NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

feature tile text 'AMA calls for measures to ensure health systems are resilient & effective - COVID-19 pandemic lessons must not be lost' image of Aboriginal youth with cardboard face mask painted with Aboriginal flag, blurred image of another Aboriginal person in the background wearing same mask

COVID-19 lessons must not be lost

As Australia finds its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learned about our health systems must not be lost. The Australian Government must use next week’s Federal Budget to commit to measures that ensure our health systems are resilient and effective now and beyond COVID-19. “We know areas of our health system are failing Australians, and we cannot continue the business as usual approach to funding,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said today.

“There continues to be unmet need for health services in the community, and the ongoing need for further investment in our health care system to ensure services are accessible and affordable for patients is only going to increase.” The AMA has identified key areas that need immediate funding commitments in the upcoming Budget – permanent telehealth; public hospitals; aged care; general practice; private health insurance; and Indigenous health. Dr Khorshid continued, “The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how crucial our front line health workers and health services are, and how vital it is for them to be properly resourced and supported.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

Dr Simon Quilty with stethoscope to Aboriginal woman's chest

Dr Simon Quilty has specialist skills in a range of fields so he can treat patients with complex conditions. Photo: Stephanie Zillman. Image source ABC News.

Your Health 2030 project

What would need to happen for all Australians to enjoy good health by 2030?

A team of public health experts across the country have put together a project answering this question, in collaboration with VicHealth, and they have published the results in a supplement in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Ray Lovett, Aboriginal epidemiologist at ANU and director of the Mayi Kuwayu Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing spoke with Hilary Harper on ABC Radio National Life Matters about how culture is key in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To listen to the interview click here.

photo of Ray Lovett in grey suit blue shirt no tie standing against large tiled wall & black handrail, overlaid with text 'ABC Health Report' & ABC RN logo 'ABC symbol RN' superimposed on pink orange voice bubble

COVID-19 side effects fact sheet

The Australian Government Department of Health has released a COVID-19 vaccination – Fact sheet – Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples). This easy-to-read fact sheet outlines the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and what to do if you feel them.

You can download the Fact sheet here.  front page of Aust Govt COVID-19 vaccine side effects fact sheet

Miscarriage care reform needed

Globally, an estimated 23 million miscarriages occur every year. Despite the personal toll involved, many miscarriages are managed in relative isolation. Private grief and misconceptions can lead to women and their partners feeling at fault or managing alone.

Similarly, in the health-care system and broader society, the continuing conviction that miscarriages are unavoidable and the requirement, enshrined in many national guidelines, that women must have recurrent miscarriages before they are eligible for investigation or intervention has created a pervasive attitude of acceptance of miscarriage, urging women to “just try again”.

For too long miscarriage has been minimised and often dismissed. The lack of medical progress should be shocking. Instead, there is a pervasive acceptance. Not all miscarriages could be avoided, but the insidious implication that miscarriage, like other women’s reproductive health issues, including menstrual pain and menopause, should be managed with minimal medical intervention is ideological, not evidence based. Miscarriage should be a major focus for the medical research community, for service providers, and for policy makers. The era of telling women to “just try again” is over.

To view the full article in The Lancet click here.

miniature baby beanie held in a woman's hands

Image source: Time magazine.

Dalang Project supports oral health

The early closure of the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program and the Oral Health Therapy Graduate Year Program by the Australian Government adversely impacted NSW Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). This led to the co-design of a small-scale oral health therapy graduate year program for ACCHOs known as the Dalang Project. This project has enabled oral health therapists to engage with local Aboriginal communities and implement culturally competent, practical and evidence-based oral health promotion activities.

For an overview of the Dalang Project and its evaluation click here.

close up shot of face of young Aboriginal girl with a blue toothbrush in her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

New 715 Health Check resources

A range of community resources, including flyers, posters, animation, podcasts, social tiles, video stories, templates and more have been developed to support organisation promoting 715 Health Checks.

You can view the range of resources here.

slide from 715 Health Check - Awabakal Case Study YouTube video, purple Aboriginal art overlaid with text 'Your Health is in Your Hands. Have you had your 715 health check?'

Youth need support, not prison

Amnesty International Australia and Balunu Healing Foundation have called on the NT government to give kids a chance at breaking the cycle of disadvantage and crime by diverting them into culturally appropriate programs that address the underlying intergenerational trauma which too often leads to crime, instead of condemning them to the quicksand of the youth justice system.

Amendments to the youth justice act due to be debated this week in Parliament will prevent kids from accessing Indigenous-led diversion programs which are highly effective in addressing recidivism. The NT’s own statistics show that more than 70% of children who complete a diversion program do not reoffend within 12 months of completion.

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

8 male youths playing basketball in Don Dale prison Darwin faces blurred

Children in the Don Dale juvenile detention centre in Darwin. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

World Hand Hygiene Day 2021

ThemSAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands global campaign was launched in 2009 and is celebrated annually on 5 May (World Hand Hygiene Day). The campaign aims to maintain global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world.

For World Hand Hygiene Day 2021, WHO calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care. The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings.

To be effective and prevent transmission of infectious microorganisms during health care delivery, hand hygiene should be performed when it is needed (at 5 specific moments) and in the most effective way (by using the right technique with readily available products) at the point of care. This can be achieved by using the WHO multimodal hand hygiene improvement strategy. banner for World Hand Hygiene Day,text seconds save lives clean your hands!' vector of tap attached to stopwatch overlay with hands washing

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Voice to Parliament key to social justice reform

feature tile text ' A Voice to Parliament is a veital step towards social justice reform', image of Aboriginal flag flying in the breeze taking up 2/3's of the image with Parliament House with Australian flag flying in the background

Voice to Parliament key to social justice reform

The Fred Hollows Foundation, ANTaR National, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and Australia’s first Aboriginal ophthalmologist Associate Professor Kris Rallah-Bakerare are together calling for the government to commit to a referendum on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament (the Voice) once the model for the Voice has been settled. The call comes after The Foundation, ANTaR, RANZCO and DCA made submissions to the Australian Government’s Indigenous Voice co-design process.

The Fred Hollows Foundation CEO Ian Wishart said “Fred Hollows believed ‘inequity diminishes us all’ and this couldn’t be more glaring than when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. More than 50 years after being granted the right to vote, Australia’s First Nations still do not have a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament which would give them a say in laws and policies that affect them. A Voice to Parliament designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is a vital step towards social justice reform. A constitutionally enshrined Voice would ensure First Nations Peoples will always be able to provide frank and fearless advice to the government.”

To view the article in full click here.

painting of Aboriginal flag in shape of map of Australia

Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom. The image in the feature tile is from the SBS NITV News website.

Prevention key to health crisis

The AMA has made a submission in response to the Department of Health’s draft National Preventive Health Strategy, welcoming many parts of the draft strategy while also calling for strengthening specific measures targeting social determinants of health. The National Preventive Health Strategy, due to be finalised mid-year, forms part of the third pillar for mental health and preventive health as outlined in Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan.

Currently only 1.7% of the health budget is invested in preventive health. The AMA supports the draft Strategy’s proposal to increase that to 5% of health funding by 2030. “The AMA welcomes the draft Strategy as a leading example of collaborative, evidence-based policy work and is pleased to be involved in genuine engagement with the Government during its development,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“We know a person’s health is shaped by social, economic, cultural and environmental conditions in which they live. Prevention is key. Investing just 1.7% of the health budget in preventive measures is woefully inadequate and far below the example set by similar countries in the OECD. The AMA’s submission calls on the Government to implement a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and a volumetric tax on alcohol to source revenue for increased funding, rather than taking from other areas of the already-stretched health budget.”

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

tip of sneakers, red hand weights, yellow tape measure, scales, apple, wholemeal bread slice, bottle of water & cherry tomatoes

Image source: Medgadget Newsletter.

Indigenous-led birthing benefits

It was “very, very scary” being pregnant at 16 years old for Mackapilly Sebasio. The Torres Strait Islander Erubian woman felt she would be judged if she went to her local hospital. “It’s really hard to ask for help or get that support you need, when you’re with a [non-Indigenous] different organisation,” Mackapilly says. “You feel you’re being judged, or you’re not speaking proper. But when you’re around other Indigenous mothers and people that understand how you feel, it just makes you feel a lot better.”

It was thanks to the Birthing in Our Community program, which provides Indigenous-led birthing programs and support services for women who are pregnant with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander baby, that “changed everything” for Mackapilly.

To view the ABC article in full click here.

photo of Mackapilly Sebasio with her three children, baby Melanie-Ann on her lap & older daughters e.g. 3 and 7 sitting either side of her with Aboriginal white ochre on faces under a young tropical tree& Sunni.

Mackapilly Sebasio with her three children, Seini, Melanie-Ann and Sunni. Image source: ABC News website.

Childhood immunisation rates break records

Australian parents continue to show their confidence in vaccinations, with record rates of childhood immunisations in the first quarter of 2021. For the fourth consecutive quarter, the coverage rate for five year olds has increased to a historic 95.22%. This surpasses the national aspiration of 95%, and gives Australia the herd immunity needed to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

It is also well above the estimated World Health Organization international average immunisation coverage rate of 86% for five year olds, making Australia a world leading vaccination nation. The highest coverage rate continues to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years of age – an impressive 97.26%. The vaccination rate for two year old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children increased to 91.73%t, while for one year olds it was 93.7%.

To view the media release in full click here.

photo of baby from neck down lying down, red white stripe sleeveless body suit, gloved hands about to give injection in the thigh

Image source: healthdirect Australia.

Greater attention for rural challenges

Queensland Health’s Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, Adjunct Professor Shelley Nowlan, has taken on a new role as Deputy National Rural (NRH) Health Commissioner, which will see her play a key role in the Federal Government’s agenda to increase access to rural health services and address rural workforce shortages.

Federal Rural Health Minister, Mark Coulton, and NRH Commissioner Professor Ruth Stewart welcomed the engagement of Professor Nowlan, as a second NRH commissioner. “By engaging two Deputy Commissioners to provide expert advice on allied health, nursing, and Indigenous health disciplines and making the National Rural Health Commissioner a permanent office, we are ensuring rural challenges receive the attention and the expertise they deserve.

To view the media release in full click here.

green highway sign text '43 Forgotten World Highway, Healthcare 819 km Nearest Town 87 km' sitting in green grass to side of ploughed field blue sky white fluffy clouds

Image source: Croakey.

Northern Australia agenda report

The Select Committee on the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia agenda, Final Report, tabled 28 April 2021 has  recommended:

  • investment in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce to continue development strategies, including in innovative community roles and in leadership positions.
  • continued expansion of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service models of community governance.

Ms Marion Scrymgour, CEO, Northern Land Council, emphasised that development in Northern Australia ‘cannot be successful unless it properly acknowledges Aboriginal rights and interests, engages fully with Aboriginal people as partners rather than just another stakeholder’. Ms Scrymgour stated that Aboriginal people must be placed ‘at the centre of the policy framework in regional and remote areas’.

To view the final report of the Select Committee on the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s Northern Australia agenda click here.

top of map of Australia vector image, 3 segments light orange WA, yellow NT & dark orange QLD, overlaid at edges

Image source: Austrade.

Is it really the end for Dan Murphy’s?

After a five-year saga involving court challenges and political twists, the Woolworths has abandoned its plan to set up its first Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin. Woolworths is now in the process of a demerger with Endeavour Drinks Group, the company that oversees the Dan Murphy’s portfolio.

While Woolworths says it won’t pursue a large-scale liquor outlet at the same location, it’s CEO Brad Banducci, says there’s no guarantee its subsidiary won’t propose an alternative Darwin site, if and when it becomes an independent entity, “As to whether there’s a future Dan Murphy’s in Darwin, that would be up to the Endeavour Group.”

To view the article in full click here.

photo of Helen-Firth leaning on verandah rail full of drying clothes, small Aboriginal child is to right, Helen is wearing a yellow t-shirt with black footprints, in the background door with posters/stickers, besser bricks either side of door Aboriginal hand paintings

Helen Fejo-Firth was fiercely opposed to the Dan Murphy’s proposal. Photo: Emilia Terszon. Image source: ABC News website.

Lung Health Awareness Month

Since 1990, Lung Foundation Australia (LFA) has been promoting lung health and early diagnosis, advocating for policy change and research investment, raising awareness about the symptoms and prevalence of lung disease and championing equitable access to treatment and care. 

May is Lung Health Awareness Month. With 1 in 3 Australians affected by lung disease, LFA is asking the community to start taking their lung health seriously and know the early signs and symptoms. Early diagnosis is critical and the LFA wants you to encourage your community to take two minutes to complete its new Lung Health Checklist.banner text in purple font 'Lung Health Awareness Month Check. Protect. Connect. Take the Lung Health Checklist, Lung Foundation Australian' cartoon drawing of man sitting on park bench seat with hand to his chest

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Continuity of care is key to giving birth better

feature tile text 'continuity of care is key to giving birth better', image of newborn baby cradled in the palms of an adults hands

Giving birth better

One third of Australian women who give birth report their experience as traumatic, whether through physical injury or psychological effects. But many women suffer in silence. A recent SBS Insight episode, Giving Birth Better, explored the impacts of birth trauma and what can be done to ensure better outcomes for women and their families.

This episode of SBS Insight features Melanie Briggs, a descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr people, and a senior midwife at Waminda, a women’s health and welfare service on the NSW South Coast on Yuin Country. In June 2020 Melanie became the first endorsed Aboriginal midwife in NSW and only the second in Australia.

Melanie provides antenatal care in a community setting and explained the importance of continuity of care in reducing stillbirth, premature birth, the requirement to be induced or have a caesarean section. Melanie also explained how intergenerational trauma can play out for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in their reluctance to access mainstream services due to racism and fear their children will be removed. To view the SBS Insight Giving Birth Better episode click here.

Image in the feature tile from Wiyanga: A Guide for Mothers and Families.

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony

Midwife Melanie Briggs holds newborn Talekai during a special cultural ceremony. Photo: Naomi Locke Photography. Image source: ABC News.

Most recent indicators of health report

The most recent indicators of the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are documented in the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s authoritative publication, the Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2020.

As part of the Health InfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, other resources have been produced to access this information including a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics and PowerPoint slides based on the Summary. cover of report text ' Overview of A&TSI health status 2020' Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet' - Aboriginal dot painting of goanna - colours black, yellow, wide, blue, pink, blue

New rural health podcast Build ‘Em Up

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) has released a new podcast for rural health called Build ‘Em Up. The podcast showcases upbeat rural health stories from communities and towns around Australia. The monthly podcast raises the voice of great people building the health and wellbeing of local communities. Telling positive stories is part of journey of creating a level playing field where people in rural and remote Australia can access affordable, quality health care.

Episode 1 is an interview with Torres Strait Islander, Elsie Seriat. Elsie grew up on Thursday Island and returned home after an incredible journey that saw her run the New York Marathon in 2014. Elsie achieved this incredible success only six months after joining up with Rob de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Foundation. Since completing several marathons and being awarded an OAM, Elsie continues to inspire her family, friends, community and people around Australia to get moving. To hear these great stories head to the Build ‘Em Up podcast here.tile text 'Build 'Em Up Podcast by National Rural Health Alliance, Supported by nbn' collage of 5 image: man in checked shirt with two ladies either side one in an Akubra & pink hsit the other in a blue shirt; Aboriginal mum holding toddler & baby; two Aboriginal sportswomen; Rob de Castella & two Aboriginal women; panorama view of rural township

Sexual Health Conference abstracts DUE

The Joint Australasian HIV&AIDS and Sexual Health Conferences will be hosted in a virtual format between 6 to 9 September 2021.

There are multiple prizes available for those who submit abstracts to the conferences.

But you need to be QUICK, the abstract submission deadline is this Sunday 2 May 2021. To submit an abstract click here.tile text 'sexualhealth+hiv&aids 2021 VIRTUAL Joint Australasian Sexual Health + HIV&AIDS Conferences 6–9 September 2021, Abstract Submission deadline 2 May 2021' background pink, yellow pie piece shap of 6–9, test black, blue & year in pink in white circle

Mornington Island health & welfare crisis

To view the full The North West Star article click here.

Arial photo of the main township of Mornington Island& Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner

Arial photo of the main township of Mornington Island. Image source: ABC News website. Mornington Shire Mayor Kyle Yanner. Image source: Mornington Shire Council website.

NT cancer treatment accessibility

A recent study, Accessibility of cancer treatment services for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory: perspectives of patients and care providers has looked at the reasons for the poorer cancer outcomes of Indigenous Australians in Australia’s NT compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. The study found accessibility of health care is a multidimensional construct, including physical, logistical, psychosocial and cultural dimensions and concluded that while previous research has identified specific areas of reduced access to CTS for Indigenous Australians, the higher burden of cancer borne by Indigenous Australians warrants a more comprehensive understanding of access to CTS in the NT. The purpose of the study was to explore and map the accessibility of CTS for Indigenous Australians in the NT and to identify key access barriers.

To view the research article in full click here.

central line for chemotherapy - 3 bags hanging from a drip holder, orange background

Image source: MD Anderson.

AOD treatment services in Australia

Alcohol is the most common drug of concern for clients of publicly funded specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2018­–19, provides information on just under 220,000 closed treatment episodes provided to an estimated 137,000 clients of publicly funded specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services.

‘Alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 36% of treatment episodes. It was the main or an additional drug of concern in 48% of cases,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Gabrielle Phillips. ‘In one-third (33%) of treatment episodes where alcohol was the principal drug of concern, the client also reported other drugs of concern—most commonly cannabis or nicotine.’ While alcohol remains the number one drug for which Australians seek help, specialist treatment for amphetamine use has grown over the past decade.

To view the AIHW AOD treatment services in Australia: key findings webpage click here.

table with cigarettes, one alight with smote in ashtray, lighter, pills, bottle of alcohol, glass with spirits, packets of white powder

Image source: Dennison Psychology.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Get your flu vaccine now

feature tile text 'AMA urges all Australians to get their seasonal flu vaccination NOW' pin in a calendar with 'get flu shot' circles in red

Get your flu vaccine now

AMA is urging all Australians to get their seasonal flu vaccination now, with general practices across the country having recently received stock ahead of the upcoming flu season. “Winter is coming, and influenza remains a very serious illness, particularly for the vulnerable members of our community,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Thousands of Australians are admitted to hospitals with influenza complications each year. Last year we saw record flu vaccinations, which was fantastic. We need to do the same again this year. The message is simple: get your flu vaccine now.

“There were significant social distancing measures in place last year that not only helped keep COVID-19 at bay, they also meant that cases of influenza were down significantly from previous years. Influenza has not gone away and with life now largely returning to normal, we mustn’t become complacent.”

To view the AMA media release in full click here.

banner text ' don't take the risk this season get the fle vaccine' vector image of read hand with the word 'flu' superimposed, background purple with octagons of varying sizes & colours red, yellow, green, pink & blue

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

WA Young Person of the Year, AHCWA employee

A Nollamara resident’s dedication to strengthen young people’s connections to Aboriginal culture has been recognised. Whadjuk Noongar man Derek Nannup, 23, was named WA’s Young Person of the Year at the 2021 WA Youth Awards last week.

Mr Nannup is working in sexual health education at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and is on the Mirrabooka Police District Youth Advisory Group and the Youth Educating Peers Reference Group. He also worked as a support worker for children in care at Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and was the Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator at Wesley College.

Mr Nannup also established the Boorloo Indigenous Youth Yarning Circles, a space for young people to practice traditional healing, discuss culture and community issues. The Nollamara resident said the award was not just about him but a recognition for his people and the Noongar community. “I’m really honoured to have been acknowledged as WA Young Person of the Year … that means a lot,” he said. “A lot of the mob have said ‘you’ve got leadership quality’ but all I’m really doing is listening to my Elders, doing and practicing my responsibility and obligations as a Whadjuk Noongar. It shows how far we’ve come together, we’re still a long way to go but hopeful.”

To read the full article in the Stirling Times click here.

Derek Nanup, 23, WA Young Person of the Year, doing Aboriginal dance with Always was Always will be march members in background

Derek Nannup, 23, WA’s Young Person of the Year. Image source: Stirling Times.

Healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people

Are you an NSW-based service that works with older Aboriginal people?

Would your service like to be part of research that shows how important community programs are for older Aboriginal people?
Interested?

The Ironbark Project is a healthy ageing study for older Aboriginal people (45 years+). NSW-based services that work with groups of older Aboriginal people are invited to be part of this study involving Aboriginal-led community programs that improve social and emotional wellbeing, strength, mobility and independence, and prevent falls. Funding and training are provided to run the weekly community program with Elders.

Join an online information session 11 AM – 12 PM Monday 26 April 2021 to find out how you can be involved in the Ironbark Project.

For further details about the information session click here click here and to register click here.banner text 'The Ironbark Project' drawing of a tree without leaves covered in Aboriginal dot painting

Improving water in remote communities

Minister for Indigenous Essential Services Chansey Paech said a $28 million Territory Labor Government investment will help to shore up water security in Aboriginal communities across the NT. Tailored projects in ten remote communities will improve water quality and supply infrastructure, prioritising areas of critical need. The funding, $7 million per year for four years, will support initiatives to manage immediate problems and a long-term plan to tackle complex water supply issues. These include new bores, network upgrades, improved water disinfection systems, and the installation of meters to monitor and reduce water usage. The identified projects, tailored to address community-specific issues, will begin in Laramba, Engawala, Yuendumu, Epenarra, Imanpa, Atitjere, Warruwi and Numbulwar in the first year of the program; with works in Angurugu and Beswick to follow.

To view the media release in full click here.

water from tap flowing into Aboriginal person's hand, background is outback setting

Image source: ABC News website.

Shared decision-making a priority

Priority Reform One of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap is about building and strengthening structures to ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with governments on Closing the Gap at every level.

We want to see new formal partnerships established across the country at state and territory and regional levels between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives and governments on closing the gap which reflect elements consistent with the Partnership Agreement.

Where there are existing partnerships, we want them strengthened to ensure that representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are chosen by those communities and are properly supported to share decision making about closing the gap in their locations.

You can view a new video animation for Priority Reform One here.slide from Coalition of Peaks Priority Reform One National Agreement on CtG shared decision-making - cartoon drawing of 6 Aboriginal adults, 2 Aboriginal children, white man shaking hands with Aboriginal woman

Mental health care – like hunting for unicorns

Numerous inquiries have analysed the barriers of cost and access to receiving mental health care, but these problems persist. This is particularly the case for people who experience the ‘missing middle’ – their case is too complex for a GP but not severe enough for hospital admission. One reader told Guardian Australia: ‘Finding a good psychologist or psychiatrist who bulk-bills and has appointments available is like hunting for unicorns while blindfolded.’

To view The Guardian article ‘Like hunting for unicorns’: Australians on the search for adequate, affordable mental healthcare click here.

white line drawing of a brain held above palm of hand against background of sunset

Image source: VentureBeat website.

SA – Adelaide – Flinders University

PhD scholarship x 1 (3 years) – Adelaide

Flinders University is seeking an outstanding candidate for a PhD scholarship for an Australian Research Council Project entitled: Contemporary lessons from a history of Aboriginal, women’s and generalist community health services in Australia 1970-2020. This exciting project is a partnership between Flinders University, the University of Sydney, La Trobe University, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), The Sydney Local Health District, Paul Laris and Associates and Tony McBride and Associates.

Any area of study relevant to the project will be considered, including one with a focus on the emergence of Aboriginal Community-Controlled health organisations as part of the broader community health movement. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for this aspect of the project.

For further details about the position, including how to apply click here.logo text 'Flinders University' ship, plaque with segment of sun at bottom of the plaque, open line drawing or book at top of plaque with navy background, line drawing of a ship with sails on top of plaque & drone view of the uni

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Food, the most effective weapon against chronic disease

feature tile text ; dietitians' reponse to the draft national preventaive health strategy describes food as the most effective weapon against chronic disease' photo of bowl of Aboriginal native foods

Food, most effective weapon against chronic disease

Dietitians Australia have released a response to the Draft National Preventive Health Strategy (NPHS). Dietitians Australia strongly agree with the visions of the draft NPHS: ‘To improve the health of all Australians at all stages of life, through early intervention, better information, targeting risk factors, and addressing the broader causes of poor health and wellbeing’ saying it is essential that all life stages are included and determinates of health outside an individual’s control are acknowledged and addressed.

The Dietitians Australia response specifically mentions the need for:

  • improved cultural safety across the Australian health system to improve access to appropriate and responsive health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the prioritisation of care through ACCHOs
  • health and health care information to be tailored and translated for all Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people with disability
  • prioritisation of partnership research and interventions in specific population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • reviews of the Australian Dietary Guidelines, including Dietary Guidelines for Older Australians and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Guide to Healthy Eating

To view the Dietitians Australia response click here.

4 Aboriginal kids from NPY Lands arms around each other smiling & making funny faces for the camera, holding oranges, car & outback in the background

Image source: NPY Women’s Council website.

Burn victims from the bush face financial stress

Living away from community and country, Aboriginal families of children with severe burns also face critical financial stress to cover the associated costs of health care and treatment, a new study shows. A recent study by Flinders researchers Dr Courtney Ryder and Associate Professor Tamara Mackean found feelings of crisis were common in Aboriginal families with children suffering severe burns, with one family reporting skipping meals and others selling assets to reduce costs while in hospital.

The economic hardship was found to be worse in families who live in rural areas—some households traveling more than five hours for treatment, creating undue financial strain. Participants of the study included families from SA, NSW and QLD who are already part of the larger-Australia-wide Coolamon study on burns injuries in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

To view the full article click here.

close up photo of a camp fire at night, sparks flying

Image source: The George Institute for Global Health.

Funding boost for Australian Cancer Plan

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Australian Government is investing an additional $6.7 million to support and improve outcomes for all Australians affected by cancer. In 2020, an estimated 150,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Australia, with around 50,000 Australians tragically passing away. As part of this investment; $4.7 million to support strengthening supportive and primary cancer care and genomic cancer clinical trials in Australia; national leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer control, and the development of an Optimal Care Pathway for Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs). $2 million to investigate children’s brain cancer, breast cancer, melanoma and lymphoma, and other important areas of cancer research through Cancer Australia’s Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS).

Minister Hunt said “While Australia is a world leader in cancer control and we have made great strides in improving cancer mortality and survival rates, cancer still has significant impacts on individuals, families, communities and the health system. We must continue to take action to address the multifaceted challenge of tackling cancer and in particular the disparities in outcomes among cancer types and many population groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

To view Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

aqua background, stethoscope, & cardboard letters spelling cancer

Image source: Scimex website.

Intimate partner violence affect’s children’s health

Childhood should be a happy and carefree time, but often it doesn’t work out that way. Children are exposed to all the stresses and strains that affect the families and communities in which they grow up. Recent research shows this can have lifelong implications for health with children exposed to intimate partner violence by age 10 being 2–3 times more likely to have a psychiatric diagnosis and/or emotional and behavioural difficulties and also 2–3 times more likely to have impaired language skills, sleep problems, elevated blood pressure and asthma.

Studies consistently show there are many barriers women have to overcome, including shame, fear of judgement, and cost and availability of health care and other support services in regional communities. For women whose first language isn’t English, and Aboriginal women, there are extra cultural, language and systems-level barriers. Systems-level barriers include the persistence of cultural stereotypes, limited availability of language services, and experiences of discrimination when seeking care and support.

To view The Conversation article in full click here.

rear view of a teddy bear on a path with blurred green vegetation either side

Image source: Giving Compass website.

Remote PHC Manuals project update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are being provided to keep health services and other organisations up-to-date during the review process. You can find the April 2021 update here.Remote PHC Manuals logo with spines of the 4 manuals green purple pink light blue

KAMS Suicide Prevention Plan consultations

The SEWB Team at KAMS, on behalf of the WA Mental Health Commission, would like to invite you to attend a consultation on the development of a regional suicide prevention plan for Aboriginal people in the Kimberley for the period of 2021–2025.

The Western Australian Suicide Prevention Framework 2021-2025 recommends the development of a WA Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Strategy, informed by dedicated regional plans prioritising culturally secure approaches to social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention.

A draft of the Kimberley Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Regional Plan 2021–2025 will undergo face to face consultations to ensure it is responsive to, and respectful of, the needs of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region.

To view the consultation dates and community visits click here.

silhouette of 6 people standing stretched out holding hands against sunset coloured landscape with Aboriginal dot painting symbols

Image source: The University of WA.

Call for abstracts – Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health conference

The University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health are pleased to advise that abstract submissions for their 6th Annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference are now open that address our conference theme ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing’.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference is an opportunity for sharing information and connecting people that are committed to reforming the practice and research of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and celebrates Aboriginal knowledge systems and strength-based approaches to improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal communities.

This is an opportunity to present evidence-based approaches, Aboriginal methods and models of practice, Aboriginal perspectives and contribution to health or community led solutions, underpinned by cultural theories to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

For further information and details of how to submit an abstract click here.

NSW – Sydney – Sydney Morning Herald

Indigenous Affairs Journalist x 1 FT (Identified) – Sydney

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) is looking to hire an Indigenous journalist who will be responsible for putting Indigenous voices at the centre of the publication’s coverage of Indigenous issues influencing and impacting our world today.

The SMH looking to build upon the success of the project, which launched last year and resulted in:

  • More than 60 pieces of independent journalism featuring across The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today;
  • Stunning longform feature pieces in our flagship magazine Good Weekend;
  • Hugely popular five-episode podcast series, Relieving History;
  • Overall digital content achieving almost 1.5 million page views.

The audience response and engagement highlights just how valuable this content is to our readers, who want The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to be covering Indigenous Affairs regularly and engage with the issues affecting our First Nations people. The role, based in Sydney, will focus on coverage of and commentary on Indigenous issues including news, features and multimedia projects.

To view the job description and to express interest in this position click here.

hands on keyboard of 1920s typewriter, white painted wooden surface

Image source: Agenda 360.

Patient Experience Week 2021

Patient Experience Week (April 26-30) is a nationally recognized week designed to celebrate all those who provide excellent patient experience at all levels of an organisation.

Patient Experience Week is an initiative of the Beryl Institute inspired by members of the Institute community. The week provides a focused time for organisations to celebrate accomplishments, re-energise efforts and honour the people who impact patient experience every day. From nurses and physicians, to support staff and executive professionals, to patients, families and communities served, the Institute hopes to bring together healthcare organisations across the globe to observe Patient Experience Week.

For more information click here.banner text 'patient experience week in blue & 'april 26 - April 20, 2021 theberylinstitute.org' in green font

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

feature tile text 'St Vincent's Hospital transforms delivery of care for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people'; image of a empty gurney being pulled through hospital emergency foyer

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

In the latest episode of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital’s Association (AHHA) podcast, The Health Advocate, AHHA Strategic Programs Director, Dr Chris Bourke, speaks with St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney, Emergency Department Director, Dr Paul Preisz and Aboriginal Health Manager, Scott Daley, to discuss how St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney has improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the hospital’s staff knew there was a problem in the Emergency Department with the delivery of care and the outcomes, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, NSW Health data highlighting the unacceptable treatment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients was the final straw. This promoted a mandate from executives to improve results.

‘St Vincent’s work in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is a great example of how organisations can transform the delivery of care and offers many lessons for other organisations wanting to follow a similar path,’ said Dr Bourke.

You can view the AHHA press release here and listen to the podcast here.

St Vincent's Hospital Sydney Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley sitting at hospital bed of 49-year-old Aboriginal male patient

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley with a patient in St Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Department. Image source: ABC News website.

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

An Aboriginal community health service in WA has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients. Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records. “We find it helpful because a lot of our patients are transient, moving from one region to another, so it can be difficult to get their comprehensive files.  We can see what other doctors have requested and performed, overcoming the delays waiting for records requested from other practices and providers.” Australian Digital Health Agency Consumer Advocate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Champion and Co-Chair of the Agency’s Reconciliation Working Group and national Medicines Safety Program, Steve Renouf, congratulated Wirraka Maya for its commitment to digital health.

To view the media release click here.logo 'Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation' circle fish, goanna, blue ochre

Building a more robust medicine supply

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is seeking feedback on proposals to help ensure ongoing, reliable supply of important medicines.

Medicine shortages have been of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic and the TGA have been reviewing ways in which they can better assist affected Australian patients and their healthcare providers. Specifically, the TGA is seeking feedback on possible reforms that would:

  • prioritise the evaluation and registration process for certain important generic prescription medicines, to reduce the risk of shortages
  • encourage registration of more generic versions of medicines known to be affected by shortages, to mitigate the impact of those shortages
  • support a more reliable supply of overseas-registered medicines imported into Australia as substitutes when the Australian medicine is in longstanding or repeated shortage.

The TGA’s Consultation paper – Building a more robust medicine supply gives further details about proposed mechanisms to prevent and mitigate medicine shortages. For further details about the public consultation and to access the online survey click here.

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

multiple coloured pills in a pile on grey glass surface & plastic pill bottle on side with yellow tablets spilling out

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

A range of new accessible, culturally appropriate resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability have been released by the peak body First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN).

“Our community urgently needs information about the vaccine, so we have created a poster with culturally relevant information and artwork to let people know about what is happening and why,” said Damian Griffis, CEO of FPDN.

“During the pandemic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability found it hard to get the right information about what was happening, and it looks like those lessons haven’t been learnt when it comes to the vaccine roll out.”

To view FPDN’s media release click here and to download FPDN’s resources click here.text 'Get the COVID Jab and help keep our mob safe First Peoples Disability Network Australia' drawing of syringe, 9 virsus cells & one large circles with Aboriginal art in orange with meeting symbols

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

Little is known about how older Aboriginal adults access and engage with aged care services. A project has been initiated by the Port Augusta Community to address gaps in Aboriginal aged care and research is being conducted for the broader Aboriginal Eyre Peninsula Communities in partnership with the Adelaide Rural Clinical School Aboriginal research unit.

The lead researcher Kym Thomas, from Port Augusta, is an Aboriginal person, providing and ensuring that spirit and integrity are at the forefront of all community and stakeholder engagement and activities. Communities involved in the research include Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Ceduna and Whyalla. Kym has been supported in his work by Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller and Emma Richards.

To read the full article click here.

photo of Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas standing either side of Yadu Health Aboriginal Corporation banner

Associate Professor Pascale Dettwiller & Kym Thomas. Image source: Partyline website.

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

Growing up in a poor or disadvantaged neighbourhood can affect the way adolescents’ brains function, according to new research. It can alter the communication between brain regions involved in planning, goal-setting and self-reflection. These brain changes can have consequences for cognitive function and wellbeing. But the good news is that positive home and school environments can mitigate some of these negative effects.

A “disadvantaged neighbourhood” is one in which people generally have lower levels of income, employment, and education. Growing up in these conditions can cause stress for children, and is associated with cognitive problems and mental health issues in young people.

It is not yet known exactly how this link between neighbourhood disadvantage and poor mental outcomes works, but it is thought that social disadvantage alters the way young people’s brains develop.

To view the story in full click here.

vector of brain wrapped in yellow tape with text 'UNDER CONSTRUCTION'

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

The fifth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with updated data available for 15 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians. While the mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling among the Indigenous population, it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians. The incidence of acute rheumatic fever among Indigenous Australians continues to be much higher than in non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

 Indigenous Pride Heart Studs Flag: Aboriginal Torres Strait Island One of each Flag

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

The prevalence of mental health issues is higher in people with a disability than in the general population. This means that often, a person who has both a physical, intellectual or neurological disability is also dealing with mental health challenges.  There can be complexities in distinguishing mental health issues from intellectual or neurological disability and this can lead to mental health challenges not being recognised or identified.  Participants will explore concepts of recovery, trauma and strength- based approaches to working with people with complex needs. They will use a recovery and biopsychosocial approach to meet their client’s needs.

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) are promoting a training course being delivered by the WA Association for Mental Health. For more details click here.

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

Indigenous health workers in Mount Gambier have been among the first in SA to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1b of the national roll-out. 10 staff at Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Corporation were selected to receive the vaccine on Monday this week.

Outreach worker Catherine Bulner was the first of the group to roll up her sleeve and get the jab. She said she felt privileged to be the first South East Indigenous community member to get vaccinated. “I’m pretty fortunate to have it done in an Aboriginal community-controlled health service. “I think it’s really good that we can instil confidence in our community to get it done to protect not only ourselves, but our family and our community.”

Ms Bulner encouraged others to do the same to allow life to return to normal. “It’s unknown, but there’s plenty of information out there that can tell you all about it, if you need to make an informed decision before,” she said. “It’s not mandatory, but arm yourself with the information I did and you will be really confident to get it.” Transport worker Peter Brennan was also vaccinated and said it would provide him with a lot more confidence when conducting his work duties.

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brenna. Image source: ABC News website.

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector entered 2020 with high hopes. The equity gap was still evident in measures of access to services and outcomes, but there was a continued positive trajectory towards the gap for vision being closed, with a strong sector driving change through collaborations on regional and state levels. 2020 was a target year for the elimination of trachoma, as well as to achieve equity and close the gap for vision.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the work of the sector in a number of ways. Many communities closed or reduced non-urgent visiting services, suspensions to elective surgery and reductions in permitted surgical loads and lockdowns in different parts of Australia to stop outbreaks, while necessary, meant that the already-existing waitlists for eye care became longer. The stronger impact on public hospitals, for example through lower caps on elective surgeries compared with private, has a disproportionate impact on population groups with the stronger reliance on the public system.

The impact on the sector’s work also includes the interruption to the positive momentum of change. Across Australia, regional and state-level groups of stakeholders involved with the provision of eye care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been driving improvements in pathways and outcomes. The community-controlled sector has been key in leading this change.

To view the full article click here.

person dressed as Milp the trachoma goanna at AFL game in Alice Springs surrounded by Aboriginal children

Milpa the trachoma goanna supporting ‘Clean Faces, Strong Eyes’ health promotion messaging at an AFL game in Alice Springs NT. Image source: Partyline.

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

The University of WA are seeking a skilled health researcher to conduct statistical analysis of real world health services data from current and future projects. This position will be based in the Kimberley where Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) sites conduct collaborative research with health services into improving Aboriginal health and building research capacity. Under limited directions from Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Julia Marley and in close collaboration with the Kimberley Medical Services, you will provide impetus and capacity to research initiatives in the Kimberley region of WA.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

To view the job advertisement, including the Position Description click here position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close Monday 16 April 2021.Uni of WA & Rural Clinical School of WA logos

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization.

Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

To celebrate World Health Day the Australian Global Health Alliance is hosting a special online event where a line-up or expert guest speakers will share their reflections on this year’s theme ‘Building a fairer, healthier world’.

For more information about the event from12:00–1:00 PM AEST Wednesday 7 April 2021 and to register click here.

banner text 'World Health Day April 7, pink wooden wall with stethoscope around plasticine world in blue & green

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: second phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts

feature tile text 'Second phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts with 33 ACCHOs first to administer the jab', image of COVID-19 vaccine vial & syringe destroying a virus cell - image from The Conversation

Second phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout starts

While Liverpool became a COVID-19 hotspot during the pandemic, not one case was recorded at the Gandangara clinic. Medical adviser to NACCHO, Jason Agostino, said Indigenous leadership was critical in this achievement. “All the ACCHOs across the country have just been really incredible in getting messages out to their communities about how to stay safe in the initial part of the pandemic and in those spots where there have been outbreaks, places in Melbourne, in Brisbane, have just been exceptional in supporting their communities and keeping them safe,” he said. “So it’s been a whole bunch of things all put together but at the heart of it is leadership by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The second phase of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out started today with 33 ACCHOs being the first to administer the jab, including the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council’s health service in Liverpool, in Sydney’s south-west.

But questions remain within the community about the vaccine. “A lot of them are saying yes, a lot of them are just not sure,” said Dunghutti elder and Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council board member Aunty Gail Smith. Aunty Gail, who’s worked in the health industry for almost 40 years, said despite the community’s low case numbers the pandemic had had a huge impact. “It was a big strain because they couldn’t go out or meet their families, a lot of us come from country areas we couldn’t go there as well,” she said.  “I think it’s been tough across the board for everybody… but now we’re slowly getting back to it. I encourage everyone if they could, it’s up to them, [but] if its gonna help our community and our people, why not, because we’re survivors and we want to survive for our next generations as well.”

To view the ABC news article in full click here.

Dunghutti Elder & Gandangara Local ALC board member Aunty Gail Smith

Dunghutti Elder and Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council board member Aunty Gail Smith. Image source: ABC News website.

Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research Alliance launched

Kimberley-based Aboriginal community-controlled and government health services, research institutes and universities have united to form the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research Alliance (KAHRA) with the objective of improving and promoting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley through the development and application of practical health research. This collaboration combines the power of research to drive evidence-based change, the commitment of regional health services, and the vast cultural knowledge and strength of communities.

The development of collaborative projects utilising the strengths of the Alliance will seek to drive change to health outcomes, policy and services within the Kimberley and ultimately improve health outcomes of Kimberley Aboriginal community members. KAHRA has already seen unprecedented collaboration across health services in the region, with a collective voice advocating for better use of data to inform health service delivery in the region. Work has begun on a project to enable health services and researchers to see the full picture of disease burden in the region.

To view the KAHRA media release click here.banner text 'KAHRA - Kimberley Aboriginal Health Research' yellow black & red dots

Vicki O'Donnell - KAMS CEO speaking at the launch of KAHRA

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell speaking at the launch of KAHRA.

Rhetoric and action gap needs to close

As communities across Australia mark National Close the Gap Day, leaders of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), the Uniting Church and UnitingCare Australia have come together to call for enduring reforms to support self-determination and tangible outcomes for First Peoples. According to  Pastor Mark Kickett, UAICC Interim Chair, “after 13 years of Closing the Gap, it is time to turn rhetoric into real action that genuinely empowers First Peoples and delivers lasting benefits.

Pastor Kickett continued, “the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has the potential to be a gamechanger. But we are yet to see the structural change and funding commitments needed to achieve real reform, and pressure needs to be kept on governments to maintain their commitments and to apply the principles of reform that they signed off in 2020. Real change requires more than words and minor policy tinkering. It requires closing the gap between rhetoric and action. And it requires enduring structural and constitutional reform to empower First Peoples to take leadership in their affairs, in true partnership with government. The response of our communities to COVID-19 demonstrated the benefits of community-led action and the enduring resilience, creativity, and decisiveness of First Peoples leaders and governance.”

Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer said the Uniting Church lamented with First Peoples the ongoing health inequality, lack of self-determination, experiences of racism, high incarceration rates and the tragic prevalence of preventable deaths in custody. Dr Palmer said investing in solutions led by First Peoples was key to Closing the Gap.

To view the joint media release here.

4 Mutitjulu elders at Uluru, all with checked shirts & Akubra hats, one in a wheelchair

Mutitjulu elders at Uluru. Photo by Jimmy Widders Hunt. Image source: BBC News.

Aged care fails remote communities 

For the last five years, Mary Dadbalag, aged in her 90s and confined to a wheelchair, has been living in a tent on a verandah in the NT remote community of Jibena. For the last three years, her granddaughter Jacqueline Phillips has been knocking on every government service provider’s door she can think of asking for help to get her grandmother a bedroom built with a toilet attached. She said her grandmother is living in the tent at the edge of what she described as a “chicken house” because she can’t get to the nearest toilet 20 metres away over grass in her wheelchair, but she can shuffle to the edge of the verandah.

“It’s upsetting, not healthy and not hygienic. Like, her tent is just right next to where she does her toilets. She’s a great, great, great-grandmother, one of the last elders of our region and she’s just not being respected.” Ms Phillips is worried her grandmother may continue to fall through the cracks. “There needs to be better aged care services, especially for the people on the homelands,” she said. “We really need the federal government to listen to the very remote communities and provide that service, it’s human rights.”

To view the full article click here.

Elder Mary Dadbalag sleeping on ground outside tent on the veranda of a makeshift home

Mary Dadbalag has been living in a tent on the veranda of a makeshift home. Image source: ABC News.

High youth detention FASD rates acknowledged

Danila Dilba Health Service has welcomed the release of the Senate’s report on effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and support for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (17 March 2021). Danila Dilba provides comprehensive primary health services within the Darwin/Palmerston region, including to many children and families impacted by FASD or other neurodevelopmental impairments. The release of the Senate’s report the day before National Close The Gap Day provides a timely reminder of the tangible ways the government can fulfil its commitment to address the health gap between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians.

The report highlights the need to incorporate FASD prevention, assessment, and management into a comprehensive primary health care model. In particular, the Senate Committee recognises the importance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) like Danila Dilba in delivering culturally appropriate, holistic care to families affected by FASD.

Danila Dilba’s Head of Clinical Governance, Dr Andrew Webster, gave evidence to the inquiry about the lack of culturally appropriate assessment, therapeutic interventions, and support for children with FASD and their families, “ACCHOs can provide a ‘one-stop shop’ within a trusted service rather than families having to go through the process of diagnosis and therapy with multiple providers. Sadly, due to the barriers to assessment, many children suffering from FASD or other impairments do not get a diagnosis, and so are unable to receive the supports that they need. It is these children that we then unfortunately see coming to the attention of the child protection and justice systems.”

To view Danila Dilba’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal youth at skate park with hands over his face & policeman in the background

Image source: The Conversation.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Yesterday the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and called upon Canberrans to reflect on their personal responsibility in combatting racism. “This year’s theme is ‘Youth standing up against Racism’, and it is an opportunity to reflect on the power that young people have in shifting narratives and creating change, both online and in person,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell. “Over the past year, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought racism to the forefront of global conversation. In Australia it drew attention to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our justice system, and reignited conversations about racism and implicit bias more broadly.”

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.banner text 'Internationald Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination March 21' vector image of handprint finger colours yellow, red, blue, aqua, black & brown palm with white heart

Diabetes management in Aboriginal communities webinar

The first webcast session of a four-part series of interprofessional webinars focusing on Diabetes management in an Aboriginal community will be held from 12:30–1:30 PM this Thursday 25 March 2021.

The webcast, Prevention and Control of Type-2 Diabetes in Aboriginal Communities: Changing Dietary, Activity and Lifestyle Patterns will explore evidence-based approaches and practical strategies for nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and behaviour changes to support the prevention and management of diabetes in Aboriginal people. Barriers and solutions to improving engagement with Aboriginal communities will also be discussed.

Diabetes is a complex condition that can impact people in different ways. It has a significant impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This webcast provides an overview of the prevalence of diabetes in the Aboriginal population, discusses risk factors for early diabetes detection and focuses on the key lifestyle behaviours for the prevention and management of diabetes. Key nutritional considerations relating to the use of whole foods, fibre, carbohydrates and how to shop on a budget will be discussed. Further to this, stress management, importance of sleep, exercise, flexibility and ways to reduce sedentary behaviour will be covered. The presenters will also discuss their local Aboriginal community group programs, including culturally safe practices.

For more information you can download an event flyer here and register here.

Aboriginal person's hands - diabetes blood test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health sector racism a key barrier to medical care

feature tile: RACISM is a key barrier to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people's access medical care; image Aboriginal flag colours black top half, red bottom half, yellow map of Australia is words 'No Room for Racism'

Racism a key barrier to health care

Racism within the NSW public health service has been identified as a key barrier for Aboriginal people trying to access medical care. A state parliamentary inquiry into remote, rural and regional healthcare has been given examples of Aboriginal residents who say they have been mistreated and disrespected. The submissions state that this is the reason why Aboriginal people do not always trust or feel safe in the public health service.

The CEO of the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), Jamie Newman and the spokeswoman, Ariane Dozer for the civil rights and legal service, National Justice Project say there are still racist attitudes among some staff, despite the rollout of cultural sensitivity programs, awareness campaigns and training. “What we would like to see is health services dedicated to working with the local Aboriginal communities to develop strong localised models for culturally safe care because not all Aboriginal communities are the same,” said Ms Dozer.

The way Aboriginal health services are funded is also a key issue. “The levels of funding have to change, the length of funding has to change,” said Mr Newman. He said that unlike the public health system, Aboriginal medical services in NSW have a three-year funding cycle. “We can’t recruit GPs, specialists, allied health services when we only guarantee a three-year contract based on the funding arrangements. We’re not going to get health outcomes in the next three years. We’re talking about generational change over 10–15 years and if we don’t have that approach we will fail in the next three years to Close the Gap.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

doctor having consult with Aboriginal man

Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation website.

A related article says the state parliamentary inquiry has been told racist attitudes within the NSW public health system are stopping Indigenous people from seeking medical help. The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council says figures show Indigenous patients are five times more likely to discharge themselves early from hospital. Ariane Dozer from the National Justice Project says First Nations people did not trust the public health service, which they said had provided them with “derogatory” and “degrading” treatment. [They are] essentially dismissed and turned away without proper assessment,” she said. “People’s individual concerns and views of their concerns and their suffering can be ignored.”

To view this article click here.

emergency hospital entrance

Image source: ABC News website.

BLM spurs Linda Burney to change Australia

Thousands of protesters took to the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter” in June last year, exasperated at high incarceration rates and deaths in custody. But this was 10,000 miles from New York, Washington and Los Angeles, on the other side of the globe – in Australia. While conservative PM Scott Morrison claimed the protests Down Under showed there was a risk of “importing the things that are happening overseas,” for Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected to the nation’s lower house, the anger was justifiable.

Mirroring the U.S., where the Black imprisonment rate is more than five times than that of Whites, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up just 2% of the population but 29% of all prison inmates in Australia. “The Black Lives Matter movement very seriously resonated here because Australia has had such a denial of its history,” Burney, 63, said in an interview. “It clicked because of the extraordinary large numbers of Aboriginal people incarcerated and the hundreds of deaths in custody.”

To view the full article click here.

Linda Burney in house or representatives during Morrison's CtG ministerial statement 14.2.19

Linda Burney during Morrison’s Closing the Gap ministerial statement at Parliament House in Canberra, on 14 February 2019. Photo: Tracey Nearmy. Image source: Bloomberg Equality.

NDIS independent assessments

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released a joint paper with the Department of Social Services about independent assessments. The paper is the Government’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) inquiry on independent assessments. The NDIA’s submission sets out a picture of the planned reforms and why they are necessary to deliver a simpler, faster, fairer and more flexible NDIS that will benefit all Australians. The paper released provides a summary of the background, the key reasons independent assessments are being introduced and clarifies the intent of independent assessments.

The concerns raised in the recent reforms consultation process indicate that there are misconceptions and misunderstandings about the details of independent assessments and how they will be implemented. The submission paper is the Government’s clear statement of independent assessments and is an opportunity for us to clarify details about the planned reforms.

The NDIA says it is committed to actively seeking feedback on independent assessments and other reform proposals through an ongoing and comprehensive consultation program and encourages you to read the joint submission paper here.

torso of a person in a wheelchair view from side

Image source: Disability Insider website.

Second lowest COVID-19 case rate in OECD

The Government will invest more than $1.1 billion to extend its national COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy until 31 December 2021. Australia is leading the world out of the global COVID-19 pandemic and recession. As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the nation, protecting Australians from the ongoing threats of the pandemic remains a priority. This $1.1 billion is in addition to more than $22 billion spent in these areas to date, including more than $6 billion to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Australia’s suppression strategy has been extremely successful to date, particularly when compared with the devastation caused by the virus in many places overseas. Australia’s remarkable performance in saving lives is evident – we have the second lowest case rate and third lowest mortality rate amongst countries in the OECD.

To view the media release click here.

gloved hands holding pink piece of paper with text 'COVID-19'

Image source: AMA website.

Vaccine rollout to include more Aboriginal Australians

Just over a week out from the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccinations for the phase 1b priority group, the Australian government has quietly changed the parameters to include more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote residents. The ABC understands the decision has been made to assist the logistics of delivering the vaccines to remote communities.

It would mean vaccination teams who head to remote Aboriginal communities can immunise all adults over the age of 18 who want the vaccine, rather than just people over 55 or those who met the previous criteria for phase 1b. The changes would not be targeting, for instance, young Aboriginal people living in urban areas.

The federal Department of Health website has changed its phase 1b category to say, “beginning to vaccinate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”. A spokeswoman from the department confirmed the change would also include non-Indigenous remote residents. “All remote and very remote residents [inclusive of both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and the non-Indigenous population] over the age of 18 will be considered a priority group, due to logistical requirements,” she said. “This will limit the need to transfer workforce and relevant materials and will assist with issues associated with distribution and access.”

Previously it was “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55” or who met other phase 1b criteria, like having an underlying medical condition, being a healthcare worker, critical or high-risk worker. There was no change to this for people living in urban and regional locations.

To view the media release in full click here.

medical tray of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Image source: Surf Coast Times.

Countering vaccine misinformation

The Australian Government is ramping up its campaign against misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccines, as the vaccination program ramps up moving into Phase 1B. Australians can get all their questions answered on the health website to find out what they want – and need – to know about the COVID-19 vaccines. The new material on the website, called Is it true? will help answer questions people may have about the vaccine, and respond to vaccine misinformation they may have heard. This new function will provide trusted, credible information on COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia. It will sort the fact from the fiction. The information on the website will be clear, accurate and timely. This will help reassure Australians about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and answer commonly asked questions and misinformation relating to the COVID-19 Vaccination program.

To view the media release in full click here.

blackboard with arrow to left & word myths, arrow to right & word facts

Image source: The Irish Times.

Self-identification sufficient for vaccine

The AMA has received advice from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Advisory Group that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination in the 1b and 2a rollout, self-identification is sufficient proof of Indigenous status – no other documentation in required.  The advisory group re-affirmed that no proof beyond self-identification is required and this is consistent with the RACGP standards. While there is the potential for non-indigenous people to take advantage of this system, it was thought the greater harm was in potential racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people seeking vaccination and of having to prove one’s identity.

To view the full article click here.

gloved hand administering vaccine to upper arm

Image: SBS website.

Cancer research priorities survey

Are you interested in contributing to cancer in primary care research?

PC4, the Primary Care Collaborative Cancer Clinical Trials Group, is undertaking a prioritisation study that aims to explore the views of different stakeholders to identify their perspective on what the top research priorities should be in the field of cancer in primary care research. PC4 is funded by Cancer Australia to support the development of cancer in primary care trials.

The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and will give you an opportunity to advocate for the areas of cancer in primary care research you feel should be addressed most urgently.

You can access the link to survey for health care professionals, researchers etc. here and the link to the consumer survey here.

This survey is being distributed nationally and is set to close on Friday 16 April 2021.
PC4 banner text 'help rank the top 10 research priorities for cancer in primary care research' photo of a woman at a table, man writing on whiteboard & woman running brain-storming session, text 'Have Your Say with arrow to box containing words Priority 1, Priority 2., priority 3'

National Bowel Cancer Screening Program promotion

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. If found early, up to 90% of cases can be treated successfully. Bowel cancer often has no obvious early warning signs. The good news is, a bowel screening test can detect changes in the bowel long before your patient notices any problems.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program provides free bowel screening kits for eligible people aged 50–74. So, have the bowel screening chat with your patients. An A4-sized poster (for display in staff only access areas) encouraging health professionals to talk to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about bowel screening as well as other resources can be accessed here.

poster text 'bowel screening can save lives have you discussed bowel screening with patients?'

JobSeeker cuts will widen health gaps

The Federal Government’s failure to provide a liveable income through JobSeeker payments will harm the health of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and contribute to widespread distress as people and families struggle to afford healthy food and housing. Health groups have also warned that the new base rate for JobSeeker will contribute to growing health inequalities and have consistently highlighted evidence of the link between poverty and sickness.

More than 500 submissions were made to the Senate inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Strengthening Income Support) Bill 2021, with many testimonials of hardship from families and individuals choosing between food and medications, and forced into homelessness. Economic modelling by The Grattan Institute predicts that 40,000 more jobs will be lost when the Government axes the Coronavirus Supplement (currently $75 a week) at the end of March and replaces it with a $25 a week increase to JobSeeker payments.

To view the full article in Croakey click here.

platter of fruit & vegetables, lettuce, apples, ginger, cucumber, broccoli, celery

Demand soared for fresh fruit and vegetables when Aboriginal communities received the Coronavirus Supplement. Photo by k15 on Unsplash. Image source: Croakey.

Innovative post suicide support program

An innovative trial will give children and young people access to community-based, non-clinical support following an attempted suicide, thanks to a $3.8 million investment from the NSW Government. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the service will be designed by young people with lived experience of suicide alongside families and carers, youth mental health and suicide prevention experts. “Growing evidence tells us that following up and increasing community support for people after a suicide attempt can reduce the likelihood of a further attempt,” Mrs Taylor said. “We know that young people are often reluctant to reach out for help and don’t always engage well with clinical services – what works well for adults often doesn’t work well for young people.

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

young Aboriginal girl's hands with chipped nail polish holding another Aboriginal child's hands

Image source: Amnesty International website.

Close The Gap Report Launch 2021

The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the health and life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation. The campaign is built on evidence that shows significant improvements in the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can be achieved by 2030.

The Australian Institute is delighted to invite you to the launch of the 2021 Close the Gap Campaign report “Leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe”, written by the Lowitja Institute. 

The report will be launched via webinar, on National Close the Gap Day from 12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 18 March 2021 – hosted by the Australia Institute in support of the Close the Gap Campaign.

The webinar is free, but registration is essential. To book click here.

You can also view an invite to the Close the Gap & Mental Health Awareness Event here.banner 'close the gap report launch 2021 leadership & Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Stafe' June Oscar AO, Karl Briscoe, Dr Janine Mohamed, Sir Michael Marmot

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

feature tile text 'ACCHOs prepare for imminent COVID-19 vaccine rollout' photo of COVID-19 vaccine vialst

ACCHOs prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

This morning NACCHO CEO Pat Turner joined a panel on ABC Radio National Breakfast to discuss how preparations are ramping up in earnest for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Many will get the jab as part of Phase 1B which begins on Monday 22 March 2021. At the coalface, health organisations are also busy tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.

To listen to the episode click here.ABC RN banner text 'COVID-19 vaccines OurJobToProtectOurMOb NACCHO CEO Patricia Turner Fri 12 March 6–9am, photo of Pat Turner smiling

Yesterday afternoon NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey also spoke on ABC radio about COVID-19. Along with human rights advocate and lawyer Teela Reid and public health expert Professor Fiona Stanley, Dr Casey spoke with Richard Glover on ABC Radio Sydney program Drive about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reference was made to how programs run by Indigenous people work, but programs imposed on communities don’t. Professor Fiona Stanley said there is lots of evidence to show better outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal people control programs, saying “when you give First Nations’ people this power it works every time”.

In terms of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities were kept safe from COVID-19, Professor Stanley said local services understand the context in which their people are living, they know who and where their Elders are and are immediately able to implement the best preventative strategies for them. Only 0.1 per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia have contracted COVID-19 compared to 1.1 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous Australians.

To listen to the interview click here.

portrait photos Dr Dawn Casey, Teela Reid, Professor Fiona Stanley

L-R: Dr Dawn Casey (NITV website), Teela Reid (National Indigenous Times), Professor Fiona Stanley (ABC News website).

Truth and justice commission announced

Victoria’s ‘truth-telling’ commission (launched earlier this week) has been owed for 233 years according to Victoria’s Deputy Premier, James Merlino who said “233 years of violence, dispossession and deprivation. 233 years of deliberate silence. We commit to telling the truth. We do so for the kids who never came home – and those who are still finding their way back. For those who were told they were not allowed to speak their own language, practice their own culture, know their own identity. For the families who lost loved ones in the massacres. For those who were made to feel like they didn’t belong to their own country. And for those who still feel this way. Today we commit to telling their truth.”

The Truth and Justice Commission is a shared commitment between the Victorian Government and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the state’s first and only democratically-elected body for Aboriginal people. Named after the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba word for ‘truth’, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will formally begin its work in the coming months. Held independently from Government, and afforded the full power of a Royal Commission, it will mark the beginning of a conversation long overdue, and a commitment to change.‌ It will compel us to confront what’s come before. To acknowledge that the pain in our past lives on in our present.

To view the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Victoria State Government joint statement click here and to view a related article in The Age click here.

Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk

Ms Atkinson, Ms Williams and Mr Merlino in Coranderrk for the announcement of the commission. Image source: The Age.

Final Call: COVID-19 in aged care facilities survey

Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly have been commissioned by the Department of Health to undertake a national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs). RACF managers (or equivalent) are invited to complete a short online survey about the facility’s preparation for and, if an outbreak occurred, management of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The data will be collected and analysed by the University of Sydney. Survey responses will remain anonymous and no individual RACF will be identifiable. The feedback and analysis will be an invaluable contribution to the report and recommendations to the Department of Health.

The survey will be closing on 5:00 PM Wednesday 17 March 2021.

If you haven’t completed the survey, please do take the time to share your thoughts and experiences with the review. It only takes 10-15 minutes. and can be accessed by clicking on this link.

Your input is critical to continuous improvement in the management of potential COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care.

elderly Aboriginal man and Aboriginal woman wearing paper party hats sitting at table looking at a mobile phone screen

Image source: Inner Sydney Voice website.

National Preventive Health Strategy coming soon

You have until 19 April 2021 to make submissions on the draft National Preventive Health Strategy. The final document is expected to be launched mid-year.

Croakey journalist Melissa Sweet has written an overview of some of the key issues, including concerns that without proper funding and implementation commitments, the strategy will be “another worthy document which does not advance the health of Australians one iota”. Below is an excerpt from Melissa’s overview:

“OMG. The Federal Health Department has released a publication that finally utters the words so many have been waiting SO long to hear. The draft National Preventive Health Strategy cites a contributor saying that “climate change is likely to be the biggest challenge to health, wellbeing and economic prosperity”. The document goes on to note that human health is dependent on planetary health, and that environmental issues, such as extreme weather events and significant changes in climate systems, have had, and will continue to have, an impact on the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

“This is particularly true for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have close cultural, spiritual and social connections to the land. In order to prepare for future challenges and address the health of the planet, the impacts of climate change on physical and mental health need to be understood, especially through a health equity lens,” it says. But don’t get too excited. These words don’t come until page 40 and although climate change is mentioned a number of times throughout the document, the draft strategy does not convey a strong sense of urgency about the climate crisis and how it will undermine all other efforts in health prevention without urgent action.

To view overview in full click here and for further information about the National Preventive Health Strategy and how to make a submission click here.

banner with text National Preventive Health Strategy' vector images of city, wind farm, clouds, park, city, road

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

Indigenous kids are losing sleep

New analysis has found that Indigenous Australian children suffer from sleep problems at higher rates than non-Indigenous children. Aboriginal children reported insomnia, severe daytime sleepiness and breathing difficulties while sleeping, researchers say. “Poor sleep can lead to health problems and lower levels of academic achievement,” according to Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University Yaqoot Fatima. “Indigenous children suffer from at higher rates of obesity, diabetes and respiratory problems than non-Indigenous children.” School attendance rates among Indigenous children are 10 per cent lower than non-Indigenous children, she said. “Understanding sleep health is very important,” Dr Fatima said.

To view the article 7 News article in full click here and to view a related article in The Conversation click here.

Aboriginal toddler sleeping with head on carer's shoulder

Image source: CRAICCHS website.

Media invalidates Indigenous experience of racism

Gunditjamara Elder Charmaine Clark has commented on the response by national mainstream media to a report tabled last week by the Victorian anti-vilification protections inquiry. She said “the media completely missed the point and instead we saw sensational headlines of Nazi Swastika banned or Nazi flags banned.” In the course of the Inquiry, Charmaine gave her personal testimony, representing the Victorian Indigenous community. Supported by organisations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Victorian Legal Aid Charmaine’s case mirrored other experiences of racial abuse and indifference that many Indigenous people experience throughout their lifetime.

Charmain said “One of the most persistent aspects of today’s discourse regarding racism in Australia, Charmaine said, is the very denial of its existence. Out of all the most sustained political campaigns operating in Australia, the political project of controlling and diminishing Indigenous human rights and dignity is by far the longest. It has cost us much, in lives and loss of access to country, high incarceration rates and alarming mental health and health statistics.”

“Our media choose to personify racists as those Nazi’s or Proud Boys, with the effect that all other forms of racial vilification are at best of lower importance and at worst – invalidated in the eyes of the public consuming this media. It highlights the systemic nature of how perceptions of racism are controlled, perceived and presented to the general public. This narrow definition of ‘racist’ paints a picture to the public and reduces the impact of our calls for action to address racism we uniquely experience.”

To view the full IndienousX article click here.

Charmaine Clark

Charmaine Clark. Image source: IndigenousX website.

Institutional racism factor in health gap

A new report from the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health has found institutional racism leads to a silencing of Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and cultural practices which are crucial to closing the gap in health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Published in Public Health Research and Practice, a peer-reviewed journal of the Sax Institute, the report was authored by several Indigenous leaders and noted the reluctance in health care structures to address systemic and institutional racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Lead author Dr Carmen Parter is a proud descendent of the Darumbal and Juru clans of the Birra Gubba Nation of Queensland. She also has South Sea Islander heritage and is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. “Our paper gives voice to Indigenous communities who have consistently said that racism is a critical issue in the provision of health care, as is the incorporation of culture into the design of health care services,” said Dr Parter. “When an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person accesses a health care service, there is always a level of mistrust and fear. A lot of people forget that our health system was one of the many institutions involved in the Stolen Generations that took children from their families and communities — which still happens today. Those stories resonate through our communities.” Dr Parter highlights the importance for health care providers in discussing and addressing racism.

To view the Indigenous National Times article in full click here and to view the related SaxInstitute media release Indigenous leaders call for an end to racism in the health system click here.

Dr Carmen Parter Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing

Image source: Mayi Kuwayu The National Study of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Wellbeing website.

Race conversations program developer recognised

Bundjalung and Kullilli woman Melissa Browning has been recognised at the national HESTA Impact Awards for her contribution to improving health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The awards are a national celebration of health and community services professionals working to protect the future of the planet and its people.

Browning was a joint winner of the Individual Distinction Award for her work developing and implementing the Courageous Conversations About Race (CCAR) program at the Fold Coast Hospital and Health Service (GCHHS). Having a career in health spanning just short of two decades, Browning is one of the only Aboriginal women at GCHHS who sits in a senior role. She is the current Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and has held that position for over a decade. Working in the health sector as long as she has, Browning has faced her fair share of adversity.

“I have often been called challenging. I like to reframe that and step away from the angry Blak woman trope,” she said. “I’m not angry, I’m passionate. I do get framed as the challenging Blak woman because I do want to make that change, make that difference for my people.  Aboriginal women are constantly taking the brunt for our community, there are so many inspiring women that have gone before me that have inspired me to keep going in doing what I do. The reason I am doing this is for my people, for the future generations — that is what holds me.”

Browning’s CCAR program originates from the Us but she has worked to contextualise it to an Australian audience. The program aims to talk about racism in a safe space. “Talking about race and racism is always very hard, but I think … to move forward we can’t not have those conversations,” she said.

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

Melissa Browning holding HESTA Impact Award

Melissa Browning. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Tooth decay rates fall

A trial of a children’s dental health program in a remote Queensland Indigenous community showed the value of simple health interventions in promoting overall health in Indigenous communities, researchers said. Dental health is a serious problem for some Indigenous communities, with Indigenous children in rural Australia recording up to three times the rate of tooth decay compared with other Australian children. Associate Professor Ratilal Lalloo from the University of Queensland School of Dentistry led the study to find out what effect a simple intervention could have.

“We wanted to test an intervention to reduce that burden – the idea was to take what we considered the main preventative strategies against tooth decay and see what effect that had on ongoing dental health,” he said. “Primary health care workers such as community nurses and Aboriginal health workers can be trained to do these treatments, making them even more cost-effective.” Dr Lalloo said researchers hoped the findings would lead to evidence-based policies and practices in preventing tooth decay in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

To view the article in the Brisbane Times click here and to view a more detailed article about the research in UQ News click here.

Aboriginal girl holding blue toothbrush to her mouth

Image source: The Conversation.

Shifting Gears Summit

What would our health systems look like if consumers were in the driving seat – if consumer experiences and leadership were enabled to seamlessly transform health and social care to better serve their needs? In Australia we do have successful models that have arisen from genuine consumer co-design, such as the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

A summit hosted by the Consumer’s Health Forum of Australia next week (17–19 March) starts off by asking speakers and participants why such reform is needed, and goes on to showcase success, and provide inspiration for future efforts. This is a virtual event with an international cast of speakers and participants.

It’s not too late to register for the Summit (and/or one of the two pre-summit masterclasses).

To join the event, register here, banner text 'CHF Summit 2021 Shifting Gears 18–19 March 2021', orange and purple for cogs with vector medical images

COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Qld Q&A

Health Consumers Qld is hosting a panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, including Ms Haylene Grogan, Dr Mark Wenitong, Associate Professor James Ward and Associate Professor Margie Danchin to answer questions from the community about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health consumers from across Queensland are invited to attend another Q&A session.

The Q&A session will take place from 9:30–11:00 AM on Monday 29 March 2021 by Zoom videoconference and “watch parties”. We hope that groups of people may come together to join the on-line session so those without internet access and those who would prefer to be in a group, can come together for a “watch party” .

To register click here.banner text 'COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Queensland Your Questions Answered for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander People Session 2 - Health Consumers Queensland, Queensland Government'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

feature tile text 'Australian Government releasesCOVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People', photo of purple gloved hands injecting person's arm

First Nations COVID-19 vaccine implementation plan released

The Australian Government has released its COVID-19 Vaccination Program – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Implementation Plan. This Implementation Plan is for the COVID-19 vaccination program for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over 18 years of age. This plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, and with state and territory governments.

To view the plan click here.cover of Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Sydney hospital goes from worst to best

It’s one of the busiest and most esteemed emergency rooms in the country, but for decades some of the most vulnerable have slipped through the cracks. Located in the heart of Sydney’s nightlife district, St Vincent’s Hospital has saved thousands of lives — but it was considered the worst in the state when it came to caring for certain patients. “A high number of Aboriginal people were coming in through our emergency department and were leaving us, not completing their treatment,” said Pauline Deweerd, director of Aboriginal health at the hospital.

Some months, as many as one in three patients left the hospital before receiving the vital care they needed. “It was because of past bad experiences, they didn’t like waiting, and they didn’t like the way we treated them,” Ms Deweerd said. It was a persistent, hard to address problem, even for a hospital that has a reputation for providing top-notch emergency medicine.

But in the middle of a global pandemic the hospital found a solution, and doctors are certain the rest of the country can learn from it. “It’s our attempt at closing the gap for our small part of the health world; we not only brought it to the level of the general population, we made it a little better,” Dr Preisz said.

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley in scrubs sitting on patient bed at St Vincent's Hospital

Aboriginal Health Manager Scott Daley, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Photo: Brendan Esposito. Image source: ABC News website.

Former PM urges women to get COVID-19 vaccine

Julia Gillard has had her coronavirus jab, urging everyone – and particularly women – to get vaccinated. The former PM joined Health Minister Greg Hunt and Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy to be among the first to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination at a Melbourne clinic on Sunday 7 March 2021. “Me being here today is a visible representation that no matter what side of politics you barrack for, no matter whom you intend to vote for, there is a united message,” Ms Gillard told reporters. “Please get the vaccine. And particularly to Australian women, can I say, please get the vaccine.

She understands that people might feel a little bit anxious, but recommended they get their information from reliable sources, such as the Australian government or from their local health practitioner. “Whether it’s smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, influenza, and now COVID-19, vaccinations can save lives and protect lives,” Mr Hunt said.

AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses from overseas are being given to frontline health and hotel quarantine workers, as well as aged and disability care residents and staff, as part of phase 1a. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here and to listen to a Julie Gillard urging Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine click here.

portrait photo of ex-PM Julia Gillard

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Image source: SBS News website.

Umoona Tjutagku frontline staff receive COVID-19 vaccine

“South Australia’s economic and health response to the COVID-19 threat has been world-leading, and we are focused on working with our health experts to deliver a safe and quick roll out of the vaccines,” SA Premier Marshall said. “This is the biggest peacetime operation in our state’s history, and a big plank in our plan to keep South Australia safe and strong. “The roll out is happening right across the State, with our three key hubs in the north, south and centre of Adelaide all operational, and our regional hubs also progressing .”

Minister Wade said the rollout continues to expand into regional areas with 240 doses of the vaccine arriving at Coober Pedy Hospital today.

“Frontline staff of the Coober Pedy Health Service, Umoona Tjutagku Aboriginal Health Service and Umoona Aged Care as well as aged care residents will receive their COVID-19 vaccine over the next four days.  It is an excellent example of cooperation across all sectors of Health and Aged Care in the Eyre and Far North Local Health Network, SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said.

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

two Aboriginal health workers at Umoona Tjutagku Health Service AC checking medicine box

Image source: Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation website.

Over 55s in next phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

More GPs and health clinics will be involved in the vaccine rollout every week from March 22, as the mass COVID-19 vaccination program enters its next phase. Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy says phase 1b of the vaccine rollout will include adults based on their vulnerability to getting COVID-19. “[It] will involve the over 80s who are most at risk as a general group, then the over 70s, and those who are immunocompromised. We will have our Indigenous Australians over 55 as well as frontline emergency service and defence workers.”

The staged commencement of general practices will be complemented by GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community controlled health services. The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

Aboriginal woman and man both 50+ years

Image source: AbSec – NSW Child, Family and Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation website.

Professor Langton talks about the COVID-19 vaccine 

Professor Marcia Langton AO has warned of the ongoing dangers of COVID-19, the effectiveness of available vaccines and the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

You can view the short video and transcript here.

snapshot of Professor Marica Langton AO The Uni of Melbourne video for DoH on COVID-19 importance, standing in park with trees in background

Professor Marcia Langton AO, The University of Melbourne.

Pain treatment and opioid use – have your say!

NACCHO is working on a project to create some support materials for pain management and the use of opioid medicines, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is looking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumers and health professionals to take part in group discussion to understand the important issues so that the materials made can be useful.

If you are a health consumer and experience pain and use opioids or are interested in pain management as a practitioner in your ACCHO we invite you to contribute to this project. NACCHO will provide financial compensation for your participation.

To apply or learn more please contact Fran Vaughan at NACCHO medicines@naccho.org.au.

bottles of tablets & blister packs

Image source: NPS Medicinewise website.

System must be held accountable for deaths in custody

Responding to news that two Indigenous people died in custody in NSW in the past week, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Lead Nolan Hunter said: “We’re coming up to the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths In Custody (RCIADIC) and it feels as though very little has changed. For example, recommendation 165 called for the screening and removal of hanging points that could be used for self-harm; now nearly 30 years later, we hear of an Indigenous woman who used such a hanging point to tragically take her own life. Here we have two tragic deaths in custody and the Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin claims the system can be accountable, while not making these tragedies public.”

To view Amnesty International’s media quote in full click here. and a related article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

crosses in row on grass with Aboriginal flag painted on them & words Black Deaths In Custody Cross For Loss

Image source: ABC News website.

World Kidney Day

Kidney disease is a non-communicable disease (NCD) and currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD). Being diagnosed with kidney disease can be a huge challenge, both for the patient and those people around them. Its diagnosis and management, particularly in advanced stages of kidney disease, impacts severely upon their lives by reducing their, and that of family and friends, ability to participate in everyday activities like work, travel and socialising whilst causing numerous problematic side effects  – e.g. fatigue, pain, depression, cognitive impairment, gastrointestinal problems and sleep problems.

This year World Kidney Day continues to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the World Kidney Day Steering Committee has declared 2021 the year of “Living Well with Kidney Disease”. This has been done in order to both increase education and awareness about effective symptom management and patient empowerment, with the ultimate goal of encouraging life participation.

When compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians

  • Are more than twice as likely to live with biomedical markers of chronic kidney disease – representing 1 in 5 Indigenous Australian adults
  • Experience an increased prevalence of significant medical co-morbidities
  • Have a median onset of ESKD around 30 years younger
  • Are almost 4 times as likely to die with CKD as a cause of death
  • Have incidence rates of renal replacement therapy (RRT) 8 – 9 times greater
  • Are less likely to receive dialysis in a home setting (either peritoneal or haemodialysis)
  • Are less likely to receive a kidney transplantation
  • Have worse outcomes from transplantation
  • Are more likely to live in very remote or remote areas which is associated with poorer health outcomes
  • Experience a greater psycho-social impact of their disease

For further information on World Kidney Day Thursday 11 March 2021 click here.

Aboriginal painting titled My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara Woman and kidney patient

My Kidney Journey by Inawinytji Williamson, a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjara woman and kidney patient. Image source: World Kidney Day website.

2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMHA) has announced details of its new conference, the 2021 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference to take place in Cairns from 7–8 October 2021.

Its theme will be “Honouring Indigenous Voices & Wisdom: Balancing the System to Close the Gap” and will showcase a high calibre of keynote speakers and presenters, covering four vital topics: (1) Promoting Wellness, (2) Social, Emotional & Cultural Determinants, (3) Community Care & Social Recovery and (4) Service Care & Recovery.

With a vision to “shine light on the key challenges in Indigenous communities and address the past and present issues contributing to inequities in mental health treatment and care,” the conference is set to enlighten, educate, and share the hard truths amongst keynote speakers, presenters and attendees.

For more information about the conference and to register click here.