NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2023 National COVID-19 Health Management Plan

The image in the feature tile is from the cover of the Australian Government’s 16 page National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023.

2023 National COVID-19 Health Management Plan

A National COVID-19 Health Management Plan (the National Plan) has been developed to outline the Australian Government health supports to manage COVID-19 over the next 12 months. These health supports have been informed by the likely 2023 Australian epidemiological outlook and advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

Over 2023, Australia will transition to managing COVID-19 in a similar way to other respiratory viruses, moving away from COVID exceptionalism and bespoke arrangements. While we are learning more about the virus and its impacts on the community and health systems all the time, we are not yet at a “steady state” where we can predict and manage it within normal systems. This means health response measures are still required.

The National Plan summarises the interconnecting whole-of-system measures to transition our management of COVID-19, while maintaining a state of readiness and capacity to respond as the pandemic continues to evolve.

You can access the Australian Government’s 16 page National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023 in full here.

NACCHO affiliates doing us proud

The Aboriginal Health Council of SA (AHCSA) Sexual Health Team has won the People’s Choice Awards Sexual Health Poster! The AHCSA Sexual Health team beat 150 other entrants to claim top prize for this incredible piece of work that we are so proud of.

Have a read below of the significance of the work and how the group achieved the unbelievable outcome in the link here.

AHCSA Sexual Health Team’s winning People’s Choice Award Sexual Health Poster.

Meanwhile last week VACCHO co-hosted a workshop with the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA), bringing together representatives of 12 Specialist Medical Colleges.

The workshop centred on improving the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors in Specialist training. Whether it’s radiology, dermatology, surgery, or any other specialty, colleges need to develop culturally safe and supportive training pathways to help grow the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Specialists in our health services.

VACCHO acknowledged the deadly work AIDA is doing to build strong partnerships across the health workforce, to develop future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.

Participants of the VACCHO and AIDA workshop.

Governments must act to raise the age

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, health, legal and human rights organisations have welcomed the release of a government report and called on Attorneys-General to immediately act on its recommendation to raise the age of criminal responsibility with no exceptions. The report was prepared by a Working Group chaired by the WA Department of Justice, and included representation from justice departments from each state, territory and the Commonwealth government.

The Council of Attorneys-General Age of Criminal Responsibility Working Group report lists recommendations based on the findings of the review stating: “A primary recommendation to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years without exceptions.” The report, prepared in 2020, was informed by over 90 public submissions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, health, legal and human rights organisations and experts. The Human Rights Law Centre previously made repeated Freedom of Information requests to obtain a copy of the report, with all requests refused.

The current low age of criminal responsibility disproportionately impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and is a key driver of contact with police and the criminal legal system. Raising the age would reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in prisons and help governments meet their Closing The Gap targets. The report noted that to turn “the tide on First Nations incarceration rates requires Commonwealth, state and territory governments to work in partnership with First Nations people and organisations.”

To view the Human Rights Law Centre article Governments must act on justice department advice to #RaiseTheAge to at least 14 in full click here.

Improving lives and mental health of youth

Each year the achievements and contributions of eminent Australians are celebrated through the Australian of the Year Awards by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all. They inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better Australia. The Awards honour an exceptional group of highly respected Australians who ignite discussion and change on issues of national importance. The Australian of the Year Awards provides everyone with the opportunity to recognise any Australian who makes them proud. The four Australian of the Year categories are:

  • Australian of the Year
  • Senior Australian of the Year (those aged 65 years or over)
  • Young Australian of the Year (ages 16 to 30)
  • Australia’s Local Hero

Jahdai Vigona has received the 2023 NT Young Australian of the Year award. Jahdai Vigona is at the forefront of mental health programs educating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. A proud Tiwi Islands man, he is passionate about improving the lives of Indigenous people.

WellMob: An Introduction

WellMob have produced a short, animated video WellMob: An Introduction describing the WellMob website. WellMob is a digital library of wellbeing resources made by and for our mob. These resources include apps, podcasts, websites, videos, social media and printable wellbeing materials. There are also training resources to support workers.

The WellMob: An Introduction video is for anyone interested in digital wellbeing resources, including health and wellbeing workers – it is from e-Mental Health in Practice and hosted by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

You can access more information and training resources from the WellMob website here.

Trailblazing Indigenous doctor

Trailblazing Indigenous doctor Dr Mark Wenitong has received an honorary Doctorate from Central Queensland University Australia, celebrating almost three decades of work to improve the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples. Dr Wenitong, who is also board deputy chair of Community Enterprise Queensland, is one of Australia’s first Indigenous doctors and a leader and mentor in driving better First Nations healthcare.

Since graduating from Newcastle University Medical School in 1995, Dr Wenitong has practiced across central Australia and now in Far North Queensland, and was a founding member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA). Dr Wenitong has been the Public Health Medical Advisor at Apunipima Cape York Health Council since 2008, where he continues to practice clinical medicine and remote health service systems and program delivery.

In addition to being an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology, Dr Wenitong is the strategic advisor for the Lowitja Institute, Research Knowledge Translation and the inaugural Co-Chair of the Queensland Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statewide Clinical Network. Dr Wenitong was previously appointed as the Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer, and the acting chief executive at the NACCHO in 2012. It has been a long and remarkable journey.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Trailblazing Indigenous doctor honoured for outstanding career and contribution to First Nations health in full click here.

Dr Mark Wenitong. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHOs exemplars of comprehensive primary healthcare

The image in the feature tile is of Uncle Patrick Dodson receiving a COVID-19 vaccination at the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services (WNAH&CS) Canberra, ACT. Image source: WNAH&CS Facebook page, 6 August 2021.

ACCHOs exemplars of comprehensive primary healthcare

System-wide and comprehensive primary healthcare reform is “needed to bring together an increasingly fragmented system, where the most disadvantaged struggle to get the care they need, when they need it”, according to public health practitioner and Masters of Global Health student Lauren Richardson. In a submission to the Public Health Association of Australia’s Student Think Tank competition, Richardson calls on governments to show strong political commitment and leadership to reduce inequalities in accessing healthcare.

Richardson said Health Ministers face many demands from many competing interests, and this has led to health policy being driven in ways that often are not in the best interests of the community, patients’ and taxpayers. The election of a new Federal Government with a commitment to policy development and implementation brings an opportunity to rewrite the history of health reform and prioritise efforts to increase Australians’ access to comprehensive Primary Health Care (PHC).

So often, Richardson said, reform and public debate is focused on general practice rather than the multi-disciplinary PHC model required to deliver good health care. Whilst GPs deliver the majority of PHC in Australia, comprehensive PHC involves much more than this. According to Richardson the ACCHO sector provides exemplars of good, comprehensive PHC, with Aboriginal communities  successfully initiating and  leading the delivery of holistic, and culturally appropriate PHC through a team-based workforce model. Richardson argues we must focus our attention to good PHC models of care like this and scale up what works.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Seize the opportunity: prioritise comprehensive primary healthcare reform in full click here.

Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (UTHS), Coober Pedy, SA. Image source: UTHS.

Australia’s oldest AMS celebrates 50 years

800 guests joined the Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative (AMS Redfern) to celebrate 50 years (+1 for Covid) of outstanding achievements at a gala dinner at the International Convention & Exhibition Centre (ICC) Darling Harbour on 26 November 2022. The night of celebration was emceed by Walkley Award winning journalist Karla Grant and featured several live acts including, The Donovan Band, Jarrod Hicling, Kebi Kub Dancers ad The Brolga Dance Academy.

Welcome to Country by Gadigal Elder Allen Madden, speeches by the Honourable Linda Burney MP, Aunty Gracelyn Smallwood, Professor Kelvin Kong (Worimi man and the first Aboriginal surgeon in Australia), Aunty Dulcie Flower and also from AMS Redfern Chair Edie Coe, CEO LaVerne Bellear and Director Ricky Lyons traced the organisation’s history and impact.

AMS Redfern pioneered the concept of Aboriginal Community Controlled Healthcare and was founded to provide healthcare services to the local Aboriginal community. AMS Redfern is underpinned by the principles of self-determination and worked hard to overcome the neglect and racism Aboriginal people were experiencing in mainstream health services.

To view The South Sydney Herald article Australia’s oldest Aboriginal medical service celebrates 50th anniversary in full click here.

A gala dinner at the ICC Darling Harbour in November paid tribute to the Aboriginal Medical Service Co-operative for 50 years of outstanding achievement. Photo: AMS Redfern. Image source: The South Sydney Herald.

Thrive by Five welcomes $335m investment

Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative has welcomed the Federal Government’s $334 million investment into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders early childhood education and care (ECEC). The Federal Government says the new programs and extension of existing funding will help 100,000 children across the country.

The investment, which will supplement current Commonwealth and State and Territory funding, will include a range of activities including facilitated playgroups in Alice Springs and SA’s Far West Coast and early childhood education programs in WA’s East Kimberley region. The Federal Government’s $334 million investment will continue until 2025 and is part of a broader commitment to the National Agreement for Closing the Gap.

To view the Minderoo Foundation’s media release Thrive by Five welcomes Federal Government’s $334 million investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Education click here.

Image source: University of Melbourne.

WA Cultural Treasures Award recipients

The WA Clutural Treasures Awards (previously known as the State Living Treasures Awards) were inaugurated in 1998 to honour senior WA artists who have made a lifelong contribution to their art form and their community. The awards acknowledge the ability of recipients to engage, move, involve and entertain audiences and honour the skill, imagination and originality of the artist.

The WA awards were again presented in 2004 and 2015 to honour and celebrate the diversity, talent and richness of a new group of individual artists. A distinguished panel selected recipients based on their exceptional level of artistic skill and dedication to developing their particular art form, their contribution in teaching and collaborating with other artists, as well as a demonstrated long- term involvement in the arts in WA.

The 2022 State Cultural Treasures Awards have seen a new category of community impact being introduced, acknowledging the impact community arts organisations have within their communities and on WA as a whole. Below is a video of one of the eight State Cultural Treasures 2022 award recipients, Jabbir Jabirr and Djugan Kimberley Lawman, Wayne Jowandi Barker, in the Community Impact – Individual category.

To view the Government of WA Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries article State Cultural Treasures 2022 in full click here.

55 days left for wellbeing budget consultation

The health sector, and particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector with its holistic approach to addressing the cultural and social determinants of health and wellbeing, has much to contribute to Treasury’s consultation on developing Wellbeing Budgets. As of 7 December 2022 Treasury’s website says there are only “56 days left to have your say” on the “Measuring what Matters” framework, outlined in the recent Federal Budget.

The framework is an opportunity to address climate concerns and the social determinants of health, a Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia event was told recently. Melissa Le Mesurier, who MC-d the event, reports below. More than 30 members of CHF recently examined the opportunities and risks posed by the Australian Government’s proposed Wellbeing Budget.

“The forum was designed to help organisations, particularly in the health and social service sectors, shape their submissions to Treasury on how Australia might better measure what matters,” CHF CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny said.“For those countries that already have wellbeing frameworks, the policy areas covered include income, employment, education, environment, personal safety and health. These are all social determinants of health and CHF has been actively involved in policy discussions around each of these issues. Submissions to Treasury close on Thursday 31 January 2023 so there is limited time to consider this important and broad-reaching topic,” Deveny said.

To read the Croakey Health Media article With just 56 days left on wellbeing budget consultation, putting some issues and questions on the radar in full click here.

Image designed by Mitchel Ward, reflecting cultural and social determinants of health and wellbeing. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Amazing race to walk away from smoking

A swarm of people in white shirts could be seen running around Coonamble last Wednesday 30 November 2022, twelve teams took on the Amazing Race challenge as a part of Quit B Fit’s ‘Walking away from Smoking and Vaping’ day. Quit B Fit works in partnership with the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) to reach Close the Gap targets.

More specifically, Quit B Fit focuses on ‘Tackling Indigenous Smoking’, through a series of community health promotion days like the Amazing Race challenge. Australia has been fighting the smoking habit for decades now, and while there is still progress to be made, it’s a battle we’re slowly winning.

In 2021, the Cancer Council found that 38% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are daily smokers, compared to the national average of 11.6%. As concerning as this statistic may seem, it is still a far cry from the 53.1% of Indigenous Australians that smoked in 2002 – that’s a 15% reduction over twenty years! Smoking in Coonamble is also significantly higher than the national average; a study from the University of NSW in 2015 found that 24.5% of Coonamble smoked daily – compared to a national average of 15%.

To view the Western Plains App article Amazing Race to walk away from smoking in full click here.

Kym Lees, Jyo Raman, Elsie Manson and Jess Blattman participated in the Amazing Race. Image source: Coonamble Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

The image in the feature tile is of NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey PSM.

NACCHO Deputy CEO talks about HIV

Yesterday NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey spoke to Lola Forester on Blackchat, Koori Radio 93.7 FM about positive actions being taken to get the right information out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about HIV. Dr Casey said the community is tracking pretty well in terms of the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people contracting HIV and cases being reported. She said there’s been a massive program, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, over the last couple of years where many of the ACCHOs are involved in running programs for overall blood borne viruses (BBV) and STIs. Communities have made significant headway in terms of creating awareness about BBVs and STIs and prevention. Stigma and shame around HIV however continues to be a problem.

Dr Casey said so much more awareness needs to happen so people understand HIV is not threatening like it was many years ago. An issue that needs to be improved considerably is partner notification and contract tracing. ACCHOs are doing an incredible job with prevention programs and awareness campaigns, in language where required, around BBVs, STIs and HIV. Dr Casey and Lola reflected on the very inventive and funny ways ACCHOs have been getting the message out about safe sex, including condom trees.

You can listen to the 10-minute Koori Radio Blackchat radio interview in full by clicking here.

Koori Radio 93.7 FM Blackchat presenter Lola Forester.

Calls to stop ‘pipeline’ of shattered children

The Yoorrook Justice Commission has called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to at least 14, to help stop vulnerable Indigenous children getting “lost in the pipeline” of child protection and criminal justice systems. The Standing Council of Attorneys-General – a group of attorneys-general from federal, state and territory governments that focuses on best practices in law reform – will review the age of criminal responsibility when it meets later this week.

Counsel assisting the Yoorrook Justice Commission Fiona McLeod, SC, urged the council to consider First Nations people, “the many, many reports into this issue” and the testimonies that would be heard at the commission’s public hearings this week. McLeod said the number of First Nations children in out-of-home care in Victoria was “heading in the wrong direction” and contributing to a high incarceration rate among First Nations people. “It appears the current system is failing in its fundamental object of child protection,” she said. “It appears it is broken. It is fuelling a pipeline of shattered children straight to our health services and our criminal justice system.”

To view the WAtoday article Call to raise age of criminal responsibility and stop ‘pipeline of shattered Indigenous children’ in full click here.

Kutcha Edwards and niece Eva Jo Edwards are survivors of the stolen generations. Photo: Simon Schluter. Image source: WAtoday.

Kids face higher rates of skin infections

Bacterial skin infections and atopic dermatitis may be underdiagnosed among urban Indigenous children, says a WA dermatologist and researcher. A systematic review, published in Pediatric Dermatology, assessed the burden of atopic dermatitis and bacterial skin conditions in Indigenous children and young people living in urban environments in high-income countries.

Researchers included 16 papers from Australia, NZ, Canada and Greenland spanning 26 years. “Atopic dermatitis is common among urban-living Indigenous children in high-income countries with current symptoms and current severe symptoms higher than their non-Indigenous peers,” the researchers wrote. “This may suggest under-treatment of atopic dermatitis, reflecting the socioeconomic disadvantage that disproportionately affects Indigenous people, creating financial barriers to primary and dermatologic care, prescription treatments, and costly skin care regimens.”

The researchers said S.aureus colonised the skin in atopic dermatitis, exacerbating the disease and increasing the risk of bacterial skin infections. “Untreated bacterial skin infections can lead to serious complications including sepsis, post-infectious glomerulonephritis, and rheumatic heart disease,” they wrote. Urban-living Indigenous children in Australia and other high-income countries shared a history of colonisation, displacement and negative impacts on health, said lead author and dermatologist, Dr Bernadette Ricciardo from the University of WA and the Telethon Kids Institute.

To read the Medical Republic article Kids face higher rates of infections click here.

Image source: Medical Republic.

Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida

Mala’la Health Service recently coordinated Healthy Skin Week to promote early identification and treatment of skin infections in a bid to lower long term health conditions such as Acute Rheumatic Fever, Rheumatic Heart and Kidney Disease. Over five days, the dedicated crew of Aboriginal Community Health Workers, Nurses and Volunteer Doctors assessed and treated more than 1,200 people in Maningrida and outstations. Outreach clinics through late night shops, child and family centre and public spaces around the community provided extra points of access for the community.

Natasha Bond was involved in leading the community response with home-to-home visits and workshops to provide health information and support. “Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a huge concern for our mob, we have the highest rates of RHD in the world. We want to encourage everyone to work on this together, get treatment straight away and stop further health complications”.

In the lead up to Healthy Skin Week, West Arnhem Regional Council coordinated hard-rubbish collections with Stedman’s also coming on board to provide Skip Bins at various sites. Maningrida College hosted multiple workshops with the school students from kindy to seniors’ cohorts. These Workshops were delivered by the Mala’la team of Aboriginal Health Workers in-training, Natasha Bond and Eileen Gunabarra alongside Jennifer Damsey in Burarra and English languages.

To view the West Arnhem Regional Council article Healthy Skin Week in Maningrida in full click here.

Image source: West Arnhem Land Regional Council website.

Informing National Health and Climate Strategy

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and leadership will inform climate health policy and action at all levels under a discussion paper that is being circulated for feedback to inform development of a National Health and Climate Strategy. This is the first of six principles informing the paper, and “recognises the role of First Nations people in protecting and caring for Country, that Indigenous ecological knowledge should be considered in policy development, and that First Nations’ engagement will lead to better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

Other principles informing the paper are that:

  • a more sustainable healthcare system will improve public health outcomes
  • all Australians have equal access to a strong and climate-resilient health system, both now and in the future
  • evidence underpins strategies and actions
  • all levels of government and stakeholders work in partnership to implement agreed focus areas and actions
  • a health lens is applied to climate change policy.

The paper asks readers to consider whether other principles should be considered. “For example, should transparency, reporting and accountability also be included as a key principle underpinning the Strategy?” While the paper “acknowledges that some populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rural and remote communities, elderly Australians and Australians from lower socio-economic backgrounds, are more vulnerable to poorer health outcomes from the impacts of climate change”, it does not mention the term ‘health equity’. Nor does ‘climate justice’ rate a mention.

To read the Croakey Health Media article On the National Health and Climate Strategy, how’s it shaping up? in full click here.

Raylene Lenmardi and Sumayah Surprise, Ngurrara Rangers. Image source: WWF Australia.

Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opens

The Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre opened in a formal ceremony on Saturday 3 December 2022 is the first purpose-built facility of its type in the ACT. CEO Julie Tongs said “This building is a huge game-changer in many ways and is a true testament to Aboriginal self-determination.” She said it was needed because the life expectancy of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait islanders was still far behind that of the wider community.

The elegant purpose-built building in Narrabundah will serve about 5,000 people a year in about 60,000 visits. “We’ve got so many people who are vulnerable,” she said. “Here, in Canberra, people think it’s the land of milk and honey but it’s not for a lot of people.”

At a cost of $20 million, it will provide a wide range of medical facilities for Aboriginal people in the territory. There are six GPs, three nurse practitioners and 14 nurses. Physical and mental health will be dealt with at the centre. Julie Tongs is clearly very proud. “This is a huge deal because it’s what our community deserves,” she said.

To read The Canberra Times article Winnunga Nimmityjah health centre, the ACT’s first Aboriginal-run health centre, to open in full click here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services chief executive Julie Tongs at the new centre. Photo: Keegan Carroll. Image source: The Canberra Times.

Sector Jobs

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

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

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

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

Spiralling impact of diabetes requires action

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

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

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

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

ACCHO expands into Permanency Support Program

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

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

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

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

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

Want to improve hearing health for our mob?

Do you work in the ear and hearing health space?

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

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

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

Let us know what you think in this survey here.

Any queries, contact NACCHO using this email link.

Trainers need to understand cultural needs

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

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

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

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

Image source: The Medical Republic.

HEAL 2022 conference next week

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

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

You can also view a flyer about the conference here.

IAHA Conference 28-30 November

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

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

Sector Jobs

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

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

ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia – 8 December 2022

Save the date!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the history of ATSIHAW click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Suicide prevention video launched

The image in the feature tile is from The Guardian article Numbers tell devastating story in latest Aboriginal youth suicide inquest, published on 7 February 2019. Photo Grant Faint, Getty Images.

Suicide prevention video launched

A suicide prevention video has been launched at the Indigenous Being Wellbeing Conference. Over 500 delegates last week attended the Australian and NZ Mental Health Association (ANZMH) Indigenous Wellbeing Conference (IWC22) on Kaurna country (Adelaide).

A positive and much anticipated change is occurring in the political landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing health space with Aboriginal controlled organisation Healing Works Australia (HWA)and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) being the major platinum sponsors of the conference. HWA was established in 2019 as an Indigenous led social enterprise delivering social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention training.

Kaela Bayliss a young Kamilaroi woman attending her first conference and supported by Dr Joe Tighe both from HWA gave the keynote address “Nothing About Us Without Us – Delivery of Culturally-Safe Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Evidence-Based Suicide Prevention Training“ and launched their new promotional video.

HWA aim to empower communities through sustainable outcomes. This is achieved by working with communities to determine their own unique needs so that they can more effectively respond competently to suicide. Suicide prevention starts with creating strong, competent communities working together to achieve resilience.

For more information about Healing Works Australia visit their website here.

APY Lands mental health model causes dismay

Vulnerable children living in some of Australia’s most remote communities are set to be left without a permanent, in-community mental health service, despite objections from elders, experts and one of the SA  government’s own departments. The ABC has seen a draft of the new model of care for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, which provides psychiatric and wellbeing support to children aged 18 and under.

It proposes that staff from Adelaide fly in to two communities on a fortnightly basis, with another psychiatrist to make a minimum of two trips per year. Telehealth appointments are outlined as a way to provide ongoing support. Previously, two Western-trained staff lived and worked on the APY Lands for more than a decade but were removed without explanation more than a year ago. With no staff on the APY Lands, SA Health implemented what, it said, was a temporary telehealth and fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) service last year.

At the same time, SA’s chief psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, reviewed the program. He found a FIFO model would see children “slipping through the cracks” and recommended several changes, including doubling the workforce and he insisted on-country staff remain part of the program. The new model of care document does not mention Dr Brayley’s report and does not follow several of his recommendations, including returning community-based staff to the APY Lands.

To view the ABC News article First Nations elders dismayed about FIFO mental health model planned for South Australia’s APY Lands in full click here.

Pukatja elder Jamie Nyaningu says he and his community have been left in the dark over changes to a key mental health service for children. Photo: Patrick Martin, ABC News.

Impact of obesity on life expectancy

A Queensland child born over the next 10 years could lose five years in life expectancy if the state’s current rate of obesity is not reduced, new modelling has found. A report, commissioned by state government agency Health and Wellbeing Queensland, shows the life expectancy of a child born in the decade from 2023 could decrease by between six months and 4.1 years in the general population.

For First Nations children born in Queensland, the shortened life expectancy could decrease by up to 5.1 years. Lead researcher Rhema Vaithianathan said the projections were based on a scenario where nothing was done to prevent the current rising obesity rates among children. “It is quite concerning, we might be facing the first generation of Queenslanders whose life expectancy is shorter than their parents,” she said. “That kind of life expectancy reverses almost two decades of progress of life expectancy.” She said the trajectory changed according to a range of factors including socio-economic status and geographical location.

To view the ABC News Health article Impact of obesity on life expectancy in Queensland children shown in new modelling click here.

Photo: shutterstock.com. Image source: The Conversation.

Funding to rebuild Mutitjulu Health Clinic

A new health clinic will be built in the remote community of Mutitjulu, on the lands of the Anangu people, as part of the Albanese Labor Government’s package of measures to improve First Nations health infrastructure.  The $8 million project will replace the Mutitjulu Health Service Clinic, which was built in the early 1990s. An entirely new facility will be built with modern healthcare and safety standards.

Proposed features include additional treatment rooms, an outdoor waiting area and a larger room to store critical medicines and pharmaceutical products, as well a garage for vehicles. The new clinic will be constructed on the site of the existing clinic and includes the cost of establishing a temporary facility during the construction phase.

The replacement of the Mutitjulu clinic is part of a wider investment of $164.3 million for vital health infrastructure projects that will provide modern, high-quality health clinics in areas of large and growing First Nations populations.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release Funding to rebuild the Mutitjulu Health Clinic in full click here.

Mutitjulu Health Service. Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress website.

Recommendations to address food security concerns

Local governments would be supported through law reform and specific funding to be more active in addressing growing concerns about food insecurity under recommendations from a NSW inquiry. The inquiry by the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning also makes many recommendations to improve food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including calling for Aboriginal representation on Government’s emergency responses to food security crises.

The inquiry’s report, released this week, calls for the NSW Government to consult with Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to fund and support communities in food production and community traditional foods gardens. The Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AHMRC) told the inquiry that community gardens have many benefits, and credited their success to community ownership and leadership, which promotes self-determination and food sovereignty.

The AHMRC highlighted that local food programs established by ACCOs are limited by short funding cycles and this is a consistent barrier for these programs. -The inquiry recommended the NSW Government consult with ACCOs and Indigenous Corporations to develop a strategy that sets out priorities and a framework to grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned traditional foods industry.

To view the Croakey Health Media article Inquiry makes wide-ranging recommendations to address food security and related concerns in full click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo: Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NICU Awareness Month

November NICU Awareness Month is a time to highlight the importance of Neonatal Intensive Care Units and their amazing staff around Australia. Offering specialised care and making a difference to the more than 48,000 babies born premature or sick each year. 132 babies are born each day requiring specialised care.

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

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

For more information about November NICU Awareness Month visit the Miracle Babies Foundation website here and for further information about preterm birth in Aboriginal populations visit the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance website here.

Logo from Miracle Babies Foundation website and image from Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance’s preterm birth in Aboriginal populations webpage.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: $22.5m for Birthing on Country

The image in the feature tile is from the Birthing on Yuin Country Model of Care webpage of the Waminda website.

$22.5m for Birthing on Country

The Albanese government has cemented their commitment to supporting First Nations Women and their families with the announcement of $22.5m for the advancement of Waminda’s Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence, in Nowra.

Melanie Briggs, Waminda’s Minga Gudjaga & Birthing on Country Manager, says that this funding is a huge step forward for Aboriginal women on the South Coast and NSW. “…A First Nations led Birthing Centre of Excellence with wrap around supports, is at the forefront of decolonising maternity care systems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in this country. Aboriginal maternity models of care are the answer to improving the outcomes for First Nations mothers and babies.”

Waminda and the Minga Gudjaga program (Waminda’s Maternity & Childcare program) is already advancing in ready laid plans that will continue in to 2023. “…We are currently securing land, and we will be building a purpose-built facility, so that our mums can birth their babies in this place. We’re designing our birth centre. It’s designed by Waminda’s Cultural Committee and our women in community.”

To read Waminda’s media release $22.5 Million for Birthing on Country! in full click here.

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

We must act NOW to save lives

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed 3,144 Australians died by suicide in 2021, compared to 3,139 in 2020. Sadly, eight to nine people die by suicide every day. There were 2,358 male suicides (18.2 deaths per 100,000) and 786 female suicide deaths (6.1 per 100,000). Suicide was the 15th leading cause of death overall in 2021. Suicide was the most common cause of death for young people aged 15–24 years. In 2021, 219 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people died by suicide. The median age of death by suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was 30.2 years, more than a decade younger than the median age of death by suicide for the general population of 44.8 years. The gap is widening compared to last year (31.3 vs 43.5).

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said, “Suicide rates remained stubbornly high in 2021. One death by suicide is one too many and more needs to be done to turn the trend towards zero. “Data is incredibly important in suicide prevention. It helps inform how we approach suicide prevention and influences service and program delivery. Access to causes of death data is part of the picture, but we also need more timely data on suicide attempts to better understand and respond to distress in our communities.

To view the Hospital and Healthcare article We must act now to save lives, ABS data confirms in full click here.

Inclusive healthcare design fundamental

Inclusive design is not aspirational; it is fundamental. The places we create should reflect and include the voices of many different people, and this is particularly true for essential services such as healthcare.

Hassell’s research, ‘Equal access is not an optional extra,’ identifies that to create a truly inclusive environment, designers should go beyond regulatory accessibility compliance requirements and consider a more holistic and humanist approach to the concept of universal design. A wide range of principles addressing the issues of social integration, personalisation, and cultural appropriateness must be considered.

In Australia, the greater burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders compared to the non-Indigenous population underscores the need for specific policies that improve the health of First Nations people through increasing cultural safety. If an environment doesn’t feel safe, it’s not.

To read the Architecture and Design article Hassell ramps up its research on healthcare design in full click here.

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service Healthcare Hub, WA. Image source: Australia Architecture News.

Empowering women to manage PCOS

New, culturally safe, easy-to-understand and beautifully designed resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been developed by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC).

“This project has been a great opportunity to inform Aboriginal women in our community about PCOS, and importantly help them understand that there are things that they can do to help manage the condition,” says Tahnia Edwards, Manager of CAAC’s Alukura Women’s Health Service.

Ms Edwards is referring to an exciting cooperation between Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and CACC funded by the Australian Government. The result of the cooperation? New, free, much needed and easy to understand health information for First Nations communities in the form of unique, engaging brochures, educational kits and animations to recognise and manage symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS affecting 1 in 6 women with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background

To read The Pharmacy Guild of Australia article Empowering First Nations women to learn about and manage polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in full click here.

Decolonising mental health systems webinar

Indigenous peoples are custodians of knowledge systems vetted and refined by thousands of centuries of practice-based evidence. Prior to colonisation, these knowledge systems ensured the survival, health, and harmony of Indigenous peoples, communities, and ecosystems. Post-colonisation, the health and mental health gaps between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples has widened at alarming rates.

Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) is hosting a FREE WEBINARDecolonising Mental Health Systems: Global Experiences for Wellbeing from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Friday 11 November 2022.

In this webinar, six Indigenous global leaders in mental health and wellbeing, from four colonised countries (Australian, NZ, Canada and the USA) will share their experiences of walking in two worlds and of navigating mental health systems to ensure the wellbeing, healing, and self-determination of Indigenous peoples. A holistic worldview is offered that moves away from the deficit- and individually- focused narrative of mental illness and considers the social, cultural, political, and historical context of health and the structural drivers of health inequality.

You can view a flyer with further details about the FREE webinar here and register here.

Limiting health impacts of climate change

Healthy Futures, an organisation of healthcare workers and community members working to limit the health impacts of climate change and pollution are currently inviting health organisations to support a letter to the NSW Government and Opposition, seeking a bipartisan commitment to 100% renewable stationary energy prior to the next election to reduce the health impacts of both fossil fuel combustion and climate change.  Pollution and climate change are likely to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Pollution and climate change are likely to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Healthy Futures are inviting as many healthcare workers and organisations as possible to endorse this letter by Wednesday 30 November 2022 to be able to deliver the letter well ahead of the March 2023 election.

You can access the letter to the NSW Government and Opposition here. The below video is part of Royal Society of Medicine’s Health Emergency of Climate Change 10-part series available on the Healthy Futures website here.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Bandana Day 2022

Held on the last Friday in October, National Bandanna Day is the flagship fundraising and awareness campaign for Canteen. Since Bandanna Day began it has raised more than $35 million to support young people impacted by cancer.

For more information on Bandana Day tomorrow Friday 28 October 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022

The NACCHO Annual Report 2021–2022 s now available to view.

The cover illustration symbolises NACCHO as the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health working together with its members and affiliates towards the delivery of comprehensive and culturally competent primary health care.

It showcases the work and achievements of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and includes the audited financial statements for 2021–2022 and can be accessed here.

NACCHO and BHP partner to improve RHD outcomes

NACCHO and BHP have announced a partnership aimed at eliminating Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. ARF and RHD are preventable diseases disproportionately affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in regional and remote areas. Between 2016 and 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 92% of all ARF diagnoses in Australia.

As part of the agreement, BHP will provide $9.7m over three years, helping to fund critical health care initiatives delivered by ACCHOs across Australia. The funding complements the $18m already committed by the Australian Government. An additional $13.5m is also anticipated following the Labour Party’s election commitment to combat RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This includes $1.5m that is prioritised for the investment in portable echo-cardiogram machines, training and support for primary health care workers, including Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners.

NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, said: “NACCHO’s partnership with BHP and the Australian Government is the first-ever national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sector-led initiative to combat RHD in our communities. This partnership recognises that we are best placed to design and implement health services, including prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and supportive care, for our own communities. This additional investment will expand the support provided by ACCHOs to deliver evidence-based ARF and RHD activities in their communities.”

BHP’s Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer Caroline Cox said: “BHP is proud to continue its support of NACCHO, building on partnerships established with the Aboriginal community-led health sector over many years. It is important that we back Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands, as NACCHO’s vision sets out. We are determined to play our part in the collective action required to address the underlying causes of these health issues, such as inequality, inadequate housing and long-standing health inequities.”

BHP’s investment follows $5.9m of donations to ACCHOs throughout the pandemic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led COVID responses across the country.

You can view the joint NACCHO and BHP media release NACCHO and BHP partner to improve ARF and RHD outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in full on the NACCHO website here.

Image source: BHP.

Killings, disappearances a crisis in plain sight

Last night ABC Four Corners aired a story “How Many More?” – a special investigation into Australia’s murdered and missing Indigenous women. In Australia Aboriginal women are among the most victimised groups in the world, murdered up to 12 times the national average. In some regions, their deaths make up some of the highest homicide rates in the world. The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia were described in the program a crisis hidden in plain sight.

The program shows a snapshot of what this tragedy looks like. Four Corners revealed that at least 315 First Nations women have either gone missing or been murdered or killed in suspicious circumstances since 2000. But this is an incomplete picture. We will likely never know the true scale of how many First Nations women have been lost over the decades. This is because there is no agency in Australia keeping count, and there is no standard way of collecting this important data in each state and territory.

Canada calls it a genocide. The United States considers it an epidemic. But here in Australia, we’re only just waking up to the scale of the crisis.

To read the ABC News article The killings and disappearances of Indigenous women across Australia is a crisis hidden in plain sight click here and view the Four Corners episode here.

Prevalence of hearing loss research

The Australian Government has announced close to $7.5m funding to support research that will help prevent hearing loss and improve the health and wellbeing of those who live with hearing impairment. Nine projects have been funded, including a number of projects focused on improving access to hearing health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Researchers at Flinders University will co-design culturally appropriate methods to overcome difficulties experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children accessing hearing healthcare. At Curtin University, researchers will provide the first estimates of the number of Aboriginal children who have ear infections and hearing loss from 0 to 5 years of age and will demonstrate the feasibility of screening for ear infections and hearing loss from 2 months of age.

The grants are funded for three years through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Targeted Call for Research into Hearing Health 2021: Evidence-based support services.

To read Minister Butler’s media release $7.5m for hearing health in full click here.

Image source: Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) Ear and Hearing Health webpage or CAAC website.

Mental health stigma a barrier for veterans

An Indigenous Navy veteran says the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has failed to address stigma around mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans. Professor Brad Murphy OAM, who now runs a veteran-focused GP clinic after serving in the Navy as a leading senior medic, has given evidence before the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

He told the commission the stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues remained a “huge impediment” to caring for Indigenous veterans. “We’ve worked so terribly hard over the years to remove stigma associated with mental health,” Professor Murphy said. “No matter how much we’ve tried, we have failed in this regard. Having [Indigenous veterans] actually reach out, or having family or community that are strong enough and well resourced to actually reach out on their behalf is a significant challenge.”

Professor Murphy told the commission more support was needed for members transitioning out of service and back into civilian life. He said many members leaving the ADF were left disconnected from their sense of family and belonging. “Indigenous culture is very much about family and my own experience and certainly my understanding of military culture is of family,” Professor Murphy said.

To read the ABC News article Indigenous veteran Professor Brad Murphy tells Defence Suicide Royal Commission mental health stigma remains a barrier in full click here.

Photo: Siobhan Heanue, ABC News.

No progress in tackling obesity

Calls for a tax on sugary drinks and warning labels on junk food have increased after a new report showed Australia has made no progress in the fight to tackle obesity. Since 2017, the Food Policy Index has been tracking progress on federal and state government policies to reduce obesity rates in Australia. “Obesity is really a public health crisis in Australia,” said Gary Sacks, an Associate Professor at Victoria’s Deakin University, and a co-author of the latest update on the Food Policy Index. “We’ve got two thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and a quarter of kids are overweight or obese.

Inequities in socioeconomic status have meant certain populations are even more impacted by the prevalence of obesity. The groups include those at higher risk of chronic disease, such as Indigenous Australians and newly arrived migrants. “These communities are at extreme risk. In Central Australia, we’ve got 60% of the Aboriginal population living with Type 2 diabetes. Access to care, such as dialysis, is really complicated, you have to come off Country, water is a real issue,” Ms Martin said. “The supply of fresh food and sometimes flying food in when the wet comes is really, really challenging.”

The prevalence of being overweight or obese is higher in Indigenous Australians compared to the general population. Of First Nations people aged between 2 and 17, the prevalence is 38% versus 24% for non-Indigenous youths, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

To read the SBS News article ‘A public health crisis’: This is how many Australians eat a healthy diet in full click here.

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Extending scope of practice concerns

Louise Stone, a GP with clinical, research, teaching and policy expertise in mental health and Associate Professor in the Social Foundations of Medicine group, Australian National University (ANU) Medical School has written an article for AMA InSight about the push to enable health care workers to work “top of scope”.

Professor Stone says that while the scope of practice is traditionally defined by professional standards, codes of ethics and codes of professional conduct, and includes skills that an individual practitioner is “educated, authorised, competent and confident to perform” it has often implied extending practice beyond the traditional limits of a particular role.

According to Professor Stone, there seems to be an assumption that this is a good thing for health care workers, will be cheaper for the health service, and any opposition to it is merely a “turf war” argument designed to protect existing siloes. Professor Stone however doesn’t think any of us have the right to extend our scope of practice without accepting the responsibility of submitting to appropriate oversight to keep the public safe.

To view the InSight+ article “Top of scope”: no rights without responsibilities in full click here.

Associate Professor Louise Stone. Image source: InSight+.

Australia’s Biggest Quiz to end hep C 

Australia’s Biggest Quiz is coming up TOMORROW Wednesday 26 October 2022.

Hepatitis Australia is asking everyone to register and participate in Australia’s Biggest Quiz which is the national community activation of the Ending Hepatitis C Campaign. Register here and join this history-making world record breaking trivia event to have some fun while raising awareness about hepatitis C and its cure!

In the five years since hepatitis C cures became available to everyone, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with hepatitis C has declined by 17%. But more work is needed to close the gap! Australia’s Biggest Quiz aims to raise awareness that hepatitis C has a simple cure. You can get tested at your local Aboriginal Medical Service or GP. Australia’s Biggest Quiz will take place at 16 venues in all states and territories, alongside a national virtual audience, to try break a Guinness World Record, while raising awareness of hepatitis C, and its cure.

You can help promote Australia’s Biggest Quiz using the Stakeholder General Communications Kit, available here. The kit contains: tiles for social media, guidance on how to use the digital communications material, Australia’s Biggest Quiz logo, posters, social media tiles and zoom backgrounds!

This campaign is brought to you by Hepatitis Australia who is working in partnership with 80+ community groups, supported by the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

The image in the feature tile is of Jadlyn David De Bush and Daniel Rosedal presenting feedback from the 76 delegates at the NACCHO Youth Conference 2022 to the 500 delegates at the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022. Image source: NACCHO Australia Twitter post, 20 October 2022.

NACCHO CEO reflects on successful conference

In closing the NACCHO Members’ Conference 2022, NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM said it had been a wonderful event, with it being “great to be able connect to people face-to-face rather than the virtual connections we’ve had over the last 3 years with COVID-19 preventing us from being able to get together like this.”

Ms Turner said the NACCHO Members’ Conference is not only an opportunity to strengthen our network and get to know each other better but to hear about the amazing work that is being done right around the country, saying it was a testimony to the strength of the sector to come together, noting it was a long way for many and expensive.

Ms Turner said she hoped attendees at the conference had been inspired to pick up on good ideas and best practice shared at the conference and that they would be used to continue to strengthen the delivery of health services to our people. Ms Turner said we have got to be able to get the governments to understand the importance of the environments our people live in and what a negative effect overcrowded housing and unhealthy environments have on our people’s health, “as part of the comprehensive primary health care model its our job at every level to advocate for our communities in those areas as well.”

Housing shortage potentially “life-threatening”

Preston Mapuyu is on a public housing waitlist that on average takes more than half a decade to see any movement – but due to a chronic lung condition, he may not have that long to wait. Nurses in remote north-east Arnhem Land say a housing shortage has become potentially “life-threatening for patients” such as Mr Mapuyu, and is simultaneously burdening the health system.

Mr Mapuyu’s inability to access public housing has meant he’s been forced to rely on the kindness of relatives for accommodation, often overcrowded and unsuitable for someone with his condition. He and his wife, Serena Munyarryun, were living on a remote homeland 100km from the nearest hospital, where access via dirt road is seasonal and emergency planes can only land during the day. “If we call emergency for ambulance to get here, sometimes it takes them three to four hours to get here,” Ms Munyarryun said.

The pair has applied to access public housing in the nearest township of Nhulunbuy but, given a Territory-wide public housing shortage, they’re up against it. NT government data shows there is an average wait of six to eight years for applicants in Nhulunbuy. That stretches up to a decade for those seeking housing in hubs like Alice Springs. Across the NT there are nearly 6,000 applications for housing, but only 162 homes listed as vacant.

To view the ABC News article NT government’s years-long public housing waitlist putting a strain on remote health system in full click here.

Serena Munyarryun and Preston Mapuyu could be forced to wait years for public housing. Photo: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

RHD landmark study makes inroads

An entirely preventable “killer” disease plaguing remote communities in the NT will never end unless Aboriginal workers become the backbone of prevention, an Indigenous health organisation warns. Sunrise Health chairperson Anne-Marie Lee is the co-author of a four-year, landmark study – published in the International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health – which was conducted in three Aboriginal communities where it is not uncommon to see children under 10 bearing the vertical, long scars of open-heart surgery.

“Nothing can work in Indigenous communities unless you employ local people,” Ms Lee said. “Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a killer. It’s a killer, and it’s killing a lot of my young ones.” RHD is mostly eradicated in first world countries and is only found in the most disadvantaged areas of developing countries. But in Australia, rates in remote Aboriginal communities beset by social disadvantage are among the highest in the world.

Studies to date have largely focused on secondary and tertiary prevention once somebody’s already been diagnosed, instead of the root causes, such as addressing severe overcrowding in houses and a lack of effective education. Ms Lee said in her community of Barunga, about an hour’s drive from Katherine, there was not enough suitable information about the disease for families. She lamented the notion that short-term fly-in-fly-out health workers could make meaningful inroads. “We need more of me … because they trust us,” Ms Lee said.

To view the ABC News article Rheumatic heart disease still killing Australian children but a landmark study makes inroads in full click here.

Anne-Marie Lee [L] says rates of RHD fell in her community during the study. Photo: Menzies School of Health. Image source: ABC News.

Improving health for people with intellectual disability

The Australian Government is investing more than $5 million in four research projects to improve the long-term health outcomes of people with intellectual disability. Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the research will develop the evidence base for future policies, interventions and other initiatives to improve the quality of life of people with an intellectual disability. A key factor in each of the projects is the involvement of people with intellectual disability, their families and carers in the design of the research and implementation.

Professor Sandra Eades from the University of Melbourne has received $792,020 to undertake a research project: Equitable access to health and disability services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with intellectual disability.

This project will improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children with intellectual disability by recommending effective models of care to ensure appropriate, timely diagnoses and access to high-quality health and disability services. National Disability Insurance Scheme data and interviews with families, adolescents with intellectual disability, and healthcare and disability services will be analysed to identify barriers and facilitators to meeting the healthcare needs of Indigenous children with intellectual disability.

To view Minister Butler’s media release Improving long-term health outcomes for people with intellectual disability in full click here.

Image source: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families of children with disabilities webpage of Community Early Learning Australia website.

Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success

Remote residents of Urapunga in the NT have reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 43% in the past year, due to a range of sugar-reduction measures implemented at their local grocery store. Urapunga Store, operated by the Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation and serviced by Outback Stores, has restricted the size of soft drinks sold, and implemented “Sugar-Free Wednesdays” – a day in which no full-sugar soft drinks are available for purchase.

“We knew the community was drinking too much sugar, so we came up with a plan to start changing that,” said Antonella Pascoe, board member of Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation. “As directors of the store, we felt like we could make a positive change.”

In the first six months, the proportion of sugary drinks sold has fallen by 4.7% which equates to 1,921 litres, or twelve bathtubs less of full-sugar soft drink consumed in the community. “We know that the community is now drinking less sugar,” says Ms Pascoe. “One of the best things is the way it has made the community think about what they are drinking, even on days when they can buy sugary drinks.

To view the Retail World article Urapunga Store’s sugar cut success in full click here.

Photo: Isabella Higgins, ABC News.

Sax Institute, a community-led research pioneer

The Sax Institute are pioneers of the community-led research model and have been building strong relationships with Aboriginal health organisations since 2003. These partnerships have been critical to enabling the design and conduct of health research that is most likely to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities and policy makers. The Sax Institute says these partnerships are an essential part of how they work and central to their success.

In 2003, Sax Institute formed a partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) to set up the Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health (CRIAH) as a vehicle for bringing together Aboriginal communities and leading research expertise to support better health outcomes.

Over the past 15 years, the Sax Institute has worked with a number of ACCHOs across NSW to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. Through these partnerships, ACCHOs nominate their research priorities, control how the research is conducted and take the lead in determining what works for them and their communities.

Four ACCHOs – Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation, Awabakal and Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service – have been cornerstone partners with the Institute in developing the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH), Australia’s largest long-term study of the health and wellbeing of urban Aboriginal children.

You can find more information on the Partnerships – How we work webpage of the Sax Institute website here.

Image source: Sax Institute website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Children’s Week 2022

Saturday marked the beginning of Children’s Week 2022 (22-30 October). Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia held around the fourth Wednesday in October. A diverse range of events and activities at national, state and local levels focus the attention of the wider community on children, their rights and achievements. Children’s Week celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood.

Children’s Week promotes the Rights of the Child as proclaimed by the United Nations in 1954. It also exists to remind us of our responsibility to advocate for children as citizens and their right to a positive childhood.

The 2022 Children’s Week theme All Children have the right to a standard of living that supports their wellbeing and healthy development aligns with Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more information about Children’s Week click here.

Logo: ClipartMax. Photo: The North West Star. Image source: The Pulse.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How mob view and experience cancer

The image in the feature tile is from the Yarn for Life – It’s OK To Talk About Cancer website, available here.

How mob view and experience cancer  

A new national study has launched to give Australians a better understanding of how First Nations people view and experience cancer. Funded by Cancer Australia, Kulay Kalingka – the first study of this kind in Australia – is led, designed and implemented by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research team at the Australian National University (ANU).

The team will collect data for 22 cancer control indicators in First Nations people. These include their knowledge, attitudes and understanding of cancer, participation in health promotion and cancer screening programs. Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy, says improving cancer outcomes for First Nations people is a national priority for the Government.

To view Senator McCarthy’s media release First of its kind study to explore cancer from a First Nations perspective in full here. Below is a video of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talking about their cancer journeys.

Mob lean on each other during floods

An Aboriginal community education centre in Shepparton is working overtime to set up a culturally safe evacuation facility and schedule food and supply drop offs to those who remain stranded. Yorta Yorta woman Leonie Dwyer is the manager of Shepparton’s Academy of Sport, Health and Education (ASHE), a service for young Aboriginal people.

With so many staff, students and families displaced, Ms Dwyer opened the ASHE office and their residential facility as a refuge. While waters are receding in Shepparton, Ms Dwyer said there’s talk that the town may be getting another downpour. “Everyone’s emotionally drained and really a bit traumatised in the sense they don’t know what’s next” she said. People are worried the flood waters will come back up, and that it might be another week until they can get out.

With the future unknown, Ms Dwyer remains staunch – saying whatever happens mob will be ok. “We’re a strong Aboriginal community here in the valley and we’ll stick together. We’re resilient. We know that,” she said. “I think that this is just another something that’s in our way, but we will get through it.”

To view the SBS NITV article Victorian Indigenous communities leaning on one another during severe floods in full click here.

Photo of flooding in Mooroopna, taken by Mooroopna local and Yorta Yorta man Neil Morris. Image source: SBS NITV.

COVID hits some more than others

For lots of Australians, their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of inconvenience, with missed holidays, home haircuts, and social events moved online. But for many others, the physical, mental, emotional, and financial cost was much greater.

A new report Fault lines: An independent review into Australia’s response to COVID-19, available here, has highlighted who was worst-hit by the handling of the pandemic. The report says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were already affected by disproportionate rates of physical and mental ill health, along with other disadvantages, but the pandemic made them “particularly vulnerable”.

The report said that for the first 12 to 18 months of the pandemic, COVID-19 was largely kept out of remote communities thanks to the work of ACCHOs. But once the virus reached those communities, poor funding of those organisations, and inadequate health infrastructure and workforce capacity caused significant problems in containing the virus and treating those infected Those issues were compounded when governments under-utilised AACCHOs during the vaccine rollout.

To read the SBS News article Job loss, trauma, isolation: COVID hit some people more than others. Were you among them? in full click here.

Health workers practice remote outbreak response measures at an Aboriginal health clinic in Ramingining, NT, last year. Photo: Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: The Washington Post.

Co-designing food sovereignty models

A project to co-design a food sovereignty model with Indigenous communities by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from QUT and University of Southern Queensland and Diabetes Australia has received a $829,628 ARC Discovery Indigenous grant. Wakka Wakka Warumungu woman Associate Professor Debbie Duthie, from QUT School of Public Health and Social Work, said food sovereignty was considered an essential element of health of First Nations people.

“Food sovereignty is a core human right that privileges Indigenous knowledges and methodologies to co-design local strategies for addressing food insecurity,” Professor Duthie said. “We aim to develop place-based food sovereignty models with both rural and urban Indigenous communities to build sustainable food systems. This project’s outcomes will ultimately lead to tailored strategies to foster food sovereignty and develop resources to preserve language and cultural foodways that can be integrated into educational programs.”

To view the QUT article Co-designing food sovereignty models for Indigenous communities in full click here.

Photo: Yurbay 2021. Image source: ACT Historic Places website.

Reducing diabetes – Ngarrindjeri pilot

A new regional diabetes program will be piloted in Ngarrindjeri country – the Coorong and the Murraylands – with the aim to reduce the burden of diabetes in Aboriginal communities. The pilot program has been co-designed with Aboriginal Elders and senior community representatives, with recent funding from the federal government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

Using a ketogenic eating program and new point-of-care testing technology will monitor health and wellbeing and aim to motivate change. Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Indigenous Health at Flinders University, Doctor Courtney Ryder said Aboriginal people in Australia are three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and five times more likely to die from it than non-Indigenous Australians.

“This burden impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of Aboriginal patients, families and communities. Targeted, community co-designed intervention programs are needed to stop this ongoing cultural devastation,” Doctor Ryder said.

To view The Murray Valley Standard article Reducing burden of diabetes, starting with Ngarrindjeri pilot in full click here.

Image source: AMA InSight.

Join AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee

Nominations are now open for up to five vacancies on the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee which develops policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing discrimination in the medical profession. The AMA is inviting nominations from its members to fill up to five vacancies on its Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee (EIDC) for 2023–2024.

The role of the EIDC is to develop policy and initiatives targeted towards enhancing equity and addressing inequitable and discriminatory practices that exist in the medical profession. It also considers how the AMA can actively promote equity and diversity of representation in the AMA’s own governance structures. Committee members offer in-depth knowledge of, and experience in, a range of equity, inclusion and diversity issues and help to shape our work on equity, inclusion and diversity for our members and the medical workforce. T

Visit here for more information on time commitments. If you would like to get involved in the AMAEIDC please submit a short expression of interest (between 200-400 words) and your CV by email here by 5:00 PM AEDT Friday 28 October 2022.

To view the AMA article Join the AMA’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee in full click here.

Image source: Stanford University website.

Sax Institute Resource Hub

The Sax Institute is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that improves health and wellbeing by driving better use of evidence in policies, programs and services. Their Resource Hub allows you to search for downloadable files such as PDFs, videos and Word files. You can filter your search by publication date, topic keyword, type of product, as well as the Sax program associated with it.

An example of publications available via the Sax Institute Resource Hub include Establishing an enduring co-production platform in Aboriginal health; Outcomes reported in evaluations of programs designed to improve health in Indigenous people; and Murradambirra Dhangaang (make food secure): Aboriginal community and stakeholder perspectives on food insecurity in urban and regional Australia.

To access the Sax Institute Resource Hub click here.

Image source: Sax Institute Resource Hub webpage of Sax Institute website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Redesigning maternity services for mob

The image in the feature tile is from the Holistic Care With No Limits – Empowering the Aboriginal Community on Darkinjung Country webpage of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services (Central Coast, Darkinjung Country) website.

Redesigning maternity services for mob

Earlier this week more than 250 representatives from First Nations communities, health services, universities and research institutes, came together in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to explore the scope for system-wide reform to secure the ‘best start to life’ for First Nations babies and their families.

The 2022 Best Start to Life Conference: a national gathering in Mparntwe was co-hosted by Molly Wardagugu Research Centre, Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) to improve maternity services for First Nations communities and, ultimately, reduce maternal health inequities in the NT.

The Charles Darwin Universities’s Co-Director at CDU’s Molly Wardaguga Research Centre and Indigenous Health Professor Yvette Roe, who is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, WA, who grew up in Darwin, spoke on CAAMA Radio about the challenges faced by first nations mothers, in bringing up strong healthy babies.

“Before colonisation, our babies were born on country, we were raised by our mothers, we were raised by grandmothers, we had cultural ceremony and we had a real connection to community – after 200 years of colonisation, we have babies too early, too small, that are very sick when they’re born, we have mothers that have babies that are very sick, we got a health system that is being designed by a colonised system, a system imposed on our people… and this has really had poor outcomes, especially with our women in very remote communities, but also our women in urban centres.” Professor Yvette Roe said.

To view the CAAMA article Maternity services redesigned for First Nations women, which includes a video of Professor Roe speaking about the aim of the The Best Start to Life national gathering and improving maternity and birthing outcomes for First Nations women across Australia, click here.

Improving tobacco and e-cigarette control

Five ANU researchers have been awarded more than $10.7 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant scheme, to help tackle some of the world’s biggest medical and health challenges. Professor Emily Banks will receive more than $2.9 million to drive improved tobacco and e-cigarette control and provide new insights into cardiovascular disease prevention.

“Smoking remains Australia’s number one cause of premature death and disability,” Professor Banks said. “It is also a major cause of health inequity. Excellent progress by communities means that most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t smoke. At the same time, around half of all deaths at age 45 and over in this priority population are due to tobacco smoking.

“Australia is aiming for a tobacco-free future and is up against a predatory industry that is constantly innovating. E-cigarettes, or vaping, also present new challenges. My team and I will use this funding to generate and translate new insights to empower the next generation of tobacco and e-cigarette control and chronic disease prevention,” Professor Banks said.

To view the Canberra Weekly article Major ANU funding win to boost health for all Australians in full click here.

Photo: Mike Mozart, Flickr. Image source: Croakey Health Media.

Great oral health habits for kids

Smiles 4 Miles (an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria – DHSV), the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) and Ballarat Community Health are supporting early childhood services to improve children’s oral health and healthy eating habits. This work is highlighted in a new video case study (below) celebrating how Perridak Burron Early Learning, an Aboriginal community-owned education and care service, embedded these health priorities into their centre.

Tooth decay is largely preventable. However, public dental data shows that approximately one in four children aged five years and under who presented to public dental clinics in 2021–22 have a history of tooth decay and only 6% of Victorian children aged two to 17 eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables per day.

“We hope that Perridak Burron’s holistic, whole-of-service approach to healthy eating and oral health will inspire other early childhood education and care services to also make positive changes,” Smiles 4 Miles coordinator Demelza Diacogiorgis said. “Early childhood is a crucial stage in learning and development. Promoting health messages in simple ways enables children attending early childhood education and care settings to get a healthy start in life.”

To view the Bite magazine article Early childhood service leading the charge for great oral health habits in full click here.

New Deadly pharmacists training course

The new Deadly pharmacists foundation training course, co-designed by PSA and NACCHO, is designed to upskill pharmacists to work in ACCHOs. Lucky Zeniou MPS, Senior Pharmacist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) in Brisbane thinks the seven-module course, available on the PSA platform, will broaden career pathways for pharmacists.

Mike Stephens MPS, Director, Medicines Policy and Programs at NACCHO, said pharmacists can expect to gain a good understanding of the key concepts that underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including the importance of self-determination and community control. ‘There are so many services ACCHOs can offer their community, and clinical care and pharmacy is just one part of that integrated care model,’ he said.

‘In some ACCHOs a pharmacist may be working alongside tobacco outreach workers, legal services, diabetes educators and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers all in the same location.’ For pharmacists interested in working in an ACCHO, Mr Stephens recommends undertaking the course before or as soon as they begin work in this space. ‘This course will be a great enabler for this emerging workforce to grow,’ he said. ‘We know many ACCHOs are looking for suitable pharmacists to employ.’

To view the Australian Pharmacist article Securing a job in an Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Service in full click here.

Image source: PSA Deadly pharmacists foundation training course webpage.

Closing the digital exclusion gap

Tech for good’ organisation Hitnet has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for over 20 years, but its recent move is going further to amplify Indigenous voices. Co-founder and director Julie Gibson has ceded the company, which brings information and services to close the digital exclusion gap in rural and remote communities, to Visual Dreaming, a First Nations technology platform drawing on cultural practices and storytelling to support Indigenous youth.

For Gibson, the business move acts as a symbol for the non-Indigenous community to make room for First Nations organisations in an authentic and meaningful way. “Myself and the other founders strongly believe that Hitnet needed First Nations innovation, knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship to take it to the next level,” said Gibson. “It was actually us that approached Visual Dreaming after a national search of actively looking to transition out.”

“I think the time has well and truly come for businesses that operate in the First Nations space to have management structures to ensure there is solid First Nations representation, which is not tokenism, but genuine ownership and control.”

To view the Pro Bono Australia article How ‘yindyamarra’ informed a business acquisition in full, click here.

How to provide better safer care

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health and healthcare in many ways. One important issue is developing a better understanding of its impacts upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of healthcare. An important indicator of the quality and cultural safety of healthcare is whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe to remain in a service to receive healthcare, or whether they leave before healthcare is delivered or completed.

According to data recently reviewed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Healthcare, there are some grounds for concern that the pandemic has been associated with an increase or, at the very least, no improvement in leave events.

Another important question is how the pandemic has affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to care, given widespread reports of service closures, workforce shortages and systems under grave pressure. Dr Julieann Coombes and Keziah Bennett-Brook, researchers from the George Institute who conducted a systematic review informing national policy on leave events, suggest the issue deserves far more attention from policymakers, health services and providers, through efforts to address racism and improve cultural safety at all levels of the system.

To view the Croakey Health Media article How can health services provide safer, better care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? in full click here.

Image source: CommunitySkills WA website.

Sector Jobs

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

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

Global Handwashing Day

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

In Australia trachoma remains a major cause of avoidable blindness and as a prevention, face and hand washing are critically important. Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma, and almost all cases occur in our remote Aboriginal communities. Curtin University in partnership with West Australian Country Health Service, the Directorate of Environmental Health (WA Health) and Indigenous Eye Health (University of Melbourne) have produced a 30 second video, available here, based on Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs!

For more information about Global Handwashing Day 2022 click here.

The University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health webpage.