NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: How poor housing affects health

The image in the feature tile is of Shannon Urban is camping in a derelict building with no power and water connected while he waits for new houses to be built. Photo: Che Chorley. Image source: ABC News article Feeling again forgotten at a federal election, remote voters lament empty promises to close the gap, 5 May 2022.

How poor housing affects health

The housing crisis is currently a hot-button issue making headlines Australia-wide. But it’s been endemic in Central Australia for decades. A chronic shortage of available housing in remote Indigenous communities has significant consequences, with unintended household crowding ultimately contributing to the poor health of residents.

University of Queensland anthropologist and architect Professor Paul Memmott has been visiting the Barkly region in the centre of the NT for decades. He’s part of a multi-disciplinary team of five UQ researchers who collaborated with local medical service, Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation, to examine the link between housing and health for Indigenous people living on remote Country. The resulting study, Pilyii Papulu Purrakaj-ji (Good housing to prevent sickness), won a UQ Research Partnerships and Translation Award (RPAT) on Friday (16 September 2022) last week.

“We co-designed a research project to investigate the relationship between housing, crowding and infectious diseases,” Professor Memmott said. “But importantly, it also collated an evidence base to advocate for change.”

To view The University of Queensland Australia article How housing affects health on remote Country click here.

Tin houses on the outskirts of Tennant Creek, NT, that are used informally as spillover accommodation. Image source: The University of Queensland Australia UQ News webpage.

Far North research to treat tuberculosis

A breakthrough treatment for tuberculosis and ways to prevent dementia were unveiled last week at the Cairns Hospital annual research and innovation symposium. The annual event featured more than 40 presentations from the Far North Queensland medical and allied health research community. The symposium heard about research into harnessing the power of immune cells for treating tuberculosis (TB), one of the world’s deadliest diseases, causing more than 1.5 million deaths a year.

Doctor Saparna Pai, from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University, said his team had discovered immune cells called Q+ cells, which could help fight TB. TB risk is low in Queensland, but it’s frequently reported in Papua New Guinea and health authorities are concerned about potential spread through Torres Strait to mainland Australia.

To view the Tropic Now article Far North research to treat tuberculosis and prevent dementia click here. Note, a more detailed article on preventing dementia was published in the in the NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander News on 16 September 2022 , available here.

Cairns Hospital. Image source: Tropic Now.

Strong Women for Healthy Country meet

Over 200 Aboriginal women have convened on Eastern Arrernte Country to finalise a 4 year effort in designing an NT wide network aimed at supporting each other in the face of urgent issues impacting their communities. The Strong Women for Healthy Country (SWHC) Forum takes place this week at Ross River where women caring for Country across the NT will continue driving the network.

The forum has once again drawn hundreds of women to make the journey from over 30 remote towns and communities, to continue to build a strategy to realise their vision. “We are strong Indigenous women of the NT. We stand united as one strong voice. We commit to a network that gives equal power to the rights of all our women. Strong Women means Healthy Country.” (SWHC Vision Statement). The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network, with the support of Mimal Land Management, was initiated by women involved in ranger programs, who quickly invited Aboriginal healers, artists, and community workers to join the conversation.

To view the SWHC Network media release NT’s First Nations women take their futures into their own hands in full click here.

2021 Strong Women for Healthy Country Forum. Image source: Indigenous Carbon Industry Network website.

Group A Streptococcus molecular POC testing

A research article Roadmap to incorporating group A Streptococcus molecular point‐of‐care testing for remote Australia: a key activity to eliminate rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has been published today in the Medical Journal of Australia. Strep A Point Of Care Testing (POCT) is a critical element in preventing acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and will contribute to the elimination of RHD in Australia.

Group A β‐haemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep A) most commonly causes superficial infections of the throat (pharyngitis) and skin (impetigo). In Australia, one‐third of primary school aged children have an episode of pharyngitis each year, with Strep A identified in about 20% of children with symptomatic pharyngitis and 10% of asymptomatic children. Superficial Strep A infections are the sole precursor of ARF and RHD. The burden of ARF and RHD in remote Australian communities is high and disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with the reported mortality rates of RHD in Aboriginal populations are among the highest worldwide. This is despite ARF and RHD being preventable through the early treatment of Strep A. I

Given the increasing pipeline of POCT and momentum to expand decentralised testing across Australia, evaluations are urgently needed to determine the population benefits, health service impacts and costs associated with integrated multi‐pathogen POCT. These will ensure that adequate frameworks including workforce planning and funding models are in place to support further scale up. The infrastructure, rationale and need for Strep A molecular POCT in remote Australia, where prevention of ARF has the highest economic and societal benefit, is crucial.

To view the article in full click here.

Group A Streptococcus. Image source: Microbiologics Blog webpage.

Mental health, substance use, reincarceration

New research shows that people released from prison who sought help for their mental health or substance use problems were more likely to end up back in prison, prompting calls for an overhaul of the system to allow quicker and more consistent support. The study, published in the Journal PLOS ONE, examined the link between contact with mental health and substance use treatment services and reincarceration rates among 1,115 adults released from prisons in Queensland, Australia.

Lead researcher Professor Stuart Kinner, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said despite widespread belief that access to substance use treatment and community mental health services after release from prison can reduce reincarceration rates, this study actually found the opposite. “Globally, more than 11 million people are incarcerated on any given day, and many of these individuals experience significant mental health and substance use issues. In our study, we found that more than half of the people released from prison had been diagnosed with a mental illness or a substance use disorder, and 21% had been diagnosed with both,” Professor Kinner said.

“In Australia, more than 60,000 people are released from prison each year and the incarceration rate is increasing rapidly. Almost one in two people released from prison is back in custody within two years. “Although you might expect that treating substance use and mental health issues would result in better outcomes, our study found that people who accessed these services after release from prison were actually more likely to be reincarcerated.”

To view the Curtin University article Inadequate post-release support drives up reincarceration rates: study click here.

Photo: Jono Searle, AAP. Image source: The West Australian.

Aboriginal SEWB Scholarships Program

Over five years, $5.6 million will be invested to support the Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program which provide training courses and professional development opportunities for Aboriginal people who wish to work in the mental health sector. The state government said the program provided more than a dozen scholarships for students attending RMIT and Deakin Universities in semester one this year. “A mental health and wellbeing system that provides culturally safe and inclusive care ensures the best possible support for every Victorian with mental illness,” mental health and treaty and first peoples minister Gabrielle Williams said.

“Our dedicated mental health workers are the backbone of our reformed mental health system – supporting them through study and work is the best way to support every Victorian that needs help.” The program also allows our mental health services to learn from trainees about Aboriginal culture and gain knowledge and perspective, so they can develop more holistic and well-informed supports and care programs for all Victorians.

To view the Star Weekly article Funding for Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Scholarships Program in full click here.

Aboriginal Health Practitioner Stevie-Lee Ryan with a client. Photo: Justin McManus. Image source: The Age.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Dementia Action Week 19–25 Sep 2022

Dementia impacts close to half a million Australians and almost 1.6 million Australians are involved in their care. The number of people living with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years. With so many people impacted now and into the future, it is vital we clear up some of the prevailing misconceptions about dementia. People living with dementia can live active and fulfilling lives many years after diagnosis. Despite this, they often experience discrimination. In a Dementia Australia survey, more than 70% of people believed discrimination towards people with dementia is common or very common.

The concept for Dementia Action Week was developed in consultation with Dementia Advocates, who have a lived experience of dementia. The ‘A little support makes a big difference‘ campaign demonstrates that many people living with dementia can continue to live well for many years after their diagnosis. In 2021, the focus was also on supporting and celebrating carers of people living with dementia.

Dementia Australia has a range of resources for: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, available here, Aboriginal workers, available here, and Aboriginal health workers, available here.

For more information about Dementia Action Week 2022 click here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: QLD health service delivery needs overhaul

The image in the feature tile is of the entrance to Doomadgee’s hospital emergency department. The photo is from an NCA NewsWire article Teenager given ‘shut-up pill’ before death, 7 March 2022.

QLD health service delivery needs overhaul

Speaking earlier this week at the the inquest of three young Indigenous women from Doomadgee who died with rheumatic heart disease between 2019–2020, Queensland health chief operating officer David Rosengren told the Queensland coroner health service in the town was too complicated. Gidgee operates branches across Queensland’s north-west and works with Doomadgee Hospital and the State’s health service, which the inquest heard could confuse patients on where to go for help. Earlier this week former Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman said she faced significant barriers during her time in Doomadgee.

The coroner heard those roadblocks included gaining ACCHO accreditation, recruiting, securing premises for operation and a fractured relationship with the local state hospital. Similar concerns had been echoed by witnesses during the week. The court heard difficulties obtaining medical notes between services complicated the treatment of one of the women at the centre of the inquest in the months leading up to her death.

Ms Blackman’s said Gidgee used a seperate platform for lodging patient records to the state hospital leading to constraints accessing information. The court heard a laptop was provided to the hospital for access to Gidgee’s notes when needed. But evidence presented to the coroner suggested there was a strained relationship between the two providers which may have affected collaboration. Ms Blackman said without a positive relationship people “will fall through the cracks”.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Ex-health boss backs inquest calls to overhaul fractured QLD Aboriginal health service delivery in full click here.

Former Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

NACCHO leads environmental health workshop

A team from NACCHO had an awesome time last week in Darwin for the 13th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health Conference 2022 (NATSIEH). The team hosted an Aboriginal-led workshop to identify longstanding issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental health and new solutions through Closing the Gap.

This marked the beginning of NACCHO’s consultation for a National Strategic Roadmap on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Environmental Health Workforce with the NACCHO team excited to continue working closely with experts of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Health sector.

For more information about the NATSIEH Conference 2022 click here.

NACCHO presentation at 13th NATSIEH Conference in Darwin, 5-8 September 2022.

ACCHOs consulted over RHD program

NACCHO held a meeting in Darwin last week with the first group of ACCHOs receiving funding through their new RHD program. This was a great opportunity to come together to discuss the program and hear from the participating ACCHOs and all the awesome work they are doing in community.

Organisations that attended included:

  • Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS)
  • Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
  • Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation
  • Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation
  • Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation

as well the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) and Gurriny Yealamucka (Good Healing) Health Services Aboriginal Corporation who  as joined the meeting online.

ACCHO representatives who met with NACCHO staff in Darwin to discuss their participation in an RHD program.

Homelessness linked to vulnerability clustering

Poverty and discrimination are key issues tipping Indigenous Australians into homelessness, but a lack of funding, affordable housing and crisis accommodation remain bigger problems, a new report has found. Research by the University of SAhas revealed the homelessness rate for Aboriginal Australians is 10 times that of other people.

It found that dispossession of land, racism, profound economic disadvantage and cultural oppression continue to shape the lived experience of many Indigenous communities. And it identified poor literacy, education, criminal histories, domestic violence and lack of sustained tenancies as leading to a “revolving door” of homelessness among Aboriginal people in cities.

“Homelessness among Indigenous people arises from a clustering of vulnerabilities that easily spiral out of control,” the authors said in the report, commissioned by the Australian Housing and Urban Institute.

To view the Inverell Times article Funding call for Aboriginal housing in full click here.

Poverty and discrimination are key issues tipping Indigenous Australians into homelessness. Photo: Dan Peled, AAP . Image source: The Inverell Times.

Better drug treatment needed in Far West NSW

During a visit to Broken Hill on 14 September 2022, the President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat said the remote area needs an alternative approach to making its community safer. She told ABC local radio “I was keen to get out here and particularly to some of the other regions that are further away from Sydney to just see what is going on and to really listen to some of the practitioners … to see what they’re facing in terms of their daily practice.”

Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows rates across multiple offence categories in Broken Hill sit at two and three times the state average. “With illicit-drug offences in Broken Hill in the year to March 2022 at about double the state average, and bail breaches at almost three times the average NSW rate, it’s clear that current approaches are not working,” van der Plaat said.

President of the Far West Law Society Eric Craney said establishing health and culturally safe treatment services for drug and alcohol use in Broken Hill would be a major step in helping to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. “Additionally, the Government should extend the Dubbo Aboriginal Bail Pilot across regional areas including Broken Hill, to reduce the incidents of technical bail breaches that cause no safety risk to the community, but that can result in unnecessary incarceration of vulnerable defendants,” Mr Craney said.

To view the NSW Law Society Journal online article Calls for better drug treatment and rehabilitation in NSW’s far west in full click here.

Image source: Australian Journal of General Practice.

Dementia cases could be prevented

More than half of Indigenous dementia cases in far north Queensland could be prevented after scientists identified a series of risk factors linked to the condition. The James Cook University study found 11 risk factors contribute to up to 52% of dementia cases in its sample population. “Dementia is an emerging health issue among Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal peoples in Far North Queensland,” lead researcher Fintan Thompson said.

“We thought it likely that historically recent exposure to modifiable risk factors was contributing, and that a large proportion of dementia could potentially be reduced or delayed.” Analysing health data from more than 370 First Nations people in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula, the research team identified risk factors that could be modified. “The most important dementia risk factors are already public health priorities in this population. Risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and smoking were important contributors, which is somewhat similar to other populations,” the report said.

The study suggests rates of dementia could decline if these risk factors were reduced at a population level. The study also shows dementia risks in the Torres Strait region may be comparatively less certain. “Risks, such as social isolation and heavy alcohol consumption, contributed less to dementia in the Torres Strait region, which is great news,” Mr Thompson said.

To view the Pilbara News article Scope to lessen Indigenous dementia: study in full click here.

A study has found more than half of dementia cases in the Torres Strait region could be avoidable. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, AAP. Image source: Perth Now.

 

Youth held in police watch houses to sue

Three young people are taking on the Queensland government with a legal case claiming their human rights were breached when they were locked up in police watch houses. An anti-discrimination and human rights legal challenge is currently before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

The police cells are meant for some of the state’s worst criminals, including adults accused of murder or sexual abuse. Katie Acheson, the outgoing CEO of the Youth Advocacy Centre, believes the case will shine a light on the practice which she believes should end. “It should be a wake-up to the Queensland government and the Queensland population,” she said. “I think many of us don’t realise that there are children right now in an adult watch house. “They’re scared and alone and they’re children and we have a responsibility to take care of them and not be further traumatising them.”

One organisation is trying to keep kids out of custody. Five nights a week the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane outreach team, lead by Pita Taimani, head to areas where at-risk young people like to hang out. They check on their safety and offer them a lift home before there’s any trouble. “We see that there’s a need to support young people that are in the CBD, where they’re not in the eyes of the police, not getting into the watch house,” Pita Taimani said. Mr Taimani’s team also offers crucial support to young people, like access to health care and vocational education.

To view the ABC News article Young people taking legal action against Queensland government after being held in watch houses in full click here.

Pita Taimani’s outreach team is focused on keeping at-risk youth out of police custody. Photo: Michael Atkin, ABC News.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Housing to meet minimum standards by 2031

The image in the feature tile is of the remote NT community, Yarralin, west of Katherine. Photo: Hamish Harty. Image source: ABC News article FOI documents show NT government previously forecast it would not meet target to build 650 remote houses in five years, 5 April 2022.

Housing to meet minimum standards by 2031

State and territory governments will be required to ensure all First Nations houses in homeland communities and town camps meet or exceed minimum standards for essential services within the next decade, under new targets agreed by the Joint Council on Closing the Gap. The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, the Assistant Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy, and their state and territory counterparts met Aboriginal peak bodies in Adelaide last Friday to discuss progress on social, health, economic and educational indicators.

Burney said all jurisdictions must come together to address the inequities that too many First Nations people experience across the country. “The importance of closing the gap cannot be underestimated,” she said. Access to essential services and poor housing conditions are a problem for many Indigenous families, particularly those in remote and regional areas. States and territories have agreed in principle that essential services – including to households within town camps or town-based reserve – should meet or exceed “jurisdictional standards.”

To view The Guardian article Closing the Gap: states and territories pledge to lift First Nations housing standards in full click here.

Photo: Dr Simon Quilty. Image source: ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health webpage.

Former NRL player now R U OK? ambassador

In his early 20s Kevin Heath fell into a depression he didn’t see coming. The proud K’Gari Indigenous man and former Rugby League player said it was a single conversation which helped him start tackling his mental health and eventually build the life he once might have dismissed as a fantasy. Rocking his eight-month-old daughter, Mr Heath said it was an experience he wouldn’t wish on anyone. “It was through that experience that those close to me told me I needed to speak to somebody,” Mr Heath said.

The former Rugby League player is now a community ambassador for R U OK?, an Indigenous Health Outreach Worker in south east Sydney, and founder of sport-specific training and mentoring company Dream Time Academy. He said his personal experience with mental health proves the message of the R U OK 2022 campaign – that you don’t need a fancy degree to be qualified to ask a mate “are you OK?”.

The article RUOK Day 2022: Kevin Heath, mental health advocate, Dream Time Academy founder referred to above appeared in the Daily Telegraph here.

Kevin Heath. Image source: Daily Telegraph.

GPs fill mental health system gaps

Dr Tim Senior, a long-standing GP at Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service, an ACCHO in South West Sydney, and a Senior Lecturer in General Practice and Indigenous Health at Western Sydney School of Medicine has co-authored a article for InSight+ with Louise Stone, a GP with clinical, research, teaching and policy expertise in mental health and Associate Professor in the Social Foundations of Medicine group, ANU Medical School and works in youth health.

In the article they say “GPs are used to filling gaps in the health system. Over our careers, we have lived through times where we are seen as underqualified and then essential to a range of services, including maternity care, dermatology, sexual health and more recently, urgent care, infectious disease and psychiatry. An ability to flex with community need is one of the core capacities of generalists, and enables the health system to rapidly adapt to changing community need.”

“If we are to understand and respond to the breadth and depth of mental health issues in the community, we need to think beyond simplistic views of episodic “disorders”. General practice mental health care ranges from disorder management, to prevention, to individual trauma (domestic violence, sexual abuse, medical trauma), to crisis (natural disasters, major medical illness) to life stressors (eg grief, suicide postvention) to social harms (discrimination, harassment) to existential crises (infertility, death and dying).”

To read the InSight+ article General practice: the liquid in the mental health system in full click here.

Dr Tim Senior. Image source: RACGP newsGP.

More NT nurses transition to Country

Ten Territory nurses will spend the next 12 months building their skills and providing services to remote communities under the Transition to Remote Practice Program. This year is the first time the program recruited a second cohort of participants. They will join the 12 nurses who commenced the program at the beginning of 2022. The program is designed to bolster the Territory’s remote nurse workforce and help nurses develop a broad range of skills to cover emergency care and general primary health care issues with a focus on culturally safe practice and Indigenous health needs.

Over the next 12 months the second intake of nurses will work at health clinics including: seven nurses will be stationed in the Top End region including Jabiru, two in Wadeye, Palumpa, Peppimenarti, Gunbalanya and Wurrumiyanga. Two nurses will be based in the East Arnhem region, including Alyangula, and Angurugu.One nurse will work at the health clinic in Numbulwar in the Big Rivers region.

Nurses receive a Transition to Primary Health Care Certificate following completion of the program, enabling them to apply for remote area nurse positions. To view the Chief Minister of the NT, Natasha Fyles media release Another Cohort of Territory Nurses Transition to Country click here.

Below is a short video of the Mpwelarre Health Service Clinic Manager, talking about her work in Santa Teresa, a remote NT town of 600 people. Mpwelarre Health Service is a community controlled health service led by the Mpwelarre Health Aboriginal Corporation. is one of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress’ five remote health services.

Prisons an opportunity to address complex health needs

Police watch-houses present a unique opportunity for medical interventions in high-risk populations, according to the authors of an article recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia. The authors examine the opportunities to “intercept a vulnerable, complex and otherwise hard-to-reach population, and identify unmet health needs” in Queensland police watch-houses.

The report said 43 of the 505 deaths (9%) in police custody between 1991 and 2016 occurred in a police station, police vehicle, police cell, or watch-house. Almost half of those were deaths due to a medical cause (49%). Lead author Julia Crilly, Professor of Emergency Care at Griffith University, studied the key challenges for people and systems responsible for the health and safety of detainees in short-term custody alongside her colleagues.

“As a group, [police watch-house detainees] are largely disconnected from health services, so beyond their immediate, untreated health problems, comparatively little is known about underlying and unaddressed social determinants,” the paper stated. Issues such as substance dependence, mental illness, and chronic health conditions like hypertension and asthma are all significantly more prevalent than in the general population for vulnerable groups. “This is especially evident for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who represent 30% of the custodial population despite comprising only 3.3% of the Australian population.”

To view The Mandarin article Police watch-houses offer opportunity to address complex health needs in full click here.

Melbourne Remand Centre. Photo: Joe Castro, AAP. Image source: The Mandarin.

New forum to give young leaders a voice

Aboriginal youth need to stand up to reverse the declining state of social justice in Australia’s North West, according to the organiser of a young leaders group. The first Empowered Young Leaders Kimberley Youth Gathering was held this week on Gooniyandi Country at a remote Kimberley community. More than 50 Aboriginal youth aged 18–35 were encouraged to raise their concerns at the meeting hosted as part of a series of AGM’s held at Kupartiya Community for the Kimberley Land Council.

West Kimberley Empowered Young Leaders Coordinator Toni Wajayi Skeen said the youth forum was a long time coming. “When you’re constantly being talked to and being told about your community issues you feel as thought you don’t have a say in decisions that affect yourself and community, we intended this space to be solution based,” she said. “We are asking for young people to have a seat at the table, to make their own decisions and create their own voice. In terms of the social justice issues here, it has gotten worse. We hear this term that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but what are we doing today to make sure they are the leaders of tomorrow.”

To view the National Indigenous Times article New forum launched to give young Kimberley Indigenous leaders a voice in full click here.

Attendees of the first Empowered Young Leaders Kimberley Youth Gathering. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

myGov is changing soon

myGov has given people a simple and secure way to access My Health Record for many years. But the way people use government services is changing, so myGov is getting an upgrade to meet these growing needs. If you access My Health Record through myGov, you’ll start noticing some changes soon.

When myGov changes, you won’t need to do anything different. You’ll still find myGov at the same web address, use the same sign in details and all your linked services will stay the same. The upgraded myGov will be modern, offer personalised information about government services and have a new look.

When your My Health Record is linked in your myGov account, the important health information that you and your healthcare provider organisations have added can be viewed securely whenever it’s needed, including in an emergency.

You won’t need to do anything different to access My Health Record through myGov.

Explore the changes and learn more here. You can do everything you currently do in myGov using myGov Beta – it’s just as safe and secure.

The myGov eKit will help you inform people in your community. You can download the myGov community resources here so you can let people know about the changes.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

Women’s Health Week 2022

In 2013, realising that there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health ran the very first national Women’s Health Week. Thousands of women across Australia subscribed to take part in a week of events and online activities, learning more their health.

Now in its 10th year, Women’s Health Week is a celebration of women in Australia, women from all walks of life. In 2021 (despite a second year impacted by lockdowns and restrictions), more than 128,000 women participated in 2.277 events, over 54,000 women subscribed to the online campaign and we reached over 3.6 million people via social media. Women’s Health Week is recognised as the biggest week for women’s health and wellbeing in Australia and takes place annually in the first week of September.

For more information about Women’s Health Week visit the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health website here.

NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Months after floods, mob still homeless

Image in the feature tile of the Lismore floods in March 2022. Image source: Southern Cross University article Lismore floodwater enough to fill half of Sydney Harbour published on 23 May 2022.

Months after floods, mob still homeless

After moving accommodation five times in five months, Nyangbal and Dunghutti woman Teresa Anderson has had enough. The elder’s Cabbage Tree Island home, nestled on a flood plain of cane fields in northern NSW, was deemed uninhabitable after the February floods. She has been homeless since. “I’ve been moved around five times,” she said.  It’s taken a toll on my health. I couldn’t even cope, I couldn’t go to work. It just got me really emotional.” Teresa Anderson was in good health before the floods. But she believes a series of new health issues have been direct result of the grief and stress of being displaced. “Im struggling,” she said.

According to the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council, today, almost six months after the disaster, about 500 of the 1,296 northern NSW residents that are still homeless are First Nations people.  “That tells me clearly that we’re disproportionate again in relation to the numbers of people that are homeless,” Widjabul man and Jali Land Council chief executive Chris said.

To view the ABC News article Indigenous families still homeless months after the floods, as leaders say First Nations people are being overlooked for rentals in full click here.

After moving five times in five months, Teresa Anderson says she’s had enough. Photo: Emma Rennie, ABC News.

Discrimination a key homelessness factor

WA Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Dr John Byrne AM, says a lot of discussion is had about how to fix homelessness once it has occurred.  While Dr Byrne says “this discussion is an extremely important one as we do need more affordable housing and shelters for people who cannot access WA’s ever inflating rental market” he believes “it is important to explore one of the major factors that allows homelessness to occur – discrimination.”

Dr Byrne said he’d “like to do this by focusing on three of the major grounds of discrimination: sex, impairment and race, which also relates to three major cohorts within the homeless population.” Systemic race discrimination is also a contributing factor to homelessness.  Aboriginal people make up around 3% of the total population and 28% of the homeless population. This is also a community impacted greatly by systemic discrimination and bias in employment. Aboriginal people are under-represented in decision making roles at work and over-represented in unemployment, this is also exacerbated by over representation of Aboriginal people in our prison system. Prisoners often need to have housing before release on parole and may remain in prison at significant expense to the state due to lack of housing.

To view the WA.gov.au article From the Commissioner – Fix homelessness by addressing discrimination in full click here. A related WA Department of Communities news story Homelessness Week 2022 ends highlighting progress is possible if we work together mentions the success of Booloo Bidee Mia, a supported accommodation service for Perth CBD rough sleepers, and is available here.

Aboriginal people living in Victoria make up 8% of those sleeping rough, despite being only 1% of the population. Photo: AAP. Image source: SBS NITV.

AMC mental health reforms criticised

The delivery of mental health services to detainees at Canberra’s Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) – particularly the 24% who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander – is ineffective, the Auditor-General declared in a March report. The ACT Government last week agreed to most of the report’s recommendations – 10 fully, eight in principle, and one noted, to be delivered through a different tool – by the end of 2023.

Aboriginal advocate Julie Tongs, head of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, which runs an autonomous Health and Wellbeing Clinic in the prison, is concerned some of these measures have been tried before and failed. “I feel like I’m in a time warp,” Ms Tongs said. “It’s a challenging environment, but why waste money when money’s short on the ground?”

Nor, she said, was Winnunga consulted; decisions were made without them. “All the buzz about co-design – the decision’s already been made – so how do you co-design around that? What role do we now have to play in that, when we weren’t at the table to discuss any of this?” Government, she says, must have a discussion or a roundtable to sort this out; she is keen to sit down with stakeholders and work out their processes and expectations.

To view the Canberra Weekly article ‘Time warp’: Winnunga critical of mental health reforms at AMC in full click here.

Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: Ian Cutmore, ABC News.

Palliative Care Clinic Box launched today

caring@home today launched its Palliative Care Clinic Box which contains a suite of tailored resources to support the provision of palliative care at home for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The launch, taking place at the Compass Conference in Darwin, follows an 18-month nationwide consultation process with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, health professionals in specialist and generalist services and relevant peak bodies.

Project Director, Professor Liz Reymond said the resources can support the provision of at home palliative care symptom management. “When care at home is preferred, it can be provided to help connect family, culture, community, Country and the spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” This project is funded by the Australian Government and is conducted by a consortium involving Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives and Palliative Care Australia (CATSINaM) and is led by the Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative.

The caring@home Palliative Care Clinic Box is free and can be ordered from the caring@home website here. You can view the caring@home media release about the launch of its Palliative Care Clinic Box here.

Caleb follows pathway to healthcare job

As part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander career pathway day, Far North Queensland Indigenous students have been given a glimpse into the world of healthcare. Revolving around the opportunities available at Mater Private Hospital in Townsville, students from the region’s high schools attended an information day where they learnt about the healthcare needs of First Nations people and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander traineeships. Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson said the career day provided students with meaningful pathways they might not have otherwise known about.

One student who has benefited from the program is Caleb Baker, who recently won the school-based apprentice or trainee of the year. Mr Baker is currently working at the Mater Private Hospital while completing his Certificate III in health services assistance. “I was nervous about how I would transition from school to work, but just being acknowledged as someone who can work hard has made me feel really good about it,” he said.

Since he was young, Mr Baker has always wanted to make an impact. He cites empowering fellow Indigenous folk in healthcare as one of his main goals, with sights set on how better healthcare could help close the gap. “Having more Indigenous people in the health industry can help break down those barriers. It would make Indigenous people who are seeking help about their health feel a lot more comfortable, Mr Baker said.

To view the National Indigenous Times article Caleb Baker’s life goal help people through healthcare, and it all started with a hospital work placement in full click here.

Mater Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison officer Beth Hickson, Caleb Baker and Seed Foundation engagement officer De’arne French. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Health sector must lead on climate change

Over 300 people, including the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly, attended the AMA and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) webinar – Climate change and sustainability: leadership and action from Australian doctors earlier this week.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley outlined the duty medical professionals have in treating climate change as a global health emergency, and Professor Alexandra Barratt highlighted the carbon footprint of low value care. Eleven medical colleges provided updates on the climate action they are taking, and highlighted specific climate change health impacts related to their specialty.

Professor Robson wrapped up the webinar saying “As President of the AMA, I seek a strong and united coalition for action because I don’t think we have any time to lose. As a profession, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to bequeath a heathy planet to our children and their children. “Climate change will have health effects on a scale that people are barely able to comprehend. We’re already seeing a series of rolling health crises around the world, but these are just the beginning. We’re facing the prospect of literally billions of climate refugees across the planet, it’s a crisis so enormous that it’s almost impossible to grasp.”

You can read The National Tribune article AMA & DEA urge health sector to lead on climate change here and the joint AMA and DEA media release Governments and the healthcare sector must lead on climate change here.

Photo: Adobe Stock. Image source: Healio.

High-tech, low-resource medical training

Port Augusta is embracing its medical practitioners – or kulpi minupa – of the future. The town’s residents are in the midst of hosting an eight-week placement by seven second-year medical students. The aspiring GPs, dubbed “cloud doctors” in the Nukunu dialect, have spent time at the flying doctor service, the hospital and Aboriginal health services to gain an insight into what it would be like working in the country, potentially at Port Augusta.

In what is a new way of medical training, the Adelaide Rural Clinical School linked with the Indigenous community, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the University of Adelaide to launch the Kulpi Minupa Program. Student Tarran Dunn, who was among a group of undergraduates from Adelaide, NSW, Tasmania and elsewhere, said the experience would shape “the rest of our lives and skills in medicine” He said he and his colleagues had spent time with interns and surgical registrars at the hospital as well as gained an insight into Aboriginal health.

Professor Lucie Walters, director of the clinical school, said the scheme was a “high-tech, low-resource” medical training approach. “If we want to create the next generation of rural doctors to work at the flying doctor service and in remote Australia, we need to train them for the environment in which we want them to work,” she said. “The program brings Aboriginal medical students and rurally-based students to Port Augusta where we are piloting the kind of technology that we need to teach them to work in places such as Port Augusta, Cummins, Arkaroola or Roxby Downs.” The students will work at the ACCHO, Pika Wiya Health Service.

To read The Transcontinental Port Augusta article Port Augusta rolls out the welcome mat for second-year university medical students in full click here.

Image source: Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation Facebook page.

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: 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.