NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Major parties have barely said anything useful

Major parties have barely said anything useful

Scott Morrison’s dismissal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is “disheartening,” according to the CEO of the peak Aboriginal Health Body. Speaking to NITV’s The Point, Pat Turner said a voice to Parliament would give Aboriginal people the right to practice self-determination. “I think it’s a national shame that the two major parties have barely said anything useful,” she said. “What Labor has said is it’s committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is fine, and to hold a referendum. “Apparently the polls are saying that a majority of Australians support a voice to Parliament, but getting that through a successful referendum is another story.”

Ms Turner also highlighted the issue of Indigenous health, saying billions more needs to be spent to address the ‘gap’ in life expectancy between First Nations people and non-Indigenous populations. A report, commissioned by NACCHO and released on Tuesday identified a $4.4 billion underspend in Indigenous health from state, territory and commonwealth governments. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities have always been underfunded,” she said. “It’s like a patronising, paternalistic regime that thinks ‘oh well, that’s enough from them and they can get on with it’. “Well, we do get on with it but we can’t continue on unless we want to see the health gap widen even more… so what we will be telling all of the jurisdictions is stand up and be counted in terms of fulfilling your responsibilities.”

You read the SBS NITV article Election 2022: Major parties’ approach to Indigenous issues slammed here, view the Pat Turner being interviewed on NITV’s The Point below and read a transcript of the interview here.

Lack of attention to First Nations issues “a disgrace”

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was interviewed by Fran Kelly on ABC News Afternoon Briefing. Ms Turner addressed the upcoming federal election and the health funding shortfall. In response to the question “Is there enough attention being paid in this election campaign to Indigenous issues?” Ms Turner said “absolutely not, I think it’s a  disgrace the major parties have not given sufficient attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. There are many needs that remain unmet and we launched a report today to show that the gap in health funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is $4.4 billion and that adds to our trove of evidence that we will use to continue to argue with governments how they can make up that $4.4 billion shortfall.”

You can watch a video of interview from 34:20 minutes onwards to 50 minutes here.

Poor public policy without consultation

This month will likely see the NT government pass laws that will see alcohol allowed into a host town camps, living areas and some communities for the first time since 2007. Those areas that were self-declared dry beforehand will not be affected. Under the changes, the management of alcohol will pass from the federal government back to the NT government who are legislating for an opt-in approach to alcohol bans, with many communities and town camps needing to specifically ask to remain dry. A range of bodies including police and peak Aboriginal organisations have questioned the move and called for a pause to changes to allow for proper consultation and avoid what many believe will be a spike in grog-fuelled mayhem in both town and out bush. NT has the highest level of grog harm, alcohol related deaths and alcohol consumption in Australia. The NT government has rejected extending the federal measures with the Chief Minister saying they are racist and they need to go. This is supported by Chansey Paech who is the Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps.

In a recent interview on ABC Alice Springs NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM she would never speak on behalf of local communities but speaking from the experience of ACCHOs who deal with the fall out of alcohol abuse. Ms Turner said “the NT government needs to ensure full consultation with every Aboriginal community that’s going to be affected by the changes in the alcohol laws that it is proposing. To say that the legislation is racist and was done on that basis is Chansey Paech’s view but doesn’t reflect the reality of opening the gates in the communities where people don’t want the change.” Ms Turner continued on to say that where services exist, and many communities don’t have services, the impact on ACCHOs will be enormous. Ms Turner described the proposed changes to the alcohol laws as “poor public policy without proper consultation and full informed choice.”

You can listen to the ABC Alice Springs radio interview in full by clicking on the image below:

Naamuru Mother and Baby Unit opens

New mums requiring specialist care for a severe mental illness can now have their babies stay with them at NSW’s first public, purpose-built Mother and Baby Unit. The new facility at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Camperdown is the first state-wide facility designed to keep families together when a mother requires hospitalisation for a severe perinatal mental illness. Named ‘Naamuru’, a local Aboriginal dialect word meaning ‘leading the way’, the unit will care for up to 120 NSW residents a year who have infants up to 12 months of age.

The eight-bed unit is staffed by specialist perinatal health professionals who can attend to the mental health needs of the mother, as well as facilitate appropriate care of the baby and promote positive mother-baby interactions. Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate the mother, up to two infants under 12-months of age and a partner or family member. There are also therapeutic spaces, including a 24-hour respite nursery; a mothercraft room; dining and kitchen areas; outdoor courtyards; play areas; and a retreat room.

To view the NSW Health media release in full click here.

Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Prisoners need culturally competent health care

When someone is placed in prison, they are entirely dependent on prison officers and prison health-care providers. Incarcerated people do not get to choose when they see a doctor or mental health practitioner, when they take medicine, or what type of care they receive. They cannot call 000 and be taken to a hospital if they are dangerously ill. In Victoria, if a prisoner is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, they do not get access to culturally competent care through ACCHOs. In Victoria, prison health care is provided by for-profit private companies contracted by the state government.

Imprisoned peoples’ physical health and/or social and emotional well-being is at the mercy of prison officers and prison health-care providers. Through their practice the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, have seen the differences between how people are treated in the community and how they are treated in prisons and youth prisons. The right to health care continues when people are incarcerated. International law requires “prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community”. This health care should be “free of charge” and “without discrimination”. It also makes clear everyone has the right to the “highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

To view the article Victoria’s prison health care system should match community health care in The Conversation full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Eating disorders foundation marks 20 years

From humble beginnings over a kitchen table, to the largest national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, Butterfly Foundation has been changing lives for 20 years.  More than a million Australians live with an eating disorder, with many more suffering body image issues. For two decades, Butterfly’s efforts in advocacy, community education, early intervention, prevention and clinical services has helped to significantly change the conversation and understanding around eating disorders, establishing them as serious and complex mental illnesses, rather than a lifestyle choice. However, Butterfly’s work remains critical, as many misconceptions and stigma prevail.

Today Wednesday 11 May 2022 Butterfly has launched a new campaign celebrating its 20th anniversary and setting the agenda for the next 20 years of treatment and prevention of eating disorders and body image issues in Australia. Butterfly’s big ambitions include:

  • A national parliamentary inquiry into body image
  • Preventing eating disorders from occurring
  • Reducing stigma and increasing help-seeking
  • Improving eating disorder treatment and support services

Butterfly Foundation CEO, Kevin Barrow, said, “Anecdotally speaking, the way we talk about eating disorders is about 10 years behind how we now speak about anxiety and depression. Eating disorders are still misunderstood and grossly under-estimated, with stigma and stereotypes acting as a major barrier to help-seeking. “There is so much more work that needs to be done in the prevention, early intervention, and treatment of eating disorders as well as education for the broader community.”

The Butterfly website includes the video below and a number of articles relating to eating disorders and body image concerns among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Declonising whiteness in preventive health

At the The Preventive Health Conference 2022 which runs from today until Friday 13 May 2022 in Brisbane, some of the world’s leading experts will explore a range of topics including decolonising and disrupting whiteness in preventive health, the priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and investments in prevention. Conference Advisory Committee Chair Associate Professor Louisa Gordon of QIMR Berghofer said Australia needs to spend 5% of total health expenditure on prevention because it will save lives and is far cheaper than spending on treatments.

To view the Public Health Association of Australia media release Risky behaviours, exercise, and gambling among topics to be explored at Preventive Health Conference 2022 in full click here.

Image source: HealthUno.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00PM (AEDT) Thursday 12 May 2022.

This week Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response will be chairing the webinar and will be joined by DoH Dr Nick Simpson, Medical Medical Adviser, Technology Assessment and Access Division.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $4.4 billion gap in funding for First Nations health

$4.4 billion gap in funding for First Nations health

An Equity Economics report commissioned, and released today, by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has identified a $4.4 billion gap in Commonwealth, State and Territory Government and private health expenditure.

The report’s findings are alarming and highlight some of the obstacles to improving the health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Conservative estimates indicate there is a gap of $5,042 in health expenditure per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person.

Pat Turner, CEO of NACCHO, said, ‘It is no wonder that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to live lives 8-9 years shorter than other Australians. It is no wonder that our children are 55 times more likely to die of rheumatic heart disease than non-Aboriginal children.’

The report’s calculations account for the burden of disease being more than twice the rate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population than for the non-Aboriginal population, which translates to at least twice the cost-of-service provision.

Donnella Mills, Chair of NACCHO said, ‘I am disturbed by the findings of this report and how extensive the funding gap is. How can we improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people when there is a $4.4 billion funding deficit? Structural reform and substantial funding investment is required and we have shown how this process can commence in our last pre-budget submission.’

Pat Turner said, ‘The Commonwealth has had the opportunity to fix its share of the funding gap in three big-spending budgets focused on stimulus measures during the pandemic. If it had invested in our sector, it could have delivered, at the same time, financial stimulus to the 550 local economies where our services are located.’

‘NACCHO calls upon all governments ahead of the election to close the funding gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.’

The full report can be accessed on NACCHO’s website here.

NACCHO’s media release can be viewed on the NACCHO website here and two related infographics are available here.

Image of NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM in The OZ article It’s time to close the health gap between Australians. 9 May 2022.

NACCHO CEO contributes to The Policymaker

The James Martin Institute for Public Policy (JMI) has today launched The Policymaker, a new digital publication for policymakers across Australia, profiling policy innovations and new insights on significant and hard policy challenges. From public health to education reform and the circular economy, The Policymaker covers a wide spectrum of contemporary issues. To tackle these challenges, contributing authors present new, practical, insights drawn from their expertise or experience. Launch authors include: Laureate Professor Peter Doherty AC, (Melbourne) Nobel Prize-wining immunologist and pathologist, Professor Ian Hickie AM, (Sydney) Co-Director of the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Veena Sahajwalla (UNSW), 2022 NSW Australian of the Year, and Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

The articles written for the launch of The Policymaker represent the range and ambition of JMI which aim to give policymakers in NSW and across Australia easy access to leading thinkers from a diverse range of disciplines and areas of practice, in order to propel the policy discussion forward.

To view the JMI media release Peter Doherty AC and Pat Turner AM among those contributing ideas to shape the future of Australian Public Policy in full click here.

Doctors struggle to communicate with mob

Doctors at Royal Darwin hospital struggle to communicate with Aboriginal patients, and that shortcoming can sometimes be fatal. A podcast featuring Aboriginal elders answering doctors’ questions aims to help better deliver culturally safe care.

On Health Report with Dr Norman Swan on ABC Radio National How doctors communicate with Indigenous patients hosted by Tegan Taylor with guest Vicki Kerrigan, a  from the Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin.

In the Royal Darwin Hospital there is a well documented divide, the majority of the patients are Aboriginal and the majority of the healthcare provides are not and the culture and language barriers wrapped up in this have real health implications for patients. Vicki Kerrigan, a researcher in intercultural communication at the Menzies School of Health Research has found that doctors really want to deliver good care to Aboriginal people but they aren’t always sure how to, so she and her colleagues have created a podcast that brings together common questions that healthcare workers have and put them to the experts in this case Aboriginal leaders. The podcast is called Ask the Specialist – Larrakia, Tiwi Yolgnu stories to inspire better health care.

You can listen to the ABC Radio National Health Report episode here.

Photo: Johnny Greig, Getty Images. Image source: ABC Rational National website.

PrioritEYES survey closes this FRIDAY!

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. The PrioritEYES eye health and vision care survey is CLOSING THIS FRIDAY!  

A link to complete the survey has been sent from NACCHO to all member services CEOs and Practice Managers via email.   

We need to hear from you to help us determine the priorities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye care. 

The survey closes on Friday 13 May 2022, have your say!

$6.1m boost for Preventing FASD Project

Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the McGowan Labor Government is expanding WAs successful Preventing FASD Project with a $6.1 million funding boost to be included in the upcoming State Budget. Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) describes a range of permanent and lifelong conditions caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, including physical, mental and behavioural disabilities. Developed as part of the McGowan Government’s Commitment to Aboriginal Youth Wellbeing in 2020, the Project aims to reduce the incidence of FASD by raising awareness that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause permanent damage to the brain of the developing baby.

To view the WA Government’s media release $6.1 million to boost to Preventing FASD Project to change lives for the better in full click here.

Image source: The Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education website.

Living with COVID-19 resources for mob

A range of COVID-19 resources list below have been developed by the Australian Government Department of Health specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, covering the following topics:

  • I have COVID-19. What should I do?
  • Get tested if you feel unwell
  • COVID-19 can affect everyone in our community
  • I have COVID-19 and feel really sick. When should I call 000?
  • Look after yourself while you’re isolating at home
  • Don’t be shame
  • Easily spread
  • Keep 2 big steps away from people
  • Stay at home. Stop the spread.

You can download all of these resources from the Department of Health’s website here.

Don’t be shame tile from Department of Health website.

National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study

As part of the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians, the Attorney-General’s Department commissioned an extensive empirical examination of elder abuse in Australia, the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. The report notes that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, the understanding of elder abuse is situated within the history of colonisation and its consequences, including dispossession from traditional lands, removal of children and the disruption of cultural norms in relation to respect and care for elders. Research on elder abuse among Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities is scarce but existing sources have drawn attention to cultural norms concerning resource sharing being distorted as a lever for financial abuse. The ‘I never thought it would happen to me’ report concluded that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older people are at ‘greater risk’ of elder abuse and that it may occur at a younger age for these groups.

Further research on elder abuse among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups outside of WA is also required, including research that takes into account the diverse circumstances of communities in rural, regional and remote areas in keeping with recognition of the need for policy and services to be developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in a culturally safe way such research should be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

You can view the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study: final report on the Australian Institute of Family Studies website here and watch a No More Humbug animation illustrating the negative effects of financial abuse of Aboriginal elders below, from the Kimberley Community Legal Services website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

 

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: History is Calling Campaign

History is Calling Campaign

A new education campaign pushing for a First Nations voice to parliament is being rolled out by the creators of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The History is Calling campaign will urge Australians to answer the Uluru Dialogue’s 2017 invitation to legally enshrine First Nations people in the constitution via a referendum as an urgent election issue. Uluru Statement leader Roy Ah-See said First Nations people had been “at the whim” of consecutive governments that had failed to protect their rights and it was “long overdue” for their voice to be constitutionally enshrined. “The data’s there, in terms of overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, health statistics, infant mortality rates; it’s appalling, we’ve gone backward,” he said.

“In 1967, I was six months old when … non-Aboriginal citizens of this country gave my mother citizenship. Now it’s time to give my kids a voice in this country and future generations and we can do that through a referendum. “We don’t want a green voice, we don’t want a red voice, we don’t want a blue voice: we want a black voice.” Ah-See said the Uluru Statement was “never for the politicians”, but was a gift to the Australian people, who were best placed to vote on constitutional recognition. “Consecutive governments haven’t had our best interests at heart and legislation isn’t going to cut it,” he said. “The momentum’s there, the mood has shifted. We’ve lost a lot of First Nations people that haven’t seen a voice realised. It’s time.”

To view the article Australians urged to back Indigenous voice to parliament in History is Calling campaign published today in The Guardian click here.

some of the women artists who created the artwork surrounding the Uluru Statement from the Heart sitting around the painting on ground near Uluru

Some of the artists who created the artwork surrounding the Uluru Statement from the Heart in-situ. Photo: Clive Scollay. Image source: Barani Sydney’s Aboriginal History website.

ACCHO staff present at Sax Forum workshop

The Sax Forum is an initiative through which the Sax Institute is helping to share knowledge across its membership and understand what we can do better together. Earlier this month nearly 200 people from the Institute’s member organisations, Aboriginal-controlled health services and NSW Health met online to discuss how best to work collaboratively with Aboriginal communities while conducting important health research.

Attendees heard insightful presentations from speakers who have been intimately involved in working with Aboriginal communities to produce impactful Aboriginal-led research., including Jamie Newman, a Wiradjuri man and CEO of the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) who stressed how important research is in his sector. “We are very open to research and we understand why it is so critical for us,” he said. In order to secure funding, “we need to provide evidence that we have researched what we’re doing and properly evaluated what we’re doing. Evidence-based needs are what governments want to fund.” He said researchers should go out and meet people in the AMSs and start building partnerships and relationships, not just contacting them when they want a partner for a grant application. “We are more than happy to talk to universities, individual researchers. We’re open to everyone who can add something to our service, and if you can do that, the door will be open.”

Another speaker, Christine Corby OAM, CEO from Walgett AMS, spoke about the importance of conducting research that is respectful, builds relationships and contributes to local capacity. Any research program must reflect the needs and interests of the community, she said. Sandra Bailey, Senior Adviser in Aboriginal Health at the Sax Institute, joined the panel discussion after the presentations and provided some background to the partnership work that led to the creation of the Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health.

You can watch a video of the workshop in full below and access the relevant Sax Institute webpage here.

Mob 2.5 times more likely to visit ED

Westmead, Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals are the subject of a new $2.8 million research project that aims to improve the safety and quality of care in emergency departments. Macquarie University will lead this project addressing the needs of people with complex health conditions, who often spend longer than average there and have worse outcomes than the general population when they attend an emergency department — including greater likelihood of multiple return visits. This includes people who are older; have a disability; present with a mental health condition; are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; and/or come from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds

Macquarie University has been awarded $2,836,550 from the Medical Research Future Fund for this 5-year project led by Associate Professor Robyn Clay-Williams at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation. The  project will work to improve people’s experience while they are in the emergency department, reduce their length of stay and improve their care outcomes — including receiving a diagnosis or treatment plan, or being admitted to a hospital ward.

Associate Professor Robyn Clay-Williams, who will lead the project said “These communities have higher rates of presentation to emergency departments than other Australians and improving their care will reduce hospital waiting times for everyone.” Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples visit an emergency department 2.5 times more than other Australians and their rate of metal health presentations is more than four times higher. People with a disability visit emergency departments twice as often as people without disability. People over the age of 85 years have the highest rate of presentation to emergency departments.

To view the article $2.8 million to reduce emergency wait times in western Sydney hospitals published in The Pulse click here.

Image source: The Pulse website.

Our Kids Count birth registration campaign

The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (the Registry) is hitting the road to promote the registration of Indigenous births with the Our Kids Count campaign. NSW Registrar Amit Padhiar said Our Kids Count would visit the Central West and Orana region to provide on the ground support to help Aboriginal parents register their child’s birth. “Birth certificates are an essential pathway to enrol in school, open a bank account, join sporting clubs, enrol to vote and apply for a job, a driver licence or a passport,” Mr Padhiar said. “Ensuring kids have a birth certificate as soon as possible makes it easier for them and their families when growing up and navigating life.”

What you need to know about registering bub

  • It’s free
  • Hospitals do not register bub for you
  • Medicare and Centrelink do not register bub for you
  • It’s bub’s right to be registered within 8 weeks of birth

To view the media release in full click here.

Calls to improve lives of First Nations children

The peak national body for Indigenous children, the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), has called on the major parties contesting the upcoming Federal election to deliver policy to improve the lives of First Nations children. SNAICC – National Voice for our Children wants to see investment into prevention and early support services for families led by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and creation of a National Commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said policy change was needed for the Federal Government to start to close the gap. “Under the national partnership all governments have agreed to work with the Coalition of Peaks to reduce over-representation in out of home care by 45% by 2031,” she said. Ms Liddle said by achieving these targets there would be a reduction in child removals from families and pressure on the justice system. “Our children will have a better start in life with access to quality, community-controlled early childhood education and services,” she said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Peak Indigenous children’s body puts Federal election wish-list on the table in full click here.

SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle. Image source: SNAICC website.

36,000 NSW mob impacted by floods

Thousands of NSW school students, including 16-year-old Wirajduri student Ethan Lyons, have participated in a march to raise awareness about the severity of climate disasters such as the recent floods across NSW and Queensland and call on the state government for more action on climate change. Mr Lyons, one of the organisers, pointed specifically to how Indigenous Australians are “disproportionately affected by the climate crisis”, and that more action was needed by the federal and state governments to move towards renewable energy by 2030. At the height of the floods, it is estimated that more than 36,500 Indigenous residents who live in the officially declared natural disaster zones in NSW had been directly, or indirectly, impacted by the natural disaster.

Cabbage Tree Island, where multi-generational Aboriginal families have lived for more than 100 years, was particularly hit hard during the relentless floods. Both state and federal governments have committed to disbursing $70 million to build new homes for more than 170 residents who were displaced. An extra $50 million will also go towards the repair and reconstruction of Aboriginal community infrastructure owned by Local Aboriginal Land Councils.

To view The Rural News article NSW students walk out for climate policies article in full click here.

cleaning up after floods

More than 180 residents live on Cabbage Tree Island, NSW in 23 homes. Photo: Rani Hayman, ABC News.

Women the victims of forced evictions

Julie Tongs, CEO Winnunga Nimmityjah (Strong Health) Aboriginal Health and Community Services was one of 14 to sign an open letter – addressed to ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry and Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services Rebecca Vassarotti and signed by community organisations working with vulnerable Canberrans living in public housing – calling on the ACT government to end all forced relocations under the scheme, and instead revert to a voluntary, opt-in program of relocation.

87% of social housing tenants to be forced from their homes under the ACT’s government’s Growth and Renewal program are women living alone or with children. 61% have disabilities, chronic health conditions or are caring for dependents who do, and 17% of tenants facing evictions are single mums with children. The data – captured through a survey of the affected tenants conducted by Canberra Community Law also shows that 14% of tenants affected by the scheme are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. “It is this cross section of elderly tenants, women, people with disabilities and people with lived experience of mental illness that makes this group of tenants particularly vulnerable,” the letter reads.

To view the CBR City News article Revealed: Women the victims of Housing’s forced evictions in full click here.

Image source: Women’s Agenda.

Ahpra to recruit 7 permanent identified jobs

Ahpra is excited to be recruiting seven (7) permanent Identified positions who’ll play an important role in creating a culturally safe healthcare system free of racism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples:

The positions will be supported by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit and are linked to implementing deliverables in the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025.

Please apply for these exciting roles here and share with your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander networks who want to be a part of driving safer healthcare.

If you’d like any further information on the roles, a contact and their details have been provided on the job listing.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Lung Health Awareness Month

Respiratory diseases are conditions that affect the airways, including the lungs and the passages that carry air from the mouth and nose to the lungs. Common conditions include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. Nearly one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a respiratory condition; with Asthma and COPD contributing to the highest burden of disease.

May is Lung Health Awareness Month and aims to raise awareness about the importance of lung health and the signs and symptoms of lung disease. Anyone, no matter your age or background, can get lung disease – it affects approximately 1 in 4 Australians and is the second leading cause of death in this country, with 45 Australians dying of lung disease and lung cancer every day.

Despite this, many people ignore the signs and symptoms of lung disease for far too long. Breathlessness – A cough lasting more than 3 weeks – Fatigue are just some of the signs many of us ignore or put down to aging and lack of fitness. Don’t miss the signs that something isn’t right. Taking action could save your life.

You can access the Lung Foundation Australia website here which includes:

  • a checklist of lung disease signs
  • an interactive Lung Health Checklist
  • lung health tips: commit to quit smoking; prevention is your best protection; protecting your lungs at work; lifestyle matters

You can access more information about respiratory health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website here.

Willy Willy Lungs by proud Badimia, Noongar, Yamaji artist Nerolie Bynder. Image source: Telethon Kids Institute Many Health Lungs website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Midwife program closing infant mortality gap

Image if the feature tile is by Aboriginal photographer Bobbi-lee Hille, Daily Mail.

Midwife program closing infant mortality gap

When Kelsey Muhl’s midwife caught her new baby in a hospital shower it was a shared moment between two women who had built a relationship over months. “Gravity helped,”  The mother of three described her latest birth as poles apart from her earlier experiences. Ms Muhl and her midwife, Storm Henry, are part of a midwifery program pairing First Nations mothers with midwives for the duration of their pregnancy, delivery and the first days of the baby’s life. About one in 10 Australian mothers opt to have a single midwife, or caseload midwife, throughout their pregnancy, but for mothers of First Nations babies that rate has historically been much lower. “We know when women have a main midwife or continuity-of-care model there’s reduced childbirth complications,” La Trobe University professor Helen McLachlan said. “Babies are less likely to get sick, mothers are less likely to need caesarean sections.”

More than 18,000 First Nations babies are born across the country each year. Those babies are at a higher risk of arriving early, being born underweight or needing special care. “Outcomes for [First Nations] mothers and babies are pretty much twice as bad as non-Aboriginal mothers and babies — double the rate of preterm birth, almost triple the rate of maternal mortality,” Professor McLachlan said. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 13% of Indigenous babies were born underweight in 2019. Reducing that number is a key target of the Closing the Gap agreement.

The culturally safe Baggarrook midwifery care program, being led by Latrobe University and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, has now matched more than 700 women giving birth to Indigenous babies with either a First Nations midwife or one who has been through cultural awareness training. “We’ve gone from 5% of Aboriginal women receiving access to this gold-standard model of care to over 90% of Aboriginal women presenting at one of the three hospitals participating,” Professor McLachlan said.

To view the ABC News article Aboriginal midwife program works to close the gap in infant mortality and birth complications in full click here.

Kelsey Muhl enlisted a midwife from a First Nations program to help deliver her daughter Emilia. Photo: Nicole Asher, ABC News.

Helping older Australians avoid ED

Improving the care of older Australians in a bid to help them avoid hospital emergency departments will be the focus of a new project that federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says has been awarded funding from the Medical Research Future Fund. Led by Flinders University in partnership with SA Health’s Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN) and the SA Ambulance Service, the research will engage patients and the medical community to find the best way forward for treating older Australians, who make up almost a quarter of all ED visits. “Emergency departments across Australia are often overwhelmed by the high demand from our growing ageing population but nearly half of the visits are potentially preventable,” says Flinders University’s Associate Professor Craig Whitehead, Director of Rehabilitation, Aged, and Palliative Care at SAHLN and the project’s Chief Investigator.

The project will also explore what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers look for in emergency care, as well as seek to understand the barriers they face, with the team including two Aboriginal researchers – Associate Professor Tamara Mackean and Shane D’Angelo – from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Health group in Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. They bring both public health and Indigenous health research experience and will engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through yarning circles. “This is an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews and experiences to be incorporated into the conduct of the research from the beginning,” said Associate Professor Mackean.

To view the Flinders University article Helping older Australians avoid ED click here.

Image source: Flinders University News webpage.

Lower healthcare costs, but no PHC reform

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) welcomes recent announcements from both major parties that the cost of prescriptions will be eased by reducing the PBS co-payment. In addition, both parties have committed to raising the threshold for access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC). CHF CEO, Leanne Wells, said that these two measures will help to bring down costs for people on fixed incomes in the face of rising inflation pressures. “Commitments to lower the cost of prescriptions if either side wins the election will be a much needed saving for health care consumers. When medicines become unaffordable, the costs to the nation’s healthcare system becomes more burdensome, as people are missing essential treatment,” said Ms Wells.

“However, we remind both parties that there are many others in the community such as young people, those who have had their NDIS packages cut, and people living in poverty on Jobseeker for whom access to affordable healthcare is dire.  Measures to support their capacity to access healthcare are sorely needed. CHF would like see more health care affordability measures directed to people on low incomes, who need it most,” she said. “We are acutely aware that many families in Australia will be forgoing items in the household budget to make ends meet,” said Ms Wells, “but affordability and access to healthcare goes beyond the cost of medicines.”

To view the CHF media release Parties promise to reduce costs but what about health care reform? in full click here.

Image source: The Conversation.

Inquiry highlights rural NSW’s health crisis

The NSW government has been handed a scathing report finding the rural health system is “in crisis and is failing residents of rural, regional and remote areas”. A cross-party committee has made 44 recommendations, following hundreds of hours of evidence held across NSW, to try to overhaul the system. What was found was people living outside of the city have “significantly poorer health outcomes, greater incidents of chronic disease, and greater premature deaths”.

To address “historic failures” by both levels of government to fix workforce shortages, particularly in relation to doctors and nurses, it put forward a range of sweeping changes. They include the state government collaborating with the Commonwealth on a 10-year workforce strategy, a single employer model for GPs, and for the committee to hold another inquiry in two years’ time to see if the changes have been implemented.

You can view the ABC News article Inquiry into rural, regional and remote healthcare hands down findings to NSW government in full here.

The AMA (NSW) has welcomed the final report from the NSW parliamentary inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional, and remote New South Wales, but says achieving the report’s recommendations will not be feasible unless Governments make a meaningful funding commitment to improving health. “The report underscores the paucity of investment made into rural health to date and the absolute necessity to rethink current funding arrangements,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen. “The

To view the AMA’s media release Rural health inquiry highlights desperate need for more funding, AMA (NSW) says in full click here.

Image source: Careers Connections.

80% + Aboriginal people speak Kriol

Sylvia Tkac was born to be an Aboriginal interpreter but fell into the profession quite by accident. “My grandmother was an interpreter,” Ms Tkac said. “She said to me, ‘I need another interpreter, are you interested in interpreting?’ “I did it for the first time and I thought, ‘Gee I’m fluent’, because I spoke it as a child.” Kriol interpreter services are still used regularly across Australia. Interpreters hold an important role in communities for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “A Kriol interpreter is needed in the local courts,” Ms Tkac said. “Darwin use them, (as well as) Katherine and Alice Springs — they’re also used in the Supreme Court and in hospitals as well.”

Ms Tkac is an Anindilyakwa Interpreter from the Groote Eylandt archipelago and is based in Darwin with the Aboriginal Interpreter Service. She interprets for a wide range of service providers in topics such as health, education, and law at the Local, Supreme and Children’s courts. The service collaborates on recordings with other agencies and mining companies, and produces a range of aids and resources, including DVDs, animations, driving apps and video interpreting. The service is vital to the 80% of Aboriginal people in Australia who speak Aboriginal English or Kriol, which has been recognised as a language since the 1970s.

To view the ABC News article More than 80% of Aboriginal people speak Kriol — why is it still widely misunderstood? in full click here.

Research Institute to tackle health inequities

Charles Sturt University’s new Rural and Regional Health Research Institute will work with communities to address the local burden of disease in lower socio-economic communities within rural, regional, and remote areas. Professor of Medicine and Executive Director of the Institute, Professor Allen Ross is applying his extensive international experience in rural and remote health to establish an organisation that delivers regional, national, and international impact. The Institute received $18 million over five years from the Australian Government to develop a world-class rural health and medical research facility that will support the needs of rural communities in Australia and beyond.

The Institute will focus on conducting research that:

  • addresses First Nations people’s health inequities
  • improves the experience of ageing and aged care in rural communities
  • improves child development health outcomes
  • promotes consumer-driven rural health research
  • boosts clinical research capability and
  • enables research to improve health and medical service delivery in regional cities, rural towns, and remote communities.

Professor Ross said “We will work with community leaders, such as the local Aboriginal Medical Services, to identify chronic health issues of the highest priority.”

To view the Charles Sturt University article Rural and Regional Health Research Institute, a world-class facility to tackle health inequalities in full click here.

Image source: Charles Sturt University.

People urged to get vax as flu cases rise

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett, and Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan, say with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s winter season will likely see both an increase in transmission of the coronavirus and, for the first time since 2019, a resurgence in influenza. Given this, it is important that people, particularly those in at-risk population groups, maximise their protection against both viruses by being vaccinated – and continue to practise all of the safe hygiene measures we have become accustomed to throughout the pandemic. Both influenza and COVID-19 are highly contagious viral infections that can lead to serious illness, hospitalisation or even death. Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine each year.

To read the Dr Bennett and Professor McMillan’s media release in full click here.

In a related media release NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said flu is circulating widely in the community for the first time in two years, coinciding with ongoing high levels of transmission of COVID-19. “It is crucial everyone gets vaccinated against flu to not only protect themselves, but their colleagues and loved ones against serious illness or worse,” Mr Hazzard said. “Whilst we know there is vaccination fatigue, I urge the more vulnerable members of our community to book in for a flu jab with their GP or pharmacist as soon as possible. The elderly, pregnant women, children aged under five years, Aboriginal people and those with serious health conditions can get a free flu shot now, so please book in.”

To read Minister Hazzard’s media release in full click here.

Image source: The Department of Health website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Ovarian Cancer Day

World Ovarian Cancer Day was stablished in 2013 by a group of leaders from ovarian cancer advocacy organisations around the world. May 8 – World Ovarian Cancer Day, is the one day of the year we globally raise our voices in solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 1.4 times as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer as non-Indigenous Australians, are 0.9 times as likely to die and have only a 45% change of surviving for five years. You can access the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report containing these figures about ovarian cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here.

For more information about World Ovarian Cancer Day click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Congress concerned about end of APAs

Image in feature tile from ABC News website.

Congress concerned about end of APAs

In a media release today Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) added its voice to a growing chorus of concerns about the forthcoming end to Alcohol Protected Areas (APAs). As it stands, the sunset clause in s118 of the Australian Government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act 2012 will take effect on 16 July 2022. At a stroke, many NT communities, town camps and Community Living Areas will lose their legal protection from alcohol abuse.

The ‘rivers of grog’ will once again flow through our communities. The effects on the broader community through increased crime, antisocial behaviour and violence will be of great concern. “Since the NT Government’s alcohol reforms of 2018, we have made really good progress on reducing alcohol-related harm in Alice Springs, and the introduction of the full-time Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALIs) at bottle shops has been a big part of this,” said Donna Ah Chee, Chief Executive Officer of Congress.

To view the Congress media release What everyone knows about Alice – the Alcohol Protected Areas and PALIs really work! in full click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Mala’la Community Wellness Program awarded

The Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program are the winners of the Excellence in Indigenous AOD Programs Award at the recent 2022 Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies Northern Territory (AADANT) NT AOD awards night in Darwin. This Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet sponsored award is presented to a non-government organisation in the NT with an alcohol and other drug (AOD) program specifically for Indigenous Australians.

Mala’la successfully combines culturally safe and secure AOD interventions with individual psychotherapy, family therapy, wellness education and advocacy. It encourages reconnection with family and community, re-engagement with education and employment and participation in traditional ceremonies and other forms of culturally appropriate meaningful activity as part of the recovery journey.

Maddy Mackey accepted the award on behalf of the Mala’la Community Wellbeing Program. You can read more about Mala’la Community Wellness Program here and access the Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website click here.

Felicity Douglas, Manager of Mala’la Community Wellness Support Service and participants of the Youth Dance Program. Images from Mala’la Health Service website.

Rapid antigen tests (RAT) information kit

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are a quick way to check if you have COVID-19 without needing to go to a clinic. There are 3 different types of RATs. These include RATs you can do from your nose, RATs you can do with your spit and RATs that you suck like a lollipop. The Australian Department of Health has developed a RAT information kit of communication materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The information pack contains resources which explain what RATs are, where to get them and how to use each type of RAT. Within the information pack are:

Fact sheets:

A social tile:

Videos:

You can access a summary of the RAT information kit here.

Mob encouraged to get protected for winter

As the country heads into winter, a new campaign is encouraging First Nations people to check in with their doctors to discuss COVID-19 boosters, vaccines for kids and the flu shot. SE NSW primary health network COORDINARE has partnered with local CCHOs for the digital campaign titled #fabvac. “This campaign highlights how vaccines make a difference, even for people who’ve had COVID,” COORDINARE’s Aboriginal Health Service development and performance manager Nathan Deaves said. “The videos are made by local young Aboriginal people who recently yarned with local Aboriginal community members and health workers about their experiences of COVID and attitudes to vaccines.”

One of the videos features Uncle Ken, a community member from Bermagui, who said 13 family members ended up catching the virus. “It is just as well we had the double jab in the first place, only the two out of the 13 went to hospital, but just overnight and they came back home,” he said. “It was scary at the time, we didn’t know if they were going to come back or not. We all said to ourselves we’ve got to get the jab whether we like it or not. “We’re all going to get COVID, but we won’t get it as bad so that’s what happened – no one got it as bad.”

Mr Deaves said the key message with the #fabvac campaign was that community members needed to keep up to date with their COVID vaccines because their immunity to current and future variants of the virus does reduce over time. Respiratory illnesses spread more in winter because we all spend more time indoors, so getting the flu shot is also important, he said.

You can watch a a short video about getting the COVID-19 vaccine below.

Top 3 questions – Flu season

In the video below Dr Lucas De Toca, COVID-19 Primary Care Response First Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Health answers the Top Three questions across their channels about the flu:

  1. Why are we especially vulnerable to flu this year?
  2. What can we do to protect ourselves against a bad flu season?
  3. I’ve heard of plenty of people who have been immunised with the flu shot and still get the flu! What’s the point?

You can access the Australian Government Department of Health Top 3 questions – Flu season webpage here.

First youth contact with health system critical

The first contact a young person has with a health professional about a problem with their mental health can be critical in helping them to engage with treatment and recovery. the NPS MedicineWise webpage How can GPs help young people engage with treatment for mental health issues? lists the following key points:

  • Mental health problems in young people are extremely common. More than 50% of young people will experience some form of mental ill health by the age of 25.
  • Early intervention with effective support and treatment is essential to reduce potential chronicity of mental illnesses. 75% of adult mental health disorders have their onset before the age of 25.
  • Personal connections between the young person, their supports and the health professional, a focus on the person’s needs rather than their diagnosis, and shared goals are essential for good engagement.
  • Regular, scheduled follow-up sessions can be very helpful as they demonstrate to the young person that you are invested in their wellbeing.
  • Evidence-based treatments are available, but not equally readily accessible for young people. Work with the young person to determine most suitable treatments based on their needs and preferences and to optimise meaningful engagement.

To access the relevant NPS MedicineWise webpage click here.

Image source: Amnesty International Australia.

Kidney Health Australia professional webinar

Kidney Health Australia are hosting a health professional webinar Chronic Kidney Disease, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: The clinical importance to make the link from 7.30PM–8.30PM AEST Thursday 19 May 2022.

The guest Nephrologist speaker on this webinar, Dr Veena Roberts, will explore the evidence in making the link between chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and the clinical importance of these three conditions.

This is a RACGP accredited activity for 2 CPD points. Activity # 332307.

To register for this webinar click here. Upon successful registration you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom.

New funds for Hep C awareness campaigns

The Eliminate hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia), created in 2018 to bring together researchers, implementation scientists, government, health services and community organisations to ensure the whole of Australia sustains high numbers of people accessing hepatitis C treatment, has welcomed the provision of $1.25 million in funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

The funding will support three different awareness campaigns as part of a broader partnership, the National Hepatitis C 50,000 Project, which aims to scale up testing and treatment. The funds will boost paid advertising for the It’s Your Right campaign and will also support the codesign of Aboriginal specific artwork for the rollout. EC Australia will also work in partnership with NACCHO to design and implement a hepatitis treatment campaign for ACCHOs.

The 50,000 Project is an innovative national partnership project to scale up testing and treatment to find 50,000 people living with hepatitis C by the end of 2022. In doing so, the 50,000 Project will be central in Australia achieving the 2022 national hepatitis C targets for testing and treatment.

To view The National Tribune article New funding for hepatitis campaigns click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

FASD Forum 2022

The inaugural FASD Forum ’22 Conference aims to provide an opportunity for everyone interested in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to hear from research-leading and lived-experience experts. The conference theme is FASD@50 reflecting that it is 50 years since FASD was first identified in medical literature in the English-speaking world.

Presentations over the two-day conference will cover themes related to:

  • behaviour support
  • behaviours of concern
  • transitions in education and employment
  • parent/carer support and self-care (including an expert parent panel)
  • mental health
  • sexualised behaviour
  • justice.

Presentations will combine lived experience perspectives with professional knowledge and current research topics. They will also enable opportunities for information sharing to deepen understanding. Practical strategies and interventions to assist those living with FASD and their families will be a key focus.

The opening keynote address will be presented by world-renowned paediatrician and researcher, Professor Kenneth Lyons Jones MD (University of California, San Diego), who, together with Dr David Smith, was the first to identify FASD in their research fifty years ago.

To register your interest in the conference, contact NOFASD here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor releases Indigenous health policy

Labor have issued a media release outlining the focus of their Indigenous health policy. An Albanese Labor Government will train 500 additional First Nations Health Workers and invest in life-saving dialysis and rheumatic heart disease treatments to help close the gap in First Nations health outcomes.

Aboriginal community-controlled health services worked tirelessly to keep First Nations communities safe during the pandemic. Their workforce has been stretched to its limits and vital programs such as chronic disease prevention and First Nations health checks have had to be scaled back.

Labor will work in partnership with community-controlled and other health services to strengthen the sector and improve health outcomes for First Nations people by:

  • Training 500 First Nations Health Workers – building the First Nations health workforce, creating jobs and revitalising community-controlled health services after the pandemic.
  • Delivering up to 30 new dialysis units – so people living in the city and the bush can access lifesaving treatment for chronic kidney disease.
  • Doubling federal funding to combat Rheumatic Heart Disease – so that fewer people miss out on lifesaving screening, treatment and prevention programs in high-risk communities.

To view the Labor media release Labor will Strengthen First Nations Health in full click here.

Bibbulmun woman Corina Abraham-Howard from Perth receives dialysis at the Purple House in Alice Springs. Photograph: Photo: Mike Bowers. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for healthcare language boost

A NT collective responsible for aiding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika manage a serious illness say appropriate health messaging could halve medical conditions in Aboriginal communities. Mr Marika recently underwent a second operation to treat his rheumatic heart disease thanks to education provided by Why Warriors co-founder Richard Trudgen.

For years Mr Marika lived with his condition without properly understanding it as language used by doctors was difficult to comprehend. Mr Trudgen said this has been a failure of the system for some time. Why Warriors aim to provide First Nations people with radio and on-demand content presented in language for this purpose.

In cases like Mr Marika’s, messaging form Western and Aboriginal medical services are not adjusted for patients who use English as a second language, if at all. Mr Trudgen said simplifying the information does little more than restrict people from the important details. “They want evidential information that shows the cause and effect right down to a biomedical level.” Why Warriors hope to secure funding to stretch their processes to First Nations communities around the country.

To view the ABC News article Yothu Yindi legend undergoes operation amid calls for healthcare language boost in full click here.

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika

Founding Yothu Yindi member Witiyana Marika. . Image source: NT News.

Why Western therapy is not the answer

Portia Walker-Fernando was 16 when she first saw a counsellor, overwhelmed by anger and distress that her brother was being bullied at school because he was Indigenous. “The racism was fairly frequent,” says Walker-Fernando, a Bundjalung woman, from the Northern Rivers of NSW, who, at 24, still carries anxiety and depression.

“As a 16-year-old who was trying to understand why, it really, really hurt. Being Indigenous and being black is something you can’t change.”

Walker-Fernando says intergenerational trauma and racism have contributed to her mental health issues, with her anxiety spiking every year about January 26. “Looking at our history and our story, there’s so much trauma embedded in that. I have a panic attack pretty much every Survival Day – or Australia Day – because of that really strong impact that it has on me,” she says. “No one’s been given the life tools to be able to heal from these traumas, so we’re still carrying them today.”

Half the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience racial discrimination report feelings of psychological distress, according to a Victorian study by the Lowitja Institute, meaning they are vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression.

To view The Age article ‘I have a panic attack every Survival Day’: Why Western therapy wasn’t the answer for Portia in full click here.

Portia Walker-Fernando from Casino pictured with her children. Photo: Natalie Grono. Image source: The Age.

Broncos support IUIH’s Deadly Choices

The Brisbane Broncos will continue to encourage Queensland’s Indigenous youth to get active and healthy, as part of its ongoing support of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices preventative health program.

By prioritising healthy eating, exercise, the avoidance of tobacco and alcohol use, and ensuring individuals continue to complete an annual health check, the Club hopes to unearth and foster future talent of the calibre of current players, Selwyn Cobbo and Kotoni Staggs.

Cobbo, a proud Wakka Wakka man from Cherbourg was today joined by the Burnett’s original Broncos flyer, current and fellow Deadly Choices Ambassador, Steve Renouf to unveil a new suite of health check shirts, used as incentives to encourage local communities to visit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane for an annual check-up.

Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy said: “Deadly Choices is an outstanding program making a real difference and we are proud of our partnership with the IUIH that now extends beyond a decade.

To view the Broncos promote ‘Deadly’ Communities media release in full click here.

Selwyn Cobbo. Image source: Broncos website.

NT AHW Excellence Awards noms open

The NT’s best and brightest Health Workers and Practitioner’s have the chance for their efforts and work to be recognised, with nominations opening for the 2022 Northern Territory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards.

The awards are held annually to recognise and acknowledge the significant contribution Aboriginal health workers and practitioners make to their families, communities and the healthcare system across the Northern Territory. These awards acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by our highly valued Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners workforces within the previous 12 months.

Nominations are open from Tuesday 26 April 2022 to Sunday 19 June 2022. To submit a nomination, visit the awards webpage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards – Department of Health here, or contact Aboriginal Workforce Development
using this email link or ring (08) 89227 278.

To view the NT Government Health Minister Natasha Fyles’ media release in full click here.

Aboriginal health workers, Sherryl King and Keinan Keighran, from Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service were recognised for their work at the 2021 NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner Excellence Awards. Photo: Charlie Bliss. Image source: Katherine Times.

Swapping the screen for nature

Model and actor Magnolia Maymuru is careful about how she spends her time. When not in the make-up chair, she retreats into nature – a habit she wishes the rest of the world would adopt, too.

Modern science may have only recently uncovered the link between exposure to nature and increased wellbeing, but Indigenous Australians such as Magnolia Maymuru have been aware of it for thousands of years. “Up here, we have connections to everything around us, from the ground to the sky,” the model and actor said.

Born in Darwin, Maymuru belongs to the Yolngu people – a group of Aboriginal clans from north-east Arnhem Land – who believe that they don’t only come from the land, they are the land, too. “We’re born into our connection [with the outdoors],” she explains. “Every time I come back from the city and hear the waves crash, it just does something to me.”

To view the Body + Soul article Magnolia Maymuru on swapping screen time for real connections with nature in full click here.

Magnolia Maymuru. Photo: Body+Soul. Image source: BodyAndSoul.

Barriers to physical activity for mob

Physical activity has cultural significance and population health benefits. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults may experience challenges in participating in physical activity. A review that aims to synthetize existing evidence on facilitators and barriers for physical activity participation experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Australia has been undertaken.

The review identified 63 barriers: 21 individual, 17 interpersonal, 15 community/environmental and 10 policy/program barriers. Prominent facilitators included support from family, friends, and program staff, and opportunities to connect with community or culture. Prominent barriers included a lack of transport, financial constraints, lack of time, and competing work, family or cultural commitments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults experience multiple facilitators and barriers to physical activity participation. Strategies to increase participation should seek to enhance facilitators and address barriers, collaboratively with communities, with consideration to the local context.

To view the Facilitators and Barriers to Physical Activity and Sport Participation Experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adults: A Mixed Method Review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in full click here.

Photo: IUIH. Image source: Exercise Right website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Immunisation Week

World Immunisation Week, celebrated in the last week of April, aims to highlight the collective action needed and to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

The World Health Organisation works with countries across the globe to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunisation and ensures that governments obtain the necessary guidance and technical support to implement high quality immunisation programmes.

The ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

In a related article parents and carers are being reminded of the importance of getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19 in a new information video from the Department of Health.

The video features GP and Senior Doctor at Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (HSAC), Dr Aleeta Fejo who answers important questions about children and the COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Fejo, a Larrakia and Warumungu traditional owner and Elder, said fake stories and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines were unfortunately very common, especially on social media.

She said it was natural for parents to have questions about giving their kids the jab. “COVID-19 is a serious illness that can affect everyone—including children,” Dr Fejo said. “Vaccines can help stop your child becoming very sick, or even dying, if they catch the virus,” she said.

You can view a three-minute video featuring Dr Fejo below.

Also related is a advice from AMA NSW: with shorter days and cooler temperatures, NSW residents are urged to talk to their GP about getting their flu jab. “Flu season usually occurs from June to September in Australia, and we urge patients to time their vaccination to achieve the highest level of protection during the peak of the season,” said AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen.

“Your GP can provide you with advice on when to get your flu shot. Patients should also know that influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone aged six months and over and is free for patients most at risk. “This includes adults over 65 years and over, children under five, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with certain medical conditions.”

To view the AMA NSW media release Flu season around the corner – time to plan click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Connection to community protects health

Image in feature is of Central Land Council community engagement meeting from The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 June 2020.

Connection to community protects health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have published a paper examining Indigenous understandings of community, as well as understandings of what constitutes a healthy connection to community, and why this is protective for individuals, families, and the community itself. It reports key information about research, evaluation, program and policy initiatives, and identifies best-practice approaches and critical success factors for implementation. The introduction to the paper says:

The collective wellbeing of many Indigenous Australian communities has been chronically impaired by colonisation. Colonisation has undermined the fundamental principles that ‘held’ and guided people by their communities’ connections. This impact is seen worldwide as the world’s Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to suicide because of the impact of colonisation. Indigenous communities experience disproportionately high suicide rates, which reflect a broader pattern of disparate Indigenous suicide mortality across colonised nations. While important advances in government policy, resources, and efforts have been directed at reducing suicide among Indigenous Australians, suicide rates in Australia are increasing, as is the incidence of mental distress.

Social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) is an expression of traditional life-affirming Indigenous knowledge systems about wellbeing and is central to culturally safe and successful approaches to suicide prevention in Indigenous communities. SEWB comprises 7 interrelated domains: body, mind and emotions, family and kinship, community, culture, Country, and spirituality. SEWB is at its peak when there are harmonious and healthy connections across all the domains. Connection to community is a key domain in the SEWB model. The concept of community is fundamental to identity and concepts of self in Indigenous Australian cultures. It defines relationships, social roles and cultural norms and practices (lores), which are ‘a complex set of relational bonds and reciprocal obligations’ that differ across Australia’s cultural groups.

To view the AIHW’s paper Connection to Community click here.

Image source: ABC News website.

Former ACCHO employee now nursing graduate

Bendigo celebrated its impressive cohort of graduates during a ceremony at Ulumbarra Theatre last week. The graduates successfully completed their training at TAFE over the past 12 months and were awarded with nationally accredited courses ranging from Certificate I through to advanced diplomas. Among the graduates was Bendigo TAFE Diploma of Nursing student Jade Heavyside.

Ms Heavyside, a mother of four and a proud Wemba Wemba woman, was thrilled to finish her diploma after putting it on hold for several years to raise a family. Fulfilling her nursing studies – and finally becoming a nurse – instilled a sense of pride in Ms Heavyside’s children and her community. “My children were my inspiration to complete my diploma,” she said. “I wanted to show them that by using your strength, will and determination, you can succeed in life.”

Ms Heavyside was also the successful recipient of the Puggy Hunter Scholarship for nursing students, which is awarded to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students studying an entry level health course. She worked with the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative undertaking children’s activities and sporting programs to provide additional support to her community. She is also part of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives. The accomplished nurse is also involved in the Weenthunga group for Indigenous nursing students, which helped motivate and support her on her journey to becoming a nurse.

Like many students over the past two years, Ms Heavyside has faced several challenges and difficulties completing her studies remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was hard trying to adapt to online learning at home, home schooling my children and ensuring we stayed safe through lockdowns and workplace restrictions,” she said. Through her dedication, persistence, hard work and the support of her teachers and peers, Ms Heavyside was able to successfully complete her studies to become a registered enrolled nurse. “It is such a relief and honour to have graduated,” she said. “It is a surreal feeling because the past two years of completing the diploma have been so challenging. “But I would do it all again.”

To view the Bendigo Advertiser article Jade Heavyside is one of Bendigo TAFE’s successful 2022 graduates in full click here.

Bendigo TAFE head of health Annette Gunn with Diploma of Nursing Graduate Jade Heavyside. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Health and medical research priorities

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences has released a statement on priorities for health and medical research ahead of the 2022 Federal Election. Cultivating a world-leading health and medical research sector and a world-class health system to protect the health of Australians against future pandemics, climate change and beyond. Since the pandemic began, health and medical research has been in the global spotlight. In Australia, the path through the pandemic has been heavily reliant on our world-class health and medical research sector, which has provided timely, reliable and effective solutions. These solutions did not just appear overnight. Past government investment has paid dividends. COVID-19 provides an example of how smart, strategic investment in health and medical research and innovation can provide the foundations to navigate Australia through significant health challenges.

In their statement the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences said “As we move beyond the pandemic, the next Australian government has a unique opportunity to maximise the impact of health and medical research, and mitigate major health challenges by investing in community driven, co-designed, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research.”

To view the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences media release Statement ahead of the 2022 Federal Election click here.

Image source: Research Professional News.

What does the election hold for health?

The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is holding a webinar from 12:30PM–1:30PM on Wednesday 27 April 2022 addressing the question What does the election hold for health? CHF CEO Leanne Wells will facilitate the webinar and presenters will include:

Jennifer Doggett: Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development and editor at Croakey Health Media

Anna Peeters: Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health, and Director of the Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University.

Dr Saba Nabi: Based in Wagga Wagga, Saba has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences. She has been a member of Regional Advisory Council (RAC) member with Multicultural NSW, and represented consumers on Health Boards.

Harry Illes-Mann: A Young Leader with the Youth Health Forum and holds positions on other NSW committees as a consumer representative.

You can register to join CHF, health and policy experts, and consumers analyse the Liberal National Party and Labor Party’s health policy platforms and have your questions answered here.

Grinnin’ Up Mums & Bubs Program

A study has been undertaken to develop and pilot test the model of care, Grinnin’ Up Mums & Bubs, to train Aboriginal Health Workers to promote oral health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women. There was a high level of satisfaction with the components of the model of care among the participants of the study, who believed that the model could be integrated into practice. The training showed some improvement in oral health knowledge and confidence. The participants recommended strategies for discussing oral health with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women, and changes in public health dental policy to ensure that all women would be able to access affordable dental services through the referral pathway. Overall the findings suggest a high level of satisfaction with the model of care among the Aboriginal Health Workers. Further evaluation is needed to confirm the short and long-term impact of the model.

To view the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health article Aboriginal Health Workers Promoting Oral Health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women during Pregnancy: Development and Pilot Testing of the Grinnin’ Up Mums & Bubs Program click here.

Image sourceL: Your Life Choices website.

HIV&AIDS conference scholarships applications open

Scholarship applications are now open to attend the 2022 Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences!

To make the conference accessible to those who ordinarily may not be able to attend, a limited funding has been made available via the ASHM Scholarship Program for people to attend the 2022 Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences.

This year’s Conferences will be held as a face-to-face event at the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre, QLD. Scholarships will cover conference registration, and/or accommodation, and/or flights. There are scholarships available for the following:

  • HIV Clinicians
  • Nurses / Pharmacists
  • Community

Scholarship Application Deadline: 11:59PM AEST Sunday 1 May 2022. To see the full criteria, as well as apply for your scholarship, please use this link.

Remote PHC Manuals April update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCM) are currently being reviewed and updates. Monthly updates are provided to health services and other organisation to keep them up-to-date during the review process. The most recent RPHCM update advises that:

  • the Standard Treatment Manual and Women’s Business Manuals are in final preparations for secondary review, which will start this month. If you would like to review some protocols as part of the secondary review process please email a completed expression of interest form from the RPHCM website using this email link.
  • consultations with key stakeholders will occur concurrently with secondary reviews. You can contact the project team here if you are in a senior or governance role and would like to provide feedback on updated protocols.

New editions are due to publication November/December 2022. You can view the Remote PHC Manuals April 2022 Update here.

Women’s Business Manual review sought

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals Standard Treatment Manual and Minymaku Kutju Tjukurpa (Women’s Business Manual) have now been updated to reflect the recommended changes arising from primary review. The RPHCM project team would like to invite key stakeholders to review the updated protocols before they are finalised for publication.

The stakeholder consultation period seeks feedback to confirm that the content of the updated protocols are relevant and applicable to remote health practice. Please email using this link with the names of any protocols that you would like to review. Feedback on the protocols should be clearly and concisely outlined in an email returned to this email address by close of business on Friday the 6 May 2022. All feedback will be presented to the RPHCM editorial committee for consideration.

Minymaku Kutju Tjukurpa — Women’s Business Manual current edition.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Image in the feature tile is from the Brian Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) website.

Eye treatment could reduce vision loss

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience three times more vision loss than non-Indigenous people, creating a concerning gap for vision. Associate Professor Hessom Razavi from The University of WA explains that much of this is due to diabetic macular oedema (DMO).  Macular oedema blurs the central vision, diminishing the ability to recognise people’s faces, to drive and work, and perform other essential tasks. DMO affects around 23,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with most of them of working age.

The good news is DMO is treatable, with medications known as anti-VEGF agents. A world-first clinical trail has been undertaken to test longer-acting DMO treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people patients find it impractical, for complex and varied reasons, to attend 10–12 appointments a year. There is, therefore, a need for an alternative. Longer-acting medications do exist. One example is a dexamethasone implant, a steroid injected into the eye which only needs to be dosed every three months.

You can view the Longer-acting eye treatment could reduce vision loss for Indigenous Australians article in full here and a short video from The Fred Hollows Foundation website explaining the prevalence of eye problems among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Help stop the flu in 2022

Annual vaccination is the most important measure to prevent influenza and its complications. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause widespread illness and deaths every year. This year, it’s even more important to get the influenza vaccine as we are more vulnerable to influenza. This is due to lower recent exposure to the virus and lower uptake of influenza vaccines in 2021. With international borders reopening, it’s likely we will see more influenza in 2022.

Who should get an influenza vaccine – vaccination experts recommend influenza vaccination for all people aged 6 months and over. Under the National Immunisation Program, free influenza vaccines are provided to the following groups who are at higher risk of complications from influenza:

  • children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
  • people aged 6 months and over with certain medical conditions that increase their chance of severe influenza and its complications
  • pregnant women (at any stage during pregnancy)
  • people aged 65 years and over.

Influenza vaccines are available NOW – FREE influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program became available this month and can be administered by GPs, community health clinics, and eligible pharmacies. To locate a service in your area you can search the National Health Services Directory. Book your appointment to get vaccinated to ensure you have the best protection at the peak of the season (usually June to September). However, it’s never too late to get  vaccinated as influenza can spread all year round.

For further information you can access the Department of Health’s Help stop the flu in 2022 website page here.

Telehealth’s role in modern health care

In recent years teleconsultations have played a growing role in the delivery of healthcare and support services across Australia. Far from a stop-gap measure, these services are set to become one of the standout legacies from the global pandemic. The government has announced it will invest AU$100 million towards making telehealth a permanent option in the healthcare system. This comes on the back of consistent research indicating confidence in the method and a lasting appetite for its convenience. A recent white paper by Deloitte, Curtin University and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia found that seven in 10 Australians are willing and ready to use virtual health services.

The research also found that geographical disparity is one of the biggest causes of inconsistent patient outcomes across the country. With the availability of videoconferencing services, people no longer need to leave their homes to receive care, and providers can ensure those in inaccessible areas aren’t left behind. We saw an example of this in the remote aboriginal community of Tjuntjuntjara in WA, which, during March 2020 and January 2021, faced a shortage of healthcare professionals due to a state border closure with SA. Following the introduction of telehealth services, the 160 residents had reliable access to virtual care for chronic conditions and mental health issues.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article The role of telehealth in modern health care click here.

welcome to Tjuntjuntjara hand painted sign beside outback red sand road

Image source: ExporOZ.

New COVID-19 oral treatment on PBS

From Sunday 1 May 2022 the second, prescription-only, COVID-19 oral treatment will be available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Australians at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) is an oral anti-viral medicine which can be used by patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing severe disease. This medicine will help reduce the need for hospital admission.

Adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 – which is confirmed by a PCR or a Rapid Antigen Test and verified by the prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner – and who can start treatment within five days of symptom onset, can be prescribed the oral anti-viral medicines if:

  • they are 65 years of age or older, with two other risk factors for severe disease (as increasing age is a risk factor, patients who are 75 years of age of older only need to have one other risk factor)
  • they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, and are 50 years of age or older with two other risk factors for severe disease, or
  • they are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

To view Minister Greg Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Image source: ABC News.

AIHW releases mental health papers.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have released two important publications:

Employment and Indigenous mental health

  • this paper provides an overview of policies and programs that address Indigenous employment and mental health and evaluates the evidence that labour force outcomes can improve Indigenous mental health.

Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention

  • this article provides a synthesis of the information about Indigenous self-governance in relation to mental health and suicide prevention. It explores the ways in which Indigenous organisations embody and enable processes, structures, institutions, and control associated with self-governance and how these contribute to Indigenous wellbeing and suicide prevention.

You can view the Employment and Indigenous mental health paper in full here and the Indigenous self-governance for mental health and suicide prevention article here.

Aged and dementia care scholarships 

Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships.  Applications for studies in 2022 are open until 5 May 2022 to nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals.

The  Department of Health’s Ageing and Aged Care Sector Newsletter article Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Dementia Care Scholarships available here includes comments from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Alison McMillian, Chief Allied Health Officer Dr Anne-marie Boxall, and previous scholarship recipients.

Additional information about the scholarships is available on the Australian College of Nursing website here.

Kurranulla’s Aboriginal aged care and disability worker Larissa McEwen with her client, Aunty Loyla Lotaniu. Photo: John Veage. Image source: St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.

$25m to fix ‘dehumanising’ Banksia Hill conditions

The Banskia Hill juvenile detention centre will receive a $25.1 million upgrade after it was slammed by a Perth Children’s Court judge as a “dehumanising” space. The money will go towards a $7.5 million crisis care unit, improvement to the centre’s intensive supervision unit, in-cell media streaming for education and therapeutic purposes, and a new Aboriginal services unit.

While sentencing a 15-year old boy for a range of offences, in February, Perth Children’s Court President Judge Hylton Quail said “if you wanted to make a monster, this is the way to do it”.

To view the ABC News article Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre gets $25 million to address ‘dehumanising’ conditions, cut incarceration rates in full click here.

parents of children inside Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre protesting

Parents of children inside Banksia Hill have recently spoken out about conditions inside the centre and are considering a class action. Photo supplied by Megan Krakouer. Image source: ABC News.

In a related story Condobolin Health Worker Ellen Doolan says while people have got to feel safe in their own homes, sending more Indigenous kids into juvenile detention is not the solution. Elderly Aboriginal people in Condobolin are just as frightened as elderly whites, she says. Many of the kids ­involved have grown up in ­“extremely tough circumstances” and are being raised by elderly grandmothers. “We’ve already got the highest rate of incarceration of any people in this country and so a lot of the fathers are in jail and now a lot of the mothers are too,” ­Doolan says. To view Ellen Doolan speaking click here.

Condobolin AHW Ellen Doolan

Condobolin health worker Ellen Doolan. Image source: The Australian.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 3:30 PM–4:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 21 April 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health on the panel this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Health Journey Mapping tools launched

Image in feature tile is by Ngarrindjeri artist Jordan Lovegrove – Karko Creations from the Lowitja Institute Learning and Development Hub website page.

Health Journey Mapping tools launched

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often experience complex and challenging health care journeys that are culturally unsafe, leading to adverse health outcomes.

Yesterday, Associate Professor Janet Kelly of the University of Adelaide and the Lowitja Institute, launched the Health Journey Mapping tools and resources to improve the quality and cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health care journeys.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, said the tools will help embed culturally safe practices into healthcare through a strengths-based approach, “Like most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, I know the critical importance of good health journeys and the harms caused when we experience, all too often, poor health journeys. I have experienced this as an Aboriginal woman and mother, as a nurse, and through exploring policy and research on cultural safety, or the lack of it, in mainstream health services and systems.”

The package of tools consists of three mapping tools, a handy user guide, some worked examples and introductory videos, such as the one below. You can find out more here.

To view Lowitja Institute’s media release Health Journey Mapping: embedding culturally safe practices into healthcare in full click here.

ACCHO AHW’s career blooms

Wiradjuri woman Kristy Purnell’s entry into the healthcare system amid a global pandemic has been a rewarding experience Employed as an Aboriginal Health Worker at Toowoomba’s Carbal Medical Services since September 2020, Ms Purnell has been administering COVID vaccines alongside her regular roles.

I work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services because I want to help my community and provide health care to people that need it,” she said. “My role entails screening clients, doing annual health checks, going to community events, assisting nurses in the treatment room and promoting various programs that Carbal run.”

Ms Purnell’s passion for her role has seen her undertake a CQUniversity TAFE course in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care. She said with a Certificate III already under her belt, Carbal encouraged her to keep acquiring new skills.

“I started (the Certificate IV) last year and have done some residential schooling, which has reinforced my knowledge of comprehensive screening,” she said. “I feel that I’m learning new things that I’m able to utilise in my role on a daily basis. I enjoy sharing my new knowledge with other team members. “This course is helping me to become a confident health worker. It is giving me the skills I need to continue growing in my position at Carbal.” Ms Purnell said the course was worth pursuing for anyone interested in the field.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Kirsty Purnell’s health career blooms amongst pandemic response click here.

AHW Kirsty Purnell

Aboriginal Health Worker Kirsty Purnell. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Our Vote Our Story – 4 days left to enrol!

Your vote is your voice on the laws and decisions that affect you and your community. To vote you need to be enrolled.

If you are an Australian citizen aged 18 years or older you are required to vote in the 2022 federal election on Saturday 21 May 2022.

You must be correctly enrolled by 8:00PM local time Monday 18 April 2022. You can enrol online here or if you are already enrolled you can update you name or address here.

Exciting nursing scholarship opportunity

In collaboration with HESTA, the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is delighted to offer four scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses to complete any of ACN’s nursing Graduate Certificates in the July 2022 intake. Information about all 20 Graduate Certificates available to this scholarship can be accessed online here.

For more information, including eligibility criteria and to apply here.  Applications are closing soon, at 11:59PM AEST Wednesday 20 April 2022.

First Nations leaders call for climate action

Peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations have released a powerful position paper on the climate emergency and health, calling for action to address pervasive racism, the privileging of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges in climate change responses, and support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health workforce.

The need to address climate change and it impact on health and wellbeing is a major concern for members of the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF) which is made up of 13 members including NACCHO. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-31 acknowledges the impact of climate change by including healthy environments, sustainability, and preparedness, however the need for action goes beyond the scope of the Health Plan.

The impacts of climate change and global heating must always be at the forefront of planning and decision making. Accordingly, the HNLF supports the international calls for the establishment of a set of new norms that sees a warning limit goal of 1.5C rather than 2C, raising Australia’s 2030 ambitions, more equitable water management for communities, improvement in residential living standards, transition to renewable energy, and the end of fossil fuels.

The NHLF calls for all Australian governments to collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and adopt a its recommendations and principles for action to bring about systemic change to the way Australia looks after the environment and addresses the impacts of climate change.

To view the Croaky Health Media article Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health leaders call for climate action click here.

Art display paying respects to the needwonnee people in southern lutruwita/Tasmania and their care for Country. Photo: Melissa Sweet. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

‘Dire’ new RHD data

Last month, the ABC Four Corners program shone a light on the ongoing failure to tackle rheumatic heart disease (RHD), calling it a ‘hidden killer’ in remote communities. It recounted the confronting story of several young women in Queensland who died from an illness that is vanishingly rare outside of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

According to new research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the situation is sliding backwards. A report published this week highlighted the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever (ARF), a precursor to serious heart disease, is rising.

At the time the Four Corners program aired, the most recently available five-year figures showed 2244 diagnoses of ARF from 2015–2019, itself a significant increase on the 1776 recorded from 2013–2017. And yet, according to the new AIHW figures, the tally now stands at 2611 diagnoses from 2016–2020, with the NT recording by far the highest prevalence at 344 per 100,000 population.

You can access the newsGP article in full here and view the AIHW’s report published this week here.

Aboriginal mother holding toddler

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being diagnosed with acute rheumatic fever, a precursor to serious heart disease, is rising. Image source: newsGP.

New online diabetes modules

A package of interactive learning modules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to support people with diabetes has been launched via the National Diabetes Services Scheme. The package has been developed by Diabetes Australia to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare workers and practitioners with diabetes information and culturally appropriate resources to support people living with diabetes and their families.

Diabetes Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Manager Deanne Minniecon said the modules included interactive activities and stories, taking the user on an engaging journey as they learn more about diabetes related health complications and management strategies to support people to live well with diabetes.

The modules have been developed in consultation with expert groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clinicians, medical and research doctors, university academics specialising in diabetes and leaders in education. The SA Health & Medical Research Institute also contributed to the review process. The modules are engaging, accessible in bite size pieces, culturally appropriate and address all of the issues associated with managing diabetes, beyond the traditional scope.

You can view the National Indigenous Times article New diabetes online modules offer diabetes support and education in full here.

Diabetes Australia has partnered with Waanyi–Kalkadoon artist Keisha Leon to tell the story of diabetes and its significant impact of First Nations peoples. Image source: Diabetes Australia website.

Indigenous Marathon Project

Canberran Roxanne Jones is one of 12 Indigenous Marathon Project squad members set to run the New York Marathon. Canberra local, Palawa woman and PhD Candidate Roxanne Jones started running in 2017 and after a decline in her health in 2018, Roxanne was forced to adapt her training to include a wheelchair.

Despite her challenges, Roxanne persevered, racing in the world biggest fun run—the Sydney City2Surf in a wheelchair in 2018. She hasn’t stopped since. “I am passionate about sharing my story so that other people with disabilities, mental health or chronic conditions can see themselves represented. Representation and visibility is so important if we are to be a truly inclusive community. I want to demonstrate that [within the running and walking community], all abilities are welcome and valued”, says Roxanne.

Roxanne joins 11 other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia who have been selected to join the 2022 Indigenous Marathon Project Squad to train for the 42.2km New York City Marathon in November.

You can listen to Roxanne and Head Coach Damian Tuck’s interview on ABC Radio Drive here.

New York marathon runners on bridge

New York Marathon. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Pharmacist scholarship recipients announced

Pharmacist scholarship recipients announced

NACCHO is pleased to announce that five recipients will receive funding and support for their pharmacy studies through the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia.

The successful recipients are:

  • Bryony Forrest, Victoria
  • Jai-ann Eastaughffe, Queensland
  • James Sowter, Victoria
  • Jason Coleman, South Australia
  • Louis Emery, Queensland

The scholarship aims to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacist workforce and includes tailored mentoring from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders. Though the scholarship was initially established to support two applicants, the quality and number of applicants led to the expansion of the program to include five recipients.

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, 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.”

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist said, “Look at what is possible when there are strong relationships between organisations such as NACCHO and Sanofi, the benefit to individuals, families and communities of these scholarships is transformational. Congratulations to all the recipients, I am excited to see where their journeys take them and the future of the pharmacy workforce.”

Sanofi Australia and New Zealand Country Lead, Karen Hood said, “We couldn’t be more pleased to celebrate the success of NACCHO’s inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship and are proud to support its expansion from two to five recipients this year. Congratulations to the five successful students, to the judging panel, and to the team at NACCHO whose leadership will see this scholarship build the skills of future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacists.”

You can access NACCHO’s media release here.

Associate Professor Faye McMillan

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist. Image source: NACCHO website.

Enrolling to vote – what you need to know

Your vote is your voice on the laws and decisions made in Australia’s Parliament that affect you and your community. By voting in elections, you have the opportunity to choose the people you think will best represent your views in Parliament. Voting is also important to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because the right to enrol and vote in federal elections was not extended to all Indigenous Australians until 1962.
With a federal election on the horizon (Saturday 22 May 2022) you may need to brush up on what you need to know and do to be enrolled and ready to vote. A National Indigenous Television (NITV) article published yesterday provides information on:
  • WHO can vote
  • WHY you should vote
  • the ELECTORAL ROLL
  • HOW to enrol
  • WHEN to enrol

The deadline for enrolling to vote in the Saturday 22 May 2022 federal election is 8:00PM Monday 18 April 2022 – only 6 DAYS LEFT!

young woman with laptop enrolling to vote

Image source: NITV website.

Vote for better health services for mob

Dr Michelle Kennedy, Vice-President Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health at the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), is urging voters to embrace the Uluru Statement and “use [their] vote to bring about better health services for – and by – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Dr Kennedy said “This continent’s First Peoples were healthy enough to live here for tens of thousands of years, creating the world’s longest-lasting cultures. Then, colonisation. In a few generations the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ populations declined dramatically, and so did much of their health and wellbeing – connected as it was to country and culture which were stolen, damaged or destroyed.”

“First, all people in Australia need to embrace the deep commitments agreed to five years ago in the Uluru Statement from the Heart – that everyone tell the Truth about our past, give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a real Voice, and all of us talk and reach lasting agreement on how to walk together. Truth-telling and nation building are critical to truly closing the gap in health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

To view the Croakey Health Media article Reclaiming health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in full click here.

Nursing and midwifery award finalists

The 2022 HESTA Nursing & Midwifery Awards recognise nurses, midwives, researchers and personal care workers for their outstanding work to provide exceptional care, leading the way for improved health outcomes.

Among the finalists this year is a First Nations woman, Melanie Briggs, who has spearheaded the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia. Ms Briggs, who works at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation, has been recognised for her 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.

Winners will be announced on the evening of Thursday 19 May 2022.

Midwife Melanie Briggs

Midwife Melanie Briggs. Image source: South Coast Register.

New approach to juvenile offending

Punishment, policing, detention and other measures to reduce serious repeat offending by juveniles is often derailed by entrenched behaviours and an offender’s unwillingness to walk away from their co-offending peers. However, a new model of mutual group support called ‘Yunga Nungas: Future Leaders’ is being seen as a positive way to help deter and reduce further offending.

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders comprise about 3% of the population but represent more than 30% of the adult prison population. High levels of incarceration and social disadvantage can influence serious youth offending and crime in communities.

“This new approach draws upon the power of group dynamics to address serious repeat offending and also puts Aboriginal community mentors and dedicated case workers with lived experience at the forefront,” says Professor Mark Halsey, from the Centre for Crime Policy and Research at Flinders University.

“Above all else, the young men drew strength from each other’s encouragement and were able to build a new positive sense of self, while helping their peers do similar. A steady reduction in the frequency and severity of offending was observed over the three years of the study.”

You can view the Flinders University media release in full here.

BRAMS March 2022 newsletter

Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (brams) have released the March 2022 edition of their newsletter. The newsletter includes a CEO Report as well as articles covering details of their employee of the month, the Rural Health West Awards, new sraff, COVID-19, the NDIS group, TIS education at football, SEWB groups and more. You can access the newsletter in full here.

Healthcare access for LGBTQIA+ community

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) hosts conversations and interviews with people in our community to discuss current issues, address myths and common questions, and think about what we can do to best protect the public and support the safe delivery of healthcare in Australia. APHRA’s Taking care podcast series offers professional and consumer perspectives on current issues and answers some frequently asked questions about public safety in healthcare.

In a recent Taking care episode, writer and editor Jasper Peach and comedian and writer Toby Halligan talk about their experiences accessing healthcare as members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

You can listen to the full episode of the podcast here.

New process for job advertising

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

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