NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest during an interview at the 2022 NACCHO Members’ Conference in Canberra.

Pharmacist Scholarship recipient Bryony Forrest

Bryony Forrest (Darumbal / Kanolu), an aspiring deadly pharmacist and a recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship was interviewed at the recent NACCHO Members’ Conference following the Medicines and Pharmacy stream session.

In February 2022, NACCHO announced applications were open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders.

In April 2022 NACCHO was pleased to announce the five successful recipients. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program:

  • Bryony Forrest, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, James Cook University
  • James Sowter, RMIT
  • Jason Coleman, University of SA
  • Louis Emery, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Dr Dawn Casey, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, ‘NACCHO was impressed with the calibre and volume of applicants we received, especially in this first year of the scholarship’s implementation. We are proud to provide opportunities that help build leadership and skills amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, who are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession.’

Karen Hood, Sanofi’s Country Lead said, ‘As members of Australia’s healthcare community we know how important it is to listen to, and work in partnership with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes and support meaningful steps toward a more fair, equal and just society. ‘Recognising the crucial role pharmacists play in our health system and the clear need for greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in this field of study, we are delighted to be supporting the inaugural NACCHO scholarship as another step toward improving health and economic participation as determined by Australia’s First Peoples.’

Bryony Forrest said ‘I have always had a passion for pharmacy from when I started as a pharmacy assistant in 2018, which only deepened as time went on and I gained more experience in this field. Connecting with my community is extremely important to me and forming these meaningful connections with individuals in the context of health showed me how powerful being a pharmacist is, and what a unique opportunity it holds for health interventions and long-term health solutions in improving the lives of others. I look forward to practising as a pharmacist and making a difference for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

You can find further information about the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship on the NACCHO website here and listen to Bryony Forrest’s interview below.

Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service at AMC

Winnunga has been operating the standalone Winnunga Health and Wellbeing Service in the AMC (Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT adult prison) since January 2019, within its own model of care. This is an Australian first and one Winnunga believes will prove to be one of the most significant advances in the care and rehabilitation of Aboriginal detainees. Development of this service required meeting the RACGP Standards for health services in Australian prisons with infrastructure, staffing, equipment and policies. The service provides high quality holistic care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in prison and continuity upon a client’s release from prison.

A client satisfaction survey of the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service was published in the Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet in February 2022. Participant responses indicated a high quality of care across all five aspects of
care that were evaluated (participation in care; care design; care planning and self management; care coordination; follow up and respectful care). At least three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had received the specified aspects of care ‘Most of the time’ or ‘Always’. The provision of respectful care was rated particularly high, with all respondents indicating that they always had things explained in a way they could understand, had their concerns listened to, and felt that they and their beliefs were respected by Winnunga staff. Clients were also highly satisfied with the care provided to them and their families through Winnunga.

The most common suggestions for improvement in the client survey related to Winnunga not yet having an opioid replacement pharmacotherapy program so some clients could not be transferred to Winnunga care. This has now been addressed and more detainees have access to the Winnunga prison health and wellbeing service

The above information about the AMC Health and Wellbeing Service Survey was published the Winnunga News November 2022 edition here. You can read the Evaluating Patient Experience at a Novel Health Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prisoners: A Pilot Study article here.

Winnunga Health Clinic at Alexander Maconochie Centre. Image source: The Canberra Times.

HIV and sexual health webinar this WEDNESDAY

The Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and NACCHO are partnering to deliver a webinar during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week 2022, to discuss available HIV resources and support that we can offer to the sexual health sector. The purpose of the HIV Toolkit Webinar is to provide ACCHOs and the HIV and Sexual Health Sector with culturally appropriate, evidence informed, and effective training for workers to build the capacity and confidence to support and educate their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients around HIV and sexual health.

The webinar also aims to increase the uptake and utilisation of AFAO’s recently published ‘Healthcare Workforce Toolkit: HIV and Sexual Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tool kit as an ongoing resource with comprehensive information, including to help improve rates of HIV and sexual health testing, and to increase the awareness and uptake of HIV treatment, and prevention tools including condoms, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis).

The webinar is from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm (AEST) Wednesday 7 November 2022. To REGISTER click here.

ACCO literacy campaign linked to crime reduction

Researchers from Literacy for Life Foundation, the Lowitja Institute and the University of NSW have authored a report about the beneficial impacts of a First Nations community-controlled adult literacy campaign. The most significant quantitative finding was a 50% reduction in reported serious offences in a sample of 162 campaign participants. Qualitative data from interviews found an increased use of legal assistance services following the campaign. These findings are contextualised through the lived experiences and perceptions of First Nations campaign staff and participants, community leaders and government and non-government agency personnel.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of an adult literacy campaign in reducing the incidence of negative justice system outcomes in rural and remote NSW Indigenous communities with low levels of English literacy. By drawing on linked administrative data to corroborate self-reported and observer reported data, this study has shown that participation in a community-controlled Aboriginal adult literacy campaign correlates with reductions in the average number of total offences, especially those related to traffic and justice procedures.

Of particular note, serious offences were halved in our study group, especially in women and in relation to assault. The analysis of qualitative data indicates that improved literacy may lead to greater degrees of self-control, among other positive impacts. If efforts to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous adults in the criminal justice system are to be successful, further research into and resourcing of adult literacy interventions is urgently required. Such research can assist in moving beyond simplistic law-and-order agendas by acknowledging that ‘building of positive futures for communities relies on building a foundation of well addressed non-criminal needs’.

You can read the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy article Impact of a Community-Controlled Adult Literacy Campaign on Crime and Justice Outcomes in Remote Australian Aboriginal Communities in full here.

Image source: Literacy for Life Foundation website.

What’s next for our kids? asks Chris Bin Kali

Deputy Chairperson, Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) Chris Bin Kali has written an opinion piece published in the National Indigenous Times last Friday about Premier Mark McGowan announcement of a $63m plan to address conditions for youth in detention. Bin Kali said while it is clear that additional funding is desperately needed, so is clarity around what is next for our young people in detention.

Bin Kali said a single funding announcement is not enough to make lasting change, ‘We know that in Australia, Aboriginal youth are disproportionately represented in youth detention. A large majority of the youth detainees currently at Banksia Hill are Aboriginal.  Under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the WA Government has committed to partnerships and shared decision-making with Aboriginal people about issues impacting our lives, and to improving the accountability and responsiveness of government to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“To honour these commitments, the WA Government must listen to Aboriginal people and partner with us to find solutions to these issues. We know that these problems are complex and will require long-term changes across a range of areas. We know how troubled some of our young people are and the healing they need. We don’t pretend these things can be fixed overnight. But we are certain that they won’t be fixed without prioritising Aboriginal voices.”

To view the NIT article What next for our kids, Premier? in full click here.

Chris Bin Kali. Photo supplies by AHCWA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NDIS Ready videos and social media tiles

At the end of 2021 NACCHO delivered over $1.25m in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

Some of the funding has been used by NACCHO affiliates to produce the following videos:

AHCWA

AH&MRC

AHCSA (no videos)

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

The image in the feature tile is of the U and Me Can Stop HIV banner painted by VACCHO staff for the VACCHO reception area. Image supplied by VACCHO.

U and Me Can Stop HIV video launch

On World AIDS Day yesterday VACCHO launched a video U and Me Can Stop HIV video. This video was a result of a collaboration by VACCHO with Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and Thorn Habour Health. Over a period of two days VACCHO made 1,000 awareness red ribbons for World AIDS Day. VACCHO said the ribbon making was a great way to engage people and have a low key yarn about HIV.

Warra could change face of Indigenous leadership

Research tells us that the more diverse management and leadership teams are, the better organisations function. Diversity leads to richer ideas, a more inclusive work culture and better business decisions and outcomes. In fact, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, found in 2020 that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance had strengthened over time.

Despite this, many organisations continue to fall behind the eight ball on diversity, with the statistics especially dismal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who remain vastly underrepresented – or completely excluded – from leadership in the Australian workforce. According to the Minderoo Foundation’s Indigenous Employment Index, Indigenous employees are almost entirely absent from senior management and executive leadership positions. Among the 31 employers who reported the relevant data, Indigenous representation at senior leadership levels was just 0.7%.

It’s a reality that Kamilaroi woman, Carlyn Waters is all too familiar with. Over the past 20 years, Waters has held senior positions in various government roles, often finding herself as one of very few Indigenous people at the same level. Now, Waters is calling time by, spearheading a new sponsorship program called Warra, the first program delivered by Cultivate Indigenous – a majority First Nations owned and operated business. The program seeks to inspire and develop talent at all levels by embedding a culture of sponsorship, and delivering tailored development opportunities to grow, retain and advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

To read the Women’s Agenda article ‘That kind of support can be transformative’: A new, curated sponsorship program could change the face of Indigenous leadership in full click here.

Carlyn Waters. Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Questions must be answered on pharmacy trials

According to a media release from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) state governments have a responsibility to answer questions about why they are determined to move Australians to a second-class health system and put patient safety at risk through pharmacy prescribing trials. AMA President Professor Stephen Robson launched a video today posing six questions to state governments about pharmacy prescribing trials and the decisions that led to their implementation.

Professor Robson said these trials presented a clear risk to patient safety; ignored ethical concerns regarding separating prescribing and dispensing of medicines and could lead to an increase in anti-microbial resistance and the emergence of more superbugs. “Responding to GP shortages with second-class policy solutions that trample over the advice of independent bodies like the Pharmacy Board of Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration and bypass established national processes that exist to protect patient safety isn’t the answer.

“GPs train for 12–15 years to have the expertise to diagnose conditions that are being covered in some of these trials. You can’t replace that training and experience with a few hours of weekly online training without putting patients at risk. GPs are highly skilled and equipped to diagnose the difference between a UTI and other serious and potentially deadly health conditions. They are equipped to take a full medical history of their patients and understand the full range of contraceptive options available to women. A second-tier health system that moves the costs of health services from the government to the patient (except for Victoria which is proposing to cover some of the costs) isn’t the solution.”

To view the AMA media release Questions must be answered on pharmacy prescribing trials in full click here.

Image source: RACGP newsGP.

Exhibition showcases art’s healing power

The healing power of art is reflected in an exhibition of First Nations ceramic works originating from a new collaboration, which co-mingles visual art education and well-being activities for Purple House dialysis patients in Alice Springs. Charles Darwin University (CDU) Academy of Arts has partnered with Indigenous-owned and operated health service Purple House, to present the exhibition that blends and celebrates the cultural diversity of Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

The exhibition’s title, Pana, Tjulpirpa, Pilki combines the words for clay in three different desert languages spoken by the ceramic artists who hail from the region’s Pintupi-Luritja, Pitjantjatjara and Kukaja communities. It showcases the creative talent of First Nations women who are Purple House patients receiving dialysis treatment, while studying visual arts at CDU’s Alice Springs campus.

Purple House is a non-profit health organisation, based in Alice Springs, that aims to improve the lives of First Nations people with renal failure, support families and reduce the impacts of kidney disease in communities. Purple House CEO Sarah Brown said that art has always been integral to Purple House and the lives of its patients. “Art helps keep culture strong in communities, and it’s a powerful way to share knowledge and stories, and an important source of income,” Ms Brown said. “Our patients get so much out of their ceramics classes at CDU each week and this is a fabulous opportunity for them to exhibit their artwork.”

To view the Charles Darwin University Australia News article Exhibition showcases art’s healing power in Alice Springs in full click here.

An exhibition in Alice Springs showcases the ceramic artworks of First Nations women who are receiving dialysis treatment at Purple House, while studying Visual Arts at CDU. Image source: CDU website.

Improving transplantation access for mob

More than 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and their carers will travel from across Australia to attend a two-day meeting in Adelaide next week. The meeting aims to improve access to and outcomes from transplantation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to a statement from The National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT), a multidisciplinary national network of clinical, patient, and community advocates.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney transplant recipients, dialysis patients, and their carers and family from the Kimberley, the Torres Strait, central Australia, far north Queensland, regional NSW and Victoria, and the Top End will travel to Adelaide to work together with clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to determine priorities and next steps for the NIKTT.

Organisers say the meeting has been designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients, non-Indigenous advocates, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to be “a safe, shared, brave space that will allow us to co-design the future of transplantation equity together”.

To view the Croakey Health Media article As new report launches, historic meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kidney patients and carers to co-design transplantation equity in full click here.

Theatre staff prepare surgical equipment for a kidney transplant operation. Photo: Frances Roberts, Alamy. Image source: The Guardian.

Sector Jobs

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

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

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December each year. IDPwD is a United Nations observed day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. This includes encouraging individuals, schools, community groups, businesses and organisations to get involved and hold events on, or around, 3 December.

The IDPwD program aligns with key action areas under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–31. This includes improving community awareness by recognising the positive contribution people with disability make to society, and building confidence in the community to work and engage with people with disability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disability at up to twice the rate of non-Indigenous Australians and while many receive support for their disability, historically Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been up to four times less likely to receive a funded disability service. For more information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, including statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare click here.

You can find more information about IDPwD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ‘Mixed progress’ calls for better collaboration

The image in the feature tile is Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, yesterday Tuesday 29 November 2022. Photo: Mick Tsikas, AAP Image. The image is from the SBS NITV article Closing the Gap targets widening in serious areas including incarceration and children in out-of-home care published today.

‘Mixed progress’ calls for better collaboration

Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney will present the findings of the 2022 Closing the Gap report to parliament today. The report shows signs of mixed progress on Closing the Gap targets, with the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians widening in some of the most serious areas:

While some targets are improving or “on track”:

  • Babies born with a healthy birthweight (89.5%)
  • Children enrolled in preschool (96.7%)

other targets are worsening or “not on track”:

  • Children being school ready (34.3%)
  • Adults in prison (2,222 per 100,000)
  • Children in out-of-home care (57.6 per 1,000)

This is the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Annual Report since the launch of the 2020 National Agreement and Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan released in August 2021. In 2020, an agreement between the federal government, the Coalition of Peaks, all state and territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) was struck, aiming to renew ways of working together to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians. The groups agreed to improve 18 socio-economic outcomes across health, education, employment, housing, justice, safety, land and waters, culture, language and connectivity.

Minister Burney said the latest annual report told a story of mixed progress, and that it is disappointing to see a lack of progress in a number of areas. “The Closing the Gap architecture can only work when all parties are invested and there is a coordinated effort from all jurisdictions in partnership with First Nations peoples,” she said. “We have to work more closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make real and much-needed progress.”

To view the SBS NITV article Closing the Gap targets widening in serious areas including incarceration and children in out-of-home care in full click here. You can access the report here and also view the Minister Burney and Senator McCarthy joint media release 2022 Closing the Gap Annual Report here.

Churchill Fellows offer policy insights

NACCHO representatives were in attendance earlier today at Australian Parliament House for the launch Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda. This is the flagship publication of the Policy Impact Program, a partnership between The University of Queensland and The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The publication includes articles from ten Policy Impact Program Fellows 2022, including the below four with specific relevance to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector:

  • Belinda Cook: First Nations First: Targeted investment to grow a dynamic and sustainable First Nations fashion sector
  • Dr Niroshini Kenney: Safe, Healthy & Thriving: How culturally safe health care can close the gap for Aboriginal children in care
  • Clement Ng: It’s Time to Treat Sick Kids, Not Punish Them
  • Maida Stewart: Healthy Housing Programs: For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with high rates of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

To more information about the launch you can access the Winston Churchill Trust website here.

Clockwise: Belinda Cook, Dr Niroshini Kennedy, Clement Ng and Maida Stewart. Image source: Winston Churchill Trust website.

Holistic approach to child health and education

A community-based preschool in regional NSW is now a hub for the health of its community. Jumbunna Community Preschool and Early Intervention Centre, in Casino, NSW, is now an inclusive, holistic environment where families can access support and therapy for children with additional needs, along with accessing a preschool program. Jumbunna’s growth is proof of how needed its services have been in the regional community of Casino.

It became an early intervention centre in 1992 after originally starting as a community-based preschool. Jumbunna provides early intervention for around 130 children each year, including children with disabilities, delays in development or those who are at risk of delays for environmental or biological reasons. It serves many families from vulnerable backgrounds.

Jumbunna has now grown to include supported playgroups, mobile preschools that visit nearby remote communities, and parenting support. The centre is also an NDIS provider. Some service providers travel to attend the centre and hold clinics, including a paediatrician who comes over from Lismore. This is useful for families that aren’t able to access paediatricians, whether for financial reasons, difficulty accessing transport, or inability to get a referral.

Staff at Jumbunna have embedded themselves in the community to learn more about what services are needed, and its commitment to the health and wellbeing of children has travelled by word of mouth to more families. They’ve also developed relationships with local health services and the Aboriginal Medical Service. To better support local First Nations children, Jumbunna hosts the Happy Program which checks hearing and vision.

To read the Australia ProBono News article Jumbunna grows with community in full click here.

Jumbunna Community Preschool and Early Intervention Centre staff. Image source: Pro Bono News.

Arthritis, one of the most prevalent, costly diseases

Despite arthritis being one of our most prevalent and expensive diseases, impacting over 3.6m Australians (or 1 in 7) and costing $14b per year, a new report has identified major gaps in research, and confirmed the condition has one of the lowest levels of research funding of all chronic health conditions – keeping Australia dangerously ‘in the dark’ on this health priority.

The Arthritis Australia Impactful Arthritis Research report calls for an urgent focus on arthritis research. Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions account for 13% of the country’s total disease burden, on par with cardiovascular disease (13%), mental health (13%) and cancer (18%). But just 1% of the Medical Research Future Fund has been on arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.

Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in Australia, affecting people of all ages with the number diagnosed with arthritis set to rise to 5.4m by 2030. Yet it remains poorly understood by the community, often trivialised and firmly focussed on the bones and joints, ignoring the significant broader health and life impacts on those living with the condition. The costs are extraordinary with over $2.3b a year spent currently on hip and knee replacements for osteoarthritis. This is anticipated to more than double to $5.3 billion per year by 2030.

The report outlines urgent research priorities with an emphasis on improved care, research across the multiple types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, and the needs of communities and priority populations – including children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, those living in rural and remote areas, and people with disabilities.

To read the Mirage article Australians ‘in dark’ with arthritis: one of our most prevalent and costly diseases in full click here.

Image source: Tristate Arthritis & Rheumatology website.

Crucial turning points for CTG intervention

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers will use more than 40 years of data to pinpoint crucial areas that could be “turning points” in development where intervention could contribute to closing the gap in Aboriginal health in Australia. The team, led by Telethon Kids Institute and The University of WA researcher, Associate Professor Francis Mitrou, has been awarded a prestigious Synergy Grant by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The five-year study, in partnership with Aboriginal communities, will use data from the West Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey (WAACHS) of more than 5,000 Aboriginal children and their families collected between 2000 and 2002, and which has been linked to administrative datasets from WA Government, some stretching back more than 40 years.

The milestone study is one of the most significant studies of its kind examining the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, conducted under the principles of Indigenous Data Sovereignty.

To view The University of WA article Rich data to highlight crucial turning points for intervention to close the gap in Aboriginal health in full click here.

ACT prison an overcrowded powderkeg

The ACT’s prison is no longer able to cope with the rising number of detainees and conditions inside the wire continue to deteriorate, with boredom and lack of education and training opportunities chronic issues feeding unrest, a new report says. The ACT Inspector of Correctional Services’ latest health check of the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) paints a damning picture of an overcrowded facility where women detainees feel unsafe, Indigenous detainees are subject to harsher discipline and cut off from family and culture, and a lack of meaningful activity generally leads to outbreaks of violence.

The Healthy Prison Review is only the second report since the first in 2019 and says the past three years have been challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted AMC operations with fewer staff due to illness, detainees spending more time in their cells and a reduction in programs and visits but it alone cannot account for the deteriorating situation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees are overrepresented in higher security classifications, uses of force, strip searches and as subjects of segregation orders, and feel their cultural and health needs are not being met. “Not being able to see family, attend Sorry Business, or practice cultural responsibilities causes significant harm for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and compounds dislocation from community,” the report says. “Disconnection from culture/family also increases the difficulty in re-engaging with community upon release.”

Aboriginal community controlled health service Winnunga Nimmityjah is making a difference at the AMC providing primary care but only about 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees are able to access this service at any one time. The report makes 29 recommendations including expanding the health centre and other facilities, increasing women’s accommodation, exploring the feasibility of a multi-purpose industries building, and creating a senior Aboriginal-identified position to find ways to reduce the disadvantages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees.

To view the Riotact article ACT’s prison an overcrowded powderkeg past its use by date, says report in full click here. You can also access a related statement Review of ACT Prison Reveals Serious Concerns by from ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) here.

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Ian Cutmore, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

The image in the feature tile is of Dr David Scrimgeour who has published a book about his experiences working in the Western Desert. Photo: Giulia Bertoglio, ABC Goldfields. Image source: ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement published on Sunday 27 November 2022.

Big believer in ACCHO model of health care

When Australia’s last groups of nomads walked out of the desert, David Scrimgeour was the first doctor to examine them. Dr Scrimgeour recounts this experience as well as two defining moments in Aboriginal history: the homelands movement and the push for Aboriginal-controlled health care in his book Remote As Ever: The Aboriginal struggle for autonomy in the Western Desert.

Dr Scrimgeour is a big believer in the Aboriginal community-controlled model of health care and hopes his book will show how important autonomy is for Aboriginal communities — particularly, he said, as government policies have ebbed away at the pride people felt when the communities were first established. “I think it’s important that that the Australian public generally are aware of how people did get out here to these communities,” he said. “And how important taking control of your own life is for people’s health.”

Dr Scrimgeour said there was now another social movement taking place in remote Aboriginal communities that gave him hope for the future. He described it as the “caring for country movement”, which was underpinned by ranger programs. He believes funding local people to undertake ecological and cultural work on country not only helps the environment but also people’s physical and spiritual health. “Caring for country is good for the health of the people,” he said. “It’s good for the health of the country. It’s good for the health of the whole country of Australia.”

To read the ABC News article Reflections on Australia’s last desert nomads, Pintupi Nine and Richters, and the homelands movement in full click here.

Aboriginal health practitioner Tyson Stevens, remote area nurse Simon Gabrynowicz, Dr Scrimgeour and Aboriginal health worker Winmati Roberts all worked at the Spinifex Health Service. Photo: Paul Bulley. Image source: ABC News.

Researchers need to invest time to build trust

Historically in Australia, research has been a dirty word among First Nations communities, some of the most ‘researched on’ people in the country. They got no ownership of the data obtained from their participation, no recognition of their sovereignty and no help in building their own research capacity. But there’s been a national push to try to ensure that research is driven, and co-designed, by Indigenous Australians themselves. Increasingly, national funders, including the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), require grant applicants to provide evidence of Indigenous partnerships, including Indigenous leadership.

As part of short series of articles about decolonizing the biosciences, paediatric lung researcher Pamela Laird has outlined the steps that clinical researchers must take to establish and maintain trusting relationships with Indigenous communities that they serve. Based at the University of WA and at Telethon Kids Institute, both in Perth, Laird’s team has spent years laying the foundation to study respiratory disease in Indigenous Australian children.

To view the nature article Invest the time to build trust among marginalized research participants in full click here.

Pamela Laird (right) and her team have spent years earning the trust of Indigenous Australian mothers whose children participate in respiratory research. Image source: nature.

NT set to raise age of criminal responsibility

The NT is this week set to become the first Australian jurisdiction to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years old. The move has been praised by health organisations and Indigenous groups, who say it will prevent children from becoming trapped in the criminal justice system. But the plan has also come under fire from the territory’s opposition, who say it risks encouraging youth offenders, and from paediatricians who say the age should be raised even higher.

In all Australian states and territories, the current minimum age of criminal responsibility is 10 — much younger than most other developed nations. Governments on both sides of politics have been under growing pressure to radically overhaul how they deal with youth offending since a Four Corners investigation into youth detention made global headlines in 2016.

At the centre of the investigation was the treatment of detainees inside Don Dale Youth Detention Centre near Darwin. The shocking vision included in the episode led to a royal commission which, among other things, recommended raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12. This is below the United Nations’ recommended minimum age of criminal responsibility, which was set at 14 by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2019.  Last year, in an escalation of international pressure, 31 UN member states called on Australia to raise the age as part of the Universal Periodic Review. But so far, only the NT and the ACT have announced plans to legislate the change.

To view the ABC News article Northern Territory set to become first Australian jurisdiction to raise age of criminal responsibility. Here’s what that means in full click here.

The NT’s minimum age of criminal responsibility is set to to be raised from 10 to 12. Photo: Tristan Hooft, ABC News.

WA Premier needs to “take notice” of evidence

Mark McGowan says “activists” like former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley, who are campaigning for major reform of WA’s youth justice system, are not “dealing with the real world”. Professor Stanley, at the weekend described WA as the “worst” State for the development health of children. She called for the age of criminality to increase from 10 to 14, for the juvenile Unit 18 at Casuarina Prison to close by Christmas and for the McGowan Government to adopt Aboriginal service-led solutions.

The highly-respected child health advocate also publicly urged Mr McGowan to “take notice” of research and evidence that showed early intervention could prevent children from being locked-up. “We know from our studies, in our Telethon Kids Institute, that nearly 90 per cent of the children who have gone into Banksia and have been transferred into Casuarina have a major developmental disorder, either FASD (fetal alcohol syndrome) or ADHD or an intellectual disability. It’s not just FASD — it’s early life trauma, it’s actually intergenerational trauma.” Prof Stanley said. “Now, if you know that and understand it — and we have briefed every minister about that — how could you then do what’s happening to children in Banksia and Casuarina … it beggars belief.”

Former Labor premier Dr Carmen Lawrence joined forces with Prof Stanley to criticise the current Labor Government’s approach to youth detention, saying “it was a “disgrace” that so many young people were still being incarcerated in WA and that it was a “breach of any decent standards” to detain children at an adult prison. If you think of your own children or grandchildren, you’ll know that if they were kept in solitary confinement, even for an hour, they would start to climb up the walls. It’s inevitable that children will not behave well in those circumstances, so those practices have to stop,” she said.

To read the Kalgoolie Miner article Banksia Hill: Premier Mark McGowan slams activists’ ‘fanciful’ ideas regarding WA’s youth justice system in full click here.

On Sunday, Professor Stanley endorsed a suggestion that because 80% of the children in detention were Aboriginal, the aim should be for 80% of the facility’s staff to be Aboriginal. Photo: Andrew Ritchie, The West Australian.

AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive

The Australian Electoral Commission has launched a month-long advertising and communication campaign aimed at empowering First Nations Australians to have their say at electoral events. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers says the campaign is aimed at the estimated 101,000 Indigenous Australians who are not enrolled to vote.

“Australia’s estimated Indigenous enrolment rate of 81.7% is the highest it’s ever been, but we’re not going to be satisfied until we’ve closed the gap with the broader national enrolment rate,” Mr Rogers said. “There is clearly the likelihood of a referendum soon with a topic specific to First Nations Australians, making high levels of enrolment and engagement even more important.”

To read the AEC media release Vote Loud. Vote Proud. AEC launches First Nations enrolment drive in full here.

CSIRO postgraduate scholarships available

The CSIRO has Master and PhD scholarships available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are enrolled in an Australian university and wish to undertake a postgraduate research degree.

If you have studied in any of the following disciplines, the CSIRO is especially keen to hear from you:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths.

The CSIRO postgraduate scholarships provide additional funding to a research training program (RTP) Scholarship, Centrelink education scheme payment or equivalent scholarship. Applicants must be of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and enrolled in an Australian university.

Students can apply at any time of the year!!

You can find more information about the CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Scholarships by clicking here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

The image in the feature tile was taken at the NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022:    

Left to right: Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner, Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group, Rebekah Cassidy, Sanofi Head of Communications Australia and New Zealand, Bryony Forrest, recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Stream at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022

“We look at medicine programs that improve how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can use medications. We also deal with policies around improving access to medications and making sure that medications and pharmacy services are really accessible. We have been consulting with our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across the country on how they manage medicines in the clinics. They’ve asked us to provide some guidelines and support materials to improve how medicines are managed in the clinics,” said Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director of Medicines Policy and Programs at the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022.

NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy team hosted a session on ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines session at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022 that highlighted the process involved in having access to good quality, safe, effective and affordable essential medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To view, the ACCHO Medicines Management Guidelines click here.

About the systems that support safe, effective and cost-effective use of medicines

On Day 2 of the conference, saw another session by the Medicines and Pharmacy team on ‘The IPAC project, Deadly Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Collaborations’. In that session, the presentation covered the importance of the IPAC project, the newly launched Deadly Pharmacists foundation training course co-designed with PSA, and a couple of examples of other PSA collaborations involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.  To view the presentation click here.

Deadly Pharmacists and PSA Collaboration

In this video in the link below, hear from the Medicines and Pharmacy team who highlight the work carried out for the ACCHO sector and talk about what the NACCHO Member’s Conference 2022 theme- ‘Honour the Past Prepare for the Future’, means to them. The key takeaway is how traditional medicines that trace back 60,000 years ago and past knowledge are still relevant for us now and will be in the future. Featured in the video:

  • Mike Stephens, NACCHO Director Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Alice Nugent, Pharmacist Advisor, NACCHO Medicines Policy and Programs
  • Chastina Heck, Chair of the NACCHO-PSA ACCHO Pharmacist Leadership Group
  • Associate Professor Faye McMillan, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner
  • Bryony Forrest, the recipient of the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by Sanofi.

For more information or any queries on Medicines and Pharmacy, email medicines@naccho.org.au

Developing wellbeing (trauma) informed care approaches across ACCHSs in the Kimberley region of WA

A new health research project in Kimberley aims to improve clinical responses to the experiences of adversity and trauma that many Aboriginal patients experience and the impact this has on their healthcare access and engagement.

Research Fellow Emma Carlin, from The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia and The University of Western Australia’s Medical School, is leading a partnership with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service and the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing research project, to develop and implement Wellbeing Informed Care approaches for Aboriginal Community Controlled primary health care in the Kimberley region.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) is providing $955,000 to fund the project over three years. This funding is matched with significant in-kind contributions from the partner agencies.

The project will work with clinics and community to co-design and implement Wellbeing Informed Care in a place based and culturally secure way while reflecting on international and national trauma-informed care research.

At the end of the project, the partnership aims to have developed an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service specific approach to Wellbeing Informed Care alongside an accessible implementation guide that will be available for other interested services.

To read the full story click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS culturally safe and accessible maternity care

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service’s midwifery program aims to remove barriers that prevent women from accessing maternity care by providing culturally safe, non-judgemental and flexible care, says CEO Julie Tongs.

“We focus on the clinical, cultural and spiritual needs of Aboriginal clients, families and the community and the midwifery program welcomed 68 babies into the community in 2020 and 2021,” says Ms Tongs.

“The midwifery team offers antenatal and postnatal care, community at home support, baby health checks, breastfeeding support, immunisations, and a range of women’s health services.

“Our midwives work closely with ACT hospitals, and assist in ensuring continuity of care between Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS and hospital services”.

Ms Tongs says Winnunga also has a comprehensive child immunisation program they encourage patients to access.

“This also allows us to follow up on our patients’ progress with postpartum recovery, and to assist them with any needs in relation to caring for their infants,” says Ms Tongs.

“It is vitally important for high-risk clients to have access to Aboriginal specific, culturally appropriate midwifery services, as many choose not to access mainstream services without support.”

To read the full story on ‘Supporting Mums through pregnancy and beyond’ in CBR City News click here.

To read the latest Winnunga Nimmityjah AHCS 2021-2022 Annual Report click here.

Congratulations to Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD 

Nurses and midwives across NSW have been celebrated for their significant contribution to the public health system, with the winners of the 10th annual 2022 Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Awards announced today. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor congratulated the nurses and midwives for their outstanding commitment to providing world-class care to patients across NSW.

“These nurses and midwives deserve to be recognised for going above and beyond in their dedication to caring for patients, their families and communities every day,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the highly skilled health staff for the excellent work they do across NSW, particularly during the past few years of the pandemic.”

The winners in each of the eight categories are:

  • Nurse of the Year: Cecilia Desousa – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Midwife of the Year: Kim Wood – Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Sarah-Kathleen Colliss – Nunyara Aboriginal Health, Central Coast LHD D
  • New to Practice Nurse/Midwife of the Year: Rachael Roach – Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Mid North Coast LHD; and Stacey-Lee Cossar-Denny – Gilgandra Multi-Purpose Service, Western NSW LHD
  • Nursing/Midwifery Team of the Year: Campbelltown – Marrickville and Redfern Acute Care Service, Sydney LHD
  • Judith Meppem Leadership Award: Sonia Marshall – Director Nursing, Midwifery and Performance, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (colleague) Award for exceptional care: Denise Burns – Campbelltown Hospital, South Western Sydney LHD
  • Healing Heart (consumer) Award for exceptional care: Judy Boynton – Sustaining NSW Families, Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Jacqui Cross said the winners represent a wide range of roles performed by nurses and midwives in diverse settings across the NSW health system.

“Nurses and midwives are an integral part of our health system, providing the essential care and support people require through different stage of their life,” Ms Cross said.

“All of the finalists and winners should be proud of their achievements – they make a difference in the lives of patients every day.”

Read the full story here.

Sarah-Kathleen Colliss have been selected from nominations across eight categories that recognise nurses and midwives who have made a difference in clinical practice, management and leadership.

More First Nations Australians receiving NDIS support

First Nations Australians living with disability are accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in greater numbers, according to new data.

The latest NDIS Quarterly Report shows that of the 23,137 new participants to enter the Scheme in the quarter, 9.4 per cent (2,169) identified as First Nations peoples.

As of 30 September 2022, the NDIS was providing disability support to 40,842 First Nations participants, up from 34,378 at the same time last year – an increase of more than 18 per cent.

Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy are pleased to see the number of First Nations participants increase, as the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) continues to focus on ensuring First Nations peoples with disability can more easily access support.

Increasing the number of First Nations staff working at the NDIA is also a priority for the Australian Government. In the 2022 APS Census, three per cent of NDIA staff identified as First Nations people.

The NDIA’s First Nations Employee Network (FNEN) Conference was held for the first time since COVID, with Senator McCarthy as a guest speaker.

Since June 2022, the NDIA has:

  • Discussed the potential of a partnership agreement with First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) to support the NDIA in the co-design of the strategy.
  • Engaged with key internal and external stakeholders to discuss their involvement and input in the strategy co-design process.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said, “Having attended the NDIA’s latest First Nations Employee Network Conference, the Agency has increasing the number of First Nations NDIA staff on their agenda. The network’s conference will help the NDIA’s efforts to deliver culturally appropriate NDIS support to First Nations communities.

“I spoke directly to First Nations NDIA staff and gave the Australian Government’s overview of the NDIS and First Nations matters.

“The conference also explored the actions in their NDIA First Nations Employment and Inclusion Plan 2022-25 and what the Agency could do to bring those actions to life, including career development, recruitment and retention of First Nations peoples.”

To read the full story click here.

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

Image source: AbSec website.

Noel Pearson proposes “A job guarantee for the Bottom Million”

In the third instalment of his thought-provoking ABC Boyer Lecture series, Noel Pearson examines the individual, community and societal structures required to empower Aboriginal communities and how a Voice will support them.

In this lecture, Pearson cites a 2017 Productivity Commission report which found three per cent of Australians were in income poverty continuously for at least the previous four years. They come from single parent families, the unemployed, people with disabilities and Indigenous Australians who were particularly likely to experience income poverty, deprivation and social exclusion.

“The Commission’s numbers are open to debate.  They are likely an underestimate. I propose this Bottom Million is caught in four traps: the trap of the natural rate of unemployment, the trap of the middle-class welfare service industries, the trap of the vice industries and the trap of voicelessness.” Pearson said.

“If a Voice is to be effective and meaningful, it must be about giving the Wik people a Voice, so that they can take better responsibility for their people. It must be about giving the Yolngu a Voice, so that they can be empowered to solve their own problems. It must be about giving the Yorta Yorta a voice. This must not be a top-down, socialist structure.”

Read the full story here.

Noel Pearson in his third ABC Boyer Lecture

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Connected Beginnings national gathering hosted by SNAICC

The image in the feature tile is from the SNAICC website on the event.

Connected Beginnings national gathering hosted by SNAICC 

“We all want the best for our children, and it’s incredibly important that all kids thrive in their early years to get the best start to life,” said Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – NT as she shared pictures in a post on the Connected Beginnings national gathering earlier this week in Brisbane.

Powerful stories, sharing and experiences as day one of the Connected Beginnings event. This is the first time services have been able to get together for a few years, and the first with SNAICC as Community Partner.

NACCHO along with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) are happy to work in partnership with the Australian Government and SNAICC-National Voice for our Children to deliver the health component of this program which makes a real difference towards improving the lives of our kids and building better outcomes for them.

Background Information

The Connected Beginnings program forms part of the first Commonwealth Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.. It aims are to contribute to achieving Outcome 4, that children thrive in their early years, under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Connected Beginnings currently fund 14 ACCHOs and Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia. In 2021, the Australian Government provided additional funding to expand the Connected Beginnings Program to a minimum of 50 sites by 2025 and are working in partnership with NACCHO on the delivery of the health component of the Connected Beginnings program.

The program demonstrates how change can be made within the new Closing the Gap partnership arrangements and how transformation can happen if everyone has a shared vision, trust, and commitment.

You can find more information about Connected Beginnings on the Australian Government Department of Education and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations joint website page here.

To read a previous article on a Connected Beginnings program run by one of our affiliates, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), an ACCHO for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community click here.

Image source: Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – Northern Territory Facebook page

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Scholarships

CSIRO offer opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to undertake postgraduate research degrees. Master and PhD scholarships are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who are enrolled in an Australian university and wish to undertake a postgraduate research degree.

The CSIRO postgraduate scholarships provide additional funding to a research training program (RTP) Scholarship, Centrelink education scheme payment or equivalent scholarship.

Applicants must be of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and enrolled in an Australian university.

If you have studied in any of the following disciplines, the CSIRO team are happy to hear from you:

  • science
  • technology
  • engineering
  • maths.

For more information click here.

Dr Veronica Matthews work recognised as top 10 First Nations health author

Matthews’ work focuses on improving holistic health care systems, the model of comprehensive care embodied by community-controlled primary health services that care for body, mind and spirit for first nations patients. Dr Veronica Matthews is a health systems researcher from the Quandamooka community of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). She is based at the University Centre for Rural Health (UCRH) on Widjabul/Wyabul Country in Lismore.

Last month Matthews was acknowledged as top 10 First Nations health author by scholarly output in the world along with two other University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health colleagues FMH researchers.

Early influences – as a saltwater Murri, Matthews’ early experiences – the saltwater country around Minjerribah aka North Stradbroke Island – were the initial inspiration for her studies in ecology and environmental toxicology. Her PhD involved assessing persistent organic pollutants in Moreton Bay seafood for consumption advisories and health risk assessments for surrounding communities. This took Matthews to work for more than 20 years in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector across government and research roles. And always, from the get-go, Matthews’ work focused on improving holistic health care systems, the model of comprehensive care embodied by community-controlled primary health services that care for body, mind and spirit.

To read the full story click here.

Image source: University of Sydney website

Grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives.

  • $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant awarded to a consortium team of nursing and midwifery education researchers
  • A leading Charles Sturt University nursing educator is a member of the research team
  • The researchers aim to strengthen anti-racism and cultural safety in healthcare education

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives.

Head of the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences Associate Professor Linda Deravin is a member of the research team led by Professor Karen Adams, Director of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at Monash University.

To read the full story click here.

Aboriginal lady on dialysis and Aboriginal nurse

Image source: Queensland Health.

RACGP announces GP training leadership appointments

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the appointment of senior leaders to support its Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program delivery in 2023. The RACGP has been recruiting the people required to deliver its profession-led AGPT program across Australia from 1 February 2023.

RACGP Chief GP Training Officer Ms Georgina van de Water joined the RACGP in February 2022, and previously led GP Synergy in NSW and the ACT. Ms van de Water said she knows from 14 years of leadership experience in the sector that regional training organisations have provided a great service to GP training, and the RACGP’s new appointments will enable the college to build on that success. “Our new national and regional leadership appointments come with extensive experience in managing general practice education, to meet the current and future needs of the profession and managing the systems that support trainers and GPs in training,” she said.

One of the RACGP’s key priorities is ensuring a smooth transition for GPs in training, supervisors and practices, and minimising disruption. To this end, the College is recruiting local and regional staff who know the local operations, training practices and participants in each state and territory, and can ensure a seamless transition.

Ms van de Water said, “We continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure a transition with as little disruption to the delivery of GP training as possible, including the Department of Health, peak bodies representing GP supervisors and registrars, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, rural workforce agencies and clinical schools, primary health networks, state health organisations, local hospitals and community health services.”

To read the full story click here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Australian-first cervical cancer screening program aims to reduce high mortality rates among Aboriginal women

Reducing the unacceptably high rates of cervical cancer in women from remote Aboriginal communities is the aim of an Australian-first cervical screening program being trialled in WA’s Kimberley region.

The program, developed by the University of Notre Dame Australia in collaboration with health providers and other research partners, enables specialist medical staff to travel to remote communities with the latest portable testing equipment, which can determine within 45 minutes whether a patient is carrying the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV).

The initiative is only possible through existing partnerships with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS), WA Cervical Cancer Prevention Program, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service, Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer, Australian National University, University of Queensland, and the University of Sydney.

UNDA post-doctoral researcher Dr Aime Powell said Aboriginal women were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and three times more likely to die from the disease, mainly due to a lack of testing.

She said cervical cancer was one of the most preventable and treatable cancers and cervical screening was the most effective way to detect precancerous cells. Those cells can then be removed before they develop into cancer. However, less than 50% of all eligible Kimberley women participate in routine screening at the recommended interval.

“Given the existing inequitable health outcomes, it was clear that an innovative approach was needed to improve women’s access to participate in cervical screening.” Dr Powell said.

Read the full story here.

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

Sector Jobs

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

The image in the feature tile is from

Unique helpline 13YARN officially launched

This morning, Federal Member for Indigenous Affairs, the Honourable Linda Burney MP, was joined by Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Hon Emma McBride MP to officially launch Australia’s first – and only – national Indigenous-led crisis hotline, 13YARN. Funded by the Australian Government (through the Department of Health), the purpose-built, 24/7 national telephone helpline was co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is run with the support of Lifeline.

More than 2,500 calls to 13YARN were answered in October 2022, which is an increase of 500 on the previous month. In the first 10 days of November, the service answered over 1,000 calls and is on track for its biggest month to date. “The more we have gone out into the community, the more trust we have been able to build – by showing mob that we are listening to their needs and yarning about the ways in which we can help them when they are feeling overwhelmed or doing it tough.”

“On average, our First Nations Crisis Supporters are helping keep over 100 people safe a day – and this call volume is growing week on week. We believe there is always hope at the end of a yarn. We know how to listen without judgement or shame, and we believe in the power of storytelling to heal.” Mrs Anderson said that the service filled a gap that had existed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for too long, “This one-of-a-kind service has been designed from day one to be culturally appropriate and is there to make sure any mob who are having difficulty coping have their own place where they can connect and get help from a trained Crisis Supporter who understands what they might be experiencing.”

To view the Mirage article Unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander helpline officially launched in Sydney in full click here.

Image source: 13YARN tweet 28 October 2022.

Plan to cut mob’s hearing loss by half

Hearing Australia has set itself an ambitious target, launching a plan to halve the rate of hearing loss among Indigenous children by 2029. It’s a widespread and chronic problem across Australia, with one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children experiencing otitis media, inflammation and infection of the middle ear. Local diagnosis and treatment are not always available. These infections cause temporary hearing loss, making it hard for children to hear, learn, and yarn. The Hearing Australia action plan is an all-out effort to improve ear health and hearing outcomes for Indigenous children. It calls for earlier diagnosis, better access to treatment, and building workforce capabilities in primary health care services across Australia.

One of the people leading the effort is Denise Newman, who was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga on Cape York Peninsula. Early detection of ear infection is vital to prevent hearing loss Denise is a strong advocate for better ear health and hearing, who understands the challenges better than most. “I’m profoundly deaf in one ear, but I’m moderate in the right. I can really feel for the children. I know what it feels like not to hear.”

Otitis media can be a product of socio-economic factors in remote communities like overcrowding, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, poor access to services, and low immunisation rates. Since the introduction of the Hearing Assessment Program – Early Ears (HAPEE), there has already been a reduction in hearing loss because children are coming in early, and they’re being detected early and being treated early.

To view the Tropic Now article Bold plan to cut Indigenous hearing loss by 50 per cent in full click here.

Hearing Australia’s Denise Newman was born on Thursday Island and grew up in Bamaga. Image source: Tropic Now.

Nurse and midwife shortage research

A Charles Sturt University nursing educator is part of a multi-organisation research team to be awarded a large grant to investigate why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are under-represented in the ranks of nurses and midwives. Head of the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences Associate Professor Linda Deravin is a member of the research team led by Professor Karen Adams, Director of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at Monash University.

The $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant was awarded to the team of researchers from Muliyan, a consortium of nurse and midwifery education researchers and hosted by the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) that Associate Professor Deravin is part of.

Associate Professor Deravin said the $1.1 million ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant is the largest-ever funded ARC Indigenous grant and represents approximately 10% of the total Indigenous Discovery grant allocation of $10,688,702. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are only 1.3% of the nursing and midwifery professions in Australia, far below the 3.8% of the nation’s First Nations population (as of June 2021).

To read the Charles Sturt University article $1.1 million grant to research shortage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in full click here.

Image source: Charles Sturt University Latest News webpage.

Centre for Disease Control consultation paper

The Department of Health and Aged Care has released a consultation paper Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection outlining plans for the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), including 28 questions to guide further consultations about the initiative. The document reveals that the CDC is likely to be established from early 2024. The new document is an excellent discussion paper which clearly seeks to walk the tightrope between high aspirations for the new agency, and the pragmatism of working with a government with many competing priorities and resource constraints. We will of course be pushing those aspirations.

The paper provides a Draft Mission Statement and a set of Draft Purposes for the agency. The purposes are that the CDC will Protect, Gather and Analyse, Guide and Communicate, Lead, Cooperate, Prioritise and Develop. Themes highlighted in the consultation paper include climate and health, One Health, the importance of prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, equity, diversity and the wider determinants of health.

To view the Role and Functions of an Australian Centre for Disease Control: Prevention-Promotion-Protection consultation paper click here and to read the Croakey Health Media article On the new Centre for Disease Control, here are 28 questions requiring your attention in full click here.

Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Inequities in cancer care can be overcome

Cancer care is suboptimal for some groups in Australia, but according to experts, the disparities can be overcome. While cancer instances went down by 16% between 1998 and 2015 for Australians as a whole, the numbers increased for Indigenous Australians by 26%. Rural Australians were 1.3 times more likely to die from cancer in 2021 and members of the LGBTIQA+ community were also disproportionately affected by certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers.

In addition to the heightened physical challenges, family stress and financial and employment difficulties that come with a cancer diagnosis, patients from rural areas are commonly faced with extensive travel to access medical services unavailable closer to home, she said.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at the University of New South Wales, works on empirically addressing complex health disparities through existing data, particularly by using Indigenous data for research and reporting purposes. Addressing inequity and the needs and aspirations of Indigenous people begins with the application of human rights and the appropriate and effective use of Indigenous data, said Dr Griffiths. She emphasised that supporting Indigenous worldviews, values, understandings and practices within Western structures plays a crucial role in the rights and interests of Indigenous people being met.

To view the Oncology Republic article Inequity in cancer care: instances of change in full click here. In the below video Professor Alex Brown from the Aboriginal Health Research Adelaide Medical School, The University Adelaide talks about the health disparities in Aboriginal communities.

Lowitja Institute funding round CLOSES Monday!

Applications for the Lowitja Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Major Grant Round 2022-23 close on Monday next week.

The purpose of the Major Grants is to support innovative and responsive community research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The aim is for research to influence policy and practice through the rapid translation of community priorities for improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. It will also support the capability and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to do their own research, their way.

Applications close on Monday 21 November 2022. More information can be found on the Lowitja Institute website here.

Puzzle piece image from Bond University website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

World Prematurity Day

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

Preterm birth remains the leading cause of death in children up to 5 years of age. The National average rate of preterm birth in Australia has remained relatively constant over the last 10 years (between 8.1 and 8.7%). Many of these babies lose their fight for life. For many Aboriginal babies, the news gets worse. In the NT, the preterm birth rate for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is almost double that of the non-Aboriginal population at over 14%.

The biggest discrepancy is in the extremely preterm gestational age. Aboriginal women in the NT are 4 times more likely to lose a baby between 20 and 23 weeks gestational age. That is before the baby even gets a chance to survive. This equates to too many mothers walking out of hospital without their babies in their arms.

For more information about World Prematurity Day visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here. The image below is from a Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook post on World Prematurity Day last year. Accompanying the image is the following information: If Smoking during pregnancy was eliminated among Indigenous women, 1 in 6 preterm births could be prevented. Among babies born to Indigenous Women, 14% were born preterm, which is one of the biggest risk factors to bub dying by 1 month old.

Image source: Solid Mob – Tackling Indigenous Smoking Facebook page – 17 November 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

The image in the feature tile is from 2SER 107.3 website, 14 November 2018.

Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

A new Diabetes Australia (DA) report has revealed the spiralling impact of diabetes and warned that unless urgent action is taken, the condition – and complications like vision loss – will threaten to overwhelm the country’s health system. In the last two decades, the report revealed the disease’s significant burden on the Australian economy, in terms of the cost of direct healthcare (up 289%), hospital costs (up 308%) and medicines (up 282%), while hospitalisations have increased by 149% since 2004.

Looking ahead, Diabetes Australia (DA) is warning that the number of people living with diabetes could climb to more than 3.1m by 2050, resulting in 2.5m hospitalisations per year and costing Australia around $45b per annum. To coincide with World Diabetes Day today – 14 November, the organisation released its report Change the Future: Reducing the impact of the diabetes epidemicwhich it described as “a call-to-arms to combat the diabetes epidemic”.

Diabetes Australia Group CEO Ms Justine Cain said the report looked at the best available evidence to assess the significant burden of diabetes and identified a number of areas of concern. “Diabetes Australia is particularly concerned about the number of people currently living with diabetes, the increase in younger Australians being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the impact of diabetes on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, rising numbers of mothers being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and the emergence of a number of recently identified complications,” Cain said.

To view the Insight article New Diabetes Australia report reveals dramatic jump in diabetes costs for economy, including a link to the Change the Future: Reducing the impact of the diabetes epidemic click here.

ACCHO expands into Permanency Support Program

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation is now accredited with the Office of the Children’s Guardian to provide support to Aboriginal children and young people through the Permanency Support Program. The Permanency Support Program offers tailored services to vulnerable children so they can grow up in stable, secure and loving homes.

To support this initiative, Ungooroo has recruited a team of qualified and experienced staff, including caseworkers and carer engagement officers who will work with children, young people and their carers to identify the best permanency goal. Ungooroo CEO Taasha Layer says the program plays a crucial role in providing positive life outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people.

“Our priority is keeping families together safely and achieving permanency for Aboriginal children and young people. We know that vulnerable Aboriginal children and young people are much better off if they are living in a safe and stable home with relatives or kin, in community and on Country,” she said.

To read the Muswellbrook Chronicle article Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation expands into the Permanency Support Program in full click here.

Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation is now accredited to provide support to Aboriginal children and young people through the Permanency Support Program. Image source: Muswellbrook Chronicle.

Want to improve hearing health for our mob?

Do you work in the ear and hearing health space?

Do you want to improve hearing health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Let us know what you think about the big challenges, the gaps, and what we need to be doing more of.

Researchers, service providers, government organisations, universities, peak health bodies, and anyone working in this space, we want to hear from you!

Let us know what you think in this survey here.

Any queries, contact NACCHO using this email link.

Trainers need to understand cultural needs

Trainers will need to understand the cultural needs of local communities if the transition to college-led training is to be successful in the NT, the head of the Territory’s RTO says. “It’s taken 20 years for us to really understand how to do this work in NT communities,” the NTGPE’s Dr Richard Zanner said, following a four-day tour of remote communities during which he hosted RACGP leaders.

“The curriculum, manuals and data – that’s all explicit knowledge or information that we can easily transfer to the colleges. But the real meat, the real essence, of course, lies in the tacit knowledge and that’s a very tricky thing to try and transfer to another organisation – but that’s where the value in our training lies. “If the IT systems don’t work perfectly on day one or day two that would be a shame, but it wouldn’t be a tragedy.”

The tour came less than three months before Australia transitions to training led either by the RACGP or ACRRM, but Dr Zanner is optimistic about these goals being achieved. “After flying around the Top End in and out of communities with [RACGP president-elect Dr Nicole Higgins and vice-president Dr Bruce Willett], I feel a lot more re-assured,” he said. “I’m convinced they recognise the importance of relationships and of that knowledge in the way we’ve gone about our work.”

To view The Medical Republic article Tour reveals secret to NT training success in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Republic.

HEAL 2022 conference next week

Join us at the Healthy Environments and Lives (HEAL) 2022 conference focusing on the latest research and policy priority setting on human health, climate and environmental change solutions in Australia. This two-day event will connect diverse Australian and international stakeholders from academia, policy, practice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and local communities.

This innovative conference has a hybrid multi-node format allowing for interactions online and in-person at eight nodes located across Australia. To learn more about the conference and to register, please visit the HEAL Network website here.

You can also view a flyer about the conference here.

IAHA Conference 28-30 November

You are invited to join the First Nations Allied Health Workforce at the National Convention Centre Canberra, for the 2022 Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) National Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is Celebrating the past, present and future in Allied Health.

Can’t make it to the conference? Come along to our IAHA Markets on Wednesday 30 November at the Convention Centre. Open to the public. Register online by scanning the QR code (available in the flyer here) or visit the IAHA website here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia – 8 December 2022

Save the date!

Inviting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services’ staff to join this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia on Thursday 8 December 2022:

  • 1:00 PM – WA
  • 2:30 PM – NT
  • 3:00 PM – QLD
  • 3:30 PM – SA
  • 4:00 PM – ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC

Each year, ATSIHAW provides an opportunity for conversations in our communities to increase education and awareness about HIV, prevention and treatment, the importance of regular testing and to reduce stigma.

NACCHO are co-hosting the ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia 2022 along with the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.

A link to register your team for the virtual trivia will be sent later this week. Sexual health themed costumes and props are highly encouraged – there will be prizes for the best dressed!

If you have any questions please contact NACCHO using this email link.

The U and Me Can Stop HIV campaign was created by University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health in collaboration with the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHRMI). Each year coinciding with World AIDS Day on 1 December, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) is held nationally to refresh the conversations about rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. ATSIHAW was launched in 2014 with support from the Commonwealth Department of Health and has been run annually by Professor James Ward and his team at the University of Queensland Poche Centre for Indigenous Health (and previously SAHMRI). ATSIHAW continues to expand growing bigger and more inclusive of the ACCHO sector running events that raise awareness, educate, inform, and promote testing for HIV in Communities. The theme for ATSIHAW is: ‘U and Me Can Stop HIV’ further promoting the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health being in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hands!

For more information about the history of ATSIHAW click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health services holding communities together

The image in the feature tile is from an article Kerang residents now urged to leave, Echuca braces for more flooding published in the Bendigo Advertiser on 22 October 2022. Photo: Dareen Howe.

Health services holding communities together

Health services in rural and regional communities have been inundated with increased needs for their services after flooding around the country stretches into a third year. Some health services – including ACCHOs and nursing homes – have found themselves under water while unsafe roads have made it harder for people to reach healthcare. Health workers are contending with new health concerns including illnesses related to contaminated flood waters, mould and mosquitoes as well as high stress levels as people lose their homes, food sources and livelihoods. Growing concerns about Australia’s continued inaction on climate change is also contributing to the distress felt by communities. Some have now experienced successive extreme floods, fires and droughts. Community and primary health services in Victoria, including ACCHOs, have been integral in the flood response.

ACCHOs are the “beating heart” of Aboriginal communities, many of which have been directly affected by recent floods, Abe Ropitini, Executive Director of Population Health at the VACCHO said. VACCHO was quick to respond after floods hit some of its member organisations last month, providing immediate food and housing relief, in part supported by its own appeal.

Many of VACCHO’s 32 member organisations are spread along the Murray River which has experienced extensive flooding. Njernda Aboriginal Corporation in Echuca and Kerang Aboriginal Community Centre have been damaged and are facing operational challenges due to flooding and the Cummeragunja Housing & Development Aboriginal Corp on the banks of the Murray River was entirely evacuated. As Ropitini explained, these organisations provide a range of health services, including housing, contributing to the significant investment needed for rebuilding.

To read the Croakey Health Media article Inundated health services holding communities together in full click here.

Salvation Army Pastor Ronald Stobie handing over sleeping bags and blankets to Njernda CEO Tracey Dillon, Director Corporate Services Robert Nugent and Executive Director Family Services Aunty Hazel Hudson. Image source: Njernda Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page 23 October 2022.

Improving hearing health for children

Combining Indigenous and western research methods, a new Flinders University project is aiming to stop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from falling through the cracks when it comes to their hearing. Recently awarded over $1.1 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the project will provide culturally appropriate pathways to ensure children are not missing out on crucial ear health checks.

“All children have the right to hear well as it is vital for language development,” says project Chief Investigator Dr Jacqueline Stephens, an epidemiologist from Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. “For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children this is especially important as language is a key component of their identity and for the passing on of history and knowledge, as well as building relationships with family and Country.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the highest prevalence of poor hearing health in the world, experiencing earlier, more frequent, more prolonged and more complicated ear disease and consequent hearing loss than other children, despite ongoing efforts to address the issue.

To view the Flinders University article Improving hearing health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in full click here.

Image source: Flinders University News webpage.

What’s best for tackling type 2 diabetes

Australian scientists reviewed seven previous studies that looked at interventions to address type 2 diabetes in Indigenous communities in Australia, NZ, Canada, and the USA, to see which worked and which were less effective. Although these communities are distinct, they also share some similarities, the authors say. This study analysed a decade of research in a field with disproportionate burden of disease and limited research. Indigenous group engagement with chronic disease management, including T2DM, is challenged by the ongoing impacts of colonialism, socioeconomic hardship, and racism. High income economies have relatively large pools of resources for their health systems that need more effective application to reduce barriers preventing healthcare access and use for Indigenous communities, given the ongoing disproportionate burden of disease.

The team identified seven components of effective interventions: reducing barriers to healthcare; a focus on community consultation; adaptable primary care programs; involvement of community-based health workers; empowerment of Indigenous people to help strengthen community ties and self-management; short, intensive programs; and group-based programs. The authors say policymakers should apply these seven components when designing approaches to tackle type 2 Diabetes in Indigenous communities.

To view the SCIMEX article What works best for tackling type 2 diabetes in Indigenous communities? in full click here and a link to the research article Effective primary care management of type 2 diabetes for indigenous populations: A systematic review in full here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Head injury 69 times more likely for First Nations women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 69 times more likely than non-First Nations women to go to hospital with a head injury because of an assault. But not all First Nations women get the support they need. A new study shows how health and support services working in remote areas are not equipped with the tools to identify the potential of a head injury for women who experience violence.

Not only are service workers not asking women about a potential traumatic brain injury, there’s a lack of referral options, and often no diagnosis, limiting women’s access to services and supports for recovery. The study tries to understand the needs and priorities of First Nations women who have experienced a traumatic brain injury due to family violence. Timely and culturally safe care, and support, following such brain injury is vital.

To view The Conversation article First Nations women are 69 times more likely to have a head injury after being assaulted. We show how hard it is to get help in full click here.

First image source: Shutterstock, The Conversation. Second image source: Temet – Getty, The New Yorker.

HESTA Nursing and Midwifery awards

Heading into its 17th year, the HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards ecognise the amazing nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers, and personal care workers for their work, providing exceptional care across Australia. Healthcare workers are heroic. They go above and beyond daily with dedication, compassion and support while keeping our communities safe and delivering care for patients during challenging times. Each exceptional health professional has their own story worth celebrating.

Three winners will receive $10,000 to support their future-shaping work thanks to our long-term sponsor ME Bank. The categories include Nurse of the Year, Midwife of the Year and Outstanding Organisation.

Nominations are open until midnight on Sunday 5 February 2023.

You can read HESTA’s media release here and you can find more information about the awards here.

The 2022 Midwife of the Year winner was Melanie Briggs, as Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation (Waminda) Nowra NSW. Melanie Briggs was recognised for her tireless work to improve First Nations maternal and infant health. A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbayngirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaani, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia.

Renowned for her strong advocacy, Melanie implemented the Waminda Birthing on Country Model, incorporating culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to country for their baby and their families.

Medicine safety depends on working together

The AMA said today that the global #MedSafetyWeek was a timely reminder of the need for medicine safety to remain a key priority for policy makers, including the preservation of the separation of prescribing and dispensing to protect the community. The AMA marked this week’s global #MedSafetyWeek (7-13 November) saying that patients are best served when doctors and pharmacists work together in providing care for the community.

AMA President Professor Stephen Robson said he was concerned poor policy decisions by State governments were undermining the important safeguard for patients, evidenced by the move to over-the-counter urinary tract infection (UTI) prescribing by pharmacists in Queensland and a “dangerous” prescribing experiment approved for North Queensland. “This is a model that promotes pharmacy profits at the cost of patient safety,” he said.

“Pharmacists are experts in medications and medication management and the AMA wants to work with pharmacists to develop models where we can contribute more to the delivery of health care in this country in a safe and collaborative way. “Unfortunately, we are seeing models being pushed that do the opposite. They fragment care and lead to negative health outcomes, as we have seen in Queensland.”

To view the AMA media release Medicine safety depends on doctors and pharmacists working together in full click here.

Image source: Aged Care Insite.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunities

The image in the feature tile is from the webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher degree by research applicants on The University of Queensland Australia’s website.

2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunities

The 2022 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunity will provide $27.8 million for Indigenous-led research into health issues of importance to First Nations people.

Funding is from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)’s Indigenous Health Research Fund.

Visit GrantConnect here and the MRFF grant opportunities calendar here for information on MRFF grant opportunities.

Learn more about the MRFF here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at The University of Queensland Poche Centre. Image source: UQ website.

ACCHO doctor named WA GP in Training of the Year

Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (DYHSAC)’s Dr Daniel Hunt has been named the 2022 RACGP WA GP in Training of the Year. DYHSAC said they are so proud to have Dr Daniels’ unwavering commitment to DYHSAC’s patients and the community recognised.

Dr Dan works across all Derbarl clinics providing GP services; he has been proactive in the Derbarl COVID care program; providing telehealth services to patients in isolation, outreach COVID vaccinations to homeless and vulnerable patients, has been instrumental in CQI projects including HEP B, Hep B, Syphilis point of care and sexual health and has been a strong GP clinical lead in our SEWB program.

Dr Dan’s excellence in General Practice has been recognised by his peers and now by the RACGP. DYHSAC extended their best wishes to Dr Dan as he progresses to the Australian GP registrar Awards.

To view the DYHSAC Facebook post about Dr Daniel Hunt click here.

Image source: Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page 30 September 2022.

On Country, health and Indigenous knowledges

The world’s annual  CoP climate talks have begun in Egypt. For this year’s COP27, the Australian Government delegation is taking some different messages to previous years – including a stated commitment to featuring Indigenous Knowledges, voices and experiences in their climate change policy platform and the new Climate Change Bill 2022 that was passed in September.

There is a strong and growing body of relevant research on climate change impacts and responses in Australia from First Nations climate researchers and non-Indigenous allies from which evidence-based policy can be drawn. Core to this body of research are the interconnections between climate change, healthy Country and health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities.

Francis Nona, a public health lecturer, registered nurse and Badulaig man from the Torres Strait Islands whose climate change research describes the value of combining western scientific and Indigenous Knowledges says “Scientific knowledge is important, but not more important than what our Elders and ancestors have taught us. We need the two ways of knowing to work together. To adapt to climate change, there needs to be both ways of knowing: using the Torres Strait Knowledges in conjunction with western ways. There needs to be mutual respect on both sides.”

Until recently, the lived experience, Knowledges and  voices of First Nations Peoples had not been sought – let alone incorporated – in climate change discussions. This year for the first time the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report 6 included climate data from First Nations Peoples’ Knowledges alongside western scientific data. In Australia, the latest State of the Environment Report included First Nations authors and Knowledges for the first time.

To view the Croakey Health Media article COP27: On Country, health and Indigenous knowledges in full click here.

On the Country of the Warumungu people, Tennant Creek. Photo: Nina Lansbury. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Changes to PIP Indigenous Health Incentive

The Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) encourages health services, including general practices, Aboriginal Medical Services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, to meet the health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease.

Updates to the Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive (PIP IHI) aim to improve continuity of care and health outcomes for First Nations people with chronic disease. From Sunday 1 January 2023 changes to the IPIP IHI will come into effect. These changes include:

  • expanded eligibility for outcome payments to include First Nations patients under the age of 15.
  • the addition of GP Mental Health Treatment Plans as eligible items for outcome payments.
  • the introduction of a 12-month rolling window for practices to deliver services, giving them more time to achieve outcome payments.
  • the introduction of a back-ended payment structure.

The updated PIP IHI guidelines outline all the changes and are now available on the Services Australia website here.

For more information you can access the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpages Practice Incentives Program – Indigenous Health Incentive here and Changes to the Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive here.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care Changes to the PIP IHI webpage.

Health education prior to prison research

Over 65% of people entering prison report risky alcohol or other drug use. Dr Michael Doyle has undertaken research considering whether more effective alcohol and other drug treatment could lead to improved health and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. The research highlights the much higher rates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are imprisoned when compared with other Australians. Noting that most First Nations families are affected in some way.

Taking a sample of both Aboriginal and non-aboriginal men in prison, Doyle investigated where and if they had received health education on alcohol and other drug use harms prior to receiving a session with a trained professional through the criminal justice system.

His research, published in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia in May 2022, found no-one had received such education in primary or high school. And only one participant recalled receiving health information through media, and one individual had received treatment through a health service. This occurred serendipitously, by meeting a doctor at an Aboriginal men’s group, and subsequently seeing him.

To read the article Better services for alcohol and other drugs article published on The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health News webpage in full click here.

Dr Michael Doyle. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

National ASD diagnosis guideline to be updated

In 2018, Autism Cooperative Research Centre (Autism CRC) published the National Guidelines for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Australia, available here. This was the first national autism practice guideline in Australia, and it has led to important changes in the way autism is understood, assessed, and diagnosed in the Australian community.

It is now time to update the Guideline and Autism CRC are inviting all members of the autistic and autism communities to get involved.

There are two immediate ways to contribute to the update:

  1. If you are an autistic person, a family member, and/or a practitioner involved in assessment and diagnosis, you can join a focus group to share your views.
    • Registration closes 5pm AEST – Friday 11 November, 2022.
  2. Anyone can complete an online survey, which will ask for your views about assessment and diagnosis. An option to submit artwork instead of text responses is also available through the online survey.
    • Closes 5pm AEST – Monday 5 December, 2022.

To learn more and get involved, visit the Guideline Update page on the Autism CRC website here.

Medical research and innovation priorities 2022–2024

Following a national consultation the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB) has developed medical research and innovation priorities that must be considered by Government when making decisions about funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

AMRAB has developed these priorities concurrently with the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2021–2026 to align with and facilitate the achievement of the Strategy’s vision, aim and strategic objectives. These priorities took effect on 6 November 2022, superseding the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2020-2022, which were in force until 5 November 2022.

The current MRFF priorities are:

  • consumer-driven research
  • research infrastructure and capability
  • translation and commercialisation
  • comparative effectiveness research
  • preventive and public health research
  • primary care research
  • health and medical researcher capacity and capability
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • priority populations
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • global health and health security
  • health impacts from environmental factors
  • data, digital health and artificial intelligence.

You can access the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2022–2024 publication here and the relevant Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care webpage here.

Sector Jobs

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

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