NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Important Update from CMO to COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partners

Important Update from CMO to COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partners

Dear Australian COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partner

By now you will be aware of advice provided by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) in light of the evolving evidence of a rare but serious side effect involving thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

This ‘thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome’ (TTS) is a newly described serious condition, with unusual blood clots in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) or in other parts of the body, associated with low platelet levels and can cause serious long term disability or death.

The evidence that connects TTS to receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been reviewed by ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and subsequently, ATAGI has recommended new changes to the Australian COVID-19 Vaccine Program including a preference for the use of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine in adults aged under 50 years.

The ATAGI statement (found here) provides further information on the key considerations that went into formulating this advice.  Amongst these were the following:

  • TTS remains an extremely rare event among vaccine recipients. Experience in Europe has shown approximately  4 – 6 people in every one million people develop TTS in the 4-20 days after the first dose of vaccine. However higher rates have been reported in some countries, and among younger people. One person in Australia developed the syndrome after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • While Australia currently has very low or no community transmission of COVID-19, this could change. The risk of serious disease and death in Australia remains, even as border controls and other measures continue.
  • The individual benefit-to-risk balance of vaccination with COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in Australia varies with age. The risk of ongoing health issues and death from COVID-19 is highest in older age groups, particularly rising from 50 years of age. By comparison, the rate, and so possibility of disability and death from TTS may be higher in younger people.

Please note that ATAGI has further recommended that:

  • The AstraZeneca vaccine should only be used in adults aged under 50 where the benefits clearly outweigh the risk for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.
  • People who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.

The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians. On this basis, the Government has accepted ATAGI’s recommendations and will move swiftly to ensure Australia’s vaccination program and advice to patients is adjusted accordingly, as per the TGA’s and Department of Health Secretary and Chief Medical Officer statements.

In the short term, and in line with ATAGI’s recommendations, you may want to contact any patients under 50 who are currently booked to receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and cancel in cases where the benefit clearly does not outweigh the risk.

As per the previous ATAGI statement on 2 April (found here), please remain alert for warning signs of TTS in those who have received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. So far these have included as either central venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) or thrombosis in other sites, such as intra-abdominal venous systems. These presentations have occurred between 4 and 20 days following receipt of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. CVST may present as a new onset persistent headache not settling with analgesia, features of raised intracranial pressure (including acute severe headache, vomiting, confusion), focal neurological deficits, and/or seizures. Thrombosis in the intra-abdominal venous system may present as abdominal pain.

I appreciate that this change in direction is sudden, and may cause additional stress and difficulty over the next period. It is also likely to contribute to an increase in vaccine hesitancy amongst your patients. GPs are key to managing this risk in their roles as trusted advisors, and we expect that you will be called upon to assist your patients to make an informed decision based on their individual circumstances.  I suggest you reiterate to your patients:

  • the risk of developing this side-effect following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine is extremely rare;
  • the new age-based recommendations are made out of an abundance of caution and the benefits of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people; and
  • that if you have received your first dose of the vaccine with no major adverse reaction, you are strongly encouraged to receive the second dose as planned.

If you have questions about specific patients with prior medical conditions, you can contact the specialist immunisation service within your jurisdiction.

The Department is further developing and refining resources for informed consent that clearly convey the benefits and risks of vaccination for both providers and consumers, and we will continue to provide you with advice and patient resources in coming days and will be sent directly to you. The attached script has also been developed to assist your practice to respond to patients who may call with questions about the AstraZeneca vaccine. Please continue to check www.health.gov.au for the most up to date information.

ATAGI and the TGA will continue to review the evidence on a regular basis,  and as with everything during this pandemic, it is possible that there may be further changes to this advice as new evidence emerges or the epidemiological situation changes. The Department will be working with states and territories to determine how those under the age of 50 in phase 1 can access the Pfizer (Cominarty) vaccine in a timely fashion.  We will keep you updated with this process as it continues, and will come back in coming days with further resources and information.

I want to take this opportunity to again thank you for your flexibility, commitment and resilience during the pandemic.

Prof Paul Kelly MBBS, DTM+H, PhD, FAFPHM

Chief Medical Officer

Australian Government Department of Health

The script prepared for General Practices to assist in responding to patients with questions about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can be found here.

The Department of Health acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Australia and their continued connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to all Elders past and present.

Ministerial Media Release: AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

The Australian Government received advice from the vaccine expert taskforce, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). The Government accepts the advice from Australia’s medical experts and will move swiftly to ensure Australia’s vaccination program and advice to patients is adjusted accordingly.

The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians. The ATAGI advice is clear that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe disease caused by COVID-19. The medical advice to the Government is that the risk of blood clotting side effects from the Astra Zeneca vaccine is four to six in one million people, in the first four to 20 days post the vaccine.  This is a rare but serious side effect.

Read the full media release here.

SWAMS pick up rural health award

The South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) has been recognised for its outstanding work in the public health sector at the 2021 WA Rural Health Awards. The organisation’s Kaart Darabiny ‘What are you thinking?’ Mental Health Team was successful in the Building Healthy Country Communities category at the awards, which were held last month. The program is designed to support young people at risk and using culture to promote a holistic view on wellness as well as working with clients who have experienced trauma.

Seven doctors from the South West, more than ever before, were also recognised at the ceremony for 40 years of service to rural health. Mary Collins, Ronald Jewel, Michael Peterkin, Frederik Pretorius, Phil Reid, David Robinson and Allan Walley all received recognition and were thanked for their service by Rural Health West chief executive Tim Shackleton. “We are extremely pleased to shine a light on the work undertaken by these outstanding health professionals and sincerely thank them on behalf of their patients and the rural communities they serve,” he said.

To view the full article click here.

photo of SWAMS' Kaart Darabiny Mental Health Team - 3 women, 2 men holding rural health award

SWAMS’ Kaart Darabiny Mental Health Team. Image source: South Western Times.

Call for radical mental health system reform

The Australian Association of Social Workers’ (AASW) submission to the House of Representatives Select Committee inquiry into Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has called for government to seize the opportunity to build a more cohesive system of mental health support that will radically reform Australia’s mental health system. AASW CEO, Cindy Smith, said the AASW’s extensive submission draws on decades of experience of its members working with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our society and this submission and its recommendations for improvements to the mental health system are consistent with previous submissions. “Social workers have been talking about the failings of the mental health system for decades and here we are in 2021, still beset by long waiting lists to access publicly funded services, inadequate rebate amounts under Better Access, and a shortage of mental health professionals across the country.”

To view the AASW media release in full click here.

drawing of a head, inside the head in a map of Australian raining with water going doing neck into a drain hole

Artwork by Matt Davidson. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Rural and Remote health COVID-19 roundtable

Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton MP, chaired the 12th special rural and remote health COVID-19 roundtable with members of the Rural Health Stakeholder group on 18 February 2021. A summary of the proceedings and decisions can be found here.

outback road with signs of camel, wombat, kangaroo & text 'nest 96 km'

Image source: AJP.com.au.

Health professional kidney disease webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a Health Professional Webinar discussing chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The webinar will be presented by Associate Professor Mark Thomas at 7:00 PM Tuesday 20 April 2021.

Registration is essential. You can register here or via the link in this flyer.banner text'Kidney Health Australia Health Professional Webinar Kidney Disease in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples Presented y: A/Prof Mark Thomas When: Tuesday 20 April, 7.00 PM AEST; image of two Aboriginal men against outback setting

Add your voice to family violence consultation

The Australian Government has opened public consultation on the next National Plan to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. All Australians can add their views and voices to the consultation via an online questionnaire, available on the Engage website. Women who have experienced violence, family safety advocates, service providers and other stakeholders will also be invited to take part in a two-day National Women’s Safety Summit to be held on 29 and 30 July 2021. The Summit was agreed as part of the establishment of the Taskforce on Women’s Safety in December last year.

To view the joint media release here.segment of cover of plan with text 'National Plan to reduce violence against women & children' background in yellow paper chain of girl/woman against khaki background

Decolonising public health policies 

Wingara Mura Leadership Program Academic Fellow Carmen Parter has written a PhD thesis with the title Decolonising public health policies: Rightfully giving effect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ knowledges and cultures of ways of being, knowing and doing in public health policies.

In her thesis Carmen argues that ‘for the knowledges held by Indigenous people to be recognised and valued, the dominant western non-Indigenous culture must accept that Indigenous people’s cultural knowledges of ways of being, knowing and doing are relevant to policy production.’ Carmen goes on to say in her concluding remarks ‘As policy makers and all levels of government embark on a new National Closing the Gap Agreement (Australian Government, 2020), a continued and trusting co-design approach that is a genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities is paramount. A systems perspective is warranted to address the ingrained and invisible colonialist, imperialist and racialized paradigms – the native assumptions – that have dominated the Indigenous affairs and Indigenous public health policy environment for the last 31 years.’

To view the thesis in full click here.

blurred image of a city overlaid with Aboriginal flag colours & text 'decolonise'

Image source: Eco-shout website.

COVID-19 an opportunity to build a better healthcare sector

The opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to represent an opportunity for Australia to do better in supporting the health of all, according to the Australian College of Nursing (ACN). Speaking on World Health Day, ACN Chief Executive Officer, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, said that the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s annual report should be seen as an opportunity by governments to build a better health care sector as the world rolls out the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Many of the issues identified by the WHO are issues that we face not only in Australia, but in our Pacific region where we have a role to both lead and support local health systems,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “We must use the pandemic as an opportunity to continue to support people most impacted by global inequality in health care, not just to aim to return to the previous status quo.”

Adjunct Professor Ward said the Australian Government must use World Health Day to look to support the most vulnerable members of our community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australians living in rural and remote areas and elderly Australians.

To view the article in full click here.

shopping trolley medical products, pills, needles, vials, thermometer etc.

Image source: Benefits pro.

Fully-funded community data use course – BE QUICK!

After the successful launch of its Full-Time Data Analytics (the science of being able to tell an accurate story from a set of data) and Cloud Course, Goanna Education is offering a part-time course that you can fit around your work schedule.

This fully funded program has been developed in conjunction with Data Analysts working in the industry, educators and technical recruiters. This program will teach participants how to identify the right data, make sure that data is fit for analysis, analyse the data and then present it visually in order to better explain the results to other people. The course is designed specifically for Indigenous Australia and it is a requisite that students identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to apply.

The part time Data Analytics course starts on Monday 12 April 2021.

It is made up of:

  • 6–7 week self-study blocks with weekly online drop-ins, and
  • 4 intensive learning weeks: 1. Excel: 24–28 May; 2. Excel: 19–24 July; 3. Databases: 13–17 Sep; and 4. Power BI: 18–22 Oct.

The course includes the opportunity to sit exams for 3 Microsoft Certifications and finishes 22 October 2021.

To register click here. collage of 3 tiles, each with Aboriginal student, text 'career pathway support', no experience needed, fully-funded' & goanna Education logo superimposed

VIC – Mooroopna/Shepparton – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative – multiple positions

Health Outreach Worker x 1 PT (Fixed Term) – Mooroopna

The Outreach Worker plays a pivotal role in service coordination, advocacy and support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community throughout the Integrated Team Care Goulburn Valley Primary Health Network Region. You will be required to provide culturally appropriate coordination of care for patients with complex needs/chronic disease including treatment, early intervention and prevention and associated services in the context of an Aboriginal Health Service.

To view the position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Tuesday 13 April 2021.

Specialist Aboriginal Family Violence Team Leader (Orange Door) x 1 FT – Shepparton Office

The Aboriginal Family Violence Team Leader is a leadership position co-located in The Orange Door site and will have a significant role to work closely with other Orange Door partners as well as provide supervision to the Aboriginal Family Violence practitioners to lead high quality, culturally safe and effective responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking support and safety.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 16 April 2021.

Specialist Aboriginal Family Practitioner (Orange Door) x 1 FT – Shepparton Office

The Aboriginal Family Violence Practitioner will provide screening, assessment, triage and short-term response to all incoming referrals through the Orange Door Hub using an Integrated Practice Framework and ensuring the delivery of high quality, culturally safe and effective responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking support and safety.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 16 April 2021.

Family Partnership Worker x 1 FT (identified) – Mooroopna

Culturally support delivery of The Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program to clients, alongside the Nurse Home Visitor and Nurse Supervisor. Includes, promotional event planning and coordination, cultural connection and community networking.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Tuesday 20 April 2021.

Nurse Home Visitor x 1 FT (fixed term) – Mooroopna

Deliver the Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program to clients in a home setting, alongside the Family Partnership Worker and Nurse Supervisor. Includes, promotional event planning and coordination, maintaining stakeholder networks, improving pregnancy outcomes, improving child health and development and helping parents develop a vision for their own future.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Tuesday 20 April 2021.

Kinship Case Manager x 1 FT – Mooroopna

Work with and support children and young people and carers to meet case contracted kinship targets.  The role will work directly within case management and care teams ensuring a shared understanding of key issues related to theoretical frameworks including attachment theory, trauma theory, brain development, ages and stages of development, resilience theory, strength-based approach and the neurobiological development of maltreated children. The minimum qualifications required to be considered for these positions include: Tertiary qualification in Community Services, Social Work, Youth Work or related discipline.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.

Team Leader Kinship Care, Better Futures Home Stretch x 1 FT – Mooroopna

Provide strong leadership to a team of workers, oversee and maintain the responsibility for the Better Futures, Home Stretch Programs, staff operating in this space to ensure young people are transitioning occurs from Kinship Care to Better Futures Home Stretch. Minimum qualifications required to be considered for these positions include: Tertiary qualification in Community Services, Social Work, Youth Work or related discipline.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.

Family Preservation Worker x 1 FT – Mooroopna

To provide intensive support to Aboriginal families in a culturally respectful way and to support parents to maintain care or to resume care of their child/children who are referred to the Family Preservation Program by Child Protection. The Worker is responsible for the provision of all aspects of casework services to families referred to the Rumbalara Family Preservation Program Minimum qualifications required to be considered for these positions include: Diploma of Community Services and Welfare Studies or equivalent is preferred.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.

Assessment Officer x 1 PT (3 days per week) – Shepperton

Undertake in home holistic assessments, for people wanting to access Aged Care and Disability related supports and then match the client or carer’s needs and goals to the most appropriate service. The position requires someone who is experienced with navigating funded supports such as the Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACC PYP), Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); has an understanding of the issues faced by Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people; and has Tertiary qualifications in Aged Care, Community Services, Case management or equivalent.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.

Support Worker x Casual (flexible as per demand) – Shepperaton

Assist members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community by providing direct support to clients and consumers in the delivery of services for Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACC PYP), Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offered by Rumbalara Aged Care and Disability Services. Minimum qualifications required to be considered for this position include: Qualifications in Certificate IV in Aged Care Work or equivalent, or willing to undertake such training.

To view position description and to apply click here.

Applications close 4:00 PM Friday 23 April 2021.

external view of Rumbalara Aboriginal co-operative Ltd building & logo: Aboriginal art of emu against 3 curves rainbow shaped lives in red yellow black colours

Image source: Baldasso Cortese Architecture website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant round opening soon

Feature tile text 'NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding Grant Round Opening Soon' & image of tile with same text & logo artwork

Hi there

You may have accidently received the previous blog post that went out earlier today. Our WordPress site had a ‘whoops’ moment and it was published by mistake.

We apologies for the error! This is the final version of today’s NACCHO Aboriginal Health News.

Thank you.

NDIA Ready IBSF grant round opening soon

Attention NACCHO members!

We are excited to announce that the NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant round will be opening soon!

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCHOs to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS.

Grants of $20,000 will be available for up to 100 member ACCHOs. ACCHOs will be contacted shortly via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Outcry over fifth death in custody in a month

The fifth Indigenous death in custody in a month has provoked an outcry by Aboriginal leaders after a 45-year-old maximum security inmate died in a WA prison. The prisoner from WA’s Casuarina Prison, who has not been publicly identified was taken to the secure wing of Fiona Stanley Hospital in southern Perth where he underwent a medical procedure and was placed in intensive care where he died.

Among the outcry from Indigenous leaders, Victoria’s first Aboriginal politician, Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe posted on Twitter that the man was “the 5th Aboriginal person to die in this country’s criminal legal system since the start of March. The pain is never ending! No justice, no peace!!,” she wrote. Since 1991, almost 500 Indigenous Australians have died in prison or in the custody of police.

To read the full article click here.

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe holding Aboriginal flag & wearing hat with the word Deadly at an Invasion Day rally in January 2021

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe (above at an Invasion Day rally in January) has protested at the fifth death in custody in a month. Picture: Darrian Traynor. Image source: news.com.au

Fears new NDIS assessments not culturally safe

Submissions to a parliamentary inquiry have raised concerns that controversial proposed changes to the NDIS will not serve people from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. A parliamentary committee examining controversial independent assessment reforms under the NDIS has been warned about the potential impact of changes on Indigenous and culturally diverse communities.

The inquiry is looking into the proposed changes intended to overhaul the evaluation process for determining an individual’s eligibility for support and funding under the disability support scheme. Currently, people with disability are required to submit evidence from their own experts such as specialists for evaluation by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The reforms would instead see participants undergo an “independent assessment” from an allied health professional employed by contracted providers – paid for by the Australian government. Critics claim the move is a cost-cutting exercise that will leave participants worse off and undermine their control over the support they receive – a claim strongly denied by the government.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

portrait photo of SA artist Jackie Saunders with her artwork in the background

Ngarrindjeri Wirangu woman and artist Jackie Saunders lives with FASD. Image source: SBS News website.

Funding boost for Indigenous healthcare provider

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing has received nearly $2 million to expand its services. The Frankston-based Indigenous healthcare provider’s CEO, Karinda Taylor, said the funding would “ensure that first nations’ people are provided with culturally safe services that meet the health and wellbeing needs of local communities”. The funding was secured through the federal government’s Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme. and is expected to fund service expansion and minor capital costs until 2023.

Dunkley MP Peta Murphy said, “the City of Frankston is home to one of the fastest growing indigenous populations in Victoria. This funding will allow First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing to continue their crucial work and expand their local services. I’m proud to have lobbied the federal government for this additional funding”.

To view the full article click here.

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova and Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke standing outside FPH&WS shopfront

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova & Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke. Image source: Bayside News.

Crusted scabies NT study

Scabies is listed as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization. Crusted scabies affects vulnerable and immunosuppressed individuals and is highly contagious because of the enormous number of Sarcoptes scabiei mites present in the hyperkeratotic skin. Undiagnosed and untreated crusted scabies cases can result in outbreaks of scabies in residential facilities and can also undermine the success of scabies mass drug administration programs.

Crusted scabies became a formally notifiable disease in the NT in 2016. A 2-year prospective study of crusted scabies cases notified between March 2016 and February 2018, with subsequent follow up for 22 months has been conducted. Demographics, clinical and laboratory data, treatment and outcomes were analysed, with cases classified by severity of disease.

The study concluded that crusted scabies can be successfully treated with aggressive guideline-based therapy, but high mortality remains from underlying comorbidities. Reinfection on return to community is common while scabies remains endemic.

To view the research article in full click here.

crusted scabies manifestation on feet & sarcoptes scabiei mite under the microscope

Sarcoptes scabiei mite under a microscope. Image source: Managing Crusted Scabies in Remote Communities 2017 Edition.

The Lucky Country – but not for all

Australia’s lack of action on climate change, treatment of Indigenous people and the ongoing detention of refugees have been singled out for criticism in Amnesty International’s annual report into the state of human rights around the world: Amnesty International Report 2020/21 – The State of the World’s Human Rights. The report highlighted widespread public support for raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, and Australian law makers reluctance to move on an important reform which would have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children. “Australians like to see ourselves as living in the lucky country, and that’s true for the privileged among us, but there are swathes of our community who are unable to access justice and the basic rights to which we’re all entitled,” Amnesty International Australia National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said.

To view Amnesty International Australia’s media release in full click here.

remote Aboriginal community with multiple beds in the open outside a dwelling

Image source: Street Smart Action Against Homelessness website.

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

A major push to improve the health of the Indigenous community was launched by the Australian Government last month, with a focus on increasing Annual health checks. Backed by a new radio advertising campaign delivered in five Aboriginal languages: Kriol, Yolngu Matha, Warlpiri, Arrernte and Burarra, the Government is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their GP and have a 715 health check.

The health check, listed as item 715 on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, is tailored specifically to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages. It is free and available every nine to twelve months. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said the health checks are an opportunity for early intervention, prevention and chronic disease management for all age groups.

In one of the campaign’s latest resources comedian Sean Choolburra urges mob to get a regular 715 health check. After completing his 715, Sean says there’s nothing to be afraid of. “It was what I expected – I had my hearing checked, my eyesight checked, and I thought my eyesight has been getting worse, but apparently Dr. Prabash says I have great eyes. No joke, I do have great eyes,” says Sean. “I’d love to bring my kids in because they seem to not hear me. And they don’t seem to see their clothes all over the floor and their empty cups. I think they’re the ones who need their eyes and hearing checked!” Sean jokes.

Further information, including resources for patients and health practitioners is available here.

To view the Minister for Health’s media release click here and to view the Sean Choolburra case study click here.

Aboriginal comedian Sean Choolburra getting ear check by health professional - Sean's mouth is wide open

Comedian Sean Choolburra. Image source: Department of Health.

Suicide rises linked to disasters

NSW suicide deaths data released today highlights the need for immediate action to address distress in our community and future-proof against disasters. According to the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System there have been 104 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths reported in NSW from 1 January to 31 January 2021. This is significantly more than the number of deaths reported within the same period in 2019 (75) or 2020 (81). Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Any increase in deaths by suicide is a tragedy. The ripple affect across families, workplaces and communities is unfathomable. “The past year has presented many trying circumstances across NSW communities including droughts, bushfires and COVID-19. This has increased risk factors for suicide such as financial distress and unemployment.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

split image of a tree, half green & lush, half bare branches grey skys

Image source: Psychiatric Times.

COVID-19 vaccine priority groups

In this video, Professor James Ward explains why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be some of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Professor Ward says he’s heard some concerns regarding which vaccine people will get and why the vaccine is being rolled out to our mob first. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, like other Indigenous peoples around the world, will be some of the first to receive the vaccines. This is solely to protect our Elders and those in our communities with underlying health conditions. Without the vaccine, our population will remain susceptible to COVID-19. When it’s your turn to be vaccinated, you’ll have access to whichever vaccine is available at that time. There’ll be enough vaccine doses for everyone in Australia.

VIC or ACT – Melbourne or Canberra – Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) 

Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health  x 1 PT (4 days/week)- Melbourne or Canberra

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is the peak body representing the interests of over 28,000 physiotherapists in Australia. It does so by advocating for access to quality physiotherapy services, providing leadership in the wider health landscape, creating lifelong learning opportunities for members, and promoting the value of physiotherapy to the community.

The Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (ATSIH) is responsible for the development and implementation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health policy and advocacy initiatives, including the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan (2021-23), Physiotherapy Cultural Safety Action Plan and our involvement in the Close the Gap (CtG) Campaign.

To view the job description and to apply click here. Applications close Wednesday 14 April 2021.logo: text 'Australian Physiotherapy Association' & triangular blue shape with cursive letters APA, all in blue & white

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney 

Senior Ad (identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney – CLOSING DATE EXTENDED

The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.

This role is primarily located at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney but will be required to spend short periods in rural and regional Australia.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close midnight Sunday 18 April 2021.

drawing of cross-section of kidney & kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves to comment on government policy impacts

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner speaking on The Drum

NACCHO CEO hits the airwaves

Earlier this week NACCHO CEO Pat Turner spoke to ABC The Drum about COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines, the Industrial Relations Reform, employment and economy and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations.

Pat Turner also spoke to Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National Drive about the Closing the Gap report and the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations Apology.

To view the ABC The Drum program featuring Pat Turner as a panellist click here and to listen to Pat Turner being interviewed on ABC Radio National Drive click here.

portrait of Pat Turner for RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas 13.2.21

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM, RN Drive with Patricia Karvelas. 15 February 2021

 

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, ABC The Drum, 15 Feb 2021

Danila Dilba to deliver 26,000 vaccines

In the traditional language of the Larrakia people, “Danila Dilba” refers to the dilly bag used to carry bush medicines. It’s also the name of one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal health services, which is about to undertake the biggest challenge it’s ever faced.

“It’s absolutely unprecedented in terms of scale, logistics and, I would say, importance as well,” said Andrew Webster, the head of clinical governance at Danila Dilba. Dr Webster is overseeing the mission to inoculate at least 13,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Darwin. They are among Australia’s most susceptible to the dangers of COVID-19.

To view The Aboriginal health service tasked with delivering at least 26,000 COVID-19 vaccines article click here.

Danila Dilba registered nurse Taylor Matthews opening medicines fridge

Registered nurse Taylor Matthews says it will be “very tough” to vaccinate all of Danila Dilba’s clients. Image source: ABC News.

COVID-19 vaccines common questions and answers

The Australian Government will shortly begin rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations. While details are still unfolding, you will be able to find the answers to many of your questions in the COVID-19 vaccines common questions factsheet here.

This Q&A document, together with vaccine-related information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, can be accessed via the Australian Government Department of Health’s website.

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) in collaboration with NACCHO have prepared a community engagement kit that has useful information on what the Government is doing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

To support communication with your stakeholders, networks and communities, a suite of resources have been developed, including:

  • newsletter article content
  • social media content
  • a script for videos
  • an editorial example
  • a poster
  • radio and social media advertising content.

Here is a guide that will provide you with the list of resources that are available in the COVID-19 vaccination community engagement kit.

To download the entire kit of resources click here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health

The EarTrain Program is here

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have much higher rates of middle ear infection compared to other children. The EarTrain program is a response to these statistics. It is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Federal Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

This program is delivered through an interactive online training platform with an option to register for practical skills workshops. During the practical skills workshops, you will learn to develop audiometry skills and use equipment appropriately. For further information about the EarTrain program click here.

Program eligibility – if you are a primary health care professional providing care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, you are eligible to participate in the EarTrain program. To register to participate click here.EarTrain banner, text deliver by NSW Government TAFE NSW & photo of Aboriginal man, woman & two young girls

Remote GPs urged to update AOD skills

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is encouraging more rural and remote GPs to update their skills using the latest research to support patients with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use problems in their communities. Under the $7.9 million initiative funded by the Federal Government the RACGP is delivering the Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program, which is tailored to meet the needs of GPs in all corners of Australia. The program encourages participation from rural and remote GPs and includes essential skills training to provide an update for GPs wanting to improve their approach to conversations about alcohol and other drug use.

To view the RACGP’s media release here.RACGP banner text Alcohol and Other Drugs GP Education Program Training GPs to help people tackle alcohol & other drug use racgp.org.au/AOD, blue background, pills, beer

Trust in government soars during pandemic

It has become accepted wisdom that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen trust in government rise across countries. But by how much? And why should it matter?

To answer these questions, a representative online survey was conducted in Australia and NZ, with a separate sample for WA, in July 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey discovered a dramatic increase in trust in government. Indeed, 80% of Australians and 83% of New Zealanders agreed government was generally trustworthy, up from 49% and 53% respectively in 2009.

Moreover, this level of trust is far higher than found in studies carried out in several other countries.

To view The Conversation’s article Trust in government soars in Australia and NZ during pandemic in full click here.

NZ PM Jacinta Atdern & PM Scott Morrison standing 1.5m apart, both at lecterns, city in the background

Image source: The Conversation.

24/7 support for remote and rural health workers

Remote and rural health workers make a difference to people’s lives every day, supporting those who may be at their lowest ebb, and keeping the communities in which, they live healthy and safe. But who helps the health workers when the stresses of work, and life, become too much?

The CRANAplus Bush Support Line is a 24/7 telephone service offering free psychological support for this critical workforce, and their families. For decades, the service has been a lifeline for those facing personal or work-related challenges while delivering essential health services beyond Australia’s major cities.

With Australia’s remote and rural communities reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters including bushfires, drought and flooding, the provision of easily accessible, meaningful support for health workers has never been more important, says not-for-profit organisation CRANAplus, which provides the Bush Support Line as part of its suite of services for the remote, isolated and rural health workforce.

To view the article 24/7 support service offers a lifeline to remote and rural health workers in full click here.CRANAPlus banner, text Lend you an ear. Give you a hand. Bush Support LIne 1800 805 391 Available to remote and rural health workers and their families, CRANAPlus logo ' text CRANA plu Improving remote health www.crana.org.au

Grants to develop or grow NDIS services

Not-for-profit organisation, Community Business Bureau (CBB) are offering free consultancy services, for up to five organisations to help them develop a new or grow an existing NDIS service. The grant round is currently open, and applications close at 1:00 PM (ACDT) Friday 26 February 2021.

While applications are open to any organisation that provides or wishes to provide NDIS services – CBB are particularly welcoming applications from:

  • Organisations operating or wanting to operate in rural and remote communities in SA, WA, the NT and Queensland.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

For more information, or to apply click here.

rear view of older Aboriginal woman in wheelchair looking at white clouds against a blue sky

Image source: Power to Persuade website.

Mental health impacted by impaired vision

Dr Peter Sumich, Vice-President of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists and a cataract and refractive surgeon, spoke to newsGP following the release of new research published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Dr Sumich said ‘There is no doubt – and there’s plenty of research to back it up – that people who have cataracts or low vision have more depression, more social isolation, less independence, more falls and fractures and less ability to drive. Those things all work together to play on your mental health.’

Melbourne Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor, the past president of the International Council of Ophthalmology, the Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and previous Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne says GPs should assess visual capability as part of their health checks and that it is a mandatory part of the 715 health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Professor Taylor said it is also imperative that clinicians ensure any patient who has diabetes receives regular eye examinations. ‘For non-Indigenous Australians, that should be an eye exam once every two years, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that needs to be once a year,’ he said.

To view the newsGP article Impaired vision linked to lower mental and physical health in full click here.

Aboriginal woman with poncho in Aboriginal flag colours, walking cane on road with man assisting

Image source: mivision The Ophthalmic Journal website.

Collaboration sought to shape health policy 

The University of Sydney’s Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration (SCHC) is seeking collaborations with various partners to shape policies and practices that could promote people’s health and wellbeing under changing environment and climate. One of SCHC’s focused research areas is Indigenous health promotion. A current SCHC student member is Matilde Petersen – Research Assistant and MPhil candidate at School of Public Health. Matilde is involved in projects on climate change and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and a glossary project on climate change and health to promote multisectoral collaborations.

You can access the University of Sydney’s website here for further information about how to get involved.

Aboriginal man conducting controlled grass burn

Image source: Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation – Russell Ord.

The big issues in outback health provision

In a series of webinars called Outback Conversations, members of The Outback Alliance and key stakeholders from diverse sectors have discussed a range of issues and challenges that have been identified following the first outbreak of COVID-19.

During The Outback Alliance Outback Conversations Webinar #2 – Health Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and John Paterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance in the NT (AMSANT) explored questions such as: What have been the big issues in health provision? How has the disruption in supply chains, personnel or internet access impacted remote communities? and How do we continue to protect people in the Outback?

To view the webinar click here.

Outback Conversations webinar tile, red dusty outback image, insert image of woman looking at arm of one of 2 boys sitting on the edge of a ute, text Webinar #2 - Health with Frank Quinlan, Federation Executive Royal Flying Doctor Service, John Paterson, CEO - Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT

Image source: The Outback Alliance website.

Vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’

“The rollout of COVID vaccines has been hastened because of the emergency nature of the pandemic, and that’s led to some vaccine hesitancy which is understandable,” Dr Aquino said. “So the Australian government, and pharmaceutical companies need to effectively communicate why these vaccines are safe, and comparable to any vaccine developed outside of the pandemic. “They need to cut through the misinformation from the anti-vaxxer movement to mitigate the growth of that movement. Because the reality is the way these vaccines have been developed for COVID is still scientifically, evidence-based, and they have to go through a stringent regulatory process. Australia is one of the strictest regulators in the world, which is why we haven’t already started rolling out the vaccine like in other countries.”

To view the Illawarra Mercury article It’s vital to combat COVID ‘vaccine hesitancy’, says UOW bioethicist in full click here.

male health professional holding syringe in front of his face

Image source: Illawarra Mercury.

Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars

The Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research Fund (IHRF) was announced in February 2019 to provide $160 million for research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. An Expert Advisory Panel was appointed in September 2019 to provide advice to the Minister for Health on the strategic priorities for research investment through the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel provides their advice on priorities for research investment through the IHRF by developing a Roadmap and Implementation Plan.

The Roadmap is a high level strategic document that includes the aim, vision, goal and priorities for investment for the IHRF. To support the Roadmap, the Implementation Plan outlines the priorities for investment (short, medium and long term), evaluation approaches and measures, supporting activities, and collaborative opportunities. The Roadmap and Implementation Plan are used by the Department of Health to design and implement IHRF investments via Grant Opportunities promoted through GrantConnect.

Consultation has now opened on the Roadmap and Implementation Plan for the IHRF. The Expert Advisory Panel will host two Indigenous Health Research Fund webinars on 23 and 30 March 2021 where you can provide your feedback.

Aboriginal woman in lab coat with microscope and beakers with yellow blue & red liquidr

Image source: Research Professional News Australia & NZ website.

Collingwood’s challenge is everyone’s challenge

As an Aboriginal doctor, cardiologist, and researcher, Burchill said he is often asked for solutions on how to Close the Gap for Aboriginal health outcomes. Since heart disease is one of the major drivers of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, you might think the solution lies in our interventions – heart pills, stents for blocked coronary arteries, pacemakers, and so on. The truth is that we can only close the gap by preventing heart disease in the first place. That begins with us understanding that health starts in the places we share our lives – our homes, schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods, clubs and communities.

If we apply this lens to Collingwood it becomes clear that systemic racism isn’t only a threat to the culture of an organisation but also for the health of those working within it.

To view Associate Professor Luke Burchill’s paper in full click here.

brick wall mural of Adam Goodes

Footballer Adam Goodes experienced one of the most malignant national displays of systemic racism. Image source: The University of Melbourne Pursuit webpage.

Location negotiable across Australia – TAFE NSW

Teacher Audiometry – EarTrain Program (PT casual) – (Targeted) x multiple positions

The TAFE NSW Digital Team is looking for individuals with current industry experience and knowledge in Audiometry and Ear Health Prevention to join their team on a part time casual basis.

EarTrain is an online training program for primary health care professionals to identify and manage otitis media and other hearing conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The program is delivered across Australia by TAFE NSW and is funded by the Australian Government. EarTrain is a Closing the Gap initiative available until June 2022.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 11:59 PM Monday 22 February 2021.EarTrain program banner, face & shoulders of Aboriginal girl sitting on lounge with headphones & huge smile, text EarTrain & logo - Aboriginal painting of ear, 'Enhance Health Service Delivery'

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – February 2021

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is held each year in Australia to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is still the deadliest women’s cancer. Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and three will die from the disease. While there is no exact cause for most ovarian cancers, there are factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, such as increasing age, hereditary and other factors.

The symptoms of Ovarian cancer may include:

  • increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • abdominal or pelvic (lower stomach) pain
  • feeling full after eating a small amount
  • needing to urinate often or urgently

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech at the Ovarian Cancer Australia Teal Ribbon Parliamentary Breakfast at Parliament house yesterday can be accessed here. and the joint Minister Greg Hunt and Senator Marise Payne’s media release announcing a further $1 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia can be read in full here.

Ovarian Cancer Australia banner: teal ribbon & text 'Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month & Aboriginal red line drawing of female uterus, fallopian tubes & ovaries, inside a white circle surrounded by purple dots against dark cream background

Image sources: Ovarian Cancer Australia; Graphic from Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Centre Yerin News, Edition 13, February 2019.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 kept out of communities came as no surprise

feature tile text 'success of ACCHOs in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities a welcome shockfeature tile text 'success of ACCHOs in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities came as no surprise' Stay Home, Stay Safe, two Aboriginal figures holding a stop sign all painted on a car bonnet

COVID-19 kept out of communities came as no surprise

The latest issue of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) The Health Advocate magazine includes NACCHO CEO Pat Turner’s oration at the 2020 Sidney Sax Award ceremony. Pat Turner said “the success of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) in keeping COVID-19 out of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has come as a welcome shock to most. Less than 150 Aboriginal people have contracted COVID-19 Australia-wide. Our share of the COVID-19 caseload was 0.5% when our share of the national population is 3.3%. This has been a wonderful achievement.”

“But pandemics are best defeated by community based action and the very ACCHO model itself is fundamentally about community control. It was no surprise to us. And there was too much at stake for us to fail. Look at what happened to the Navajo. They have the highest death rate of any ethnic group in the USA. If the virus had got into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the consequences would have been catastrophic with our levels of comorbidity and social disadvantage. While the press has been calling the pandemic and the measures to combat it ‘unprecedented’, the virus for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is, sadly, a familiar tale. Aboriginal people have been battling pandemics since 1788. The success of the measures put in place by our ACCHOs is well documented.”

To view Pat Turner’s speech published in The Health Advocate February 2021 in full click here.

Ltyentye Apurte No Visitors COVID-19 Community Protection Policy sign on outback dusty road

Image source: The Guardian.

ACCHO launches new outreach dental clinic

A new outreach dental clinic aimed at providing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is set to open in Woy Woy following an increase in community demand. Local Aboriginal health service provider, Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services, will expand its dental program with the launch of the new clinic on Friday, March 5. The Gulgul Yirra Outreach Dental Clinic will be located in Woy Woy Public Hospital and will operate every second Friday.

Yerin CEO, Belinda Field, said the new clinic is the provider’s second on the Coast, following the opening of a flagship dental clinic in Wyong in 2018. “Since opening our first dental clinic in 2018, we’ve seen firsthand the need and demand for culturally appropriate dental services,” Field said. “Our Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong has grown exponentially and is now open five days per week, supporting almost 2,000 patients and delivering over 15,000 treatments annually. We’re thrilled to be able to expand and offer these services in a new location on the southern end of the Central Coast, making them accessible to even more of our community.”

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

5 staff in purple uniforms standing at front of reception desk at Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong

Staff at the Gulgul Yirra Dental Clinic in Wyong. Image source: Coast Community News.

Rough sleeper numbers are back on the up

Australian governments acted to protect homeless people from COVID-19 in 2020 on an even larger scale than previously thought. In the first six months of the pandemic, the four states that launched emergency programs housed more than 40,000 rough sleepers and others. The states were anxious about rough sleepers’ extreme vulnerability to virus infection and the resulting public health risk to the wider community. NSW, Victoria, Queensland and SA acted fast to provide safe temporary housing, mainly in otherwise empty hotels.

To a great extent Australia’s homeless compared to other countries such as England reflects the country’s growing social housing deficit, as well as inadequate rent assistance and other social security benefits. All of these factors are barriers to helping low-income Australians into stable long-term housing. The fundamental flaws in Australia’s housing system have become glaringly exposed by the public health crisis of the pandemic.

To view the article in full click here.

Raymond Ward at Tent City homeless camp in Perth November 2020

Raymond Ward at the Tent City homeless camp in Perth. On any given night the homeless camp has been hosting up to 50 mostly Aboriginal homeless people such at Raymond Ward. Image source: Daily Mail Australia.

Youth perspectives on mental health

Indigenous researcher Cammi Murrup-Stewart has completed a PhD thesis investigating the links between Indigenous culture and Indigenous health. “Within the Aboriginal community, concepts such as mental health are more holistic,” she says. “We have this idea that everything is connected, and to be a well person, you need to have these positive connections with your family and community, with your physical body, and also with the land around you, which I think the Australian community is starting to understand a little bit better.”

“A lot of the research comes from a white perspective, and there’s not that much scientific evidence that has been verified by the scientific community that is based on an Aboriginal perspective,” Murrup-Stewart says. Generally speaking, the research she reviewed “definitely devalued the Aboriginal perspectives, and so missed a lot of important findings, or prioritised things that have not resulted in any positive change”.

To view the full article, Mental health and wellbeing: Listening to young Indigenous people in Narrm, published in the Monash University LENS click here.

8 Aboriginal students sitting around an outdoor table with books & water bottles

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

Visual impairment in Australia

Visual impairment is the partial or full loss of sight in one or both eyes. Visual impairment may be the result of disease or injury, may progress over time, and may be permanent or corrected with visual aids (such as glasses) or with surgery. According to self-reported data from the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), the prevalence of self-reported eye or sight problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 38%, affecting about 307,000 people—including about 44,100 who live in Remote areas (30% of the remote Indigenous population). According to the National Eye Health Survey (NEHS), an estimated 15,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 40 and over experienced vision impairment and blindness in 2016. The leading causes of vision impairment were uncorrected refractive error (61%), cataract (20%) and diabetic retinopathy (5.2%).

To view the Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Eye health web report click here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

ACCHO CEO furious over rejected prison inquiry

Indigenous and social service advocates are angry and disappointed that a proposed investigation into systemic racism at the Canberra Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) will not take place. Instead, Minister for Corrections Mick Gentleman replaced the Canberra Liberals motion – made on behalf of Indigenous Canberrans – with an amendment to continue a review into the ACT’s high Indigenous incarceration rates.

“I’m furious, to be quite honest,” Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service, said. “But I’m not surprised that the motion was watered down. This Labor-Green Government are progressive on selective issues. Unfortunately, Aboriginal disadvantage isn’t one of them. It reinforces the belief across the Aboriginal community that their issues and concerns are not a priority with this so-called progressive government.” Ms Tongs called the amendment “a cover-up”, and called for Mr Gentleman to resign.

To access the article in full click here and to view a previous Canberra Weekly article regarding the proposed investigation into racism at AMC click here.

portrait image of Julie Tongs OAM CEO Winnunga ACT

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Image source: ABC News website.

Big boost for Victorian health infrastructure

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Victorian hospitals, community health services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) with $320 million in funding to upgrade vital health infrastructure. Minister for Health Martin Foley has announced submissions for the new $200 million Metropolitan Health Infrastructure Fund (MHIF) and the fifth round of the $120 million Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF) have opened, ensuring health services across the state can continue to provide world-class healthcare for all Victorians. Established as part of the Victorian Budget 2020–2021, the MHIF will fund construction, remodelling and refurbishment projects, equipment, information and communication technology and other vital upgrade works to meet service demand, and improve safety and infection prevention and control measures at Melbourne’s busiest hospitals and community health services.

To view the Victorian Minister for Health’s media release click here.

: Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Victorian Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), which proclaims its mission of Strong Culture, Thriving Communities.

Landmark mural by Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla, in partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Victorian Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO), which proclaims its mission of Strong Culture, Thriving Communities. Image source: Croakey.

Minimum alcohol price curbs problem drinking

The “floor price” for alcohol introduced by the NT in 2018 reduced the consumption of cask wine by half, without significantly impacting sales of other types of alcohol, according to a new analysis of the policy’s effectiveness. On October 1, 2018, the NT introduced a minimum price of A$1.30 per unit (equivalent to 10 grams of pure alcohol or one “standard drink”) on alcohol, in a bid to tackle problem drinking. The price was chosen to target cheap wines that have historically been an issue throughout the NT, while not influencing other liquor types.

Alcohol has been ranked as the most harmful drug in Australian communities, and the greatest harm of all comes from heavy drinking. In Australia an estimated three-quarters of all alcohol is consumed by the top 20% of its heaviest drinkers, a group that the alcohol industry depends on and actively targets, labelling them as super consumers. Nowhere in Australia are the harms of alcohol more stark than in the  NT where alcohol-attributable harm costs the community an estimated A$1.4 billion a year. Alcohol-related deaths in the territory are 2–10 times higher than the national average.

Considering the effectiveness with which this policy has reduced consumption of cask wine in the NT, it is time for other state and territory governments to consider following suit.

To view the article in full click here.

image of bladder of cask wine

Cask wine consumption decreased by half in the year following the NT’s introduction of minimum pricing. Image source: Croakey.

Remote training scheme vacancies

The Remote Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS) is a unique Commonwealth-funded Fellowship program offering distance education and training to allow registrars to stay in their rural or remote community and continue to provide vital healthcare services while progressing to Fellowship. It’s not too late to secure a training position with the RVTS for the 2021 intake.  Round 4 Applications are now open, with training to commence in April 2021.

Positions are available nationally, for training in the AMS and Remote training streams. In addition, there are Targeted Recruitment positions available in selected areas of high workforce need across Australia, offering exciting opportunities for GP training and employment.

For more information about the RVTS and to check your eligibility and apply click here. Applications close Sunday 21 February 2021.RVTS Remote Vocational Training Scheme Ltd logo sun rising on horizon red yellow Aboriginal art vector image

NSW bush’s health battles substantial

A parliamentary inquiry into regional and rural healthcare has received over 700 submissions, highlighting issues such as chronic doctor shortages, a lack of resources and a system that is overstretched. The submissions have revealed harrowing stories, such as a hospital requesting patients bring their own bandages and doctors allegedly trying to mend broken bones over videolink. Wee Waa Chamber of Commerce wrote that a lack of healthcare is “literally killing the town”, and Gunnedah Shire Council said doctors are so overstretched they are essentially “running a crisis medical service.”

A submission by the Riverina Murray Regional Alliance (RMRA), which incorporates the communities of Tumut and Wagga Wagga among others, said it was founded in 2015 in response to the reduction of government services in the area. RMRA held a Healing Forum in 2017 which identified intergenerational trauma as a key issue, with one impact of this being drug and alcohol addiction and its effect on local communities, such as poor physical and mental health, family violence and poor education outcomes. “A need was identified for services to be provided by Aboriginal people to Aboriginal people, to ensure that our communities are connected to them,” the submission reads. “This includes the involvement in Aboriginal people in the design and delivery of services they received.”

To view the full article in the Tumut and Adelong Times click here.

map of Riverina Murray Regional Alliance area & RMRA logo Aboriginal painting of a blue snake against yellow background

Riverina Murray Regional Alliance made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into regional and rural health care.

NSW – Narooma – Katungul ACRH&CS

Dentist x 1 FT or PT – Narooma – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services (KACRHCS) is seeking applications for the role of Dentist to work either Part Time or Full Time. KACRHCS is a not for profit organisation providing culturally attuned, integrated health and community services on the Far South Coast of NSW. Katungul is managed by a CEO reporting to an elected Board of Directors.

The Dentist performs preventative and restorative oral procedures to ensure the highest standards of dental health and dental care for Aboriginal clients. This role includes the provision of culturally appropriate clinical dental care, oversight of laboratory conditions and requirements, and community health promotion and health education activities to improve oral health status.

You can view the job advert here and access the position description here. Applications close 5:00 PM Monday 1 March 2021.Katungul logo black duck flying in front of boomerang shape with orange & yellow Aboriginal dot art, silhouette of man, woman & two chilren, text 'Koori Health In Koori Hands', at bottom of the circle with the duck & 'Katungul' at the top of the circle

National Condom Day – Sunday 14 February 2021

A day that began with an American AIDS support group in the late 1980s, as a way of promoting condom use and safer sex practices, National Condom Day has now become an annual highlight on the Australian sexual health calendar. National Condom Day is an Australia state-wide event and takes place on the 14 February ‘Valentine’s Day’ each year.

It’s is a day where we are reminded that condoms are still the best way to stop the transmission of STI’s and HIV, and also help prevent unplanned pregnancy.

If you’re going to get it on, get it on.

red cardboard with cut out raised hearts bottom half rectangle, black top half of rectangle & image of yellow condom packet in the middle

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Bush Uber for medical supplies

Custom-made, state-of-the-art medical drones with a flying range of up to 250km will be developed and trialled for delivery of potentially life-saving medicines in the Northern Territory - Australia's first ever healthcare drone trail for regional Australia. The project will also pave the way for future delivery of critical items such as cold-storage vaccines (Covid 19) in regional and remote communities, the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre - part of the Federal Government-funded CRC Program - revealed today. The Northern Territory is one of the most sparsely settled jurisdictions in the developed world with a significant Indigenous population living in remote communities.

Bush Uber for medical supplies

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, said in a first for the Territory, drones will be used to deliver health care into remote communities across the NT. The drones will expedite the delivery of time-critical medical items into hard to reach and seasonally inaccessible remote communities, helping save lives and reducing costs of delivery. The Territory Labor Government is partnering with Charles Darwin University and iMOVE Australia to commission the drones. iMOVE is the national centre for collaborative research and development in transport and mobility. It facilitates, supports and co-funds research projects that improve the way people and goods move in Australia.

Custom-made, state-of-the-art medical drones with a flying range of up to 250km will be developed and trialled for delivery of potentially life-saving medicines in the Northern Territory – Australia’s first ever healthcare drone trail for regional Australia. The project will also pave the way for future delivery of critical items such as cold-storage vaccines (COVID-19) in regional and remote communities, the iMOVE Cooperative Research Centre – part of the Federal Government-funded CRC Program. The NT is one of the most sparsely settled jurisdictions in the developed world with a significant Indigenous population living in remote communities.

To view the Minister for Health’s media release click here and to view iMOVE’s news release click here.

red box with white cross in a circle attached to drone, against blue sky

Image source: Drones in HealthCare.

Showcase health and wellbeing best practice

Indigenous and Tribal peoples across the world continue to be adversely affected by the ongoing impacts of colonisation and dispossession, past and present racism and discrimination, socioeconomic disadvantage, and reduced access to services, all of which are manifested in disparities across a range of outcomes. Research can be a tremendous force for good, provided it reflects the needs and priorities of Indigenous and Tribal peoples and is conducted in ways that empower Indigenous and Tribal people and communities. All too often, this has not been the case, but things have begun to change in recent years.

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is preparing to publish a Special Issue on The Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples around the Globe. The Special Issue is intended to showcase (1) ways in which appropriate, high-quality research can help with understanding and overcoming the complex inequities experienced by Indigenous and Tribal peoples around the globe, as well as (2) best practice in research across a broad range of topic areas relating to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous and Tribal peoples around the world, with a particular emphasis on work that goes beyond mere description and seeks to implement and evaluate positive change at a local, regional, national, or global level. In keeping with the focus on Indigenous and Tribal peoples, the definition of health and wellbeing being used is a holistic one, incorporating physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and cultural aspects, as well as family and community and connection to land and waters across time.

The Special Issue on The Health and Wellbeing of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples around the Globe is open for submissions until Monday 31 May 2021. For more information please click here.

doctor in field listening to Aboriginal girl's heart, overseen by AHW

Image source: Telethon Kids Institute.

New support for NT’s remote kids

Children who have access to health, nutrition and learning opportunities before they begin school show sustained improvements in cognitive, language and psychosocial development. CEO of UNICEF Australia. Tony Stuart says “Young Aboriginal children living in rural areas of Australia are more likely to face barriers in accessing early childhood development programs, missing a crucial chance to lay strong foundations for their futures.”

UNICEF Australia and Livingstone International have announced a new partnership that will support early childhood development programs for Indigenous children living in remote communities in the NT and reach some of Australia’s most vulnerable children. In partnership with local community organisations, UNICEF Australia is working to break down barriers to early childhood development services and work with parents and local communities to provide children with the best start in life.  The program recognises the essential, interlinked building blocks for the early years: health care, good hygiene, optimal nutrition, and a stimulating, nurturing and safe environment for all-round development and learning.

Contributing $100,000 a year for 3 years, the partnership will support a program that will help to improve the development, health and learning opportunities for children in some of the country’s most under-resourced, and hardest to reach communities.

To view the full article click here.

4 young Aboriginal kids red dust with Ali-Curung Training Centre NT uilding in the background, overlaid with UNICEF Australia & Livingstone International logos

Image source: The Conversation.

First WA COVID-19 vaccination hubs

The first West Australians to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive the jab at the end of this month at six vaccination hubs scattered across the state. Perth Children’s Hospital, as well as the health campuses in Albany, Kalgoorlie, Port Hedland, Geraldton, and Broome, will be the first sites to offer Phase 1a priority groups the Pfizer vaccine.

WA will receive a shipment of 10,000 doses of the vaccine on February 22, which will be administrated to hotel quarantine workers, international airport employees, seaport workers and frontline medical staff at Fiona Stanley and Royal Perth hospitals. Eligible West Australians will receive two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart, administered by staff specifically trained on how to handle the vaccine.

The elderly, health care staff, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, young people with underlying medical conditions and critical high-risk workers will receive the jab later in Phase 1 and in Phase 2.

To view the article in full click here.

hand holding a vial of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19

A vial of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. Image source: WAtoday.

National study of mental health and wellbeing

The Government has launched the first phase of Australia’s $89.5 million Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study – the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing. This comprehensive survey aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the mental health challenges that Australians are facing. Almost half of Australians experience some form of mental illness at some point in their lifetime. In addition, the 2019 bushfires and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly affected the mental health and wellbeing of many people across the country. The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing will provide unrivalled depth to our understanding of these mental health challenges and conditions.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal man in 30s & older Aboriginal window in park setting both staring to right

Image source: Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW website.

New centre to grow local biomedical workforce

A new training centre aimed at developing a sustainable, local biomedical and health sciences workforce has been launched at Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies). There is currently a shortage of biomedical and health sciences staff in the NT and many of those in the workforce are from outside of the NT. The Ramaciotti Regional and Remote Health Sciences Training Centre (the Centre) will provide a new pathway into laboratory and health sector careers for young Territorians, with a focus on career development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

Mark Mayo, associate deputy director of Indigenous Engagement and Leadership at Menzies and co-lead of the Centre says that the opportunities provided are in high demand, “The Centre has partnered with internal and external stakeholders to engage more than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous NT youth in biomedical and health sciences training. There is no shortage of youth approaching the Centre for training opportunities and we are looking ahead both internally and externally to increase our supervisory capacity, develop our training programs and create more opportunities for NT youth.”

To view the Menzies School of Health Research media release click here.

close up image of gloved fingers either side of slide under for lens microscope

Image source: Science journal website.

Medical research workforce needs safeguarding

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) has put together a Budget Submission calling for new strategic investments to help safeguard the future of Australia’s medical research workforce. These investments will boost Australia’s preparedness for future health challenges by providing new career opportunities to our most talented medical researchers. You can read AAMRI’s Budget Submission and learn more about their early to mid-career scientists by clicking here. You can also view AAMRI’s media release about the budget submission here.

gloved hands of medical researcher recording results in laboratory

Image source: University of Melbourne.

Systemic racism in Canberra’s prison

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has called on all members of the ACT Legislative Assembly to support a motion calling for an independent inquiry into systemic and/or institutional racism at Canberra’s prison, the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC). ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said: “In the wake of historic allegations of racism, and the disturbing allegations last month relating to the mistreatment of an Aboriginal woman on remand in the AMC, ACTCOSS supports a call by Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, for an independent inquiry into racism at the AMC.

The motion calls for an inquiry to investigate and document the incidence of institutional and systemic racism in relation to the AMC and to develop advice and recommendations to address and eliminate this racism. The motion also calls on the ACT Government to deliver its promise to commission a review into the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander people in incarceration.

To view the ACTCOSS media release click here.

AMC. Image source: Canberra CityNews website.

Coercive control should be a crime  

White Ribbon Australia are partnering with Are Media, the publishers of Marie Claire magazine, along with a number of other organisations, to see harmful controlling behaviours – known as “coercive control” a hidden, sinister form of domestic violence that is happening behind closed doors all over Australia, criminalised across all states and territories. Linda Burney, MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians spoke to Marie Claire magazine about their campaign to criminalise coercive control.

“I know from personal experience that there are places in Australia where coercive control has become almost normalised in relationships. Young Indigenous kids need to understand what a healthy relationship is. And control is not healthy. A lot of women find themselves in relationships where their partner dictates what they wear, who they hang out with and how much money they spend. I want these women to understand that this is not normal – it’s a form of violence, and can be a precursor to physical violence. There were four women killed [by men in their lives] in Australia last week, and it received very little media coverage. If it were four shark attacks, it would be on the front page of every newspaper!”

To view the Marie Claire It’s Time to Make Coercive Control A Crime article click here. and to access the webmail received by NACCHO from White Ribbon Australia yesterday click here.

photo of LInda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians holding sign 'He doesn't like her going out without him'P

Linda Burney: MP, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians. Image source: Marie Claire magazine website.

QLD, VIC/TAS, WA, NT, SA – Hearing Australia

Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer – FT & PT positions

Hearing Australia is looking for experienced, high performing Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer to lead the on the ground establishment of a new program – The Hearing Assessment Program (the program). The program is a major initiative to reduce hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-6 years living in regional and remote communities.

The role will encompass local coordination of Audiology services to local communities on a state basis with experience in feeding back local needs and strategies to broaden a national blueprint and a greater affinity of maximising services and the amount of hearing assessments conducted in children 0-6 years of age.

This role is also responsible for providing high quality advice and support to senior management of Hearing Australia and assisting in obtaining and disseminating information.

This role is a unique opportunity to work in an organisation that is providing world leading research and hearing services for the well-being of all Australians.

To view the Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer position descriptions and to apply click on the relevant state or territory below:

Northern Territory x FT

Queensland x 1 FT

South Australia x 1 FT

Victoria and Tasmania x FT

Victoria and Tasmania x PT

Western Australia x FT

Hearing Australia will hold these positions open until they have received applications from suitable pool of candidates – this period generally takes 2–3 weeks before the positions will be closed for applications.

VIC – Mooroopna – Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd.

Local Justice Worker x 1 FT (identified position)

The Local Justice Worker position aims to minimise the likelihood of Aboriginal people (18+) reoffending and/or further progressing into the criminal justice system through providing support and mentoring, cultural support and activities, and supervised community work opportunities. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, you will have a strong understanding of the sensitivities of clients, both male and female, involved with the justice system who present with a range of complex and varied needs that require a service response tailored to their circumstances.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close 4:00PM Friday 19 February 2021.external view of Rumbalara AC VIC & Rumbalara logo outline of emu set against rainbow shape with black, yellow & red colours

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

Feature tile text 'NBA star Patty Mills makes hoop dreams a reality with the launch of Australia's first Indigenous Community Basketball League', image of Patty Mills taking a shot at the hoop

Mills makes Indigenous hoop dreams a reality

NBA star, Patty Mills is providing pathways for young Indigenous talent as a way to give back to the game in Australia. Patty Mills hopes the new league he has launched will give more Indigenous children the chance to not only play basketball at high levels but to achieve better educational and health outcomes. Mills said “Basketball as a sport has brought me happiness, joy, education and a real sense of purpose and perspective. It has changed my world and shaped the person I am today. However, not everyone has had the same opportunities as I have, which is why I’m so dedicated to using my platform, my profile and my voice to develop innovative programs like the Indigenous Basketball Association, which will allow my people to really own their story. I have spent over 10 years in the NBA, an organisation that has not only supported and championed me as an athlete, but celebrated my cultural identity as an Australian, an Indigenous man of the land.”

Yesterday NACCHO Chairperson Donnella Mills gave an address at the opening ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League at the Cairns Basketball Stadium. Donnella addressed the teams gathered saying “I don’t know as much about basketball as you all do, but I can share with you a few observations about health and how important sport is in keeping us all fit and healthy. Playing sport is not just good fun. Sport has a huge impact on a person’s daily life and health. Sport improves your heart function; reduces the risk of diabetes; lowers stress; and improves your wellbeing and strength of mind.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people usually fare pretty badly in the statistics and the press tends to focus on what we can’t do rather than what we can do. You are all living-and-breathing examples of what we can achieve and you should all be proud. In fact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do particularly well in sports statistics. Look at the amazing international career of Patty Mills, it speaks for itself.”

To access the article ‘We’re creating history’: Mills making Indigenous hoop dreams a reality click here, to view the NBA endorses Mills’ Indigenous Basketball Association news item click here, and to read Australian Men’s Health‘s glowing endorsement of Patty Mills’ initiative click here.

Far North Queensland teams sitting in rows on basketball court at opening ceremony of Indigenous Community Basketball League

Far North Queensland teams at the Opening Ceremony of the Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) on Sunday 7 February 2021.

Bill passed to decriminalise public drunkenness

The Victorian Lower House has passed a bill  to decriminalise public drunkenness, 30 years after it was first recommended by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Upper House is expected to vote on the bill in coming weeks and if approved being drunk in a public place will no longer be treated as a criminal offence but rather a health issue, with reforms to be implemented over the next two years.

The move was triggered by the death of 55-year-old Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day, who was asleep on a V/Line train before she was arrested and taken to the Castlemaine Police Station in 2017. Ms Day was left unattended in a holding cell where she fell and hit her head at least five times, causing traumatic brain injuries which later ended her life.

Ms Day’s death was a haunting reminder of a strikingly similar tragedy that could have been prevented if public drunkenness offences were repealed decades earlier. On a winter afternoon in 1987, Gunai man Arthur Moffatt, 51, boarded a regional train from Moe to Morwell in eastern Victoria after spending the day enjoying a few drinks with friends. During his trip, Mr Moffatt suffered a diabetic hypoglycaemic attack (low blood sugar levels), which was a mixed reaction to the alcohol in his system and a lack of food, according to a federal inquiry into his death. He then fell unconscious and missed his stop but was soon carried off the train and taken by officers to Warragul Police Station where he died hours later in a cell.

Tanya Day with small girl on indoor play equipment

Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day. Image source: ABC News website.

App tackles women’s health risk factors

Associate Professor Gillian Gould and her all-women team comprising Aboriginal researchers, non-Indigenous researchers and experts have secured a $50,000 grant to support development of the MAMA-EMPOWER App. The app provides tailored support for women to tackle risk factors affecting their health. The funding from the NSW Government’s Investing in Women funding program allows for further development of the system designed to address the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal women during preconception or pregnancy.

Associate Professor Gould is based in Coffs Harbour, where she has established a University of Newcastle-affiliated research hub. Team member and University of Newcastle based Research Manager for the project, Dr Nicole Ryan said, “This funding will help in incorporating feedback from local women to not only make it culturally appropriate but to include evidence-based guidance for the individual person.”

The app provides tailored support to women to tackle four risk factors impacting their health – smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and low fruit and vegetable intake. It will incorporate behavioural change techniques such as goal setting and reminders and has an interface that is easy to connect with.

To view the Coffs Coast News of the Area article click here.

Associate Professor Gillian Gould standing on tree lined path

Associate Professor Gillian Gould. Image source: The University of Newcastle Australia.

Making diabetes care culturally safe

Gulumerridjin Traditional Custodian and Karrajarri man Christopher Lee is taking action to support and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with Diabetes. Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia, Lee was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2014. “I was diagnosed around 2014 out in Toowoomba. I went in for the Deadly Choices check, then they rang me back and said doctor needs to see you. I rock up and he tells me I have Type 2 Diabetes. I had no idea what it was, was it poor lifestyle choice? Was my upbringing wrong?”

Now, seven years on, Lee has a lot more knowledge around Diabetes but has faced ignorance and adversity. “We are genetically predisposed to getting Diabetes,” he said. “I went through four or five different Aboriginal Medical Services in southeast Queensland. In one of them, the doctor said it was my fault, I had made poor lifestyle choices and brought it on myself.”

Researching on the internet and sifting through resources, it wasn’t until Lee got to yarn with a friend did he find confidence. “It wasn’t until I found a brother that we got to sit and yarn. We spoke about his Type 2 Diabetes and what I needed to know,” he said. “A yarning conversation with someone I respected, someone I trusted, and in a language I understood. From that point, I had a basic understanding and through talking with some fantastic health professionals, I’ve built up the trust to ask why this happens.”

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

Diabetes Australia's Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee standing on an oval with large green trees in the background, wearing black yellow and red t-shirt

Diabetes Australia’s Indigenous engagement manager Christopher Lee. Image source: NITV website.

1,000s of US marines coming to Darwin

The Australian Department of Defence has confirmed that 2,200 US marines, in batches of 200–500, will arrive in Darwin between now and June this year as part of an annual training rotation. Earlier this year, the use of a Darwin CBD hotel as a quarantine facility for international military arrivals was the subject of significant criticism from health groups, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT).

Western NSW Local Health District Board vacancies

The NSW Minister for Health is inviting applications from persons interested in becoming a member of the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) Board

There are a number of vacancies opening up on the board due to the retirement of members. WNSWLHD Board Chair Scott Griffiths explained “The Board is responsible for overseeing an effective governance and risk management framework for the district, setting its strategic directions, ensuring high standards of professional and ethical conduct are maintained, involve providers and the community in decisions that affect them, monitoring the service delivery and financial performance of the district against its targets and holding the chief executive accountable for their performance.”

NCSR release Healthcare Provider portal

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) has released a Healthcare Provider portal and is integrating the Register with Clinical Information Systems. This new functionality creates a new channel for users to interaction with the Register online at a time convenient for them.

In collaboration with the Department of Health, the NCSR is providing a Communications Toolkit to increase awareness of the Healthcare Provider Portal and integration with Clinical Information Systems. NCSR have worked closely with Best Practice and MedicalDirector to develop an API which will be shared with more vendors throughout the year with the intent to integrate with as many vendors as possible. The Best Practice integration recently went live and NCSR are working with MedicalDirector to finalise the necessary steps to integrate.

The toolkit provides links to supporting collateral to assist in raising awareness of the new ways to access and submit data to the NCSR. The supporting assets include:

  • A media release
  • Social media creatives
  • Awareness raising animations
  • Key messages
  • A Healthcare Provider Portal demonstration video (split into chapters)
  • A promotional PowerPoint resource

To access an overview of the NCSR Communications Toolkit – Healthcare Provider Portal and Clinical Software Integration click here.

orange background, text 'Australian Government, National Cancer Screening Register, Healthcare Provider Portal Logging in and your acc, vector image of female & male health professionals

AMA comment’s on draft National Workforce Strategy

The AMA recently provided feedback to the Department of Health on the Draft National Medical Workforce Strategy. The AMA was broadly supportive of the five priority areas and most actions outlined by the Draft Strategy. If executed well in concert with other major health reforms already underway, the Strategy should provide a solid platform to ensure that the medical workforce sustainably meets the changing health needs of Australian communities.

Some key points of the AMA’s response included support for the development of functional and reciprocal links between tertiary, regional and rural hospitals, Aboriginal health services, universities, medical colleges, and regional training providers, and the integration of prevocational and vocational training pathways within these networks as a priority. This will ensure trainees undertaking generalist training have adequate access to relevant terms in larger urban hospitals.

To view the article regarding the AMA’s comments on the draft click here.

banner, text National Medical WOrkforce Strategy, collage of photos, doctor with stethoscope, group of nurses, older couple, Aboriginal woman and young girl, male doctor, farmer

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Transitioning to PHC community control

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) play a critical role in providing culturally appropriate, accessible primary healthcare (PHC) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. The success of many ACCHSs has led to increased policy support for their growth and development, including the transition of state government administered PHC services to Aboriginal community control in select communities. However, there is minimal published literature available which evaluates such transitions. A research paper reports on an evaluation of the experience of one ACCHS (Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service) of transitioning local PHC services to community control in Yarrabah, Queensland, with a focus on the processes and strategies which were implemented to achieve successful transition.

Achieving successful transition to community control of PHC for Gurriny entailed a lengthy process of substantial, ongoing organisational growth and development. Gurriny’s experience provides a framework for both governments and the ACCHS sector to inform future transitions of PHC services to Aboriginal community control.

To view the research article in full click here.

outside shot of Gurriny Yealamucka Primary Health Care Service

Image source: Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Woolies responsibility does not stop at the check-out

feature tile text 'no meaningful dialogue over devastating public health issues Darwin liqour megastore will bring' image of Woolworths logo outside of Woolworths store

Woolies responsibility does not stop at checkout

Peak community organisations AMSANT, NTCOSS and Danila Dilba Health Service have responded to the announcement of the members who will make up the Independent Panel Review, into Endeavour Group’s proposal to develop a Dan Murphy’s retail outlet in Darwin. CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service, Olga Havnen said, “We are aware of the panel, welcome the review and look forward to meeting with the panel. However, our organisations will not be misrepresented by Endeavour Drinks Groups (EDG) purporting extensive consultations by EDG and Woolworths, regarding the Dan Murphy’s development in Darwin. Ultimately Woolworths needs to be held accountable for their lack of genuine engagement to consider the devastating public health issues that will arise from this megastore.”

Similarly CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson said, “If there was a genuine commitment to engaging with peak Aboriginal health bodies and other Aboriginal organisations the Woolworths Group, not EDG, should facilitate a meaningful dialogue. Instead, they have largely ignored the serious health concerns raised and the call to withdraw their application of this megastore in Darwin. This is a refusal by Woolworths to engage on important public health issues and knowingly ignoring the disastrous effects of alcohol in the NT. Danila Dilba, AMSANT and NTCOSS continue to wait for the decision-makers, Woolworths, to adopt an ethical stance and talk to peak health bodies in the NT about putting public health ahead of profits.”

To view the joint AMSANT, NTCOSS and Danila Dilba media statement click here. To view a related article SBS News article  click here.

empty VB cans dry sandy riverbed

Photograph: Time Wimborne/Reuters. Image source: The Guardian.

Katungul community control success stories

Telehealth has been a game changer for Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services (Katungul) on the NSW south coast as it sought to support its community through the devastation of the 2019–20 bushfires and the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid roll-out of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided unexpected and ongoing benefits for clinical staff and patients at Katungul.

For Katungul GP Dr Muhammad Azfar Nor Zaihan these benefits have included a higher patient appointment attendance rate and more time for preventative health, “It’s a huge game changer, especially for rural GPs and rural patients.” At the peak of the pandemic restrictions from March to July 2020 around 80% of Dr Azfar Nor Zaihan’s appointments were by phone telehealth but by December 2020 he was still doing 40% of consultations by phone.

To read the full Croakey article click here.

three Katungul NSW staff in PPE in shooting stance with gloved fingers in shape of pistol

Katungul Aboriginal Corporation Regional Health and Community Services staff taking a well-earned break at a mobile COVID-19 clinic at Eden. Image source: Croakey.

Reading between the lines of government data

Commonwealth and state governments collectively spend about A$115 billion annually on health services, but we don’t always know exactly what results we get for the money. Australia’s health system is an accountability black hole, despite exabytes of data being collected from hospitals, medical services and the public. Very often the data collected are simply about how many “things” have been produced — how many hospital bed days or patients treated, how many GP attendances — rather than what result was achieved for the patient, how efficiently and how equitably. And the data can be fragmented and overlapping. It is rarely transformed into useful information the public can understand and use to hold politicians, doctors, and hospitals to account.

The Productivity Commission recently released the health section of its annual Report on Government Services, bringing together a range of data on hospitals, primary care, ambulance services and mental health care in Australia. This report aims to help fill the accountability hole, with information going beyond simply counting activity to include information about quality as well. The idea is that public reporting will prompt governments to improve their health systems.

To view the Croakey article in full click here.

stethoscope on top of black & white graph with figures and black columns for stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc.

Image source: HealthStaff Recruitment website.

Vaccine rollout for regional, rural and remote communities

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines into regional, rural and remote communities is a vital part of the Australian Government’s vaccine strategy to protect country people and managing the fight against the virus in the regions. The Australian Government is working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, General Practices, state and territory governments, Primary Health Networks, General Practitioner-led Respiratory Clinics and community pharmacies, to ensure that Australian’s living in regional, rural and remote locations have access to a vaccination if they choose to. To further strengthen  the rollout delivery across Australia, both GP’s and pharmacies have been invited to join the nation-wide effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said it is expected that there will be thousands of sites that will support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia.

To view the related media release click here.

outback road with kangaroo warning road sign

Image source: Pro Bono Australia website.

Benefiting from COVID-19

As part of The University of Sydney Business School’s ‘Thinking outside the box’ series, Dr Alastair Stone said “We should try to take advantage of the worldwide disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to establish new paradigms around what we value beyond pure monetary goals. COVID-19 has exposed imprecision in expressing our value systems with the debate of health vs economy the headline example. A return to all-encompassing political welfare economics could solve the semantic issue but given the many interpretations and adjectives to describe economics and social sciences, it would be better to define more accurately what we value, and build policy around that. It takes large disruptive phenomena like a pandemic (or war, or rebellion) to generate the energy for paradigmatic change. NZ introduced a “well-being budget” in 2019 targeting mental health, child welfare, Indigenous reconciliation, the environment, suicide, and homelessness, alongside traditional measures of productivity and investment.

To access the full article click here.

blue background 6 paper planes going horizontally across the page, one yellow paper plane going vertically

Image source: Forbes website.

Rural health under threat from climate change

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), a peak body representing 44 national organisations in the rural health and wellbeing sector, including health practitioners, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, NACCHO, and the CWA has called on the federal government to take tangible action on climate change, saying inaction has serious consequences for rural health. In a position paper released this week, the NRHA expressed concern that rural, regional and remote communities would bear the brunt of health effects caused by extreme weather events, food security threats, and vector-borne diseases.

NRHA CEO Gabrielle O’Kane said: ‘The paper provides a timely perspective on the trauma and other health impacts rural people experience from the effects of climate change, as well as the cost to society. Climate change is a significant threat to health, and the adverse health risks are generally greater in rural, regional and remote communities where people are already at a disadvantage from unequal access to health care and are more susceptible to poor health outcomes. The Alliance is calling for the inclusion of climate-driven impacts on rural health in all future health planning, as well as research and transition plans to help communities mitigate the short and long-term health effects of climate change.’.

To view the full article in the Echo Netdaily click here.

blue background 6 paper planes going horizontally across the page, one yellow paper plane going vertically

Image source: 10 Deserts Project website.

Making Time for mental health

Australian’s living with a mental illness or mental ill health and their families and carers have said that one thing that has helped them through difficult moments is making time for what matters to them – whether this is time to connect with friends and loved ones, time for themselves, time to talk, time to connect with support and treatment, time to learn something new, time offline, time for a swim or simply time in nature.

Following the difficult year Australians have had in 2020, the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) launched the #MakingTime initiative to build resilience, over the summer period, in Australians who live with mental illness, those who care for them as well as those who experience mental distress. NMHC would love people to contribute their experience via their own social networks using the hashtag #MakingTime and encourage family and friends to really share their personal experiences on the #MakingTime website on what has helped them manage their mental health.

To view the Australian Government National Mental Health Commission media release click here.

Aboriginal woman looking at Aboriginal art in an art gallery

Image source: #MakingTime website.

Building a stronger immunisation register

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says Australia’s vaccination system has been strengthened with the passage of new legislation through the Australian Parliament, making it a requirement for all vaccination providers to report life saving vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). The Australian Immunisation Register is a whole of life, national immunisation register, which records vaccines given to all people in Australia. The AIR includes vaccines given under the National Immunisation Program, through school-based programs and privately, such as for seasonal influenza and vaccines required for travel purposes. Importantly, it will also include COVID-19 vaccinations.

To view the Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

gloved hand holding vial with words Coronavirus vaccine 10 ml

Image source: ABC News website.

Managing diabetic kidney disease webinar

Kidney Health Australia is hosting a health professional webinar Diabetes and Kidney Disease – new information and recommendations at 7:30 PM AEDT Wednesday 10 February 2021. The webinar will be presented by Nephrologist, Dr John Saunders and include discussion around some new information and recommendations for Managing Diabetic Kidney Disease.

To view the webinar flyer click here.  Registration is essential. You can register here.text Kidney Health Education, dark blue background, red kidney shape overlaid with circle photo of gloved hands taking finger prick test

Building Indigenous research capacity

For nearly three decades, Professor Jacinta Elston, an Aboriginal woman from North Queensland and the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Monash University, has worked in higher education, furthering efforts to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia. When awarded an NHMRC Capacity Building Grant, Professor Elston and the team at James Cook University had two goals: to support emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and academic leaders to develop their careers in research and health; and to develop partnerships with Indigenous community-controlled health services. Professor Elston said the “NHMRC funding helped to provide the resources to create a space to share experiences, develop and discuss areas of interests and build a sense of community, as well as allowing us to foster emerging Indigenous researchers into the research community.”

Professor Elston’s project Building Indigenous Research Capacity in Australia has been included in the twelfth edition of the NHMRC’s 10 of the Best, a publication showcasing significant projects that support the improvement of human health.

For further information about the 10 of the Best click here and for a summary of each of the 10 projects click here.

portrait photo Professor Jacinta Elston, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University

Professor Jacinta Elston. Image source: Monash University website.

EOIs sought for HealthInfoNet Advisory Board

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is seeking expressions of interest from young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to join its national Advisory Board. The Advisory Board provides strategic advice and guidance to the HealthInfoNet Director to ensure that it continues to provide support to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector workforce. The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet undertakes knowledge exchange research activities to summarise, synthesise and analyse the available research and other information and make it available to the health sector workforce in ways that are timely, accessible and relevant.

Youth representatives will provide important feedback from a young person’s perspective to guide the strategic and operational activities of the HealthInfoNet.  The youth representatives will join the Advisory Board of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other health experts from throughout Australia.

For further information about the Advisory Board click here and to access the EOI click here. Applications are due by 26 February 2021. banner text Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet goanna & Aboriginal dot painting black grey white yellow pink

Chronic disease prevention survey

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre has developed a range of resources on chronic disease prevention. They is trying to improve the accessibility of their resources on their website and would greatly appreciate your feedback on want does and doesn’t work via a short 5-min survey here.banner text 'The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre Systems and solutions for better health, interwoven green yellow blue flower like symbol

Rising concerns about racism in Australia

The latest Mapping Social Cohesion report by the Scanlon Foundation shows a rising concern about racism in the Australian community. 37% of Australian-born respondents and 59% of Asian-born respondents expressed concern that racism was a growing problem in Australia. Disturbingly, 22% of Chinese Australian respondents reported they had experienced discrimination more often since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising concerns about racism, requires action and consistent leadership. A number of organisations have called on the Federal Government to tackle racism by committing to a national anti-racism strategy. To view an article on the call for a national anti-racism strategy click here.

collage of Australian racism related images e.g. Pauline Hanson, AFL player Adam Goodes lifting shirt pointing to his chest etc.

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous interpreting services available via My Aged Care

My Aged Care can connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to an Indigenous interpreting service to provide aged care information in a person’s preferred language. To access an Indigenous interpreter, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and ask for an interpreter in your client’s preferred language. If an interpreter for the required language is not available at the time of the call, another time will be arranged that suits the client.

To view a short video about My Aged Care click here and for further information about My Aged Care Indigenous interpreting services click here.Australian Government My Aged Care logo blue purple green silhouette of two people with arms reaching out to each other

Vote on Impact 25 Awards

Voting for the Pro Bono Australia 2021 Impact 25 Awards is now open, allowing people to nominate the social sector’s most influential leaders, many of whom may intersect with the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in their work with children and families. A shortlist of 150 people has been created from more than 400 nominations, with each list member recognised for their efforts in creating positive change amid the turbulent events of the past 12 months.

Pro Bono Founder and CEO Karen Mahlab AM encourages the general public to vote, and recognise the work of those who strive to improve the lives of others, “Over the past six years, the Impact 25 Awards have done what they first intended to do: showcase a steady stream of individuals, largely unnamed and largely unacknowledged working in our communities.”

Central Australian Aboriginal Corporation’s CEO Donna Ah Chee is among the 150 people who’ve made the shortlist.

For further information about the Australia 2021 Impact 25 Awards click here. to view the 2021 nominees click here and to cast your vote click here.banner !MPACT 25 Pro Bono Australia' 2021 Awards Recognising Positive Impact Bendigo Bank VOTE NOW! dark blue background & yellow half circle for 'Vote Now!' text

WA – Perth – Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service

People & Culture Manager x 1 FT

The Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (DYHS) was established in 1974 and is the largest Aboriginal community-controlled health service in Perth. Our team of 130+ staff enable the delivery of culturally safe holistic and integrated primary health care services to over 15,000 Aboriginal people across four clinics in the Perth metropolitan region. DYHS has a vacancy for a People & Culture manager to lead the People & Culture Team in the delivery of quality human resource and organisational development processes and services.

To view the advertisement for the position and to apply click here.Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service logo, black swan, silhouette of three Aboriginal people, outline of two Aboriginal hands in wings shape and falling blue circles

 

Papua New Guinea – Port Moresby – Abt Associates – Australia (in association with Ninti One Limited)

Program Support Officer – PNG Australia Transition to Health (PATH Program) x 1 FT (12 month contract, possible extension)

The PNG Australia Transition to Health (PATH) Program is one key way in which Australia is investing in PNG’s security, stability, and prosperity by delivering support to PNG’s health sector. PATH supports locally generated and scaled health systems reform, working in partnership with the Government of PNG on high priority health issues including health security, communicable disease, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal and child health.

PATH looks to attract staff who are committed to this vision, and who are also able to work in collaborative, creative and adaptive ways to contribute to better health outcomes for people in PNG. There is a current vacancy for a Program Support Officer to provide programmatic support to senior members of the PATH Program team  by assisting in operationalising all intermediate outcomes across the PATH program.

This position is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants only.

To view position description and to apply click here. Applications close Friday 26 February 2021 (Midnight local time).Abt Assoiciates logo, text Abt Associates with red square, grey squares at different angles around the red square & text 'Bold Thinkers Driving Real-World Impact'

Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) Inaugural launch – Sunday 7 February 2021

The Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) starts this Sunday!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills will be speaking at the opening ceremony at the Cairns Basketball Stadium to inspire the players.

Find out more by clicking here.

Aboriginal Basketballer Patty Mills in basketball kit with blurred background of a basketball court & the Indigenous Basketball Australia logo superimposed

NBA star Patty Mills.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Moving from Safe to Brave Reconciliation report

feature tile text 'Moving from Safe to Brave - 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report' Aboriginal flag & Australian flag blurred by person walking at right hand side of Aboriginal flag & left hand side of Australian flag

Moving from Safe to Brave Reconciliation report

In 2016 The first State of Reconciliation in Australia Report was produced by Reconciliation Australia in 2016 to mark 25 years of a formal reconciliation process in Australia, through both the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Reconciliation Australia. The 2021 report is the second such report and reflects on where we have come from, where we are today, where we need to get to, and how we can get there.

While we recognise the decades of dedication to the reconciliation process, Australians needs to move from ‘safe’ to ‘brave’ in order to realise the promise of reconciliation, a new report says. The 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report assesses the current status of reconciliation and outlines some practical actions that need to be taken if we are to continue to progress the reconciliation process. Reconciliation Australia, CEO Karen Mundine says the report shows the reconciliation movement is at a tipping point. “While we see greater support for reconciliation from the Australian people than ever before, we must be more determined than ever if we are to achieve the goals of the movement — a just, equitable, and reconciled Australia. There is a far greater awareness of the complexity and magnitude of First Nations cultures and knowledges, and many more Australians now understand and acknowledge the impacts that British colonialism and the modern Australian state have had on First Nations families and communities. Reconciliation must be more than raising awareness and knowledge. The skills and knowledge gained must now motivate us to braver action. Actions must involve truth-telling, and actively addressing issues of inequality, systemic racism and instances where the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are ignored, denied or reduced.

The State of Reconciliation report’s focus of moving from safe to brave is supported by the year’s theme, “More than a word. Reconciliation takes Action” which urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action.

To view Reconciliation Australia’s media release in regarding the launch of the report click here, to access a summary report click here and to view the full report click here.
cover of the Reconciliation Australia 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report - Moving From Safe to Brave text against dark red band, top & bottom of cover yellow, pale orange white Aboriginal painting

Plan to slash eyesight-saving surgery wait lists

Extended waiting lists for routine yet potentially eyesight-saving cataract surgery could be slashed under a plan proposed by the eye health and vision care sector in a submission to the 2021–22 Federal Budget. The Vison 2020 Australia submission calls for expanded delivery of public cataract surgery, along with the development and roll out of innovative and sustainable service models and national protocols to support enhanced access to cataract surgery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The submission also proposes improving access to local eye care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by rolling out local case management and supporting community designed and led eye care models.

The full submission can be accessed here and Vision 2020’s media release regarding the submission is available here.

close up of doctor's gloved hands conducting eye surgery

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Health services needed for iSISTAQUIT project

iSISTAQUIT training aims to train health providers in culturally appropriate smoking cessation techniques through self-paced online modules and a range of other resources. The main aim is to make health providers confident in delivering smoking cessation interventions to pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. To achieve this the iSISTAQUIT team is currently actively looking to recruit Aboriginal and mainstream health services in their iSISTAQUIT project. You are invited to consider participating in the iSISTAQUIT project, with an informational webinar on Thursday 11 February at 11:00 am to help you get started.

For further information about the ISISTAQUIT project and webinar click here.

torso of sitting Aboriginal woman in grey sweet pants & white t-shirt breaking a cigarette in half

Image source: The Queensland Times.

Exemption policy impacts across generations

A new book titled Black, White and Exempt: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives under exemption presents the untold story of Aboriginal exemption; a policy imposed by state governments on Aboriginal people during the twentieth century. Exemption certificates promised Aboriginal people access to the benefits of Australian citizenship that Aboriginal status denied them, including access to education, health services, housing and employment. In exchange, exempted individuals were required to relinquish their language, identity and ties to kin.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Studies CEO, Craig Ritchie said “the traumatic and complex impacts of this policy [including mental illness] across generations is little understood.”

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Aboriginal woman Daisy Smith with her daughter Valma, circa 1950

Daisy Smith with her daughter Valma, circa 1950. Image source: La Trobe University website.

WA ACCO consortium leads homelessness project

There is an over representation of Aboriginal people among those experiencing homelessness. The WA McGowan Government has awarded $6.8 million 5-year contract to Noongar Mia Mia Pty Ltd who will lead an ACCO partnership with Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation to provide culturally appropriate assertive outreach, case management and after-hours support for individuals and families sleeping rough across the Perth metropolitan area. The new service will link people who are sleeping rough with appropriate wraparound support services, including accommodation, employment, health, mental health, financial management, and social support. ACCOs have been recognised as having the cultural authority to deliver effective services within Aboriginal communities.

To view the Government of WA media statement click here.

Two homeless Aboriginal men in front of a makeshift tent in Perth

Two men in front of a tent in Perth. Photograph: Jesse Noakes. Image source: The Guardian.

Darwin Dan Murphy’s fight continues

Medical leaders are pushing ahead in their fight against plans to build a Dan Murphy’s near three Indigenous communities as they call for an urgent meeting with Woolworths’ bosses. Construction on the alcohol megastore in Darwin’s airport precinct is due to start in May after the NT Government gave it the green light in December last year. Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) are demanding a meeting with the Woolworths’ board and chairman.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson says the health service deals with alcohol-related incidents every week, and he fears it will worsen if the store goes ahead, “Spanning from violence, deaths, car accidents, you name it, it’s happening as a result of large consumption of alcohol here in Darwin and surrounding suburbs. Our position is quite clear, we do not want the build of a super liquor outlet store in Darwin…full stop.”

To view the Hot100FM news item click here.

Dan Murphy's mega store internal image

Image source: Hot100FM website.

Cherbourg positive parenting program

Cherbourg parents and care-givers have been invited to take part in a free “positive parenting” program which aims to build on the strengths and resilience of the community. For the past two years Darling Downs Health, via Cherbourg Health Service, has been working with CRAICCHS and the University of Queensland to roll out Indigenous Positive Parenting Programs (Triple P) in the community. The programs are known collectively as “D’arin Djanum”, which means “strong together” in Wakka Wakka.

Clinical psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, co-ordinator of the project, said it aimed to provide positive support for parents and families. “The D’arin Djanum project rests on the proven fact that ‘strong together’ families can create a strong foundation for children, support their growth and development, guide them through challenges of life, and teach positive cultural values,” Mr Ponnapalli said. “According to a recent independent report by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Triple P is one of only two programs given a ‘very high’ evidence rating in an international review of 26 parenting interventions designed to prevent or reduce the negative impact of adverse childhood experiences.”

To view the full southburnett.com.au article click here.

Clinical Psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, Cherbourg Qld, in CRAICCHS logo business shirt standing against Aboriginal art

Clinical Psychologist Arvind Ponnapalli, Cherbourg, Queensland. Image source: southburneett.com.au.

Halfway housing for people leaving prison

The Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health (an Australian non-for-profit) is set to build a social, justice, training and agricultural enterprise, incorporating halfway housing for Indigenous people leaving prison at Myalup, 90 minutes south of Perth. Designs are out for public comment regarding the proposed $15 million development Myalup Karla Waanginy – meaning ‘meeting place for different people to come together and yarn around the fire’.

FISH and a team of Aboriginal advisers considered all states for the prototype, but chose WA in part because of its standout Indigenous incarceration rate. The site will house 45 residents at a time, each staying six months, but will also support people after they move on into the community. The program will last 18 months with 180 participants at a time. The wellbeing building will operate like a small campus where participants and staff will work and do counselling, art therapy, education, training and medical checks.

To view the full article in WAtoday click here.

artist's impression of WA Myalup Karla Waanginy

Artist’s impression of Myalup Karla Waanginy complex. Image source: WAtoday website.

Bathurst educator wins Dreamtime Award

Kerrie Kennedy, Senior Educator from Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst is the proud winner of the Awabakal Excellence in Education Award at the Dreamtime Awards. In its fourth year the National Dreamtime Awards has grown to be the biggest and best celebration in the country recognising Indigenous excellence in the categories of Sport, Arts, Education, Health and Community.

Kerrie was nominated for her excellence in education in early childhood. Kerrie said winning the award was a huge honour and paid tribute to her own parents for their commitment to her education, “My mum and dad always told us how important our education was and instilled in us the importance of education for all children. I have helped to establish a Bush Kindy Program in Bathurst, making connections within the local Aboriginal Community, and connecting back to Country. I believe the most important learning and development in anyone’s life happens in high quality early learning centres like ours.”

To view the article in full click here.

three girls with teacher on mat in Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst, Aboriginal flags & images in background

Goodstart Early Learning Bathurst. Image source: Toddle website.

COVID-19 Advisory Group communique

The Australian Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 (the Taskforce) have released a new communique, advising vaccination will be free and a staged rollout is expected to start in February 2021 for people at high risk of infection such as frontline healthcare workers, with vaccination of other population groups to follow.

The Taskforce noted the overarching Australian Government approach to prioritisation has been guided by medical and technical experts. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) acknowledged that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an increased risk of getting and developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to multiple factors, including having a high rate of chronic health conditions and a greater chance of living in communities where crowded living conditions exist.

To access the communique click here.

3D painting of creased Aboriginal flag with covid-19 cell image in flames superimposed

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Sport linked to better academic performance

Greater sports participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is linked with better academic performance, according to new research from the University of SA. Conducted in partnership with the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, the world-first study found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who played organised sports every year over four years, had numeracy skills which were advanced by seven months, compared to children who did less sport.

The study used data from four successive waves of Australian’s Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, following 303 students (with a baseline age of 5–6 years old) to assess cumulative sports participation against academic performance in standardised NAPLAN and PAT outcomes. Sports participation has been linked with better cognitive function and memory in many child populations, but this is the first study to confirm the beneficial association between ongoing involvement in sport and academic performance among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Lead researcher, Dr Dot Dumuid, says the study highlights the importance of sports as a strategy to help close the gap* for Australia’s First Nations peoples.

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

group of Aboriginal boys on red dust landscape - Yuendumu footballer Messiah Brown (centre) is sheperded by Jerome Dickson as Ezekial Egan (stripy shirt) and Riley White try to tackle him

Yuendumu footballer Messiah Brown (centre) is shepherded by Jerome Dickson as Ezekial Egan (stripy shirt) and Riley White try to tackle him. Photograph: Steve Strike. Image source: The Australian.

Suicide data release to aid prevention

Victoria’s Coroners Court will release annual statistics on Indigenous suicide rates to help prevention organisations better target programs to reduce the numbers. A new report has found that suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians are double that among the non-Indigenous population. State Coroner Judge John Cain says the ongoing discrepancy in Indigenous suicide frequencies is worrying.

The Coroners Court established a Koori Engagement Unit two years ago to help tackle the disparity. Unit manager Troy Williamson said the release of a new full-year data in a report to be released each January came in response to requests for more data from Indigenous-led suicide prevention sector and the community. “In 2020, Victoria had one of the country’s highest suicide rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “Our communities have requested more public data to put agency back in their hands and guide culturally safe response to Aboriginal health and wellbeing.”

To view The Young Witness article in full click here.

blue sign outside Coroners Court of Victoria, text Coroners Court of Victoria, state government emblem & the word courtrooms

The Coroners Court set up a Koori Engagement Unit to tackle the frequency of Indigenous suicide. Image source: The Young Witness News website.

Indigenous Governance award nominations open 

Dr Joe Tighe from the Australian Human Rights Commission has commented that unless you have the patience of the Dalai Lama (who had the option of going into exile) – work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity can feel like a very slow, frustrating and painful burn for many advocates. This is one reason why Joe thinks it is so important to recognise and acknowledge successes, the little or big wins, at every opportunity.

When Dr Tighe said that when governments allowed us to dance, these wins sometimes meant a well-deserved night out for an awards ceremony. Acknowledgment of the wins provides a breather and helps to restore some energy. It also reminds governments (again) – that Indigenous health in Indigenous hands is the most effective approach.

Joe encourages you to take the time to nominate the many warriors and success stories for Reconciliation Australia’s Indigenous Governance Awards. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Indigenous organisations to have their governance recognised.

For further information about the Indigenous Governance Awards 2021 and the process for nominations click here.banner text 'Indigenous Governance Awards 2021' right hand side red, yellow, grey Aboriginal irregular dot images - 7 in total

Current tests fail to identify LGA babies

Following a large international study on Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO), diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) were changed in WA in 2015. The ORCHID Study (Optimisation of Rural Clinical and Haematological Indicators of Diabetes in pregnancy) is a collaboration between the Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA), Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services and WA Country Health Services. It was designed to help simplify screening for GDM in rural and remote WA. The study’s first paper showed it can be difficult to get everyone to do this test, while the second paper showed two-thirds of women with GDM who do the test are missed due to blood glucose sample instability. A further component of the study (funded by Diabetes Research WA) is still collecting data for the revalidation of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and glycated albumin as an alternative to OGTT for GDM screening at 24–28 weeks gestation.

To view a plain language summary of the research click here.

sleeping Aboriginal baby in orche coloured blanket in bowl with Aboriginal dot painting & Aboriginal colour headband all sitting in dry grass landscape

Image source: Daily Mail Pics Twitter.

2021 State of Telehealth Summit mental health academy COViU Australia's largest online telehealth conference for mental and allied health professionals banner

2021 State of Telehealth Summit

The use of telehealth consultations in mental health has rapidly expanded in recent months. While this accelerating trend has been ignited by the global COVID-19 pandemic, studies suggest that the shift from in-person care to virtual delivery is here for good. As a mental/allied health professional, how prepared are you to effectively deliver telehealth and take advantage of the latest technologies and opportunities in this field of practice?

To help you answer these questions, Mental Health Academy (Australia’s largest CPD provider for mental health professionals) and COVIU (Australia’s leading telehealth platform) have partnered to deliver the largest ever telehealth-focused online conference, the 2021 State of Telehealth Summit.

Join Australia’s largest online telehealth conference for mental and allied health professionals. It’s entirely free. This ground-breaking event brings together 21 subject-matter experts and 10 hours of learning – all accessible from the comfort of your home. As a participant, you’ll be able to join live webinars, watch session recordings (on-demand, 24/7), and much more.

To register click here.

Digital Health Week 2021 Pushing the Boundaries of Health Care banner, grey, two overlapping white triangles, white text, yellow font '2021' & 'of'

Digital Health Week 2021 from 8–11 February 2021 will be hosted by the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. The 2021 Theme is Pushing the Boundaries of Health Care. Check out the fully-online conference program and speakers here and explore the ePoster gallery here –  showcasing the work of digital health researchers from across the world. Have your say and vote for the 2021 ‘People’s Choice’ ePoster. Two optional digital health and data workshops are on offer, each running for three half-days – Data Science for Clinical Applications and Design of Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS).

To register for the conference click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations media services trusted sources of health information

microphone in radio broadcasting studio

First Nations media critical to health

The critical importance of First Nations media for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities has been highlighted in submissions to a Senate inquiry into media diversity in Australia. However, the sector is under pressure on multiple fronts, according to a detailed submission by peak body First Nations Media Australia (FNMA), which says operational funding provided by the Federal Government has remained virtually unchanged since 1996 despite numerous reviews urging increased funding for the sector.

The FNMA submission highlights many ways in which First Nations media, including radio, TV, newspapers and online sites, affect the social determinants of health, and says the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the sector’s capacity to deliver timely, relevant information and to address misinformation. “Communities turned to First Nations media services as trusted sources of information, particularly amid conflicting reports shared through social media and other networks,” the submission says.

To view the full Croakey article click here.First Nations Media Australia logo - word plus map of Australia filled with yellow orchre black aqua Aboriginal art circles

Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet

The Bega Gambirringu Health Service, Kalgoorlie (WA) has created a 20 page booklet to support and educate Aboriginal people and communities about tobacco use. The booklet is filled with colourful infographics and photos and contains a wealth of information about: tobacco history; what’s in a cigarette; how smoking makes you sick; health effects of vaping/e-cigarettes; smoking during pregnancy; second-hand smoke; the financial cost of smoking; benefits of quitting smoking; understanding why you smoke and how to quit. You can access a copy of the booklet here.

cover of Tackling Indigenous Smoking Bega Garnbirringu booklet

Cover of Bega Garnbirringu Health Service’s Tackling Indigenous Smoking booklet.

Game changing heart monitor

With Indigenous Australians 20% more likely to experience heart or circulatory diseases than non-Indigenous people according to the Medical Journal of Australia. The risk is especially evident among younger people, with Indigenous Australians between 30 and 39-years-old over three times as likely to die from heart disease than non-Indigenous Australians.

New devices like the S-Patch Cardio can ease the strain on Aboriginal Medical Services and ACCHOs. S-Patch Cardio, a simple, lightweight, medically proven heart rate diagnostic device is set to be distributed and delivered through a 100% Indigenous-owned company, Supply Aus. Contracts with both Samsung (creators of the S-Patch Cardio) and Sigma Healthcare (a network of independent and franchised pharmacies throughout Australia) will see Supply Aus source and distribute the life-saving device across Australia. Through Sigma, Supply Aus will be able to use National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) members to provide a range of fairly priced health items to Indigenous communities.

To view the article in full click here.red background of graph & white lines of a heart beat

Why birthing on country is important?

NITV Radio have produced a podcast called What is birthing on country and why is it crucial for Aboriginal women? about the role and training of doulas (childbirth companions) in the community as part of the Caring for Mum on Country project.

The podcast features Kerri-Lee Harding from the SBS National Indigenous Television (NITV) Radio program in conversation with Dr Sarah Ireland, midwife and researcher from the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre at the Charles Darwin University, in the NT and other experts on the Caring for Mum on Country project.

To listen to the podcast click here.

three Aboriginal mums holding their babies sitting on rocks

Smoking Ceremony, Welcoming Waminda Goodjaga’s on Yuin Country. L–R; Gemmah Floyd, Elizabeth Luland, Patricia De Vries and their babies. Image source: Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.

Senior Australian of the Year

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM from the NT, has been named the Senior Australian of the year for 2021. Dr Ungunmerr Baumann was recognised for her contribution to children’s education, demonstrating an admirable commitment to making Australia a better place. Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said Dr Ungunmerr Baumann had gone above and beyond in her service to education in the Top End. “Miriam-Rose became the first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher in the NT in 1975, and later served as the principal of the Catholic school in her home community,” Minister Colbeck said. “She is a renowned artist and a strong advocate for visual art to be a part of every child’s education.”

To view the Minister Colbeck’s media release click here.

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM receiving the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year award

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year recipient. Image source: Salty Dingo.

Criminal justice approaches prioritising health

Dr Jill Guthrie has been given one of Australia’s highest honours for significant service to Indigenous health, including her work on reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contact with the criminal justice system. Dr Guthrie, a descendant of the Wiradjuri people of Western NSW, was one of three academics from The Australian National University (ANU) who have been appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australian honours.

Dr Guthrie’s work has led the way in crafting innovative evidence-based approaches to criminal justice that prioritise the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The epidemiologist recently led a justice reinvestment project in her hometown of Cowra which redirects funds from prisons to holistic initiatives and services to address the causes of offending and keep those at risk of incarceration from coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

To view the full article click here.

image of Dr Jill Guthrie during a panel discussion

Dr Jill Guthrie. Image source: Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Collaboration across health practitioners

As part of delivering holistic healthcare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work with many other health professionals to protect the public, and especially their communities. In the podcast Collaboration across professions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners Tash Miles from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) talks to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and their colleagues about what collaboration across professions looks like and what it means to them, the community, and the potential for the future.

Tash has an insightful discussion with Renee Owen, Program Manager, Aboriginal Health at Barwon Health; Mandy Miller, midwife, Koori Maternity Service, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative; Dr Ed Poliness, GP, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative and Damien Rigney, registered nurse and Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Aboriginal Health Council South Australia. Each guest brings a range of perspectives, centred around a strong connection and acknowledgment of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners in our healthcare system.

To listen to the podcast click here.

Aboriginal mum sitting holding standing young child getting a vaccine by health worker

The North West Hospital and Health Service. Image source: The North West Star.

Lived experience of suicide

The Seedling Group and The Lived Experience Centre, in collaboration with Black Dog Institute have produced a report ‘We are Strong. We are Resilient. But we are Tired’ – voices from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre Yarning Circles. The report aims to present the findings and outcomes from several virtual yarning circles used to explore lived experience and build upon the existing work to better understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lived experience of suicide. Information was gathered to understand: what has helped; how interventions have helped divert a suicide crisis; who was available to help; and what healing has looked like.

To view the report click here.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal rock art hand stencil and Aboriginal hand against the rockhand

Gundjeihmi hand stencil. Image source: Independent Australia website.

NT alcohol policies reduce ICU admissions

Alcohol misuse is a disproportionately large contributor to morbidity and mortality in the NT. A new study, The effect of alcohol policy on intensive care unit admission patterns in Central Australia: A before–after cross-sectional study, examines the effect of a raft of alcohol legislation reforms that came into effect in the NT in 2018, as part of the NT Government’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan. The reforms were based on recommendations from the Riley Review for an integrated alcohol harm reduction framework and included a minimum unit price for alcohol, the introduction of Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspection Officers and a Banned Drinkers Register.

The introduction of alcohol harm limitation policies in Central Australia has had a marked effect on critical health figures, with a 38% relative reduction in Hospital Intensive Care Unit admissions associated with alcohol misuse, as well as a marked reduction in trauma admissions.

To view the media release about the study click here and to access the study click here.

mechanical ventilator for patient in hospital

Image source: Scimex website. 

It’s time to heal

As the state begins to emerge from COVID-19, mental health remains our greatest challenge. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Victoria are three times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress. Victoria also has the second highest rate of “high to very high” levels of psychological distress in 39% of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Australia Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018). We know there is a strong link between trauma and poor mental health.

Amongst the Stolen Generations, 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 plus have poor mental health because of the trauma of removal. This costs us on many levels. Mental health and related conditions have been estimated to be as much as 22% of the health gap (Global Burden of Disease Report 2003). The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic make existing conditions even worse for vulnerable Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the opinion piece in full click here.

painting of Union Jack & Aboriginal flag overlaid with Southern cross stars with cracks throughout painting

Image source: The Standard.

Unchecked misinformation risks vaccine response

A newly formed coalition of health and technology experts is calling on the Australian Parliament to force Big Tech companies to reveal the true extent of COVID-19 misinformation. In a letter sent to the Australian Parliament, the coalition warns unchecked misinformation risks Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. They have called on politicians to introduce a Big Tech ‘Live List’, which details the most popular coronavirus-related material being shared online. The coalition, led by Reset Australia , includes the Immunisation Coalition, the Immunisation Foundation of Australia, Coronavax and the Doherty Institute. “Rampant misinformation on social media is hampering Australia’s COVID-19 efforts and may deter widespread take up of the future vaccine,” said Chris Cooper, executive director of Reset Australia, the local affiliate of the global initiative working to counter digital threats to democracy and society.

To view the Reset Australia media release click here.

drawing of COVID-19 cells & face with cap on head & mask stretched away from the the face with long Pinocchio nose

Image source: Forbes website.

Health scholarships open to regional SA students

Students studying a range of health courses in country SA are being encouraged to apply for scholarships worth up to $20,000. The latest initiative forms part of the SA Health’ 2021 Rural Health Undergraduate Scholarship program. Largely, it seeks to have students working in rural and regional areas of SA and in turn prosper these settings in the long-term.

SA Health’s Rural Support Service executive director Debbie Martin said six undergraduate scholarships. will be available to students who demonstrate a strong commitment to continue their future professional practice in regional areas. “We encourage all year 12 students and new and continuing university students who reside in regional areas to apply for the scholarship,” Ms Martin said. “Scholarship recipients are awarded $5,000 per year for up to four years of their study to help support them while learning.” Successful recipients will be required to work in regional health service settings once graduated, equivalent to the number of years they received funding.

To view the The Times on the Coast article in full click here.

dry SA landscape with sun setting, windmill & sparse vegetation, red dirt

Image source: The Advertiser.

AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarships – last chance

Applications close soon for a scholarship that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students balance work, study and family life. The AMA Indigenous Medical Scholarship provides $10,000 a year to already enrolled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students for the remainder of their degree. Over the past 27 years, the Scholarship has supported 30 Indigenous medical students, including Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, Professor Kelvin Kong.

The 2020 recipient, Lloyd Diggins, was able to use his scholarship to cut down on his working hours, which were restricting his study time outside of classes and his ability to work on country. Mr Diggins, a Wongi man who grew up on Whadjuk and Wardandi Noongar countries in Western Australia, is a physiotherapist, but decided to retrain as a GP after seeing the needs of remote Aboriginal communities. “The scholarship has also allowed me to learn on country. The way I will think and work as a doctor has been changed by the Elders and local Aboriginal people I’ve been able to care for and learn from.”

To view the AMS media release click here.

Aboriginal medical student holding the strut of a light plane on tarmac in outback

Image source: AMA website.

ICE resource feedback sought

Researchers from the Matilda Centre are seeking feedback on a recently developed resource to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. This research is being done to learn more about the new Cracks in the Ice online resource developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This resource aims to provide trusted and evidence-based information and resources about crystal methamphetamine to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

If you, your mob or community has been impacted by ice, or if you are a health professional in this space, make your voice heard and help make sure this resource meets the needs of the community!

The survey is open to people who are: aged 18 years or more; currently living in NSW, SA or WA; identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes, with participants also having the option to provide further detailed feedback in a telephone interview. All participants will go into the draw to win a grocery only voucher valued at $50.

For further information on how to provide your feedback click here.

hands lighting an ICE pipe

Image source: The Conversation.

Fully funded data analyst course

The Digital Skills Organisation (DSO) is an initiative led by the Department of Education Skills and Employment as part of the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package. Indigenous-owned business Goanna Education has been selected by the DSO to trial and test innovative solutions to train and drive employment for junior data analysts. Data Analytics is the science of being able to tell an accurate story from a set of data. It involves the use of powerful tech systems to organise, format, and model data in order to glean useful information.

Goanna Education is looking for Indigenous candidates over 18 years of age who are looking to pursue a career in tech. Applicants don’t need any previous experience. For further information about the 21 week course starting on 1 March 2021 click here.text Career Pathway Support, Goanna Education logo, Aboriginal woman & words Become a Data Analyst

VIC – Melbourne – Children’s Ground

Manager People & Culture x 1 PT (Initial Fixed Term) – Melbourne (possible occasional travel to NT)

Children’s Ground operates in Central Australia and across the Top End, with support provided by a Melbourne-based Shared Services team. With the organisation growing, following a review of the People & Culture function this position will be key to ensuring Children’s Ground recruits and retains staff who deliver on its vision and approach. Children’s Ground has a small People & Culture team working with the Director Children’s Ground Operations to implement the overall People & Culture (P&C) Function. The team includes the Recruitment/Human Resources Coordinator in Central Australia, Volunteer Coordinator (voluntary), P&C volunteers and this new position of Manager of People & Culture.

To view the position description click here. Applications close Monday 15 February 2021.children's ground banner - 7 Aboriginal children running towards camera on country

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: time to get back on track with diabetes

Back on Track with out diabetes promotion tile & words Back on Track diabetes campaign targets mob who've fallen behind during COVID-19

Time to get back on track with diabetes

Diabetes Australia is prompting people living with the disease to get back on top of their care with a new campaign, funded through the National Diabetes Services Scheme, an Australian Government initiative administered by Diabetes Australia. Titled ‘Back on Track’, the multi-platform campaign is urging those who may have fallen behind with their appointments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to get in touch with their local medical service. Indigenous people are almost four times as likely to live with diabetes compared with other Australians.

Ngunnawal Elder Violet Sheridan, who is a diabetic, admitted that her management of the disease had dropped off. She said her fear of COVID-19 was so great she was reluctant to go out into the community or to even engage with her health care providers, “I can be a bit naughty; I don’t listen sometimes which I should… I need to get my mind focused again after getting off track,‘ she told NITV News. “I went down to one of the supermarkets, I went in when COVID was raging real bad when it was first here in Canberra and the grocery store was just packed, I panicked, I panicked, panicked, I just left everything.”

Christopher Lee, the manager for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement at Diabetes Australia said they’ve collected data that corresponds with stories like Ms Sheridan’s.

You can access an online copy of the NITV Back on Track news story featuring Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Violet Sheridan by clicking here and to you can view the Diabetes Australia media release regarding the Back on Track launch by clicking here.

Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan lives with diabetes and she was scared of contracting COVID-19. (Sarah Collard: NITV News)

Ngunnawal elder Violet Sheridan who lives with diabetes, was scared of contracting COVID-19. Image source: NITV News.

Get a heart check video

The Heart Foundation, Mawarnkarra Health Service, Glenys Collard and Dr Celeste Rodriguez Louro from the University of WA, the WA Centre for Rural Health and consumers have contributed to the production of a short, animated video designed to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their local health worker to get a free heart check.

To view the animation click here.

image from Get a heart check animation - Aborigial man with two AMS health workers getting his blood pressure taking

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Schools urged to teach Stolen Generations story

The Healing Foundation is urging all Australian schools to include the story of the Stolen Generations in their curriculum to ensure students have a better understanding of the full history of Australia. As schools prepare for the 2021 year, they are encouraged to incorporate The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Resource Kit for Teachers and Students into their curriculums. The kit provides schools with a free resource that communicates the full history of Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a safe and age-appropriate way.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said Australia’s history dates back more than 60,000 years and is rich with stories of the oldest continuous culture on Earth. “The story of the Stolen Generations provides context and meaning for the struggles and inequities that First Nations peoples have faced since colonisation,” Ms Petersen said. “The traumatic impact of historical child removals continues to affect Stolen Generations survivors and their families today, but until now very little has been taught in schools. “The grief and trauma that resulted from historical child removals is deep, complex and ongoing, and it is compounded when unacknowledged or dismissed for a sanitised version of history.

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

black and white photo of Kahlin Compound, an institution for Indigenous children considered 'half-caste' in 1921

Kahlin Compound and Half Caste Home, Darwin, NT, 1921. Image source: ABC News.

NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy

The NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2020-2025 is designed to support and assists NSW health services in delivering respectful and appropriate mental health services in partnership with Aboriginal services, people and communities. The strategy is the foundation for change that will support a future way of working under the national Agreement for Closing the Gap in Aboriginal Health outcomes.

To view the strategy click here.cover of the NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2020–2025

Climate change health impacts

Climate change impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities – and all Australians. The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has recently issued a policy statement titled, Climate change and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health. The paper outlines AIDA’s position in relation to climate change in Australia and the current research around its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

AIDA has invited you to read the paper, share it with your members and colleagues and promote it among your networks.

To view AIDA’s policy statement in full click here.

back of two people in black pants & t-shirts with words 'Climate Justice Now!' holding Aboriginal flag

Image source: Seed website.

Ever-present structural and systemic racism

As years go, 2020 was memorable to say the very least. For First Nations Australians and their allies the COVID-19 pandemic was not been the only stressor. The death of American black man George Floyd on 25 May at the hands of white Minneapolis police officers, and the subsequent resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement highlighted again the ever-present structural and systemic racism across Australia, including in the health system.

Kristy Crooks, an Aboriginal woman of the Euahlayi nation, who has three degrees under her belt and a PhD in progress, works every day to improve the health of First Nations people through her role as Aboriginal Program Manager with Hunter New England Population Health. Ms Crooks said “COVID has further marginalised people who are already disadvantaged, and it’s highlighted the structural barriers, including institutional racism”.

To view the full article in the Medical Journal of Australia click here and to read the opinion piece (First Nations people leading the way in COVID-19 pandemic planning, response and management) by Ms Crooks and her colleagues which focuses on the new community-driven approach to the pandemic click here.

tree trunk superimposed with square divided into black on top, red on bottom & yellow map of Australian with words 'No Room for Racism'

Image source: 3CR Community Radio website.

Health literacy needed to combat fake health news

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the AMA’s position statement on health literacy as important recognition of the need for strong public support for people to have access to valid health information. “CHF has long argued for more focus on health literacy to ensure people understand their own health and care needs so they have the power to make the best decisions for their health,” the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said. “In the internet era when so much good and bad information floods people’s screens, there is a need for a healthy information culture to overcome fake health news.

“We agree with the AMA that doctors, and health systems, have a vital role to play in improving health literacy by communicating effectively and sensitively with patients, encouraging discussion, and providing information that is understandable and relevant.  We would support the AMA’s call for an Australian Government-funded campaign to counter this misinformation and promote healthy choices, including information about vaccine safety and the health risks associated with alcohol, junk food, tobacco, and other drugs “Health literacy is vital to consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care. Right now, up to 60% of Australians appear to lack the capacity to access, understand, appraise and use crucial information to make health-related decisions.

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

4 icons; find with microscope; understand with head & cogs; appraise thumb up & thumb down; apply - running figure with though bubble stethoscope & cross

Image source: IC-Health.

Stroke Foundation award nominations open

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Stroke Foundation Stroke Awards. The Awards celebrate survivors of stroke, carers, health professionals and volunteers who have shown an outstanding commitment to make life better for Australians impacted by stroke.

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognised? Nominate them for the 2021 Stroke Awards by Friday 12 February 2021 by clicking here.

tile of man with Stroke Foundation on his t-shirt jogging along footpath and 4 Stroke foundation awards #strokeawards

2021 Nurses and midwives national awards

HESTA is calling on Australians to show their appreciation and support for the nation’s nurses and midwives by submitting a nomination to the 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards. The Awards recognise nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their outstanding work to provide exceptional care, leading the way for improved health outcomes.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the immense impact these professionals, who have gone above and beyond to deliver quality patient care during a very difficult time, have in keeping communities healthy and safe. “Our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our community; they deserve to be recognised,” Ms Blakey said.

“Nominating in these Awards is an opportunity to show support for and give thanks to all our nurses and midwives and acknowledge their hard work and achievements.”

To view the media release regarding the awards and details of how to submit a nomination click here. Nominations close on 7 February 2021.

Aboriginal mum & newborn in hospital bed with Aboriginal health professional

Angelena Savage and baby Tyrell and Gumma Gundoo Indigenous Midwifery Group Practice midwife Kat Humphreys. Image source: The Queensland Times.

Housing and infectious diseases study

Housing and crowding are critical to health. Sufficient, well-maintained housing infrastructure can support healthy living practices for hygiene, nutrition and safety. However, when there is insufficient public housing for a growing community and a lack of functioning health hardware, the transmission risk of hygiene related infectious diseases increases. The outcome is that many Indigenous Australians currently living in remote areas experience considerably higher levels of preventable infections, such as boils, scabies, middle ear infections and lung infections, than their non-Indigenous and urban counterparts.

The Pilyii Papulu Purrukaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness): A study of housing, crowding and hygiene-related infectious diseases in the Barkly Region, Northern Territory report provides a case study of Tennant Creek and the surrounding Barkly Region in the NT, to highlight the relationship between remote housing, crowding and infectious disease. It was conducted in partnership between The University of Queensland (School of Public Health and Aboriginal Environments Research Centre) and Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation that provides health services within the town and through a mobile clinic.

To view the report in full  click here.

photo of elderly woman and small child walking through dry grasses to tin shed

Photo by Trisha Nururla Frank, 2019.

Support for Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers

Palliative Care Victoria have produced a podcast which provides an example of the support Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers can offer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a life-limiting illness. Suzanne Nelson, a Yorta Yorta woman and Aboriginal Health Liaison Worker, discusses how she supports Aboriginal people who have a life-limiting condition and their families. To listen to the podcast click here.

portrait photo of Suzanne Nelson

Suzanne Nelson. Image source: LinkedIn.

High youth incarceration rates in ACT

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services have expressed their deep concern over the high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the ACT as detailed in a recently released report. Data from the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (ROGS) 2021 revealed that the rate of Indigenous youth incarceration in the ACT in 2019–20 was at its highest since 2014–15. Dr Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “The ROGS data tells us that there is significant overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in detention in the ACT.”

To read the joint ACTCOSS and Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services media release in full click here.

external view of ACT Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi

ACT’s Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi. Image source: Aulich Lawyer & Law Firm blog.

Health magazine seeks contributions

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA), a peak body working to improve health and wellbeing in rural and remote Australia, is seeking contributions for the next issue of its online magazine, Partyline, to be published in March 2021. The March issue will focus on the long tail of COVID-19 in rural, regional and remote settings as we learn from the past 12 months. The extraordinary disruption of the pandemic has resulted in a swag of changes in the way we live, the way we perceive our own health, in our experiences and engagement with the health system, and in the way we understand the role of public health.

For the March edition NRHA welcomes stories about trends happening in rural health during the pandemic, and both positive and negative changes because of COVID-19. They recommend an article length of 600 words with accompanying photos that visually portray your message. As always, they are also happy to publish poetry or creative prose.

To view the current Partyline issue click here. Contributions to the next issue are due by COB Thursday 11 February 2021.

CSU lecturer in physiotherapy & placement supervisor Kay Skinner with CSU physiotherapy students Emily Barr and Kloe Mannering standing outside an ACCHO with brick walls covered in Aboriginal paintings

CSU lecturer in physiotherapy & placement supervisor Kay Skinner with CSU physiotherapy students Emily Barr and Kloe Mannering. Image source: Partyline.

SEWB programs review

Multiple culturally-oriented programs, services, and frameworks have emerged in recent decades to support the social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) people in Australia. Although there are some common elements, principles, and methods, few attempts have been made to integrate them into a set of guidelines for policy and practice settings.

A Charles Darwin University review, A scoping review about social and emotional wellbeing programs and services targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Australia: understanding the principles guiding promising practice aims to identify key practices adopted by programs and services that align with the principles of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023.

The review argues the selective application of nationally agreed principles in SEWB programs and services, alongside a paucity of scholarship relating to promising practices in young people-oriented SEWB programs and services, are two areas that need the urgent attention of commissioners and service providers tasked with funding, planning, and implementing SEWB programs and services for Aboriginal people. Embedding robust participatory action research and evaluation approaches into the design of such services and programs will help to build the necessary evidence-base to achieve improved SEWB health outcomes among Aboriginal people, particularly young people with severe and complex mental health needs.

To access the review click here.

artwork 'Wellbeing' by Professor Helen Milroy 2017, used on cover of the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017–2023 painting of 4 concentric circles, one with Aboriginal figures with linked arms

Image source: ‘Wellbeing’ by Professor Helen Milroy, 2017.

Recognising mental illness patterns

Kylie Henry, a 43-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Wakka Wakka tribe in Cherbourg, Queensland, where she was born and raised, has learned to live with mental illness.

“I’ve always known that I was different from others and couldn’t understand why I was going through so much turmoil in my life. To admit to having a disability was shameful for me and I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I had a mental illness, largely because of being discriminated against by my own people along with others. I didn’t want people, especially those from my own community, to tease me because of my disability. I hid it for so many years.”

To view the article in full click here.

portrait shot of Kylie Henry

Kylie Henry. Image source: ABC News website.