NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Feature tile - Thu 23.9.21 - Unvaccinated adult mob at risk of severe COVID-19 illness

Two-thirds of First Nations Australian adults at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if unvaccinated

Almost three-in-five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are at an elevated risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 due to ongoing health inequities, found a major study undertaken by researchers and health practitioners at The Australian National University (ANU), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Lowitja Institute.

The study examined the prevalence of health factors like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and smoking among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, which all increase the risk of severe illness if an unvaccinated person gets COVID-19. It found 59 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have these and other existing conditions that could increase the risk of needing intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation or death if they contract COVID-19 and are not vaccinated.

Dr Jason Agostino from ANU, and a medical advisor to NACCHO, said: “… there are almost 300,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are at higher risk of getting very sick if they are not vaccinated and get COVID-19. This is why getting the vaccine is so important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute, said: “Our communities are strong and resilient and have responded rapidly and effectively to the pandemic when they have been trusted, enabled and resourced by governments to lead the way. We need governments to work together with Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisations to support culturally safe delivery of vaccines and improve data collection to increase vaccination coverage as quickly as we can.”

You can read the media release by ANU here.
The study is published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

AFL legend Adam Goodes, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney, MP all getting their vaccines to be protected against COVID-19.

Spread of COVID-19 in Eurobodalla’s sparks alarm

Aboriginal elders, health professionals and politicians say they are concerned about the growing COVID-19 cluster among the Eurobodalla’s Indigenous community.

The cluster linked to Batemans Bay on the NSW far south coast has grown to 19 cases since the first case was reported on September 6.

Bega MP Andrew Constance has expressed concern that the Indigenous population is vulnerable to further spread.

“There is no doubt when you have a vulnerable cohort within the community, that is something we are very concerned about,” he said.

Despite the fact 60 per cent are now fully vaccinated in the region, there is a push to increase the rates among the local Indigenous population. Walk-in clinics will be open at:

  • The Wallaga Lake Community Hall from 10:00am on Thursday September 23.
  • The Bodalla soccer oval from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Sunday September 26.
  • Eden at the community health centre between 10:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday September 25.
  • Twofold, Jigamy on Thursday September 30. 

You can read the article in ABC News here.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Aboriginal elder Uncle Ossie Cruse is calling on the local Indigenous community to get the jab. Australian Story: Marc Smith.

Historic moment creates opportunity for COVID-19 vaccine promo

The McGowan Labor Government has launched the next phase of its Roll up for WA COVID-
19 vaccination campaign to help get as many Western Australians vaccinated as possible.

The emotive campaign reinforces the benefits of vaccination by featuring Western Australian personal stories of life before the COVID-19 pandemic, by reminiscing of a time when we were safely connected with the world and lived life without fear of a local outbreak.

The commercial (that can be viewed below the story) stars Sheree, a young Aboriginal nursing student, whose roots stretch between the Nyiyaparli and Banjima people originating from Port Hedland, who is passionate about encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine because she wants to keep her community safe.

With all eyes on WA hosting the 2021 AFL Grand Final this Saturday, the McGowan Government is leveraging the historic moment in WA by maximising opportunities to promote the campaign and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The campaign also includes an informative video series with respected medical professional Dr Karl. Through the video series, Dr Karl answers the most common questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.

You  can view the media release by the McGowan Labor Government here.
For more information about the campaign, visit the Roll up for WA website here.

Growing urgency to vaccinate remote Elders before any border reopening

“It’s only a matter of time before Delta gets here, and it could be bad,” says Mr Chris Bin Kali, the director of the Broome Aboriginal Medical Service.

“It will only take one person and we could lose a whole community — lose the whole language, history, lore and culture in one go.”

It’s a grim message delivered with a sole aim — to get as many Kimberley people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Outback ingenuity is on display. Some remote communities are raffling off washing machines and fishing gear to those getting the jab. Open-invite vaxathons are using country and western music and AFL players to try to cut through. Slowly but surely, it is starting to work.

Vickie O’Donnell, who heads Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, says she expects some communities will opt to remain shut.

The outback vaccine rollout is complicated by poor telecommunications, limited road access and a highly mobile population.

But in this critical moment, the years of work by Aboriginal health organisations to build a skilled health workforce is delivering a huge payoff.

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Some communities are raffling off gift packs to encourage people to get vaccinated. Image source: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Statement of support for TGA

Australia’s leading evidence-based health and medical organisations including NACCHO, stand beside Australia’s key medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

We express full support for the vital work the TGA does to assess and regulate new medicines and vaccines. The TGA has a strong reputation for being expert, independent and rigorous in its assessments of new products, and is similarly rigorous in its assessment of the safety of vaccines, so as to improve and protect the health of all Australians.

Another essential role of our medicines regulator is to challenge, and where necessary, prosecute those who seek to mislead the Australian public about important health information so as to pursue their own interests. This role is particularly important in the current global health crisis.

Now is a time when Australians must have confidence in the assessments and recommendations of the TGA, and we believe Australians’ trust in the TGA is well placed.

You can read the statement of support at the Burnet Institute website here.

TGA logo

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns

A new digital surveillance platform has launched enabling healthcare professionals to map circulating antibiotic-resistant pathogens in northern Australia.

The HOTspots platform, developed in the HOT NORTH program, covers tropical areas in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia and has information about up to 13 pathogens and their associated antibiotics.

Lead researcher, Dr Teresa Wozniak, Senior Research Fellow and APPRISE Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research, said the HOTspots program and digital platform support antibiotic stewardship activities in northern Australia, allowing clinicians to choose “the right drugs for the right bugs”.

“The HOTspots data, and now a digital platform, allow end users including doctors, nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners across regional and remote hospitals and clinics to have access to accurate local up-to-date data to make decisions at the point of care,” Dr Wozniak said.

View the HOTspots platform and read more about the HOT NORTH program.

You can read the joint media release by Menzies School of Health Research, Hot North and Apprise here.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

HOTspots platform maps antibiotic resistance patterns across northern Australia. Image source: Hot North.

Clinical learning e-modules for lung cancer symptoms

Lung Foundation Australia, in collaboration with Cancer Australia, has developed accredited clinical learning e-modules, based on Cancer Australia’s Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals. The e-modules use clinical scenario-based learning to increase confidence among health professionals to recognise symptoms and signs of lung cancer, and support early and rapid referral of symptomatic patients into the multidisciplinary diagnostic pathway.

The modules have received accreditation from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), with health professionals able to gain accreditation of 40 RACGP CPD points.

Sign up for the modules here.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Symptoms of lung cancer. Illustration from the Lung Foundation Australia website.

Improving Digital Connectivity for Indigenous Australians

Yesterday the Morrison Government launched public consultations for its landmark Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan to accelerate the digital connectivity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Ensuring Indigenous Australians have quality access to digital technology encourages entrepreneurialism, wealth creation and economic advancement – it’s about closing the gap and taking the next step after that,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen how people have relied on technology, not just to stay in touch with family and friends, but also to launch new ventures and navigate through COVID-19.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly those in remote communities, are
missing out on opportunities to start new businesses and grow because of access to technology. That is why we are developing a comprehensive plan to address the barriers to digital inclusion,” said Minister Wyatt.

More information and a copy of the discussion paper is available on the NIAA website, or you can contact the Agency at digitalinclusion@niaa.gov.au or on 1800 079 098.
Submissions on the discussion paper close 1 November 2021.

You can read the media release by The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP here.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

The Indigenous Digital Inclusion Plan will focus on three elements of digital inclusion: access, affordability and digital ability.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

MDHS Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellowship

The University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences are pleased to announce that applications for the 2021 round of Indigenous Postdoc fellowships are now open.

The fellowship aims to support the next generation of Indigenous researchers who will actively contribute to health research and/or address critical health issues facing Indigenous communities. The Fellows will contribute to and enrich the Faculty’s diverse scholarly community and strengthen our existing Indigenous research community.

Applications are open to recent Indigenous MDHS PhD graduates and candidates who are near completion and expect to submit between 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 31 October (5pm) 2021.

We invite all eligible candidates who are interested in continuing an academic path with the Faculty to read more about the Fellowship and consider applying here.

Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers Q+A Session

As electronic prescriptions become more widely available across the country, the Australian Digital Health Agency invites you to join a “Electronic Prescribing Q+A Session for Consumers and Carers”. The purpose of the session is to provide you with a platform where your questions will be answered directly by an expert panel.

Ask any questions you might have related to your experience with using electronic prescriptions. Is there anything that wasn’t clear or left you wondering how it works? We welcome all your questions and there is no requirement to have used electronic prescribing prior to joining a session.

You will be able to participate by speaking directly with our subject matter experts, or by submitting questions anonymously through our questions platform. If you would like to submit your questions prior to the session to ensure they are addressed, please use the registration form below.

These sessions are open to consumer peak organisations, members and consumer advocates, carers and advisors.

Event title: Your questions answered: Electronic Prescriptions for Consumers

Dates: 
Thursday, 7 October 2021, 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 14 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)
Thursday, 21 October 2021 12-12.30pm AEDT (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra)

Register here. (Select preferred date from drop-down menu)

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Feature tile - Tue 21.9.21 - Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Young mob should be focus for COVID-19 vaccinations

Although First Nations children comprise a relatively small proportion of the general child population, they represent more than 30 per cent of the Indigenous population.

And as state governments edge closer to easing restrictions at the 80 per cent double-dosed vaccination targets – targets that do not include under 16s – health and data experts are concerned it will be at the expense of First Nations people.

As children as young as 12 are faced with the choice to be vaccinated, mental health experts are urging support services and structures to be at the ready. Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association board director Tanja Hirvonen said the decision could weigh heavily on the shoulders of young Indigenous people.

“What can help to alleviate that pressure is support from family and friends and the health sector, and getting the information from the qualified professionals,” Dr Hirvonen said.

“Everyone has different circumstances, different health needs, are in different communities, so they can make the best decision for them and their families.”

Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service chief executive Kane Ellis was concerned First Nations kids had been left behind in the vaccination rollout.

“Our young ones are getting missed in the conversation because they think they don’t have [health] issues, which is not the case for our young ones,” he said.

“We want to make sure we look after our young ones as much as our elders because they’re the future for us.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

Kahliah West and her pop, who was recently discharged from hospital. Image source: ABC News.

90-95% First Nations vax rates needed to protect mob

While some Australians are awaiting the nation reopening after lockdowns with hope and optimism, others are approaching it with dread. This is because a blanket lifting of restrictions when the vaccination rate reaches 70% will have devastating effects on Indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

At present, vaccination rates in Indigenous populations are very low. Once restrictions are lifted everyone unvaccinated will be exposed to the virus.

Aboriginal organisations including NACCHO, the Aboriginal Medical Services of the Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) have called on state and federal governments to delay any substantial easing of restrictions until vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations aged 12 years and older reach 90-95%.

A 90-95% vaccination rate gives about the same level of population coverage for all ages as the 80% target for the entire population. That’s because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are younger than the wider population.

You can read the article in the Conversation here.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Australian Wiradjuri elder and Indigenous rights activist Aunty Jenny Munro after receiving a covid vaccine. Image source: The Conversation.

Boy with disability detained from age 10 in NT

A Northern Territory Indigenous teenager with disability has been intermittently imprisoned in the Don Dale detention centre since the age of 10, an inquiry has been told. The 17-year-old told the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability that some of the charges related to breaching bail when he fled abusive foster homes.

The young man, who gave evidence under the pseudonym IL, said he’d been placed in 20 Darwin foster homes in his life but had never had an Aboriginal carer or caseworker.

“I’ve never really had anybody to teach me right and wrong, you know,” he told the inquiry in a pre-recorded interview.

You can read the story in 7 News here.

Aboriginal health services are among those expected to give evidence to the royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability when the latest hearing resumes. The 16th hearing of the royal commission will on Monday examine the experiences of Indigenous children with disability in out-of-home care.

Representatives from the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and Darwin’s Danila Dilba Health Service are expected to give evidence, along with a disabled Indigenous child and her carer.

The six-day inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. It aims to provide an insight into the life course for Indigenous children with disability and their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including cumulative and systemic abuse and neglect by multiple systems over time.

You can read the article in The West Australian here.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

The inquiry is the second Indigenous-specific public hearing to be held by the royal commission. Credit: AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Cherbourg calls for help to deal with suicide crisis

The community of Cherbourg has lost more than 10 people, mostly young men, to suicide in the past year. Local leaders say treatment models need a major shakeup to make them more culturally appropriate. Young men account for most of the deaths. Alex Speedy, 35, has stepped forward as a champion for mental health in the community.

“It’s important coming out the other side and talking about it,” he said.

Mr Speedy’s aunt, Dolly Davidson, has lost two sons to suicide in the past few years. She said she reached out to multiple services for help for her younger son, but they were not approachable and did not understand what he was experiencing. He passed when he was 17.

“There were nine other young men [who have died] … who used to attend school with my sons. You’re talking about 11 kids from one school and that’s a lot — 11 kids out of 20,” said Davidson.

Community services manager and SPAN member Edwina Stewart said:

“What’s not being addressed is the underlying stuff that’s happening to our families, the amount of grief and loss we’ve been going through,” she said.

“It’s like a dark cloud over our community.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn't weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Alex Speedy wants young men in his community to know it isn’t weak to speak up. (ABC Southern Queensland: Georgie Hewson).

Free Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale training

The Kimberley Mum’s Mood Scale (KMMS) is a validated perinatal depression screening tool. It was developed in partnership between Aboriginal women and healthcare professionals in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in response to challenges with the mainstream screening tool the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

The KMMS is a two part screening tool. Part one of the KMMS is an adapted version of the EPDS using language and graphics as determined through the community co-design process. KMMS part two is a ‘yarning’ or narrative based assessment focusing on a woman’s risks and protective factors across seven psychosocial domains.

The training takes approximately one hour and will enable healthcare professionals to confidently and appropriately use the KMMS with patients.

Access the KMMS Training here.

For more information on the KMMS implementation project click here.

Please contact the KMMS project team if you have any further queries:
Emma Carlin on emma.carlin@rcswa.edu.au or
Kat Ferrari kmmsprojectofficer@kamsc.org.au.

$10m for frontline digital healthcare research

The Morrison government is investing $10 million in research projects that use the latest digital and mobile technology to improve primary healthcare delivery.

Australian researchers can now apply for grants to undertake critical research through the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, which is designed to help develop ideas, make projects viable and improve medical care.

Two areas of primary healthcare research will be funded – testing and implementing new applications of existing wearable electronic devices, and examining new ways of delivering point-of-care testing, particularly for people in rural areas.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said research was the key to better healthcare and treatments, and continued advances in technology could unlock more improvements in medical care, including helping people in rural and remote areas.

The $10 million in grants flagged on Wednesday will be managed through the National Health and Medical Research Council and is funded over two years though to 2023.

You can read the article in The Australian Financial Review here.

 Ambra Health DrHIT: Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age - Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age – Your Medical Imaging Cloud. Image source Ambra Health website.

New online MBS tool

A new interactive tool is now available to help GPs calculate out-of-pocket expenses when delivering care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. The resources have been developed as part of the RACGP’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) online tool.

There are now two easy-to-access interactive guides, including one for GPs providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These list frequently used items such as face-to-face and telehealth MBS numbers. A complementary tool is available for other medical practitioners (OMPs). This includes items that are often employed by allied health providers and nurse practitioners, for example.

The tool allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Hard copies can also be printed.

You can read more on the RACGP website in GPNews.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

The resource allows users to enter fees for the services provided and subsequently calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs based on MBS rebates. Image source: RACGP website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Australian Community Sector Survey – open

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the COSS Network, supported by Bendigo Bank, have opened the 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey.

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the longest running survey of the community sector – by the community sector – for the community sector and communities we serve. This 2021 Survey is a vital opportunity for us to compare changes in the community sector between 2019 and now. The Survey covers the impacts of changes to funding structures, demand on services, emerging needs and pressures and sector priorities.

ACOSS and the COSS Network thank you for your help with the Survey. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please email Penny Dorsch at penny@acoss.org.au for details.

The survey closes Friday 24 September 2021.

You can take the survey here.

ACOSS Community Sector Survey_2021

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

tile text 'ACCHOs finds ways to bring COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable rural and remote communities' & image of front of 4-wheel drive on outback red dirt road

*Image source in feature tile, The Conversation.

Getting jabs to rural and remote communities

NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills says Covid-19 vaccination is a key priority. There 143 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations with more than 500 clinics currently trying to get jabs in arms with the help of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Covid has cut a devastating swathe through the Navajo and Amazonian Indigenous people. “When I think of the devastation in other first nations, that footprint, that traditional passage of law, language, culture and custom, it just stops,” Ms Mills said. “So it is why we must, if we have questions, go to your doctor. We have to protect our longevity in the country, 60,000 years and we must keep going strong.”

And getting vaccination rates up in far flung communities is vital. Some of the lowest rates are in WA northern region with only 10.86 fully vaccinated and 21.29% fully vaccinated. Rates across all Indigenous communities are lower than all other groups across the board.

But some communities are doing exceptionally well. “Shout out to NT mob Maningreda they did over 65% of their population over four days and in the Kimberleys, they’ve had two pop up vaccination clinics and they have done in excess of 250 vaccinations each day. We have to get as close of possible to 100% because of the fact we have 2.3 times the burden of disease than non-Indigenous Australians,” she said. “Some of our services have been doing door to door if we identify there may be an elder that can’t get to a clinic. We are reaching out and finding ways of bringing the vaccine to them.” Ms Mills said.

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right)

Donnella Mills NACCHO Chair with nurses Melinda Pascoe (left), and Catherine Moro (right). Image supplied.

Another hurdle has been vaccine hesitancy, and the anti-vaccine movement has targeted the Indigenous population with scare tactics. “It has been so challenging, there has been such a direct intentional move to put this anti-vax narrative out there and what we’ve had to do is face that front on and make sure we keep communicating with all of our mob and identifying leaders in the community encourage them to keep coming to speak to us,” Ms Mills said.

This news story has been released by News Corp Media and released in The Telegraph and The Advertiser.

CAAC vax efforts applauded

The Burnet Institute, whose mission is to achieve better health for vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally by accelerating the translation of research, discovery and evidence into sustainable health solutions, has affirmed their support for the efforts of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from the Delta variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

The Burnet Institute says the leadership of community-controlled services like Congress has helped keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities safe during the first and second waves of COVID-19 during 2020 and the success of that control effort was driven in no small part by the self-determining and community-led responses that should underpin the delivery of all health services to Indigenous communities.

A just published paper co-authored by Burnet colleague Troy Combo offers some interesting insights into the response to the pandemic by Indigenous communities in Brisbane.

Burnet’s consistent message to the public has been to ‘leave no one behind’. They note the low vaccination coverage among Indigenous Australians in most states and territories and the demonstrated vulnerability of communities in Western NSW to the severe impacts of Delta infections. The outbreaks in the West and Far West local health districts of NSW could be repeated in other areas of Australia unless Indigenous communities are protected by high vaccination rates and other public health measures.

To view the full article click here.

Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs

Congress employees Lilly Watson and Montanna Hudson at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Yeperenye shopping centre in Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

Remote AMSs mobilise rapid testing drives

As COVID arrived in remote areas of the Western NSW Local Health District (LHD), health workers on the ground mobilised testing and outreach services in a matter of hours. While the LHD set up makeshift testing facilities that would service the droves that followed, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) acting chief executive Katrina Ward sent out staff to collect swabs from close contacts to be processed back at the clinic.

“It just gave that speed of results because otherwise you were waiting a good 12 hours before it got back to Dubbo [pathology],” she said. “At one stage my staff worked until midnight trying to get through the close contact tests just to alleviate a lot of the fear and anxiety off the community.”

Remote health clinics like the Walgett AMS were given access to a rapid PCR testing device called GeneXpert. Each machine can test four swabs at a time and produce results in about 45 minutes — much faster than the tests taken at hospitals and pop-up clinics, which are sent to pathology labs. The technology is part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Point-of-Care Testing Program, a federally funded initiative managed by the Kirby Institute in partnership with Flinders University.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

close up photo of rapid covid-19 tests

Image source: ABC News.

School exclusion further harms vulnerable

Increasing numbers of students are being excluded from Australian schools. This is done both temporarily, through informal and formal suspensions, and permanently, through expelling them and cancelling their enrolments.

Publicly available data in NSW, SA and Queensland shows these exclusions begin in the first year of school when children can be as young as four years old. Informal exclusions are more common at this stage and usually occur in the form of a phone call requesting parents “take home” their child.

But because exclusionary discipline does not address the issues underlying childrens’ behaviour — and can reinforce it — short informal exclusions quickly progress to longer, formal suspensions. And because suspension still doesn’t solve the problem, one suspension can become many.

Four in five students suspended more than five times have a disability. Along with students with a disability, Indigenous students and those living in out-of-home care are also massively overrepresented in suspension and exclusion statistics. These are not distinct groups. It is possible to be Indigenous, have a disability and be living in care.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

rear view of youth with blue hoodie facing brick wall with graffiti

Image source: world.edu.

Concerns for long-term mental health

Psychologists are concerned about anxiety and depression becoming long-term problems due to the pandemic, with the worst effects felt by the young and the vulnerable.

Professor Richard Bryant, of UNSW Sydney’s school of psychology, an expert on post-traumatic stress and anxiety believes the effects of continuing lockdowns and uncertainty are cumulative. “We know from previous experience that people are able to manage certain stressors for a time, but after a while they start to erode our resources.”

Research shows adults are adaptive. But what happens in kids is different, because they’re not adapting. Instead, they’re maintaining higher and higher levels of distress as time goes on.”

The mental health of Indigenous Australians has also been negatively affected. Professor Pat Dudgeon, a Bardi woman and director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at the University of WA, says the pandemic has amplified existing vulnerabilities and inequities, compounding the already extremely high rates of mental illness and psychological distress among Indigenous Australians. She also points to a series of pressures unique to Indigenous people, in particular the psychological effects of being prevented from carrying out cultural practices, concern about the potential loss of Elders due to infection, and of being unable to visit Country due to lockdowns and border closures.

To view The Saturday Paper in full click here.

hand palm holding white line drawing of brain, outback sunset in background

Image source: The Mandarin.

The most amazing opportunity

“People think general practice is so isolated, but it’s just such a nice cohesive community and the colleagues and friends I’ve made here are just sensational.”

New Fellow Dr Melanie Matthews has had a similar experience in the NT.

It was while spending three months as a junior doctor in Maningrida through the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) that she decided to apply for AGPT, and says she hasn’t looked back. ‘I just really, really loved it,’ Dr Matthews said. “I decided that it was Aboriginal Health that I wanted to work in, and that the NT was the right place for that.”

Her training program was delivered through NT GP Education (NTGPE), and she says it was ‘very supportive’, with opportunities throughout the year for registrars to come together. ‘I thought it was excellent,’ Dr Matthews said.

Positions for the 2022 AGPT Program’s General and Rural Pathways are still available in NSW, Queensland, SA and the NT.

Applications for the final intake of the 2022 AGPT Program close at 11.59 pm (AEST) –  Tuesday 21 September 2021. More information, including resources to assist with the application process, is available on the RACGP website here.

To view the full article in GPNews click here.

Dr Melanie Matthews sitting at desk at clinic

Dr Melanie Matthews, Mala’la Aboriginal Health Board, Maningrida. Image source: ABC News website.

Aboriginal author wins Stanner Award

A thesis tracking the development of the first truly empowering national study of health and wellbeing in Indigenous Australia (the Mayi Kuwayu National Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing) has won the 2021 Stanner Award from AIATSIS.

‘Making Cultures Count: Transforming Indigenous Health Data in Australia’ by Sarah Bourke was assessed by a panel of independent judges as the best academic manuscript submitted for this year’s award. The AIATSIS Stanner Award is presented biennially to the best academic manuscript submitted by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander author.

Ms Bourke is a descendant of the Gidja people from the Kimberley region in WA and the Gamilaroi people on the border of NSW and QLD. Her doctoral thesis used an Indigenist research framework to examine the historical, social, and political factors that influenced the development of Mayi Kuwayu and its emphasis on measuring cultural determinants of health.

The Stanner Award acknowledges the significant contribution of the late Emeritus Professor William Edward Hanley (Bill) Stanner to the establishment and development of AIATSIS.

To access the full media release and an interview with Sarah Bourke click here.

tile text '2021 Stanner Awards best academic manuscript by an ATSI author congratulations Sarah Bourke' & portrait photo of Sarah Bourke

Image source: Books+Publishing.

Pregnant prisoners need more care

Research into the health of women and mothers in prison has found a high number of incarcerated Aboriginal women were pregnant, with many giving birth while in prison, according to a study by The University of WA. The paper, published in  Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health, identified the need to provide more opportunities for primary care in the prison system, particularly for Aboriginal women and mothers.

Adjunct Associate Professor Marisa Gilles from UWA’s School of Population and Global Health has researched prisoner health since 2008. Her findings revealed that 30% of incarcerated Aboriginal women had been pregnant while in prison, and 20% had given birth while in prison.

Periods of custody also served as a vital time for providing healthcare to women who may not have been engaged with a GP when living in the community, or who hadn’t had a positive experience with health services prior to incarceration. Dr Gilles’ research showed that one in five Aboriginal mothers in custody had themselves been separated from their families as children by government services. They are typically also young, with 42% aged under 30. Furthermore, 92% of Aboriginal mothers in custody were current tobacco users.

Dr Gilles said the results suggested a strong correlation between inmates’ mental health, alcohol and drug issues, and violence. “It is an area of interest for me, particularly with respect to the high proportion of inmates with alcohol and drug issues, the high prevalence of mental health issues, and the history of violence in the lives of women in prison,” Dr Gilles said. “Not only do prisoners frequently arrive in prison with a number of health problems, they may face higher exposure to some conditions as a result of their incarceration, for example, communicable diseases, mental health issues, and violence.”

To view the article in full click here.

shadowy side image of pregnant woman against prison bars

Image source: University of WA website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Let’s CHAT dementia research project

The University of Melbourne’s research project Let’s CHAT (Community Health Approaches To) Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities aims to increase detection rates of dementia by developing and implementing a best-practice model of care for dementia care with a group of ACCHO partner organisations.

Let’s CHAT Dementia is running a free webinar series with Dementia Training Australia over the coming months. The main target audience is Aboriginal Health Workers / Practitioners, and nurses, allied health and other staff who work in ACCHOs and/or with First Nations patients in primary care. It’s a great opportunity for primary care staff to learn about culturally safe and appropriate best-practice care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia.

A session coming up on 6:00 PM (AEST) – Wednesday 22 September 2021 will focus on detection of cognitive impairment and dementia. It will be run by GP and Adjunct Professor Mark Wenitong from the Kabi Kabi tribal group of South Queensland and Adjunct Professor Edward Strivens, Clinical Director for Older Persons, James Cook University and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital.

You can view a flyer for the webinar here and register here.

female Elder being shown a booklet by a male health professional

Image source: Dementia Training Australia.

‘This Rural Life’ launch

You are invited to join RACGP Rural and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health from 7.30–8.15 PM (AEDT) – Wednesday 6 October 2021 as they launch the ‘This Rural Life’ photo competition in  webinar from .

This innovative project puts the spotlight on RACGP members across all career stages working in rural or remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by sharing their incredible stories and experiences to inspire others to consider a career in rural general practice.

You can register for the FREE online webinar here.

6 photos taken by GP Jean-Baptiste Philibert of outback

Jean-Baptiste Philibert’s rural placement inspired him to pursue a career as a rural GP. Image source: GPNews.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

feature tile text 'NSW state-wide COVID-19 vaccination blitz for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people' & image of Aboriginal teenage girl's arm being vaccinated

NSW state-wide vax blitz for mob

NSW is having a COVID-19 Vaccination Blitz for Aboriginal people. All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over can access a priority Pfizer vaccination appointment at the following locations:

  • Hunter New England – Belmont
  • Illawarra Shoalhaven – Dapto and  Nowra
  • Mid North Coast – Galambila AMS
  • Murrumbidgee – Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Young
  • Nepean Blue Mountains – Penrith
  • Northern Sydney – Hornsby and St Leonards
  • South Eastern Sydney – Surry Hills and Sutherland
  • South Western Sydney – Macquarie Fields
  • Southern NSW – Eden
  • Sydney – Redfern
  • Western NSW – Dubbo

For more detailed information the vaccination sites, dates and times click here.

Note: image in feature tile is from the ABC News website.

outdoor pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo, man, woman, pram with toddler, desk, health professionals under white shade

Pop-up vaccination clinic in Dubbo. Image source: GPNews.

Wuchopperen getting the job of the jabs done

This Saturday (18 September) Wuchopperen Health Service is hosting a second drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic at its Manoora facility. The first in the series of clinics was hosted three weeks ago (Saturday 28 August) when 287 Wuchopperen clients had their first or second Pfizer jab.

“Our first Pfizer vaccine day was a huge success – and great fun,” said Wuchopperen Deputy CEO Rachael Ham. “Before we opened the doors and saw people were lined up at the gates, we knew we were in for a great community day – with a local and global health outcome.

“As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisation, we have the responsibility to provide the information, the access and the protection to our community members to help fight this pandemic. And while our objective with the community vaccine days is to get our community vaccinated, at the same time we want to offer a good day out for families.” Mrs Ham said.

“By offering entertainment and refreshments we’re encouraging people to come together with community and share stories, knowledge and reconnect in general.”

Wuchopperen staff are expecting over 300 community members at this Saturday’s event,  for their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine; and encouraging all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (aged 12 years and over) who would like to receive their jab to join the party.

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

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman receiving vaccination

Wuchopperen Board Member Maureen Mossman has had her jab and said “The COVID jab, keeps me, my family and my community safe and strong.”

Reducing violence against women funding

The Federal Government has announced $13.5 million for nine service providers that deliver community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.

The $13.5 million is a portion of the $35.5 million invested in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-specific measures in the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2020-2022.

The nine recipients work in “high need communities”, with six being Indigenous organisations. Locations include Kununurra, WA; Port Augusta and Ceduna, SA; Nhulunbuy and surrounds, NT; Darwin and Katherine, NT; and Townsville and Mackay, QLD.

In the last year, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has partnered with these providers to co-design service responses and will continue to do so to support program delivery across the 43 remote and regional areas.

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

Aboriginal mother & daughter

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

$15m for mental health first aid training

The Federal Government is providing $15 million over three years to the National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd to deliver mental health first aid training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia. The National Wellbeing Alliance Pty Ltd was selected as the national provider following a competitive grants process.

They will deliver culturally safe and appropriate mental health first aid courses to upskill participants in recognising when to seek assistance and how to assist family and other community members in need of support. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said protection of the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a critical priority.

To view the media release in full click here.

vector image of black head, blue brain, green bag with white medical cross inside white circle, light blue background

Image source: 3btraining website.

Infectious diseases surveillance expansion

Important research projects at The University of Queensland (UQ) have been awarded more than $50 million from the Australian Government. One of the recipients of funding is the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health which will expand an infectious diseases sentinel surveillance network operating in 32 Aboriginal primary care services.

Professor James Ward said the partnership project would increase the number of sites involved and expand the scope of the network to include surveillance of vaccine preventable diseases. “In doing this, we are now able to move to the next phase of progressing our surveillance network to one that will simultaneously be focused on driving quality improvement within health services as well as participation in ongoing research all bound up with strong community participation,” he said.

To view the full article on the UQ website click here.

Aboriginal dot painting art of hand over Country, blue brown, aqua, cream

Image source: SA Aboriginal STI & BBV Action Plan 2020-2024 cover.

Indigenous oral health research funding

The University of Adelaide has been awarded $10.5 million for seven research projects, one of them in the area of Indigenous oral health.

An amount of $2,598,056 has been awarded to Professor Lisa Jamieson, from Adelaide Dental School, to facilitate best practice oral care models for Indigenous Australians. The goal of the project is to improve Indigenous oral health outcomes, raise standards of oral clinical care through cultural competency workshops, and capacity building of the Indigenous oral health workforce.

The funding is through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) 2021 Investigator Grant program, which invests in world-leading health and medical research projects to improve lives.

To view the article in full click here.

dentist's model of teeth in gums, jaw

Image source: The University of Adelaide website.

Boost for brain health

The growing burden of dementia among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be addressed by a new research centre that will include researchers from The University of WA (UWA). The Federal Government has announced $3 million funding over five years for the Centre for Research Excellence, to be known as OnTRACK, which will look at developing culturally appropriate and effective ways of promoting brain health among Indigenous people.

Based at the University of Melbourne, OnTRACK hopes to play a crucial role in detecting memory and thinking changes in order to prevent dementia, as well as supporting those living with dementia. The national collaboration is made up of a team of researchers who have already completed landmark research addressing the gaps of dementia prevention and early detection in older Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders..

To view the article in full click here.

older Aboriginal woman looking in direction of smiling Aboriginal teenager (girl)

Image source: The University of WA website.

Digital health’s future – have your say

Today, Australians have access to telehealth, electronic prescriptions, My Health Record and more. What comes next is up to you.

Now’s your chance to influence the future of digital health in Australia by taking part in a short, 15 minute survey.  Your valuable input will help the Australian Government continue to evolve one of the best healthcare services in the world.

For more detail you can access the Australian Digital Health Agency’s website here and to take the survey click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Patient Safety Day

For World Patient Safety Day, 17 September 2021, WHO urges all stakeholders to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth! with the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”. Approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, around 6,700 newborns die every day, amounting to 47% of all under-5 deaths. Moreover, about 2 million babies are stillborn every year, with over 40% occurring during labour. Considering the significant burden of risks and harm women and newborns are exposed to due to unsafe care, compounded by the disruption of essential health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign is even more important this year.

Fortunately, the majority of stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled health professionals working in supportive environments. This can only be achieved through the engagement of all stakeholders and the adoption of comprehensive health systems and community-based approaches.

World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of health care and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.

For more information about World Patient Safety Day click here. You can also view a media release issued by Consumers Health Forum Australia to mark World Patient Safety Day here.banner - World Patient Sock Day, 17 September 2021

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

Feature tile - Thu 16.9.21 - AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID jabs for healthcare staff

AMA wants consistency of mandatory COVID-19 jabs for healthcare staff

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) calls on National Cabinet to act urgently on nationally-consistent public health orders for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including GPs.

AMA President Omar Khorshid said legal protection should also be given to healthcare employers who mandate vaccinations for all their staff.

“Most health care providers in Australia are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources needed to navigate complex work health and safety laws. We need to make it easier for them to be able to mandate vaccination, which is the best way to protect their staff and patients.”

Dr Khorshid said the Federal Government needed to co-ordinate States and Territories through the National Cabinet to ensure a nationally-consistent approach to mandatory vaccination that included everyone – GPs and practice staff, pharmacists, hospital staff, ambulance staff, cooks and cleaners – leaving no exemptions, except for legitimate medical reasons.

“Nationally-consistent public health orders would provide legal protection to any employer who could reasonably establish work safety would benefit from a workplace vaccine mandate. It’s important for GPs and other small businesses to have government backing and protection when it comes to mandating vaccines for all employees,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the media release the AMA here.

female staff member of Northern Navajo Medical Centre receiving COVID-19 vaccine, 3 other staff in background, one taking a photo

Medical staff at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., were among the first in the Navajo Nation to receive their Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations, on Dec. 15. What’s followed has been a successful rollout to Navajo Nation residents. Image source: yahoo!life website.

Concerns regional hospitals won’t cope with major COVID outbreak

A COVID-19 outbreak in Western Australia is considered inevitable by many health experts, but doctors have warned if it happens before enough people are vaccinated it will be “horrendous” for regional areas where resources are limited and staff are hard to attract. WA has so far managed to keep out the Delta strain, despite it spreading through New South Wales and Victoria. However, with fewer than 40 per cent of people fully vaccinated in Western Australia, president of the Rural Doctors Association, Brittney Wicksteed, was worried.

“If COVID were to come before we’ve got adequate vaccination rates, it’s going to be horrendous in the regions,” she said.

Dr Wicksteed said many regional hospitals did not have the room, equipment or staff to cope with more than a couple of COVID cases at a time.

“The hospital has been extremely busy already this year,” she said.

“I [also] think it will be really hard to maintain adequate staffing in any of the hospitals in any of the regions in WA once there’s COVID there.”

“I don’t think any of our hospitals are fully prepared should we have a large outbreak … there are not enough ventilators at any hospital,” said Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) chief executive Vicki O’Donnell.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Rural Doctors Association president Brittney Wicksteed says staffing, equipment and space at regional hospitals would be stretched in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. (ABC Kimberley Jacqueline Lynch).

Improvements across health and welfare for mob

The two-yearly Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians was launched today by the release of a video message (see below story) from Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services.

In recent years, there have been improvements across a range of measures of health and welfare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The median equivalised household income for Indigenous Australians grew 29% between 2002 and 2018–19, twice the growth rate of non-Indigenous Australians (14%) over the same period after accounting for inflation,” said AIHW Deputy Chief Executive Officer Matthew James.

“Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the proportion of working age Indigenous Australians relying on a government pension or allowance as their main income source fell from 47% to 45%.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities are at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and severe outcomes due to a range of health and socioeconomic inequalities. As of 15 August 2021, there had been 293 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Indigenous Australians since the start of the pandemic. This includes 145 confirmed cases since the beginning of 2021 (1.3% of all cases in the period), and 148 in 2020 (0.5%).

For more information, visit the AIHW website.

Western NSW sets example with COVID jab rates

“We’ve now seen the biggest increase in Western NSW compared to the whole of the state, in vaccination rates, particularly people receiving their first dose and particularly across our Aboriginal community,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who’s come forward in the last month, in particular who’s changed life outcomes for people, getting protected from COVID.”

“Importantly second dose rates for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal in our community are now the same at 38 per cent right across our region.”

You can read the story in the Daily Liberal here.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

A team from the University of Newcastle nursing staff travelled to Gomeroi Country to provide urgent vaccination and COVID-19 testing to the people of Walgett and greater Western NSW. Image credit: The University of Newcastle.

Mental health and wellbeing support tailored to mob

As the serious Delta outbreak continues across the state, the Victorian Government is making sure more Victorians struggling during this difficult period have access to the mental health and wellbeing support they need.

On top of the $225 million the Government has already provided to support Victorians’ mental health throughout the pandemic, a further investment of $22 million will deliver fast-tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency departments as the number of coronavirus patients grows.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are less likely to engage early with mainstream mental health services, will receive $4 million in support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to self-determine the best, most culturally appropriate response to the mental health and wellbeing needs of their local communities.

You can read more about this investment by the Victorian Government here.

Last week, the McGowan Labor Government also committed more than $374 million to ensure
positive outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities in Western Australia. The funding is split over three key policy areas: building strong communities, improving health and well-being, and delivering social and economic opportunities.

“This significant investment will help us Close the Gap in Western Australia and aligns with
our four Priority Reform Areas for changing how governments work with Aboriginal people,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson.

You can read the media release by the McGowan Government here.

Aboriginal student resting on desk with two rocks one with the word 'lonely' & one with the word 'sad'

Headspace ‘take a step’ campaign photo.

Cultural safety important to patients and healthcare workers

Cultural safety is vitally important for the effective delivery of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as in medical schools for our medical students and the health settings where our doctors work.

The Australian Indigenous Doctros’ Association (AIDA) supports the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) National Scheme 2020-2025 definition of cultural safety as:

“A sense of being as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities” and furthermore, “culturally safe practise is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism”.

You can read mora about AIDA‘s Cultural Safety Program here.

Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care Is Vital For Indigenous Youth Right Now.
Reframing mental health care through a decolonised lens driven for and by Indigenous voices is the path forward to ensure sensitivity is delivered from diagnosis through to treatment and care. Psychologist and Palawa woman Jodi Jones told Junkee that culturally appropriate access to basic services is one of the biggest challenges impacting Indigenous youth mental health right now.

“Indigenous psychologists have the lived experiences of the real issues and disparities that have existed, and continue within our communities,” Jones said.

“We are the best equipped to deal with Indigenous issues with Indigenous perspectives”.

You can read the article in Junkee here.

AIDA - Cultural Safety Training

Innovative research explores responses to COVID-19

A study being conducted by the University of Queensland, led by Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, and Professor James Ward, seeks to unpack the complexities of Indigenous health and social systems to better understand the effectiveness of responses to COVID-19 in Brisbane.

Although the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have posed numerous health risks for Indigenous peoples, in the most part, it has merely exacerbated pre-existing issues relating to underlying health conditions, food insecurity, housing, and other social determinants of disparate health outcomes.

This study seeks to better understand the structural reforms needed to construct an effective health system, particularly during times of pandemics. It draws on the collective knowledge and experience of Indigenous and non-indigenous service-providers and healthcare professionals while recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the experts of their own needs and that sustainable change must be community orientated and driven.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Deanne Minnicon and Maurice Woodley from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, and Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Rural health students protecting themselves and rural communities

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has acknowledged the efforts of rural health students to protect themselves, their patients and rural communities from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated ahead of their clinical placements.

The Chair of ARHEN, Christine Howard, said health students play a vital role in the delivery of clinical services in many rural and remote communities and can help ease the burden on already stretched services.

“It is pleasing to see so many health students from a range of disciplines step up and get vaccinated and join the fight against COVID-19 in rural and remote communities. Around the country student nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have been recruited by state health services to support the vaccine roll-out.

You can read the ARHEN media release here.

health professional looking computer screen engaging in teleconference

Image source: National Rural Health Alliance website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Now Open: the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to announce that applications for the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme (PHMSS) are now open!

Thanks to the Australian Government Department of Health, the PHMSS provides financial assistance to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who are studying or intending to study an entry-level health course in 2022, in one of the following disciplines:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander primary health care
  • Nursing (RN and EN)
  • Midwifery
  • Dentistry/oral health (excluding dental assistants)
  • Medicine
  • Allied health (all specialties except pharmacy)
  • Mental health studies NEW

Additional places for mental health related studies have been made available for this year’s intake! You can view the full list of eligible courses and course areas on our website.

This is an exciting opportunity for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students to receive support to pursue their passion in health care!

Applications close at 11:59pm AEDT on Monday 11 October 2021.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, feel free to get in touch with us at 1800 688 628 or scholarships@acn.edu.au.

Download the flyer here.
You can apply for a scholarship here.

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference

Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference 2021 
Online event
Wednesday 13th October 2021
The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health

The aim for the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The conference also provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and their colleagues. The title of the conference ‘Ngar-wu Wanyarra’ translates to ‘listen and act’ in the language of the Yorta Yorta.

You can now download the program and conference booklet.
For up to date information on the conference please visit the website.
If you have any enquiries contact aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au or call (03) 5823 4512.

2021 Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

feature tile text 'NACCHO receives additional funding to help vaccinate mob' & image of young Aboriginal woman receiving covid-19 vaccination

Additional funding to help vaccinate mob

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who aren’t vaccinated are prioritised under new funding to cover all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). An extra $7 million will be provided to NACCHO, with some of the funding to be used to hire more staff, who will liaise directly with communities to assist with the rollout of vaccinations.

Lieutenant General John Frewen who leads the national COVID-19 vaccine taskforce said:

“In some of the bigger communities, we’ll be doing things like super clinics, you know, a sort of blitz effort to get large numbers of people through. In other areas we’ll be doing very close community consultation, with an information campaign to get the community ready to accept vaccination and then we’ll provide the vaccinations there.”

There is also funding for First Nations Media Australia, which has been asked to produce new advertising material that can be shared among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about the vaccine rollout, to address vaccine hesitancy.

Note: image in feature tile –  Aboriginal health service, Wellington, NSW. Photo: Louise Austin. Image source: ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

Super clinics are being planned for Indigenous communities to speed up vaccination rates. Image source: Unsplash/ ABC News.

 

Bathurst gets walk-in vax clinic

A good number of people received their COVID-19 shot at the Kelso Community Hub, Bathurst on its first day as a pop-up vaccination clinic. The Kelso Community Hub is a walk-in clinic, meaning no appointments are needed, and around 200 people per day will be able to be vaccinated.

The clinic is being led by the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service and CEO Jamie Newman said it is about making the vaccine more accessible to people in the community.

“We’ve got to be mindful that a lot of our people who live in low socioeconomic areas do not have transport, so to get into town would be difficult for them. We encountered the same thing in Orange. We need to be able to sometimes bring the mountain to Mohamed, so having it here right in the heart of Kelso allows for walking distance for community members here,” he said.

You can read the story in the Western Advocate here.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman and staff at the Kelso Community Hub. Photos: Rachel Chamberlain.

 

Communities rallying to get mob vaccinated

Vaccination rates must increase before reopening country

Seventeen of the 20 least vaccinated regions of Aboriginal people are in WA and QLD. Traditional Owners in the WA outback are the least vaccinated of any area in Australia, with just nine per cent of those living in the Southern Outback region having received both doses of the vaccineMichael Small is a Maths and Statistics Professor at the University of Western Australia; his modelling shows that if WA was to experience a NSW-style outbreak, the State would only have 30 days before the virus made its way to remote communities.

“The modelling showed that until the vaccination rate is at around 80 or 90 percent, then these communities are at great risk of local transmission within about a month [of the virus arriving in the State],” he said.

You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.

In a related article in Croakey Health Media, grave concerns have been raised about the implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health of the “Roadmap to Freedom” released by the NSW Government.

Under the plan, stay-at-home orders for adults who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be lifted from the Monday after NSW passes the 70 percent double vaccination target. NSW hits the 80 percent double dose target, the Government intends to ease further restrictions around international travel, community sport, major events and other areas.

Aboriginal health leaders in NSW, the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions are calling for public health orders to remain in place until at least 90 percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are vaccinated.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.
Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

 

Lock-down of remote communities with low jab rates

In an article in The Australian (that requires a subscription to read), Western Australia is working on plans to lock down remote Aboriginal communities with low vaccination rates when it lifts state and international borders, with health officials concerned American evangelists were scaring residents into refusing inoculations.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook confirmed he had spoken to his federal counterpart, Greg Hunt, to request support to lock down communities with low Covid-19 vaccination rates once border restrictions were relaxed.

Health authorities in the state are particularly concerned about hostility towards the vaccination program in the far northern communities of Noonkanbah, Looma and Ringer Soak, although Mr Cook said he was aware of at least one community further south where local leaders were also ­agitating against inoculations.

The most recent publicly available vaccination data for WA’s northern outback region, released last Monday, shows just 28 per cent of adults have had one dose compared with 53 per cent across the entire state on the same day. Only 17 per cent were fully ­vaccinated.

Mr Cook said a small number of communities were simply turning away healthcare workers ­because “religious opposition (was) just too overwhelming … Those communities are now saying, ‘Look, we’ve heard you. We’re not going to take the vaccine ­because it’s against god’s will, and so just don’t come back,’ ” he said.

“I think we have to concede that there are some communities that simply will not participate in the … program.” Mr Cook said it may be necessary to restrict movement in and out of remote communities that remain largely unvaccinated in 2022 when international and interstate travel ­resumed.

Mr Cook said some communities had been turned against the vaccine after streaming YouTube videos from US evangelists.

“But just because you’re of a strong religious belief doesn’t mean that you’re anti-vax, it’s simply an interpretation of some of the churches.”

Mr Cook said the debate about when to open-up must include a proviso about the vaccination rate of Aboriginal people. “If you’ve got 80 per cent of mainstream WA vaccinated but only 20 per cent of the Aboriginal community vaccinated, you still can’t open up,” he said.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

Noonkanbah Sports Festival 2018. Image source: Garnduwa.

 

Healthcare workers at increased risk of mental ill-health during pandemic

There is increasing concern about rising rates of mental ill-health and suicide among doctors.

A recent review led by the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney that was published in The Lancet has revealed doctors are at increased risk of suicide and, in their early years of training, one-quarter to one-third reported significant mental ill-health. The researchers said while this was an increasing issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there is emerging evidence that the impact of the pandemic is creating even more mental health problems.

The review suggested female doctors appeared to be at particular risk, with a suicide rate that is significantly higher than women in the general population.

“The acute nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of Australia at the moment highlights the importance of this issue. The mental health of doctors, along with other healthcare staff, is something we are all depending on,” said the lead author of the study Professor Samuel Harvey, who runs the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW.

You can read the article in the UNSW Sydney Newsroom here.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

Healthcare worker in PPE at door of clinic. Image source: ABC News.

 

Suicide intervention training saving lives

A training program to build Indigenous Australians’ skills in preventing suicides has brought national acclaim for a University of Queensland researcher. Associate Professor Maree Toombs said the I-ASIST program was developed in partnership with LivingWorks Australia over four years of consultation and collaboration.

Dr Toombs, a Euralie and Kooma woman, is the UQ Faculty of Medicine’s Associate Dean of Indigenous Engagement. On World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2021), she received the Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Impact Award.

“I-ASIST trains friends, family and outreach services to identify people early who are at risk of suicide, and to use their skills to address the situation immediately,” she said.

“It provides employment for Indigenous trainers, either through organisations or as sole traders, to deliver suicide first-aid skills to their local communities. It develops capacity and sustainability for evidence-based training.

“Now we need people who are embedded and trusted in their communities to be trained deliver this program, especially in Indigenous communities,” she said.

Ken Wyatt, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, will officially launch I-ASIST in November.

You can read more about the program here.

SPA_LifeAwards_Associate Professor Maree Toombs

 

NACCHO Conference postponed

📢 IMPORTANT NOTICE: As the COVID-19 situation and impacts continue, a decision has been taken to postpone our Conference until next year. NACCHO will review the situation in December including when we can convene the conference.

For any queries please email: conference@naccho.org.au.

NACCHO Conference 2021 - Postponed.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Low awareness of FASD

Feature tile - Thu 9.9.21 - Low awareness of FASD.

Low awareness of FASD

This International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and NOFASD are calling on Australians to contribute to the prevention of FASD – a range of neurodevelopmental impairments caused by alcohol exposure during pregnancy.

FARE CEO, Caterina Giorgi, said that a new polling snapshot by FARE has identified that many Australians are not aware that alcohol is harmful to health during pregnancy.

“Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause FASD and almost one in four aren’t aware that alcohol should be avoided altogether in pregnancy,” Ms Giorgi said.

You can also join the Red Shoes Rock campaign, which was started by RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD. He decided to wear RED SHOES to stand out, be noticed and have some fun starting FASD conversations with strangers. With strong supports and increased awareness FASD can be prevented. Wear red shoes proudly to raise awareness about FASD.
#RedShoesRock #FASDawareness

You can view the media release by FARE and NOFASD here.
You can also download a Polling Snapshot for Alcohol use, Pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol
Spectrum Disorder here.
For more information about International FASD Awareness Day click here.

Red Shoes Rock-banner, FASD.

 

‘Living with COVID’ – what front-line health workers are facing

With the Delta variant raging across New South Wales and Victoria, health services are stretched and strained. In the next few months, the health workforce will care for many more patients with COVID-19, with case numbers in NSW expected to peak over the next two weeks.

The nation is focused on plans to reopen borders and increase freedoms as soon as there are sufficiently high rates of vaccination. But what does ‘living with’ COVID-19 look like for health professionals?

In 2020, The Conversation surveyed front-line health-care workers across Australia and found the pandemic had taken a considerable toll on their mental health. Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have also been disproportionately infected – often through exposure to the virus at work.

If we are to live with COVID-19, we need a health-care system that can cope with the ‘normal’ pressures of providing health care for 25 million people, intermittent crises, plus respond to both the short and long-term needs of people with COVID-19. Preparing the health-care system to respond to crises such as pandemics, must include supporting health-care workers and protecting them from burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. We risk losing our most valuable asset in the health-care system if we fail to urgently respond to these issues.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: "How it started. How it's going." in November 2020.

Kathryn Ivey, an ICU nurse in the USA tweeted these two photos with the text: “How it started. How it’s going.” in November 2020.

 

Wilcannia targeted by ivermectin spruiker

Last week, as case numbers in the COVID-ravaged regional New South Wales town of Wilcannia soared, a broadcaster at the local radio station, Brendon Adams, received an offer in an email. It said a prominent Sydney doctor wanted to help the town’s largely Aboriginal population by treating them with a drug that, the sender promised, would “get rid of COVID and prevent them from contracting it again”. The drug was ivermectin and the email Adams received came from a Queensland man named John Huntley.

In Wilcannia, where COVID cases reached 109 on Wednesday, or 14.5% of the population, the appearance of individuals pushing the use of ivermectin prompted an outburst of anger from Adams, who accused the sender of taking advantage of a community where people were already sick, confused and scared.

“This isn’t just happening in Wilcannia. We’re hearing this is happening in communities all over the far west. The information they’re pushing is not reliable, it’s not resourceful. We need them to stop and leave our communities alone. We’ve got enough to deal with at the moment,” he told the Guardian.

You can read the story in the Guardian here.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

Brendon Adams, who has been helping with providing food to families in isolation, Wilcannia, NSW, Australia. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian.

 

More vaccines, but when can we make them here?

Australia borrows Pfizer jabs, while it waits for purchases to arrive. But when might mRNA vaccines be made onshore? Also there’s anger among Aboriginal leaders about anti-vax propaganda targeted at vulnerable communities. And consumer shortages and delays as a cascade of problems hits global shipping.

Listen to:

  • Associate Professor Archa Fox, RNA biologist, University of Western Australia.
  • Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), GP and epidemiologist.
  • Rachel Premack, senior investigative reporter, Business Insider

Produced by Madeleine Genner and Emily Bourke.

Tune in to listen to This Week, 4 September 2021 on ABC Radio here.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

Dr Jason Agostino, Senior Medical Adviser to NACCHO, GP and epidemiologist.

 

What challenges lies ahead in epidemiology?

The World Congress of Epidemiology opened on 4 September with a short silence to remember more than 4.5 million people who have died from COVID-19 to date, with particular mention of epidemiologists and public health workers. Hosted by the Australasian Epidemiological Association, the Congress this year is a virtual event, and began with a Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Diane Kerr.

Also at the opening ceremony, President of the International Epidemiology Association, Professor Henrique Barros, reflected on how COVID-19 had provided a “critical moment” for epidemiology. He contrasted the epidemiological tools used to combat the spread of COVID with approaches taken century ago when the 1918 influenza pandemic posed a similar threat to global health.

Clear messages from other keynotes and presentations included the need to celebrate the positive contribution epidemiology has played in worldwide efforts to combat COVID, while also applying a critical lens and learning from past mistakes to meet the challenges of COVID and other public health threats in the future.

Another strong theme was the need for epidemiology to be more effective in addressing health inequities, especially for First Nations people.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

To date: 4,561,467 COVID deaths and 220,305,973 cases. Image taken from real-time online mapping of the outbreak, by John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 5 Sept 2021.

 

Access to COVID-19 digital certificate

Consumers can now get their COVID-19 digital certificate from My Health Record to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations. The digital certificate will become available once their vaccination provider has reported all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Consumers can already get an immunisation history statement from their record to show proof of all vaccinations recorded on the AIR, including COVID-19 vaccinations.

These documents are also available for non-Medicare eligible consumers who have a My Health Record.

Second dose alert date range
The COVID-19 vaccine second dose due date alert now displays a date range on the Record Home page. The dates are calculated based on the minimum and maximum recommended interval for the second dose of the vaccine brand. For example, if someone has one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, their second dose would be due between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

For more information, see Getting proof of vaccination from My Health Record.
You can also find answers to common consumer questions here.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 Digital Certificate. Image source: ABC News.

 

Are they really OK? Ask them today!

This year’s R U OK? Day theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’. R U OK?

The Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health this R U OK? Day. This year it is more important than ever before as we all continue to face unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health.

Research has shown that around 22% of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help. However, a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.

Read the media release by The Morrison Government here.

In another media release by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Dr Di Stow, President of the PACFA says you should be prepared for the answer to be ‘No’ when asking a friend, family member or colleague R U OK?

It’s being reported that in lockdown, pre-existing trauma is rising to the surface and cracks in families that were previously covered over with activity are being laid bare. People are seeking help for anxiety, depression and anger arising from the uncertainty and lack of control related to lockdown. Counsellors and psychotherapists are increasingly frustrated at the current situation where Australians struggling with their mental health will seek support on R U OK Day but be turned away by psychologists after referrals from GPs. GPs, particularly in locked-down states, report they cannot find help for their patients through the Better Access initiative because psychologists have waiting lists of 3-6 months, or have closed their books completely.

In the meantime, over 60% of PACFA members responding to a survey said they could take on a new client within a fortnight; 23% said they could take on a new client within 48 hours.

PACFA is advocating for the Federal Government to open up the Better Access initiative beyond psychologists, to counsellors and psychotherapists who are highly-trained, highly experienced mental health professionals.

You can read the media release here.

Click here for more information and resources around R U OK? Day.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

 

Nominations open: the Dennis McDermott Memorial Award For Excellence In Cultural Safety

This award is named in honour of the late Professor Dennis McDermott. From Gomereoi country (north-western New South Wales), with connections to Gadigal country (inner Sydney), he was a psychologist, academic and poet, and was La Trobe University’s inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous). Dennis worked as an Indigenous health academic for many years. As a respected member of the LIME Network and Reference Group he contributed to the pedagogy of Indigenous cultural safety for future health professionals.

The award, a prize of $1000, will recognise outstanding work by a health practitioner, community organisation or educator in enhancing cultural safety in Australian health contexts, understood broadly. It is intended to recognise both existing good practice and innovations in the field.

Submission must be received by 5pm (AEST), 25 September 2021.

Click here for more information about nominations and applications.
Email submissions to Dr Shayne Bellingham: lime-network@unimelb.edu.au.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Professor Dennis McDermott. Image credit: Flinders University via InDaily.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease

This is a webinar for health professionals run by Kidney Health Australia. It will be presented by Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason, Nephrologist.

7:30pm AEST, Wednesday 22 September 2021.
You can register your interest here.

Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes & Cardiovascular Disease webinar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs encourage youth to get vaccinated

feature tile text 'ACCHOs encourage ATSI youth to get vaccinated' photo of youth getting vaccinated at Winnunga

ACCHOs encourage youth to get vaccinated

With the COVID-19 outbreak in western NSW growing by the day, ACCHOs are working overtime to get local mob vaccinated. Currently, most COVID-19 cases in the region are Aboriginal people, with Guardian Australia reporting a figure of 40% being unvaccinated Aboriginal young people between 10 and 19-years-old.

CEO of Coonamble and Dubbo Aboriginal Medical Services and Chair of the AH&MRC Phil Naden said there has been anxiety across community since the COVID-19 outbreak started. Despite this, the Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi man said that both Dubbo and Coonamble AMS remain “strong” in their messaging. “We want people to get tested, we want people to get vaccinated and we want people to comply with the public health orders and remain in lockdown during this time,” he said.

Considering the high rate of young Aboriginal people contracting the virus, Naden notes there has been some vaccine hesitancy within the community’s young people. “Our young people seem to think that they are a bit more resilient to COVID-19,” he said. “We want people to be vigilant, and aware of the fact that we do have people passing away from this illness.”

Naden said there has also been barriers to public health education. “The circumstance for a lot of our people is that they haven’t got access to social media so we need to be proactively advocating and getting the message out to people in different ways,” Naden said.

Naden notes that the AMS have had strong support from organisations such as AH&MRC, the Western NSW Primary Health Network and NACCHO. NACCHO has developed a strong line of communication with ACCHOs working in the west and are supporting more point of care testing machines being placed in health services.

To view the full article in the National Indigenous Times click here and to watch a video of Linda Burney MP urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

snapshot of Linda Burney urging mob to get vaccinated

Feature tile: Registered nurse Michele Clarke administers Kautai Tulikaki’s Pfizer vaccine at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos. Image source: Canberra Times.

Victorian First Nations lead vaccination rates

As lockdowns drag on and cases rise, there is one piece of COVID-19 data worth celebrating. Indigenous people in Victoria are leading the country in vaccination rates.

According to data released by the federal government last week, more than 50% of Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population eligible for a vaccine has received a first dose and around 30% are fully vaccinated.

“It is a bit of a success story but we’re not out of the woods,” CEO of Victoria’s peak body for Aboriginal community health organisations Jill Gallagher AO said. Ms Gallagher says Victoria’s success is due to the partnerships forged between the Victorian Department of Health and community-controlled Aboriginal health services. “It has been a joint effort and credit should be shared,” she said. “But the most obvious factor leading to success was access to vaccines.”

Ms Gallagher said it was very sad to see the rise in cases among Aboriginal communities in regional NSW.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal person's wrist with BDAC COVID-19 wristband

A Ballarat and District Aboriginal Corporation vaccination wrist band. Photo: BADAC. Image source: ABC News.

Make the Choice vaccination campaign

The Redcliffe Hospital community vaccination centre is hosting ‘special Saturdays’ over the next six weeks to support local First Nations families to get vaccinated. Starting from this Saturday, 21 August 2021, the Moreton Bay Integrated Care Centre based at the Redcliffe Hospital campus will accept walk-ins for First Nations people from 10am to 2.30pm. These hours will be extended if there is further demand.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the targeted vaccination push was a combined effort of the Queensland Government, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) as part of a new campaign to encourage more First Nations people to get vaccinated.

Last week the Queensland Government also released a Make the Choice campaign, which aims to help address the gap in vaccination rates between First Nations people and the general population. “The overall vaccination rate for First Nations people is almost half the vaccination rate of non-First Nations people. The campaign will be important to get the message out into the community – Make the Choice and get vaccinated” Minister D’Ath said.

QAIHC Chairperson, Matthew Cooke, added that a showpiece of the Make the Choice
campaign is a new website that has proudly been developed with the QAIHC. “The website is filled with helpful and easy to understand information about COVID-19
vaccinations and the vaccination process to help inform the choice about getting vaccinated against COVID-19,” Mr Cooke said.

“It’s been specifically created by QAIHC for Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Queensland clinicians and front-line workers in community health organisations and Hospital and Health Services. “We know people want to read and hear information from trusted sources to help them make an informed choice about their health. “Our message for every Queenslander that can be vaccinated is simple – make the choice and get vaccinated so we can work towards a pathway out of the pandemic.”

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

thumb with bright blue nail polish holding COVID-19 vaccination record showing Dose 1 & Dose 2

Image source: ABC News.

Youth specific gambling harm program

Most people in Aboriginal communities play the pokies or have a bet without any trouble. But for some people, gambling causes money problems, stress and arguments in the family. Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne says the Victorian Government is prioritising the needs of young First Nations people, launching Australia’s first youth specific First Nations Gambling Awareness program on Wadawurrung Country.

Aboriginal-owned organisation Strong Brother Strong Sister has been selected to deliver the Djilang Gambling Awareness Program, which will provide support to young people affected by their own or their family’s gambling activities. The program will receive $250,000 over 15 months to help young Wadawurrung people pursue self-determination through social, emotional, and health and wellbeing measures, with a key focus on minimising gambling harm.

You can view the media release in full here and a video below featuring Victorian Aboriginal community members yarning about gambling.

Remote PHC Manuals review update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) are currently being reviewed and updated, with monthly updates being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date throughout the review process. You can view the RPHCM August 2021 progress update here.

The Primary Review process has been completed for 60% of the protocols and the RPHCM project team is on track to complete all of the Primary Reviews by December 2021.

Protocol groups have been endorsed for: (1) Resuscitation and trauma (2) Emergencies in pregnancy and birthing (3) Remote medicines and (4) Child respiratory and the protocol groups coming up for endorsement include: (1) Skin (2) Infectious disease (3) Injuries and (4) Disability and dementia.

You are invited to contact the RPHCM project team here for more information or to provide input. You can also view the Manuals online or purchase printed copies (limited supplies) here.4 Remote PHC Manuals stacked, blue, pink, purple, green

NDIS Ready Yarning Circle cancelled

Unfortunately, the Yarning Circle for Remote and Very Remote ACCHOs scheduled for September 28 – 30 2021 in Alice Springs is now cancelled. Due to COVID-19 outbreaks locking down states and threatening many of our communities, we are not able to run the event at this time.

NACCHO thanks you for your ongoing support and commitment to this event and said it was shaping up to be a fantastic couple of days. NACCHO said that while it is incredibly disappointing to have to cancel, the health and safety of our members, their staff and communities are of primary importance.

If we can, NACCHO hopes to hold the Yarning Circle sometime in the first half of 2022.

Please note, NACCHO will not be running an alternative online event at this stage, however may look to do something later in the year when the current outbreaks are resolved.

Please begin the process of cancelling your travel and accommodation. NACCHO recognises the administrative burden of cancelling bookings and are available to assist if needed. If you incur any cancellation fees, please email NACCHO here and they will arrange for these to be reimbursed by NACCHO.C

Census 2021 – there’s still time

The ABS Director of Centre of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics, Tony Grubb, has written a letter outlining the status of the 2021 Census to date and explaining it is not too late to complete the census. In the letter Mr Grubb says:

“Over 8.7 million Census forms have been submitted to date. This is a very positive result, and we are now encouraging those who have not completed to do so as soon as possible. I am writing to seek your support in helping make sure everyone is counted.

Data from the 2021 Census will be more important than ever, providing valuable insights for all of us into how the pandemic has changed life in Australia and helping to plan our recovery.

In remote areas, the Census is conducted over an extended period between July and August. This is so we can cover vast areas and visit multiple communities. If your community hasn’t been counted yet, please don’t worry. Our remote teams are still working with communities across Australia and have not completed our Census work.”

If you have any questions about how your community will complete the Census, please reach out to your local contact or email the ABS using this link.

NT Health Worker Excellence Awards

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said finalists have been unveiled for the 2021 NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards set to be held on Thursday 2 September 2021. The outstanding work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals to support their families, communities and healthcare system in the Territory will take centre stage.

The awards are held in partnership with the Australian Government Health Department, Darwin Sunrise Rotary Club, United Workers Union, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT and the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners.

To view the media release in full click here.

Sunrise NT health worker Desleigh Shields listening to patient's heart with stethoscope

Desleigh Shields followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a healthcare worker in Barunga. Photo: Alexia Attwood Image source: ABC News.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Daffodil Day 2021

This year Daffodil Day falls on Friday 27 August. It is a chance for Australians to come together and show their Flower Power; their ability to create change in the lives of people impacted by cancer, by funding cancer research.

In 2020, the Daffodil Day Appeal raised almost $1.5 million for life-saving cancer research, but looked a little different. Despite a global pandemic, Australians still dug deep and donated online to show their commitment to a cancer free future.

Sadly, with nearly 150,000 Australians diagnosed with cancer every year, most people have been touched by this heartbreaking disease.

You can find more information about Daffodil Day here.

torso of person in white coat holding bunch of daffodils, yellow pop out with text 'It's Daffodil Day - Friday 27 August 2021'

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

COVID-19 impact on young mob

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

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

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

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

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

You can view the interview below.

 

Culturally safe vaccination services crucial

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

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

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

You can download the letter here.

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

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

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

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

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

 

COVID-19 arrives in Bourke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Getting vaccinated as COVID-19 gets close

Video

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Feature tile - Tue.17.8.21 - Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

Clinics swamped needing more resourcing and support

With COVID-19 reaching western NSW, health clinics and Aboriginal health experts are working overtime to protect Aboriginal communities.

After ordering a seven-day statewide lockdown effective as of Saturday evening, NSW Health recorded on Monday a total 478 cases and eight deaths overnight. This follows the week-long lockdown announced on Wednesday for the Walgett Shire area, along with the Brewarrina, Coonamble, Bogan, Narromine, Warren and Gilgandra Shires. Active cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Dubbo, Walgett, Bathurst and Orange.

Walgett’s Dharriwaa Elders Group released a statement calling for more resourcing and support for the community.

“Many of our Elders and others in Walgett experience health and social issues that make them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. The impact on our community could be devastating,” said the statement.

NACCHO is working to increase vaccination capacity to communities that are most in need. With the vast majority of cases in NSW being people under 40, NACCHO medical advisor Dr Jason Agostino said it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

“The vaccine is now available for all [Indigenous] people 12-years and over. The best strategy is to be vaccinating all ages right now … younger people are getting the virus and spreading it,” he said.

You can read the article in the National Indigenous Times here.

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Walgett, 300km inland from Dubbo with an Indigenous population of 40 per cent. Image source: National Indigenous Times. Feature tile image source: The Guardian.

Three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine

The Northern Territory government yesterday implemented a snap three-day lockdown for Greater Darwin and Katherine after a man in his 30s returned a positive result for what authorities fear could be the highly contagious Delta variant. The man spent several days in Darwin before driving to Katherine on Sunday, visiting the town’s busy Woolworths and checking into the Knotts Crossing resort.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) said it was worried about the potential spread of the virus, given the high rates of chronic illness and overcrowding in the region.

“We are very concerned about the deadliness and the seriousness of this Delta strain. If it gets into our communities, it’ll have a serious impact and threaten a number of our population and communities,” AMSANT CEO John Paterson said.

The Northern Land Council (NLC) chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi urged people to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 during the lockdown period.

“If you don’t need to travel, don’t. Stay at home in your community or on your homeland with your family. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated then get it done,” Mr Bush-Blanasi said.

You can read the article by the ABC News here.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News - Michael Franchi.

Katherine is used as a service hub by a number of remote outstations and communities. Image source: ABC News – Michael Franchi.

Mental health campaign to empower young mob

Headspace has launched a suite of new resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, empowering them to take charge of their social and emotional wellbeing.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 24 and under are three times more likely than other young people to die by suicide. Responding to this urgent need for support, the ‘Take a Step’ campaign encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to recognise the signs that something’s not right – and provides small, practical steps towards feeling better.

The materials have been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members from across Australia, including a reference group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

‘Take a Step’ television and radio advertisements will broadcast nationally and in select cinemas. A suite of print and online resources for young people, and for family and friends with a young person in their lives, are also available.

‘Take a Step’ is an initiative of headspace and funded by the Department of Health and Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Read the headspace media release here.
To learn more and to view available resources visit the headspace website here.

'Take a Step' wheel, headspace.

‘Take a Step’ wheel, headspace.

Boost to deliver better health care

Researchers from The University of Western Australia have been awarded more than $3 million in State Government funding to advance health innovation, including the development of future bacterial therapeutics, improving the physical health of people with mental illness and implementing clinical communication in Aboriginal health care.

WA State Health Minister Roger Cook announced the WA Near-miss Awards to 27 researchers across science, health and medicine to pursue knowledge that could improve the way healthcare is delivered in WA. The WA Near-miss Awards are granted to emerging researchers who narrowly missed out on State Funding to transform their National Health and Medical Research Council near-miss application into a future grant success.

Dr Ivan Lin from UWA’s Western Australian Centre for Rural Health received a Near-Miss award for his project ‘Yarn with Me’ that aims to implement Clinical Yarning Communication in Aboriginal Health Care. Clinical yarning is a patient-centred approach that marries Aboriginal cultural communication preferences with biomedical understandings of health and disease to deliver better health care to Aboriginal people.

You can read the news article on the University of Western Australia website here.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Dr Ivan Lin, The University of Western Australia.

Updates to medicines labelling

Consumers need a good understanding of how and when to take a medicine. This can help them to use their medicines safely and help achieve the best possible health outcomes. Misunderstanding of how to use medicines can lead to unintentional misuse, which may result in harm or adverse health outcomes.

The design and content of information on a medicine label influences how well the consumer understands the information, especially for consumers with low health literacy. Standardised and consistent presentation of medicine-related information on dispensed medicine labels has the potential to improve health outcomes.

This standard is for all health professionals who dispense medicines, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurse practitioners, general practitioners, optometrists and dentists. It is based on best practice and evidence-based principles, recommendations published by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission)1, and further informed by user testing and hospital evaluation of prototype labels, and stakeholder consultation.

Download the National standard for labelling dispensed medicines by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care here.

'National standard for labelling dispensed medicines' by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Queensland’s new plan for Closing the Gap

Queensland has launched its first Closing the Gap Implementation plan — a key milestone in nationwide efforts to Close the Gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples. Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the plan continues the Palaszczuk Government’s reframing of the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We are working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – doing things with people and not to them – to deliver real change. We have partnered with Queensland’s peak community-controlled organisations to develop the plan, which will be updated annually, to reflect the experiences and ambitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders,” Mr Crawford said.

You can read the Queensland Government media release here.
View the Queensland Closing the Gap Implementation Plan here.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Image source: Queensland’s 2021 Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

Knowledge translation between Elders and young men

In Western Australia and Queensland, Aboriginal Elders have been sharing cultural knowledges with young men in research exploring their strengths, experiences and aspirations.

The Valuing Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men project was funded by the Lowitja Institute to support intergenerational knowledge exchange. It produced videos that demonstrate the power of yarning and connecting to Country within research.

“When we put young fellas through the law, we don’t sit them down in a workshop, talk at them or run them through a classroom learning module. We take them out and get them to follow the Jina…to walk, use their feet to travel the footprints of the old people. We get them to learn by following the steps, singing the old songs, being with their family and being on Ngurra or Country,” says Ngarluma Elder Peter Jeffries.

You can read the full article by Croakey Health Media here and watch one of the videos below.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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


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