. You can watch the video here or by clicking on the video image below.

Us Mob and HIV 4th edition

We’re very excited to share with you that the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations’ (AFAO) new and fourth edition of the ever popular and highly utilised HIV booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Us Mob and HIV is here!

The third edition was last published in 2014, so the booklet was missing several developments in the response to HIV. This new fourth edition now includes this updated information, including PrEP, treatment as prevention and new testing technologies.

The booklets are currently being printed and are on their way to AFAO’s state/territory member organisations for them to plan their local distribution to ACCHOs, AMSs, services and partner organisations. The booklets should start arriving to these organisations shortly. We can’t wait to see the booklet reaching communities.

You can download a PDF of the booklet here and tor more information, please visit the AFAO website.

Us Mob and HIV - Cover art 'Dialogue' by Arone Raymond Meeks.

Us Mob and HIV – Cover art ‘Dialogue’ by Arone Raymond Meeks.

CTG script changes in July

From 1 July 2021, there will be enhancements to the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment Program.

Please find below resources targeted at the following stakeholder groups:

Please feel free to share and disseminate as needed.

Please note that the Australian Government Department of Health’s CTG PBS Co-payment Program webpage will reflect current arrangements up to, and including, 30 June 2021. The new arrangements will be reflected on the Department’s webpage from 1 July 2021 onwards.

CTG PBS Changes - artwork

CTG PBS Changes – artwork.

Better support around Blue Card system

In a media statement earlier today Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman  released Safe children and strong communities: A strategy and action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations accessing the blue card system

“The Queensland Family and Children Commission’s 2017 review of the blue card system recommended a more strategic approach to our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples seeking to work or volunteer with children,” the Attorney-General said. “While the review found that Queensland’s system was one of the strongest working with children check systems in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples often experienced barriers.”

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has developed this five-year action plan which takes an innovative approach to provide greater support to our First Nations people through each part of the blue card system. Minister Fentiman said the plan was part of the Queensland Government’s broader work to address the social and health challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

A copy of the plan is available here and you can read the full media statement by the Queensland Government here.

Person with blue card.

$8 million for heart and stroke research

A total of $8 million to accelerate heart and stroke research has been awarded to eight Australian researchers in a joint initiative by the Heart Foundation and the Federal Government.

A central focus will be the under-researched area of women and heart disease. Other research areas will include:

  • Heart damage caused by cancer treatments
  • Predicting heart disease
  • Heart disease rehabilitation and recovery

The research areas for the grants are based on the outcomes of an extensive two-year Heart Foundation survey of thousands of Australians, from people living with heart disease through to heart health professionals. Key outcomes highlighted gaps in the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease, as well as the positive benefits of sustained rehabilitation.

The survey also found that patients are seeking more support and advice regarding recovery and prevention of further heart events, while clinicians are  focused on new ways of identifying and preventing cardiovascular disease before it can take hold and cause damage.

Professor Gail Garvey, Menzies School of Health Research, NT, will research heart disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer survivors and identify the prevalence of heart disease in these patients.

You can read more in the Heart Foundation’s media release here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

HealthInfoNet Cultural Consultation Project

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) is undertaking consultation discussions and focus groups with health professionals and researchers around Australia. A key element of the HealthInfoNet is to ensure its work is authentic and engaged knowledge development and exchange.

Consultation Focus Groups are being held seeking advice from health professionals and researchers on how they can ensure the HealthInfoNet sections of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, Closing the Gap and Cultural Ways are designed to meet the health workforce needs.

There are four questions to keep in mind when reviewing these sections.
1. What information is missing that you would like to see added?
2. What information is not needed in these sections?
3. Does the information provided assist you to carry out your work tasks?
4. How could we improve these sections?

In addition, the HealthInfoNet are seeking advice on the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Data Consultation Network/Committee to oversee Knowledge Exchange Products, for example, the Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status and specific health topic reviews. Advice will also be sought about what this Network/Committee would look like and how it would operate.

If you are interested in the HealthInfoNet consultation process, would like to provide your suggestions or host a Focus Group, please forward an email to: Michelle Elwell on m.elwell@ecu.edu.au or Uncle Mick Adams on m.adams@ecu.edu.au

HealthInfoNet image

NSW – Sydney – Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Senior Project Officer Affirmative Measure – Indigenous

The Commission is seeking an Ongoing Senior Project Officer to be responsible for leading the work on the assigned work plan deliverables and the development of resources. The Senior Project Officer will also be required to contribute to broader activities to support the National Standards Program. This will include undertaking research and analysis of information, project management, policy development, stakeholder management, facilitation of meetings, preparation of project documentation and collaborating with other relevant programs within the Commission.

The key duties of the position include:

Position duties and responsibilities include:

  1. With the Director, lead the planning and conceptualisation of strategies and national guidance to support the National Standards Program
  2. Undertake project management activities including project planning and documentation, implementation, monitoring and reporting on progress; providing recommendations about managing risk, and identifying and resolving problems
  3. Provide secretariat support to the work of relevant committees and expert groups managed by the program
  4. Consult with experts and stakeholders including development of consultation strategies and coordination of formal consultation processes to achieve the objectives of the Commission
  5. Maintain knowledge of relevant legislative and reporting requirements, Australian and International standards, quality assurance procedures and best practice models
  6. Undertake work activities with an awareness of their possible impact on strategic, political or operational outcomes for the agency/program
  7. Provide public health and/or health informatics expertise across a broad range of activities as required.

Eligibility

The successful candidate will have:

  • Excellent project management, time management and organisational skills
  • Effective and well-developed interpersonal and communication skills including the ability to present, negotiate, influence and consult
  • Knowledge of the Australian healthcare system and an understanding of issues regarding safety and quality in health care
  • Experience facilitating the work of committees, and engaging and communicating with stakeholders
  • Masters level qualifications is desirable.

To view position descriptions and to apply click hereApplications close midnight, Wednesday 23 June 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Grants to support mental health of new parents

Feature tile - Mon 7.6.21 - Grants to support mental health of new parents

Grants to support mental health of new parents

The Morrison government is providing $16.6 million in grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new parents through nine new projects.

It is estimated that up to 10% of women experience depression while pregnant, and one in seven women in the year after birth. Men can also experience perinatal mental illness, with approximately one in 10 expectant and new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety or other forms of emotional distress in the perinatal period.

Some of the grants under the mental health initiative include:

  • $2.59 million for the University of Newcastle to deliver the SMS4dads digital prevention and early intervention service for fathers, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers, living in rural and remote regions.
  • $750,000 for Possums for Mothers and Babies to deliver training and professional peer support for health professionals and new parents in rural communities.
  • $250,000 for the Murdoch University Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity to produce health practitioner training materials and develop a mobile phone-based app version of the Baby Coming You Ready assessment and screening program for Aboriginal women.

You can read the full story and find out more about the other grants here.

Man pushing pram through park. Image source AAP.

Image source: AAP.

Yolngu Elders kick off COVID-19 vaccinations across Arnhem Land

Miwatj Health are gearing up for a COVID-19 vaccination blitz across the remote northern region of Arnhem Land.

Terry Yumbulul, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation’s Chief Culture Advisor and Head of Regionalisation, and CEO Eddie Mulholland, had their Pfizer vaccine in Gove last week.

They were joined by 10 Board Members of Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and other local leaders who received their vaccine in an effort to encourage others in the community.

ABC Radio Darwin’s Jo Laverty spoke with Terry Yumbulul about his experience and whether other Yolngu people would follow suit.

You can listen to the ABC Radio Darwin On Breakfast broadcast with Jolene Laverty here.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation.

Yolngu Elder receives vaccine at Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: ABC News.

Healing the past project seeking participants

Becoming a parent is exciting but it can be hard. Particularly for parents who have experienced difficulties in their own childhood, which can have long lasting effects on physical, social and emotional wellbeing. This can make the transition to parenthood difficult, causing distress and challenges to creating a nurturing environment for a new baby. On the flip side, growing research shows that becoming a parent offers a unique life-time opportunity to heal from this childhood hurt.  

‘Healing the past by nurturing the future’ (video) is a community-based participatory research project which is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents to develop awareness and support strategies that could be offered during the perinatal period to support Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma.  

The team are looking for participants for this important research project who are:  

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people  
  • living in the NT, SA or Victoria, and  
  • are pregnant, have a partner who is pregnant or have a child (under 5 years in SA; or any age in NT or Vic).  

To learn more about the project, please contact Cindy from the research team on 0492 850 298, or email hpnf@latrobe.edu.au, or visit the website here.

Healing the Past - Image 1

Healing the Past – Illustration.

Cultural connectedness can reduce suicide rates

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia ‘Suicide rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: the influence of community level cultural connectedness’ examines associations between community cultural connectedness indicators and suicide mortality rates for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

This retrospective mortality study looks at suicide deaths of people aged 10‒19 years recorded by the Queensland Suicide Register between 2001‒2015.

The age‐specific suicide rate was 21.1 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for First Nations young people and 5.0 deaths per 100,000 persons/year for non‐Indigenous young people. The rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was higher in areas with low levels of cultural social capital (greater participation of community members in cultural events, ceremonies, organisations, and community activities) than in areas classified as having high levels, and also in communities with high levels of reported discrimination. Associations with proportions of Indigenous language speakers and area level socio‐economic resource levels were not statistically significant.

The study found that suicide mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Queensland were influenced by community level culturally specific risk and protective factors. The findings suggest that strategies for increasing community cultural connectedness at the community level and reducing institutional and personal discrimination could reduce suicide rates.

You can read the full article here.

Aboriginal youth sitting, resting his head in his hand

Image source: ABC News.

NDIS personalised budgets

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) has released new papers on Personalised Budgets to give more information on the way they propose to build participant budgets in the future.

In 2020 they released a paper on proposed changes to the planning policy for Personalised Budgets and plan flexibility, and encouraged participants, families, carers and the wider sector to respond. The feedback was that people want fairer decisions. People also wanted the NDIS to be more transparent about how they worked out the funds in participants’ plans.

The Personalised Budgets papers give you more information on how the NDIS are developing the new budget model and how they propose budgets will be built.

There are three versions of the Personalised Budgets paper available for increased accessibility. They include:

  1. Personalised Budgets – technical information paper
  2. Personalised Budgets – information paper for participants, their families and carers
  3. Easy Read Guide – A new way to work out how much funding you receive in your NDIS plan

You can read more about the Personalised Budget paper on the NDIS website here.

NDIS - Personalised Budgets

Health Check 2020

‘Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap – Health Check 2020’

In 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a genuine, formal partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives to develop the Closing the Gap strategy for the next decade. Governments acknowledged the need for a respectful, collaborative approach with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities to achieve productive and sustainable outcomes.

To give effect to that commitment, the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap 2019-2029 (Partnership Agreement) was negotiated and agreed to by the Coalition of Peaks and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in March 2019. The Partnership Agreement provides an historic opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to be heard and incorporated into policy and program dimensions across all levels of government. The Partnership Parties committed to an annual Health Check of the Partnership Agreement and agreed to the development and subsequent annual review of a Partnership Risk Register. The objective of the Health Check is to review the state of the Partnership Agreement against success indicators agreed by the Parties. This report gives an account of the first Health Check and includes a draft Risk Register.

This Health Check has found that the Partnership Agreement has been successful in achieving the coming together of the Coalition of Peaks and Governments in partnership to support the Parties’ decision to negotiate a new National Agreement.

You can view the full report here.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Partnership Health Check to inform the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Digital mental health resources

In honour of National Reconciliation Week, the eMHPrac E-Mental Health in Practice website has decided to explore the Digital Mental Health Resources developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in mind. These resources include culturally relevant and evidence-based information, advice, stories, support, and counselling.

There are a range of digital mental health resources available to support individuals, families, friends, and communities including:

  • WellMob
  • Beyond Blue
  • MindSpot Clinic
  • Stay Strong
  • iBobbly
  • Deadly Tots App
  • headspace Yarn Safe
  • eheadspace
  • HitNet Community Hub
  • iTalk Studios
  • Kurdiji
  • Positive Choices
  • Proppa Deadly
  • Yarning SafeNStrong

For more information on these resources, you can:

  • download a digital brochure here;
  • order a hardcopy brochure here; or
  • visit the website here.

emhprac Brochure - Digital Mental Health Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Important changes to income reporting – Centrelink

Simplifying Income Reporting

Are you, or your partner, working and also getting a payment from Centrelink?

From 7 December 2020, the way you report employment income is changing.

This change will affect you if you, or your partner, get employment income and any of the following payments:

What are the changes?

Currently, you need to report your employment income based on the number of hours you worked in your reporting period, even if you haven’t been paid yet.

From 7 December 2020, you will need to report the gross employment income your employer paid you in your reporting period. 

Gross pay is not the amount of money received in your bank account, it is the amount your employer paid you before tax and any other deductions. You can find this on your payslip.

If you have a partner, don’t forget to report the gross employment income they were paid as well.

If your reporting date falls between 7 and 18 December 2020, you may need to make a one-off calculation if;

  • you reported earned employment income for a period before 7 December 2020, and
  • your employer paid you the income after 7 December 2020.

If you report using your Centrelink online account or Express Plus Centrelink mobile app, you’ll be asked some extra questions during this period to help you with this one-off report.

Centrelink will have an online calculator available to help you work this out. You can find the calculator here from 7 December 2020.

If you get back pay from your employer, how this affects your payments will change from 7 December 2020. Instead of applying it in the past, Centrelink will assess it in your future payments for the same amount of time the back pay was for. You will be able to report these types of payments online.

Centrelink will also make reporting your employer details easier. For some customers, when you sign into your online account, your employer’s details may be pre-filled for you to check. This will save you having to record your employer’s details.

Why is it changing?

The changes are designed to:

  • simplify the way you report to Centrelink
  • assess the employment income you were paid (rather than what you earned and have not been paid)
  • support people to report employment income correctly and reduce the likelihood of an overpayment
  • support people as they transition to work.

How can I report my income?

You can report the income you’ve been paid with your Centrelink online account through myGov. If you don’t have a myGov account, create an account and link it to Centrelink services.

If you can’t report your income online, you can:

How do I get more information?

Services Australia staff are available to assist as you transition to the new model of reporting employment income.

If you’re unsure how to report your employment income or would like more information, go to the Services Australia income reporting section on their website here.

Support is also available on the Services Australia website here.

Or you can ask at Services Australia on Facebook or tweet @ServicesAustraliaAU.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Prematurity Day 2020 – Life’s Little Treasures

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib

World Prematurity Day 2020

Every year, 15 million babies are born premature worldwide. More than one million of these babies die, and many more facing serious, lifelong health challenges. Worldwide, one in 10 babies are born too early – more than 27,000 each year in Australia alone. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%), however, for many Aboriginal babies, the news is far worse.

In an address to the National Rural Press Club, National Rural Health Commissioner Dr Ruth Stewart will explain that in 2018, 8.4 per cent of births in major cities were premature compared with 13.5 per cent in rural, remote and very remote Australia. “Those averaged figures hide pockets of greater complexity. In East Arnhem Land communities, 22 per cent of babies are born prematurely,” she will say. But she will argue it is an “urban myth” that the quality of rural maternity care and services is to blame. Rather, she will point to an ongoing decline in available services, clinics and skilled operators.

One solution she will present is the model of care developed through the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island. That program has halved premature birth rates across the Torres Strait and Australia’s northern peninsula since 2015. Crucially, all women have access to continuity of care, or the same midwife throughout the pregnancy, and those midwives are supported by Indigenous health practitioners and rural generalists (GPs with a broad range of skills such as obstetrics).

November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of preterm births as well as the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.

For further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal babies click here and to view the ABC Rural article mentioning the Midwifery Group Practice on Thursday Island click here.

World Prematurity Day 2020 - life's little treasures, image of Aboriginal father looking at baby in a humdicrib & logo of World Prematurity Day 2020 with vector image of white footprint and text November 17th & Get your purple on for prems

Image source: Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance Twitter.

Narrative therapy helps decolonise social work

Social worker, educator and proud Durrumbal/Kullilli and Yidinji woman, Tileah Drahm-Butler, has found a narrative therapy approach resonates with Aboriginal practitioners and clients alike. For many Aboriginal people, the words ‘social work’ trigger the legacy of child removal and everything that comes with that. Social work is a colonised discipline that has had a problematic relationship with Aboriginal communities. Tileah was introduced to the practice of narrative therapy while working on ‘Drop the rock’ – a jobs and training program in Aboriginal communities that supported mental health service delivery and went on to complete a Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work. 

Tileah explains that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, problems have come about from colonisation. So with clients, it is important to re-author – to move away from a medicalised, pathologised discourse to a story that tells of survival and resistance. Narrative therapy helps people to tell their strong stories and identify the skills and knowledge that they already have that can help them make the problem smaller. Tileah said ‘the problem is the problem’, is narrative therapy’s catchphrase. The person, the family, the community aren’t the problem.

To view the full article published by the University of Melbourne click here.

portrait photo of Tileah Drahm-Butler - senior social worker Cairns Hospital

Tileah Drahm-Butler. Image source: The Mandarin Talks.

Joint Council on CTG to meet

The Joint Council on Closing the Gap will meet this afternoon (17 November 2020) to discuss the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It will be the first time the Joint Council has met since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020.

The Joint Council will discuss the collective responsibilities for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap; funding priorities for the joint funding pool committed by governments to support strengthening community-controlled sectors (Priority Reform Two); a revised Family Violence target and a new Access to Information target which reflect a commitment in the National Agreement to develop these two targets within three months of the Agreement coming into effect; and the first annual Partnership Health Check of the Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Health Check reflects the commitment of all parties to put in place actions and formal checks over the life of the 10-year Partnership Agreement to make sure that the shared decision-making arrangements strengthen over time.

To view the Coalition of Peaks media alert click here.

Minister Ken Wyatt & Pat Turner sitting at a desk with draft CTG agreement

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt and Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap Pat Turner. Image source: SBS News.

Facebook can help improve health literacy

Health literacy, which generally refers to the abilities, relationships and external environments required to promote health, is an influential determinant of health that impacts individuals, families and communities, and a key to reducing health inequities. New research is showing how Facebook can be a useful source of information – particularly when used in conjunction with other methods – to develop broader understandings of health literacy among young Aboriginal males in the NT, and to spark different conversations, policies and health promotion programs. 

The project, Health literacy among young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, led by the Menzies School of Health Research emerged from an understanding that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males face multiple health and social inequities, spanning health, education and justice settings. Unfortunately, these health and social inequities start early in life and persist across different stages of their life-course. They are particularly pronounced for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and men.

The project found its participants were very open about sharing information about their health and wellbeing on social media — including the benefits of being on country and the importance of family and friends — and how this influenced their own health-related decision making.

To view the full article published in croakey click here.

three young Aboriginal men at Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008

Young Aboriginal men, Galiwinku, Elcho Island, NT, 2008. Image source: Tofu Photography.

Clothing the Gap supports Spark Health

For view the full article and to access a link to an interview with Laura Thompson click here.

photo of Laura Thompson sitting in front of laptop at desk huge smile, arms outstretched

Laura Thompson delivering a Spark Health program. Image source: The Standard.

LGBTIQ mental health crisis

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has called on the Commonwealth Government to develop a mental health and suicide prevention blueprint to tackle the crisis of unmet need within the LGBTIQ community and public investment in LGBTIQ health organisations. La Trobe University research found 57.2% of more than 6,000 surveyed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people were experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, while 41.9% reported thoughts about suicide over the past 12 months.

“Mental health in the LGBTIQ community is in crisis, and the La Trobe research makes it clear action and investment in LGBTIQ mental health and suicide prevention is sorely needed,” Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of AFAO, said. “Existing approaches aren’t working and LGBTIQ communities are paying the price.”

To view AFAO’s media release click here and the La Trobe University media release click here. To access the La Trobe University’s Private Lives 3 The Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQ People in Australia report click here.

Aboriginal trans person with rainbow coloured plait

The Tiwi Islands Sistagirls at Mardi Gras. Image source: Balck Rainbow website.

Most kids in out-of-home care with kin

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care were living with relatives, kin or Indigenous caregivers in 2018–19. The report, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle Indicators (ATSICPP) 2018–19: measuring progress, brings together the latest state and territory data on five ATSICPP indicators that measure and track the application of the placement and connection elements of the framework. 

‘The ATSICPP is a framework designed to promote policy and practice that will reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York. As at June 2019, nearly two-thirds (63% or about 11,300 out of 18,000) of Indigenous children in out-of-home care were living with Indigenous or non-Indigenous relatives or kin or other Indigenous caregivers.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal mum kissing small child on the cheek at table of activities in outside setting

Image source: Family Matters website.

STI testing drops during COVID-19

Victorians are being urged to get tested for sexually transmissible infections (STIs), with new figures showing a concerning drop in STI notifications and testing during the coronavirus pandemic. New data from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre shows a 68% drop in people without symptoms seeking STI testing this year. There are many types of STIs and most are curable with the right treatment, however, if left untreated, STIs can cause long-term damage, including infertility.

This week is STI Testing Week (16–20 November) – and as Victoria moves towards COVID Normal it’s the perfect time for everyone to consider their sexual health, have a conversation about STIs and get the important health checks they might have put off during the pandemic. To view the full article click here.

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Australia’s top experts in HIV and sexual health to drastically rethink our national response. Over 700 HIV and sexual health experts will gather (virtually due to the COVID-19) this week (16–20 November) for the joint Australasian HIV & AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences, run by the ASHM. To view ASHM’s media release click here

half peeled banana with red patch

Image source: Medicine Direct.

HMRI proud of health related initiatives 

Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has been helping researchers to undertake research that translates to better treatments and better access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including:

MRFF grant for Indigenous kid’s ear health

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong received a 5-year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal community controlled health services, enabling improvement in Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and a reduction in the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health.

Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ project

Research Associate with the University of Newcastle and HMRI affiliated researcher, Dr Parivash Eftekhari, is running a first-of-its kind program to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers to quit smoking when their partner is pregnant, or if they have young children at home. The Partners and Paternal Aboriginal Smokers’ (PAPAS) project is key in improving children’s health by supporting fathers to have smoke-free homes.

To access further information about these research projects and to download the Indigenous Healthy: Eliminating the Gap seminar held earlier this year click here.

Professor Kelvin Kong presenting at Indigenous Health - Eliminating the Gap virtual seminar

Professor Kelvin Kong. Image source: HMRI website.

Mt Isa Hospital opens new Indigenous family rooms

North West Hospital and Health Service has unveiled its newly built family rooms at the Mount Isa Hospital. The family rooms, situation near the hospital’s Emergency Department are a culturally appropriate space where Indigenous patients and their families can meet, rest or engage with specialist hospital staff. Christine Mann, Executive Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health said the facility was a spacious place close to the hospital for use by families, “We have a lot of sorry business around here and regrettably we are outgrowing the hospital, so this place is spacious enough to accommodate families. This is a place where they can come and have a cup of tea and have family meetings.”

To view full article in The North West Star click here.

9 Aboriginal women cutting red ribbon to Mt Isa Hospital family rooms

Image source: The North West Star.

General Practice: Health of the Nation report

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released its General Practice: Health of the Nation report, an annual health check-up on general practice in Australia. Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Professor Peter O’Mara, said the report contains many positive signs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“It is important not to just dwell on the problems confronting healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “On the workforce, education and training front there is very good news. In 2018, there were 74 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs registered and employed – an increase from 50 in 2015. In 2020, there are 404 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students – this has increased from 265 in 2014. This year 121 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students started studying medicine, which is a 55% increase over the past three years. Nearly 11,000 members have joined the RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, which to me shows real interest and engagement.”

To view the full article click here.

Associate Professor Peter O'Mara

Associate Professor Peter O’Mara. Image source: RACGP Twitter.

Prison language program linked to better health

A new Aboriginal Languages in Custody program has been launched at Boronia Pre-release Centre for Women where up to 30 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal prisoners will be taught Noongar, the official language of the Indigenous people of the south-west of WA. The program will be created and delivered by the Perth-based Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation and rolled out to Hakea Prison, Bunbury Regional Prison and the rest of the state’s jails in four stages from late 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. 

WA Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan said “There is an intrinsic link between language and culture so this new program aims to help Aboriginal prisoners reconnect with their own people, practices and beliefs. Research shows that teaching Aboriginal languages leads to positive personal and community development outcomes, including good health and wellbeing, self-respect, empowerment, cultural identity, self-satisfaction and belonging.”

To view the related Government of WA media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of Aboriginal person with Aboriginal art and english words in the backgrouns

Image source: ABC News.

Dispelling outdated HIV myths webinar

In the lead up to World AIDS Day on 1 December 2020 Positive Women Victoria will host a ground breaking webinar. A panel of women living with HIV, including Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin, will be  joined by a leading Australian infectious diseases physician, to share stories and knowledge about how this fact has transformed their lives and discuss issues around motherhood, sex, and relationships. The webinar will introduce audiences to more than 20 years of scientific evidence confirming that when antiretroviral treatment is used, and levels of HIV cannot be detected in blood, HIV is not transmitted during sexual contact or to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth. There is also growing evidence that supports mothers with HIV with an undetectable viral load and with healthcare support can also breastfeed their baby. 

For more information about the webinar on Thursday 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm (AEDT) 26 November 2020 and to register for the webinar click here.

portrait shot of Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin

Yorta Yorta woman Michelle Tobin. Image source: AFAO website.

Fully subsidised online antibiotic resistance program

An exciting opportunity exists for 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care professionals to enrol in the inaugural Hot North Antimicrobial Academy 2021. The Antimicrobial Academy is a fully subsidised 9-month online program for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners) to build on their understanding and expertise in antibiotic resistance and to support further leadership of antibiotic use in our communities.

Further details are available here.

Submissions close Monday 30 November 2020.Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre & Hot North Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North Antimicrobial Academy 2021 banner

Vision 2030 Roadmap open for consultation

The National Mental Health Commission is inviting you to participate in a guided online consultation to inform the content and recommendations of the Vision 2030 Roadmap.

This online consultation forms part of the Commission’s stakeholder engagement approach to ensure that the Vision 2030 Roadmap incorporates as wide a range of experience as possible when developing evidence-based responses to mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

Through special interest meetings and external expertise, the Commission has identified a number of priority areas for inclusion in the Roadmap. The online consultation asks you to consider the impact of Vision 2030 on you and identify your needs in its implementation.

More information on Vision 2030, including video recordings of the ‘Introducing Vision 2030 Blueprint and Roadmap’ webinars is available at the Commission’s website. The Vision 2030 Roadmap guided online consultation can be accessed here.

Now is your chance to get involved. This consultation opportunity is open to all until Friday 4 December 2020.purple tile text 'have your say - online consultation now open - VIsion 2020 AUstralian Government National Mental Health Commission' vector map of Australia with magnifying glass image surrounding the map

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ‘Game changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

‘Game-changer’ e-prescriptions are coming

Electronic prescriptions (or e-prescriptions) are being rolled out in stages across Australia after being used in Victoria during the pandemic. E-prescriptions have been common in countries such as the United States and Sweden for more than ten years. In Australia, a fully electronic paperless system has been planned for some time. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and a surge in the uptake of telehealth, the advantages of e-prescriptions have become compelling. To read more about what e-prescriptions are, how they work, their benefits and what they mean for paper prescriptions click here.

feature tile - Aboriginal hands in pharmacy clicking iPad

Image source: Australian Pharmacist.

Electronic prescription roll out expanded

The big news in digital health in recent weeks has been the expansion of Australia’s roll out of electronic prescriptions to metropolitan Sydney, following the fast-track implementation in metropolitan Melbourne and then the rest of Victoria as a weapon in that state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also some rare movement in the secure messaging arena, with a number of clinical information system vendors and secure messaging services having successfully completed the implementation of new interoperability standards that will hopefully allow clinicians and healthcare organisations to more easily exchange clinical information electronically. The road to secure messaging interoperability has been a tortuous one to say the least, but movement does seem to be occurring. At least 19 separate systems have successfully fulfilled the Australian Digital Health Agency’s requirements, with the vendors now getting ready to release the capability in their next versions. It is expected these will start to roll out over the next few months.

To view the full PULSE+IT article click here.

image of hand with phone held to scanning machine

Image source: PULSE+IT website.

Lack of physical activity requires national strategy

A new report finding Australians are not spending enough time being physically active highlights the need for action on a national, long-term preventive health strategy, according to AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report found that the majority of Australians of all ages are not meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required for health benefits, and are exceeding recommended limits on sedentary behaviour.

The AMA is working with the Federal Government on its proposed long-term national preventive health strategy, which was first announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt in a video message to the 2019 AMA National Conference almost 18 months ago. Dr Khorshis said “As a nation, we spend woefully too little on preventive health – only about 2 per cent of the overall health budget. A properly resourced preventive health strategy, including national public education campaigns on issues such as smoking and obesity, is vital to helping Australians improve their lifestyles and quality of life.”

To view the AMA’s media release regarding the physical activity report click here.

image of arms of Aboriginal person in running gear bending to tie shoelaces along bush trail

Image source: The Conversation.

KAMS CEO appointed to WA FHRI Fund Advisory Council

The McGowan Government has today announced the make-up of the Advisory Council of WA’s Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund. The FHRI Fund was the centerpiece of the State Government’s commitment to drive research and innovation in WA by providing the State’s health and medical researchers and innovators with a secure and ongoing source of funding. Vicki O’Donnell, CEO, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd (KAMS), is one of seven eminent Western Australians appointed to the Advisory Council to provide high-level advice to the Health Minister and the Department of Health.

To view the Government of Western Australia’s media release click here.

portrait photo of Vicki O'Donnell, KAMS CEO in office

Vicki O’Donnell, CEO KAMS. Image source: ABC News.

PLUM and HATS help save kids hearing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are being encouraged to use an Australian Government toolkit to ensure young children are meeting their milestones for hearing and speaking. The rates of hearing loss and ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are significantly higher than for the non-Indigenous population. Between 2018–19 and 2022–23, almost $104.6 million will be provided for ear health initiatives to reduce the number of Indigenous Australians suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give Indigenous children a better start to education.

The Parent-evaluated Listening and Understanding Measure (PLUM) and the Hearing and Talking Scale (HATS) have been developed by Hearing Australia in collaboration with Aboriginal health and early education services. As part of a $21.2 million package of funding over five years from 2020–21 to advance hearing health in Australia, the 2020–21 Budget includes an additional $5 million to support early identification of hearing and speech difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and embed the use of PLUM and HATS Australia-wide.

To view the Department of Health’s media release click here.

young Aboriginal child having his ear checked by health professional

Image source: The Wire website.

Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation receives research grant

The University of Wollongong (UOW) had announced the recipients of the Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS). CEGS is uniquely focused on addressing the challenges faced by communities and taking action to create real and measurable outcomes. The CEGS projects are dedicated to serving communities on a range of issues that matter in the real world. Some areas of focus are health and wellbeing, disability and social services, culture and multiculturalism, Indigenous and local history and communities.

This year, the University awarded grants to three innovative community partners and UOW academics to support their research and outreach projects. Among the recipients is the Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation and senior Aboriginal researcher and anthropologist, Professor Kathleen Clapham. Their project, titled ‘Amplifying the voices of Aboriginal women through culture and networking in an age of COVID19’ aims to address women’s isolation, restore networks, and nurture the exchange of Aboriginal knowledge and traditional practices.

To view the University of Wollongong’s media release click here.

portrait shot of Professor Kathleen Clapham University of Wollongong

Professor Kathleen Clapham, UOW. Image source: UOW website.

LGBQTISB suicide prevention

Indigenous LGBQTISB people deal with additional societal challenges, ones that can regularly intersect and contribute to the heightened development of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug problems, and a heightened risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour. Dameyon Bonson, an Indigenous gay male from the NT and recognised as Indigenous suicide prevention subject matter expert, specifically in Indigenous LGBQTI+ suicide, will be presenting ‘An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous Australian) LGBQTISB suicide prevention’ from 11.00 am to 12.00 pm (ACST) on Tuesday 10 November 2020

For more information about the event and to register click here.image of Dameyon bonson and Indigenous LGBTIQSB Suicide Prevention - An Introduction course banner

Dead quiet to award winner in only two years

“The first year we were almost dead quiet … word of mouth and occupational health is what grew us, and now we’ve been able to really branch into Indigenous health and Closing the Gap initiatives,” said Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. At just 22-years-old, Tassone is also a part-owner of the company, along with former footballed Des Headland and others. Being privately owned gives Spartan First a flexibility that other companies in the same space don’t have. “One of the benefits of being a being a private business is we don’t really have a lot of red tape to jump over. If we want to start making a change, then we can just do it,” Tassone said.

To view the full article click here.

Practice Manager Olivia Tassone standing in front of Spartan building

Spartan Practice Manager Olivia Tassone. Image source: National Indigenous Times website.

Tackling Indigenous Smoking with Prof Tom Calma

Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is responsible for 23 per cent of the gap in health burden between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program aims to improve life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by reducing tobacco use.

Professor Tom Calma, National Coordinator, leads the TIS program which has been running since 2010.  Under the program local organisations design and run activities that focus on reducing smoking rates, and supports people to never start smoking. Activities are:

  • evidence-based — so they are effective, and
  • measurable — so we can tell that they work.

feature tile 'important changes to income reporting' & image of Centrelink Office

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Important changes to income reporting

feature tile 'important changes to income reporting' & image of Centrelink OfficeSimplifying Income Reporting

Are you, or your partner, working and also getting a payment from Centrelink?

From 7 December 2020, the way you report employment income is changing.

This change will affect you if you, or your partner, get employment income and any of the following payments:

What are the changes?

Currently, you need to report your employment income based on the number of hours you worked in your reporting period, even if you haven’t been paid yet.

From 7 December 2020, you will need to report the gross employment income your employer paid you in your reporting period. 

Gross pay is not the amount of money received in your bank account, it is the amount your employer paid you before tax and any other deductions. You can find this on your payslip.

If you have a partner, don’t forget to report the gross employment income they were paid as well.

If your reporting date falls between 7 and 18 December 2020, you may need to make a one-off calculation if;

  • you reported earned employment income for a period before 7 December 2020, and
  • your employer paid you the income after 7 December 2020.

If you report using your Centrelink online account or Express Plus Centrelink mobile app, you’ll be asked some extra questions during this period to help you with this one-off report.

Centrelink will have an online calculator available to help you work this out. You can find the calculator here from 7 December 2020.

If you get back pay from your employer, how this affects your payments will change from 7 December 2020. Instead of applying it in the past, Centrelink will assess it in your future payments for the same amount of time the back pay was for. You will be able to report these types of payments online.

Centrelink will also make reporting your employer details easier. For some customers, when you sign into your online account, your employer’s details may be pre-filled for you to check. This will save you having to record your employer’s details.

Why is it changing?

The changes are designed to:

  • simplify the way you report to Centrelink
  • assess the employment income you were paid (rather than what you earned and have not been paid)
  • support people to report employment income correctly and reduce the likelihood of an overpayment
  • support people as they transition to work.

How can I report my income?

You can report the income you’ve been paid with your Centrelink online account through myGov. If you don’t have a myGov account, create an account and link it to Centrelink services.

If you can’t report your income online, you can:

How do I get more information?

Services Australia staff are available to assist as you transition to the new model of reporting employment income.

If you’re unsure how to report your employment income or would like more information, go to the Services Australia income reporting section on their website here.

Support is also available on the Services Australia website here.

Or you can ask at Services Australia on Facebook or tweet @ServicesAustraliaAU.

NACCHO Press Release @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills “ New #NationalAgreement on #ClosingtheGap marks historic shift to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ life outcomes” @coalition_peaks

The National Agreement commits governments and the Coalition of Peaks to building strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sectors and organisations to deliver Closing the Gap services and programs.

The first four sector strengthening plans will be developed for early childhood care and development, housing, health, and disability within 12 months.

We are pleased that governments are putting in funding to support Priority Reform Two. This funding will help build and strengthen the community-controlled sectors to deliver services and programs to our people.

NACCHO has been working on this new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, as a member of the Coalition of Peaks.

This agreement belongs to all of us!”

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair

Read / Download the full NACCHO Press Release HERE

Today finally marks a new chapter in our efforts to close the gap – one built on mutual trust, shared responsibility, dignity and respect.

The gaps we are now seeking to close are the gaps that have now been defined by the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is as it should be. This creates a shared commitment and a shared responsibility.

This is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been negotiated directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

By focusing our efforts on these more specific, practical and shared objectives we can expect to make much greater progress.”

Scott Morrison Prime Minister

“The way all levels of government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives have come together to negotiate this National Agreement and collectively determine how we strive to close the gap demonstrates our commitment to working together through meaningful partnerships.

We know that the best out comes are achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are equal partners with governments, and when they have a direct say in how we are going to be successful in driving the desired outcomes.”

Ken Wyatt  Minister for Indigenous Australians

“For the first time, First Nations people will share decision-making with governments on Closing the Gap. The National Agreement makes this a reality, not just for the Coalition of Peaks, but for all First Nations people that want to have a say on how things should be working in their communities,”

If the Priority Reforms are implemented in full by governments and through shared decision making with First Nations people, we should see changes over time to the lives and experiences of our people.”

Ms Pat Turner AM, Lead convenor, Coalition of Peaks will be appearing on the ABCTV The Drum tonight 30 July at 6.00 PM 

To read download the full new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, 

Read all NACCHO Coalition of Peaks articles HERE

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) which has a membership of 143 community-controlled health services in every jurisdiction of Australia has strongly welcomed the launch of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

The Agreement has now been signed by the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled peak organisations, all Australian Governments, and the Australian Local Government Association.

The National Agreement signals a turning point in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments – one that is based on shared decision making on policies and programs that impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives.

The partnership that the Peaks sought was agreed to by Australian Governments and subsequently the Coalition of Peaks, including NACCHO, signed an historic National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap.

That provided a platform to develop a new National Agreement on Closing the Gap which replaces the former National Indigenous Reform Agreement, agreed to only by Australian Governments in 2008. The new Agreement breaks with the past because it was negotiated and agreed to by representatives of our people too.

We have also had the voices of the more than 4000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who participated in our engagements on what should be included in the new National Agreement guiding us in our negotiations.

We needed to collectively show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that they have been heard.

NACCHO is pleased to see the National Agreement includes a new commitment to increase the amount of government funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services going through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “The National Agreement is such a momentous time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed and negotiated between Australian governments, local government, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

This will be a game-changer as we will be at the table discussing the issues and policies that matter to us.

“The National Agreement is built on four priority reforms to address ongoing critical issues around the social determinants of health such as housing, environment, access to health services, education and others with justice being a new target in there.

“We have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for decades on matters that are important to our people and are best placed to represent areas like health, early childhood, education, land and legal services.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisations deliver healthcare services that are holistic, comprehensive, and culturally competent and better for our people. They get better outcomes and they employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The new National Agreement is a commitment from all governments to fundamentally change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations through four Priority Reforms that were overwhelmingly supported during the community engagements led by the Coalition of Peaks late last year.

The Priority Reforms commit governments to new partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country; strengthen community-controlled organisations to deliver closing the gap services; address structural racism within government agencies and organisations; and improve sharing of data and information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to support shared decision making.

Summary

  • The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has today come into effect, upon signature by the First Ministers of all Australian Governments, the Lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, and the President of the Australian Local Government
  • The National Agreement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to work in genuinepartnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap is a marked shift in the Closing the Gap framework.
  • This historic Agreement is the culmination of a significant amount of work undertaken by the Joint Council on Closing the Gap and developed in genuine partnership between all Australian governments and the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak
  • It is the first time an Agreement designed to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

 

  • The Agreement is centred on four priority reforms that will change how governments work with Indigenous Australians. These are
    • Strengthening and establishing formal partnerships and shared decision-making.
    • Building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled
    • Transforming government organisations so they work better for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    • Improving and sharing access to data and information to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities make informed
  • There are 16 national socio-economic targets that will track progress in improving life

  • All governments and the Coalition of Peaks are accountable under this Agreement for implementing the reforms and achieving the
  • There will be a significant increase in the level of reporting against the new targets to increase transparency and
  • There will be more independent reporting on progress than before, with the Productivity Commission delivering a report on progress every three years and an Indigenous-led review of change on the
  • Annual reports on actions taken by all parties will be published and, for governments, tabled in respective parliaments.
  • And the Joint Council will have an ongoing role in monitoring performance and implementation of all Parties’ actions under the jointly agreed National Agreement.
  • Each party will now develop implementation plans in the next 12 months that will set out what they will do to deliver on the priority reforms and achieve the

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #BlackLivesMatter : Pat Turner Lead Convener @coalition_peaks calls for more ambitious targets to reduce Indigenous incarceration

Aboriginal leaders are pushing for more ambition across all categories in the Closing the Gap refresh, including health, education, economic development and housing.

The 2018 draft agreement was “totally inadequate”and governments should be prepared to spend more money to meet ambitious targets rather than propose modest goals.

The Rudd government’s Closing the Gap initiative failed because of a lack of funding.

We have now got a national agreement very close to finalisation except the ambition of governments is very slack at the moment

We want to achieve parity across the board but unless governments invest correctly in the achievement of the targets, then it is going to be extremely difficult to (meet) them. There will be some movement (on the draft 2018 targets) but I don’t think it will be enough.

It would be the wrong lesson to adopt less-ambitious targets because of the failure to hit the ambitions set by Kevin Rudd in 2008.

There needed to be more control given to peak Aboriginal bodies to roll out the programs and control the funding.

We should be running our own affairs in this day and age.We don’t need bureaucrats to tell us what to do.

We want realistic targets. We don’t want what suits the bureaucracy. The money that has been spent to date has largely been eaten up by overly bureaucratic processes and very little of it hits the ground where it is most needed.”

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO and the Lead Convener  Coalition of Peaks  for the Closing the Gap “refresh

Full story front page of the Australian 9 June

Read previous NACCHO posts for Coalition of Peaks

More ambitious targets to reduce the number of Aboriginal Australians in jail will be put to state and territory governments as part of an overhaul of the Closing the Gap program to reduce Indigenous disadvantage.

Morrison government sources confirmed the commonwealth would scrap a draft agreement to reduce the rate of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in prisons by up to 19 per cent by 2028.

It will instead take a higher target to the states next month after thousands of protesters took to the streets to express their anger over indigenous incarceration rates and deaths in custody.

Officials from state and federal departments will meet Aboriginal representatives including Pat Turner, the chief indigenous negotiator for the Closing the Gap “refresh”, on Tuesday before a meeting of state and territory leaders to decide on the stricter targets on July 2.

Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, the rate at which indigenous people have died in jail as a percentage of the Aboriginal prison population has fallen and is now lower than for the non-indigenous prison population, according to data from both the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

But the number of indigenous people in the prison system has increased from 19 per cent in 2000 to nearly 30 per cent in March this year, according to ABS figures. There are now 12,900 indigenous people in prisons, out of a total prison population of 44,159.

Indigenous people made up almost 3 per cent of the population at the 2016 census

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt is pushing for each state and territory to adopt specific incarceration targets, according to sources close to negotiations. The new targets will be more ambitious than the draft Closing the Gap target, released in December 2018, for a 5 per cent decline in the incarceration rate among adults and an 11 to 19 per cent reduction among youths.

The high rate of indigenous incarceration and associated frequency of deaths in custody were seized on by Australian Black Lives Matter protesters at the weekend marches, which fuelled a backlash over the breaching of coronavirus social-distancing restrictions.

Mr Wyatt declined to comment on the new targets but told The Australian he was “working to address the factors that contribute to high incarceration rates (including) health, education and employment”.

“If we want to reduce the number of deaths in custody, we need to look very closely at what’s happening here in Australia — the factors contributing to incarceration rates and the way in which our systems are handling these incidents,” Mr Wyatt said.

“This requires a co-operative approach between government and with communities, particularly when states and territories hold the policies and levers relating to policing and justice matters.

“It takes more than money; it takes an iron-stead commitment; it takes listening and understanding; and it takes us working together. The Morrison government is progressing with the Closing the Gap refresh in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks, and while we’re still in final negotiations, there will be a justice target contained within that agreement.”

The 2018 draft targets included: 65 per cent of indigenous youth (15-24 years) to be in employment, training or eduction by 2028; 60 per cent of Aboriginal Australians aged 25-64 to be in work; and 82 per cent to live in appropriate-sized housing by 2028.

Just two of the seven Closing the Gap targets set in 2008 — early childhood education and Year 12 attainment — were achieved. Ambitions failed in targets for school attendance, child mortality, employment, life expectancy and literacy and numeracy targets.

A report by the Productivity Commission estimated state and federal governments spent $33.4bn on services for indigenous Australians in the 2016 financial year, up from $27bn (in 2016 dollars) in 2009.

The direct government expenditure per Aboriginal Australian was $44,886 in 2016, compared with $22,356 on non-indigenous Australians.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ReconciliationWeek News Alert : #NRW2020 Messages from Minister @KenWyattPM and our @NACCHOChair Donnella Mills : Let’s stand as one and continue being strong. We are all #InThisTogether2020 !’

“ This year’s #NRW2020 theme is ‘In this Together’ – reminds us whether in a crisis or reconciliation we are all #InThisTogether2020.

We have shown during these tough times that we can all do our part to stop the spread of a deadly disease and the results speak for themselves.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be impacted by the legacy of colonisation but what continues is our resilience amidst the adversity we face. When we face adversity together, we see stronger outcomes.

If we all can work together and support the journey of reconciliation, every step forward removes disadvantage and creates a more solid foundation for our country towards a better future for all Australians.”

Read and download full NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills Press Release HERE

Plus details of our Chairs and CEO NRW2020 speaking engagements 27 May

“National Reconciliation Week draws our attention each year to the ongoing efforts to walk together with a shared purpose, and to build a stronger future for all Australians.

This year’s theme, In This Together, resonates in new ways in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and reminds us we all share this land and rely on each other to build a better future.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, has asked Australians to think about what reconciliation means to them and what practical steps they can take to build trust, mutual respect and opportunities for Indigenous Australians. Pictured above with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner 

“The week commences 27 May marking the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and concludes with the anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision on 3 June – both significant milestones in our shared history that had profound impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“These moments in our reconciliation journey remind us of the tireless campaigners who sought to bring us closer and the success that can be achieved when Australians come together as one.”

“This year also marks 20 years since Corroboree 2000 and the memorable Walk for Reconciliation across Sydney Harbour Bridge where close to a quarter of a million people demonstrated their commitment to reconciliation. The images from that day are still striking and it’s important we do not lose that enthusiasm.”

“While we are unfortunately not able to celebrate with gatherings this year due to COVID-19, there are many events happening online that people can get involved with.”

“From film screenings and book recommendations to panel discussions and streamed concerts, there are opportunities for people to learn about our history, engage with Indigenous culture and reflect on what it means to be in this together.”

“I also encourage all Australians to take part in the National Acknowledgement of Country. At midday on Wednesday 27th May, join Indigenous Australians across the nation by posting a video of an acknowledgement of the country you are on with the hashtags #InThisTogether2020 and #NRW2020.”

Visit https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/aiatsis-map-indigenous-australia for a guide to the Traditional Owners of the land you are on.

Visit reconciliation.org.au or indigenous.gov.au to find out more.