NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Alarming vaccination gap

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: NITV

Alarming vaccination gap

Pat Turner, the CEO of NACCHO spoke with Dr Norman Swan and Teegan Taylor on RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly this morning.

She said she’s extremely nervous about the country’s reopening because of lagging vaccination rates in some communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 cases has grown from 153 to more than 7,500 since Delta got into communities in June with 15 COVID-related deaths amongst those cases. Ms Turner believes part of the problem is state and territory governments passing the buck to the Commonwealth, and also certain religious groups bringing in misinformation and myths from the US.

“It’s got to be a really determined effort by South Australia in the remote areas, by Western Australia state-wide, by Queensland state-wide including the Torres Straits. And of course the Northern Territory has now got their wake-up call,” said Ms Turner.

“We shouldn’t have to wait until infections get in before the health authorities get in and start the vaccinations. They’ve got to do it now.”

You can listen to the interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Warmun Community member Luke Banks being vaccinated by Steph Whitwell, Vaccination Nurse from Kununurra COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. Image source: Government of WA website.

Dubbo’s vaccine response a role model

Dubbo’s “remarkable” response to COVID-19 vaccination efforts has won praise from the Federal Minister for Regional Health and the country’s COVID vaccination taskforce coordinator. The coordinator-general of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce, Lieutenant General John Frewen, and the Federal Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie visited the town on separate agendas.

“It’s been remarkable what was achieved here, particularly treating outbreaks and the vaccination rates that were just brought along so quickly,” Lieutenant General Frewen said.

“With the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) and Aboriginal Community Health Organisations (ACHO) stepping up, they got access to the vaccine as quickly as was rolled out in Sydney or Brisbane or Melbourne,” said Dr Gillespie.

Lieutenant General Frewen has called vaccination rates in Dubbo’s Indigenous population “tremendous”, but is aware that it “isn’t the case across the whole state, and certainly isn’t the case across the whole country”.

“It starts with engagement with local leaders and getting the local leaders on side,” he said.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo's success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Officials say that they want to learn from Dubbo’s success to help boost Indigenous vaccination rates across Australia. Image source: ABC News.

Current NT COVID-19 outbreak linked to earlier clusters

Patricia Karvelas on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing spoke to NACCHO Senior Medical Advisor Dr Jason Agostino yesterday about how the Genomic Sequencing has confirmed the Northern Territory’s current COVID-19 outbreak is linked to the cluster that triggered a lockout in Darwin and a lockdown in Kathrine earlier this month.

“It reinforces that even though a lot of testing is happening even more has to happen to find out where those chains of transmission has been occurring because there is likely that there are more cases out there,” said Dr Agostino.

“It’s been two weeks since those first cases were picked up in Darwin, so for it to get out to where it has, it means that there are some people that have been infected that haven’t been picked up at this stage.”

He says he takes some comfort in the fact that vaccination rates in the affected communities are higher than in many other places, which means that if we do see more cases, it’s a good chance that they will be less severe.

You can watch yesterday’s episode of Afternoon Briefing here.
Please note that Dr Agostino features after 52min of the episode.

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccines - ABC iview

$53.3M spent to improve health sector in NSW

The NSW government will for the first time track how much it spends on specific Indigenous programs and services, with data revealing it invested $1.1 billion last financial year. The funding is detailed in the state’s first Indigenous expenditure report, which shows the state government increased its spending on First Nations programs and services by almost 20 per cent. In health, $109 million was invested, with $53.3 million delivered by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.

As part of the historic national agreement on Closing the Gap, there was a commitment from Australian governments and First Nations communities “to review and identify current spending on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services”. NSW is the first state to publish an interim Indigenous expenditure report.

“This report will become a powerful tool to provide policymakers with a greater evidence-base of expenditure to inform future resource allocation decisions,” said Treasurer Matt Kean.

“This first phase of the Indigenous expenditure report will assist us in building up the community-controlled sector which is improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Don Harwin.

You can read the article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.
You can view the 2021-22 NSW Government Interim Indigenous Expenditure Report here.

Rapid Antigen Testing in the NT

In a media release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles, Rapid Antigen Testing and Distribution points has been unveiled as travel restrictions come into effect for remote communities with vaccination rates below 70%.

Top End testing and distribution points will be located at the Royal Darwin Hospital Pandemic Clinic (open 8.30am to 4pm). In Alice Springs, the Pandemic Coordination Centre will be located at 44 Bath Street (open 8am-4pm Monday to Friday).

Negative Rapid Antigen test results are required 72 hours or less for anyone who intends to travel to a remote community with a first dose vaccination rate below 70%. Following completion of a Rapid Antigen Test at a testing and distribution point, a copy of the result will be sent via SMS or a printed copy can be collected if required. This can be used as proof of a negative test.

Rapid Antigen Tests can also be completed at home or at work.

You can read the Media Release by the Northern Territory Minister for Health Natasha Fyles here.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health's Facebook page.

Rapid Antigen Testing. Image source NT Health’s Facebook page.

AIDA supports COVID-safe reopening of the NT

With the number of COVID cases in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory (NT) continuing to grow, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is asking Territorians to get vaccinated as a matter of urgency and adhere to health restrictions to stop the spread.

AIDA is extremely concerned that the lack of culturally appropriate access to healthcare in remote communities, coupled with poor housing infrastructure in many communities, making it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to isolate within their own household, will further compound these COVD positive numbers and cause the virus to spread rapidly within communities. This will burden an already short-staffed health sector in the NT, causing even more issues.

AIDA supports the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) in calling on the NT government to commit to shared decision-making with Aboriginal communities and their key institutions when discussing a COVID-safe reopening of the Northern Territory. AIDA also joins AMSANT in supporting the Doherty modelling that indicates children aged 5-11 are to be included in reaching the 80% vaccine coverage before opening up.

You can read the AIDA media release here.

Welcome to Robinson River Community sign

Robinson River Community. Image source ABC News.

Visitors made homeless in Katherine’s lockdown

The homelessness rate in Katherine is twice the NT average and 31 times the national average

As Katherine and nearby communities grapple with the NT’s worst COVID-19 outbreak to date, Sam Ashley has been sleeping on a patch of grass near the town’s river. Mr Ashley lives in Beswick, roughly 118 kilometres south east of Katherine. Like many others, Mr Ashley travelled to Katherine for food and supplies and is now stuck as the number of COVID-19 cases grows around him.

“We can’t get home. It got me really worried,” said Mr Ashley.

Eli Sherman the coordinator at the Katherine Salvation Army Hub said:

“We’ve identified a huge influx over the last, probably, six weeks to the fact of about 130 to 150 people frequenting our service. A lot of these people coming in from out of town, for reasons unknown, but obviously given the pandemic and a lockdown now, they are stuck here.”

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Sam Ashley from Beswick is currently stuck in Katherine and unable to return home, leaving him to sleep in the long grass during the Katherine COVID-19 lockdown. Image source: Michael Franchi, ABC News.

Get a jab and an autograph this weekend

There is an extra incentive to get vaccinated at this Super Schools Weekend. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced sporting greats from rugby league, soccer, netball, Australian football, rugby union and many more will be on hand to congratulate those being vaccinated at select schools during the pop-up clinics this weekend.

“Sport has the ability to unite and inspire us,” the Premier said.

Athletes from the Broncos will be at various locations across southeast Queensland, Queensland Reds players will be running drills at Kelvin Grove State School on Sunday 21 November, and Queensland Firebirds will be at Calamvale Community College on Saturday 21 November.

In the north JCU Townsville Fire players will visit school clinics, and Swimming Queensland, the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Roar A-League Women’s team will have players on board to help supercharge the Super Schools Blitz on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. More clubs and athletes are expected to join the initiative.

“This is a great opportunity to get a jab and an autograph,” Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

You can read more about the announcement from the Queensland Government here.

Meet your sport heroes this vaccination weekend. Image source: Annastacia Palaszczuk's Twitter page.

Doomdagee mob encouraged to get the jab

Residents in Doomdagee and outlying North West communities are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19 following the identification of positive cases in the Northern Territory’s Robinson River and Greater Katherine local government areas. With residents frequently travelling between Doomadgee and Robinson River, North West Hospital and Health Service (North West HHS) Chief Executive Craig Carey said it was critically important for residents to come forward and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Increasing vaccination rates throughout the North West is a vitally important step in protecting our communities, especially our remote Indigenous communities, who are at greater risk of serious illness caused by this disease,” Mr Carey said.

“North West HHS has activated a COVID-19 testing clinic at the Doomadgee Hospital, and we will be using rapid testing for anyone in the community who is symptomatic or has been in the identified hotspots in the neighbouring Northern Territory.”

A Doomadgee vaccination clinic has run for the last three days and is planned to continue through the weekend.

You can read the North West Hospital and Health Service media release here.
For further COVID-19 information for Doomadgee, click here.

COVID-19 Delta Spread communication resources

The Australian Government Department of Health have prepared a suite of communication resources containing information on how fast the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus spreads and who are likely to get infected.

In the suite you will find infographics and suggested copy for use on social media as well as posters/flyers that are created with or without the government crest.

You can download Delta Spread social media tiles and content here.
You can download Delta Spread posters/flyers here.

Delta Spread - image tile

 

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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Racism, a significant health determinant

feature tile text 'mental and physical health significantly impacted by racism' & black and white image of Aboriginal woman overlaid with text 'racism makes me sick'

Image in feature tile: IndigenousX Twitter.

Racism, a significant health determinant

The research paper Impact of racism and discrimination on physical and mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples living in Australia: a systematic scoping review says racism is increasingly recognised as a significant health determinant that contributes to health inequalities.

In Australia efforts have been made to bridge the recognised health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. This systematic scoping review aimed to assess, synthesise, and analyse the evidence in Australia about the impacts of racism on the mental and physical health of Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Islander peoples.

Racism is associated with negative overall mental and negative general health outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Strategies to prevent all forms and sources of racism are necessary to move forward to bridging the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. Further research is needed to understand in more detail the impact of racism from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander definition of health and wellbeing.

To view the full article click here.

cut out of paper people different colours holding hands in a circle

Image source: AMA website.

Sepsis costs more than breast and lung cancer

A new report commissioned by The George Institute for Global Health estimates that the total annual cost of sepsis in Australia is $4.8bn with direct hospital costs accounting for $700m a year. This compares to direct hospital costs of $642m for breast and lung cancer combined.

The George Institute’s Professor Simon Finfer, past chair of the Council of the International Sepsis Forum, and Vice President of the Global Sepsis Alliance said “Despite the fact that more than 18,000 Australians are treated for sepsis in Intensive Care each year and as many as 5,000 of these will die, awareness of sepsis is low compared to other conditions that are less costly for hospitals to manage.”

“Given that four in five cases start outside hospital, being able to recognise the point where a seemingly simple infection is developing into life-threatening sepsis is crucial, as accessing the right medical care quickly is vital to minimising the significant long-term consequences.” With leading global experts recently recognising that patients critically ill with COVID-19 have viral sepsis, the picture is likely to look much worse as the global pandemic progresses.

To view the full article click here.

gloved hand holding petri dish of sepsis growth

Image source: The University of Chicago website.

The following article First population level study to assess the incidence and outcomes of sepsis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australiansclick here.

gloved hand touching patient's hand, patient lying in hospital bed

Image source: ABC News.

Cultural Safety and Wellbeing Evidence Review

The NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has commissioned an evidence review on cultural safety and wellbeing for Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities in early intervention services.

Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd (GUIR) is undertaking this work, in partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. The need for this evidence review was identified in a forum with Aboriginal Targeted Earlier Intervention service providers earlier this year when GUIR presented its findings from an evidence review on preventing child maltreatment. Providers highlighted that cultural wellbeing and safety is a critical part of service delivery and lack of cultural safety, racism and fear are main barriers to accessing essential services.

The findings from this evidence review will be embedded into the content on the (DCJ) Evidence Portal currently under development. The Evidence Portal will then assist service providers to find and implement culturally safe and inclusive activities and services for Aboriginal children, young people, families, and communities.

As part of the review, GUIR has sought contributions from Aboriginal service providers and organisations who work with Aboriginal families and communities to ensure the review reflects service providers’ experience designing and delivering culturally safe services.

You can visit the DCJ website for more information here.

painting of silhouette of child looking out of window to Aboriginal family in bush setting

Artwork by Charmaine Mumbulla, Mumbulla Creative. Image source: Family is Culture website.

Transparency of Aboriginal health research needed

Indigenous health researchers Dr Roxanne Bainbridge, Dr Veronica Matthews,  Dr Janine Mohamed and Associate Professor Megan Williams have written to the editor of The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) arguing the need to enhance the ability to efficiently distinguish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship in health research.

The letter to the MJA editors claims persistent health disparities between Indigenous and other Australians signal the ineffectiveness of allegedly well intentioned policy and research that have largely produced deficit‐focused research, describing the extent of the problem rather than being driven by the priorities and solutions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Institutions are now acknowledging that to close the gap in health disparities, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must determine, drive and own the desired outcomes”.

Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are more often leading the way in key health system domains, such as research ethics, education and effective community‐based research, there is currently no systematic way of identifying their scholarship in the peer‐reviewed literature. The authors of the letter point out the need to develop strategies to rectify and improve transparency of Indigenous health research.

This would enhance the ability to efficiently distinguish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship, increasing the visibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait knowledges and perspectives in research and translation, thereby improving the transparency of academic literature to guide decisions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

To read the letter to the MJA editor in full click here.

ATSI health researchers

Image source: The University of Melbourne website.

$21m for NSW Aboriginal mental health workforce

The NSW Government is investing $21 million to expand the Aboriginal mental health and suicide prevention workforce as part of $131 million mental health recovery package. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the lockdown has exacerbated underlying mental health conditions and added to people’s distress levels, especially among groups known to be at greater risk of suicide.

“As we return to doing the things we love with the people we love, we want to make sure that no-one is left behind,” Mrs Taylor said. “We know that mental health issues and thoughts of suicide can emerge in the weeks, months and years after a trauma, so our focus over the next two years is connecting people with the most appropriate services and support as early as possible.”

To view the media release in full click here.

Image source: Curtin University.

Enhancing Aboriginal homelessness services

Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness will receive better support under a $12 million NSW Government plan to boost the capacity of Aboriginal Controlled Community Organisations (ACCOs). Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said the Aboriginal Homelessness Sector Growth project will lead to more ACCOs delivering quality services and support to vulnerable people.

“The NSW Government is investing close to $300 million in homelessness services and this project builds on that record funding to address issues in Aboriginal communities,” Mr Henskens said. “The initiative aims to prevent and respond to homelessness by enhancing services and support by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people in Southern NSW, Western Sydney and the New England region.

To view the media release in full click here.

palms holding cardboard cutout of house with Aboriginal flag

Image source: NITV website.

New dashboards monitor medication safety

A collaboration with the University of Queensland, Queensland’s Metro North Health and Queensland Health, Enhanced data extraction and modelling from electronic medical records and phenotyping for clinical care and research, is an exciting project which has recently achieved a significant milestone.

This digital health research project is focused on developing a new, efficient capability for data extraction from electronic medical records, starting with Queensland’s integrated electronic Medical Record (ieMR). Two dashboards, developed to monitor opioid prescribing and insulin safety, have now been commissioned and in production for use at Australia’s newest digital hospital, Surgical Treatment and Rehabilitation Service (STARS).

Associate Professor Clair Sullivan, lead researcher from the Queensland Digital Health Research Network at the Centre for Health Services Research, The University of Queensland (UQ) is excited about the potential for this research to significantly reduce medication errors, “Medication errors are a leading cause of injury and harm across the Australian healthcare system and reducing these is a priority for all healthcare providers. Digital health is our most powerful tool in this important mission.”

Using live analytics is essential when it comes to prioritising patient care and shifting from the current ‘break-fix healthcare model to a more sustainable ‘predict-prevent’ model. This project will pioneer this more desirable and constructive approach to healthcare and aims to pave the way for Australian hospitals to increase their efficiency and improve patient care outcomes.

For more information click here.

hands using iPad

Image source: Digital Health CRC 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.

World Stroke Day

World Stroke Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the serious nature and high rates of stroke and talk about ways in which we can reduce the burden of stroke through better public awareness of the risk factors and signs of stroke. It is also an opportunity to advocate for action by decision makers at global, regional and national levels that are essential to improve stroke prevention, access to acute treatment and support for survivors and caregivers.

For 2021 and 2022 the World Stroke Day campaign will be focused on raising awareness of the signs of stroke and the need for timely access to quality stroke treatment.

For more information click here.

On World Stroke Day, Stroke Foundation Australia is reminding the community that despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, seeking urgent medial help is essential. It can save lives! Stroke attacks the brain and is always a time-critical medical emergency.

Stroke Foundation is inviting you to celebrate World Stroke Day by joining their Facebook Live chat with StrokeSafe Speaker and Associate Professor Caleb Ferguson to learn about the benefits of knowing the signs of stroke and acting FAST after a stroke.

12:00 PM EST – Friday 29th October – click here to RSVP to the event.banner text 'learn the signs of a stroke - precious minutes'

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'