NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to create Hope through Action

feature tile text 'First Nations led work aligns with World Suicide Prevention Day theme fighting hope with action' & image of awareness ribbon two hands linked

World Suicide Prevention Day: We will continue to Create Hope through Action

NACCHO believes this year’s theme on World Suicide Prevention Day, ‘Creating hope through action’, aligns with the innovative work done by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led organisations and by NACCHO’s members to address disproportionate suicide rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly amongst our young people.

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults are 2.7 times more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress than other Australians. Our people comprise 11% of all emergency department mental health presentations across the Country. Our children and grandchildren continue to experience the impacts of past practices and policies. The rate of suicide for our young people is four times the rate of other Australian young people.

“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, social determinants affecting mental health can include factors such as cultural identity, family, intergenerational trauma, participation in cultural activities and access to traditional lands, lack of access to affordable housing, exposure to violence.

“The suffering of the Stolen Generations continues to have significant impacts on their health and well-being with intergenerational impacts of this trauma.

“In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.

“To address these factors, adequate and ongoing funding support for evidence-based, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led, social and emotional well-being (SEWB), mental health, and suicide prevention programs is vital, and we will continue to advocate for funding to support the rollout of culturally competent services.”

To read the media release in full click here.

New e-cigarette laws webinar

From Friday 1 October 2021 legislative changes will mean the only way to legally purchase unregistered nicotine vaping products will be with a GP prescription. This has implications for our communities and workforce.

NACCHO has partnered with RACGP and ANU to deliver an interactive webinar on these legislative changes and what they might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

The webinar will be held on: Wednesday 15 September 2021, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (AEST)

Professor Emily Banks from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ANU together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present the legislative changes and dive into some of the more emergent issues surrounding safety and toxicity risks, prescription of an unregistered product, harm minimisation including a case study and discussion points to support ACCHOs and health services to develop community-based vaping policies. The webinar will conclude with a 10 minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

To register for this FREE webinar click here.

hand holding a vapper, lots of smoke from mouth

Image source: The Guardian.

New approach to preventing suicide

Two leading organisations will work together on a new approach to preventing suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, combining proven strategies, to create a powerful blueprint for saving lives.

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) at The University of WA will collaborate with Black Dog Institute to develop an integrated systems approach to suicide prevention in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Taking the findings of the 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) as the starting point, the collaboration will work with Indigenous community organisations, clinicians, academics, and others to develop a combination of interventions with the potential to reduce Indigenous suicides. Tragically, suicide rates in this population are more than double that of other Australians.

Professor Pat Dudgeon, Director of the CBPATSISP said, “We demonstrated through ATSISPEP that the unacceptably high rate of suicide in our communities is a consequence of colonisation, intergenerational trauma and systemic racism, and we know that effective responses must be based on Indigenous leadership and empowerment.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Record demand for suicide prevention services

Record numbers of Australians are heeding the call to seek help from suicide prevention services in a “silver lining” that shows the sector is making a major contribution to keeping the community safe, according to a new report released this World Suicide Prevention Day.

Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said young people were seeking help at twice the rate of their parent’s generations, following decades of awareness-raising, stigma reduction initiatives and advocacy. “Creating hope through action is an important part of World Suicide Prevention Day and every other day of the year,” Ms Murray said.

Suicide Prevention Australia will today release its second annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention report, which shows 84% of suicide prevention services and workers experienced an increase in demand in the past 12 months (August 2020 to August 2021).

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release in full click here.

National Suicide Prevention Office

Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, the Morrison Government is recognising this year’s theme of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ by establishing the Australian National Suicide Prevention Office to lead a national mission to reduce the prevalence and impact of suicide in Australia.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and to promote action that will reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts. ‘Creating Hope Through Action’ is a reminder that there are actions that we can take that may provide hope to those who are feeling overwhelmed.

The Government is leading this work through record investment in, and concerted structural reform of, the national approach to suicide prevention. In a first for Australia, the new National Suicide Prevention Office will have the capability to work across all governments and sectors to drive a nationally consistent and integrated approach to reducing suicide rates.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: Calaveras County website.

Call for 90-95% NT vaccination threshold

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) has called on the NT Government to adopt a 90-95% Aboriginal vaccination rate threshold before opening the NT borders.

The call was made by AMSANT’s Board and endorsed by the AMSANT membership. “A target of a 90-95% vaccination rate for all Aboriginal Territorians 12 years and older is required if we are to prevent or minimise the deadly toll of COVID in our communities,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.

“The national target of 80% vaccinations of eligible adults 16 years and older would be a disaster in our communities, which have a much younger age profile and would equate to only about 55% of the total Aboriginal population vaccinated. At that level the virus would rip through our community like wildfire.”

“With one of the world’s highest rates of chronic disease and very overcrowded housing, we cannot risk the devastation this would cause. We only have to look at western NSW where our countrymen are suffering. Our hearts go out to them.”

To view AMSANT’s media release in full click here.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson. Image source: ABC News.

Homeless Noongar women die on streets

At least eight Noongar women have died homeless in Perth this winter, including six on the streets, sparking renewed calls for action to address the homelessness crisis. In 2020, 56 homeless people died on the streets, 28% of them Indigenous.

There are more than 1,000 people sleeping rough on the streets of Perth each night, with 40% Indigenous. Across WA, out of 10,000 homeless people, 30% are Indigenous. In total, 14,000 households are on the public housing waitlist.

Protests have been held to urge action, including the establishment of “tent cities” near Parliament House. Since the early August vigil for Alana Garlett, who died after being found ill while trying to sleep in the city in June, another three young Aboriginal women have been found dead within 250m of where Ms Garlett was found.

Noongar Elder Vanessa Culbong said the crisis is “a product of a system that’s failed us and continues to fail us. We can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel when women and birth-givers are dying in front of us.”

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

Aunty Barbara Moore

Aunty Barbara Moore at a rally to urge action to prevent more homeless deaths in Perth. Photo: Kearyn Cox, NITV. Image source: SBS News.

Reducing violence against First Nations women

The Federal Government will develop a “specific and targeted” National Plan to Reduce Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children after calls mounted at this week’s Women’s Safety Summit.

One of the leading voices advocating for an Indigenous-specific plan is the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS Forum). “It is essential that we are part of this important conversation,” said Antoinette Braybrook CEO of Djirra and National FVPLS Forum Co chair.

“Mainstream national plans create an invisibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children. They often do not take in the diversity of our people and our communities. The principles of self-determination are not front and centre in mainstream plans,” said Braybrook. “We must see this national crisis of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women end. The only way we can do that is by having our own dedicated national plan.”

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

photo taken from ground looking to sky Aboriginal woman's hand overlapping with child's hand, not touching

Image source: University of Melbourne – Pursuit.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Diabetes-related foot complications

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diabetes-related Foot Complication Program aims to reduce diabetes related foot complications and amputations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Top End region of the NT, Central Australia, SA,
the Kimberley region and Far North Queensland.

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is partnering with experts in the 5 regions from the Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Sector, government and non-government agencies, service providers, research institutions and national and regional peak bodies to implement a range of strategies to improve foot health. You are invited to hear about the implementation of this work from coordinators and staff in the regions from: 1:00 PM-4:00 PM ACST, Thursday 16 September 2021.

For further details, including a zoom link click here.

UNC Health Talk website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health problems dire long before COVID-19

feature tile text 'ATSI health problems dire long before COVID-19 hit' & image of Aboriginal man on dialysis Purple House

Health problems dire long before COVID-19

According to Brewarrina GP Dr Sonia Henry the recent headlines about the northwest of NSW have been clear in their message. Here are two: “Australia’s failure to vaccinate Indigenous Australians” and “Funeral in Wilcannia leads to COVID-19 spread”. Anyone who has lived or worked in remote Australia with Indigenous populations knows the real headline should be: “Australia’s failure of its Indigenous people – full stop”.

The reason Indigenous populations are so “vulnerable”, as we say, is that we effectively have created a two-tiered health system where this is inevitable, long before COVID-19 and long after.

Dr Henry says Brewarrina shares many similarities to Wilcannia (about 500 kms away), where COVID-19 is spreading through the Indigenous population. We all know if COVID-19 were to explode here, not only would issues such as overcrowding and food be problematic (we have two tiny shops, both of which would be forced to close if there were a big outbreak), but also what is always an issue – how to get decent medical care.

To view the article in full click here.

mural on Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA

A mural on the Moorundi Aboriginal Community Health Service building, Raukkan, SA. Photo: Coorong Council. Image source: The Australian. Image in feature tile: NITV news website.

ACCHO trying to meet high vaccine demand

Awabakal Ltd, which runs an Aboriginal medical service in the Hunter, has been running regular vaccination clinics to try and meet the high demand. They have been inundated with requests for appointments and are doing what they can to progress their waiting lists as quickly as possible, although demand far outweighs current supply.

Awabakal is considering mobile vaccination services. “We are in the process of assessing suitable locations and will actively seek to provide outreach services in the coming weeks,” it said.

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith said Aboriginal people often relied on organisations like Awabakal for health care, rather than GPs. “We don’t necessarily participate in the mainstream health sector like everyday Australians do. Generally we don’t get any help until it’s almost the 11th hour. Wilcannia and other communities are a clear example of where we are continuously being left behind and put in the too-hard basket.”

To view the article in full click here.

Worimi Local ALC Andrew Smith receiving first jab

Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Andrew Smith receiving first Pfizer vaccination. Image source: Newcastle Herald.

Community-led programs to reduce family violence

Nine service providers across Australia have received a share of $13.5 million for targeted community-led programs to reduce violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. This funding is part of $35.3 million for Indigenous-specific measures under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said each of these measures were driven by the experiences and expertise of local Indigenous communities. “Breaking the cycle of violence requires community-driven approaches that prioritise cultural healing and family restoration,” Minister Wyatt said. “Putting Indigenous experience at the heart of our efforts is absolutely crucial to reducing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children.”

To view the media release in full click here.

rear shot of three Aboriginal women in dim light, dusk

Image source: The Conversation.

Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021

On Monday this week (1 September 2021) the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) launched its Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report which shows measurable progress towards improving the eye health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Despite the pandemic’s impact, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people having an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist continued to grow, reaching 104,300 in 2019-20 (compared to 100,700 in 2018-19).

The report also highlights some of the continuing challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in accessing the eye care they need, such a wait times substantially longer for cataract surgery (a median number of 124 days) than for other Australians (82 days).

Vision 2020 Australia says investing in public provision of priority treatments (such as cataract surgery and treatments for diabetic eye disease), supporting development of community led models and building local case management that can help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people connect to, and remain engaged with, treatment are all critical.

Vision 2020 Australia continues to call for Australian Government investment in these and other priority areas so that we can achieve the goal of ending avoidable blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by 2025.

You can read Vision 2020 Australia’s media release in full here and access the AIHW Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2021 report here.cover of AIHW Indigenous eye health measures 2021 report

Old homelessness interventions don’t work

A government taskforce looking at Adelaide’s Aboriginal homelessness population has found COVID-19 lockdown shelters which permitted alcohol consumption and yarning circles led by Indigenous translators and leaders were more successful than traditional responses.

The taskforce’s report found that unless changes occur to understand and help the “constantly changing groups of people” who gather in the City of Adelaide and Adelaide Parklands, there will continue to be “severe” health and safety consequences of Aboriginal people. “Tragically, this includes a significant but unknown number of Aboriginal people dying prematurely in the heart of the City of Adelaide,” the report says.

Some of the 30 recommendations include decriminalising public drunkenness, funding more Aboriginal health workers, and pursuing tenancy reform to support more culturally appropriate housing.

To view the article in full click here.

homeless person lying on ground covered entirely with blanket, next to shopping trolley

Image source: CityMag website.

First Nations’ community development framework

Community First Development’s (CFD) latest publication A First Nations’ Approach to Community Development: our community development framework results from over 20 years of experience and practice working alongside First Nations’ communities.

Alyawarre woman, Ms Pat Anderson AO, known nationally and internationally as a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples, said, “It is my view that  Community First Development’s Community Development Framework is an essential guide in the field of community development, both in Australia and internationally. This practical and ethical guide is the culmination of conversations shared, relationships nurtured, and activities facilitated. I encourage you to read and reflect on this guide and consider how your initiatives can respect, promote, and fulfil the right to self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

To learn more, join a webinar with special guests Ms Pat Anderson AO, Stephanie Harvey, CEO regional staff and representatives from two communities from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Wednesday 8 September. To register click here.

cover of 'A first nations' Approach to Community Development', image of two Aboriginal boys sitting on back of a ute

Overdose deaths remain stubbornly high

International Overdose Awareness Day, marked on Tuesday this week (31 August 2021) is proclaimed as the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

It also comes with an urgent demand for action on a number of fronts according to Professor Dan Lubman and Associate Professor Suzanne Nielsen, from Turning Point and the Monash Addiction Research Centre who have written:

‘Unfortunately, the number of Australian deaths from unintentional overdose remains higher than the national road toll, and deaths involving heroin and climbing. We build safety barriers on our roads to reduce fatalities, but too often our response to drug use is just to park the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. As heroin harms increase, we need to rapidly upscale a broader range of treatment options, and remove as many barriers to care as possible.’

‘Pilots and trials are welcome, but we’ve had evidence-based solutions to the problem of overdose for a long time. They should be implemented everywhere and without further delay. As we’ve seen with other public health responses, small, slow steps in the right direction are not enough in the race to save lives.’

To view the Croakey Health Media article in full click here.

purple ribbon, black background, text in chalk font 'Drug Overdose Awareness'

New process for job advertising

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

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

Women’s Health Week

In 2013, realising there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the very first national Women’s Health Week. Women’s Health Week held from Monday 6 to Friday 10 September 2021 is a nation-wide campaign of events and online activities – all centred on improving women’s health and helping women to make healthier choices. For more information click here.

During Women’s Health Week the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention will hold its final public hearing with a focus on the mental health concerns and systems that impact women.

Chair, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said ‘The Committee commends the work of Jean Hailes in continuing Women’s Health Week. When we support women in accessing mental health care, as and when they need it, we improve women’s overall health, boost women’s participation in the workforce, and support Australian families.’ To view the Parliament of Australia’s media release in full click here.

Aboriginal mother & two young children, girl, boy

Image source: Jean Hailes for women’s health website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

feature tile text 'International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples a time to recognise ACCHO health Professionals' & photo of 6 Gidgee health workers with COVID-19 polos

International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

As the national leadership body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia and a member of the Coalition of Peaks, NACCHO advocates for community-developed solutions that contribute to the quality of life and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

We wish to share our appreciation of our health professionals working across all the 143 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). Your dedication, resilience and hard work is what has kept our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic with 25% of our mob now fully vaccinated.

For more information on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples visit the relevant page of the United Nations website here.

tile text 'International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples 9 August - We Are Indigenous ' photo of 6 women wearing COVID-19 team health worker polos

Gidgee Healing staff wearing NACCHO’s COVID-19 vaccine polo shirts.

ACCHO connects Yarrabah for better healthcare

In the 1980s, when community members at Yarrabah in far north Queensland were fighting for self-determination, they saw the need for Aboriginal health to be in the hands of their own people and the concept of a community-controlled health organisation was born. Today, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service delivers primary healthcare across the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire and has been doing so for decades.

To mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has used a series of videos to recognise Gurriny Yealamucka and the Yarrabah community for embracing innovation and the use of technology to deliver better healthcare. Gurriny Yealamucka means ‘good healing water’ in the language of the Gunggandji Peoples of Yarrabah. The Gunggandji peoples are the traditional owners of Yarrabah and they and the historical peoples of Yarrabah, who were brought there as part of the Stolen Generations and have built Yarrabah into what it is today.

This includes the development of a remarkable and resilient healthcare service that moved to digital healthcare in 2014. Director of Clinical Services at Gurriny Yealamucka, a Yued Noongar man from Dandaragan WA, Dr Jason King said one of the fascinating things about Aboriginal culture is that information about the world around them has always been evolving and so communities, almost by second nature, understand the importance of transmitting information from one generation to the next.

To view the Australian Government ADHA media release click here. and watch one of the videos below.

Joint Council locks in Implementation Plans

The Coalition of Peaks (CoP) representatives attended the sixth meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap on Friday 6 August 2021. The meeting focused on the parties Implementation Plans. These plans outline the tangible actions that are to be taken to advance the four Priority Reforms and achieve the socio-economic outcomes committed to under the National Agreement.

“It is pleasing to see the first Implementation Plans under the Agreement. The CoP will be analysing them closely over the coming weeks to understand how governments propose to meet their commitments, timelines, to identify leading examples of good practice and areas where improvements are warranted. The Plans are also an important accountability tool, and the onus is now on every party to turn their commitments into practice, so we meet the objectives of the National Agreement” said Ms Pat Turner, Lead Convenor of the CoP.

“Being only the first round, we all know there will be room for improvement in various areas, and we will continue to work with all jurisdictions to improve and deepen our partnership arrangements as we monitor, measure and expand our efforts to close the gap. All Parties are on a learning curve about how our new partnership can fully transform the way governments work to close the gaps that exist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Opportunities must be taken to learn from those jurisdictions that are taking the most innovative steps in implementing the National Agreement. All parties have committed to regularly update and renew our Implementation Plans, and to strengthen them over time.”

To view the CoP’s media release click here and to access the CoP website click here.

New CTG social services and justice funding

The Morrison Government is investing $98 million in a series of innovative new programs to prevent vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families falling through the cracks as part of the first Closing the Gap Implementation Plan. Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the new Social Services programs would help address disproportionately high rates or family and domestic violence, and the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care. Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the programs would embed cultural competency and trauma responsiveness by ensuring Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations play a central role in service provision.

To view the media release click here.

Image source: Wandiyali Children’s Services website.

The Australian Government has released the Commonwealth’s first Implementation Plan under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap. It includes a commitment of more than $1 billion to support Australian Government actions towards achieving the Priority Reforms and the 17 socio-economic outcomes. Over $25 million in targeted investments will be directed towards reducing the overrepresentation of adult and youth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system (Targets 10 and 11). The Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt, and I are committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to achieve long term, meaningful change, said the Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Aboriginal health workers recognised

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), in collaboration with the National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP), said it was important to acknowledge and celebrate the National Day of Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners on the Saturday 7 August 2021 as the unique workforce of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Practitioner is the important link between the community and the health provider.

The dedication and success of the Aboriginal Health Worker and Practitioner workforce has underpinned their recognition as world leaders in innovative, culturally-safe health care practice. “AMSANT acknowledges and applauds the commitment and unstinting work of our Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners in continuing to provide essential primary health care and trusted support to their communities”, AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said. “I encourage young people to consider the Aboriginal Health Worker and Practitioner profession as a career that is both rewarding and greatly valued by the community”, Mr Paterson concluded.

To view AMSANT media release in full click here.

Image source: Danila Dilba Health Service, NT.

Perth homelessness service opens 

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk has officially launched the new Boorloo Bidee Mia homelessness service for people sleeping rough in the Perth metropolitan area. The transitional accommodation facility at 300 Wellington Street, secured by the Department of Communities with a three-year lease, will provide support for up to 100 adult rough sleepers, including tailored care plans for each resident aimed at addressing their specific needs. The service will operate under the name Boorloo Bidee Mia, which represents ‘Perth pathway to housing’ in the Whadjuk dialect of the Noongar language. It was developed in consultation with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) Wungening Aboriginal Corporation and Noongar Mia Mia.

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: The Property Tribune, WA.

Telehealth and drones can’t fix rural health

Healthcare in regional Australia has always suffered in comparison to the metro areas. Sometimes it’s simply not feasible to offer specialist treatments without a certain population density. Sometimes the equipment is too expensive, too difficult to maintain, or simply too difficult to operate without specialist training.

It’s probably one of the few positives of the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a quiet change in healthcare. The telehealth appointment. Until March 2020 telehealth appointments received no Medicare rebate and therefore couldn’t be bulk billed. The temporary measure has been extended to the end of 2021 and there are hopes amongst the medical profession that it becomes permanent.

To view the full article in the Central Western Daily click here.

Image source: Drones in Healthcare website.

New end-of-life care legal training 

A free online course on end-of-life law designed to remove uncertainty about patient rights and the legal responsibilities of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals was launched today (9 August). The End of Life Law for Clinicians course, first launched in 2019 for doctors, has been updated and tailored for all health professionals including medical practitioners and medical students, nurses, paramedics, social workers, speech pathologists, dietitians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and psychologists.

A survey of health professionals, as well as previous research undertaken by QUT, has found significant end of life legal knowledge gaps in these groups. The course is the result of years of research by QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Researchers Professor Ben White and Professor Lindy Willmott on health professionals’ knowledge of end-of-life law. It has been developed with QUT palliative care expert Distinguished Professor Patsy Yates and health law researcher Associate Professor Shih-Ning Then.

For further information about the training click here.

Image source: Australian Ageing Agenda website.

Yarning about HPV Vaccination

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience a higher burden of cervical cancer than non-Indigenous women in Australia. Cervical cancer is preventable partly through human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination; in Australia, this is delivered through the national school-based immunisation programme. While HPV vaccination uptake is high among Australian adolescents, there remain gaps in uptake and completion among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents.

A new study is being undertaken that aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of the barriers and facilitators to HPV vaccination uptake and completion among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents in Queensland, Australia is being undertaken The study will be guided by an Indigenist research approach and an ecological model for health promotion. Yarning, a qualitative Indigenous research method, will be conducted in up to 10 schools.

For more information about the study click here and to watch a video about HPV vaccine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences click below.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here. Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

International Youth Day

International Youth Day (IYD) is to raise awareness designated by the United Nations. The purpose of the day is to draw attention to the problems young people face today and to unite and celebrate youth worldwide. The first IYD was observed on 12 August 2000.

The theme of International Youth Day 2021, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health” has the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.

IYD this year is on Thursday, 12 August 2021. For more information about IYD you can access the relevant section of the UN website here.

banner text 'International Youth Day' in green capitals & 'transforming food systems Thursday 12 August 2021'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference 2021

NACCHO Member’s Conference 2021

The 2021 NACCHO Youth Conference, Members’ Conference and Annual General Meeting has been confirmed to run from Monday 22 November to Thursday 25 November 2021. The conference will be held at the National Convention Centre Canberra.

The NACCHO Annual Members’ Conference, Youth Conference, EGM and AGM will be a COVID-safe event. The health and wellbeing of our members and stakeholders are of utmost priority and hence we will monitor constantly the Australian Government regulations and guidelines around COVID-19 and evolve our plans based on the current direction for the venue state ACT and across Australia.

Due to the developing COVID-19 situation across Australia and the ongoing uncertainty about travel restrictions, the event may get postponed to later date due to the unforeseen COVID-19 restrictions.

You can access the NACCHO National Conference Prospectus Package 2021 here.

PM thanks Coalition of Peaks 

PM Scott Morrison delivered the annual Closing the Gap (CTG) statement to Parliament, yesterday announcing a $1 billion plan to reduce disadvantage among Indigenous Australians.

You can watch video footage of the PM speaking to the media from Parliament House yesterday after announcing the plan. The PM thanks head of the Coalition of Peaks (CoP) Pat Turner for “bringing together over 50 organisations who serve Indigenous Australians all around the country with the passion, professionalism and dedication” here. You can also read a transcript of the entire press conference here and Pat Turner’s speech extracted here.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Coalition of Peaks head Pat Turner at a press conference in Parliament House

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Coalition of Peaks head Pat Turner at a press conference in Parliament House. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS News.

Organisations welcome CTG funding

A range of organisations have welcomed the PM’s announcement of more than $1 billion in new measures committed over the next five years towards Closing the Gap outcomes. Below is a sample of some of the statements made:

Australian Human Rights Commission Executive Officer Dr Joe Tighe said that “while Close the Gap Campaign members are acutely aware of the depth of the needs to be met, it is important to pause and acknowledge the tireless work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who enable significant steps forward such as this.”

Suicide Prevention Australia said in its media release the focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with $160 million for the Healthy Mums and Healthy Bubs program, the Community Child Care Fund, the Connected Beginnings Program and the Early Years Education Program.

Central Land Council chief executive Lesley Turner said in its media release the new funding is a good start, “This is a welcome step forward to improve the lives of Aboriginal people and communities through a whole-of-government approach in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled partners.”

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said in her media release “It’s pleasing to see significant contributions to support critical improvements in key areas, such as more than $250 million to support Aboriginal medical clinics, $75 million to support remote education and $7.6 million to create a Justice Policy Partnership to drive national action to reduce incarceration rates. This new level of policy focus, engagement and action marks a big step forward.”

SNAICC welcomed the announcement of $120 million of new federal government investments to improve access to quality early childhood education. An additional $81.8 million will expand the Connected Beginnings program in 27 new sites across the country, a program that aims to support the integration of early childhood education, health, development and family support programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. In a media release SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said “This major new investment is critical for supporting our young children and families. Under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, we have an opportunity to work differently to achieve the best outcomes for our kids.”

Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page said in a media release the funding will enable many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to access high-quality early childhood education and care, providing a strong foundation for lifelong learning, health and wellbeing, “We know that 2 in 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are developmentally vulnerable when they start school. This investment will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, particularly in rural and remote areas, won’t miss out on the critical benefits of early learning.”

Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said in a media release the announcement of $120 in programs to improve access to preschool for Indigenous children in regional and remote Australia as part of the Closing the Gap implementation plan was recognition of the importance of high quality and universally accessible early learning. “We know that high quality early childhood education sets children up for life. When children attend high quality early learning they start school ready to learn and have greater opportunities to fulfil their potential in later life.”

The initial funding breakdown and the Commonwealth Plan can be accessed here.

Image source: AbSec website.

CTG plan ignores housing crisis

Some advocates are already warning the Federal Government’s plan for the new Closing the Gap targets lacks any significant commitment on one key issue: remote housing. John Patterson, CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory and NT Representative on the Closing the Gap Council You was interviewed on ABC Radio National about his concerns. You can listen to the interview here.

housing in Arnhem Land, tents, run down building

Housing in Arnhem Land. Photo: Lucy Marks. Image source: ABC RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly.

On the same day as this interview the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Standing Committee – Final report: Inquiry into homelessness in Australia. You can access the report here. The report calls for Australian government to work together to establish a ten-year national strategy on homelessness. In a media release, the Chair of the Committee, Mr Andrew Wallace MP, highlighted that a coordinated national approach is needed to bring down the number of people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Truth of Australia’s incarceration

Every day, thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia wake up behind the bars of Australian prisons. Children live out their childhood in juvenile detention centres, hundreds of kilometres away from their family. Families continue to fight for justice and accountability for the deaths of their once imprisoned relatives, while the calls for solutions which empower Indigenous Australians to drive the change needed become louder. Incarceration Nation lays bare the story of the continued systemic injustice and inequality experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their own land, told by Indigenous Australians, experts and academics. Premiering on free to air television on Sunday 29 August at 8:30pm, National Indigenous Television (NITV) is proud to bring this important documentary to Australian screens.

You can view the NITV media release here.

painting of Aboriginal fist in shackles with text 'incarceration nation'

Addressing health inequity research

The latest issue of the Australian Health Review, the academic journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), shines a light on a deep problem in healthcare – health inequity experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – and focuses on some of the key issues which can be addressed to improve the health outcomes,’ says Editor-in-Chief, Professor Sonĵ Hall.

‘In a policy reflection, Dr Janine Mohamed, CEO of Lowitja Institute, highlights the importance of strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce. ‘Dr Mohamed’s message of strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce to improve the care outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is one that is echoed in a perspectives piece by Dr Chris Bourke, Andrew McAuliffe and Prof Lisa Jamieson.

You can access the article in full here.

Image source: American College of Health Care Executives.

Cultural Determinants of Health webinar

If you haven’t registered already, we’d love for you to join us live for the fourth webinar in our Cultural Determinants of Health webinar series. We will be live on

12:00pm – 1:30pm – Friday 13 August

This webinar will focus on connection to family, kinship and community the cohesive forces that bind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people together. Topics we’ll be covering include:

  • Aboriginal social structures and how these are different to Western societies
  • Whole identity relationships and bonds across Nations and Clans
  • Aboriginal kinship systems and how they operate
  • Potential conflict in working with people from differing cultural backgrounds
  • Cultural load and leadership in the community
  • Family structures and the sets of rights and obligations underlying them

You can register for the webinar here.logo text 'Centre for healthcare Knowledge & Innovation - Collaborate - Learn - Advance] blue circle overlaid with small red blue gold circles

New process for job advertising

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

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

International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on annually on 9 August to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous population. The day is needed, as across the world, Indigenous peoples are often among the poorest ethnic groups in society. According to the UN, indigenous people make up less than 5% of the world’s population but account for 15% of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

To learn more about International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples click here.

On this day, Monday 9 August 2021, UN Women will be calling for a new social contract to rebuild our world in a way that is forward-looking, equitable and targeted to the most marginalized. An ongoing legacy of exclusionary polices, underrepresentation in decision-making and corruption in land and natural resource management in many countries means that indigenous peoples often face a lifetime of poverty, exclusion and discrimination. For indigenous women and girls experiencing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, the effects can span generations and be exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

To view the UN Women’s statement click here.

logo text 'International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples - 9 August' banner lines yellow, red, green, brown, cream background

NACCHO Members’ Conference 2021

NACCHO have announced the date of their Members’ Conference, Youth Conference, EGM and AGM for 2021 – Monday 22 – Thursday 25 November 2021, Canberra.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Proud in culture, strong in spirit

Feature tile - Wed.4.8.21 - Proud in culture, strong in spirit - Children's Day

Proud in culture, strong in spirit

Today we celebrate the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2021 with the theme ‘Proud in culture, strong in spirit’.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the right to experience and be proud of their history, cultural beliefs and practices.

The Children’s Day 2021 theme highlights the importance of supporting strong family and community connections to help our children achieve strong spiritual and cultural wellbeing and to form proud cultural identities.

Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. It is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.

Visit the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2021 website to find out more and view available resources.

@SNAICC #ProudInCulture #StrongInSpirit #NATSIChildrensDay

 

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills fully vaccinated – urging mob to follow

Donnella Mills, a proud Torres Strait Islander woman with ancestral and family links to Masig and Nagir, Chair of NACCHO and Deputy Chair of Wuchopperen Health Service, gets her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Wuchopperen in Cairns. She urges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to follow up and get your second dose of the vaccine in order to safely receive the level of protection from COVID-19.

“I’m just thrilled that I have been able to get my second dose here at home,” said Ms Mills.

She gave a massive shout-out to all the staff across our 143 ACCHOs thanking them for being so dedicated and so committed in protecting our mob.

“Get Vaccinated,” said Ms Mills. “Have a yarn with your health worker, your doctor or your nurse. Get the answers that you need to feel safe. Get yourself vaccinated so that you can protect yourself, protect each other and protect our communities.

Visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

You can view the video featuring Ms Mills below.
#FullyVaccinated

 

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

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

11:30am–12:00pm this Thursday 5 August 2021.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Frances Rice, Senior Nurse Advisor, Department of Health.

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

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

tile light blue background text in navy 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for GPs' pink vector virus cells

 

WellMob launch new e-newsletter

HealthInfoNet‘s WellMob are excited to announce that the first edition of their e-newsletter has arrived!

The newsletter will highlight some useful online resources on the WellMob website, including the Dadirri the deep inner spring inside us video below, along with some tips for the health and wellbeing workforce on how to use these resources with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

Check out the new e-newsletter here.

vector open envelope with piece of paper coming out text 'WellMob Healing Our Way' & WellMob logo; background teal with Aboriginal dot painting circles

 

Improving rare cancer survival

Improving survival rates for cancers of unknown primary (CUP) and reducing the proportion of Indigenous Australians diagnosed with CUP will be the focus of a new Flinders University-led project, which recently received a $2.4 million grant from the federal government.

Cancers of unknown primary are those that, despite a myriad of tests, doctors cannot determine where in the body the cancer started. As the primary site is unknown, site-specific treatment cannot be initiated, reducing the chance of survival. While CUP only accounts for 1.6% of cases in Australia, among Indigenous Australians that incident is 2.1 times higher, with a 5-year survival rate of only 9% – almost half that of the non-Indigenous population.

Professor Chris Karapetis from the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute will lead the project and says despite the availability of guidelines, or an ‘optimal care pathway’, for treating CUP they are yet to be universally implemented, impacting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. “What we are currently seeing is people with suspected CUP may experience inappropriate or excessive tests, or the recommended tests aren’t being used enough. This can lead to delayed or inaccurate diagnosis, or a missed opportunity to identify a primary site, which then results in poorer outcomes. Our project aims to evaluate what impact adhering to the optimal care pathway has on patients diagnosed with CUP in SA and the NT.”

To view the article Improving survival of rare caner for Indigenous Australians in full click here.

dark blue image of cells

Photo: Getty. Image source: Flinders University website.

 

Lived experiences of Aboriginal/LGBTIQ+ people

A first of its kind study by Edith Cowan University has revealed the significant impact of racism, queerphobia and social exclusion on the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ people.

As part of the study, two recently published reports provide important insights and recommendations for the health, education and community services sectors to support those living at this unique intersection. You can access the two Breaking the silence reports using the links below:

vector drawing of Aboriginal person with rainbow colour earings, orange t-shirt

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

 

Digital health tools a game changer

Digital health tools are changing how healthcare is delivered in Australia. Access to My Health Record and telehealth consultations is transforming health service delivery, not only in remote Aboriginal communities but across the country.

Please join the Australian Digital Health Agency, WA Primary Health Alliance, Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, and special guest panel members from Aboriginal Medical Services across WA, to hear how digital health has been a game changer for them.

Healthcare professionals from across all sectors are encouraged to attend, hear these success stories and be inspired to start using digital health. There will also be the opportunity for participants to ask questions.

The webinar will be held from 5:30 – 6:30pm AWST (7:30 – 8:30pm AEST) on Tuesday 31 August 2021. To register click here.

wooden surface with iPad (showing text results), pen, safety glasses, mask, stethoscope, x-ray, notepad and EDG printout

Image source: Majorel website.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

 

Homelessness Week 1–7 August

In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have historically been over-represented among clients seeking homelessness and social housing services. More than 23,000 (1 in 28) Indigenous Australians were homeless on Census night 2016. Despite making up less than 3% of the Australian population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders account for 20% of the homeless population.

Homelessness Week 2021 which runs from Sunday 1 August to Saturday 7 August aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.

Access an ABC article Without a Home here to find out more about homelessness in Australia and for more information about Homelessness Week 2021 visit the Homelessness Australia website here.

tile text 'homelessness week 2021 1–7 "Everybody needs a home" - Homelessness Australia" Homelessness Australia logo, palms of hands with key; navy background, lime green font

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

Delta outbreak would devastate remote communities

In an article in the ABC News, outback doctors warn that the COVID-19 Delta variant makes a regional outbreak even more dangerous. They said they do not have enough staff, let alone ventilators, to cope with a Delta outbreak.

NACCHO medical adviser, Dr Jason Agostino, said to ABC News that talk of abandoning any attempt to control COVID-19 would be dangerous.

“In remote Australia and across all of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, we only have around 22 per cent of people [who] have received a first dose of any vaccine, and that’s much lower than in the non-Indigenous population.

“We know that COVID-19 causes more serious disease in people with chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes and heart disease and [that] it spreads easily among crowded houses.

“Unfortunately, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have these chronic diseases from younger ages and also live in crowded houses.

Dr Agostino agreed it was important for Australia to find vaccines that were safe for Indigenous children and said that, until a much higher rate of vaccination had been achieved, “lockdowns are going to be a way of life”.

You can view the article in ABC News here.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times.

Kids playing in remote community. Image credit: Brisbane Times. Feature tile image credit of University of Queensland website.

Successful place-based pandemic approach

Pandemics such as COVID-19 are a serious public health risk for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, yet primary healthcare systems are not well resourced to respond to such urgent events. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal government advisory group recommended a rapid, tailored Indigenous response to prevent predicted high morbidity and mortality rates. This paper examines the efforts of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service (Gurriny), which in the absence of dedicated funding, pivoted its operations in response to COVID-19.

Gurriny is the only primary healthcare service in the discrete Indigenous community of Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. They responded to COVID-19 by leading with local solutions to keep Yarrabah safe. Four key strategies were implemented: managing the health service operations, realigning services, educating and supporting community, and working across agencies.

The success of the locally led, holistic, comprehensive and culturally safe response of Gurriny suggests that such tailored place-based approaches to pandemics (and other health issues) are appropriate, but require dedicated resourcing.

You can read the paper in the DocWire News here.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service.

Eye health inequity

A recent study published on Science Direct provides a critical realist analysis of eye health inequity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The prevalence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is three times greater than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to a greater risk of blindness from treatable and preventable ocular conditions, most prominently cataract and diabetic retinopathy. In rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, blindness prevalence is higher, and ocular treatment coverage and uptake are lower. In collaboration with Aboriginal Community Based Researchers, this study explored complex contingent factors that shape access to eye health services among rural and remote Aboriginal Australians living with diabetes.

The paper highlighted that:

  • Sociocultural contingencies shape eye health outcomes among Aboriginal Australians.
  • Linguistic, economic, and cultural marginalisation underpin eye health inequity.
  • Differences between Western biomedical and Aboriginal cultural norms form tensions.
  • Supporting linguistic and cultural sovereignty in clinical spaces is needed.
  • Cultural responsivity training and an expanded Aboriginal health workforce are key.

Read the full study in Science Direct here.

close up image of face of elderly Aboriginal stockman with felt hat, blind in one eye

Image source: The Fred Hollows Foundation website.

Bridging the Gap in homeownership

Owning your own home has long been part of the Aussie dream, however for some indigenous Australians this pursuit is difficult to achieve for a number of economic, social and cultural reasons.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, 38 per cent of indigenous people owned their own home compared to two-thirds of non-indigenous Australians.

According to AIHW, “not having affordable, secure and appropriate housing can have negative consequences, including homelessness, poor health, and lower rates of employment and education participation – all of which can lead to social exclusion and disadvantage”.

Acknowledging this fact, Nicheliving has established a new division called Kambarang, created to bridge the gap for indigenous people and their communities, providing access to affordable housing opportunities to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

“The unit’s main goal is to support homeownership through providing open discussions, cultural support, credit assistance, communication and process support, affordable housing options, loan support and an end-to-end experience, including settlement,” said Nicheliving Managing Director Ronnie Michel-Elhaj.

You can read the story in The West Australian here.

Nicheliving - Willetton

Nicheliving – Willetton. Image credit: Julius Pang via The West Australian.

NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap

The NSW 2021-2022 Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap is focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination. The starting point in 2021-22 is to focus on the five Priority Reform areas as they know that transforming the way governments work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is key to creating positive change. They have also identified a few focus areas under each Priority Reform.

They are working in partnership to bring together expertise from across Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies to develop further detailed and ambitious actions. To do this, they need your voice. Get involved and tell them what will make the biggest difference to you and your communities here.

You can view the 2021-22 NSW Implementation Plan for Closing the Gap here.
Visit the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website for more information here.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

School students from St Francis Xavier School in Daly River, Southwest of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Image credit: The Herald Sun.

Winnunga Newsletter

The Winnunga Newsletter June – July 2021 edition is now available here.

Winnunga News June-July 2021 banner

Red socks for kidney support

Kidney Health Australia’s Red Socks Appeal is back and better than ever. Grab your friends, family, your work buddies, even your beloved pooch and either join Kidney Health Australia on one of their Red Socks Walks, set yourself a challenge or buy yourself a pair of red socks to show people living with kidney disease you care.

Wondering what Red Socks have to do with kidney disease? People on dialysis are strapped to a machine for 60 hours a month on average while it cleans their blood. While having dialysis treatment they often get cold, especially their feet. This is why Kidney Health Australia is asking you to go bold this October and wear Red Socks to show people living with kidney disease that you care.

Read more about the appeal and how you can show your support here.

Kidney Health Australia Red Sock Appeal

New process for job advertising

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

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


dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

Connecting to Country grants program open

The Connecting to Country grants program is now open, providing support to culture and arts projects and initiatives that renew links between community, Country and culture.

Aboriginal people and organisations can apply for up to $25,000 for activities on-Country that encourage sharing of cultural knowledge and skills between generations, preservation of culture and strengthening of communities.

Applications close: 26 August 2021.
For more information visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries website here.

Connecting to Country program image.

Connecting to Country program image.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: National housing response needed

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

National housing response needed

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

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

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

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

To read the opinion piece in full click here.

makeshift housing on edge of Tennant Creek, NT

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

Trial could change type 2 diabetes treatment

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

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

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal person's hands doing blood sugar test

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia website.

COVID-19 assets for mob

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

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

To view the range of resources click here.

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

One of the #keepourmobsafe COVID-19 resources.

Community sector climate justice webinar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lowering heart disease risk resources

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

Aboriginal woman in outdoor setting using weight resistant exercise equipment

Image source: The Heart Foundation.

Infectious disease ‘surveillance network’

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

Image source: 1800 my options website.

First Nations to inform national plan

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

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

To view the media release click here.

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

Image source: Monash University LENS website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

feature tile 2.7.21 text 'protect our people who give us the knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation.' image of NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills in light pink top & gold chair with hand against shoulder where she has had the covid-19 vaccine

Protect our people who give us knowledge to Heal Country, heal our nation!

NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills says NAIDOC Week 2021 calls upon all of us to continue to seek greater protection for our lands, our Elders, our people, and safeguard our culture.

“The health of Country, and the health of First Nation’s people, is firmly bound together. Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. After 250 years of dispossession and dislocation, traditional connection to Country and knowledge of Country is precarious. So much rests in the hands and minds of our Elders, our living national treasures. Right now, we have to protect the people who give us the knowledge to heal Country.”

“We have shown the world what can be done to keep First Nations peoples safe during a global pandemic. In the USA, the Navajo had the highest death rate of any ethnic population. In Australia, not one Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has died from COVID-19. That is because the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector and Governments are working together to protect our most vulnerable families and communities. Our sector should be proud. Indeed, the pandemic is not yet defeated, but at least recent gains have positioned us well and we can afford a little time to reflect on what we have achieved.”

“We have a new challenge and that is to urgently vaccinate our people!”

To view the media statement from NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills click here.

You can also watch Donnella talk about the COVID-19 vaccination in the short video below.

Remote NT community almost fully vaccinated

Tarna Andrews was scared of getting the needle. So scared that last month she visited her local clinic, sat down in the waiting room, and left before she could be seen. “I walked out because I had been speaking to some of my family, they were scared,” she said.  “Now I’ve had the needle, I’m safe and happy now.”

Ms Andrews, a Pitjantjatjara teacher in Utju, 200 kms from Alice Springs, is one of many in her community who have had their first dose of the jab despite months of vaccine scepticism. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC), who runs the clinic there, said that almost everyone who was eligible in the remote community had been vaccinated, bucking a trend of vaccine scepticism among remote residents in the NT.

Fellow resident and a community worker for Congress, Frank Dixon, said word of mouth had helped reverse the tides of concern he was fielding in his community. “People started talking, gathering families and friends together to talk about it — people felt safe,” he said.

The vaccination rate in Utju is the envy of Congress’s four other remote clinics, especially as Alice Springs heads into lockdown. CAAC CEO Ms Ah Chee said the organisation hoped more people, especially in remote communities where there is a high burden of disease, would want to get the jab as a result of the recent cluster, “This is a timely reminder, we’ve been lucky for the last 18 months and it’s here. It’s not going away,”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal woman Tarna Andrews from Utju, sitting outside, red dust, couple of camp dogs, yellow black beanie, black t-shirt, pink t-shirt, red grey hoodie, orange glasses on top of head

Tarna Andres is encouraging family members in other remote communities to get vaccinated. Photo: Samantha Jonscher, ABC Alice Springs. Image source: ABC News website.

COVID-19 and remote communities

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner was on the panel of the ABC television program The Drum last night. Pat Turner spoke on a range of issues saying “Aboriginal communities will continue to suffer and be among the most vulnerable with every new pandemic unless we fix up the living environments and the housing of Aboriginal people. We will not close the gap without addressing these issues.” You can watch this edition of The Drum here.

screenshot of frame from ABC The Drum Pat Turner CEO NACCHO talking

Pat Turner, CEO NACCHO, The Drum 1 July 2021.

Rough sleepers ‘completely neglected’

Aboriginal organisations have expressed frustration at the NT government’s “flawed” pandemic response, demanding it do more to accommodate hundreds of Aboriginal people sleeping rough around town centres they say are at risk of COVID-19. Both Darwin and Alice Springs were in lockdown amid concerns about the significant risk posed to Aboriginal communities.

The CEO of the Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service, Olga Havnen said the lack of support for homeless people created a “ridiculous situation”. “The pandemic response plan doesn’t include any provision for housing people who may be homeless or visitors to town,” Havnen said. “Here we are on day four of a lockdown, and they’re only just sorting out the arrangements that might be made available for Aboriginal people, particularly visitors and rough sleepers who might need a COVID-19 test, and who will need to self-isolate.” “Who else in the community gets so studiously ignored under these sorts of circumstances? It’s either gross incompetence, maladministration or straight out racism. Or probably, a combination of all three,” Havnen said.

Danila Dilba, Yilli Aboriginal housing, AMSANT (the Aboriginal medical services of the NT) and NAAJA (the Aboriginal legal service) jointly called on the NT government to “get people off the streets today”. “Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our community, many of them have not been vaccinated, and the NT government’s pandemic response plan has completely neglected them,” the CEO of AMSANT, John Paterson, said.

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

4 Aboriginal men with masks walking along Smith Street, Darwin

People wearing masks in Smith Street, Darwin. Image source: The Guardian.

Calls for increased FIFO COVID-19 testing

Mining sites that operate near “vulnerable” remote Aboriginal communities and rely on FIFO workers need to regularly test staff for COVID-19, insist peak health groups.

NACCO CEO Pat Turner said people should be immediately isolated and given a rapid COVID-19 test when they arrived on site and workers should only be allowed to mingle after returning a negative result. “Every mining site that is in reasonable proximity to remote Aboriginal communities or in regional towns where there are lots of Aboriginal people should have mandatory COVID-19 testing for all workers returning to the site,” Ms Turner said. “This should be standard practice.” Ms Turner said workers should be re-tested in a week or two in case they were incubating the virus or became infected by a co-worker while on site.

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson agreed. “Mining companies should have permanently employed physicians on-site that check [workers] in when they get in and check them out on the way out,” he said. “It’s critical that we do as much testing as possible especially when it comes to a lot of people doing a lot of travel. To view the full article click here.

Annual health check resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have a collection of resources, including videos, podcasts and print resources about the free annual health check for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. To access the resource collection click here.

cover of brochure text 'patient information your health is in your hands - have you had your 715 health check?' photo of Aboriginal woman holding toddler & health worker in outdoor setting, purple, aqua, black colours, Aboriginal & Torres Strait flags

DoH Your health is in your hands brochure.

Importance of cultural strengths in suicide prevention

Suicide deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to increase and are an unrelenting tragedy for families and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) people take their own lives at twice the rate of other Australians. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Indigenous males (vs 10th non-Indigenous) and the seventh leading cause of death for Indigenous females (vs 23rd non-Indigenous).

Suicide rates peak disproportionately young for Indigenous people; the median age for the suicide death of an Indigenous person is 29, while suicide accounts for one-third of all deaths of Indigenous children aged 5 to 17 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and is the largest cause of Indigenous child deaths. Overall, the same ABS figures show the Indigenous suicide rate increased from 21.3 to 24.6 per 100,000 people between the first and second halves of the decade from 2010-2019; by 2019 it had risen to 27.1 per 100,000.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) has established a connection between suicide and experiences of colonisation, structural racism and continuing social and economic disadvantage.

To view the full article in Croakey Health Media click here.

metal wall with large painting of Aboriginal man's face in black, yellow & red colours in pop art style

Image source: Australian Human Rights Commission website.

APY Lands key mental health service faces cuts

Some of Australia’s most vulnerable Aboriginal communities are worried they could be left without permanent on-country mental health staff for young people, despite nearly 1,000 reports of child abuse being made in the region in the past two years. Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws show that 947 allegations of child abuse were recorded by SA’s Department for Child Protection for the area covering the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands between 2018 and 2020.

A report tabled in the SA Parliament covering part of that same period said that “80% of children in the APY Lands have exposure to or continue to experience problem sexual behaviour”. Despite these numbers, elders and SA’s opposition are concerned that a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) APY will reduce services to communities in need.

To view the full article click here.

aerial view of APY Lands community Amata, red dust, approx 60 houses, dirt playing field, mountains in the distance

At the last census in 2016, there were 742 children aged under 19 living on the APY Lands communities like Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NAIDOC Week 4–11 July 2021

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. Country that is more than a place and inherent to our identity. Country that we speak about like a person, sustaining our lives in every aspect – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians. For generations we have been calling for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of our culture and heritage. We are still waiting for those robust protections.

This year’s theme also seeks substantive institutional, structural, and collaborative reform – something generations of our Elders and communities have been advocating, marching and fighting for. Healing Country means finally resolving many of the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of our people. It is about hearing and actioning the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples which are the culmination of generations of consultation and discussions among our nations on a range of issues and grievances.

After 250 years, our children and our future generations deserve better. We cannot afford to let pass the very real opportunity that now presents itself for reform based on a fundamental change in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July 2021. For more information click here.

banner text 'Heal Country! 4–11 JULY 2021' & NAIDOC logo black circle with red yellow green blue Aboriginal dot painting overlaid with white circle & 2 boomerang shapes, one for the arms & one for the legs, text around inner rim of circle 'Celebrating NAIDOC Week'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding grant round opening soon

Feature tile text 'NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding Grant Round Opening Soon' & image of tile with same text & logo artwork

Hi there

You may have accidently received the previous blog post that went out earlier today. Our WordPress site had a ‘whoops’ moment and it was published by mistake.

We apologies for the error! This is the final version of today’s NACCHO Aboriginal Health News.

Thank you.

NDIA Ready IBSF grant round opening soon

Attention NACCHO members!

We are excited to announce that the NDIS Ready Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grant round will be opening soon!

IBSF offers funding to eligible ACCHOs to help address:

  • basic establishment costs, and/or
  • business and technical challenges in registered and delivering services under the NDIS.

Grants of $20,000 will be available for up to 100 member ACCHOs. ACCHOs will be contacted shortly via email with information about the grants and how to apply.

image of wheelchair wheel & seat overlaid with Aboriginal dot painting gold, red, blue white tones

Image source: AbSec website.

Outcry over fifth death in custody in a month

The fifth Indigenous death in custody in a month has provoked an outcry by Aboriginal leaders after a 45-year-old maximum security inmate died in a WA prison. The prisoner from WA’s Casuarina Prison, who has not been publicly identified was taken to the secure wing of Fiona Stanley Hospital in southern Perth where he underwent a medical procedure and was placed in intensive care where he died.

Among the outcry from Indigenous leaders, Victoria’s first Aboriginal politician, Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe posted on Twitter that the man was “the 5th Aboriginal person to die in this country’s criminal legal system since the start of March. The pain is never ending! No justice, no peace!!,” she wrote. Since 1991, almost 500 Indigenous Australians have died in prison or in the custody of police.

To read the full article click here.

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe holding Aboriginal flag & wearing hat with the word Deadly at an Invasion Day rally in January 2021

Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe (above at an Invasion Day rally in January) has protested at the fifth death in custody in a month. Picture: Darrian Traynor. Image source: news.com.au

Fears new NDIS assessments not culturally safe

Submissions to a parliamentary inquiry have raised concerns that controversial proposed changes to the NDIS will not serve people from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. A parliamentary committee examining controversial independent assessment reforms under the NDIS has been warned about the potential impact of changes on Indigenous and culturally diverse communities.

The inquiry is looking into the proposed changes intended to overhaul the evaluation process for determining an individual’s eligibility for support and funding under the disability support scheme. Currently, people with disability are required to submit evidence from their own experts such as specialists for evaluation by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The reforms would instead see participants undergo an “independent assessment” from an allied health professional employed by contracted providers – paid for by the Australian government. Critics claim the move is a cost-cutting exercise that will leave participants worse off and undermine their control over the support they receive – a claim strongly denied by the government.

To view the full SBS News article click here.

portrait photo of SA artist Jackie Saunders with her artwork in the background

Ngarrindjeri Wirangu woman and artist Jackie Saunders lives with FASD. Image source: SBS News website.

Funding boost for Indigenous healthcare provider

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing has received nearly $2 million to expand its services. The Frankston-based Indigenous healthcare provider’s CEO, Karinda Taylor, said the funding would “ensure that first nations’ people are provided with culturally safe services that meet the health and wellbeing needs of local communities”. The funding was secured through the federal government’s Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme. and is expected to fund service expansion and minor capital costs until 2023.

Dunkley MP Peta Murphy said, “the City of Frankston is home to one of the fastest growing indigenous populations in Victoria. This funding will allow First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing to continue their crucial work and expand their local services. I’m proud to have lobbied the federal government for this additional funding”.

To view the full article click here.

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova and Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke standing outside FPH&WS shopfront

FIRST Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing’s Naaz Stojkova & Karinda Taylor with MPs Peta Murphy & Paul Edbrooke. Image source: Bayside News.

Crusted scabies NT study

Scabies is listed as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization. Crusted scabies affects vulnerable and immunosuppressed individuals and is highly contagious because of the enormous number of Sarcoptes scabiei mites present in the hyperkeratotic skin. Undiagnosed and untreated crusted scabies cases can result in outbreaks of scabies in residential facilities and can also undermine the success of scabies mass drug administration programs.

Crusted scabies became a formally notifiable disease in the NT in 2016. A 2-year prospective study of crusted scabies cases notified between March 2016 and February 2018, with subsequent follow up for 22 months has been conducted. Demographics, clinical and laboratory data, treatment and outcomes were analysed, with cases classified by severity of disease.

The study concluded that crusted scabies can be successfully treated with aggressive guideline-based therapy, but high mortality remains from underlying comorbidities. Reinfection on return to community is common while scabies remains endemic.

To view the research article in full click here.

crusted scabies manifestation on feet & sarcoptes scabiei mite under the microscope

Sarcoptes scabiei mite under a microscope. Image source: Managing Crusted Scabies in Remote Communities 2017 Edition.

The Lucky Country – but not for all

Australia’s lack of action on climate change, treatment of Indigenous people and the ongoing detention of refugees have been singled out for criticism in Amnesty International’s annual report into the state of human rights around the world: Amnesty International Report 2020/21 – The State of the World’s Human Rights. The report highlighted widespread public support for raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, and Australian law makers reluctance to move on an important reform which would have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous children. “Australians like to see ourselves as living in the lucky country, and that’s true for the privileged among us, but there are swathes of our community who are unable to access justice and the basic rights to which we’re all entitled,” Amnesty International Australia National Director, Samantha Klintworth, said.

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

remote Aboriginal community with multiple beds in the open outside a dwelling

Image source: Street Smart Action Against Homelessness website.

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

A major push to improve the health of the Indigenous community was launched by the Australian Government last month, with a focus on increasing Annual health checks. Backed by a new radio advertising campaign delivered in five Aboriginal languages: Kriol, Yolngu Matha, Warlpiri, Arrernte and Burarra, the Government is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their GP and have a 715 health check.

The health check, listed as item 715 on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, is tailored specifically to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages. It is free and available every nine to twelve months. Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said the health checks are an opportunity for early intervention, prevention and chronic disease management for all age groups.

In one of the campaign’s latest resources comedian Sean Choolburra urges mob to get a regular 715 health check. After completing his 715, Sean says there’s nothing to be afraid of. “It was what I expected – I had my hearing checked, my eyesight checked, and I thought my eyesight has been getting worse, but apparently Dr. Prabash says I have great eyes. No joke, I do have great eyes,” says Sean. “I’d love to bring my kids in because they seem to not hear me. And they don’t seem to see their clothes all over the floor and their empty cups. I think they’re the ones who need their eyes and hearing checked!” Sean jokes.

Further information, including resources for patients and health practitioners is available here.

To view the Minister for Health’s media release click here and to view the Sean Choolburra case study click here.

Aboriginal comedian Sean Choolburra getting ear check by health professional - Sean's mouth is wide open

Comedian Sean Choolburra. Image source: Department of Health.

Suicide rises linked to disasters

NSW suicide deaths data released today highlights the need for immediate action to address distress in our community and future-proof against disasters. According to the NSW Suicide Monitoring and Data Management System there have been 104 suspected or confirmed suicide deaths reported in NSW from 1 January to 31 January 2021. This is significantly more than the number of deaths reported within the same period in 2019 (75) or 2020 (81). Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Any increase in deaths by suicide is a tragedy. The ripple affect across families, workplaces and communities is unfathomable. “The past year has presented many trying circumstances across NSW communities including droughts, bushfires and COVID-19. This has increased risk factors for suicide such as financial distress and unemployment.

To view the Suicide Prevention Australia media release click here.

split image of a tree, half green & lush, half bare branches grey skys

Image source: Psychiatric Times.

COVID-19 vaccine priority groups

In this video, Professor James Ward explains why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be some of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Professor Ward says he’s heard some concerns regarding which vaccine people will get and why the vaccine is being rolled out to our mob first. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, like other Indigenous peoples around the world, will be some of the first to receive the vaccines. This is solely to protect our Elders and those in our communities with underlying health conditions. Without the vaccine, our population will remain susceptible to COVID-19. When it’s your turn to be vaccinated, you’ll have access to whichever vaccine is available at that time. There’ll be enough vaccine doses for everyone in Australia.

VIC or ACT – Melbourne or Canberra – Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) 

Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health  x 1 PT (4 days/week)- Melbourne or Canberra

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is the peak body representing the interests of over 28,000 physiotherapists in Australia. It does so by advocating for access to quality physiotherapy services, providing leadership in the wider health landscape, creating lifelong learning opportunities for members, and promoting the value of physiotherapy to the community.

The Senior Advisor – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (ATSIH) is responsible for the development and implementation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health policy and advocacy initiatives, including the implementation of our Reconciliation Action Plan (2021-23), Physiotherapy Cultural Safety Action Plan and our involvement in the Close the Gap (CtG) Campaign.

To view the job description and to apply click here. Applications close Wednesday 14 April 2021.logo: text 'Australian Physiotherapy Association' & triangular blue shape with cursive letters APA, all in blue & white

NSW – Sydney – The University of Sydney 

Senior Research Assistant (identified) x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Sydney – CLOSING DATE EXTENDED

The Centre for Kidney Research are seeking a Research Assistant (Identified) to work on a project alongside a team of researchers and educators. This project aims to develop clinical practice guidelines on the management of chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the management of kidney stones.

You will join the project at an interesting stage and will be responsible for actively contributing to research activities for the project including, building relationships and engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to ensure that the clinical guidelines are incorporating community needs and promoting awareness of the guidelines to improve the management and prevention of kidney disease.

This role is primarily located at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney but will be required to spend short periods in rural and regional Australia.

To view position descriptions and to apply click here. Applications close midnight Sunday 18 April 2021.

drawing of cross-section of kidney & kidney stones

Image source: Kettering Health Network website.

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

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

St Vincent’s Hospital transforms delivery of care

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

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

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

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

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

Wirraka Maya leads way in better patient management

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

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

Building a more robust medicine supply

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

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

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

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

The consultation will close on Monday 17 May 2021.

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

Image source: Newsbook website.

Resources for First Peoples with Disability

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

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

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

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

Gaps in Aboriginal aged care project

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

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

To read the full article click here.

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

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

Disadvantaged neighbourhoods can shape adolescent brains

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

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

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

To view the story in full click here.

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

Image source: Momentous Institute website.

Better cardiac care measures report

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

To view the report click here.

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

Image source: Haus of Dizzy website.

Mental health challenges & disability

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

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

young Aboriginal man sitting on a headland looking out to sea

Image source: SBS News website.

Vaccinations being in regional SA AHS

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

Indigenous transport worker Peter Brennan receiving COVID-19 vaccine

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

Keeping the momentum on eye health equity

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

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

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

To view the full article click here.

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

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

WA – Broome – University of WA

Research Fellow x 1 FT (Fixed Term) – Broome

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

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are encouraged to apply.

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

World Health Day 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world

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

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

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

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

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