NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: First Nations housing in crisis

Image in feature tile of Cassandra Chula, Gloria Chula, Heather Tcherna and Majella Tipiloura in their home where 16 people live in Wadeye. Image source: SBS NITIV, 21 February 2020.

First Nations housing in crisis

An election forum on Indigenous housing will today hear that at least 8,500 new codesigned, culturally appropriate, climate resilient properties are needed in the next four years to address severe overcrowding and disadvantage. The call comes in an election priorities paper jointly released by Change the Record and Everybody’s Home.

The paper First Nations Housing – Election Priorities also calls for further funding to the states and territories to ensure existing public housing stock is retrofitted and properly maintained as the climate crisis worsens. The paper recommends sustained, long-term commitments to increasing and properly resourcing Aboriginal Community-Controlled housing, to meet the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

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

Aboriginal house on outskirts of Alice Springs

Part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Photo: Helen Davidson, The Guardian.

A related ABC News story illustrates at a personal level the impact of inadequate housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Karen Sebastian breaks down in tears as she contemplates life after COVID-19. “I don’t know where we’ll go after this,” she sobs. “Me and the kids will probably go squat at a house or try camp out with some family, if they’ll have us.”

The Broome woman has been homeless for 10 years, but was taken on a 220-km taxi ride to stay at a rundown hotel after contracting COVID-19. She and her teenage sons went into isolation in the tourist accommodation for a week as part of the WA government’s pandemic response.

Vicki O’Donnell, who heads the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, said “We’ve pushed for people to be put into hotels where it’s appropriate, purely so they can be looked after better, particularly for the homeless. Part of the reason people need to be taken to hotels is the terrible overcrowding we’ve got and poorly maintained houses and that’s been an issue for 20 years. It’s been highlighted during the virus and it’s something governments have to address.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Aboriginal woman with hands against security door to motel

The WA government booked Karen Sebastian and her sons into a hotel to isolate while they had COVID-19. Photo: Andrew Seabourne, ABC News.

Bushfire impact disproportionate for mob

First Nations Australians suffered worse impacts from the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires due to inappropriate planning and unsuitable interventions by authorities during the crisis, researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) argue.

The researchers have published a report examining the first-hand experiences of Indigenous Australians during the 2019-2020 bushfires, and say the findings are also reflected in the current northern NSW floods. Indigenous Australians experienced racism and unfair treatment in the face of the bushfire catastrophe, in addition to loss of home, land and lives, the ANU researchers found.

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

burnt forest Yuin Nation S Coast NSW 2019 bushfires

Solutions to remedy nation’s dental system

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) says the coming election is a golden opportunity to remedy the enormous mess that the nation’s dental system. The peak body for dentists has a number of remedies on its election wish list to fix the system and is putting these to the major political parties for their pre-election consideration.

Over recent years the ADA has repeatedly called on the Federal Government to address the overwhelming and urgent need to set up a targeted and sustainable funding scheme to meet the needs of older, rural and low-income Australians. ADA president Dr Mark Hutton said “People often ask the ADA why there isn’t such a scheme and I have no answer as to why this is not yet in existence. Governments of all colours have consistently failed to address this issue which affects millions.”

TOne of the ways to address the issue according to the ADA is to ensure all over 75s, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55 and residents of aged care facilities get a mandatory and reportable oral health assessment.

To view the Bite Magazine article ADA offers solutions to fix a broken dental system in full click here.

Aboriginal man in dental chair receiving treatment

A patient is treated at the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service at Inverell. Photo: Bridget Brennan, ABC News.

NT Melioidosis on the rise

Top End residents and visitors are being urged to take extra precaution to avoid melioidosis following a recent spike in case numbers. Melioidosis, a potentially deadly disease, is caused by the bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei, found in tropical soil and water.

Dr Vicki Krause, Director of the NT Centre for Disease Control, said people are more likely to come in contact with these bacteria during the wet season, when they can be found in soil surface layers and muddy surface waters. “This wet season’s high rainfall has led to a 50% increase in the number of melioidosis cases than expected,” Dr Krause said. “On average, 32 cases of melioidosis are reported in the NT each wet season. So far this wet season, 48 cases have been recorded.”

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

Bare feet walking on soil image from NT News and the motile bacteria that causes  melioidosis from the Eye of Science.

Resources for mental health workers

A series of video interviews about the risks of poor mental health and other social issues for young people have been produced by True Pictures for the NSW Ministry of Health.

The videos, like the one below, explain how mental health workers can provide culturally safe services and programs. You can access the Working with Aboriginal People Enhancing Clinical Practice in Mental Health Care Discussion Guide here and the ​video resources on the WellMob website here.

Services for LGBTIQSB+ youth ineffective

There is an absence of research into the effectiveness of service provision for First Nations LGBTIQSB+ young people in Australia. To address this gap, young people’s perspectives on essential components of service provision have been gathered. Concerns were expressed about the ongoing impact of implicit and explicit settler-colonial heteronormativity and racism on services providing support for young First Nations LGBTIQSB+ peoples.

Although set in Australia, this research supports the body of international research and has the potential to create policies and practices centered on the voices and needs of First Nations LGBTIQSB+ youth. To view the abstract of Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services research article “I felt invisible”: First nations LGBTIQSB+ young people’s experiences with health service provision in Australia in full click here.

Photo: Getty Images. Image source: Maxwell Medical Group.

COVID-19 booster vax and RAT demo

In a recent video Dr Aleeta Fejo, Larrakia and Warumungu traditional owner and Elder, and a General Practitioner, Senior Doctor at Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland, WA explains why you should get a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. Dr Fejo emphasises how getting a booster dose can reduce a person’s risk of  spreading COVID-19 to family and community members, getting seriously ill, going to hospital, and dying.

Getting tested for COVID-19 and knowing when you should stay home helps protect the whole community. If you are feeling unwell, the quickest way to get tested is with a  rapid antigen test, also known as a RAT. In these videos, Dr Mark Wenitong walks us through the testing process step by step:

You can buy RATs from pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail and online outlets. It’s good to have a few at home, so if you feel sick you have one ready to go. If you have an eligible Commonwealth concession card, you can get up to 20 free RATs from participating pharmacies until the end of July 2022.

And remember, if you test positive, stay at home and isolate from others in your house if you can for at least 7 days. You should also let your friends and family know that you have COVID-19, so they can also monitor for symptoms and take a test if needed.

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 & Torres Strait Islander Health News: 2022–2023 budget short-changes health

2022-2023 budget short-changes health

NACCHO released a media statement earlier today in response to the 2022–2023 Federal Budget announced last night:

Another big-spending budget short-changes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has already welcomed the previously announced four-year rolling funding agreement for the sector, but this is just a necessary adjustment to support the current arrangements. ‘Business as usual’ is not going to close the health gap.

NACCHO is tiring of singular announcements in Aboriginal health while the health gap fails to close. Structural reform is required and substantial funding investment. The last three big-spending budgets were the Government’s opportunity to address this. They have failed to act.

The CEO of NACCHO, Pat Turner said, “Although I am grateful to see the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme and support for screening services, mental health policy partnerships and $2.4m for ACCHOs to help in responding to the East Coast floods, I am disappointed that the core funding for our services has remained much the same. I am also worried that the Budget has assumed that ACCHOs’ expenditure will contract significantly after COVID. This may be a significant flaw in their modelling.”

In Cairns, the Chair of NACCHO, Donnella Mills said, “What we need is a substantial review of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. In work we commissioned from Equity Economics it has been calculated – as conservatively as possible and using validated Government data – that the funding gap in Aboriginal health is $4.4 billion (= $5,042 per Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person). The Commonwealth’s share of this shortfall is $2.6 billion. Yet dangerous myths prevail that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is over-funded. How can we seriously expect as a nation to ever close the health gap if the funding gap is so large? We will continue to live lives 8-9 years shorter than other Australians.”

NACCHO serves well over 410,000 clients per year, delivering over 3.1 million episodes of care, of which 1 million are delivered in remote communities. Its clinics are favoured by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are directly controlled by the communities they serve. They are more cost-effective than mainstream health services and represent an effective investment means for the Commonwealth. The model was developed in 1971 – which predates Medicare itself – and can no longer be considered an unproved model of care.

The government has had the opportunity to fix the funding gap in three big-spending budgets focused on stimulus measures. If it had done so, at the same time, it could have delivered financial stimulus to the 550 local economies in which our services are located.

CEO Pat Turner said, “As long as this $4.4 billion funding gap remains and as long as there are funding gaps elsewhere – in particular, in housing – we cannot expect the unconscionable health gap to close. This Budget is an opportunity lost. NACCHO calls upon the Government to close the funding gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

You can view NACCHO’s media statement in full here.

Budget misses key suicide prevention priorities

Suicide Prevention Australia has welcomed additional funding in the 2022 Federal Budget but urged further investment for those most at-risk and across key whole-of-government priorities. Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray, said “Investment in local responses, suicide prevention research and young people at risk will help save lives. Unfortunately, this is a missed opportunity for other priority populations including men, LGBTIQ+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We need to see extra support for those in distress, those who have attempted suicide and the loved ones of those touched by suicide. Greater investment is needed to ensure people with lived experience are integrated in all parts of suicide prevention and a comprehensive suicide prevention workforce strategy.”

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

First Nations voices needed in climate conversation

The urgency of tackling climate change is even greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other First Nation peoples across the globe. First Nations people will be disproportionately affected and are already experiening existential threats from climate change. The unfolding disaster in the Northern Rivers regions of NSW is no exception, with Aboriginal communities completely inundated or cut off from essential supplies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have protected Country for millennia and have survived dramatic climatic shifts. They are intimately connected to Country, and their knowledge and cultural practices hold solutions to the climate crisis. Despite this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be excluded from leadership roles in climate solution discussions, such as the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

To read The Conversation article in full click here.

Student climate protest in Melbourne. Image source: The Conversation.

Help improve how pharmacists provide services

Have your say – Help improve how pharmacists provide services

NACCHO is working to make the guidelines for pharmacists working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples better.

We want to understand from you how pharmacists and pharmacies can be culturally safe and give the best care to you and your community.

Click here to complete the online survey.

Please pass this information on to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who would be interested in completing the survey.

WA COVID-19 resources for mob

The WA Department of Health has developed a factsheets to provide information about the COVID-19 vaccines and ensure WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are informed about the vaccines and are aware of any misinformation.

Topics include:

  • vaccine mythbusters – click here
  • what the COVID-19 virus is – click here
  • available vaccines
  • why having the COVID-19 vaccine is important – click here
  • side effects of vaccines – click here
  • COVID-19 and pregnancy – click here.

For further information click here.

Connections improve hep C care for homeless

Aaron was shocked when his hepatitis C rapid test came back positive. When he was approached by a nurse and peer worker at the Hutt Street Centre to get tested, he had been pretty sure his results would be ok. If you’re homeless and have no symptoms, testing for hep C is probably low on the list of priorities. Aaron considered himself pretty clued in about blood-borne virus risk; he’d been injecting drugs for many years and was an expert in technique, always using clean equipment. He was keen to go on treatment straight away and was indeed referred immediately to get started. Viral Hepatitis Nurse, Lucy Ralton said Aaron later told her that he had seen his GP due to persistent fatigue but hadn’t been screened for an HCV infection at the time. “He was very glad he got talked into having a test that day and said he only did so because he was asked,” she said.

The testing clinic at the Hutt Street Centre was part of the PROMPt study where a nurse and a Hepatitis SA peer worker directly approach individuals to invite them to have a test. Anyone with a positive result is referred to the community Viral Hepatitis Nurses for treatment. What programs like this have shown is the importance of connections and support for community and health workers who provide services to clients who are homeless and at risk of hepatitis C.

One way to improve access to hepatitis C care for this vulnerable group, is to bring together different services to explore ways of working together to make the process as simple as possible for both service providers and clients.

New models of care that integrate peers and healthcare workers have demonstrated that community-based screening, point of care testing and on the spot prescribing by either a nurse practitioner or GP in a non-judgmental and friendly environment can improve screening and treatment uptake. PROMPt – the project which helped Aaron get cured of his hepatitis C – was one example of such a model.

C the Whole Story is an online forum hosted by ASHM to discuss this challenge. This forum will provide participants with the tools, contacts and confidence to be able to discuss HCV screening and treatment with their clients. As well, it will create an opportunity for people to connect and explore ways for services to work together. The forum is on Friday 1 April 2022 via Zoom. For more information and to register click here.

To read the HepSAY article Improve Hepatitis C Care for People who are Homeless article in full click here.

Image source: Hepatitis SA website.

We’ve Got Your Back toolkit for mob

The new online safety laws give greater protection from serious online abuse, and are available to all Australians. It’s important that everyone in the community knows about the new protections, including how to report serious online abuse.

A New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit and printed resources are available here to support the new online safety laws.

ATSI woman looking at laptop with sticker 'online safety laws we've got your back'

Image from cover of ‘New Online Safety Laws: We’ve Got Your Back – Helping to protect Australians online – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stakeholder Toolkit – Australian Government eSafety Commissioner.

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.

Primary Care COVID-19 update

The latest in a series of webinars to update primary care on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout will be held from 11:30 AM–12:00 PM (AEDT) Thursday 31 March 2022.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health this week will be Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Professor Nigel Crawford, Chair, Vaccine Safety, Special Risk Groups, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

GPs and all health professionals are welcome to attend the webinar and can join using this link. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

banner DoH Primary Care COVID-19 update Dep CMO - image of DCMO & COVID-19 virus cell

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Fourth dose recommended for vulnerable

Fourth dose recommended for vulnerable

On Friday 15 March 2022, the Australian Government has accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) recommendation that an additional booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine be provided to vulnerable population groups to increase their protection levels before winter. The winter dose will be provided to people who are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These people will have received their primary vaccination and first booster dose prior to receiving the winter dose. The groups are:

  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise (as defined in the ATAGI statement on the use of a 3rd primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.

ATAGI recommends that the rollout of the additional booster dose for these groups start from April 2022, coinciding with the rollout of the 2022 influenza vaccination program. You can view Minister Hunt’s media release here and access further information from the Australian Government Deputy Chief Medical Officer here.

blue background, vector image of vials & syringe

Image: Nebojsa Mitrovic, Getty Images. ABC News website.

What to do if you get COVID-19

The Australian Government Department of Health has released an opinion piece from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd, about what to do to prepare for the possibility of testing positive for COVID-19 – and what to do if you do test positive. The document is available in English and a number of language translations:, including Kimberly Kriol; Pitjantjatjara; Torres Strait Creole – Yumplatok; Warlpiri; Western Arrarnta and Yolngu Matha.

You can download the fact sheet here.

blue glove hand holding positive RATS test for covid-19

Image source: Urgent Care La Jolla website.

Shelley Ware backs online safety campaign

The Online Safety Act 2021 came into effect earlier this year giving the safety commissioner more powers to remove serious online abuse from platforms. Shelley Ware, Australian Aboriginal TV personality, educator and corporate speaker is championing the online safety campaign for Mob . The eSafety ambassador explains that the new law provides a stronger protection to the community allowing victims to seek permanent removal of harmful content and providing avenues to press further charges. You can listen to the interview with Shelley Ware on NITV Radio here.

Shelley Ware, Aboriginal TV personality standing in front of Yalinguth Stories, Sounds, Knowledge sign

Shelley Ware, Australian Aboriginal TV personality, educator and corporate speaker champions online safety campaign for Mob. Photo: 33 Creative. Image source: NITV website.

Mental health, housing and homelessness

Good health and wellbeing rests, in part, on access to good-quality housing. Having adequate housing and a place to call home supports ‘connection to body’, one of the 7 domains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing. Unreliable or poor quality housing and homelessness contribute to and perpetuate health inequities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be further compromised by (dis)connection from Country, which is another of the 7 domains of social and emotional wellbeing. There is emerging evidence that providing housing and addressing homelessness is important for preventing mental ill-health and suicide among Indigenous Australians. The relationship between housing and mental health is bi-directional. This means that someone’s mental health could be negatively affected by the lack of safe, affordable and high quality housing, and the experience of mental illness could affect access to suitable housing.

The recently release Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness paper

  • synthesises the evidence of what works and does not work for mental health and suicide prevention programs and policy initiatives that address housing and homelessness for Indigenous Australians
  • reports key information about research, evaluation, program and policy initiatives
  • identifies best-practice approaches and critical success factors for implementation
  • outlines limitations and gaps in the evidence.

You can access the AIHW Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness report here.

Aboriginal art: The journey towards healing by artist Linda Huddleston

The journey towards healing by artist Linda Huddleston featured on the cover of the AIHW Indigenous mental health, housing and homelessness report.

A related article in the National Rural Health Alliance online Partyline magazine looks at how empowering rough sleepers via the charity, Wheels of Wellness (WoW) can save lives. WOW provides an innovative and dynamic model of primary health care to some of regional Australia’s most vulnerable people on the streets of Cairns in Far North Queensland.

WOW’s van is fitted out as a GP consulting room and goes out during the day and after hours with a doctor, Indigenous health worker and mental health social worker. They provide free holistic primary health care to people sleeping rough, staying in a night shelter, or living in transitional and temporary accommodation.

The focus of the WoW team is to build rapport and long-term relationships with the people they meet on the streets. They actively support those wanting to address their health issues, which may include chronic disease, acute care, pain management, mental health, post-trauma stress, domestic violence, drug and alcohol dependency – and the list goes on. The WoW team strongly believes that, along with stable accommodation, focusing on holistic primary health care is crucial to empowering the lives of our most vulnerable Australians.

You can view the Saving lives by empowering rough sleepers article here.

WOW outreach van. Image source: National Rural Health Alliance Partyline online magazine.

Action urged on health, justice and ‘Voice’

Leading Indigenous advocacy groups have called on the Coalition and Labor to promise major reforms to the justice, health and welfare systems ahead of the federal election, and for a Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the constitution. Change the Record, an alliance of legal, health and family violence prevention organisations, has demanded the major parties agree to increase Centrelink payments, raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 and urgently build more housing in remote communities to address overcrowding.

Cheryl Axleby, a Narungga woman and co-chair of Change the Record, said problems in areas such as housing were linked to other issues like social security. “We’ve been saying this for decades; if we have appropriate shelter and affordable housing that would solve a lot of issues for our families who are living under welfare or are struggling to make ends meet,” she said. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the need to urgently address overcrowded housing, which became a serious problem during an outbreak in western NSW last year. “Where family members are trying to self-isolate, well, how do they do that when they don’t actually have anywhere else where they can actually go?”

You can access the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record, which has made several key demands for the Coalition and Labor. Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record standing in front of yellow orange brown white Aboriginal art

Cheryl Axleby is the co-chair of Change the Record, which has made several key demands for the Coalition and Labor. Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Growing positive food habits in remote schools

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation believes every young person deserves to benefit from a fun, hands-on approach to food education – in every part of the country. This is especially important for kids growing up in remote cities and towns, which form the backbone of the nation’s food system.

In the Gibson Desert, 550 kms north of Kalgoorlie, Willuna Remote Community School is revitalising their kitchen garden and striving to create connections to country. “We want to use the garden to bring Aboriginal cultural learning into the school,” explains teacher, Scott Olsen. “We already grow a native bush banana, a silky pear, and are having conversations with local elders about food native to the area.”

Teaching students how to grow food is a practical way to gain access to fresh produce. “Because we are a remote place, fresh food and vegies can be expensive and hard to find,” says Scott. “One thing we grew last year was peas – the kids absolutely loved picking the peas and eating them fresh in the garden. If they had to go to the shops to buy that big bowl of peas, they might have cost $50. Or they might not even stock them.”

To view the National Rural Health Alliance article in its online magazine Partyline in full click here.

collage: young Aboriginal boys holding seedling, 2 girls carrying water jerry, boy with tray in garden, close up image of plants

Students from Wiluna Remote Community School in kitchen garden.

caring@home Indigenous art competition winners

The caring@home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families project recently announced the winners of its caring@home Indigenous Art Competition. What begam as am ‘off the cuff’ idea from Project Director, Professor Liz Reymond, grew into a powerful palliative and end-of-life care conversation starter in many communities around Austra.ia.

“The caring@home art competition has had an amazing impact here. Patients and families have really gotten into it and it has brought up amazing conversations about spirituality, culture and our multicultural community…the conversations it has started have been beyond anything I could have imagined.” Nurse, Remote Palliative Care Service

Thanks have gone out to:

  • the judging panel members: Karl Briscoe – CEO, National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP); Fiona Cornforth – CEO, The Healing Foundation and The Hon Ken Wyatt, AM MP – Minister for Indigenous Australians,
  • the 757 people voted in the People’s Choice Awards, and
  • the artists, whose experiences, stories and artistic expression provided a deeper and profound understanding of palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

You can view all the artworks on the caring@home website here until June 2023.

winner of caring@home Indigenous Art Competition - Life's Journey by Lee Hall

Overall winner of the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition – Life’s Journey by Lee Hall.

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.

WA Aboriginal Family Safety Strategy

The WA Department of Communities is working with Aboriginal people and communities on a strategy to address family violence impacting Aboriginal families and communities. Aboriginal women and children experience family violence at disproportionately high rates with devastating impacts on their own health and wellbeing, and on the health and wellbeing of community.

The contributing factors to family violence in Aboriginal communities include colonisation, dispossession, intergenerational trauma and racism. We need to develop an approach that recognises these differences and considers the specific drivers of family violence in Aboriginal communities.

To guide deliberate work and coordinated effort from government and community over the next decade, we are developing a dedicated Aboriginal Family Safety Strategy. Comprehensive consultation with a range of Aboriginal stakeholders and Aboriginal community members has occurred to inform the content of the draft strategy.

Feedback on the draft Strategy is now open until 5:00 PM AWST Thursday 14 April 2022. To have your say complete the survey here. If you have questions or would like to speak to someone about the project, please send an email using this link.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Out of sight – chronic overcrowding

Image in feature tile from ABC News article Out of sight.

Out of sight – chronic overcrowding

In the crowded homes of the NT’s remote communities, residents are trying to keep their hopes of a better future alive. On most afternoons in the community of Rockhole, NT’s third-biggest town, about 340 kilometres south of Darwin, Evelyn Andrews can be found holding court in her front yard, sat beneath the shade of a tree. At house number 21, she shares her home with between 10 and 15 other people. “We love it in the community, we’ve got the river right there and the kids are safe,” she says. “But we need some more houses.”

Dr Simon Quilty, who has worked in medicine in the NT for over 20 years, says “the consequences of overcrowding on health are really quite profound”. “When people live in very close proximity in very warm houses that disconnect from electricity all of the time and often have serious problems with plumbing … then it is the ideal environment for the spread of infectious diseases,” he says. “I would say that housing circumstances for Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are by far and away the most significant driver of poor health outcomes universally.”

In a submission to the NT government’s 2016 inquiry into housing repair and maintenance on town camps, the Aboriginal-owned and operated Kalano Community Association, who manage housing in Rockhole, listed a number of conditions hampering its progress. These included “overcrowding and homelessness”, “a large backlog of repairs and maintenance”, “the condition of some housing being uninhabitable” and a “lack of land availability for the construction of new accommodation units within the Katherine township and [surrounds].”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

5 women, two toddlers one room of house in Rockhole

Image source: ABC News.

Funds for IUIH Early Childhood Wellbeing Program

Queensland is closing the gap on early childhood development under a $1.4m wellbeing program for Australia’s biggest and fastest growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the state’s SE corner. On National Close the Gap Day last week Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford announced funding for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) – one of Queensland’s largest Indigenous-controlled health organisations – to establish a local Early Childhood Wellbeing Program. “Queensland’s Closing the Gap commitment includes targets focusing on life expectancy, healthy birthweight, early childhood education attendance and early development,” Mr Crawford said.

IUIH CEO Adrian Carson said the funding “will build on the proven Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) model of care to continue supporting families through the early years. We know that strong families require us to support our people right across the life course and that journey starts with supporting Mum and Dad during pregnancy. We are now able to continue to support the family through the early years and into early childhood education,’’ he said. The Early Childhood Wellbeing Program will support positive health, social and wellbeing initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and children up to three years of age, including through comprehensive primary health care, early learning activities, playgroups and intensive support for families in priority need.

To view Minister Crawford’s media release in full click here.

Image source: IUIH website.

Important COVID-19 vax updates

The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) Bulletin and associated information was released last week, on Tuesday 15 March 2022. The documents contain important updates on stock management and CVAS functionality changes as well as the results from the COVID-19 communication materials survey conducted between 12–20 February 2022 . You can access the documents by clicking on these links:

COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out ACCHS update 15 March 2022

COVID-19 Vaccine Ordering System (CVAS) Ordering Amounts

Update of COVID-19 Vaccine Ordering System

COVID-19 communication materials survey findings March 2022

If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact NACCHO using this email or the Commonwealth Department of Health using this email.

Image source: AMA website.

First Nations people and stroke

Australia’s First Nations people are 1.3 times more likely to die from a stroke than non-Indigenous people and are hospitalised 1.6 times more. Whether it’s in the statistics or stories of people affected by stroke, the existing gap in stroke outcomes is unacceptable.

Charlotte, a proud Wiradjuri woman, has shared her story through the Stroke Foundation’s Young Stroke Project which helps to shine a light on this issue. Charlotte is a mother of four and was working a double shift on the day of her stroke in 2018. Charlotte had a pounding headache, extreme fatigue and then noticed that her arm felt heavy and she could not lift it. She went to her local health clinic who called for an ambulance immediately. After the 23 hour wait, it was good treatment. I had doctors tend to my current situation, which was pretty good because I didn’t want to leave hospital knowing that I live in a rural area. I have no doctor here.

You can access the Stroke Foundation EnableMe newsletter with Charlotte’s story here and watch Charlotte tell her story in the video below.

National strategy to eliminate cervical cancer

On 17 November 2021 the Australian Government announced the development of a collaborative National Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy (the Strategy), led by the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer (ACPCC). This project will inform the Australian Government Department of Health’s future activities to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in Australia by 2035.

The Strategy will be informed by a series of consultations with experts, representatives of priority communities, and other interested parties, to inform the three pillars of cervical cancer elimination – vaccination, screening, and treatment – and ensure a strong equity lens is applied at every step of the project. The overarching vision is to achieve elimination for all women and people with a cervix across the diverse communities we have in Australia. 

If you would like to be part of the development of a strategy to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia by 2035, you can register to join the consultation here.

Aboriginal artist Madison Connors, a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Kamilaroi woman from North East Victoria has created art inspired about the importance of cervical screening. Image source: Cancer Council Victoria website.

Women must lead equity drive

Equity for Indigenous women and girls is at the forefront of this year’s Closing The Gap Day message, with first Nations people still facing lower quality of life and shorter life expectancies compared to the rest of Australia. Last week’s Closing The Gap Day on March 17 marked the ongoing progress of the campaign to expand health, education and other fundamental expectations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Aoriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Close the Gap Co-Chair, Bunuba woman June Oscar, said gender equity was central to supporting strong families and communities to lead healthy lives. She reinforced the message that it was through Indigenous leadership that prospects for Indigenous people would improve. “This year’s report highlights in no uncertain terms what we already know,” she said. “It’s our organisations that know our people, carry our culture and knowledges, and deliver the services that we need.”

To view the 9 News article in full click here.

young Aboriginal girl with Aboriginal flag on shoulders of Aboriginal woman with Aboriginal art covid-19 mask

Indigenous women and girls must be central to the ongoing #MeToo movement, the Close The Gap campaign has said. Photo: Cole Bennetts. Image source: 9 News website.

Jail rates related to unmet basic needs

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service CEO and Yorta Yorta woman Nerita Waight says the justice system is incapable of benefitting First Nations people who are at a systemic disadvantage. Ms Waight said incarceration numbers reflected the position of Indigenous people within the political and social landscape as a whole. Homelessness, the education system, workforce discrimination, racism and over-policing were identified by VALS as contributors to disparity.

“Most people end up in the justice system because society has failed to provide them with basic needs, like a home or proper healthcare,” Ms Waight said. “Once our people are in the justice system they are subjected to systemic racism from police, the courts, and prison staff. Most people get trapped in the justice system for the rest of their lives.” VALS conceded the cost of inadequately addressing these issues would likely see devastating results.

To view the National Indigenous Times Aboriginal Legal Service calls out justice failures on Closing the Gap Day article click here.

A related article Shocking Numbers of Aboriginal Children are in Prison and it’s a threat to Closing the Gap cites Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) spokesperson and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee Chair Professor Ngiare Brown spoke to the ongoing damage that early incarceration can have on an Indigenous young person. “As the RACP has emphasised, along with other medical and First Nations experts, there is substantial evidence showing the detrimental and long term effects youth incarceration has on physical and psychological health and wellbeing.”

Rather than jump to incarceration, the report is calling for Attorney Generals to consider alternative approaches including earlier care, support and treatment options which will preserve human rights and hopefully, more just outcomes for the First Nations Youth community. It is hoped that continued advocacy and increased awareness will push the issue into the spotlight, encouraging critical reform and address the significant disadvantages experience by Australia’s Indigenous community. To view this NIT article in full click here.

Aboriginal man waist up no clothes, hands gripped together through jail bars

Image source: The Conversation.

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.

Multiple Birth Awareness Week

Multiple Birth Awareness Week (MBAW) is a national campaign to raise awareness around, and draw attention to, the unique realities for multiple birth families in Australia – and how advocacy, positive education and engaged communities can contribute to enabling positive health outcomes for families with multiples. You can access more information about MBAW on the Australian Multiple Birth Association website here.

Indigenous Australian twins and their mothers face unique challenges, according to research supported by Twins Research Australia. All mothers of twins face challenges but the study found these may be more difficult to overcome for some Indigenous Australian mothers. The study investigated the birth data of over 64,000 indigenous twins in NSW and WA.

It was found that many Aboriginal twin pregnancies and births are physically and practically challenging and the majority of multiples are born early and small. Factors included that they are: more likely to live far from specialist medical care, are younger, more socio-economically disadvantaged, and more likely to have older children. Researchers recommended that specific guidelines for the care of indigenous mothers and twins may be need to improve outcomes. The study highlights the importance of policies that support health services to meet the practical, financial and psychosocial needs of mothers and families, in addition to meeting their health needs.

You can read the Twins Research Australia article in full here, the paper in full here and a simplified explainer here.

Aboriginal women with her hands & partner's hands on her pregnant belly

Image source: Pathology Awareness Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO announces pharmacist scholarship

feature tile text 'applications now open for NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist scholarship' & logo for scholarship

NACCHO announces pharmacist scholarship

NACCHO has announced that applications are now open for the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship, proudly supported by a grant from Sanofi Australia. The Scholarship provides subsidy and support for prospective or current Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students and aims to build the pharmacist workforce amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Dawn Casey PSM FAHA, NACCHO Deputy CEO said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacists and pharmacy students are significantly underrepresented in the pharmacy profession. Building leadership and skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals is a critical enabler in supporting cultural safety in the health sector. This financial support combined with mentorship will provide a tangible way to help students to thrive in their professional training and stands to build confident and self-determined Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy sector leaders.”

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist said, “Another example of the outstanding leadership of NACCHO and the commitment to the future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy workforce through the inaugural NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship. So delighted to see scholarships supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pharmacy students.”

For more information on this exciting opportunity, visit the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Pharmacist Scholarship webpage here.

Associate Professor Faye McMillan

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri Yinaa (woman), Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner and Pharmacist.

What ‘living with COVID’ means for mob

According to Jennifer Doggart, who has written an article What ‘living with COVID’ really means for so many people as Australia follows other countries in relaxing COVID public health measures, the needs of many Australians are being ignored. People with disabilities and chronic illnesses, the aged, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk from these policy changes.

A range of factors, including poorer (on average) underlying health status and structural barriers to accessing care, reflecting the ongoing impacts of colonisation place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at increased risk. This plays out in the pandemic having a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with data showing for instance that nine our of 10 COVID-19 patients in hospital in the NT are Indigenous.

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

Aboriginal artist, Greg Muir in wheelchair with Aboriginal painting in the background, paint brushes in hand

Aboriginal artist, Greg Muir lives with cerebral palsy. Image source: Scope.

Homeless, vulnerable and unjabbed

Paige Taylor, Indigenous Affairs Correspondent, WA Bureau Chief has written a story for The Australian about homeless Aboriginal couple Melinda Williams and Timothy Dick who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 more than a year after they were prioritised in the national rollout. It is a story that has played out in towns and cities across Australia. Neither considers themself to be an anti-vaxxer and both are dogged by health problems that make them more likely to get very sick if infected with COVID-19.

Yet no state or territory has had as much time as WA to protect the most vulnerable, or win their trust in order to convince them to protect themselves. Despite the luxury of time and a well-resourced vaccine drive in WA, a survey of 522 rough sleepers in the centre of Perth by Homeless Healthcare found that 32% had not had a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on 21 January. There are an estimated 1,000 rough sleepers in and near the city, 41% of them Indigenous.

Lisa Wood, from Notre Dame University’s Institute of Health Research, said the reasons why homeless people do not get vaccinated defy assumptions that suggest anyone who is not vaccinated by now does not want to be. Some homeless people had been involuntary mental health patients and were, as a result, wary of the health system, she said. Others had a deep distrust of authority because they been removed from their parents by child protection workers, or their children had been removed from them. Professor Wood said this was why vaccinating rough sleepers took time. It was important to build trust, ­answer questions and give people the chance to come back a few times. “There are also practical barriers to getting vaccinated, such as lack of transport, no phone or computer to book appointments, or to receive reminders,” Professor Wood said.

Indigenous woman Melinda Williams

Indigenous woman Melinda Williams sleeps rough on the streets of Perth and has been unable to secure a Covid vaccine. Photo: Tony McDonough. Image source: The Australian.

Yarrabah outbreak peaks

Yarrabah’s increased vaccination level combined with a slowing of transmission through the community has resulted in a sharp decrease in the daily infection rates. Daily infections continue to decrease with only 34 positive cases recorded in the past seven days, compared with 78 the previous week. Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service Director of Clinical Services, Dr Jason King is confident the worst has passed for Yarrabah. “With a steady decrease in daily cases, it is obvious we are now moving through the tail of this outbreak. This will be welcome news for our community, but it will allow our teams to ramp up our vaccination drive,” he said.

Vaccination levels in Yarrabah continue to rise and currently are sitting at more than 50% of the 16+ community fully boosted. We have come a long way from the low 20% levels in August last year, to where we are currently with more than 83% of the community double vaccinated. Our focus is now to lift significantly our booster rates. With the change to the waiting time, down to 3 months, it’s critical that we increase our booster rollout and protect our community fully. The current outbreak has ripped through the community with more than 720 cases registered in the community. This figure could have been greater. As a community we were 70% double vaccinated at the start of the outbreak earlier this year.”

To read the GYHS media release in full click here.

Anthony Brown-Sexton and Wendy Stafford with mask, chatting over wire fence

Yarrabah resident Anthony Brown-Sexton and GYHS Care Team member Wendy Stafford.

Ending avoidable blindness by 2025

Professor Hugh Taylor, University of Melbourne, Indigenous Eye Health founder says great progress has been made in establishing regional stakeholder networks nationwide that link ACCHOs with service providers and local hospitals. The government has prioritised and committed to “End avoidable blindness by 2025” for Indigenous Australians. Now it needs to release its implementation plan to build and strengthen the services required. An important component will be improving leadership and ownership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision was released in early 2012. When the government implements its priority to “End avoidable blindness by 2025”, the roadmap will have been essentially completed. The Indigenous Eye Health unit will then recast its role, focussing on technical support and advice to strengthen Indigenous leadership in the ACCHOs, the regions, the states and territories and nationally.

To view the Insight article in full click here.

Professor Hugh Taylor

Professor Hugh Taylor. Image source: The University of Melbourne.

Fewer young people in aged care

The number of Australians aged under 65 living in permanent residential aged care fell by 20% from almost 4,600 in September 2020 to around 3,700 in September 2021, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The number of Australians aged under 45 living in residential aged care fell by 24%, from 120 to 91 during the same time period. The report, Younger people in residential aged care, shows the number of younger people in permanent residential aged care decreased in every state and territory between 2020 and 2021.

‘The Australian Government has set targets to have no people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022, and under the age of 65 by 2025 (other than in exceptional circumstances), through the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Strategy 2020–25 released in September 2020. The AIHW report tracks progress against these targets over the past year,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.

In September 2021, just over half (53%) of the younger people living in residential aged care were male and 10% were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The majority (59%) of younger people living in residential aged care were aged 60–64. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) were aged 45–59, and 2% were aged 18–44.

To access the Inside Ageing article in full click here.

ATSI carer hands holding ATSI hand

Image source: Aged Care Guide.

Highest rates of dementia in world

Studies have shown that Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas of the country are disproportionately affected by dementia, with rates approximately double those of non-Indigenous people. A new study shows that Aboriginal Australians living in urban areas also have similar high rates of dementia. The study was published in the 9 February 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Given that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now live in urban areas, these results are critically important,” said study author Louise M. Lavrencic, PhD, of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney. “Aboriginal Australians have among the highest rates of dementia in the world, so we looked at some of the potential risk factors that may be facing this population.”

“While the study was not designed to examine factors such as the ongoing effects of colonisation, systemic racism, and the resulting social and health disparities across Aboriginal Australian communities, these factors are likely to contribute to the higher rates of dementia,” Lavrencic said. “Larger studies are needed to look at these effects and identify culturally appropriate and effective dementia risk reduction strategies.”

To read the Science Daily story in full click here.

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean

Bidyadanga residents with dementia are supported by workers at the community care centre. From left: Angelina Nanudie, Zarena Richards, Rosie Spencer and Faye Dean. Photo: Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley.

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 & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NHLF’s vision: health system free of racism

feature tile text 'national health leadership forum wants range of issues elevated in national debate' Sunrise health worker with stethoscope checking patient's heart

Image is feature tile is of Sunrise Health Service healthcare worker Desleigh Shields. Photo: Alexia Attwood, ABC News.

NHLF’s vision: health system free of racism

The National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), a collective partnership of 13 national organisations, including NACCHO, who represent a united voice on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing with expertise across service delivery, workforce, research, healing and mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, is calling for a range of issues to be elevated in the national debate.

NHLF Chairperson Donna Murray wants the Australian health system to be free of racism and inequality, and for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable. The NHLF is advocating for system-wide investment in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, including on monitoring and reporting on the Plan’s implementation, as well as system-wide investment approach for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan.

The NHLF wants genuine needs-based funding investment in social determinants of health that have greatest impact on health outcomes – primary health care, housing, education, justice and law reform, climate change, aged care and disability service, Indigenous rights, and social justice. The NHLF also asserts the importance of the cultural determinants of health, and calls for investment and support that recognises their importance to improved health and wellbeing as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their knowledges and perspectives.

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

Workplace discrimination ‘utterly unacceptable’

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is calling for urgent systemic and cultural reform within the health sector, following the 2021 Medical Training Survey results that found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainee doctors had experienced higher levels of bullying, discrimination and harassment – including racism – compared to their non-Indigenous colleagues. While the latest Survey results from 2021 found that trainees in general continued to experience bullying, harassment and discrimination, it also found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees had been disproportionately impacted.

The Survey results showed that “52% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees reported experiencing and/or witnessing bullying, harassment and/or discrimination (compared with 35% of trainees nationally), and 49% reported a moderate or major impact on their training (compared with 38% nationally). “While these numbers are deeply disturbing, to us, they are also not surprising,” said Monica Barolits-McCabe, CEO of AIDA. “We have known that harassment and discrimination, especially racism, has been adversely impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students throughout their medical journey. This is utterly unacceptable,” she said.

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

Victoria to build 400 Aboriginal homes

The Victorian government have announced it will set aside $150 million to build the homes through various Aboriginal grants programs, helping to combat homelessness among First Nations people. One in six Aboriginal Victorians require homelessness assistance and are ten times more likely to contact these services than other residents, according to the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service’s 2021 annual report. “Having a home means security, stability and staying safe,” Housing Minister Richard Wynne said in a statement. Aboriginal households on the Victorian Housing Register will be eligible for the new grants, which open for applications in early May.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams said the extra money would go a long way to fostering self-determination and culturally safe housing options for Aboriginal Victorians. “When First Nations Victorians manage their own affairs, such as housing, we know outcomes are better for everyone,” she said. The new grants are on top of $35 million to upgrade existing Aboriginal housing as part of the state’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build scheme. Under the plan, 12,000 new social and affordable homes were expected to be built over a four-year span in a bid to boost the state’s housing supply by 10%.

The projects, located across 38 local government areas, ranged from a 152-home development in Melbourne to several two-home developments in regional areas including Ballarat, Bendigo Shepparton, Wodonga and Warrnambool. The state government is chipping in $740 million to the scheme, with the rest of the bill footed by 22 community housing agencies.

To view Minister Wynne’s media release click here.

homeless man lying on bench

Victoria has launched a plan to help overcome the high rate of homelessness among aboriginal people. Photo: AAP. Image source: 7 News.

My Health Record booster reminders

My Health Record was upgraded in January 2022 with the following COVID-19 information.

COVID-19 booster reminders for consumers
This release includes booster alerts and notifications for eligible consumers and nominated representatives (currently those 18 and over who have completed their primary course of vaccines). A new booster tile on the COVID-19 dashboard shows the recommended booster date.

One month before the recommended booster date, consumers will:

  • see an on-screen alert on their Record Home page and Immunisation page
  • get an SMS or email notification about their recommended booster date (for those who have set up notifications).

The recommended booster date is calculated by My Health Record based on Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) recommended time until a booster (currently 3 months after completion of primary course, based on this ATAGI statement).

This release also removes on-screen due/overdue COVID-19 vaccination alerts that were showing for consumers with a recorded medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines.

If consumers need assistance at any time, they can contact the Help line on 1800 723 471 and select option 1. Call charges may apply for mobile phones.tile text 'check your booster due date in My Health Record - My Health Record' & form with title 'COVID-19 vax dashboard'

Impacts of short-term ACCHO staffing

Access to high-quality primary healthcare is limited for remote residents in Australia. Increasingly, remote health services are reliant on short-term or ‘fly-in, fly-out/drive-in, drive-out’ health workforce to deliver primary healthcare. A key strategy to achieving health service access equity, particularly evident in remote Australia, has been the development of ACCHOs

A recently published journal article, Understanding and responding to the cost and health impact of short-term health staffing in remote and rural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health services: a mixed methods study protocol describes how, a new study aims to generate new knowledge about (1) the impact of short-term staffing in remote and rural ACCHOs on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; (2) the potential mitigating effect of community control; and (3) effective, context-specific evidence-based retention strategies.

The study will compare the effects of two distinct PHC governance models and thereby contribute to the development of evidence-based workforce strategies to stabilise the remote and rural health workforce and improve access to essential PHC services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in rural and remote areas.

To view the article in full click here.

Utju (Areyonga), one of the remote clinics in Central Australia

Utju (Areyonga), one of the remote clinics in Central Australia. Image source: Flinders University.

Dementia in cities as high as in rural areas

Studies have shown that Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas of the country are disproportionately affected by dementia, with rates approximately double those of non-Indigenous people. A new study shows that Aboriginal Australians living in urban areas also have similar high rates of dementia.

“Given that the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now live in urban areas, these results are critically important,” said study author Louise M. Lavrencic, Ph.D., of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney. “Aboriginal Australians have among the highest rates of dementia in the world, so we looked at some of the potential risk factors that may be facing this population.”

To view the Medical Xpress article in full click here.

elderly Aboriginal lady's hands folded in lap

Image source: myDr Tonic Media Network.

Aboriginal Employment Strategy turns 25

Starting the year off strong, the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) are celebrating their 25 years in operation, kicking off as major sponsors of the NRL Indigenous All Stars game in Sydney 12 February. Proud Murri and South Sea Islander woman and CEO of Aboriginal Employment Strategy, Kristy Masella said it was about celebrating the success of working together.

“We are so proud. It is not only an achievement for us as an organisation, but a reflection of the partnership approach that has gotten us to this point. Working in collaboration with community and employers to create career opportunities. That’s at the heart of what we do at AES, and as a result we are deadly, together,” Kristy said.

The AES works with more than 550 employers across Australia each year to create career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 16 regionally based offices across four states and territories, work locally to support more than 1,150 career opportunities each year. Part of the approach is working with the employer to support cultural competency and understanding, and helping individuals develop skills and capabilities they need for career success.

To view the A media release in full click here.

test 'aes 25 years we deadly together' within white circle, background radiating black lines with red, yellow, blue, orange, green fill between

New process for job advertising

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

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

International CHD Awareness Month

February is International Child Heart Disease Awareness Month….. childhood heart disease (CHD) is a global issue!

CHD covers a wide range of conditions, including acquired heart conditions such as Rheumatic Fever and Kawasaki’s Disease, not just congenital heart disease.

For further information you can access the HeartKids website here.

baby with nasal tube, long scar down chest, bead string with name Leon

Leon aged 6 months. Image source: Heart Kids website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Hidden barriers to talking about suicide

feature tile text 'hidden barriers to discussing suicide in ATSI communities' & grass with painted paper triangles of Aboriginal flags

Image in feature tile from The Conversation article ‘Why are we losing so many Indigenous children to suicide?’ 29 March 2019.

Hidden barriers to talking about suicide

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Aboriginal Australians and there is an urgent need to actively engage with Aboriginal communities to better understand these issues and to develop solutions together to prevent deaths by suicide in Aboriginal communities.

Utilising a qualitative, thematic, cross-sectional design, a research team conducted focus groups in three communities in the Hunter New England area in NSW to explore the perceptions and views of Aboriginal participants in relation to discussing suicide. The key themes found to influence discussions about suicide in Aboriginal communities included the sense that suicide is a whole of community issue, the ripple effect of suicide deaths, silence about suicide and the impact of this silence, and being powerless to act. Participants described a reluctance to have discussions about suicide; feeling they had limited skills and confidence to have these sorts of discussions; and multiple and interrelated barriers to discussing suicide, including shame, fear and negative experiences of mental health care. Participants also described how their experiences maintained these barriers and prevented Aboriginal Australians from seeking help in suicidal crises.

The research concluded that future initiatives should address the interrelated barriers by supporting Aboriginal people to build skills and confidence in discussing suicide and mental health and by improving access to, and the experience of, mental health care and psychosocial and community-based supports for Aboriginal Australians. Trying to address any one of these factors in isolation may increase rather than decrease suicide risk in Aboriginal communities.

To access the research article in full click here.

NACCHO wants your good news stories

NACCHO is putting a call out for your good news stories.

We want showcase the amazing work our NACCHO Members are doing.

We know you are all time poor so all we need is a short paragraph and an image. If we require more detail we will contact you.

The image is essential to capture the attention of our readers.

To get the ball rolling we’ve offering a PRIZE to the FIRST TWO good news stories we receive.

You can contact the NACCHO Communications team using this email link.

newspaper text 'exclusive Good News'

Updated booster advice for cancer patients

A 4th COVID-19 vaccine dose is now recommended for people over 16 years old who have severe immune suppression, including people with cancer. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) now recommends a 3rd primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for severely immunocompromised children and adults aged 5 years or older, and a booster (4th) dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, given 3 months after their primary course for those over the age of 16. The impact, safety and optimal timing of booster doses are continually reviewed by ATAGI. Reflecting the new recommendation by ATAGI, Cancer Australia has updated its information for people with cancer.

“Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program is designed to safeguard all people in Australia from the harm caused by COVID-19 primarily through preventing serious illness and death, said Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO Cancer Australia. “People with cancer may be immunocompromised by their cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, or the disease itself. As people who are severely immunocompromised may have a suboptimal response or non-response to the standard 2-dose primary vaccine schedule, ATAGI recommends a 3rd primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and then a 4th dose or booster in those 16 years and older, to increase their protection.”

Professor Keefe continued, “Current evidence suggests there is a reduction in protection against COVID-19 infection following vaccination over time. Protection against transmission from vaccinated individuals who are infected also appears to wane over time.” “Studies from around the world have shown the 4 vaccines and boosters approved for use in Australia to be safe and effective.”

For further information you can access the relevant page of the Australian Government Cancer Australia website here.

hot pink banner text 'updated info avail covid-19 vaccines & cancer' & vector of virus cells & hand holding vax vial

Homelessness takes 30 years off life

When you don’t have a stable place to live, your health can be severely affected. Using a decade of data drawn from services who work with those living with homelessness, a new report has quantified just how their health is impacted, and what can be done about it.

David Pearson, CEO of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, Dr Daniel Nour, founder of Street Side Medics and 2022 Young Australian of the Year, and George Hatvani, Functional Zero Manager Launch Housing have spoken on ABC Radio Life Matters about the impacts on homelessness including on life expectancy.

To listen the ABC Radio Life Matters radio interview click here.

green iron street bench text 'ABC Life Matters with Hilary Harper, Michael Mackenzie, Listen 22m 27s'

Hearing audiologist in rural NSW

When Matthew Tanti first travelled to Broken Hill to provide outreach audiology services to the local community, he instantly knew he’d found his passion.  “That first week in Broken Hill just grabbed at my heart,” says Matt. “I really love going into communities, engaging with the people, learning about the culture, meeting and playing with the kids. It’s my job to do the hearing tests on the kids, so it’s really important that I earn their trust and they feel comfortable with me.”

He explained that, while the tests are safe and don’t hurt at all, not every child is open and willing to engage. “My approach is to spend some time with them and try, as much as possible, to see the situation through their eyes. Recently I needed to test a kid who was anxious about the process and didn’t want to come out from under the table. So, I laid down on the ground with him until he was comfortable and ready to go.”

“Showing the kids how the equipment works, using magic blocks and letting them pretend to test their teachers’ ears always helps to lessen any anxiety,” says Matt. The trick is to make it fun for the kids, so it’s more like a game than a medical appointment. That’s particularly important when the tests take place in a medical centre because kids sometimes associate that with vaccination and things that may not be as simple or as comfortable for them.”

Audiologists also need to build trust with parents and carers as they are essential to the hearing health assessment process and any follow-up care and support. “Parents are the experts when it comes to their own kids,” says Matt. “I need them to tell me all about their kids and any issues they have.

To read the case study in full click here.

Audiologist Max Tanti in shorts & t-shirt standing in dry outback rocky gorge

HAPEE audiologist Matthew Tanti.

Strong SWEB free online course

A free Strong Social & Emotional Wellbeing workshop is being provided by Western Sydney Recovery College. The workshop provides students with the cultural understanding required to deliver mental health services within a social and emotional wellbeing framework. The course is open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The learning outcomes reflect the key domains of competence required to practice within a social and emotional wellbeing framework when delivering mental health services to First Nation peoples in Australia, including:

  • Understanding the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and peoples.
  • Being able to explain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Being able to recognise and work with risk and protective factors that affect social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Understanding the influence of the historical, political and social determinants on social and emotional wellbeing and mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Gaining an understanding of strength-based, trauma-informed practice when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Identifying the cultural basis of your own values and practices.

The workshop will be held online via Zoom on Wednesday, 2 March & Thursday, 3 March 2022, 9.30–11.30 AM and 1.00–3.00 PM.

For more information and to register for the workshop click here.

orange tile, white speech bubble text 'mental health' & line drawing of loud speaker

Improving ‘poor’ Indigenous sleep health

Scientists are hoping to improve sleep health among Indigenous Australians after new research found they are far more likely to experience unhealthy slumber. Sleep coaches are being deployed in north-west Queensland to work with Indigenous youngsters in what is set to become the first of many projects in Australian communities.

James Cook University’s Yaqoot Fatima was part of a team that found while there was little research on Indigenous Australians’ sleep health, the limited results were startling. Data from nine studies on the topic indicated nearly 35% of Indigenous Australians reported a high prevalence of unhealthy sleep, compared to 20% of non-Indigenous adults.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if those figures were a lot higher, based on anecdotal evidence and through our work,” Dr Fatima said. “Based on this data we have found that sleep health for Indigenous Australians is really poor but it is not understood well. We are taking the next step to cover that, starting in the Queensland community and want to take it to other places like Darwin hopefully next year.”

To view The News Daily article in full click here.

blurred image man in bed awake, hand to head, clock 2.45am

Image source: Retail Pharmacy.

Putting research back in community hands

The Lowitja Institute has opened the door for the second timet o support innovative community-led research into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and businesses continually support the health and wellbeing of our people and communities. Lowitja Institute’s Seeding Grants program provides an opportunity for organisations to transform their ideas by putting research back into community hands,” said Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute.

The Lowitja Institute Seeding Grants program is offering grants of up to $35,000 to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and businesses. “Many Aboriginal-led organisations and businesses struggle to find resources to apply for or attract targeted research funding,” said Dr Mohamed. “These grants can build on their capacity to continue the great work they’re already doing to improve health outcomes for our peoples.”

Lowitja Institute team is available to answer your questions before you submit an application. Whether it’s a question about how to complete the application form or about your project idea, we’re here to help. Appointments will be available from the week commencing Monday 14 February 2022 between 11a:00 AM and 1:00 PM Monday to Friday until the application closing date.

To download an application form and book an appointment, click here. For more information, please contact Lowitja Institute using this link.

To apply click on this link. Applications close 11:59 PM AEDT Monday 7 March 2022.

banner text 'Lowitja Institute Seeding Grants 2022 NOW OPEN ATSI Community-led research opportunities' & background image of smoking ceremony

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.

Healthy Lunchbox Week – 6–12 February 2022

Healthy Lunchbox Week is a Nutrition Australia initiative that aims to inspire parents and carers across Australia to create healthy lunchboxes their children will enjoy. Did you know children consume around 30% of their daily food intake at school? Most of this comes from the contents of their lunchbox. What children eat during their day at school plays a crucial role in their learning and development.

Healthy Lunchbox Week helps families prepare healthy lunchboxes by:

  • inspiring healthy lunchbox ideas and recipes
  • ensuring a healthy lunchbox balance across core food groups
  • awareness of lunchbox food hygiene and safety.

Healthy Lunchbox Week occurs at the start of Term 1 to help get kids and families set up for a healthy year of lunchboxes.

You can visit Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Lunchbox Week website for:

  • lunchbox friendly recipes
  • fact sheets and healthy lunchbox guides
  • videos.

tile text 'kids eat around a THIRD of their daily food at school... what goes into their LUNCHBOX matters' & image of salad sandwich & apple

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: ACCHO to host allied health student training

feature tile text 'QLD ACCHO thrilled with funding for much needed allied health services and training opportunities' & Goondir health worker & child with headphonesa

Image in the feature tile from the Goondir Health Services Community Wellbeing Centre website.

ACCHO to host allied health student training

The Federal Government is providing $2 million over two years to the University of Queensland to expand allied health student training opportunities in St George, in rural Queensland. Through the South Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) University Department of Rural Health, in Toowoomba, allied health students will participate in intensive high-quality rural education experiences.

The project will fill gaps in health care through a student-led clinic, operated from the ACCHO Goondir Health Services Community Wellbeing Centre, which has agreed to host SQRH staff at the centre. The investment will provide staff and support infrastructure to deliver health and wellbeing services to the local community.

Member for Groom, Garth Hamilton said “This is a terrific local initiative and partnership building off the strong established RHMT facilities here in Toowoomba. I’m pleased the health services at this clinic is a partnership with local ACCHO Goondir Health Services, and other community stakeholders. This great initiative will support chronic disease prevention and management for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members. The clinic will also support the Goondir adolescent wellbeing program by offering age-appropriate healthy eating, fitness, and positive peer engagement programs.”

Federal Regional Health Minister, Dr David Gillespie, a former rural doctor, said the SQRH will employ several allied health clinical academics and administrative staff who will be located at the Goondir Community Wellbeing Centre in St George. “Goondir has agreed to collaborate with SQRH to provide cultural mentoring support to students and staff,” Minister Gillespie said. “Student recruitment will preference students from a rural background, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin or those with a demonstrated commitment to rural practice.”

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

Goondir Health Service QLD CEO Floyd Leedie speaking with press

Goondir Health Service CEO Floyd Leedie at the announcement of funding for the much needed Allied Health services and training opportunities in St George. Image source: Goondir HS Facebook post 3 February 2022.

Yarrabah passes 90% vax milestone

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service chief executive, Suzanne Andrews announced yesterday that the critical 90% first vaccination level in the Yarrabah community had been achieved. “This is a critical milestone to achieve and a credit to the way the local community has embraced the vaccination message. Our second vaccination level continues to grow and we are only days away from reaching the 80% double vaxxed milestone,” she said.

Ms Andrews also praised the dedication and commitment to the vaccination rollout of all the Gurriny staff and Queensland Health employees. “This has been a total team effort, community, Gurriny and Queensland Health, all pulling together to keep our mob safe. In October we commenced with a door-to-door vaccination drive. This initiative was spearheaded by our Community Care Health workers and proved to be very successful in lifting our vaccination levels. Community healthcare is exactly that, working in the community to improve the health outcomes. Our outreach teams are in our community on a daily basis. This daily contact has been essential in educating our community about COVID as well as lifting the vaccination rates.”

CHHHS executive director COVID-19 vaccine program, Dr Don Mackie, welcomed news that the single-dose vaccination rate in Yarrabah had increased to more than 90%. “About three months ago, Yarrabah was singled out as having one of the lowest vaccination rates in Queensland,” Dr Mackie said. “To go from there to where we are now, is a great achievement. This is a result of the hard work of Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service, together with Queensland Health staff at Yarrabah, our First Nations COVID-19 Response team, Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, and our other health partners. “Let’s keep the good work up, and get more than 90% of the community double-vaxxed. We need to ensure that people in our communities have the best protection from serious illness or death as a result of COVID-19.”

male & 2 female Gurriny Yealamuck employees with thumbs up

Gurriny Yealamucka employees, Jilara Murgha, Dr Matt Durden, Heather Robertson all celebrating the 90% milestone . Photo supplied by GYHS.

NT communities put selves into lockdown

Maningrida’s health service, Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, passed on the request from Traditonal Owners and Nja-Marléya Leaders in a social media post on yesterday. “With positive cases of COVID-19 now across all camps in Maningrida, Traditional Owners and Nja-Marléya Leaders are urging everybody to stay at home to help stop the virus from spreading more,” the post reads.

“Please stay at home unless you have to: Get medical help (ie. go to the clinic), buy food (only 1 person going to shop), provide care for someone who can’t look after themselves, escape family violence, leave in an emergency.”

To view the Katherine Times article in full click here.

aerial view of Maningrida

aningrida has put itself into lockdown to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Image source: Airlines-Airports website.

Quarantine camps for rough sleepers

Quarantine facilities have opened in regional SA to house people with COVID-19, or have been identified as close contacts and are unable to isolate safely at home. The Port Augusta Regional COVID Accommodation facility caters for around 100 people including Aboriginal people unable to return to their homelands and communities in the far north.

“[The Port Augusta] hub will be instrumental in looking after these guys if they test positive,” said Glen Wingfield, heritage manager for the Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation. Mr Wingfield said the Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation gave permission to SA Health to develop a hub on their land in Port Augusta to look after the COVID-19 positive community. Over on the west coast, the COVID Accommodation Support Centre has opened to provide the same services in Ceduna, on Wirangu Country at Emu Farm.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

view of covid-19 quarantine facility Port Augusta SA

The Port Augusta quarantine facility will provide healthcare, shelter, culturally appropriate food, and interpretation services. Photo: Tyson Shine, ABC News.

Darwin visitor accommodation for Mob

The Federal Government has committed $10 million towards a new Darwin Visitor Accommodation Precinct to provide lodging and more flexible options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people sleeping rough. The $10 million commitment to the precinct will complement the NT Government’s $30.15 million investment, expanding the project to support more Territorians from remote and very remote areas when they need to visit Darwin.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said a memorandum of understanding signed with the NT Government will allow the development of a new accommodation facility at Batten Road. “Darwin is a significant regional centre and a lot of people come into town for medical appointments, meetings, visiting family and often can’t find suitable places to stay,” Minister Wyatt said.

To view Minister Wyatt’s media release in full click here.

homeless man lying on pavement Darwin

Before COVID-19, the NT’s rate of homelessness was 12 times the national average. Photo: Danielle Bonica, ABC News.

Regional NSW allied health training expands

Charles Sturt University will expand allied health student training and placements across the Riverina region with a grant of $1.87 million under the federal government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, announced yesterday in Parkes.

Charles Sturt, in partnership with the Western NSW Local Health District and Primary Health Network, identified opportunities to increase local training and student placements across allied health disciplines, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, exercise physiology, speech pathology and podiatry. This has the added benefit of improving residents’ access to healthcare. The funding will allow Charles Sturt to provide intensive, high-quality rural education experiences in Forbes and Parkes through its Three Rivers Department of Rural Health which is based in Wagga Wagga.

Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor, Professor Renée Leon, said “Part of that support and training will include a half-day cultural immersion experience with Indigenous Elders, cultural understanding support by Aboriginal Health Workers, and cultural safety/rural readiness training from the Clinical Educator,” he said. “Indigenous students can access Charles Sturt’s mentoring program to support them through an exciting and valuable program of study.”

To read the Charles Sturt University news story in full click here. You can also watch a film below showcasing the stories of Charles Sturt University First Nations students, health professionals in community, and elders. The film shares how they have overcome healthcare struggles, societal determinants, and barriers towards their studies and daily lives.

Be aware of cancer early warning signs

As we mark World Cancer Day, the Australian Government is urging all Australians to be aware of the early warning signs of cancer and take part in free screening programs for breast, cervical and bowel cancer. It is also a timely reminder of the steps all Australians can take to minimise cancer risk factors including tobacco use, obesity, and exposure to UV rays.

Cancer can take a long time to develop, and screening can find cancer in the early stages. It can also find changes to cells before they become cancer or identify infections that may cause cancer in the future. Early detection and treatment gives people the best chance of survival. This year, World Cancer Day is about understanding and recognising inequities in cancer care across the globe. Here in Australia, there are differences in the incidence of cancer and survival outcomes across the population.

To view the media release in full click here. You can also watch the Finding Cancer Early – Aboriginal Education Video produced by the Cancer Council of WA below.

Free weekly stroke and recovery webinars

In response to the strain on the health system from COVID 19, Stroke Foundation has developed a Stroke & Recovery Webinar for survivors of stroke, carers, and their families and friends. The aim is to provide education about stroke and information about how to access community services to help fill the gaps we’ve seen happening.

If you know someone who has recently had a stroke and has been discharged from hospital without the information that they need, or have questions please join the webinars on Wednesdays at 11am ASDT. You can register for upcoming webinars here.

Aboriginal Elder, black beanie with Aboriginal flag, red singlet

Image source: Australian Stroke Alliance.

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 Cancer Day

World Cancer Day held every 4 February is the global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). By raising worldwide awareness, improving education and catalysing personal, collective and government action, we are all working together to reimagine a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equitable for all – no matter who you are or where you live. Created in 2000, World Cancer Day has grown into a positive movement for everyone, everywhere to unite under one voice to face one of our greatest challenges in history. For more information about World Cancer Day click here.

Cancer is one of the most serious health threats affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their second leading cause of death. Research from The Australian Institute of Health and welfare has found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are 1.1 times as likely to be diagnosed with cancer as non-Indigenous Australians (2009–13 figures) and have lower five-year relative survival compared with on-Indigenous Australians (2007–14 figures).

Cancer Australia launched a Yarn For Life – It’s OK to talk about cancer campaign in 2019, specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can access information on the Cancer Australia website about Yarn for Life here. This site includes videos, posters, case studies and important information about talking about cancer.tile text ' world cancer day 4 feb, close the care gap' & cartoon drawing of Aboriginal dr & Aboriginal patient

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

4 Marr Mooditj Training AC students working on a dummy on hospital bed

PLEASE NOTE: the last date for this publication this year is Friday 15 December 2021 – the publication will start again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Image in feature tile: Marr Mooditj Training Aboriginal Corporation students.

Health workforce investment is urgent

Around the world, news of the Omicron variant of concern has created questions about the implications for an already stretched and burdened health workforce. It is not only the clinical workforce that is feeling the pressure, there is an urgent need to invest in expanding and developing the public health workforce.

A virtual symposium, held this week, hosted by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, heard of public health worker burnout, the traumas of dealing with the pandemic, of the value and shortage of epidemiologists, and of a lack of adequate data on the workforce.

NACCHO Medical Director, Dr Megan Campbell, stressed the need for training and leadership opportunities for First Nations peoples and recognition of the role of ACCHOs in keeping communities safe. Campbell said the public health workforce had been “absolutely essential’ in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to stay safe during the pandemic and improving the cultural safety and quality of government and mainstream organisation responses as well.”

Campbell went on to say, “We absolutely need to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health workforce and that’s going to require substantial commitments.” NACCHO wants to ensure the curriculum is appropriate, includes competencies around Indigenous public health practice – not just knowledge – and its development must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

KAMS students in class learning child health checks. Photo supplied by KAMS. Image source: National Indigenous News.

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

The CEO of Aboriginal Medical Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) is calling on the NT government to keep the borders closed into the new year. The current plan is to drop the need for any quarantine requirements for double vaccinated travellers from interstate red zones on 20 December 2021.

AMSANT CEO John Paterson said he would prefer a mid-January date, “That would allow us time to increase the vaccination rates, particularly in those low vaccinated local government areas throughout the NT. Monday 17 [January 2022] looks like a good day to open up the borders as that would give the low vaccination regions time to boost their rates. We’d probably be getting very close to that 90 to 95% vaccination rate, if we continue the trend that we’re on.”

To view the full ABC News story click here.

outback highway with orange cones funnelling traffic & road sign 'state border visitor information bay'

The current plan is to let interstate visitors heading into the NT from 20 December 2021. Photo: Mitchell Abram, ABC News.

Homeless women with disability research

Homelessness is having a disastrous impact on women with disabilities, according to new research by the UNSEEN Project. UNSEEN is led by social documentarian Belinda Mason (BLUR Projects), in collaboration with the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW, and has been designed with women to tell real stories of some of the State’s 15,000 homeless women. It provides a unique platform for women of all ages to share their true experiences.

Artist and Paralympian, Caitlin [pseudonym used for safety reasons], 44, became homeless in February 2020 when floodwater engulfed her home, badly damaging the property and taking with it much of her prized possessions. She said finding suitable temporary accommodation was near impossible. “My home was no longer habitable.”

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Kate Washington said the Family Matters Report 2021 has revealed sobering data on the the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children in out-of-home care. NSW was ranked as poor or very poor across all four building blocks within the report, with the rate of over representation increasing steadily since 2012-13.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW are 9.9 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services than non-Indigenous children. The Report has slammed the lack of transparency and accountability within the NSW child protection system and has called for major investment from the NSW Government in community-led solutions.

To view the joint media release by NSW Shadow Ministers Kate Washington and David Harris in full click here.

rear view of small Aboriginal child looking towards run-down house

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

A new scheme aims to attract more health professionals to rural, regional and remote areas. From January 2022, the federal government will wipe the university debt of doctors or nurse practitioners, under a few conditions.

Regional Health Minister David Gillespie said the incentives were on top of current benefits, such as scholarship programs and additional Medicare benefits. “The more remote you go, the more significant the practice incentive payment or the workforce incentive payment is,” Dr Gillespie said. “It is targeted because there is an acute shortage of general practitioners in the outer, regional and remote areas — more so than anywhere else.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is critical to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, yet efforts over more than 20 years are still to make significant inroads.

However, a small, award-winning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training provider in Perth, Marr Mooditj, is showing the way amid other hopes for change in nursing and midwifery courses and curriculum showcased at the recent Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Back To The Fire conference event in WA.

Marr Mooditj’ is one of just three organisations across Australia to provide dedicated healthcare training solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  students. Their unique staff motto “Eat the frog” is about how staff make sure they are providing wrap-around support to students from across WA, in a way that goes beyond the time and focus given by most other training organisations. It means that any staff member who runs into a student who needs help is expected to step up.

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

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

Dr Wong has received a RACGP Rural GP award, recognising he has directly contributed to healthcare improvement and positively impacted the local community. “Parasitic worms may not be a popular topic, but it is a serious health issue in the Kimberley region, and anyone can get it,” he said.

“I recognised part of the problem where I work was a lack of community awareness. There are simple steps people can take in terms of prevention and treatment, so I put together posters to help raise awareness across the region, as well as clear guidelines for managing parasites, which have been really useful for patients.”

To view the Kimberley Clinical Protocol Parasitic Worms that Dr Wong helped update click here and to view the RACGP media release about the Rural GP awards click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

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.