NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

feature tile text 'Cherbourg's well-managed COVID-19 outbreak a model for other ATSI communities' & clinic reception desk Cherbourg

Note: image in feature tile by Jon Daley, ABC Southern Queensland.

COVID-19 outbreak in Cherbourg defies odds

The Aboriginal town of Cherbourg, 250 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, is seemingly defying the odds against the highly contagious Omicron variant. When the first case of the virus was detected on 29 December 2021, authorities feared a rapid spread and high numbers of hospitalisations due to the vulnerable population and comparatively low vaccination rates.

Almost a month later, just two people have been hospitalised and both have since recovered. The daily case numbers in the town are also already slowing. Cherbourg Aboriginal Community Council chief executive Chatur Zala said the town seems to have dodged a bullet. “We have managed the situation very well, which could have gone very badly,” he said.

To read the ABC News article in full click here

Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow at meeting

Cherbourg mayor Elvie Sandow says the community has responded well to health advice. Photo: Jon Daly, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News website.

Concerns overcrowding escalating outbreaks

Mayors representing Far North Queensland’s Indigenous communities have raised concerns that overcrowded housing has fuelled COVID outbreaks.

Australia’s biggest Indigenous community, Yarrabah, has amassed about 270 cases in less than a fortnight and 160 households are in quarantine. Some Yarrabah houses are home to as many as 20 people from up to three family groups.

Further north across Cape York and the Torres Strait there are 280 active cases and reports of families testing positive in homes shared with as many as a dozen adults.

North Peninsula Area Regional Council Mayor Patricia Yusia is pleading with visitors to test negative before arriving because of a shortage of quarantine space if they test positive while in the region.

To read the ABC News article in full click here.

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sitting at his desk

Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews says overcrowding is a “recipe” for the spread of COVID. Photo: Mark Rigby, ABC Far North. Image source: ABC News.

Helping mob to stop vaping webinar

NACCHO is again partnering with the TGA and RACGP to deliver a follow-up webinar on the legislative changes affecting access to nicotine vaping products and what the changes might mean for our communities and ACCHOs.

Professor Renee Bittoun from the University of Notre Dame and Avondale University, together with Ms Alice Nugent, ACCHO pharmacist and member of the NACCHO Medicines Advisory Team, will present:

  • An approach to vaping cessation and supporting clients who are dual users
  • Key issues related to vaping in young people including NRT options to consider
  • Validated tools and resources available for assessment and cessation support

The webinar will conclude with a 20-minute Q&A session.

This event attracts 2 CPD points.

The webinar will be held from 12:30–1:30PM (AEDT) on Thursday 27 January 2022. You can register your interest via this link.

If you have any specific questions about vaping you’d like addressed at this webinar please forward them to this email address.

hand of person with vape & smoke

Image source: The Guardian.

NPS MedicineWise seeks consumer rep

NPS MedicineWise is an independent and not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is to achieve better health outcomes for all Australians by promoting safe and wise use of medicines and medical tests.

NPS MedicineWise is looking for a consumer representative to join their Clinical Intervention Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG helps select, design, deliver and review NPS MedicineWise programs, resources and services for health professionals and consumers.

The  Group currently consists of 15 members, including consumer representatives, health professional representatives, researchers and representatives from stakeholder organisations.

For more information please see the Terms of Reference (which can be found in the application form).  You can also email Raelene Simpson here or Rawa Osman here. To apply, please complete the application form here. Applications close Tuesday 1 February 2022.

text NPS MEDICINEWISE' on purple background - logo

Indigenous art to promote oral health

As part of an overall commitment to improving the oral health of all Australians, the Australian Dental Association is expanding the range of oral health resources available to assist health professionals, which includes culturally appropriate oral health resources for First Nations peoples for which original Indigenous artwork has been commissioned.

The artwork (below), which is being used on the the new Indigenous Oral health web page, will assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources, which it is planned will expand in range over 2022 as the ADA works with dental and non-dental organisations to create material that can be used in dental and medical practices.

The artwork was created by professional illustrator and animator Ty Waigana, a proud Noongar and Saibaigal (Torres Strait) man, who was the NAIDOC poster artist for 2020 and is currently exhibiting at the Art Gallery of WA. The artist has also worked on projects for Australian National University, Australian Electoral Commission and the Queensland Child and Family Commission.

You can read the ADA article on a new Indigenous artwork designed to assist in the development and promotion of First Nations oral health resources here.

artwork by Ty Waigani, light blue, green, golden yellow, aqua teeth shapes in row

Artwork by Ty Waigaini. Image source: ADA website.

HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy course 

The HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy is a 9-month program for 12 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander health care workers (pharmacists, doctors, nurses or Aboriginal Health Practitioners embedded in clinical care in the north) interested in upskilling in antibiotic use, audit, stewardship, surveillance, and resistance.

Candidate nominations to participate will come from interested health care organisations who support the candidate to develop skills and implement change in their organisation.

The training will include skills in how to:

  1. Perform antimicrobial stewardship audits;
  2. Use surveillance skills to collect, understand and utilise antimicrobial resistance data;
  3. Advocated for antibiotic resistance issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to policy makers and the National AMR Strategy.

You can obtain further details and the Application Form at the HOT NORTH website here. Submissions close Monday 31 January 2022. Please email here or call (07) 3646 1886 for further informationbanner text 'HOT NORTH Antimicrobial Academy 2022]; vector image of Aust top half layers of green, light orange shades

Art competition closing date extended

The caring@home Indigenous Art Competition closing date has been extended to Friday 25 February 2022. All other details of the competition remain the same as previously advertised.

The online entry form, terms and conditions and more information is available at the caring@home project website here. To view the flyer for the caring@home Indigenous Art Competition click here.

Aboriginal woman holding cuppa, green foliage in background; caring@home ATSI logo

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: 10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

PLEASE NOTE: This is the last edition of the NACCHO Aboriginal Health News blog for 2021 and we will resume again in the new year from 18 January 2022.

Artwork in feature tile from the cover of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–­2031. Artwork created by Tarni O’Shea and Gilimbaa.

10-year plan to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

In partnership with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders, the Morrison Government has today Wednesday 15 December 2021 launched the refreshed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 (Health Plan) – a national policy framework to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the next 10 years.

“The Health Plan is the first national health document to address and embed the health targets and Priority Reforms of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt said.

“In particular, the Health Plan prioritises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health sector and the imperative for mainstream health services to provide culturally safe and responsive care.”

CEO of NACCHO and the Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks, Pat Turner AM shared the following messages in a video about the release of the plan:

“The Plan embeds an integrated life course approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and prioritises our holistic model of care.”

“Critically, this Plan recognises the significant role that the Aboriginal community controlled health sector plays within Australia’s primary healthcare architecture. Our ACCHO sector is leading the way in the delivery of comprehensive, primary health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“Implementation will enable ACCHOs to strengthen and grow so they can continue to deliver integrated care and primary health services over the next 10 years,” Ms Turner said.

You can read the Department of Health media release here.

View and download the 10-Year National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021-2031 here.

Watch the joint video release from ministers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders about the release here. The video message features recordings from:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
  • Ms Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Co-chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Professor Tom Calma AO, National Co-ordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking, Deputy Chair of the Health Plan Working Group
  • Ms Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation
  • The Hon Key Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians
  • Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, and Minister for Sport
  • The Hon Dr David Gillespie, Minister for Regional Health
  • The Hon David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Closing the Gap Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme scripts deadline 31 January 2022

As of 31 January 2022, Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS scripts will not be available for people who aren’t registered correctly with Services Australia.

There are recent changes to the CTG program which aim to make it easier for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access medicines. Patients from any geographical location only need to be registered for the program once in their lifetime, to get free or reduced cost PBS medicines from any community pharmacy in Australia, without the need for each script to be marked ‘CTG’.

As of 1 July 2021, there is a new national registration system run by Services Australia for the CTG PBS Co-payment program. This system is called Health Professional Online Services (HPOS). Unfortunately, not all patients who previously received CTG scripts were transferred to the new database on HPOS, resulting in some people paying more for medicines. Potentially thousands of people who have previously had CTG scripts may be affected.

In response to this issue, the Australian Government allowed all people who had previously received CTG scripts but are not currently registered for CTG on HPOS, to continue to access CTG-subsidised medicines until 31 January 2022.

You can view the NACCHO media statement here.

PBS Co-Payment Gap

Laynha joins the NACCHO family

We wish to welcome Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation (LHAC or ‘Laynha’) as the latest member of the NACCHO family. Upon recommendation from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), the NACCHO Board approved Laynha to become the 144th member of NACCHO on 8 December 2021.

Laynha was established in 1985 and has since been providing support to some 30 Indigenous Homelands across North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory with a population of approximately 1100 Yolngu residents across the region, and approximately 300 regular visitors.

Laynha supports homeland communities through:

  • Yirralka Rangers
  • Health Services
  • Community Services
  • Homeland Services
  • Ganybu Housing Aboriginal Corporation
  • Partnerships with organisations in the region with shared interests to support employment and training opportunities, culture and community, and economic development
  • Representing and promoting Laynha homelands

You can find about more about Laynha by visiting their website.

Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation - logo

Program needed to invest in culturally safe public health workforce

In one of the biggest demonstrations of support for significant new investment in Australia’s over-stretched public health workforce, well over 500 people registered for an online symposium on 7 December 2021. The symposium brought together many of Australia’s leading public health experts in the field.

Jointly presented by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) and NACCHO, the two-hour symposium discussed the new and existing public health workforce gaps, and the actions and support required to create increased efficiency and efficacy of public health services.

Medical Advisor for NACCHO Dr Megan Campbell spoke to Adam Evans from the National Indigenous Radio Service following the symposium.

“There is a need for a national program to train up people in public health and we need to have really broad based skills in that training program. We don’t just want doctors, we also need nurses and Aboriginal health workers who are interested in public health.”

Dr Campbell also stated that here is a real need for investment from all governments to fund positions.

“It’s really important that there are competencies as part of the curriculum around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health so that we can build the workforce within the sector but also build cultural safety of the workforce in mainstream organisations,” Dr Campbell said.

You can listen to the interview here.

Image sources: Public Health Association Australia.

Attention turns to supporting mob through QLD outbreak

Indigenous COVID vaccination rates continue to trail behind other parts of the Queensland community, and health experts say the race is now on to prepare for outbreaks following the easing of border rules this week. Health services working with First Nations people are working to drive up those rates, as are state-mandated rules that will lock non-vaccinated Queenslanders and visitors out of cafes, bars, venues and even some health facilities from Friday.

Kaava Watson is the network director for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (UIH) in the state’s south east. The Birri Gubba and Kungalu man said it was now too late to worry about whether the state should risk new COVID cases by opening the border.

“Our attention is now geared towards the actual work that we’re going to have to do in terms of supporting our mob through this outbreak,” he said.

“Our concern has moved to a sense of urgency — really around the things we need to do to keep mob safe over the coming months, once we start to see community transmission of COVID.”

He said that included ensuring there was access to medication, food supplies, and support if people had to isolate.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Sue Andrews looks through a patient list during a door-to-door vaccination drive along the beaches in South Yarrabah. Image source: ABC News.

Australia must move quickly to speed up COVID-19 booster program

The AMA has warned Australia’s COVID-19 booster program is already falling behind, risking more suffering from COVID-19 and a repeat of mistakes seen overseas where we are seeing the rapid spread of Omicron.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said today the AMA was extremely concerned at the lack of support for the booster program, particularly through General Practice and pharmacies.

“Whilst we recognise that the state and territory vaccination hubs have taken nurses out of hospitals, aged care, and other health settings, it is critical that state and territory governments continue to run these clinics to ensure adequate access to vaccines for Australians needing their booster shot.

“By the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster, however, in the last week Australia has only been able to administer just over 210,000 booster doses.

“The latest strain of COVID-19, Omicron, poses a significant potential risk to the population and appears much more transmissible than previous strains, so we have to pick up the pace to protect the community.

“We need to urgently reach out to the public to encourage them to come forward for their booster, and GPs are best placed to do this for many in the population,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA Media release here.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster! Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

Senator Patrick Dodson getting his COVID-19 vaccine booster. Image source: Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services.

WA on high alert as COVID-19 spreads towards border

With proximity to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders, one of Australia’s most remote communities is facing a renewed urgency to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. As of December 8, only 43 per cent of Indigenous people in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands were fully vaccinated.

With COVID-19 scares over the border in neighbouring states, community leaders are concerned an outbreak could be devastating.

On Monday, SA Health said the virus was detected in the wastewater in Pipalyatjara, just 30 kilometres from the West Australian border.

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

In a related article, the Northern Territory has detected four new COVID-19 cases in the community as an outbreak spreads towards the West Australian border. One of the infections is linked to a cluster in the town of Katherine, 320km south of Darwin. The other three cases are unconfirmed, but Health Minister Natasha Fyles said they are very likely to be genuine infections due to the close contacts. Two of those are in remote Timber Creek near the WA border, 225km east of Kununurra, and the other one is in Kalkarindji, 550km south of Darwin.

Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory has called for Katherine and its surrounding area to be locked down to slow the spread.

It said vaccination rates are not high enough to be fully protective and more health workers were urgently needed in the area.

You can read the article in the Mudgee Guardian here.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

The NT has four new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak spreads towards the Western Australian border. Image source: The Mudgee Guardian.

Significant progress to Close the Gap for Vision

The 10th annual update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision shows significant progress has been made to improve eye care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but service shortfalls and equity gaps remain.

Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne says there is now Roadmap activity across the whole country.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Aboriginal and/or Torres Islander people and other Indigenous-controlled organisations are also leading eye care activities at regional and state levels.

“With Australian Government support for the remaining recommendations, the gap for vision can be closed and we will be well on the way to end avoidable blindness in Indigenous communities by 2025, the goal set by Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan,” Professor Hugh Taylor said.

He also notes that the increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of eye care work, on all levels, is a crucial step towards ensuring the best and most appropriate models of care are available.

You can find out more about the update on the SBS NITV Radio website.

Reanna Bathern having an eye test

Optometrist Kerryn Hart with patient Reanna Bathern, who needed updated glasses, and works at the public health section of the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation. Image source: Optometry Australia.

Regional statistics about First Nations’ health and wellbeing

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has developed the Regional Insights for Indigenous Communities (RIFIC) website to be an accessible and user friendly website, intended for communities to access data about the regions in which they are located.

The website brings together a range of regional statistics about the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. The aim of the website is to provide access to data at a local level, to help communities set their priorities and participate in joint planning with government and service providers. The Indigenous communities and Other locations referenced, are derived from the Australian Government Indigenous Programs & Policy Locations and Australian Bureau of Statistics’ State Suburbs data sets.

You can view the RIFIC website here.

Woman gently touching child's face

Image source: AIHW RIFIC website.

Winnunga News December 2021

The Winnunga News December 2021 edition is now available. In this issue you can read about:

  • Aboriginal Hero and Great Australian – Dalaithngu
  • Indigenous Woman Sues ACT Over Forced Strip Search Her Legal Team Alleges Amounts To ‘Torture’
  • Canberra’s Don Dale Moment?
  • Labor-Greens Governing Agreement Status Report Raises Serious Questions
  • Anti-Vaxxer Staff in The AMC May Risk the Lives of Vulnerable Detainees
  • Fix The System First or It’s Just A Political Stunt
  • I Write While My Children Steal Cars and Rob Houses…
  • Experience Of An AMC Prisoner
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Winnunga Christmas Shut Down
  • Staff Profile

You can view the newsletter here.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Health workforce investment is urgent

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

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

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

Health workforce investment is urgent

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

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

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

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

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

KAMS students in class learning child health checks

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

AMSANT wants borders closed into new year

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

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

To view the full ABC News story click here.

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

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

Homeless women with disability research

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

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

To read the UNSEEN media release in full click here.

park bench with rolled sleeping bag, sign underneath

Image source: Women’s Agenda website.

Sobering OOHC over-representation data

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

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

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

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

Image source: SBS NITV website.

New incentives for doctors to go bush

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

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

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

outback road with yellow road sign 'clinic 100km'

Image source: RACGP website.

Culture in nursing and midwifery education

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

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

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

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

Rural GP awarded for parasitic worm work

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

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

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

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Community-led COVID-19 plan success

feature tile text 'Community-led COVID-19 lockdown plan implemented successfully'

Community-led COVID-19 plan successful

One of the world’s toughest lockdowns has just ended for the small community of Binjari in the NT. People haven’t been able to leave home — for even groceries or exercise — as the territory fights its first significant outbreak.

An ABC News report by Dan Conifer says this action has all been aimed at preventing Indigenous deaths. For months, Indigenous health experts have been preparing for a lockdown like this, fearing the virus could spread quickly in populations with high levels of existing health conditions. NACCHO’s Dr Jason Agostino said “The state of housing is so poor and the level of crowding so high , that to leave someone who has COVID-19 in their home is to condemn the rest of the household to also get it.” Dr Jason Agostino helped develop the Binjari’s lockdown plan that’s guided the response to COVID-19 cases, including hard lockdowns and removing people from hotspots.

“It’s great to see that a plan that was led by the community has been implemented successfully and at the moment we are seeing good results” Dr Agostino said.

To watch the ABC 7.30 Report with Leigh Sales episode, including a transcript click here.

ABC 7.30 report with Leigh Sales, Welcome to Binjari Community photo

Kids should not be brought up in prison

Demonstrators gathered outside Banksia Hill Detention Centre earlier this week to call for an end to child imprisonment, and to support the prospective class action being organised on behalf of current and former detainees of the child prison.

Ramon Vida, 23, did two stints in Banksia Hill at age 16 and 17. He told the rally that it was “terrible to see young fellas, little fellas coming in. They get mistreated, they get locked down. I saw fights. It was pretty violent in there… Too many lockdowns, not much activities. The only help they gave us was the school they built.”

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

Banksia Hill protest

Banksia Hill protest. Photo: Giovanni Torre. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Lowitja Institute Chair steps down 

Lowitja Institute has today paid tribute to internationally respected Aboriginal health leader Pat Anderson AO as she steps down as Lowitja Institute Chair after nearly 20 years. Ms Anderson was instrumental in the organisation’s establishment and its development as Australia’s renowned national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled health research institute.

Lowitja Institute CEO Dr Janine Mohamed said Ms Anderson played a key role in the first efforts nearly three decades ago in Darwin to advance research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “This involved challenging and disrupting Western models of research that was done on and about us, not by and for us — and that was not an easy task,” Dr Mohamed said.

“Pat has been a fearless advocate for justice and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for decades and an outstanding mentor and strong moral compass. She is a trailblazer and ceiling breaker for all women. Like our founding patron and namesake Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue, Pat is a guiding light for all of us at Lowitja Institute, and we are so grateful she will continue to be involved with us as a patron.”

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

Patricia Anderson AO

Patricia Anderson AO. Image source: Australian of the Year 2021 website.

National recognition for NT POC testing

Flinders University’s NT Point-of-Care Testing program which has been delivering rapid on-site pathology testing across 90 remote communities since 2008, has been recognised for its efforts in being a joint winner of the Outstanding Engagement for Research Impact award at this year’s Engagement Australia Excellence Awards.

Delivered in collaboration with NT Health and AMSANT, with funding from NT Health, the program performs more than 3,000 pathology tests each month, with the point-of-care testing devices delivering results within 2-10 minutes to guide patient triage, clinical management and diagnose a variety of illnesses, including sepsis and heart attack.

To view the Flinders University News article in full click here.

Taking the cap off soft drink consumption

In spite of health warnings about high consumption of carbonated soft drinks, global consumption has been rising rapidly for more than 50 years. Flinders University psychology researchers are looking to arrest this trend by investigating potential individual responses and ‘mechanisms’ for this increase in soft drink consumption.

One contributing factor is believed to be how people respond differently to daily exposure to soft drink ‘cues’, with soft drinks available around-the-clock 24/7 from supermarkets, convenience stores, vending machines and petrol stations. Young adults in this age group are the core consumers of soft drinks, now a major public health problem with 40-50% of adults in Australia consuming at least one soft drink a week.

The Flinders University research will expand in 2022 to investigate targeted interventions to reduce soft drink consumption. With weight gain, tooth decay, risk of diabetes and even lower academic performance among the pitfalls of excessive soft drink consumption, awareness campaigns and medical interventions are in the pipeline in both developing and advanced economies.

You can view the report The predictive value of evaluative bias, attentional bias, approach bias, and self-regulatory control in soft drink consumption here.

soft drink cans & bottles in a supermarket fridge

Image source: ABC News AM with Sabra Lane.

Far West hospitals under enormous pressure

Walgett Hospital may have to close its beds in February 2022 because it does not have enough staff to manage them. Elderly people are being forced to travel 5,000 kms a month to access dialysis and up to 40 staff have left Broken Hill Hospital in the past two years.

Elizabeth “Betty” Kennedy, a 42-year stalwart of Walgett Hospital’s nursing staff said early in her career there was a suitable ratio of staff to patients, but it had gradually deteriorated to the point where staff routinely work 60-hour weeks or longer. Some women giving birth in Walgett are doing so without a midwife present because they are reluctant to travel to larger facilities and leave their young families behind.

To view the WAtoday article in full click here.

road sign text 'hospital, Kamilaroi Hwy, B76 Walgett'

Image source: The Conversation.

Melbourne Uni teaching coordinator sought

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health is keen to recruit an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person to a teaching coordinator position within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

This well-supported role is suitable for someone who is interested in developing and coordinating an innovative teaching and learning program that helps to build the next generation of public health professionals to improve Indigenous Health and Health Equity, in alignment with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

This will be integrated with outstanding research/knowledge generation projects and translation into policy and practice to form a coherent program to drive authentic positive health improvements so communities can once again live happy full lives in this abundant land.

You can access a full position description here and for more information you can contact Professor Indigenous Health, Cath Chamberlain by email here or 0428 921 271.

Melbourne Uni log, text 'Melbourne School of Population and Global Health' image of Professor Catherine Chamberlain.

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.

Eye Conference Early Bird Rego open

Indigenous Eye Health (IEH) at the University of Melbourne are pleased to announce the 2022 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference, which will take place on Larrakia country in Darwin on Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 May 2022.

The conference aims to advance the collective work of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health sector towards the shared goal of improving eye health access and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Delegates will include representatives from ACCHOs and other primary care service providers, eye care clinicians, policy makers, researchers, non-government organisations, hospitals, professional peak bodies and government departments from across the country.

Early bird registration is now open – register here. To receive conference updates and other IEH news, join can also join their mailing list here.

tile text '2022 National ATSI Eye Health Conference 24-26 May 2022, Darwin, NT'

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: New campaign raising awareness of FASD

New National Awareness Campaign on the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy launched

Almost one in three Australians aren’t aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Nearly one in four aren’t aware alcohol should be avoided altogether during pregnancy.*

Every Moment Matters, a new national awareness campaign developed by the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), supports and empowers Australians to go alcoholfree through all the moments of pregnancy, right from the moment they start trying.

Endorsed and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, this campaign provides clear and consistent messages about alcohol, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“FASD is a whole of community issue. NACCHO is supporting ACCHOs across rural and remote Australia, to support mums, their families, their communities, their health practitioners and health services, to bring everyone together to help prevent and better understand the issues that contribute to FASD,” said NACCHO CEO Pat Turner.

“This project is about raising awareness and understanding of FASD and reducing stigma through: Providing culturally appropriate health information, training our Aboriginal healthcare workers and by bringing our communities together to create safe places for yarning about the impacts of alcohol on pregnancy.”

“Growing strong healthy mums and bubs leads to healthy communities. This project is about bringing our communities together to deal with FASD.”

“50% of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. Being around alcohol during pregnancy can lead to lifelong problems. This campaign will spread awareness in our rural and remote communities that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy,” she said.

“FASD has lifelong impacts. Our communities need to understand the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy, and where to go for support, so they can make good choices and ask for help if they need it. Health professionals need to support families to have access to the correct information about the risks of drinking alcohol in pregnancy so they can make informed decisions and ask for help if they need it.”

“In Australia, it is still widely accepted that ‘a few’ drinks while pregnant is ok. However, the latest research demonstrates that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink whilst pregnant. This campaign will help us safely and respectfully communicate to our communities, and their health professionals, what can happen, and where to get support if they need it,” said Turner.

View the FARE media release.
View the Australian Government Department of Health media release.
Download the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign to share the campaign materials in your communications
View and share the Women Want to Know resources here
View the Key Findings of the alcohol and pregnancy research conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of FARE.
You can learn more about the campaign on the Every Moment Matters website.

* Polling Snapshot by FARE on Alcohol use, pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Here is one of the available assets for social media as part of the Stakeholder Toolkit for the campaign. 

Watch the below video, developed by FARE, to see how Every Moment Matters when it comes to pregnancy and alcohol.
Please share the video on Facebook or Twitter.

 

ACCHOs key to effective vaccine rollout

Larissa Behrendt spoke with NACCHO CEO and Lead Convener of the Coalition of Peaks Pat Turner AM on Sunday 28 November 2021 on ‘Speaking Out’ on ABC Radio.

Ms Behrendt asked Ms Turner what her thoughts are on the effectiveness of the vaccination rollout for First Nations communities.

“I think overall our community controlled sector has done pretty well. Supply is not an issue. Supply has been available on request, so if any ACCHOs advise us of any quantity and other supports around administering the vaccines, we have supported them to the fullest extent possible,” said Ms Turner.

She said she’s not as confident about the rollout in the areas that are run by state government clinics and that they haven’t done a swell and need to pick up their game.

“As you said, where the response to COVID has been most effective is when it is community controlled. What sort of difference is the community controlled sector making?” asked Ms Behrendt.

“What the Aboriginal community controlled health services are good at is establishing a good relationship with the client population and people who use our health services. Cultural respect and cultural safety are key elements of our service provision in the comprehensive primary healthcare model that we deliver in the main. I think that people have really understood that and accepted that, so there’s a lot more trust between us and the patients that we have, and that’s all going well for us to get through to our people on the importance of looking after themselves during COVID and getting the vaccination,” said Ms Turner.

You can listen to the interview on ABC Radio here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

Vigorous booster roll out and quarantine facilities needed

The emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant underlines the need for Australia to develop a network of dedicated quarantine facilities and to pursue the roll out of booster shots more vigorously, the AMA said today.

With public health measures easing around the country and hotel quarantine starting to be dismantled, the AMA warned Omicron and the resurgence of COVID-19 in many parts of globe is a timely reminder that the pandemic is not over.

“The emergence of Omicron in Africa should come as no surprise, given the very low levels of vaccination in many African nations, providing the ideal environment for COVID-19 to mutate and spread to other nations,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“Effective dedicated quarantine arrangements are a necessary tool in our efforts to combat the inevitable emergence of COVID-19 variants and to protect the community. While work on quarantine facilities has commenced in some states and territories, we are yet to see a nationally coordinated approach, which could provide Australia with a national asset of dedicated Commonwealth quarantine facilities.”

“National Cabinet also needs to approach the roll out of booster doses with far more vigour,” Dr Khorshid said.

You can read the AMA media release here.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Single coronavirus cell with DNA strands and white blood cells. Image source: wfla.com.

Keeping people with dementia connected to Country

A decline in verbal skills is a source of grief for any person living with dementia. For First Nations peoples, the loss of speech brings the added pain of lost connection to Country, community, family and culture, which are so central to their health and well-being.

Dementia is a serious emerging health issue for Indigenous people, who experience the disease at a rate between three to five times that of the general population, with onset at an earlier age.

Dementia Support Australia, funded by the Australian government, has produced a set of picture cards designed to support First Nations older people and people with dementia. Co-designing the cards involved listening to and learning what First Nations people needed.

The inability for a person with dementia to communicate what they want or need can be frustrating for both them and care staff. For an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with dementia, the communication barrier with those providing care can be greater due to language and cultural differences.

You can read the article in The Conversation here.
Communication resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia can be downloaded here.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication cards co-designed with First Nations representatives including artist Samantha Campbell.

Improving community health outcomes for Elders

An article published online in the Australian Health Review 23 November 2021 examines how Elders consider the Closing the Gap programs for improving community health outcomes.

A participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with eight Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Tasmania. The findings emerged from thematic analysis of individual interviews and yarning circles.

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.

The findings are reflective of tensions that arise when neoliberal policies are imposed on Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing. The Elders premised cultural well-being as the key determinant of Aboriginal community health.

You can read the article in the Australian Health Review here.

Elder walking with child.

Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda? Image source: NITV.

Employment and housing key to reduce re-imprisonment

New research has shown that employment and housing for those leaving prison are key to preventing recidivism and a subsequent return to detention. The research, which focused on former detainees in the ACT, highlighted the importance of reducing barriers to employment for people leaving prison, so that they are better equipped to begin life after detention and stay out of the justice system.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT has one of the highest rates of re-imprisonment in the country. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT experience re-imprisonment at the rate of 94% – the highest rate of any jurisdiction.

The research notes that a lack of access to safe and affordable housing is one of the barriers to obtaining employment post-release.

“ACTCOSS has joined with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services and other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisations in calling on the ACT Government to initiate a Royal Commission or similar commission of inquiry into the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT’s justice system,” said Dr Campbell.

You can read the article in The National Tribune here.

silhouette of person in jail, sitting with head in hands

Image source: The Conversation website.

Only four days until ATSIHAW Trivia

It’s not too late for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia.

Friday December 3, 2021
4pm AEDT, 3.30pm ACDT, 3pm AEST, 2.30pm ACST, 1pm AWST

Amazing prizes up for grabs including a set of Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones 700, clothing, apparel and accessories from organisations that are 100% Indigenous owned, giant microbes and other sexual health resources for your clinic.

Register your team here.
Registrations close COB Thursday 2 December 2021.

Game on!

#atsihaw2021 #TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Alarming vaccination gap

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner. Image source: NITV

Alarming vaccination gap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dubbo’s vaccine response a role model

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Current NT COVID-19 outbreak linked to earlier clusters

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Jason Agostino COVID-19 vaccines - ABC iview

$53.3M spent to improve health sector in NSW

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

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

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

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

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

Rapid Antigen Testing in the NT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIDA supports COVID-safe reopening of the NT

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

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

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

You can read the AIDA media release here.

Welcome to Robinson River Community sign

Robinson River Community. Image source ABC News.

Visitors made homeless in Katherine’s lockdown

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the article in the ABC News here.

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

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

Get a jab and an autograph this weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doomdagee mob encouraged to get the jab

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Delta Spread communication resources

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

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

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

Delta Spread - image tile

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Save the date – HIV Awareness Week Trivia

HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 - Save the date.

Join us for ATSIHAW virtual trivia

Save the date: Inviting all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services staff to join the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week Virtual Trivia 2021 at 3pm (AEST), 1 December 2021.
 
Each year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week gets a conversation going in our community about HIV prevention and the importance of regular testing for HIV.
 
What team will take the title this year?
Will Condoman or Lubelicious make an appearance?
Special prizes for BEST and WORST dressed once again.
 
Stay tuned! More information coming soon.
ATSIHAW2021 VIRTUAL TRIVIA - Save the date.

#TriviaTime #hivawareness #hivawarenessandprevention

Struggle to vaccinate communities in QLD

Health officials in Queensland are struggling to vaccinate Indigenous communities across the state due to misinformation and hesitancy.

Health officials are taking vaccines directly to communities. Teams of nurses from Brisbane’s Mater Hospital began the clinic last week in partnership with Indigenous health workers.

“It enables people to have a private conversation and ask the questions that they’ve got about vaccine. We know that there is misinformation, we know that there is hesitancy and I think having that personal conversation with people makes a difference,” said Michelle Forrest from Darling Downs Health.

135 vaccines have been delivered in the week since the program started, but with a 2-dose vaccination rate of 27% Cherbourg still has a long way to go.

You can view the story on the ABC News website.

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland

Health officials struggle to vaccinate Indigenous communities in Queensland.

COVID-19 vaccination highly effective

Fully vaccinated people have been significantly less likely to become seriously ill or die, and better protected from acquiring COVID-19, during the Delta outbreak.

Yesterday, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant highlighted the findings in the latest NSW Health In Focus report which shows hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths were all far lower among the fully vaccinated population during the outbreak’s peak. Dr Chant said the report also makes it clear fully vaccinated people were significantly less likely to become infected with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 Delta outbreak has been the biggest challenge the state has faced during the pandemic because of its transmissibility. However, this report shows vaccination has been key in protecting ourselves, our families, and the community from the harmful effects of the virus,” Dr Chant said.

You can read more on the NSW Government Department of Health website.
You can view the In Focus report here.

elder without shirt outdoor setting receiving covid-19 vaccine from KAMS worker

Photo: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Image source: The Guardian.

98% of COVID-19 cases in Moree are First Nations people

Large gatherings have led to an explosion of COVID-19 positive cases in and around Moree in the past week. Since the first positive cases were identified last Monday, the number of positive tests has jumped close to 100, and COVID-19 has also been found in the neighbouring shire of Inverell.

The surging outbreak is almost exclusively impacting Aboriginal people: 98 per cent of the 94 active cases on Sunday were Indigenous, according to NSW Health. And the vast majority with the virus, at present, are young: 90 per cent are under 40, and 43 per cent are under 20.

Ros Rose, nursing manager at Moree’s Pius X Aboriginal Corporation, said the organisation, which provides health care to 3,500 Indigenous residents, has been offering vaccines since March but has struggled to convince young people to get the jab. The outbreak has been a “wake-up call”, she said, and more people – about 30 a day – are now coming for their vaccinations.

After having COVID-19 for a week, 34-year-old Gomeroi woman Lisa Duncan now regrets that she was hesitant. She said she was anxious about side effects, and thought: “I’ll be right, I won’t get coronavirus.”

Now, she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she’s clear of the virus. She doesn’t want to get it again.

“I can’t be a voice for everybody but just coming from my point of view, get the vax, or you do suffer. The symptoms are bad, it’s horrible.”

You can read the article in the Brisbane Times here.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Lisa Duncan, 34, says she regrets not getting the vaccine due to anxiety. She tested positive to COVID-19 along with children Hayden, 4, Haylee, 8 and Nazariiah, 10. Image credit: Louise Kennerley.

Raising awareness around perinatal mental health

In Australia, one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety. Many support services have seen a sharp rise in calls for help during the pandemic. Health experts say Indigenous, multicultural and LGBTIQ+ families are especially at risk.

“We know that so many parents are having a really hard time, even more than normal,” said clinical psychologist Chris Barnes from Gidget Foundation Australia.

It’s why more than 40 organisations across Australia have united to help raise awareness for Perinatal Mental Health Week, which runs from 7 to 13 November.

Their aim is to break down the stigmas, particularly affecting parents from Indigenous and migrant backgrounds, that prevent many families from reaching out for help.

“New and expectant parents are not alone. There are many services available,” said Ms Barnes.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

First Nations woman Jami Seale (centre) struggled with postnatal anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Image source SBS News.

Strong community support for #RaisetheAge

The ACT Council of Community Service (ACTCOSS) has commended the ACT Government on its progress towards raising the age of criminal responsibility in the ACT. In its Listening Report, the ACT Government found that 90 per cent of submissions supported raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 years. It also showed that:

  • this change is required to protect the safety and wellbeing of the Territory’s children and young people
  • medical evidence clearly shows that children under the age of 14 are developmentally and neurologically unable to form criminal intent and should not be held criminally responsible for their actions; and
  • there is limited support for the creation of exceptions or ‘carve outs’ to the minimum age for serious or repetitive behaviour.

“All the evidence tells us that prison is no place for children. Not only is the brain of a child under 13 years of age not yet sufficiently developed to understand criminal responsibility, we know that imprisoning kids only makes them far more likely to become repeat adult offenders,” said ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell.

You can view the media release by ACTCOSS here.
The Listening Report and submissions can be found on the ACT Government YourSay website.

two Aboriginal youths in Darwin Don Dale Juvenile Prison

Youth detained in Darwin prison. Image source: ABC News website.

Improving access to mental health services 

The Australian Rural Health Education Network (ARHEN) has welcomed the Final Report from the House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and the recommendations to improve access to services for people in rural and remote Australia. The Committee recommended the Australian Government leverage the existing Australian Rural Health Education Network by providing funding for clinical placements in regional, rural and remote university clinics and using these clinics to trial multi-disciplinary, hybrid mental health hubs that integrate digital services and face to face services.

“For more than twenty years the University Departments of Rural Health have been training health students from a range of allied health disciplines such as nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and pharmacy to work in rural and remote locations. With appropriate additional resourcing our rurally-based university campuses would be well-placed to deliver on the Committee’s recommendation to trial mental health clinics and hubs which may offer a mix of digital and face to face services for people in rural and remote regions,” said Chair of ARHEN Christine Howard.

You can read the media release by ARHEN here.
You can view the Final Report here.

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

Aerial view of APY Lands community Amata. Photo: Carl Saville, ABC News. Image source: ABC News website.

Post-Lockdown support for Belconnen and Gungahlin mob

Lockdown has put a strain on households with the increase in electricty and heating usage and Yerrabi Yurwang are providing support of $100 towards utility bills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families residing in Belconnen or Gungahlin areas.

Funds are limited and to be eligible for this support you must be:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • be over 18 and
  • live in the Belconnen or Gungahlin area

For more information, please contact Selina Walker at: info@yerrabi.org.au

You can download a flyer for the initiative here.
Please visit the Yerrabi Yurwang website to apply.

Hands of different skin tones gently stacked.

Image source: Yerrabi Yurwang 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 Health News: Housing won’t withstand climate change

Feature tile text ' climate change will make First Nations' housing unsuitable for future living' & image of house in remote area

Image in feature tile from: Central Land Council website.

Housing won’t withstand climate change

Regional and remote Aboriginal housing is not able to withstand climate change and will be unsuitable for future living, forcing people to consider migrating away from their traditional lands if nothing is done, research says. Even the best-kept housing will not be enough to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change, according to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

Researchers warned that even if existing housing is improved to deal with the heat, widespread over-crowding in Aboriginal communities would cancel out the benefits. “Our message in a nutshell is: addressing climate change in Indigenous housing and health policy is imperative,” Professor Tess Lea from the University of Sydney said. “More housing is needed, and new design approaches are urgently required.”

To view the full article in The Guardian click here.

remote Aboriginal housing

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

Mental health animations for mob

Katherine West Health Board has produced a suite of mental health animations including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and staying strong.

These animated videos aim to provide information about various mental health problems for Aboriginal people in the Katherine region of the NT. The videos explain what anxiety, depression and psychosis are and what to do if people suspect they have one of these conditions. The Staying strong video offers tips on how to keep your spirit strong.

For more information about the KAMS mental health animations and to view the animations (in addition to the one below) click here.

Door-to-door jabs boost vax rates

Leaders in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg are cautiously optimistic a door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination campaign will help it avoid another lockdown, as rates slowly climb. Health workers began door-knocking homes in the South Burnett town a week ago, offering free Pfizer vaccinations to people aged over 12.

The community has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Queensland, with just 26.9% of residents fully vaccinated and 37.7% partially vaccinated, as of Monday 1 November 2021. Cherbourg Mayor Elvie Sandow said “To be honest, I was worried a couple of weeks ago, but now that they’re going around door-knocking I’m actually feeling a bit positive,” she said. “The numbers are going up and we just want them to keep going up. Then everyone can be safe.”

Darling Downs Health is coordinating the program through the Cherbourg Community Health Service, alongside the Cherbourg Regional Aboriginal & Islander Community Controlled Health Service (CRAICCHS).

To view the full ABC News article click here.

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan receiving vax

Cherbourg resident Colin Morgan received his COVID vaccine out the front of his home. Photo: Georgie Hewson, ABC Southern Queensland. Image source: ABC News.

Hunter New England pop-up vax clinics

There will be a number of pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in the Hunter New England region (Windale, Dungog, Toronto, Woodberry, Wallsend, West Wallsend, Cessnock and Medowie) from Wednesday 3 to Thursday 18 November 2021. If you are over 18 are six months past your second dose you can go along and get your booster at any of these pop-up clinics.

To view a flyer with pop-up clinic locations and times click here and if you require transport to a clinic, please call 0498 693 907.

pop-up vax clinic regional NSW

Pop-up vaccination clinic in regional NSW. Photoe: Lani Oataway, ABC Western Plains. Image source: ABC News.

Booster program will add to GP load

Central Coast doctor, Elly Warren, has backed calls from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) for more help for GPs ahead of the rollout of COVID-19 booster shots from Monday 8 November 2021, amid fears the region’s medical practices will be overwhelmed.

Warren, who works at Yerin Aboriginal Health Services at Wyong one day a week said she was concerned that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of the Coast was still 25% behind the rest of the population in getting doubly vaccinated. She urged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people who have yet to be vaccinated to contact Yerin as a matter of urgency so they can be directed to the best outlet for vaccination ahead of the booster rollout.

As far as the booster program itself is concerned, she said more financial assistance and clearer communication were vital to its success so GPs in the north of the region aren’t swamped.

To view the full article in the Coast Community News click here.

Dr Elly Warren

Central Coast GP Elly Warren. Image source: Your Family Doctors at Erina.

What will and won’t prevent suicide

Two major reports on mental health and suicide released this week suggest two very different solutions to preventing suicides. One, from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, recommends putting more resources into the mental health workforce. This includes recruiting and training more health professionals. This might sound commendable, but the evidence shows this is unlikely to work.

The other report, from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) provides the latest data on suicide and self-harm. It makes no recommendations about preventing suicide, however, it identifies child abuse and neglect as a major modifiable risk factor for suicide right across the lifespan. This approach to preventing suicide, involving removing the underlying causes, has more evidence to back it, yet was barely mentioned in the select committee report.

To view The Conversation in full click here.

To view AIHW’s media release New insights into suicide and self-harm in Australia, including modifiable risk factors click here.

black silhouette of head exploding with scrunched balls of paper

Image source: eMedicineHealth website.

Aboriginal advisers to guide justice matters

Nine men and women who reflect WA’s diverse Aboriginal community have been chosen from across the State to join the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (AJAC). The Committee will help identify and suggest improvements to initiatives, policies and strategies to help the Department of Justice achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Department of Justice Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, will chair the Committee with the support of Gina Hill, Director of Aboriginal Justice Transformation. Dr Tomison said establishing the AJAC was a key deliverable of the Department’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-2021, and “It will also greatly assist us in achieving justice targets under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.”

Ms Hill said: “The AJAC members are established and emerging leaders in their communities and bring a breadth of knowledge about the justice system. “The Committee will help keep the Department connected, informed and highly responsive to the Aboriginal community on justice matters,” she said.

To view the WA Department of Justice media release in full click here.

Gina Hill, Director Aboriginal Justice Transformation & Dr Adam Tomison, Chair of Committee standing in front of large Aboriginal dot painting

Gina Hill, Director of Aboriginal Justice Transformation and Department of Justice Director General, Dr Adam Tomison, Chair AJAC.

Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit

The Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit is a committed and strong voice advocating for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples living with and or at risk of diabetes. The First Nations Unit lobby state and federal governments to provide services for community, aligning with community recommendations and the National Diabetes Strategy. 

They work with community, health sectors and government agencies to develop and deliver community-centred support and education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples living with diabetes, community, Health Workers and Health Professionals. To view Diabetes NSW & ACT First Nations Unit website, including details of the range of resources they offer click here.

logo text 'diabetes nsw & act' & blue letters 'a' & 'd' overlapping

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.

Yarrabah new health service opening

Yarrabah’s Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services will celebrate the official opening of their brand new, award-nominated facility for primary health and community outreach services from 11:30 AM-12:30 next Thursday 11 November 2021 from at Workshop Street, Yarrabah.

Board chair Les Baird said it will be good for the community. “It’s Aboriginal-mob friendly,” he said. “They can relax outside or inside while they are waiting, and I have observed people; they look very comfortable when they are at the new building.”

The building was designed by People Oriented Design with Coburn Architecture and is already nominated for a Sustainable Building Award.

You can contact Christin Howes on 0419 656 277 for more information.

external view of new Yarrabah health service

Gurriny Yealamucka Health and Wellbeing Centre. Image source: POD People Oriented Design website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated.

ACCHOs going above and beyond to get mob vaccinated

On Tuesday night, NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips spoke to John Paul Janke and Narelda Jacobs on SBS NITV The Point about COVID-19 vaccination rates, vaccine hesitancy and complacency, and the lifting of borders and other restrictions.

“We have seen services go above and beyond to get our mob vaccinated. We’ve had door-to-door vaccinations, we’ve had vax-a-thons, we’ve had barbeques. Whatever it takes, our services on the ground are going to do,” said Phillips.

“It’s really important that people go out and get vaccinated.”

You can watch episode 27 of season 2021 here.
Phillips joins the program at 15 minutes and 36 seconds.

NACCHO Director of Communicable Diseases, Emily Phillips on The Point, NITV.

 

WA rolls up sleeves during football festival

South West Aboriginal Medical Service (SWAMS) attended the GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival in Bunbury on Saturday 30 October 2021 where they had a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic set up. They offered COVID-19 vaccines and provided general information about their services and programs to community. Thank you to everyone who Rolled Up for WA!

SWAMS at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021

SWAMS with COVID-19 vaccination clinic at GWABA Aboriginal Football Festival 2021.

Congratulations to ACT Senior Australian of the Year nominee

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today congratulated Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services, on her the nomination for the Senior Australian of the Year award.

Julie Tongs is one of the ACT’s most prominent and respected community leaders. She has worked in the CEO position at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services for more than 20 years, advocating for health care services to be delivered in a culturally appropriate way to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Julie Tongs is an an incredible leader, service provider and campaigner for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in the ACT and beyond. She is a fearless advocate for people who face inequality and injustice not only in the health services sector but also on issues including child protection, justice, housing and the other social determinants of health and wellbeing.”

You can read more about Ms Tongs nomination in the ACTCOSS media release here.

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services,

Julie Tongs OAM, CEO of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services.

Only half of mob fully vaccinated

According to SBS News, just 50.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 63 per cent have gotten their first jab as of Wednesday 27 October 2021. Across the country, about 76 per cent of all over-16s are double-dosed and nearly 88 per cent have received one dose.

Concerns were raised after more than 200 Indigenous workers at remote community stores, mostly in the Northern Territory, were left unvaccinated two weeks out from the jurisdiction’s jab mandate deadline.

More than 20 Aboriginal leaders and health professionals have sought a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his ministers for health and Indigenous Australians.

There is alarm about the lack of “realistic or actionable contingency plans” to deal with outbreaks agreed to by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and Indigenous experts.

“It is evident that quarantine is currently near-impossible for those in overcrowded housing, as well as those without ready access to food, grocery and pharmaceutical delivery services,” the letter said.

You can read the article in SBS News here.

Half of Australia's Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

Half of Australia’s Indigenous population are now fully vaccinated. Source: AAP.

The impact of climate change for mob

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are on the frontlines of the climate emergency, with record temperatures, drought, and loss of biodiversity compounding social and health inequities caused by more than 200 years of colonisation.

It was reported this week that a group of five young Australians, including Wiradjuri teenager, Ethan Lyons, have lodged three human rights complaints with the United Nations over the Morrison Government’s inaction in climate change. And Torres Strait Islander communities, fearful that their islands will be wiped out by sea level incursion and storm damage, have also filed a class action arguing that the Australian Government must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 74 percent.

Affordable, secure energy supply is a critical issue in places like Tennant Creek, where residents are seeing an increasing number of days above 40 degrees Celsius, and the inside temperature of some homes can soar as high as 60 degrees Celsius.

Reliable energy supply takes on added importance for many in the community who require reliable power to undergo kidney dialysis, including Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank, a Waru­mungu Tra­di­tion­al Own­er who requires dialysis three times a week.

“The seasons don’t really match with our climate in our Country how it used to be,” he said.

You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Nor­man Jupurrurla Frank by an important ancestral waterhole, Gurna. Photo courtesy of Mr Jupurrurla. Photo source: Croakey Health Media.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

An expert in the field of Indigenous suicide prevention is optimistic about progress being made to tackle the high rates of suicide in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA following a report by the WA Ombudsman Chris Field. The report was tabled in WA Parliament evaluating the progress towards recommendations made in his previous report on the topic from last year. The Ombudsman’s investigation, Preventing suicide by children and young people 2020, made mention of the disproportionately high rate of suicide within the Indigenous population and included seven recommendations. Two of the recommendations were specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bardi woman and Director of the UWA Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention, Pat Dudgeon welcomed the follow-up report.

“What I liked about it was that they’ve followed through, that there is some kind of continuation rather than do a report and then let it gather dust and forget the issues,” she said.

You can read the article in National Indigenous Times here.

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA

Tackling Aboriginal youth suicide in WA. Image source: National Indigenous Times.

Costs of accreditation standards for ACCOs

Who benefits from the maze of accreditation standards affecting the work of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs)?

This critical question is raised in an article by Croakey Health Media. Written by Jenifer Darr, a Yuwi Vanuatu woman and researcher, it invites ACCOs to participate in research investigating the impacts of accreditation standards on their work.

Australia has a national network of more than 154 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCOs) providing holistic primary healthcare wrap around services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Accreditation Standards are premised on supporting quality improvement in the work of ACCOs. However, the application of multiple, different standards represents a significant business expense for ACCOs.

You can ready the article in Croakey Health Media here.

torso of doctor in white coat hand on stethoscope around neck

Image source: Armidale Express.

Yarrabah’s digital health journey

Episode 8 of Build ‘Em Up is a special podcast with guest host, Jen Beer, a Darlot woman who works with regional and remote communities for nbnTM. We chatted with the team at the Gurriny Yealamucka (Gurriny) Health Service Aboriginal Corporation at Yarrabah in Far North Queensland – Chief Executive Sue Andrews and Medical Director Dr Jason King.

Themes included expanding the medical perspective of primary care to encompass social, spiritual and cultural health, as well as the health service’s digital journey to prioritise high quality services, information and data.

Build ‘Em Up, which is supported by nbnTM, is available here.

'Build 'Em Up' podcast episode 8.

 

New process for job advertising

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

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

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Race to protect communities after borders open

feature tile text 'race to protect ATSI communities after borders open' & image of Aboriginal elderly woman receiving vax Wilcannia

In feature tile Leanne Bulmer, 67, receives the Pfizer vaccine on the verandah of her home from nurse Susie Jarman, watched by Dr Joy Linton. Photo: Brian Cassey. Image source: The Australian.

Race to protect communities after borders open

In his article in The Australian titled Sprint is on to close gap after ‘Covid cyclone’ journalist Tom Dusevic says “As we begin to open up, the race is on to protect Indigenous communities lulled into complacency by lockdowns and vulnerable to bureaucracy and the spread of dangerous ideas.”

Wilcannia became an emblem of COVID-19’s nasty streak, when the Delta strain steamrolled through the remote, mainly Indigenous town in the dust-red NSW far west in August and September. Infections reached 152, or between one-quarter and one-fifth of residents, most of whom were living in overcrowded public housing.

Delta hit Wilcannia like a cyclone, as some locals described the outbreak , but it did not surprise Pat Turner, NACCHO CEO. More than a year earlier, Turner’s organisation told a parliamentary committee Wilcannia was a sitting duck. If COVID-19 hit the town, “it would be impossible to contain due to overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of resources needed to quarantine properly,” NACCHO said in a submission in July last year.

Late last week, Ms Turner, who is also lead convener of the Coalition of Peaks, told the Senate’s COVID-19 committee the “rapid spread of Delta has been entirely predictable. Despite repeated calls for appropriate accommodation, the residents of Wilcannia were left to isolate in tents during the first weeks of the outbreak.”

As Wilcannia’s cases escalated, authorities threw everything they could muster at a response – including the Australian Medical Assistance Team, a crack team of emergency disaster responders, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, state services, and volunteers – while community leaders stepped up to distribute food, persuade family and friends to get vaccinated, and sort out living arrangements.

The good news today is there isn’t a single active case in Wilcannia and there hasn’t been a new infection in 16 days. Thirty motor homes set up on the banks of the mighty Darling in Victory Park for quarantine – only six were eventually occupied – are being moved to Wentworth and Dubbo.

To view The Australian article in full click here.

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy on the verandah of their home

Wilcannia residents Aunty Sissy King and sister Tammy have had many family members test positive to Covid. Photo: Toby Zerna. Image source: The Australian.

National Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Centre

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the National Apology for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, commemorating the childhoods that were stolen and renewing the Government’s commitment and responsibility to protecting Australia’s children.

In honour, the Morrison Government announced that the Blue Knot Foundation, along with its key consortium partners the Australian Childhood Foundation and The Healing Foundation, would establish and deliver the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. PM Scott Morrison said on this day three years ago we confronted our failure to listen, to believe, and to provide justice.

To view the media release in full click here.

art of child's face, shadows by Alex Williamson, red, grey, black, cream

Art by Alex Williamson. Image source: The Economist.

Success in turning around type 2 diabetes

In a new 3-part documentary series, Ray Kelly teams up with world renowned medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley to explain research showing how rapidly the progression of type 2 diabetes can be turned around.

Ray Kelly has developed the ‘Too Deadly for Diabetes’ program to turn around the progression of type 2 diabetes within the Indigenous community. It has been provided through Aboriginal medical services in Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Coonamble and other locations throughout the state. The results have shown that if community are provided with a program they understand and good support, they will achieve great results. In just 11 months the community in Coonamble have lost a combined total of 1,316kg, with many having medications reduced or totally removed. In other towns people have been taken off insulin within weeks, after 15-20 years of giving themselves daily injections.

The programs are led by their local team of GPs, nurses and Aboriginal health workers.

To view the article in IndigenousX in full click here.

Australia’s Health Revolution aired on SBS on October 13 and October 20 at 7:30pm. The last episode will air next Wednesday 27 October 2021. You can also watch on SBS On Demand here.

2 images: Aboriginal & TSI flags blowing in breeze; bowl of fruit, tape measure & blood sugar level monitor

Image source: IndigenousX.

Pleas for transport in face of COVID-19

The head of a Victorian Aboriginal health organisation is pleading for personal transport assistance as her community grapples with its first Delta outbreak. Jacki Turfrey from Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) says she has been asking for help from the Health Department to get infected people to emergency accommodation, testing and vaccinations.

While mobile testing vans and pop-up vaccination clinics have been set up to accommodate people who cannot travel, Ms Turfrey says positive cases are the organisation’s greatest concern.

“The biggest challenge that we’ve had is people who have been contacted by the Department, know that they’re COVID-positive or a close contact and need to be put into emergency accommodation and there is no transport available for those people to safely move from one place to another,” she said. “I’ve been asked personally on a number of occasions to get in a bus, put on some PPE and drive people around, which is just not acceptable.”

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria's COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura standing in front of MDAS van

MDAS CEO Jacki Turfrey, Jimmy Kennedy, and Victoria’s COVID Commander Jeroen Weimar in Mildura on Monday. Photo: Richard Crabtree, ABC Mildura-Swan Hill. Image source; ABC News.

Liver disease could be next epidemic

A first of its kind study published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) shows liver disease looks to be Australia’s next epidemic affecting at least 36% of regional Victorians. The study looked at rates of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) in the Goulburn Valley area and concluded the rate in this regional community was higher than the estimated rate in metropolitan areas.

Based on the Fatty Liver Index which uses pathology data combined with Body Mass Index (BMI) and other measurements, researchers found NAFLD affects 36% of people in the region, and 45% of those aged 60 or more. Lead author, Professor Stuart Roberts, is the Head of Hepatology and a consultant gastroenterologist at The Alfred, he said; “Rates of liver disease have been based on estimates developed from overseas data and little is known of the true prevalence of fatty liver disease in Australia.

To view the Pathology Awareness Australia media release in full click here.

torso of man holding stomach overlaid with image of a liver

Image source: eMediHealth.

Promise for future rural general practice

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) General Practice: Health of the Nation report shows promise for the future of rural general practice. An annual health check-up on general practice in Australia, the Health of the Nation report draws on publicly available data, as well as the Health of the Nation survey of RACGP fellows from across Australia. This year’s survey was undertaken by EY Sweeney during April-May 2021, with 1,386 respondents.

This year’s report highlights strong and growing interest among GPs to work in rural health, offering hope for the future health of rural general practice and communities, including: Almost three in five (59%) GPs in training report an interest in rural practice, compared to two in five (40%) of other specialists in training. While two out of five (44%) GPs in training report that they intend to work in urban areas post-Fellowship, a larger proportion (48%) plan to work in rural or a mix of urban and rural locations.

To view the RACGP media release in full click here.

yellow road sign with vector of head, shoulders, with stethoscope around neck

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

Remote PHC Manuals progress update

The Remote Primary Health Care Manuals (RPHCMs) are currently being reviewed and updated. Monthly updates are provided to health and other organisations to keep them up-to-date throughout the review process.

What’s new: almost all (98%) of the Primary Reviews have now been completed! Protocols are now being updated to reflect endorsed changes. Clinicians will be consulted about major content changes prior to Secondary Review.

Protocol groups endorsed: alcohol and other drugs; ante/post natal emergencies; clinical assessment; eyes; women’s health; and wounds.

Coming up: secondary reviews will start early in 2022. If you use the manuals please visit the RPHCM website to see how you can become a Secondary Reviewer.

Protocol groups coming up for endorsements: contraception; diabetes/renal/cardiac; mental health’ scabies; and urinary.

To view the RPHCM October 2021 information flyer click here.

New process for job advertising

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

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

Suicide Prevention Strategy launch

In early 2020, the Commonwealth Government tasked Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) to renew the 2013 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Extensive consultation with governments, stakeholders and community members over the past 12 months contributed to the renewed National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031.

The virtual launch of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2021-2031, via Zoon Meetings (hosted at the University of WA by GDPSA) originally scheduled for tomorrow, at 3:00pm AEDT, Friday 22 October 2021, has been POSTPONED.