The latest publication from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, a Review of sexual health issues linked with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males, which can be accessed hereconfirms that although the links between male sexual health and chronic conditions are well established, there is poor knowledge and awareness about these links among both health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.
This review outlines the mounting evidence that erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sign of future cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. This has the potential to motivate males of all ages to seek help if they experience ED, and for health professionals to become skilled in discussing sexual health with patients. This requires further consideration of cultural factors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and the social and historical context in which their health and wellbeing exists.
You can access the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNetmedia release about the review here, an infographic Summary of the key information contained in the review here, a factsheet here and a short video below.
Feature tile artwork When the freshwater meets the saltwater by Bec Morgan taken from the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNetSummary of sexual health links with chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.
The HIV/AIDS story – Forty years on
Forty years ago this month (on July 3, 1981) a story in The New York Times made the paper’s first mention of a disease baffling doctors.
“Rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals,” said the headline, atop a story buried on page 20. “The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion.”
The story followed the publication on June 5, 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of an MMRW report of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in five previously healthy young men in Los Angeles, California, of whom two had already died. This report later was acknowledged as the first published scientific account of what would become known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
In Australia, research from the Kirby Institute shows that the broad availability of the HIV-prevention drug tenofovir with emtricitabine (known as PrEP) reduced HIV transmissions in New South Wales by 40 percent, to an all-time low, in the period 2016 to 2019. However, the researchers warned that the elimination of HIV in Australia will require better adherence to PrEP among young people.
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has produced a report that says Australia can end HIV transmission in the country by 2025. You can read the “Agenda 2025” report here.
The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Mediahere.
Scanning electromicrograph of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID
Bardi Jawi woman’s diabetes story
This short video aims to raise awareness of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The video features Cecelia Tigan, a Bardi Jawi woman from Djarindjin in the Kimberley region of WA. Cecelia explains how she was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy and how she now lives with type 2 diabetes. Cecelia says her diabetes remained after giving birth to her fourth child. Cecelia explains that she is worried about the young children in her community with the availability of junk foods and how the consumption of sweets and junk food is putting them at risk of diabetes.
Ways to strengthen mental health workforce
New research by Charles Darwin University (CDU) scholars suggests a strengthened Indigenous mental health workforce could effectively improve mental health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
The report, written by Prof Dominic Upton, Assoc Prof Linda Ford, Prof Ruth Wallace, Sarah Jackson, Jenna Richard from CDU and Dr Penney Upton from the University of Canberra, finds that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led mental health workforce would promote self-determination and increase the reach of mental health services by providing culturally competent services.
Mental health services delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals are considered more culturally safe and trustworthy.
Read the article by Charles Darwin Universityhere.
Illustration of chat between psychologist and patient. Image credit: flourishaustralia.org.au
Spurring next generation of Indigenous dentists
A new partnership between the Australian Dental Association New South Wales (ADA NSW) and the Indigenous Dentists’ Association of Australia (IDAA) will explore how to improve oral health outcomes for—and inspire—the next generation of Indigenous dental practitioners.
“Only 0.4 per cent of employed dental professionals in Australia are Indigenous, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia report,” ADA NSW president Dr Kathleen Matthews said.
“More than 60 per cent of Indigenous patients aged 35-54 have signs of gum disease and almost one-third of Indigenous adults rate their oral health as poor or fair.
“We believe this partnership with ADA NSW is, given our shared values and purpose, another important step towards improving overall health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
A Boggabillia Central School student shows how to brush your teeth. Credit ABC News.
Climate change and food shortages
Surging consumer food prices are a growing global problem, making food staples in many countries unaffordable. An Oxfam report just out says that world hunger rose steeply in 2020, with six times more people living in “famine-like conditions” than in 2019. Oxfam calculates that 11 people a minute are likely to be dying from acute hunger, compared to seven people a minute from COVID-19.
A new FAO report on global food security has just been released, estimating that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019. “The high cost of healthy diets and persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people in every region of the world,” it says.
A 2019 UN report outlined how extreme weather as a result of climate change, combined with loss of agricultural land and the mismanagement of water resources, will shrink the global food supply. The potential risk of “multi-breadbasket failure” was seen as a particular threat.
There’s a raft of reports that highlight what climate change means for food production, availability and prices in Australia. In addition, as noted in a 2015 report from the Climate Council, Australia’s food supply chains are vulnerable to extreme weather events.
This week, public health researchers have underscored the urgency of addressing food security issues for children, warning food insecurity should be understood as a form of trauma.
One issue highlighted is that food security is not measured regularly or consistently at a population level. Estimates suggest that between 4 percent and 13 percent of the general population and 22 percent to 32 percent of the Indigenous population are food insecure.
The full story by Associate Professor Lesley Russell can be viewed in Croakey Health Mediahere.
Red, black and yellow food arranged like the Aboriginal flag. Image credit: preventioncentre.org.au.
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.
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 appcan also deliver information specific to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. Download the MedicineWise app and opt in:
Tap on your profile.
Go to ‘Personal Details’ module.
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 by NPS MedicineWise.
You can download the app via one of the buttons below.
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:
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.
Hepatitis QLDhas 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 hereor 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.
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 notethat 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.
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.
$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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Uncle Mick Adams on email@example.com
NSW – Sydney – Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
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:
With the Director, lead the planning and conceptualisation of strategies and national guidance to support the National Standards Program
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
Provide secretariat support to the work of relevant committees and expert groups managed by the program
Consult with experts and stakeholders including development of consultation strategies and coordination of formal consultation processes to achieve the objectives of the Commission
Maintain knowledge of relevant legislative and reporting requirements, Australian and International standards, quality assurance procedures and best practice models
Undertake work activities with an awareness of their possible impact on strategic, political or operational outcomes for the agency/program
Provide public health and/or health informatics expertise across a broad range of activities as required.
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 here. Applications closemidnight, Wednesday 23 June 2021.
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.
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.
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.
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):
The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 (Monday 8 March) ‘Choose to Challenge’, highlights the power of challenge in any environment, with an emphasis on calling out gender bias and equality. Celebrating all that is ‘girl power’, fierce females, and women who advocate for their people is what this day is all about. First Nations women are pioneers when it comes to advocating for equality — not just standing up against sexism and misogyny, but racism too.
To celebrate IWD 2021, journalist Jennetta Quinn-Bates made a list of First Nations women who are making waves in their chosen industries and professions, and definitely “Choose to Challenge” in their everyday lives and careers. Jennetta said they’re the ones we look to for inspiration to keep us going. The ones who’s pages we head to when there are important matters involving our communities, knowing they’ll be doing their best to use their voices. They’re the ones who aren’t afraid to speak up for the mob, to be proud, and to continue the journey our ancestors started.
NT Minister for Health, Natasha Fyles, says Manayingkarirra Primary Health Centre in Maningrida has been handed over to Aboriginal control, as part of the Territory Labor Government’s commitment to local decision making. Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation are now overseeing the delivery of health care services for the community, and surrounding homelands in Central Arnhem Land. Maningrida is one of the Territory’s busiest remote health centres. It carries out 4,000 consultations per month for more than 2,700 residents.
To view the NT Minister for Health’s media release in full click here.
Manayingkarirra Primary Health Care Centre, Maningrida. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.
To view a statement from Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson of Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation regarding the importance of this transition to the Maningrida community click here.
Charlie Gunabarra, Chairperson Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: West Arnhem Regional Council website.
Vaccine rollout to support Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have said that as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have an increased risk of acquiring and developing serious outcomes from communicable diseases due to multiple factors it is critical that the COVID-19 vaccine program is designed and delivered in a manner which is accessible, inclusive and culturally safe. This includes ensuring communications are developed and targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and that information and services are delivered in appropriate languages and formats and within appropriate facilities and locations.
A comprehensive vaccine implementation plan (the Plan) has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, and with state and territory governments. This Plan has been built on principles aligned with the Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations, including shared decision-making between Governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; community control and cultural safety across the whole-of-population system.
To view the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt’s media release click here.
Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.
Indigenous groups want bigger role in aged care
The final report from the Aged Care Royal Commission found one major area of concern is the plight of elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous-run service providers say they’re hopeful the government will act on a key recommendation from the report, to give them a more prominent role in running aged care for First Nations people.
You can listen to the segment on the ABC The World Today featuring Features Jody Currie from The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane and Jayne Lawrence from Charles Sturt University here.
Image source: Industry Skills Advisory Council NT website.
Doctors combat vaccine hesitancy in Aboriginal communities
Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and doctors fear vaccine hesitancy could increase the risks. There are more than 14,000 kms between Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the Navajo Nation in the United States desert, but the regions have much more in common than red sand. Indigenous peoples in North America share many cultural and family values with the First Peoples of Australia and suffer similarly poor health outcomes from colonisation, a connection that has brought the two groups together for generations.
Now, one of the places in the US hit hardest by COVID-19 is playing an important role in helping combat vaccine hesitancy amongst First Nations folks in remote Australia. “The [Northern Territory has] had no direct experience of the devastation this virus causes. We’ve only had images from elsewhere,” said Dr John Boffa, chief medical officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress. Indigenous Australians are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the prevalence of underlying health issues such as diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease ― a burden they’ve been forced to bear since colonisation. Crowded living conditions can also increase risks.
This time last year Indigenous people over 50 were advised to stay home “to the maximum extent practical” and rural communities were locked down completely. At the start of the pandemic, many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) didn’t have enough PPE and there were fears a COVID-19 outbreak would rob Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not only of their lives, but of their elders, language and cultural practices too. The biggest challenge ahead, according to Boffa, is convincing First Nations people it’s safe and still important to get inoculated. His team is planning a Zoom call with Navajo leaders so that local elders and community members can hear about the Americans’ experience with the jab.
The House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Preventionrecently launched an inquiry. The committee will examine the findings of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health, the Report of the National Suicide Prevention Officer, the Victorian Royal Commission, the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy and other recent strategic reviews of the current mental health system, taking into account the 2019 bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic and the capacity of the mental health workforce to respond to such events. The Committee will also consider other matters not addressed by these recent reviews.
The Committee would welcome your organisation’s views and invites you to make a submission addressing any or all of the Terms of Reference.
Further information about the inquiry is available here. For detailed information on preparing a submission, including information about parliamentary privilege and requests for confidentiality, click here.
Submissions should be submitted to the Committee by 24 March.
Image source: UNSW Sydney Newsroom website.
NT Generational Change Impact Report released
Minister for Youth and Children, Lauren Moss, said the Generational Change Impact Report released today marks the halfway point of the NT Government’s multi-targeted reform program. Keeping Territory children and families safe, thriving and connected are the cornerstones of the Report, with data indicating that we are heading in the right direction. Highlights include decreases in the rate of children in care and child protection notifications, including: A 39% decrease in the rate of Aboriginal children substantiated for child abuse and neglect – going from 63.5 per 1,000 children substantiated in the NT in 2016–17 to 38.6 per 1,000 children in 2018–19. The proportion of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in the NT continues to be well below the Australian rate. In 2018–19, 36.6 per 1,000 Aboriginal children in the NT were in out of home care compared to 54.2 per 1,000 Aboriginal children Australia wide.
To view the Minister Moss’ media release click here.
Image source: Katherine Times.
Health literacy and equity research findings
Croakey have published a special edition with the title ‘Equity and health literacy: Using emerging evidence to inform the development of the National Preventive Health Strategy’. The authors note that ‘health literacy’ has multiple definitions that encompass individual, population and environmental health literacy – with the underlying tenet being that it is critical for health and health equity, and is a social determinant of health.
The literature on equity and health literacy is relatively diffuse, often lost across multiple sectors and with limited systematic research that provides clear, actionable processes by which health literacy can drive health equity forward, they say. Hence, emerging evidence is often inaccessible to policymakers and poorly utilised by health practitioners in clinical settings. This special edition aims to address “the knowledge deficit around equity and health literacy”.
This special edition resulted from a partnership between the journal and the NT Primary Health Network, and five guest editors. It led to an “overwhelming” response and 21 papers accepted for publication. “To our knowledge, this special issue is the largest collection of articles dedicated to the topic of equity and health literacy, ever published in an Australasian peer‐reviewed academic journal,” the authors say. “We encourage Minister for Health, Expert Steering Committee, senior bureaucrats and policy staff to actively engage with the content of this special issue and purposively embed key findings into the National Preventive Health Strategy.”
Fear for pets – barrier to leaving family violence
A woman’s decision to leave a violent and abusive relationship is a complex process. She first needs to consider the risks to her and her children. Paradoxically, taking that step towards safety is also the time of greatest danger of homicide, sexual assault and increased violence. Pets and service animals are also a part of the lives of many families. This means they are an important part of the decision-making process when women consider leaving a violent situation.
The pets may be a critical source of therapeutic support, but they may also be at risk of harm and used to exert control over people (“you leave and you won’t see those animals again”). Animals’ central role in family life means many victim-survivors of family violence are reluctant to leave because they fear their pets will be harmed. To combat this, a family violence motion has been presented in the Victorian parliament that seeks to recognise animal abuse as a form of family violence. If all elements were adopted, it would increase the safety of women and children.
To view the full article in The Conversationclick here.
Image source: Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu website.
International Women’s Day 2021
Yesterday (8 March 2021) was International Women’s Day 2021. June Oscar AO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner released a statement saying “Today, my team and I, at the Australian Human Rights Commission, are celebrating the power and potential of all our deadly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls across Australia. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’.”
“This theme makes me think about all our women and girls who carry the determination, knowledge and wisdom from an ancient lineage of matriarchs. Our ancestral mothers—who walked this land for millennia—have always shown remarkable leadership in nurturing and growing our societies into the oldest living civilizations on earth. Throughout this span of time our women and peoples have led through and beyond crisis. We know how to survive and thrive.”
“That legacy and all our women and girls’ diverse strengths, expertise and lived experiences are held within the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report and Community Guide, which can be accessed here. It is the first report to hear from our women and girls as a collective since 1986. Wiyi Yani U Thangani was brought into being because of your voices. It belongs to you, to all our First Nations women and girls.”
To view June Oscar’s statement in full click here.
In another article, University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego looked at the absence of Indigenous voices on International Woman’s Day 2021. She said the cancellation of a number of invitations for her sit on panels showed how Indigenous woman is only ever a subset of the category of woman when convenient. To read this article in full click here.
University of Queensland academic, Associate Professor Chelsea Watego. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
AHW first in Kimberley to receive COVID-19 vaccine
An Indigenous health worker has become the first resident of northern WA to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as the rollout extends across the state. Nyikina Nyul Nyul woman Emily Hunter has been working on the frontline during the pandemic as a senior nurse at Broome Hospital. After receiving the Pfizer jab, she said she hoped to the be first of many residents in the region to be vaccinated. “I’m quite proud to be the first person in the Kimberley,” she said. “Twelve months ago everyone was terrified about what was going to happen and no one knew anything about COVID-19. I hope others follow suit as well.” To view the ABC News article in full click here.
Nyikina Nyul Nyul nurse Emily Hunter was the first Kimberley person to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Photo: Erin Parke. Image source: ABC News website.
SA – Adelaide – CRANAplus – improving remote health
Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist x 1 PT or FT – Adelaide
CRANAplus is the peak professional body for health professionals working in remote and isolated areas across Australia. They exist to ensure the delivery of safe, high quality primary healthcare to remote and isolated areas of Australia. CRANplus is an affordable, grassroots, not-for profit, membership based organisation that has provided nearly 40 years of education, support and professional services for the multi-disciplinary remote health workforce. CRANAplus is a values-based organisation, that genuinely embraces diversity, flexibility, and innovation in everything they do.
CRANAplus has a vacancy for a Registered Psychologist/Senior Psychologist (Mental Health & Wellbeing Service) who will be responsible for the development and delivery of high-quality psychological and wellbeing support services to health professionals and their families, across rural and remote communities in Australia.
To view the position description and to apply click here.Applications close Sunday 28 March 2021.
National Day of Women Living with HIV
Today (Tuesday 9 March), the National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales), celebrate the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV. This year’s theme ‘Taking Control of Our Health’, reminds all women, regardless of our HIV status, to focus on our own health and wellbeing. The day is being hosted by the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA), Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV across Australia. To view the NAPWHA Femfatales media release click here.
During the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have neglected or postponed our sexual and reproductive health checks. Now is the time to resume our crucially important health tests, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical screening tests, breast checks and sexual health screens including a HIV test, said Ms Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales. Information about some of the key issues for women living with HIV can be accessed on the National Association for People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) website here.
You can view a special HIV is: Just a Part of Me video release featuring Jane Costello (CEO of Positive Life NSW), Natasha Io (Board Member of Positive Life NSW), and Michelle Tobin (Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation who is also a descendant of the Stolen Generation) here.
Michelle Tobin, Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation and descendant of the Stolen Generation.
Kidney Health Week – 15–21 March
With 1 in 3 Australians adults at risk of kidney disease, this Kidney Health Week, Kidney Health Australia is calling out to all Australians, particularly those living with diabetes and/or hypertension, to get a Kidney Health Check. Last September Kidney Health Australia launched its early detection campaign, #nofilter, featuring Shane and his family. Shane was diagnosed with kidney disease following detection of high blood pressure. The campaign showed the impact dialysis had on his and his family’s life. Tragically, Shane passed away from a heart attack in December 2020, at just 48 years old.
As a tribute to him, his wife Jodie and five daughters will be featuring in the campaign during Kidney Health Week to carry on the fight in Shane’s name and get the message out about early detection. While the campaign does carry a heartbreaking message about Shane’s battle with kidney disease, it also carries a message of hope – that if caught early enough, Progression of kidney disease can be slowed down or even stopped.
For more information about Kidney Health Week 2021, Monday 15 March to Sunday 21 March click here.
Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance launch
The Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA) is a partnership between the three Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACCHOs) based in the Pilbara region of WA, namely, Mawarnkarra Health Service; Wirraka Maya Health Service; and Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (Member ACCHOs). The priority for PAHA and its Member ACCHOs is to improve the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities, in the Pilbara region.
The Member ACCHOs met in June 2019 to discuss the re-establishment of a Pilbara Aboriginal Health representative body. It was agreed that PAHA would be established to advocate for and represent the Members ACCHOs. An interim Coordinator was appointed in February 2020 to undertake the actions required to set up PAHA; coordinate PAHA meetings; and carry out the directions of the PAHA Directors. The greatest concerns to PAHA are the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Pilbara; the chronic diseases impacting families; providing access to holistic health services; the impact of grief and loss on families; and increasing the level of health services and programs available to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The launch of PAHA will take place on Friday 19 March.
A recent Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) and Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) paper that retrospectively analysed 91 perinatal mental health assessments from the Kimberley region found that almost all of the women had protective factors and these appeared to contribute to them not having anxiety or depression even if they had significant risk factors. The most prominent protective factor was positive relationships with family members.
The study found that for Aboriginal women, it is important that the health professional explores a woman’s whole context; that is, the way she experiences stress and risk and how her protective factors support her. This will help the woman and her health professional best understand and support her mental health and wellbeing. Assessing Aboriginal women’s perinatal mental health by only looking at risk is not enough.
Plain language reports and a link to the paper are available on the KAMS research website which can be accessed by clicking here.
Image source: Centre of Perinatal Excellence website.
AHCWA launches Mappa platform
The Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA), in conjunction with its 23 member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHSs) and associated communities have initiated the development and launch of the Mappa platform live to all Western Australians.
Mappa is a free-to-use online mapping platform developed to address the lack of clarity at all levels in regards to healthcare services being delivered across rural, remote and metropolitan regions throughout WA. Mappa provided comprehensive, culturally appropriate and reliable information for health services, health professionals, patients, clients and their communities.
Mappa brings three worlds together: the patient/client journey world; the healthcare world; and the technology world. In doing this, the mapping platform seeks to help those who are not technology savvy and/or have English as a second or third language, busy healthcare providers, clinicians, GPs, allied healthcare providers and those who want an easy way to find a place, a community or a healthcare service and to know how long it will take to get there.
Mappa is about ‘getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time‘, while being with family, at home and on country.
To view the article about the Mappa platform in The West Australian – New Directions in Telehealth liftout (page 3) click here.
NACCHO supports the World Aids Day 2020 theme ‘now, more than ever’ saying it is time to close the gap on rates of HIV notifications amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in Australia. NACCHO believes as per the National Agreement on Closing the Gap that there is a real opportunity to take Aboriginal-led approaches and partnerships to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.
NACCHO Deputy CEO, Dr Dawn Casey said, “Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face unique issues and social determinants that affect health outcomes, including overcrowded housing. We have demonstrated that a partnership and commitment from the Australian Government’s Departments of Health with NACCHO and direct funding for ACCHOs to address the syphilis outbreak has produced some positive outcomes.”
Katherine’s only general practice closed its doors last month, leaving the 8,000 patients on its books with no other option but to travel three hours to Darwin for a GP consultation. The decision to close was not an easy one for GP and practice owner Dr Peter Spafford – who has been a resident of the NT town for 19 years and owner of Gorge Health for 10 – but he felt he had no other option.
A 2018 workforce assessment conducted by the NT Primary Health Network (PHN) recommended the town, with a population of almost 10,000, needed nine GPs to provide a service equal to elsewhere in Australia. The reality on the ground, however, has been just two GPs, four at best. Constant waitlists have meant there’s always been a difficulty in providing full GP services to the community.
The solution, according to RACGP Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements, is multifaceted and requires a whole-of-system approach that considers everything from housing security and spousal employment to children’s education and the training environment.
After more than 12 months of hard work, consultation and collaboration, the RACGP has launched a reconciliation action plan (RAP) as part of its vision of a healthcare system free of racism.
Designed to help establish a culturally safe organisation that supports continuous education and learning for staff and members, the RAP has been praised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within and outside of the college. The plan involves a commitment to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which relies on a culturally inclusive and safe environment with strong relationships based on mutual respect.
To view The RACGP Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan October 2020 – September 2022click here.
To view the related article published in newsGPclick here.
Image source: newsGP.
World Scabies Program launched
The recently launched World Scabies Program (WSP), headed by Professor Andrew Steer, based on key research by Murdoch Childrens’ Research Institute (MCRI), conducted in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the Kirby Institute of UNSW Sydney, has shown that scabies prevalence can be reduced by more than 90% with a single community wide treatment.
Scabies is a parasitic infestation of the skin with the parasitic ‘itch mite’ Sarcoptes scabiei. The tiny mite burrows into the upper layers of the skin causing intensely itchy lesions which commonly become infected with bacteria and can lead to more serious conditions such and kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease. In humans, scabies is a particularly significant disease in children, but occurs in both sexes, at all ages, in all ethnic groups, and at all socioeconomic levels. Transmission of the mites from one person to the next is by direct skin to skin contact. Scabies is a significant disease worldwide in humans, wildlife, livestock and domestic animals and is a particularly serious problem in many remote Australia Indigenous communities, where overcrowded living conditions are a major factor contributing to high rates of transmission.
Fiji will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out a nationwide scabies elimination program and will be a model for other countries. Approximately one in every five Fijians is at risk of having scabies at any given time, with children at a higher risk. WSP will scale up this approach to the whole population of Fiji, with an aim to essentially eliminate scabies as a public health problem.
To learn more about the World Scabies Programclick here.
The scabies mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. Image source: SBS NITV website.
2021 Eye Health Conference abstracts open
Abstract submissions are now open for the 2021 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference (NATSIEHC): The Gap and Beyond. The conference will bring elements from the postponed Close the Gap for Vision National Conference 2020 and, in 2021, will be delivered fully online.
The conference will be held virtually from 20–22 April 2021 with abstracts welcome from all working in, or interested in, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health. Topics should be relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health and efforts to close the gap for vision and ultimately eliminate avoidable vision loss and blindness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This could include eye care in primary care; eye care stakeholder collaborations; community-led and cultural engagement approaches and initiatives; workforce development; challenges in coordination and case management; improving outcomes and access to services; health system changes and reform.
For more information about abstract submissions click here. The closing date for abstract submissions is Monday 18 January 2021.
First signs of ear disease at 8 weeks
Telethon Kids Institute researchers have found close to 40% of Aboriginal babies begin to develop middle ear infections between 2–4 months of age in a first of its kind study in metropolitan Perth. By 6–8 months this increased to over 50% of kids according to results published in Deafness and Educational International, clearly demonstrating the urgent need to prioritise early testing and treatment for Aboriginal children suffering debilitating ear infections, also known as otitis media (OM).
Clinical Associate Professor Deborah Lehmann AO, Honorary Emeritus Fellow at the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, based at Telethon Kids Institute, said 650,000 Australian children are affected by OM each year and Aboriginal children have some of the highest rates in the world. “While our previous research has already shown Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by chronic ear disease, most studies have focused on kids in regional and remote areas and information about the true burden of OM in urban areas was very limited,” Professor Lehmann said.
NACCHO CEO Pat Turner has made the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend’s second annual 40 Australians Who Mattered list for her contribution to social justice. Pat’s citation says ‘For decades Pat Turner has being a passionate voice for Aboriginal equality and self-determination, inside and outside governments, particularly in the field of Indigenous health. Her strong leadership was highlighted this year in her role as the lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, which brings together more than 50 Indigenous community peak organisations. In July, Turner stood beside Prime Minister Scott Morrison to launch a new national agreement on Closing the Gap, which is supposed to make Indigenous-run organisations central to programs to reduce disadvantage in communities.
“She’s one of the most experienced public servants in Australia,” says federal Labor frontbencher and Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney. “She’s had an incredibly distinguished career spanning both community and government. She shows a willingness to speak truth to power, she understands how governments work and is absolutely committed to driving a proper partnership with Aboriginal people in relation to Closing the Gap.”
Pat Turner AM, NACCHO CEO. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.
Activism against gender-based violence video
Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-op has contributed to a video telling the story of what a gender equitable future looks like and the need to call out disrespect, sexism and discrimination. The video, produced with funding from Respect Victoria and the City of Ballarat, is part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence global campaign to end gender-based violence. The campaign is book-ended by the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November and International Human Rights Day on 10 December. These days were chosen in order to emphasise that violence against women is a human rights violation.
Bluey Roberts had been undergoing dialysis treatment in Adelaide’s major hospitals for the past three years. This year, however, he said things have changed for the better. “It’s more like home here,” Mr Roberts said while overlooking a smoking fireplace at Kanggawodli, a short-term accommodation facility in Adelaide’s north-west for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across Australia.
Until recently, the site didn’t provide dialysis treatment options — but a trial of on-site facilities has seen immediate results, boosting attendance for vital services. For Bluey, a Ngarrindjeri elder and revered artist whose work features at institutions including the Art Gallery of SA, home is several hours’ drive away. But health difficulties linked to his dialysis needs left him in a challenging spot. “I wasn’t too good when I first came but I’m not too bad now, sort of settled down and got a lot better with my dialysis,” he says.
The six-month SA Health pilot of stationing dialysis machines at Kanggawodli makes it the only treatment location outside of a hospital in a metropolitan setting. Kanggawodli Manager Wade Allan said traditional owners often find hospitals overwhelming and alienating, which results in patients not committing to ongoing treatment.
The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) has partnered with The National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) and other Aboriginal organisations to launch #swab4mob; a campaign aimed at urging Aboriginal communities to protect their families by getting COVID-19 testing if they feel unwell. While there is currently no available COVID-19 vaccine or cure, it is essential that continued testing rates are maintained to help with community control of the virus and assist with contact tracing.
AH&MRC CEO Robert Skeen stated: “The collective voice of Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal health organisations play an important role to help people maintain COVID-19-safe behaviours and high testing rates while there is no cure or vaccine available for COVID-19. Wash your hands, wear a mask in crowded areas, and if you are feeling unwell, even just a slightly, play your part to protect your Community and get a COVID-19 test.”
To view AH&MRC’s press release about the #swab4mob launch click here and to view the #swab4mob video click here.
Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the number of HIV diagnoses has fluctuated over the past five years, but diagnosis rates are still between 1.3–1.9 times higher than in Australian-born, non-Indigenous Australians. Professor James Ward from the University of Queensland says “To reduce this unacceptable gap, there needs to be sustained investment in targeted, culturally appropriate, community focused campaigns.”
Today (1 December 2020), on World AIDS Day, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has warmly welcomed a number of announcements from the Health Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, including the intention to ensure every person living in Australia with HIV has access to life saving antiretroviral medicine, regardless of Medicare eligibility. “This is a critical public health measure,” said Darryl O’Donnell, chief executive of the AFAO, “For too long, too many people in Australia who aren’t eligible for Medicare struggled to afford the medicine needed to keep them healthy. This act of leadership will give access to antiretroviral medicine to everyone in Australia who needs it. This is more than a question of treatment, it is also a question of prevention, because a person with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV.”
Darryl O’Donnell continued, “Australia has always been a global leader in the HIV response and today with 90% of those living in Australia with HIV tested and diagnosed, 91% on treatment and 97% achieving an undetectable viral load, we can be proud of being among a small handful of nations to meet the UNAIDS 2020 global [90-90-90] goal for HIV treatment and prevention. This is an important milestone, however we can and should be more ambitious. We must double down. With renewed political and financial commitment we can achieve 95-95-95 [the ambitious strategy announced by UNAIDS in 2014, aiming to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 by achieving 95% diagnosed among all people living with HIV (PLHIV), 95% on antiretroviral therapy (ART) among diagnosed, and 95% virally suppressed (VS) among treated].”
AFAO has produced a number of resources you can view by clicking on the resource title below:
HIV Awareness Week virtual trivia – bring your ‘A’ game
Rates of HIV and STI notifications are higher among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population than for the non-Indigenous population.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week(ATSIHAW) is held in the first week of December each year, to coincide with World AIDS Day. It provides an opportunity to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as HIV researchers, doctors, health workers and policy-makers.
This year the University of Queensland’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and NACCHO are co-hosting ATSIHAW Virtual Trivia. This event will be hosted via Zoom, with a special guest presenter to be announced.
Participants are highly encouraged to wear sexual health costumes, as prizes will be awarded not only to the trivia winners, but best and worst dressed.
There are two types of registrations available – individual registration and group registration.
If you are participating as an individual, please select individual registration and you will be placed into a team.
If you are participating as a group, connecting to Zoom from one device, please select group registration. Maximum of six people per group registration.
Beyond Blue today welcomed the release by the Prime Minister of the Final Report of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s Interim Advice. Beyond Blue Chair the Hon Julia Gillard AC said: “These are seminal reports that will shape the future of the mental health and suicide prevention systems in this country. Importantly, they put people at the centre of what we hope will be landmark reforms. Beyond Blue looks forward to working with governments, sector colleagues and, crucially, people affected by mental health issues and suicide, to remake these systems so they provide the right support at the right time for all people in Australia.”
The country’s leading provider of suicide prevention training says the release of the Productivity Commission’s Report into Mental Health is a reminder that co-ordination is a key to saving many more Australian lives. LivingWorks Australia CEO Shayne Connell said the Commission’s call for structural changes to the delivery of suicide intervention deserved widespread acceptance by the sector. “We echo the call for a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention across different levels of government and portfolios,” Mr Connell said. “We continue to work with primary health networks supporting communities, priority populations, first responders, workplaces, financial touchpoints, veterans , health staff and in schools.”
Mental Health Australia has today welcomed the release of the Final Report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, and the interim report from the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, and sees the government response to these reports as a crucial next step in the future of mental health reform and service delivery in Australia. Mental Health Australia CEO Dr Leanne Beagley said the Final Report from the Productivity Commission is a culmination of nearly two years of extensive consultation and consideration, and could not come at a more important and critical time. “Today’s release of the Final Report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health is a moment many of us have been waiting for. This is not just a vital report for our mental health sector, but for every Australian,” said Dr Beagley.
Australians’ experience with COVID-19 has stimulated more active consumer and community involvement in health care decision-making, the Consumer Health Forum (CHF) says.
Authors writing in CHF’s ejournal, Health Voices, have reported on a range of developments spurred by COVID where consumers are having an influence. A standout has been Health Consumers Queensland which during COVID has formed working links with the State’s Health Department to develop consumer-effective policies, promoting online engagement with consumers to alert government on a range of areas including delayed access to health care, advice on testing and face masks.
The CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said a feature of the many of the 20 articles in this edition was the diversity of ways in which COVID had generated changes in thinking and services to meet the crisis. “The rush of the authorities to respond in the early stages of COVID-19 meant the value of consumer and community knowledge was often overlooked,” Ms Wells said. “But what followed that initial response was a greater realisation of the importance of community and consumer input in shaping more thoughtful and effective ways to counter COVID.
Yesterday the Joint Council on Closing the Gap (CTG) convened for the first time since the historic National Agreement on Closing the Gap came into effect on 27 July 2020 with a review of the parties collective responsibilities for the implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
Patricia Turner AM, Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and Joint Council Co-Chair said the meeting focussed on making sure strong partnerships are being established and strengthened to support the implementation of the National Agreement in each state and territory. Pat Turner said “The National Agreement commits governments to a new way of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, based on negotiation and shared decision-making, to address the inequality too many of our people still face.”
Consistent with the National Agreement, funding will initially be invested in the early childhood care and development, housing, health and disability sectors, with the Joint Council on CTG agreeing yesterday to investment in community-controlled early childhood and housing.
To view the Joint Council on CTG communique click here and read the NACCHO and Coalition of Peaks joint media release click here.
WHO strategy to eliminate cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is one cancer the world can actually eliminate: it’s time to do it. The world already has the necessary tools; they just need to be made accessible. Following a Call to Action in May 2018 from the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros, 194 countries collectively resolved to end needless suffering from a cancer that is both preventable and curable.
In August 2020, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution calling for the elimination of cervical cancer and adopting a strategy to make it happen. It is a testament to the enthusiasm for this important goal that, even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world have affirmed their support for this important priority. On 17 November, following the close of the 73rd World Health Assembly, WHO officially launched its cervical cancer elimination strategy.
While elimination is possible, we still need concerted efforts to address persistent inequities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Compared to non-Indigenous women, Indigenous women are 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and are 3.8 times more likely to die of cervical cancer.
To view further details about the launch of the WHO’s Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervicalclick here.
Image source: MedPage Today website.
Kamilaroi woman wins highest honour
A world-leading researcher and advocate for Indigenous health was among the University of Newcastle the 2020 University of Newcastle Alumni Excellence recipients. The Awards recognise innovation, creativity, and the exceptional leadership of alumni who have inspired others through their local, national and international achievements.
Professor Gail Garvey was awarded the Alumni Medal for Professional Excellence, the highest honour of the University of Newcastle’s Alumni Awards. A proud Kamilaroi woman, Professor Garvey is Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health and Deputy Division Leader for the Wellbeing and Preventable Chronic Diseases Division.
Professor Garvey’s research career has focused on investigating cancer experiences and outcomes of Indigenous Australians. She has publicly advocated for better prevention and treatment of cancer in remote areas in Australia. Her work in cancer has illuminated critical shortcomings in health system performance for Indigenous Australians affected by cancer and has identified pathways to improve equity of access and outcomes.
To view the University of Newcastle’s article click here.
Professor Gail Garvey. Image source: Charles Darwin University Australia website.
Be You mental health education program extended
Be You – the national mental health in education initiative – will continue for two more years. Developed by Beyond Blue and delivered in partnership with Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and headspace, Be You provides every Australian educator with free online training, practical resources and guidance so they can confidently support the mental health of children and young people and look after their own mental health and wellbeing. In addition, early learning services and schools are supported by expert staff to implement and tailor Be You to match the specific needs of their learning community. Almost 11,000 schools and early learning services have adopted Be You since its launch in November 2018 – 70% of all Australian schools and a quarter of all early learning services. Educators have turned to Be You in record numbers in 2020.
ECA has welcomed this extension of Be You for another two years. General Manager of the ECA Be You initiative, Judy Kynaston says ‘the extension will allow Be You to increase the number of participating early learning services and develop the capacity of educators to build foundations of lifelong mental health and wellbeing in children and young people.’
Australian Institute of Infectious Disease to be established
An Australian Institute for Infectious Disease in the heart of Melbourne’s renowned Parkville biomedical precinct to lead the fight against future pandemics. “The Victorian Budget 2020/21 will include an investment of $155 million towards the $550 million institute, with the University of Melbourne and its partners contributing a further $150 million and the remaining funds to be sought from the Commonwealth Government. Our contribution includes an immediate allocation of $5 million to complete a business case for the facility, which will combine the strengths of some of the world’s leading research institutes. The business case is due for completion in mid-2021 and construction of the Institute would create 350 jobs. Once operational, the Institute will provide a massive boost to the biomedical sector and could support up to 5,000 jobs, including up to 850 jobs at the Institute itself.”
The Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (VicAAMRI) applauds Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement today of a $155 million investment to establish the new Australian Institutes for Infectious Diseases and Global Health. This significant investment will build on Victoria’s place as a world leader in medical research, while creating new high-skilled jobs and economic opportunities for Victorians. “The Victorian Government has a long history of investing in medical research, and that support is a key reason that our medical research sector is the world leader that it is today,” said Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Chair of VicAAMRI and Director and CEO of the Burnet Institute.
To view the Victorian Government’s media release click here. and to view VicAAMRI’s media release click here.
Image source: Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
Little support for GP role in mental health care
A proposal to scrap GP mental health treatment plans and replace them with an online assessment tool would undermine the holistic approach needed to care for patients with mental health concerns, according to AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid. The proposal is among the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s long-awaited Mental Health Inquiry Report, which calls for a $2.6 billion overhaul of the system, estimating the total cost of poor mental health and suicide to be as much as $70 billion per year.
Dr Khorshid said the report recognises the crucial role that GPs play in delivering frontline mental health care, but then delivers proposals that result in diminished support for this role. “The AMA welcomes the report’s aspirations for a person-centred mental health care system, focusing on prevention and early help – both early in life and early in illness,” Dr Khorshid said. “But we cannot accept recommendations that take away support for GPs at a time when the burden of mental illness is growing.
“The report highlights the fact that GPs are the first port of call for Australians seeking mental health support, with one in five Australians having a mental health consultation with their GP every year, and a satisfaction rate of more than 80 per cent. “Yet it offers little in the way of extra support, other than the introduction of a Medicare item for GPs to get advice from a psychiatrist about a patient in their care. While this is sensible policy that recognises the expertise of psychiatrists and encourages collaboration, it falls short of the support GPs need.
“The report also proposes abolishing Medicare-funded GP mental health treatment plans, which are fundamental to providing well-coordinated care and engaging with a patient about their care needs.
The results are in for the latest Australia-wide sexual health survey of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The GOANNA Survey was led by SAHMRI researchers in partnership with Aboriginal community organizations and included more than 1,300 participants aged 16-29 from urban, regional and remote parts of mainland Australia. The survey focused on relationships, sexual behaviours, use of health services and knowledge about sexually transmissible infections (STIs), HIV and hepatitis C.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research leader, Professor James Ward of the University of Queensland (formerly of SAHMRI) led the GOANNA survey for the second time. Professor Ward said rates of STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis as well as HIV and hepatitis C, remain unacceptably high in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in remote Australia. “These survey findings provide a snapshot on a range of factors that might contribute to risk for these infections” Professor Ward said.
Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, the highly acclaimed ear, nose and throat surgeon, Associate Professor Kelvin Kong has been awarded the prestigious Menzies Medallion. The medal recognises Associate Professor Kong’s leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy and research, in particular his work to improve ear health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The Menzies Medallion is the highest award offered by Menzies School of Health Research, one of Australia’s leading medical research institutes dedicated to improving Indigenous, global and tropical health.
A proud Worimi man from Port Stephens, the breadth and depth of Associate Professor Kong’s work is far reaching and includes his role as chief investigator for the Menzies-led Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children. Currently practising in Newcastle as a surgeon, he specialises in paediatric and adult otolaryngology, head and neck surgery (ear, nose and throat surgery), and lectures in allied health at the University.
Professor Kelvin Kong with Menzies Medallion. Image source: The University of Newcastle website.
Woorabinda optical care funding in doubt
For years Gunggari woman and Woorabinda resident Florence Brown saw the world as if she were looking through a foggy window. But her vision is now clearer and brighter after free cataract surgery. “Everything’s changed for me,” Ms Brown said. “Hopefully I won’t suffer anymore after this.”
Ms Brown is one of 40 people from across central Queensland who have undergone eye surgery through Queensland-based charity Doctors for All, which has been servicing the area over the last year. But there are fears for the program’s future as funding dries up.
Australia-wide remote locations – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
2021 Census Operations Manager (Remote) Locations x 50
50 Census operations roles are available now across Australia for the 2021 Census. Census Operation teams will help ensure people in regional and remote areas in NSW, NT, SA, Queensland and WA are counted in the Census. Census Operations teams will be responsible for collecting Census data from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people living or working away from home. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people living in regional and remote areas such as pastoralists.
In this role, they won’t just be helping the Census to collect and make statistics. They will be helping to inform how Census data contributes to service delivery for your community. For example, Census data is used to understand housing needs and priorities to plan affordable and culturally appropriate community housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Census data also helps organisations, like the Bodhi Bus, provide affordable transport to remote communities allowing people to connect with family or local health clinics. The Wheatbelt Business Network uses Census data to help guide how they support women in rural business. These services help develop enterprise, support towns and contribute to the economic growth of the region.
To view the Census Operations Manager recruitment brochure click here; to view the list of remote locations click here and to access the applicant information kits and to apply click here.
This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.
The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:
The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.
Here are the key facts
Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed
In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.
Births and pregnancy outcomes
In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.
For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years
In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).
Selected health conditions
In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT
In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.
In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) .
Social and emotional wellbeing
In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.
In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).
Injury, including family violence
In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).
In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT
In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).
Ear health and hearing
In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.
In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.
In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).
“Exposure to STIs differs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Our women are diagnosed with HIV, STIs and BBVs at a greater rate than other Australian women and are facing infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous preterm birth or still-birth.
NACCHO believes this requires greater recognition and commitment from all levels of government to work collaboratively across portfolios and mainstream organisations.
A good example is the current partnership between the Commonwealth Department of Health and NACCHO to address the syphilis outbreak, which has been extraordinary!
It highlights innovation in science and the great work done on the ground by Aboriginal health workers.
There is no better way to provide healthcare than through the 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), who deliver holistic, culturally safe, comprehensive primary healthcare across Australia, including those living in very remote areas
Studies have shown that ACCHOs are 23% better at attracting and retaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients than mainstream providers.
If funded adequately ACCHOs are the solution to addressing the increasing rates of STIs, BBVs and HIV/AIDS.”
Dr Dawn Casey, Deputy CEO of NACCHO who spoke at the 2019 parliamentary World AIDS Day breakfast this week. See continued NACCHO Press Release Part 1 and speech notes part 2 Below
“ATSIHAW has grown bigger, with 132 ATSIHAW events to be held by 73 organisations across Australia this year – mostly in ACCHOs. ACCHOs have embraced ATSIHAW wholeheartedly and this has been key to ATSIHAW’s success.
Community engagement has been pivotal to the improvements in Australia’s HIV response and it’s time to focus on getting HIV rates down in our communities.”
South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Head, Aboriginal Health Equity—Sexual Health and Wellbeing, A/Prof James Ward
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) recognises the importance of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week (ATSIHAW) and the 2019 World AIDs Day to draw attention to the increasing impact of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
In Australia, it has been recorded that the cases of new HIV diagnoses amongst Australians represent a decline of 23% in the last five years.
However, the HIV notification rates within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in 2018 was more than twice the rate for the Australian-born non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Source: Kirby Institute
Australia is perceived on the global stage as a world leader in HIV prevention and treatment.
But considering the high prevalence of this issue in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, NACCHO understands there is still some way to go.
Part 2 Dawn Casey Speaking Notes
World AIDS Day Parliamentary Breakfast – 27 November 2019
Traditional Owners of this land, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri People. I like to acknowledge other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the room.
I would like to thank AFAO for inviting me here to speak this morning.
I would like to acknowledge the Hon Greg Hunt, Minister for Health, the Hon Chris Bowen, Shadow Minister for Health and all the Members of Parliament present here. It is just fabulous to see a bipartisan approach taken to this issue.
Exposure to STIs, HIV and BBVs differs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Research tells us that it is more likely attributed to heterosexual sex and injection drug use coming into our communities. And we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are diagnosed with HIV, STIs and BBVs at a greater rate than other Australian women.
This is extremely concerning as the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women living in remote communities are facing infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous preterm birth or still-birth.
Let me remind you that there is no better way to provide healthcare than through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). They have been around here for many years and are established and operated by local communities, through locally elected Boards of Management, to deliver holistic and culturally safe and comprehensive primary healthcare.
They punch above their weight, with 145 services nationally providing about three million episodes of care each year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia, including those living in very remote areas.
ACCHOs provide culturally safe, comprehensive primary health care consistent with our people’s needs, this includes: home and site visits; provision of medical, public health and health promotion services; allied health, nursing services; assistance with making appointments and transport coordination; help to access child care or to deal with the justice system and drug and alcohol services.
Our people trust us with their health. Studies have shown that ACCHOs are 23% better at attracting and retaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients than mainstream providers.
If funded adequately ACCHOs are the solutions to addressing the increasing rates of STIs, BBVs and HIV/AIDS. The current partnership between the Department of Health to address the syphilis outbreak has been extraordinary! It highlights innovation in science and the great work done on the ground by Aboriginal health workers.
I would like to leave with one message:
It is only with everyone working together that we will be able to help minimise the impact of STIs, BBVs and HIV/AIDS in the community. Mainstream organisations need to do their part and collaborate and work collectively with us.
Nationally, there is a high-quality network of Aboriginal controlled service providers that get results – understand them, connect with them and identify mutually beneficial areas to work together
Picture above Tim Wilson MP and his quote : At Parliament today, we gathered to remember & honour those lost to HIV/AIDS, redouble our efforts to stop new transmissions and stigma + mark tomorrow’s start of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week.
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It raises awareness across the world and in the community about HIV and AIDS.
It is a day for people to show their support for people living with HIV and to remember and honour those who we have lost.
In the 2019–20 Budget, the Morrison Government invested $45.4 million to implement Australia’s five National Blood-Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Strategies.
These strategies will make a deep and profound difference in reducing the health impacts and stigma of BBV and STI, including HIV.
Today, I am pleased to announce that our Government will provide additional, ongoing support for people with HIV and other BBV and STI’s by extending funding to six national peak organisations, providing almost $3 million for 2020-21.
In addition, from 1 December 2019, Australians living with HIV will save more than $8,500 a year with the listing of a new combination medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
It is estimated that 850 Australians with HIV will benefit from the listing of Dovato® (dolutegravir with lamivudine) on the PBS, which will provide more choice for them in how they can manage their HIV.
Effective once daily treatments such as Dovato and other new medicines can control the virus so that people living with HIV can enjoy long, healthy and productive lives.
With the PBS subsidy, people living with HIV will pay just $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card for Dovato®.
Australia continues to be a world leader in the response to HIV. The number of new HIV diagnoses today is at its lowest in nearly 20 years.
Our success is built on a model of partnership between government, people living with HIV, community based organisations, health professionals and researchers.
We are seeing more people tested for HIV and initiating treatment for HIV. There are also more people living with a suppressed viral load. In addition, improved access to HIV prevention methods, including the PBS-listed pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), helps reduce the number of new HIV diagnoses.
We are also looking to address stigma and discrimination.
The Eighth National HIV Strategy 2018-22, guides our partnership approach over the next four years to virtual elimination of HIV transmission by 2022.
We aim to be one of the first countries in the world to eliminate new HIV transmissions.