NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World AIDS Day 2021 – Us Mob and HIV

feature tile text 'World AIDS day 2021 - Us Mob & HIV updated booklet and new website' artwork from cover of booklet

Feature tile artwork by Arone Raymond Meeks, cover of Us Mob and HIV 4th Edition 2021.

World AIDS Day 2021 – Us Mob and HIV

To tie in with today’s World AIDS Day and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) 2021 which runs from 29 November to 6 December 2021 Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) have launched a short 30-second video to promote their updated Us Mob and HIV booklet and new website. The video will play on TVs in waiting rooms in Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) across Australia over ATSIHAW.

My Health Record securely stores HIV status

When Kalkadoon, Barahda Barna and Wangi man Michael Brown first discovered he was HIV-positive, he was living in Cairns in far north Queensland. He initially suffered some judgement in his interaction with health services and as a result, had limited trust in the health system and care he was receiving.

This changed following a positive interaction with pharmacist in Cairns, a doctor who treated him with dignity and a leap into digital health. Michael is now a firm advocate for My Health Record and is encouraging other HIV-positive people to use their record and take control of their health, knowing their privacy is protected.

Michael, who now works as a sexual health project officer in the Cherbourg Aboriginal community, said while “Indigenous people are 2.6 times at higher risk of acquiring HIV than any other demographic in Australia, HIV doesn’t have to be a death sentence. People need to know to come and get tested. They need to know they are at risk. I didn’t realise I was at risk. When I started doing my study in Indigenous primary health care, there was no sexual health studies.”

You can listen to Michael Brown’s story below and read the Australian Digital Health Agency’s media release in full click here.

World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), the national federation for the community response to HIV in Australia, has thanked those who attended the World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast earlier today. You can view a recording of the event below.

AFAO welcomed several announcements from the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt during the event, including a $39 million investment to provide HIV treatment for people ineligible for Medicare, $11m for the continued work of peak HIV organisations and reconfirmation of the Government’s commitment to Agenda 2025, a plan developed to end HIV transmission by mid-decade.

You can see the latest HIV data in the AFAO’s HIV in Australia 2022 infographic publication here, access the World AIDS Day Booklet here and read AFAO and National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) joint media release here.

banner text 'world AIDS day' red, white, black

AMSANT urges Omicron caution

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) says that should be paused to protect the territory’s vulnerable Aboriginal population now Omicron has arrived. “The NT should be cautious until we know more about this new variant,” CEO John Paterson said yesterday.

You can read why the World Health Organisation has declared Omicron a variant of concern here and view the Port Macquarie News article about AMSANT urging caution here.

Howard Springs NT quarantine, 2 staff in PPE

Howard Springs, NT quarantine. Image source: SBS News.

NCSP Guidelines feedback reminder

Cancer Council Australia has been contracted by the Australian Department of Health to perform an update to the The National Cervical Screening Program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding to support the planned policy change to provide universal access to self-collection.

The updates are now open for public consultation. The updates to the affected chapters have been compiled into a single word document for you to consider. To facilitate your review, changes are marked in colour; the majority of the text in chapters (in black) has not changed.

If you wish to submit feedback you can do this in one of two ways;

  1. Insert comments directly into the word document
  2. Alternatively, you can submit feedback simply in the body of an email, replying to this email or direct to Laura Sergeant here.

The deadline for response is 5:00 PM Sunday 5 December 2021.

To view the media release relating to this request for feedback click here.

three women's underpants hanging on a clothesline

Image source: Victorian State Government My Options website.

Cannington headspace opens its doors

headspace Cannington has recently opened its doors to provide young people, their families and friends access to youth friendly support for their mental health and other wellbeing challenges. Arche Health, who have been engaged to establish and run headspace Cannington, have worked closely with local service providers and the community to ensure the centre complements the existing strong local investment in youth support services in the area.

Arche Health CEO, Sujeewe Gamagedera said “headspace Cannington listens to young people’s views on the type of services offered and adapt services where necessary to achieve better outcomes. We will also be encouraging the involvement of family and friends in any recovery process, recognising the immense benefit this support creates.”

To view the media release in full click here.

external image of headspace cannington building, green grey

Better cardiac care measures for mob

The sixth national report on the 21 Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, has been released with updated data available for 14 measures. The level of access for cardiac-related health services is improving for Indigenous Australians and mortality rate from cardiac conditions is falling although it is still higher than among non-Indigenous Australians.

To view the report click here.

health care worker showing patient model of heart

Image source: Heart Foundation.

Employment, housing prevent recidivism

New research has shown that employment and housing for those leaving prison are key to preventing recidivism and a subsequent return to detention. The research, which focused on former detainees in the ACT, highlighted the importance of reducing barriers to employment for people leaving prison, so that they are better equipped to begin life after detention and stay out of the justice system.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT has one of the highest rates of re-imprisonment in the country. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT experience re-imprisonment at the rate of 94% – the highest rate of any jurisdiction. “The ACT Government has committed to a program of justice reinvestment. However, too many detainees are being released from the ACT’s prison without adequate support and into homelessness, unemployment and economic uncertainty,” said Dr Campbell.

To view the ACTCOSS media release in full click here.

Aboriginal hands on jail bars, overlaid with transparent Aboriginal flag

Image source: Amnesty International.

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations observed day that occurs annually on 3 December. The day celebrates and recognises the achievements, contributions and abilities of people with disability as well as aiming to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and promote inclusion.

The Australian Government has been supporting IDPwD since 1996 and provides funds to promote and raise awareness of the day and support activities around Australia. To find out more about IDPwD and how you can get involved and help break down barriers (both structural and attitudinal) for people with disability click on the IDPwD website here.banner text '3 December - International Day of People with Disability' vector logo of navy person & blue, orange, green swirls either side

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protecting remote NT communities

Image in feature tile:  remote NT community of Ali Curung. Photo: James Dunlevie, ABC News.

Protecting remote NT communities

The Australian Government has implemented additional measures to protect remote communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak in the NT.

As Minister for Health and Aged Care, I have made a determination under section 477 of the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015 to prevent a person from entering and/or exiting the Robinson River and surrounding homelands, which is aimed at stopping any further spread of COVID-19 in the community.

These measures are based on the medical advice from the acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sonya Bennett. The implementation of these measures will help to contain the current outbreak by ensuring that a person will only enter and/or leave the area if necessary, and for essential purposes.

These measures will help to prevent and contain the current COVID-19 outbreak in the Robinson River, and will assist in preventing the emergence, establishment and spread of the disease to neighbouring remote communities in the Northern Territory.

The Determination was requested by the Northern Territory Government to supplement restrictions they have also implemented and is supported by the Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory (AMSANT).

The implementation of these measure follows extensive engagement with the Northern Territory Government and consultation with and support from Federal MPs and representatives of the affected communities.

To view Minister Hunts media release in full click here.

As at the end of October 2021 Areyonga residents were 80% double vaccinated. Photo: Steven Schubert, Alice Springs ABC.

Better safe than sorry – for all of us!

AMSANT has called for Territory-wide caution in light of its first Aboriginal COVID-19 cases, including the first on a very remote community. AMSANT CEO John Paterson said “this is potentially our Wilcannia moment—this is our call for maximum vigilance at a clinical and political level—but more importantly a call for maximum care and love for our families and friends.”

“What we need now is for all of us in remote communities, as well as our larger towns and cities, to refocus on the simple issues we have emphasised from the first,” said Mr Paterson. “Stay at home, care for your families, protect your communities. Call the clinic if you are experiencing any health difficulties.

“This applies wherever you are in the Territory, not just Katherine and Robinson River. And do the right thing: get vaccinated as a matter of urgency to protect our Elders and Kids,” said Mr Paterson.

To view the media release in full click here.

Investment in men’s healing pays off

A new report shows clearly that targeted government investment in Aboriginal community-led men’s healing and behaviour change programs delivers better healing outcomes and significant economic savings.

The report Strengthening Spirit and Culture: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Dardi Munwurro’s Men’s Healing Programs explains the findings of an analytical study by Deloitte Access Economics of the impacts of three programs delivered by Dardi Munwurro, a Victorian specialist Aboriginal healing and family violence prevention service.

The groundbreaking study, funded by The Healing Foundation, proves the economic benefits associated with Aboriginal men’s healing. The analysis found that each dollar invested in Dardi Munwurro is estimated to provide a return on investment of 50-190%, noting that this should be viewed as a conservative estimate of benefits as it was not possible to quantify all benefits from the programs.

To view the media release in full click here.

Switching is not quitting

Tobacco use is falling by five million people per year. The reduced number of tobacco users have the industry worried. Don’t fall for their tricks, don’t switch to products promoted by tobacco and related industries.

Improved cervical cancer screening access

The Australian Government has announced that all women under the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will be able to self-collect their own screening sample from Friday 1 July 2022.

  • From 1 July 2022, current eligibility criteria for access to self-collection under the NCSP Self-collection Policy will be removed.
  • This change means that self-collection will be available to all women and people with a cervix under the NCSP and will no longer be restricted to under-screened or never-screened women.
  • This change is supported by evidence showing that HPV tests performed on self‑collected vaginal samples are as safe and accurate as HPV tests performed by a clinician.

For more detailed information click here. and to access Minister Hunt’s media release click here.

Image source: Menshalena, Getty Images.

Indigenous Governance Award finalists

The Indigenous Governance Awards share and promote success from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations around Australia. There are three categories of Award for outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led organisations:

  • Projects or unincorporated initiatives or projects
  • Small to medium incorporated organisations
  • Large incorporated organisations

Reconciliation Australia and the BHP Foundation have proudly partnered to deliver the Indigenous Governance Awards since their inception in 2005. In 2018  the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) became a co-host.

Nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisations and initiatives from around the country have been shortlisted as finalists in the Indigenous Governance Awards 2022. Each finalist organisation or initiative has been selected for its culturally-informed ways of working, driving positive and long-lasting change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Finalists in Category 1 (Outstanding examples of governance in Indigenous-led non-incorporated initiatives or projects) include:

  • South Australian West Coast ACCHO Network (SAWCAN) – Whyalla Norrie, SA; and
  • Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council Human Research Ethics Committee – Sydney, NSW.

For more information about the awards and finalists click here.

DATE CHANGE – ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia

2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia, co-hosted by UQ and NACCHO is held in the first week of December each year, to coincide with World AIDS Day. This year it is being held at 4:00PM (AEDT) – Friday 3 December 2021. It provides an opportunity to engage our communities, as well as HIV researchers, doctors, health workers and policy-makers.

The University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and  NACCHO will co-host the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) Virtual Trivia for staff of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector and those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health.

To register click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month (November) with World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day (COPD) held yesterday, Wednesday 17 November 2021. The Lung Foundation Australia’s goal of these campaigns is to raise awareness of and connection to Lung Foundation’s services and programs, supporting patients to live well with their condition.

The main call to action is to download a resource pack, which will bring consumers into our database and place them on a tailored email journey. The email series covers a range of topics including self-management, exercise, peer support and mental health. The Lung Foundation is encouraging patients to complete the short forms on the following pages which will activate this email journey:

PAH resource pack and COPD resource pack.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID’s serious, we need to make that clear

COVID’s serious, we need to make that clear

NACCHO Medical Advisor, Dr Jason Agonisto was recently interviewed on SBS Viceland The Point where he discussed COVID-19 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

In NSW vaccination rates have passed 70% with at least one dose, that’s still a lot of people not fully vaccinated, and they’re the people at highest risk of catching COVID-19 and spreading it through the community as we open up.

It’s just past two months since the first case in Walgett – in that two months over 4,000 people have contracted COVID-19 and 500 have ended up in hospital, 50 have been in ICU and there have been nine deaths. It’s happened really quickly. It’s been spreading mainly amongst people who are unvaccinated. 

Only 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 12 are fully vaccinated across the nation., which is quite low compared to the non-indigenous community. The most attention needs to go to the population under 40 as our communities are young – the average age is something like 23 and that group still hasn’t got very high vaccination rates. So I think it’s really clear, really important to make clear to that group that COVID-19 is serious.

In adults under the age of 40, one in eight end up in hospital and a lot end up in ICU. If you’re vaccinated, you stop yourself getting it and you stop spreading it into the community. It’s that age group that will be important. It’s about getting messages that cut through to them and encourage them and their kids to get vaccinated. 

To view the interview with Dr Jason Agostino in full click by clicking on this link – the interview begins at 16:38:30 of S2021 E24: Episode 24.

Dr Jason Agostino being interviewed on SBS The Point

PHC decision-making transfers to ACCHO

Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says local decision making for primary health care in the West Arnhem Land community of Minjilang has transferred from NT Health to an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – Red Lily. Red Lily assumed operations of the Primary Health Care Clinic on 1 July 2021 and the community is now celebrating the milestone with a handover ceremony following a period of transition.

The Red Lily Health board consists of representatives from areas including Minjilang, Warruwi, Gunbalanya, Jabiru and surrounding homelands. NT Health has worked with the Commonwealth Government and Primary Health Network to support the transition and will continue to provide support.

To view Minister Fyles’ media release click here.

Red Lily Health Board logo & outside of Red Lily building

Help grow the care and support workforce

A Life Changing Life, the Australian Government’s national campaign to support growth in the care and support workforce, has been launched nationally on television, digital and social channels and radio.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the employment opportunities across aged care, disability and veterans’ support – and encourage consideration and take-up among potential workers.

You can help encourage mob to consider a role in the care and support sector by sharing these resources with your network.

To access more detailed information about the campaign and resources click here.

ImpaRA program wins mental health award

The ImpaRa program has won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander QLD Mental Health Award for 2021. The awards recognise and celebrate individuals, groups and organisations who work with people living with mental illness, and strive to reduce the stigma surrounding it.

ImpaRa is a suicide prevention program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Running for just over three years, ImpaRa has worked to support the mental health of almost a thousand young people.

ImpaRa program Coordinator Amy Keys, said that becoming a finalist was completely unexpected. “It’s a proud moment to be acknowledged for the work that we’ve done. And to know that what we have done has secured the mental health of the young people we work with,” she said. “To be recognised is a great milestone. I want to acknowledge all the participants who have bravely come to us and asked for help. Anyone else working in suicide prevention understands what I mean. ”

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

3 men in suits, one woman holding certificate

ImpaRa award winners. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

COVID-19 resources for Aboriginal communities

The NSW Government have a range of COVID-19 print and digital resources for developed specifically for Aboriginal communities. Resources include posters, brochures, flyers, videos (including the one below) and social media tiles with community information about COVID-19.

To access the relevant NSW Government webpage click here.

Calls for heart health funding

The Heart Foundation is calling on governments to commit to funding a campaign to improve the heart health of the SA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Heart disease is a well-known condition that affects men, but it is also a leading killer of Australian women. In 2019 over 1,700 SA women died from cardiovascular disease and there were 17,600 hospitalisations.

More than twice as many Australian women die of heart disease compared to breast cancer and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is even greater. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more than twice as likely to experience heart disease and stroke as non-Indigenous women.

Among SA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the experience of cardiovascular disease occurred at an earlier age compared to non-Indigenous women. This was particularly evident between the ages of 25 to 34, where almost 30% of SA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were found to have cardiovascular disease.

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

two hands of different skin colour making a heart shape

Image source: DPV Health website.

Updated hepatitis/liver disease resources

HepatitisSA have compiled a catalogue of updated COVID-19 and hepatitis/liver disease resources. These resources are for service providers and members of the affected community (especially those who may be marginalised) to better understand the importance of vaccination or treatment.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND RESEARCH

COVID-19 vaccine acceptability among priority populations – COVID-19 vaccine opinions among several populations: people who inject drugs, people living with HIV, and Aboriginal people – click here.

Statement from the ASHM COVID-19 Taskforce regarding the prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccines for people living with BBV related chronic liver disease – digital document – click here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders – webpage – click here.

Evaluation of hepatitis C test and treat interventions targeted at homeless populations (outside London) in England during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020 report)click here.

New study to test third COVID-19 vaccine for people with weakened immune systemsclick here.

RESOURCES FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS AND COMMUNITY

FAQs for clinicians about COVID-19 vaccines and people living with Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C-related chronic liver diseaseclick here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders: advice for providers – click here.

COVID-19 vaccination in patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders: patient information sheet – click here.

Information on coronavirus and COVID-19 for people affected by hepatitis B or hepatitis Cclick here.

GENERAL COVID-19 INFORMATION IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES

COVID-19 (coronavirus) translated resourcesclick here.

For a complete listing of COVID-19 resources relating to liver disease click here.

If you would like any assistance in searching the catalogue or accessing materials you can contact HepatitisSA by using this email link.HepatitisSA logo, aqua, grey text & light aqua wavy line

Indigenous Justice Research Program established

The national Indigenous Justice Research Program (IJRP) has been established as part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The IJRP will fund academic research relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander criminal justice and aim to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in detention.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said closing the gap was vitally important, not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but for all Australians. “This new research program will build a body of evidence to inform improvements to criminal justice polices and responses as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals interacting with the justice system,” Minister Andrews said. Minister Wyatt said a solid research and evidence base will support all parties to meet and exceed the targets to reduce Indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system.

To view the media release in full click here.

Aboriginal painting of clenched fist, black, orange, white

Image source: The Legal 500 website.

Baby Coming You Ready?

Baby Coming You Ready? is a culturally safe perinatal mental health assessment, which aims to measure the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents in WA.

The resource is a web-based, touch screen mobile application that has been designed by Aboriginal women, men, and researchers. It features images and Aboriginal voice overs that guide users through areas that may be affecting families’ health or wellbeing. It allows parents to record their answers to a series of screening questions focused on their strengths and what they need support with, in a culturally relevant and sensitive way. This process helps to enhance the relationship between non-Indigenous service providers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents.

In June 2020, a pilot of this tool was rolled out across six Perth and outer metropolitan sites and four rural and regional sites in WA.

To view the paper in full click here.

To access the Baby Coming You Ready? website click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Cardiovascular disease webinar

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia. Aboriginal peoples experience higher rates of cardiovascular disease at a younger age, leading to a gap in life expectancy, compared to the wider population.

Risk factors like smoking, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, family history and age can all increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases.

There are ways to prevent and reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease, re-hospitalisation and/or dying. Addressing the risk factors and attending cardiac rehab can make a huge difference. COVID poses additional risk to people with cardiovascular disease, in addition to being a barrier to treatment.

This webinar features:

  • Warrawatja Bell’s story about his heart attack and how he changed his life afterwards.
  • Associate Professor Raj Puranik from the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service’s Cardiac Outreach Clinic program discusses what an ideal model of care includes.
  • Andy Mark discusses Heart Foundation resources and programs to support Aboriginal Health workers and other health professionals who work with Aboriginal communities to address cardiovascular disease.
  • Question and answer session.

For more information about the webinar from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Wednesday 27 October 2021, and to register click here.

Image source: Heart Foundation.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Record numbers of Maningrida mob show up for jab after community-led campaigns' & Aboriginal hand holding loud speaker out of bus window

Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

Maningrida, NT is home to over 2,300 people, with 77% of those identifying as Aboriginal (Source: 2016 ABS Census). It is estimated the population has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people moving to the region in 2020-21, with the current population estimated to be close to 4,000.

Maningrida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout made national news headlines recently after record numbers showed up to get their Pfizer vaccines.

A total of three COVID-19 Vaccination drives were held from July-September, administering a total of 2,843 vaccine doses to the Maningrida community, representing well over 70% of all eligible community members aged 16 and over receiving their first dose and almost 45% fully vaccinated.

The successful rollout comes after weeks of community-led campaigning by Mala’la Health Service, Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs), Traditional Owners, community leaders and multiple agencies working together to build community confidence about the vaccine.

Mala’la took to dispelling COVID-19 vaccination myths, using their social media platform, local presence and Elders to spread the message. These were both in English and local Aboriginal languages.

The most important thing made clear from the community leaders was the need to ‘talk straight’ and ‘our way’ to the community, stating that mainstream campaigns were confusing and would not work.

  • With the support of local businesses and organisations, Mala’la were able to set up COVID-19 Vaccine info desks at the local supermarket, mobile community info sessions with Orange Sky Laundry van service and hold meetings with local business staff.
  • Local community videos were broadcast in multiple languages online and on large screens, community workers went door to door to talk with families and multiple information sessions were held to address community concerns.
  • When the vaccines arrived, the community leaders were among the first to get the vaccines including, the local Mayor, Traditional Owners and AHWs.
  • Mala’la organised a number of COVID-19 vaccination drives, engaging the support of NT Bush Bus, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and Northern Land Council to support pickup and drop off community members who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Chairman of the Mala’la Health Service, Charlie Gunabarra, was the first in line to get the vaccine to huge cheers. “This is a serious thing all over the world.  We’ve got eight language groups here and we have culture and family to look after. It’s important to get that vaccine to protect our Songlines”, said Gunabarra.

On the vaccination days, campaigning continued non-stop with Traditional Owners on megaphones encouraging the community to get the vaccine. In the second round, Maningrida broke its own previous NT record administering 467 vaccines on a single day – the highest in any single vaccine hub in the Territory at that time.

To support this strong uptake, it took culturally appropriate, community-led approach to engage with community and get the right COVID-19 vaccine messaging across. It took the culmination of engaging local Elders and community leaders, other local organisations getting on board to support Mala’la staff to get the messaging across and the health departments allowing Mala’la to administer these vaccines.

billboard on truck, Elder with loudspeaker, male & female Elders getting vax

Images of Maningrida COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

ACCHO to open new Gympie AMS

The North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH) held a series of community consultation sessions this month seeking feedback for their new Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) delivery. Sessions were held in Gympie, Tin Can Bay, Kilkivan and Gunalda outlining plans for the Aboriginal Medical Centre currently being fitted out at 31 Excelsior Road, Gympie.

The centre will be available to all people who identify as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander and their families (including non-Indigenous partners, children, the whole family unit). The AMS will have an holistic approach and be a ‘one stop shop’ for patients offering comprehensive free health checks and medical services.

The money for the building fit out was raised by a successful grant and directors hope the centre will be finished by mid to late October, with a soft opening later this year and an official launch opening in February 2022.

Chairperson and director of NCACCH Helen Felstead said it was proud of the facility and the work being done to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get the medical help they need in our region. “Prior to now, all patients had to travel to the Sunshine Coast for specialist health care. This is an extension to what we have, nothing will change, it’s just a better service and it’s local. The hospital will still have services as with other practices, we are just making it easier and providing patients with choices.”

To view the story in full click here.

NCACCH building being fitted out for new Gympie AMS

Image source: NCACCH website.

First Nations CVD rate is twice as bad

The rate of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is more than twice that of non-Indigenous people according to a recently released Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, released on today (Wednesday 29 September) to coincide with World Heart Day, looks at a range of data, including Australian Bureau of Statistics health surveys.

It estimates 42,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had heart, stroke and vascular disease in 2018-19, based on self-reported data from the ABS. It equates to a rate of 11.4% of Australia’s adult Indigenous population, more than twice that of non-Indigenous adults (5.4%), the report concluded. The rate of death from heart disease from 2017-19 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1.8 times greater than non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to be exposed to several risk factors. Indigenous Australians aged over 15 were more than three times more likely to smoke daily and were more likely to have high blood pressure in 2017-18 (37 to 29%).

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hands gripping chest - heart

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

SA’s ‘silent’ health epidemic

While the nation focuses on the COVID pandemic, a “silent” epidemic is afflicting SA – with huge implications for individuals and hospitals. The figures are stark.

A concerning 6.4% of South Australians are diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 5.3% nationally – and in some regions it’s above 10% – according to the latest figures from Diabetes Australia. That’s more than 113,000 South Australians – a significant jump from 5.8% of the population diagnosed just six years ago.

Most are afflicted with the largely-preventable, lifestyle-related Type 2 disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of hospitalisation. Over time, high glucose levels damage the body’s blood vessels and nerves, leading to a raft of serious health problems such as heart, kidney and eye disease, and even limb amputations from ulcers.

What frustrates health professionals is it doesn’t have to be this way, yet SA continues to top the nation in its prevalence of the disease. And there are warnings the actual rate – including in those who don’t yet know they have it – is up to twice the recorded level.

Researchers and doctors say younger people are increasingly affected by this chronic condition because of sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. They’re calling for urgent and radical intervention, declaring the issue is much bigger than the already disturbing official figures show.

To read the article in full click here.

person's hands drawing insulin shot

An insulin shot. Photo: John Locher, AP. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide independent news.

Rap message about the vax

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative have produced an awesome jab rap to encourage mob to get vaccinated. You can view the rap below:

Smoker rates surge during pandemic

Smoker numbers have increased across Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, with data released by  SiSU Health showing the greatest percentage jumps in the ACT (up 3.9%) and Queensland.

Increases occurred across all age groups following the arrival of COVID-19, with the rate amongst 65 to 74 year olds nearly doubling since before the pandemic. Smoking levels are markedly higher in regional and remote areas  than in cities, while ATSIC rates are stubbornly high at 3 times the rate of non-indigenous Australians.

SiSU Health Managing Director Dr Noel Duncan said: “Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer,  with heart disease and stroke claiming 18.6 million lives each year. But many of the risk factors, such as tobacco  use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, are within our control to change.”

“We detected a sharp jump in our users’ smoking rates at the very onset of the pandemic. These rates have  tapered only slightly in 2021 and remain more than two percentage points higher than in the period prior to COVID.  The reasons for this upswing are complex, but stress and anxiety associated with lockdowns, often in combination  with more frequent alcohol consumption at home, are likely to be contributing factors.”

To view the article in full click here.

pack of cigarettes, no brand

Image source: SBS News website.

AMA wants easier rural GP hospital access

The AMA is calling for easier pathways for rural doctors to work in their local hospitals and better support remote, regional and rural health in the community. Examining rural workforce shortages, the AMA has found stringent bureaucratic processes by local hospitals or health services prevent some rural GPs and rural generalists from having any connection or involvement whatsoever in their local hospitals.

In a new AMA Position Statement on integrating GPs into rural hospitals, the AMA makes a series of recommendations addressing doctor shortages in rural areas, with benefits to local hospitals, better health care for regional communities and which contribute to a more viable sustainable career for rural GPs.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

road sign with text 'hospital' against rural scene - wheat field, blue sky

Image source: Healthcare IT.

Stronger patient medicine involvement

Consumer involvement in Australia’s medicines choices has been further strengthened under a new strategic agreement Medicines Australia has signed with the Federal Government. The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the acknowledgement in the agreement that the Government and Medicines Australia have a common interest in patients having improved involvement in the decision-making for medicines access, the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today.

“We welcome the statement by Medicines Australia that the agreement heralds a new era by securing stronger patient involvement in critical processes and ensuring Australia keeps pace with access to rapidly transforming medical advancements developed around the world. This agreement also provides for more certainty of Government funding for new drugs. This is vital for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which aims at ensuring all Australians have affordable access to quality medication.

“The agreement means patients will have a role in the first independent review of Australia’s health technology assessment system in nearly 30 years. As well the agreement provides for a new process to incorporate patients’ views and experiences early in the processes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) which recommends to Government what new drugs should be subsidised.”

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

multiple tablet foil blister packs

Image source: Healthline website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 30 September 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Julie Tonga AOM, CEO, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal and Community Services, Narrabundah, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Dr Dawn Casey awarded Sidney Sax Medal for her outstanding contribution to public health

Dr Dawn Casey awarded Sidney Sax medal

For more information about the Sidney Sax Medal click here. You can view Dr Casey’s acceptance speech below and read a transcript of her speech here.

CAAC vax blitz going well

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and Tangentyere Council have recently partnered to provide pop-up clinics to Alice Springs town-camp residents, with the aim to get 50% of their clients throughout Central Australia fully vaccinated by the end of the year.

Currently, in the middle of their vaccination blitz, CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee, says that progress in the blitz is going well, but there are some challenges in encouraging people to get vaccinated. You can listen to an interview with Donna Ah Chee here.

CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee sitting at her desk

CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee.

“Get The Jab!” short films

The Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT (AMSANT) promoting the “Get The Jab!” message as told in a series of seven short films to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal Territorians.

Outback icon Constantina Bush along with Kamahi Djordon King sends a strong – if somewhat cheeky – message in one of the films. Speaking from Katherine in the heartland of the Top End, Constantina has a serious message on misinformation online about COVID-19: “People should be really careful with information they see on Facebook, TikTok or other social media. To get the right story, go to your clinic or talk to your health worker, your doctor or your nurse. Everyone should get vaccinated to protect our families, our communities and our performing arts.”

You can view the NLC’s media release here and all of the short films, including the one below, can be seen at the NLC’s NLC TV YouTube channel here.

Top 3 vax questions answered

The Top 3 questions asked on the Department of Health’s (DoH) social accounts regarding COVID-19 are:

  1. Why do you need to get tested even if you only have mild cold and flu symptoms?
  2. Is the COVID-19 vaccine the same formula for adults and children?
  3. I’m pregnant, what are the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine compared to the risk getting sick if I catch COVID-19?

In the video below Professor Michael Kidd answers these questions.

For further information you can access the DoH website here.

New rural healthcare model needed

The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) estimates the federal government is saving $4bn in rural areas through Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme because of staffing shortages and lack of access to health services.

The NRHA wants a new model of healthcare for rural communities. It says rural populations’ lack of access to health services, due predominantly to the difficulty in attracting and retaining a rural health workforce, is driving the deficit in health expenditure.

Boe Rambaldini, a Bundjalung man and the director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney, says that while the government is nowhere near closing the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous health outcomes, he has high praise for the NACCHO model. “They’re the frontline and they’re so important, they’re the ones really making a difference, given their position in society they’re punching above their weight and delivering the goods.”

NACCHO states that “studies have shown that Aboriginal controlled health services are 23% better at attracting and retaining Aboriginal clients than mainstream providers”.

You can access the Guardian article in full here.

sealed road rural area, blue road sign white medical cross

Image source: University of Melbourne website.

National Cultural Respect Framework

The National Cultural Respect Framework 2016-2026 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health was developed for the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Standing Committee and should be used in the government health sector, health departments and hospital and primary health care settings to guide strategies to improve culturally respectful services.

Cultural Respect is defined as: “Recognition, protection and continued advancement of the inherent rights, cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” This framework outlines six domains that underpin culturally respectful health service delivery:

  1. Whole-of-organisation approach and commitment
  2. Communication
  3. Workforce development and training
  4. Consumer participation and engagement
  5. Stakeholder partnerships and collaboration
  6. Data, planning, research and evaluation

You can access the Cultural Respect Framework here as well as a short video about the framework below.

Indigenous Health Equity Unit projects

The University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Health Equity Unit undertakes research that is underpinned by principles of Indigenous community development and that will lead to long-term improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. The Unit works in partnership with the Koori Community and appreciates the support of Community Elders. The Unit’s work draws on a variety of academic disciplines including health sciences, social sciences, history, political science, education, health promotion, public health and child health.

One of the unit’s projects is: Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future, a community-based participatory research project which aims to co-design, develop and implement perinatal awareness, recognition, assessment and support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) parents experiencing complex trauma.

Another project is Developing a culturally responsive trauma-informed public health emergency response framework for First Nations families and communities during COVID-19. This research aims to explore the question: ‘Is it time for trauma-informed public health?’

To read more about the Indigenous Health Equity Unit and their research projects click here.

wooden irregular bowl filled with small rocks each painted with Aboriginal art

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

Earlier access to Age Pension fight

Indigenous men and women don’t live as long as other Australians, and many will die before they finish working. On average, life expectancy at birth is 71 for Indigenous men and 75 years for Indigenous women. That’s 8.6 years less than non-Indigenous men and 7.8 years less than non-Indigenous women.

This is why Uncle Dennis is taking on the fight to give Indigenous retirees earlier access to the Age Pension. “I think, yes, Aboriginal people deserve this thing because we suffered so long in this country, for over 200 years … it would be good to help some of my people.”

To view the ABC News story in full click here.

close up photo of Uncle Dennis, grey beard, felt hat

Uncle Dennie. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

World Heart Day

Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of worldwide deaths amongst non-communicable health disorders. Cerebrovascular conditions such as stroke and other heart diseases claim up to 18.6 million lives every year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) believes that the majority of the CVDs are preventable if we keep a check on behavioural factors like smoking, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, and harmful consumption of alcohol.

A World Heart Federation initiative, World Heart Day is celebrated every year on 29 September to spread awareness about CVDs, their causes, and management. People from all walks of life who are dedicated to the cause are recognized by the establishment as ‘Heart Heroes’.

As the current pandemic has led us to limit physical contact and find alternative ways to connect with one another, the theme of the World Heart Day 2021 is “Harnessing the power of digital health to improve awareness, prevention, and management of CVD”.

For more information on WHD click here.
banner text 'World Heart Day' 29 September 2021 - white & black hands hold red plastic heart & stethoscope

Image source: OMRON website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Feature tile - Tue.3.8.21 - Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

Children aged 12–15 to get Pfizer vaccine

In a statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), it is now recommended that the following groups of children among those aged 12–15 years be prioritised for vaccination using the Pfizer vaccine:

  • children with specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12–15 years
  • all children aged 12–15 years in remote communities, as part of broader community outreach vaccination programs that provide vaccines for all ages (≥12 years).

ATAGI will make recommendations to Government for use in all other children in the 12–15 years age group within the coming months, following review of emerging information.

You can read more about this statement on the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional.

Teenage Aboriginal girl with mask being administered vaccination by health professional. Feature tile image credit: SNAICC.

 

Nursing shortage due to border restrictions

At least 18 remote communities across the NT are experiencing a shortage of nursing services due to COVID-19 international and interstate border restrictions.

The “movement” of nurses into remote areas has “been limited over time”, according to John Wakerman from the Menzies School of Health Research.

Chief executive of Purple House Sarah Brown said prior to the pandemic, and throughout the changing lockdowns, she planned to have nurses travel to remote communities in the NT from interstate, but that plan had been delayed.

She said the priority to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, as well as aged care services across Australia, had put the “whole system under enormous pressure”, but she remained optimistic about attracting more nurses to Central Australia.

“If we could actually have a bit of a plan to move some of these visa applications along and find a safe way to get some nurses in the country that would take a lot of pressure off the whole system,” she said.

“If we can do it for pop stars and tennis champions maybe there’s a way we could do it for some nurses too.”

You can read the story in the ABC News here.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

COVID-19 interstate and international border restrictions have impacted upon nurses coming to work in remote communities. Image credit: ABC News.

 

Census data supporting mums and bubs program

The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health uses Census data to inform expansion of its successful Birthing in our Communities program, which is delivering outstanding results for mums and bubs in South East Queensland.

The program also hosts a community day every Friday. It’s a chance for mums, their family, and their community support network to come together to celebrate the family unit and learn from visiting specialists like dieticians and psychologists.

Queensland mum Mackapilly said it’s been a great opportunity to learn and be part of a community of mums and bubs.

“I am so grateful for playgroup and community days. It was been useful to connect with other mums and share advice. We feel like we are at home, like we are a family,” Mackapilly said.

Mackapilly would love to see this program expand to other areas and communities to help more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs.

“Now that I know Census data has helped to create and expand the Birthing in our Communities program, I’ll be telling other mums to make sure they fill out the Census because I can see how it can help show what community services are needed,” said Mackapilly.

Other important dates on the calendar provide opportunities for mums and families to come together. The Birthing in our Communities program is getting ready to host a COVID-safe celebration and playgroup for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on 4 August.

You can read the media release here.

For more information call 1800 512 441 or visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census website with information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities here.

Census data supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs program to expand across South East Queensland.

 

Chronic disease mapped across Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released new geographical data, showing where Australia’s most common chronic diseases are more prevalent.

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are together responsible for the country’s highest ‘burden of disease’ – the years of healthy life lost to a disease. They account for 14%, 2.2% and 1.4% of the burden of disease, respectively.

While common, these diseases are not evenly distributed. For instance, 6.2% of Australian adults report having heart, stroke and vascular disease, but for Northern Territorians the rate is only 1.8%. Conversely, 7.4% of adults in the NT have type 2 diabetes, compared to 5.9% of the national adult population.

Areas with greater socioeconomic disadvantage have higher rates of disease when age is taken into account.

Regional and remote areas, and places with high proportions of Indigenous Australians, also had worse health profiles when adjusted for age.

The AIHW has released this data in a series of dashboards on their website, where you can examine your own state or suburb’s health profile.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

Type 2 diabetes prevalence in Australia. Credit: AIHW 2021.

 

Program to increase number of surgeons

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is proud to launch its Indigenous Surgical Pathway Program Australia to try and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surgeons in the medical workforce.

The program aims to reduce the professional health workforce inequity faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

While there are over 83,000 doctors registered to practice in Australia, fewer than 400 are Indigenous. This is despite over 760,000 people in Australia identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“In Australia and NZ we have a severe shortage of Indigenous surgeons and we need to do everything we can to change this disproportionate under-representation,” said Dr Sally Langley, RACS President.

“The College is committed to addressing this health discrepancy and the program will support this by encouraging and actively recruiting medical students and recent graduates into surgery.”

You can read the media release by RACS here.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

Aboriginal surgeon Dr Kelvin Kong. Image credit: The Australian.

 

Community Liaison Officers to improve SEWB

In February 2021, the WA Government announced a further $17.6 million commitment to establish a three year Social and Emotional Wellbeing Model of Service pilot at five Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) sites.

The Model is part of their commitment to address and reduce Aboriginal suicide rates through the establishment of the newly created Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer (CLO) positions across the State.

Based at Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, the CLOs will work with their respective communities and support the implementation of the region-specific Aboriginal suicide prevention plans.

The region-specific plans form part of the implementation of the Western Australian Suicide Prevention Framework 2021-2025 and include culturally informed social and emotional wellbeing initiatives designed by and for Aboriginal people.

You can read the media statement by the Government of Western Australia here.

Aboriginal women embracing each other.

Aboriginal women embracing each other. Image credit: Independent Australia.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: National housing response needed

feature tile text 'national response needed in supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander housing & communities' & image of makeshift tent with blue tarp in Minyerri NT in dry scrub

National housing response needed

June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner has written and opinion piece for The Australian for NAIDOC Week. Commissioner Oscar spoke about this year’s theme, ‘Heal Country!’, and the need for a national response to supporting First Nations Communities to live on country. Below is an excerpt from the opinion piece:

“For decades governments have chronically underinvested in remote housing, roads, sewerage, education, health and much more. At the beginning of the pandemic, in the rush to get our peoples home, already dangerously overcrowded communities struggled to accommodate the influx. Tents sprang up. Our peoples returning to community were largely experiencing homelessness and poverty – their lives on the margins a direct result of the fact there has never been enough housing, not in cities, towns, communities or anywhere.

The reason we continue to live in vulnerable and unacceptable conditions is because there is no national plan to enable our people to live on or easily access our lands. In 2014, with commonwealth funding cuts, the WA government announced it would close more than half the remote communities in the state. The state government said it couldn’t shoulder the costs and has maintained this position. This is not unique to WA. In 2018 the commonwealth’s remote housing agreement with the states came to an end, with only an exit payment, and nothing else arranged for WA, SA and Queensland. It shows the disregard of governments at all levels to invest effectively in places where we live.

The real cost of the commonwealth walking away from these agreements, and all governments failing to respond to our needs, is entrenched human suffering, abuse and a deep scarring of this land. Enough is enough. The urgency of these issues demands immediate action by the commonwealth in partnership with all Australian governments and most importantly with First Nations peoples.”

To read the opinion piece in full click here.

makeshift housing on edge of Tennant Creek, NT

Tennant Creek traditional owner Diane Stokes lives on her block as an alternative to staying in an overcrowded family house. Photo: Jane Bardon. Image source: ABC News. Feature tile: Aboriginal community of Minyerri, NT. Image source: Welcome to Country website.

Trial could change type 2 diabetes treatment

NT GP Sam Heard sees the harm type 2 diabetes causes in Indigenous communities; in some places, up to 40% of the population is affected by the illness. “Dire might be a good word. The outcome for people getting diabetes when you are 40 is not good, and when you are very young it is terrible,” Dr Heard said. “If you tell an Aboriginal person that they have got diabetes, they are pretty devastated, and there is stigma involved. It is a really major disease that has implications for everybody — their family and their children.”

But Dr Heard is seeing some promising results in his patients who are trialling a low-calorie weight management program. “All of those have managed to stay on [the program] are very, very positive about it,” said Dr Heard,  who is the medical director at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC). “One 40-year-old fella describing it to a large group of Aboriginal people at a meeting got a standing ovation, and they could see the difference in his whole demeanour and how much weight he had lost.”

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands doing blood sugar test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

COVID-19 assets for mob

The Australian Government Department of Health have developed a pack of COVID-19 resources tailored to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audience. The pack includes suggested social tiles and captions, two posters and a community announcement radio script, reminding everyone on the importance of keeping two big steps away from others, washing hands regularly, getting tested if you’re unwell, and following state and territory guidelines and restrictions.

You are welcome to use these assets as you see fit and adapt to your local requirements.

To view the range of resources click here.

tile with Jade North image & quote "If you're feeling sick, please stay away from others." Australian Governet #keepourmobsafe Australia.gov.au Coronavirus (COVID-19), image of Jade North playing soccer, border Aboriginal dot painting

One of the #keepourmobsafe COVID-19 resources.

Community sector climate justice webinar

On 12 July 2021 ACOSS is launching its Climate Campaign to build the capacity of the community sector to act on climate justice. ACOSS is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an ambitious net zero emissions reduction target, which is the first step to tackling the injustice being done to vulnerable people as a result of climate inaction.

You can join community sector leaders including NACCHO CEO Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO, and climate experts at the Climate Campaign Webinar to discuss what your organisation can do to address climate change. You will hear from experts on the science and human impacts of climate change and learn from community climate leaders whose organisations have taken action on the issue.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie will share how community organisations can take part in the community sector push for climate justice in the leadup to the November UN Climate Summit.

The webinar will take place on Zoom from 1–3pm on Monday 12 July 2021.

Registrations close 5pm Friday 9 July 2021 – to register click here.

banner text 'ACOSS Climate Campaign Webinar - empowering the community sector to take action on clime justice' image of man in checked shirt with face mask, background thick bushfire smoke

Lowering heart disease risk resources

Are you at risk of heart disease? Preventing heart disease starts with knowing your risk factors and making changes to live a healthier life. The Heart Foundation has a range of support and resources to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples stay healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease. You can access the Heart Foundation’s information and resources here.

Aboriginal woman in outdoor setting using weight resistant exercise equipment

Image source: The Heart Foundation.

Infectious disease ‘surveillance network’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will benefit from the expansion of a University of Queensland-led health project aimed at improving clinical care within primary health care services nationally. The Improving surveillance infrastructure for Indigenous primary health care project will expand an existing online surveillance network (named ATLAS) focussed on sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs), thanks to federal funding.

STIs and BBVs are endemic in many remote and regional communities in Australia, with STIs identified as the leading incident morbidity for Aboriginal people aged 15–24 years. UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health director Professor James Ward said he welcomed the funding to deliver the largest connected Indigenous primary care surveillance network in Australia.

“As a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man and an infectious diseases epidemiologist, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly develop our work in this sector,” Professor Ward said. “Our aim is to grow the size of the ATLAS network by including more primary health care services within the network especially Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). In addition, the new funding will enable the ATLAS surveillance system to extend to include other infectious diseases such as vaccine preventable diseases within the scope of the ATLAS network.”

To view the full article click here.

light blue background with 3 clay brightly coloured sculptures of STI cells

Image source: 1800 my options website.

First Nations to inform national plan

The federal government has established a 13-member Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council to inform the development of the next National Plan to end family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia and support the implementation of the Closing the Gap Target 13.

Indigenous rights campaigner Professor Sandra Creamer will be the interim chair of the multidisciplinary Advisory Council and be joined by advisors from across the health, community services, legal services, children and family services, and university sectors. Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Advisory Council would help ensure the issues and challenges facing First Nations peoples were elevated and given specific focus in the next National Plan.

To view the media release click here.

young boy holding ripped piece of paper with the work HELP in front of face

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via NACCHO’s communication platforms.

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

Feature tile - Thu.10.6.21 - COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

COVID-19 vaccine take up and hesitancy

Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO NACCHO and Co-Chair Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 spoke on NITV-The Point on Tuesday 8 June about the latest rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, its take up and hesitancy, and the Victorian lockdown.

“There are just over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been vaccinated with their first dose so far. There was hesitancy when the announcements around the issues that AstraZeneca was not suitable for under 50s, but the numbers have started to pick up.”

“There has been no blood clots for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recorded.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are now eligible to receive the vaccines, including those aged 16 and over. Speak to your healthcare worker to find out more.

You can view the interview below or by clicking here.

or information on the vaccines, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

#OurJobToProtectOurJob   #GetVaccinatedToBeProtected   #HaveYouHadYourShot

Sugar tax will cut disease and save lives

The AMA has today called for a tax on sugary drinks as a key plank of its plan to tackle chronic disease and make Australia the healthiest country in the world.

In his address to the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said that Australia lags behind comparable nations in health outcomes and disease prevention, and it was ‘time for action’ to reduce consumption of sugar-filled drinks.

More than 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks are consumed every year in Australia. That’s enough to fill 960 Olympic sized swimming pools,” Dr Khorshid said.

“Diabetes, obesity and poor vascular health are huge contributors to the burden on our health system. The tax could save lives, and save millions of dollars in healthcare costs,” he said.

The tax proposed in the AMA’s report released yesterday would raise the retail price of the average supermarket sugary drink by 20%. This would be an important first step towards tackling obesity and raise revenue to take further steps.

The AMA’s call for a tax on sugary drinks is part of its new blueprint for a robust, sustainable health system – beyond the pandemic – with high quality, patient-centred care at its heart. The Vision for Australia’s Health, also launched yesterday, calls for reform around five policy pillars – general practice, public hospitals, private health, equity and innovation.

View The Vision for Australia’s Health plane here.

View the A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages: Modelled impacts on sugar consumption and government revenue report here.

AMA - Vision for Australia's Health report - 5 pillars.

AMA – Vision for Australia’s Health report – 5 pillars.

Restoration to guide health reforms

The Aotearoa New Zealand Government has announced sweeping reforms for the nation’s health system.

They have been welcomed by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) ‘as a health system structure seeking to live its commitments’ to the Treaty of Waitangi and refusing any longer to ‘tolerate the health inequities experienced by our Māori and Pasifika whanau’.

Dr Sandra Hotu, Chair of the RACP Māori Health Committee, and Dr George Laking, RACP Aotearoa New Zealand President, outline the changes and their implications for improving health and health systems, for both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Together with an ethic of restoration, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand must look to a practice of partnership informed by the stories and experiences of our First Nations. Partnership must be tangible. It must be expressly lived as a solution space lead by Indigenous voices, rather than a problem space. Partnership is informing the refresh of Closing the Gap 2019–2029, as described in the partnership agreement between the Community Controlled Peak Organisations and the National Federation Reform Council.

As Alex Brown and Eddie Mulholland wrote on Croakey in 2020, the agreement for power-sharing represents a “critical moment for genuine engagement between Australian governments and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs)”.

The vision of the ACCHOs – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy quality of life through whole-of-community self-determination and individual spiritual, cultural, physical, social and emotional well-being’ resonates with the intent of the Māori Health Authority. This is because the rationale for each is so closely aligned: racism in healthcare as well as the need for culturally safe services to address health inequity.

You can read the article at Croakey Health Media here.

Aboriginal kids washing their hands. Image credit The Conversation.

Aboriginal kids washing their hands. Image credit The Conversation.

Better health literacy for better equity

New survey findings show a significant number of consumers need to be supported to feel more in control of their health care. The report, commissioned from the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) by NPS MedicineWise, defines and measures health literacy in Australia. It also identifies gaps which are preventing people from accessing the best possible health care.

Health literacy is core to us delivering more equitable health outcomes,” said Leanne Wells, CEO of CHF.

The survey of more than 1,500 respondents found that approximately one in five consumers:

  • Rarely or never felt comfortable asking their doctor, pharmacist or nurse when they needed more information.
  • Rarely or never felt comfortable asking the health professional to explain anything they didn’t understand.
  • Found the information a health professional gave them always or often confusing.

“We need to increase consumers’ capacity to manage and feel in control of their health care, including around medicines. It’s really important that we strive to improve medicines literacy because we know people at higher risk of medication-related harm are people with multiple conditions, people who are taking lots of medications and people with English as a second language,” said Ms Wells.

You can view the New survey results shine a light on health literacy in Australia media release here.

You can read the Consumer Health Literacy Segmentation and Activation Research Project report here.

Health_literacy_image

Copyright NACCHO.

Artwork competition: ear and hearing health

Calling all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists aged 13 years or older!

NACCHO invites you to design an artwork about how important ear and hearing health is within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The winning artwork will receive a $500 voucher prize and will be used across Australia for NACCHOs National Ear and Hearing health program.

The winning artwork will be used on merchandise, stationary and promotional materials to celebrate current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements, across Australia.

Click here to submit your artwork and for conditions of entry.

All entries must be submitted by: 21 July 2021. 

NAC National Ear Health Poster Competition

NDIS Ready grant round closing soon

Attention all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations!

NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) ACCO round grant applications are CLOSING SOON! 

Grants are available to help up to 100 eligible ACCHOs and ACCOs address the basic establishment costs, and business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS and to equip themselves to operate more effectively long-term under the NDIS model. 

Information on the grant and how to apply can be found on the IBSF website.

Please contact the NDIS Ready team if you have any questions.

Applications close on Friday 11 June 2021.  

NDIS Ready - Applications closing

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Free MedicineWise App

Feature tile - Wed 9.6.21 - MedicineWise App

Free MedicineWise app

Do you sometimes mix up your medicines, or forget to take your doses? Or maybe you want to store all your medicines and health information in one place?

NPS MedicineWise has a free tool — the MedicineWise app — which can help you and your loved ones manage your medicines and your health.

The MedicineWise app can:

  • keep track of your medicines and remind you when your medicine doses and appointments are due
  • store your information such as your health conditions and allergies
  • allow you to share your health information with your health professionals and people who may be caring for you
  • provide you with trusted, relevant and up-to-date information relating to your medicines and your health conditions

The MedicineWise app can also deliver information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. Download the MedicineWise app and opt in:

  1. Tap on your profile.
  2. Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
  3. Scroll down to switch the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toggles on.

Talk to your health professional or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) for specific health needs or advice.

MedicineWise App

MedicineWise App by NPS MedicineWise.

You can download the app via one of the buttons below.

App_Store - Download buttonGoogle_Play - Download button

 

 

Enhancing viral hepatitis care

Last week, NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

She spoke about Viral Hepatitis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and pointed out some key statistics:

  • They account for 10% of those living with chronic Hepatitis B and 20% of all Hepatitis C diagnoses.
  • Hepatitis C diagnosis continues to increase among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • The diagnosis rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged less than 25 years are around 8 times higher than non-Indigenous people of the same age.
  • Vaccination coverage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at 24 months of age is higher than the non-Indigenous population (97.5% compared to 96.4% respectively).
  • The prevalence of Hepatitis B among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers has decreased by 80% since the introduction of vaccination.

“In order to enhance viral hepatitis care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we need to improve health care access through innovation, expansion, and increased appropriateness of existing healthcare services, which can reduce the multiple barriers to accessing health care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.”

“We must draw on the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health model of integrated primary health care,” said Dr Casey.

The principles incorporated in this model ensure the following factors are addressed:

  • Sustained funding
  • Continued co-design and collaboration with key stakeholders
  • Improved data and surveillance
  • Innovative recall systems
  • Multiskilled workforce and increased workforce capacity
  • Community engagement and education
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Access and effective integration of the PoCT program for rapid results, immediate treatment, and timely contact tracing

You can view Dr Casey’s full keynote address here.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey gave a keynote address at the 12th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in Sydney.

Hepatitis QLD has created ‘Find the Liver Hero inside you‘ – a video about one of the hardest working organs in the body and how we can’t live without it. You can watch the video here or by clicking on the video image below.

Us Mob and HIV 4th edition

We’re very excited to share with you that the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations’ (AFAO) new and fourth edition of the ever popular and highly utilised HIV booklet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Us Mob and HIV is here!

The third edition was last published in 2014, so the booklet was missing several developments in the response to HIV. This new fourth edition now includes this updated information, including PrEP, treatment as prevention and new testing technologies.

The booklets are currently being printed and are on their way to AFAO’s state/territory member organisations for them to plan their local distribution to ACCHOs, AMSs, services and partner organisations. The booklets should start arriving to these organisations shortly. We can’t wait to see the booklet reaching communities.

You can download a PDF of the booklet here and tor more information, please visit the AFAO website.

Us Mob and HIV - Cover art 'Dialogue' by Arone Raymond Meeks.

Us Mob and HIV – Cover art ‘Dialogue’ by Arone Raymond Meeks.

CTG script changes in July

From 1 July 2021, there will be enhancements to the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment Program.

Please find below resources targeted at the following stakeholder groups:

Please feel free to share and disseminate as needed.

Please note that the Australian Government Department of Health’s CTG PBS Co-payment Program webpage will reflect current arrangements up to, and including, 30 June 2021. The new arrangements will be reflected on the Department’s webpage from 1 July 2021 onwards.

CTG PBS Changes - artwork

CTG PBS Changes – artwork.

Better support around Blue Card system

In a media statement earlier today Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman  released Safe children and strong communities: A strategy and action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations accessing the blue card system

“The Queensland Family and Children Commission’s 2017 review of the blue card system recommended a more strategic approach to our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples seeking to work or volunteer with children,” the Attorney-General said. “While the review found that Queensland’s system was one of the strongest working with children check systems in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples often experienced barriers.”

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has developed this five-year action plan which takes an innovative approach to provide greater support to our First Nations people through each part of the blue card system. Minister Fentiman said the plan was part of the Queensland Government’s broader work to address the social and health challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

A copy of the plan is available here and you can read the full media statement by the Queensland Government here.

Person with blue card.

$8 million for heart and stroke research

A total of $8 million to accelerate heart and stroke research has been awarded to eight Australian researchers in a joint initiative by the Heart Foundation and the Federal Government.

A central focus will be the under-researched area of women and heart disease. Other research areas will include:

  • Heart damage caused by cancer treatments
  • Predicting heart disease
  • Heart disease rehabilitation and recovery

The research areas for the grants are based on the outcomes of an extensive two-year Heart Foundation survey of thousands of Australians, from people living with heart disease through to heart health professionals. Key outcomes highlighted gaps in the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease, as well as the positive benefits of sustained rehabilitation.

The survey also found that patients are seeking more support and advice regarding recovery and prevention of further heart events, while clinicians are  focused on new ways of identifying and preventing cardiovascular disease before it can take hold and cause damage.

Professor Gail Garvey, Menzies School of Health Research, NT, will research heart disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer survivors and identify the prevalence of heart disease in these patients.

You can read more in the Heart Foundation’s media release here.

Sunrise Health Service worker checking heart of patient

Barunga Healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Image Source: ABC News website.

HealthInfoNet Cultural Consultation Project

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (HealthInfoNet) is undertaking consultation discussions and focus groups with health professionals and researchers around Australia. A key element of the HealthInfoNet is to ensure its work is authentic and engaged knowledge development and exchange.

Consultation Focus Groups are being held seeking advice from health professionals and researchers on how they can ensure the HealthInfoNet sections of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners, Closing the Gap and Cultural Ways are designed to meet the health workforce needs.

There are four questions to keep in mind when reviewing these sections.
1. What information is missing that you would like to see added?
2. What information is not needed in these sections?
3. Does the information provided assist you to carry out your work tasks?
4. How could we improve these sections?

In addition, the HealthInfoNet are seeking advice on the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Data Consultation Network/Committee to oversee Knowledge Exchange Products, for example, the Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status and specific health topic reviews. Advice will also be sought about what this Network/Committee would look like and how it would operate.

If you are interested in the HealthInfoNet consultation process, would like to provide your suggestions or host a Focus Group, please forward an email to: Michelle Elwell on m.elwell@ecu.edu.au or Uncle Mick Adams on m.adams@ecu.edu.au

HealthInfoNet image

NSW – Sydney – Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Senior Project Officer Affirmative Measure – Indigenous

The Commission is seeking an Ongoing Senior Project Officer to be responsible for leading the work on the assigned work plan deliverables and the development of resources. The Senior Project Officer will also be required to contribute to broader activities to support the National Standards Program. This will include undertaking research and analysis of information, project management, policy development, stakeholder management, facilitation of meetings, preparation of project documentation and collaborating with other relevant programs within the Commission.

The key duties of the position include:

Position duties and responsibilities include:

  1. With the Director, lead the planning and conceptualisation of strategies and national guidance to support the National Standards Program
  2. Undertake project management activities including project planning and documentation, implementation, monitoring and reporting on progress; providing recommendations about managing risk, and identifying and resolving problems
  3. Provide secretariat support to the work of relevant committees and expert groups managed by the program
  4. Consult with experts and stakeholders including development of consultation strategies and coordination of formal consultation processes to achieve the objectives of the Commission
  5. Maintain knowledge of relevant legislative and reporting requirements, Australian and International standards, quality assurance procedures and best practice models
  6. Undertake work activities with an awareness of their possible impact on strategic, political or operational outcomes for the agency/program
  7. Provide public health and/or health informatics expertise across a broad range of activities as required.

Eligibility

The successful candidate will have:

  • Excellent project management, time management and organisational skills
  • Effective and well-developed interpersonal and communication skills including the ability to present, negotiate, influence and consult
  • Knowledge of the Australian healthcare system and an understanding of issues regarding safety and quality in health care
  • Experience facilitating the work of committees, and engaging and communicating with stakeholders
  • Masters level qualifications is desirable.

To view position descriptions and to apply click hereApplications close midnight, Wednesday 23 June 2021.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Uluru Statement from The Heart recognised

Uluru Statement from The Heart recognised

In a media release on 31 May 2021, the Lowitja Institute urged the Australian Government to embrace the Uluru Statement from The Heart, which marked its fourth anniversary as it was honoured with the 2021 Sydney Peace Prize on the eve of National Reconciliation Week.

Lowitja Institute Dr Janine Mohamed congratulated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders Professor Megan Davis, Professor Noel Pearson and Pat Anderson AO, who accepted the award on Sorry Day on behalf of the many individuals and communities involved in bringing to life the Uluru Statement from The Heart in May 2017.

The Sydney Peace Prize was awarded to the Uluru Statement ‘for bringing together Australia’s First Nations Peoples around a clear and comprehensive agenda; for healing and peace within our Nation and delivering self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, that enables Australia to move into the future united and confident.’

“It is important to recognise that reconciliation is a journey, not a destination, and it requires both courage and humility from leaders in all sectors,” Dr Mohamed said.

You can view the media release here.

Uluru Statement From The Heart.

Uluru Statement From The Heart. Photo: Clive Scollay.

Young people lining up for COVID-19 vaccines

Young people across the NT have seized on an opportunity to get vaccinated earlier than expected, with many making bookings and rolling up their sleeves.

Earlier this month, the NT government announced anyone aged 16 and over living outside the Greater Darwin region would be eligible to make a booking. Government figures show nearly one in six people aged over 16 have now received a first dose of the vaccine, while in remote communities, 12 per cent of those aged over 16 had received their first jab.

More than 10,000 Territorians have now been fully vaccinated.

The government said there are more than 30 locations where people can receive a jab, and NT Health staff were this week in more than a dozen remote and regional areas from Pirlangimpi in the Tiwi Islands to Harts Range in Central Australia.

Read the full story by ABC here to find out more.

Health worker Keinan Keighran received a Pfizer jab at Katherine’s Wurli-Wurlinjang Health Service this week.(ABC News: Kate Ashton).

Funding gives hope to vulnerable cardiac patients

A Curtin University research team has been awarded almost $1.5million in Federal Government funding to coordinate Australian trials of a high-flow oxygen delivery strategy to reduce complications for vulnerable cardiac surgery patients, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The project, led by Associate Professor Edward Litton from the Curtin School of Population Health, was successful in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) 2020 International Clinical Trial Collaboration grants.

Partnering with a clinical trial team in the United Kingdom, the team will test whether high flow oxygen delivered through nose cannula, rather than traditional oxygen therapy via mask, can improve outcomes and reduce hospital stay times for at-risk cardiac patients, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Lung complications following cardiac surgery are common, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients suffering disproportionately worse outcomes,” said Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran. “This study will allow the team to establish trial sites in Australia, to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and to have them actively participate in the study.”

Read more about the project in the National Tribune here.

Human Heart Anatomy Illustration. 3D render. Image credit: Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

Time for governments to phase out cigarette sales

This World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, 148 health organisations signed an open letter calling on governments to work towards phasing out commercial cigarette sales.

Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) and The University of Queensland School of Public Health were both signatories to the letter. Menzies senior research fellow Dr Marita Hefler said it was time to begin planning for a world after tobacco. “Cigarettes are uniquely dangerous. No other product that causes early death when used exactly as intended is allowed to remain available for sale,” Dr Hefler said.

The University of Queensland School of Public Health Associate Professor Coral Gartner said that Australia has been a global leader in reducing smoking. “We were the first country to introduce cigarette plain packaging and our hard-hitting public awareness campaigns about the dangers of smoking, graphic warning labels, tobacco taxes and smoke-free areas have reduced smoking to historically low levels,” said Dr Gartner. “It is time for cigarettes to be treated the same way as other equally dangerous products like asbestos, and leaded paint and petrol.”

A substantial number of Australians still smoke daily, and smoking-related harms disproportionately impact some population groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can read the letter and view the signatories here and the media release is available here.

Young man lighting a cigarette. Image credit: The American Academy of Ophthalmology website.

PSA launches Reconciliation Action Plan

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is delighted to announce the launch of its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) framework.

Last Friday, 28 May, PSA’s RAP received formal endorsement from Reconciliation Australia. The RAP framework will provide the PSA with a structured approach to advancing reconciliation throughout the organisation. The first stage in this plan, Reflect, will help PSA gauge where it stands in relation to reconciliation action. By the conclusion of Reflect, the organisation will have influenced positive cultural change across the organisation.

PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, stressed the importance of this strategy. “PSA is delighted to launch our RAP, as it signifies an important milestone for the organisation. PSA’s RAP will build on current reconciliation initiatives within the organisation, driving reconciliation through awareness and action.” “As the peak body representing pharmacists, Australia’s most accessible workforce, PSA is ideally placed to improve medicine safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, particularly in rural and remote communities.”

You can read the full story in the National Tribune here.

Pink pills. Image credit: precitiondrivenhealth.com.

NACCHO Chair: Federal Budget lacks sustainability for Indigenous health

While the federal Budget 2021–22 invested money in some significant reforms in Indigenous health across a range of settings, NACCHO Chair Donella Mills says the Budget lacked what it always does – detail and longevity.

“We welcome that there’s been specific mentions but what we didn’t see is the detail, so we need to work through that implementation in detail with the community,” Mills told the National Indigenous Times. “But we really don’t know what that’s going to look like and what the involvement will look like on the ground.”

Mills says while the big announcements look great, they won’t do much without effective implementation. The Government’s big-ticket health item was the $17.7 billion allocated to reforming the aged care sector, and $630.2 million of that is going toward improving access to services in regional, rural and remote areas, including “those with Indigenous backgrounds”.

Mills says this accessibility for Indigenous people needs to be designed with Indigenous involvement. Following the success in preventing COVID-19 from entering Indigenous communities, Mills said “This speaks to our expertise … We know our mob, we know how to protect our communities, we’re best placed to protect our communities. We really want to see a commitment to make sure our ACCHOs are sustainable into the future, to make sure community-control is in the future.”

You can read the full article by the National Indigenous Times here.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills speaking.

New HIV health promotion project receives grant

The Gilead Getting to Zero Grant Program 2021, announced 25 May, is a global initiative supporting projects aimed at getting to zero new HIV infections.

Two Australian projects received a grant from Gilead Sciences Australia New Zealand – one focussing on overseas born gay and bisexual men and the second on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The second Australian Grant recipient is a new project by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) in partnership with the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA) to develop, a new program of HIV health promotion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and workforce capacity building materials for health workers engaged with Indigenous people.

Rates of HIV and STIs among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain disproportionately high when compared with non‑Indigenous people, with the rate of HIV diagnoses in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now over two times the diagnosis rate in Australian-born non-Indigenous people.

“Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will benefit greatly from HIV programs crafted specifically for them and by them. This is an important initiative that we warmly welcome,” said Colin Ross, Chair of Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance (ANA).

You can read the full story in the Star Observer here.

Image credit: Star Observer website.

Key Thinkers Forum – Racism in Health

Free online webinar
1:00–3:30 PM (AEST),
7 July 2021
By Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, University of Sydney

The current models of practice are not working to effectively “Close the Gap”. Despite a growing willingness and need to consider new proposed models of practice, there remains a deep-seated resistance to identifying and addressing institutional and systemic racism and racist attitudes, including unconscious biases held by individuals. How can we get the ‘r’ word on every agenda?

Panel Members (facilitated by Prof. Tom Calma AO):

  • Carmen Parter
  • Karen Mundine
  • Leilani Darwin
  • Raymond Lovett

Register for this FREE event here.

Key Thinkers Forum – Racism In Health