NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

Image in feature tile from 2019 NACCHO Members’ Conference.

NACCHO Members’ Conference registrations open

In just over 100 days NACCHO delegates from 144 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, guests and presenters from across our sectors will come together to at the NACCHO Members’ Conference in beautiful Canberra to celebrate our successes over the years and discuss all the good work to come.

Please join us:

NACCHO Youth Conference 17 October 2022

NACCHO Extraordinary General Meeting and Annual General Meeting 18 October 2022

NACCHO Member’s Conference 19–20 October 2022

Early bird rates available (2-day conference package only).

For more information and to register click here.

NACCHO looks forward to celebrating with you all in October.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the NACCHO Members’ Conference was not held in 2020 or 2021. You can watch a video below with highlights from the 2019 conference below.

AHCWA to deliver $17.6m mental health pilot

The Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) has been awarded $17.6 million to deliver a mental health pilot to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people. The regional Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) Model of Service pilot program aims to increase access to social and emotional wellbeing and healthcare services for Aboriginal people of all ages in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West, Goldfields and South-West regions of WA.

Local ACCHOs will run the program in their communities:

  • Bega Garnbirringu Health Service in Kalgoorlie;
  • Derby Aboriginal Health Service in Derby;
  • Wirraka Maya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland;
  • Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service in Geraldton; and
  • South West Aboriginal Medical Service in Bunbury.

Through culturally secure prevention and community development, psychosocial support, targeted interventions and coordinated care by multidisciplinary teams, the pilot is expected to improve quality of life for Aboriginal people. The Mental Health Commission will work with AHCWA to support the governance and evaluation of the pilot.

To view the Government of WA Media Statement Mental health pilot to boost Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing in full click here.

Image sources: Wikivoyage, Queensland Government IMHIP webpage.

$1.25m NDIS grants to ACCHOs

NACCHO has delivered over $1.25 million in grants to 57 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to support the delivery of culturally safe and appropriate National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services to their communities. The grants were delivered through the NDIS Ready program which is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The Indigenous Business Support Funding (IBSF) grants, worth $22,000 each, are designed to build the capacity of ACCHOs and ACCOs to deliver disability services sustainably under the NDIS by empowering them with the resources they need to be NDIS ready. This will support the growth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NDIS market and workforce and help improve access to culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner AM welcomed the funding, “These grants will enable the ACCHO sector to expand into the NDIS, to provide additional essential supports for people with disability.” CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Rob McPhee, said: “Danila Dilba is committed to helping our Mob with disabilities live the life they want. The IBSF grant will help us further the work we do in supporting our communities in accessing NDIS services. Demand for support and services is much higher than what we can provide alone – but the IBSF grant can assist in strengthening our internal business planning and development and organisational readiness for addressing the unmet need of many in our community with a disability.”

To view The National Tribune article $1.25 million to support community-controlled sector to deliver NDIS services for their communities in full click here.

Kelvina Benny, WA. Image source: NDIS website.

Staying physically and mentally healthy

The Australian Government Department of Health as produced two resources designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with tips on staying physically and mentally healthy. You can download the resources below:

Stay Physically Healthy – Let’s put looking after our physical health on our to do lists in 2022

Stay Mentally Healthy – Let’s put looking after our social and emotional wellbeing on our to do lists in 2022

You can also access the relevant Australian Government Department of Health webpages here and here.

Images from the Department of Health Stay Mentally Healthy and Stay Physically Healthy resources.

Lack of housing bites harder in winter

Djiringanj man Uncle Lewis Campbell has been homeless for seven years, and has been on the list for social housing just as long. In the last two years, his health has deteriorated rapidly and he has suffered multiple bouts of pneumonia due to repeated exposure to the cold. Uncle Lewis has been supported by services in the area to access temporary accommodation through motels, but said he can only access those services for four nights per week. Other nights he stays with friends in the community.

But beds with friends are becoming few and far between.

In early June Uncle Lewis was staying in a spare room with Aunty Kath Jones in her flat in Bega. Ms Jones said she had never seen the housing situation as bad as it had been in her community over the last two years due to multiple natural disasters and the pandemic. “He’s not the only one, I’ve got another homeless girl at the moment, so since she’s been there Uncle Lewis has been staying at the motel to let her have the room because she’s a woman,” Ms Jones said.

The above story is from a Bega District News article Lack of housing and refuges bites even harder in winter with health issues exacerbated for South Coast homeless.

Uncle Lewis Campbell from Bega has been homeless for seven years. His health has suffered immensely as a result, with several bouts of pneumonia in the last few years. He is pleading for more refuges for women and men on the Far South Coast. Photo: Ellouise Bailey. Image source: Bega District News.

LGBTQ+ mob shouting to be heard

For individuals who identify within multiple marginalised groups, their opinions and concerns in a climate of change can often go without consideration. In Pride Month (June) members of the First Nations LGBTQ+ community and leading organisations are shouting for their voice to be heard while creating an environment of support for those left out of the discussions effecting them. Indigenous LGBTQ+ advocacy group BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation founding director and chairman John Leha said recent policies ostracising trans people took an increased toll on First Nations people within the community.

Mr Leha described the recent religious discrimination bill and ban of trans women competing in elite swimming, international rugby league and policy reviews in other sports as a targeted onslaught. “I think the onslaught of this type of anti trans movement or people not having a true understanding of what it looks like and means for the community is the is what is of concern,” Mr Leha said. “Aboriginal trans people are one of the most highest populations that are faced with mental health, suicide rates across the country, and particularly young people.

To view The National Tribune article Indigenous LGBTQ+ support body stands up for community caught up in public debate in full click here.

Black Rainbow LGBTIQA+SB 2021 poster. Image source: Black Rainbow website.

Neoliberalism’s impact on oral health

A study examining the detrimental effect of neoliberalism on the oral health of Australian indigenous peoples was presented by Brianna Poirer of the University of Adelaide, Australia during the “Keynote Address; Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network” session yesterday the 100th General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research.

In Australia, Indigenous peoples experience poorer oral health than their non-Indigenous counterparts across nearly every oral health metric. Recently, neoliberalism has been suggested as an overwhelming contributor to Indigenous oral health disparities. The objective of this qualitative research was to generate an understanding of how neoliberal subjectivity exists for Indigenous peoples in the context of oral health in Australia. The authors argue that personal responsibility for health, as a tenet of neoliberal ideologies, furthers Indigenous oral health inequities and that neoliberalism as a societal discourse perpetuates colonial values by benefitting the privileged and further oppressing the disadvantaged.

To view the News Medical Life Sciences article Study examines the impact of neoliberalism on oral health of Australian indigenous peoples in full click here.

Kyleesha Boah receives a dental check-up at Mackay Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Services. Image source: NIAA website.

Take Home Naloxone Program update

This year’s Federal Budget included $19.6 million (over 4 years) for a Take Home Naloxone Program (THN) in all Australian states and territories which will commence on 1 July 2022. The THN program aims to provide people who may be at risk of an opioid overdose, or are likely to witness an overdose, access to free naloxone without a prescription from participating settings. Naloxone will be available at no cost and without a prescription to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.

From 1 July 2022, Section 90 (s90) community pharmacies and Section 94 (s94) hospital pharmacies in all States and Territories will be able to register via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) Portal at here to participate in the THN Program. In addition, naloxone will continue to be available at a range of other sites in NSW, SA and WA, including alcohol and other drug treatment centres, custodial release programs and needle and syringe programs. The Department will be working with jurisdictions that did not participate in the Pilot program in the coming months to support access through these non-pharmacy settings.

We do know that awareness around naloxone and its use can be improved. The roll-out of the THN Program at a national level provides an opportunity to start conversations to improve awareness of naloxone and support individuals to identify their personal risk, and where appropriate, access naloxone. The Department’s website will be updated on 1 July 2022 to include further information and resources around naloxone and the THN program. The THN Administrator’s website will also be updated from 1 July 2022 to reflect the new Program Rules and other resources to support the national program.

Your support in promoting the program through your networks is greatly appreciated as we work together to improve the lives of Australians who may overdose on opioids. Providing access to naloxone for free and without prescription will continue to remove barriers to access this important medicine and save lives.

Photo: Bridget Judd, ABC News.

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: Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid”

Image in feature tile is of shack outside of Tennant Creek. Image source: ABC News.

Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid”

Experts from The Australian National University (ANU) have raised alarm bells about the “economic apartheid” facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and are calling for an urgent, nation-wide strategic approach to ensure their economic self-determination. This is the key theme of a landmark series of events to be held this week and led by the ANU First Nations Portfolio.

A first for Australia, the forum and symposium will chart the path to First Nations Australians’ economic development, wealth creation and a self-determined economy. Professor Peter Yu AM, Vice-President First Nations at ANU, said Australia remains the only Commonwealth country to have never signed a treaty with its Indigenous people.

To view the ANU’s media release Time to end First Nations “economic apartheid” in full click here.

A town camp outside Alice Springs, NT. Photo: Children’s Ground. Image source: The Guardian.

Children protection system under fire

Every year, Australia’s child safety departments remove thousands of children from their parents on the grounds they are not safe at home and need urgent protection. In doing so, the government becomes their guardian, taking responsibility for their lives. Far from being safe, some of these children are then preyed upon by the very people the government has vetted to look after them.

Indigenous children are 10 times more likely to be removed from their families. Departmental policy dictates that they are then placed with Indigenous carers to maintain contact with their culture, but that doesn’t always happen. Instead, Aboriginal children can languish in care hours from their land while some workers dismiss signs of sexual abuse in First Nations children as “cultural” behaviour.

Lisa Wellington from Aboriginal women’s health and welfare organisation Waminda said the child protection system had been failing Indigenous families since it had been set up. “In order for change to happen, the department needs to engage with the Indigenous community and listen to the families and walk alongside them,” she said.

To view the ABC article Bad Parent in full click here.

Image source: Aboriginal Family Legal Services website.

Health reform issues for new government 

Is Australia on the verge of a long-awaited and sorely needed move towards cooperative federalism to drive health reform? Encouraging noises to this effect have emerged from the first National Cabinet meeting (Friday 16 June) since the Federal election.

The NSW Premier said there had been “a real focus of working with the States and Territories in relation to substantive health reform going forward” something that had “been in the too-hard basket for too long.” The Queensland Premier said it had been “a refreshing change to be able to discuss health. Previously, we have tried to get this on the agenda. We’ve got a PM who listens and understands that health is a big issue and it is a national issue that’s affecting everybody across our nation”.

The Victorian Premier said: “…on behalf of every nurse, every ambo, every doctor, every patient in Victorian public hospitals I want to thank the Prime Minister. Politics was put aside at this meeting and we’ve put patients first and that is the most important thing. Now, the test for all of us will be to work hard in the weeks and months to come, to come up with practical ways in which we can make the system work as a true system.”

Associate Professor Lesley Russell will monitor the efforts of the Albanese Government to deliver on their election commitments in health, healthcare, Indigenous health and climate change (and in fact any issue that improves the health status and reduces the health disparities of Australians).

To view the Croakey Health Media article The Health Wrap: as National Cabinet sets a course for health reform, here are some key issues to address in full click here.

Image source: Choose Your Own Health Career website.

Call for action against racism, racial violence 

A Brisbane author brought her defiant call to action against racism and racial violence to Cherbourg last week, welcoming South Burnett community members to the Ration Shed Museum for a workshop on her 2021 book ‘Another Day in the Colony’. ‘Another Day in the Colony’ has attracted praise from fellow academics as well as members of the public, who commend the author on her uncompromising truth-telling and exposure of Australia’s intolerance.

“While I work as an academic, the book was written just for anyone to read – I wanted to write for mob and wanted my kids to be able to read it, regardless of whether they got a degree or not,” Dr Watego explained. “The thing that’s really hit me is mob getting back to me and saying ‘you wrote what I feel! You gave a language to what I already knew but didn’t know how to express.’

“Mob have been really moved by it, and that’s what I wanted to do – I wanted to speak to the souls of blackfellas. That’s the beautiful part: not the reprints, but the imprint it’s had on the community.”

To view the Burnett Today South, Central & North article Cherbourg Celebrates book tour in full click here.

Dr Chelsea Watego and her book Another Day in the Colony.

Top 3 men’s health questions

In celebration of Men’s Health Week (13-19 June 2022), Dr Lucas de Toca from the Australian Government Department of health has spoken on how family history and lifestyle impact our health and provides tips to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. The three top questions answered by Dr de Toca are:

  • What is Men’s Health Week?
  • How can men build healthier outcomes and reduce the risk of chronic disease?
  • How can men better engage with Australia’s health services?

To view the Department of Health’s Top 3 Qs article click here.

Health conference abstracts FINAL CALL

A final call for abstracts for the upcoming Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference is being put out. The closing date is just one week away – COB Monday 27 June 2022.

For further event information click here and to register to present click here.

Adam Goodes (virtually attending) and Sue-Anne Hunter will be keynote speakers at The 7th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.

Mob left out of low unemployment figures

The National Employment Services Association says First Nations people and other disadvantaged Australians are being left out of record low unemployment figures. Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reported unemployment remained at a record low 3.9% in May.

The real numbers were much higher. The employment rate among Indigenous Australians is considerably lower than it is for the rest of the population. Many First Nations people have historically been excluded from statistical analysis such as employment figures. Historically Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples unemployment rates have sat fairly consistently at three times that of their non Indigenous counterparts.

Discrimination is a factor in the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. That is ever so slowly changing so that disparity you know is trending in the right way, but not rapidly. To view the National Indigenous Times article Industry peak body calls out Indigenous exclusion in latest unemployment rates in full click here.

Image source: Monash University Lens website.

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Uluru Statement from the Heart explained

The image in the feature tile is from the From the Heart website.

Uluru Statement from the Heart explained

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people from First Nations Australians. It asks Australians to walk together to build a better future. In Anthony Albanese’s victory speech as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister, he vowed that Labor will commit ‘in full’ to the Uluru Statement and that he will hold a referendum during his first term. But what does this commitment really mean? As a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and the University of Sydney’s inaugural First Nations Lawyer-in-Residence, Teela Reid examines the hard questions that cut to the legitimacy of our democracy. Why are we a nation that has not yet recognised the First People, and what can we do to take action?

Ahead of National Reconciliation Week and on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Teela Reid will discuss truth and reckoning in conversation with University of Sydney alumna Billi FitzSimons, Editor of The Daily Aus this evening, Wednesday 25 May from 6:00PM–7:00PM (in-person and live streamed).

To view the University of Sydney Media Alert in full click here. and to attend the event register here.

Teela Reid, proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and the University of Sydney’s inaugural First Nation’s Practitioner-in-Residence.

Child protection overrepresentation continues

Preceding Reconciliation Week, National Sorry Day is held on 26 May and acknowledges the history of the stolen generation. For Dr Mishel McMahon, Yorta Yorta woman and LaTrobe University Aboriginal Rural Health coordinator in Bendigo, National Sorry Day is a very personal occasion.

“Sorry Day is a National Day of Remembrance for all Australians to commemorate the loss of children stolen from families through years of government policies creating the stolen generations,” Dr McMahon said. “My great-grandfather and his sister were removed (from our family) when he was a baby and my auntie was maybe four or five. Even in my grandmother’s and my mother’s generation, there was the whole thing of not being able to talk about being Aboriginal. I’m probably the first generation that doesn’t experience backlash if I stand proud as Aboriginal.”

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are eight times more overrepresented in child protection than non-Aboriginal children,” she said. “I know and totally understand there has been a lot of progress, but to some extent, the same reason why my great-grandfather was removed is still informing why Aboriginal children are over represented. There is a lack of understanding of Aboriginal childrearing and First Nation worldviews, and how that informs our family structures and the key principles for how we raise our children. There are many, many issues like trauma, neglect, lack of access to structures like housing and employment. But, definitely an ongoing effect is within the policies and the systems that inform child protection.”

To view the Bendigo Advertiser article Indigenous children continue to be overrepresented in child protection as Bendigo marks National Sorry Day in full click here.

La Trobe University Bendigo staff and students mark National Sorry Day in 2016 with a candlelit Sunset Ceremony, which they will again hold in 2022. Photo: Chris Pedler. Image source: Bendigo Advertiser.

Culturally appropriate housing possible

Culturally appropriate housing need not be more expensive, but some basic steps in the design process go a long way to ensuring residents’ satisfaction and comfort, argues Hannah Robertson from ArchitectureAU. Government dictates how housing is built in Indigenous communities. With incomes in these communities remaining low and private home ownership tenure on Aboriginal land being rare, this process is unlikely to change in the near future. “Indigenous community housing” refers to government-provided housing in Indigenous communities located on township leases on Aboriginal land.

In the last 50 years, governments have taken many approaches to Indigenous community housing, with both successes and failures. Typically, however, standard one-size-fits-all houses are rolled out in short-term programs with the argument that they are cost-effective and ensure fast delivery to address the chronic overcrowding issues faced in many Indigenous communities. While some current initiatives, such as the NT Government’s Room to Breathe program, aim to retrofit existing housing to be more inclusive and better meet the needs of residents, the benefits of designing-in a level of inclusivity, flexibility and longevity at the outset of construction to ensure better, more sustainable outcomes for residents continue to be overlooked.

To view the ArchitectureAU article Indigenizing practice: Inclusive Indigenous community housing in full click here.

The open-plan living and kitchen area in the standard government-issue house provided no separation of spaces to observe avoidance relationships. Photo: Hannah Robertson. Image source: ArchitectureAU.

Innovative approaches to health care

Four new innovative approaches to health care for testing, diagnosis and treatment of patients with a range of health conditions have been announced by the WA Minister for Medical Research Stephen Dawson. Mr Dawson said the program with Translation Fellowships was funded from the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund which supported health and medical research as well as innovation and commercialisation.

Mr Dawson said the program supported translational research in two streams: Aboriginal health and country and regional WA health, “It’s exciting to see the vision of these researchers and their passion to improve health care for Western Australians living in regional and remote areas of our vast State. A key feature of these projects is relationship-building within various Aboriginal communities to support healthy lifestyles.”

He said the four initiatives funded to Translation Fellowships had the potential to result in new approaches to health promotion and health care. The Minister said the three-year projects were to work on Aboriginal children skin infections, Aboriginal people life expectancy, Infectious diseases in the country and regions, and Aboriginal women with prediabetes in pregnancy.

To view the psnews.com.au article Health care tests just what the doctor ordered in full click here.

Image source: RACGP webiste.

Climate change – dramatic health threat

Climate change is having a range of impacts on health today that will become more severe unless urgent action is taken. Vulnerable populations will see their health increasingly undermined by both direct impacts, such as from extreme heat, and indirect ones, e.g. from reduced food and nutrition security. To produce science-based analysis and recommendations on a global scale, outstanding scientists from around the world – brought together by the world’s science academies under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) – have teamed up to collect and evaluate relevant evidence. The three-year project involving well over 80 experts from all world regions also examined a number of climate mitigation and adaptation actions that could bring significant improvements to health and health equity.

The new report Health in the climate emergency – a global perspective, launched by the IAP examines how the climate crisis is affecting health worldwide and calls for urgent action: “Billions of people are at risk, therefore we call for action against climate change to benefit health and also advance health equity”, says Robin Fears, IAP project coordinator and co-author of the IAP report.

The IAP report stresses that climate change affects the health of all people, but the burden is not distributed evenly or fairly. “We emphasise that health-related adaptation efforts must prioritise Indigenous Peoples, ageing populations, children, women and girls, those living in challenging socioeconomic settings, and geographically vulnerable populations.” Globally, groups that are socially, politically and geographically excluded are at the highest risk of health impacts from climate change, yet they are not adequately represented in the evidence base.

To view IAP press release Climate change threatens people’s health dramatically but solutions are within reach, say the world’s academies in a new report click here.

Part of an Aboriginal town camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs. A study of regional and remote Aboriginal housing has found it is unable to withstand climate change and will be unsuitable for future living. Photo: Helen Davidson. Image source: The Guardian.

Book your flu shot without delay

NSW residents are being urged to book in for their flu vaccine without delay, with winter just a week away and hospitals already seeing a surge in influenza cases. Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW hospitals are facing a triple threat with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, a surge in flu cases and staff furloughing due to illness. “NSW Health has been warning us for months of the likelihood of a horror flu season, so please, help yourselves and our health staff and get a flu shot,” Mr Hazzard said. “After two years of COVID, our hospitals do not need the added challenge of avoidable influenza, when flu shots are readily available at GPs and pharmacies. With almost no exposure to flu these past two years, it is imperative we all get a flu jab to protect ourselves and the community.”

You can view the NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard’s media release Stay Safe this Winter, Get Your Flu Shot Now in full here

In a related article Doctors Urge Flu Vax Now Queensland’s South Burnett residents have been encouraged to protect themselves against influenza as the cooler months start to set in. After two years of lower-than-average flu infections during the COVID pandemic, flu immunity in the community is now very low. So far this year there have been 39 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza in the Darling Downs Health region. Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council reported a number of flu cases in the community and is urging residents to stay home if unwell and for the elderly or vulnerable to wear masks in crowded places.

After two years of reduced flu infections due to COVID lockdowns, flu immunity levels in the community are low and Australia is bracing for a worse-than-normal flu season in 2022. Photo: Darling Downs Health. Image source: south.burnett.com.au.

Indigenous health research opportunity

Centre for Health Equity (Indigenous Health Equity Unit): Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow, Level B or C, F/T, 4 years fixed-term

Are you an experienced researcher (with a PhD) and a background and understanding of public health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including evidence of translational activities. You will be able to utilise your exceptional communication and presentation skills to liaise with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, service providers, and communities.  The role will include responsibility for managing exciting and innovative programs of research, hence self-motivation, high-level organisation, and sound project management skills will be vital.

You can access further information about the position here and contact Professor Cath Chamberlain if you have any questions using this email link. Applications close:  Monday 30 May 2022.

Professor Catherine Chamberlain, Head of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit, University of Melbourne.

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.

iSISTAQUIT campaign launch

You are invited to iSISTAQUIT’s World No Tobacco Day launch of our compilation of iSISTAQUIT campaign films that will be available through their new iSISTAQUIT TV. The films showcase the importance of culturally appropriate care and how communication can make an important difference in supporting women to quit smoking.

iSISTAQUIT involves a model of care designed with culturally appropriate and national best practice training informed from previous studies. It provides vital training for health professionals and encouragement to communities and pregnant women to quit smoking. Having culturally thought out approaches with assisting women to quit smoking through a pathway of support, helps Indigenous women navigate health and wellbeing systems safely.

Tune in for the launch from 11:00AM – 12:00PM AEST on Tuesday 31 May 2022. To register for event here.

Image source: ISISTERQUIT website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: International Nurses Day 2022

Image in feature tile is of registered nurse and midwife, Matthew Shields, Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern. Photo: Isabella Moore. Image source: The Guardian.

International Nurses Day 2022

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The International Council of Nurses (ICN) commemorates this important day each year with the production and distribution of the International Nurses’ Day (IND) resources and evidence. The theme for the 2022 resource is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health. For more information about International Nurses Day click here.

This year the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Australia’s peak advocacy body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives is celebrating its 25th anniversary. As part of the celebrations CATSINaM is promoting a book In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses’ Stories edited by Sally Goold OAM and Kerrynne Liddle. The intimate, private, and heart wrenching stories told in this book, the first of its kind in Australia, will penetrate the hearts and souls of even the most hardened reader.

Told with incredible dignity and humility, each of the individual and deeply personal stories recounted is a powerful testimony to the gross inhumanity and brutal capacity of white people in Australia – colonists who selectively destroy and humiliate, without remorse, the lives and souls of their fellow black Australians. In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses’ Stories provides a powerful catalyst for questioning and calling into question the taken-for-granted humanity of us all. For more information about the book click here.

Major parties silent on First Nations housing

Overcrowding in remote Aboriginal communities is as bad as its ever been, but neither of the major parties has a nationwide strategy to solve it. At 66 years of age, Dulcie Nanala has lived virtually her entire life in the same house. There are mattresses sprawled through every room. Four generations of her family live here too, including her mother, who sleeps in the dining room. “My mother, my son and daughter and a partner, and two grandkids. Plus another son. Eight people.” she says.

Australia hasn’t had a national strategy to address overcrowding in remote Aboriginal communities since 2018, when the last one was discontinued by the Liberal government under Malcolm Turnbull. The overcrowding and maintenance issues in Dulcie’s house are a major concern for her. Most of the lights aren’t working and turning on the shower or flushing the toilet caused the house to flood. “When we have showers, it’s all filling up and then it comes out (through the hallway). I’ve got an old house from the seventies, nothing is done,” she says.

It’s a similar situation across Wirrimanu, also known as Balgo, a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert in WA’s East Kimberley Region. The Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation estimates the majority of houses are overcrowded and in urgent need of repairs. Making the situation worse, the community is going through an outbreak of COVID-19, with most of the 450 residents needing to isolate at home in recent weeks. “There was nowhere that they could isolate other than in those houses,” Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia chairperson Vicki O’Donnell says. “You end up with spikes of strep A, rheumatic heart fever. You end up with spikes of skin infections, ear infections, because you’ve got overcrowded housing and the limited space that people can move around in.”

To view the SBS News story Why is no-one talking about Aboriginal community housing in this election? in full click here.

Dulcie Nanala at her home in Wirrimanu. Photo: Kearyn Cox, SBS. Image source: SBS News.

Fixing primary care – GPs have solutions

GPs have proven they are capable of implementing major national health initiatives, and politicians and policymakers need to start trusting them with programs that can deliver accessible, high quality care to all Australians over the next 5 years. Professor Claire Jackson, Director of the Centre for Health System Reform and Integration at the University of Queensland, and a practising GP, says three major issues are plaguing primary care currently, but, in conjunction with the recently announced National Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, GPs were ready and able to solve those problems.

Professor Jackson, speaking in an exclusive podcast, said workforce problems, funding and access were “the three biggest issues we are confronting at the moment”. “It’s a lively time, particularly in general practice. COVID-19 made us reflect a lot on what is great and going well in general practice, and the obvious frailties in the system,” she said. “The general practice workforce is heading towards where we were in 2001, when we had eight-person practices down to three-person practices in rural areas, where the situation is absolutely dire. The issue that underpins that workforce problem is funding. It’s very difficult to deliver a high quality, comprehensive general practice service when you’re being funded [a Medicare rebate of] $38 for 19 minutes with a patient and there’s no other opportunity to bring in income very much.”

To read the InSight article How to fix primary care: trust, fund and reward GPs in full click here.

Image source: Medical Journal of Austalia.

CTG in health disparities – a place for Elders?

An Australian Health Review research article Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda? outlines the findings of a project examining how Elders consider the Closing the Gap (CTG) programs for improving community health outcomes, in light of concerns surrounding neoliberal government approaches to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage. Neoliberalism is a political approach that favours free-market capitalism, deregulation and a reduction in government spending.

The participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Tasmania. The Closing the Gap programs were seen by Elders as having instrumental value for addressing Aboriginal community disadvantage. However, the programs also represented a source of ongoing dependency that threatened to undermine the community’s autonomy, self-determination and cultural foundations. The findings emerged to represent Elders attempting to reconcile this tension by embedding the programs with cultural values or promoting culture separately from the programs. Ultimately, the Elders saw culture as the core business of community well-being and effective program delivery.

To view the research article in full click here.

Jason Thomas, Oyster Cove, Southern Tasmania. Image source: ABC News.

Calls for action on rural road toll

Researchers who analysed ten years of Australian road traffic deaths are calling for immediate reforms as the numbers reveal huge disparities among those killed on our roads. Hannah Mason is an Associate lecturer at James Cook University’s College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences. She was the lead author of a study that examined all road deaths in Australia between 2006 and 2017. “Other studies have shown road traffic fatalities are five times higher for those living in very remote areas, compared to their urban counterparts. Our study examined the trends and risk factors contributing to the inequities in rural motor vehicle collision (MVC) fatalities,” said Miss Mason.

She said the researchers found MVC fatalities rise with increasing remoteness. “Females, children under 14 years, pedestrians, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at a significantly higher risk of fatal collisions than their respective metropolitan counterparts. Road fatality rates in the NT, WA, and all rural and remote areas require immediate attention and targeted action,” said Miss Mason. “Risk was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than for non-Aboriginal peoples in outer regional, remote and very remote areas. The highest risk for males and females occurred in very remote areas,” said Miss Mason.

To view the James Cook University media release in full click here.

roadside memorial Great Northern Highway Kimberley

Roadside memorial on the Great Northern Highway; Photo: Lisa Herbert, ABC Kimberley.

Darwin Elder recognised with Honorary degree

A life of incredible contribution to community and overcoming the odds has seen respected Darwin Elder Richard Fejo presented with a coveted Honorary Doctorate by Flinders University. Uncle Richie, as he is known to many is a Larrakia man of direct male descent who has dedicated his life to cross-cultural education and improvement of outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“Uncle Richie plays a pivotal role in educating Northern Territory staff and students about culture and the importance of understanding and committing to holistic solutions for health in his role as an Elder on Campus” Chancellor Stephen Gerlach said. “Not only that, but he has been instrumental in advising and supporting the Poche SA+NT team in developing improved links and profile with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes. His substantial contributions to our knowledge and capacity as a University have enabled us to strengthen the linkages between the University and Aboriginal communities.”

You can rad the Flinders University media release in full here.

Darwin Elder Richard Fejo.

Gunditjmara Adult SEWB Program

The Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative Adult Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program aims to provide holistic support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Warrnambool region of south west Victoria that are experiencing social, emotional, cultural and mental health challenges.

The program works to:

  • support Aboriginal adults to be strong and stay strong
  • raise community awareness about the importance of being healthy in mind, body, spirit and connecting with Aboriginal culture
  • provide support in line with the culturally informed Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative (AIMHi) Stay Strong app
  • support individuals to identify and build on their strengths and reduce their worries
  • encourage clients to develop a strong sense of cultural identity and cultural connection as a way to facilitate healing and growth.

You can access a brochure on the Gunditjmara Family and Community Services Adult Social & Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) program here.

Tanya Geier, Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Gunditjmara Aboriginal Corporation.

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: 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: Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

Indigenous data sovereignty tool released

The Lowitja Institute today launched the Indigenous Data Sovereignty Readiness Assessment and Evaluation Toolkit for researchers, governments, and communities, to strengthen community control use and protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data and information.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Adjunct Professor Janine Mohamed, said the toolkit will play a critical role in efforts to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.

Dr Kalinda Griffiths of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW who led development of the toolkit said “Data is power. There has always been a push for non-Indigenous people to decide what is done with data relating to Indigenous communities and peoples, and in how data is measured. But this needs to change.”

“Data governance plays a huge role, as well as data capacity building within the community. Once there is improved Indigenous data governance and ownership, we will likely see more timely and accurate data, which can be vital in circumstances like what we now face with COVID-19. These are complex problems and there’s no easy fix. But the needle is beginning to move,” Dr Griffiths said.

“We have a fundamental right to control our data, develop our data, use our data, maintain our data and protect our data if we are to close the gap in health outcomes for our peoples.’

To view the Lowitja Institute media release in full click here.

Image source: Research Professional News.

New national suicide prevention approach

$46.7 million has been allocated in the 2022-23 Budget to strengthen suicide prevention at the local level. For the first time, every region in Australia will have a local leader focused on suicide prevention, ensuring early intervention and suicide prevention activities are better coordinated and right for the local area. Suicide Prevention Response Leaders will work within their community to bring together service providers, local councils, emergency services, schools and community groups. They will also have funding to back local approaches and services to reduce suicide.

As part of the Plan, the Government is also investing more than $96 million into mental health and suicide prevention measures for Indigenous Australians whose suicide rate is more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians. This includes funding to establish regional suicide prevention networks in each jurisdiction, implement culturally sensitive, co-designed aftercare services with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations being the preferred service providers, and to create a culturally appropriate 24/7 crisis line that is governed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To view the media release in full click here.

Isolation not a privilege available to all

The Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS) says it is reaching its limit as it battles rising COVID-19 case numbers and overcrowded housing in remote communities across the region. The organisation has also accused the WA government of being “fixated” on vaccination rates while being unprepared to provide “basic primary health care needs” when people do become infected.

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell says access to food, welfare, accommodation and mental health services have been raised as “constant concerns” over the past two years. Ms O’Donnell said KAMS had struggled “every day, every hour and every minute” to maintain services as case numbers grow. “The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services have managed COVID-19, in our respective regions, and will continue to, but we are reaching our limit…and we are doing this at our own expense,” she said.

Ms O’Donnell said overcrowded accommodation was a “major concern and logistical issue” in providing safe and practical isolation accommodation in remote communities. “The ability to isolate is a privilege and for our people in this state, we need support to facilitate this,” she said.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Photo: Jacqui Lynch, ABC Kimberley. Image source: ABC News.

RACGP disappointment over 10 Year Plan 

The RACGP has issued a warning that measures announced in the Federal Budget do not address the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and future challenges of a fatigued health system. Of chief concern to the college is a failure to implement major components of the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan, much of which remains unfunded.

Responding to the Budget, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said “Reform without proper investment is not worth the paper it’s written on.” The lack of focus on funding and implementing the 10-year plan will result in continuing gaps in aged care, mental health, disability, and chronic and complex care.

“There is also a disappointing lack of new investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare,” Dr Price said. “If we are serious about Closing the Gap, then surely giving greater assistance to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other health services to improve health outcomes must be a priority.”

To view the newsGP article in full click here.

Eating disorders funding welcomed

More than one million Australians are living with an eating disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. And yet less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support.

Anyone can experience an eating disorder, with research showing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience eating disorders and body image issues at similar rates to other people in Australia. Discrimination or exposure to traumatic life situations can increase a person’s risk for this illness. Research is needed to understand any cultural or other differences in the types of eating disorders that might be experienced and to develop a culturally-specific diagnostic tool that will help recognise when an eating disorder or body image issue might be a factor for someone.

Butterfly CEO, Kevin Barrow, said the Budget announcement of $23.4 million for  would help to support those with an eating disorder or body image issues, providing better access to critical treatment services, and investing in preventing eating disorders from developing.

To view the Butterfly media release click here, access the Butterfly Foundation website here including their webpage Culturally safe support drastically needed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing eating disorders with Garra’s Story below.

Remote mob’s vitamin D deficiency risk

A new Curtin University study has found 95% per cent of Australians have low vitamin D intakes. Lead researcher dietitian and PhD student Eleanor Dunlop, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the study suggests that Australians need data-driven nutrition policy to safely increase their intakes of vitamin D.

“Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of poor bone health. Since nearly one in four adults are vitamin D deficient in Australia, carefully considered food-based strategies may safely increase intakes of vitamin D and improve vitamin D status in the Australian population.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency, as well as people born outside of Australia or the main English-speaking countries. People residing in southern states of Australia, and people who are obese or have low physical activity levels, are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.

To view the Curtin University article in full click here.

Image source: Irish Cancer Society website.

Healthy Feet Project

Diabetes and diabetes related foot disease are disproportionately prevalent in the Aboriginal population. In NSW, Aboriginal people experience almost a four-fold amputation rate due to diabetes-related foot disease when compared to non-Aboriginal people. A 2016 literature review recommended an increase in the NSW Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry to provide culturally safe and community focused care for Aboriginal people with diabetes related foot disease.

The NSW Ministry of Health, along with partners, developed the Healthy Deadly Feet (HDF) Project. In line with improving access to High Risk Foot Services in NSW this project aims to increase the Aboriginal workforce in foot care and podiatry and improve diabetes related foot disease outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW.

The project team will work with podiatrists, Aboriginal Health Workers and Practitioners and Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal allied health assistants in participating local health districts and special health networks in NSW. By increasing the health workforce in NSW, the project aims to see improved access and awareness of culturally safe foot care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people leading to an increase in screening and early interventions in NSW.

For further information about the HFP click here.

Cover of NSW Government HDF publication. Artist: Wiradjuri woman Trudy Sloane.

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: 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: Cost of living hikes a health danger

feature tile text 'cost of living hikes dangerous for ATSI health' & Aboriginal hands holding shopping trolley

Image in feature tile from Adult Learning Australia website Food in remote Australia is expensive section.

Cost of living hikes a health danger

The cost of basic household items has reached new heights in regional centres but also Aboriginal communities. In yesterday’s episode of ABC radio’s The World Today with Sally Sara experts Diane Temple, Mamu woman, Queensland, June Riemer, Gumbaynggirr woman and deputy CEO, First Peoples Disability Network and Dr Joy Linton, GP, Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation, Yarrabah discuss how the cost of living hikes are dangerous for Indigenous health. Health experts are worried the lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables will cause serious health issues.

You can listen to the radio segment here and a related story Doctors fear impacts of more expensive fruit and veg, featuring Dr Kean-Seng Lin, GP in Mt Druitt, western Sydney and Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University also on The World Today here.

screenshot of The World Today ABC logo tile

Dietitians Australia say Improving food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in remote, regional and urban parts of Australia is essential to achieving health equity. “Food security is a fundamental human right,” said Board Director of Dietitians Australia and Gamilaroi woman, Tracy Hardy. “The 2021 Close the Gap Report stated that we need strategies to manage food security in response to the rising cost of food, and the impact of climate change on food availability.” You can view the Dietitians Australian media release here.

Remote community stores across Australia are receiving $8 million to strengthen the supply of essential goods, groceries and other critical supplies. Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, said the funding will provide 43 stores with the resources they need to improve their supply chains, storage and delivery of products in their communities. “In the 2021–22 Budget we committed $5 million to invest in remote stores to improve food security and strengthen supply chains,” Minister Wyatt said. “Since then, we’ve seen an increased need for reliable food security in remote communities, and we’re responding with increased support. “We’re now investing $8 million to directly support remote stores to fund infrastructure upgrades, cool and dry storage expansion, green energy systems and training for staff and management.”

To view the Minister Wyatt’s Securing Essential Supplies for Remote Australia media release click here.

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA cooking with frypan

Gina Lyons, Irrunytju WA. Photo: Suzanne Bryce, NPY Women’s Council. Image source: The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website.

Purple House making families well on Country

Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation is the official name for what is now more commonly known as the Purple House. The Purple House is an organisation dedicated to getting First Nations Peoples from remote communities back home on Country through the delivery of renal services. Its conception, design and delivery are based firmly in the values of Yanangu. It remains entirely Indigenous-owned and run, with an all-Yanangu Board of Directors who are elected by its members.

A translation of the Purple House’s official title means ‘making all our families well’. This is also the vision statement for the organisation. Since its beginnings in 2000, Purple House has concentrated on addressing the epidemic of renal disease inflicting remote First Nations communities. It has done this effectively and successfully, vastly improving the quality of life and life expectancy of renal patients. It is now possible to say that, in this space, the Purple House has not only closed the gap but has opened a gap on the national average.

The Purple House now operates 19 permanent remote dialysis clinics and two mobile units called Purple Trucks. The success of the model has led to an expansion of services, which now include aged care, disability, primary health and social support. However, there remains a constant call from other remote communities to support their needs as well.

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

Purple House van

The Purple Truck. Image source: RAHC Partyline website.

The disease of racism

Veteran Queensland health professional, Bindal Elder Gracelyn Smallwood and Aboriginal businessman and human rights campaigner Dr Stephen Hagan have filed complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging they were recently racially discriminated against at a Townsville service station. Professor Smallwood told CAAMA Radio it was not unusual in Townsville and that nothing surprised her about the alleged incident. Following a phone call from Ms Smallwood, Dr Hagan drove to the same service station to fill up his car as a “test” – but says he too was also discriminated against by the same attendant because he was Aboriginal. Professor Smallwood says despite being stereotyped for decades because of her stand against racism the only way attitudes are going to change is by suing the perpetrators. You can listen to the interview in full here.

A related article looks at a study exploring the relationships between experiences of perceived racism, mental health and drug and alcohol use among Aboriginal Australians. The current research indicates that racism is still frequently experienced by Aboriginal Australians and is directly associated with poorer mental health, and indirectly with substance use through poorer mental health. The findings demonstrate a clear need for further research in this area. To view the Examining the Associations Between Experiences of Perceived Racism and Drug sand Alcohol Use in Aboriginal Australians article in full click here.

Annual overview of First Nations health

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has just released its annual authoritative online publication The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2021. There is a featured section on the Coronavirus disease and its impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. During the pandemic, health authorities have reinforced that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk but have praised the response of ACCHOs in delivering strong evidence based and culturally responsive prevention initiatives.

The release of the key findings from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides promising news for specific diseases. There was a decline in total burden for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, hearing loss and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Improvements in birth and pregnancy outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies continue, with evidence of an increase in the proportion of mothers attending antenatal care in the first trimester (increased from 49% in 2012 to 67% in 2019), a decrease in the rate of mothers smoking during pregnancy, and a slight decrease in the proportion of babies born small for gestational age. The national target for childhood immunisation has been met for 5 year olds with 97% coverage.

Of all specific causes of death, ischaemic heart disease was  the leading cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined in 2020.  Injury was the leading cause of hospitalisation in 2019–20 (excluding dialysis).

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew, said ‘Our annual authoritative Overview is a comprehensive evidenced based resource for those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. The overall data shows it is critical to also address environmental health factors  – such as housing and hygiene – that underpin the spread of many infectious diseases.”

As part of the HealthInfoNet’s commitment to knowledge exchange, a plain language infographic Summary version of the Overview’s key topics has been produced here with PowerPoint slides of the key points.

An ‘increasingly angry black woman’

In an article for the Canberra City News Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs refers to a feature in The Guardian written by South African writer, activist and political analyst Sisonke Msimang. Msimang says “while I have been full of admiration, each time Tame has earned the spotlight, I have imagined the response if I had behaved that way, or if any number of black and Indigenous women in the public domain had dared to do the same. I am yet to see black women’s anger greeted with the same kind of public solidarity or sympathy. And yet black women have been expressing anger for years as they address racist police and education systems, as they try to create opportunities for themselves and face the double burden of sexism and racism.”

Julie Tongs agrees with Msimang, saying “I will mention just two of the many issues that I, an increasingly angry black woman, have raised loudly, publicly and repeatedly over a number of years. However, the depth of the silence with which my entreaties for the scandalous treatment of Aboriginal women and children in Canberra to be addressed can, in my opinion, be best explained by reference to the fact that these issues are being raised and agitated by a black woman on behalf of other black women and their children. Frankly, what other explanation can there be?”

“Despite the lengths I have gone to, I have not generated any meaningful response from the ACT government or more than a scintilla of interest, concern or serious response from local media including the ABC, the Canberra community or the sisterhood. Those two issues are the rates of incarceration of black women and the number of Aboriginal children subject to care and protection orders in Canberra, the national capital and alleged haven of progressivity.”

To view the City News article in full click here.

Winnunga CEO Julie Tongs

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services CEO Julie Tongs OAM. Image source: Canberra Weekly.

Consent education needs Blak voices

The Teach Us Consent movement – founded by Chanel Contos in 2021 – has gained bipartisan political support to mandate consent education in Australian schools from 2023. The movement was rapidly successful after collecting over 6,600 stories of people who had experienced sexual assault by someone when they were at school. This was followed quickly by the federal government committing $189 million over five years to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in family, domestic and sexual violence.

Issues of sexual violence and consent are gaining momentum at a national level., yet, within these important discussions, the voices, experiences and needs of First Nations people are not widely represented or heard. Drawing on the current momentum and interest in consent education, there is an opportunity to fund place-based, culturally appropriate and co-designed consent education with First Nations young people.

The response to sexual violence must move beyond simply adding “dot paintings” to mainstream curricula to address the conditions that make sexual violence an issue for many. To have a real impact on young people and our communities, we need to be telling the whole story of women, gender and sexual violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s lives against the backdrop of colonisation.

To view The Conversation Consent education needs Blak voices for the safety and well-being of young First Nations people article in full click here.
Aboriginal teacher, two young boys with raised hands

Image source: The Conversation.

Urban health professionals in remote communities

Since 2008, the Commonwealth-funded Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) has been supporting urban-based health professionals wanting to work in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the NT. In that time, more than 1,700 registered nurses, GPs, dentists, dental therapists, dental assistants, audiologists and allied health professionals have taken up over 7,000 placements throughout the Territory.

RAHC’s main priority for 2022 is to assist in reducing health disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, addressing the Close the Gap strategy. More than a recruitment agency, RAHC provides cultural orientation and ongoing clinical support to healthcare professionals going out on placement. “Developing rapport with a community provides an experience that encourages health professionals to stay with us long-term,” says Clinical Manager Emma Thomas.

Acting National Manager Tess McGuigan adds, ‘We help improve the health and wellbeing of those living in rural, regional and remote areas of the NT with regular professional development, both online and through personal consultations with a clinical coordinator and cultural development adviser. It builds knowledge and confidence so our team can deliver high-quality health care tailored to the unique needs of that community.’

To view the RAHC Partyline article in full click here.

A RAHC health professional driving to Imanpa, a remote community in the NT. Photo courtesy of RAHC and Dr Richard Davey. Photo courtesy of Richard Davey. Image source: NRHA Partyline online magazine.

Increasing tick-borne dog disease awareness

An NT campaign to increase awareness in remote communities of a serious tickborne disease has been given a $150,000 boost by the Australian Government. Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the disease ehrlichiosis is caused by the tick-borne bacteria Ehrlichia canis and is carried by the brown dog tick, which is present across northern Australia. “The number of infections in dogs is continuing to increase in northern Australia’s vulnerable Indigenous communities, with prevalence rates of up to 100% in some places,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This disease is relatively new to Australia, having first been detected in WA in May 2020. It was then confirmed in the NT and SA within a year. Dog mortality rates range from 10–30%. However, the disease can be effectively controlled through a combination of antibiotic treatment, preventative measures such as tick collars and containing infected dogs. It’s not just an animal-health issue, dogs are an integral social part of many rural people’s lives.”

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

dogs on road remote community

Image source: ABC News.

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 Tuberculosis Day

March 24 marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease. However, TB still claims 4,100 people lives each day and close to 27,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. The emergence of drug-resistant TB poses a major health threat that could put at risk the gains made to end the global TB epidemic. World TB Day is an opportunity to focus on the people affected by this disease and to call for accelerated action to end TB suffering and deaths. For more information about World Tuberculosis Day 2022 click here.

Disparities in tuberculosis (TB) rates exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in many countries, including Australia. The social determinants of health are central to health inequities including disparities in TB rates. There are limitations in the dominant biomedical and epidemiological approaches to representing, understanding and addressing the unequal burden of TB for Indigenous peoples represented in the literature. This paper applies a social determinants of health approach and examines the structural, programmatic and historical causes of inequities for TB in Indigenous Australia.

Development of TB policies and programmes requires reconfiguration. Space must be given for Indigenous Australians to lead, be partners and to have ownership of decisions about how to eliminate TB. Shared knowledge between Indigenous Australians, policy makers and service managers of the social practices and structures that generate TB disparity for Indigenous Australians is essential.

To view the research article The missing voice of Indigenous Australians in the social, cultural and historical experiences of tuberculosis: a systemic and integrative review click here.

The most common kind of TB is pulmonary tuberculosis, which affects the lungs. A latent TB infection (left) can have no symptoms, while with active TB disease (right), the bacteria multiply in the body, becoming contagious. Image source: iStock, Everyday Health.

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 24 March 2022.

The panel this week will include Australian Government Department of Health Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, and Dr Michael Bonning, Medical Director, Inner West GP Respiratory Clinic, Balmain Village Health.

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

National Advance Care Planning Week

National Advance Care Planning week, Monday 21 to Sunday 27 March 2022, an initiative of Advance Care Planning Australia, is a reminder for Australians to talk to their loved ones about who they would want to speak for them if they become too sick to speak for themselves. Advance Care Planning Australia ambassador and AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy said while advance care planning conversations might be confronting, they are important. “Advance care planning is a process of planning for your future health and personal care by ensuring your values, beliefs and preferences are known to guide those who will make health care decisions on your behalf, should you lose capacity in the future,” Dr Moy said.

“Without such a plan, you may have no voice to guide those decisions and no choice as to what decisions are made on your behalf, instead placing the burden of decision-making on loved ones who may have no idea what care you would actually want – which can bring a legacy of guilt on families which extends after death.

The AMA strongly supports advance care planning as it benefits everyone, the patient, their family, carers and health professionals and is particularly important for people with advanced chronic illness, a life-limiting illness, who are aged 75+ years or at risk of losing competence. The AMA strongly agrees with Advance Care Planning Australia that having an advance care plan can reduce anxiety, depression, stress and increase satisfaction with care for the patient’s family members. In addition, advance care planning assists healthcare professionals and organisations by reducing unnecessary transfers to acute care and unwanted treatment,” Dr Moy said.

Advance Care Planning Australia has found less than 15% of people have documented their health care preferences in an advance care directive.  Dr Moy said advance care planning discussions, and clearly delineating ‘goals of care’, should become a key part of routine healthcare conversations across Australia. He said the Advance Care Planning Australia website is an excellent resource for individuals, families, friends, carers and health professionals.

The AMA’s Position Statement on End of Life Care and Advance Care Planning can be found here and you can view a Palliative Care Australia video on Indigenous Advance Care Plans below.

 

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: Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

feature tile text 'First Nations effort making recovery for "ice" a reality & image of ice pipe being smoked

Image in feature tile from SBS News article The fight against ice in Indigenous Australia, 13 December 2017.

Making recovery from “Ice” a reality

Indigenous care worker Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie has spoken to Rolling Stone magazine about her life’s work, providing recovery strategies for First Nations communities in Queensland.

“Ice has had the biggest impact that I’ve seen in 30 years working in the community,” says Aunty Sonetta. Sonetta is referring to the devastating impact crystal methamphetamine—commonly referred to as ice—has made both within her community and beyond.

Certainly, this drug has had a major impact on Australians and First Nations communities. But through her own incredible work in this field, Aunty Sonetta has seen firsthand that help — even in the direst of circumstances — is available and that successful recovery is always possible. This truth is what drives her to best serve her community.

Sonetta manages the Mackay and Region Aboriginal and Islander Development Association, better known as Marabisda—a community-led organisation that works with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islander communities based in and around Mackay.

Marabisda launched in 2008 to meet the particular needs of vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families. Aunty Sonetta has been with the organisation for six years, but she’s been serving the community as a nurse and care worker for decades.

“The kids that I weighed as babies when I was working for the Aboriginal Medical Centre are now parents that I work with,” she says. Through her work and engagement, Sonetta is intimately acquainted with the drug’s damaging impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

To view the Rolling Stone article in full click here.

Sonetta Fewquandie - Aboriginal AOD worker

Aunty Sonetta Fewquandie. Image source: Marabisda website.

Entirely preventable disease killing mob

An Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP) editorial last year highlighted the abject failure in closing the gap for rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Since then, the divide has widened further still. This week’s ABC Four Corners program was particularly hard to watch for Janelle Speed.

It is an illness Ms Speed, an Aboriginal cultural consultant, had address in an editorial written in the AJGP less than a year ago. Since she wrote the editorial for the May 2021 edition of AJGP, the situation has deteriorated.

Despite a Federal Government goal of eliminating RHD by 2030, the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show the problem is now even more stark. The editorial highlighted 1776 diagnoses of ARF between 2013–17. For 2015–2019, that total had increased to 2244. Meanwhile, the rate of notifications had increased from 77 per 100,000 in 2015 to 102 per 100,000 four years later.

You can view the newsGP article in full here.

young Aboriginal girl in children's ward with mother

Indigenous Australians in the NT are more than 100 times as likely to have rheumatic heart disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Screenshot/Take Heart – Strep: Group A Streptococcal Infection. Image source: The Conversation.

New First Nations disability advocacy service

A new disability advocacy service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been established in Queensland. Side by Side First Peoples Advocacy works with people with a disability and their families to resolve issues they encounter with support services, community access or disability discrimination.

The service is a new addition to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Disability Network of Queensland and has been established and sponsored by Aged and Disability Advocacy. ADA Australia chief executive Geoff Rowe said a dedicated advocacy service would address the additional inequality First Nations people with disability faced when accessing services. “(Advocacy) supports the most vulnerable in our community to have a voice and is the foundation for inclusion and equality,” he said.

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

Connecting foster kids to country

Of all the children in out-of-home (foster) care in Australia, 40% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Many of these children reside in NSW, on Wiradjuri (‘Wir-add-jury’) Country in the centre and west of the state. In a bid to improve these children’s outcomes by helping them maintain cultural and Kinship connections, a University of Sydney researcher and her sister have developed workbooks on Wiradjuri language that can be used by children and their carers, families, and teachers.

They were launched at an event at the University of Sydney earlier this week with an opening address from the NSW Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones.

To view the University of Sydney media release in full click here.

Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks

L-R: Associate Professor Lynette Riley and her sister, Diane McNaboe reading from one of their workbooks. Image source: The University of Sydney website.

New PHC centre for Mapoon

Before Christmas Apunipima Cape York Health Council shared with reader of their newsletter Cape Capers the build progress of their brand-new, state of the art Primary Health Care Centre in Mapoon. Apunipima is now very excited to reveal that the build has progressed much further in recent weeks due to favourable weather and great work from builders, James Construction.

The blockwork has now been completed, the roof is on, and much of the internal framework has been completed. The carport is also nearly complete. With all going well, the clinic is expected to open in late July 2022. Very exciting news for the residents of Mapoon!

This article from Apunipima Cape York Health Council newsletter Cape Capers can be accessed here.

slab for Apunipima's new Mapoon PHC centre

Image from Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s 28 January 2022 Twitter feed showing the concrete slab laid for its new PHC centre in Mapoon.

Optometry Advisory Group EOIs sought

Optometry Australia is inviting members with experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health to express their interest in joining their Advisory Group for a new two-year term, from July 2022 to June 2024.

While the gap in eye health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has reduced over the past decade, there are still too many that experience avoidable vision loss and blindness due to barriers to accessing necessary primary eye health care.

Optometry Australia is strongly committed to supporting improved eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Since 2008, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health Advisory Group has provided invaluable guidance and support in our work within this area.

For more information about the Advisory Group click here. Please submit your expression of interest by COB Sunday 26 June 2022 using this email link.

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation

Dr Kris Rallah-Baker examines Moses Silver’s eyesight at Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Michael Amendolia. Image source: Fred Hollows Foundation.

Heat compounds chronic disease impact

Groups across the NT have released a scorecard assessing the NT Government’s climate performance against the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the NT ALP Government of Michael Gunner ranked 5/100.

NT Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Dr Brooke Ah Shay, who works in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida, said that we already see higher rates of conditions like chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in the NT, and that these diseases will be compounded by the effects of increased heat from climate change.

To view the Doctors for the Environment Australia media release in full click here.

town camp housing, dirt yard, no awnings

Town camp housing typically lacks simple features to keep cool, such as insulation and wide awnings. Photo: Mike Bowers, The Guardian.

New PhD scholarship opportunities

Onemda, along with the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, are pleased to announce an opportunity for two PhD scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates.

They offer flexible options for study within a supportive, Aboriginal-led team. The positions are based at the University of Melbourne and can commence as soon as possible or when suitable to the applicants. The successful candidates will receive a Research Training Program Scholarship and top-up, totalling approx. $50,000 tax free per year for 3.5 years (full-time).

You are invited to contact Professor Cath Chamberlain to discuss your application first using this email link.

university of melbourne logo & uni Melb PhD graduation bonnet

University of Melbourne PhD graduation bonnet. Image source: George H. Lilley website.

New process for job advertising

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

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