NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2023 CTG report calls for greater and faster change

feature tile, image of Australian and Aboriginal flags flying; text '2023 Close the Gap Campaign Report highlights essential role of ATSI-led decision-making and self-determination

The image in the feature tile is a photo taken by Lukas Coch/AAP published in The Guardian on 8 October 2020.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

2023 CTG report calls for greater and faster change

This years 2023 Close the Gap (CTG) Campaign Report was launched earlier today at the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) in Little Bay Sydney. The theme this year is, ‘Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy Our Future’ which highlights the essential role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led decision-making and self-determination in shaping a vision of health and wellbeing built upon a strong cultural foundation.

You can download the report here and watch a video of the launch using this link. You can also watch a short ABC News video Close the Gap report calls for greater and faster change here.

A bit of history. . .

The CTG Campaign is an independent, Indigenous-led campaign that calls on political leaders from all levels of government to take action on health and life expectancy equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It is separate to Closing the Gap, which is an Australian Government strategy.

The CTG Campaign, launched in 2006 to address the unacceptable gap in life expectancy and other health indicators between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians, helped influence the establishment of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap, and the formation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in July 2020.

The Campaign is made up of 52 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous health, NGO and human rights organisations. More than 200,000 Australians have signed a pledge supporting the Campaign.

cover of the Close the Gap Campaign Report 2023; 9 photos of ATSI people/children; text 'Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy, Our Future

Early Years Strategy must focus on equity and justice

Experts in child and family health are developing submissions for the Federal Government’s new Early Years Strategy, which it says will “shape its vision for the future of Australia’s children and their families”. Among a number of groups who have shared their concerns and priorities the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is concerned the early focus of the strategy “does not demonstrate a health equity lens”. We note the verdict on that is mixed. The ACN points to the Discussion Paper’s aim that a national Strategy “will seek to ensure that all children, wherever they live, enjoy the same opportunities to learn, develop and thrive.”

The ACN says “this is not a health equity lens. Instead, it assumes all children, irrespective of class, culture and context, require the same opportunities. This ignores some of the children who need this most, like those children that have different abilities or grow up in specific cultural contexts like First Nations children.”

Maybe the Federal Government should also be turning a sharp eye on all the policies, programs and, of course, politics that are currently causing major harm to young people in Australia, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and/or threaten to further entrench inequity.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As governments entrench disadvantage, will Australia’s Early Years Strategy focus on equity and justice? in full click here.tile purple, lime green, pink, orange; text Australian Government The Early Years Strategy in white font & Australian Coat of Arms

First podcast for mob with disabilities

Having to learn how to walk and talk again after an incident left him in an induced coma, Bernard Namok, a proud St Paul, Badu, and Erub Torres Strait Islander man, is now advocating for Indigenous people living with disabilities in the Far North. Mr Namok is teaming up with the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) to help empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a focus on giving a voice to the voiceless. Today, on National Closing the Gap Day, Mr Namok and the FPDN launched a first-ever podcast dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disabilities.

Mr Namok said one of the barriers facing people with disabilities from Indigenous communities is simply knowing what help is out there and how to access it. “Creating the podcast was about finding a way to get information to people who may be living in remote areas in places like Thursday Island where I grew up, as well as telling their stories,” he said

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that almost a quarter (24%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia living in households lived with a disability with 8.8% living with a profound or severe limitation.

The above story featured in the Herald Sun article First podcast for First Nations people with disabilities launches published earlier today.

Bernard Namok, TSI disability advocate

Bernard has been working in disability advocacy in Cairns after previously working in radio broadcasting in the NT.

Culture + Kinship program has positive outcomes

Yesterday the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) launched the groundbreaking Culture + Kinship program evaluation report in the lead up to today’s National Close the Gap Day. VACCHO noted that last year’s Closing The Gap report data and the Coroners Court of Victoria suicide Report in February this year provided “unmistakable evidence” that the devastating gaps in health and wellbeing outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Victorians continue to blight health equality in Victoria.

VACCHO said its Culture + Kinship Report demonstrates that by focusing on the cultural determinants of health, “there are constructive approaches that can be taken to close the gaps in health and wellbeing disadvantage”. The report notes that through the Culture + Kinship program, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been able to re-connect with Community, Culture and Country.

VACCHO said “The Culture + Kinship program was uniquely Community driven with a flexible funding model that empowered Communities to lead the way with their own solutions in the form of self-determined, locally led programs.” VACCHO also said a social return on investment analysis showed the program “produced significant value for its stakeholders, with Community Members benefiting especially through reconnecting with Community, Culture and Country, and in doing so, experiencing a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes”.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Aboriginal-led Culture + Kinship program makes breakthroughs in health and wellbeing in full click here.

Budja Budja Yarning Circle

Budja Budja Yarning Circle

Scholarship helps Palm Is AHW realise dream

A young Indigenous woman awarded a scholarship to study nursing at Mater Private Hospital Townsville is realising a dream to follow in her family’s footsteps. “My grandma is a twin and she and her sister worked at Mater for many years as registered nurses,” said Tehanna Tanerau-Love, who works part-time as a health worker on Palm Island.

Ms Tanerau-Love, 20, a Yorta Yorta woman with Māori ties, said she had a number of great role models. “My other grandma is a CEO of an Aboriginal community-controlled health organisation and my sister is a social worker,” she said.

Ms Tanerau-Love said the Indigenous scholarship to study a Diploma of Nursing at Mater would help her connect with her community and provide the opportunity to give back to her mob. “My ultimate goal is to work in remote and rural Aboriginal communities to have a meaningful impact on people’s lives,” she said.

The above story featured yesterday in the Cairns Post article Palm Island health-worker Tehanna Tanerau-Love to become nurse at Mater Townsville.

Tehanna Tanerau-Love in hospital room

Young North Queensland woman Tehanna Tanerau-Love has been awarded an Indigenous scholarship to study a Diploma of Nursing at Mater Private Hospital Townsville. Image source: Cairns Post.

Pioneering Cape ear health program gaining traction

The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Integrated Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) program, launched as a pilot in 2021 to target hearing problems in Cape York and the Torres Strait, is seeing exponential growth, with the number of patients seen almost doubling within 12 months.

The team includes a GP with specialist ENT training, a senior ENT nurse, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker, an audiologist and a speech pathologist who travel to 13 remote communities across the region. They treat both children and adults, predominantly for hearing issues, but also with other ear, nose and throat conditions. The team saw more than 1,300 patients during 2022, well up from the 861 seen in 2021.

A further $1.6m of state government funding has been committed to the program over 18 months which will allow for additional staff to support the huge growth. Senior audiologist Kristen Tregenza said she believed the project’s success was due to the culturally-appropriate service they were providing, with patients now seeking them out instead of learning about them via referral. She said most of the hearing conditions being seen and treated were caused by treatable ear infections. “It is well documented that remoteness, lower socio-economic living and all the things that come with that – access to nutritious foods, housing conditions, exposure to passive cigarette smoke – significantly increase the number of ear infections, severity and recovery time,” she said. “It is all preventable.”

To view the Cape York Weekly article Pioneering program launched in Cape gaining traction in full click here.

Kowanyama’s Naveen Accoom getting his ears tested by Dr Stephen Johnston

Kowanyama’s Naveen Accoom getting his ears tested by Dr Stephen Johnston as part of the successful ENT program. Image source: Cape York Weekly.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Genuine engagement needed over consultation

feature tile text 'NACCHO Chairperson tells conference that Governments need to recognise they do not have the answers; image of Donnella Mills

The image in the feature tile has been extracted from a YouTube video of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills sharing her message on COIVD-19 and the vaccines in early 2021.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Genuine engagement needed over consultation

The Australia and NZ School of Government’s (ANZSOG’s) 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference, held earlier this month, focused on the importance of genuine engagement rather than consultation. Delegates supported a strengths-based approach to policy and programs which recognised First Nations knowledge and culture. The conference was divided into four sessions based around the priority reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. These were: formal partnerships and shared decision-making; building the First Nations community-controlled sector; transforming Government organisations, and shared data and access to information.

Chair of the NACCHO, Donnella Mills told the conference that Governments needed to recognise they did not have the answers, and that Indigenous people would “work harder than anyone else to take care of our people”. She said structural reform was needed to change the way power was distributed. “If the National Agreement on Closing the Gap isn’t on your desk; if you can’t rattle off the priority reforms, if your Agency hasn’t resourced it — you need to lean in, and quickly. We are now in a new way of operating,” Ms Mills said.

The conference featured more than 20 First Nations speakers who discussed the transformation that was happening in First Nations policy. They outlined how approaches that included First Nations knowledge, perspectives and values could serve the wider public and First Nations interests — and how Governments needed to change to better serve First Nations communities.

To view the PS News article ANZSOC conference backs PS Indigenous in full click here.

portrait shots of John Paterson, AMSANT CEO & Robert Skeen, AH&MRC CEO

AMSANT CEO John Paterson and AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen, were both speakers on Day Two of the conference. Image sources: ANZSOG website and AH&MRC website.

$32m+ for First Nations health research projects

Through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), nearly 200 ground-breaking medical research projects will share in more than $382m in grants, including more than $32m to improve First Nations health. The projects will help Australia’s outstanding medical researchers, including clinician researchers, discover new ways to diagnose, treat and care for people with a variety of health conditions. They will also support early and mid-career researchers and give more Australians access to clinical trials.

Research projects on cardiovascular disease, primary and preventive health care, respiratory diseases, maternal health, mental health and First Nations health, will receive funding to progress important work.

Two innovative First Nations-led projects to receive funding are:

University of Newcastle – $2m  Gulibaa (Coolamon) Project
This will be a co-designed model of care supporting Aboriginal mothers across NSW to be smoke-free in pregnancy and beyond. The project will co-design, embed in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and evaluate a group-based smoking cessation program.

The Sax Institute – $1.5m  Healthy Ageing for Aboriginal people
This project will evaluate the implementation and uptake of prevention programs to support healthy ageing amongst Aboriginal people. The Institute will collaborate with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services which run holistic and culturally safe preventive healthy ageing programs for their communities.

Of the 193 projects funded, 19 grants worth more than $32.3m are related to First Nations health and a further 13 grants worth more than $16.9m are related to mental health.

To view the Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care’s media release Nearly $400 million for exceptional medical research projects including projects to improve First Nations health in full click here.

Aboriginal woman's hands on pregnant belly; male & 2 female ATSAI Elders, MRFF logo

Image sources: SBS; Aged Care Online website; Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

Program to help teens get a good night’s sleep

Karen Chong is the world’s first Indigenous sleep coach. “We are the people of the Dreamtime with the oldest continuing culture shaped by dreams, which is why I became a sleep coach and I want to train others,” she said. Mother of seven and grandmother of 10 Ms Chong, a Waanyi Garawa Gangalida woman, knows all too well how much harder parenting can be if your kids aren’t sleeping properly. “If they weren’t having a proper night’s sleep, they were waking up cranky and moody and it affects their eating too,” she said. “The biggest issue I’ve had with my two girls is that they want to stay up all night on their phones – if you’re a parent you’ll know what kids are like.”

The University of Queensland and Beyond Blue have partnered to deliver culturally responsive sleep health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland. Project lead Associate Professor Yaqoot Fatima from UQ’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health said Indigenous teens experience up to twice the rates of poor sleep as other adolescents. “Poor sleep can be caused by medical conditions like sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome, or behavioural issues such as an irregular bedtime, late nights, and not getting enough sleep,” she said.

“Indigenous adolescents sleep better when they feel connected to their culture, which is why this program is important.” The 10-week Sleep for Strong Souls program is holding workshops with more than a hundred 12-18-year-olds in north and western Queensland communities.

To view the Kyabram Free Press article Indigenous sleep coach wants a score of 40 winks all in full click here.

ATSI teenage school kids looking at table of Sleep for Strong Souls program resources with coach

The Sleep for Strong Souls program is aiming to help Indigenous teenagers get a good night’s sleep. Image source: Kyabram Free Press.

Conference to examine rural health challenges

The challenges facing the rural health system are well-documented and well-known: difficulty attracting and retaining staff, fewer resources, lack of access to services, and building capacity and resilience in times of disaster and emergency. The 2023 Shoalhaven Rural Health Research Conference aims to unpack many of these issues, and more, while focusing on how to improve rural health services through collaboration, research and innovation.

The inaugural, nation-wide conference will be held at the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Shoalhaven Campus on Saturday 18 March 2023 with a theme of Connection and Capacity Building. Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom ,a proud Yuin woman from Roseby Park (Jerrinja) Mission in the Shoalhaven, will deliver the keynote address, titled ‘Connection and Country’.

As Principal Research Fellow at the Ngarruwan Ngadju First Peoples Health and Wellbeing Research Centre at UOW, Associate Professor Longbottom has worked extensively in the health and human services sector with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from urban, regional and remote areas of New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The keynote address will be followed by a series of workshops on the rural health and research landscape, hosted by UOW academics and primary healthcare professional across the fields of dietetics and nutrition, nursing, medicine and Indigenous health.

To view the University of Wollongong Australia article Inaugural conference to examine acute challenges facing rural health system in full click here.

portrait of Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom, University of Wollongong

Associate Professor Marlene Longbottom. Image source: LinkedIn.

Scholarship opportunities for First Nations nurses

As part of the Australian College of Nursing’s (ACN) commitment to advancing the nursing profession, the ACN Foundation has just released scholarships, grants and awards exclusively available to First Nations nurses to advance their nursing careers. Applications for the below scholarships are now open:

Graduate Certificate Nursing Scholarship, Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies – 20 scholarships are available for registered nurses to undertake selected ACN Graduate Certificate courses including Cancer Nursing, Community and Primary Health Care Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, Digital Health, Leadership and Management, Orthopaedic Nursing or Perioperative Nursing. Of the twenty available, five scholarships will be allocated to First Nations nurses and five will be allocated to nurses working in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Graduate Certificate Scholarships for First Nations nurses, Sponsored by HESTA – two scholarships are available for First Nations registered nurses to complete an ACN Graduate Certificate course of their choice out of ACN’s Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management, Aged Care Nursing, Perioperative Nursing, Critical Care Nursing or Community and Primary Health Care Nursing, commencing in July 2023.

If you are not at a career stage to apply for a postgraduate nursing scholarship, discover ACN’s scholarships for undergraduates, nursing leadership courses, research and more on their website here.

Applications close 11:59 PM AEDT – Monday 3 April 2023. To apply click here.

Australian College of Nursing Foundation Grants and Awards, HESTA tile; text 'Graduate Certificate Scholarships for First Nations Nurses; photo of ATSI female student

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

National Close the Gap Day

National Close the Gap Day is being held tomorrow, Thursday 16 March 2023, to raise community awareness about health inequalities facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In the SBS News – News in Depth broadcast Health differences for First Nations people targets on Close the Gap Day,available here, Karl Briscoe, CEO of the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) said “we believe the Close the Gap campaign priority reform areas are the biggest areas that will get the better gains that are required to close the gap”. Mr Briscoe said First Nations people must have access to appropriate housing, he said that with “Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) a fix that can be done straight away is adequate housing, we know that overcrowding is a huge component of RHD being prevalent within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and it is really quite solvable by having adequate housing.”

In this broadcast, Dr Thalia Anthony, University of Sydney Law Professor commented on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap target of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and young people not being overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

banner SBS News, News in Depth, text: Health differences for First Nations people targeted on Close the Gap Day; image of Uni of Sydney Law Professor Thalia Anthony

University of Sydney Law Professor Thalia Anthony. Image source: SBS News.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: CoP urges further reforms in response to CTG data

feature tile - Pat Turner AM, Lead Convenor of CoPs; text: CoPs urges further reforms to CtG

The image in the feature tile is of Pat Turner AM, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks. Image source: National Indigenous Times article National peak body for Aboriginal-controlled community organisations urges further reforms to close the gap published on 8 March 2023.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

CoP urges further reforms in response to CTG data

The Coalition of Peaks, the national representative body of more than 80 Aboriginal community-controlled peak organisations, has urged further reforms in response to the latest Closing the Gap data from the Productivity Commission revealing a lack of progress on the objectives of the Agreement, showing there are now four targets “on track” compared to the 11 which are “not on track”.

Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Patricia Turner AM, called for further change to close the gap, “When structural and systemic change is made, there will naturally be a positive effect on the trajectory of the Closing the Gaps targets. This is what the Priority Reforms are all about in the National Agreement, but we are not seeing them implemented properly by governments,” she said. “The Priority Reforms are about changing the way governments work with our people. It is the comprehensive adoption of them that government parties need to understand and embrace if we are going to be able to work together to finally close the gap.

“More than two years on from the signing of the National Agreement and some governments are still talking about how they might start to tackle and implement the Priority Reforms.” Ms Turner said that “a sense of urgency” should come from this data for “governments to get on with the structural change needed to the way governments work as set out in the Priority Reforms. It is clear that the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people depend on it.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article National peak body for Aboriginal-controlled community organisations urges further reforms to close the gap in full click here. You can also read the Coalition of Peaks media release Urgent need for governments to implement the National Agreement on Closing the Gap in full as new data paints grim picture here and access the Australian Government Productivity Commission’s Closing the Gap Information Repository webpage Supporting reporting on Closing the Gap here.

tile text 'Closing the Gap Information Repository' & Aboriginal art

Image source: Australian Government Productivity Commission website.

Dr Karen Nicholls on the journey towards equality

Yesterday on International Women’s Day, RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Dr Karen Nicholls, celebrated women who show leadership in challenging the systems in which they work. For Dr Nicholls, a Torres Strait Islander woman descending from Boigu Island in the Torres Strait, choosing a career in medicine was not always apparent, “I couldn’t see what I could be, because there were no Torres Strait Islander female doctors [at the time]..”

Today, with a growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs expected to continue, Dr Nicholls’ vision has shifted. “My hope is that, while we make up a small percentage of the Indigenous population overall, that we would continue to exceed society’s expectations,” she said. “Torres Strait Islander women definitely go on to do some really fantastic stuff in health. And I do want to acknowledge that there are some absolutely brilliant Torres Strait Islander doctors working at the moment, clinically and in research, and also advocating for better health outcomes and educational outcomes for everyone.”

Since receiving her Fellowship with the RACGP in 2010, Dr Nicholls has worked predominantly in the ACCHO sector and academia. Late last year she joined the college’s 65th Board when she was elected Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health – a role in which she feels privileged and proud to be a female GP representing this space.

To view the RACGP newsGP article IWD: Dr Karen Nicholls on the journey towards equality in full click here.

Dr Karen Nicholls, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

Dr Karen Nicholls, Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, endeavours to empower women through equality and allyship. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation Nursing Scholarships open

Lowitja Institute and the Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation are proud to announce the inaugural Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation Nursing Scholarships now open for 2023. Upon its establishment in 2010, the Lowitja Institute was named in honour of its patron, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, arguably Australia’s most recognised Aboriginal woman – a powerful and unrelenting advocate for her people and an inspiration to many.

The Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation was announced on 1 August 2022 to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG. Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of Lowitja Institute, said the opening round of the inaugural scholarships in nursing is a tribute to the dedication and passion Dr O’Donoghue displayed throughout her extensive career in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

To view the Lowitja Institute media release Inaugural Lowitja O’Donoghue Foundation nursing scholarships now open in full click here.

World-first AI heart tech trial to run from Walgett AMS

A world-first randomised controlled trial using artificial intelligence-guided technology to perform a heart ultrasound has been launched in the Walgett. The trial will be run from the town’s Aboriginal Medical Service and rolled out by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

“We are very excited about this. One of the cornerstones of cardiovascular health is the ability to do an ultrasound test on the heart called an echocardiogram (ECHO) test, it shows us the heart valves and the cardio function,” Cardiologist and chief investigator, Professor Tom Marwick said.

Marwick explained that taking an ECHO test required a highly skilled stenographer who aren’t readily available in regional towns. The artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be able to guide a non-expert in how to take the image which will then be uploaded for Professor Marwick to examine.

To view the Western Plains App article World-first AI heart technology trial comes to Walgett in full click here.

Professor Tom Marwick & vector image of heart

Professor Tom Marwick. Image from: Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. Image source: Western Plains App.

Program aims to help women regain long-term stability

Today Wayside Chapel has launched a new comprehensive program to help disadvantaged women regain long-term stability. The program offers women a safe space and the opportunity to receive gender-specific support tailored to their individual experiences. There’s a kitchen, laundry facilities, shower and consultation room, co-located with the new Wayside Chapel Healthcare clinic. Specialised female care coordinators will be available to work on complex cases with referrals to other agencies including housing, welfare, addiction and legal support.

Ensuring clients could access culturally safe and trauma-informed care without repeating themselves is a key motivator for Wayside’s GP-led service. Free, equitable and accessible to all genders, it builds on a successful nurse-led pilot in 2021. Medical director Lilon Bandler said the service wouldn’t require a Medicare card and would aim to overcome barriers to healthcare such as trust and finances by bringing it under the Wayside banner.

About 30% of Wayside visitors were Indigenous people and their “consistent experience of health care is very poor”, Dr Bandler said. “There’s still a lot of racism experienced by them in their interactions with the health care providers,” she said. “So they’re quite reluctant to engage again.”

To view the Kyabram Free Press article Wayside brings help for women-in-need under one roof in full click here.

Wayside healthcare director Lilon Bandler

Wayside healthcare director Lilon Bandler says the service aims to overcome barriers to healthcare. Photo: AAP. Image source: Kyabram Free Press.

Wide-ranging inequities affect women’s health

Australia has rising inequity and according to the World Health Organization, wherever there is societal inequity, women are always disproportionately affected. In almost every aspect of their lives, women living with pervasive socio-economic disadvantage are more likely to be vulnerable and face discrimination. This directly affects those seeking healthcare where disadvantaged women face more barriers to quality care, for example, people living in rural and remote areas, women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and/or women who have or who continue to experience disadvantage.

The inequities are compounded by multiple stresses and responsibilities including paid and unpaid work. They may be looking after children or other family members, working and pursuing their careers, contributing to their communities, trying to cope with the rapidly rising costs of living, or dealing with the many layers of disadvantage caused by family violence and trauma. There are also gross inequities in terms of access to healthy foods at a cost that people can afford, particularly in rural and regional areas. The options for being physically active or taking other measures to prevent disease are limited for many women of culturally diverse backgrounds and for First Nations women.

These issues affect entire communities, but women often bear the brunt. For example, research has shown that young women in rural and remote areas experience higher rates of unplanned pregnancy. Tesearch has highlighted gaps in service provision including availability of contraception and medical abortion, higher rates of chronic disease, and a much greater burden of mental distress.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Systemic approaches needed to address wide-ranging inequities affecting women’s health in full click here.

Baggarrook Yurrongi program participant - ATSI mum & bub

Image source: The Royal Women’s Hospital Victoria’s webpage Maternity program awarded for improving Aboriginal health.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Women’s Day 2023

feature tile photo of woman with loud speaker, text: Reflections on IWD 2023 & opportunities for ATSI women

The image in the feature tile is from the International Women’s Development Agency website, available here.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

International Women’s Day 2023

International Women’s Day (IWD) is held on 8 March each year, with events and activities taking place across the globe. It celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. IWD is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions women make to our communities and marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality to create a world where women and girls everywhere have equal rights and opportunities.

The IWD 2023 theme is Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender-equal future. The theme emphasises the importance of bold, transformative ideas, inclusive technologies, and accessible education in combating discrimination and marginalisation of women around the world. The message being that innovation can accelerate our progress towards a gender equal future.

In an interview on NITV Radio earlier today Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine reflected on IWD 2023 and the opportunities for First Nations women. With more than 20 years’ experience leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications and social marketing campaigns; Karen has shaped the national journey towards a just, equitable and reconciled Australia. You can listen to her interview in full here. You can also find out more about IWD on the International Women’s Development Agency’s website here.

NITV Radio logo, portrait of Karen Mundine, Reconciliation Australia CEO & 08:47 minute icon

Karen Mundine, Reconciliation Australia CEO. Image source: NIT 1 March 2023.

NACCHO delegation to Timor-Leste

A NACCHO delegation, accompanied by a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade representative, are in Timor-Leste this week (Sunday 5  – Friday 10 March 2023) to:

  • gain an understanding of the country, cultural, political and health service delivery context of a potential First Nations partnership
  • gain an understanding of a Timorese perspective of how primary health care is delivered, with a focus on workforce training and community ownership of primary health care programs
  • initiate relationships with key Ministry of Health officials that could form the basis of future potential First Nations partnership work

and along with DFAT:

  • identify key issues which may be addressed in partnership
  • identify issues to inform the further refinement of the concept note and key stages and timeframes for the potential First Nations partnership

The delegation is comprised of:

  • Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair (Cairns)
  • Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks (Canberra)
  • Rob McPhee, CEO of the Danila Dilba Health Service (Darwin)
  • Jenny Bedford, Executive Manager, Kimberley Aboriginal Health Services (Broome)
  • Alice Kemble (Dili)
  • Sara Moriarty, First Nations Taskforce (Canberra), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

During the visit the delegation will meet with:

  • Partnerships for Human Development (overview of the structure of the Timorese health system)
  • East Timor Development Agency (NFP provided training and guidance to strengthen the capacity of Timorese people to plan an integral, role in the development of their Nation)
  • Ministry of Health (introduction to community health services in Timor Leste, including model of care, workforce training and service delivery)
  • National Health Institute (responsible for planning and delivery of health workforce and clinical training)
  • Maluk Timor (an Australian and Timorese NGO seeking to advance primary healthcare in Timor-Leste)
  • Agora Food Studio (a social enterprise mentoring Timorese innovators and storytellers and elevating local food)
  • Comoro Community Health Clinic in Dili (urban health centre)
  • Gleno, Ermera district (remote health post)
  • Nabilan (program to end violence against women and improve wellbeing for women and children affected by violence)
  • ProEma (NFP promoting capacity-building for vulnerable girls and young women living in underdeveloped communities in Timor-Leste)
Left-Right: Rob McPhee, CEO Danila Dilba Health Service, Dr Odete Maria Freitas Belo, Minister for Health, Timor-Leste, Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Jenny Bedford, Executive Manager, Kimberley Aboriginal Health Services and Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair

Left-Right: Rob McPhee, CEO Danila Dilba Health Service, Dr Odete Maria Freitas Belo, Minister for Health, Timor-Leste, Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO and Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Jenny Bedford, Executive Manager, Kimberley Aboriginal Health Services and Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair.

ACCHO worker makes inspirational women list

Goondir Health Services’ Medicare co-ordinator Ethel Hayden has been named as one of the 50 most inspirational women in the Western Downs region in celebration of International Women’s Day 2023. Ethel Hayden hopes to leave behind a legacy of helping others and having made a difference in her community. The Dalby woman has achieved so much in her life, which included beginning life-changing programs for young people.

Ms Hayden was responsible for rolling out some of the onsite health services for Goondir Health in 2014 when they moved into their Jimbour St location. She also developed a Youth Project with programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Western Downs region such as the Big Buddy Program, which aimed to empower Indigenous youth to achieve their full potential through mentorship and education.

She said she was most passionate about making a difference, and knows she has the experience to do so. A major achievement under Ms Hayden’s belt was being involved in the ‘Closing the Gap’ event that’s held each year, with the upcoming event being in Dalby next week.

To view The Courier Mail article Celebrating 50 of the most inspirational women in the Western Downs region for International Women’s Day in full click here. You can also access the Goondir Health Services’ website here to learn more about their clinics in Chincilla, Dalby, Oakey and St George, Queensland.

Ethel Hayden, Goondir Health Services, Dalby QLD

Ethel Hayden. Image source: The Courier Mail.

Prison healthcare should match community standards

On this International Women’s Day, let’s not forget women in prison. There are 3,088 women imprisoned in Australia on any given day, representing 7.5% of the prison population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are over-represented in these numbers.

Annually Australia spends over $4b on prisons. Despite this, reproductive health care equivalent to that in the community is often not available where women are being detained. Reproductive health care must be delivered in appropriate ways to those who require it. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people require culturally safe health care, free from racism. There must also be inclusive care for non-binary and transgender people.

Failing to provide access to sanitary pads and tampons is a form of degrading treatment, according to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It can leave women and people who menstruate vulnerable to exploitation. For example, limited access to sanitary pads can lead to them being traded for favours.

In Australia, there have been instances of an Aboriginal woman giving birth alone in a locked prison cell while staff observed through the hatch. Another example featured attempts to remove a baby from their Aboriginal mother against medical advice due to insufficient capacity at the prison. And an Aboriginal woman was denied the right to bond with her newborn and breastfeed them.

To view The Conversation article Health care offered to women in prison should match community standards – and their rights in full click here.

torsos of ATSI women in prison, green clothes

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women make up a third of all female prisoners in Australia. Image source: ABC News.

NACCHO provides quality use of medicines program for mob

NACCHO will now provide the NPS MedicineWise online learning modules and resources, which are available on the NACCHO website. Programs include:

  • Good Medicines Better Health – eLearning modules and consumer resources developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners and their communities to improve quality use of medicines and medical tests. The online learning modules are available now.
  • Medicines Lists and Templates – Principles for producing best possible medicines lists for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services – Tools and resources to support the safe and effective provision of medicines in remote communities.

You can view the eLearning modules and resources here and here.

NACCHO looks forward to being able to provide sustained support in quality use of medicines programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on ongoing funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care. We acknowledge some of these programs were developed by NPS MedicineWise prior to their closure and thank NPS staff for their work.

If you have any queries regarding these resources, you can contact the NACCHO Medicines team by email by clicking here.

ATSI woman & young girl & boy smiling; text: NACCHO logo, Good Medicine Better Health; Medicines Lists and Templates; Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services

Data shows gap closing too slowly

The gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians isn’t closing fast enough, Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney admits. Productivity Commission data shows a number of key Closing the Gap targets are not on track and some are going backwards. Closing the Gap is a strategy that aims to achieve equality for Indigenous people by improving health, social, education and economic outcomes. “I know many people are frustrated by the lack of progress,” Ms Burney said.

Last month, in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks – which represents more than 80 Indigenous organisations – the federal government announced its implementation plan for Closing the Gap, which included more than $400m in extra funding. There are 19 socio-economic targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Productivity Commission has released data on nine of those targets, which shows two are on track to meet their goals, but seven are not.

Ms Burney said the data showed “encouraging” increases in employment and land rights, but in other areas figures were going backwards. “It is particularly disappointing to see the target for healthy birth weights for babies has gone from being on track to not on track,” she said. “More of the same isn’t good enough. We need to do things differently by working in partnership with communities to get better results.”

To view The Canberra Times article Data shows Indigenous gap closing too slowly: Minister in full click here.

Minister Linda Burney carrying folders in Parliament

Minister Linda Burney says there is a lot of frustration surrounding the lack of progress. Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Ambassador for First Nations People appointed

The federal government has appointed Mr Justin Mohamed as Australia’s inaugural Ambassador for First Nations People. Mr Mohamed will lead the Office of First Nations Engagement in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Special Envoy Senator Pat Dodson announced the appointment in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The government said the Office of First Nations Engagement and the foreign affairs and trade department will work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people “to progress Indigenous rights globally, and help grow First Nations trade and investment”. The joint statement said that “elevating the perspectives of First Nations people – this land’s first diplomats – enables deeper engagement with many of our closest partners including the Pacific family”. The new position marks the first time Australia will have dedicated Indigenous representation in international engagement.

Mr Mohamed said he felt honoured to be appointed is” looking forward to sitting down and listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country, as we develop foreign policies that have First Nations People’s knowledges, voice and connection to country front and centre,” he said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Australian government appoints the first official Ambassador for First Nations People in full click here.

Incoming Ambassador Justin Mohamed and Minister Linda Burney

Incoming Ambassador Justin Mohamed and Minister Linda Burney. Photo source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Community Control in Action

The image in the feature tile is of the SAWCAN team during a planning session. Photo: Robert Lang. Image source: Reconciliation Australia website.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

Community Control in Action

The winners and highly commended organisations of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards show that community works best when First Nations people are in the driver’s seat. Normally held every two years, last year was the first time the Indigenous Governance Awards were able to take place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judged on innovation, effectiveness, self-determination, sustainability, and cultural legitimacy, the winners epitomised Indigenous-led excellence. In particular, finalists were commended by the judges for demonstrating profound resilience in the face of lockdowns and restrictions, adapting to protect their communities, as well as continue their work in the toughest of circumstances.

The following organisations – Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Human Research Ethics Committee; the Koling wada-ngal Committee; South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN); Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council; and Wungening Aboriginal Corporation – were all either winners or highly commended in their categories, and their stories encapsulate self-determination and community control in action.

To view the Reconciliation Australia article Community Control in Action in full click here.

Four NT remote communities evacuated due to floods

Hundreds of residents from four remote communities in the NT are being evacuated due to major flooding in the region. NT Police Commander Danny Bacon said on Wednesday afternoon this week that emergency services were working to relocate as many as 700 people from Kalkarindji, Daguragu and Pigeon Hole, to Darwin via Katherine, as soon as possible, with the evacuation effort has now also extended to the community of Palumpa.

The announcement comes after NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles signed an emergency declaration Wednesday morning covering the communities of Kalkarindji, Daguragu, Pigeon Hole,  Palumpa and Yarralin. Commander Bacon said he could not yet say when the residents being evacuated would be able to return home. “With these flood events, it’s a case of assessing the damage and doing a survey of the communities when the water level goes down,” he said.

“Depending on the damage that’s occurred during the flood event, then that’ll give us a bit of a timeline of when people can safely return back to those communities. “We don’t want people returning … when there’s no sewerage, no power, no water, and the dwellings are uninhabitable.”

To read the ABC News story Residents being evacuated from NT remote communities of Kalkarindji, Daguragu, Pigeon Hole, and Palumpa amid major flooding in full click here.

flooding of remote NT community

Heavy rainfall is causing major flooding in a handful of remote communities south of Darwin. Image source: ABC News.

Few obese Australians receive targeted GP support

More than two-thirds of Australian adults are classed as overweight or obese and that figure is projected to increase in coming years. Obesity rates have doubled over the last decade at an annual cost of almost $12 billion. The findings are contained in a report released ahead of World Obesity Day tomorrow by Research Australia, which warns GPs need targeted assistance to support their patients. Less than 1% of obese Australians who visit their GP receive weight management support, the report says, despite research indicating many cases can be linked to genetics, family history and ethnicity.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) specialist Georgia Rigas said obesity is a complex medical condition that affects individuals in many different ways, ranging from metabolic complications to mental health issues. “Obesity management is not about loss of weight but rather gains in health,” she said. Obesity remains “greatly misunderstood”, leaving patients at risk of stigmatisation, miscommunication and a lack of formal medical diagnosis.

The report highlighted the disproportionate impact of obesity upon Indigenous people, those living in the regions and older adults. More than 70% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 or above are overweight or obese, contributing to the health gap with non-Indigenous Australians, the report found.

To read the yahoo! news article Few obese Australians receiving targeted GP support in full click here.

stethoscope on scales

Image source: Medical Journal of Australia.

Aboriginal Benefits Foundation grants open

A number of grants for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projects and initiatives open this month. The Aboriginal Benefits Foundation provides grants to assist Aboriginal communities and individuals by providing funds to support projects which advance the aims of the Foundation. The current focus is on supporting art, literacy, education, health and cultural projects with a connection to Aboriginal art or artists.

There is expected to be a high level of interest in this grant funding, which will be distributed between states and territories. Grants will be awarded to eligible recipients on a first come, first served basis under the funding is exhausted in each jurisdiction.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Grants open to support Indigenous business, art, energy, film, education, health and cultural projects, which includes more information on all of the grants available including application details, click here.

An example of a previous project funded by the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation is the artistic promotional materials created by the Mujaay Ganma Foundation (Mujaay Ganma) to increase awareness of the culturally nurturing service MiiMI Aboriginal Corporation provide to people and their families who are dealing with cancer. For more information on this project click here.

Mujaay Ganma Foundation artwork to raise awareness of MiiMi AC cancer services

Promotional material to raise awareness of cancer services provided by MiiMi Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Aboriginal Benefits Foundation Trust website.

No room COVID complacency as winter wave threatens

The AMA is encouraging people to check their eligibility and get a COVID-19 booster to protect themselves for the onset of winter and future waves of COVID-19. Vaccines reduce transmission, reduce the severity of illness and there is emerging evidence that vaccination reduces the chance you will develop long covid. AMA President Professor Steve Robson said anyone aged over 18 years who has not had a COVID-19 booster or a confirmed COVID infection in the past six months is eligible for another booster.

The Government in early February accepted advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), which particularly recommended that those over 65 years and adults aged 18–64 years with complex health needs get a 2023 booster if their last COVID-19 vaccine dose or confirmed infection (whichever is the most recent) was 6 months ago or longer,  regardless of the number of prior doses received.

Professor Robson said people needed to prepare for the “next wave” of COVID-19 or the next variant to emerge. “With the COVID-19 virus very capable of mutating it’s inevitable there will be further variants and new waves in the community, and with winter just around the corner, we really want to encourage people to get their booster shot if they are eligible. It’s natural over time that we tend to become complacent with the risks associated with COVID-19, however, last year there were 8,800 deaths due to COVID-19 and there has been an increase in people dying with COVID-19 as the pandemic has progressed. Clearly there is no room for complacency. The AMA’s strong advice is for eligible people to get their booster shot.”

To read the AMA’s media release Get boostered! No room for COVID complacency as winter wave threatens in full click here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

Racism, the most significant public health issue

Over 120 staff members and managers from Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) gathered at the ParkRoyal in Parramatta for the first Aboriginal Staff Conference in the district. The event involved workshops, presentations and addresses by key stakeholders in the business. Attendees were encouraged to be open to learning and sharing in the space, while unpacking issues like cultural safety and how WSLHD staff can better support and engage with Aboriginal patients and workers.

A special address was also delivered by keynote speaker Honorary Associate Professor Carmen Parter, who spoke about her PhD area of racism and how it impacts the healthcare system. “Racism is the most significant public health issue facing Australia,” Associate Professor Carmen said. “Our ways of being, knowing or doing are either diminished, devalued or not recognised due to racism and exclusion. This not only relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but any marginalised group that accesses healthcare services and provisions.”

“Racism remains invisible and is not often spoken about or fully understood in terms of the violent realities and subtleties that manifest themselves in clinical and non-clinical environments of health, and in the workplace for Aboriginal staff.”

To view The Pulse article ‘Building an environment of cultural safety’: Western Sydney Local Health District holds Aboriginal Staff Conference in full click here.

Associate Professor Carmen Parter speaking at WSDLHD Aboriginal Staff Conference

Associate Professor Carmen Parter. Image source: The Pulse.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: PHC investment needed for people living in poverty

 

elderly ATSI woman sitting head in hands, black dog, One Mile Dam community camp near Darwin

The image in the feature tile is on an Aboriginal woman at One Mile Dam, an Aboriginal community camp close to Darwin, where Indigenous people live in extreme poverty. Photo: Jonny Weeks, The Guardian.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

PHC investment needed to help people living in poverty 

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has called on government to help GPs get on with the job of caring for people experiencing poverty. It comes following the RACGP’s submission to the Senate Community Affair’s inquiry into the extent and nature of poverty in Australia. RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said that the solutions to poverty must include general practice care. “A key part of tackling poverty is improving the health of people living in poverty,” she said.

“If people are experiencing poor health, it makes it harder to work, and to care for themselves and their family. There are concrete steps government can take to help patients experiencing poverty get the right kind of care when they need it. Longer consultations with a GP are crucial for many people experiencing poverty when you consider that these patients are more likely to present with poorly managed chronic conditions and increased rates of mental health issues. GPs also spend lots of time helping out with complex paperwork for agencies including Centrelink, the NDIS and state housing, just to name a few.”

“The solution is boosting investment in general practice care. That way, we can put primary care on a more sustainable, long-term financial footing and ensure that no patients anywhere are left behind. If patients living in poverty can access care from their GP when they need it, they are far less likely to end up in a hospital bed with a condition that could – and should – have been managed in general practice. Even aside from the consequences of enabling people to work, care for their families and live their lives to the fullest extent possible, it just makes sense economically. To take one example, every dollar invested in primary health care in a remote Indigenous community results in savings in hospital care from $4 to $12.

To view the RACGP media release RACGP: Help GPs and practice teams care for people experiencing poverty in full click here.
outside view of Utju Clinic (Areyonga), Central Australia, NT

Utju (Areyonga) Clinic, Central Australia, NT. Image source: Flinders University website.

New my health app is live

As of today the my health app is live and available to download. my health is a secure and convenient way for Australians to view key health information that a consumer or healthcare provider has uploaded to an individual’s My Health Record. You can:

  • visit the Digital Health website here to learn more, and
  • download the app from the Apple App Store here and the Google Play Store here or search “my health gov” in your relevant store.

Please spread the word!

To help with the launch of the my health app, the Australian Digital Health Agency has created a range of promotional collateral that can be used on your channels. Refer to their Communications Overview for Partners here which contains key messages and an overview of how you can use these assets.

If a consumer or healthcare provider needs assistance, they can call the Help line on 1800 723 471 (available 24 hours, 7 days a week).

Shining a light on an invisible disability

Indigenous health experts are eager to shine a light on an “invisible disability” impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The new campaign Strong Born aims to raise awareness of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and the dangers of drinking while pregnant or breastfeeding. The program, being run by NACCHO, builds on the research done for the Lililwan (little ones in Kimberley Kriol) Project, led by the Aboriginal community of Fitzroy Crossing in WA, in partnership with Sydney University and George Institute for Global Health.

Chief executive of the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre Emily Carter, a Gooniyandi and Kija woman who was part of the Lililwan Project, said from the beginning of the study in 2010, community had been at the centre. “For a long, long time there, this was seen as an Aboriginal problem,” she said. “But it was Aboriginal people, Aboriginal women as strong women, that brought it out to the wider consciousness of Australian society. “It was because of our grandmothers at that time were saying to us that their grandchildren’s behaviours were so different to their children growing up and they didn’t know why.”

Malarndirri McCarthy, the assistant minister for Indigenous health, said foetal alcohol spectrum disorder was not confined to any one community. “FASD is often referred to as the invisible disability but as far as many families and communities are concerned, it’s a very visible part of daily life,” she said. “It is a disorder that crosses socio-economic, racial and educational boundaries.”

To view the Perth Now article No blame and no shame: Focus on foetal alcohol syndrome in full click here.

Strong Born poster Aboriginal family with baby girl, grandmother, text 'pregnancy and grog don't mix, Our mob, strong babies, strong futures, NACCHO logo

Strong Born poster. Image source: NACCHO website.

NACCHO Chair addresses First Nations Conference

The aim of the Australia and NZ School of Government (ANZSOG) is to build public service capability in First Nations Public Administration, and ensuring public services are culturally competent. Public servants working in all areas of public administration must change their thinking and upskill, in order to engage successfully with First Nations peoples for improved outcomes. Part of this work is ANZSOC’s regular First Nations public administration conferences which bring together public servants, academics and not-for-profit community leaders to engage with First Nations speakers and listen to their views. These events deepen public sector understanding of the value of First Nations knowledges and cultures, and their importance to public policy

This year’s ANZSOG conference First Peoples to All Peoples: partnerships, devolution, transformation and sharing is being held in Brisbane from 1–3 March. The conference will examine First Nations policy through the lenses of Australia’s National Agreement on Closing the Gap commitments, particularly the four Priority Reforms, as well as the NZ Public Service Act 2020, which now clearly sets out the responsibility of the public service, particularly its leadership, in supporting the Crown’s relationship with Māori under the Treaty of Waitangi.

The title of Day two: session one held earlier this morning was Building the Community-Controlled Sector. At the opening plenary session NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills was one of three speakers addressing the question How do governments devolve responsibility for service delivery to First Peoples?

For more information about the conference, including details of the key speakers you can visit ANZSOG’s webpage 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference: First Peoples to All Peoples – Partnerships, devolution, transformation and sharing webpage here.

tile for 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference First Peoples to All Peoples: Partnerships, devolution, transformation and sharing - Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre 1-3 March; portrait of Donnella Mills, NACCHO Chair

Promotion tile for 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference, ANZSOC website and NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills – image source: Wuchopperen Health Service website.

Pat Anderson – NT women’s leadership award winner

Pat Anderson AO, chair of Batchelor Institute, was announced yesterday as the 2023 NT Award recipient of the Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership. The prestigious award celebrates “exceptional Australian women who encourage change and make important contributions to advancing equity across all facets of our society”.

Ms Anderson, a proud Alyawarre woman known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, will accept her award at the online Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium on 1 September. “It’s an honour to receive this award, I’d like to thank everyone who nominated me. I’d also like to thank everyone who has supported my work at The Lowitja Institute and Batchelor Institute over the years – and more recently with The Uluru Dialogues. There are so many women out there from different backgrounds doing incredible work, it’s hard not to feel energised and hopeful about the future,” she said.

The Award organisers said Ms Anderson’s work in advocacy for Indigenous rights and health “has had profound impacts on Australia and will continue to do so in years to come”. Women & Leadership Australia chief executive Karen Taylor noted that Ms Anderson has received numerous accolades “for her inspiring work as a human rights advocate”. “Ms Anderson is a role model, not only for Alyawarre women but for women across the nation, as she tirelessly campaigns for improved health, educational, and protection outcomes for First Nations people. We hope to shed light on her integral work in building a better future for First Nations as an advisor to the government on the path to a referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Pat Anderson AO honoured with Excellence in Women’s Leadership award in full click here.

Pat Anderson AO standing at a podium

Pat Anderson AO. Image source: UNSW Sydney Centre for Ideas webpage.

Life-course approach to Aboriginal ageing

While we know that our population is ageing rapidly on a national and global scale, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations are in fact ageing at a faster rate than our non-Indigenous population. Aboriginal Australians also record high mid-life rates of multiple chronic diseases including heart disease and stroke, lung disease and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, for example, is more than twice as common in the Indigenous population than the non-Indigenous population. There remains a life expectancy gap of approximately ten years between the Aboriginal population and the non-Indigenous population.

Research conducted by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) is centred on partnering with communities to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians and find better ways to support their cognitive health as they age. An important part of this work involves finding better ways for Aboriginal communities to gain access to the health services they need as well as suggesting positive changes to services dedicated to improving Aboriginal health, especially in older populations.

Researchers at NeuRA have found that dementia prevalence is three to four times higher in Aboriginal people compared to estimates for the general Australian population. This disparity in dementia rates is consistent across remote, regional and urban communities. By liaising with Aboriginal communities and representatives, we have identified that there is great interest amongst Aboriginal people to understand the scope of age-related diseases like dementia in their communities.

For more information visit NeuRA webpage Aboriginal Ageing here.

Aboriginal female Elder & Aboriginal male Elder

Image source: NeuRA webpage Sharing the Wisdom of our Elders.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHOs prioritise social determinant approach

part of Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs

The image in the feature tile is part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: Guardian Australia article Australia’s Indigenous housing won’t cope with climate change, research finds, published on 4 November 2021.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

ACCHO social determinant approach to health

Homes should be safe and secure spaces that support our health and wellbeing. Our homes should provide us with shelter, access to efficient and healthy energy sources, sufficient space, as well as a sense of belonging, security and privacy. Dr Ben Ewald from the University of Newscastle says recent consumer research by Asthma Australia revealed that there are many asthma triggers in Australian homes. Their nationally representative survey of over 5,000 people focused on indoor air pollution from cooking, gas or wood heating, mould and dampness and pests (including ants, spiders, mice, cockroaches and dust mites). They found that many people are exposed to these triggers in their homes and that some population groups are more likely to be exposed to certain triggers. Those most at risk include people with asthma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living in social housing and people with children in their homes.

Dr Benjamin Ewald, Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine and Public Health at The University of Newcastle previously worked for 10 years at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation in Alice Springs where ‘he saw for the first time a community health centre that could identify its community, and had a realistic involvement in their public health issues as well as the provision of sick care.’

Dr Ewald said the ACCHO model has prioritised the social determinant approaches. We consider housing security, daily living expenses, and access to the range of social financial support to be as important, sometimes more important, than prescription of medicine or referral to diagnostic tests or specialist appointments. The call by Dr Ewald for GPs to consider engaging with landlords and social housing providers to advocate for improved housing conditions for those most vulnerable is potentially significant and realistic. We already regularly advocate for individual patients for improvements to their housing that impacts their health. Such improvements might now include installing or servicing appliances that are known to reduce risk and harm, like rangehoods, convection stoves, and overall ventilation. Having a diagnostic test or prescribing inhalers is ineffective if I am just sending people back to the conditions causing their problem in the first place.

To view The Medical Republic article Gas Hazards in Homes: What’s the GP’s Role? in full click here. The quote about Dr Ewald’s time spent at CAAC is from the Staff Directory on The University of Newcastle website.

Irene Williams standing next to the stove in her kitchen of her Yarralin house

Irene Williams has no bathroom or kitchen sink in her Yarralin house. Photo: Jane Bardon, ABC News – 18 May 2018.

Diphtheria spreading in the north

Cases of toxigenic diphtheria are rising in north Queensland and experts warn that other states should be on alert for the potential spread of the disease. Between 2020 and 2022 there were 29 reported cases of diphtheria in North Queensland – eight respiratory diphtheria and 38 cutaneous diphtheria – compared to 46 cases in the two decades prior.

In that preceding decade, C. diphtheriae accounted for 87% of cases, according to data from Queensland Health’s Notifiable Conditions Register. Since 2020, a genomically linked clone of tox gene-carrying diphtheria bacteria has spread across North Queensland. This diphtheria outbreak, almost exclusively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, highlights the continuing impact of social determinants on disease in vulnerable populations.

Unvaccinated people were at highest risk of severe disease, including classic diphtheria, myocarditis and neuropathies. Vaccination remains imperative and timely vaccinations are essential.

To view The Medical Republic article Diphtheria spreading in the North in full click here. Below is July 2022 ABC News report about diptheria identified in two children in northern NSW – NSW’s first recorded cases of diptheria in 100 years.

Dementia – what it means for mob

The Dementia in Australian Summary report 2022 released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) last week, available here, shows that although dementia seems to occur in all socioeconomic groups relatively equally, how those different groups deal with dementia varies. The burden of disease is least in the highest socioeconomic group, hospitalisations are fewest for the rich, and those in the most affluent group are less likely to live in permanent residential aged care.

It will come as no surprise, given what we know about health inequities facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, that dementia deaths in the Indigenous population have skyrocketed by 70% between 2011–15 (296 deaths) and 2016–20 (503 deaths), according to the AIHW. Dementia was the fifth leading cause of death among Indigenous people aged 65 and over during 2018–2020.

Between 137,600 and 354,200 Australians are “informal” carers for someone with dementia. That is, they are not “providing care to those living in permanent residential aged care and paid workers or volunteers arranged by an organisation or formal service”. The AIHW says those numbers are likely to be an underestimate. Three in four of those carers are women. Half of them are caring for their partner. According to the AIHW report, by 2058, 850,000 of us will be living with dementia. And yet aged care in general, and dementia care in particular, continues to be underfunded, underresourced, underserviced and underappreciated by politicians and policymakers.

To read The Medical Republic article Let’s Fix Aged Care, if Only Out of Selfishness in full click here. You can find a range of resources, including the video below, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on the Dementia Australia website here.

KAMS to support Kimberley flood victims

The Australian Government is providing $300,000 for social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) support for Aboriginal communities in the flood ravaged Kimberley region of WA. Cyclone Ellie struck last month leading to record flooding, leaving thousands of people displaced, isolated and experiencing trauma. Funding for a trusted local community organisation, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) will provide support to people affected by flooding over the coming months.

This will include air travel to communities that are inaccessible, enabling the social and emotional wellbeing workforce to meet people where they are and respond to the unique needs of isolated remote communities. KAMS will deliver this project in partnership with its member services – the Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) and the Derby Aboriginal Health Service Council (DAHSC). They will ensure services are culturally safe and prioritise the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell OAM said “The Kimberley Floods have had a significant impact for many people in our region. The immediate need to increase the scope and reach of our SEWB services is urgent. KAMS and our Member Services, DAHSC and BRAMS will be able to use this initial support from NIAA to increase our travel and direct support to those in immediate need. We endeavour to work alongside all agencies involved to make sure we effectively support our community members through this crisis and secure ongoing resources as we recover and rebuild our communities over the coming years.”

To view the Hon Linda Burney MP’s media release Support For Flood Ravaged Kimberley Communities in full click here.

Part of the Great Northern Highway bridge across the Fitzroy River at Fitzroy Crossing appears to have completely washed away

Part of the Great Northern Highway bridge across the Fitzroy River at Fitzroy Crossing appears to have completely washed away. Photo: Neville Ripp. Image source: ABC News, 9 January 2023.

Digital wound imaging for diabetic foot ulcers

A NZ-developed digital wound imaging platform to improve treatment of diabetic foot ulcers is being used in Perth hospitals and rural clinics, as well as health facilities across Australia, NZ and the world. The electronic wound assessment system monitors and manages wound healing, aiming to reduce diabetes-related foot complications and ultimately reduce amputations.

NZ healthcare informatics company ARANZ Medical developed its Silhouette suite of products for imaging, measuring and documenting soft tissue and skin lesions including wounds. Royal Perth Hospital vascular surgeon and medical co-director Olufemi Oshin pioneered the use of this technology in Broome in 2019 when Diabetes WA funded seven cameras and SilhouetteLite+ for Aboriginal health workers from Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) to use in Broome and remote communities.

Australia has the second highest rate of diabetic amputations in the developed world with diabetic foot disease being responsible for about 4,400 amputations nationwide every year or 12 a day. Dr Oshin said “We know that 85% of diabetes related amputations are preventable but only if wounds are detected early and managed appropriately. We have a lot of people who present very late, sadly where there is not much option but amputation.” KAMS medical director Lorraine Anderson said the system had been used in the Kimberley Foot Initiative for nearly four years to increase access to multidisciplinary care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with or at risk of diabetic foot disease.

To read the Pulse+IT article Perth hospitals using NZ-developed digital wound imaging system for diabetic foot ulcers in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Workers and Diabetes WA staff using Silhouette at the Kimberley Foot Initiative kickoff

Aboriginal Health Workers and Diabetes WA staff using Silhouette at the Kimberley Foot Initiative kickoff. Photo: ARANZ Medical. Image source: Pulse+IT.

Health researcher to participate in talks program

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light returns to illuminate the Red Centre in April this year in more ways than one, with some of Australia’s most prominent Aboriginal identities set to participate in the In Conversation talks program, where a range of topics, from science and sport to literature and The Voice, will be discussed.

The theme for this year’s Parrtjima is Listening with Heart. Inspired by the artwork surrounding the Statement from the Heart, Listening with Heart embodies the concept of coming together, meeting and taking the time to contemplate, reflect and heal. The In Conversation program is just one part of this festival. Roxanne Ngarulya Highfold, an Aboriginal health researcher who has worked with numerous organisations, including Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and Central Land Council, will take part in a talk on Tuesday, 11 April on the topic of ‘The spirit of Alice’.

A mother of one, Roxanne Ngarulya Highfold has maternal ties with Central and Eastern Arrernte, and paternal ties with the Wirangu and Nurrunga peoples of SA. She works full time at the Central Land Council, supporting Aboriginal communities through economic growth and development. She is also studying a dual degree in Bachelor of Health Sciences/Masters in Nutrition. Roxanne is an experienced Aboriginal health researcher with a demonstrated history of working in the early childhood, child protection and primary healthcare industry.

To view the Global Travel Media article Parrtjima 2023 talks program filled with leading Indigenous voices in full click here. Details about Roxanne Ngarulya Highfold were sourced from the Parrtjima – A Festival of Light website here.

portrait shot of Roxanne Ngarulya Highfold

Roxanne Ngarulya Highfold. Image source: Parrtjima – A Festival of Light website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship Applications Open

Feature tile - NACCHO ATSI Pharmacist Scholarship applications open

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

Pharmacist Scholarship Applications Open

NACCHO is excited to announce that applications are open for the 2nd year of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship* which provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.  

 

Each recipient will receive up to $10,000 per annum to contribute to university expenses. The scholarship also offers support and mentorship from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and organisations to ensure ongoing integration and connection with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health sector.  

 

The scholarship program aims to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce and to raise the profile of the beneficial role that pharmacy and pharmacists can play in supporting appropriate and culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

 

For more information about the scholarship and how to apply, click here.

 

You can also contact Mike Stephens on 0408 278 204 or via email using this link.NACCHO ATSI pharmacist scholarship applications open tile

Scholarship opens door for speech pathology career

The art of being committed to your work at Victoria’s largest public health service while being a prominent advocate for First Nations wellbeing is all in a day’s work for CQ University alumnus Hannah Thompson. A proud Kara Kara woman from the Central Highlands, Hannah is an active member of five different Speech Pathology Australia groups and advisory committees, where she provides input on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture relates to the organisation’s competency standards.

Ms Thompson received a BMA Indigenous Scholarship during her studies which she notes helped her embrace new career opportunities. “My goal is to combine my passion in speech pathology with my desire to help close the gap between First Nations and non-First Nations Australians in the healthcare and education sectors,” Ms Thompson said. “The experiences I had at CQ University, my BMA scholarship, and the connections I made throughout my studies opened doors for me post graduation.”

Upon graduating in 2018, Ms Thompson was employed at a Central Queensland therapy clinic before accepting an early career speech pathologist position in the public sector. “My current role has certainly changed my perspective of working in public healthcare,” she said. “Every day has its own challenges, especially being the primary speech pathologist on the COVID ward during the peak of the pandemic, however, the team around me are very supportive and uplifting. In the public space, you work alongside incredible people and learn so much on the job.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article Scholarship put young Kara Kara woman on the path to speech pathology career in full click here.

CQ Uni alumnus Hannah Thompson standing in front of Aboriginal and TSI flags

CQ University alumnus Hannah Thompson. Image source: National Indigenous Times – 18 February 2023.

Celebrating WorldPride with WSLHD’s Darren Lee

Just six weeks into his new role at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), Darren Lee already has a deep connection with the local community at Mount Druitt Hospital. Despite living in Darwin for over a decade, Darren has returned home. “I am born and bred in this area – all my family are here, I was born in Blacktown Hospital and went to the school just down the road; Plumpton High School, so it’s all really familiar to me,” he said. “This community is my home. I went to school here, my friends are now teachers here, I’ve got four or five friends who are now nurses and staff at Mount Druitt Hospital. It’s home. I’ve worked in other districts and I called Darwin home for 13 years but this is my home.”

Darren is an Aboriginal Sexual Health Promotion Officer at the WSLHD Aboriginal Health Hub, located at Mount Druitt Hospital. In the days leading up to Sydney WorldPride, and as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, Darren is urging his mob to have a great time during WorldPride, but to prioritise their health by getting tested and partying safely. “Gay, straight, green or blue, we all like to have sex. Our job is to remind people to do it safely.

“Being an Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer, it’s about promoting to my mob who we are, where we are and what our services do, and to normalise it. If you’re going for your annual health check for your blood sugar levels, what’s wrong with peeing in a cup or doing a swab or taking a blood test to check your full health. It’s about not stereotyping or stigmatising people for what they do in their personal lives. As an Aboriginal man and a gay man myself, I’m proud of both of those things completely equally.”

To view The Pulse article in full click here.

Long COVID causing job losses and homelessness

The federal government is developing a national Long COVID strategy, with a parliamentary inquiry hearing the condition has resulted in job losses and homelessness among some sufferers. The chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said the federal health department had been tasked with developing a national Long COVID strategy that would cover prevention, immunisation, treatment and research into the condition.

“That is well under way,” Kelly said at a public hearing on Friday, although he went on to say the strategy would probably not be finalised until after the health department had received advice following the parliamentary inquiry into Long COVID and repeated COVID-19 infections. Speaking at the inquiry’s third public hearing on Friday, Labor MP Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah said, “I think we’re going to probably land on a recommendation that we obviously need national guidelines … and perhaps living guidelines that keep evolving as the data keeps coming in.”

A lack of data about Long COVID in Australia was repeatedly raised as a concern during the hearing. Dr Jason Agostino, a senior medical adviser at NACCHO, told the inquiry that there was “no clear evidence on Long COVID cases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – most jurisdictions have not shared data on presentations to their LONG COVID clinics by Indigenous status”.

To view The Guardian article Long COVID causing job losses and homelessness in Australia, inquiry hears in full click here.

4 COVID-19 Antigen test results - 2 negative 2 positive

Australian affected by long Covid told the parliamentary inquiry about months-long wait times to see specialists. Photo: Amer Ghazzal, Rex, Shutterstock. Image source: The Guardian – 17 February 2023.

Virtual reality part of mental health trial

Young people in the NT are stepping into the world of virtual reality (VR) as part of a new trial aimed at breaking down the barriers to mental health care. VR mental health sessions have started being trialled in parts of the NT’s Top End region, as part of a project from the NT’s Menzies School of Health Research and Aboriginal VR developer Brett Leavy.

By gamifying programs to address youth mental illness, cognitive disabilities and neurodiversity, the team hopes the project will help tackle major obstacles to care in the territory such as issues with remoteness and staffing. Mr Leavy, a Kooma man, said the project particularly took a new approach to the mental health of young First Nations people by connecting them to their culture and country through VR.

“It’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s a new technology,” he said. “It’s a new technology for an ancient culture.” The NT has the highest rate of suicide in the country, with young people and First Nations people particularly at risk.

To view the ABC News article Children explore virtual reality as part of trial for new NT youth mental health project in full click here.

Aboriginal teenager at Darwin school using virtual reality

Darwin school students test virtual reality software designed to improve mental health. Photo: Peter Garnish, ABC News.

Alice Springs alcohol rehabs desperate for support

Jocelyn Dhu has seen more desperation than most while working on the frontlines of alcohol addiction in Alice Springs. The Eastern Arrernte woman has watched people from all walks of life come through her door. Some for the first time, others for the tenth, but all battling shame, stigma and a sense they are “too far gone”. But Ms Dhu knows that’s never the case. “You have to see the person,” she said. “When you look at an individual, and you see their stories, and why alcohol or drugs became a problem for them — that’s what you need to fix.”

Alice Springs has attracted frenzied national attention in recent weeks amid a crime crisis. Liquor has been recognised as a major driver behind issues in the town. However, the NT’s peak drug and alcohol body said frontline addiction services had been chronically neglected by all levels of government.

Drug and Alcohol Services Australia, where Ms Dhu works as deputy chief executive, is just one Alice Springs service calling for help. It recently had to clear clients out of its ageing residential rehabilitation facility, Aranda House, because of a cockroach and bed bug infestation. Ms Dhu said it had sparked a waitlist of about 20 people. “I think the biggest issue is people’s level of motivation to change,” she said. “They might want to come in now, but having to wait, they change their mind and go, ‘Oh, no, I’m OK’.”

To view the ABC News article Alice Springs alcohol rehabs call desperately for support as liquor bans reinstated in full click here.

portrait shot of Jocelyn Dhu, Eastern Arrernte woman

Jocelyn Dhu says people can struggle with alcoholism for a wide range of reasons.Photo: Xavier Martin, ABC Alice Springs.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How will the Voice help close the gap?

The NACCHO Daily Health News is platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly. The content included in these new stories are not necessarily NACCHO endorsed.

How will the Voice close the gap?

y and Coalition of Peaks Lead Convenor and NACCHO CEO Pat Turner and Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burne spoke on ABC News last night about specific actions required on investments in Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and how the Voice to parliament will help close the gap.

Click here to watch the interview on ABC News in full.

Anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations

In a speech yesterday marking the 15th anniversary of The Apology to the Stolen Generations, Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Linder Burney MP read out a verse from the late great Archie Roach’s song “Took the Children Away” which was first performed more than 33 year ago. Minister Burney said “Archie spoke of a truth that for many years was denied. Denied by governments. And denied by parliaments. Children were removed from their families because of the colour of their skin. And it was governments that did it. Most Australians did not know of this reality. For decades there was a stubborn silence. While many of those removed suffered a private pain of unbearable loss. It was and is one the darkest chapters in our history.”

Minister Burney went on to speak about the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Deaths in Custody which found that of the 99 deaths it investigated 43 were of people who were separated from their families and the subsequent 1997 Bringing Them Home report which took evidence from hundreds of people from across the country. A key recommendation of the Bringing Them Home report was for an apology to be given by governments.

Minister Burney then spoke of the Closing The Gap Implementation Plan and the government’s commitment to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Coalition of Peaks towards achieving the targets and priority reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

You can access Minister Burney’s speech in full published in The National Tribune here.

Linda Burney made the comments during an event in Canberra marking the anniversary of the apology. Image source: ABC News: Matt Roberts, file.

$242m for second CTG Implementation Plan

The Federal Government will spend over $420 million to provide clean water, food security and housing to Indigenous Australians.

The next step in the government’s Closing the Gap implementation plan accompanies the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks) annual implementation plan.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, says that “foundational work” has been completed over the past two years, and “now we can really turn our efforts towards real action and real change”.

“We saw the outcomes in the 2022 Closing the Gap Annual Report and know that we need to be doing more as a government,” Ms Burney said.

“Our measures are going to be more specific and more targeted, making real impacts that complement work underway in states and territories, and back-in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisations to lead work in their communities.”

The Coalition of Peaks lead convenor and chief executive of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Pat Turner, says the funding will help accelerate reforms.

“We have decades of underinvestment in our communities and organisations to be addressed and this funding will go some way to overturning that,” she said.

The funding is set to be delivered through formal partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, with support from state, territory and local governments.

The above new story was published yesterday on the Local GovernmentCareer website under the title Gap goals backed further, and is available here.

Image source: Local Government Career website.

Needs cannot be met without Indigenous voices

Opponents of an Indigenous Voice to parliament say the Voice is merely symbolic and another pointless layer of bureaucracy. They say that what is needed are “practical measures”.

However decades of government-led “practical measures” have achieved little measurable progress and in some cases, caused considerable harm to Indigenous communities. So the question is, will the Voice, in delivering Indigenous perspectives direct to parliament, make any practical difference to outcomes for Indigenous peoples?

Indigenous people have long been calling for more Indigenous-informed solutions. The current debate on alcohol bans in the NTis just one recent example.

Our research has found including the perspectives of Indigenous people can disrupt long-held assumptions behind previously accepted policy measures. This indicates mechanisms such as the Voice could help deliver better policy by building better understanding of Indigenous affairs.

The above is an excerpt from the article Our research has shown Indigenous peoples’ needs cannot be understood and met, without Indigenous voices published in The Conversation today. To view the article in full click here. You can also listen to Stolen Generation survivor Judith Kelly here as she reflects on the 15th anniversary of the National Apology.

South West woman and survivor of the stolen generation Judith Kelly reflects on the 15th anniversary of then-prime minister Kevin Rudd’s historic apology. Photo. Zoe Keenan, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Over $120m for Indigenous health infrastructure

The image in the feature tile is from the Build Australia website.

Over $120m for Indigenous health infrastructure

The Australian Government is funding 52 new health infrastructure projects across the country – building and renovating clinics, improving staff housing and building the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector. As Co-Chairs of Joint Council on Closing the Gap, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of the Peaks (CoPs), Pat Turner, will jointly announce, at the Joint Council meeting in Sydney today, more than $120m for major capital works at community‑controlled organisations.

The projects will improve First Nations health services, as well as provide the facilities clinical staff need to deliver culturally-safe and appropriate care.  In a clear commitment to Closing the Gap Priority Reform One to support formal partnerships and shared decision-making, applications were jointly assessed and approved by the sector’s peak body, NACCHO and the Australian Government, through the Department of Health and Aged Care. A further $20m from this grant round will be committed in early 2023 and a second grant round will also be run in 2023 to see even more projects provide the services people need, closer to where they live.

The more than $120m is in addition to the $164.3m for 17 vital Indigenous health infrastructure projects across the country announced in the October budget to invest in health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations. This represents a significant investment of more than $284.3m for Aboriginal health services.

Lead Convenor of the CoPs and NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner said “The Government’s support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services reflects their vital role in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. NACCHO has advocated for a long time for increased funding for infrastructure for the health sector and this funding supports and recognises the critical role that ACCHS play in the Australian primary health care architecture. I am pleased to see that this funding is being delivered consistent with the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement, where programs and services are developed in partnership with our people and funding is delivered through our community-controlled organisations.”

The above has been extracted from the media release Joint Council on Closing the Gap more than $120 million for Indigenous health infrastructure. To view the media release in full click here.

Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service will receive almost $5m to construct a purpose build AMS building in Brewarrina. Image source: Barnson.

End of year message from Chair and CEO

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills and NACCHO CEO have released the following end-of year message:

The last three years have been dominated by the pandemic and natural disasters and despite the challenges, our sector’s efforts and outcomes have been phenomenal.

Our 145 members deliver more than 3.1 million episodes of care to our mob each year. This equates to an incredible amount of time, hard work, energy and dedication which has translated into a stronger, savvier self-determined ACCHO sector. Every person working in our ACCHOs deserve congratulations.

A big thank you also to all on the NACCHO Board, whose dedication, important and unique perspectives guide the vision and strategy of our sector.

The NACCHO staff have also done a remarkable job advocating for community-developed solutions, structural reform, developing national level programs, and importantly, securing ongoing funding for our sector.

To all our partners and colleagues, thank you for your ongoing support and perseverance.

Now, it is time to take a well-deserved break.

The new year will be about rejuvenation, an invitation to harness our strengths and continue to develop and grow as individuals and as a collective working towards, Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands.

On behalf of the NACCHO Board and our team, we would like to thank you all and wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable festive season.

You can access the above letter here. and view the NACCHO Chair and CEO’s 2022 end-of-year message in the below video:

Aboriginal doctor keen to improve Pilbara healthcare

A trailblazing young Aboriginal doctor from the Pilbara, who won WA’s Young Australian of the Year 2020, has welcomed a global search for ground-breaking solutions to deliver quality healthcare in the Pilbara. Launched by Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson yesterday, “The Challenge” offers a $5m prize for the development of a technology solution, based on research, to improve health outcomes for people living in the Pilbara, a region that spans more than 500,000sqkm.

Pilbara scholar Yarlalu Thomas joined Mr Dawson at the launch to share the challenges he faced growing up, which led him to a career in health. As WA’s Young Australian of the Year in 2020, he was considering a career in the AFL, but instead turned his attention to studying medicine. Mr Thomas is focusing his medical studies on Pilbara faces to better understand 3D facial variation for quicker and non-invasive diagnosis of children with rare and genetic diseases.

He is also working on translating medical terms into Indigenous languages internationally and hopes to one day work in the Pilbara. Mr Thomas said that barriers to healthcare access for Aboriginal people could include lack of transport, hospital settings, language and other communication barriers, inflexible treatment options and lack of centralised patient records. “This is a particular problem for doctors trying to provide care for Aboriginal patients who regularly travel far and wide,” he said.

To view The Kimberley Echo article Trailblazing young Aboriginal doctor Yarlalu Thomas welcomes search to improve Pilbara healthcare in full click here.

Trailblazing Pilbara-raised Aboriginal medical student Yarlalu Thomas. Image source: The Kimberley Echo.

New scholarships honour two incredible women

The University of Melbourne has announced two exciting scholarship opportunities for Indigenous students, honouring two incredible women:

Aunty Angela Clarke (Graduate Certificate) – applications close Tuesday 31 January 2023

Aunty Angela Clarke worked as the Koori Hospital Liaison Officer at the Royal Children’s Hospital and later was the Deputy Director of the VicHealth Koori Health Research Unit (Onemda). Her contribution to Aboriginal health was transformative, pioneering new models of community participation in research and embedding culturally responsive clinical practice for Indigenous patients.

Aunty Joan Vickery (Masters) – applications close Tuesday 31 January 2023

Aunty Joan Vickery’s impressive leadership and advocacy over many decades improved Indigenous health outcomes and delivery of services across Victoria. Helping to establish the Ngwala Willumbong Co-operative in 1975 – which continues to deliver outreach services to Aboriginal people affected by substance abuse – she later worked to improve understanding of diabetes among Indigenous families as the first Aboriginal Liaison Officer at St Vincent’s Hospital through rolling out a series of programs and support networks.

These scholarships aim to continue the legacy of these incredible women in nurturing the next generation of public health leaders.

For more information about the:

  • Angela Clarke Scholarship click here
  • Aunty Joan Vickery Scholarship click here

You can also access The University of Melbourne website’s webpage Scholarships, Bursaries and Prizes here.

The University of Melbourne current Indigenous graduate students. Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

AMA Indigenous medical scholarship applications open

Applications are open to enrolled Indigenous medical students to apply for the next year’s AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarships.

Applications are now open for the AMA’s 2023 Indigenous Medical Scholarship program, with applicants having until Tuesday 31 January to submit their application.

The scholarship, made possible by the generosity of members, helps an Indigenous medical student who has completed their first year with $10,000 per year for the remainder of their medical degree.

For more information on how to apply visit the AMA website’s AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship webpage here.

To view the Mirage article AMA Indigenous medical scholarship applications open in full click here.

Season’s Greetings from NACCHO

NACCHO extends Season’s Greetings to you and your family for a very happy and safe summer.

NACCHO office closure over Dec / Jan

NACCHO will be closed from COB Friday 16 December 2022, reopening in the New Year on Tuesday 3 January 2023.

This is the last NACCHO newsletter for 2022. Publication of the newsletter will resume in the New Year. We will let you know closer to the date when the first edition for 2023 will hit your in-box!

Christmas decorations by artists of Warlukurlangu, Yuendumu. Image source: Koskela website.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.