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

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

Time to get back on track with diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get a heart check video

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

To view the animation click here.

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

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Schools urged to teach Stolen Generations story

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

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

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

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

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

NSW Aboriginal Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy

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

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

Climate change health impacts

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

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

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

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

Image source: Seed website.

Ever-present structural and systemic racism

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

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

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

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

Image source: 3CR Community Radio website.

Health literacy needed to combat fake health news

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

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

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

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

Image source: IC-Health.

Stroke Foundation award nominations open

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

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

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

2021 Nurses and midwives national awards

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

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

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

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

Aboriginal mum & newborn in hospital bed with Aboriginal health professional

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

Housing and infectious diseases study

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

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

To view the report in full  click here.

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

Photo by Trisha Nururla Frank, 2019.

Support for Aboriginal Health Liaison Workers

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

portrait photo of Suzanne Nelson

Suzanne Nelson. Image source: LinkedIn.

High youth incarceration rates in ACT

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

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

external view of ACT Youth Detention Centre, Bimberi

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

Health magazine seeks contributions

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

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

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

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

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

SEWB programs review

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

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

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

To access the review click here.

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

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

Recognising mental illness patterns

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

portrait shot of Kylie Henry

Kylie Henry. Image source: ABC News website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News – ‘we must incorporate justice into health care’

feature tile: text: 'we must incorporate justice into health care' Donnella Mills NACCHO Chairperson - Aboriginal flag painted on brick wall, scales of justice vector image in yellow centre of flag and vector image of stethoscope around yellow circle centre of flag

‘We need to incorporate justice into health care’

According to Donnella Mills, who is the managing lawyer at LawRight Community Legal Centre, Chair of NACCHO, sits on James Cook University Council and is the project lawyer for the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, “we need to incorporate justice into health care.”

Mills was central to the establishment of the Wuchopperen Health Justice Partnership, a partnership between Wuchopperen Health Service (Cairns) and LawRight that sees lawyers provide free legal advice, referral and casework to clients of the health service. “I kept seeing this missing link, we were talking about family wellbeing, child protection, youth detention, we were talking about issues around chronic disease and I just kept thinking how can we be delivering services when we are not connecting people to legal representation?” said Mills. “Our people will go to their ACCHO and tell their doctor about all of their concerns because the trust is there. The trust is not in the legal institution. We need to start talking about incorporating justice in the way we deliver primary health care.”

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

AHW trainee Darren Braun, Danila Dilba, Palmerston, Darwin NT. Image source: ABC News.

Aboriginal Health Worker trainee Darren Braun, Danila Dilba, Palmerston, Darwin NT. Image source: ABC News.

Vaccines a massive challenge for remote areas

Government health authorities are fine-tuning plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to remote and vulnerable Indigenous populations across Australia — a task an Aboriginal health organisation says is an unprecedented challenge.

remote community buildings with Uluru in background

There are an estimated 500 homelands and 70 remote communities in the NT alone — including Mutitjulu, at the base of Uluru. Image source: ABC News.

GP-led COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed government confirmation that GPs will be at the forefront of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. RACGP President Dr Karen Price said GPs will play an important role in the vaccine rollout. “This is a massive undertaking for our country and GPs will be essential. The majority of Australians go to their GP for their vaccinations and for many Australians they will do the same for their COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations are one of the greatest success stories of modern medicine and GP-led vaccination programs have been at the forefront all along.”

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

gloved health professional administering a vaccine into an arm

Image source: ABC News.

Peak bodies support COVID-19 vaccine strategy

The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID), the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC), and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) have come out in support of the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, stressing that concerns about the ability of any vaccines to create herd immunity were not justified at this stage of the process. Immediate Past President of ASID Professor Josh Davis, ACIPC President Associate Professor Philip Russo, and PHAA President, Professor Tarun Weeramanthri said we need to wait until the Therapeutic Goods Administration has completed its review process of the available vaccines.

To view the media release in full click here.

open cardboard box with hundreds of vials of COVID-19 vaccines

Image source: Science News.

Supermarket profits before Aboriginal health

The NT government has caved in to liquor lobby pressure and imperilled the health of First Nations People by approving a Dan Murphy’s Darwin mega-store for Woolworths and lifting the licence cap for Coles.  According to Professor Lesley Russell and Dr Jeff McMullen the Aboriginal communities will pay the price with their health.

To view the full article published by Michael West Media Independent Journalists click here.

shipping container with spray painted Aboriginal flag heart & word Bagot, superimposed with logos for Woolworths and Dan Murphy's

Image source: BlackBusiness.

Back on Track diabetes campaign

Diabetes Australia and the National Diabetes Services Scheme will launch a new health campaign called Back on Track. The campaign has been developed on the back of research which shows that in the last year many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people disengaged from their routine diabetes and health care management plans due to social distancing, fear of exposure to COVID-19, and a focus on other priorities.

The Back on Track campaign is specifically targeted to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to encourage them to get ‘back on track’ with their diabetes self-care in 2021. It has been designed to provide practical, culturally appropriate and engaging messaging to encourage people to reconnect with their diabetes health. The messaging acknowledges that ‘things have been tough for everyone’ but that it is still important for people to look after themselves and look out for their friends and family too.

The steps to getting back on track (key messages) include:

  • Check in with our diabetes health team
  • Check our blood sugar and take our medications
  • Check that we are eating healthy food and being active every day
  • Check that we are looking after each other and taking time to look after ourselves.

Back on Track with our diabetes campaign banner

New diabetes research centres

The Medical Research Futures Fund will provide $10 million each for two new research centres to address diabetes and cardiovascular disease through the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator. The aim of the centres is to produce rapid improvements in preventing, treating and curing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and their complications. A further $18 million of funding will go to support translational research projects in these areas.

To view the media release in full click here.

researcher looking down through a microscope, superimposed with transparent images of the cells

Image source: Australian Government Department of Health.

NACCHO housing for health position paper

Housing is a key determinant of health, yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face a range of issues that prevent them from accessing housing that is affordable, adequate, safe and sustainable. Overcrowding is increasingly prevalent, making household members further susceptible to the burden of disease, psychological distress and other health and wellbeing issues. The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the importance of housing for maintaining health and slowing and stopping the spread of disease. Significant Australian, state and territory government leadership and investment is urgently needed to Improve housing and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To view NACCHO’s housing policy position paper in full click here.

Walpiri Transient Camp, Katherine (NT) rudimentary tin dwellings in a poor state

Walpiri Transient Camp, Katherine (NT). Image source: The Conversation.

NSW – Wyong – Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited

Aboriginal Family Preservation Manager

Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited is looking to employ an Aboriginal Family Preservation Manager to provide high-quality management and leadership to the Family Preservation team so they can meet all required legal and practice standards for Family Preservation. This position will provide high quality culturally responsive leadership and management practices that focus on supporting effective, flexible, high quality, child-focused, and family-focused, culturally responsive interventions and supports so that our children and young people can remain safely with their families.

To view the position description and to apply click here. Applications close 9:00 am Wednesday 27 January 2021.Yerin Eleanor Duncan AHS logo

QLD – Toowoomba & Warwick – Carbal Medical Services

Aboriginal Health Worker x 2

Carbal Medical Services (Carbal) is a not-for-profit, charitable organisation that provides health services to members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in and around Toowoomba and Warwick. The core function of Carbal is to provide medical services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through two medical practices and over 17 community programs covering the regions of Darling Downs and Southern Downs.

Carbal is seeking to fill two Aboriginal Health Worker positions based in Warwick and Toowoomba.

To view the position description and to apply click here.

Applications close COB Friday 5 February 2021.Carbal Medical Services logo, words & snake

NT – Darwin – Menzies School of Health Research

Champions4Change Project Coordinator – 6 months FT contract, possible extension

RHDAustralia supports the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia. RHDAustralia is based at the Menzies School of Health Research and is funded under the Australian Government’s Rheumatic Fever Strategy. The Champions4Change (C4C) program is a culturally safe support program for people living with ARF and RHD. With support from RHDAustralia, the program is run by people from across Australia with the lived experience of ARF and RHD, designed and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. The C4C Project Coordinator will contribute to the conceptual development of the C4C program using experience-based, co-design approaches, and will implement core components of the program.

For more information and the position description click here.

Applications close Friday 22 January 2021.Menzies School of Health Research logo, words plus dot with 3 concentric circles orange black white

NSW – Blacktown/Campbelltown – OzChild

Aboriginal Practice Lead – identified position

OzChild in Blacktown/Campbelltown is looking for an Aboriginal Practice Lead to join its team. The position will be a part of the Dhiiyaan Mirri (family of stars), OzChild’s Bridging Cultures Unit (BCU) and will support the Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare (FFT-CW), Multi systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) Teams at Blacktown and Campbelltown. The position will be based a minimum of 2 days per week at each location, however this can be flexible based on need.

The Aboriginal Practice Lead Position within OzChild will work to ensure that participating First Nation families can benefit from these Evidence Based Models (EBMs), and from time to time other programs that OzChild may deliver. The Aboriginal Practice Lead will also facilitate access and receive support in a timely and culturally responsive manner.

Working with OzChild’s Teams, for the effective delivery of OzChild Services to First Nations Children, Young People and their Families/Kin/Carers, the Aboriginal Practice Lead will contribute from intake through to completion (when required) to the provision of culturally responsive services and a culturally safe working environment through consultation and engagement with OzChild staff, First Nations Peoples, stakeholders and relevant Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

For more information and the position description click here.

Applications close Thursday 28 January 2021.two Aboriginal young girls, one kissing the other on the cheek, OzChild logo

NSW – Newcastle – University of Newcastle

Senior Lecturer in Nursing – FT x 1

The teaching team within the School of Nursing and Midwifery is led by award winning academics who are all specialists in their fields of practice and committed to teaching and learning strategies which develop and enhance nursing knowledge, and the full range of clinical and interpersonal skills needed by nurses and midwives to function as effective practitioners. The School enjoys a close collaboration with local area health services in providing clinical learning experiences for students, in the provision of graduate programs and in the conduct of clinical research. The aim is to prepare and develop nurses to function in a wide range of clinical settings, health facilities and rehabilitation services.

A vacancy exists for a full-time ongoing position located either at the Callaghan Campus or Central Coast, with an expectation to work across the Callaghan and Ourimbah (transitioning to Central Coast in mid-2021, subject to ANMAC approval) campuses as well as online.

In this role, you will promote and foster a collaborative, dynamic, productive and globally competitive research environment through research collaboration, external grant income, publication outputs, and research higher degree graduates. The promotion of excellence in teaching and learning through appropriate curriculum development and delivery is also a key requirement of this role.

For more information and the position description  click here.

Applications close Sunday 14 February 2021.University of Newcastle logo white on black vector of horse head and external image of the uni

NSW – southern NSW – Murra Mia Tenant Advocacy Service 

Tenant Advocates – FT x 2

Murra Mia Tenant Advocacy Service (Southern NSW Aboriginal TAAS) is seeking  two motivated Tenancy Advocates to engage with Aboriginal tenants whose tenancies are identified as at risk and provide a range of interventions.

For more information and the position description click here.

Applications close Wednesday 27 January 2021.outline of NSW, top black, bottom red, middle yellow house, state surrounded by red dots

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

feature tile text 'partnering withACCHOs key to tackling health disparity', painting of brick wall with Aboriginal flag overlaid with hand holding stethoscope for yellow centre of flag

Partnering with ACCHOs key to tackling health disparity

The Heart Foundation has welcomed a NSW Government announcement of a $7.4 million investment towards its Closing the Gap commitment. “Investing in and partnering with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, as well as enabling them to lead the way, is key to tackling the conditions of disadvantage that affect Indigenous Australians, such as housing and health,” said Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly AM. “This commitment also recognises that community and Indigenous leadership is a pivotal step forward in Closing the Gap and ending rheumatic heart disease (RHD) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “The NSW Government’s expansion of the Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations in the key sectors of early childhood, housing, disability and health is a step closer to making sustainable change to close the gap.

To view the full article click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Medical Research Council of NSW website.

Record high vaccination rates

More Australian families are vaccinating their children, with new figures showing four quarters of growth in all childhood coverage rates to September 2020, the highest on record. Each year, the Morrison Government invests more than $400 million in the National Immunisation Program to protect young and vulnerable Australians. The highest rates of vaccination are among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at five years, at more than 97%. The coverage rate for all five-year-olds continues to grow towards the aspirational 95% target. In the year to September 2020, it reached 94.9%. Among all two-year-old children, the coverage rate has risen to almost 92.4 per cent, which is the first time it has climbed above 92 per cent since 2014. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander two-year-old vaccination rate has also risen to almost 91.2 per cent in the current quarter.

To view the media release  click here.

NSW $7.4m for new National CTG Agreement

The NSW Government has announced funding of $7.4 million as a first step to begin state-based actions to support the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin confirmed this new investment at the 400th meeting of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), held at Broken Hill. “This investment demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to achieving a critical priority under the Closing the Gap National Agreement – strengthening the capacity of Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations,” Mr Harwin said.

To view the media release click here.

Closing the Gap banner Aboriginal art black and white hands thumbs interlocked

Image source: Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service.

Better hospital healthcare free webinar

Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), with support from HESTA, is presenting a free webinar on better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC week. The webinar will cover the latest research from Australia and North America on how hospitals can deliver better care. Following the presentations a Q&A session will be facilitated by AHHA Strategic Programs Director. 

Webinar: Better healthcare in hospitals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Date:  0.30 am – 11.30 am Thursday 12 November 2020 (EDST).

To register for the free webinar click here.

female Aboriginal patient, Aboriginal support person and Aboriginal health worker in hospital room

Image source: Creative Spirits website.

Changing the future of heart health

Heart disease is one of Australia’s biggest health problems, representing one in four of all deaths, with over one thousand people a day hospitalised and costing the economy $7 billion each year.

Monash University is aiming to change the future of heart health, with the establishment of the Victorian Heart Institute (VHI), which will focus on training and leading a future focused workforce, extensive research and innovation to deliver measurable change in the rates of heart disease in Australia. The Institute will be located within the Victorian Heart Hospital (VHH) upon its completion in 2022. The VHH is a collaborative partnership between the Victorian Government, Monash Health and Monash University and will be Australia’s first stand-alone heart hospital and research facility. 

To mark the launch of the Victorian Heart Institute and explore the important issues around heart health, Monash University will be hosting a free live event A Different Lens: Matters of the Heart at 7.30 pm on Thursday 5 November 2020 with leading experts in heart disease. For more information about the event and how to join click here.

National health campaign: How’s Your Head Today? 

A national COVID-19 mental health campaign How’s your head today? is being rolled out to urge people to prioritise their mental health, raise awareness about how to identify when something is wrong, and encourage people to seek help. The campaign has been launched on TV, radio, in shopping centres and venues, online and through social mediaand will continue through to next year. How’s your head today? encourages all Australians to check in with how they are feeling. Through animated characters, the campaign recognises the emotions many people are feeling and illustrates the actions they can take to help themselves feel better.

To view the media release click here.

Greg Inglis' face & text 'I want people to know that they're not alone'

Greg Inglis opens up about mental health battles. Image source: ABC Australian Story.

Stars Foundation program for young women

Students at Newman Senior High School will be among the first in WA to take part in a motivating mentoring program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The pilot of the Stars Foundation program would run at Newman Senior High School and Butler College in Perth. Stars Foundation staff will work with the school communities this year to identify the needs of the students before the program starts in 2021. The Stars Foundation program provides mentoring and targeted support to improve the health and education outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women. The program at Newman Senior High School will operate full time in a dedicated ‘Stars Room’ supporting students to develop their confidence, self-esteem and the life skills needed for school and beyond.

To view the full article click here.

close up face of Aboriginal young girl with Aboriginal face paint and Stars Foundation logo

Image source: Stars Foundation Facebook page.

Community pharmacies critical role during disasters

The report of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has acknowledged the critical role played by community pharmacies during disasters. The report also called for the inclusion of primary healthcare workers, including pharmacists, in disaster management and planning bodies. The report says Australian, State and Territory Governments “should develop arrangements that facilitate greater inclusion of primary healthcare providers in disaster management, including: representation on relevant disaster committees and plans, and providing training, education and other supports”.

Elsewhere the report highlights the importance of community pharmacists and other healthcare providers by stating they are generally the main point of contact that Australians have with the health system. “They are the entry level to the health system and are a broad group, including general practitioners, pharmacists, Aboriginal health workers, nurses and allied health professionals. Primary care providers have valuable local knowledge and strong connections with the communities they support,” the report says. The importance of continued dispensing during emergencies also is highlighted in the report.

To view the full article click here.

male and female Aboriginal people with pharmacy sign

Image source: The Conversation.

Lung cancer symptoms

Lung cancer remains the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the most common cause of cancer death according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data. Smoking is linked to as many as 80 per cent of lung cancers with current smokers almost nine times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the WA is community is being reminded of the symptoms of lung cancer and what to do if they notice any unusual changes to their body. The Cancer Council WA Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said many people don’t realise a cough which lasts for three weeks or more needs to be investigated. “If you have a long standing cough that worsens or changes for three weeks or more, it needs to be investigated,” Ms Ledger said. “If you have repeated chest infections, you notice you are becoming more short of breath or lacking energy, and have had any of these symptoms for more than four weeks, they should be investigated too. “If you cough up blood – even once – it’s really important to visit your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker right away to find out the cause. “It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer, often it turns out to be something less serious, though,” she says. “Remember, the chances of successful treatment are much higher when cancer is found early,” Ms Ledger said.

To view the Cancer Council WA’s full article click here.

David Gulpilil with image of his younger self as an actor on a computer screen in the background

In July 2019 Yolngu traditional dancer and actor David Gulpilil revealed he was dying from lung cancer. Image source: SBS NITV.

Culturally secure community services funding

The WA McGowan Government has allocated an immediate additional $1.2 million to deliver workforce development in the mental health, alcohol and other drug community sector. This initial suite of programs will support workforce development in key areas identified by peak bodies, service providers, stakeholders and consumers and carers. They cover key focus areas of need including building the peer workforce; Aboriginal culturally secure services; building capacity in trauma-informed care; and providing employment pathways.

The programs follow the release of the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Workforce Strategic Framework 2020–2025, which outlines priority areas and principles to guide the growth and development of the mental health, alcohol and other drug workforce in WA. The workforce development program will include future phases and will support peer workers, the Aboriginal workforce, clinicians, counsellors, social workers and more who assist and care for people with mental health, alcohol and other drug issues.

To view the media release click here.

Aboriginal painting of a head with footprints across the head

Image source: NSW Governement SafeWork website.

CTG education target will improve health

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has a higher education target for the first time. It’s also the first time an agreement between governments on Indigenous issues was negotiated and signed by Indigenous Australians. The Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations represented Indigenous Australians. Endorsed by the National Cabinet on July 30 this year, the 10-year agreement replaces the 2008 National Indigenous Reform Agreement. The higher education target is for 70% of Indigenous Australians between 25 and 34 years of age to have a tertiary qualification by 2031.

In 2016, 42.3% of Indigenous Australians in this age group had tertiary qualifications at the target’s required level. The proportion had more than doubled from 18.9% in 2001. By contrast, however, 72% of non-Indigenous Australians had such qualifications in 2016. Achieving higher Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education levels has a flow on impact of improvements in other CTG targets including health, child protection, housing, employment, community safety, language and land.

To view the full article click here.

11 Aboriginal graduates Cooktown Townsville

Image source: The Bouverie Centre.

Housing and health linked

The World Health Organisation has always been interested in housing as one of the big “causes of the causes”, of the social determinants, of health. The WHO launched evidence-based guidelines for healthy housing policies in 2019. Australia is behind the eight ball on healthy housing. Other governments, including in the US, UK and NZ acknowledge housing as an important contributor to the burden of disease. These countries have major policy initiatives focused on this agenda. In Australia, however, we do housing and we do health, but they sit in different portfolios of government and aren’t together in the (policy) room often enough. Housing should be embedded in our National Preventive Health Strategy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how we approach health and protect our populations. It has amplified social and economic vulnerability. The pandemic has almost certainly brought housing and health together in our minds. Housing – its ability to provide shelter, its quality, location, warmth – has proven to be a key factor in the pandemic’s “syndemic” nature. That is, as well as shaping exposure to the virus itself, housing contributes to the social patterning of chronic diseases that increase COVID-19 risks.

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal art from APY lands SA showing poor living environment

Image source: Health Habitat Housing for health website.

Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee seeks representatives 

Consumer representatives are being sought to participate in the Medicines Australia-NACCHO Committee. As the national leadership body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia NACCHO provides advice and guidance to the Australian Government on policy and budget matters while advocating for community-developed health solutions that contribute to the quality of life and improved health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Medicines Australia leads the research-based medicines industry of Australia. Its members discover, develop and manufacture prescription medicine products, biotherapeutic products and vaccines that bring health, social and economic benefits to Australia.

NACCHO and Medicines Australia have established a Committee to lead and support medicine related measures that improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities. The role of the Committee is to provide advice for projects, programs and services in addressing the medicines priorities and challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The Committee is comprised of representatives from the ACCH sector, including NACCHO, and from Medicines Australia and its members. 

The Committee is now recruiting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer representatives.

Interested consumers will have some experience with the health system and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumer issues. The appointment is for a twelve-month term, with the possibility of extension.  The meetings will be held quarterly and are virtual. If you are interested, please email a letter of endorsement from a supporting health consumer organisation with discussion of your links to health consumer base and/or community using this link. You may consider including a short CV (no longer than two pages) in pdf format. The deadline is COB 16 November 2020.

The nominations will be reviewed by a small panel of NACCHO and Medicines Australia representatives and based on a set of criteria related to the consumer’s skills, knowledge and experience. Please contact NACCHO here if you have any questions.

range of multi-coloured pills

Image source: Australian Journal of Pharmacy website.

NSW – Taree – Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre

Aged Care Manager

Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre (BACMC) provides a wide range of culturally-appropriate health and well-being services covering communities across the mid-northern NSW region. BACMC have a vacancy for an Aged care Manager who will responsible for the day to day management of the Aged Care team to meet the strategic goals of BACMC.

To view the job description click here. Application close 9.00 am Monday 9 November 2020.Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre banner

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Heart Day – NACCHO calls for RHD action

RHD call to action on World Heart Day

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is marking this World Heart Day with a call to action to oversee the implementation of the rheumatic heart disease (RHD) Endgame Strategy to end the high prevalence of RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The ‘RHD Endgame Strategy: the blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031’ was launched by The Hon. Greg Hunt, MP, Minister for Health, alongside Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, senior author of the Strategy and Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO on Thursday, 24 September 2020.

Over 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with the effects of acute rheumatic fever, the precursor to RHD, or have RHD. If action is not taken now, it is estimated another 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will develop ARF or RHD, in the next ten years. Pat Turner announced, “98% of people who get RHD are our people. I call for that cycle of infection, disease, and tremendous sadness to end.  We know what needs to be done, and we know that it can be done. Our shared vision is that no child born in Australia from this day forward dies of RHD.”

To view the NACCHO media statement click here.

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

When coronavirus came to the small outback town of Halls Creek in WA it was “like a bomb went off”, according to Brenda Garstone, CEO of the Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service. “We all had to run for cover,” she said. “We were scrambling. We didn’t know where to go, or what to do.” The WA Department of Health had warned that any community transmission in towns with remote communities would be devastating for the populations. When four healthcare workers at the local Halls Creek hospital returned positive tests, all at once, residents refused to attend the healthcare clinic for fear of picking up the virus, local shops emptied and Aboriginal men from the town’s night patrol went door to door, trying to communicate the seriousness of what was unfolding. While the outbreak was quickly contained, tensions in the small town have still not eased, with the community now fully aware of the threat COVID-19 poses.

To view the full article click here.

Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Image source: ABC News website.

Groundbreaking FASD diagnostic framework

Long wait times and centralised specialist doctors have left families in rural and remote areas waiting up to three years for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But now a group of doctors, academics and Indigenous elders have come together in north-west Queensland to create a unique diagnostic tier system for the disorder. Local Indigenous leaders and Mount Isa rural doctor Marjad Page, a Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, wrote a dreamtime story to explain not only the disorder but the medical process to local Indigenous families. “The program is run from the Aboriginal medical service here in Mount Isa called Gidgee Healing, so it’s run out of a culturally appropriate medical service for the region,” Dr Page said.

To read the full article click here.

Gidgee Healing Dr Marjad Page portrait photo & Gidgee Healing logo

Dr Marjad Page. Image source: ABC News – ABC North West Queensland.

Six steps to stopping germs video launch

Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma and almost all cases occur in  remote Aboriginal communities. The Ending Trachoma project, which is run out of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA at Curtin University, aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through implementing environmental health strategies. They have developed a short video (see below) showing the importance of personal hygiene using ‘Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs’ message. The video features women from the Nollamarra Football Team together with their children. It was developed by the Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, with extensive input from Aboriginal community members and services in WA, SA and the NT. The message aims to encourage everyone, particularly kids, to stay healthy and strong and eliminate trachoma and other infectious diseases through following six steps.

For more information about the project click here.

COVID-19 offers unexpected opportunity to quit smoking

Smokers are worried. A respiratory disease is running rampant across the globe and people with unhealthy lifestyle habits appear to be especially vulnerable. Smokers hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to become severely unwell and die than non-smokers with the disease. At any point in time, most smokers want to quit. But COVID-19 provides the impetus to do it sooner rather than later. A recent study has found the proportion intending to quit within the next two weeks almost tripled from around 10% of smokers before COVID-19 to almost 30% in April. This heightened interest in quitting in the face of COVID-19 represents a unique opportunity for governments and health agencies to help smokers quit, and stay off smoking for good.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

Adolescent “never smoked” rate rises

Using data from the Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, a Prevention Centre PhD project led by Christina Heris found that the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents who have never smoked rose from 49% in 2005 to 70% in 2017. Additionally, rates of low smoking intensity increased by 10% from 67% in 2005 to 77 % in 2017 meaning that, overall, the number of cigarettes smoked in a day has decreased amongst smokers in the 12–17 age group.

Prevention Centre investigator Professor Sandra Eades, a Noongar woman, who supervised Christina’s project said “It’s fantastic to see that tobacco control is working for all students, including driving down rates among Aboriginal young people. But we know that young Aboriginal people experience more of the risk factors for smoking such as stress, racism and disadvantage. There is a need for governments to address these broader determinants.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal child holding & looking atan unlit cigarette

Image source: Deadly Vibe.

Original articles sought for inaugural HealthBulletin

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is welcoming submissions from researchers, practitioners and health workers of original articles (not published elsewhere) for inclusion in their inaugural edition of the next generation of the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin. They are seeking submissions that provide examples of research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including policies, strategies and programs that have the potential to inform and support everyday practice.

For further information about how to submit papers click here.

Australian Indigenous HealthInforNet HealthBulletin Call for papers banner

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website.

National COVID-19 healthcare worker guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher prevalence of respiratory conditions, many of which share symptoms with COVID-19. Healthcare workers examining a patient with respiratory symptoms are at risk of spreading infection between patients with the highest risk of transmission likely during throat and nose examination including when a swab is being collected.

Griffith University researchers have helped develop national guidelines to minimise healthcare workers’ risk of acquiring and spreading infection while examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with respiratory symptoms. “These new guidelines aim to provide resources and support healthcare teams in prevention and management of COVID-19,’’ said Associate Professor Jing Sun from the School of Medicine who led the project.

For more information about the new national guidelines click here.

health professional in PPE removing swab from text tube

Image source: Flinders University website.

PPE innovation needed in remote health services

Clinicians, service providers and researchers have issued an urgent call for an Australian innovation in personal protective equipment (PPE) –  the ventilated hood – to be made available to remote health services, saying that without the hoods, the risk of coronavirus transmission within remote healthcare services and communities is grave.

To read the full article click here.

woman in hospitals bed under COVID-19 hood

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

JT Academy offers free employment advertising

Lendlease and JT Academy are encouraging all local employers to utilise the JT Academy FREE employment functions and resources. All you need to do is send the details of any job vacancies you have and let them help you find the best candidates – they will advertise your vacancy on their fully functioning job board for free!

This unique collaborative employment initiative, directed by Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston is fast becoming one the most ambitious employment initiatives Far North Queensland has ever seen. It harnesses the unique strengths of both Lendlease and JT Academy, who together are striving to provide direct job opportunities for local jobseekers.

For more information visit the JT Academy website here.

Jonathan Thurston in suit smiling, Job Board advertisement

Image source: Twitter #jtacademy.

Funding still required for rehab services

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation Inc Chairperson Ray Harris and CEO Daniel Jeffries have doubled down on the need for more funding to be made available for rehab services, saying revenue streams remained of concern with no additional recurrent funding available for rehab services. The Weigelli Centre and other services across the sector need additional funding to address the increasing need for drug and alcohol treatment services. The continuing challenges remain for services to provide support and assistance to Aboriginal individuals, families and their communities.

To read the full article in the Cowra Guardian click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

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

CHF Big Ideas Competition

Do you have an idea which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered?

What about an idea which will transform how the health system works?

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is invites you to send in videos of your ideas for innovation in health, to be part of the Big Ideas Forum at their Australian and NZ Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021. Your big idea could be something totally new, or it might be an example of something that has worked well in your community that could be expanded or tried in other places. You may like to base your idea on one or more of the key shifts highlighted in CHF’s 2018 White Paper Shifting Gears: Consumers Transforming Health. To view the White Paper click here.

For more information about the CHF Big Ideas Competition click here and for details about the CHF Summit 2021 click here.

4 people, each holding speech bubbles: Big Idea, Brain Storm, Think Different, Be Creative

Image source: Consumers Health Forum of Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Stroke #Heart #ClosetheGap Research : @ANUmedia New recommendations for cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged under 35 years

This is a great step in reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Our people have greater rates of heart disease and screening from a younger age will contribute to longer healthier lives. NACCHO encourages all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to implement these new guidelines in their practices.

The Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Donnell Mills

The updated recommendations are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals to receive:

  • Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and other cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors from the age of 18 years at latest;
  • Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years at the latest.

New recommendations for CVD risk assessment and management were published today in the Medical Journal of Australia.

See all Close the gap articles in the MJA Journal HERE

The recommendations were endorsed by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association and the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, led by the Heart Foundation.

The approach to early screening was developed in partnership with the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in CVD prevention.

Take home messages

  1. Most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented, and in the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from CVD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples has almost halved.
  2. High risk of cardiovascular disease begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is mainly due to diabetes and renal diseaseIt is recommended that there should be:
    1. Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease risk factors from the age of 18 years. This should include assessment of blood glucose level or glycated haemoglobin, estimated glomerular filtration rate, serum lipids, urine albumin to creatinine ratio, and other risk factors such as blood pressure, history of familial hypercholesterolaemia, and smoking status.
    2. Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years. Outside of Communicare, the best CVD risk calculator to use is auscvdrisk.com.au/risk-calculator/
  3. What you can do: Assessment of CVD risk as part of a health check. The most important part of this check-up is working with your doctor to manage your risk factors to improve your heart health and help you live a healthier, longer life.

” Around 80% of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with optimal care. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading contributor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality despite a 40% decrease in deaths in the past two decades and significant decreases in smoking prevalence.

High risk of CVD begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, mainly in people with diabetes and/or renal disease.

Our program of work, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, is focused on improving prevention of cardiovascular disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through:

  • Revision and alignment of clinical practice guidelines ( see part 2 below )
  • Revision and enhanced Medicare Benefits Schedule items for prevention of chronic disease
  • Workforce education and engagement

See ANU program website

Read over 80 Aboriginal Heart health articles published by NACCHO over past 8 Years 

Read over 100 Aboriginal and Stroke articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years 

To combat high risk of heart attack and strokes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have had their heart checked by a GP by age 18 at the latest, according to new national recommendations.

As part of a regular health check with a GP, the recommendations launched today have moved the age Indigenous people should get screened for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) down from 35 to 18.

Based on research from The Australian National University (ANU), a host of health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD experts have agreed on the latest efforts to continue closing the gap on early heart attacks among Indigenous Australians.

“We have seen great improvements in CVD prevention and this was highlighted in this year’s Closing the Gap speech,” said ANU lead researcher, Dr Jason Agostino.

“However, it remains a leading cause of preventable death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We need to be doing all we can to prevent it.

“Just about every Aboriginal person I know has a family member or a community member who’s died young from a heart attack or stroke. We need to change that.

“We can improve things by picking up conditions like diabetes and kidney disease early and starting conversations about treatment.”

In the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from heart attacks and strokes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples have almost halved.

However, three out of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults under 35 have at least one CVD risk factor.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia’s Senior Cultural Advisor, Vicki Wade, is a 62-year-old cardiac nurse who has heart disease. She said it is important to remind community and health workers about the risks of CVD.

“Although rates have improved, the statistics are frightening. We have generations of Aboriginal people who are not seeing their grandchildren growing up because of heart attack and stroke,” Mrs Wade said.

“This is a chance for local solutions, community engagement and health workers to be educated.”

Fellow author, Heart Foundation Chief Medical Adviser, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said: “Evidence shows that Indigenous Australians have CVD risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol at a young age. We need to prevent, identify and treat these.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should now undergo CVD risk factor screening from 18 years, at the latest, and use Australian CVD risk calculators from age 30.

“It’s easy to do. The assessment involves the normal parts of a health check with a blood and urine test. It is quick and can be done by your local GP,” said Dr Agostino.

“For the vast majority it will be bulk-billed and free.”

The move is backed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, and the Editorial Committee for Remote Primary Health Care Manuals.

“This is about getting consistency everywhere. This is what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the evidence is telling us we should do,” Dr Agostino said.

“Many GPs are already screening as early as 15 but some GPs and nurses don’t know about the need to test early.

“This is about doing what we can to pick up risk factors early and close the gap on early heart attacks and strokes.”

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara welcomed the new recommendations, saying they could make a real difference in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We cannot hope to close the gap without making evidence-based changes – these new recommendations are a positive step to improving early detection and treatment of CVD.

“The RACGP has over 40,000 members, including 10,000 members in the faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. While many GPs know about early screening not all do. These new recommendations will help spread awareness among GPs, improving access to early screening and quality care.”

Under the new recommendations, young adults with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria, kidney disease, and very high blood pressure or high cholesterol will be identified as high- risk of CVD.

Want more information and resources?

A team at ANU is developing a toolkit on risk communication in CVD: Healing Heart Communities. Designed as a resource for all clinical staff in primary care, it aims to support conversations about CVD risk.

During development, the team has consulted the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and partnered with We are Saltwater People, an Indigenous-owned graphic design company based in QLD to create original artwork, design and layout.

You can find these initial resources here: [

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Rheumatic Heart Disease #RHD : The new @RHDAustralia 2020 Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD (3rd edition) focus is on placing people and their families and communities, at the centre of care

By refocusing on people with this disease, this guideline acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique culture, and the social, economic and environmental circumstances in which they live.

The updated guideline identifies the systemic factors that drive disparities in best practice care delivery and offers culturally safe solutions.

We have come a long way from the first edition, and this journey has culminated in an important balance between cultural and clinical competence.”

RHDAustralia’s senior cultural advisor Vicki Wade was central in ensuring the new guideline addresses RHD as the leading cause of cardiovascular inequality and provide health professionals with a more holistic model of care

Read all Aboriginal Health and RHD articles published by NACCHO over the past 8 Years

Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia (RHDA) is proud to release the 2020 Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (3rd edition), available for download now at https://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/arf-rhd-guideline.

This website also houses several supporting resources, including a summary of the key changes from the 2nd edition, and an option to pre-order a printed version of the guideline.

Written by experts from across the country and developed in collaboration with key stakeholders and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group, the 3rd edition will serve as the definitive guide to current ARF and RHD diagnosis and management in Australia, and contains significant changes and updates for clinicians to be aware of.

RHD APP

RHDA also has an app to assist clinicians in the diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD, available at: https://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/apps.

The app has been updated with content from the 3rd edition, and also contains an ARF Diagnosis Calculator which embeds the complex ARF diagnosis algorithms into a series of simple questions that assist clinicians to diagnose ARF.

If you already had the app on your phone, it should have automatically updated with the new content .

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SugarTax #5Myths @ausoftheyear Dr James Muecke pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks : Money $ raised could be used to fund health promotion

” This year’s Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, is an eye specialist with a clear vision.

He wants to change the way the world looks at sugar and the debilitating consequences of diabetes, which include blindness.

Muecke is pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks to help make that a reality.

Such a tax would increase the price of soft drinks, juices and other sugary drinks by around 20%. The money raised could be used to fund health promotion programs around the country.

The evidence backing his calls is strong. ” 

From the Conversation

” A study of intake of six remote Aboriginal communities, based on store turnover, found that intake of energy, fat and sugar was excessive, with fatty meats making the largest contribution to fat intake.

Compared with national data, intake of sweet and carbonated beverages and sugar was much higher in these communities, with the proportion of energy derived from refined sugars approximately four times the recommended intake.

Recent evidence from Mexico indicates that implementing health-related taxes on sugary drinks and on ‘junk’ food can decrease purchase of these foods and drinks.

A recent Australian study predicted that increasing the price of sugary drinks by 20% could reduce consumption by 12.6%.

Revenue raised by such a measure could be directed to an evaluation of effectiveness and in the longer term be used to subsidise and market healthy food choices as well as promotion of physical activity.

It is imperative that all of these interventions to promote healthy eating should have community-ownership and not undermine the cultural importance of family social events, the role of Elders, or traditional preferences for some food.

Food supply in Indigenous communities needs to ensure healthy, good quality foods are available at affordable prices.” 

Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to the Select Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry. 

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

Also Read over 40 Aboriginal Health and Sugar Tax articles published by NACCHO 


Taxes on sugary drinks work

Several governments around the world have adopted taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. The evidence is clear: they work.

Last year, a summary of 17 studies found health taxes on sugary drinks implemented in Berkeley and other places in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France and Spain reduced both purchases and consumption of sugary drinks.

Reliable evidence from around the world tells us a 10% tax reduces sugary drink intakes by around 10%.

The United Kingdom soft drink tax has also been making headlines recently. Since its introduction, the amount of sugar in drinks has decreased by almost 30%, and six out of ten leading drink companies have dropped the sugar content of more than 50% of their drinks.


Read more: Sugary drinks tax is working – now it’s time to target cakes, biscuits and snacks


In Australia, modelling studies have shown a 20% health tax on sugary drinks is likely to save almost A$2 billion in healthcare costs over the lifetime of the population by preventing diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.

This is over and above the cost benefits of preventing dental health issues linked to consumption of sugary drinks.

Most of the health benefits (nearly 50%) would occur among those living in the lowest socioeconomic circumstances.

A 20% health tax on sugary drinks would also raise over A$600 million to invest back into the health of Australians.

After sugar taxes are introduced, people tend to switch from sugar drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks. l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

 

So what’s the problem?

The soft drink industry uses every trick in the book to try to convince politicians a tax on sugary drinks is bad policy.

Here are our responses to some common arguments against these taxes:

Myth 1: Sugary drink taxes unfairly disadvantage the poor

It’s true people on lower incomes would feel the pinch from higher prices on sugary drinks. A 20% tax on sugary drinks in Australia would cost people from low socioeconomic households about A$35 extra per year. But this is just A$4 higher than the cost to the wealthiest households.

Importantly, poorer households are likely to get the biggest health benefits and long-term health care savings.

What’s more, the money raised from the tax could be targeted towards reducing health inequalities.


Read more: Australian sugary drinks tax could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes and save 1,600 lives


Myth 2: Sugary drink taxes would result in job losses

Multiple studies have shown no job losses resulted from taxes on sugar drinks in Mexico and the United States.

This is in contrast to some industry-sponsored studies that try to make the case otherwise.

In Australia, job losses from such a tax are likely to be minimal. The total demand for drinks by Australian manufacturers is unlikely to change substantially because consumers would likely switch from sugary drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks.

A tax on sugary drinks is unlikely to cost jobs. Successo images/Shutterstock

 

Despite industry protestations, an Australian tax would have minimal impact on sugar farmers. This is because 80% of our locally grown sugar is exported. Only a small amount of Australian sugar goes to sugary drinks, and the expected 1% drop in demand would be traded elsewhere.

Myth 3: People don’t support health taxes on sugary drinks

There is widespread support for a tax on sugary drinks from major health and consumer groups in Australia.

In addition, a national survey conducted in 2017 showed 77% of Australians supported a tax on sugary drinks, if the proceeds were used to fund obesity prevention.

Myth 4: People will just swap to other unhealthy products, so a tax is useless

Taxes, or levies, can be designed to avoid substitution to unhealthy products by covering a broad range of sugary drink options, including soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.

There is also evidence that shows people switch to water in response to sugary drinks taxes.


Read more: Sweet power: the politics of sugar, sugary drinks and poor nutrition in Australia


Myth 5: There’s no evidence sugary drink taxes reduce obesity or diabetes

Because of the multiple drivers of obesity, it’s difficult to isolate the impact of a single measure. Indeed, we need a comprehensive policy approach to address the problem. That’s why Dr Muecke is calling for a tax on sugary drinks alongside improved food labelling and marketing regulations.

Towards better food policies

The Morrison government has previously and repeatedly rejected pushes for a tax on sugary drinks.

But Australian governments are currently developing a National Obesity Strategy, making it the ideal time to revisit this issue.

We need to stop letting myths get in the way of evidence-backed health policies.

Let’s listen to Dr Muecke – he who knows all too well the devastating effects of products packed full of sugar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @END_RHD Our CEO Pat Turner and @jcarapetis deliver a heart-felt evidence-based Aileen Plant Oration @_PHAA_ #CDCConference2019 on Ending #RHD in Australia #ClosingTheGap

At END RHD, our vision is simple: that no child born in Australia today dies of rheumatic heart disease.

And in theory, it should be just that, simple, because RHD has already been eliminated in Australia’s non-Indigenous population. 94% of people who get RHD are our mob.

Despite widespread improvements to the living standards of most Australians, our First Nation’s people continue to experience disadvantage and conditions that perpetuate the spread of infectious diseases.

In my mind, there is no clearer example of a disease of disparity than rheumatic heart disease.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard.

Because it spans from housing, to clinics, to open heart surgery, and highlights the inequalities within the health system, and in outcomes. “

Pat Turner CEO NACCHO delivering this year’s Aileen Joy Plant Oration with END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis. See Pats speech Part 2 below

Part 1 PHAA Press Release 

Download the full Press Release

PHAA RHD Press Release

The conference was run by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and delegates got a sneak preview on an end game strategy to rid Australia of RHD – a detailed report that is due for formal release early next year.

“It’s a strategy that relies on partnerships and empowering Indigenous people,” said Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Executive Director, Telethon Kids Institute

“The time has never been better for us to control this disease.”

Researchers are looking at new formulations so that sufferers don’t have to have monthly penicillin

injections for years. “An implant is being worked on,” Professor Carapetis said.

“For 25 years we’ve all been looking at silver bullets and not seeing improvements but we should have hope as we now pull together all we know especially the environmental determinants.”

“We should be able to reduce RHD prevalence by 70 percent,” Professor Carapetis said.

“It’s complex but not overwhelming. It involves multiple sectors and a comprehensive response.”

“The Australian Government is funding the development of a Strep A vaccine. There is progress in the field as we move towards a trial. But that won’t result in a vaccine for our kids for a decade.”

 

Part 2 Pat Turners Speech 

As an Aboriginal woman of Gurdanji-Arrernte heritage, I wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as the traditional owners of the land where we meet today.

I also acknowledge our continuing and vibrant First Nation’s cultures. I am grateful for the contributions of our past, present, and emerging leaders.

Today, I stand here wearing two hats. As CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – NACCHO – and as Co-Chair of END RHD, an alliance of peaks, community and research organisations committed to ending rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

It gives me great honour to be here today to deliver this year’s Aileen Joy Plant Oration with my END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis.

RHD begins with a sore throat or a skin sore caused by Strep A.

For our children, these are common infections – but the impact can last a lifetime.

A lifetime which, too often, is cut short.

There is no cure for RHD, but patients must undergo a painful injection of antibiotics every 28 days for at least a decade to keep their heart as strong as possible. Some must also undergo surgery to have their heart valves replaced or repaired.

In our work to close the gap, there are many priorities. Our people are telling us that. There is just so much to be done, we can’t afford to have ‘favourite’ diseases.

But RHD sticks out. It is the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country. Non-Indigenous people, literally, just don’t get it.

In the Kimberley, the average age of death of people living with RHD is just 41 years old. This is a chronic, life-limiting disease… and it starts from a skin sore or sore throat.

We get it because of crowded houses. Because a lot of our people don’t always have access to hot water. To showers that work. To washing machines that aren’t broken.

We get it because our clinics are overwhelmed with demand, and sometimes skin sores and sore throats go untreated.

We get it because acute rheumatic fever gets missed and sometimes it is too late for treatment.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard. ( Partners in this image )

Because it spans from housing, to clinics, to open heart surgery, and highlights the inequalities within the health system, and in outcomes.

Because tackling this disease offers a way to significantly close the gap.

We are fighting to prevent the next generation of our children experiencing this needless suffering. And we are fighting for our people already living with the disease.

Kids like Tenaya, who you can see in this photo

Read Tenaya’s full story Here

You wouldn’t know it from that gorgeous smile, but when I met Tenaya at the start of the year, she had recently been flown down to Perth in a critical condition suffering from heart failure. Her mother had taken her to the local hospital three times, and each time she had been sent home.

The fourth time, her mother refused to leave until she was flown to Perth, where upon arrival, she was rushed to the intensive care unit and put on life-support for two weeks.

A month later, when she was strong enough, she underwent two rounds of open-heart surgery.

Tenaya is seven years old. And she’ll need monthly injections until she is twenty-one. Most likely, she’ll need further surgery too.

She bears both the physical scars of her surgery, and the emotional scars of months spent away from friends, family and her community.

Her mum says that every time she sees a nurse she bursts into tears, terrified.

And on top of all of that, her family have been forced to make the tough decision to move off country to be closer to the specialist medical treatment needed to keep her alive.

The fact that this suffering was caused by a preventable disease is horrifying.

The fact that RHD persists in a country as wealthy as Australia is a national shame.

The fact that without urgent investment, it’s predicted another 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will develop the disease by 2031, is unconscionable.

We cannot let it happen.

Our people know what needs to happen to end RHD in this country.

In fact, community-driven work is already underway across Australia.

Our communities are rising. They are demanding support.

In March this year, a historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed between COAG and the Coalition of Peaks, and a joint council was formed of which I am Co-Chair.

This means that now, for the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their peak body representatives, will share decision making with governments on Closing the Gap.

The Partnership Agreement embodies the belief of all signatories that:

  • When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy: the gap won’t close without our full involvement; and
  • COAG cannot expect us to take responsibility and work constructively with them to improve outcomes if we are excluded from the decision making.

Rheumatic heart disease exemplifies the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

And we know that by addressing the causes, we can also eliminate other linked conditions that unfairly blight our people such as scabies, otitis media, and kidney disease.

We cannot, and will not, close the gap without ending rheumatic heart disease.

Right now, we have the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and community demand to tackle this disease.

We have a commitment from government to equal partnership in our work to close the gap.

And with over 25 years of research behind us, we have a strong evidence-base to support this community-driven work.